We are really missing that big doofy blonde kid this summer. We've missed him since February, but we seem to notice his lack of presence even more lately because it's summer. We lack the extra person to bum lunch off of us and tell us goofy stories about the people he encounters. Today my mom got to talk to a Sister who just came home last week and was serving in Willie's district (a district of 5) in Siauliai. (I was a little bit jealous and thought of the day he called me from the airport and I missed the stinkin' call.) The Sister called my mom, at the request of my big doofy brother, to tell her that he loved her. Awww . . . what a good mamma's boy he is.
I worry about him a lot. (I worry about lots of things.) If we say our dinner or nightly prayers in any manner that might seem like we are deviating from "bless Willie," the kids remember and speak up in the middle of the prayer, "don't forget Willie, mom." We won't. We don't. (The same thing happens if we forget to "bless Great Grandpa" or "bless Stetson." They may not always be reverent during the prayer, but usually they are listening.) I worry about Willie because he has to act all grown up in a land far away. He's always been pretty grown up on the outside, but a nervous wreck little kid on the inside. My mom and I talked on Monday night (after his weekly e-mail) that he must be scared to death about getting a new companion and how much pepto bismol has he had. Alas, he will survive and it's probably pretty darn good for him.
He isn't dead (or dying of cancer - I just finished "The Fault in Our Stars" - which didn't make me cry until I started writing this), and is doing something really great, but I miss him.
We got to hang out with Parker all day today and we got to spend some time with Meranda last week, we see Natalie at swimming lessons and we love them, too! I'm so fortunate to have a close relationship with them and I am so proud of them and the great kids they are. We survived hanging out with Willie and Parker while Meranda was serving a mission. I guess we'll survive hanging out with Parker and Meranda while Willie's gone and maybe even survive hanging out with Willie and Meranda when Parker's gone (unless, of course, Meranda has gone on to bigger and better summer adventures by then).
This post is leading somewhere else. I've had a lot of thoughts and frustrations lately of a spiritual nature . . .
In short . . .
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I believe that it is THE religion of our Heavenly Father and that each of us has a purpose and meaning in this world. Though our paths may take on many shapes and forms, what we all share as human beings (and specifically as members of this Church) is the obligation and responsibility to be kind, Christ-like people, follow the commandments, and live the best life we possibly can. The promise of following this particular faith is that if we DO live the best life that we can and we pass this test with a score acceptable to the powers that be, we will live on forever with our families and in the presence of our Heavenly Father where we will be able to continue doing great and wonderful things with the people we love.
In long . . .
I don't mean to sound self-righteous or conceited, but I've been really frustrated lately about the decisions made by people I care about, people who would otherwise be in the big picture of my "live on forever" family, but have made choices that put them currently out of that loop. It sucks. How can people drift from something that is so true to me and to most other members of our family? How do people get themselves on a path contrary to what they know is right?
I am far from perfect and I have things to work on every day (starting tomorrow with trying to have more patience for my own kids) and though I have doubts about the strength of my testimony, I have never doubted that I had one, however weak it may have been at times. Bad things happen to everyone, but I cannot imaging living without the blessings I receive from trying to do my best. Our Heavenly Father knows what we need and sometimes I think I just struggle with having adequate faith. As a teacher, you never understand anything as well as when you have to actually teach it. As a testimony holder, you never know the full capacity of what you know until you state it or act on it.
Two things have happened lately that have helped my strengthen my testimony. First, we were sitting at Joesy's baby blessing in the Garland 4th Ward and I had a pounding in my chest that I needed to say something. I tried to ignore it until I couldn't any more and so I walked to the pulpit (thinking that I knew my mother would not approve of my pink athletic-type flip-flops in church, but that I wore them anyway because I knew it was going to be hot). I don't know exactly what I said, but it had something to do with families being important, and temples, and families forever. Maybe I needed to say that to myself out loud or maybe the message was for someone else in the congregation, but whatever I said, someone needed it said.
Second, James and I went to the temple the other night to work on some of the names I've mentioned in my boring family history posts. While waiting in the temple I happened to flip open the Book of Mormon to Alma 32. Lo and behold, what does that section talk about? Faith! Verse 17 and 18 say, "Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe. Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it." Verse 21 continues, " . . . faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true."
So first, I learned (or re-learned) that faith is not knowing about things you already know, but faith is having confidence in the things you don't really know for sure. Believe in something that you DON'T know everything about. That's faith. Then I learned that my lack of faith might just be because I am trying to explain things to myself assuming that I have control over them or that I have perfect knowledge of them. I only have control over a few things in my little sphere and there is really nothing that I have perfect knowledge of.
I KNOW that things will always work out for the best if I am living my life the best I can. Sometimes I forget that I know that. That's when I need a little more faith. I just wish that when others start to lack that faith that instead of continuing to deviate, they somehow buoy themselves up instead. It's sometimes hard, but following the gospel and the principles laid out for us is the only way to getting what I think most people deep down really want . . . happiness and like I said earlier, live on forever with our families and in the presence of our Heavenly Father where we will be able to continue doing great and wonderful things with the people we love.
I am sad that other people who once saw it that way (or were at least taught to see it that way), don't see it that way anymore.
We don't always need faith in specific things or specific events, we just have need to have faith that things will work out. When we have that faith and then do what's right, things will work out for the best!
This is what I know.