Friday, December 31, 2010

In His Service - Lessons Learned in My Service as a Relief Society President

Lesson 4: When I offer my life and whole heart to the Lord… He makes of me something much better than I could ever make of myself

The year before I got called to serve as a Relief Society president was a hard one for me. I had been struggling with some personal issues that stemmed from tragedies that were out of my control. Somewhere in the ensuing years, I had lost bits and pieces of myself - so much so that I could hardly recognize myself anymore.
Somewhere I had heard that service was the best cure for depression and though I didn't consider myself "depressed", I definitely wasn't happy. I decided that I was going to give a portion of my time to meaningful service. I believe that conscious decision was the first step leading to this calling. And it was a decision that has changed my life.

I was scared when I got this assignment, but I believe that the call came from my Father in Heaven and how could I possibly say no to Him? I knew that it would take a lot of my time, focus and energy, but again, I could not say no. I didn't realize then how much the Lord would give me in return.

Somewhere in all of the challenges, frustrations and time spent over the last three years I FOUND MYSELF. I can recognize the girl that I was so many years ago (with some added maturity and wisdom) and I can look to the future with hopefulness and purpose. I'm a better wife, mom and friend because of it. 

When I accepted the call to serve I, in essence, handed over my life, my heart, my time and resources to the Lord. And He has made me into something better. And here's the amazing part -- it doesn't have to end. I can continue handing my life and heart over to Him. I can continue to serve Him. Maybe not in the same capacity, but I can go on serving and He will go on molding me into something better and better than I could ever make of myself.

Monday, December 27, 2010

In His Service - Lessons Learned in My Service as a Relief Society President

Lesson 3: The Greatest Challenges Bring the Greatest Rewards

When I got called to be the Relief Society president I was TERRIFIED! More so than I can remember being in a long, long time. I felt completely inadequate and I was certain that the Bishop was going to call me and tell me that he had made a mistake.... He didn't.

I think I worried about every imaginable thing... people were going to judge me, look at me, need me to have the right answers and expect me to be perfect. I was sure that I was going to let everyone down. Then e that very first Sunday. I had to sit up in the front of the Relief Society room so that everyone could see me. I must have been shaking and I felt like I was going to vomit. My 2nd counselor, Liz Kirkby, came and sat down beside me. And she put her arm around me. I literally felt buoyed up. I don't know that she knows how much that affected me and lifted me when I really needed it, but for the first time I felt like it was going to be okay.

I definitely did not raise my hand and volunteer for this assignment, but it has literally changed my life. Doing the hard things has given me renewed confidence in myself and taught me how to rely on my Father in Heaven.

Sometimes we are required to say things that seem to be out of our nature and to put ourselves in situations that are uncomfortable for us. But the hardest, most challenging things bring the greatest and deepest rewards. It was hard for me to be in charge. I didn't want it to seem as if I put myself on top of others or thought of myself as better. I didn't. Making decisions that affect others is scary, but I developed some of the greatest friendships I have ever had and I have seen lives change. That is so rewarding and sustaining and faith-building.

Friday, December 24, 2010

In His Service - Lessons Learned in My Service as a Relief Society President

Lesson2: He Lives

I can't count the number of times I have witnessed this truth over the last three years. I can't say that I witnessed any huge miraculous events, but I definitely saw His hand in many, many small and simple things.

At one time I kept thinking of a woman in my ward.For no particular reason, her name kept coming up in conversations and she kept popping into my mind. It turned out that one of my counselors was having the same experience. We scheduled an appointment to visit with her. At first everything was fairly casual as we caught up on the daily comings and goings of her life. But by the end, we knew exactly why we were there. She needed someone to listen to her and to love her. We couldn't fix her problems for her, but at least we were aware of them now and could support her through them.

As I went home that day, I felt the power and love of my Savior. I knew that He had a hand in this work. This wonderful woman needed to feel His love and He sent us to give it to her.

This experience has been repeated on several occasions with other women throughout my time in His service. The events may not have been grand but the accumulation of these experiences is more than I could ever create on my own. He Lives and He is a present and active force in our lives, We can KNOW this for ourselves simply by paying attention to these small and simple things.

I know my Savior lives.

Monday, December 20, 2010

In His Service - Lessons Learned in My Service as a Relief Society President

Lesson 1: You Love Those that You Serve

Nothing builds love quite like service. Think about your children. Who else do you devote more of your time and energy to than them? Sure, there might be a genetic link - blood ties - but surely that growing  love that continues to get stronger each day and each year is born of your complete dedication to your child.

That's the kind of love that comes from serving. When we serve someone, we become invested in a good outcome for them. When we add prayer and purpose to our service, the love and results are that much stronger.

I don't have many issues with many people. I really and truly get along well with most people that I meet. My feelings for each person aren't always equal, however. It's normal to "click" with some people more than with others. Before I got called as the ward Relief Society president, there was a woman who I didn't quite "click" with. It wasn't that I didn't like her... I just didn't know her very well. I thought she seemed nice enough but that she wasn't anyone I could really be friends with. As a Relief Society president, I was given a love for each sister under my stewardship. It was easy to love them. I could feel of my Savior's love for these women. But, that doesn't mean I "clicked" with all of them - including this one particular sister. Until, that is, I had the opportunity to personally serve her. My concern for her took over any other hesitations I had had previously. That service bore a great love and understanding of this woman that I am incredibly grateful for.

If there is someone that you are having a hard time understanding or getting along with - take the time to do some kind acts of service. Even something as simple as praying for them can truly go a long way at helping you to see past the minor irritations and annoyances to the deeper goodness that lies within most people.

When has an act of service caused a change of heart for you? Share your comments below... or write a blog post and link it up here for others to read.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A New Chapter and a Mixed Bag of Emotions

Today I was released from a church calling that I've served in for the last three years of my life. (For those that don't understand, a calling is kind of like volunteer work that we don't volunteer for. We willingly serve because we believe it is our duty to God.) This calling has been heavy at times and yes, I do feel some measure of relief. But I also feel incredibly sad, unsettled, anxious, excited, and more than anything - grateful.

I have had the amazing opportunity to serve the women in my ward, to learn from them, to cry with them, to pray for them and to watch them grow. In the meantime, it has been me that has probably grown the most. I have been so blessed. I have grown to love these women so much and I am incredibly sad for this chapter of my life to be over. I will miss visiting these women in their homes and caring for their needs. I know our friendship doesn't end with this assignment but the dynamics will surely change.

With this release will come a loss of divine inspiration that was definitely present and needed for me to be able to serve in this capacity. And oh how I will miss it. I have felt the love of my Savior constantly for the last three years. I know He still loves me and I know He will provide other opportunities for me to serve. I look forward to those opportunities because more than anything, I have learned the value of service. Whenever we give of ourselves, it is given back to us tenfold.

I am so grateful for the women I have been able to serve with. They are some of my very best friends. I have learned that we love the people we serve and we love the people we serve with. I love these women and am grateful for all of the wonderful memories that I get to take with me and the deep friendships.

I have put together a series of posts about what I have learned in this service. They are probably more for mine and my family's sake, but I hope you will oblige me by allowing me to post them here to share with whomever may wish to read them. I think there is something for everyone in these posts. And then we can get back to the laughter and mayhem of everyday living with four soon-to-be-five kids and one chaotic work-from-home mommy.

I wish I would have taken more pictures!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Signs of Aging -- Never!

So, the other day Lil' Mama and I are driving and she turns to me and says, "Ooh, mom, you have a gray hair. Right there, I see it."

.....Pause for dramatic effect.....

So, I did what any self respecting woman my age would do --- I DENIED IT, of course. And then I plucked it out when she wasn't looking!

Time to visit my hair dresser.

This, by the way, is a first for me. I guess I can't complain... I made it to 34, but oh how I'd hoped to hold out for a little while longer.

What do you do to hide or prevent those pesky signs of your true age from showing? Do you prefer to embrace it or deny, deny, deny?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I'm back

After trying out WordPress, I've decided to come on back to Blogger. I'm sure some of you will disagree but the truth is that I'm just too dang busy to figure out WordPress. Maybe one of these days I'll get it and want to switch again, but for now I'm all about keeping it simple. Blogger is simple enough for a techno-phobe like me.

Over the next couple of days, I'll be attempting to transfer over my WordPress posts and then watch for some new posts... I've got a couple in the works.

Hope to chat with you soon!