Kiara is loving her Pathway class. She is doing well and has made new friends. (I happen to be related to 5 people in this Pathway group! And I love each of them a LOT!)
My Mom and Dad are the Pathway missionaries!
I hope I can grow up and be just like them!
They are helping these young adults grow and become!
And their love is very apparent! These young people are blessed!
Mariah and Shanae are my incredible nieces!
Both of them are attending Pathway
and being wonderful friends to my sweet daughter who is far from home.
Kiara is my fun-loving, happy, eldest child!
She is becoming an amazing woman!She is also sharing her talents! I'm so proud of her. She played a violin duet with her friend, Billy, on Thursday. I wish I could have heard them....
Billy and Kiara play "There Is Sunshine In My Soul Today"
My dad is leading music on the side... :-)She also got to attend the Ft. Collins temple dedication last Sunday. She is blessed!
Her ticket and handkerchief....
Thanks, sister, for making sure she had a white handkerchief!Tomorrow Scott, Kotten Kandy and I get to speak in Bardstown branch. I'm not sure my thoughts are coherent... but here is my rough draft:
RISE UP IN STRENGTH WITH MUSIC
About a decade ago, I was struggling with many health problems – both mental and physical. I struggled with EVERYTHING: walking, praying, eating, sleeping, working, reading my scriptures and even enjoying my family. I wanted to be better, but physically and mentally, I was truly struggling and I felt like I was failing. I couldn’t find words to even pray for help to my Heavenly Father, so I found myself doing the only thing I could think to do. I sang. It was a simple song. But it was my heartfelt prayer: “I need Thee, oh I need Thee; Ev’ry hour I need thee! Oh, bless, me now, my Savior; I come to Thee!” This simple hymn was my prayer for many months until I was finally able to get the medical and spiritual help I needed. It strengthened me, and helped me to “rise up” to my potential, and the potential that Heavenly Father had in store for me. (I still sing it often and it reminds me how much I still need to grow.)
When Sister Oscarson spoke in the general conference women’s session, I was reminded of how we need to “Rise Up and Strengthen Ourselves” in these difficult and often stressful and frightening times. She quotes President Russell M. Nelson: “Attacks against the Church, its doctrine, and our way of life are going to increase. Because of this, we need people who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation. We need people who can detect deception in all of its forms. We need people who know how to access the power that God makes available to covenant keepers and who express their beliefs with confidence and charity.”
Sister Oscarson then goes on to say how that message reassures her that despite the conditions of our day, she is optimistic. - When we struggle through these hard times it’s the basics (like singing a hymn for your daily prayers) that will strengthen us and help us to truly become converted.
We definitely need that during these latter days! When I listened to her talk, and later read it, I was reminded of how important it is to be truly converted to the Lord and to His principles. She also quotes Sheri Dew: “I believe that the moment we learn to unleash the full influence of converted, covenant-keeping people, the kingdom of God will change overnight.”
So how do we “unleash the full influence of converted, covenant-keeping people”? May I suggest that we could start with singing the hymns?! Although Sister Oscarson didn’t actually use music within her talk, I found a number of suggestions for growth she mentioned that correlated perfectly with music in the church.
1. Isn’t it amazing how songs are so catchy? Shortly after I was married, a new song came out in the Friend magazine. I was serving as the primary music leader and I taught it to my primary children. As I taught the song, I knew it would become a classic as the kids lifted their scriptures and sang: “Scripture power! Keeps me safe from sin! Scripture Power is the power to win! Scripture Power! Every day I need, the power that I get each time I read!”
Every time we read the scriptures, we are turning to one of the most powerful learning and teaching tools that God has given us. And just reading the scriptures is not enough. We need to understand them, study them, use them and memorize them. Elder Scott says memorizing a scripture is like making a faithful new friend. It was true for me. I remember being scared when I was very young. My father taught me to memorize the scripture 2 Timothy 1:7. Every time I was frightened I would quote “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” It helped me trust in Heavenly Father and not be afraid. It has still helped me today. (Maybe I should put that scripture to music?!)
2. Like the song “I Need Thee Every Hour” another song that has brought me a lot of strength is “A Child’s Prayer.” During particularly challenging moments in my day I’ll ask “Heavenly Father, are you really there? And do you hear and answer every child’s prayer.” But I always answer the question DIRECTLY after asking those questions with the second verse of Janice Kapp Perry’s song: “Pray, He is there; Speak, He is listening. You are His child; His love now surrounds you….”
Prayer is a wonderful part of my daily life! I’ll admit that there have been times in my life when I have forgotten to say a prayer. Those days are much harder. I’ve also had days when I have “just said prayers” instead of “really praying” like Elder Uceda explained in general conference. Those days have also been difficult too. But as I’ve worked to remember my daily prayers and worked on making them meaningful, I have been blessed. Ezra Taft Benson said, “If you don’t feel like praying, then you should pray until you do!”
One way we’ve been blessed is with our sweet foreign exchange students. Both Luise and Fern were prayed for, even before we met them. And we pray for them while they are with us. And even though Luise is home in Germany we continue to pray for her. A few days ago, I received a touching email from Luise. She had just received some terrible news and was sad, frightened and struggling with meaning in her life. In her note she said, “The last few hours I just spent praying. It healed me a little. I wanted to say thank you for giving me a connection to the gospel.” I am soooooooo grateful that teaching her to pray and praying with her while she was here in the US was helpful to her in her time of need. Prayer really works!
3. One of my favorite memories is of my daughters singing “I love to see the temple! I’m going there someday. To covenant with my Father. I’ll promise to obey. For the temple is a House of God, a place of love and beauty. I’ll prepare myself, while I am young. This is my sacred duty.”
Preparing for sacred ordinances in the temple and also partaking of the sacrament strengthens our commitment to the gospel. I love the temple. I love the sacrament. I love making covenants and partaking of these beautiful ordinances.
Besides helping my children be excited about their future covenants they would make in the temple, Scott and I tried to impress on them the importance of the baptismal ordinance and sacrament ordinance that they are able to participate in now. I remember wiggly children when they were very young and trying to hush them and keep them reverent as the emblems of the sacrament were passed. We had a secret code that reminded them that they were supposed to be thinking of Jesus Christ while they sat quietly. It seemed to work. Now my daughters like to re-read the words to the sacrament hymns as they reflect on the covenants they made at baptism!
4. Finally, every general conference, we sing “We thank Thee, oh God, for a prophet, who guides us in these latter days! We thank Thee for sending the gospel, to lighten our minds with it’s rays.”
How grateful I am for living prophets! How grateful I am for the opportunity to listen to them twice a year at general conference! And how grateful I am to reread their words often on-line and in the Ensign! If we truly want to “rise up in strength” then we need to listen and study the living prophets!
Just like the song “I Need Thee Every Hour” helped me get through difficult times, these simple hymns can help us to remember to study our scriptures, pray, partake of sacred ordinances every Sunday and in the Temple and listen to the prophets! I’m grateful for the reminders and the joy that these melodies and profound lyrics have brought into my life. I know that my Savior lives! And that He loves me! I know that He want me and each of us to grow, learn and become the best we can be! Like Sister Oscarson said, we need to “Rise Up in Strength!” ------ Amen