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As I was sitting in church today during the Sacrament, I was flipping through my scriptures and came across the leaves in the photo above, like I so often do when I am flipping through my scriptures...
This time as I came across them, I had some thoughts go through my mind that really struck me today and I had to write them down tonight.
In November of 2010, I wrote a posting of something I was grateful for each day of that month until Thanksgiving. One of those days, I posted THIS posting... and every time I come across these leaves in my scriptures, I think about that posting because these leaves go along perfectly with that posting.
So, I will first tell you about those leaves...
When Aaron Jr was only about ONE and a half years old, which would have been the summer of 2007, I was doing laundry one day and I reached into the pocket of one of Aaron Jr's pairs of trousers... and I pulled out a little twig filled with leaves probably off of one of our own trees in our yard. I remember it being a JOYful experience for me. I LOVED finding those leaves in his pocket, it was just such a little boy thing to find in his pocket. I loved thinking about how Aaron Jr must have thought those leaves were something special for him to want to keep them and put them in his pocket. I don't think I had ever found anything in his pockets before, so to me it was a wonderful milestone of him becoming a little boy who loved the things around him. I immediately took that twig of leaves and put them into a book to press them so that I could keep them forever to remind me of that day and remind me of what was important and special to my little boy that day.
Those leaves in that pocket that day were evidence that I have a son and that I get to experience the JOY of having him here in my life. They have been in my scriptures ever since and they always bring a smile to my face and bring me back to that day... the first day I ever pulled outdoor treasures out of my son's pocket.
Well, today as I came across them again, I felt that JOY again, and let my mind wander again to the fact that I am grateful for any and all evidence of Aaron Jr's presence in my life...
...but this time, as my mind wandered to that, it didn't stop and settle on that blessing alone, my mind kept going and reached something even deeper today... something that I have really been needing to feel and 'hear'.
Just to catch up a bit, I have been struggling lately. Not all of the time lately, but just like always, I have been cycling through contentment, fear, loneliness, JOY, sorrow, etc... I feel like when I keep myself busy, I feel the contentment more often, but lately, I have been feeling alone... not alone in the world necessarily, but also feeling like heaven has been silent lately. I pray all the time to know what I should be doing, where I should be, what the Lord expects of me, and so on... but I am struggling to 'hear' or feel the answers that I am looking for. And since I know that heaven is never silent, I know it is me who needs to open my heart, open my mind, and open my ears and my eyes to what the Lord is trying to tell me... I know that it is the world around us that becomes too LOUD and that is what makes heaven SEEM silent to us. I know that our Father in Heaven is trying to answer our prayers even when we assume we are alone and that He has nothing to say to us. It is always our problem, and our problem alone, if we cannot hear the Spirit trying to tell us what we need to know. But even knowing that it is me who needs to figure out how to HEAR what the Lord is trying to tell me, I have still been struggling because I haven't been able to figure out what to do in order to HEAR it. Things have been seeming to go wrong instead of right lately and I have prayed time and time again for guidance and direction...
So, today, as I sat there thinking about those leaves and the evidence that they are of Aaron Jr's presence in my life... like I said, my mind kept going...
and it was brought to my mind and my heart today that just as those leaves and the other things of Aaron Jr's are evidence of his presence in my life... there are SO many things that are also evidences of the Lord's presence in my life and that I should be opening my eyes and heart to them and acknowledging them. Some of the evidences of the Lord's presence are very easy to see when we look outside of ourselves and simply look around us... but even if some of them are not as easy to see sometimes as leaves that I pull out of a pocket, or dirt I find in the sink, or shoes I trip over on the floor... the evidences of the Lord's presence in my life are ALWAYS there. BUT in order to 'see' even the ones that are not visible, I have to stop letting my trials or the LOUD things in my life overshadow those evidences of the Lord's presence in my life.
As these thoughts were flowing through my mind, I began to cry right there in church. I was feeling such JOY because I knew that it was 'quiet' enough in church, and my heart was open enough... that I was finally able to 'hear' and feel a message from the Spirit. Just as I am now as I type this, I was crying tears of gratitude and JOY as I felt the LOVE that my Father in Heaven has for me. I am sure He was so glad that I was finally 'hearing' Him and finally feeling His love for me. I am sure He wonders sometimes why it is so difficult to 'get through to me'. ;) I wonder the same thing about myself.
This experience did not mean that everything in my life was 'fixed' and it did not mean that the trials in my life that feel so overwhelming were gone... but what it did mean to me was that I am loved. It reminded me that heaven is not silent. It reminded me how close I need to stay to the Spirit in order to receive these precious answers to our prayers and to hear and feel the Lord's presence in my life. I need to be actively seeking it and making sure I am living in a way to allow to Spirit to be with me.
My eyes and my heart have been even more open today as I have reflected on the evidences of the Lord's presence in my life. The tender mercies of Him who loves us all, who suffered for us all, who walks with us all through our darkest hours and also our most JOYous moments.
Yes, I am grateful for the evidences of Aaron Jr's presence in my life... ALL of the evidences, good or bad.
And YES, I am grateful for the evidences of the Lord's presence in my life. I am trying really hard to be grateful for ALL of those ones, including the 'bad', but I am not perfect, so I fall short on this one more often than I like. The 'bad' ones, or the trials in our lives bring about blessings of spiritual growth and strength, and a closeness to the Savior that we would not find otherwise. We draw unto Him when we are being tried and tested, so in that way, I am grateful for even those evidences of His presence.
My testimony of the Savior has grown so much these past few years... the more I have had to depend on Him and let Him help to carry my burdens, the more I have felt the love that He has for me. He wants me to overcome, He wants me to understand, He wants me to be happy, He wants me to be the person that He knows I can be.
I have felt so much JOY today as I am reflected on those moments in church today. I felt like my cup was filled today and I hope to hold on to this feeling as tight as I can.
I am truly grateful for my Savior and the evidences of His presence in my life.
I am so blessed.
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the EVIDENCE of things not seen."
~ Hebrews 11:1
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