Sunday, December 27, 2015

Two Roads Diverged

This morning, for whatever reason, the poem "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost filled my mind and wouldn't let go until I read through it again.

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I first read and memorized it back in middle school for a school assignment. Even then, the meaning behind the words resonated deep within. I've often taken the road less traveled. My choices have yielded both bad and good consequences. For the most part, I have few regrets.

We're often confronted with choices in life. Some seem as similar as the two roads described in the poem, with very little to distinguish them other than a fair bit of grass. Other times, the roads are as different as night and day. There are times the poor road - filled with potholes and detours - is obvious. And other times, it looks just like the good road.

As we follow Christ and listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, signposts are clear to see and our choices are made easy. They are like a spiritual GPS in the road of life, helping us to our final destination.

When we choose to ignore the signs provided, we often find ourselves in dark and dreary places, far from home. However, we can choose to change our direction once again and make our way back to our preferred route. Forgiveness is simply finding a new path.

Be careful in your choices. Look for the signposts and seek for the paths that will lead you back to our Heavenly Father. For the road we take truly makes a difference.

Believe is a verb. A verb is an action. Therefore, to believe is to ACT.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Parable of the Christmas Elf

The Parable of the Christmas Elf -
Last Friday, I dressed up like an elf for an assembly at my son's school. I took extra pains to curl my hair, wear extra makeup, and dress in clothing appropriate for one of Santa's elves. It was all so the kids I saw almost every single day during traffic control wouldn't recognize me. I also relied on the fact I wasn't wearing my bright orange vest with "Miss Melissa" on the back to aid in my deception.

During the performance, where I recited "A Visit From St. Nicholas" and read "The True Story of Santa Claus", the kids were riveted, more focused on the words than me. But when I visited each classroom to deliver treats, a few of the children started to call me out.

"I know who you are," a little girl said with a sly grin. I waved her away with a quiet shush, not wanting to ruin it for the other kids.

"Hey, I know you!" a little boy cried out. I ignored him and jingled my way out of the classroom (my shoes and mittens had jingle bells).

The longer I stayed, the more children began to recognize me for who I truly was. The crowning moment was when I stayed to help with traffic control in the afternoon - still decked out in elfish attire. The excited children swarmed me and peppered me with questions. When was Santa coming to pick me up? What time was I going back to the North Pole?

"Wait," an older boy said, peering under my elf hat. "I recognize you! You're Miss Melissa!"

Nothing I said or did could persuade him otherwise. Nor would he stop announcing it for all to hear. I was found out and outed. Not all the glitter and sparkles in the world could hide who I really was.

In life, we often put on disguises for others to see - masquerading as something we're not to fool people we want to impress. Perhaps we're hoping to be seen as 'cooler' than we are. Or smarter. Or more trendy.

No matter what we do, these disguises won't last. First one person will see through your carefully crafted mask. Then another. And another.

Eventually, you, too, will be outed and shown for who you really are.

Christ never pretended to be something He wasn't. He came to earth a newborn babe in the lowliest of circumstances. Many saw Him merely as the son of a carpenter from Nazareth. But those who looked, who truly saw Him for who He was, knew Him to be the Only Begotten Son of the Most High. His glory shall reign forever!

So this Christmas season, remember who you are. You are a son or daughter of God, sent to earth to become something great and amazing. To follow in Christ's footsteps and gain eternal glory.

All you have to do is believe.

Believe is a verb. A verb is an action. Therefore, to believe is to ACT.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Parable of the Crossing Guard

When I began this blog some time ago, I wasn't sure which direction I wanted to take it. I knew it would focus on belief and acting upon that belief, but that was about it. The other day, though, I remembered something I've wanted to do for some time. Something that has been nagging at my subconscious for years.


I love parables. My being a writer may have something to do with that. It seems to me a concept taught through a story has a longer lasting impact than one simply stated.

Which is why I'll introduce a new parable each week. Last week was "The Parable of the Bloody Nose". It was a fitting kickoff to this new series of posts. I've received a lot of good feedback on it, reaffirming what I believe to be the Spirit's influence to take my blog in this direction.

Without any further ado, I present this week's parable.

I work as a traffic control volunteer at my son's school - a.k.a. crossing guard. We have some rules we ask parents to follow while dropping off and picking up their children from school. The rules are simple and resonate with common sense.

  • Pull forward.
  • Stay in your vehicle while in the drop-off/pick-up zone.
  • No cell phone use during drop-off/pick-up times.
  • Please buckle up your children before leaving school grounds.
Most parents abide by these rules. They understand the rules are there for their safety and the safety of their children. Occasionally, a parent or grandparent needs a gentle reminder. They're usually repentant and quickly mend their ways.

Sometimes a parent becomes indignant and refuses to comply. Inevitably, these individuals meet with unfortunate consequences - fender bender in the parking lot, interference from school administration or even police, etc. All because of their continued refusal to abide by the simple rules set for them.

In our lives, we are provided with spiritual "crossing guards" who seek to keep us safe. They encourage us to follow simple rules to keep us spiritually sound.
  • Pray always.
  • Study the scriptures.
  • Keep the commandments.
  • Follow the prophets.
Most members of the LDS faith abide by these commandments, for we know they're there to ensure our eternal progression help us achieve eternal life. Occasionally, we need a gentle reminder to get us back on track. We are repentant and quickly mend our ways.

Sometimes, however, we become indignant and refuse to comply. Our spiritual complacency allows for unfortunate consequences - falling away from the church, detrimental influence from the adversary, etc. All because of our continued refusal to abide by the simple commandments set for us.

Let us always be vigilant and abide by the commandments our Lord and Savior has given us, for He has given us a way to safely navigate this life so we may someday return to Him and live eternally in His presence. It may not always be easy. We may not always like it, but He knows what's best for us. He only wants to see us safely home.

We must simply believe.

Believe is a verb. A verb is an action. Therefore, to believe is to ACT.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Parable of the Bloody Nose

My 4yo son is prone to frequent bloody noses, often in the middle of the night. When this happens, my husband and I are aroused from our peaceful slumber by a small knock at our bedroom door and a distressed cry. 

"I have a bloody nose!" 

One or both of us will get up and help our poor son so we can all get back to sleep. Sometimes, all that is needed is a tissue and a little patience. Other times, a full-on shower and change of bedding is in order. But no matter what, we're there for him until the bleeding stops.

Every so often, our son doesn't knock. He screams and cries and pushes us away. He thrashes about as we attempt to hold a tissue to his nose, causing the blood to flow faster and longer, turning a mild issue into a grueling ordeal and leaving behind a bloody mess.

As children of our Heavenly Father, we often have unexpected troubles arise - not unlike my son's bloody noses. As we struggle, we cry out to our Father in Heaven, begging for His help to stem the flow of trials. Sometimes our problems are easily solved with prayer and a little patience and we're able to return to the relative peace of our lives.

Other times, our trials are more difficult and involve greater effort, more "clean up" to make things right. No matter what, our Father is there, helping us until our trials subside.

Every so often, we try to brave our storms alone. We fight our Heavenly Father and push away His efforts, insistent on bemoaning our fate instead of allowing our God in Heaven - all-knowing and all-powerful - to help. Our trials seem to increase and multiply and what could have been a simple fix turns into a drawn-out ordeal, leaving behind a chaotic mess.

Just as my husband and I know whats best for our son, our Heavenly Father knows what's best for us. In His infinite wisdom, He knows how to help us if only we would allow Him to help. All we have to do is go to Him in humble prayer and say, "Father, I have a problem! Please, help me."

Because of the great love He has for us, Heavenly Father will come to our aid. Perhaps not in the way we think or hope he will, but He will come. All we must do is believe.

Believe is a verb. A verb is an action. Therefore, to believe is to act.