Tender Mercy #12: Enhanced meaning

The following excerpt (from Faithful Nurturing: Mothering from the Heart to the Heart, chapter 12) tells of a time when a particular line of a song gained personal meaning to me:

“An awareness of God’s personal care can bring great solace and comfort. Specific experiences that demonstrate His involvement in our own lives are at least part of the “tender mercies” spoken of scripturally. Once I was up late at night going through a book of hymns. As I sang through one line of a certain hymn, the words were highlighted to my heart so powerfully that I knew God was assuring the truth of them to me personally. On that particular night, I needed desperately to know: “As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be” (from Hymns of the LDS Church # 85, “How Firm a Foundation”). If it is true that “to suffer is to be alone,” the corollary is also true: the moment we find we are not completely alone, our suffering is at least partially, but often profoundly, alleviated. . .”

The above experience occurred during a time where I was struggling with balancing my time caring for my kids and my elderly mom. Both were all-consuming and I wondered if I was up to the task. The words to the hymn came like a promise and assurance that gave me great peace at the time and stays with me still. I know it is true that whatever difficulty comes at us, God will provide an adequate measure of “succor” (help, support) as we turn to Him. Just as the words to the song seemed “highlighted to my heart,” I have had a similar experience with scriptural verses or even wise things people around me have said.

When have certain words or experiences gained enhanced meaning and guided you in your life?

(Part 12 of a 15 part series: The Tender Mercies Project. See the original post from Feb 2107).

* See the following links: “The Tender Mercies of the Lord” by David Bednar Ensign, May 2005; see also How Firm a Foundation 

Tender Mercy #1: Opportunity Regained

Things happen. Things both in and outside of our control. In both cases, we sometimes receive that refreshing possibility to reclaim what we’ve missed out on.

When we were getting ready to head northeast to hold and attend my mom’s funeral–a 22-hour driving trip each way–my husband arranged for us to stay at a hotel where my mom and I had stopped on many road trips: Little America in Wyoming. It was such a thoughtful gesture and it brought comfort to me that eased the burden of my sadness and the trip. But then I wasn’t ready to leave when we planned. And then there was a snowstorm. So we had to call and cancel the reservation and stay any-old-place. It was a little thing, but I felt very disappointed not to be able to claim that sweet comfort my husband had arranged for me. I let it go–sort of. There were many other things to think about anyway.

Well, we made it to the funeral and had a special time, so that was the main thing. It turns out, though, Little America is a chain. On the way back we took a different route, but we happened to need gas and have the chance to stop at a different Little America in Cheyenne. We got gas and ice cream cones. I was able to say to the kids, “This is Little America. I have memories of stopping at another of their locations with your grandma.” It wasn’t quite the same, but it accomplished the purpose and brought some comfort. It was a tender mercy.

In some respects, every new day is an opportunity regained. Every sunrise marks my chance as a mother to say, “Okay, I’ll try again.” It is another chance to be patient, another chance to be dedicated & diligent & loving. And I need all those chances!

Why is mercy possible? Because of the atonement of Jesus Christ that allows second chances. What does it mean for us and our parenting? Everything. Not only do we obtain mercy, allowing hope and a fresh start after we’ve realized our mistakes and repented of them, but we can also grant inspired mercy to our children. I say “inspired mercy” because justice also teaches. Erasing all consequences by always granting second chances would rob our children of important lessons–so we must be wise (drawing on God’s wisdom) to know when second chances are appropriate. The scriptures say, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

Are there times when you have been afforded the tender mercy of an opportunity regained?

15 Tender Mercies

January has come and gone. This year I have dispensed with my normal resolutions and don’t feel a bit bad about it. This year, instead of grasping white-knuckled at tasks or self-improvement projects, I am letting go and standing still, taking pause to notice God’s merciful blessings in my life–the small assurances of His awareness and love.

As I read my scriptures, I am studying the evidences of his tender mercies. In my prayers, I am trying to remember to thank God for at least as many things as I ask for. Day-to-day I want to stay in tune with the truth that, as a child of God, I am “encircled about eternally  in the arms of his love” (1 Nephi 1:15). This is where inspiration and motivation for true growth is to be found.

The “tender mercies” I have experienced in my life have come in varied ways:

  1. A missed opportunity regained.
  2. Compensation/overcompensation for a sacrifice.
  3. An important truth recalled.
  4. A new perspective granted.
  5. A personalized rescue.
  6. A “wink” or humorous occurrence.
  7. A meaningful connection.
  8. A special comfort given.
  9. Specific guidance or direction.
  10. A need met.
  11. Extra strength/enablement.
  12. Enhanced meaning.
  13. An answered prayer.
  14. A significant personal interaction.
  15. Growth conditions.

Over the next several days, I will explore each of these specific divine mercies. I invite you also to reflect upon times you have felt God’s love and awareness in your life.

Recommended reading:

“Eternally Encircled in His Love” by Bonnie Parkin

“The Tender Mercies of the Lord” by David Bednar

Good guys and bad guys

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The other day my almost 4-year-old invited me to play a pretending game. He said, “I wanta be the good guy, so you hafta be the bad guy.” I hesitated, but agreed. (I’m not a very exciting bad guy; I soften the story line and morph the weapons, rendering them harmless). I heard myself say to my son, “OK, I’ll be the bad guy so you can be the good guy.” That phrase stuck with me afterwards. Isn’t that what we do as parents? We are not “bad guys” in the actual sense, but sometimes we have to intervene in ways our kids don’t like in order to teach them. We have to feed them vegetables, get them to go to bed, and remind them to say “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me.” Though it’s not so fun, at times we may need to be the “bad guy” to help foster goodness in our children.

Holding Hope

 

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In two short weeks our family will be moving across the country. I am hopeful like a schoolgirl awaiting a new year. Every day possible, I gaze deeply at the rippled lake and the canopy of woods over the path near my childhood home. There will be few trees and little water in the arid climate where we are headed. I hang my sheets and linens out to dry for that familiar, fresh smell that is the epitome of happy coziness. Is it ubiquitous–available on backyard clotheslines everywhere–or will there be a new, western variety?

As moms we face many transitions. May we be brave and hopeful, trusting God, as spoken of so beautifully in this poem by Danusha Laméris:

“Insha’Allah”  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/57445

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White Christmas

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Proverbs 31 describes several qualities of an exemplary woman, including, “She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household is clothed in scarlet” (vs. 21). This year I did dread the snow. It was well into December before I dug out the wintergear, and the uncharacteristically mild weather mercifully allowed it.

There have been other mercies this season. During a string of days when I had grown discouraged over small but stacked stressors–squabbling kids, potty training accidents, the thinness of my own patience–a friend brought me a beautiful card with just the right message. The card sparkled with glittered snow along a tree-lined path. It said, “In this moment now, capture it, remember it, ’cause I don’t know how it gets better than this.” My friend had left by the time I read it, but I sat and cried. These are the good times. Hard, yes–but good.

In this Christmas season, we celebrate the birth of our Savior, but the full story does not end in the stable. Because Jesus grew to fulfill his mission, we are redeemed from our weaknesses, our sorrows, our struggles. As we follow Him and trust in Him, we are able to rejoice and find that peace “which passeth all understanding” (Phil 4:7). “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). There is less than an inch of snow covering our Minnesota lawn, but it is a white Christmas.

An article on how to have the true Spirit of Christmas: www.facebook.com/notes/john-bytheway/i-thought-you-might-enjoy-this-insightful-christmas-message-by-william-b-smart/247323509621

Awaiting baby

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Today I got out the old storage bin labeled “infant” and separated out the smallest outfits–those wearable through the hottest days of summer. It felt like a connecting ritual to wash and prepare this first clothing.  When the time came, my 2, 4 and 7-year-old boys eagerly helped fold. We carefully carried the toppling piles upstairs and placed them under the bassinet. I rocked for a few minutes in my new wooden rocking chair. Though this is my eighth baby, I’ve never owned a rocking chair before–this was my singular purchase. In most cases, despite what the media portrays, little is truly needed to welcome a baby into this world. I look forward once again to holding, rocking, nursing, and singing lullabies to a precious, tiny soul..

A Following

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Who do you follow and who follows you? I will say at the outset that the “following” I care most about is following God in my day to day decisions and actions. I also care about the homegrown “following” I receive: my two-year-old wanting to be held, my four-year-old inviting me to play a game, my older boys suddenly wanting to share details of their day. These I will not trade to build a virtual audience, so my posts may be spotty. Bear with me–I’m trying to navigate life!
Better than Facebook: being written in the “Book of Life.”

Better than Linkedin: the enduring connection we each have to God and the human family.

Better than Tweets: the whispering of God’s spirit and inspiration.

Better than Instagram: sweet memories that imprint on our minds and hearts as we share time with those we love.

Why faithful? Why nurturing?

 

FAITHFUL
A few years ago I ran across an old book entitled “Precious Bible Promises” by an 18th century English pastor named Samuel Clark. Through his study of the bible, he compiled a list of promises God has made to those who live faithfully. His scholarship inspired me–I was reminded how careful scripture study uncovers gems for daily living. I scanned through his list and added a few from my own reading of the bible and other faith literature. Here are some of my favorite biblical promises afforded by faithfulness:

1. guidance (Isaiah 30:21)

2. peace & joy  (Romans 14:17)

3. the “refreshing” afforded by repentance (Acts 3:19)

4. closeness with God (Doctrine and Covenants 88:63)

Sometimes promises aren’t fulfilled immediately or in the ways we expect, but I know God does bless us for choosing to be faithful. As parents (and just navigating life in general) we need all the promises we can get!

NURTURING
As parents, our job is to help provide an environment conducive to growth. That doesn’t always mean softness and ease, but the right amount of challenge, guidance, nourishment, and support. It takes wisdom, experience, observation, stepping in, stepping back, dedication, and patience. As parents we are growing while our children grow. Nothing is static; everything is changing & organic. Luckily, growth is a natural process that is programmed into each of us and we learn from both positive and negative experiences. Still, as a mother, I’d like to contribute in positive ways when possible! In this blog, I explore the topic of nurturing in the applied, day-to-day sense.