Sunday, September 13, 2015

Successfully Failing: Pursuing Our Quest for Perfection

While studying for seminary I found this message from Kevin J Worthen, titled Successfully Failing: Pursuing Our Quest for Perfection.   I post it here to remind me of this great talk (given to BYU students in January 2015).

I hesitated to post any of his message here, because it is surely best in its entirety.  Realizing that much will be left out, I do add a few sentences and paragraphs that did stand out to me at the time I first read them.

So, TO REMIND ME, and to inspire me to return to the full message on occasion (because reading between the lines on this page will add so much more inspiration):

... how we respond when we fail will ultimately determine how well we will succeed ...

... learn how to fail successfully ...

This earth, the setting for our mortal existence, was created so that we could “prove” ourselves. But I believe we may not appreciate the full meaning of the word prove in that scripture. In everyday usage the word prove means to demonstrate something that already exists.9 Thus we take final exams to prove what we already know about the material we have been studying that semester. But the Oxford English Dictionary provides an additional meaning for the word prove. It indicates that prove also means “to find out, learn, or know by experience.”10

I believe the opportunity we have to prove ourselves in this life was not designed to allow us to demonstrate to God how obedient we already were before we came to earth. He, and we, already knew that. God formed this earth and gave us this mortal existence so that we could “prove” ourselves in the other sense of that word—so that we could “find out, learn, or know by experience” truths that we did not already know and that we could not learn in any other way.
We always think of failure as the antithesis of success, but it isn’t. Success often lies just the other side of failure.11

... Nephi when he was given the assignment to obtain the brass plates from Laban. As we know, his first two efforts failed, but he persisted and ultimately succeeded. In the process he discovered the power of being “led by the Spirit,” 13 a critical lesson that he may not have learned if the first effort to persuade Laban to release the plates had been successful. Nephi’s life was forever changed in a positive way because he failed twice—and, more important, because of the way he responded to those failures.

Thus failing is a critical component of our eternal progress—our quest for perfection. And because of the Atonement we can—if we respond to failures in the right way—be blessed with a new kind of learning that allows our failures to become part of the perfecting process. As Elder Bruce C. Hafen has explained, the beauty of the gospel is that “because of the Atonement, we can learn from our mistakes without being condemned by them.”14 What a wonderful blessing that absolutely marvelous and indispensable portion of the plan of salvation provides to each of us, if we will but take advantage of it.
This does not mean that we should try to fail as often as we can. “Not all failures are created equal.”15 

Finally, we can be assured that however we have failed, it can, from an eternal perspective, be changed. The Atonement is that powerful and that comprehensive. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland put it:
If you are lonely, please know you can find comfort. If you are discouraged, please know you can find hope. . . . If you feel you are broken, please know you can be mended.28
Because of the Atonement, all failures are changeable and temporary, except the one that occurs when we give up. So whatever you do, don’t you dare give up.
What I am suggesting is not simply an affirmation of the power of positive thinking; it is a recognition of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ—the perspective it gives us, the truths it provides, and “the infinite virtue of [Christ’s] atoning sacrifice”29 that is available to us all. Yes, I am asking you to trust yourself more, but, more important, I am asking you to trust God. I urge you—in your moments of doubt and despair, in the times when you think you have failed and you think you can’t make it right—to focus more on Him and less on yourselves.

God is as good, as powerful, as loving, as patient, and as consistent as He says He is. If we will but focus on the eternal truths He has made available to us, both through institutional revelation and through personal promptings and reassurances, He will turn all our failures into successes. I bear my witness that He lives and loves us with a love we cannot comprehend. He gave His Son so that we might move forward in our quest for perfection with full confidence and assurance that we will succeed despite our failures.

(As a side note: my study continued and Elder Dale G. Renlund's message given in April 2015 General Conference goes well with Brother Worthen's talk above.)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

College Bound

Our household was up and going at 4:00 this morning.  Not a common sight, but necessary for the adventures of the day.  I have such mixed emotions about the day - I am so pleased that Connor and BrittanyJo will have wonderful opportunities and experiences this fall, but I will truly miss them.

a truck load - ready to head out
Not only will we miss their presence, but we will miss their contribution to the family and farm.

Connor's work on the farm has been much of a learning experience this past year, but has been so appreciated, and will be missed.  He has a love for farming that I didn't know he had till this year.  He was also our media-man, so our facebook page won't get the attention it once had.  We'll all have to be patient and wait for later next spring to see more farm work posted there.

BrittanyJo's help in the house has spoiled me.  She has done the majority of the cooking and dish washing since she's been home.  Now that she will be gone I think I should find a maid.  ;)  It wouldn't be the same though, so I won't waste any effort on that.

Whether we are coming from or going to Rexburg, we always feel grateful when we reach Missoula. Missoula is our half way point (even though it's not exactly half way - it's the biggest city, the closest we can come to half way).  

BJo sent me a photo (at my request), to document their safe travels, and that they were in Missoula.  :)  

We are down to two in our house now, just Anthony and I, which is a strange feeling today.  And when we think into the future just a bit, we realize that he could be out of the house as early as June next year.  His May birthday makes it possible for a mission right after graduation.  WOW!    Is he ready?  Am I ready?   I guess we will just do our best to become ready!

There is a lot of "becoming" taking place in our family.

"Becoming" is what life is all about.  I know we are each always "becoming", always have been and always will be, but I have had a few new experiences of late that have made me have to become something and/or someone different than I originally thought about, and it's really overwhelming at times.   Changing conditions and circumstances always create a need to adapt to the newness, but it seems that, in my experience, there hasn't been anything take place in my life to this point that has created more of a focus on becoming, and for such a long period of time, as has done the loss of my spouse (who I might add, was also my best friend and "constant" companion).   Truly, my every minute was focused on him.  It has been very difficult trying to figure out how to live joyfully without him.  I don't know if I'll every really figure it out completely.

Becoming is an interesting word - one I hadn't really thought a lot about before, but it has been on my mind often times over the past few months.


the process of coming to be something or of passing into a state.

any change from the lower level of potentiality to the higher level of actuality.

We are each in the process of coming to be something better than what we are ..., taking the experiences that are presented to us and making them work for our good.   Sometimes it is a very difficult thing - I hope we can each find some success in our becoming.

One thing I am quite confident in is the Lord will help us become what He knows we can become - better than we now are, to a "higher level of actuality".    I need Him every hour, and I know He blesses me every hour.  

Monday, September 7, 2015

Baby Blessing and a History Lesson

We had a wonderful Sunday.

This was another sweet occasion for our family.  Ritter and Naomi were blessed.

We didn't get close up photos of the babies so I borrowed from Tawnee's facebook page.  (Thank you Tawnee!)

Naomi and Ritter

Those two are so sweet, and the family they were born into loves them dearly.  As their grandmother, I feel double blessed.  I am not there 24/7 to attend to their every need, so it's easy for me to say how wonderful it is, but I know that even with all the extra work and exhaustion on their part (especially Tawnee's part), Tawnee and Michael agree with the double blessings.  I've seen the love and affection they both have for these babies and for the awesome big sister these baby's have, and for each other.

One of my greatest joys is to see my children loved, honored, and respected by their spouse and for my children to love, honor, and respect their spouse.   It is equally joyful to see that they are raising their children in the gospel, striving to live the teachings of Jesus, so that we, as a whole, can be an eternal family, worthy of all the blessings promised those who follow and obey the Lord.

I find that their greatest accomplishments, in my mind, are those that qualify them for eternal life - actions that deal with individual worthiness and with sacrifice and service to one another ... the daily living and following Jesus Christ and His teachings - always striving to be in harmony with the will of God.

Okay, back to the blessing day ...

We were busy eating and visiting and didn't get any great photos, but we did get a couple quick snap shots that we can share.

Now a bit of back ground:

Ritter's name is a family name belonging to Terry's great-grandfather, James Ritter Hebdon. Each of our sons have a middle name from one of their ancestors, and Michael's middle name is James, after this man, James Ritter Hebdon.  Ritter now shares his fathers middle name and he shares the heritage that goes with it.

James Ritter Hebdon has a life story full of faith amidst hardship.  He found trials and tragedy, but he also found love and faith and commitment throughout his life.  His conversion story starts with a dream he had, where he saw two men who told him they had something for him.  He told his wife about it the next morning and left for work.  A few days later two men came to his home.  They talked to Ann (his wife) and left some literature for them to read and invited them to a meeting. James walked 14 miles to attend this meeting.  When he entered the church he recognized two men as the two he had seen in his dream.  After the meeting James introduced himself and invited them to his home.  James was baptized by Joseph F. Smith on 20 December 1865.   When his parents found out about it they were bitter and told him to either forsake the gospel or leave his home.  He would not give up his new found faith, so his parents disowned him.

James and Ann left England to go to the US.  The story continues, and the short of it is that his wife and her new born child died on the boat.  Two sons had scarlet fever and James hired Mary Ann Kate White to help him care for the boys (age 4 and 2), but they never recovered. He was alone again.

It wasn't as simple as I make it sound here, but it would take much time to explain it all in detail (even the small amount of detail that is recorded). 

James married Mary Ann Kate and they began their trek across the plains together.   There is a beautiful love story for this couple along the their trek, but that will have to be saved for another time.

However, back to this man, James Ritter Hebdon, he continued, strong and faithful, determined in his efforts to serve and remain on the Lords side.  

I share this information because of the tenderness I feel in my heart for this new born babe, for his parents, his grandfather, and every generation before.   When I see Ritter I do not see Terry, but when I hear his name I hear the connection to Terry and I love it.  

I feel like I am leaving Naomi out, but I am not.  Her name is not given because of a beloved ancestor, but because of the beloved child she is.  Naomi's name fits her sweet feminine features. One source says her name is Hebrew, meaning pleasant, agreeable.   We already see those characteristics in her.  And, even though she does not share the name Ritter, she, as does each of our children and grandchildren, shares the heritage that goes along with it.    I love them all!  If you need proof - you can see that I'm holding her here, close to my heart.

Maybe I should reconsider what I said before about not seeing Terry in Ritter, when I see any of my grandchildren I see a connection to Terry, because they are ours. Everything is about eternity to me. That is totally what I am living for, more than ever before.  I was raised in the gospel and I have always believed and known that it is true and I have been grateful for my membership in the church. But, at least once, somewhere along the way, I chose to follow that path. I didn't walk blindly down it just because my parents showed me the way, but I chose to take each step along the way.

One of those steps was choosing Terry as my earthly and eternal companion.  No one else chose him for me - I chose him.  And I will continue to choose him every day of my life, and every day of eternity.   It was my parents desire that I marry for eternity, but it was not their choice.  It was mine and it was Terry's choice.   And we will continue choosing eternity together.   This family is eternal ..., by choice!

It will be so fun to watch these children grow and develop their own personalities.  These are our first babies born since Terry passed away.  I know that he loves them.  He loves all of his children and grandchildren.  We hope that each chooses for themselves, to live worthy of the eternal blessings promised all who believe and follow the Savior.   Each child is precious and we love their individuality.  I pray that they each will continue in life, making their own individual choices that lead to eternal families.

Well, this post turned into more than a baby blessing or two.  ;)

I leave it as is, as a token of love and appreciation for all that God has given me.  It has been too easy for me to focus on what He took from me, and forget all that He has given me.

So grateful that Terry is mine!
So grateful for our children (including those married into the family)!
So grateful for each of our 13 (and counting) grandchildren!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

School / Seminary

Well, usually I have posted a picture of the kids heading out to their first day or two of school.  I was otherwise occupied and not thinking about that the first three days of school for Anthony, but then a new week came when I too was headed out the door for school ..., or for seminary, before school.

It was an odd, but even familiar feeling.   I think I have a picture of the first day of school when I was in elementary school.  I feel a little old here.  But doesn't Anthony look awesome!

I am glad to know that my first week isn't my final week, so that I have time to improve.  I hope the students will survive and be able to overlook my unprofessional and weak teaching abilities.

I have enjoyed my time studying.  There is so much good in the scriptures and I love how I am feeling the love of God in the study of the Old Testament and Pearl of Great Price.

This morning I was so into my studying that I was almost late for church.  We are using the most recent General Conference messages as we study throughout the year, and one quote that touched me today was just for me.  Not necessarily one I planned to share with the class, but it spoke directly to me, as have many other quotes and scriptures of late.

“If we looked at mortality as the whole of existence, then pain, sorrow, failure, and short life would be calamity. But if we look upon life as an eternal thing stretching far into the premortal past and on into the eternal post-death future, then all happenings may be put in proper perspective.”7

Message by Elder Rafael E. Pino, p 118 May 2015 Ensign.  Quote is from President Spencer W. Kimball.

We will begin our study of Moses this week in seminary.  One scripture (among the many great verses I've read the last couple days), has sunk deep into my heart and as I liken it unto me, I see and I testify that it is true.  What He says to one, He says to all!  (D&C 93:49)  He is saying this to me.

Moses 1:26
"And lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days..."

The Lord was talking to Moses and preparing him for what was to come - for what he would become. I feel encouragement from this message and will strive with all my heart to remember it and use it to help me in my becoming.

I know the Lord is with me, and for that, I am grateful.  I hope to remember this through all the ups and downs that are sure to come.

I love the Lord.
I love the scriptures.
I love my family.
New to my list, but genuinely so - I love my seminary students.
I love the peace the Spirit brings.

Open House

Thanks to all of our special help and wonderful guests, the open house for Chase and Rebekah went well.

Every minute was enjoyed and shared with wonderful people. 

We welcome a new sister!   A new daughter!  

A new aunt!  New friends!

We got the room set up and ready for the event after watching Rebekah's sisters soccer game on BYU-TV, Friday night.  

So prep the next day consisted of making the filling for the pies and setting everything else up and adding the finishing touches.

Guests are what make the event so special.  We love you!  You are awesome!  Thanks for sharing our special occasion.

Chase and Rebekah were very sneaky when they arrived Thursday evening.  We loved having them here for a couple days and we were happy to have Rebekah's parents with us as well.   We toured the farm after taking lunch to Chase, who was helping drive silage truck for us Friday, and along our tour we picked a dozen ears of corn for lunch.  We had a great weekend!

Again, Thank You!  to all of our wonderful friends and family that came to help and support us.