Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Today is really just going to be a journal entry for myself.  I will add pictures later, but for now I just want to get some of my thoughts on paper.  Being in the Holy Land does something to you.  There is a reverence that comes.  I can literally feel myself more at peace.  My mind is slower.  Not slower in the sense of not being able to think straight.  Slower in the sense that I don't have a million things running through my mind.  I naturally have not been interested in things that might detract from the spirit that is here.  I have such a yearning to feel what is to be felt here. 
When you sit on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and look out over it stories that you have learned about your whole life start to play out in your mind.  You envision the Savior walking on water and reaching out to save Peter.  You see Him calming a storm.  You see him calling his apostles to come and follow Him.  You see Him gathering His disciples to teach and train them.  You see him performing miracles.  And what you really see and feel is that the Savior loved.  He loved the little children.  He loved the blind.  He loved the downtrodden.  He loved the sinners.  He loved his mother.  He loved his apostles.  He loved giving the people understanding of the gospel.  He loved to teach.  He loved to heal.  He loved.  He was perfect.  He never hurt anyone's feelings. He never judged.  He never wanted his happiness over anothers.  He was temperate. He was patient.  He was

Monday, April 23, 2012


    Our family is now on a tour of the Holy Land.  My husband and I both did a study abroad program through BYU at the Jerusalem Center in Israel.  It was life changing.  I count it as one of the most significant experiences in my life.  We were there for 5 months and grew to love the Holy Land.  So many times during these last 17 years my mind has wondered back to the feelings of this special land.  There are 3 places that stick out in my mind...The Sea of Galilee, The Garden Tomb, and the Garden of Gethsemane.  The feelings I felt in those places often float above the pages as I read in the scriptures.  They are still so fresh.
     Coming back to the Sea of Galilee today was like coming home.  We spent a few weeks here when I came before, so I have a lot of memories.  I used to climb this one tree and sit in the branches and read the New Testament overlooking the Sea.  As I read I would look out to where the stories actually took place and it all came alive.  It was a time in my life where all I had to think and worry about was myself.  I had all the time in the world to soak up any information I wanted.  I would wake up early to sit with the teachers at breakfast and try to glean any extra angles or facts from them.  I loved that morning time.  I would sit out overlooking the city of Old Jerusalem and read and think.  I came to Israel with a testimony of the gospel.  I left Jerusalem having gained an unquenchable thirst for more.  More understanding, more studying, more pondering, more prayer, more gratitude.  It was like my whole life I had been living on appetizers.  I had not taken advantage of the feast before me.
     When I sat along the Sea tonight the feeling was exactly the same as I had all those years ago.   I felt peace.  There is a calming effect that washes over me.  I feel still inside.  I can feel a reverence take hold of my hand and help me to just listen. In my mind's eye I envision the Savior there beckoning his apostles to become fishers of men.  I see the Savior reaching his arm out to Peter to walk on the water to Him.  So many stories...but what is a common thread between them all is the love behind all that the Savior did.  His intentions were always pure.  His love was perfect.  He wanted the best for everyone.  He cared for the one.  Individuals were important to Him.
     Throughout our service trip I have realized that we are experiencing just the tip of the iceberg.  I feel like I am gobbling up appetizers again.  The feelings we have felt and the joy that has been ours is leading us to the feast.   We can not go home now and not continue to give of ourselves.  We know too much now.  We have felt too much to go back and just be. 
     Everywhere any of us turn there are those in need.  When we help here and there on a service Saturday or at Christmas time we are enjoying the taste of the appetizers.  We feel happy when we do that.  Happiness is a direct consequence of serving others, but when it is inconsistent and few and far between we do it less.  Why? Because we forget the feelings we felt when we did them.  We forget about the pure joy that comes.   We forget that if we would do it more often the problems that we have would dissipate.  They might not go away, but they would be easier to bare.  I promise you that. 
     As you read I am sure your mind is thinking, "I want to help, I really do, but I just don't know how."  What I have learned and have gained an unshakeable testimony of is that if you want to, you will be guided.  Simple as that.  As you do research and ask around in your local communities you will know what is right for you and your family.  It will just feel like it fits.   A couple of years ago I read an article in a magazine-I think it was Family Fun while sitting at a doctor's appointment.  It was all about how different families across the U.S. helped those around them.  A couple of them stuck out in my mind.
      The first family found out that peppermint is one of the only tastes that those going through chemo actually like.  They decided that every week they would make and package homemade peppermint ice-cream and bring it to the cancer wards at their local hospital.  One of the mother's told that family that their ice-cream was the only thing that their daughter would eat the last few weeks of her life.  They were so grateful to them for providing such a service to their family.  Now, they might have thought at the beginning-"It's just ice-cream.  Is anyone really going to like it?  What if nobody wants it?"  I promise you as you start to want to serve those voices will come into your head.  They will tell you that your little act of service is just that--small and insignificant.  They will try to talk you out of whatever it is you want to do.  But, you just push through that.  You ignore them.  There is not a person on this planet that is not touched or grateful for a simple act of kindness.  Follow your gut-that is the best advice I can give.
     Another family decided that they would deny themselves of certain things and put that money in a jar to donate to a charity.  So when they wanted to go out for ice-cream they would say, "Ok, let's go buy a gallon of ice-cream at the store and bring it home and eat it instead."  They would add up what all the separate cones would have cost and they put the difference in a special jar for their charities.  Instead of going out to a movie they would rent one instead.  I love that idea because the kids are feeling the feelings of, "I will give up something I like to help somebody else."
      Whatever it is, pick something.  Gather your families together and counsel with each other.  What is your family passionate about? What is something you could do that comes naturally to you?  What is something that doesn't come naturally but would be really good to break through and see you can do hard things together?  There are hundreds of possibilities.  It is everywhere, all around us.  Think. Ponder. Pray. Find out what it is that you and your family can do to begin feasting from the joy that comes when we give of ourselves to others.  It is a win win.  Others are blessed, we are blessed.  I love how the Lord works.