Monday, September 2, 2013

A Time to Remember

 Do you remember the reality show that featured various Ocapella groups as they competed to be named the top group?  I think it was called The Sing Off.  I use to love watching that show.  One of my favorite groups got their start at BYU.  Vocal Point is their name.  They are an all men's group and they are really good.  I really enjoy listening to them sing.  So when Kyle got home from his mission and his iPod included some of their songs, I was thrilled. Where ever we would go I would beg Kyle to play the Vocal Point songs.  Since then I have purchased my own CD.  One of my favorite songs is actually an old Hymn called, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing".   I love this song!!! But I have to admit, I do not recall hearing it or even singing it much in sacrament.  How I wish we could sing more songs like this one.  Nor did I know the meaning of some of the words for that song.    

The second verse is a especially puzzling (strange) to me.........especially this part,  "Here I raise my Ebenezer; Hither by Thy help I've come".  What does it mean?  Until today, I had no idea.  Here is what I have learned about this phrase... this comes from  a portion of the talk given by Curt Holman, who was the associate chair for the Department of Dance at the time of his talk.

It is in the Old Testament that we gain further understanding of what it means to “raise my Ebenezer.” In 1 Samuel 7 we read that the Israelites were under attack by the Philistines. Outnumbered and in fear for their lives, they pled with the prophet Samuel to pray for God’s help. Samuel offered a sacrifice and prayed for protection. In response the Lord smote the Philistines, and they retreated to their territory. This victory is recorded in verse 12: “Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”
In Hebrew the word ebenezer means “stone of help.” This raised stone was a reminder to the Israelites of what the Lord had done for them. This Eben-ezer quite literally was a monument set to remember the great help that God granted the one raising the stone. The Old Testament is replete with examples of the children of Israel forgetting the many miracles and spiritual experiences given to them by the Lord. 

In an address given to religious educators, President Spencer W. Kimball said that remember could be the most important word in the dictionary (see “Circles of Exaltation,” BYU summer school devotional address, 28 June 1968, 8). This is a strong statement that gives us pause to reflect on why a modern-day prophet would make such a deliberate and specific reference to the importance of one word. Today my comments will be centered on this very principle—more specifically, on the importance and value of remembering our own spiritual experiences and recognizing that these experiences, given to us by the Lord, have brought us to where each of us is today. In other words, by remembering we are raising our own Ebenezer.  

In his talk he goes on to say that while he was serving his mission in Chili he was sharing the missionary discussion on then plan of salvation.  He said he shared his portion of the discussion and then his companion shared his portion.  


"As my companion gave his portion of the discussion, I had a profound experience. The Spirit touched my heart in a way I had never felt before. At that very moment I could see with great clarity that this family had divine potential. I was overcome with the Spirit and remember feeling that the Holy Ghost was bearing witness to me in a very personal way that the work I was engaged in was true and that God was the author of this plan of salvation.
I did not know at the time if this family was having the same experience, but my feelings were undeniably from God. The sweet witness was profound and clear. At the conclusion of the discussion I felt an urgency to get back to my apartment and record this special experience in my journal. I did not want to forget one detail".


That evening I carefully wrote about my experience, making special note of the spiritual confirmations I had received. I concluded my journal entry that night with the following sentence: “If someday in the future I ever find myself questioning my faith, please read this journal entry!” This experience is an example of a monument that I raised to help me remember what Heavenly Father had done for me.

He said each year growing up, his family would watch the movie, The Ten Commandments together.  He talked about the scenes when Moses raises his staff and is able to part the Red Sea so the people are able to cross on dry ground.  He said he could not understand how the children of Israel then could forget so many amazing miracles and return to wickedness.  He goes on to share.....

"A lesser-known—but equally meaningful—story of the children of Israel takes place on the banks of the River Jordan. In Joshua 3 we read that, after many years of wandering through the wilderness, the children of Israel were poised to enter the promised land. With Joshua as their leader, the Israelites experienced yet another miracle.
The Lord spoke to Joshua: “This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee” (Joshua 3:7).

"As the children of Israel approached the banks of the River Jordan, Joshua was commanded that twelve men—one from each tribe of Israel—should carry the ark of the covenant, which housed the Ten Commandments, into the River Jordan. Verse 17 gives a description of what happened as these men walked into the river: “And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.”
Once again the Lord miraculously parted the waters for the children of Israel. However, this time the Lord had additional instructions. After the children of Israel had crossed over Jordan, the Lord spoke to Joshua and commanded him that a representative of each tribe pick up a large stone from the dry river bed and stack the stones as a memorial to remember what God had done for them.
And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones?
Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.
For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over. [Joshua 4:21–23]
It seems the Lord recognized the tendency of the natural man to quickly forget his God. Perhaps this monument would help the Israelites remember the Lord and turn their hearts to Him. I also find it particularly significant that this scripture references that this monument, built by the Israelites, would also stand as a witness to their children, who might ask of its meaning".

This story has great application for us even today. Each experience that we have with the Spirit can be like placing a stone on our own personal monument, reminding us of God’s hand in our lives. These monuments can also serve to strengthen others as we share our experiences.
Some of us may have large, stable monuments that are continually built and fortified with great personal spiritual experiences that acknowledge God. Others may believe that their monuments are small or insignificant—maybe even eroding. If you have these feelings, I invite you to do two things.
First, look to your past and reflect upon your life. You will see the divine guidance of our Heavenly Father and how He has brought you to where you are today.
Second, earnestly seek opportunities and environments in which the Spirit can touch your heart.

As we look to our past we gain insight. Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard proclaimed: “Life must be understood backwards. But . . . it must be lived forwards” (journal entry, 1843). Understanding life by looking backward invites us to reflect upon our past. As we do this with a proper spiritual perspective, we can more clearly see that perhaps seemingly insignificant experiences from our past have set us on a specific path".

So today, this blog entry is for me a monument so that I can remember and look back and reflect on how the Lord has been with my husband and I throughout this past few months while Kevin has been dealing with his back pain, the doctor's visits, and now the surgery and eventually the recovery from the surgery.  

I don't know if I mentioned this before, but I was scared.  Kevin has had at least two other back surgeries in the past and each time we struggled.  It was hard.  I can remember calling Kevin from work to find out how his appointment with the surgeon went.  As he shared that the doctor felt he needed to have not only one surgery but 3 surgeries to repair his back, my heart just sank.  When I returned to my desk and a co-worked asked me, I started to cry.  I didn't want Kevin to have to go through all of that again and I didn't want to go through it again either.  Not to mention our children and how it effects them.  

The following weeks I was getting ready to in and have my own little surgical procedure.  With all we found out about Kevin, I really thought about cancelling my surgery.  It could wait was what I was thinking.  But Kevin wouldn't let me wait.  He knew I needed to have this procedure done so I could get back to normal again.  Prior to my surgery Kevin and Kyle gave me a Priesthood blessing, and as Kevin mentioned the upcoming events we would be facing in that blessing this overwhelming sense of peace came over me.  In fact, I recall posting on Facebook how I felt that we were in the midst of a miracle happening in our lives.  And that is exactly what we have experienced.  

Kevin's boss has been nothing short of amazing!!!  I was worried that since Kevin has not been with the company for at least 1 year they would just let him go. But that is not what has happened.  I have to say, that man is now counted as one of my heroes.  Then there is the surgeon that has performed the surgery.  I was worried.  At first, they had intended on doing 2 days of surgery.  You know, breaking things up.  But with the Labor Day holiday, they didn't think they would be able to get everyone in place to do the second surgery on that following Monday.  As it stood, they had to have two surgeons, an anesthesiologist, another tech specially trained in the operating room to check the nerves throughout the procedure, and countless nurses and surgical techs to assist the doctor's with the procedure to be out.  I worried that Kevin wouldn't be able to withstand being out that long.  But they had Kevin see a cardiologist prior to surgery to do a chemical stress test on him,  to make sure he would be able to withstand a procedure that took that long.  I did make Kevin tell me he was not going to die on the operating table and that he would not end up in some kind of coma or vegetative state.  I was very specific.  He had to say the words to me.  (I know, that seems a little harsh.)

All in all, I cannot say that this experience has not been tough.  It has!  It's not fun for Kevin being in pain or having to deal with the thought of surgery.  Nor has it been easy on my children or myself, dealing with Kevin and his attitude while being in extreme pain.  Kevin hasn't exactly been the happy go lucky guy he normally is without all the pain.  However, I can honestly say, I have seen my Heavenly Father's hand throughout this entire experience.  And I know we will see it again in  the coming months as Kevin comes home from the hospital and undergoes his physical therapy as he recovers.

I also know that this has proven to me, once again, that I am not alone.  I know what you might be thinking, I live in a house full of people, how could she possibly be feeling alone.  Believe it or not, you can be surrounded by people and still be alone.  It is possible.  I have said it before, but I will say it again,....if you watch families that are going through certain medical issues, there is always one person very close to the one who is ill, that has been there at the side of the patient the entire time.  They are the ones trying to care for the patient, their families, and keep everything else together during that time.  These people are the parents, the spouses, the children or even the friends of the patients.  These are the ones going through, sometimes, even more that the actual patient.  But these are the ones that most often get overlooked.  Not by choice, but just because it happens.  Everyone is most concerned about the obvious, the sick individual.  Let's face it, that is the easiest to see.  How could you not see the sick person?  But if you really want to know how a family is doing, take a look at the person closest to the patient.  Talk to that person because I guarantee, they will always be the ones falling apart at that time.  (I know this because I have watched my father go through this when my mother became very ill, I have watched this when my sister-in-law was caring for her sick Grandmother, and I have watched  this when my mother-in-law was dealing with my sick and death of my father-in-law)   They are the ones that could use some help, a kind word, or even a simple smile.  Anything really. Right now, I am that person.  The caregiver.  The wife.  The one less noticed by others around me. Not because others intend for this to happen.  It just happens. Even so, these are also the times that I learn a lot too.  I know my Heavenly Father is very much aware of me, and He has been there with me throughout this entire experience.  More so this time than in times past.  He has reminded me once again that He is a part of every detail of my life as well as the lives of my husband and our children, and even in the lives of those who have had a role to play in this experience.  We have received countless blessings and we have experienced many miracles, large and small.  How very grateful I am for the knowledge that I can turn to my Heavenly Father anytime, anywhere and He will hear my prayers.  What a blessing it is to have the gospel in my life.  I am not proud to admit this, but I know my light has been a little dim over the past few months, and I have not been on my best behavior.  I happen to be one of those people that have to talk it through with others, and I have a hard time faking it.  I was never one of those people that live by the motto..."fake it til you make it."   I sometimes wish I was.  But all in all, I do have a testimony of the gospel and I am most grateful for the blessing of the Atonement in my life and the principle of repentance and forgiveness.  I know  I have some changes to make.  I have some things to reflect upon and learn from.  I am far from perfect.  I am a work in progress, but with the help of my Heavenly Father and the example of my Savior, Jesus Christ, I know I can get through and become better and I love that.  









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