Desire

Aron Ralston“Few will have the kind of crisis that motivated Aron Ralston, but his experience provides a valuable lesson about developing desires. While Ralston was hiking in a remote canyon in southern Utah, an 800-pound (360 kg) rock shifted suddenly and trapped his right arm. For five lonely days he struggled to free himself. When he was about to give up and accept death, he had a vision of a three-year-old boy running toward him and being scooped up with his left arm. Understanding this as a vision of his future son and an assurance that he could still live, Ralston summoned the courage and took drastic action to save his life before his strength ran out. He broke the two bones in his trapped right arm and then used the knife in his multitool to cut off that arm. He then summoned the strength to hike five miles (8 km) for help.  What an example of the power of an overwhelming desire!

When we have a vision of what we can become, our desire and our power to act increase enormously.

Most of us will never face such an extreme crisis, but all of us face potential traps that will prevent progress toward our eternal destiny. If our righteous desires are sufficiently intense, they will motivate us to cut and carve ourselves free from addictions and other sinful pressures and priorities that prevent our eternal progress. We should remember that righteous desires cannot be superficial, impulsive, or temporary. They must be heartfelt, unwavering, and permanent. So motivated, we will seek for that condition described by the Prophet Joseph Smith, where we have “overcome the evils of [our lives] and lost every desire for sin.” That is a very personal decision.”
 
Let us remember that desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions. In addition, it is our actions and our desires that cause us to become something, whether a true friend, a gifted teacher, or one who has qualified for eternal life.”  Desire, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
 
I love this story and for the opportunity to live here on earth and gain experience through trails and tribulations that–if endured well–we will find we have accomplished much more than if we chose to quit.  I know God has a plan for our lives and that with his help we can come off conqueror.  I know that that is true and you can too!!

I believe in short and sweet

To my mommy,

Mom, I love you.

I love your eyes.  Bright, genuine, soft

I love your smile.  Big, happy, and lines from years of laughter.

I love your arms.  They’ve always held me tight.

I love, love, love your hands.  Wrinkles and all.  Beautiful and worn.

This is my mom:

“I don’t want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails.
I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp.
I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children.
I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone’s garden.
I want to be there with children’s sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder.
I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.”
Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!!

A Big, Fat Lie!

Let’s get right to the point.  In the world we live, the image of women is extremely distorted. I have struggled, most women have struggled.  Who are we and what are we supposed to be doing?!  Sheri Dew, former counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints says,

“From the beginning, [the powers of evil have worked around the clock] and with a vengeance to distort the very definition of womanhood to confuse everyone, including us.  Consider this headline: “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” (Forbes, 17 September 2007).   Every woman listed is a politician, an entertainer, or a CEO. I mean no disrespect to any women listed. What I dispute is the bold distortion that in order to have influence, a woman must have money, fame, or a title. That is a big, fat lie!

“Here are just a few lies: That men are smarter, have all the power, and are more important, so if we want to have influence we should be more like them; that marriage and family are confining; that motherhood is menial and a waste of any talented woman’s time; that women are perpetually frazzled and failing; and that a woman’s value is based on her size, shape and what she accomplishes outside the home.

“Too many women have bought these lies. Our culture is disintegrating at the speed of light, and unfortunately, our gender is doing a lot of the damage. Sleazy, immoral, cunning women who flaunt their indiscretions jam the airwaves and monopolize magazine covers. Yet we watch their shows, donate to their causes, and even see them as models.”

For full talk: Awake, Arise, and Come Unto Christ , Sheri Dew

Let us stand up and, inevitably, stand out for what is right, what is good, and what is true.  I love this quote by Audrey Hepburn:  ” The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It’s the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows & the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years.”

We cannot be what the WORLD thinks we should be in order to have positive influence.  Stephanie Nielson is an inspiration.  She understands her true identity as a daughter of God, as a wife, a mother, a friend.  I love her story and am grateful for wonderful examples like her who can help us feel good about being good; that we do not have to be defined by our body, our job or the amount of money we have, but rather by WHO we are and how much we love God.

“…Every one of us has a unique opportunity to change the world.  Are we the women God needs us to be in the latter part of the latter days?”  (Sheri Dew)

Bare Walls and Pea Plants

My life is quite different from “normal” life.  We, as missionaries, don’t watch TV, read the news, or books (other than scripture).  We don’t have an 8-5 career or go to a university to learn.  Our job consists of approaching strangers and guiding them to the answers to life’s greatest questions–hoping they will ask God to know for themselves if what we say is true.  Our learning is in the 3 hours set aside in the morning to study and pray from and about the ‘best of books…’ (D&C 88: 118).

Random thought, I often wonder what others think as they see two young girls in skirts enter the sketchiest parts of town and who, if robbed, would have nothing but a bag full of copies of the Book of Mormon.  This, fortunately has never happened to me.  Anyway…

The other week we had someone come to upgrade our light bulbs to be more ‘energy efficient’ and came home to the notice and survey on the counter.  Yes, what did they think?  Several college students live around us.  We may have some similarities: twin beds and virtually empty refrigerators, but no gaming console, banana chairs, flat screen or empty pizza boxes.  In place of those things: two large desks, a bookshelf full of pamphlets, several pictures of Christ and many seedlings trying to grow, haha.

Let me explain…

A few weeks ago, a member of our congregation approached us to help with a service project.  Since we are encouraged to be self-sustaining, we are helping some people in the greater Rochester area plant their own gardens!  She asked if we would help by growing seedlings in our apartment.  Neither my companion nor I have ever really done this before but we were excited.  We save all of our milk cartons, yogurt, jello, and pudding cups, cottage cheese containers and anything else we can to plant our little seeds!  We have about 30 planted.  Mint, butternut squash and peas.  Since this is something I’ve never done before, I didn’t realize how much patience it took.

Every morning we wake up excited to see if there is any sign of new life.  And every morning I’ve been disappointed to see nothing but dirt.  I started wondering, “did I do it wrong?”, “Were they bad seeds?”  Day after day, nothing.  Until…a couple days ago!!!  One butternut squash (which is really growing now) and one pea plant (see picture above).  YEA!!!  I did it!  But, I still have a long way to go before they bear fruit.

Now, there’s a little bit more to it than just planting seedlings.  There’s a song that goes like this:

Faith

(click ‘Words and Music’ in top right hand corner)

Faith is knowing the sun will rise,

Lighting each new day.

Faith is knowing the Lord will hear,

My prayers each time I pray.

Faith is like a little seed:

If planted it will grow.

Faith is a swelling within my heart.

When I do right, I know.

 

I love this song and I love the message.  I love Christ’s parable of the sower as well.  Once we plant a seed, we can no longer see it.  But!  We can know it is there.  We can and give it light and water and good soil to help it grow!  So it is with all the mysteries of God.  We can know He’s there, we just have to do a little work!

Joining the Club

Caleb is 8 and a member of our local congregation.  One day at school he had a conversation that went a little something like this:

Classmate:  “Hey, Caleb.  Wanna join our club?”

Caleb:  “Sure!”

Classmate:  “Okay, you have to say every swear word you know.”

Caleb:  “I don’t want to join your stupid club!!!”

And Caleb stomped off sad and disappointed.  Often, joining a club or “following the crowd” helps us to feel accepted, but at what cost?  It takes courage to stand up.  Often when when stand up we stand alone.

I grew up in a home where I was encouraged at an early age to ‘Say No’ to many things my parents knew we would be exposed to in later years.  In addition to smoking and drugs (D.A.R.E), I committed to not drink tea, coffee, or alcohol; substances that are addictive and can harm our bodies.  Swearing was one thing I didn’t want to do.  Or have immoral relationships before marriage.  Because of these choices, sometimes I was made fun of, but I knew the reward would be great if I didn’t give in.  Now, I am far from being ‘practically perfect in every way’, but I was able to avoid many situations where my morals and standards could have been compromised.   Many of those I went to school with struggled, and the repercussions often affected more than just the next day.  Some are still dealing with the consequences long after graduating high school.

I know many of the choices we make have eternal influence even when they may seem small and insignificant.  At the time, it was sometimes devastating to be laughed at and left out, but looking back–it was worth it.  It’s been 5 years since I’ve graduated high school, and many people have come back to thank me for my example.  I ‘believe in being an example in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity’ (1 Timothy 4:12).  So does this boy.

How wonderful it is…

Anne Frank  was a Jewish victim of the Holocaust.  In July of 1942, her family went into hiding in the hidden rooms of Anne’s father, Otto Frank’s, office building. After hiding for two years, they were discovered and transported to concentration camps. Anne Frank and her sister, Margot, were eventually transferred to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where they both died of typhus in March 1945.

With that stark introduction, I would like to share one of my favorite quotes from her.  Anne writes:

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

I feel Anne Frank is talking about Charity.   Nothing we do makes much of a difference if we do not have charity.  This, I believe.  With my whole heart.  Because charity breeds love.  And love is an emotion that often motivates us in what we do.  Every human being deserves to be loved.  Regardless or race, faith, appearance or whatever else.  In circumstances–where life is particularly difficult–there is always a way to make it better.  Maybe not always by improving our situation but looking to improve others.  Here is a short clip by Elder Wirthlin, a special witness of Jesus Christ.  He has passed away now, but Elder Nelson supported him so he could relay this important message. 

Having pure charity and love for others can set us apart from the world and we can show that we truly love God.   For that is the Great Commandment.  If we seek opportunities to serve, I know it can change us; our hearts will become pure and we will have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually (Mosiah 5:2). 

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

‘Holy’ Boots!

I’ve achieved it!!  ‘Holy’ boots!!!

In November of 2009, when I got called to upstate New York, one of the first things I was told was how bitter cold the winter’s were here.  It’s proven true.  So, I went out and bought a really long puffy coat.  I may look like a burnt marshmallow but that’s okay.  I was fortunate enough to find a hand-me-down pair of boots when I got here from a Sister left and has long since gone home.  They’re great.  Kept my feet warm and dry.  Until a couple of weeks ago…  I’ve worn them well and I’ve worn them out.

We had been walking.  And walking, and walking, and walking.  If you ever see us, it’s probably as we’re walking.  We are doing our best to follow the Spirit and find people who are prepared to hear the message we bear.

It was a particularly rainy day when I noticed the holes.  We’d just finished talking to someone who was…quite intoxicated actually, about prayer.   We meet a lot of different people everywhere we go; people from all races, countries, backgrounds and faiths.  Sometimes we even play a game, ‘Who’s on the other side” as we knock door to door.  Most the time, I’m way off, haha.  But I love this aspect of our work.

I feel like I’ve landed into one of my favorite books.  I do have shoes on my feet.  I do know what I know.  We do look over streets with great care trying to feel (by the Spirit) if we should go there. The bang-ups and hang-ups certainly happen, but I cannot stop.  There are waiting places, people waiting to be found; we don’t have to be lost or alone.  Our success can be 100% guaranteed, not only 98 3/4% as we learn what true.

My name is Sister Wilkinson, I’m off to great places, and you can be too!

P.S.  If you have served a mission try to put yourself in this story.  It’s kinda neat!