Tag Archives: blessings

Blessed by Listening to His Promptings

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Sevier Dry Lake, Great Basin desert

We were not planning to make those two stops on our trip. But we are deeply grateful for the blessings that came when we did.

I continue to be amazed not only at how generously God blesses His children, but also at how frequently blessings come when we are paying attention to the whisperings we may feel from His Holy Spirit.

Our trip was to be a quick overnighter, out and back, the kind of experience we give ourselves to celebrate special occasions like birthdays. We were going to learn more about an area in our region we had seldom visited.

On our way out, we turned off the road in one place that looked interesting and hiked through sagebrush, rocks, and ant hills out to a dry lake bed. It is the kind of scene we have passed by many times in our travels. This time we turned around and went back. We enjoyed the stark beauty of the desert on a clear, sunny fall day, and I got some beautiful photographs that will fit well in a project I’m working on.

That was only the beginning of our rewards.

On our return trip next day, we stopped at two small museums in a rural farm town. In one we delighted at seeing items we remembered from our childhood in small-town America. The other told the story of a shameful episode in our country’s past, the detainment of loyal Japanese-Americans in a desert camp during World War II.

As a result of pondering what we saw in these two places, I received an answer to prayers I had offered earlier for direction. As so often happens, the direction did not come in words of a command: “Do this, then this.” Instead, I received ideas on how to solve a dilemma that I have long had. This particular problem has very little to do with the exhibits in those museums, and yet, because of what I saw, ideas came to mind that help resolve the dilemma. I saw a practical way forward, and I received an assurance that this was my answer.

That was not the end.

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Cabin of colorful western character Porter Rockwell, Eureka, Utah

We made one more unplanned stop on our way home, in a small, historic mining town. As a lark referring to my advancing age, we were taking pictures of “things older than Don.”  My wife wanted a picture of me in front of an old pioneer cabin. A man at the service station next door hurried over to ask if we would like to go inside it. Then he invited us to tour some of the old mine sites in town with him. It turned out that he was the mayor, and he shared with us his dream of how to preserve some of the town’s history.

What he shared brought a fresh flow of ideas for me—thoughts that built on and dovetailed with the inspiration I had received at the museum two hours earlier. It became plain that these experiences were not coincidence.  Our stops were perfectly timed; five minutes one way or the other, and we would have missed this opportunity.

My wife benefitted too. One of the mayor’s comments suggested a way forward with a project she has long wanted to develop. Moreover, as we finished our drive home, I received ideas on how I might be able to contribute to that mayor’s civic project, something it would be a privilege to do.

I know we were guided on that trip to receive answers we had asked for in prayer.

Some might scoff and say, “That was just coincidence, and your imagination.”

Some might say I’m boasting.

Scoffers deny themselves the opportunity to be taught by God, through whisperings of His Holy Spirit. Those whisperings are soft and subtle, but obedience brings rewards. Our Eternal Father is ever ready and willing to give us knowledge if we are willing to accept it. He will build on knowledge we have already gained, helping us learn lessons for eternity.

The answers that came to me were for questions I had not voiced to anyone but God. I have learned to recognize the sweet feeling of peace and assurance that comes with some of those answers. No, they are not my imagination.

As for boasting—what hypocrisy it would be! I am still a child in learning to walk by faith. Throughout much of my life, I have been a weak, headstrong person who did not listen to my Heavenly Father nearly as frequently as I should have. Perhaps I could have accomplished more—so much more—for my family and for others if I had listened better. I am ashamed that I have not been a better servant.

But I pray that for whatever life is left to me, I can continue learning to listen better. And if what I share now can help someone younger learn to listen sooner in life, then I am grateful I can help.

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Barbed wire art work on a fence at the barren site of the abandoned Topaz internment camp.

Consider the Lilies

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“Therefore, I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? . . .

“. . . Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin;

“And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

“Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is and to morrow is cast Lily_2574into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

“(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

(Matthew 6:25-33)

Beautiful Flowers in Disguise?

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The photo was taken in September, but the scene is still the same in January.

Sister S. and I went walking in Guatemala City’s embassy district this morning, where the flowers blossom year round and we can listen to birds calling in the trees. They don’t call this the Land of Eternal Spring for nothing.

We agreed that next January, when we are back in the cold north country, we will probably look back fondly on these walks.

So rarely do we recognize today’s blessings as we occupy our minds with what is to come—what we expect, what we fear, what we long for. So rarely, it seems, do we live fully in the moment. (But perhaps I should speak only for myself.)

A French philosopher—typically, his name escapes me—once said that we rarely look at our wristwatches and clocks to find out what time it actually is. More often, we want to know “how long until”—how long until lunch, until the meeting, until I can go home to my spouse and family, etc. We are not so much concerned with this moment as we are with what we expect to happen in some dreaded or longed-for future moment.

The Savior, I think, was the master of living in the moment, the example of taking advantage of the blessings and opportunities that are before us right now. Jesus performed many mighty miracles—calming the sea, for example, and walking on the water (Matthew 8:23-27, 14:25-42). But He was the Master of the moment also in quiet, intimate actions—as He taught the Samaritan woman (John 4:55-26), as He bade the little children come to Him (Luke 18:15-17).

It may not be given to many of us to do miracles, but we, too, can be masters of our small moment when we take advantage of the opportunities before us and the blessings around us each day.

It takes wisdom and awareness to focus on the blessings and opportunities at hand. Sometimes it takes wisdom and awareness beyond what I possess.

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Flowers bloom year-round in the neighborhood where we’re living.

It is a blessing to be able to walk among blooming flowers and calling birds here on a January day when there is severe winter weather in the area we call home. Because I look forward to going home, it took me a while to see that.

It is a blessing to be able to bring good into other lives. But it takes awareness to realize that this person standing in front of you is a child of God with hopes and dreams and challenges, and that you possess what is needed to help him or her with some of the challenges. Sister S. is better at perceiving this than I. She is especially good at knowing how to help children. It comes intuitively to her. Perhaps that results from living more fully according to the Savior’s example.

It is a blessing sometimes to face challenges—a truth I acknowledge only grudgingly.  And yet the growth that comes from these challenges is undeniable.

I have not yet arrived at the point where I can embrace the challenges in the same way I enjoy the flowers along our way on the morning walks. But perhaps someday that will come too.