Showing posts with label example. Show all posts
Showing posts with label example. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Car Wash Memories


        We went to get the car washed yesterday.  Though not an automatic carwash, it brought up memories - though not in chronological order.

Memory 1:        When Kimball learned to talk, he'd talk with such excitement that he'd often stumble over his words and came across as stuttering;  he would also put himself in third person.  Kimball LOVED vehicles, dump trucks, cranes, cherry pickers, tractors . . . you name it.  He really did know the names and what they did.  My mom thought he would be fascinated by the car wash as well.  He wasn't.  He was actually very freaked out.


        "I'm sorry, Kimball," (once in the automatic car wash has started, the driver needs for it to finish before exiting) "but I really thought you might like the carwash."

        "Kimball doesn't li-li-like the carwash.  Kimball wa-wa-wants to go."

        Grandma pointed out the light that was red and told Kimball that once it turned green we could go.  Kimball was so focused on that red light  that I think he forgot how scary he thought the carwash was.  As soon as the light turned green he cried, "Go, Grandma, Go!" 

Memory 2:        I don't know how old I was when this next memory took place.  I'm not even sure if I was in the car with mom or if I had just heard her relate it often enough that it felt as though I had been there.

        There is a sign with the directions on what one is supposed to do in the automatic car wash.  I think ROLL UP WNDOWS was number one, which she did.  But as she got closer to actually going through, she had to roll the window down to insert the coins.  She forgot to roll the window up and had just come from the hair salon.  Her next errand was picking up a prescription or groceries or something.  She pointed to her hair and told the cashier that this is what hair looks like before and after going through a carwash with the window down.  She said it gave the cashier a laugh.  But I remember her ragging on about it each time we'd go through that it specifically said to Roll Window before inserting your coin.

Memory #3      There was a carwash (not automatic) across the street from the ice cream parlor where I used to work.  I remember a group of teenage kids approaching the store after hours.  Instead of spending money on ice cream, they decided to go across the street and have a water fight using the car wash hoses.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Think Positive

        One of the gifts that I opened on Christmas was the Chicken Soup for the Soul "Positive Thinking"  stories full of reminders not to give up and to do whatever it takes.



        As I read I think of examples from my own life:

        Karyn was agoraphobic.  Her son had gone to a mission in Brazil and had developed feelings for a certain young lady.  After he had gone back to visit, he announced that he and this girl would be getting married and living in Brazil for a while.  Knowing that he needed some support from the family, he wanted his parents there, of course. Karyn and her husband had enough money for only one plane ticket. And because of her fears of dealing with crowds, it was decided that her husband would go.

        His job seemed to complicate the situation as far as the date was concerned.  It turned out that if he wanted to keep his job, he would not be able to fly to Brazil but said that his wife might be able to go.

        The reservations were changed so that they would be in her name, and she prayed.  She prayed long and hard.  It was a mighty challenge as she had to deal with the public at Salt Lake airport.  Imagine how terrified she was to fly into Brazil and face a more crowded airport and a more people than she could imagine.  Not to mention that the majority of people there would be speaking in a foreign tongue that she, herself, would not understand.

        She, of course, tells her story much better than I do.  I remember listening to her experience, fascinated with her determination.  I would have never guessed that she was agoraphobic - especially to the point which she expressed.  Now that's positive thinking.  I hate crowds but cannot fully relate to what she had to overcome.  What strength.  What admiration on my part.

        I wish I had all the details in order to accurately share Shauna's story.  There was a huge number of widows and shut-ins that I would go visit at least weekly.  I would go to uplift them - or at least that was my intention.  But I always saved Shauna for last or visit when I was the one who needed to be uplifted.    

        She kept records and journals that she didn't want anyone to look at until after she was gone.  She was such a great inspiration.  Her story needs to be told.  I had always thought that someone should interview her for an article in the Ensign Magazine or tell her story in any one of several  themed "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books.

        I had been told that Shauna had outlived her disease by 17 years.  I don't remember the name of the disease, but it seems to me that the tissues would swell to the point of choking out all of her other organs.  We were roughly the same age, and yet she was hooked up to oxygen while I was breathing on my own.  She remained active as long as her body would allow. 

        She had such a positive attitude and would always get dressed, because "only sick people wear pajamas all day"
        I was also told that she hadn't gone back to get her nursing degree until after she had been diagnosed.  She wanted to help people and make them feel better, and served others for as long as she was able.

        Laughter truly was the best medicine.  It was what kept her going - in addition to refusing to allow anyone or anything to take her down.


I also let the words to this song fill my mind each day.  I asked Jenna to color a sign that says: Daily Proverbs.  I change the thought every other day and try hard to apply the quotes to my life.  I really am trying to think positive.  

Monday, July 13, 2015

Instead of Complaining About What is Wrong, Be Grateful for What is Right!





Recently my brother Corey experienced a problem with his car.  Instead of complaining about it, he wrote a list of  things that he was grateful for about his situation.  He posted his list to facebook.  I tried sharing his post with my friends – though I think the only ones who might actually have an opportunity to view it are those that Corey is friends with already.  I just really like the attitude he has incorporated into his life.

He was grateful that his car had died in the parking lot and not on the crowded streets of Las Vegas.

He was grateful that the break down didn’t happen on the way to taking Joh or himself to work.
        
He was grateful to get roadside assistance through his insurance.

He was grateful that the weather was not typical of this time of year, but much cooler to wait in than the normal July heat.

Neither he nor Joh were on a schedule in which they had to be somewhere at a certain time.

Roadside assistance arrived within an hour, and because no one was parked next to him, made it easier for the technician to get to his car.

The car started!

The problem is no more serious than a bad battery cell.

Corey and Joh were able to finish whatever errands they had started as Joh’s car was working.

Coery was able to get his car into his auto dealership and drive it home the very next day.
        
Coery leaned that his warranty was only 300 miles away from expiring and did not have to pay for his battery’s replacement.

The dealership washed his car for free.

Moral: Even when bad, inconvenient, annoying things happen, there is still so much to be grateful for.

I try to apply this attitude to my own life because complaining does not solve a problem.  Hearing others complain has dampened my spirit – and yet I know I have been the complainer.  I have tried to do better and look at the bright side of whatever situation may come my way that I may make a list of things to be grateful for in a similar situation.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pray Before Each Task


Roland gave our middle son, Tony, the nickname “Donald Duck”.  Too often Tony flies off the handle about situations he can’t control or doesn’t understand.  I told him that he needs to pray more often.  That didn’t seem to go over too well.

Prayer has been a part of my life forever.  I always had example of prayer.  My sibs and I were taught to pray.  We said individual prayers.  We said family prayers.  We prayed over the food.  We’d start family home evenings with prayer and end with prayer.  We said morning prayers.  We said prayers before we went to bed.  Before and while on vacation.  It was just something conditioned in me.  I don’t know that I ever questioned it.  Perhaps I didn’t always understand it, but I do now and have for such a long time that it’s hard to remember if/when I questioned prayer.

Oh, perhaps there were times I prayed for something specific and felt my prayers weren’t answered – at least not the way I had wanted.  So perhaps there was a time when I had the response: “I have prayed and it hasn’t done any good.”  I no longer think that.  I pray.  Sometimes it seems as though I’m doing it in vain – but that is when I need to question my part with prayer, and not the Lord’s as He is Always there and Always listening. 

Often times Roland has expressed frustration with whatever project he may be doing on the computer.  My response has always been to ask if he had prayed before starting his task.

I know that not all things run smooth or according to plan all the time.  There is the faith testing and God’s own will that often doesn’t correspond with what we think may be our own.

A specific example involves two different families from the ward where I had grown up.  Two grandmas, each with a grandchild who had a heart condition. 

From my recollection, both children were scheduled to have surgery within weeks of one another.  One baby lived and the other died.  Right now I honestly can’t remember which one.  Both families prayed diligently.  Various family members held a fast.  All of their prayers were answered – though not all experienced the same results – the results which they all wanted for the grandchild to live. 

So what makes one family different from the other?  Why would God answer the same heartfelt prayers so differently?  Why were the results not the same?  I don’t have the answer.  I just know, for me personally, that prayer adds a comfort that I had at least expressed myself.  And the more that I pray, the closer I come so that I do understand.

I realized that was one vast difference between the family Roland grew up in verses my own.  They don’t pray about anything.  They don’t even say grace over the food. It’s just so foreign to me that they don’t consider prayer – for anything.  How different their lives would be if they would kneel as a family and thank Him and ask Him for blessings.

Why would I not pray to thank my maker for all that I have?  Why would I not pray to ask for assistance from a higher being?  Why would I not pray for a miracle that can’t be mastered by humankind? Miracles can and do happen.  But we need to ask.

I thank my mom and dad for their fine example to include God in our lives and to pray before each task or major decision. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Accepted as Part of the Family



I don’t know when the boys had lost touch with their mother’s family. Roland supposedly had her number on file, and the boys would constantly ask, “When can we see Aunt Judy again?”

I figured it should be up to Roland to provide the number, put in the phone call, make an effort to get in touch. It took me two years to realize that if the boys were going to get in touch with Aunt Judy, they would have to come up with another source.

I knew we wouldn’t find her under her maiden name and asked them one night to provide me with the first and last name of her husband and then we would look her up. I was surprised that there was only one Van Ball in Layton. I called Judy and introduced myself and learned that her father’s funeral had taken place only three days prior. She took down our name and address and sent out three programs (one for each boy). Even though the family had been out of touch, the three missing grandsons had still been named as honorary pallbearers.

Aunt Judy said that the family did an annual barbeque each year and would call us back with the details. It was the first time I had met the Walden family. What a great bunch of hospitable people! It was fascinating being in their presence.

At that time eight of Roland’s late wife’s sibs were living. Not all of them made it to the barbeque. I think that there were six or seven families there – or a few members from each family anyway. All of them are scattered in Wyoming and Northern Utah.

The boys were treated like celebrities. Well, I guess we all were. Aunt Judy took a million pictures! Not just of our family, but each family. And then all the kids. And then all the adults. And Roland and I had been asked to join in the adult picture – though neither one of us are Waldens. Okay, he had married Deborah Walden and would still be married to her if she had not passed away.

I was so impressed with how they embraced and accepted me and Jenna and made me feel like we had belonged to them for decades.

After that Aunt Judy always sent presents to Jenna for Christmas and her birthday. I thought that was so wonderful of her to accept Jenna and dote over her – even more so than she had with the boys.

The boys were actually able to see their maternal grandmother a few times before she passed. We didn’t make it to the funeral as we had gone to Roland’s Uncle Mike’s just the week before. Driving to Arizona in January wasn’t actually a big deal. Driving north to Wyoming seemed like it would be quite a treacherous journey that particular year. We prayed for the family's safety.

Though we did not make it to grandma’s funeral, we did attend funerals and weddings of other family members. Deborah’s oldest brother’s only daughter got married. I took Jenna to the luncheon that none of the rest of my family was able to attend. Later her mom passed away. I think all six of us went to that funeral. Or perhaps Randy and Tony were both out of the country at the time. I don't remember all the details.

We attended the wedding reception of Uncle Joey’s oldest. Roland told me that he and Deborah had each of their children within a few months of Joey and his wife. Joey and his wife came to the wedding receptions of all three of my boys. Joey, from what I understood was the most social of all the Walden children.

One of Deborah’s older sisters, Sandy had had cancer in addition to some other health problems. It actually didn’t come as a huge surprise to hear about her passing. I took Jenna to Aunt Sandy’s funeral. None of the men in my family were able to take the time off and Roland had asked if I would represent the family.

The latest death was a shock to everyone.. Joey Walden is a wrestling coach during the school year and a fisherman in the summer. He was on a commercial fishing boat in Alaska. He had told his comrades that he hadn't felt well and went to lie down for a while. A half hour passed when a member of the team went to wake him so that he could assist in pulling the nets. It was discovered that Joey had passed away in his sleep. 

They don't know the cause even though there was an autopsy. Today he will be buried in Wyoming. Joey is just a year younger than I am – and I would guess in much better shape.

We'd gone to the funeral yesterday. Pretty nice services. The boys' uncle was very well loved! There was a massive line for the viewing, and overflow into the cultural hall clear back to the stage. And that was just the people who were able to make it. I'm certain that there were twice as many not able to make it because of work or being out of town.

An angel sang "Be Still My Soul". Before the funeral services had even started, we heard her practicing. I cried both times. It was so awesomely beautiful.

The closing hymn was “Each Life That Touches Ours for Good” which is a sign to us all that Joey did just that. But he is on the other side now, having a reunion with two brothers, two sisters, mom and dad and countless others. Maybe meeting my family as well.

It was a wonderful service. He was an outstanding individual. I would imagine he still is.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Posts that Inspire



          Recently I was googling Individual Worth in search for a proper definition to use in one of my posts.  As I went searching I pulled up a few blog sites with inspiring stories which I would like to share and reference.

          I came across an object lesson given by Stephanie Waite in which she laid out various belongings on a table and asked her class what each object was worth and what made them valuable.  Some of the objects were perhaps expensive things and some objects may have been more valuable to one than to another.  But the particular object that may have seemed worthless to most individuals was probably the most valuable thing on the table in the eyes of its initial owner.

          It actually reminded me of an object that is close to Jenna – a stuffed dog she’s had since she was 6 months old – though the toy itself looks like he’s been around much longer than she has. It’s been restuffed twice and has had matted hair cut off – never to grow back again.  But Jenna loves it.  It’s her baby.  It’s her lifelong friend.

          Recently she allowed her cousin to “borrow” it – a huge sacrifice on her part.  But Kayla (my sister) was not all that thrilled about inviting Jenna’s beat up toy (which really is clean – but appears to be unkempt) into her house and chose to leave it in the trunk of her car.

          What makes something or someone valuable?  Love?  The kind of love that makes you valuable no matter what.  No matter how beaten or ratty (inside or out)  I loved her post.  I loved her explanation.  And you can read the full post here

          Stephanie’s last post referred me to another blog.  I read a post that could fall into the category of Choice and Accountability.  What a tough decision to be made – and yet what remarkable faith and strength that would help so many others.

          Collin Presley had health problems from the time he was born.  He outlived his disease by twelve years (from my understanding) but died shortly after a new medication was given. 

          Their first thought was to sue the doctor.  Collin still had life with the old medication.  Surely someone had to blamed for Collin’s death – but an autopsy would have to be preformed to provide proof.  Doing an autopsy would upset the organs which the family wanted to donate to those who were still fighting the fight.  A battle with attorneys would have been so costly.  It wouldn’t bring Collin back.  On the flip side his organs could be donated and bring life to others.  That was the choice they faced.  You can read more of their story in this post though I recommend venturing even further with prior posts

          Katy Pluim amazes me with her short sweet posts as she deals with having only one arm.  I am so impressed with the things that she has taught herself that I struggle with having two arms.  She is a beautiful person with a husband and a three year old (almost three) daughter.  Here is one of her earlier posts on dealing.

Unfortunately I did not copy the reference for this next story.  I tried going back to my initial research and to Google–ing with the given subject, but more sites were brought up than I cared to wade through.  My apologies to the blogger (though there are many more resources for this particular story:

“More than one hour after the gold-medal athlete had crossed the finish line during the marathon in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzamia entered the stadium.  Only a few spectators remained as the lone runner appeared.  The athlete’s leg was injured and bleeding.  He was dehydrated and confuse.  As he crossed the finish line, the small crowd cheered in appreciation for what would become one of the most famous last-place finishes in history. But it wasn’t the runner’s performance that caught their attention – and the attention of thousands more during the almost five decades since.  It was his desire to finish the race, to endure to the end.  After the event in 1968, a reporter asked the runner why he had not quit the race since he had no chance of winning. The Tanzanian athlete was confused.  “My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race,” he replied.  “They sent me to finish”

I actually shared this next story in Relief Society when the instructor asked the class for comments about Integrity.  What goes around comes around.  I think this is a really great example.

And finally one idea to teach in classrooms – though children are more accepting and perhaps this ought to be applied to all adults as well  Stop the bullying already. We are all different.  Embrace the differences.   

          How great it is to have so many great insights and so many who support one another through their blogs and create ideas and share.  Thank you!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

So, what would you do?





          Last week my husband spotted a wallet in the parking lot of a shopping complex.  His arms were full of groceries and he asked Jenna if she would bend down and pick it up. 

Excitedly, she retrieved the wallet and announced that it must be returned.  I am so happy that it was such an automatic decision for all three of us to turn the wallet in.  Oh, and we could have so used any money it may have contained.  But I’ve been in that situation too many times where I have been the one that has lost whatever – and if the roles were reversed, it is exactly what I would want the finder to do. 
As the grocery store is the largest – it is where we ended up taking the wallet.  The owner frantically entered the store only moments after we turned it in.  We told him where it was.  With gratitude he gave Roland a half embrace.

Jenna was a little bit disappointed that there weren’t any cameras or having John Quinones pop out of the woodwork to announce that we were part of his reality show.  Roland assured her that Heavenly Father could see her actions and has His own version of “What Would You Do?” and was giving Jenna a thumbs up for she did the right thing.

I am so happy that Jenna wanted to do the right thing.  And I’m happy about her excitement for the reality show which has really taught her values.  Thank you John Quinones and the creators of that show.

Oh, my picture at the beginning of the post?  That is Jenna mimicking John Quinones.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Silent Heroes



There are several variations of what may come to one’s mind when visualizing his or her perception of a hero.  There are comic book heroes such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, or even Word Girl.

Many people have benefitted from the heroic actions of the police, firefighters, soldiers, etc.  It is the uniformed men or women whom they see as heroes.  And they are, and deserve to be recognized.
         
          There are “heroes” who do it for the glory – just to be recognized as heroes.  And there are the silent heroes who work behind the scenes, who don’t ask for recognition, many who would prefer not to bask in the glory.  These are the true heroes.

          Roland is one of those heroes.  He does things out of nature – not because he’s seeking a reward or glory.  He just does things because they need to be done.
          For example, he’s really not mechanically minded, but he will stop to give people a lift or assist where able – whether he actually knows the person (or people) or not.

          One time (many years ago) he noticed an acquaintance waiting at the bus stop.  He offered her a lift just because of his nature.  But for her, it was a heroic act of rescue.  Neither of us knows all the details and so it is only speculation as to whether she woke up late, her car wasn’t running, she had barely missed the bus . . . whatever. 

She  has been grateful to Roland for his actions all this time – and it really wasn’t a recent thing.  Maybe 30 years ago?  Maybe longer.  An incident that Roland probably thought nothing about even in that moment, but in that moment he had become her hero.  And she has never forgotten.

My dad was a hero just by his example – supporting each of us in our dreams – supporting us from “behind the curtains” never feeling the need to set foot upon the stage himself.  And really not wanting to.  He didn’t have a desire for the praise. 

He was wise with money and knew how to budget and provide.  We may not have been financially wealthy, but daddy kept the family together and saw to it that we would take a family vacation each year. Daddy was a silent hero.

I remember being stranded on the road myself.  Kayla and Corey were with me.  Kayla was maybe about five or six.  We didn’t have cell phones then – and payphones were only a dime.  With the car (I believe I was driving the one that belonged to my grandmother, actually) pulled over to the side, I took each of the kids’ hands and started walking.  A man pulled over to see if we needed a lift.

As I pushed Kayla and Corey into the car, I thought: “What am I doing?  I don’t know this man.  He could just try to steal us and hold us for ransom”

But this “grandpa” who had picked us up became my hero for a moment.  As it turned out he really didn’t live too far from my grandma. 

And there’s another time when my neighbor was stranded on the freeway – with at least six kids in the car.  It was the “hippy era” and those long haired freaks had earned a reputation among the older generation which was less than flattering.  But it was two of those long haired “freaks” that helped us to move along.

And then there are the occasional customer service representatives who are serious about resolving my concerns.  Those are true heroes for making me feel like I am more important than a paycheck.

Strange how such little actions on our part can have such a huge impact on somebody else’s.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Left Lane is for Passing


          Last May the bishop (leader) of our ward (Church boundary) had some major health problems along with his second counselor.  My husband, who was serving as the High Priest Group Leader, said to me that if the bishop had passed away during that time, the mantle would have been handed to him and he would have had to step into the bishop’s shoes (metaphorically speaking) until a new one was called.

          I don’t know how soon the first counselor (at the time of our ailing bishop) was called to take over the position of bishop.  But my husband was called as his first counselor.  It was to be his fourth calling in less than two years.

          But his second counselor holds the record of short lived callings.  He had been called as a Sunday School teacher – I don’t know for how many months.  He was released in order to serve as a counselor in the Elder’s Quorum.  The week after he was put in the Elder’s Quorum position, it was announced that he would be the new second counselor of the bishopric.  He had lived in the ward for only six months.

          So last June we got our new bishopric: our 32 year old Caucasian bishop, my 56 year old husband (of Hispanic decent) and a 34 year old fireball from the Philippines  Our new bishopric resembled that of an Oreo Cookie.

This last Friday the second counselor and his wife moved out of the ward.  We all knew it was coming.  Today they spoke in Sacrament meeting.

          The first speaker was his wife – she gave an awesome talk about staying on course.  She had two comparisons of wanting to “change lanes” and trying to “hurry things along”.

          Her first example was/is one that many of us are guilty of.  We drop by the store to pick up whatever. We happen to be in a hurry and the lines are seemingly never-ending long. (She must have been at a Wal-Mart)

          The specific example she used was a woman with a fidgety child.  She was in the express line and saw another line open up – but was still behind two or three people.  And for whatever reason, the line stopped moving.

          The child continued to fidget and the woman jumped in and out of lines causing her more anguish.  As the speaker checked out, she looked back to see the woman behind three groups of people.  If she had just stayed in line to begin with, she would have been next.

          The other example she used was in passing trucks on the highway.  She has learned that when she is in the left hand lane and she sees a semi signal to come over, she will allow it to come into her lane knowing that once it has passed its obstacle, it will go back over into the right.
   
      
          She says that non-understanding drivers will be upset that she has allowed a truck in and will attempt to pass both of them, swerve into the right hand lane, floor it and will have to slam on the breaks in order to avoid the obstacle that the truck driver was trying to avoid in the first place.

          So instead of passing this speaker and the truck, the “hurried” driver has to wait for the truck, the speaker, and whatever cars behind her before he or she can move back into the left lane – which defeats the purpose for having gone into the right lane to begin with.

          What’s the big deal?  Sure, being behind a truck is not always ideal – but a truck in the left lane is not going to be in the left lane for very long.  Trucking takes experience.  The drivers have a better view of things from where they are sitting.  Sometimes we need to trust that they know what they’re doing and show a little patience.

          Same with our Father in Heaven.  He can see a whole lot further down the road than we can.  We need to trust in Him and stay on course and not be in a hurry to get around what we think is unnecessary.  If we just accept the “slowness” as part of the plan to begin with and stay on course, our journey will be a lot smoother.

          The speaker compared moments in her life when she herself wanted to switch lanes thinking they might get her to her spiritual destination at a faster pace, but would end up becoming discouraged or frustrated, but would have a better understanding about WHY when she finally did arrive where she thought she wanted to go.  And continues to go.

          She’s experienced so much anxiety over this last move – not wanting to leave but needing to.  And now that they are moved she is more at peace.  And now has a better understanding at staying on course and having faith in God who is ahead of us seeing all.

          It was a really good talk.  I did have more to go with my notes.  Rather than elaborate further though, I can create some new posts out of what’s remaining.

Monday, March 12, 2012

I Don’t Want to Be an Example!


          I met Dave when he worked at a sandwich shop in Maynardsville, VA.  My two missionary companions adored him.  He was a really nice guy.  Very personable, very friendly, outgoing, full of life.  He liked to drink, smoke, and lead an immoral lifestyle.  He appeared to be happy and content.

          Dave had been raised in the LDS Church – and whether he ever felt a part of it or not, I do not know.  I’m guessing he did.  I know he had lots of friends in the Church.  And out of respect to them, or perhaps for his mom, or maybe it was the Church itself, he decided to have his name removed from the membership records.

          He hadn’t necessarily stopped believing the things he had been taught for most of his life.  He had just chosen a path that wasn’t very wholesome for a staunch and devout member to be on.  And he knew that.  He knew he had disappointed many by spreading his wings – by taking the road that seemed more popular.  And it worked for him.  But he knew that his choices were not the right choices for people to see.  He didn’t want people to say, “He’s a Mormon” and mar the image of what some people would believe that Mormons were (or are) and so he asked for his membership to be taken away.

          He did not go into great detail about his disciplinary council.  He said it was one of the hardest things he had ever done.  He said if he had been thrown into a room with a bunch of strangers that it would have been so much easier.  But the men in the room were his friends – or had been at one time or another.  He felt like he had failed them and his mother.  But it was just something he felt he needed to do.

          He could have remained an inactive member.  The Church doesn’t excommunicate those who are inactive – even if they have a questionable lifestyle.  Active members and missionaries are asked to work with them and “bring them back into the fold” and eventually there is a repenting process – but not drastic like the active members who have done something within question that results in excommunication. 

          When I heard Dave’s story I was in awe.  What a great guy to give up his membership (hard as it was) so that he could honestly tell people that he wasn’t a Mormon nor had membership there.  Of course, the ideal thing (according to thousands of members) would have been just to give up his “wicked” lifestyle, repent and return.  But would the lessons that Dave received out of life been any different?  Surely his experiences would not have been the same, and he wouldn’t have grown into the man that I met two years later.

          Since I had arrived in Maynardsville, the small branch had made a goal to get 75 members to attend their Sunday meetings.  And each week we had between 62 and 67.  We worked with non members as well as inactive.

          I served that area for three months.  That makes at least twelve Sundays.  On the last Sunday I was served in that area, there were a number of visitors that came to the ward.  Among them were Dave’s mom and new step Dad.  They came in at number 73 and 74.  Dave walked in right behind them.  He had helped them reach their goal!  He was number 75!

          I was released from my mission five months later. And two years after that I had just returned for a visit.  My former landlady and I had gone to the strip mall to visit Dave at the sandwich shop.  Only he was no longer working at the Sandwich shop, but at an electronic franchise next door.  He had given up the green shirt and apron (which matched his tattoo) for a three piece suit (which hid his tattoo) 

He was living with a girl who he’d come to love and wanted to marry.  He wanted an eternal marriage – not a worldly one.  He had developed a love for Joy and wanted to embrace life with her.  He wanted her to learn about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

He told us about Joy and he asked us to dinner so that we could meet her.  And then he asked if we could arrange for her to meet with the missionaries.  He wanted for them to both become members and to be sealed in the temple in another year.  I didn’t get to see it.  I had heard from a few members though.

          Dave came back.  He was a strong member.  He brought with him an understanding for giving into temptations and overcoming challenges.  He had a calling to work with the youth.  He could relate to them.  He had a firsthand account of what it was like to be in the Church and what it was like to be on a worldly path.
          Dave and Joy were married in the temple a year after the branch president had married them civilly. The little branch grew into a ward and Dave served as a counselor to a bishop who had also been an inactive member. 

          Sometimes leaving the Church goes wrong for many people.  But there are just as many who become even stronger in the gospel and can build up testimonies because of their outside experiences.

          I’m not advising to go outside just for experience.  It’s not my call.  Often it’s not your call either.  But if we put our faith in God and rely on him and communicate with him, we can have our own empowering experiences.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

He Doesn’t Eat Onions, He’s a Mormon


          I once had a Sunday School teacher who related the following:

          He and his buddy had gone to Hawaii one summer to earn some money picking pineapples.  The two were assigned to two different groups.  Rex was the only LDS member of his group. 
Because his fellow pineapple pickers had never met anyone else from the Mormon Church, they looked at Rex to represent all members.

Rex just happened to hate onions.  There was nothing religious about it.  It was a personal preference.  He just didn’t like the way they tasted or smelled.  Many in his group believed that it was a religious thing as they had nothing else (or no one) to compare it to.
One day the two groups got together for lunch.  Some fast food place that served hamburgers.  Rex ordered his food with the added instructions, “No onions”
Rex’s buddy than placed his order.  Sensing that the two of them were together, the cashier asked, “Do you want that with onions or without?”

Before his buddy had an opportunity to answer, someone from Rex’s pineapple picking group said (I believe in a loud voice) “He’ll have them without.  He’s a Mormon”
Up until that moment, it hadn’t occurred to Rex that the members of his group had been watching him.  He was their example.  He represented the entire Church – which of course isn’t right. 

None of us is perfect.  None of us by ourselves can represent our entire religion, race, heritage, etc.  And yet so often our words are taken at more than face value.  We are an example whether we like it or not.

LDS members are encouraged to pray about the things they learn and are taught.  They’re encouraged to pray about lessons that they teach or talks that they give.  When leaders (including the prophet) are sustained, it is still up to each individual member to pray about it – to receive his or her own confirmation.  To understand the things of God and not just take the lesson or the teaching or the sustaining upon face value. 

Missionaries teach non-members and encourage them to pray that they may receive their own personal revelation as well. We each need to know and understand for ourselves.  We need to pray to Him who knows all to receive our own personal revelations. And yet many fail this simple task.  We take things upon face value due to a person’s calling or position or because of our own blind faith and idleness. 

The press picks up on words spouted from the mouths of any “Mormon” who make it to the media – be it a member of a sports team who happens to be LDS or one who uses the title bishop or stake president or perhaps is running for political office or maybe a professor who teaches at BYU.  Some individuals are more recognized than others.  But like Rex, some of us never make it to the press or receive prestige recognition, but are still being watched nonetheless. 

Do we vote according to our own personal revelation?  Or do we listen to and value the opinions of many imperfect members and take it as “gospel doctrine”?  No one of us represents the Church and yet sometimes we are the only example that some people even know of. How do our words or lifestyles influence them?  How do our words or lifestyles influence those we serve with or go to Chrich with?  Does what we say represent gospel truth or do we come across as opinionated and insincere?

And yes, there are many blind followers.  But there are those who are willing to admit their faults and desire to improve.  There are those who strive to become the best they can be – not because they want to represent the Church or have control or abuse their positions – but so they can be true disciples of Christ and let others see that they are striving to live up to his name.

If all of us (members or not) would take the time to offer sincere prayers so that we may have our own understanding – that the messages we hear are the truth and not misrepresented pieces of truth  (or our own misunderstandings of it) – that we may know for ourselves who we are and what path we need to follow for ourselves.  That we may understand God’s heart and not get caught up in theories or misunderstanding of imperfect members.  Because even though it seems there are so many who are close, none of us is perfect.