One of my favorite things about my church is that it is run by regular men and women who volunteer their time and efforts to serve others the best they know how.
As we serve one another we are strengthened and blessed. As we learn to love and forgive imperfections or inexperience in our leaders, our hearts are filled with love.
Sermons in our church are delivered by common members, not professional clergy. When we preach, sing, and listen to others, we are taught by the Holy Spirit the individual lessons God needs us to hear.
This weekend our stake (similar to a Catholic Diocese) leadership was changed. I knew the departing Stake President well. He has gone from being the spiritual and administrative leader of 7 congregations in one stake, to overseeing 124 stakes in the Northeastern region. He is a kind, inspired, good man.
I don't know the newly sustained stake president, but I feel that he has been called of God.
Do you know how it is when you meet someone and they are familiar to you? I felt a love and even a kinship for this man.
In our church, we call one another brothers and sisters and that is how our relationships feel. On Sunday we raised our hands to "sustain" this new stake presidency.
My hand raised to the square, symbolized that I am willing to support and serve with these imperfect men. I will dedicate my time, my prayers, my words, and my efforts to helping them minister here in Syracuse.
In a sense, every one of us renewed our commitment to love and nurture one another. Isn't that so beautiful?
My husband is out of town, and I brought all eight of my wiggley kiddos to this 2 hour conference. Asking 2, 4, 6, 8, 11, 13, 14, and 16 year old kids to sit on a pew for two hours is a lot. I thought they were amazing.
I'm not one to bring toys or art supplies to entertain them. I really try to encourage them to listen to the speakers. I have found that it is important that they sing the hymns with gusto to help get out some of their energy!
Eve was a little sick, so she cuddled by my side quietly the whole meeting. A friend of mine whose husband was out of town, came and sat at the end of my row helping out.
Some of our good friends were both playing instruments and singing in the choir. As the meeting was about to start, they asked if Anna and Ellie could sit by their two boys to babysit during the meeting.
A group of young, black tag missionaries sat behind me and kept Ben somewhat entertained. There was one time that Ben was smiling at them and leaning so far over the back of the pew that he flipped into one missionaries lap and started to cry. I still wonder how loud my alarmed gasp actually was.
It really is beautiful how church feels like a family. I definitely had a moment on Sunday where I looked around and felt at home. Perhaps for the first time since moving here, these people felt like my people and I loved them.
Aside from the pep-talk I gave on the way to the meeting, I am certain that my pockets full of "blessings" sure helped the meeting stay reverent.
On Saturday I bought a bunch of Hi-Chews. Have you tried them? They are a similar to Starburst but a little more chewy. They worked magically as I would quietly hand them to reverent children (and missionaries) before they got fidgety. Ben had a few books that he looked at (Jakob took him to walk in the hallway a couple of times), the girls had a pencil and some white paper that they took notes on quietly, but for the most part we were all able to listen and hear inspiring talks.
We had a visiting authority Elder Neilson who talked about burying our weapons of war. While he spoke, the Spirit witnessed to my soul.
I committed myself to bury my contentious communication with my husband. I firmly believe that we can live the rest of our days without ever fighting.
I know that two people who really love each other can disagree agreeably. I am willing to bury our contention deep into the ground and to refuse to speak harshly to the one I love most in the world.
As I was praying last night about this new goal, I asked God what I should do when my emotions start boiling up inside me. The funniest image filled my mind.
I could feel that anger that sometimes comes and I could see my sweet husband who too often is my venting post when I'm frustrated. I felt God telling me to vent with love not anger. To pull towards Todd instead of fight against him. In my mind, I just imagined kissing that man with the same passion that I sometimes vent to him. I felt God showing me that in those moments I need unity and love more than I need to puke angry, worried, stressful feelings.
Make love not war.
I have a feeling that in the weeks to come, we will have a few less stress-out sessions and a few more make-out sessions.
Why do I tell you people these things?
Overall, we had a beautiful weekend. I hope your weekend was also filled with hope and inspiration.
Life is good.
With my whole soul I believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a church that is led and directed by a living Christ. I know God speaks to man because He speaks to me. I feel goodness as everyday people learn to serve and administer in this Church in these latter-days.
One more moment sticks out to me from this weekend. A speaker mentioned the fact that the room was full of toddlers and the noises that often accompany these children. He emphasized how wonderful that was. He quoted Christ telling his disciples to suffer the little children to come into him.
"As you hold your young ones close," he asked, "Can you feel the Savior's love for them?" Eve was lying slightly feverish on my lap. My love for her filled my throat. I could feel so strongly His love for her that my eyes filled with tears. Yes, I can feel His love for them.
It is a privilege to mother, a privilege to nurture , a privilege to worship, and a privilege to live.
Today, my soul raises my arm as I sustain the leadership of my church and as I work daily to serve in my place.
I love this gospel.
I love the Lord.
I am grateful.