Sunday, January 25, 2009

One Eternal Round

You’ve heard this phrase before in the scriptures. God’s course is “one eternal round.” This shows up various times in the scriptures. I’ll include one of those references here, from D&C 35:1:

Listen to the voice of the Lord your God, even Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, whose course is one eternal round, the same today as yesterday, and forever.

I never really quite understood what “one eternal round” meant; I probably still don’t to a great degree. But I did read something a couple of years ago that gave some significant meaning to this concept for me. I come back to these quotes when I'm feeling worn out by the routine and repetition of life, especially that which comes with the role of being a mom.

Elder Maxwell wrote the following:

Chesterton notes our low capacity for being able to deal with monotony and says in a moving passage: “It is possible that God says every morning, `Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes all daisies separately, but has never got tired of making them.” The divine delight in what seems to us to be mere repetition is one clue to the sublime character of God. Since we must, at times, accept what appears to us to be routine, repeated experiences, we too, if we try, can find fresh meaning and fresh joy in the repeated experiences. God’s course is one eternal round but it is not one monotonous round. God is never bored, for one who has perfect love is never bored. There is always so much to notice, so much to do, so many ways to help, so many possibilities to pursue (Neal A. Maxwell, A More Excellent Way, p.84-85).


Repeatedly God has described His course as reiterative, “one eternal round”…. We mortals sometimes experience boredom in the routine repetition of our mortal tasks, including even good works; and thus vulnerable, we are urged not to grow weary in well doing (Galatians 6:9; D&C 64:33; 84:80; Alma 37:34). But given God’s divine love, there is no boredom on His part amid His repetitive work, for his course, though one eternal round, involves continuous redemption for His children; it is full of goodness and mercy as His long-suffering shows His love in action. In fact we cannot even comprehend the infinite blessings which await the faithful—”eye hath not seen, nor ear heard . . .” (1 Corinthians 2:9) (Neal A. Maxwell, Not My Will, But Thine, p.53-54).

Charity means never being bored with the routine of my life. Wow. (I guess I need to be praying that much harder for charity!) Seriously, though, once in a while I can catch a glimpse of what Elder Maxwell is talking about. When I really put my heart into my roles as wife and mother and homemaker (might I say I open my heart to these things?), I feel the Spirit. I have felt the Spirit baking bread, doing laundry, taking care of sick children, cooking a nutritious meal for my family. But, sadly, often I think of my days in terms of (boring, tedious) routine. And I often actively seek for a break from that routine. A break is not a bad thing in and of itself (!), but I sense from these quotes that I’m often missing the beauty of my daily to-dos, especially the ones that relate to my “most important” work in my home.

And so, I want to remember Elder Maxwell’s thoughts. It makes me think that perhaps there is nothing in our lives that can’t be part of our training for godhood; even the repetitious, tedious tasks can perhaps be teaching us something.

One last quote, from Joseph F. Smith:

After all, to do well those things which God ordained to be the common lot of all man-kind, is the truest greatness. ...We should never be discouraged in those daily tasks which God has ordained to the common lot of man. Each day’s labor should be undertaken in a joyous spirit and with the thought and conviction that our happiness and eternal welfare depend upon doing well that which we ought to do, that which God has made it our duty to do. Many are unhappy because they imagine that they should be doing something unusual or something phenomenal. Some people would rather be the blossom of a tree and be admiringly seen than be an enduring part of the tree and live the commonplace life of the tree’s existence (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p.285-286).

Let us not be trying to substitute an artificial life for the true one. He is truly happy who can see and appreciate the beauty with which God has adorned the commonplace things of life (Juvenile Instructor, Vol. 40, pp. 752-3 Dec. 15, 1905).

One eternal round. Next time your life feels like an endless circle of daily to-dos, I hope that perhaps these quotes can help you as they have helped me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Has the day of miracles ceased?

NieNie is home and blogging again. Wow.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Death Threats as the New Internet Email Scam Approach

This might be worth telling people you know about...especially those who might be less aware of how scams work (the articles says the elderly, for example, might fall for something like this more readily).

I just gotta write

I have had so much happen lately that my brain and spirit are on overload. I'm overwhelmed to the point of not being able to adequately express how grateful I am to God. I am coming to understand and feel of His love more in my life. And it's amazing.

I can't fully express it all, but I can at least record experiences that have clearly felt like His hand in my life.

(I recall this from Pres. Eyring, who talks of how writing helped him.)

Last week, for example, I had a *really* bad health day. I was able to function, but I thought I might lose my mind. My *other* ear (one has already been clogged for six years, so I'm used to that) clogged up, PLUS there was a constant, deep roaring that made me feel like I had a conch shell at my ear. A big one. It was awful. In the midst of this, I had to two doctor appointments (sleep has been horrible lately, so I was working on that, plus had follow-ups for tests done during the holidays).

By the time I got home, I was spent. I was also really, really discouraged. I just felt like I couldn't handle one more thing with my body going wrong. (I know I could if I needed to, but I really, really didn't want to. And yeah, there was that part of me looking up to heaven thinking, "Please, no. PLEASE?")

Anyway, given how I was feeling, I decided to clear my schedule for the next day (I had two things I was really looking forward to -- a lunch and a meeting for some really exciting volunteer work at the local university).

That night, I listened to my daughter's cough (one she has had for two weeks now) and decided I wouldn't have peace of mind if she didn't get seen by a doctor. She had been going to school, but it seemed like her cough may have even gotten worse. I wasn't sure, but I needed information.

She and I tried to guess what the doctor would say. My guess (in my 'I'm probably overreacting' self-talk) was that everything would be fine. Her guess (her fear was getting medicine) was that she would have to take something.

Imagine my surprise when, as I tried to defend my decision to bring her in, the doctor listened to her and said, "I think she has pneumonia."

Well, then.

"And a double-ear infection." [I had heard no complaints from her at all about her ears.]

Uh, yeah, I guess bringing her in was an ok idea.

I had prayed the day before to be able to accept the new symptom if I needed to experience it. Of course, I realize we never fully understand how things work, but I had the thought that had I not felt so awful the day before, had not cleared out my schedule, I might not have been able to get her in. Or I might have talked myself out of the appointment (ask hubby - it was not clear at all that she needed it).

(Oh, and I woke up with my ear not roaring anymore. Yea! I'll take that, and hope that it really was just something that helped my daughter, but not something I needed to experience for more than a day. :) )

I am trying to have more faith that things really do work together for our good.

I always love hearing other people's tender mercy stories, or ways that their faith grows, so if you want to share (or have a link you want to share), please do!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Keeping the Sabbath with Build-A-Bears

[Edited to fix many silly errors. I was TI-RED last night!]

A year or so ago, the children were invited to a birthday party at Build-A-Bear. They come home with Fuzzy (a bunny), Spot (a bear), and George (a monkey). (I have to admit they are darling.)

For Christmas, some friends wanted to give the children something, and they decided on Build-A-Bear gift certificates. Last night was the big night. We added two more creatures to our home: Fudge and Chocolate (both brown bears). (Fuzzy got a fuzzy bathrobe and other stuff. Including a Book of Mormon. Seriously.)

Now, I will say that a part of me cringes at this kind of thing that can, on one hand, be classified under the "frivolous spending" category. We don't really need more stuffed animals around our house, and I'm usually not much of a fan of name-brand, expensive, exclusive stuff.

But at the same time, watching our children plan and budget for how they would spend their Christmas money, and then light up as they walked out with their loot was pretty priceless. If you can get those kind of smiles for twenty bucks, isn't it worth it once in a while?

But the looks on their faces were nothing compared to what happened tonight.

Every night, I tuck the kidlets in, give them kisses and hugs, and ask them what their favorite part of the day was. Tonight, as I was leaving the girls' room, the following conversation occurred:

RS: "Mom, today we gave our Build-A-Bears a lesson." (What is the plural of Build-A-Bear, anyway? And what if they aren't bears?) :) )

Me (trying to hold back a shocked smile): "What was your lesson on?"

RS: "Confirmation."

(What do you say to that?) I decided to say this, trying to go along with the flow of the conversation:

"Is Fuzzy reading her Book of Mormon?"

RS: "Yeah. And she's sharing with the others."

And then she tacked this on as I left the room:

"We plan to do a lesson every Sunday."

All I could manage to say was:

"That sounds like a great idea, hon."

So, it looks like we have an in-home Primary program going on for Build-A-Bears.

I love my kids. And I think I love Build-A-Bear a little more after tonight.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Embracing Agency

When I was a missionary for the Church, I often joked about the "problem" of agency -- if only I could force all those people to choose what I know what was best for them....

Of course, that sounds all too Lucifer-like. But there are times -- oh, there are times -- when I can see the appeal of such control, and I wonder why it is that I didn't choose that route in the premortal realm. (Clearly, I'm joking...but am still just the tiniest bit serious.)

I'm sobered when I think about how important agency is (enough that God would cast out a third of His children, not allowing them to EVER have the opportunity to have a body and thus progress toward a degree of glory. EVER.). Think about it. That's a HUGE deal.

I have agency on the brain because I recently had a conversation with a friend who is going through a heart-rendingly hard time. A significant person in her life is making a choice that is, imo, a mistake of gargantuan proportions. This choice is breaking her children's hearts. It is breaking my friend's heart. I can't imagine it will do anything good for the individual, either. And it could have consequences that reach into generations.

As much as I am coming to respect the principle of agency, I pretty much wanted to jump through the phone and MAKE things change, so that my friend and her family did not have to experience the pain that is inevitable as a result of this one person's choice.

But I realized I can't. And my friend already gets that.

I think our mortal selves can't fully understand why it is that "agency is a vital element in our Father in Heaven’s plan of happiness" (Richard G. Scott). It's especially hard to understand why God allows the exercise of agency that can cause so much intense, significant pain for innocent people. I think it tears at our hearts especially when innocent children are the victims, but at some point, haven't we all experienced pain at someone else's hand (literal or figurative)? We are wired to avoid pain.

And sometimes we do that by wanting to control others.

But this is not God's way.

Opposition is necessary, essential. Without opposition, righteousness or happiness could not exist (see 2 Nephi 2:11). Again, God cared so much about agency that He allowed a third of His children (His children!) to walk away and never return.

I have pondered this principle perhaps more than any other principle the past few years. I still feel like I'm only scratching the surface about why agency matters so much. But here are three thoughts I have about why that is the case:

1. We truly have to choose and experience the difference between sweet and bitter, right and wrong, light and darkness, to fully understand what it means to have faith, to be obedient. You know how it feels when you know something in your head, but it hasn't sunk into your heart? I think the way truth sinks into our hearts is to truly choose to live it, and to do that so repeatedly that it becomes part of who we are.

2. Such exercising of agency is just that -- true spiritual exercise. It's too easy to "be acted upon" (yes, 2 Nephi 2 is a favorite scriptural chapter for me). We get into ruts. We develop bad habits - some of which aren't necessarily sin per se, but are still not truly the best choices that can bring the Spirit into our lives. We need to choose to act. We have to repeatedly, as Elder Hales has said, "" As we exercise choice with faith, choosing to actively obey rather than just passively live, our faith grows. Our spirits progress.

3. I think sometimes only the pain of others' can help us understand the Atonement in a way that we might not understand otherwise. It's one thing to turn to Him to overcome our own weaknesses (I at least have control over my choices and can choose to try to overcome my weakness with His help). In my view and limited experienced, it's another thing to turn to Him for help and healing when our pain and struggle comes as a result of someone else's choices, over which we don't have control, and are not to exercise control.

Again, from Elder Scott:
Faith in Jesus Christ and in His power to heal provides the abused with the means to overcome the terrible consequences of another’s unrighteous acts.
Interestingly, the more we exercise agency in ways that tap into the Savior's power and Atonement, the more influence (not control, but influence) we can have.

From Elder Hales (link above):
Finally, remember our agency is not only for us. We have the responsibility to use it in behalf of others, to lift and strengthen others in their trials and tribulations. Some of our brothers and sisters have lost the full use of their agency through unrighteous choices. Without exposing ourselves to temptation, we can and should invite others to receive the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Through friendship and love, we may lead them along the path of obedience and encourage them to use their agency to make the right choices once again.
What are your thoughts on agency? How do you turn to the Lord when someone makes a choice that hurts you? How do you exercise your agency? How do you embrace and accept it as a principle and as a principle in your life?