Wednesday, October 22, 2008

God is Closer Than You Realize

God is closer than you realize, always closer than you think. You just have to quit turning your back on Him. If you want to feel closer to Him, turn around.

(The word for "turn around" in Danish is "omvende". The word for "repent" in Danish is also "omvende")

You Know Enough (Elder Neil L. Andersen)

"Brothers and sisters, we each have moments of spiritual power, moments of inspiration and revelation. We must sink them deep into the chambers of our souls. As we do, we prepare our spiritual home storage for moments of personal difficulty. Jesus said, “Settle this in your hearts, that ye will do the things which I shall teach, and command you.”3

"Faith is not only a feeling; it is a decision. He would need to choose faith."

We do not know everything, but we know somethings, and that is enough. It is enough to exercise faith. As Alma said, to plant the seed and perhaps to do nothing more than to desire.

But we all know more than that. We know enough to choose to obey, to follow the commandments, to follow the counsel of the prophets. We all know enough to resist the devil, to flee temptations, to come out of Babylon. Knowing isn't the problem or the critical part, at least not alone.

The critical moment is when we choose to act on the knowledge we have, in faith. We don't know everything. We don't know the outcome. We don't know the end of the story. We don't know how to solve our challenges. But we know enough to exercise faith and to follow the Savior.

D&C 50:24 That which is of God is alight; and he that breceiveth clight, and dcontinueth in God, receiveth more elight; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.

Alma 12:9-11

9 And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to aknow the bmysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart conly according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.

10 And therefore, he that will aharden his heart, the same receiveth the blesser portion of the word; and he that will cnot harden his heart, to him is dgiven the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.

11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser aportion of the word until they bknow nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the cchains of dhell.

This morning, how will this message help me to act on the inspiration and revelation I received Friday night? How will knowing a little be enough to help me find work?

Well, I know what He told me. I recorded the thoughts as they came. I came away with insights and ideas, but most importantly with specific actions and activities that I could and should take. I don't know if SW needs those projects or if they will approve them. But I do know that I had inspired thoughts and that there were specific actions that were called out. I know enough to act on those, in faith. I know enough to act on them in faith and then to ask Heavenly Father to bless those actions to be fruitful, or to bring forth fruit.

I can pray that Heavenly Father will bless me with tender mercies in the mean time, that my faith may be sustained, that I will not grow weary in my mind, but know that He is mindful of our needs and involved in helping us come to the solution.

The Infinite Power of Hope (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf)

"Hope is not knowledge,17 but rather the abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promise to us. It is confidence that if we live according to God’s laws and the words of His prophets now, we will receive desired blessings in the future.18 It is believing and expecting that our prayers will be answered. It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance."

(The beginning of a couple lists that probably ought to be added to over time.)

Things I hope "for" (things in the future)

  1. A way to support my family, at this time when I am out of work
  2. A way to build a long-term stability to support my family, including children and grandchildren.
  3. My ability to overcome the natural man
  4. A remission of all my sins
  5. That each of our children, including the son and daughter that are married to our son and daughter, will find happiness in their families and in their jobs.

Things I hope "in"

  1. The atonement of Jesus Christ
  2. The power of faith
  3. The power of the priesthood
  4. The tender mercies of our God
  5. The constant companionship of the Holy Ghost

"There may be times when we must make a courageous decision to hope even when everything around us contradicts this hope. Like Father Abraham, we will “against hope [believe] in hope.”30 Or, as one writer expressed, “in the depth of winter, [we find] within [us] an invincible summer.”31"

"With Nephi I declare: “Press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”39"

I think I have always been hopeful, with bright expectation for the future. It is probably rooted in my being more oriented to what could be than what is. Today, the thing that weighs most on us is finding work. Even with no firm offers, I am fairly calm and at peace.

  • We are working in faith to put together prospects and projects and doing what we can.
  • God knows we need work.
  • We have paid our tithing.
  • We are magnifying our callings.
  • We are responding to the promptings as we receive them.
  • We have the faith and prayers of friends and family on our behalf.
  • I have increased my "study, ponder, and pray" time

I have hope that it will all work out, and I allow where it may work out in ways that we would necessarily choose. We may lose the house. We may have to move away from AZ. But I am confident and hopeful that we will always be within the warmth of our Heavenly Father's love.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Drapes Drawn Back (Please Open The Windows)

This is likely to be a long post. (And that's a good thing.)

I'll start at the end so that it will make sense. Last night in my prayers, I asked for additional enlightenment about a call I got yesterday afternoon from Dale Delmege, a long time friend and senior mentor. Dale is one of the brightest people in the industry. He intimidates everyone else because of his intelligence. Not me. He treats me like a son. I get tons of really great thinking from him. He appreciates me because I appreciate him. And he gets some pretty great thinking from me sometimes too, which is an infrequent experience in the collision repair business.

As I was on my knees, I was troubled that I had not immediately comprehended the "way" that Dale's suggestion might be applied. I could not see the path in front of it. Troubled because the mark of the Holy Ghost's working with me, and of God's hand in things in my life, is that my mind is energized and thoughts and ideas that I had never before conceived come streaming through my brain. It is a thought storm with lightning. And then there is a peace. And that's what happened last night, for about two hours. I would be praying and have to turn on the light so I could write stuff down, turn off the light, another set of lightning bolts, claps of thunder (the echoing and amplification of ideas), and then have to turn the lights on again to write. As I say, this went on for two hours. Sometimes, I’d just leave the light on and go back to praying, knowing that it wasn’t going to be worth the effort to turn the light off.

Three weeks ago, after 7 weeks of preparation, I presented proposals for consulting work to BASF. I think it went well but I have never gotten an “it will work out with BASF” feeling. Not that it wouldn’t, nor that I should be worried, just no big confirmation. Gayle has asked a number of times, “what are you feeling”, and the answer has always been, “no big feelings.”

So let me go back to the beginning of the story and the middle of yesterday afternoon and take it chronologically.

I made calls to two people in the industry about researching a management system for Tim’s shop. Because I have to explain that I am no longer with GarageFly, I also need to explain what I am going to do. I try to describe the ideas I presented to BASF and invariably get, after a pretty full description, a very favorable response about it being powerful stuff and desperately needed by the industry. These are people who are connected to hundreds and thousands of shops who can help introduce some of the things I’m thinking of and so it’s valuable.

Later in the afternoon, I got an unsolicited call from Dale. I had sent him my new contact information, but it had not required a response. But we hadn’t talked in a couple months and he took the opportunity, after everything had calmed down going into the weekend to call and see how things were going. I reported that the contact he had given me at Hertz had not responded to a number of calls from me. Dale said he’d touch back and try to kick that forward.

But the natural question then was “what are you going to do then? Is there anything on the burner?” I told him about the ideas I had presented to BASF. Before we could explore those, we had to chat about the bad deal he got from BASF a couple years ago. (They terminated his consulting contract abruptly, ostensibly to give it to a friend of the marketing director who really needed the work in order to survive. On one hand, it was a kind thing to do and the kind of back-scratching that goes on all the time. But, it also meant virtually bankrupting the consulting business Dale was trying to leave to his daughter, Laura. She closed the company and moved to N.C. with her new husband to stay home with her kids. Maybe, it was all as it was supposed to be, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be bitterness and bad feelings.)

As we talked about the ideas I had presented, Dale asked if I knew anyone at Sherwin-Williams anymore. (Up until I left ABW, I knew people all the way to the top because we were the largest independent shop customer they had in the country. We had been flown out to meet with their senior management in Cleveland and knew them all the way up to the division general manager level. But they have had a nearly complete management change since then.) Dale said we should present this to Rodes Brown and Tom Hablisol, respectively the head of national sales and the division manager. He asked if I was going to NACE and that maybe we could hook up a meeting.

I finished the call mildly energized, if for no other reason than that Dale had thought the ideas valuable and worthy of presenting before other companies. And that’s where I left it until bed time.

In my prayers, I asked to get the kind of feelings that hadn’t come yet, the ones where I see the ideas clearer, where they expand and multiply and they start to become a tangible hologram. About ten minutes into my prayers, the picture began to come into focus and details of how to put the relationship together began to come together. The ideas became energized. Necessary questions also came, ones that would need to be answered, but even that is part of the experience of comprehending and perceiving the situation at a whole new level.

So, with faith and hopeful anticipation, I will begin to follow up on all the thoughts that came into my head.

Marissa had suggested a couple of months ago that she felt impressed with Ether chapters 2 and 3 on our behalf, and that maybe we should be thinking in terms of preparing solutions to our problems and asking God to “touch” them and bring them to life. I have taken that to heart and have been praying along that line, but again, never got a full confidence that we were moving ahead with BASF. After last night, I have an energized feeling about calling on the powers of heaven on our behalf.

I am grateful for the confirmations of the Lord that He is interested and involved in our lives, and that each of us have special and peculiar ways in which we feel that involvement and influence, that communication. Last night was a tender mercy.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

If you only knew how many times over the past ten years I’ve thought of each of you. How often I’ve had thoughts and feelings I wanted to share, but couldn’t find the right setting.

Over the past ten years, there have been a number of experiences, thoughts, and insights that I really wanted to share. Things that touched me in some meaningful way. They were things that I thought might also make your lives better, or richer. I would try to find a time to share them, but our times together were filled with people and food and lots of grandkids. Not really the environment to ponder deep things. So, I just kept them to myself.

There have been lots of private chats, and many of these have been precious to me. I appreciate you letting me be part of the serious part of your lives. Still, I have a desire to share more with you and more of you.

This last week, some of my reading pulled me back to Elder Bednar’s talk from April Conference, 2005, titled “The Tender Mercies of the Lord”. It reminded me all over again of the special feelings I had as he gave the talk originally. Elder Bednar’s testimony was “that the tender mercies of the Lord are available to all of us and that the Redeemer of Israel is eager to bestow such gifts upon us.”

We all need and appreciate the Lord’s loving care of us. It is humbling to think He even knows we exist. I have many times felt Him break through the veil to let me know He was watching, was taking care, was working on our behalf. These aren’t usually the kind of experiences where He orchestrates the way out of our problems. Instead, they are just gentle reminders that He is aware of the trials we are going through. That knowledge has invariably given me the courage to go forward in faith. (Over the next months and years, I will try to retell the stories of those experiences. If I forget or dally, nudge me.)

Three times Elder Bednar testified “that the Lord’s tender mercies do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Faithfulness, obedience, and humility invite tender mercies into our lives, and it is often the Lord’s timing that enables us to recognize and treasure these important blessings.” (emphasis mine)

You know we are seeking his blessings and mercy now as we look to find new employment and a way to support our family. (I should say that we have been richly blessed over the last two years in the work we have been doing with my brother, Tim. Without that blessing, we would truly be in trouble now.) We have been working hard to develop new ways to market my peculiar talents and trust that God will open the doors and windows as necessary.

It was in considering the many ways in which we need His help that I turned back to Elder Bednar’s talk. And his testimony that He was mindful of those who were faithful, obedient, and humble pricked my conscience. My mind went immediately to a new calling I had received as committee chairman for family history and temple worship in our High Priest Group. I had done nothing about it since I was called several weeks ago.

So I put down the other stuff I was working on and turned my attention to my calling. Nearly immediately, thoughts began to come into my head. I began to think about the blogs that Gayle, Colleen, and Marissa have and how they are tied together. I thought in my mind about the letters my dad sends. And I thought about the difference between them. It struck me that blogs could be journals that were available now, always available. Blogs could be used to share experiences between family members in ways that “knit them together in love.” (That’s one of Elder Eyring’s favorite expressions lately.)

Several scriptures came to mind. Malachi 4:5-6. JS-H 1:36-39. 2 Nephi 25:23-26. You know the verses. “To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers.”

The end of all this “working in the Spirit” is a new family history program we will launch in our High Priest Group to teach them how to knit their families together by writing a journal online in blogs. And this is the first entry in my online journal. I will look to mom and you kids to teach me how to really do this. Please leave comments and tell me how to make it better. I hope this will be a helpful account of our challenges, miracles, blessings, mistakes, corrections, etc. I hope to connect this to each of your blogs so we can make it easier to keep up with each other, in spite of all the other busyness and commitments.

It still won’t be small talk, at least not this blog. I may start a second one to do pictures and lighter material. I’ll probably do one for the High Priests, so they will always have access to the training material.

This first entry wouldn’t be right without letting you all know how much I love you and how great it makes me feel that you are my children, all six of you. (Yes, I counted correctly. Someday it will be eight and we will love the next two just as much.) I love you for what you are and for what you can be. And together, what will all be.