So, I guess it's official. We have been in Oregon a month because we were asked to speak in Sacrament Meeting this week. I saw someone else post their talk on their blog. I thought it would be nice to see some personal and spiritual things sometimes. Sorry it's so long. Jordan's talk was 5 minutes, so I got to prepare for 25 minutes. That's okay though, it ended up meaning that I just didn't have to cut anything out. So even though I live far away, you still get to hear me ramble. :)
Introduction of Jordan and I
Most of you know Jordan, because this is his home ward. He moved to West Salem starting when he was just a baby. I believe he moved into this ward though when he was 7 years old.
I'm grateful he decided to leave West Salem, at least for a short time, so we could meet. We met at BYU in our Freshman ward. We dated before his mission, but neither of us wanted me to wait for him. So I didn't. I wrote to him, but didn't commit myself to him. I was still "around" when he got back, so he quickly - foregoing any homecoming speech - returned to Provo to be with me. He proposed shortly there after and we were married five years ago in December.
We had always talked about moving to the Northwest someday. One day this fall when we lived in Sandy, Ut there was an overcast day. When we got home from church that day Jordan said, "We're moving to Oregon, can we move by January 1st? I thought about it briefly and said, "Sure, why not?" So we made our plans and made it here by the beginning of February. He wanted to move back home. West Salem and this ward are his home so here we are.
Jordan currently works from home as a software developer.
I'm a stay at home mom. We have one daughter who just turned 2 shortly after we moved here. Her name is Addy and we love her dearly.
Changes happen in our lives
I have chosen to base my talk on President Monson's conference address titled "Finding Joy in the Journey". Many of the quotes and stories will come from his talk. I chose this talk, not because I'm an expert in this area, but becuase of the exact opposite. I often struggle to enjoy the small moments, or to see the positive side, or to feel peace in a moment of change. I call it the shaken Snow Globe syndrome. I was just telling Sister Sprague about this the other day. It's when I have certain plans or expectations that get disrupted. This is when I say my snowglobe is shaken. I had planned it to be just perfect and someone or something, sometimes even myself, shook the globe and made utter chaos. That's the way I often choose to see things. Others have the presence of mind, when instances like that happen, to look at the fluttering "snow" as it drifts through the globe and they see it as a beautiful moment. I would like to see it that way more often. So I hope this talk will help me and help you to take those moments of change or chaos and see them either as an opportunity or a memorable moment.
We each have change that happens in our lives. Some of the changes are life-changing while others are just the day to day ins and outs of life. Some changes come suddenly while others are prolonged. Changes can be planned or unexpected. They can be welcomed like the birth of a child, or not welcome like the death of a loved one. Jordan and I have experienced many changes since we've been married. We've lived in 4 different homes, had 8 different jobs between the two of us, had a child (which involves more changes than can be listed), we each graduated from college, we gained 7 new nieces and nephews, I've gained 50 lbs. - I'm not sure Jordan can gain weight, and now we've moved states.
Not all of those changes were good, but they are all changes I've been through. Not all those changes happened directly because of choices I made, but most of them did. My purpose is just to point out how many changes happen in our lives within a short amount of time. Now, everyone's list of changes would be different, but everyone can make a list. We've all heard the familiar adage, "Nothing is as constant as change." It exists in each of our lives. Actually the man who gave the talk on change, probably faced the biggest change this year that he has faced in his entire life. President Thomas S. Monson was called to be the prophet and president of our church. If anyone would have the right to be overwhelmed by change, it would be him. However, instead of sounding overwhelmed, President Monson sounds amazingly optimistic and thoughtful. President Monson said, "Day by day, minute by minute, second by second we went from where we were to where we are now. The lives of all of us, of course, go through similar alterations and changes. The difference between the changes in my life and the changes in yours is only in the details. Time never stands still; it must steadily march on, and with the marching come the changes." All of these changes are part of the journey we call life. Life is not static. Every day brings some kind of change into our lives. Some of these changes seem desirable while others seem undesirable. It is natural that we look forward to the changes that are desirable, but sometimes we naively think that there will be no undesirable changes in our lives and families. This is where my shaken snowglobe syndrome comes into play. I expect things to happen just the way I've planned them or expect them to be. This is not how life typically happens.
President Gordon B. Hinckley related one of my favorite quotes by Jenkins Lloyd Jones:
"Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to be just people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, and most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is just like an old time rail journey . . . delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride." [Jenkins Lloyd Jones]
We are sometimes free to choose the changes that come to us and sometimes not. But we are always free to choose what we will do when the changes come. When changes occur in our families, especially unexpected and undesirable changes, we can adjust successfully. Since change comes to every person’s life, we need to accept it and be prepared for it. By staying close to the Lord and recognizing that we can grow from change, we will be able to face the future without fear.
Reason for change
We have so many changes, so many hard changes, that happen in our lives. A question many of us have asked is why? I'll share a story that Marvin J. Ashton gave in a conference address in 1979:
"When a choice plant became root bound and began to deteriorate, a young friend of ours decided to transplant it to a larger container. Carefully he lifted the greenery from its small pot and put it into its larger home, trying to disturb the roots and soil as little as possible. The novice gardener watched and waited. To his dismay, the plant still struggled. Our friend expressed his frustration to an experienced gardener who offered his services. When the plant was placed in the gardener’s hands, he turned the pot upside down, pulled out the plant, shook the soil from the roots, and clipped and pulled all the stragglers from the root system. Replacing the plant into the pot, he vigorously pushed the soil tightly around the plant. Soon the plant took on new life and grew. Elder Ashton continued by saying, "How often in life do we set our own roots into the soil of life and become root bound? We may treat ourselves too gently and defy anyone to disturb the soil or trim back our root system. Under these conditions we too must struggle to make progress. Oh, change is hard! Change can be rough." Marvin J. Ashton, in Conference Report, Oct. 1979, p. 87; or Ensign, Nov. 1979, p. 61
We must experience change. Change—whether external or internal, whether physical or spiritual—can make us more beautiful if it takes place in keeping with the Lord’s plan.
I like what C. S. Lewis wrote, “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace” (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, New York: MacMillan Co., 1960, p. 160).
During the "remodeling" process it's hard to see look beyond the pain and discomfort. We might get confused at certain times in our lives when we thought things were going according to planned and something unexpected happens. In the moment we might not see what a positive affect it can have on us. It is easier and more comfortable to not go through changes, but changes and challenges are a necessary part of life. Without them we wouldn't continue to learn and grow.
I have an insightful quote written by Emerson, it says, A man who sits “on the cushion of advantages, goes to sleep. When he is pushed, tormented, defeated, he has been put on his wits, …and [learns] moderation and real skill” (“Compensation,” The Complete Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, New York: Wm. H. Wise & Co., 1929, p. 161).
One change that can be disturbing in our lives is in our own church assignments. Often when we express a wish to never have that assignment, the bishop or stake president offers us the blessings of that self-same calling. At those times it is good to remember the words of Paul when he, troubled by many ailments, said, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philip. 4:13).
So, now I've established that we all have changes that happen in our lives and they're important for our progression. So what can you do now that you know?
What we can do inspite of the changes and challenges
Sometimes it is hard to move beyond past experiences or difficult changes that have happened in our lives. President Monson said, "Rather than dwelling on the past, we should make the most of today, of the here and now, doing all we can to provide pleasant memories for the future." I really like how he put that. If we focus on the past heartaches then all we'll have in the future is hearaches. We can choose to live in the moment and focus on the positive in our lives right now.
He also stated, "Opportunites come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead find joy in the journey--now."
It was a challenge for me as I was writing my talk. Addy was with me. She plays pretty well by herself, but there were obviously some things she wanted from me throughout the day. I wanted to ignore her and focus on my talk, but I knew that would be contrary to what I was writing about and would only add more stress and chaos in the future. Instead of getting frustrated, like I normally might, I took a deep breath, smiled and helped her, read to her, or sang with her. I found joy in those moments, instead of stress and anger. My talk was still there when Addy went down for a nap. I plan to continue to work on putting the important things first.
President Monson spoke on this topic when he said, "If you are still in the process of raising children, be aware that the tiny fingerprints that show up on almost every newly cleaned surface, the toys scattered about the house, the piles and piles of laundry to be tackled will disappear all too soon and that you will--to your surprise--miss them profoundly."
I don't know about missing piles of laundry, but I know I'll miss her cute little baby cheeks and the way she says a word 5 times before I know what she's talking about. I'll miss her little spunky dancing and the way she plays with her baby dolls. I know that those things will go away as she grows up and I'll find new things to enjoy about our little girl, but for now, those are the things that can bring me joy, even in the stressful, chaotic moments.
Stresses come to everyone in every stage of life. I'll quote President Monson when he said, "But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important--and what is most important almost always involves the people around us," and "Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved."
People in our lives and our relationships with those people are what matters most. Jesus told us to love one another and do for others what they cannot do for themselves.
I found a poem that spoke to these ideas. It is entitled "The Sin of Omission" written by Margaret Sangster.
The Sins of Omission by Margaret Sangster found in The Book of Virtues
It isn't the thing you do, dear,
It's the thing you leave undone
That gives you a bit of a heartache
At setting of the sun.
The tender word forgotten,
The letter you did not write,
The flowers you did not send, dear,
Are your haunting ghosts at night
The stone you might have lifted
Out of a brother's way;
The bit of heartsome counsel
You were hurried too much to say;
The loving touch of the hand, dear,
The gentle, winning tone
Which you had no time nor thought for
With troubles enough of your own.
Those little acts of kindness
So easily out of mind,
Those chances to be angels
Which we poor mortals find--
They come in night and silence
Each sad, reproachful wraith,
When hope is faint and flagging,
And a chill has fallen on faith.
For life is all to short, dear,
And sorrow is all too great,
To suffer our slow compassion
That tarries until too late;
And it isn't the thing you do, dear,
It's the thing you leave undone
Which gives you a bit of a heartache
At the setting of the sun.
Sometimes I have "slow compassion" or delay doing something for someone else until I feel it's too late. I often think that they wouldn't want my help, or I'd be intruding, or they'd think I'm weird. But everytime I have taken action and followed those promptings the first time the results have only been positive. Who wouldn't want a fresh-baked loaf of bread, a thoughtful note, a friendly phone call, or help when thy're in need? But I know when I ignore those promptings I always regret it and wonder if I could have made a difference in their life.
President Monson said, "Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family. One day each of us will run out of tomorrows."
I'd also like to share an idea written by a well-known author in her book The Book of Positive Quotations, “Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend … when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present—love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us [happiness]—the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth."
Gratitude: The way to find "Joy in our Journey"
In Doctrine & Covenants 88:33 it says, "For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift."
In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we are told, "In every thing give thanks, for this is the will of God."
He said "every thing". Yes, that means in the moments of unexpected change as well. Those "shaken globe" moments that I have. I can look at what I normally see as chaos and choose to see the other side of things and watch as the snowflakes flutter and eventually settle again. I can be grateful for those times because they present to me opportunities for personal change and growth.
The greatest example of showing gratitude in the midst of trials would be jesus Christ. In his short life he suffered repeated physical, emotional and mental trials. Yet throughout it all he kept an eternal perspective and continually showed gratitude to Heavenly Father.
In fact, the night before he was to be crucified, he gave these words of comfort to his apostles in John 16:20 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy."
We all know that God is our creator. He has a plan for us. We should acknowledge His hand in our lives, in the big and small moments. When you are most grateful is when you have the most joy. You can feel the spirit and feel the love of our Savior when you have a grateful heart.
The Other Constant in Our Lives
So even when our lives and the world around us changes we can rely on the Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. They are the constants in our life. Russell M. Nelson said in his conference address in November of 1993,"Constancy amid change is assured by heavenly personages, plans, and principles. Our trust can be safely anchored to them. They provide peace, eternal progression, hope, freedom, love, and joy to all who will be guided by them. They are true—now and forever." Russell M. Nelson, “Constancy amid Change,” Ensign, Nov 1993, 33.
The unchanging principles Elder Nelson mentioned were the priesthood, Moral Law, Judgement, Commandments, Family, and Truth. If we learn about these constants and focus on them when nothing in our lives seems to be stable, we can feel peace. I know that Heavenly Father loves each one of us. That will never change, no matter what choices we've made, he still loves us. He wants us to be happy. 2 Nephi 2:25 reads,"Adam fell that menmight be; and men are, that they might have joy." We can choose to see the change in our lives as opportunities. Opportunities to grow, to serve, to love, to be grateful. How much happier is Heavenly Father when we choose to be happy and find joy in our journey?
I know He is much happier when we choose to live our lives now, not waiting for someday when we're healthier, wiser, more knowledgeable, or anything else we're waiting for. We wants us to find joy now.