A Light in the Darkness

I have been reading the book of Jeremiah (in the Old Testament of the Bible), which is mostly filled with doom and gloom. Jeremiah was called by the Lord to preach to a people who were so wicked they wouldn’t listen to him, even when he told them over and over that if they didn’t repent, they were going to be destroyed.

Jeremiah had a hard life. There wasn’t a whole lot to be cheerful about. Each day required a great deal of courage just to get up and put one foot in front of the other. His life was constantly threatened. He was commanded not to marry. His own family turned against him. Jeremiah had his scribe write down all the revelations he had received from the Lord, and he sent the book to the king, who had it burned. He was put in stocks and ridiculed. Then Jeremiah was put in prison (not like a modern cell with a bed, sink and toilet — but a deep hole in the ground). Other prophets who preached to the people of Jerusalem during this time were murdered, like Urijah, or they fled for their lives, like Lehi.

Jeremiah was like other prophets who lived at the end of their civilizations. Like Moroni and Ether, he witnessed the literal destruction of his people. No wonder his books are full of lamentation. His heart was full of sorrow.

In the midst of this account of impending destruction comes a chapter of light. Jeremiah was commanded to bring a certain family to the temple and sit them down in a specific upper room for a feast. He set jars of wine on the table, with cups for each person. When the family was all assembled, he said, “Drink up.”

This family had to be afraid. When someone important invites you to a feast, you don’t want to offend them by refusing what they offer. The city was in turmoil, with enemies on every side. They had to wonder if they would be slaughtered that day, if even one of them would leave this room alive. However, the family just looked at Jeremiah. No one drank. Can you imagine the tension in the room?

Finally, one of the men, whose name was Jaazaniah, said, “We will drink no wine.”  He then told Jeremiah a story. It turned out that Jaazaniah was the son of Habaziniah, who was a descendant of Jonadab, the son of Rechab. So we’re talking a few generations here, and all these people who had gathered in this room belonged to one family — the descendants of Rechab. They were Jaazaniah’s brothers, uncles, their sons, and all the rest of the family too.

Jaazaniah told Jeremiah that their forefather, Jonadab, had commanded his sons that they should never drink wine – and that their descendants should never drink wine — forever. They should not build houses or be farmers, sowing seed or planting vineyards. Instead they were to dwell in tents, to be wanderers, living as strangers in the land.

We aren’t told why Jonadab commanded his family to do this, but his words were remembered and obeyed. He must have been a remarkable man and a powerful teacher. All these years the family had been faithful to Jonadab’s words. No one in their entire family drank wine. They hadn’t built houses or planted fields and vineyards. They had lived in tents for generations. The only reason they were in Jerusalem right now was that Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had come into the land, and they had fled to Jerusalem for protection.

Can you imagine the overwhelming love Jeremiah felt for this valiant family? They had been tested, and they had passed the test. The Lord gave him a revelation right there for them. He was to hold up this family as a righteous example to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Then Jeremiah told Jaazaniah and his family, “Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel: Because ye have obeyed the commandments of Jonadab, your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you, Therefore, thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me forever.”

In other words, Jaazaniah and his family would be kept safe. Their children wouldn’t be killed in the coming apocalypse, and they would remain faithful. And this promise was extended to their descendants — forever!

The chapter ends there, so we are left to imagine Jeremiah’s parting words to this family, his loving encouragement and advice to them. We can picture Jaazaniah and his family packing up and getting out of Jersusalem, continuing their wandering wherever they could in a war-torn countryside. We can also be sure that this Test was talked about and passed down through the family’s generations. Just think, somewhere today, there are still people alive who are descendants of Jonadab, who are still true to their fathers.

I am very thankful that I found this story – a shining gem of light in an otherwise dark chapter of history. It gives me courage and hope to know that the Lord takes care of those who will follow him. We need to keep on doing what we know is right. Even in the midst of growing wickedness and blatant evil, and the resultant destruction that looms before us in our generation, we can be true to what we know is right. We can stand firm, loyal to the truth, and the Lord will help us. From this account we also see how vital it is to teach our children — the children of the next generation. They need to hear the stories of our ancestors, our country, and our people. They need the courageous example of the scripture heroes. It’s up to us to pass the stories on, to encourage them to live up to the examples of faith set by their fathers and mothers. Like Jonadab’s descendants, we need to keep the fire of faith burning bright.

See Jeremiah 35. Photo by Julia Girley

What if it’s True?

Many people today don’t believe in the Bible. They think that it’s just a collection of myths and that God is not real. They don’t believe that a being like Jesus Christ exists. But what if they’re wrong? Can you suspend your disbelief for a moment, and consider the possibility that it might be true?

What if God really is the Father of our spirits? What if He created a world where his children could come, be born with physical bodies, and live, learn, and grow? What if He loved us that much? He saw that we were weak. We would sin or break his commandments, and we would make mistakes. By so doing we would shut ourselves out of heaven.

But what if he had a Plan in place just for this purpose? What if he said to his children, “It’s going to be hard down there on Earth. There will be opposition. You’ll have to choose between good and evil. You’re going to blow it over and over. For justice to be satisfied, you will have to pay the price for your sins, and you won’t deserve to come back here to live with me. But don’t despair — there is a way back. If someone was brave enough, who had enough love to offer himself in your place, to suffer the penalty for your sins, then you could be forgiven and come back here. The penalty would be paid, and you would be clean. Who shall I send?

And what if one man – our perfect Elder Brother — stepped forward and said, “Here I am. Send me. I will go and suffer for all my brothers and sisters, so that they will have the opportunity to come back, if they choose.” Can you imagine how much Jesus loved us, to make that kind of offer? Can you imagine how much our Father in Heaven must have loved that Beloved Son, to hear his willing offer? Can you imagine how the rest of us must have felt about Him? The scriptures say that we sang praises and shouted for joy. But there was another son – the ultimate con man — who said, “Send me. I’ll pay the price for them, and I’ll force them to be obedient, so that not one soul will be lost. And by the way, I want the glory for doing it.” And our Father, in his infinite wisdom and because of His deep regard for our agency, said, “I will send the first.” And the con man, Lucifer, was angry. He convinced a third of our Father’s children to follow him in his campaign, and there was a war in heaven. They were cast out to the earth, where they still continue to make war with the rest of us who got to be born here with physical bodies.

And what if this Beloved Son – Jesus Christ — was born in a humble stable in an obscure village of a conquered nation in the meridian of time? He was a miracle baby, the Son of God, born to the very best of all women, who loved and cherished him. Angel choirs sang on the night of his birth, and wondrous signs were seen in the night sky.

What if he grew up as a humble carpenter and learned his foster father’s trade? When the time came for his mission, he revealed his true identity. He healed the sick, cast out evil spirits, and raised the dead. He walked on water, fed multitudes with a boy’s lunch, organized his church, and showed others how to live. He taught the truth, and proclaimed that by Him and through Him, we could be saved. When the time came, He offered himself as a willing sacrifice for us. He died that we might live. God so loved the world – us – that he gave his Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

This is the message of Christmas – a message of hope. We make a mess of our lives, but we don’t have to remain there. Through the blood of the willing Lamb of God, we can be forgiven and made clean. There is a way back to our Father in Heaven if we come to His Son and live his teachings. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Light.

What if everything you’ve just read is true? How would that change your life and your heart? “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Light. The glorious Light and Love of the Son of God. That’s what Christmas is all about. Believe it, because it’s true.

Thanksgiving

I am thankful for my Savior, Jesus Christ. This is one of my favorite paintings of him. The other day I read Psalm 22, and when I came to verse 23, I was struck by the thought that Heavenly Father heard his son’s agonized cries in Gethsemane and on the cross, but He had to stand back and let it happen. Unlike Abraham and Isaac, the knife would not — could not — be stayed this time. Jesus had agreed to be the sacrificial Lamb before this world was created. Our whole salvation hung in the balance of this one act of supreme love. How hard it must have been for our Father, for this was his Beloved Son, who didn’t deserve any of what he was going through, who had never done anything wrong. Praise be to the Son who humbly submitted to his Father’s will and went through with it. He suffered and died for us. Because of this, Jesus Christ has the power to heal us and save us all if we are willing. Praise to the Father and the Son for their great love for us. “I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me, confused at the grace that so fully He proffers me, I tremble to know that for me He was crucified, that for me a sinner, He suffered, He bled and died. Oh, it is wonderful, that He would care for me enough to die for me. Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!” (song by Charles Gabriel)

#givethanks

Eight Years in the Wilderness

Carlsbad sunset by Heidi Willis

As I read 1 Nephi, I really thought about Lehi and his family. What would it have been like to leave their comfortable home, riches, friends, extended family, and their jobs, and take off into the desert? That was a real act of faith.

If you’ve read Hugh Nibley’s Lehi in the Wilderness, you get the picture of a man who is a successful merchant. Lehi is accustomed to traveling. He doesn’t just rush off into the desert with nothing but the clothes on his back — They wouldn’t have lasted two days like that. Lehi knows how to live in the desert. He and his sons pack up the camels with food, water, seeds to plant crops, tents, clothing, and all the other things they’ll need. The compass, or Liahona, guides them to the most fertile places in the wilderness, so they can find water and grass for their camels, and so they can hunt for animals to eat. You find out later that they lived on raw meat for much of the journey until they got to the seashore.  It took eight years. Eight years!
It was really hard for them. Nephi says they waded through much sorrow and affliction. Ishmael died. Sometimes they didn’t have any food or water. (You know how glad you are to come home from camping and have a shower because you’re so grimy? They didn’t have that luxury.) The women had children — can you imagine giving birth in a tent without the modern technology and medicines we have today?  The Lord told them not to have fires.  Was that because there were robbers who would see their fire and attack them?  They were cut off from the world, with only each other for company.  It must have been so lonely for them. I have such a great admiration for them. They had so much courage.

The Lord tells them, “And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led. (1 Nephi 17:13)

This is a promise to all of us. Each of us is on a journey through life, heading towards our promised land. In the midst of our trials and sorrows, the Lord will be our light.  If we keep His commandments, He will comfort us, inspire us, and help us to bear up under the burdens we carry. We will know that we are not alone.

 

The Tree of Life

Lehi Tree of Life Dream (2)

Years ago I painted a picture of Lehi’s dream of the Tree of Life using a Navajo style. (See 1 Nephi chapter 8 – Book of Mormon.) I realize now I should have stylized the tree. Oh, well. It was fun to do. Can you tell who the characters are?

Lehi’s dream is rich in symbolism and meaning. This past week I read the chapter and later watched the video (See Youtube – Lehi sees a vision of the Tree of Life )

I thought about how sad Lehi and Sariah must have felt when Laman and Lemuel wouldn’t come and eat the fruit of the Tree of Life.  I wonder what kind of impact it had on Laman and Lemuel when Lehi told his sons about his dream. Were Laman and Lemuel hurt when their dad told them they chose not to come to the tree? (Although by that time the two oldest boys were well on their way to being thugs — they’d already beaten up their little brothers, and attempted to murder Nephi.)

I wept for Lehi and Sariah, and for all parents whose hearts are broken when their children go astray. Being a parent is a tough job. We do the best we can to teach our children right from wrong. Then they go out into the world and choose their path. We have to let them go. All we can do is pray for them and love them.

I’ve heard parents joke about how free agency is a hard, hard thing. Yet we voted for it. A war was fought over it, and we chose to follow the God’s plan, which included knowing that everyone gets to choose the way they will go and the kind of person they will be. It was one of God’s greatest gifts to his children.  When you think about it, would you want it any other way?

The mists of darkness represent the many trials, temptations and sorrows we experience in this life, but the rod of iron is right there. Grab hold of it and press forward. The tree of life beckons to us. Go towards it with hope. The fruit that will fill us with joy is waiting for us. Don’t give up.

Choose life.

On Suffering

IMAG3821
As I was studying the scriptures this morning (Acts 5), I read about how the early apostles were put in prison for preaching the gospel. In the night an angel came, opened the doors and led them out. He told them to go to the temple and preach the gospel. They obeyed.
     The next morning when the rulers sent orders to the prison, they discovered the guards in place and the doors shut and locked, but no prisoners inside. They must have been just a little freaked out! Then they got word that those pesky apostles were in the temple preaching again.
     Again the apostles were hauled into the ruler’s meeting and accused, but Peter told them that they should obey God rather than man. The rulers were about to kill them, but the lawyer, Gamaliel, was able to have them spared with his logical argument. So the rulers had them beaten, again commanded them not to preach, and let them go.
It must have been so hard for the apostles to endure this beating. Yet in Acts 5:41 it says “they departed, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.”
And they kept preaching.
     How could they rejoice in suffering?
     What incredible courage they had! They had been arrested, beaten, and they knew that the rulers could put them to death. Yet they still were faithful and bold in declaring the truth.
     How did they become so courageous? I think part of it was the Holy Ghost that filled    them on the day of Pentecost. Part of it was that each of them decided in their hearts that they wouldn’t ever let their dear Lord down again — they would be faithful no matter what. They loved Him, and they wanted to be true. They knew that Jesus really was the Son of God. He had been killed, and he was now alive again.
     When I was a teenager in seminary, our teacher, Brother Wolfe, told us a parable. He had a little pile of sticks on a pan, and some stick figures that represented each of us. He said, “Imagine that you are dragged from your house in the middle of the night and taken to the football field at the school. There is a mob of angry people there, and the men say to you, “Are you a Christian? or a Mormon?” And if you say yes, they are going to throw you into the fire. You can see the bonfire in the field, and you can hear the screams of the people who are already burning.” Brother Wolfe put one of the stick figures on the bonfire and lit it. We stared at the flames, horrified.
     “And if you say no,” he continued, “they will let you go free, but you will live with the shame forever of denying the Lord. My question to you is, Will you be faithful and true in this moment of trial?”
     Eventually all the apostles died martyrs’ deaths (except John, who remained on the earth to preach the gospel — and that in itself is a kind of trial — to live on long after everyone you know and love is dead). They all paid the ultimate price for their testimony, and they received an eternal reward.
     We usually aren’t called on to sacrifice our actual mortal lives for the Lord, but we are called on to be faithful and true in spite of the trials, sorrows, persecution, and suffering we experience.
     Once after a miscarriage, my husband gave me a priesthood blessing. In it he said, “Every sorrow you experience now will seem as nothing when you reach the other side of the veil. You will look back and say it was worth it.”
     It’s so hard to keep the end goal in mind when you are in the middle of suffering. Yet you have to in order to survive it.  The alternative is to turn away from God and become broken, bitter and full of hate. And how could you do that, when you know the truth? In John 6:68-69, Peter says, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life, and we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”
   For those of you going through sorrow, pain or trials right now, I urge you to keep the end goal in your mind and heart. Pray, and give the Lord the offering of your suffering. By doing this, you make your sacrifice holy.
     Don’t let Satan win. He wants you to give up to despair and doubt. Tell him to leave, and rely on the Lord to carry you through this trial.  Memorize and sing a favorite hymn that will buoy you up and strengthen you. (For example, “How Firm a Foundation.”)
God is stronger than all evil. He has descended below all things. He knows how to help you. He loves you, and He will aide you.
     I pray that angels will be around you to bear you up and help you, and that you will be faithful unto the end.
(Photo – Heart shaped harbor on Corfu, Greece)

By Small and Simple Things

Catherine-Helena-Bickerton- Catherine Bickerton McNevin

Do you make a difference?  Does your life matter?  Fifty years from now will it matter whether you did one thing or another?

In Alma 37, Alma is explaining to his son, Helaman, why it’s important to write and preserve a record of their people and pass it down through the generations. Alma says, “Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.
“And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.” (Alma 37:6-7)

Some people, like Alma, have a huge sphere of influence, and some have only a small part to play. Yet each of us has something we can do.  The small acts of kindness and service we do daily an make an impact in someone’s life.  A smile, a phone call, a letter of appreciation. Comforting a crying child. Visiting someone who is lonely. Encouraging a friend when they’re down. Listening to another’s troubles. Planting flowers. Painting a picture and sharing it.

Yet another way to make a difference is by making a record of your life.  Collect your family’s stories, history, photographs, and vital records. Write down your life story and share it with your family.  We have so many tools today that make this easier. You may think, “My life is boring. Who would want to know about it?” But some day, someone in your family may be extremely grateful for your efforts.

My great-great grandmother, Catherine Bickerton McNevin, wrote down the story of how her parents came to Canada, met, and married. Another story tells about her experiences as a girl in a one-room school in Ontario.  My great-aunt Marj told me stories about her McNevin/Grant ancestors and how they came from Scotland, and what happened to them. Great-Aunt Joyce wrote down all the details she knew about the descendants of her grandparents. I am so thankful to these wonderful women, for they have enriched my life and helped make me who I am today.

Choose to do something good today — some little thing. Listen to the still, small voice within and see how one step at a time, you can make a difference.

Found: A Long Lost Friend

cover the little white horse

After my first baby died, I read a book which gave me great comfort. A few years later, I searched back through my journal, trying to find the name and author of this book, but to my surprise I hadn’t recorded it. Years went by, and I continued to search for the book, occasionally sending out enquiries, asking bookstore employees and librarians if they could help me. No one had heard of it. I began to wonder if I had dreamed the whole thing. The only thing I could remember about the story is that there was a little girl who walked through the forest with a large dog, who kept her safe and turned out to be a lion. Well, last week, I decided to put out some feelers for the book once again, this time on Facebook with one of my author groups. To my amazement, on the first day, I got a response – and they suggested the book might be The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge. I ordered it, read it – and Yes! I had found my long lost book.
Maria Merryweather is 13 years old when her father dies, and she is sent to the countryside in western England to live with her uncle, Sir Benjamin Merryweather, at Moonacre Manor. She is accompanied by her governess, Miss Heliotrope, and a self-centered dog named Wiggins. Maria is enchanted by the beauty she finds there and soon makes friends with Sir Benjamin and the other colorful citizens of the area. She even finds Robin, her ‘imaginary’ childhood friend there, and the two have wonderful adventures together. She sees a glowing white horse (with a horn on its forehead), and she is guarded by Wrolf, the “dog” who, yes, is really a lion. (Sir Benjamin calls him a dog so others won’t be afraid of him.)
Maria soon discovers a sadness beneath the beauty – there is a generations-old curse on the valley, brought down on them by her vain, greedy ancestor, the first Sir Merryweather. Maria decides that she will be the one to break the curse and bring true love, happiness, and healing to the family and all the inhabitants of the valley.
Published in 1946, The Little White Horse won a Carnegie medal for that year. I think this children’s fantasy would have a hard time getting published today. It is chock full of description, it has a religious theme mixed with magic, the plot is very simple, and the happy ending is inevitable. And yet, after reading it again all these years later, I understand why it is a great book and why it had such a profound impact on me. There is so much more to the story than you think at first glance.
The writing style reminds me of The Secret Garden. The vivid description puts you right there in the 19th century English countryside — smelling and seeing the gorgeous flowers, tasting the bread and cream, and feeling the wind on your face. I loved Maria’s room at the top of the tower. I think every little girl dreams of having a room just like Maria’s, to have their very own pony to ride, and to have such stalwart friends as the wise, strong Wrolf (the lion), who protects her from harm yet goes with her on adventures.
I loved the names of the characters, which reveal something about them – Maria Merryweather is optimistic, good-hearted, curious, and a steadfast friend to everyone. Then there are the supporting characters — Miss Heliotrope, the governess, a strict but kind woman with an unfortunately large nose and a heart which guards a secret longing. Then we have Sir Benjamin, the large and merry (if sometimes sad) lord of the manor; Marmaduke Scarlet, the cook and housekeeper with the enormous vocabulary; Digweed, the gardener; Loveday Minette, who is beautiful and loving; Robin, Maria’s steadfast friend who has a bit of the fey Robin Goodfellow in him; Old Parson, who can preach a sermon, play a fiddle, or understand the needs of children; and finally, the sinister Monsieur Coque de Noir. The animals play a major part in the story too, with Wrolf the courageous “dog,” Zachariah the cat who communicates through pictographs, Serena the wise hare, Perriwinkle the pony, and the lazy but beloved Wiggins.
I loved the themes of faith, goodness, and courage that ran through the story. World War II had just ended, and I think that Elizabeth Goudge yearned for a world where enmity could be resolved and people could live in peace and beauty. The symbols of the lion and the unicorn (England and Scotland) are there. The two animals haven’t been seen for many years, but now that a new heroine has come, they appear once more to aid her in her quest. The lion is her protector, the solid, dependable and trustworthy guardian. The unicorn is beautiful, lovely imagination, who gives Maria hope and enjoyment. Sun and Moon — we need both in our lives. The animals Maria grows to love all get along together, eating their suppers side by side in front of the fire – another symbol of peace.
Elizabeth Goudge could have focused on the adventure and danger which are in the plot, or on Maria’s tragic circumstances, but instead, she tells the story through the viewpoint of a girl who yearns to do something good with her life. Maria finds joy in the beauty of nature. She believes in unicorns and lions. She sees in others the ability to love and be loved, and she responds to them, bringing out their best qualities. Maria sees what needs to be done, and she sets about doing it. That takes faith, courage, sacrifice, and determination, no matter your age.
There is a theme of homecoming that runs through the story. Maria comes to the land of her ancestors and feels a sense of rightness, of having come home. She wants to solve the curse and have everyone live in happiness. We yearn for a place to call our home, a permanent place where loved ones live together in harmony and the beauty of nature surrounds us. We long for a happy ending.
As Elizabeth Goudge said, “As this world becomes increasingly ugly, callous and materialistic it needs to be reminded that the old fairy stories are rooted in truth, that imagination is of value, that happy endings do, in fact, occur, and that the blue spring mist that makes an ugly street look beautiful is just as real a thing as the street itself.”
I am so glad to be reunited with my old friend, The Little White Horse. If Elizabeth Goudge were alive today, I would send her a lovely thank you letter. I recommend this book to everyone.

In the Beginning 2

26026800264_75108b4f6a_z

Morning Musings: Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” There is so much to think about in this seemingly simple sentence. First, God did it. Our planet with its myriad life is not an accident. It is not something that just randomly happened over billions of years. That would be like blowing up a nuclear bomb and expecting a beautiful garden to be the result. Nope, just not going to happen. As anyone who works with materials (be they pen, brush with paints, piano keys, or wood) to create a finished product could tell you, creating something worthwhile takes inspiration, forethought, planning, and determined execution. It takes Effort.
The question for me has never been whether God created the earth or not. All I have to do is to look around at the stunning beauty around me and examine the incredible detail and complex way everything relates to everything else to know that this was no accident. It was not a mistake. Someone lovingly and carefully made all this — someone much more intelligent and creative than I could ever hope to be.
The better question is, Why did God create it in the first place? Why does he create whole planets with life on them? That has to be a lot of work. However long it took, it wasn’t easy. Why would an immortal being go to so much effort? The answer is, He does it for us — His children, because He loves us. “For behold,  this is my work and my glory — to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39) Love is His motivator.  Isn’t that amazing? Go outside and look around at nature, and say, “He made this for me.” Whoa. Does that make your heart rejoice or what?

(Photo by Daniel Nicolas)

In the Beginning

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

8750158076_78c5ee1bbf_o

On the first day of spring my oldest son turned thirty-three years old. That is really hard to believe. It seems like such a short time ago that I held my newborn son in my arms and marveled  at how beautiful he was. He seemed so aware to me, as if the veil of forgetfulness still hadn’t been completely draped across his mind. I watched his eyes moving under his eyelids while he slept. He laughed. A little while later he cried, and I wondered what he was dreaming about. Who had been his friends while he resided with God in the heavens? What talents and skills did he bring with him to help him on his mortal journey?  What assignments had he accepted from his Heavenly Father that he would need to accomplish? I felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility. This tiny child had been given to me in trust, and I wanted to be a good mother to him.
Well, the years rolled by, and I did my best to love him, teach him right from wrong, and guide him.  I watched him grow up to be a good man, a kind and patient husband and father, and someone who has compassion for others and lives his life in a way that will serve and help them. I am so very proud of him, but I can take only a small credit for how he turned out. He came to earth with those qualities.

“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.” – William Henry Wordsworth
(from INTIMATIONS OF IMMORTALITY FROM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY CHILDHOOD)