Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sometimes I Wonder Who You'd be Today

Tomorrow, July 27th, would have been my brother, Zach's, 17th birthday.  I have to confess that as time has moved forward, I have thought of him less frequently.  And I never allow myself to feel sad about him.  Most of the time, that is because I think about where he is now and what he is doing, I know he is happy.  I know he is doing important things, and I know he is where he needs to be.  We have been blessed by more than one account in the years since his passing of someone being touched in some way by Zach from the other side.  What a comfort that is.  Since tomorrow would have been a celebration of the years he had lived on earth, I thought I might allow myself just this once to reflect on what he might be like if he were here with us still.

My first thoughts are about what kind of uncle he would be.  He loved spending time with Brook when she was younger.  I know he would love what a wild child Brielle is, and I can almost hear him laughing at her antics.  I wonder what he would think of Brook now, and if he would like to play with the girls when we come to visit.

Then I wonder what our relationship would be like.  Would I have learned to appreciate him more?  Would he make me laugh?  Would he call me just to talk?  Would he drive up to see me just because he wanted to spend time with me?  What would we have done together?  Would we have gone on double dates together?  Would he have confided in me his girl stories?  Would he have come to me or Jeff for advice?

What would Zach have looked like now?  Would he be tall and filled out?  What would his face look like?  Would the girls be chasing him?

What would Zach be doing at home?  Would he be excelling at drums?  Start his own garage band?  Do crazy things with his friends?  Would he like school or be frustrated with it?  Would he play pranks?  Would he tease my parents?

If I did allow myself to be sad, I might think more on everything I wish he could have been there for but hasn't.  I might think about all the things we have missed out on as far as earthly experiences, rites of passage, and growing from boy to man.  Would I feel more complete if he were still here, sharing these things with me?

Since it is his birthday, I want Zach to know that I do allow myself to think these things from time to time.  I also want him to know that I am happy for him now.  I am grateful to him for not forgetting me, and sending me sweet reminders that his spirit is still here.  I can recall one in the past year.  His presence is so beautiful and comforting to me.  I love that he still finds ways to communicate his love to me.  I am grateful that his life continues on the other side, and that his physical death was not the end of his existence.  I am grateful that that is true of all of us, and that one day, we will all be reunited with the ones we love because of the Gospel and temples.  I love you Zach.  Thank you for being my brother.

I hope you don't mind the song I am sharing today.  It is not at all spiritual, but it reminds me of Zach because I have had these thoughts.  Plus, let's be honest, if Zach were here, he would probably appreciate the rapping.  This one's for you bro!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

He Hears our Prayers and Knows our Hearts

My heart has been anxious to share my feelings and thoughts as I have studied the conference talks this past week.  I have certainly learned the value of having questions in mind when studying scriptures.  I feel like each day, a different question was answered.

From "Returning to the Faith," Sister Wixom shares insights from Mother Theresa's life: "Please pray specially for me that I may not spoil His work and that Our Lord may show Himself--for there is such terrible darkness within me, as if everything was dead...Ask the Lord to give me courage."  I was touched to learn that someone so selfless and in tune with spiritual things felt the way I have felt so many times over the years.  I definitely go through spurts where I feel more in-tuned with the spirit, and times where I truly feel like I am in darkness.  I appreciated the response her leader gave her: "God guides you, dear Mother, you are not so much in the dark as you think.  The path to be followed may not always be clear at once.  Pray for light; do not decide too quickly, listen to what others have to say, consider their reasons.  You will always find something to help you....Guided by faith, prayer, and by reason with a right intention, you have enough."  That light we need to pray for is the light of Christ.  His light is brighter and stronger than the darkness brought on by the adversary.  Listening to others is great counsel, as it is often through others that our prayers are answered.  Just yesterday, my own Mother shared some of her struggles to be more selfless and Christ-like, and what she has done to try to improve herself.  Although she had shared this with me before, I needed to hear it again.  Her greatest wisdom was: "Pray to love" when it seems your patience is running thin.  She shared several examples of how this has allowed her to see others through Christ's eyes and better understand them.

Elder Teixeira, in his talk "Seeking the Lord." counseled: "'[Seek] me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.'  Seeking the Lord and feeling His presence is a daily quest, a worthwhile effort."  This reminder was pertinent to me because I often take for granted the treasures of the Gospel and scriptures.  I take for granted that, at one time or another, my testimony has been strong and sure, so surely I will never struggle to maintain it.  Then, before I even realize it is happening, I find myself in that darkness.  I find myself lost and unsure.  But, what wise counsel: It is a daily quest.  We cannot stop striving to seek the Lord in our lives.  "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."  How often I have forgotten this loving counsel.  I truly believe that our Savior wants us to lean on Him.  He wants us to remember what great sacrifices He made for us, so that we don't have to try to do things, especially hard things, on our own.

Finally, Bishop Causse, in "Is it Still Wonderful to You?" shares this thought: "To marvel at the wonders of the gospel is a sign of faith.  It is to recognize the hand of the Lord in our lives and in everything around us."  He then shared the Book of Mormon story of the people who witnessed the miraculous signs of Jesus's birth.  After years passed, they began to forget what they had witnessed and felt, and even began to disbelieve all that they had heard and seen.  Wise follow-up counsel from Marcel Prout says "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."  That is why we must make a daily effort to study and review the scriptures.  We have the opportunity, every time we open those sacred works, to rediscover glorious, loving teachings; to experience the spirit testifying to us; and to receive counsel from teachings we have forgotten.

Through this experience,  I felt extreme gratitude and love for my Heavenly Father.  He knew I would need this counsel at this time in my life, and he filled my vessel daily.  What a blessing to have these conference talks available to us from our modern-day prophets, apostles, and church leaders.  I am truly grateful to Heavenly Father for being aware of my struggle, and for knowing how to reach out to me so that I would not feel so lost and alone.  We are blessed to have this knowledge.  I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.