Love Your Mother

I’m blogging today because my oldest son asked me to. I awoke this morning thinking of his request and I could not go back to sleep. My first thought was, I really don’t have anything that important to say and tried to blow off the idea of blogging. Then the thought came to me, what if no one ever shared a song because they weren’t good enough. I don’t know that we ever feel good enough and maybe we’re not, but we’ll never touch anyone’s heart unless we share. So here goes.

 My Mom passed away a little over a year ago. One of her requests at her funeral was to have her children sing a song she had taught us as children. One of my sisters felt strongly that her wish be fulfilled, but the rest of us felt it wasn’t that appropriate and we really couldn’t recall the words. It was left off the program, to my sister’s dismay. As I prepared my remarks, the thought kept coming to my mind “share the song”, but I kept thinking, “I’m not going to sing that and I don’t remember the words anyway”.

“Go on line and look them up”, the thought was driving me nuts. So my wife went online and somehow found the words. With the words to the song, I remembered the tune Mom sang to me from the time I could recall from so many years ago.

Then the negative thoughts started coming. “You don’t have time to teach this to your grandchildren or your children. Your siblings aren’t going to sing it. It’s not even on the program. You certainly aren’t going to sing a solo.”

Right up until the morning of the funeral, I kept putting the idea out of my mind. Finally, I said to myself, “Who cares if I don’t sound like Bing Crosby, I will do it for Mom and anyone else who appreciates it”. The thought of singing a solo was much more frightening than the thought of speaking….without accompaniment, never!

I remember thinking as I stood there at the pulpit, here goes nothing and who cares.

A Little Boy’s Walk

By Emilie Poulsson

A little boy went walking

One lovely summer’s day:

He saw a little rabbit

That quickly ran away;

 

He saw a shining river

Go winding in and out,

And little fishes in it

Were swimming all about;

 

And, slowly, slowly turning,

The great wheel of the mill;

And then the tall church steeple,

The little church so still;

 

The bridge above the water;

And when he stopped to rest,

He saw among the bushes

A wee ground-sparrow’s nest.

 

And as he watched the birdies

Above the tree-tops fly,

He saw the clouds a-sailing

Across the sunny sky.

 

He saw the insects playing;

The flowers that summer brings;

He said, “I’ll go tell mamma!

I’ve seen so many things!”

Beulah and Jan Graf 1944

My Mom & I in 1944

Mom was always happy to hear of our day and what we had experienced.   My Mom taught me to see and love this beautiful world Heavenly Father has given to us to live in.

 So many people commented on the song and how the message touched them. My sister, Laura, was delighted and even the rest of the family seemed pleasantly surprised. I know my dear Mother was extremely happy. She was fun loving, kind, gentile and very beautiful and taught me to love the Lord and his Gospel. Love your mother. I do. Have a great New Year 2015!

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A stay at home Mom

Over the past 70 + years since World War II, women have moved into the work place and many feel frustrated that they are expected to be a wife, homemaker and mom, rather than competing with men in the work place.  For many the rewards, satisfaction of accomplishments, appreciation are much greater at work than being a homemaker.  Obvious there are some women who would love to be a stay at home Mom, but for whatever the reason, they have to work outside the home.  If you have the choice don’t forget the big picture of what the purpose of life really is.

The Lord God spake unto Moses,… For behold, this is my work and my glory– to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (Moses 1:39)   Everything that God has created, the Universe, is for this purpose, that we, his spirit children may return to live with him forever.  He has a plan in which we would come to earth, get a physical body, teach our physical body to obey our spirit, as our spirit is obedient to Him.  It is extremely important to him that we choose to obey rather than be forced to obey, as  Lucifer wanted.

Christ’s plan was to have a man and a woman  marry, procreate and raise children, teaching them His Gospel, that they might continue to bring Heavenly Father’s spirit children here from one generation to the next and so on.   This is a beautiful plan that works to accomplish God’s desire for his children.  When we come to this earth as tiny infants, totally dependent on our mother for every need that we have, we are so vulnerable.

As a woman becomes a mother, one of the gifts our Father in Heaven gives her is the instinct to nurture, to mother the newborn babe.  This is found in all of the animal kingdom but seems to be most pronounced in mankind.  I have observed my cattle as they raise their calves.  A cow will have a calf and will lick it and nurture it, encourage it to nurse and be very protective of it.  The calf will be up and walking within minutes after birth, wobbly at first but within days able to keep up with the cow.  Within a year, it is totally independent of its mother, and within another year, if the calf is a female, she is ready to be a mom.  A child is just learning to walk at about a year and still needs years of care and nurturing, and preparation to be on its own.  This is why Moms are such an important part of Christ’s plan.  We need Moms to give us a warm cozy place to develop our tiny little delicate bodies, then as we come into this world we need someone to nurture us and feed us and change our messy diapers and love us and make us happy as we grow.  Someone to be patient with us as we explore and learn how to use our new bodies in this huge amazing world that we have come to live in from the presence of Heavenly Father.   He trusts his daughters to do all the things he would like to do for us, but can’t because that would take away our ability to choose to be good even when we are not with Him.  Heavenly Father must love us so very much to give us our mothers.

Another thing, a woman’s work is never done for no matter how good the meal is she fixed for her family or how fresh the laundry smells that she washed and folded, she  has to do it again and again, day after day, year after year. Sometimes husbands don’t appreciate their wives and all they do and sometimes children don’t appreciate their moms and all they do for them. Can you imagine how much hearing the words, “thank you” and other words of appreciation would help?   A smile and a helping hand would ease the heavy load a woman has as a wife and mother.   When moms and wives aren’t appreciated, they feel used and taken advantage of and they question why they do all the things they do for the family.  They see women in the work place that seem to be appreciated and looked upon with high regard and they decide they would like to feel appreciated and get paid, and wear nice clothes.

No matter what the accomplishments and successes might be for the woman in the work place, it cannot compare to the joy and happiness that comes from watching our children raising our 25 grandchildren up to be beautiful successful children of our Father in Heaven and knowing My sweetheart did her part in the beautiful Plan of Happiness.  Yes, a Woman’s place is in the home and we should treat her with all the dignity and honor we would a noble Queen, which she is.  If you moms can remember that you are in a partnership with God to help your children get a body and come back to live with Him, it will be much easier to be a “stay at home Mom.”

Choose to Be Happy

Based on my observation over the past 70+ years, attitude is strictly a choice.  We can choose to be happy or we can choose to be unhappy.  We can choose to be angry or we can choose to feel peaceful.  Granted, there are things that happen in our lives that we can justify any feeling we want.  How we react to these situations is strictly up to us, for we have Agency.  No one can force us to be angry or unhappy or any other emotion.  It is simply a choice we make.  Agency to choose is a gift from God.

From my earliest recollections, I have tried to be happy and if you ask Gretchen, who knows me better than anyone, she would tell you that for the most part I am.  As a child, I remember consciously thinking life was a lot easier to deal with if I chose to be happy.  As I watched others who seem to always be angry or unhappy create contention in their lives particular with people they loved, I chose to be happy.  I found it was more enjoyable to spend time with happy people than to be with contentious and unhappy folks.  As you are happy, others will want to be around you.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is often referred to as the Plan of Happiness.  This leads me to believe that Heavenly Father wants us to be happy here in our existence upon the earth.  I see living with Him in Heaven as a time of great happiness and joy.  If that is our goal, then we should be practicing this attribute here on earth.  You will be amazed at how much joy in your life happiness will bring.

There are some catchy lyrics to a song that goes “Don’t worry, Be Happy!”  This seems to be great advice.  If you want to bring light into your life, my suggestion to each of you is:

Choose to be Happy!

Image

Jan and Gretchen Graf

Thoughts on raising Children

My Children have taught me so very much about raising them.  It was 46 years ago today at 4 AM that I got a call from Gretchen telling me that our Firstborn Son had come into the world at 1:19 AM.  She was in Provo living with her parents and I was in the Air Force in Denver, Colorado.  I was so proud and so excited to meet him, which didn’t happen for two more weeks, when I came home for Christmas for three days.  It was February before I saw him again when I was assigned to go to Castle Air Force Base and we moved to Merced, California.  I was amazed how much he had grown.  He seemed to go from a baby to a little boy in a couple of months.  One of the first things he taught me was that a baby sometimes is not happy to be quiet and hold still in church.  When he became restless and began to fuss, I took him out in the foyer and was going to spank him and immediately had the impression,  “What are you doing to My little Boy?” as if Heavenly Father was asking me. “You need to just Love Him!”   That was my first lesson in patience and believe me there were many lessons to follow.  Now he is the Bishop of his ward and sometimes he admits he still feels restless having to sit still through church, but he does and He is a great Bishop.  He was the first of eight wonderful children and it was good he came first because he taught me so much.  It became easier to raise the others because of all the experiences he taught me.  He had so much energy and curiosity.  He had come to earth to learn everything he could about everything and as his parents, it was our responsibility to give him the opportunity to learn through doing.

I often would look at each of our children as a newborn baby and ask them,  “Who are you?”  “What do you know about our relationship when we lived with Heavenly Father that I have forgotten?”   I wanted to be the best Dad I could be to these spirit brothers and sisters that Heavenly Father had entrusted to my stewardship.    As I dealt with different situations in parenting, I will be the first to admit that I did not always do it right, but the thought would come to mind,  “Ok.  How would Jesus handle this situation?”   Sometimes I did it right and sometimes I wish I had done it right?  I believe I learned a lot from experience.

Somewhere in my studies I read that Joseph Smith was asked how he had such a peaceful community in Nauvoo.  His answer was something to the effect, “I teach them correct principles and allow them to govern themselves.”   I recognized that this was the same plan that Christ presented in the Grand Council in Heaven.  Christ proposed that he would:  1. Set an example for us how to live with a physical body here on Earth,   2. Teach us correct principles, His Gospel, and  3. Allow us to govern ourselves, Agency.

And if we make mistakes He would atone for each of us.  God loved Christ’s plan!!  I realized this is the plan to teach our Children.  First,  We need to set an example for our Children how to live here on Earth.  Second,  Teach them correct principles.  How will they know honesty, integrity and love if we don’t teach them?  Third, Allow them to govern themselves.  Agency to choose, must be very important to our Heavenly Father, for in the Grand Council he allowed his spirit children to choose which plan they would follow and one-third of his spirit children did not follow the plan He loved.

Even with a good example and correct teachings, our children may make poor choices but they stand a much better chance of making good choices if there is an example and correct teachings.   The opportunity to choose is vital for them.  How righteous is a person that is forced to be good as opposed to how righteous is a person that chooses to be good?   When they get the first opportunity to rebel, they will with vengeance!

Don’t follow Lucifer’s plan and try to force your children to be perfect.   “Because I said so!”  is not the Lord’s Plan.  Help your children understand why we make a particular choice and it may simply be, “Because I love you and have more experience in how to deal with this situation.”  My experience has been, if you be what you want your children to be–teaching them properly, they will make the right choices.  If they don’t, at some point they will come back.    Train up a child in the way he should go; when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22: 6   May you enjoy raising your Children as I have using Christ’s plan.

The Lord Forgave to Heal

There is an interesting story in the New Testament on the power of forgiveness and the effect that it can have on us physically and psychologically.  Now you may ask yourself what forgiveness has to do with health and healing.  May I paraphrase one of my favorite stories from the New Testament.  It must have been important that we understand this principle for it is found in three of the four gospels;  Matthew 9:2-8,   Mark 2:2- 12.  Luke 5 :18- 26

There was a man who had palsy for several years to the degree that it had left him bedridden.  He felt that if he could just get to the Savior he could be healed.  His friends agreed with him, so the friends put him on a cot or stretcher and carried him to the home in Capernaum where Jesus was teaching.  Apparently there was quite a gathering at the home making it impossible to get the man through the crowd or even in the  doorway to where Christ was teaching. His friends carried him up on the roof where they removed some tiles and lowered him bed and all with ropes down through the roof in the vicinity where the Savior was teaching.

I’m sure this caused quite a commotion, as the people saw this man being lowered with ropes lying on a bed all gnarled with palsy.  The scriptures tell us that, “The Lord recognizing their great faith,(the man and his friends) said `My son, thy sins are forgiven thee'”.  Among the crowd along with the Pharisees were the Scribes, feverishly taking notes on “this guy, Jesus” looking for anything that they could consider blasphemous, that they might condemn him.  Their immediate reaction was “that is blasphemous!  Who does he think he is?  Only God can heal by forgiving.”  Christ perceived their thoughts and said, “Why are ye troubled in your hearts?  Whether is easier, to say, thy sins be forgiven thee or to say, Rise up and walk?  But that ye may know  that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the man sick of palsy,)  I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.  And immediately he rose up and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own home, glorifying God.

Now there are some interesting lessons to be learned here.  The fact that the man had sinned sometime in his past and had subconsciously punished himself with palsy trying to atone for his sins.  He had repented or he wouldn’t have come to the Savior, but he hadn’t forgiven himself, and he couldn’t, until he knew that the Savior had forgiven him.  “Recognizing their great faith.”  What a key!  I have wondered how many sick people the Savior passed by, because they lacked the faith to be healed.  I can only imagine that as the Lord forgave the man with palsy, that a heavy burden of guilt was lifted off his shoulders that he had been bearing.

Can you begin to see why the Apostles questioned the Lord, as they came to a man who had been blind since birth, “Who sinned, this man or his parents?”  They were beginning to recognize the fact that health problems many times were closely related to sinning, and now they were trying to figure out when this man had sinned, or was it his parents that sinned and he was trying to pay the price with his blindness. In this particular case the Lord helped them to understand that it was neither the parents nor the man who sinned, but this man’s blindness was “so that the power of God might be manifested”.  Obviously all health problems aren’t related to sin but there are enough to look at it seriously as a cause.

Another thought I have had concerns the faith we have in an immediate healing.  Today the man with palsy would say when told to take up his bed and walk,  “You don’t really expect me to walk?  How about if I just straighten my foot a little or wiggle my toe so that will show that I can get better and maybe walk in a couple of years.   I’ve had this problem for years and the doctor said I would just have to learn to live with it.  I know I can get better some day.”  We really don’t expect to be healed immediately today.  I’m afraid we lack the faith for an immediate healing most of the time.

Just a few months after the Lord forgave this man, He forgave you and me, in the Garden of Gethsemane, when He took upon Himself the sins of all the world and atoned for our transgressions.  This atonement is predicated upon our willingness to repent and forgive, allowing Him to take the burden of  guilt from us.

May we have the faith to be healed and accept the Lord’s atoning sacrifice  and allow ourselves to be healthy and happy as we follow His plan of Happiness.

Loving Every Person

One of my favorite and highly recommended books, Return from Tomorrow, written by a man for whom I have a great deal of respect,  Dr. George Ritchie,  has one of my favorite stories on forgiveness.  I quote Dr. Ritchie from the book beginning on page 114.

“And that’s how I came to know Wild Bill Cody.  That wasn’t his real name.  His real name was seven unpronounceable syllables in Polish, but he had long drooping handlebar mustaches like pictures of the old western hero, so the American soldiers called him Wild Bill.  He was one of the inmates of the concentration camp, but obviously he hadn’t been there long. His posture was erect, his eyes bright, his energy indefatigable.  Since he was fluent in English, French, German, and Russian, as well as Polish, he became a kind of unofficial camp translator.”

“We came to him with all sorts of problems; the paper work alone was staggering in attempting to relocate people whose families, even whole hometowns, might have disappeared.  But though Wild Bill worked fifteen and sixteen hours a day, he showed no signs of weariness.  While the rest of us were drooping with fatigue, he seemed to gain strength.  `We have time for this old fellow,’ he’d say. `He’s been waiting to see us all day.'”

“His compassion for his fellow prisoners glowed on his face, and it was to this glow that I came when my own spirits were low.  So I was astonished to learn when Wild Bill’s own papers came before us one day, that he had been in Wuppertal since 1939!  For six years he had lived on the same starvation diet, slept in the same airless and disease-ridden barracks as everyone else, but without the least physical or mental deterioration.”

“Perhaps even more amazing, every group in the camp looked on him as a friend.  He was the one to whom quarrels between inmates were brought for arbitration.  Only after I’d been at Wuppertal a number of weeks did I realize what a rarity this was in a compound where the different nationalities of prisoners hated each other almost as much as they did the Germans.

As for Germans, feeling against them ran so high that in some of the camps liberated earlier, former prisoners had seized guns, run into the nearest village and simply shot the first Germans they saw.  Part of our instructions were to prevent this kind of thing and again Wild Bill was our greatest asset, reasoning with the different groups, counseling forgiveness.”

“`It’s not easy for some of them to forgive’,  I commented to him one day as we sat over mugs of tea in the processing center.  `So many of them have lost members of their families.'”

“Wild Bill leaned back in the upright chair and sipped at his drink.  `We lived in the Jewish section of Warsaw,’ he began slowly, the first words I had heard him speak about himself, `my wife, our two daughters, and our three little boys.  When the Germans reached our street they lined everyone against a wall and opened up with machine guns.  I begged to be allowed to die with my family, but because I spoke German they put me in a work group.'”

“He paused, perhaps seeing again his wife and five children.  `I had to decide right then,’ he continued, `whether to let myself hate the soldiers who had done this.  It was an easy decision, really.  I was a lawyer.  In my practice I had seen too often what hate could do to people’s minds and bodies.  Hate had just killed the six people who mattered most to me in the world.  I decided then that I would spend the rest of my life–whether it was a few days or many years–loving every person I came in contact with.'”

“Loving every person… this was power that had kept a man well in the face of every privation.”

To me this is an exciting story on the power of forgiveness and the effect that it has on us physically and psychologically.  Even though, from Dr. Ritchie’s account, this man lived in such a dreadful environment, as did all the rest, he was not emaciated like the others.  Apparently, he didn’t have to be emaciated to justify all the fear, hate, anger and other negative feelings his fellow prisoners had bottled up inside causing them to fester in their bodies in many cases even unto death.  He chose to forgive and love every person.

Two Magic Words

There are two little magic words that will open any door with ease.   The first little word is Thanks and the other little word is Please.

You’d be so surprised what those two little words can do.   They work like a charm for me and they’ll work like a charm for you.

When you want the butter, say “Please pass the butter.”   Manners are never out of style.

When you get the butter, say “Thank you for the butter” and say it with a great big happy smile.

There are two little magic words that will open any door with ease.         The first little word is THANKS and the other little word is PLEASE.

These are the words of a child’s song that we taught our children as they were growing up.  These words aren’t just children’s words but are words used by everyone that is respectful.  Every request should be preceded by Please.  Every kindness or service should be followed by Thank you.  Can you imagine how a respectful conversation using the magic words would eliminate so much stress in our world?  It is hard to be offended by someone who uses the magic words.