Thursday, May 31, 2012

Light where there had been darkness

Blindly Go

By Jerry Vintinner

The passengers on the bus watched sympathetically as the attractive young woman with the white cane made her way carefully up the steps. She paid the driver and, using her hands to feel the location of the seats, walked down the aisle and found the seat he'd told her was empty.

Then she's settled in, placed her briefcase on her lap and rested her cane against her leg. It had been a year since Susan, thirty-four, became blind. Due to a medical misdiagnosis she had been rendered sightless, and she was
suddenly thrown into a world of darkness, anger, frustration and self-pity.

Once a fiercely independent woman, Susan now felt condemned by this terrible
twist of fate to become a powerless, helpless burden on everyone around her. "How could this have happened to me?" she would plead, her heart knotted with anger. But no matter how much she cried or ranted or prayed, she knew the
painful truth, her sight was never going to return. A cloud of depression
hung over Susan's once optimistic spirit. Just getting through each day was an exercise in frustration and exhaustion.

And all she had to cling to was her husband Mark. Mark was an Air Force officer and he loved Susan with all of his heart. When she first lost her sight, he watched her sink into despair and was determined to help his wife gain the strength and confidence she needed to become independent again. Mark's military background had trained him well to deal with sensitive situations, and yet he knew this was the most difficult battle he would ever face.
Finally, Susan felt ready to return to her job, but how would she get there? She used to take the bus, but was now too frightened to get around the city by herself. Mark volunteered to drive her to work each day, even
though they worked at opposite ends of the city. At first, this comforted Susan and fulfilled Mark's need to protect his sightless wife who was so insecure about performing the slightest task. Soon, however Mark realized
that this arrangement wasn't working it was hectic, and costly. Susan is going to have to start taking the bus again, he admitted to himself. But just the thought of mentioning it to her made him cringe. She was still so fragile, so angry. How would she react?

Just as Mark predicted, Susan was horrified at the idea of taking the bus again. "I'm blind!" she responded bitterly. "How am I supposed to know where I'm going? I feel like you're abandoning me." Mark's heart broke
to hear these words, but he knew what had to be done. He promised Susan that each morning and evening he would ride the bus with her, for as long as it took, until she got the hang of it. And that is exactly what happened.

For two solid weeks, Mark, military uniform and all, accompanied Susan to and from work each day. He taught her how to rely on her other senses, specifically her hearing, to determine where she was and how to adapt to her new environment. He helped her befriend the bus drivers who could watch out for her, and save her a seat. He made her laugh, even on those not-so-good days when she would trip exiting the bus, or drop her briefcase.
Each morning they made the journey together, and Mark would take a cab back to his office. Although this routine was even more costly and exhausting than the previous one, Mark knew it was only a matter of time
before Susan would be able to ride the bus on her own. He believed in her, in the Susan he used to know before she'd lost her sight, who wasn't afraid of any challenge and who would never, ever quit.

Finally, Susan decided that she was ready to try the trip on her own. Monday morning arrived, and before she left, she threw her arms around Mark, her temporary bus riding companion, her husband, and her best friend.
Her eyes filled with tears of gratitude for his loyalty, his patience, his love. She said good-bye, and for the first time, they went their separate ways. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday ... Each day on her own went
perfectly, and Susan had never felt better. She was doing it! She was going to work all by herself!

On Friday morning, Susan took the bus to work as usual. As she was paying for her fare to exit the bus, the driver said,
"Boy, I sure envy you." Susan wasn't sure if the driver was speaking to her or not. After all, who on earth would ever envy a blind woman who had struggled just to find the courage to live for the past year? Curious, she asked the driver, "Why do you say that you envy me?"

The driver responded, "It must feel so good to be taken care of and protected like you are." Susan had no idea what the driver was talking about, and asked again, "What do you mean?" The driver answered, "You know, every morning for the past week, a fine looking gentleman in a military uniform has been standing across the corner watching you when you get off the bus. He makes sure you cross the street safely and he watches you until you enter your office building. Then he blows you a kiss, gives you a little salute and walks away. You are one lucky lady."

Tears of happiness poured down Susan's cheeks. For although she
couldn't physically see him, she had always felt Mark's presence. She was blessed, so blessed, for he had given her a gift more powerful than sight, a
gift she didn't need to see to believe the gift of love that can bring
light where there had been darkness.

God watches over us in just the same way. We may not know He is
present. We may not be able to see His face, but He is there nonetheless! Be blessed in this thought: "God Loves You even when you are not looking."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Then there is courage

That My Footsteps Slip Not
Emily Freeman
Psalm 8:4 – Psalm 19:9
This weekend we went for a hike.  It wasn’t your ordinary hike.
We walked up a riverbed.
Under trees, over rocks, cool water spilling over sandaled feet.
It was one of those rare hikes you wish would just keep going, and going, and going.  
But it wasn’t long before we rounded a bend and saw this…
Beautiful, yes.
But completely impassable.
For just a moment we thought we had reached the end of the hike.  
Eyes wandered longingly to the scenery that beckoned to us from up above.  
And then, just there to the right, we saw the footsteps.
Even now, just looking at the photo, my heart sinks right into my feet.  I see the rope above, but I also see the
 drop off below. I see the end of the footsteps at the top,
but I cannot see the even path, the sure ground, the safety waiting there.
It causes reason to pause.
Because how can you be sure the rope will hold, the footsteps will lead to safety, the heart will not fail?
Courage is required.  Trust in the carver of each foothold.  Faith that what lies above is worth the climb.
For some courage comes easily.
Others find it easier with the companionship of one who will ensure that their feet will not slip.
For some the pathway is too daunting.
No less faith is required, no less courage, no less trust, for those who are carried.  
For it takes great courage to allow someone to lift you off your feet and carry you over
the place you cannot go.  To trust in the strength of the one who lifts.  
To have faith that he will not fail you.
As I watch my mind fills with life moments.
Moments when I have faced obstacles in my way.  Times when I have felt my heart sinking into my
 toes.  Moments when I could not see the even path, the sure ground, the safety waiting there.
The moments that give reason for pause.
Where courage is required.  Trust in the Carver of the foothold.  Faith that what lies ahead is worth the climb.
I have faced daunting moments.
Those moments have led me to know the Lord.
“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust.”  
Psalm 18:2
The most daunting moments require the greatest courage.  The kind of courage that allows
The Deliverer to lift you off your feet and carry you over the place you cannot go.  
To trust in the strength of The One who lifts.  To have faith that He will not fail you.
Now, in quiet moments of pause, in those most daunting moments, I breathe a silent prayer.
“Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.”  (Psalm 17:5)
Then there is courage.
And trust.
And faith.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

I have heard

"No matter what circumstances you experience,
your influence can be marvelously far reaching.

I Will Heal Thee
By Emily Freedom
2 Kings 14:6 – 2 Kings 18:22
Hezekiah’s story is one of my most favorite stories in the entire Bible.
I have loved it for years.
It brings me comfort.  It testifies of prayer.  It speaks of hope.
To fully understand the magnitude of Hezekiah’s experience, we first have to come to know Hezekiah.  The scriptures teach us that he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord.  He trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him.  He clave to the Lord, and departed not from following him.  He kept his commandments.  And the Lord was with him.
2 Kings 18
On one occasion it seemed that all was conspiring against Hezekiah.  I am intrigued by two of the questions that were asked of him by those who didn’t share his beliefs,   “What confidence is this wherein thou trustest?  Now on whom dost thou trust?”  
2 Kings 18:19-20  
Eventually those questions led Hezekiah to receive a letter fill with threats and deceit.
In this moment I love what King Hezekiah did…
He went up into the house of the Lord and spread the letter before the Lord.
And he prayed.
He asked the Lord for a blessing…that his people would be saved…  ”that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God, even thou only.”  (2 Kings 19:19)
The Lord’s prophet, Isaiah, sent to Hezekiah saying,  ”Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, That which thou hast prayed…I have heard.”  (2 Kings 19:20)
I believe this experience and conversation with the Lord prepared Hezekiah’s heart for a future trial.
The scriptures tell us,  ”In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death.”
The chapter explains that he had a wound, one that wouldn’t heal.  Isaiah came to Hezekiah and told him that he needed to set his house in order, for he was going to die.
And Hezekiah turned his face to the wall.  And he wept sore.  And he prayed.
“I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight…”
Before Isaiah had even left the middle court, the voice of the Lord came to him saying, “Turn again, and tell Hezekiah…Thus saith the Lord…I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee…”
“And I will add unto thy days…and I will deliver thee… and I will defend this city.”  (2 Kings 20:5-6)
My thoughts turn to healing, and to the power of prayer, in the darkest moments of life.
The moments that cause you to turn your face to the wall.  The moments that invoke you to weep sore.  Sometimes those moments even come after we have walked in truth, with a perfect heart…even when we are doing that which is good.
And sometimes they don’t end happy. Then we are left with a heart that is broken. In those moments we, like Hezekiah, are in need of healing. And because the wound is so deep, it is the kind of healing that can only come from the Lord.  Through prayer.
“O Lord, remember…” Remember me.
The story of Hezekiah teaches that we are not forgotten of the Lord.  Even in the moments when the trials of life seem to destroy us…especially in the moments when others might ask,   “What confidence is this wherein thou trustest?  Now on whom dost thou trust?”  In those moments, weeping sore, we must turn to the Lord. 
And pray.
“Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other.  The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them.  Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them.  Prayer…is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.”
Sometimes healing means saving a life, or healing an illness.  Sometimes.  That wasn’t the case in our home.  Sometimes the illness lingers.  Sometimes the life isn’t saved.  
Even then, especially then, healing is required.
A healing of the heart. Because a wounded heart can cause us to turn our face to the wall.  To weep sore.
Hopefully, it will lead us to call on the Lord. Through prayer. Because the healing of life’s deepest wounds can only come through Him. It is that kind of healing that causes us to testify,
I know “that thou art the Lord God, even thou only.”
In moments of deepest hurt we must cleave to the Lord and remember the words the Lord’s prophet,
Isaiah, sent to Hezekiah saying,
Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, That which thou has prayed I have heard. 
I have heard thy prayer. I have seen thy tears, Behold, I will heal thee…
2 Kings 19:20 20:5-6

Friday, May 25, 2012

Climbing into the wheelbarrow

"Prove Me Herewith"

Brent Mendenhall

I extend the strongest sense of urgency to begin your own journey of finding confidence in what the Lord revealed through Malachi. Prove Him herewith. Today. Now.
“The Apostle Paul taught that the Lord’s teachings and teachers were given that we may all attain ‘the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ’ (Eph. 4:13). This process requires far more than acquiring knowledge. It is not even enough for us to be convinced of the gospel; we must act and think so that we are converted by it. In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something.
“It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.”
We do not have the time or the luxury to merely go through the motions. The time is now to gain confidene, to actually “Prove me herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts.”
In 1859, a French tightrope walker and acrobat by the name of Jean Fran├žois Gravelet, known professionally as the Great Blondin, awed large crowds of people with aerial acrobatics as he crossed on a high wire that great gorge that makes Niagara Falls. One instance he walked half way and stopped, placed a chair on the wire, and read a book. Another crossing found him balanced on the wire as he cooked an egg. But perhaps the most widely known of his exploits involved a wheelbarrow to be pushed across the great divide on the high wire.
As he began his trek, he stopped, turned to the crowd, and asked, “Do you believe I can do this?” “Yes,” was the overwhelming response. “We have watched you do many things and we know you can do this.” Blondin asked again, “You really believe I can do this?” “Oh yes,” came the confident responses from the safety of the cliff side. Blondin locked eyes with one man in particular and asked, “You sir, do you believe I can do this?” The man responded, “Yes, I do. I have watched you before do many amazing things.” To that, Blondin looked him in the eye and said to the man, “Get in the wheelbarrow.”
We are very much like that man, who, by the way, as the story goes, did not get in the wheelbarrow. We have seen great things, we know great things, but then when it is time to respond to “prove me now herewith”  we stammer and back up like the man and the wheelbarrow. We seem to be strong to profess confidence but slow to prove it herewith.
We need to climb into the wheelbarrow but for some reason, we hesitate to do so. Wheelbarrows that seem to hold us back from being quite ready to climb into the wheelbarrow of confidence in the Lord.
What are your plans today and even tomorrow? Have we caused our lives to become so complex that we lose sight of the greatness that is in front of us?  The 133rd section of the Doctrine and Covenants gives this direction: “…that men might be made partakers of the glories which were to be revealed, the Lord sent forth the fullness of the his gospel, his everlasting covenant, reasoning in plainness and in simplicity…To prepare the weak for those things which are coming on the earth…” (Doctrine and Covenants 133:57-58).
When Nephi was called upon by the Lord to build a ship to carry his family across the great waters, his brothers mocked him and belittled him. They chided him, telling him he was a fool. He had never built a ship. They didn’t help because they didn’t believe in his acceptance of a divine call to build this ship. But Nephi did believe and began preparations to build it.
Nephi patiently explained to his brothers the great things that had occurred with their fathers and Moses as they escaped the armies of the Pharaoh. Nephi recounted to his brothers regarding fiery flying serpents sent among their fathers when they entered into a time of disbelief. In order to be saved after being bitten and poisoned by the bites,  Nephi wrote, explaining: “...the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished” (1 Nephi 17:41).
Just like those forefathers of Nephi, the simplest of expectations escape us. It was not a simple thing for Nephi to build a ship, but his confidence in what the Lord asked him to do was based on obedience to basic commandments. …… plan for the future, but look for today. Those simple expectations of saying your prayers, read your scriptures, go to church, follow the prophets, and keep the commandments, and, yes, are actually very simple if we have confidence in the promises given us and look at what we are doing in our daily lives.
“…prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and  pour out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” is the invitation if we will accept it. Understanding why and what is expected is an integral part of that invitation.
“If you are willing to pay the price for success, good things, even great things, can happen to you, even beyond your fondest dreams and expectations! Often we do not have even a glimpse of our potential for happiness and accomplishment in this life and in eternity Many of us do not have a full awareness of what we really know. Even though we have been taught the gospel, we may not be fully aware of what the Lord has put in our ‘inward parts’ and written in our hearts.…you are heirs to great promises.”
President James E. Faust
Will you accept the Lord’s expectations with courage and confidence? Will you accept the invitation to prove Him herewith and open the windows of heaven in your life? It is my hope, deep in my heart, that you do.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Blessed is that man that trusteth in the Lord

By Emily Freeman
Jeremiah 15:10 – Jeremiah 21:2
Several weeks ago I went on a river hike. At the very beginning of the hike my nephew, Camden, said to me,     “Oh, M, I have to show you my favorite tree.  You’re just gonna love this tree.”
“What am I going to love about it?”  I asked him. “You’re just gonna to love it.” He replied.
So we hiked.  Him running ahead, and then turning around to wait. Me walking through the river, walking up the trails, climbing over rocks, watching for the tree.
I wasn’t sure how he would know we had reached the tree.  We had passed hundreds of trees already and I could see more in front of us.  They lined the entire riverbed… trees of all different kinds, shapes, and sizes.  What is it, I wondered, that sets his tree apart from the others?
And then we came around a bend, and without him even having to say a word, I knew we had reached the tree.
And he was right…I loved it.
I am not sure why I loved it so much, but I did.  Immediately.  Perhaps it was the shade it provided across the entire path.  It might have been the rocks that seemed strategically placed by Nature herself, to offer a place of rest and refuge from the heat.  It could have been the boughs that stretched across the path on one side, and over the river on the other.  Strong boughs, just right for climbing in. Boughs that had a large curve  every so often along the branch, almost as if the tree had prepared a sitting place for those who chose to venture there.
It was the largest tree along the river bank.  The trunk was old, and weathered.  The tallest branches reached high above the other trees that lined the path.
As I stood there, sheltered by its shade, I couldn’t help but wonder what stories it could tell of others who had stood there beneath it’s sheltering boughs.
This morning when I read chapter 17 of Jeremiah I was reminded of Camden’s tree.
Jeremiah spoke of a man whose heart had departed from the Lord.  A person who would rather trust in another man than in God.  He likened this man to a juniper tree growing in the desert…the parched places…the wilderness.  (Jeremiah 17:5-6)
Then he spoke of a man that trusted in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.
“He shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.”  (Jeremiah 17:8)
I love the thought of the Lord offering refuge from heat, faith in time of drought, and fruit in every season.  My thoughts turn to the blessings of protection, guidance, sustenance…and then, to hope.
Blessed is that man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.
There are days when the only thing that has gotten me through is my trust in the Lord, and an unfailing hope in His ability to protect, guide, and provide sustenance for me…for my family.
Days when the only thing that has kept me standing in the intense storms that surround me are the roots that stretch deep to find the Living Water. Roots that stem from trust, that lead to hope.
Hope is an unspeakable gift.  It is what sustains the soul in moments that would otherwise destroy us.  Hope is what carries us through the places we could not get through on our own.
Hope in the Lord.
Hope that started as a simple seed and then stretched roots deep to waters flowing, and boughs high to Heaven reaching. That’s what happens when a tree is planted by the waters.
Someday perhaps I will grow old and weathered with roots spreading and branches reaching.
Maybe a young boy will say of me, “I have to show you one of my favorite people, you will love her…”
“What am I going to love about her?”  The person might ask. He will reply, “You’re just going to love her.”
And when they come around the bend and see me standing there perhaps they will recognize me as the person the boy was speaking of and think to themselves, “Oh, I do love her.”
And they may not know why, exactly,
but I hope they will see in me the kind of person whose hope the Lord is.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Follow Him with exactness

"God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, but we are not. Each day, ours is the challenge to access the power of the Atonement so that we can truly change, become more Christlike, and qualify for the gift of exaltation and live eternally with God, Jesus Christ, and our families.
For these powers, privileges, and gospel gifts, thanks be to God!"
Elder Russel M. Nelson

Jeremiah 9:25 – Jeremiah 15:10
By Emily Freeman
Every time I begin reading the Book of Mormon my imagination is stirred.
I can’t help but wonder about the conditions of Jerusalem during that time period.
I think of my own children and I wonder how bad the world around me would have to get before I would leave behind my home, my belongings, my neighbors, and my lifestyle to wander out into
the wilderness and live in a tent.
I like to camp …but I also like to come home from camping.  When I picture Lehi packing up his entire family and leaving his home and possessions to live in a tent it makes me think that things in
Jerusalem must have been pretty bad.
Jerusalem Lehi left is the same Jerusalem Jeremiah is writing about?  As I read the words of Jeremiah it makes me love Lehi and Nephi even more.  I begin to understand the hardship of raising a righteous family in an increasingly wicked world.  The dangers become more clear.  The course defined by the Lord’s prophets becomes even more evident.
We must choose God. Always. And we must follow Him with exactness.
Besides the gross wickedness and sin, Jeremiah defines the time of Jerusalem in the moment Lehi left with descriptions such as these…  ”They are not valiant for the truth, they know not me (9:3), no man repenteth of his wickedness (8:6), they went backward, and not forward (7:24), this people have a rebellious heart (5:23), families that call not on thy name (10:25), they went after other gods to serve them (11:10)”
I loved the image portrayed in chapter 10 of the Gods Israel chose to worship instead of the Lord…
“for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.  They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: …they cannot go.  Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.”  (Jeremiah 10:3-5)
Again I find myself wondering why Israel would choose to worship a God like this –one that cannot move, speak, or go.  A God that is unable to do good.
And I wonder, do we do that today?  Obviously we don’t have a God made out of wood and decked with silver and gold… or do we?  Because the place where we spend the most of our time, what we are devoted to, what we adore…isn’t that what we have come to worship?  Do items made of wood and decked with precious things require us to devote more time making money to pay for them?  Is my adoration fixed on items made of chrome and silver?  Where is it that I am focusing most of my time?  How about my children?
What is it that we worship most? A sport?  A hobby?  A possession?
Oh, I hope not.  But I take the counsel given by Jeremiah in verse seventeen of chapter nine, “Consider ye…”
Am I willing to be more like Lehi and let my possessions become of lesser consequence and the spirituality of my family become of greatest importance?  Is there a way to live in the world, but not be of the world?  To follow the Liahona a little bit closer here in my own home?  Can I learn from Jeremiah what it will require of me to not walk the path Israel chose?
There are two phrases that haunt me so far in Jeremiah…
“Why do we sit still?” (Jeremiah 8:14)
I can’t help but wonder if I sit still… instead of assembling my family together or gathering for defense.  The Jerusalem Nephi grew up in was described by Jeremiah as being sensual and materialistic, and Lehi decided he couldn’t afford to sit still and let that environment destroy his children.  I can’t help but think of our world today.  Do we allow wickedness to surround us through conversations, through media, through daily life and do we just sit still?  Or do we assemble our family…do we have a plan of defense?
Do we follow the counsel of the prophets…with exactness?
Because here is the second phrase that haunts me…
“To whom shall I speak, and give warning?  …I am weary with holding in…” (Jeremiah 6:10-11)
I want to hear the warnings.  I want to choose righteousness.  I want to walk the path that will allow me to know the Lord.  To really know Him.  To understand Him.  
I want to be the type of person that Jeremiah describes,
“But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgement, and righteousness, in the earth:
for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.”  (Jeremiah 9:24)
Instead of choosing a God that can’t move, speak, or go, I want to choose the living God.
The One who delights in lovingkindness…a God that is able to do good.
So I will learn from Lehi.  My possessions matter least.  My family matters most. I choose the Lord.
To worship Him.
I will not sit still.
We are free to make choices,
but we are not free from the consequences of the choices we make.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

'Because God sees'

Invisible Mother...
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'
Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more! Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this??
Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude -but now, they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!?
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from  England . Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of  Europe . I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: 'To  Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'
In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.
A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof, No one will ever see it. And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.

No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.  At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for 3 hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're going to love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

He loves you with an infinite love

Emily Freeman
Isaiah 38:16 – Isaiah 44:1
Sometimes you just need to know the Lord is near.
Because sometimes the journey seems long.
And although the scenery is breathtaking, and the companions pleasant,
there are moments when you might wonder if you can take another step.
Perhaps it is the heavy load you shoulder.  Maybe it is the fear of what is around the next corner.  It could be that you’re not quite ready for the detour, or the change of course, or the incline that lies ahead.
In those moments I find myself reaching out for the One whose companionship becomes a lifeline.  Just knowing He is there helps me to put one foot in front of the other.
My most favorite scripture is a reminder of the truth that He is with us through every journey, through every wilderness place, through every mountain moment.  He is there through the detours, and the changes of course, and the moments that cause us to climb vertically.
It is a scripture I have carried in my heart through the worst days.
It has gotten me through the longest nights.
It has brought peace through the times of heartache.
“But now thus saith the Lord that created thee…fear not: for I have redeemed thee,
I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers,
they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned;
neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God,
the Holy One of Israel, Thy Saviour:
Since thou wast precious in my sight…I have loved thee…
Fear not: for I am with thee…
(Isaiah 43:1-5)
Forget not to be happy now
Forget not that the Lord loves you
 He who created and knows the stars knows you and your name.
He loves you with an infinite love.
Never forget that your Heavenly Father knows, loves, and cherishes you.