Sunday, December 19, 2010

There are many scenes we could recall in which Jesus called the children to him...What do they know that Jesus wants us to learn? I love the insight of my dear friend Mary Ellen Edmunds. She says, "Surround yourself with sinless people; associate with children as often as you can." A newborn babe is a paradigm of purity. Can we somehow approach the purity of a child - the purity of heart, the purity of mind, the purity of language, the purity of behavior? Can we attain conscious innocence? Oh yes, that is the whole idea. Jesus teaches us, "Prepare yourselves, and sanctify yourselves; yea, purify your hearts, and cleanse your hands and you feet before me, that I may make you clean; that I may testify unto your Father, and your God, and my God, that you are clean from the blood of this wicked generation" (D&C 88:74-75).

He sent us children to study so that we could understand clean.

Jesus directs us to obseve our children so that we can be like them. We are all surrounded by children. Sometimes we don't notice them. Sometimes, even their mothers don't notice them... Do we take every opportunity to observe and learn from them? Do we smile and offer to play a little in the grocery line or quietly take a tiny hand over the bench in sacrament meeting? When we find them muddied in the garden, do we help them pick a bouquet, all the time searching out the qualities Jesus asked us to find?

Jesus is our teacher, but children are our first tutors in loving. As we love children, they will teach us more. Perhaps all we really can teach them is that love endures anything, that it has great staying power, that they can do nothing to keep us from loving them, exactly like the father of the prodigal son. And they teach us all the rest about love by loving us. In a warm nest of love they are freed to teach us all the rest.

~Ann N. Madsen

Friday, December 17, 2010

our opportunity

My family and I were in tithing settlement last Sunday when our bishop said something that has given me cause to really pause and ponder. He was talking about the paths our lives take and the challenges, trials and difficulties that we encounter along the way. He then said -

'Our Heavenly Father has crafted an individual, personalized plan for each of us to maximize our opportunity to return to His presence.'

Our Heavenly Father, in his infinite wisdom and with the tender loving of a parent, has created a plan specifically for me to maximize my chances of returning to Him. Sometimes, in my finite mind, I think 'Ok, I've learned what I need to learn. Let's be done with this,' or 'Could I not have learned this lesson another way?' Maybe I could have learned the lesson another, less painful/challenging/difficult way. But then I would not have learned the lesson with enough proficiency to further propel me on the path home to my Father.

As I have pondered that simple sentence, I have felt wrapped in the arms of my loving Heavenly Father knowing that the experiences I encounter whether joyous or heart wrenching are simply stacking the odds in my favor of once again returning to His presence. I have had a greater understanding 'that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.'