Saturday, April 20, 2013

40 Years started in less than 24 hours!

    Boy prayed ever since he was eight to know "her" when he met her. She was headed back to VA for the summer. He was frustrated with the dating games and told the Lord that when he was needed, he would move forward. Meanwhile a friend had fasted to know if she had anyone she could hook him up with. Three ideas came to her mind. He took out #2 choice because #1 was not available. Enjoyed #2 so much he wanted to see who #1 was. A blind date was the story goes, he saw her get out of the car and knew. She enjoyed herself and after the date, in the middle of the night was awoken with heavenly things for over an hour. She felt dazed the next day as if she weren't even walking on earth. He picked her up after church and when she took his hand, she "came back" down to earth. Ride to the mountains, faith walk, and a "Will you marry me?" with a "Yes" response (not even a full 24 hours after meeting one another)... and six kids, 3 in-laws, 13 1/2 grandchildren later--whalla! An always striving, keeping the faith in God 40 years of marriage and hopefully at least 20 more to boot!
   My eyes are wet at the dedication, determination, and devotion. Only God really knows what each has gone through and what together they have born. Miscarriages, to un-employment, to endless hours in primary children's, to a growing family, teenage hormones, independence, traveling, more Primary Children's, missions, more hospitals and cancer, deaths door multiple times, to constant love, service and devotion... and 100 thousand other things in between!
   What do they hope their future holds--they are working to become/go/do this!

  Nope, they aren't perfect they will be the first to admit, but they are ever seeking to become more like Him a little bit more each day--they are determined to continue to give their lives in the cause of building up the kingdom of God. ... from covenants made across an alter, and ever relentless brother seeking to destroy while another strengthens and helps fortify... this is an eternal couple in the making...
   How thankful I am for the example and constant effort they show forth.

   Forty years ago... and counting!

 I love you mom and dad! Happy Anniversary. Onward and Upward! We never, never, never forsake! 

I am grateful for love, His love, their love.. 
Happiness is choosing and then walking whatever God has planned! 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


   A few Monday's ago before seeing the one and only beautiful grandma Ratcliffe, I stopped at a park by a nearby park. As I sat in my car with my window slightly down, I noticed a girl (I would guess her to be about 11 or 12) working hard to ride her bike. Her training wheels were on. Her dad was walking by her side. When I noticed her it was just at the time I heard her cry out to her dad “I can’t daddy—I will fail!” To which he replied that she could. I heard “fail”, but perhaps she said “fall”. I watched her from my car and sure enough, the somewhat attentive father (I say this as he seemed to be a bit more pre-occupied with his drink then watching her) wasn’t paying attention and the little girl, even with training wheels, biffed it. I think the father started to pay a little more attention after that. :)
    This father daughter team went around the park several times. After 20 mins or so I gathered that she must have fallen a few more times, because I saw the dad riding the pink bike back to his truck while the little girl ran along the side. I thought about her fears with her bike and with the perspective as an adult, her petrifying fear of falling was nothing that would alter her life or be some big significant change/death, but to the little girl, her fear of failing was very real and at times overwhelming even to tears and stating that she would fail. I rejoiced in getting watch this little scene play out. I left the park and spent a choice night with grandma and was blessed with an FHE treat of seeing/being with Micarie and James.
    Well fast forward to the next night. After work, I had had a strong impression to go visit a friend. I met her a few months ago on a visit led by God. A friend and I knocked on her door not knowing what we would find. This sweet sister desired to go to church but without a supportive husband found that she did not have the courage. As we talked to her and testified of God’s love and support for her, she mentioned that her Pblessing said she would do a great work in Relief Society. She expressed desires to make it to that meeting. It was a choice meeting and my friend and I left her door praising God.
   Well this Tues night (a week ago) I felt impressed to go back to her house to check in on her as it has been a few weeks since she has answered any of my texts. After work as I was studying, I felt impressed to go right then. I did—and found no one home. I left a note on her door and I pondered what the Lord would have me do with the rest of my evening. I knew He had sent me at that time for a reason. ?? I felt impressed I needed to go to my stake center. *An impression to go to this specific building that I never go to except to attend stake events.
   I pulled up in the parking lot and smiled as I noticed a little girl trying to ride her bike with her dad… okay God, this is the second night in a row that you are having me watch a father and a daughter ride. I knew that God had a lesson to share with me for I know there are no coincidences!
    I parked my car and like the awesome creeper I am, (thankful for my tinted windows) I watched as this girl (older in years) was trying to ride her bike. This girl didn’t have training wheels. I noticed two little boys (who I came to find out were 3 and maybe the other one was 5 ??) were riding their bicycles all through the parking lot—no training wheels. I marveled at how small they were and how much older this girl seemed to be. The girl made several long rides across the parking lot. After a while she made a huge, wide turn in which I heard her very joyfully say, “ I did it! I did it!” And the father replied, “You did it! You made that turn. You did awesome!” I smiled from the vision of “I can’t…I will fail” verses the “I did it- you did it!”
   Thanking God for letting me witness two very similar situations yet completely different outcomes and determinations, I got out of my car. By this time a mother and another little baby had joined the father and three children. I worried that they might have seen me taking pictures and video from my car so I decided to head into the church building to find a place to study. I wanted to approach the little family and thank them for being in the parking lot that night, but I decided being suspected as a creeper and being confirmed as one… I rather just be suspected! :D I grabbed my bag and shut the door and to my surprise I found myself walking towards the family (opposite direction of going into the building).
    I called out to the presumed parents and told them they didn’t have to say “yes”, but that I wanted a picture of their girl as I had just witnessed a discouraged little girl the night before biking with her training wheels and I was so impressed by their little girl’s determination. The family graciously entertained my wish, but before the picture was taken, the mom turned to her daughter and asked her to share with me why it was so special that she could ride her bike that day. This mother, Andrea, then mentioned that she would cry if she talked about it. It wasn’t until that moment, that I noticed that the little girl, Kaja, was very special. With a big smile, and help from her parents she told me that she had cerebral palsy. (Cerebral palsy is a condition that brings along many disorders that can involve brain and nervous system functions, such as movement, a stiffness of muscles and normal reflexes. To what extent little Kaja has I was not sure.)
   Kaja’s mom said that for the longest time Kaja has wanted to ride her bike without training wheels. The doctors didn’t know what to tell her. Kaja’s mom and dad didn’t want her to get her hopes up as it seemed it might be physically impossible for her. But Kaja didn’t know it was impossible. She just knew she wanted to ride her bike like her younger brothers. The previous weeks her physical therapist had been working with her. The pedals and training wheels of her bike were taken off which allowed Kaja to sit on the bike seat and have her feet “walk” around/support her. After much practice, the day had come when the father and mother wanted to take her to an open area (church parking lot) to give her a place to try riding with pedals and no training wheels. And there, in the parking lot, a loving father ran by her side.
   At first Kaja had a very hard time turning, and when she would half crash (I say “half” crash, because her father was always close enough to help ease the blow) she would not be daunted. Kaja simply reposition herself on her bike and tried again. Over and over she did this… Crashing a bit, but determined and never quitting. Her tone of voice didn’t even flirt with the temptation of being discouraged. And always--as she worked at it, was her awesome father--getting his fair share of a workout as he ran behind her. (With children, is a gym pass even necessary?! ;) )
   His daughter, was doing the impossible.
   I already loved watching Kaja ride without training wheels… But hearing of the challenges that not just threaten to make life more challenging, but are actually apart of Kaja’s everyday life, made the symbolism of the moment all the more choice.
    I took their pictures and the sweet family with the sun going down climbed in their car and left. I went into the church, found a piano and started to write a song about this little soon to be nine year old, very determined, Kaja. As I played and sang, who should come to the glass door to listen… the Elders in the area!
   Talk about sweet life lessons to witness… On one hand, one girl, consumed with thoughts of failing with training wheels. On the other hand another girl, designated by life to not to be able to enjoy such thing as riding a bike… but sweet little Kaja seemed oblivious to her/life’s “designated” opposition. She just knew she wanted to ride. And every time she crashed, she got right back on and tried again. The first father, a bit neglectful and not providing an undivided attention (but perhaps through the crash of his daughter, caused him to be more mindful/diligent father [that is an insight right there into what our own trials can be God’s tool to help someone step up to their duty and responsibilities]) vs. a father that although didn’t prevent all of Kaja’s falls, He did help not only soften the blows but was right there to help her get back up on her bike and steady her as she started yet again—ever running, always in arms each (or a very speedy jog) to aid and assistance her.
   I am constantly being reminded of our journeys and those whom God puts in my path. The bikes (covenants, desires, commandments) I need/want/should ride. The hands that are ready to steady. The temptation to be discouraged as others seem to do with ease what I struggle and sometimes cry to do. What the world says I can or can’t do (or more often my natural man/fears) but with desires clothed in righteousness and firmly planted/determined—God will help me/YOU/us with the seemly impossible, and make it possible.
   Seeing little Kaja’s experience reminded me of an experience my grandpa once had in the grand canyon with a juniper tree. The PDF is attached. SO SYMBOLIC!

 From To Him That Believeth: Claiming Heaven’s Blessings 
                                                         -- Frederick and June Babbel

   I learned a valuable lesson a number of years ago when my wife and I visited the Grand Canyon in Arizona. We were at the north rim when the naturalist guide showed us a twisted, gnarled, old juniper tree which was literally growing out of the side of the rock canyon wall by the lookout point. We wondered how it could possibly continue to grow. Then our guide told us an interesting bit of history in connection with this tree.
   A juniper seed is shaped somewhat like a cantaloupe seed. One of these little seeds fell into a crevice near the edge of the canyon wall. Everything was solid rock. It appeared that the seed could not possibly germinate since there was no soil, little if any water, and virtually no sunshine down in this crevice. Yet this little seed was not covered about these limits. It had but one burning desire and that was to fulfill the measure of its creation!
   In a manner that we cannot fathom, that little seed germinated, implanted roots into that solid rock, and began to grow. Gradually it raised a shoot through the crevice where it could seek sunshine and a little rain.
   As it continued to grow and expand into a full-fledged, through misshapen, tree, its trunk and its roots began to exert a continuing pressure on the outer ledge of rock. Finally the pressure became so great that one entire large section of the canyon wall broke loose and crumbled into a massive heap near the base of the canyon, nearly one mile straight down.
   The guide said it was estimated that forty million tons of rock lay at the base of this tremendous canyon because that little seed didn't know it could not grow. It just wouldn't give up.
   No one is beaten until he stops trying. No one! We have often heard the admonition, "…without faith no man pleaseth God..." (D&C 63:11.) We need to discover how to gown in faith. We also need experience. A living faith is a priceless possession and the quest for it is worthy of our combined energies of mind, body, and spirit.
   Persistence is one of the essential components of faith. Don't give up! "That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do; not that the nature of the thing itself has changed, but that our power to do is increased!" (Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, comp. G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1944], p.355.)

   If we continue to exercise trust in Him, He will be jogging with our every moment. I believe He softens the blows and crashes as much as possible without taking away the needed experience and exposure to trails and the exercising of our faith. With each needed stumble, a loving father will also be right there to help me/you back on, and start pedaling again!
   He can calm fears and cause us to ride on waters, even in the midst of a storm. He leads by faith. And we can/must/will walk by the faith He leads.

  The little girl who knew she could... and did!

And the parents who believe/support her every step of the way!

Kaja's zippy little brothers!

I believe in working for/towards fulfilling the measure of one's creation. 
I am grateful for Pres. Uchtdorf's insight to the atonement: 
"...while the Atonement is meant to help us all become more like Christ,
it is not meant to make us all the same." What an insight!! More on his talk here.
Happiness is: General Conference and my family. 
The two combined=