Monday, October 26, 2015

God Gave us Mothers for a Purpose


Conference talks are a source of strength and this week I would like to share my thoughts of one talk in particular.  

When Elder Jeffrey R. Holland began to speak about the divine and grand nature of Mothers past and present, my thoughts jumped immediately to my Mother.  I thought of her influence, guidance, protection, time, energy, and forethought that have gone into my life thus far and will continue to be a part of my life even as I grow older and gain 'independence' (though are any of us truly independent of our mothers?).  As I pondered I had to agree with Elder Holland and his assertion "that no love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child".  When we ponder the love of God for us and the love and understanding that Christ has for us, we're left in sheer awe that a being could possess so perfectly the heavenly attribute of charity.

A moment that struck me deeply was when Elder Holland related the story of a dear friend who was passing from this life to the next.  As part of his musings at the closing of his life he stated that "however painful it is going to be for me to stand before God, I cannot bear the thought of standing before my mother. The gospel and her children meant everything to her. I know I have broken her heart, and that is breaking mine."  I thought about the love of my Mother and the worry I must have instilled and the sorrow she surely felt as I made mistakes throughout my life.  But I know that through these trials and experiences of mine that my mother, in similar fashion to the Savior, "hath borne [my] griefs, and carried [my] sorrows".  Though in this life I don't have my Heavenly Parents standing by my side visible to the mortal eye while I go though mortality, I do have my mother.  In many instances the voice of my Mother has come to me in my mind to lead me aright and keep me on the straight and narrow.  We may pass through this life separated from heaven, but a righteous and diligent mother is the next best thing. 
God gave us mothers for this purpose.

As wonderful as this message came to me, I must again acknowledge that my own mother has likely been impacted even more by this powerful talk.  It has struck me and instilled in me a great respect for anyone who will or is carrying the title of mother.  I use the word 'carrying' very specifically because the job of motherhood never ends.  It is a calling that will continue through the eternities and will form and shape more of God's children into righteous posterity than any other calling aside from the Savior of the World.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Building Bricks Without Straw

Hello Everyone!

A quick update from Ballston Spa: Snow has arrived (shortly).

We got hit by tiny snow flurry yesterday during Gospel Principles, it only lasted 10 minutes, and none of it stuck, but it's only been 6 months since the snow officially stopped.  Winter's knocking at our door again and I'm breaking out the thermals!

This week I wish to share a unique insight that I learned from a talk given by Vaughn J. Featherstone in September of 1986 to students at BYU in Provo.  The talk, with name identical to the title of this post, is centered on a short passage of scripture from the book of Exodus chapter 5:

5. And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens.
6. And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying,
7. Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves.
8. And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying,Let us go and sacrifice to our God.

This passage is Pharaoh's immediate response to Moses and Aaron asking to let the children of Israel go into the wilderness to worship their God.  Pharaoh took this as a sign that they had too much free time on their hands and thus in their spare time wanted to go off and worship, so he increased the burdens upon them.  
From the talk by, at the time, Elder Featherstone he introduces the process by which ancient peoples created bricks with the following passage:

"As all of you know, straw is put into bricks and other kinds of mortar or similar materials to cause an adhesiveness to take place. In Moses’ day straw was essential in making bricks that would not crumble and crack when a little bit of pressure was applied."

The children of Israel would be left to gather what stubble and scraps that they could to build bricks, while being required to create the same amount of bricks; an arduous task to be certain.

In his talk, Elder Featherstone asks BYU Students, and by implication all of us, if we are trying to make bricks without straw.  Are we trying to sustain or gain a testimony or conversion to this gospel by using spiritual scraps, or are we using the wonderful resources we have been given to adequately strengthen ourselves and those around us?

We live in a day when great resources are available to those seeking to learn of Christ and of how we can build a great relationship with our God.  We are given scripture, ancient and modern, to aid us in learning of the plan, purposes, and commandments of God.  We are given support by family, friends, and church members alike to lend us straw when we lack, and we also can help those around us in like manner by lending those who use spiritual stubble some straw to strengthen them in times of need.  

I hope that you all have a great week, and continually build your bricks with straw and not stubble.  Then, when pressure is applied, you will withstand and not crumble under the pressure of trial and affliction. 

Love, Elder Gailey

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Are You Here

Hello Everyone!

This week, I'm a little pressed for time, but wish to type out a quick post based upon a picture I took while I was walking around Amsterdam, NY.  While I was on exchange there we took a detour down a little side street, as we were walking down the hill I noticed the billboard in the picture.  Once I saw that billboard, I knew I needed a picture of it.  

What a great question though, "Are you here?"

Are you where you need to be, doing what you need to be doing?  Are you really there, or are you merely in a physical location?  Something I've learned from my Mom is the difference between hearing and listening.  It's easy to hear what someone's saying, but it's a different thing to listen.  Listening is active, it requires work.  So ponder to yourself if you are where you need to be, and if so, if you're really there.  I've learned for myself that it's important to be where you are.  I can't be fantasizing about the future or the past while I'm out on my mission, it merely distracts from the task at hand.  It's a tough lesson that I feel everyone needs to learn at one time or another.  Be where you are, and work with what you have, because from there you can build greater.  

I hope you all have a great week, and enjoy the picture!

Love, Elder Gailey