Tuesday, May 26, 2015

HERE'S MUD IN YOUR EYE

Jesus healing a blind man
So, have you ever had this happen? I woke up this morning refreshed, from a really good sleep, so good that I almost missed the alarm, well I did miss it by 30 minutes. I love it when I am able to fall asleep and then wake up uninterrupted, it is a rare thing. So I woke up, and I noticed that there was something in my left eye. I couldn't see too clearly, so of course I rubbed it. I check it out in the bathroom mirror and the eye is naturally red and upset from me rubbing it. But there seems to be something “floating” over the surface of my eyeball that I “see” from the inside out. (I know this sounds like an episode from Alice in Wonderland). Why, it’s a “Floater”!! And my brothers and sisters, this is a real medical term; floater. I checked out Wikipedia to find out what a “floater” is and what is really going on. I don’t know about you, but this is not my first experience with a floater. It does eventually disappear, and not for the reason you think. This is what causes the “float”: Age.
Floaters are deposits of various size, shape, consistency, refractive index, and motility within the eye's vitreous humor, which is normally transparent. At a young age, the vitreous is transparent, but as one ages, imperfections gradually develop. The common type of floater, which is present in most people’s eyes, is due to degenerative changes of the vitreous humor
It can be caused by damage, maybe too vigorous “eye rubbing”, I have allergies and the pollen is super thick this year….. I digress. It is caused by age.
Causes: There are various causes for the appearance of floaters, of which the most common are described here. Simply stated, any damage to the eye that causes material to enter the vitreous humor can result in floaters.Floaters can be a sign of retinal detachment or a retinal tear but in most cases (98% according to the National Health Service it is simply age related or due to natural change in the vitreous humor.
So, sometimes I might accidentally “punch myself in the eye” when I sleep; It could happen. Did I mention that I have allergies?  
Treatment: While surgeries do exist to correct for severe cases of floaters, there are no medications (including eye drops) that can correct for this vitreous deterioration. Floaters are often caused by the normal aging process and will usually disappear as the brain learns to ignore them.
So, after I determined that it was a true “float thingy”, I put some “allergy” drops in my eyes, and I took an allergy pill and put a warm compress in my eyes. The float thingy is still there but my brain is “learning” to ignore it and that takes anywhere from 24 hours to a couple of days. (I think the pill and the drops worked too.)
Of course, this reminded me of my Sunday school lesson this past Sunday. In John chapter 9 Jesus heals a blind man by using “spit” as an active agent. On this occasion, he spits into some clay on the ground, makes some “mud cakes” and puts them on the eyes of the blind man, and directs him to wash three times in a pool. Now this was sort of what I did, only with drops and a hot compress.
I love this lesson because Jesus seems to be portrayed as a country doctor, using various folk cures to heal people. But with one exception, he actually cures the illness and affects a whole person healing.

So why did Jesus use spit to heal the blind man?    John 9 Living Bible (TLB)As he was walking along, he saw a man blind from birth.“Master,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it a result of his own sins or those of his parents?”“Neither,” Jesus answered “But to demonstrate the power of God. All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, for there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end. But while I am still here in the world, I give it my light.”Then he spat on the ground and made mud from the spittle and smoothed the mud over the blind man’s eyes, and told him, “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam” (the word Siloam means “Sent”). So the man went where he was sent and washed and came back seeing!

So why did Jesus use spit and mud? I found some info from an ancient medical book (online) that describe several techniques used during Jesus time to “cure blindness”. One remedy was that if you happened to “awake” into blindness, you were to immediately “spit” into your hands and rub it into your eyes vigorously. As the first morning spit after the fast had some powers. 
The next remedy was that a person experiencing blindness, after they had washed their feet in the evening, dip their finger in the dust infused wash water and place it on their eyes three times. Wow!! So Jesus has a tendency to “come” to a person where they are in their faith. What type of faith did this Blind Man have? In his day, there were no rights for disabled persons. He was a beggar, maybe kicked out of his home, living on the streets. He seemed to have found a place to beg in front of the Temple and maybe during his days, he may have heard talk of Jesus. But Jesus came to him. According to the scriptures, he simply “came” to him, and having compassion on him, offered his assistance. He seemed to use the prevailing practice of the day because I am sure this Blind Man was acquainted with the treatment. Jesus did not take him out of his comfort zone to minister to him. 
 As you read this story, there is a progression, much like investigating a new church or a new religion.  Do missionary’s come to visit and sit down to eat with you? Do they invite you to share in learning about a “new” life? Are you invited to make a drastic and joyful change in your life through baptism? Will your heart and mind find illumination through the Holy Spirit?  
I really love this record and I find that the more I learn about the “truth” of the Saviors mission the more my heart opens to love Him more.






Thursday, May 21, 2015

Lift


"Is there something on my back" Caitlin Connolly
Jesus heals the Whole Person

 Have you heard this story?  In the Bible, in Mark 4 Jesus is preaching the Word to some people in a town called Capernaum. Everyone wanted to be there, in that house to hear Jesus speak, to be healed by him, to touch him, to talk to him.

Mark 4: 3  Four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a stretcher. They couldn't get to Jesus through the crowd, so they dug through the clay roof above his head and lowered the sick man on his stretcher, right down in front of Jesus.

When Jesus saw how strongly they believed that he would help, Jesus said to the sick man, “Son, your sins are forgiven!”
Now the point of the story is that Jesus forgave this man of his sins, and then he got up and rolled up his bed and went home. But wait, Jesus also observed the faith of his four friends, in their determination at any cost to help their friend, to love their neighbor. I would say also that there was a blessing for those men. How long do you think that they had helped this man? Did they bathe him, dress him, and feed him? And what of his family?
What about this story, on Mormon Messages: "What if your neighbor asked you to take 20 minutes one night to help him? Would you do it? Most decent people would. But what if he asked you every night following, with no end in sight? Would you be willing to do it? … When would serving your neighbor feel more like servitude?”


That is the question a group of men had to ask themselves when they united to serve their neighbor Kathy, who suffers from the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis. For the past seven years they have lifted Kathy into bed at night. In doing so they have lifted her spirit, as well as their own.Kathy was diagnosed after 16 years of marriage. She assumed her husband would face the challenge with her. He decided he could not and filed for divorce. When her sons grew up, they had to come to her house every night and morning to help her in and out of bed. The work became too much for them to do alone.A group of 50 men—friends, neighbors, and church members—offered to help. Every night, two of them come to get the bedtime routine rolling. They pull off her slippers, adjust her pillows, charge her wheelchair, and place pills on the nightstand. Then they lift her into bed. At first, the men felt awkward about the procedure and burdened by the responsibility.“I felt sympathetic to the situation, but I felt like ‘You know, I’ve got other things I need to deal with,’” one explains.The group discussed how they could help Kathy without having to visit her every night. One of the men said that if the others didn’t want to help, he would do it himself if he had to. That caused a change in attitude among the group. Kathy’s heart has also been touched and changed as a result of the service.“I have seen an even greater compassion. It’s let me know that I’m not forgotten, that I’m still valued, not only to God, but I have worth to give other people in different ways,” she says.
What can you do for someone today? What is your story?
I love this "moment", it really hit the spot. I have been contemplating on how to say "Thank You" to everyone who has helped me and my husband.
 My husband has a chronic illness, and he has been "sick" for a year. At first we thought that after his first hospital stay, he would recover and be well and "return to his "life". But that was not the case, and God has other plans for him and us. The Apostle Peter said: 1 Peter 4:12-13    12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;
13 But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
What a learning experience this has been and continues to be. We have learned that Heavenly Father really does love his children and just like earthly parents, who would go to the ends of the earth to help their children, and make them well; so does He. But the brilliant part is that He inspires us his children to love one another, and succor one another and be the angel we need at that moment. It is this love that we have for one another, that helps us to heal. My favorite part in this story is when one of the men says that when he works out at the gym, he does dead lifts, but he call's them "Kathy lifts". I see that this man is strengthening himself which is a wise thing to do, but it's great that he felt the motivation to be a "better self", in order to be more effective in serving Kathy.

Friday, May 8, 2015

THEIR MOTHER'S KNEW


Wow, we are only 5 months into this momentous New Year of 2015, and we have started out with a bang, and no whimpering is allowed. I live in the Nation's Capital and the one thing you can be sure of, the Morning News can sometimes play out live in your front yard. A couple of weeks ago, there was a riot in our neighboring city of Baltimore,Md. I am sure you have all read the papers, twitter feeds, instagrams and you-tubes. It was stunning act of violence of neighbor against neighbor, friends and enemies alike fighting against each other. I know that the core or their protest was their sense of injustice, but it was still pretty scary to look at. Whenever the camera's would sweep over the crowds of people marching and chanting, and also the video of people burning down their neighborhood business, even a senior citizen home with no regard to anyones life or livelihood; this verse from scripture came to my mind: 1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil (he) walks about, seeking whom he may devour

I like that word "walks about", it reminds me of the movie Crocodile Dundee. I know, it is such an old movie, but the main character Mick Dundee, is on a "walk about" in the US from Australia. He tries to explain  that the concept of "walk about" is not just a short stroll through the neighborhood, but a purposeful "walking" journey, that includes meeting and mingling with the people who live in those cities and towns. Think about how the adversary comes into your neighborhood. And remember. that your very own neighborhood is more than the street we live on. It is the life we live, it is the words we speak to one another and teach our children. It is what we watch on television, what we listen to in our ear buds. Our neighborhood is our life, our soul. Satan takes a "walk about" in our lives and mingles our current conversation with his, and soon we may all speak the same language. Jesus commanded his disciples at his last meal with them, he said a new commandment I give unto you, Love the Lord, your God with all of your heart, might and mind. And a second, like the first, Love thy neighbor, as thyself."  Let all our conversation be seasoned with salt.

One of the more "positive" things that came out of this whole bad scene was a story about a mother saving her child from possible arrest or worse being  beat up, or killed. She single handed wrestled her one and only son from the jaws of that roaring lion. Her name is Toya Graham, and she is a single mother of 6 from Baltimore, Md. The video of her confronting her son at the riots, who was apparently holding a rock and preparing to hurl it at the wall of policeman nearby, is priceless. Here is a mother who knew, and she acted on that "knowledge" to find her son and bring him home by whatever means necessary. I am sure that raising children can have some "ugly" days, but we promised to work through all of those good, bad and ugly days with love and perseverance. There were so many opinions about this mothers behavior, but as hard as it was to watch, it was also so good to see a loving parent in action. Hater's gonna hate, but don't judge, what would you have done, even after all you had already done?  




"There is eternal influence and power in motherhood." Sister Julie B. Beck

So happy Mother's Day to all of my favorite Soul Sister Moms and you know who you are. One of my favorite Soul Sisters is Julie Beck, former General Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS. She gave many inspiring and challenging talks during her tenure. My favorites have concerned Motherhood. I am not a Mom with children, but I learned from one her talks that "All Women are Mothers". But my favorite talk is "Mothers who Know"  


Mothers Who Know
In the Book of Mormon we read about 2,000 exemplary young men who were exceedingly valiant, courageous, and strong. “Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him” (Alma 53:21). These faithful young men paid tribute to their mothers. They said, “Our mothers knew it” (Alma 56:48). I would suspect that the mothers of Captain Moroni, Mosiah, Mormon, and other great leaders also knew.
The responsibility mothers have today has never required more vigilance. More than at any time in the history of the world, we need mothers who know. Children are being born into a world where they “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).1 However, mothers need not fear. When mothers know who they are and who God is and have made covenants with Him, they will have great power and influence for good on their children." Sister Julie B Beck
Alma 56: 47-48
47 Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.
48 And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying We do not doubt, our mothers knew it.

My new favorite artist, folk singer Carrie Newcomer........If Not Now 




  

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

THIS IS JESUS....book review

J. Kirk Richards
1 Nephi 11:21 And the angel said unto me: "Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!"

So lately I have been searching for and collecting books about Jesus, especially books with pictures featuring the Nativity and the life, and death and resurrection of the Savior (typically called Easter) I checked out Amazon.com to see just how many books were available that featured the "truth" of the mission of Jesus and his Atoning sacrifice and gift to us. So far the scriptures give the most accurate reading. Most of the books I found feature an Easter Bunny, and other cartoon characters "offering" their own rendition of the "Easter" story, and sometimes if we are lucky, Jesus may make an appearance. 

 I am not condemning these books because they do serve their purpose. But are you looking for a really good book that will help you to define the "real meaning" of Easter or Resurrection Sunday? Here is a  simple but powerful book that shares the life and mission of Jesus Christ. "THIS IS JESUS" is a beautiful book that is composed of original art by the artist J. Kirk Richards and is narrated by scriptural accounts from the Bible. The cover of the book is a beautiful Gold and it is padded so that you can really enjoy the physical feel of this book. There are about 40 pages, with each art piece depicting defining moments in the life of the Savior, particularly in the final weeks and days before his crucifixion. The mood of the paintings are subdued  and emotional and somewhat  faded. But the message is the central focus and it comes out clear. I would recommend this for families as a family heirloom and also a  teaching aid, to help bring in the "Spirit of Easter"  You can find this book on Amazon.com and also Deseret Books.   
"The life of the Savior is portrayed in stunning fine art pieces by award-winning artist J. Kirk Richards. These striking new images were created by the artist exclusively for this book. Accompanied by a harmonized account of the Savior's ministry, Atonement, and Resurrection, these exquisite paintings reflect a deep reverence for Christs mission and sacrifice. Each page is beautifully designed to complement the unique style of the artist. A perfect reminder of the true reason we celebrate the Easter season, this handsome volume will be treasured by the entire family for years to come."

J. Kirk Richards
the artist
BIOGRAPHY
J. Kirk Richards is a favorite among admirers of contemporary spiritual artwork. His love of the textural, the poetic, and the mysterious has translated into a unique take on traditional Judeo-Christian themes.

Richards attributes much of his love for the arts to an early emphasis on musical training in his parents’ home. Turning then from music to visual arts, Kirk studied with painters Clayton Williams, Bruce Hixson Smith, Patrick Devonas, Hagen Haltern, Gary and Jennifer Barton, James Christensen, Wulf Barsch, Joe Ostraff, and others.

Two years in Rome influenced Richards’ palette, which often consists of subdued browns and rusts.
Kirk is best known for his contributions to the BYU Museum of Art exhibit Beholding Salvation: The Life of Christ in Word and Image; for his contributions to Helen Whitney's PBS Frontline Documentary entitled The Mormons: An American Experience; for the cover image of Jeffrey R. Holland’s book, Broken Things to Mend; and for his imagery on the cover of BYU Studies Magazine and in the Ensign, Liahona and Upper Room publications.

Kirk and his wife, Amy Tolk Richards, have four creative children. They split their time between their home in Woodland Hills and their country studio in the small town of Redmond, Utah.
Richards’ work is mostly found in private collections throughout the country.



In Reverence-David Tolk   featuring art by J. Kirk Richards

Friday, March 27, 2015

Why do we celebrate “Palm Sunday” ? Giving meaning....


I think sometimes when it comes to reading our scriptures; we can get into a rut, right?  I know that for me, I have read the scriptures in some form or fashion my entire life, whether I was active in Church or not. But what I realize too, is that I and maybe you have many favorite Biblical stories. Most people can name their favorite story in the Bible, with the birth of Jesus at the top of the list, and then his death and resurrection too. In the old Testament the favorites tend to be Noah and the ark, Joshua and his battle of Jericho, and the all time favorite Moses and the parting of the Red Sea.
I bring this up because this week marks the beginning of a series of days and Sunday’s that make up “Passion” week. This is all about the Crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These are some of my favorite non-gift giving holidays and even better, you probably won't hear a used car salesman urging you to come down for a "Palm Sunday" fire sale. This Sunday represents Jesus “triumphal” entry into Jerusalem on the back of a small donkey.  What does this mean to us?

I remember as a child, (in church) we celebrated Palm Sunday by “re-enacting” Jesus ride into Jerusalem. Sometimes there was a small donkey that was led down the aisle of our Church, usually a small child riding it. And we all had our Palm fronds waving them and placing them on the floor so that the donkey could walk on them, and we would shout “Hosanna, hosanna to the King!!” We did that and at the time I could hardly appreciate it. Mark 11:When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.
Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 
Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,“Hosanna!
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”  
For the Jews at that time it could be compared to Jesus “throwing his hat” into the political arena of that time, and becoming a more traditional leader of the Jews. One who would take on the Romans with physical force, maybe raise an army.  As it was, Jesus was making a radical statement in riding into town on that small donkey. He was openly declaring that he was and is the King of the Jews, and the promised Messiah, who would rescue them with his sacrificial death and atonement. He was pretty brave and so were his followers who openly acknowledged what he was doing in spite of the fact that there was “no king but Caesar” as they would later proclaim at his trial.
 But where did that come from, how does riding a small donkey into a town square announce his Kingship? So I googled it and here is what I found:
The symbolism of the donkey may refer to the Eastern tradition that it is an animal of peace, versus the horse, which is the animal of war. A king came riding upon a horse when he was bent on war and rode upon a donkey when he wanted to point out he was coming in peace. Jesus' entry to Jerusalem would thus symbolize his entry as the Prince of Peace, not as a war-waging king
Why did Jesus ride an donkey? First he came in peace; and there are four scriptural references:
·        The prophet Zechariah wrote: “Behold, your king comes to you, triumphant and victorious. He is humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass.” (Zech 9:9)
·         The messianic sign was at once perceived by the crowds who hailed Jesus as their king shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matt 21:9) It is an acknowledgment that Jesus is the true Davidic Messiah and king.
·         Secondly, an ass is integral to the story of Abraham’s offering of Isaac, a type of the oblation of the First Born Son as a sign of obedience.
·         The third reason is that King Solomon rode to his messianic coronation on a mule that had once belonged to David (1 Kgs 1:33-44).
·         Fourth, King Jehu rode into Samaria (a kind of false Jerusalem) over the garments of his adherents in order to destroy the temple of the false god Baal (2 Kgs 9:11-10:28). One of the first things Christ does upon entering Jerusalem is bring judgment to the Temple which has become a den of thieves.
So what does Palm Sunday have to do with us, in this so called “modern age”.  Are we celebrating something that has already happened? Or are we celebrating an event that has yet to come?  I believe that celebrating Palm Sunday is about freedom, much more than celebrating the 4th of July. What freedom is that, you ask? The freedom to worship the True God, the freedom to practice that pure religion stated in James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this; to visit orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world. And even more the freedom to love one another with the pure love of Christ. A freedom that is in peril, and that can sometimes be taken for granted.  
Jesus died to set us free and he must enter the city this Sunday. So we celebrate Palm Sunday, not because Jesus brings a kingdom on this earth but because when this week is over, the doors to the Kingdom in Heaven will be open for all. We celebrate this Palm Sunday because, if we believe, we have found freedom and we have found the way to bring freedom into this world. Tony Mitchell; “Thoughts from the heart on the Left” Blog 2008
In Revelation 19, John the Beloved answers the end of our question, why are be celebrating Palm Sunday? He testifies that the Savior will return and He will return in victory, entering a symbolic Jerusalem on a white horse:
11 And I saw the heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and he that sat thereon called Faithful and True; and in righteous he doth judge and make war.
12 And his eyes are a flame of fire, and upon his head are many diadems; and he hath a name written which no one knows but he himself.
13 And he is arrayed in a garment sprinkled with blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies which are in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and pure.
15 And out of his mouth proceeds a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he tread the wine press of the fierceness of the wrath of God, the Almighty.

16 And he hath on his garment and on his thigh a name written, KINGS OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

What an awesome sight that will be!!! I think that when I serve Sunday dinner, I will serve it with my "red, white and blue" tableware, and wave a flag of freedom, and pray for the "kingdom to come", and thank God for his son Jesus Christ. 



The Lord's Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem