The Double B and I talked in sacrament meeting today. Here is my talk, pretty closely transcribed, for all interested parties:
I'm happy to be here today, because I love church. Especially sacrament meeting, I'm a fan. I hope the Spirit will be here to help you hear the things that you need to hear today. I had a little incidence this week where I was given a small act of service that actually meant a lot to me. After 14 years of motherhood, I have a little appointment fatigue with all my kids different appointments. KJ had one this week and I just didn't want to do it, so I said to the Double B "How about we play a little game: if you do this for me, I'll do this for you." And he said to me "How about I just do it for you!" So he kindly went to the appointment while I took care of things at home, but I was feeling a little guilty when it was taking a long time and he said he would just run and pick up the girls from school. But when I expressed my concern KJ texted back "Don't worry, Mom, Dad says he's got this in the bag!" I loved that so much. Not just that I'm connected to someone who says things like "I've got it in the bag," which is very cute, but because I'm connected to someone who goes out of their way to do small things for me that end up making a big difference.
I'll be basing a lot of my comments off of a talk from last conference called "The Needs Before Us" by Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President. It's such a great message.
She said “I believe that most members consider service to be at the heart of their covenants and discipleship. But I also think that sometimes it’s easy to miss some of the greatest opportunities to serve others because we are distracted or because we are looking for ambitious ways to change the world and we don’t see that some of the most significant needs we can meet are within our own families, among our friends, in our wards, and in our communities. We are touched when we see the suffering and great needs of those halfway around the world, but we may fail to see there is a person who needs our friendship sitting right next to us in class.”
Did you see the 1st presidency 'thank you' message last month? After so many natural disasters In the world recently, in September the donations to the humanitarian fund were four times their monthly average. How wonderful! How amazing! How neccessary. I know how generous the members of the church are, so I'm sure this was a huge amount of extra money for the church to use to do good. It moved mountains. And that is so awesome.
I am learning that not every hour calls for moving a mountain on the grand scale, some are much more personal then that. I believe that as we work with the Lord in service we don’t so much need grand gestures as much as we need personal connection. Sitting by someone, encouraging their comments, saying in word and in deed that “I’m here, however you need me.” Sharing our very best impulses with our own small community and especially for our family in our own home.
I have been on the receiving end of many amazing acts of service, both big and small. I feel like I am still learning, still a student of the gospel that is trying to figuring out how to apply the doctrine in my own life. I am often a slow learner, but I want so much to be that person that truly lives this principle. I have been the thankful recipient of others truly living what they believe.
Sister Oscarson said “Ask your Heavenly Father to show you those around you who need your help and to inspire you on how to best serve them. Remember that the Savior most often ministered to one person at a time.”
I would like to share a personal experience on allowing the Spirit to help you show up at the right moment to bless someone else’s life. There was a time in the Double B and I's life that was basically like growth concentrate. The Lord wanted us to grow and stretch and we were streeeetched. It was basically two and a half years of 'so hard'. We were trying so hard and it was so hard. We were living across the country, and work was truly miserable for the Double B. It was so incredibly stressful for him. He was working 60-70 hours a week minimum and when he was home he was asleep, because he had to sleep sometime. I was far away from my family and support system and had three small children and a husband that was not doing well. I felt so very alone. And then someone served me in a most meaningful way. This is what I wrote in my personal record:
"This morning I realized that yesterday my prayers were answered. I sent an SOS, and the Lord responded. He is so subtle, too -- asking us to be sensitive enough to recognize His hand in all things -- otherwise, we miss it.
It's not a big deal, really, in the grand scheme of things. But to me it is. It's a big deal.
"I testify that the tender mercies of the Lord are real and that they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Often, the Lord's timing of His tender mercies helps us to both discern and acknowledge them." -- David A. Bednar
(Here I briefly explain the difficulties I felt trying to keep my husband and children afloat for such a long period of time)
It begins to seem so endless, and you begin to feel so powerless. It's like I could feel my strength seeping out of me. I didn't know how to have the strength to do my part anymore. To be strong enough to hold up him and our family and carry on in our responsibilities.
I would go to my Father in Heaven in prayer and try to explain the situation. I asked for strength to not become discouraged myself. I asked for help for the Double B, to carry him through this time, to work miracles in his behalf. And to help me have an understanding heart.
A few days ago the feeling just came so strong that I needed to talk to my Dad. That my Dad would know what to say to me, would have the advice I need, and would know how to help me get through and do what I need to do. I tried to call but he was working, so I just sent a text to tell him I love him and went to bed.
Yesterday morning I woke up so discouraged and headachy. I just didn't see any sunshine, and snapped at the kids all morning as they were getting ready for school. Poor things.
I was thinking about my Dad and wanting to talk to him, but with the time difference, I didn't dare call yet in case I woke him up.
I dropped them of and headed home. And I just kept thinking about my Dad, knowing that he could help me feel better. And on the way home, my cell phone rings. It’s My Dad's ringtone. I quickly grabbed the phone like "DAD?!?!" I was so happy to hear his voice! I told him how much I was thinking about him and wanting to talk to him, and he said I'd just been on his mind all night and morning and he knew he needed to call me!
I know that the Spirit is the one that influenced my Dad to think of me and call me.
We had a great talk. We counseled together, and I sniff, sniff, sniffed through the conversation. He gave me the wise words I needed, the confidence I needed, the encouragement I needed, and soothed me with the powerful assurance that he and my Mom are praying for our little family.
Parents are simply the best thing out there.
After we hung up, I felt still. I felt so comforted! I felt that it would be no problem for me to continue to lift and strengthen my husband and my family. I felt at peace, knowing that my earthly Father and my HEAVENLY Father are thinking of me.
And here's what is funny.
I felt better for the rest of the day. I feel better today. It was like the feelings of desperation just melted away.
Pretty big answer to prayer.
Sometimes our prayers are simply answered through another person.
So yes -- kind of a small thing on the planetary scale. But yet another powerful witness in my life that somehow, someway, I don't know how He does it but He does, DEFINITELY, I am a daughter of God and HE. LOVES. ME. The fact that He takes the time to let me know that sometimes in a most special, individual way -- humbles me to my very soul, and makes me eternally grateful. What a merciful being that brought me into this life.
So thanks, Heavenly Father.
And thanks, Dad."
I know that the Spirit can guide us in knowing how to reach out and serve those around us.
Spencer W. Kimball said "God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other."
I’ve noticed a theme in The Book of Mormon. I’m going to call it the “Service Without Hesitation” theme. All of my Book of Mormon heroes do it, and I have always noticed and admired their obedience, but this week I noticed that their obedience was always following the prompting to go and serve. Nephi going back to get the brass plates so he could save a whole nation, Abinadi going back to preach to the people of wicked King Noah -- wanting desperately to save them if he could. Alma the Younger returning to the people of Ammonihah, even though they really didn’t deserve it in any way. Nephi the son of Helaman, having a really wild experience with a mob of angry people and suddenly being left standing all on his own. He went to head home and the Lord told him to turn around and go and do good, and gave him the power to do so, and HE DID. He didn’t even go home first. I might have gone home just to grab a bag, but not Nephi. These are just a few of many examples. It’s a reoccuring theme. It’s following the first prompting, is what it is. It's following the first prompting. Basically it’s what President Monson has spent his whole ministry trying to teach us. To go and to serve, and to do it today.
President James E. Faust said: “Serving others can begin at almost any age. … It need not be on a grand scale, and it is noblest within the family.”
When Benson was born, Olivia was seven years old. Her bedroom was upstairs by his, and ours was downstairs. Every morning he would wake up hungry, and she would wake up early to go and get her baby brother, playing with him and taking care of him as long as she could, hoping to help her poor sleep-deprived Mom get a little more sleep. This gift of selfless service has left an imprint on my heart. It was such a sweet act of service, un-prompted by any grown up, by such a young human. It was her, a child, acting on the good impulses that were within her.
“Do you children realize how much it means to your parents and family members when you look for ways to serve at home? For those in your teen years, strengthening and serving your family members should be among your top priorities as you look for ways to change the world. Showing kindness and concern for your siblings and parents helps create an atmosphere of unity and invites the Spirit into the home. Changing the world begins with strengthening your own family.
My young friends, I can guarantee that there will always be someone at every Church meeting you attend who is lonely, who is going through challenges and needs a friend, or who feels like he or she doesn’t belong. You have something important to contribute to every meeting or activity, and the Lord desires for you to look around at your peers and then minister as He would.” (Sister Oscarson)
Of course, the Savior is the Master Teacher. He teachers a parable that has always been one of my favorite, and that I have thought of often in my life. He says:
4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. (Luke 15:4-6)
There have been so many times when I was the one, when I have felt like that lost sheep that so desperately needed to be saved. I think we have all sometimes felt that way.
“It is true that we attend our weekly Church meetings to participate in ordinances, learn doctrine, and be inspired, but another very important reason for attending is that, as a ward family and as disciples of the Savior Jesus Christ, we watch out for one another, encourage one another, and find ways to serve and strengthen each other. We are not just receivers and takers of what is offered at church; we are needed to be givers and suppliers. instead of picking up your phone to see what your friends are doing, stop, look around, and ask yourself, “Who needs me today?” You may be the key to reaching out and touching the life of a peer or to giving encouragement to a friend who is quietly struggling. Pray for help in recognizing those in your ward families who need love and encouragement. Instead of attending church with the question of “What am I going to get out of this meeting?” ask, “Who needs me today? What do I have to contribute?” (Sister Oscarson)
I love our ward. I think there is a wonderful feeling here. I'm not always so great at reaching out, but I want to be. I so want to be that person that notices. The person that sees what can't be seen, and knows what can't be known. I hope we will all reach outside of ourselves and make sure all feel at home here in our ward family.
I have a dear friend named Bev. When we moved to Kansas City, she came and sat down on our bench before the meeting even started our first week at church. She introduced herself and offered to help my children find their classes, and said that she was glad we were there. And right after the meeting, she was there. Every day after school while we were waiting for our kids to be let out, she would say hello and chat, even though I wasn't super warm and reciprocating -- because I was afraid. But it didn't take long for us to bond and become very close, true friends. I told her some time later that she was the answer to so many prayers. She said that I was the answer to many of her prayers -- that she had been praying for a friend.
She reached out for me with persistence from that very first week, and in doing so, answered both of our prayers. Now, even though we live far apart and we don't talk often because life is busy, I still feel so connected to her. I know she is my friend forever.
In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord says "Wherefore, be not weary in well doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great." (64:33)
Christmas encourages the generosity that is within each of us. I believe that is the Spirit, guiding us to be a little more like Him. It is our appreciation of the Savior, our love for Him, that causes us to act on those promptings.
"Your deeds are your monument."
I know the Savior lives. More then I want anything else, I want to be just a little bit more like Him. I love Him with all of my heart. I know He lives.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.