In recent years our town, city, has become home to the homeless. Tents in the city parks have appeared and a soup kitchen takes over at 6pm outside a coffee shop which serves as additional meeting rooms for nearby businesses during the day. As a local government worker, I’m aware that there are targets for building homes over the next few years. As an architect, I know what can be done to the physical structures that lie empty while someone sleeps on the ground in it’s shadow. As a Christian, a Latter Day Saint, my heart aches to do more.
And so it was a few weeks ago that on a rainy morning as I left the office for a morning site visit that I passed a motionless figure wrapped in a sleeping bag at the base of an advertising kiosk, in the open rain, on the pavement. The guilt engulfed me as I passed on to my site visit – how many times have I been in lessons and heard the parable of the good Samaritan. Site visit done, I headed back to the office and determined that if that figure was still there I would offer assistance. I prepared myself by visiting the bank first and purposefully walking back the same way. The figure still lay there but I could see movement and rain had stopped, the sleeping bag was, of course, sodden. I knelt and began speaking. Food and drinks were on the pavement for the person so I explained that before trying to persuade them to let me help them to a local launderette, to wash and dry the sleeping bag. As this offer was refused I realised that the person was a woman. I then decided to give her the money which I had withdrawn and asked her to put out her hand so she could receive it. And I pushed the note into the grey hand which emerged from the side of the sleeping bag. Our family has been blessed throughout this year, we’ve not struggled for food, managed to pay bills and debts and though I’m not in the habit of giving money away, I felt humbled to do so. I then headed into the warm dry office.
Whatever you may feel about homelessness and how a person finds themselves sleeping on a rainy pavement in a sleeping bag under some cardboard, I know that individual is known to God who is the Father of us all. And we can be His hands to bring comfort to each other. And as this life is a test, I remember the scripture (Hebrews 13 v2):
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers : for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
And, of course, this one (Matthew 25 v40):
… Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
While it is good to pray for and work for physical protection and healing during our mortal existence, our supreme focus should be on the spiritual miracles that are available to all of God’s children.
What do you pray for?
No matter our ethnicity, no matter our nationality, no matter what we have done if we repent, no matter what may have been done to us—all of us have equal access to these miracles.
What will you pray for?
We are living a miracle, and further miracles lie ahead.
(Quotes from Donald L Hallstrom, October 2017, #LDSconf)
This past weekend (first weekend in April) was General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, of which I am a member. This happens twice a year, six months apart, and is when the general (world wide) leaders of the church address the general membership and the world. With satellite and internet technology, wherever we are in the world, we can receive the messages, virtually instananeously, through live streaming, audio and/or video as the conference takes place at church HQ conference centre in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
As a Latter Day Saint I believe in living prophets and I trust that, for our spiritual safety, when they speak, we should listen and follow. For me it’s no different to the trust the ancient Israelites had to have in Moses, that if they followed him, they would gain their freedom from the Egyptians where they were in a state of slavery. Which ultimately is what happened.
So the conference actually all began last weekend with the women’s session where female church leaders spoke on trusting the Lord and not leaning (Proverbs 3:5-6), the beauty of holiness and being faithful, certain women, in the New Testament sense. And then an Apostle (Henry B Eyring) spoke on the peace that we can only receive from the Lord Jesus Christ; it was sublime.
When you prepare yourself for conference, it’s as if the speakers are speaking to you, personally. The words resonate within my spirit as I hear words of truth. There were admonitions to be kind, charitable, true, faithful, how to recognise and follow the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit, how to not live by fear, how to overcome the world.
And the prophet, Thomas S Monson, in his Sunday morning address, asked: We live in a time of great trouble and wickedness. What will protect us from the sin and evil so prevalent in the world today? And the answer: I maintain that a strong testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of His gospel will help see us through to safety. And to develop and keep a strong testimony: read the Book of Mormon, each day 🙂 And the promise if we do this?
As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives.
I am very grateful for the simplicity which is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ – it is a the greatest blessing in my life and that of my family. I love our Saviour, Jesus Christ; I’m grateful that He speaks still through living prophets, same as anciently – all things have been restored.
Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 19 verse 14
In recent weeks I have been called to serve in the Primary organisation of our church ward (local unit). The Primary organisation is for the children, up to 12 years.
It’s been about 10 years since I last served there – I recall because Son1 had not long been baptised (at age 8) when I was released. Daur1 and Daur2 were also there, but Daur2 was 3 years old so doesn’t remember.
You can imagine how excited Son2 has been since finding out that his Mum will be with him each Sunday:)!! And I’ve been excited too. I’ve already had a week in nursery (with children aged 18 months to 3 years) – I’d forgotten how delightfully stubborn a 2 year old can be! And this month I’ll be doing sharing time, with all the 3 to 11 year olds, about 12 of them so not too many.
Of course, I will miss the youth Sunday School class… not sure if the feeling is mutual 🙂 … and Daur1 did remind me they are little children!! We had our first presidency meeting – I’m a counsellor -the secretary is the same, and filled us in on recent issues. With a couple of families moving out before summer we will lose several children in a short space of time. But things change quickly so we’re not relying on a small number of children to ease anything.
This will take me out of my comfort zone, that’s always a good thing for me as it stops me becoming complacent. And I feel it’s so important to be able to share the gospel with children; the gospel of Jesus Christ is beautifully simple, and simply beautiful (not my phrase… I think one of the modern day apostles) and so to be able to explain eternal concepts in a manner that a child can understand is important. That’s the way the Saviour taught us 🙂
It’s been a while – we’re all fine. There’s bits of news – like I started piano lessons!! again, after… 30+ years = 🙂 my dear husband is paying rather than my dear mother – but I’m going to quickly ask:
How often can I message my children?
I mean, I’m embracing the technology! Making sure they are safe! And on time for lessons at college! I, me myself, I don’t see a problem with that!! After all, I carried my children in my tummy for 9 months each and nurtured them, I think they can at least text back when I check up on them. Right? I don’t bother anymore with Son1, I only receive monosyllabic responses so I only message when picking him up from work (he works part time in a fast food restaurant) or when he’s picking up Son2 from school (an occasional reminder!). Daur1 always politely replies, letting me know where she is on her journey.
But this evening as I chauffeured Son1 & Daur1 (18 and 17 years old respectively), I suddenly heard Daur1 say:
At least you don’t get the Mummy spam!
And proceeded to list off how often I text her (we have unlimited so…) – did you get bus OK? Did you catch the 8h train? Have you been to your chemistry 1-1/ workshop? Are you nearly home?
It did sound ridiculous and Son1 said – I’ll block you if you do that with me!!
So I clearly need to restrain myself!! Even Daur1 can distinguish if Son2 has used my phone to message her because:
Mum uses punctuation!
So there you have it. Despite having phones which do everything, so quickly and easily, and let’s face it, they’re like the communication devices in Star Trek! (I’ve recently discovered you can video call through WhatsApp!!) – despite this there seems to be some unwritten protocol about how often is too often! … And I was thinking about getting an App to track where they are… in case of emergency!!
I’m here at Son2 piano lesson. His teacher feels he has great finger technique, and he’s definitely more natural than I ever was as a child. But…
Son2 is 9 years old. And trying to get a nine year old son to practice is tough, unless he’s in the mood, which most of the time he isn’t.
Son2 struggles with reading the notes or at least remembering them and currently has the attitude that as long as he can play the piece, reading the music is secondary. Last night I gave him some notes quizzes to encourage him, but it began and ended with tears, Son2’s. Son1, who was doing Chemistry revision, said did I really need to put Son2 through this? I took Son1 out of violin lessons when he reached the age of no practice (around 9 years), and my dear husband feels that was a mistake, so I’ve made it quite clear that Son2 will continue unless Son2 declares to his teacher, grandma and father that he wants to give up. Is that too tough?
As I recall, at nine years old, one, generally, has little experience but you feel like you can do everything and anything given the chance – be a pilot, be a train driver, be a famous dancer/ singer/ actor. But you don’t know what it takes to get there, i.e. the self discipline to practice, the humility to learn.
So I’m listening to the scales, listening to the notes, listening to the teacher, listening to Son2 struggling and achieving! It may be difficult right now but one day you will appreciate the self discipline that you will develop 🙂
That’s the strap line of a billboard advertising an adult rated game showing several people holding guns. I was going to post a picture but that advertises the game! So here’s a family stock photo!
It seems to me that the advertisers have replaced the kill for die and therefore make the whole game seem more… honourable. Literally glorifying violence! 😦
It’s an(other) example of how we, and our children, are being bombarded with slightly false messaging. After all, most people love their families enough that if it were asked of them, they would risk their own lives. But this false messaging seems symptomatic of the last days, these perilous times that Paul described (2 Timothy 3 vv1-5), particularly having a form of godliness.
1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come….
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,…
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:
I did listen to this wonderful talk from one of the female LDS church leaders, which speaks of these perilous times and how we, as women, need to rise up in strength. I encourage you to listen and be uplifted 🙂
My last post – small things -set the scene of last week’s events – it was a difficult week! But I should say that during this, I did notice the Lord’s hand and his tender mercies, protecting our family – I especially felt this when the clutch on the car failed. It could’ve been a lot worse!
It could’ve failed the day before, on our way to church (children and me in the car, we would have all missed partaking the sacrament), or on our way back home from church (all five of us again and none of us took coats – it wasn’t raining but it’s not mid summer!), and we live about an hour walk from church.
It could’ve failed on Saturday when I use it the most – Son2’s piano lessons, Daur1 work (drop off & pick up), Son1 pick up from late shift at fast food restaurant.
It could’ve failed on Friday, the chauffeur evening, when the three older children were in the car and we were traveling on the motorway at 60 miles per hour on our way to or back from the stake centre in the next city.
It could’ve failed on Wednesday when I had the pelvic scan and in the afternoon I took my dear husband, down the motorway at 60 miles per hour, to an eye appointment at an out of town clinic, before coming home to take oldest siblings to evening Seminary.
The leak could’ve been nearer the middle of our room, rather than the corner.
And the mouse, well, that could’ve gotten to the front room and scurried all over my dear husband and I during the night… nibbling toes…. eeewwwww….
From Apostle Elder David A Bednar (April 2005):
the Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Truly, the Lord suits “his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men” (D&C 46:15).
Sometimes the smallest of things can make the biggest difference in our lives. This last week has been full of that for me and our family.
Before that, after one of the big winter storms in the last few years, we noticed a leak on our bedroom ceiling, right in the corner above the bay window. It really didn’t disrupt our daily lives and it was several months before we got a roofer out. However the following winter, another big storm, same leaking, another small damp patch appears closer in, remote from the first leak. After several attempts with the insurance company, they finally agreed to mend and repair, but not replace the valley flashing gutter (above bay window).
Then several weeks back a roofer came out – did something from a ladder and despite rain we’ve had no further leaks. Yeah! – you may think. So then the company turn to our bedroom interior. The artex ceiling is tested for asbestos. It’s a positive result so they arrange for a specialist contractor to remove the ceiling. This was scheduled for Monday morning.
Before that, a couple of weeks back, a friend spotted a piano being offered for free. Dear husband and Daur2 looked it over – needs tuning and a couple of hammers fixing but would be good for practice – and we paid a man with a van to help bring it to our house. It’s been left in the dining room, having come in through the garden, until we clear the front room (another one of those ongoing tasks!)
So, last Monday morning I wake early to start my usual routine of preparing packed lunches for the family – six of us. As I start with mini baguettes in the oven I see a mouse come out and head back behind the fridge/freezer. I shriek fairly quietly and gingerly continue, my feet shuffling on the kitchen floor – my theory was to make enough noise so it didn’t come out again. That didn’t work and so when I saw it again I let out a mighty shriek. Son1 was the first to reach me and as I stammer there’s a mouse behind the fridge, he says I thought you were being attacked by someone! And promptly turns and heads back to bed. Daur1 reaches me and stays with me while we finish the lunches but then time has gone and she’s in danger of missing her train. She begs me to drop her at the station.
However, before that, over the weekend, my car had been very rumbly. I knew my dear husband had put oil in (I had moaned to him the Sunday evening since the oil was in his car, rather than in the porch so I couldn’t add some earlier), so despite the strange burning rubber smell, I thought maybe I could make it to the station and back.
As we sat in the car – me in my pyjamas and fleece – I mentioned maybe I should give you bus fare to get the fast bus to the station and not risk it. But Daur1 gave her pleading eyes, I gave in and we headed out. We reached station safely and Daur1 skipped to platforms! I headed out the station and immediately the clutch pedal stuck – I was crossing the carriageway so was waiting. I managed to kick it up, back in gear when I saw the traffic clear then as it stuck again at my gear change, I pulled the car over onto the pavement, so as not to block traffic, and stopped. With the hazard lights on, I call the RAC (car recovery) – we’ll try and get someone out to you in the hour. An hour! It’s 0730h, I’m in my pyjamas and fleece. I call my dear husband but no answer… he’s clearly having to pick things up where I left things off…
Two hours later, somewhat chilled on my part, my dear husband and I arrive back home, children all at school & college and I think, great, I’ll quickly shower, dress and get bus to work. Don’t forget the asbestos guys are here, they arrived at 8h, when you were out; they’ve started taping things up. Eeeeekk…. I head to our room to find our wardrobes fully taped up and plastic sheeting across the bedroom door. All that was missing were the guys in white suits – I knew that was coming, they were in their van on break. So, all I could do was work from home; take calls, write emails, give a truncated version of the morning’s events explaining my absence – clutch, pyjamas and asbestos. I did feel quite ridiculous and humbled – if I had listened to the small voice and not taken our daughter to the station, the day would have been largely uneventful, except the mouse and the asbestos removal team.
Ohhhh, and the mouse. In the 12 years we’ve lived here, we’ve never seen any mice – ants, mosquitoes and slugs but no mice (apart from a small family discovered in the lawn mower box in the garage one spring a long time ago). So we were a little concerned – are there more? Son1 admitted to seeing a ball of fluff scurry behind the piano late one night after it’s arrival but failed to mention it to anyone. Dear husband bought fast action mouse killer traps – one went by the fridge and one in the kitchen. We put a more traditional trap behind the piano, with peanut butter on cheese for bait! We had no idea where mouse was. We were on lockdown – all doors to be closed behind us on entering or exiting a room. A few days later there was still no sign of mouse. By now the family began teasing that maybe I imagined the whole thing! But today, I entered the kitchen and there it was, lying, dead, between the washing machine and a cupboard. All observed it – except Son1 who was out – before dear husband and Daur1 disposed of it. Daur2 (& Daur1) seemed rather sad about the whole affair commenting it’s so small… It’s in heaven now… And similar as if I was being completely irrational about wanting to get rid of it!
Ohhhh and the leak. Once the ceiling came down, we spied up into the loft and the underside of the rafters and the water damage was apparent. And above the valley rafter, in the flashing we could spy a pinpoint of daylight in the lead valley flashing gutter. The insurance company weren’t interested – it looked to me as if a slate had punctured the lead. So we’ll have to get some flexible roof sealant and apply from within the loft to make sure we don’t get a random drip onto the new ceiling, which is now in place.
And the moral of this tale… deal immediately with a problem and listen to the small voice… or squeak…. or leak!
It’s chauffeur night. Actually, it’s been a chauffeur day and right now is my break = 🙂 I read an article recently about how we feel most at rest when we are alone – I concur!
I am like many parents I’m sure where personal chauffeur for our children is part of the job description. And let’s face it, we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Our eldest daughter, Daur1, has recently labeled this time as older siblings road trip. For me, it’s when I get to hear what’s really happening at college – X loves college because she can get high everyday!… I know what weed smells like now!… I’m disappointed with Z, he tried ecstasy! Class A drug!.. The sniffer dogs were in college today.
I’m sure it’s not a complete den of iniquity but I’m glad the children are comfortable with opening up with at least one of their parents. I tried not to get too concerned about the interest and exposure to illegal drugs!
So, my chauffeur duties today have been: drop dear husband at train station before 7h; drop Daur2 close to school before 8h20 (so I can get myself to work for 9h meeting); pick up dear husband from station; wait and pick up Daur1 from station; take Son1, Daur1 & Daur2 to Stake Youth Seminary & Activity – older siblings road trip plus one (i.e. Daur2); and then drive back home.
So, I’m looking forward to the drive home and hearing the news from stake youth. I am grateful that they enjoy being with their peers at church and I know I will look on these days, evenings, fondly… one day… maybe sooner rather than later since Son1 turns 18 years in the coming days 🙂