Sunday, January 31, 2016

Snowflakes



While I'm not loving the slushy mess outside that is our current snow situation, I am completely and totally fascinated with snowflakes. I love seeing them float lazily down from the sky and land on my car - a perfect six-sided figure of little more than ice. The symmetry and elegance is unparalleled. Due to natural forces I don't fully understand, every snowflake forms in much the same way.
"A snowflake begins to form when an extremely cold water droplet freezes onto a pollen or dust particle in the sky. This creates an ice crystal. As the ice crystal falls to the ground, water vapor freezes onto the primary crystal, building new crystals - the six arms of the snowflake." (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  http://www.noaa.gov/features/02_monitoring/snowflakes.html)
Each is different and unique.
 "...individual snowflakes all follow slightly different paths from the sky to the ground —and thus encounter slightly different atmospheric conditions along the way. Therefore, they all tend to look unique, resembling everything from prisms and needles to the familiar lacy pattern."  (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  http://www.noaa.gov/features/02_monitoring/snowflakes.html)
But they are all beautiful.

Just as snowflakes all originate in the same manner, so do we. Each of us was created by a loving Heavenly Father who loves us and wants to see us become like Him. He has given us the same beginning, the same central core - a spirit capable of learning and growth. When we pass through the veil, we gain a body. As we grow and take slightly different paths through life, we take on different appearances. No matter what our shape - physical or spiritual - we are beautiful, graceful, elegant beings.

We are children of a King.

All we must do is believe.

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

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Cautious Driver


I am a cautious driver. I ease out of parking spots, slow down at intersections, and rarely go more than five over the speed limit. When pulling out into traffic, I tend to wait until there's a considerable gap so I don't inconvenience oncoming traffic too much. As a result of my caution, I've never gotten a ticket of any kind. (Although, if you ask my husband, it's because I'm a girl.) Twenty years since I got my license and I still have a clean driving record. Not too shabby.

My caution, however, is often dependent on environmental factors. When the weather is bad, I drive slower than necessary, take longer to turn, and start stopping way before the traffic light. Heavy rain, snow, ice, and even occasionally night driving will turn me into the world's most cautious driver.

When I'm the only one on the road, I do exactly what I feel comfortable doing. Which usually means I'm obeying traffic laws. I'm fairly predictable like that.

But there are times when I'm waiting to exit a parking lot and the line of cars is building behind me and the oncoming traffic doesn't give me the size break I want and the pressure mounts... (I hate being honked at, by the way) ...and I take a risk I don't usually take and I jet out into traffic and my heart races and I absolutely hate driving and I second guess my timing for the next two miles or more, hoping I didn't offend anyone.

This is why I try to turn right or use a protected left-hand turn whenever possible. And why I like living far enough out in the suburbs, we fight farmers on tractors for the right of way.

They don't honk.

In a way, my cautious (and occasionally reckless) driving is much like life in general. For the most part, I'm conservative and tend to follow the rules. I rarely step out of line and I try to live my life as God would have me do.

But there are times when pressure mounts and people are watching and there are expectations and deadlines are encroaching and children are yelling and things are breaking and my mind spins and I can't think straight and suddenly I'm yelling or doing something stupid or inconsiderate and I absolutely hate dealing with people and I second guess my actions for the next two weeks or more, hoping I didn't offend anyone.

At times like that, I have to remind myself to slow down.

Take a breath.

Say a prayer.

And listen. Not just to what my whiny child is really trying to tell me, but what my Heavenly Father wants me to hear.

Peace. Be still.

For with Him at my side, I don't have to be afraid of being myself. I don't have to worry about what others think or the pressures of this world. For the only thing that truly matters is what He thinks of me.

All I have to do is believe.

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

Sunday, January 17, 2016

What Lies Beneath the Snow



Despite my near-constant complaints about the cold, I truly do love when it snows. I love how it sparkles in the sunlight and watching fat snowflakes fall to the ground. I love how it sticks to my hair as I walk through a light flurry and it brightens the day. I also love how it blankets the ground, hiding imperfections and creating a flawless landscape. Especially since we haven't had the opportunity to finish our lawn. The snow covers our weedy flowerbeds and conceals the patchy nature of our still-maturing grass and I can pretend our yard is just as picture-perfect as the rest of my neighborhood.

After some time, however, the beauty of the snow diminishes. It grows dirty and slushy as the cars drive through it. Footprints mar the pristine surface and as it melts, everything turns muddy. Things that were once hidden are now open for all to see. What was once a winter wonderland turns into a mucky mess.

So it is with us. When we neglect to do the things God has asked of us, our spiritual landscape becomes full of weed-infested flowerbeds and patchy lawns with toys strewn about haphazardly. We can blanket what we don't wish to see and ignore what was once plain to be seen, pretend it doesn't exist. But just as the snow can't last forever, neither can our deliberate avoidance of the truth.

Just as I must get my flowerbeds planted and nurture my poor lawn to full health, so must we plant seeds of faith and nurture our testimonies to full health. The deception of false perfection, while beautiful to behold, is always temporary. We must take care to always work to become better, truly better - at the core where it matters most.

For nothing hides forever. Not even beneath the snow.

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

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Growing Our Spiritual Seeds



I have a confession to make - I have a black thumb.

Not an actual black thumb. (That could be quite painful!) As my husband says, I'm a serial killer of plants. I've managed to kill every kind of plant there is - ivy, cacti, hostas... It's so bad that when someone gifted me a poinsettia this last Christmas, my 14yo son banned me from watering it. He's taken over caring for it and, for whatever reason, it still looks as good as the day I brought it home. He obviously did not inherit my [lack of] gardening skills.

Despite my horrible luck with anything of the leafy variety, my husband and I are planning on starting seeds for our garden this year. This has the potential to be a catastrophe. I'm already pitying the poor plants that will manage to sprout under my care.

However, I'm determined to change my blacker-than-night thumb to something less deadly. Maybe a pale brown? Anything would be better than what I have. So I'm doing a boatload of research on every aspect of the gardening process - pre-sprouting seeds, indoor greenhouses out of salad containers, watering methods, transplanting and thinning guidelines, and more.

This year, I'm going to make it work. My basil plants will be big and beautiful. My tomatoes red and luscious. And my columbines will be absolutely gorgeous. It's going to happen, gosh darn it!

Just as my gardening success will require meticulous research and careful preparation, we need to do the same for our faith and testimonies. Faith is often compared to a seed, one that will grow only with proper care and attention. If we remain lax in our studies and fail to feed and water that seed of faith, it will not grow and can eventually die.

How can we feed our spiritual seeds? Prayer and study of the words of the prophets - both in the scriptures and our modern-day seers and revelators - are as sunlight and water to our seedling of faith. We nourish our growing plants by partaking of the sacrament each Sunday and by attending our Sabbath day meetings. Our plants gain additional nutrients as we serve one another and care for those less fortunate or who are struggling.

There are many ways to help our spiritual seeds to grow. As long as we seek to continually improve ourselves and follow God's commandments, our faith will not only grow, it will flourish.

All we have to do is believe.

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

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Parable of the New Year's Resolution

The Parable of the New Year's Resolution - www.BelieveisaVerb.com
I love the week following Christmas. The days are lazy, the kids are busy playing with their new toys and games,and time seems to slow. We have almost nowhere we need to be and very few obligations to meet. With so much relative freedom, I find it easy to center my thoughts and decide how best to approach the new year. It's a fresh start, a chance to begin again. I can set goals and make resolutions to improve myself. The possibilities are endless.

  • Finish writing my current work-in-progress. 
  • Submit to agents and hopefully get published.
  • Eat healthier.
  • Exercise regularly.
I know I may not succeed in all my new endeavors, but I find myself better for the attempt even if I fail the very next day.

On a more spiritual scale, we are privileged to experience a similar renewal every week as we honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy. As we remove the worldly distractions, we're able to relax and enjoy each others' company. Time seems to slow. It becomes easy to center our thoughts on Christ and decide how we'll approach a new week. It's a fresh start, a chance to begin again. We can set goals to improve our spiritual nature. The possibilities are endless.
  • Study the scriptures every day.
  • Pray always.
  • Hold Family Home Evening (finally!)
  • Serve others.
We may not succeed in all our endeavors, but we will find ourselves better for the attempt even if we fail the very next day.

As with New Year's resolutions, our weekly resolutions to become more like Christ can be a chance to begin again. Failure is only a temporary state, for we know we have more opportunities to try. So this Sunday, and every Sunday afterwards, let us take advantage of this special day that has been set aside for our spiritual benefit. 

All we need to do is believe.

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