Wednesday, March 14, 2012

" Just Look Up" ~

Is it the weather? Is it the world Issues? Is it Politics? Is it your job? Is it your church calling? Is it family struggles? Do you have marriage problems? Is it money concerns? Is it health issues? Are you bored? Are you fearful? Are you concerned? Are you unhappy? The list could go on. Throughout my life there have been many struggles. I think I can safely say that we all have adversity in our lives. I believe and have found that there is always purpose in our difficulties.
Here is just a short list of different painful moments I have had through my life; along with current  moments of concern.
My husband and I have both had some serious health issues. I was diagnosed with Sarcoid tumors in my lungs; when I was just a young mother. I had a priesthood blessing and have been in remission for many years. Later on I had a pituitary tumor that has been controlled by medications. I was very ill for a long time with a disease that wasn't totally diagnosed due to going into remission.  My husband had a heart attack at the age of 45. He had just received a promotion and we were moving from  Nevada to Washington when this occurred. We had to change a lot of our plans. The next year he had open heart surgery; so this was a rough time for us. He has lost jobs four times and we have had to relocate. We have lived in 4 states and moved several times within those areas.  We lost a home and I had to go back to work for a while to earn money to buy a home again.  We have had many financial reversals through the years.  We have had stressful jobs.We have 6 children so there were various difficulties with our children and now with our grandchildren. We have both lost our parents and one of our siblings. We have had children with health concerns too; along with two granddaughters who have had serious health battles.
OK, that was enough of that. Basically, I am an optimistic personality but I do have my moments of feeling down. I have noticed lately that weather can affect my moods; gray days I am not as motivated. I have been somewhat stressed over the political atmosphere in our nation. I have been feeling sad about some family struggles that we have been having. I want everyone in our family to love one another, forgive one another and sometimes that just doesn't happen. I have felt sad because two of my close friends are struggling with cancer. As Inner City missionaries we find the poverty throughout the inner city areas is  fairly prevalent and I feel sad for them all. Some are in their dire circumstances due to poor judgement, others have always lived in poverty. Then a few are there because of no fault of their own. Many of these individuals don't know how to improve their circumstances. Sometimes I just wish we could take them home and help them change their lives; but that is not the process. 
 I find that often we sometimes judge another as having a perfect life. However, I don't believe it is possible in our fallen world to have the so called "perfect life". I do believe that we can have faith enough to go through life experiences because this is where we learn the most about ourselves. Trials can bring great blessings. As I reflect upon my life; I can say I have been richly blessed with trials and blessings. I have learned much.
On Monday, I had a blue day.  When I get in these moods; I usually try to pray it away. In my prayers I asked for some help with some of my current problems and feelings. Often times when I do this I will find the answer while reading my scriptures. I have also been trying to read a conference message each day and on this particular day the talk was "It is Better To Look Up" by Elder Carl B. Cook. (The Ensign, November 2011 pg. 33-35.) I know this wasn't a coincident. As I read this message my heart was touched, the spirit was felt and I was able to face the day with a better attitude of optimism.
I thought I would share a few thoughts from this message.
Elder Cook said the following: "At the end of a particularly tiring day toward the end of my first week as a General Authority, my briefcase was overloaded and my mind was preoccupied with the question “How can I possibly do this?” I left the office of the Seventy and entered the elevator of the Church Administration Building. As the elevator descended, my head was down and I stared blankly at the floor.The door opened and someone entered, but I didn’t look up. As the door closed, I heard someone ask, “What are you looking at down there?” I recognized that voice—it was President Thomas S. Monson.

I quickly looked up and responded, “Oh, nothing.” (I’m sure that clever response inspired confidence in my abilities!)
But he had seen my subdued countenance and my heavy briefcase. He smiled and lovingly suggested, while pointing heavenward, “It is better to look up!” As we traveled down one more level, he cheerfully explained that he was on his way to the temple. When he bid me farewell, his parting glance spoke again to my heart, “Now, remember, it is better to look up.”
I marvel at the optimistic attitude of our dear prophet. I can't imagine that his life is easy. He is today's Prophet to the world. The world is in turmoil. The membership of our church is over 14 million and the burden's of the his office are heavy.  
Another thought from Elder Cook:" Experience has taught me that if we, like President Monson, exercise our faith and look to God for help, we will not be overwhelmed with the burdens of life. We will not feel incapable of doing what we are called to do or need to do. We will be strengthened, and our lives will be filled with peace and joy.3 We will come to realize that most of what we worry about is not of eternal significance—and if it is, the Lord will help us. But we must have the faith to look up and the courage to follow His direction...."
"President Monson's encouragement to look up is a metaphor for remembering Christ. . As we remember Him and trust in His power, we receive strength through His Atonement. It is the means whereby we can be relieved of our anxieties, our burdens, and our suffering. It is the means whereby we can be forgiven and healed from the pain of our sins. It is the means whereby we can receive the faith and strength to endure all things.
Elder Cook told of an experience where a Stake Relief Society President invited everyone at a Stake Meeting to go outside and each of the sisters were given a helium balloon. "She explained that our balloon represented whatever burden, trial, or hardship was holding us back in our lives. On the count of three, we released our balloons, or our “burdens.” As we looked up and watched our burdens float away, there was an audible “Ahhhh.” That simple act of releasing our balloons provided a marvelous reminder of the indescribable joy that comes from looking up and thinking of Christ."

Elder Cook expressed the following thought: "In order to be guided in life’s journey and have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, we must have a “hearing ear” and a “seeing eye,” both directed upward.11 We must act on the direction we receive. We must look up and step up. And as we do, I know we will cheer up, for God wants us to be happy."
So my plan for this week is too "Look Up"; perhaps I will send a balloon off representing all of my burdens for this week and put my faith in Christ.


Mama Rachel said...

What a lovely post! It's so true: NO ONE has a perfect life! What a beautiful reminder today. Thank you!

singing/granny said...

Wow LeAnn! You hit the nail on the head! That was really what I needed to read. You are amazing! Thank you!!! Melody

Sue said...

I related in every way to this post. Great one, LeAnn!


Just Ramblin' said...

Another great post! You always share something that makes me think and ponder. I love Elder Cooks talk and have it on my ipod. I loved the story he told of Pres. Monson and the elevator. We truly need to "look up". Loved the balloon idea of releasing the burdens, etc. that are holding us back. Nola

Kim said...

I imagine so many balloons heading into the clouds, from so many hurting wives and moms, releasing it all to God. What a wonderfully sweet image!

Darlene said...

Wow LeAnn, you have had some pretty awful trials to go through. Life just isn't always easy. I can so relate to your having so many health problems. It seems like both you and your husband made it through the worst of them though. I am grateful for that, because the job you are doing requires a lot out of you. It may not always be physical, but sometimes life just can make us quite miserable anyway. I agree with your evaluation of what is happening in our country. It is so hard not to get depressed, but sometimes I wonder if we will ever get out of the mess our country in in....It is going to take years and I do feel that the legacy we are having to leave for our children will not be an easy one for them to clean up. I am getting so that I can hardly watch television anymore. My Dick keeps it glued to Fox a little too much for my comfort. It makes me too depressed and I keep telling him that I just want to live my last years without having to worry about what's going on in our country. But enough about this.

I am definitely going to try to look up. That is such a great message in itself. Thanks my dear.

Barb said...

Hi Leann!

A much needed post indeed! Bob and I were just discussing almost this exact thing on the way home from Brody's birthday party tonight! I know that the only thing I can do for my children, or those that I love that I can't help, is just look up, pray, and have faith that everything will turn out okay; and hopefully a few lessons learned along the way.

I love that story - it's one of my favorite, and one I use with my mutual girls often... :0)

Dark, dreary days make me feel depressed and down, I can't wait for sunshine! Thank you for such an uplifting post!

Hugs and Love,

Denise said...

Such a really good post.

Galen Pearl said...

A completely lovely post. When I got to the look up part, I almost cried with the simplicity and wisdom of that life changing advice! I will not forget this one! Thank you for sharing so much of your heart and your life.

Mom of 12 said...

I loved that conference talk! I think we all get discouraged and overwhelmed. It's so nice to know that someone is always there loving us and caring about us.

Anonymous said...

As always mom you bring peace and happiness to my heart and soul. I love you dearly. Thank you for sacrificing so much for all of us. You'r e a beautiful, sweet, compassionate, loving, mother and wife, and an elect lady. I am honored to have you for a mother.


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