My emotions about living in these days have been on a roller coaster lately. Two years ago when the race for President of the United States started, there were 16 Republican candidates who fought tooth and nail. It was so distressing! And that was just the beginning of crazy. The political climate has skyrocketed into lunacy since then where reading the evening headlines can be disturbing and painful. I was a mess until I heard Elder Dallin H. Oaks speak in a BYU devotional at the beginning of the election process. He basically said, “It’s in the Lord’s hands, He is in charge.”
“In the distressing circumstances that surround us, we must trust in God and His promises and hold fast to the vital gospel teaching of hope. The prophet Nephi taught that we must “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men” (2 Nephi 31:20). Later, the apostle Paul told the Corinthians:
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed. [2 Corinthians 4:8–9]
“Every generation has challenges that can cause discouragement in those without hope. The future is always clouded with uncertainties—wars and depressions being only two examples.’
“While some abandon progress, you of faith should hope on and press on with your education, your lives, and your families.’
After I heard him speak, I was much calmer. I would hear something terrible, and I would remind myself, “He is in charge, He is in charge.”
A couple of weeks ago in my quiet morning time I decided that I would glory in these last days. I would live deeper, appreciate things more and love more strongly. I would CELEBRATE!
And then the shooting in Florida happened. I saw the picture of the sweet freshman girl, Alaina Petty, that happened to be a Mormon, and I slumped. And she was one of 17 killed. I felt so, so sad. It is so senseless. I sat in that sadness for a long time.
I am entering the war chapters in Alma in my scripture study. These chapters chronicle what it feels like being surrounded by people who hate you and would love nothing more than seeing you and your family annihilated. And yet this single verse stands out as a beacon to us in the latter days:
“But behold there never was a happier time among the people of Nephi, since the days of Nephi, than in the days of Moroni, yea, even at this time, in the twenty and first year of the reign of the judges.” (Alma 50:23)
It’s because Moroni was strong and he knew how to fortify against their enemies. It was still really hard, and he made mistakes and got discouraged. But he stayed strong. Strong is important. Strong is really, really good.
I have also been rereading these last few weeks, the book “Little Heathens.” I know, I know, I have already posted about it, but I love it so much.
Without indoor plumbing or electricity the whole book is how they thrived on a Iowa farm in the 30’s. Yes, during the worst economic time this country has ever seen. With a single mother and strict grandparents who were born in the 1870’s and called them “Little Heathens”. The theme of the whole book is how empowered the families were, with their ingenuity and hard work. The adults on the farm were strong and driven. They expected the children to step up and contribute, and participate in every part of the farm work.
I was reminded again, how many options I have, how leisurely my life is and how hard work always blesses us. This book would be a great read aloud with a 9-13 year old.
While in the temple doing intiatories, I looked at one name that I had and she was born in April of 1865. Right at the end of the Civil War. The next woman whose name I had was born the year after in 1866. Both women were born in southern states. It reminded me of the children’s book about the Civil War, “Across Five Aprils”.
Wow, now that was the time to be born!
I thought of the hardships of that time in our country’s history and I couldn’t even imagine their lives. How do you recover from the loss of lives, the farms ruined and cities burned down? Did their fathers survive the Civil War?
I am back to my original intent of celebration as all of these thoughts and experiences have happened to me the past few weeks.
We only get this time, this life. What is it going to be?
This last weekend, we organized a “Phoenix Phestival” around a half marathon that my son Ross, and my husband have trained for. We are only too happy to leave Utah Valley and be in warmer climes for a few days. My favorite part was making swedish meatballs at my sister’s on Friday night. We were all sous chefs, chopping, mincing and forming meatballs, under the direction of my newly returned Swedish missionary. My sister Carol set a lovely table with her red dishes that she uses in February for Valentines and Chinese New Year. She knows how to celebrate! She gathers her family for every holiday known to man with dishes, and decorations and special food. My brother drove up from Tucson, going the literal extra mile to be part of this meal. Jeannie, his wife, had somehow coaxed him to come after a long week of work for both of them. Somehow I was seated at the table with 4 of my children lined up across from me. I kept marveling, throughout that space of time, that I was sitting there and enjoying them so much. They were brilliant, witty and stories were pouring out of them. It was one of those rapture moments where you want it to last, and maybe I was laughing too hard at the stories because I was so happy to be there with so many of my favorite people. It was magical. This is what I think Heavenly Father wants for us, to have joy in all of these heartaches and hard times. If we read a little bit of history, we can quickly see how amazingly easy our lives are, and how the rest of mankind filled most of their waking hours worrying about survival. How often during the day do you worry about fuel, food or water, like the millions of other people who have lived before us?
(This is a picture from our Phoenix Phestival) These are our days! Celebrate with your children! And be strong. Really, really strong.