Saturday, January 20, 2018

Just Be Happy Today by Jana Eisley

So, My Birthday was an Ordinary Tuesday...

It's been a season of birthdays at our house. I always struggle with birthdays. I'm not great at giving gifts, I'm not the best at throwing parties, but I do try to make each person feel special on their birthday. We sing, we cook favorite foods, we wrap up little (usually edible) surprises, we give lots of hugs, we write lots of love notes, we have cake and ice cream, and everyone is super nice to you because it's your birthday. 

It's tradition.

It's true, I'm a grown up. I have been for quite a few years now, and sometimes I can't even remember how old I am, but I also have a birthday. Being a grown up means that often, birthdays aren't that exciting, but we can still hope, right?

I guess I'm a bit predictable, because when my kids asked me what I wanted for my birthday they also said "AND DON'T SAY A CLEAN HOUSE AND HAPPY KIDS!" But really, seriously, that is what I want! What could make a mom happier than a clean house and happy kids! I don't need expensive gadgets or fancy perfume. I don't need jewelry or days at the spa. (I can always use some chocolate though.) All I really want is a day of blissful peace, when the house isn't an obstacle course and everyone is kind to each other. Is that really too much to ask?

So I woke up that morning and it's my Birthday. It's a normal Tuesday. My husband is working. He's up and gone before I even stir. I've been through this before, so I know what today will be like. I know last nights dirty dishes are still in the sink. I know that the laundry is still piled up by the washer. I know that I will have to be chauffeur, chef, teacher, nurse, and mommy, just like every other day. I know that there is no one else coming to my rescue today. I don't mean to make it sound like my life is awful, it isn't, I'm living the dream, but today is My Birthday, and I can't help but wish for something different. 

But then, I make a decision. Today something will be different. Today, I will be different. Today, My Birthday, I will choose to be happy. I choose to have a good day, no matter what.

So, I did.

I still washed all the dishes, moved on the laundry, cooked, cleaned, taught and bandaged scraped knees, but I did it all while being happy. And because of that many special moments of Birthday Greatness stand out. 

I found a note from my husband on the bathroom mirror. "Happy Birthday Jana!" Awww! My kids made me (burnt) toast. Lol! My sisters texted me, and I got a special call from some family singing me "Happy Birthday" which was a highlight because my niece told me I could be anything I wanted for Halloween! That's good to know! I got so many pictures and love letters... and I even had a few friends drop things by. Because I decided to be happy each little moment of love expressed seemed to have a greater impact. I felt loved and supported. 

I still made my own dinner, and it was a favorite of mine. I still haven't made my cake because I was too tired to do it that day, (though my kids want you to know that they made cupcakes the day before) and anyway I got enough chocolate to sugar me up for a few weeks. I guess the moral of the story is that, well, I had a good birthday, even though it was just an Ordinary Tuesday. And it made me wonder... could every day be like that? Could I really just decide to be happy? Is it really that simple? I think maybe it is. After all "Men (and women) are that they might have joy"  Isn't that why God put us here? So for now I will take my mantra off of  the mug my sister got me for my birthday... (even though it hasn't arrived in the mail yet)

 "I Think I'll Just Be Happy Today"

Sunday, January 7, 2018

90 is greater than 100 by Celeste Crandell

Many aspects of the teachings of Christ can bring peace and protection. I feel that paying a full tithe has truly blessed my family and given me peace in times that could have been overwhelmingly stressful. 

Before moving to Saint Johns, my husband, Oman, worked for Catalyst at the paper mill outside of Heber. We had lived in Heber since 1992, but knew we would probably have to move in order for Oman to find employment after we found out the mill would be closing down.

Oman began applying for jobs almost immediately, but with no real success. We were, of course, nervous for our family of eight to loose our income and health insurance. Miraculously, Oman was one of the six men asked to stay and continue employment for five months after the mill closed. This was a great blessing, as we had two children serving in the mission field and we were concerned about continuing to support them financially. As the time came and Oman no longer had a job he continued to be blessed with work. A plumbing contractor needed his help on a big job for several months. Then he found work in New Mexico. He took the job temporarily, until he could find permanent work with benefits. He was getting discouraged as he continued to interview, but without positive results. During this time we were fasting and praying we would find work where the Lord wanted our family. We continued to pay our tithes and I remained surprisingly calm and assured all would be well. As I look back on this time I am amazed that I wasn't freaking out and I truly feel I was blessed to be a calm in our family's storm.

President Henry B. Eyring taught, "By our decision now to be a full-time payer and our steady efforts to obey, we will be strengthened in our faith and, in time, our hearts will be softened. It is that change in our hearts through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, beyond the offering of our money or goods, that makes it possible for the Lord to promise full-tithe payers protection in the last days (see D&C 64:23). We can have confidence that we will qualify for that blessing of protection if we commit now to pay a full tithe and are steady in doing it."

A saying of Getulio Walter Jagher e Silva that he shared in the December 2017 Ensign has become a favorite. He wrote, "I like to say that the law of tithing is contrary to mathematics because 90 will be greater than 100. As we give the Lord 10 percent of our income, He promises to "open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (Malachi 3:10)."

I truly feel 90 was greater than 100 at that time in our lives and I believe my faith was increased and I was blessed with a peace that only the Savior can fully offer. It was not a worldly peace, but an indescribable feeling that all would be well and it was.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Unseen Gifts by Riley Raban

I have recently returned from a mission in El Salvador in Central America. So this is the first Christmas that I have spent with my family in two years. My outlook on Christmas has changed so much over these two short years. Before, I was only excited about Christmas for reasons such as the presents, snow, or maybe even just the chance to get out of school. I remember counting down the days and wondering what brightly wrapped present I was going to get. It truly was an exciting time.

In El Salvador it wasn’t quite like that. I remember walking through the streets on Christmas Day and feeling almost no Christmas spirit. There were no lights, no snow, and not even any Christmas trees or presents. I thought these people don’t understand how Christmas really should be, they don’t even know what Christmas is. I remember feeling sad that first Christmas away from home. As I prayed that night, I remember feeling an overwhelming love for the Savior and also my family. I had realized that really the thing that was most special about Christmas was the opportunity to be with my family. All gathered around laughing and sharing memories. I realized the truthfulness of the Grinch’s realization that, “maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe perhaps it means a little more.” The greatest gifts we get at Christmas aren’t seen.

The greatest gift is our Savior Jesus Christ because thanks to him we have the amazing Plan of Salvation, that enables us to be together forever with our families. It’s such an amazing gift that I never appreciated until I was separated from them. As we taught people that December we focused on the Savior and his wonderful plan. It gave people hope to find out that they could be with their families forever, and they could live again with him one day. The joy of Christmas is so much more than opening a box. The joy of Christmas comes from knowing that thanks to Jesus Christ, we can all be eternally happy with our families.

I know that Jesus lives, I know that through his Atonement we can be forgiven of our sins and saved. I know that families are essential in the plan of salvation and that He is the gift.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Repost: What Can I Give? by Virgene Silvers

I have a vivid memory of the night I graduated from St Johns High School.  My classmates and I gathered outside on the front steps leading in to the school.  The school auditorium was filled to capacity, brimming over with townsfolk who’d come to celebrate with us.  We were decked out in traditional white and red graduation robes, making last minute preparations for “Pomp & Circumstance,” the Processional March.  I was anxious and ready to get this over with so I could move on.  I blurted out, “I can hardly wait to graduate and get out of this town!”  Mr. Sam Udall, school principal, turned around and said to me, “The day will come when you will regret those words.  You will come to love St Johns and appreciate what you learned here.”  He was right; boy was he right!

It took me a while to know Mr. Udall was right.  I made a lot of mistakes.  I was a bit arrogant and worldly.  It was after the birth of my children and the deep appreciation of motherhood that I came to my knees.  I thought of the wonderful mothers of my childhood.  I knew a big change was needed.  My thoughts and heart turned home: to St Johns, my parents, teachers, and friends; the lessons learned, the principles and values taught, and, above all, a town where family and faith is paramount.  Though difficult and fraught with highs and lows, the move to St Johns with my children was a blessing.  I’m deeply grateful for those parents, friends, and teachers who helped raise Renee’ and Jason.
This brief glimpse into days’ past is to acknowledge how much friends and family of St. Johns, my hometown, have given me.  I’ve received gifts of example, love, friendship, acceptance, and employment.  I HAVE been given much.  But, the ultimate gifts are repentance, forgiveness, the knowledge of Jesus Christ, my elder brother, the Light and Savior of the world and his atoning sacrifice for me.
The last ten weeks I’ve spent associating with a diversified group of our community: young and old, of every religion and station of life.  What a wonderful privilege to share our common belief in Jesus Christ and celebrate his birth through camaraderie and beautiful music!  Making friends by singing in a community choir is an exceptional way to get to know and love thy neighbor.

I go outside at night and look upward to Heavenly skies and see the stars over our blessed little town so quiet and peaceful.   I can see over the little village and enjoy the Christmas lights twinkling on decorated homes and down “Main Street.”  I can envision the angels singing as the world in solemn stillness lay, when the time foretold came, Christ is born of Mary, a babe in a lowly manger.  HE is the gift.

We are all God’s children, brothers and sisters.  May we continue to serve and love one another.  Jesus Christ has shown us the way.  We have a perfect pattern to follow.  He is our Savior and Redeemer.  Peace on earth and good will toward all men.  Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Light the World by Suzanne Hancock

Last year when the LDS church announced its Light the World initiative, I was gung-ho and ready to go. I made sure that I participated each day, shared my experiences on social media, and hash tagged each post #LightTheWorld, just as instructed on and I felt the Spirit, I drew closer to my Savior and to my fellow men/women, and I was so grateful for the church's revelation of this Christ-centered countdown. I felt Christmas like I hadn't in awhile.

You would think I would come out guns-a-blazin' again this year, with the 2nd year of Light the World happening now. Well, it hasn't happened.

I did the first three days, and I was feeling the warmth and glow of the season once again. Then day four came, and I got busy. I thought about what to do, but I didn't do it. Day five came, and again my thoughts didn't turn to action. Day six, day seven, and all the way now to day 16, and I have failed. I look each day, but I haven't fully participated. With guilt abounding in my heart and mind, I tried to figure out what had happened to me. Why had I let all these days go by without doing something that I know would help me feel the true spirit of the season?

The answer slapped me in the face. How could I light the world when my own light was dimmed?

In The Forgotten Carols by Michael McLean, one song's lyrics spoke to my heart this year.
Somewhere beneath the glitter
That comes this time of winter
In many souls there is a cry
They may not clearly say it
But in their hearts they pray it
And you can see it in their eyes

'I cannot find my way
I cannot find my way
I cannot find my way at all
There are so many voices
So many different choices,
I cannot find my way at all.'

This is exactly how I was feeling. Many of us have been there. We go through the motions of the church. We do our callings. We go to church. We have family prayer. Yet we may still feel lost.

When I went back and reviewed the missed days, my OCD self thought I needed to play catch-up and do them all. Really, I am still struggling not to do this. However, I started to contemplate each day of the initiative, and I realized that each day had provided me with an opportunity to see that day's purpose in action.

I sang "We sing Hallelujah" with neighbors at a Fine Arts event. I felt my mom watching over me the next day. I had a friend teach me about looking at others through forgiving and loving eyes. I walked down and met my sweet son after school, and we walked and talked back home. My husband prayed for people who are suffering from sickness, grief, and loss. Each day something happened that correlated with the Light the World calendar.

When my light wasn't feeling like shining, the Lord sent me the light of others to help me see His hand in all things. He knows I wanted to participate fully in this wonderful initiative. He knows that I am struggling in ways that may not be seen by the eyes of the world. He knows that my heart feels a little lost right now.

Yet He is still there. Always there. Ever shining His light for me. For you. For all of us. He knows that I will find my way back, and, until then, He will give me a way to see the light in the world all around me.

That song continues and finishes with this comforting knowledge:

There were three kings
Who followed the star
Of Bethlehem
They came from afar
To praise and honor Him
His light
which beckoned them to see
The Lord of Man
It calls to you,
It calls to me

We're not alone,
We have a star
And it shines today
The love that He gave
Teaches how
And shows the way
That light,
it's clear to see
If we have faith and believe
Three kings found the Lord
And so can we.

And if you've lost your way,
That light burns bright today
And it will shine eternally
Three kings found the Lord
And so can we

'Lord help us find the way
We need to find the way
Lord help us find the way back home'
Three kings found the Lord
And so can we
'Lord help us find the way
We need to find the way
Lord help us find the way back home'
Three kings found the Lord
And so can we
'Lord help us find the way
We need to find the way
Lord help us find the way back home
Lord help us find the way
We need to find the way
Lord help us find the way back home'
And so must we!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

How did you end up here? by LeRoy NoskerTanner

“What brought you to St. Johns?” or “How did you end up here?” are both questions that I hear on a regular basis.  Growing up in a village (yes, that’s officially what it is) in the Midwest, I never thought I would end up here either.  I also while growing up never thought I’d choose the career I’m in, but here I am.
With the benefit of hindsight, it’s not difficult to see all the little things that have led you to where you are now, but when you’re in the moment, things can seem uncertain or even frightening.  The writer of Proverbs said, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”  He knows the end from the beginning, and He can and will guide us if we seek his guidance.

The Maori of New Zealand have a saying, “Ka mura, ka muri.”  It means we all walk backwards into the future.  We can clearly see the past behind us, but the direction we travel is still unknown.  Nephi said, “And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.”  There are so many things in life beyond our control, but one thing we have is our ability to choose for ourselves what we will do.  That includes the opportunity, scary as it may be, to let the Lord lead our course.  We can strive to follow the Savior’s example by saying, “Thy will, not mine, be done.”

That’s hard.  No likes to feel out of control, and it takes real faith- trust and hope for things we have yet to see- to let God be at the helm of our lives.  Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles once said, “to take one’s agency, that precious gift which the scriptures make plain is essential to life itself, and say, ‘I will do as you direct,’ is afterwards to learn that in so doing you possess it all the more.”

I’m here because I’ve tried to do that.  There have been many times along the way (and probably will be some yet to come) when I have wondered, “What am I doing here?” or “Why did you tell me to go here Lord?”  I have learned that with patience, we should “stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord”.  It took 3 years for my wife and I to be able to see clearly all that the Lord intended in prompting us to move here.  I can promise you, that if you will trust the Lord and seek His guidance in directing your life, then He will prompt you through the Holy Ghost to know what to do as you take decisions to him in faith.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Angels in Service by Velvet Nielsen

I love living in St. Johns because of the good people here. So often others have been angels when I needed help. 

When I was pregnant with Josi I had been on bed rest for two months for toxemia and was in a mess. Some lovely women came to my home when I went to the hospital and cleaned and organized and decorated my home. I came back with my new baby to a place of order and peace.

Many times we have had good neighbors help us with hay. This fall Bishop Hancock, along with Delton and Jared, stopped to help Vanden and the boys get the hay off the field. I love the people here.

Mosiah Chapter 18, verses 8 and 9:
And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—