What Do You Have the Power to Become?

In a recent talk given at the General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sister Michelle D. Craig, First Counselor in the church's Young Women General Presidency, said this:

"The world often uses a feeling of discontent as an excuse for self-absorption, for turning our thoughts inward and backward and dwelling individually on who I am, who I am not, and what I want. Divine discontent motivates us to follow the example of the Savior, “who went about doing good.” As we walk the path of discipleship, we will receive spiritual nudges to reach out to others."

She was commenting on an article written by Elder Meal A. Maxwell, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, just over 22 years before in which he said, "It is left to each of us to balance contentment regarding what God has allotted to us in life with some divine discontent resulting from what we are in comparison to what we have the power to become. Discipleship creates this balance on the straight and narrow path."

Let us seek to follow the example of the Savior. Let us strive to become what we have the power to become in and only through Jesus Christ. God will answer our prayers and teach us how to use that divine spark of discontent to do whatever he asks in his service, finding the one he has sent us to rescue.

Stay on the Path to Eternal Life

As we travel through life, we find many opportunities to step off of the path upon which we ought to stay in order to return to our Heavenly Father. His only begotten son Jesus Christ has shown us the way.

He has said:

Matthew 7:14 (KJV) "Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

3 Nephi 15:9 (Book of Mormon) "Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life."

I took this photo last summer and every time I look at it, I see the end of the road far in the distance and think to myself that if I stay on the path, I will eventually reach my destination. I am eternally grateful for the scriptures and prophets and apostles who stand on either side of the path. If we rely in them daily, we will not loose our way as we journey toward the end of our mortal probation.

Dark Hedges

May we all stay on the path and do as Jesus has commanded. Look to him. Endure. And live!

And if we endure our tribulation, God shall wipe away all our tears.

Revelation 7 (KJV)
13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

Let Christ be Our Sure Foundation

To the remnants of the children of Israel, on a mountain near Jerusalem and amidst the ruins of destruction in the Americas, Jesus preached his gospel as found in the Bible in Matthew 7 and in the Book of Mormon in 3 Nephi 14. It is no surprise that his gospel is the same to all his people.

He taught that we should not judge unrighteously because the same measuring stick we use for another's worth will be used to measure our own. He taught that we should ask, seek and knock--that we should come unto God for all that we need and desire. He taught that the way to God is straight and narrow, meaning there are not many roads back to God, but only one.

He taught that we should beware of false prophets and that we would recognize them by their fruits. In other words our actions speak louder than words. Not everyone who claims to know the Lord will be known of him. Our bad acts speak louder than our good words.

Then Jesus concludes with this most powerful analogy. The wise and foolish man. Let us be wise. Let us make Christ our foundation, the rock upon which our lives are built.

3 Nephi 14
24 Therefore, whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock—
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand—
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it.
(Compare with Matthew 7.)

What Does It Mean to Be Humble?

1 Peter 5 (KJV)
6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

What does Peter mean? How can we be humble? How can we put away pride?

The answer to me can be found in our priorities. What or whom do we put first? Do we seek wealth or fame at the expense of those we love? Do we insist on being right rather than embracing others? Do we consider ourselves better than another? Do we seek to protect ourselves from those who would harm us, or do we seek to avenge those wrongs and return harm for harm?

Home Again, Mom, Dad and Me

My two weeks with Dad have come to an end. Thanks especially to my sister and her husband who covered the intervening weekend. Special thanks to my brother who joined me in the evenings with dinners from his wonderful wife.

And thanks in advance to my other brother and his wife who will arrive at Mom and Dad's shortly to cover this coming weekend. And thanks to my nephew who covered Friday afternoon to allow me to drive home before dark today and last week.

I will take some time to reflect on this experience and share more thoughts in future posts. Thanks to all who read and responded to my posts about this experience.

And finally, my deepest thanks to Mom for allowing me to experience just a little of what her life every day is like in caring for Dad. Alzheimer's is no picnic. Mom is my hero!

She is an amazing woman!

My Dad, A Son of Adam

I received this note from my dear friend Jeff by email after he read my post about love and memory.
- - - -

Adam had a job in the garden, even before the fall. The fall changed his job from one of complete satisfaction to one of satisfaction peppered with thorns and thistles in-between. We, like Adam, are drawn to work and that for purposes for which we were created.

Your dad still yearns for work, for purpose, for duty. For decades his duty cared for a ranch and animals and a family. Even after all left, his duty remains to care for his wife. Not only did Adam have work, but he had a wife, as that is how we are built and that is how we are complete. Neglecting work or wife terrifies anyone who embraces duty as one of the only earth-bound purposes for which there is no substitute.

Even as the veneer of youth and our support in memory leaves us, we still remember our duty; if we honored such duty while we were young and full of promise. The testament of age shows when all veneer is removed and only that which is within is left. Age reveals who we really were.

For these reasons you are wise to let your father struggle with those things he may still do for himself. You may help, but he must come to the decisions. You may guide, but so long as he can button the coat, you must wait while he remembers. And while he walks through his workshop, he may not know how to make things from the tools there, but he may still fulfill his obligation to care and order those tools for the day when he may remember.

He still has a job. His oath to duty stands. His love for his bride remains and grows. He is a man. He is a son of Adam.


True Love Transcends Mortal Memory

dadnmomToday I employ a new strategy with Dad. My brother and I rise early and chat a moment. Dad has slept most of the night but did get up in the middle and was awake for about an hour before he climbed back into bed. I whisper a prayer of gratitude that my brother has sacrificed his sleep while I enjoyed a full night of blissful dreams.

Despite the lost sleep, Dad is up and getting dressed by about 7:00 a.m. and ready for breakfast about 30 minutes later. The first thing he says to me as I greet him in the kitchen is, "I gotta go home and get my wife." I hug him and reassure him that we will go see her after breakfast and that she will come home tomorrow.
He's eager to see her and very happy to hear that. We eat the same breakfast we had yesterday and 20 minutes later head out to see Mom before she goes to PT today.

When we arrive, Mom is in the bathroom. We wait, Dad in the recliner and me in the straight back chair. In a few minutes Mom emerges from the bathroom with a smile on her face and a warm greeting for us both. She looks good.

Dad rises from his chair as quickly as he can. He pushes past me to get to Mom. He wants to help her get back to the bed. He kisses her and beckons to the bed. He could not be happier to see her. Once she is back in bed resting, Dad sits and relaxes, returning to his primary line of questioning in broken phrases. The meaning is clear. He wants to know when Mom will come home.

Mom holds his hand and pats his arm, assuring Dad that she will be coming home tomorrow. He asks in his own way why she cannot come home now. He is jovial about it and accepts that she must stay one more night. I can see the satisfaction on his face that the one person most familiar to him in this life will soon be coming back home.

I look away and then excuse myself to go find a restroom to give them a moment of privacy they have not really had for more than 10 days. We stay a little longer until the physical therapist arrives. We make our exit and I reassure Dad that we will return later today for another visit. He is reluctant to go but after a lingering moment, he follows me out to the truck.

We get home and like manna from heaven, Dad is able to sit in Mom's new chair and sleep for more than two hours. By noon he is rested and ready for a peanut butter and raspberry jam sandwich. I add too much jam and Dad winds up with sticky fingers, a puzzle to solve after we finish eating. Eventually he ends up in the bathroom washing his hands but it takes a while for him to come to this solution. I have learned to make a soft suggestion but when it is rejected out of confusion, it is better to wait and let him work it out.

A little more resting from a full tummy and Dad is ready to go again. He puts on his old work hat and jacket, readying himself to go wander through the garage which doubles as his farm workshop. All his tools are there and while he no longer knows what to do with them, he seems to derive some comfort from looking at them.

This time I head him off at the pass with an even better offer. I tell Dad that if he will wait for a few minutes, I will be ready to take him back to town to visit Mom again. Who, he asks. Your wife, I tell him; my Mom. Oh, okay, he says, and takes a seat in the front room waiting patiently on the sofa. I finish with some email and a little more delay and then we go, but only after I ask if he would like to wear his nice hat and coat to go see his wife. He readily agrees and changes into his nice denim coat and gray felt cowboy hat.

We arrive and he greets Mom, happy again to see her and just as happy to learn again that she will be coming home tomorrow. We enjoy seeing an old family friend named Don. He is out walking and recuperating from an illness there. He is now 88 years old, hunched over deeply and dependent on oxygen, but he is happy to see us. Dad remembers him at least in that he knows this man is special to him and he greets him with a warm handshake and a smile in his eyes that mask any confusion in his memory about who exactly this man is. To Dad that part is not important. What he remembers is his love for this man. No other details are important.

Don leaves and we continue to visit with Mom. Eventually the same occupational therapist who was walking with Don returns to Mom's room, ready to take her to do her last OT session this week. Dad is again reluctant to leave. He tells the OT guy to take good care of her. He gives her a kiss goodbye. And I see much more deeply that same look of love and concern for Mom that he had minutes earlier extended to their old friend Don.

For the second time today we leave, but it takes longer and more encouragement from me to get Dad to walk out of Mom's room. He clearly does not really want to go. He definitely does not want to leave her there again. He is not belligerent about it, but he delays as best he can before eventually accepting that he must wait one more day.

The walk out to the truck feels longer and slower this time. I feel acutely in my soul the love that Dad has for Mom. It does not matter that his memory cannot tell him who she is all of the time. It does not matter that he does not know that she is both his wife and my mother. He is always pleased to be told these things. Dad's love for Mom transcends mortal memory. It is a true and eternal love.

Today was a great day!

Tomorrow will be even better.

To the Temple with Dad


Sleep flees before dawn and my brother and I arise to greet one another. Dad has had a restless night and has been up several times including just minutes ago. The morning arrives soon. My brother leaves and comes back a short time later. I hear him talking with Dad. He is up early. I finish my reading and then peek into the living room. Dad rests in Mom's new chair sleeping.

I sneak into the shower and finish dressing as he wakes. We wave and say, "Good morning." There is a smile on his face. Dad is always happy to greet everyone. It is a mark of his true character. We sit a while and enjoy one another's company. Dad comments on the boots missing from my feet as I put on my socks. I tease him by pointing out that his boots are also missing. He is also missing a hearing aid. A brief search finds it on the floor near his dresser.

Breakfast is a bowl of mini frosted wheat for Dad and granola and yogurt for me. We both take our pills and begin a daily ritual of delay. Dad wants to go now. It's a bit too early. So I say, "I'll be ready in a few minutes." He wanders around the house looking for something. He finds his belt and puts it on.

After a few delays, we pack our kit--some water and protein balls--and don our coats. The air is crisp and it takes a mile or two for the truck to warm up enough to take the chill off. We're on our way to Vernal.

In Vernal we shop at Walmart for almonds, cheese and sugar free drinks with a touch of lime which Dad seems to enjoy very much. Dad's slow shuffle makes for a longer than ordinary trek through the house of worldly goods. I honestly enjoy it. We drive over to see the Vernal temple and go slowly past it. We comment on how beautiful it looks. I know Dad loves the temple even though he is now unable to attend. When this portion of his life is over, he will surely be of service on the other side of the veil. Of that I have no doubt.

We meander on back to the Villa to visit Mom the long way via Neola and Dad remarks on many of the "new" houses and says often, "I have never been here before," or, "I have not been here in a long time." I always respond affirmatively and reassure him. Soon we're visiting Mom and she looks very good today. Better than yesterday. She comforts Dad and assures him that she will be home in two days. She has already spoken with the doctor and the physical therapist. They had been thinking of Saturday but she has convinced them to let her go home on Friday afternoon. Again and again she assures Dad, every time he asks, with angelic and practiced patience. Every time he is relieved and glad to hear it.

We say our goodbyes and grab a burger on our way home.  The afternoon is passed with increasing fretting over many things and nothing. Dad looks for things and finds nothing. He looks in the closet and the bedroom. He fiddles with this and that and sits sometimes with me. Most tellingly he asks me several times in his own way if his wife is coming home. Though he cannot express it adequately, it is obvious that he misses Mom very much.

At one point, he is picking up the house phone and trying to dial it. This is something he is no longer really able to do. I ask him if he is trying to call his wife. He says yes. I offer to help and call her on my mobile. He speaks to her briefly on speaker and she knows exactly how to reassure him and he is so very happy to talk with her for just a few moments.

My brother arrives with dinner. With some nourishment and another familiar face, Dad is at peace and will be ready for bed soon. He struggles to converse with his boys and cannot really do so effectively. There are bits and fragments and we offer reassurance as best we can and encourage him to go to bed.
He is tired and needs some rest. Tomorrow I will try to get him to sleep more and rest up for Mom's return on Friday.

Tomorrow is a new day.