A Child’s Prayer

One of the most rewarding things for me, as a mother, is to know that what I try to instil in my children is taking root. I had one such experience this week.

My little boy, Tristan, who is all of six years old, loves the smell of things (to be fair, he loves exercising all his senses). He loves the smell of my perfume, he loves the smell of his favorite foods and so so many other things. One particular day, he found my silicone pastry brush and for some reason decided to smell it. He decided that the smell of it reminded him of his baby milk and started to tell me how much he misses that milk which turned into a long-winded conversation about who knows what. The point being, the pastry brush was forgotten… until I needed it for a dessert I was making for our dinner with the missionaries that evening.

I searched and searched and searched (frantically, I might add because as always, I was running late) but I could not for the life of me find the thing. I finally called Tristan in to see if he had walked off with it to play with or something. He said he’d put it right back that day. He proceeded to search in all five of the utensil drawers over and over again as I had done not too many minutes before him.

Tristan: Maybe we should just pray to find it.

Me: Actually, that’s a great idea.

I said a quick prayer and we resumed our search.

Tristan: That’s what I always do, like when I have a hard spelling test, I say a prayer.

Me: *Proverbial cup freely running over* Really?! That’s amazing! I’m so proud of you for doing that!

And as if that wasn’t enough, the pastry brush was located an instant after I had finished speaking!

Tristan: See. It worked.

And off he ran, leaving me standing in a glorious and triumphant moment of deep fulfillment. I cannot begin to describe the reverence I felt for this precious little boy’s faith. But that’s not it at all. Later in the week, I watched as he played a game with his sister, Larissa. He got to a point where he realized he might end up losing if he didn’t finish on time. Quick as a flash, he folded his arms and prayed in his heart and gave it a solid go and finished his task. His face was aglow – a result of both his victory and his faith being rewarded.

Then, two nights ago, as he struggled to finish his dinner because of his need to participate in all the conversations, get up and do superhero moves complete with sound effects, and just general slowness, he found himself in a position where he would lose all his superhero privileges for three days if he didn’t finish his meal within ten minutes. I had the timer going, working away at my own dinner (which was delicious by the way) when I heard a little voice say to me:

Can you please pause the clock really quickly?

Me: Why?

Tristan: Because I need to pray.

So I paused the timer for the few seconds it took him to make his petition. Result: he finished with a minute and a bit to spare. Now if you knew him, you would understand how monumental that was for him. The first words out of him mouth when he heard he had beat the clock:

Yes, it worked! (complete with closed fist of triumph)

As I watched these priceless moments of my little boy’s growing testimony, I was (and still am) filled with awe and gratitude. For one thing, I’ve made a positive impact in his life by modelling to him a life of faith and worship. For another, I am watching a child of God build his own relationship with that being who is the father of his eternal spirit. My only prayer is that this will go on from strength to strength until he has become all that is Father in Heaven has sent him here to be. As any mother knows, to be entrusted with the duty of drawing forth from a child their eternal potential is a daunting task at the best of times.

Please don’t misunderstand from this post that we don’t encounter experiences where our prayers aren’t immediately answered. That is simply not true. Our most frequent and fervent prayer, individually and personally, is that we will be able to be sealed together in the Lord’s Holy House, by the proper authority, and become a forever family. This blessing is not available to us just yet because we are missing a righteous Priesthood holder to complete the equation. We wait for the answer to our righteous petition to come in the Lord’s own time. My children understand this. They also understand that sometimes prayers are answered when we least expect them or in ways we fail to recognize.

In sharing these utterly beautiful moments with you, I am reminded of one of the scriptures which I fervently aspire to. This scripture is my anchor as a mother. It fills my heart with unimaginable peace and abiding joy.

3 Nephi 22:13   And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

jesus-christ-glowing-among-a-group-of-little-children

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

An Arsenal At Our Disposal

Someone mentioned a story about Satan’s Toolbox and his most used tool. I’ve found several variations to the story, but the basic gist of it is this:

There was an auction attended by all manner of demons, etc. The items that were on sale were the tools that Satan used to destroy people. Many items were on display: Hatred, Greed, Malice, Lust, Pride, Jealousy, etc. Each was priced according to its value. Sitting a little further apart than these was a harmless looking, worn-out wedge. When asked what this tool was, he replied, ‘Discouragement’. It’s my favorite tool because all I need in to put the point of it in a person’s mind and I can easily influence them. It’s my most used tool because almost everyone is susceptible to it. The Devil’s price was too high and no-one else could afford it, so it remains in his possession and is still the most used of his tools.

When I heard the story, I made a note to be more mindful when I feel discouraged and to try to remedy it as quickly as I could.

So when I was in Sunday School, learning about the gifts of the Spirit, I had little idea that this little story would tie in with the lesson. The teacher, after listing and discussing these gifts and explaining that an apostle had said, ‘Gifts of the Spirit can lead us to God. They can shield us from the power of the adversary. They can compensate for our inadequacies and repair our imperfections.’ [1] asked the question:

Why has Heavenly Father given us these gifts?

My mind immediately went to this story and it seemed quite simple, really. If the devil has his tools, then so does our Heavenly Father, the chief among them the Holy Ghost and with him, the gifts that we are able to seek out and receive. What a spectacular arsenal to have at our disposal! Not only that, we have the whole armor of God [2], which, if we apply ourselves daily, is something we have the ability to have on constantly.

Armor of God

It can become really daunting, and yes, discouraging, when we view our lot in this life. Sometimes trials and tribulations can seem to overwhelm us and we can feel tempted to say that it’s not worth it. But, everything that I have learned in life as a disciple of Jesus Christ is this: When the Savior of this world tells you not to fear, you’re better off believing Him, because He truly has overcome the world. [3]

Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. ~ Doctrine and Covenants 6: 34

I am full of gratitude to my Heavenly Father for giving us such a powerful defence against the wiles of the adversary. He has not left us exposed in any way, shape or form, but the onus lies with us to take complete advantage of these gifts. It’s actually a commandment to desire and zealously seek spiritual gifts. [4]

It is my prayer that we will all make a renewed effort to pursue this worthy goal. I know I will.

What spiritual gifts do you think you possess or would like to pursue?

1. Spiritual Gifts, Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign Sept !986
2. Doctrine and Covenants 27:15-18
3. John 16:33
4. Doctrine and Covenants 46:8 ; 1 Corinthians 12:31 and 14:1

Zoë’sPatriarchal Blessing – Her Personal Scripture

Last Sunday, my eldest daughter received her Patriarchal Blessing. It was a tremendously spiritually fulfilling and affirming experience. It allowed me to once again feel the power of Heavenly Father’s love for each of us as individual children of His. It was a testament to me that He truly has a specific plan for each of our lives and just how well He knows us and wants to bless us.

I was really proud of my daughter, Zoë, for all her preparations prior to receiving the blessing. She had fasted for the day and together we’d read and discussed some talks by General Authorities about Patriarchal Blessing. We discussed the Abrahamic Covenant and our rights and responsibilities as Covenant Israel. Even before we left for the Patriarch’s home, I felt overwhelmed with the Spirit. Just before we left, we knelt together and prayed. I was so choked up I could barely say what I wanted to say.

Once we arrived at the Patriarch’s home, we had a little chat before the ordinance. The Patriarch was a soft-spoken and kindly man. After making sure that Zoe understood everything, he proceeded with the blessing.

Ah! Words fail me. I could never do justice to the feelings and emotions coursing through me as he pronounced sacred and powerful blessings on that dear head. Try as I might, I couldn’t contain my emotions and I wept uncontrollably. The only thing that was vividly apparent to me was that God, our Father in Heaven lives and that He knows and loves this little child of mine with a love I could never fathom! And the whole time the Patriarch spoke, I felt that Spirit bear witness to its truthfulness.

The other beautiful (that word is such an understatement in this instance, but it’ll have to do) thing about her blessing was that all the specifics that she had fasted for were addressed and she received the very guidance she had  hoped to receive. Another witness that He hears and answers our prayers and fulfills the righteous desires of our hearts.

I am so blessed to have been a part of such a powerfully spiritual experience. I am so grateful for the magnificent Plan of Salvation. I delight in my Savior, Jesus Christ, through whom all these wonders are possible. In humblest reverence I offer my gratitude to Him for all that He has done for me, a sinner. I am so grateful for the eternal Priesthood and the authority and keys that have been restored to allow it’s rightful use. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I Got What I Wanted at General Conference

I usually go to General Conference with a question or a problem in mind. I also take my own notes, a lot of  notes. Not only do the notes help me to focus on all that I’ve heard and felt, they also serve as powerful memory tool for me.

I had been preparing for weeks what issue I was going to take with me this time. Sometimes there are several issues that need addressing, but this time, I felt that there was an over-arching theme that would put my other concerns to rest. And what is that issue,  I hear you ask? It is simply this: I have a really difficult time liking or loving myself enough to stop putting myself down. Don’t get me wrong. There are many things about myself that I love and cherish. I actually think it’s pretty awesome being me – most of the time. The trouble is, because of abuse throughout my life, I have ‘learned’ to put myself down as a safety mechanism to prevent others from doing it, sorta like ‘beating them to the punch’. I also know that it doesn’t work, but it’s just been how I’ve dealt with it. So, for this General Conference, I wanted to know how my Heavenly Father sees me, so that I can see myself through His eyes and truly embrace myself, no matter how broken I feel. I want to see myself through His eyes.

Imagine my utter breakdown as Sister Elaine S. Dalton, third speaker at the Saturday morning session, began her talk with the first portion of the oft repeated Young Women’s Theme ‘We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him.’ As she continued with a powerful talk about our identity and our divine parentage, I was filled with the Spirit and overcome with emotion. Most particularly, I was blown away by the statement:

She understood who she was and whose she was.

I am now determined to make that my personal motto until the truthfulness of it has sunk in. The entire talk, with a renewed call to virtue and her conviction in the scripture calling us to ‘Stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places’ were the very things I needed to hear to bolster my own conviction in these beliefs.

I cannot think of a single talk at Conference that didn’t instill in me a desire to renew my efforts to become a righteous, productive and fulfilled daughter of God. But, it was Sister Dalton’a talk that reminded me that I am a daughter of God and that I matter. Her talk renewed the desire to ‘bloom where I am planted’.

I am ever so grateful to Sister Dalton for her powerful testimony, that through her, my petition for validation from my loving and eternal Father was answered.

As always, my experiences with this General Conference have instilled in me so much anticipation for the next Conference. It just keeps getting better and better!

I want to finish this post by adding my testimony to the many I have heard this weekend. I know that God, our Father in Heaven, lives. I know that His son, Jesus Christ, is my Living Redeemer. I know that the Savior’s miraculous and holy birth, His Atoning Sacrifice and His Resurrection are absolute truths. I know that I am theirs and that I am loved of them.  In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

 

Have Miracles Ceased, Elder Witehira?

Another good friend of mine was Set Apart for his Mission yesterday. I met Elder Shaydon Witehira through his aunt, Tiara, who happens to be one of my closest friends. I was honored to have been invited to attend this sacred event with his family.

There was a beautiful, warm spirit present throughout the entire time. Tears flowed freely as loved ones felt the truthfulness of the work and the divine nature of the calling.

After the ordinance had been performed, our Bishop stood to share a few remarks. There was one significant moment that endeared itself to me and that was when Bishop Curtis asked the question, ‘Have miracles ceased?’. He went on the explain that so long as there was faith in Jesus Christ, miracles will not cease.

I witnessed this truth with the very eventful week and a half before Elder Witehira’s departure. I was invited to attend his Temple Endowment last Friday evening. I found out at the last minute that it had been rescheduled for the following day because there had been health concerns for Shaydon’s dad. In spite of being hospitalized for his ailment, his parents made every effort and were able to attend this sacred moment in their son’s life. Shaydon received his endowment with his cousin, Juwan, who is also leaving for his mission soon.  I was filled with awe as I watched a miracle take place before my very eyes, because even though I didn’t understand the full extent of their adversity, I could see the adversary making every effort to stop this family from being together. I rejoice in my Christ, knowing he knows the righteous desires of our heart and is ever at our side to bring them to pass.

But it doesn’t end there. The following day, his dad was back in hospital. Shaydon was the final speaker in our Sacrament Meeting. His emotional, heartfelt testimony was incredible. I was so proud of him. I remembered asking him if he would serve a mission a while ago and his answer had been a vague, indecisive one. Watching him stand there with so much conviction in what he was about to undertake was such a remarkable experience for me.

A few days later, (last night), I was privileged to witness another miracle as his father, his grandfather, his Bishop, his Stake President and friends laid their hands on his head to set him apart for a holy undertaking. My Bishops words about miracles and faith in Christ were bouncing around inside my head the entire time as I marvelled at the faith of this family to allow these miracles to take place. And I am not ashamed to admit, it went a long way in strengthening my own faith.

When he stood up to bear his testimony after his setting apart, I was delighted that the very first thing he said was a thank you to his parents. He also thanked Tiara and her husband, George, with whom he had been living for the past few years.

I have loved watching this young man’s faith and testimony grow. I know that the people who will get to know him on his mission will be truly blessed to know him, his special spirit and his powerful testimony.

Good luck, Elder Witehira. We’ll miss you!

How Fast Did Your Fast Go?

Since her recent baptism, my little girl has had two opportunities to fast. This Fast Sunday was her second.

I love that she is able and willing to make this sacrifice and is showing her obedience to her Father in Heaven. What makes it even more remarkable is that on both occasions, her motives were completely selfless.

Admittedly, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. She did have moments where she found it really difficult. The way we do it in our family is that when a child turns eight and have been baptized, they are required to participate on Fast Sundays. From age eight to twelve they do a half fast, which means they miss one major meal and from the age of twelve onwards, they are required to do a full  fast which means twenty-four hours or two meals.

By the time we were in Sacrament Meeting today, she was feeling the discomforts of thirst and maybe a little hunger. It was really quite comical to watch her face light up when she realized the bread tray for Sacrament was under her nose and she looked up at me in delight and surprise. It made me think of a meme I saw on the Facebook page Mormon Memes.

And because she just adores Mr. Bean, I thought I’d create this one:

When all is said and done, what matters is that she came through, like the champion I’ve always known her to be. I’m so proud of her. She’s so resilient, yet teachable. Days like this restore my faith in what I have chosen to do with my life.

And as if that wasn’t enough, my other not-so-little little girl bore her testimony in Sacrament Meeting and spoke of how she thought I was the strongest woman she knows, and that she is who she is today because of me. She said many other wonderful and thoughtful things about me that had me weeping. Considering that she and I have been at loggerheads over so many things these past few months, this was the last thing I had expected, but I am so grateful to have heard what she said.

Having my two little girls uplift me and replenish my reserves today with their example and testimony brought to mind a wonderful moment I witnessed recently. I saw a parent bird (I’m going to pretend it was a mother) was flying with two baby birds. The scene, against the backdrop of a steely sky, held me captive as I watched the little birds dip and rise unsteadily, learning how to fly. I can only imagine the fulfillment she will feel when they fly off, borne on the winds by their wings, with skills she lovingly and patiently instilled in them. I look forward to my horizon filled with a similar image of my little ones borne away on their sure wings some time in the not-too-distant future.

This Fast Sunday has been my favorite one so far. I can’t wait for the next one!
What were the highlights of your Fast Sunday?

O, General Conference. How do I love thee? Let Me Count the Ways!

I’m a Mormon. I know it. I live it. I love it.

Since we get General Conference a week late here in Sydney, Australia, a lot of the surprise is taken out of some of the more notable and memorable talks, but it never changes the impact of the words when I hear them for the first time as the speakers have intended. For the past week, I’ve seen Pins of all sorts of memorable quotes taken from the most recent Conference, the ones that have had the strongest impact on people, and let’s admit it, the ones that sound really pretty. As I have looked at these quotes with  some of the disappointment a child might feel when they realize that it’s actually their parents pretending to be Santa, I have also anticipated hearing them in their entirety, in context, as part of a whole.

Let me just tell you that I was not disappointed. Last Sunday morning (I’m ashamed to admit) that I went to bed at almost 4am because I was attending to some stuff that could not wait until morning (even though technically it was morning – you know what I mean. Yeah?) Anyhoo, as I (literally) crawled into bed, I took a cursory glance at Facebook and saw the announcement on the new ages for missionaries on several friends’ walls. A little deflated that part of the surprise was ruined, I nevertheless celebrated the news. When I walked into the chapel yesterday, the Prophet had just begun speaking. Moments later, he made the announcement. Tears ran freely down my face as though I had never known this news was coming. The Spirit bore such a powerful witness to me that this was, indeed, the will of the Lord for the furthering of His work on this earth. How grateful I was for the witness of the Spirit of the authority and keys of one Thomas Spencer Monson. With all my heart and soul I sustain him as the Lord’s Living Oracle.

This singular event set the stage for the rest of the Conference for me. Each talk left me almost breathless, as they seemed to share a running theme. I couldn’t believe how similar and powerful each of the talks were. My daughter, Zoe, was taking her notes next to me and as we discussed the impressions we’d received, it was enlightening to know that even though there were vast similarities in the things that had our attention, we had also received specific revelations for the questions we had taken with ourselves to this Conference.

Was is just me or were the topics of service, conversion and submitting our will to the Lord, the most prevalent topics? If I didn’t know better, I would have thought that they had all co-ordinated their talks!

Some very poignant questions were posed to us at this General Conference. Some of the ones that had a marked impact on me were:

  • Do I understand the first and greatest commandment?
  • How did the Savior teach?
  • What better place to ‘first observe then serve’ than in the home?
  • Would I sell my soul for     (insert choice of short-comings)   ?

…and many many more.

I can honestly say that I left that last session feeling completely rejuvenated and raring to go. I cannot thank my Heavenly Father enough for the enrichment to my life that comes from attending General Conference. I thank my God for a living prophet and for other moral, intelligent and honorable men that lead us in these Latter Days. I sustain them wholeheartedly and with all the conviction of my soul. Indeed it has been, a ‘beautiful, bright, millenial day’.

What questions did you leave General Conference with? What talks made the greatest impact on you?

p.s. Is it weird that I’m having withdrawals already? 🙂