Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Making Bread

I'm making rolls today.  I haven't done much bread making at all ever since the house fire.  Life just started getting very busy and occupied with other good things.
But L. loves orange rolls.  And I love L.  And his cousin gave us a recipe he loves.  So I'm making rolls today and listening to music as I go.

I had forgotten how much I enjoy the process of making bread.  The focus, the slower pace, the hands on, the watching it come together.
It's good to be reminded

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Saviors on Mount Zion Parents

Sometimes people look at my little family and make some comment about our children growing up to be "good people" and say how impressed they are and act like they really respect me and L for raising them well.  They don't know that our kids were pretty easy kids to raise.  We got a pretty mild version of the childraising challenge as L. and I were both raised by generally reasonable parents who modeled some good parenting skills and our children were intrinsically pretty reasonable people from the get go.  Though the parenting we did was tiring and challenging and gave us many opportunities to develop creative solutions it was not outside the realm of normal, and the respect that we are occasionally shown for raising "good kids" is far out of proportion to the work we did.

The parents that get my deepest respect are the "saviors on Mount Zion" parents.  I have known and loved some of them during my lifetime.  They are amazing.  Really, truly, knock-my-socks-off amazing.  When I am with them I understand clearly that I am in the presence of giants and am way out of my league.  Though they often doubt their value and definitely don't think they are anything special, they ARE.

 Carlfred Broderick, in his essay, "Having Gifts Differering" articulates pretty well the process of discovering "savior in Mount Zion" parents and what an amazing experience it is when you realize who and what they really are.

So rather than describe that myself, I'll post excerpts from Broderick's essay below.  Enjoy.

"The term 'savior on Mount Zion' is ordinarily reserved for those engaged in vicarious work for the dead.  Truly, Saints who selflessly devote themselves to genealogical and temple work deserve the title...

"But I believe that the term might also be applied to another group of Saints.  These having been called to sacrifice for the sake of saving the living, often of their own household.

"I first began to think in these terms as a result of counseling two women who had hard life assignments....
"The first [insert story of a woman who chose to marry a man who turned into a philandering jerk and encouraged irresponsible behavior in their teenage children who, understandably, responded well to that encouragement].

"I watched this good sister struggle with her rebellious family over the years, and I am ashamed to admit that I had sometimes judged her harshly.  For example, if she had asked my opinion...I could have told her before she married him that her husband-to-be was more committed to her than to the gospel.  Also I felt that she had been overly permissive with her children.  In short, I self-righteously  judged that if she had made better choices (as I had, for example) her life would have turned out better (as mine had, for example).

"It eventually became necessary to excommunicate her husband, and in agony of spirit she asked me, her stake president, for a blessing...

"In that blessing I learned a few things that even now make me burn with shame for my earlier spiritual arrogance toward that sister.  The Lord told her that  she was a valiant spirit in the premortal existence who had volunteered for hazardous duty on earth.  Not for her was the  relative ease of rearing naturally obedient children.  She had (perhaps rashly) volunteered to live her life in the front lines, as it were, of the continuing battle for men's souls.  Twice, the Lord continued, she had been given the option of an honorable release from this difficult assignment. (After the blessing she confirmed this). Twice she had been on the operating table at death's door and was given the free option of coming home or going back to face her challenges.  Twice she had squared her shoulders and returned to her difficult family...

"When I took my hands off her head I bowed my head in shame, realizing that I stood in the presence of one of the Lord's great ones, truly a savior on Mount Zion. True to her promise, she is succeeding against all odds in her mission....

"The other case involved a man who came from a background and [his] wife...  Together they were  rearing a quartet of healthy young boys.  The problem [we were addressing] was the wife's recurrent bouts with anxiety and depression.  We got into her background and discovered that she had been raised by an abusive, alcoholic father and a neurotically sick mother who stayed in bed all the time and let her little girl do all of the cooking and cleaning.  She confessed that she was full of rage at her parents for so badly abusing her and full of envy for others who had experienced a normal, loving, family relationship.  She said that on several occasions when she had seen little girls being hugged and kissed by their loving fathers in Church she had to get up and leave.  'The Lord knew what he was doing,' she [said] 'when he sent me only boys to raise.  Girls would have been too hard.'

"Then she turned to me and said, 'Where is the justice? How can God pretend to be just and send some little girls into homes where they are loved and petted and made to feel like somebody and others into homes where they are beat and molested and abused and neglected?  What did I do ... to deserve such a family?

"I felt inspired at that time to tell her that [in truth] she had volunteered in the preexistence to be a savior on Mount Zion, to come to a family drowning in sickness and sin and to be the means of purifying that lineage.  Before her in that line were generations of ugly, destructive, family relationships.  Downstream from her purifying influence ever generation would be blessed with light and love.  The role of savior, I said, is to suffer innocently for the sins of others that still others may not suffer.  

"There can be no higher calling."

As I said, if you know one of these parents, you know someone who receives my deepest respect and admiration.  I am always humbled and in awe when I come to know them and understand who they are, what their work is, and what they are doing.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Exercising Faith When Doing So Also Puts You in a Place That Includes Pain or Sorrow

Faith in God, the first principle of the gospel, is not knowledge.  "Faith really is enduring to the end in the face of not knowing or experiencing confirmation" * before OR after you act on that faith.

Acting with faith in God is easiest if the thing you feel God calling you to do looks logical and good and pleasurable and is intrinsically so when you do it.  It is harder when the thing you are called to do looks hard, but as you struggle through it you find intrinsic goodness in it.  It is hardest when it looks hard and it is painful to go through and you feel exhausted and drained and beaten for as long as you do it.

Singing well in a really good choir or acting in a fun church skit might be an example of the first.  Teaching a class of students who you find challenging or raising rambunctious children may be an example of the second.  Gethsemane and Golgatha are the ultimate examples of the third.

We tend to talk more about the first and second kinds of moving forward with faith.  We don't talk much about the reality of the way that third kind plays out in many lives.  Perhaps it is because of the belief that "righteousness brings happiness" or our strong inclination to celebrate joy.  But the fact remains, as Jesus' experience bears witness, sometimes acting on faith involves experiences that are extremely painful, that do not seem to offer any relief as we go through them, and that others who watch us as we act upon that faith will view as a pointless tragedy and as a result will counsel us to avoid doing what we feel called to do.

Jesus life and the life of his early apostles contain examples of all three kinds of faith experiences, including the one that teaches us that sometimes living by faith involves experiencing something that reminds us of Gethsemane or Golgatha.

Thanks to D. for his post who reminded me of this.

*You can read D's post HERE