Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Imitation is the Greatest form of Emulation

You know when you start spending a lot of time with a person? Maybe a new friend or a new boyfriend/girlfriend and you start to take on some of their mannerisms and start to talk or laugh the same? It just sort of happens when you spend inordinate amounts of time with a person listening to and talking with them. You start to use words they use and say things they say in the way they would say them. I wonder...does the same thing happen when we spend enough time talking to God in prayer? Perhaps this is one reason he asks us to "Pray Always" or to "Pray Continually". Perhaps in talking with Him, spending more time with Him, we will find it's just as it is with our friends -- all too soon we will begin to emulate Him and to become more like Him, almost without noticing.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Carpenter's Son

A few days ago I busted out my Christmas decorations. I love Christmas! And I LOVE decorating for Christmas, probably because when I was a kid my mom used to transform our house one day when we were at school. She would remove ALL of our normal decor and replace it with Christmas pictures, lights and decorations top to bottom. We'd come bursting in the front door and it was like magic - the whole house was different and completely Christmasy! She did everything but the tree, the tree we got to do together. 

Well this year I got out a Nativity set that I purchased last year, it's a small wood carved set and inside the box was a book called "The First Nativity" by Ron Brough and Kathy Gordon. 

It's a cute story, if you haven't read it I highly recommend it! The thing I loved most about it is that it made me think of the Savior as a little child. His father was a carpenter by trade and chances are he would have taught Joseph his trade as he grew up. Something about that made the Savior come alive for me. Thinking about him sitting at his father's side learning to carve from wood little figurines, perhaps much like the ones I had purchased in my little Nativity set.

In Luke 2:52 we read  "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man". I love this verse! Thinking of the Son of God learning and growing as we do, increasing and little by little in the ways of God and man. I'm certain he grew and learned at a much faster pace than you or I - but I know this - every time I look at my little wooden Nativity set from now on I am going to think of the carpenter's son learning and growing day by day into the Perfect Son. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Work Moves On...

Tonight I was sitting in a carport in front of a house with a friend in my ward who is from Chile. She and I are ward missionaries. We were huddled with our heads together over her cell phone listening to it ring. We had just dialed the number of a guy we had never met who's records had just come into our ward. His voice came on the line asking us to leave a message. I don't speak Spanish so I had no clue what he had said and I was just staring at my friend  who was looking at me just waiting for me to talk - suddenly we burst out laughing - and I finally left a garbled message asking him to call us back. 

I couldn't help but marvel as we got out and headed up the stairs to the next door, how so much like a full-time missionary I felt right then. And here I thought when I left my mission I wouldn't get the chance to preach the gospel side by side with amazing international sisters like those I had grow to dearly love and cherish on my mission. Yet here we were, doing it again. Not 20 mins before my friend and I had been sitting in the living room of a girl from El Salvador who was telling us about her roommate from Yemen and her Saudi-Arabian boyfriend. 

I received a text message today from a young man not of our faith that I met once last year. I had knocked on his door 10 months earlier looking for someone else in our ward and ended up talking to him, asking his age and inviting him out to play soccer with our ward that next week. Out of the blue he texted me today to say hi and reconnect. 

Last Sunday a less-active young man in my ward came to church for the first time since I met him -I'm not sure how long it's been since he attended church last, but that was his first time attending our ward. It was so fun to laugh and talk with him and get to know him better. I never would have guessed when he first answered that door 18 months ago that someday he'd be sitting next to me in church. He's awesome, and feels like an old friend. 

Missionary work lives on. And I've never been happier in my life - than when I am doing it. :)


Saturday, September 20, 2014

You Know Where I'll Be

Today I was rummaging through some old boxes looking for a white handkerchief I own and I stumbled on one of my journals. Opening the front cover I found that it started in March of 2004. 2004 was a very difficult year for me so I decided to pull it out and read some of the entries. My fingers seemed to thumb through the pages automatically search for November 4th. The closest entry was November 5th. I read what I wrote about the previous day...the day I found out that my brother had passed away. Feelings flooded back into my heart. Seems like yesterday, yet it's almost been 10 years. As I thumbed through the weeks and months following that eventful day 
I was reminded of all of the many many people who lifted me during that time. 

Sometimes in life we find ourselves struggling to carry the burden that is ours at the moment. Our knees feel like they might buckle beneath us and we feel as if we can't even stand it any longer. In those moments it is the faith and the encouragement and the strength of others that gets us through. ...As we literally lean on them we find we can carry on, one day at a time. 

It's my belief that everyone of us will someday have that moment. When life gets too hard to stand it on your own and you find that it's the people surrounding you, holding you up, that get you through. 

It put a smile on my face to read about the last letter I got from my brother. The last thing he wrote to me was "you know where I'll be".....and I do.

 Love you Johnny!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

It's been awhile...

Last night I stood in the grocery store thinking about my sweet friend who today would be thinking about her sweet baby boy Will. He passed away when he was just a few months old last year. Will would have turned 1 today. As I stood there I was flooded with the memory of the night he passed away, seeing my friend and her husband, amidst their deepest grief at losing their son - and still when I left their house that night - I was the one who felt lifted. Blessed. 

I was also filled with that familiar longing that comes anytime I remember my own brother who passed. Tears filled my eyes as I remembered the night we found out about his passing. The sacred days that followed for our family. And the many birthdays we have celebrated of his...without him. 

There are no words to really describe losing a loved one. Things like birthdays tend to set your mind a flare with memories and gentle reminders of them. Today I was grateful I know my friend. I was grateful for her quiet and strong example of faith and of pressing on despite pain, grief, sadness and hardships. And not only pressing on but remembering to still reach out and lift others even in the darkest moments of your own life - because when you do - you will find that God is lifting you.

Till we meet little Will...till me meet...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

That thing called Life...

I had great plans for this blog, just as I had for my life...but Plan A never seems to work out for me. Or plan B or C or L for that matter. And so we just keep trucking along wondering what plans God has in store for us next. The thing that has been on my mind the most this last few months is FRIENDS. What a glorious blessing it is to have a good friend. I just want to give a shout out to all of the amazing friends I've had in my life.

I am so grateful for all of the incredible memories and adventures and experiences with so many great and inspiring people over the years. You have truly touched my heart and my life and made me in large part, who I am. If I ever start to doubt if God knows me or if he remembers who I am...all I have to do is close my eyes and remember he gave me people like this:

And I can't help but feel loved. :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I was blind, but now I see.

So tonight at six Valeria and I headed over to visit a sister in our ward and to say hello, we're trying to meet everyone and put names and faces together so Katie was up on the list tonight. We rang the doorbell and her roommate Mary answered.

"Hi is Katie here?" We asked.
"Yeah, just one second, " she responded, "KATIE!"
"Yeah" Katie said from the kitchen.
"Someone's here to see you", her roommate responded.  
"Who?" Katie asked.
"It's me!" I said loudly from the doorway, just teasing, but was shocked as Katie's response rang back from the kitchen.
"Oh hi Stephanie! I'll be right there!"

Katie is blind. She is a college student living on her own and attending classes at the local college. She's one of the most cheerful people you will ever meet. As she came into the room she explained how she recognized my voice from talking with me at church one Sunday. I was amazed. What a gift. Talking with Katie for the next thrity mins or so really boosted my spirits. It had been kind of a rough week emotionally for me, and her kind spirit and genuine love for us made me feel like I wanted to stay and talk with her forever. Before we left though Katie showed us her bedroom and the computer she uses to help her do her homework. I noticed as we walked into her room a large bible on her desk. We asked what it was and Katie happily replied and showed us her Braille Bible. She even taught us how to read the letter "A".

She smiled and reminisced about when she was younger and her parents would make her sisters turn out the light and stop reading and go to sleep. She laughed and told us how she would sneak her books under her covers and keep reading because she didn't need a light to read! Ha, ha! I love it! What a great perspective! Katie, thanks for blessing my life tonight!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Broken Things.

Broke my nose last weekend. Been thinking about it. I'm amazed at the incredible people who seem to come out of no where and everywhere to help you, just when you need it. People took care of me, gave me medicine, ice, drove me to the hospital, left cookies on my door, called me, visited, the list goes on and on. Perhaps that's why God allows some things to break. Because it's in the fixing....that we really get a chance to learn and grow...through serving each other...and through the process of mending itself. What have I learned in my life from broken things?

I distinctly remember my brother and sisters and I playing baseball in our living room one Sunday afternoon. Suddenly my mothers voice came drifting in from the other room where she was reading her book interrupting our fun, "You're going to break my vase", she said. Now you've got to understand the vase was like around the corner and in another hallway from where we were playing. "Mom!" We protested. "There is absolutely NO GEOGRAPHICAL WAY possible for this ball to hit your vase." That was a direct quote from the Gardner baseball team...Well you know the story, two or three pitches later a miraculous hit was made the ball flew through the air and hit a door knob in the adjacent hallway in JUST the right spot sending the ball shooting off at an unimaginable angle and smashing, yes, right into that previously warned about vase breaking it in several pieces. Funny part is we were all so amazed by the sheer improbability of what had just happened that the vase was easily forgotten, and the story of that Sunday afternoon game became a Gardner legacy.

Broken bones, broken heart, broken promises, broken spirits, broken down cars at just the wrong moments... It bares some thinking about. What do Broken Things really teach us?    ~Broken Things by Kenneth Cope. Have you heard it? ~