Wednesday, April 30, 2014

We will never need to be coaxed.

When we insist on our own way, our own destinations, our own will, we may find ourselves left behind in places we do not want to be. With thoughtless and impatient hands
We tangle up the plans The Lord hath wrought.
And when we cry in pain He saith,
‘Be quiet, man, while I untie the knot.’
Unknown
 
….the most powerful Being in the universe is the Father of your spirit. He knows you. He loves you with a perfect love. God sees you not only as a mortal being on a small planet who lives for a brief season He sees you as His child. He sees you as the being you are capable and designed to become. He wants you to know that you matter to Him. May we ever believe, trust, and align our lives so that we will understand our true eternal worth and potential. May we be worthy of the precious blessings our Heavenly Father has in store for us is my prayer in the name of His Son, even Jesus Christ, amen.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf
 
We must remember that the only true evidence of our worth comes from the Lord, and it comes only in one way: by the presence and the gifts of the Spirit in our lives.
 
“From Whom All Blessings Flow”
April 1997
Neal A. Maxwell
My thanks to the First Presidency for this opportunity during which, as you can see, the lights combine with my cranium to bring some different “illumination” to this pulpit. As to my illness, treatments to date have proved encouraging, so I gladly express my deep gratitude for having come “thus far”.
Brothers and sisters, if I have any entitlement to the blessings of God, it has long since been settled in the court of small claims by His generous bestowals over a lifetime.
I express special appreciation for the faith and prayers of a loving and nursing wife and family, the Brethren and their wives, my secretary, hundreds and hundreds of members and friends, and for caring and very competent doctors and nurses. Heavenly Father has surely responded to their meritorious prayers and efforts. These, your gifts, are already a spiritual spur to me. I truly feel unworthy, but I am not unappreciative. My love and thanks to all of you!
 
Something I have heard President Hinckley do many times publicly is to give all the glory, the praise, and the honor to God. This is something I am going to do more often, including today, incorporating my appreciation for God’s tutoring and blessings.
 
Uncertainty as to our longevity is one of life’s basic realities for all of us. Hence, you and I should importune in faith for the blessings we deeply desire, but then be “content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto us”. Clearly our individual exit routes from this life vary; so does the timing.
 
There are many who suffer so much more than the rest of us: some go agonizingly; some go quickly; some are healed; some are given more time; some seem to linger. There are variations in our trials but no immunities. Thus, the scriptures cite the fiery furnace and fiery trials. Those who emerge successfully from their varied and fiery furnaces have experienced the grace of the Lord, which He says is sufficient. Even so, brothers and sisters, such emerging individuals do not rush to line up in front of another fiery furnace in order to get an extra turn! However, since the mortal school is of such short duration, our tutoring Lord can be the Schoolmaster of the compressed curriculum.
 
The redeeming presence of our loving Father-God in the universe is the grand fact pertaining to the human condition. It is the supernal truth which, along with His plan of happiness, reigns preeminent and imperial over all other realities. Other truths, by comparison, are merely fleeting factoids about which we may be “ever learning” without coming to a knowledge of the grand truths.
 
Mortal experience points evermore to the Atonement of Jesus Christ as the central act of all human history. The more I learn and experience, the more unselfish, stunning, and encompassing His Atonement becomes!
When we take Jesus’ yoke upon us, this admits us eventually to what Paul called the “fellowship of Christ’s sufferings”. Whether illness or aloneness, injustice or rejection, etc., our comparatively small-scale sufferings, if we are meek, will sink into the very marrow of the soul. We then better appreciate not only Jesus’ sufferings for us, but also His matchless character, moving us to greater adoration and even emulation.
 
Alma revealed that Jesus knows how to succor us in the midst of our griefs and sicknesses precisely because Jesus has already borne our griefs and sicknesses. He knows them firsthand; thus His empathy is earned. Of course, we do not comprehend it fully any more than we understand how He bore all mortal sins, but His Atonement remains the rescuing and reassuring reality.
 
No wonder, of all the things for which we might praise Jesus when He comes again in majesty and power, we will praise Him for His “loving kindness” and His “goodness”; moreover, we will go on praising Him forever and ever! We will never need to be coaxed….
 
.. my humble praise … flows not only to God the Father for His loving plan of salvation and to Jesus, the Lord of the universe, for His marvelous and remarkable Atonement, but also to the Holy Ghost, about whom we speak less. Among His many roles I express my particular and personal gratitude today for the recent ways in which He has been the precious Comforter, including in the mid-night moments!
In the holy name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 
 

Cake Mix Cinnamon Rolls

 
Cake Mix Cinnamon Rolls
Ingredients:

Cinnamon Rolls:
1 box of white or yellow cake mix
2 packages of active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups of warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups flourFilling:
2 cups brown sugar
Cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened
 
Frosting:
1 can cream cheese frosting
 
Directions:
Mix yeast and warm water until dissolved.  Combine cake mix, salt and flour in a large bowl.  Add warm water/yeast mixture and vanilla to cake mix, salt and flour mixture.  Mix well.  This may require kneading with your hands a bit to completely combine ingredients.  Cover tightly.  Let rise for one hour.  Punch down and let rise again for another 30-60 minutes.On a floured surface, roll dough into a rectangle shape, approx 1/4 thick.  Once dough is rolled out, brush with softened butter.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.  Sprinkle with cinnamon – use as little or as much as you like.  Starting at end opposite from you, roll the dough towards you until all dough is rolled into one long piece.  Slice dough into 24 equal sized pieces.
Place rolls in two greased 9×13 pans.  Cover and let rise until doubled in size.  I usually sit my rolls on my stove top while my oven preheats to 350 degrees.  This allows them time to rise and provides a bit of warmth from the oven warming.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-25 minutes or until golden brown. This will depend on your stove and your preference for how brown you like your cinnamon rolls. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.  If you prefer your frosting to melt into your rolls, frost after rolls have cooled for 10-15 minutes.  If you prefer your frosting to stay on top of your rolls, wait until rolls have cooled until frosting.
 
 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

It is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men

“…Every soul is born with the free gift of the Spirit of Christ. With that Spirit we can know when we have done what is right before God and when we have done wrong in His sight.”
Henry B. Eyring
 
“Inasmuch as the trend in society today is rapidly moving away from the values and principles the Lord has given us, we will almost certainly be called upon to defend that which we believe.
Will we have the courage to do so?”
Thomas S. Monson
 
“Have faith.  ‘Has the day of miracles ceased?  Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men?  Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them?  Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?  Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men.’
Jeffrey R. Holland

Angel Moroni Placed on New Provo Temple

 
We love to see this historic temple receive such a beautiful statue of the angel Moroni.
 
 
Before the angel Moroni made it to the temple site, he took a little road trip down I-15.
 
 
 
The statue takes flight to his final resting place on top of the Provo City Center Temple.
 
 
 
 
With the angel Moroni nearly in place, the workers look on in awe.
In downtown Provo, the construction on the new temple moves forward now that the angel Moroni has successfully been placed on top of the temple!
 

Pesto Chicken Florentine

Pesto Chicken Florentine
Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
2 cups fresh spinach leaves
15 ounces Alfredo sauce
3 tablespoons pesto
8 ounces penne pasta
grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
Tomatoes
Directions:
In large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta for 8-10 minutes (or until al dente). Rinse under cold water and drain.
In another sauce pan, warm Alfredo sauce on medium until heated through. Add the 3 tablespoons of pesto and set aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the garlic, and saute for 1 minute. Add in chicken strips and cook until chicken is browned and cooked all the way through. Add spinach and saute for another 2-3 minutes.
In a large bowl, add spinach and chicken mixture to pasta, and then stir in the pesto/Alfredo mixture. Mix well, and top with tomatoes and cheese to serve.
 
 

"I'm the gardener here."

“If Satan can get people to quarrel with one another, they will inevitably destroy themselves.”
 
Theodore M. Burton
 
The chain held by Satan is referred to in the scriptures as “the chains of hell”, “the bands of iniquity”, “chains of darkness”, and “the everlasting chains of death”. Such chains are used in making us captives of the evil one. Normally, they are not thrown over a man or a woman suddenly or in one single act. They start as flaxen threads and encumber a person habit by habit, sin by sin, and strand by strand. And if not cut and cast off through the process of repentance, they can become heavy chains and the awful “snare of the devil”.
….replace bad habits with good ones, and avoid any and every appearance of evil. Please be careful. Do not allow the chains of Satan to fall upon you. Do not allow those little threads to encircle you about. Throw them off. Cut them loose. Do not allow him to make you his. Satan is very uncomfortable, he is very miserable, and he seeks to make you and me miserable like unto himself.
Carlos E. Asay
 
The Gardener of Gethsemane

Russell C. Taylor
 
 
Just a few years ago my neighbors returned from Israel with olive leaves collected from the ground in the Garden of Gethsemane. I have often thought of that holy garden and how, nearly two thousand years ago, the ancestors of today’s trees witnessed the beginning of Christ’s atoning sacrifice. If they now had a voice, what a story they could tell!
 
I have also often thought that surely, since it was a garden, there was no doubt a gardener who lovingly tended those trees: nourishing them with precious water in times of drought, carefully pruning them to encourage their fruit, and harvesting the ripened olives.
 
It is more than symbolic, I believe, that the scriptures often speak of the Savior as just such a gardener. Quoting the prophet Zenos, the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob said this:
 
Hearken, O ye house of Israel, and hear the words of me, a prophet of the Lord.
For behold, thus saith the Lord, I will liken thee, O house of Israel, like unto a tame olive-tree, which a man took and nourished in his vineyard; and it grew, and waxed old, and began to decay.
 
And it came to pass that the master of the vineyard went forth, and he saw that his olive-tree began to decay; and he said: I will prune it, and dig about it, and nourish it, that perhaps it may shoot forth young and tender branches, and it perish not.
One of my favorite stories of how the Savior directs our lives is told by Elder Hugh B. Brown, who, throughout most of my teenage years, was a counselor to President David O. McKay and was much loved by Church members. I first heard this story when I was a missionary in Germany in the 1960s. One of my fellow missionaries was a grandson of President Brown and had a tape recording of his grandfather relating this experience, which he entitled “The Gardener and the Currant Bush.” I’ll use President Brown’s own words:
 
In the early dawn, a young gardener was pruning his trees and shrubs. He had one choice currant bush which had gone too much to wood. He feared therefore that it would produce little, if any, fruit. Accordingly, he trimmed and pruned the bush and cut it back. In fact, when he had finished, there was little left but stumps and roots.
Tenderly he considered what was left. It looked so sad and deeply hurt. On every stump there seemed to be a tear where the pruning knife had cut away the growth of early spring. The poor bush seemed to speak to him, and he thought he heard it say, “Oh, how could you be so cruel to me; you who claim to be my friend, who planted me and cared for me when I was young, and nurtured and encouraged me to grow? Could you not see that I was rapidly responding to your care? I was nearly half as large as the trees across the fence, and might soon have become like one of them. But now you’ve cut my branches back; the green, attractive leaves are gone, and I am in disgrace among my fellows.”
 
The young gardener looked at the weeping bush and heard its plea with sympathetic understanding. His voice was full of kindness as he said, “Do not cry; what I have done to you was necessary that you might be a prize currant bush in my garden. . . .
“. . . You must not weep; all this will be for your good; and some day, when you see more clearly, when you are richly laden with luscious fruit, you will thank me and say, ‘Surely, he was a wise and loving gardener. He knew the purpose of my being, and I thank him now for what I then thought was cruelty.’”
 
At this point in the telling, Elder Brown’s story became a personal reflection as he looked back 40 years to when he was an officer in the Canadian army, stationed in England during World War I. An opportunity for promotion had unexpectedly come up, and he was ordered to report to his commanding officer’s quarters. Elder Brown had prepared for years for just such a position as the one he fully expected to be offered. He was confident that he would be given the promotion and the success of his military career would be assured.
 
As he entered the commanding officer’s quarters, President Brown noticed his own personnel file lying open on the desk in front of his superior. He also noticed a note written in a clear hand saying, “This man is a Mormon.” Elder Brown was informed that he would not be given the promotion he was expecting and was assigned what he considered a “relatively unimportant post.” He was crushed. He was convinced that his fellow soldiers would view this assignment as a sign that he had failed. He returned to his tent and knelt next to his cot and wept. He knew that he could never achieve his goals of becoming a high-ranking military officer. He cried out to God:
“Oh, how could you be so cruel to me? You who claim to be my friend you who brought me here and nurtured and encouraged me to grow. Could you not see that I was almost equal to the other men whom I have so long admired? But now I have been cut down. I am in disgrace among my fellows. Oh, how could you do this to me?”
 
Elder Brown felt humiliated, and his heart was full of bitterness. Then he seemed to hear an echo from the past. The words that were in his mind were words he had heard before but where? Then he realized that they were the words of the currant bush, and his memory whispered: “I’m the gardener here.”
 
The remembrance of that long-forgotten incident in the garden came rushing back to him, and his own memory answered the bitter plea he had cast at God:
“Do not cry . . . what I have done to you was necessary . . . you were not intended for what you sought to be, . . . if I had allowed you to continue . . . you would have failed in the purpose for which I planted you and my plans for you would have been defeated. . . . Some day when you are richly laden with experience you will say, ‘He was a wise gardener. He knew the purpose of my earth life. I thank him now for what I thought was cruel.’”
 
Remorseful, the bitterness washed from his heart, President Brown spoke humbly to God and confessed:
 
“I know you now. You are the gardener, and I the currant bush. Help me, dear God, to endure the pruning, and to grow as you would have me grow; to take my allotted place in life and ever more to say, ‘Thy will not mine be done.’”
 


 

We rejoice in all the Savior has done for us

We Follow Jesus Christ  
we rejoice in all the Savior has done for us
Quentin L. Cook
The Savior subsequently accomplished the Atonement. He took upon Himself the “burden of the sins of mankind” and the “horrors that Satan … could inflict.”  In this process He endured the fraudulently concocted trials and the terrible, tragic events leading to His Crucifixion. This ultimately culminated in Christ’s triumphant Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Christ fulfilled His sacred mission as Savior and Redeemer. We will be resurrected from death and have our spirits reunited with our bodies. Based on personal worthiness, we may through His grace have the glorious opportunity of entering back into the presence of God.
 
While we rejoice in the supernal significance of Gethsemane and Calvary, our focus has always been on the resurrected Lord. Frederic Farrar, the English theologian and believer, testified that the earliest generation of believers in the primitive Christian Church celebrated the Savior as “the Risen, the Eternal, the Glorified Christ” and “contemplated Him, not as on the Cross, but as on the Throne.” 
 
…..The Savior knew what was about to befall Him. His sacred, atoning mission, beginning with the War in Heaven in the premortal existence, was about to unfold that evening and the next day. Yet with the trials by His adversaries imminently before Him, there is not the slightest evidence He was preparing a defense against the untrue accusations. The Savior instead introduced the sacred ordinance of the sacrament to His disciples. As I contemplate that solemn occasion, my feelings are deeply touched. Sacrament meeting is the most sacred and holy of all the meetings in the Church. …If we are to be His disciples and to be committed members of His Church, we must remember and reverence the sacrament. It allows each of us to express with broken hearts and contrite spirits our willingness to follow the Savior, to repent, and to become a Saint through the Atonement of Christ. The sacrament allows us to witness to God that we will remember His Son and keep His commandments as we renew our baptismal covenant. This increases our love and appreciation for both the Father and the Son.
 
The Savior also emphasized love and unity and declared that we would be known as His disciples if we have love one to another. In the face of the eternity-shaping Atonement He was about to undertake, such a commandment requires our obedience. We manifest our love for God when we keep His commandments and serve His children. We don’t fully comprehend the Atonement, but we can spend our lives trying to be more loving and kind, regardless of the adversity we face.
The Savior’s charge to His disciples to love one another and the dramatic and powerful way He taught this principle at the Last Supper is one of the most poignant and beautiful episodes from the last days of His mortal life. He was not teaching a simple class in ethical behavior. This was the Son of God pleading with His Apostles and all disciples who would come after them to remember and follow this most central of His teachings. How we relate and interact with each other is a measure of our willingness to follow Jesus Christ
 
The Savior’s promise of the Holy Ghost to the Apostles is of supreme importance in recognizing the preeminent role of the Holy Ghost, the third member of the Godhead. The Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit, the Comforter, who bears witness of the Father and the Son, reveals the truth of all things, and sanctifies those who have repented and been baptized. He is referred to as the Holy Spirit of Promise and as such confirms as acceptable to God the righteous acts, ordinances, and covenants of each of us. They who are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise receive all that the Father has. The atoning trials the Savior faced in Gethsemane and on the cross are a great example to us. He faced mental, physical, and spiritual afflictions that are beyond our comprehension. In the garden, He prayed to His Father, saying, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”  As His disciples, there will be times when we will be tried and persecuted unjustly and mocked unfairly and face temporal and spiritual storms of a magnitude that will seem unbearable to us and experience bitter cups that we pray would pass from us. No one is exempt from the storms of life……
 
Today on this Easter morning we rejoice in all the Savior has done for us. He has made it possible for each of us to gain our salvation and exaltation.  I bear my apostolic witness that Jesus Christ lives and is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. He has provided the pathway to true happiness.
Of this I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 

Oatmeal M and M Cookies

Oatmeal M and M Cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 cups M & M's chocolate candy
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl, beat together the softened butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Add in eggs and vanilla and mix well. Stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until completely incorporated. Fold in the oats and M & M's. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets and bake for 9-12 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets and let cool.
Makes about 5 dozen cookies.
 

Monday, April 28, 2014

"O God, have I fallen so low?"

 
The Painting of the Last Supper
 
 
The following fictional story about the painting of the Last Supper tells a convincing lesson on the effects
of thought in the life of a boy or girl, or of a man or woman.

The Last Supper was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci, a noted Italian artist. The time engaged for its completion was seven years. The figures representing the twelve apostles and Christ himself were painted from living persons. The live model for the painting of the figure of Jesus was chosen first. When it was decided that Da Vinci would paint this great picture, hundreds and hundreds of young men were carefully viewed in an endeavor to find a face and personality of dissipation caused by sin. Finally, after weeks of laborious searching a young man, nineteen years of age, was selected as the model for the portrayal of Christ. For six months Da Vinci worked on the production of this leading character of the famous painting.
During the next six years Da Vinci continued his labors on his sublime work of art. One by one, fitting persons were chosen to represent each of the eleven apostles, space being left for the painting of the figure representing Judas Iscariot as the final task of this masterpiece. This was the apostle, you remember, who betrayed his Lord for thirty pieces of silver or $16.95 in our present day currency. For weeks Da Vinci searched for a man with a hard callous face, with a countenance marked by scars of avarice, deceit, who would betray his best friend. After many discouraging experiences in searching for the type of person required to represent Judas, word came to Da Vinci that a man whose appearance fully met the requirements had been found. He was in a dungeon in Rome, sentenced to die for a life of crime and murder.
Da Vinci made the trip to Rome at once, and this man was brought out from his imprisonment in the dungeon and led out into the light of the sun. There Da Vinci saw before him a dark, swarthy man, his long shaggy and unkempt hair sprawled over his face. A face which portrayed a character of viciousness and complete ruin. At last the painter had found the person he wanted to represent the character of Judas in his painting.
By special permission from the king, this prisoner was carried to Milan where the fresco was being painted. For six months the prisoner sat before Da Vinci, at appointed hours each day, as the gifted artist diligently continued his task of transmitting to his painting this base character in the picture representing the traitor and betrayer of the Savior. As he finished his last stroke, he turned to the guards and said, "I have finished, you may take the prisoner away, he suddenly broke loose from their control and rushed up to Da Vinci, crying as he did so; "Oh, Da Vinci, look at me! Do you not know who I am? Da Vinci, with the trained eyes of a great character student, carefully scrutinized the man upon whose face he had constantly gazed for six months and replied; "No, I have never seen you in my life until you were brought before me out of the dungeon in Rome."
Then lifting his eyes toward heaven, the prisoner sad, "O God, have I fallen so low?" Then turning his face to the painter he cried, "Leonardo Da Vinci, look at me again, for I am the same man you painted just seven years ago as the figure of Christ!"
  This story of the painting of the Last Supper teaches so strongly the lesson of the effects of right and wrong thinking of an individual. He was a young man whose character was so pure and unspoiled by the sins of the world, that he represented a countenance and innocence and beauty fit to be used for the painting of a representation of Christ. But during the seven years, following a life of sin and crime, he was changed into a perfect picture of the most notorious character ever known in the history of the world.

Old Fashioned Buttermilk Fudge Brownies

Old Fashioned Buttermilk Fudge Brownies

Active Prep Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 16

These brownies are sweet-sharing perfection, since they taste even better the day after they are made. If you don’t have time to bake up some brownies, consider packaged microwave popcorn and licorice, vanilla ice cream and root beer, or a tube of bake-it-yourself cookie dough.
•    4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
•    ¾ cup butter
•    2 cups sugar
•    pinch of salt
•    3 eggs
•    ½ cup buttermilk or milk
•    2 teaspoons vanilla
•    1¾ cups flour, divided use
•    1 cup milk chocolate chips or semisweet chips

Preheat oven to 350ยบ F. Butter and flour a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. In a large microwaveable bowl, heat chocolate and butter on high at one minute intervals, stirring often to avoid scorching. When chocolate mixture is melted and smooth, add sugar and salt. Stir in eggs, one a time, and then buttermilk and vanilla. Add 1½ cups flour and mix well.
In a small separate bowl, stir together remaining ¼ cup flour and chocolate chips. Pour chips and any flour from bowl into brownies. Stir until just combined. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.
Bake for about 28–32 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few fudgy crumbs. Do not over bake. Let cool for at least 30 minutes. Store brownies in same baking dish, uncut until serving.
 
 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Keep shining!


There are no words.

 
There are No Words
Emily Freeman
I don’t remember much of the details.  What I do remember is a frantic phone call from a father out of the country, worried sick about his daughter who was critically ill. An emergency trip to the hospital was needed.  His wife would have to go alone with the toddler who was sick and a newborn who could not be left behind.
I remember rushing over to their home.  Helping pack diaper bags and overnight bags.  Trying to find matching shoes.  Thinking through the details so the mother, shouldering the burden of anxiety, wouldn’t have to.
I remember Greg meeting us there at the hospital.  The prayers.  Watching doctor after doctor come in and out of the room. I remember the hours of waiting for the husband to fly across the world to be there at her bedside, and the relief that flooded over the mother’s face when he walked in. Greg and I went home then.
It was several weeks later, after the daughter was healthy again, that her mother stopped by with a plate of cookies and a thank you note. I still have the note. I keep it in a drawer in my bedroom, the one where I keep everything I never want to forget. It’s a simple note.  A thank you.
The words left a deep impression on my heart…there are no words expressive enough to convey my gratitude.
There are no words.
It reminds me of a favorite scripture in the Book of Mormon, “I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.”  (Alma 26:16) Sometimes gratitude leaves us without words. I felt that way all day yesterday…surrounded by reminders of the sacrifice and Resurrection of Jesus.
There are no words. In the book of Corinthians we read another verse that describes these moments when there are no words expressive enough to convey our gratitude… “Thanks be unto God of his unspeakable gift.”  (2 Cor. 9:15)
One of the unspeakable gifts is the gift of the Holy Ghost… “God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost…”  (D&C 121:26)
As I think back over the last few months of this journey my heart fills with gratitude.
I have experienced the Spirit in great abundance.
Promptings have come.  Comfort.  Direction.  Guidance. Doors have been opened.
Pathways have been set forth.
I have been led in ways that are unexpected and divinely inspired.
Thinking back over the miraculous circumstances that have filled the mundane moments of my life, I find myself in awe at how clearly the Spirit can speak to us.  How easily it can direct us if we are in tune.
My heart is filled with thanksgiving, and gratitude overflows.
Full to the brim.
There are no words.
 
 

The Last Sacrament Cup

 
The Last Sacrament Cup
 
 
Our five children ping-ponged between our laps, shuffled around for seats, as my husband and I pulled out books and crayons to settle our noisy crew for sacrament meeting.
It was just before the New Year and we were visiting a ward in St. George, Utah. A ward that had no primary or youth program because it was composed mostly of retired couples. No twelve-year-old Deacons bumped elbows on the front row; it was the High Priests who were preparing to bless and pass the sacrament.
Normally, the ward would have gently filled the padded seats of the chapel, but on this holiday weekend, the overflow divider was pushed wide and we, with a number of other families, were nestled onto metal folding chairs that stretched to the back of the gym.
The meeting progressed as usual and I watched as a dozen older gentlemen carried trays of bread, then water, through the bursting rows. They were making great effort to manage the unusually large crowd. Their faces were kind. Some had rounded shoulders and bent spines. They whispered directions to each other. One wore cowboy boots. One winked at the little girl in front of us.
My daughters and I took the last cups of water on our tray and handed it to my husband, Doug, who passed the empty tray to the brother standing at the end of our row.
The Bishop stood at the pulpit to assess the situation. When he asked who had not received the water, a few pockets of people, including Doug, raised their hands. So the brethren returned to the sacrament table, offered a second prayer on new water and delivered it to the waiting members.
Our row was last to receive the water this time and I noticed that Doug offered the couple next to him the two remaining cups. The tray was empty and it appeared to me that Doug was the only one who hadn’t had the water. I wondered what he would do. Would he let it go? Not worry about it this week?
But when the Bishop asked if anyone had not received the water, Doug raised his hand. He was, as I suspected, the only one. He looked at me and we smiled, conscious of the craned necks and curious eyes.
The brethren returned to the table for a third prayer on the water. And suddenly, as I heard that phrase, “to sanctify this water to the souls of all those who drink of it…” a realization crept into my heart. An understanding so keen it pried me clear open and God’s spirit swept in.
It was a reverence I hadn’t felt in too long.
They were praying over one cup. For one person. One soul.
The sacrament mattered. Even for one. Just as the Atonement mattered. For one.
For every one.
Hundreds of members waited for the Amen. Dozens watched as the last cup was delivered to my husband, and he put it to his lips, and drank.
I had to look away my eyes were so wet.
I looked up in time to see these sweet men in suits cover the trays with white linen. Just as Christ’s body, broken for us, was covered. Just as His Atonement covers us. All of us.
You and I are indisputably tied to Christ’s suffering. All our sins, grief, hurts, and losses are held in the drops of his blood. He said we are “graven upon the palms of his hands”
I recalled a similar feeling when two young boys knelt in our living room to bless a cup of water and piece of bread for me, alone. We had just brought our tiny, premature twin boys home from the hospital, one still on oxygen, and for a few months I was unable to attend church. Every week these shining boys knocked on our door and I knelt next to them on the hardwood floor. I was humbled they would bring the sacrament to me. That they would offer those prayers for me. For one.
The next Sunday, while sitting in our regular ward chapel, children still ping-ponging, I opened the hymn book to prepare for the sacrament. These are the words we sang:
Rev’rently and meekly now,
Let thy head most humbly bow.
Think of me, thou ransomed one;
Think what I for thee have done.
With my blood that dripped like rain,
Sweat in agony of pain,
With my body on the tree
I have ransomed even thee.
 
 
All the other sacramental hymns are written in third person, about the Savior, or in letter form, to the Savior. But this hymn is written in first person, as if the Savior is speaking directly to us. It is so tender and personal.
Once again, I felt the emotion of watching Doug take the last sacrament cup. Of understanding that our Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel, would break not just bread, but body and soul, for me. For you. As if we were the only ones that mattered.