Sunday, July 20, 2014

Eye of the Storm

First of all let me apologize for not having written in so long, in my human weakness I have fallen prey to stress, depression, fear, anxiety and and grief and this will be my first blog in over a year. I will do my utmost to not make it so long again for there is much in me to write about.....

Having said that, I moved to a new town and ward (I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we congregate in what is called wards and it didn't take the bishopric long to latch on to fresh troops and my husband and I were called upon to speak.(In our church we do not have a preacher that speaks and teaches; rather members of the congregation are asked in advance each week by the bishopric who officiates, to prepare a "sermon" if you will, on an assigned topic and speak to the congregation.)

I like to post the talks that I have given here so that I have them in my journal and also so maybe someone else might like them. The topic I was given was to introduce and tell about myself integrated with the subject of Spiritual Whirlwinds. But, I'm going to skip the introduction part of myself because you reading already know me, you probably know most of the rest too but maybe there will also be something that will stand out and touch your heart. for me this is not one of my best but I did my best and I tried to keep in short because my husband has stressed recently that I talk too much.....I pray that anyone reading will have the spirit of the Lord with them and will receive the messages he has in store, and I welcome any comments or thoughts that you might have or want to share.

Thank you for reading!! See you next time! Love from Dixie!

I was a convert to the church at the age of eight. I know it sounds strange for that to happen at such a young age, But back in the day my daddy was a hardcore Texan. And being so hardcore in 1973 he landed himself in a bar fight in Houston and was left for dead. His daddy, the Mormon pioneer of our family, had converted a few years prior and upon rescuing his son, had a good ole southern come to Jesus meetin' and my dad was baptized shortly thereafter. What was really wonderful about this crazy event was that my dad, really believed in the message and teachings he'd received and when returning home to us, shared the gospel with my mom and a few months later we were baptized. This decision that he made to become a member of the church and to share it with my mom would be the one thing that would save me in the coming years, for no matter what would happen, I had a foundation.

I say that last statement because I consider myself to be a connoisseur of of trials and troubles. You see there have been times in my life that my mind was not opened, I didn't have good understanding of what I needed so my spirit, at times, fell in places that were indeed unimaginable. With temptations and sin on the rise and becoming more, and more socially acceptable; I having not prepared myself well, fell prey to the adversary and my choices created terrible storms. The kind that can uproot one from spiritual foundations yet, because I did have a gospel knowledge, I learned of the power of the Atonement and with true repentance I became converted, I became a new person, my mind became enlightened and I survived the storm. However, not all of my trials were of my own making. Some were do to the poor choices of others, and some were just because this is mortal life. Some examples are when my oldest daughter died in a playground accident at the age of three, and with this event the choices of others followed when my parents divorced and became inactive. My dad went back to drinking and the family was torn apart on many levels and still suffers with the inactivity of my mom and siblings.

I too had a lot of trouble as a grieving newly pregnant mother, and because I was having so much trouble, my middle son was born six weeks early. Just six months after the death of his sister. He was not only born early but also very sick and I was told he wouldn't live through the night and that I should make arrangements. But, after a miracle healing blessing from my bishopric, he lived to be twenty years old, then died as a victim of suicide on his sisters birthday.

After his death I developed some serious heath problems and was unable to work or hold down a job. One of my remaining two children was in jail, the other was fighting wounded in Afghanistan, my house was robbed and I lost everything of importance; and with a list of troubles too long to mention, I'll just say all of this was happening during the same eight month period of time. These are my most profound Spiritual Whirlwinds........

I know many of you like me, have or are suffering, maybe even from some of the same struggles that I've mentioned. And we know that these will not be the end for in coming to this life we must be tried and perfected before returning home. But we can take great comfort in the teachings of our leaders and as I ponder upon the words they give us I am reminded that I am not alone and there is purpose to this madness.

Elder Neil L Anderson, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, tells a story in his April 2014 General Conference talk that really hits home for me on this subject. He talks about Trees, those that grow up in windy environments and how they become stronger. He said that as the winds whip around young saplings forces inside the tree do two things. First, they stimulate roots to grow faster, and second the forces in the tree make the trunk and branches thicker and more flexible to the pressure of the wind. These roots and branches then protect the tree from the winds that are sure to return.

As he told this story I likened myself to the tree, for winds continue to whip around me yet for some reason I am still standing. And then Elder Anderson reminds me that we are more precious to God than a tree, we are his sons and daughters, and he made our spirits strong and capable of being resilient to the whirlwinds in life, which in return increase our spiritual strength and prepares us for the years ahead.

He tells us to remember that it is upon the rock of our redeemer that we must build our foundation that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, his shafts in the whirlwind, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon us, it shall have no power to drag us down because of the rock upon which we are built. This is the safety in the whirlwind.

Though the whirlwinds I've spoken of are from my adult years, most of my youth was also spent in hail storms that did beat down upon me. As a young family we had many struggles, some very serious. I grew up from the age of 8-13 in Southeast Missouri where the word Mormon was dangerous and I was the only youth in a tiny branch. I struggled greatly in school and was a victim of bullying until the tenth grade and was in five different schools my eight grade year because my dad was part of the Navy. When I finally settled in Grand Prairie, I was 15 and I began to learn that the one thing that would save me from the struggles of my youth was the gospel of Jesus Christ. I had to have faith that it was all for a greater purpose and because I had begun to develop that faith at a young age, when the winds hit as an adult I was able to have hope and like the tree had strong roots that protected me.

In living through those whirlwinds as I built more firmly upon the rock of my redeemer, as I treasured up and learned more of his teachings, as I tried more diligently to follow his example and live his commandments and embrace more deeply his love, his mercy, his grace and the powerful gifts of the atonement, I have come to see these whirlwinds for what they are. They are part of my life to help me grow, and to strengthen me, thus I do rejoice in the Lord and find great gratitude for my experiences and what I've learned.

It is my prayer that the Lord will touch all of our hearts that we may receive all he has to offer us and that we may all be strengthened for the coming times, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen