Sunday, December 16, 2012

Singleness of Heart

   Sometimes there are phrases in the scriptures that intrigue me. One of those is found in D&C 59:13. It states, "And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let they food be prepared with singleness of heart..." that is my phrase, "singleness of heart." Frequently people say this means simple but that particular meaning struck me as well, simple. There had to be something else the Lord meant. So I followed the scripture trail, supplementing it with words from our prophets and just to make sure I was on the right track, yes, even the dictionary. There are only seven references in the scriptures to this particular phrase, "singleness of heart". One says, "And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart." (Acts 2:46) Another uses the word embrace in conjunction with this phrase.
  This is what I've learned. Single hearted means that we are sincere, straightforward, or loyal. Single-minded means we have but one purpose or aim. It is being free from duplicity. It means being steadfast. It means being sincere. Sincere is honesty of purpose. It is being free from hypocrisy or being genuine. Just for good measure here is the definition of simple. It means not complex, or complicated, easy, without embellishment, plain, unadorned. "Simple" has nothing to do with having "singleness of heart".
   Singleness of hearts meaning expands to something much more noble, more worshipful and with a purpose. It may include testimony, and if we read further down in section 59 it includes joy, thanksgiving, a glad heart, and a cheerful countenance. Often we get caught up in the word prepared in verse 13. It may draw our attention away from what is truly important and that is whatever we do in serving our Lord and Heavenly Father we can do it with "singleness of heart."
   During this Christmas season may our hearts and minds be turned to our Savior with "singleness of heart."

Sunday, October 28, 2012

An Instrument

Last night Tim called home to tell us he had accepted a call to teach the Gospel Doctrine class in his ward. He had a few questions as he remembered I once taught the class too. Excitement filled me for this awesome and humbling opportunity that would be his. What he would experience would in turn bless his whole family. I told him those were the best three years of my life. I thought at the time he could misconstrue what I meant.
There are special times, episodes if you will, where we feel the spirit, when enlightenment fills us, or we recognize tender mercies but those are not constants. They come and go. Because I was so overwhelmed with the responsibility and knowing I knew nothing, I understood that it was only through the spirit that I could teach. And I truly wanted to be God's instrument so peoples questions could be answered and their lives could be changed.
During part of that time I was working outside the home and every Tuesday I drove to Weiser to care for my father while my mother came into Boise to attend the temple. I took my scriptures and lesson manual with me. Each week I began my study with a prayer and although dad could not participate he was my study partner. I read each scripture passage out loud as well as the lesson. Every day thereafter my thoughts were drawn out to the lesson, studying the words of the prophets and church leaders, and praying some more. When you hear the phrase "a prayer in your heart all the day long" that was me. By the time Sunday came along I wasn't any smarter but I did have the spirit with me so I could teach what God wanted to be taught. I already loved the scriptures but now I felt them, devoured them, they were my manna. On one occasion when the class was done I rushed back to the church kitchen and fell to my knees in gratitude, thanking Heavenly Father for the precious gift of the spirit. It wasn't until I was released that a sister in the ward told me that because of the lessons she heard in Gospel Doctrine class her family was reactivated and eventually sealed in the temple. I could not take credit and immediately gave praise to God because I KNEW it wasn't me. I just got to be the instrument.
I look back on that time with gratitude. I lived better. I thought better. I treated my family better. I learned more than anyone in the class ever could!
Not every calling we are given is challenging or provides an opportunity for personal growth as well as helping those in class. Because I know what this particular calling can be, well, I'm a little envious. But more than that I know that change is afoot. It's the best change of all. Living by the spirit? There is nothing better.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Peaches

This week I've been canning peaches. Lots and lots of peaches! As always the boxes were lined up in the garage and every time you walk by their delicious smell wafted up making you salivate! There is nothing like a fresh peach with cream for breakfast or hot peach cobbler with its crunchy topping and the juices bubbling around the edges. Mmmmm. When it is time to can peaches I remember a service rendered to our family one day in 1985 that even now so many years later still has power to move me. This is absolutely true.
I was carrying Angie down the stairs to lay her down for a nap when I tripped and fell. I managed to turn enough that she landed on top of me and was unhurt but I was not so fortunate. I pulled the ligaments in my right leg. And  I was 7 months pregnant with Ben. The doctor ordered me off my feet. Yea right! A couple days prior we had traveled as a family to the orchards and picked seven boxes of peaches. All seven boxes were lined up against the wall in our kitchen. Every day we checked on those peaches waiting for them to ripen. Here it was almost a week later and they were ready. It was Monday morning. I was crawling up the stairs and stopped to rest on the top stair when my door bell rang. In walked my dear friend Evelyn Dilg with her kids in tow and a bag full of supplies to help can peaches. She got right to work boiling water, gathering jars, organizing the kids and settling me onto a chair in the kitchen with my leg elevated, handed me a paring knife, and we began.  
That day we canned up all seven boxes and what followed next made me very, very grateful for such a willing and kind friend. Shortly after Dennis lost his job and we moved to Boise where he worked for 6 weeks when that job ended. Ben was born 2 days later at home. Dennis did not work again until the last two weeks in December. That job ended. It was not until the following April that he was gainfully employed. And through it all we feasted on peaches.
We thought 1985 was a year full of trials. Now I look back on that year as one full of some pretty wonderful blessings. One of those is my dear friend Evelyn. What she did for our family goes down in the Elton family annals as one of the sweetest and kindest gestures I've personally experienced. And it only takes peaches to remind me.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

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September

September means back to school, new beginnings, a new start. I know, I know. We have year round school and the traditional track starts in August. I loved preparing my children for school. As the ads for back to school have started it's made me a little nostalgic. It's all the lists, going through wardrobes to see what needs to be replaced, year books and student body cards, pencils and the choice between black or blue pens. Just all of it. The best part of preparations is the possibilities. So much to learn and know.
Every year I wanted to go back to school too. One day while reading about Marjorie Pay Hinckley's life something she said caught my attention. "Each day brings its own challenges, but life would be a total waste without knowing what it is about and where we can get help." She reminded me I don't have to enter a classroom to gain knowledge. As I pondered all I've learned through life so far I had to give credit to our local library. I have studied nutrition, home repairs, furniture refinishing, cancer, holistic alternatives to traditional medicines, Alzheimer's, music, painting, the Presidents of the United States, military medals, sewing, gardening, proper care of cats and dogs, cooking, other countries, autobiographies, and of course a novel or two...the list goes on and on. The library has been my classroom.
And don't forget the scriptures. They are awesome! Here is a resource that is a great help to all of us. We create our own study environment. That environment could be one of "gotta do it"  to "I get to do it". We can learn during both scenarios but chances are the spirit is stronger with an attitude of "get to do it". It is amazing how a scripture we have read a million times expands to greater and grander meaning when we apply ourselves.
There are all sorts of classrooms. Whatever it is in life we want to improve in or know is available. The possibilities are endless. I'm asking myself what I want to learn next. I know. Bookbinding!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Juniper Bush

    Years ago Dennis talked me into planting juniper bushes in our yard. He thought it would make the yard work easier but they complicated everything from weeding to mowing the grass. We pulled out all of them except one in the side yard which grew on a mound. Underneath the bush lay mesh ground cover to keep the weeds out. Not true! Year after year I tried to ignore it.  I finally decided the bush was going no matter how long or how hard I had to work to get it out! It took one week (off and on between storms) to remove it. (You may be wondering why I didn't ask Dennis to help- be patient there is an analogy here.) I snipped and dug and snipped some more until finally I saw the main root. The root was large and so deep that a tow chain attached to my vehicle was the only way to pull it out. After three or four tries that big old root gave up.
    The work had just begun. The juniper bush was gone but the weeds and gravel had to be hauled away. At the time I wondered what I was thinking! I know what I was thinking- the mound had great potential and although I was tired, I knew the time spent to make it beautiful was worth the work.
    Sometimes we have juniper bushes in our lives. We ignore them or pretend they are not the eye sore they really are. However, we are prompted to make a change so we begin to snip and dig. We see progress. We are encouraged because we can visualize the person we want to become. The root may be removed but our work is not done. And you may ask, "What was I thinking? I'm tired. This is to hard." If we give up to soon what's underneath will still be there keeping us from reaching our full potential. This is work we must do on our own. It may be easier to get some outside help but there are times when the influence of another keeps us from moving forward as we would like.
     So it is with anything we may want to change about ourselves. There is lots to do. We are God's children. All the hours we put into becoming more like him will be worth the work. And definitely worth the wait.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A bicycle built for two

One Christmas my parents bought our family a bicycle-built-for-two. It was so much fun! We lived out in the country and up on a hill. The road below the house and driveway were gravel. The driveway however, had the added dimension of pot holes and bumps from roots of an Oak tree and a Cedar tree. It was great going down the driveway-especially if you were the one in the back. But getting back up! Aye-yi-yi! Our goal was to pedal as hard as we could, getting up enough speed to make it up the driveway. If the person in back pedaled with as much energy as the person in front, we could get half way up. We were out of breath from all the exertion but at the same time laughing and joking about the person in front doing all the work. You could always tell if the person in back was slacking off. And if they were, we didn't make it far. We then had to push the bike up the hill. Regardless of the method, it took two people to get the bike back home.
My mother and father rode the bike too. Sometimes my mother would ride on the front seat and one of us girls were on the back. We sang "Daisy, Daisy. Give me your answer do..." You know the rest of the song about a bicycle-built-for-two. The bike only accommodated two people. But it did much more than give us a fun ride. It built relationships too. We played together, we sang, we talked, we explored our little valley, and waved to our neighbors as they passed by us on the road. Everybody loved that bike.
My father kept the bike in good repair. When the grandchildren came to visit it was ready to go, ready to teach a new generation about working together, getting along, and having fun. Since my fathers passing there has been no one to keep air in the tires and the chain from slipping off. Its home has been in an old shed out of sight.
When my mother told me I could have the bike I was so excited! The bike was a mess and Dennis was not nearly as excited about what it would take to get it up and running. Me? I know what the bike can do. Something magic happens when two people work together pedaling in unison. Tensions dissolve, hurts are rectified, we accept each other, we give encouragement when the person in back is slacking off or getting tired with, "You can do it!" Good things happen when we pedal together.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Brick by Brick

There was one year when 6 of our family members were attending Boise State University. (I think we should have got a discount!) One day Brian showed up at the house wearing a BSU t-shirt and on it it read "Brick by Brick." What I asked, did it mean. He told me that one of the slogans at BSU was "Building a legacy brick by brick." I wondered what kind of legacy have I built for my children and now grandchildren.

The dictionary gives this simple definition of the word legacy; something passed on to those who come later in time; heritage.

It has been interesting listening to the kids reminisce about their growing up years, who did what, what I did or didn't do, the places we went, the things we saw, what they loved, and what they feel sad about. Now that 5 of the 6 children are married with babies of their own (or soon to be)I get to observe how well I did. It pleases me to see them teach as I taught, love as I loved, and doing a much better job at being patient, kind, and less apt to judge. I am happy that each of them has changed what needed to be changed and incorporated what was good.

So yes, I have been building a legacy brick by brick. It is in everything I do, everything I teach, and in the relationships I build. Legacy is not only about family for it extends to those I associate with in the community and at church. It has a rippling affect.

What kind of legacy are you building? We are building a legacy brick by brick.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Be like a Duck

A couple years ago I attended a Standards Night for the youth where the guest speakers were President and Sister Dopp. I will never forget her analogy of a duck and how we can use one of its characteristics to bless our lives. When you see a duck with its head under water and its bum sticking straight up , well, soon that head pops up and the duck immediatly rights itself. Any water slides off. Sister Dopp reminded us that a ducks feathers are never really wet, that they have an essential oil that coats their feathers which keeps them dry and buoyant. The water never penetrates.  She said that past events can make us bitter or consume us or create trials for us and we should be like a duck...let those disappointments, the anger and hurt, the pain, slide off our backs just like the water slides off the back of a duck. Growing a thick skin doesn't neccessarily  do the trick. We have to build a foundation of 'essential oils' so we can let things slide off our back. Those "essential oils' may be different for everyone but when we start with the basics that is the simplest. And they are the easy answers. (Why do we make things so complicated?) You know what they are!  So- BE LIKE A DUCK!
     

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Journey

       Many years ago during a temple recommend interview the counselor in the Stake Presidency asked if I had any questions. "Yes," I said, "How do you forgive someone?" At first he quoted Christ's invitation to forgive seventy times seven. His answer did not satisfy my need to know how to accomplish it. Finally he told me he didn't really know how, but that it was a journey we must undertake to help ourselves.
       I desperately wanted relief from the hurt and pain I was suffering so I determined to begin to figure out how to forgive. Once I realized how often my thoughts were drawn to the event, I began to pray. I prayed that I would be able to put the past where it belonged- in the past. I wanted to feel instead charity towards the individual so I studied 1 Corinthians 13: 4-13 and followed every footnote making notes as I went. Because I opened my heart to be taught I discovered for myself Christ-like attributes that I had only scratched the surface of previously. I also read words of wisdom from Paul who gave me insight into how we think. "When I was a child I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." I had to ask myself if I was thinking as a child would and the answer was yes.
     So i'd like to share some pearls from that long ago effort....
1. If you are overwhelmed with hurt prayer always, always helps.
2. Look on the bright side because the dark side is always negative.
3. Rememeber that all life experience contributes to who we are. Yep, the good and the bad.
4. We decide how we will conduct ourselves having learned from some of those experiences.
5. When we decide to forgive that means we are ready to move forward. In church lingo that means progression.
6. Study the word of God. Keep at it until.
7. Apply what you've learned.
 There are a host of other things a person could learn and practice. You get to discover what they are.
      Am I really good at this? Nope. I still struggle with forgiveness. Even though I learned and have implemented a lot of these concepts I am not always good at it. It is much easier to just wallow!  It is an on-going process but because I've already done some work I know that there is relief. I am grateful for that because it means I am learning how to forgive.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Memory

It is odd some of the things I think about or remember while I am doing my daily exercise routine. Recently I recalled a morning that I thought Tim had not heard his alarm and was late getting up. I went to his door which was slightly ajar and lightly pushed it open. There was Tim kneeling beside his bed in prayer. Awe filled me. My son had rolled out of bed on his knees. I don't know what made me recall that moment, but those same feelings filled me as I walked home. Even now, sharing that quiet moment with you, it is the same. So what does it mean? I could say what a good boy I have or I am so proud of him (all of which are true) but I think the memory filled my mind for a greater purpose. It reminded me to humbly kneel before my day begins, to open my heart to be taught and inspired. It reminded me that I am not alone and I needed to put away my pride and "I can do it on my own" mentality. This is something I've personally struggled with my whole life. Prayer for me has been the last resort rather than the first line of defense. I think life does that to us. There is school and children and jobs and worries and any number of other perplexing thoughts that control our day. We plod along until wham bang!!!! something humbles us and we remember to turn to God once more.
We may not be able to roll out of bed on our knees. It may take all we have just to get out of bed, get dressed. You might have to start as you open your eyes. "O.K. Heavenly Father, the day begins. I love you. Will you bless me today?"  Don't have time then? There is always the shower or the drive to school or any number of times throughout the day to "roll out of bed" and humbly pray. My desire is to begin my day with prayer. I invite you to do the same.
         Follow this scripture chain which reminds us what we must do and what we will recieve when we pray. Before you begin ask, "Am I unbelieving when I read?
3 Nephi 11:5
D&C 136:32
D&C 32:4
Mosiah 26:3
John 14:26

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The New Year

Shame on us. We skipped Decembers blog and dad had a great idea too! We'll save it for next year. (Hope he remembers) Anyway, I wanted to recommend some reading material and I hope you make time to check it out.
1. Elder D. Todd Christofferson's article entitled Recognizing God's Hand in our Daily Lives in the January Ensign. I loved his insite into the Lord's Prayer and how it is applicable in every area of our lives. It would be easy to simplify some of the concepts for FHE.
2. Elder Henry B. Eyring's article Do Not Delay published in 1999. His talk although about repentance and forgiveness, can help us in other ways too.
I know what may touch me may not mean anything to others. Either way both talks are great.
Movies worth seeing: Amazing Grace, 17 Miracles
And last we loved, loved, loved seeing all of you over the Holidays and we are already planning trips to visit soon.