Category Archives: Humility

The Feast of Trumpets

Today, September 13, 2015, is highly significant in the Hebrew calendar.

At sundown today, the Feast of Trumpets begins. I knew very little about this until last night. I did know about Passover in the spring and how it commemorates the Israelites’ miraculous exodus from ancient Egypt, led by Moses. It’s also the day Christ was crucified, to be resurrected on the third day, he being the first fruits of the Atonement.

According to an article I read last night, The Golden Plates and the Feasts of Trumpetsthe Passover signifies the Early Harvest or the first harvest of souls at the time of Christ. The fall holy days symbolize the Later Harvest, or the harvest of souls in the Last Days – the times in which we live!

This day is part of three High Holy Days or Days of Awe:

  • The Feast of Trumpets or Rosh Hashanah – This is a day to remember how the ancient Israelites escaped from both Egypt and Babylon. In both cases, many spirituals truths and practices had been lost. So, even today, Israel remembers and begins the repentance process to become more spiritually righteous. It is also the Jewish New Year, a time for new beginnings. It is signaled by a single long note, offering God’s hope to the truly penitent.
  • The Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur – This is a day of fasting, reflection and repentance, about 10 days after The Feast of Trumpets. It is signaled by a series of short trumpet notes, symbolizing man’s weeping for his sins and failings, and asking for the Lord’s forgiveness. This year it begins at sundown, September 22, and ends at nightfall on the 23rd.
  • The Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot means receiving the Lord’s forgiveness and a return to grace – a completed harvest. It is signaled by another single long sound from the trumpet. This year, it begins on Monday, September 28, and ends seven days later on Sunday, October 4.

Even though Latter-day Saints don’t officially observe Jewish holy days, I plan to use this three-week period to look within, see what I can and need to improve, and recommit myself to the Christian path. I especially want to repent of hardheartedness, my tendency to hold onto resentment, and my failure many times to love others as I should.

I also have a great love for the Jewish people as well as empathy for their long sufferings and worldwide wanderings over many centuries. It mirrors my own wanderings through a wilderness of unfulfilled hopes and some negative generational patterns that have dogged my footsteps. Plus Mormons believe that we are part of the House of Israel just as the Jews are. Some scholars believe it’s significant that the Angel Moroni delivered the Book of Mormon plates to Joseph Smith on Rosh Hashanah, September 22, 1827. It then became God’s voice of warning to all the world in our day – a trumpet in its own right.

I saw a PBS special this last year on how Broadway musicals have been mostly created by Jewish writers, composers, producers, and directors. They wrote about alienation and a desire to belong. They set their stories in the most American of settings with non Jewish characters: Oklahoma, South Pacific, The Sound of Music, Carousel,  Showboat, and many more. My heart went out to them in their desire to find a home in America and a cultural identity integrated with the story of our nation. In many respects, they’ve succeeded and prospered, while adding to the greatness of our nation.

Today, I join with them in celebrating our common history, in affirming our common allegiance to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and finally in looking forward to the ultimate harvest of souls through the return of our Messiah – the ultimate new beginning.

Today is also the 29th day of Elul, the last day of the Shemitah or Sabbath year, but that will be the subject of another post.

May you all burn with a “perfect brightness of hope” that only a hope in Christ can kindle and not put out. And may we each sound a trumpet of invitation and hope to those around us.

The Angel Moroni, Raleigh NC Temple Courtesy lds.org

The Angel Moroni, Raleigh NC Temple
Courtesy lds.org

Trust His Heart

I struggle with faith and optimism after a lifetime of chronic opposition. Some people have mostly sunny days, some have many intense storms that make me wonder how they survive and some, like me, have long-standing but milder adversity that seems to just go on and on – but interspersed with enough real blessings to keep me trudging onward.

While it would be nice to get closer to perfection and have a quick resolution to my problems, I find that a huge push only exhausts me. So I’ve learned to pace myself and only try each day to improve in some area of my life. My standard is “just do a little better” and hope that over time that this will add up to real growth and decisive breakthroughs.

Today, my worries threatened to overwhelm my natural optimism. So reached a little higher and a little deeper for trust and hope. I remembered good advice from Oprah and others that gratitude is powerful, so I shifted my thoughts to what I’m grateful for and what I can solidly hope for. As I drove away from Albertson’s after yet another ho-hum run for empty boxes in which to pack my books, I said a silent prayer about where to look with more success. Ace Hardware just came to mind so I headed over there. The nice man at the counter said to come back in two hours and they would have lots. Thank you, Lord! That will provide the last ones I need, so I can finish sorting and packing this week.

I listen to Rejoice Broadcast Network regularly on my car radio because they have such wonderful inspirational music. One of my favorites came on as I drove home and validated my new tender hope. Here are the lyrics and a link to a YouTube performance. I hope it helps you like it helps me every time I hear it:

Trust His Heart

All things work for our good
Though sometimes we can’t see how they could.
Struggles that break our hearts in two
Sometimes blind us to the truth.

Our Father knows what’s best for us.
His ways are not our own.
So when your pathway grows dim, and you just can’t see Him,
Remember you’re never alone

God is too wise to be mistaken.
God is too good to be unkind.
So when you don’t understand,
When you don’t see His plan,
When you can’t trace His hand, 
Trust His heart.

He sees the master plan.
He holds our future in His hands.
So don’t live as those who have no hope.
All our hope is found in Him.

We see the present clearly,
But He sees the first and the last. 
And like a tapestry He’s weaving you and me to someday be just like Him

God is too wise to be mistaken.
God is too good to be unkind.
So when you don’t understand.
When you don’t see His plan,
When you can’t trace His hand, 
Trust His heart.

He alone is faithful and true.
He alone knows what is best for you.
So when you don’t understand, 
When you don’t see His plan,
When you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart, . . . trust His heart.

Listen HERE.

Peace at the Heart of the Rose Courtesy Pixabay.com

Peace at the Heart of the Rose
Courtesy Pixabay.com

My Daily Bread

My prayer project this last month has been nothing short of amazing. I was given clear direction to radically dejunk my house and could see it freeing me creatively. I quickly outlined a detailed plan, singing the Hallelujah Chorus in my head.

The first three weeks went well with an increasing sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. I was on a roll – or so I thought. Then a week ago, it all came crashing down. I lost my drive and only wanted out from under this big, crushing project.

I had lots of schedule conflicts until that Friday – then I had to face my long to-do list. So I grit my teeth and plunged in. Normally, my enthusiasm returns once I start moving. Not this day. I grumbled and resented every minute. Finally I sat in my living room and just cried in misery and frustration. But my determination was stronger, so Saturday I trudged grimly on. Finally, late in the day, satisfaction returned. Not only had I conquered several projects, I had conquered my own resistance.

What happened? I’m not entirely sure, but I think energy cycles just have a natural rhythm, and I had expected mine to just keep peaking, ignoring real needs for rest and relaxation. I’m also an Aries sun sign. We like to start things but lose interest more quickly than others do. Plus the sheer size of this project really hit home. I felt like the Miller’s daughter in Rumplestiltskin facing the largest room of straw needing to be spun into gold – utterly hopeless!

So what did I learn?

  • I was prompted to alternate heavy work days (Mon, Wed, Fri) with “catch-up days,” pacing myself. This last week brought sanity and joy back into my life, instead of endless pressure, as well as solid progress. Thank you, Lord!
  • I learned that while there are big, over-arching revelations that help us see the big picture and make plans, most of the time we just need to focus on today. So each morning I hold the possible tasks before me “up to the light” of higher wisdom. The ones that the Spirit lights up with enthusiasm stay on the list. I then remembered the Israelites leaving ancient Egypt for their exodus to the Promised Land. They wandered in the Sinai Desert for 40 years, miraculously finding water and eating Manna from heaven that appeared every morning. When they tried to save it for the next day, fearfully doubting a continuous supply, it spoiled and wouldn’t keep. Maggots developed and made it inedible. However, on the day before their Sabbath, Manna would keep for two days so they could honor the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy, free for worship and rest.
  • I also learned to keep the day flexible. I was all set yesterday to finish copying precious ancestral documents from 80-100 years ago (left partly done from the day before) when I had a sudden lack of interest wash over me. Something in me said, “No, clean out your linen closet and pack up all your extra cleaning supplies and paper products.” So I dug in, and by day’s end my linen closet was transformed. I had a car load for storage, and I felt great about it. The documents were handled another day, and with more enthusiasm! Then I remembered the advice Corrie ten Boom’s father gave her, recorded in her book The Hiding Place. She had asked him as a child about the details of an upcoming train trip. He gave her a brief answer and asked her when she would be given her ticket. She answered, “Right before I get on the train.” He said, “That’s when you’ll know all the details. You don’t need to know everything until then. You can trust that I am handling them now.” Isn’t life often like that? Ancient hippie maxim: Just go with the flow!

Our spiritual “bread” that feeds and powers us forward is like that. Most of the time, we pick it up in the morning and it is only good for that day. Those answers won’t work or be right for the next day – they will “spoil” and may even bog you down in murky paths. There’s a difference between absolute right and wrong – principles that need to guide our big decisions – and  the “good, better, best” of daily living.

“Meaningful morning prayer is an important element in the spiritual creation of each day
and precedes the temporal creation of the actual execution of the day.”
(Elder David A. Bednar, LDS Apostle)

God will lend us His vision if we but ask and then listen to it.

From The Virgin of the Rocks, Leonardo da Vinci The National Gallery, London, public domain image

From The Virgin of the Rocks, Leonardo da Vinci
The National Gallery, London, public domain image

 

 

 

The Power of Prayer

The second workshop I’ll report on was Hearing the Voice of the Lordtaught by Charlotte Varble, from the Whole Person Preparedness Conference recently in Utah. FYI, I hear it will be in Idaho in May – here’s the LINK. The content was quite simple but the results for me were profound.

She taught two activities to bring us closer to God:

Write a letter to God and His imagined response back to you. Pour out your feelings to the Lord, your thoughts and your prayers. Write them down in letter format and sign it. Then write a letter back to yourself with what you think God would answer. Remember His perspective is different than ours:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Keep a Prayer Journal for 30 Days. This involves three steps:

  1. Write down your prayer requests each morning. I pray first and then write them down, as I’m often inspired what to ask during my prayers. Plus it makes the actual prayer more important than the writing and my own thoughts.
  2. Watch for impressions, answers, guidance, and comfort throughout the day. There are a number of ways we receive these:
    * Direct Promptings of the Holy Spirit – a strong, recurring feeling or idea.
    * “Strokes of Intelligence” – ideas that come swiftly and powerfully, bringing clarity.
    * A “burning in the bosom” – goosebumps, a literal fiery feeling of enthusiasm.
    But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me
    if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your 
    bosom shall burn within you;
    therefore, you shall 
    feel that it is right. 
    (LDS Doctrine & Covenants (9:8)
    * A “stupor of thought” is a No answer:
    But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; . . . (Doctrine & Covenants 9:9)
    Dreams or waking visions – those compelling dreams may be answers.
    * Peace that brings comfort even when other answers and solutions may not appear.
  3. Write down your answers and spiritual experiences each night, returning and reporting to the Lord. Keep either a handwritten notebook or use a computer, as I do. Just the act of writing makes me reflect more deeply.

In less than two weeks, I’ve had some powerful experiences:

  1. By focusing my spiritual attention on just this current day, I pulled back from an excessive focus on the future and on more nebulous ideas. I actually felt like I was shrinking within.
  2. On about the third day, I started feeling sad for a couple of hours, late afternoon. I think my focus on the future and more general topics was a shield protecting me from experiencing grief about how my adult life has unfolded and the effect it’s had on the people I love most. Each day this period intensified and lengthened into the evening. It culminated after about five days with a spell of anger towards God. How could He let all this happen? Am I so much less worthy and lovable than all the happy, successful people around me? After I “flushed my emotional toilet,” I felt better and I apologized to Him the next morning for my lack of faith. I felt no condemnation, only calm acceptance and love.
  3. Then I had an epiphany about the next three months of my life – how to reorganize, streamline, and then be ready for whatever might come this summer. I’ve rented a much larger storage unit and can fill it systematically as I sort and purge.

Wow – all this in less than two weeks – what a payday! I invite you all to try these ideas, although your answers and experiences will necessarily be different from mine, possibly very different. But it will unleash God’s love and power in your life, if you just let it flow.

From The Virgin of the Rocks, Leonardo da Vinci The National Gallery, London, public domain image

From The Virgin of the Rocks, Leonardo da Vinci
The National Gallery, London, public domain image

The Power of Positive Thinking

I recently attended an amazing conference entitled Whole Person Preparedness. I was especially interested in spiritually preparing for the events of the Last Days and came away so inspired, I’ll be sharing what I learned in the next few posts.

Today, I want to quote Kirk Duncan, the Keynote Speaker. He emphasized positive thinking, faith over fear, and taking our lives to a higher level of vibrationHere’s what I learned.

He described a study about the effects of music on the structure of water molecules and crystals. One container of distilled water was placed in a room where beautiful classical music played all day. In another room, a similar container of water was exposed to heavy metal rock music. Then two identical plants were watered with this water. The one watered with classical music water flourished and grew. The other plant watered with heavy metal water died! Then a sample of each water was frozen and the resulting crystals observed: the classical music created a beautiful snowflake pattern, while the heavy metal created an ugly, chaotic mess! Watch a video about a similar experiment by Dr. Masaru Emoto. Here are some of his photos:

LOVE and APPRECIATION, Courtesy highexistence.com

HITLER, Courtesy highexistence.com

YOU MAKE ME SICK, I WILL KILL YOU, Courtesy highexistence.com

#1 is LOVE AND APPRECIATION, #2 is HITLER, #3 is YOU MAKE ME SICK, I WILL KILL YOU
All photos courtesy of highexistence.com.

Since our bodies are 60-80% water, we might want to consider what our thoughts are doing to our health and to others! For further inspiration, read the classic The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale.

His next point made me squirm as I’m totally guilty of this one: Beware of becoming a “gloom and doom” messenger about the times we live in. Feeling and communicating fear doesn’t inspire action in ourselves and others, but tends to paralyze instead, sending us back to our comfort zone. I’ve been guilty for too long of being another Chicken Little, running around and saying, The sky is falling, the sky is falling! So my apologies to one and all.

I’m changing my message. Malachi 4:5-6 can be read two ways:

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

It’s either a GREAT day or a DREADFUL day. Those of us trying to live good lives can anticipate these times as great, not dreadful. The scriptures are full of these promises; go dig them out. Here’s a good place to START.

My message is that, in the words of Dickens, this is the best of times, not just the worst of times. Great light and knowledge, great love and goodness abound. God is pouring out knowledge, comfort, and inspiration to all who seek it. As it says in Jeremiah 16:14-15:

Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.

In other words, the events of our time will be so amazing, we will no longer talk about the Exodus from Egypt led by Moses, but will celebrate the many miracles of deliverance in our day.

Finally, Mr. Duncan described how to rise to a higher level of challenge without becoming overwhelmed. He quoted scientist Nikola Tesla, If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration. Raising your own vibration level will help you create new patterns of order in your life and lift you to a higher level of energy and achievement than you imagine possible. Watch this DEMONSTRATION with a vibrating metal plate and simple grains of salt.

So how do we raise our energy level? Here are some ideas – you may well come up with more:

  • Pray and ask for inspiration.
  • Brainstorm new ways to do things.
  • Purge out the old and unnecessary.
  • Think and speak positively.
  • Watch for inspiration and support to show up.
  • Act decisively and with commitment on your new plan.
  • Thank the Lord and the universe for supporting you.
  • Serve and inspire others.

I’d love to hear your comments on any of these ideas and what manifests in your life. New patterns are already showing up in mine – it’s a great day!

 

 

Speak Friend and Enter

Do you remember the neighbor who knocked on my door two weeks ago, right after I gave my financial concerns back to God? It’s in my post, The Prayer of Relinquishment. Well, here’s the update: She listed her town home with me that week, I sent out a blanket email to my whole brokerage, we launched on the MLS, and we received two strong offers within 24 hours! A nice gift to my very deserving seller, and a nice message to me of providential care from above.

But there were still those two offers to juggle properly. My seller and I stayed in close touch and I knew we were considering all options, but I still didn’t feel completely at peace. Then I remembered prayer. After 40 years of being a Christian, you’d think adjourning to my knees would occur to me sooner!  As soon as I said a mental prayer, the uncertain feeling went away and my mind cleared up. I added a mental prayer each time we navigated the next step – the options before us soon resolved into a clear, single way forward. The end result left my seller dazed and very happy, and it left me wiser and very grateful.

And what about the other desire I relinquished, for a husband? First, I just lost myself in discerning and then following God’s will. Happiness and contentment showed up, and showed up abundantly, with many high moments. A scripture came to mind more than once: The laborer is worthy of his hire. I found several versions on lds.org. Here’s my favorite:

And devote his whole time to this high and holy calling, which I now give unto him,
seeking diligently the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness,
and all things necessary shall be added thereunto; for the 
laborer is worthy of his hire.
(LDS Doctrine & Covenants 106:3, see also 1 Timothy 5:18 and Luke 10:7)

Additionally men just showed up! A clerk at Home Depot joked with me while making extra keys, a man at the Post Office started a conversation, three men came up to me to discuss my Healthy Food class a week later. I had actually put men out of my mind because the Lord had kept me quite busy, so all this not only took me by surprise but was a real departure from past experience.

Who knows where all this will go? Oddly, I don’t care as much as before. I trust that God knows best and that He isn’t capriciously toying with me. And most importantly, I found I really did want God more than a human male companion – something that will anchor my life forevermore and help put me on that proverbial pedestal women seemed design to inhabit. (That’s a whole other discussion….)

What did I learn from all this?

* Remember to pray, sooner rather than later, and trust the answers. They may be subtle or require us to change a preconceived expectation, but answers will be there, and they always bring peace and clarity.
* Let God be God and do His job. Don’t try to do it for Him by second guessing circumstances and what we think should happen or even worse, watching anxiously for it to arrive.

There’s an analogy embedded in The Lord of the Rings that I recall frequently. Remember when Frodo and friends tried to find the entrance to the Mines of Moria? They faced only sheer granite walls with no sign of a door. Then as the moon came out from behind the clouds, they saw iridescent lines defining the doorway, with these words above it: Speak Friend and Enter. Gandalf, thinking the word Friend was a form of greeting, tried every magic incantation he knew and none worked. Then Frodo had a paradigm shift and asked, What’s the elvish word for Friend? Of course, that worked, once they decided that the word “Friend” was the password.

I think prayer is like that too. We have to remember to pray in the first place, then we have to ask the right prayer, and finally we have to be willing to follow the answer. I hope when you face your own blank walls that you can remember a way will always appear if you ask the right question, truly wanting to follow the answer.

The Door to the Mines of Moria Used Under Fair Use Copyright Provision, from Pinterest Post

The Door to the Mines of Moria
Used Under Fair Use Copyright Provision, from Pinterest Post

 

A Dubious Achievement

I have a guilty secret to confess. I play Free Cell on my laptop during my down time: watching the local news, mulling over a thorny problem, etc. For those of you who’ve never played this game, I apologize. In a nutshell, it’s a form of solitaire where you try to get all 52 cards in order on their respective aces, with four free spaces to park cards while you rearrange cards in seven lines. You can back up the game to the beginning or any intermediate point if you get stuck, so you can have a high percentage of winning games.

Originally I took pride in having over 90% wins, then above 95%, finally striving to stay at 97+%. I would reset the stats the computer was tracking after each 1,000 games, which took 2-3 months. I honed my skill and speed and soon was reaching my goal, staying at 97-98% wins.

But this week I hit 1,000 games won out of 1,000 games played! Here’s the proof:

Free Cell Stats, Author's Photo

Free Cell Stats, Author’s Photo

What was my secret? Much as I’d like to think it was skill, I really just refused to quit. I backed up the game as often and as far as I needed to in order to eventually win. The longest game was almost 20 minutes. Considering that the average win takes less than 1 1/2 minutes, that’s an eternity and a lot of do-overs. Previously, I would have just accepted a Loss when the going got hard and moved on to an easier game.

There are a handful of games that can’t be won, per the internet, so the other variable is just plain dumb luck. I was stubborn and lucky. That’s a far cry from skilled, superior, talented, or what-have-you. It only took me 12 years to learn this!

And isn’t life in general like that also? Most of the time, I struggle with holes in my self-esteem like most people. But occasionally I pat myself on the back for the good things I sometimes manage to do, thinking things like: “Aren’t I something now?” or “Score one for me. . . .”

Yesterday, I had my annual long, meandering chat with a friend from my New England hippie days. We caught up with the year’s news, renewed our deep soul connection, and walked down memory lane, sharing a time that was magical in both our lives. Epiphany: those values were an earlier foundation for my current Christian values: non-materialism, living close to the Spirit behind nature, contributing to the  larger community.

As I looked back on my zig zag path from Midwestern school girl to New England Hippie to Utah Mormon, I suddenly realized that the path God had charted for my life had everything to do with any small successes I might have had – my own talents took a distant second place. What appeared to be “dumb luck” was really divine providence, and what looked like skill was often just following my own desire for change and adventure, with a little blind reaching for greater light and knowledge.

All I really bring to the party is my willingness and diligence to pursue the good things that beckon on the horizon. It’s a choice, not a skill. And if I had to grade my lifetime level of diligence, it would not get an A. But I can change that in the future. A coworker, while discussing dieting, once described the “bell that rings in her head” when she’s full and it’s time to quit eating. I find that there’s also a bell that rings in my head each day (usually around 5 pm) that signals the end of productive work – if I’ve been diligent about tackling the hard things as efficiently as possible. I can then, with full assurance that I’m not missing real opportunities, set down my burden and turn my attention to study, rest, relaxation – and a little Free Cell!

Where does all this end? With gratitude for a wonderful Heavenly Father who subtly creates opportunities and sets a beacon for me to follow, as I choose to or not. But since doing so only leads to greater happiness and success, I can take no credit at all and can only regret the times I don’t make full use of these chances.

We’re all really just “bozos on the bus” bumping along together – let’s enjoy the journey and make the most of it!

Hippie Van, Courtesy blingcheese.com

Hippie Van, Courtesy blingcheese.com