Thursday, July 30, 2015

Happy Friday Eve!!!

Two Things I am Grateful For:

1) You know, you really come to appreciate everything your body can do without even thinking about it when either you suffer from a spinal cord injury yourself, or a close loved one does.  I appreciate the many things our bodies do more and more each and every day and I so appreciate, and jump for joy with every thing Kevin accomplishes each and every day.  

2) My kids!  I have always said we have awesome kids.
NOT PERFECT KIDS!  My kids are normal kids.  They have their moments.  They get frustrated, mad, and sad.  I would worry about them if they didn't react to some things by being frustrated, mad, or sad, because that is a normal response to some of the things they have experienced.  BUT....these kids are wonderful!  I think some of these struggles help to keep my children grounded and aware of certain things.  My kids are not the type that think the sun rises and sets to their every desire, like some kids seem to think.  They know the world does not revolve around them, and that hard work is what it takes to achieve your dreams.  I couldn't be more proud of each of my children.  They have become more compassionate towards others they see struggling.  We have grown very close through all of our struggles, and I am honored to be their Mother, and to be able to be a part of their lives.  I love each of them very much!  They are everything to me.  I call them my greatest blessing!

From the Camera:

Since its throwback Thursday, here are a few photos from the past...

I know these are a little blurry, but I couldn't help but post them.  Look at me!

My kids think my hair was big.  I told them they should see some of the other kids.  Mine was nothing compared to that!

These are my long time good    Friends!  I miss them all.  This photo was taken just days before I got married to Kevin. These girls took me out to dinner at Bobby McGee's.  Do you remember that place????  

From the Craft Room and Other Cool Things:
Isn't this cute?
All you need is a globe, vinyl letters, and chalkboard paint.  Love it!!!

From the Heart and Spirit:

Our trials can either end up hardening our heart or humbling us. How true the saying that suffering in life is inevitable, but misery is of our own making. In other words, because of the plan that we all agreed upon in the premortal life, we are going to suffer, whether we want to or not. However, if you can find how to suffer that tribulation in the Redeemer’s name, you will bear it well and perhaps even do it with an understanding, happy heart.

I bear testimony that often, in the midst of suffering trials, afflictions, and discouragement, those very circumstances tutor us in developing increasing love and trust in God. Consequently, what a great blessing those trials are!

Unlike some in the world who do not understand the purposes of suffering, Latter-day Saints, thanks to the Restoration of the gospel, in large measure do understand. Why then do even the righteous suffer?

The Righteous Suffer but the Lord Delivers Them

Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. [Psalm 34:19]

“After Much Tribulation Come the Blessings”

Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter. . . .
For after much tribulation come the blessings. [D&C 58:3–4]
It is interesting to note that there would be even more suffering if it were not for the righteous in the land:
If it were not for the prayers of the righteous, who are now in the land, that ye would even now be visited with utter destruction. . . .
But it is by the prayers of the righteous that ye are spared.[Alma 10:22–23]
Will you, right now, those of you here listening to me, humble your heart and prayerfully consider these additional words I am going to quote from the Lord? Do it with the Spirit, and I am confident that they will humble your heart, strengthen your faith, and increase your love for Him, in spite of some of your current trials. Here are some of the Lord’s answers as to why He allows such suffering.

Suffering Is to Prove Oneself

Therefore, be not afraid of your enemies, . . . I will prove you in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, . . . that you may be found worthy. [D&C 98:14]

Suffering Creates a Witness Against Sin

When the Saints were being cast into the fire in Alma’s day, he said:
And he [the Lord] doth suffer that they may do this thing . . . that . . . the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them. [Alma 14:11]

Suffering Teaches Obedience

And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience, if it must needs be, by the things which they suffer.[D&C 105:6]

Suffering Teaches Patience and Faith

Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith. [Mosiah 23:21]

Suffering Assists One to Repent and Be Forgiven

Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you whom I love, and whom I love I also chasten that their sins may be forgiven, for with the chastisement I prepare a way for their deliverance in all things out of temptation, and I have loved you. [D&C 95:1; emphasis added]
Isn’t it wonderful that the Lord’s motive in allowing suffering truly is love, and He will even prepare a way for our deliverance? Truly He has loved us during these serious trials, in spite of what some may think.
It is evident, brothers and sisters, that the Lord will use tragedy and sorrow to help humble His people and thereby cause them to repent and be saved. Listen carefully to this:He loves you more than your being perfectly happy day by day, and thus He will do what is required to purify you so you can return to Him.

Suffering Can Occur from the Lord Hedging Up Your Way

I will not succor my people in the day of their transgression; but I will hedge up their ways that they prosper not; and their doings shall be as a stumbling block before them. [Mosiah 7:29]

Suffering Brings Forth Righteousness

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth. . . .
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them. [Hebrews 12:6, 11]

Be Patient in Suffering

Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days.[D&C 24:8]
The Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord. [Mosiah 24:15]

Lightening Your Burdens Through Christ

That they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ. [Alma 31:38]
And then may God grant unto you that your burdens may be light, through the joy of his Son. And even all this can ye do if ye will. [Alma 33:23]
Aren’t these profound answers clarifying why the righteous suffer? We, of all people, ought to stand and humbly bear testimony of how God’s great love can be found in the suffering of individuals, as well as of nations, and be able to explain to a large degree why much of that is occurring. Of course, no man knows all the purposes of God, and thus does not fully understand the full purpose of suffering. That is only known by the Lord.
Does the Lord fulfill His promises? He does. Be patient. Wait upon the Lord. He does love us.
Here is another personal example showing the uniqueness of the Lord’s gifts. All of my adult life I have suffered with very difficult health problems, some of which have been life-threatening. What lessons were taught in the process of all those years! I believe they could not have been learned any other way. They have helped me to be more Christlike. Truly the Lord knows the end from the beginning and will tutor, correct, mold, and even refine you in the furnace of affliction. He will do so until He has accomplished His purposes in purifying you, sanctifying you, and helping you draw closer to Him.
These kinds of gifts from the Lord are not always easy to understand, but I count them as priceless gifts to me and my family. One can sense the deep feelings of the Lord when He spoke these words:
For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift. [D&C 88:33]
I pray that the Lord will help us to recognize even these unique gifts of suffering and to always be found giving thanks for them to the Giver of the gifts.

The Lord Sews a Spiritual Tapestry into All Our Lives

How little does man understand the purposes of God! How true these words:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. [Isaiah 55:8]
Great is his wisdom, marvelous are his ways, and the extent of his doings none can find out. [D&C 76:2]
President Thomas S. Monson has spoken recently of “small hinges” upon which the very history of our lives turn (“Choose You This Day,” Ensign, November 2004, 67). A few weeks ago my family and I discussed that thought, and we were deeply humbled to see how the Lord had directed all of our lives.
One married son said, “Had I not been the best man in my older brother’s marriage, I would have missed meeting my future wife.”
His wife responded, “If 15 years earlier my family had not determined to move to Ecuador, where they met your family, they would not have been invited to the reception and thus perhaps I never would have met my husband-to-be.”
How does the Lord sew that kind of life tapestry to bring about such wonderful blessings?
Another son mentioned, “Dad, had you not happened to be assigned to a particular stake conference, you would not have met my future wife and facilitated our meeting one another.”
His wife said, “I just happened to go to that conference, where my father presided that day, instead of my own stake.”
And I must add, how was it that the president of the Quorum of the Twelve happened to assign me to that particular conference that weekend?
My wife and I commented on the fact that had we not felt inspired to move from Arizona to Utah 35 years ago, much of what has just been said would not have happened. We concluded that in many ways our children’s “small hinges” were dependent upon our “small hinges” as their parents.
Of course, as Latter-day Saints we know that all those events are not predestined, but it is the Lord’s loving hand in our lives attempting to bless us with the very best that we can receive.
Add to all of this the times the Lord has used daily experiences to mold your personality, to refine your attributes, to help you be more Christlike. How complex it appears to man. How difficult it would be to influence all within one man’s life in one day, let alone throughout his whole life. Think of the orchestration that is going on among your whole family, the whole community, and the whole world. Could any man ever comprehend the love and works of the Lord? I think not.
Brigham Young once said, “Every trial and experience you have passed through is necessary for your salvation” (JD8:150). How blessed are we, my dear brothers and sisters, to recognize the Lord sewing this spiritual tapestry of our lives to produce a more Christlike individual. I remind you of these words:
Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works. [Jacob 4:10]
Could any man think to counsel the Lord on anything, even having a small view of what has just been described? All of this causes me to feel deeply the need to always pray more fervently for the will of the Lord in my life and, whatever I ask, to be sure to condition it upon His holy, divine, all-knowing will.
How great is the wisdom of God! How great is His love! I stand humbled—in absolute awe of my Heavenly Father, His love for us, and His glorious plan of happiness.

The Lord Will Help Us with Our Suffering

Prayerfully listen to these words:
In all their afflictions he was afflicted. And the angel of his presence saved them; and in his love, and in his pity, he redeemed them, and bore them, and carried them all the days of old. [D&C 133:53]
No trial or suffering will separate us from the love of God, said Paul the Apostle:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . .
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 8:35, 38–39]

Men Can Bring Suffering upon Themselves

We have spoken of the suffering of the righteous—now a word regarding the suffering of the unrighteous. The Lord said:
But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I. [D&C 19:17]
Also, one could surely increase his suffering by not keeping the commandments of the Lord, couldn’t he? The Lord said:
Remember to sin no more, lest perils shall come upon you.[D&C 29:3]
And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him. [Helaman 12:3]
It ought to be easy to see in the case of those who sin that they bring much suffering and misery upon themselves by not keeping the commandments of the Lord. That is unfortunately true of some of us who know better but who are either not keeping the commandments or are just skirting the edges of some.
How many are suffering right now as a result of not keeping the Word of Wisdom—not only physically but spiritually being alienated from the Lord? How many other evil sins—such as robbery, abuse, or immorality—and thereby great suffering, result from someone not obeying the Word of Wisdom?
What great blessings are promised to those who obey the Sabbath day, even “the fulness of the earth” (D&C 59:16; see also verses 15 through 21). What great losses, spiritually and temporally, come our way if we disobey?
What about the suffering that comes from those who do not pay an honest tithe and offering and therefore struggle with debt and financial hardship all the days of their lives?
What about the suffering that results from dishonesty or involvement in risky financial endeavors—even loss of trust, divorce, and imprisonment?
What great chastisement comes to one who disobeys the law of chastity and is involved in immodesty, petting, pornography, and fornication. He loses his faith, loses the Spirit, and even could lose his membership in the kingdom of God.
What suffering comes to one who skips his Church meetings and avoids having a Church calling? He not only loses the opportunity to give needed service but also retards the growth and development of his own soul.
Incorporated in all of the laws of the Lord are blessings that will be yours when you keep them and consequences causing you to suffer when you do not. When we disobey the Lord, we truly learn that “wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10).

A Few Suggestions on Cheerfully Suffering Tribulation in the Redeemer’s Name (D&C 138:13)

1. Keep the commandments of the Lord with exactness. By so doing you will avoid the suffering of the wicked and reap the blessings the Lord has promised to the obedient.
2. Endeavor to see more fully the Lord’s hand in your life and in the lives of those around you. The Lord loves you. Each day He adds to the beautiful spiritual tapestry being sewn of your life, if you allow Him to do so.
3. When faced with adversity, trial, or suffering, do your best to increase your faith in the face of the trial. Many of less faith, when faced with a serious trial, become angry, weaken their faith, and thereby struggle and suffer more. Perhaps the real test of your faith is how to increase your faith and your love when trials come your way.
4. Be patient. Wait on the Lord. Plead fervently for understanding and the ability to endure. Remember, we are not to counsel Him; He will counsel us. Be patient. Trust in Him for that which you do not know, and you will come to know much more. You will feel more profoundly of His personal love for you. Remember the words “even this will pass” and these sacred words: “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
5. Do not be discouraged along the way. My young friends, the devil delights in discouraging people and causing them to feel inadequate, unworthy, unneeded, and unloved. Discouragement is a tool of the devil. He uses much of our suffering and misery to bring about discouragement and thus fulfill his purpose. May I say with a smile: Cheer up, pray, read in the scriptures, bear your testimony, sing, express love to God and to others, serve, obtain a priesthood blessing if need be, and do away with discouragement, the devil’s influence upon you.
6. Humble yourself and repent of your personal sins. Humility before the Lord, a broken heart, and a contrite spirit truly seem to be the offering and sacrifice required of the Lord. The peace of the Spirit will then rest upon you and the love of God will fill your soul.

Final Testimony

Well, brothers and sisters, let us return to where we began: “Where is God in all of the suffering that is going on in the world?” I testify of my certainty of His loving involvement. He uses trying circumstances for His purposes to develop true disciples of Christ, even a Zion people.
I express gratitude for the Lord’s hand upon me through the years. He has answered all of my prayers—even though at times I had no idea what His purpose was, nor perhaps still do. He has blessed me with many wonderful days—more of those than of difficult days of suffering and despair. And yet even in those difficult days I have felt the Lord reach out to me, felt the darkness disperse, and felt His personal love fill my very soul.
I bear witness that He is a God of love. He does love His children in spite of what many in the world may think. I bear testimony that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is sufficient for all men.
May God bless us to be more humble, more repentant, more filled with faith, more trusting, and more loving to one another and to Him. This is His work. This is the true Church of Jesus Christ. The Church and the fullness of the gospel have been restored.
Living apostles and prophets of the Lord Jesus Christ walk the earth in our day. Of these things I humbly bear testimony, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Gene R. Cook was a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when this address was delivered on 1 February 2005.

From the Kitchen:

Yogurt Ice Cream

1 quart yogurt (use vanilla)
 1 large jar marshmallow cream and 1 bag of frozen berries (we used raspberries.)  Put it in your ice cream freezer and freeze.  Creamy!

And don't you just LOVE the color pink?????   I do!!!!

From the Schmidt's:

I've come to realize that there is a reason my life is so busy these day.  There is something to be said for going non-stop from the moment your feet hit the floor in the morning to the moment your head hits the pillow at night.  That something is that I literally do not have time to sit and let fear, doubt, anxiety, or whatever, creep in.  There just isn't time in my day for any of that.  Sure, I have been able to find a few (very small) little moments to reflect, but for the most part, I haven't.  I think that is a blessing in disguise.  My Heavenly Father is just going to keep me on my toes so I do not dwell on anything that Kevin is going through for too long.  Kevin is experiencing the same kind of thing.  He is so busy each and every day with his therapy he hasn't had much time to reflect either.  The trick for all of us is going to be learning to keep this up after Kevin returns home from the hospital.  

The Lord knows what he is doing, doesn't he?

Kyle didn't sleep at all last night.  He had his second interview with one of the police departments today.  He just couldn't fall asleep he said.  He took me to work so he could make it to his appointment.  Kyle said he felt that the interview went well.  He was proud of himself for showing up in a suit and for the answers he gave to all of the questions he was asked.  He said one of the questions was about diversity.  He used his mission as an example of how he dealt with diversity.  You see, Kyle served his mission in Washington DC and came in contact with people from over 100 different countries and many different languages. Kyle said as missionaries they took the time to get to know certain greetings, and phrases in many different languages so they could, at least, start a conversation with these people.  He said the people he came in contact with appreciated the fact that these young men took the time to get to know their language and a little bit about their culture in order to be able to talk to them.  It helped the people to appreciate the missionaries more, which opened doors and they were able to form lasting relationships with these people.  Kyle said one of the interviewers sat right in front of him and he could see the scores being given for his answers.  All in all, Kyle came away feeling good about the interview and the answers he gave and that is a good thing.  Time will tell....

Danielle is getting ready to leave for Montana with her boyfriend in a couple of weeks.  She was going to stay with the Bishop in the area, but those plans fell through.  The Bishop has company coming from out of town.  So, now the boyfriend will have to stay some place else so Danielle can stay with her boyfriends parents.  I LOVE that they are concerned about the appearance of how it looks if they all stayed under the same roof.  I told Danielle that is a good thing!  Chance's parents are determined.  I guess Chance's parents live in a small town in Montana and people talk, and they do not want there to be any reason for any talk about Chance and their future daughter-in-law.  I love that!  Chance and Danielle are flying to Montana, so it will be a little less than a 2 hour flight.  It will be good for Danielle to get to know Chance's family more, as well as his friends and ward.  I hear Montana is absolutely beautiful.  I told Danielle to take lots of pictures too.  I wish I could go.  LOL!  Like Danielle needs her mother to go with her.  NOT!

Lexi is feeling better today.  She ventured outside today with Kyle, which is awesome.  No more stomach stuff for her.  Thank goodness!  Kyle was going to take her to get registered for school at Mesa High today, but both of them fell asleep this afternoon.  In fact, no one came to pick me up this afternoon and I had to call their cellphones several times to get them to get up and head over to get me.  I can't get upset with them.  I know Kyle was tired.  And besides, Kyle tells a story when he worked the night shift in Phoenix before his mission and I never went to pick him up when he got off work.  You see, I fell asleep and my cellphone was turned off, so I never got the call.  Needless to say, Kyle was walking the streets of Phoenix in the middle of the night on a cold winter night.  In fact, he was in one of the worst parts of Phoenix right there by the airport too.  He had to call his girlfriend to come and get him.  When she got to him he was at 32nd Street and McDowell.  I guess he thought he would walk to my work so I could at least give him the car when I went in to work.  Crazy kid!  Hence the reason I cannot be too upset for him leaving me stranded today.  At least it was daylight out and I was in the building at work.  To this day I do not know why he left work to walk through the streets of Phoenix.  I will never live it down!

Kevin is in good spirits today.  We only talked briefly today because I was busy cleaning up things at work, and he was busy with all of his therapy sessions.  We didn't go see him tonight, but we will tomorrow.  We are all worn out and need one day off.  It's sad but true.  The three of us will go see him tomorrow.  

I still have my homework to get done.  I think it will have to wait until the weekend.  I need to find a tape measure first.  We need to do some other things around the house too.  Move furniture in my bedroom and a few other places.  Lots to do!

Happy Friday Eve!!!
Work was a lot better today.  No extra conference calls or meetings to deal with, and everything else was a lot more mild.  Thank goodness!  My eyes appreciate that.  They are less red today.  Thank goodness!  Tomorrow is going to be a little more crazy again.  We have another person out of the office and that always makes things a little busier.  I mentioned yesterday that we were getting some crazy questions from people.  I think the best phone call came from someone who was trying to reach Macy's Department Stores.  LOL!  We use to get someone calling customer service for a GPS device they had.  That was fun.  There were other questions, but I better not go there.  They brought us ice-cream today, which was perfectly wonderful!  Dairy Queen Blizzards for everyone on our floor.  That means, over 200 people.  (there are a total of 2500 in our building )  ~smile~smile~

I hope your day was awesome and filled with lots exciting things and that the people you were with were fun too.  We all need a little more fun and laughter in our lives, don't we?  Well, I should go.  Lexi wants me to teach her to sew in one night.  Ha Ha!  Wish us luck. The way the eyes are working I will be lucky if I can find the eye of the needle for her.  I know, I should wear my glasses more often.  I'm getting better, I promise.  

You take care, and we will talk soon.  
From the Missionary:

Hey Everybody,

How are you all doing?  This week was pretty fun, we had a zone training with President Smith and discussed Joseph Smith's first vision.  It's cool to see all the things that can be pulled out of the scriptures every time you read them.  We also had interviews with President.  It's crazy how well he knows everyone already.  He is super calm about everything.  At the end of the interview he said anytime Elder Holtom and I wanted to, that we can go up to the mission home and hang out and talk with him to get to know each other better.  We probably won't do that, but the invitation was still cool.  Anyways, we are trying to meet with a family recently who has two sons who want to be baptized.  We haven't met them but we have heard that they are super prepared.  It is going to be awesome if we can meet with them.  Besides them we have been doing a lot of look ups and member lessons that have actually been going very well.  Today we are unsure of what to do for P-day since it is so hot outside.  Some Elders are going to Rucker Park, so that might be the thing we do too, but we will see.  Anyways, have a good week everyone.  Bye :)


Elder Schmidt

Sent from my iPad

Here is a little information about the Park Curtis mentioned in his letter

Rucker Park is a basketball court in Harlem, Manhattan, New York City, at 155th Street and Frederick Douglass Blvd across the street from the former Polo Grounds site, it is geographically at the base of a large cliff named Coogan's Bluff.  Many who played at the park in the Rucker Tournament achieved a level of fame for their abilities, and several have gone on to play in the NBA. 

Although many professional basketball players have played at the court after gaining prominence, many others developed their basketball skills at Rucker prior to becoming notable in the sport, including:  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Rafer Alston, Kenny Anderson, Nate Archibald, Ron Artest, Sylvester Blye, Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, Wilt Chamberlain, Julius "Dr. J" Erving, Connie Hawkins, Kyrie Irving, Allen Iverson, Jumpin Jackie Jackson, LeBron James, Earl Manigault, Stephon Marbury, Jamal Mashburn, Earl Monroe, Chris Mullin,  Joakim Noah, Satch Sanders, Lance Stephenson, Sebastian Telfair, Jamaal Tinsley, and Kevin Durant.

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