Monday, April 21, 2008

Master, the Tempest is Raging...

Imagine that you are in a boat out in the open sea. A sudden storm arises, the boat fills with water, the waves are tossing the boat, and you are terrified that you will be thrown into the depths of the sea, and find yourself in a watery grave before morning. Jesus' disciples found themselves in this exact predicament, and it is recorded in Mark 4. We read:

37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 
  38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? 
  39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 
  40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? 

I don't imagine that in most of our lifetimes we will find ourselves in a literal boat with the Savior, begging him to awake and to calm the storm, but I'd be willing to bet that most, if not all of us, can see the parallels between this and our own lives.

Let me share with you a story that Howard W. Hunter shared it in the October 1984 general conference. 
"Mary Ann Baker's beloved and only brother suffered from the same respiratory disease that had taken their parents’ lives, and he left their home in Chicago to find a warmer climate in the southern part of the United States. 
For a time he seemed to be improving, but then a sudden turn in his health came and he died almost immediately. Mary Ann and her sister were heartbroken. It only added to their deep grief that neither their own health nor their personal finances allowed them to claim their brother’s body or to finance its return to Chicago for burial. 
The Baker family had been raised as faithful Christians, but Mary’s trust in a loving God broke under the strain of her brother’s death and her own diminished circumstances. “God does not care for me or mine,” said Mary Ann. “This particular manifestation of what they call ‘divine providence’ is unworthy of a God of love.” ...
“I have always tried to believe on Christ and give the Master a consecrated life,” she said, “but this is more than I can bear. What have I done to deserve this? What have I left undone that God should wreak His vengeance upon me in this way?”

“Carest thou not that we perish?” was the cry of Mary Ann Baker. This comes from each of us at one time or another, as feebly we find ourselves on our knees calling out to the Lord in our own way. We experience the pains of life, disappointments, failures, struggles and stresses, death and sorrow, and at times find ourselves feeling completely alone, and sometimes feeling that even the Lord has turned away, and would not care if we were to meet our destruction. When we feel this way, it is helpful to turn to the words of the Savior, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” 

The Savior asked his disciples, “How is it that ye have no faith?” We might ask ourselves the same question. 

Howard W. Hunter said:

None of us would like to think we have no faith, but I suppose the Lord’s gentle rebuke here is largely deserved. This great Jehovah, in whom we say we trust and whose name we have taken upon us, is he who said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” (Gen. 1:6.) And he is also the one who said, “Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear.” (Gen. 1:9.) Furthermore, it was he who parted the Red Sea, allowing the Israelites to pass through on dry ground. (See Ex. 14:21–22.) Certainly it should be no surprise that he could command a few elements acting up on the Sea of Galilee. And our faith should remind us that he can calm the troubled waters of our lives."

Easier said than done, right? Probably. For all of us, the days of darkness are very real. The threat of destruction is tangible, and we need to learn to trust in the Lord as He has taken our pains upon Himself. 
Alma 7:11-12 reads:

11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. 
  12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

How wonderful it is to know that Christ was willing to suffer these pains for each of us! As we learn to recognize that Christ has done these things so as to help us as we struggle, we will begin to feel the storms of life dispersing, and the seas will begin to be still. 

I have struggled throughout my life with migraine headaches. These headaches often leave me unable to function, as they affect my vision and my balance among other things. Often the headaches progress to a point where I feel like I can bear no more. One night, my headache met up with its emotional equal, and not only was I feeling pain and dizziness, but also loneliness and inadequacy. I didn't know what to do, or where to turn. I spent a good amount of time kneeling in prayer, pleading and sobbing that the Lord would not leave me alone, and my phone rang. A dear friend on the other side of the country suggested that if I felt it would profit me, I should ask for a blessing. I agreed that this would be a good idea. A priesthood holder from my ward came over, and before the blessing, asked me to tell him a little bit about what was going on. I told him that I'd been struggling with migraines, and that I needed a blessing. I didn't mention the other struggles, mostly because of pride. As part of the blessing, I was assured that I was not alone, and all of my concerns were addressed as if they had been presented to the Lord in list form. The pain in my head did not subside, but the anguish of spirit ceased, and I slept for the first time in days. That night, I understood the power in the Savior's words, “Peace, be still,” because I felt the stillness within myself. 

Remember Mary Ann Baker? The storms in her life began to subside as well, and as her immortal testimony, she wrote these words, 

Master, the terror is over. 
The elements sweetly rest. 
Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored, 
And heaven’s within my breast. 
Linger, Oh, blessed Redeemer! 
Leave me alone no more, 
And with joy I shall make the blest harbor 
And rest on the blissful shore. 
The winds and the waves shall obey my will; 
Peace, be still! Peace, be still! 
I add my testimony to that of Mary Ann. I know that the Lord can calm the stormy seas in our lives. I have seen it happen. I know that God lives, and that He loves each and every one of us.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Dear Saturday,

Dear General Conference,

Once again, you have changed my life. Everything feels more peaceful and calm, and I once again remember that everything is okay.  Thank you for everything you are, for being broadcast in my own home, and for coming on such a beautiful weekend.  I hope you didn't mind that we spent the two hour break away from you...lounging on a blanket at the park.  We were just hoping to soak it all in.  The weather, the Spirit, the wonderful things that we have.  What a blessing. :)  

I know you'd like to think that it's just you, but the thing is....everything else included, I am feeling like the luckiest and happiest girl in the whole wide world.  As always, one of my favorite times of the year.  Thank you.



PS.  In case you haven't met him yet, this is that guy I keep talking about...

Friday, April 4, 2008

Dear Curves,

I love you.  That's all I can say.  I love you more than words can express.  I don't know if you're effective, I don't know if they ever clean the machines, but what I do know is that I am deeply and madly in love with you.  I love that my workout is planned for me.  I love that I'm not going to run into ultra-obnoxious men going there, I know that nobody is going to judge me if I look stupid using that machine.  I love that there are bulletin boards decorated with colorful paper.  You have won my heart, and hopefully, all of the fat around my midsection. 

I've been working on getting in shape for quite some time, and when I peaked at 230 lbs. a couple of years ago, I knew that something had to change.  

That's a lie.  Complete and total lie.

When I weighed 230, I thought I was the hottest thing that had ever walked the earth.

When I dropped 30 lbs, had to buy new clothes, and realized that I felt cute in a size 16...that was when I knew something had to change.  Did I change?  Well...I did tae-bo for a week.  That was about it.  I lost 10 lbs. that week, and it stayed off.  I kept losing, and kept losing, and wasn't trying hard at all.  I joined a gym, and went because I felt like it.  I dropped to a size 8 for the first time in my life.   Well, back in my comfortable size 12...I think that I shouldn't be just sitting idly by and watching myself get fatter.   So Curves, I have come to you.  Please help me!

You have promised me results.  I can't wait to see them.  Now I just have to get motivated to come visit you.  

Can I get down to a size 6?

I'd like to be back into my baggy 10 by May 1.  That's my goal.  Help me Curves!