Thursday, July 28, 2016

True Greatness

by Lisa Rector

“Giving consistent effort in the little things in day-to-day life leads to true greatness.”

President Howard W. Hunter taught that true greatness comes not from worldly success but from “thousands of little deeds… of service and sacrifice that constitute the giving, or losing, of one’s life for others and for the Lord.”

As mothers, we often feel as though we have lost our identity. As a mother, and even as a writer, I feel as if I am floundering in my life’s purpose. The other day, I had a thought, “What am I contributing to society? If I were to die today, what great deeds would loved ones mention at my funeral? As a stay-at-home mother, am I contributing enough to the family, especially on days when my health is flagging and I feel as if I do more lounging than productive deeds? Am I pulling my weight when my husband is out there, for many hours each week, putting food on the table?”

Does anyone else think these things? I bet you do! Often we feel as if we’ve dropped the ball or let ourselves down. We guilt ourselves to no end. Why do we do this to ourselves?

I’m here to share President Howard W. Hunter’s words about true greatness, because as I’ve realized over the years, and often tend to forget, the true greatness I’ve admired in others is not the world’s standard of greatness. The people I admire are often humble and meek individuals who quietly serve with no selfish thought or motivations. They are the people I try to emulate.

This is what the Spirit whispered to me during a Sunday School (Relief Society) lesson.

True Greatness is accomplishing great things or small things, while honoring who you really are, while emulating the Lord’s character, by giving consistent effort in the little thing over a long period of time. It’s being selfless. 

In 1905, President Joseph F. Smith made this most profound statement about true greatness. “Those things which we call extraordinary, remarkable, or unusual may make history, but they do not make real life. After all, to do well those things which God ordained to be the common lot of all mankind, is the truest greatness. To be a successful father or a successful mother is greater than to be a successful general or a successful statesman.”

Giving consistent effort in the little things in day-to-day life leads to true greatness. Specifically, it is the thousands of little deeds and tasks of service and sacrifice that constitute the giving, or losing, of one’s life for others and for the Lord. They include gaining a knowledge of our Father in Heaven and the gospel. They also include bringing others into the faith and fellowship of his kingdom. These things do not usually receive the attention or the adulation of the world.

The achievement of true greatness is a long-term process. It may involve occasional setbacks. The end result may not always be clearly visible, but it seems that it always requires regular, consistent, small, and sometimes ordinary and mundane steps over a long period of time. We should remember that it was the Lord who said, “Out of small things proceedeth that which is great.”

True greatness is never a result of a chance occurrence or a one-time effort or achievement. Greatness requires the development of character. It requires a multitude of correct decisions in the everyday choices between good and evil that Elder Boyd K. Packer spoke about when he said, “Over the years these little choices will be bundled together and show clearly what we value.” Those choices will also show clearly [who] we are.

If you endure to the end, and if you are valiant in the testimony of Jesus, you will achieve true greatness and will one day live in the presence of our Father in Heaven.

How can I practice true greatness? Here’s my personal list.

·       Study the scriptures, and other revelations, and implement the teachings in my life.
·       Rely on the Lord.
·       Be mindful of the Lord’s hand in my life.
·       Stop my personal rebellion. Be obedient in all things.

Where should you start?

Look at your potential. Seek the Spirit.
What are the specific little things that would be good to give more attention to?
Write down one step that you can be consistent with to achieve your true greatness.

Remember, it takes constant vigilance! But we, as daughters, have the divine potential to be truly great.

Thoughts and quotes taken from this talk.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Move Forward

I can’t believe I missed my day to post. Life’s like that sometimes. We get busy and some things slip by us. It might be important or not so much. Never a good feeling.

As imperfect beings, no matter how we strive, we seem to fall more often than we would like. It’s easy to get discouraged and give up in life as well as in writing.

There are tons of stories about how many times this author or that sent out a popular books that were rejected: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell was rejected 38 times. Lord of the Flies by William Golding was rejected 20 times. Beatrix Potter had to publish The Tale of Peter Rabbit herself. The list goes on endlessly.


 It isn’t just in writing. Life is filled with reasons to keep working at doing things better. “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”  Thomas A. Edison

If I started over, I would be a much better mother than I was. I would have followed my heart and worked on my writing years ago. The list goes on and on.

We need to stop beating ourselves up and quit worrying about what we should have done better. We can start today, and do better than yesterday. Check our calendars more, plan ahead better, and do the best we can. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Spaghetti Miracle Trek

Image result for pioneer handcart trek

I had the opportunity to serve during Trek this summer. 

For those of you unfamiliar with Trek, it is when teenagers 14-18 years old dress up like pioneers and pull handcarts full of their stuff for 3 days. They sleep outdoors without tents and eat pioneer food. 

I fed the support staff at base camp. So, I lived the luxury life for those 3 days, sleeping in a tent with a blow up mattress and taking a warm shower everyday. The kids didn't get any showers at all. 

Their food was simple fare: apples, water, beef stew, roast pig, etc. The support staff better, i.e.the same food they'd eat at home. 

One girl, I'll call her Jane, attended Trek. Her additional challenge: she is vegan. On day one, the kids pulled hand carts for 10-11 miles through the woods. She skipped breakfast (a big no-no) and at dinner time had only eaten an apple and a twizzler. She'd drank very little water. (Many girls chose to drink as little water as possible to forego peeing in the woods. Mistake) Beef stew dinner was served at 9pm to the tired, dirty, hungry kids. 

Whatever the circumstances, Jane's special vegan food wasn't with her on Trek. She had nothing to eat. Leaders tended to her. She cried to her brother, that all she wanted was to go home and eat a large bowl of spaghetti. That's when the call came in to base camp to find Jane something to eat. 

The Lord had foreseen Jane's need. I'd served a veggie platter at lunch time to the staff. Jane got a plate of veggies. And I still had leftover spaghetti with vegan tomato sauce (a staff member had a dairy allergy I had to avoid so it was meat and dairy free). 

Right after Jane expressed her wish for a large bowl of spaghetti, two leaders arrived with the veggies and spaghetti. She ate with gusto. And a leader, who'd sat with her the whole time, pointed out that the Lord answered her prayer and wanted Jane to stay and finish Trek. She did. 
Image result for bowl of spaghetti

Some would call it coincidence. I disagree. 

See, I'd made the menu for Trek in May. It took place 2 months later in July. It's amazing to me, how the Lord knows each of us individually and can prepare to meet our needs through another even without them knowing it. Besides having left over spaghetti, I also had left over rice. I debated which to send to Jane not knowing which one would appeal to her more and felt impressed to send the spaghetti. 

I was grateful to be a part of the Lord's answer to a young woman's prayer. And for the reminder, in my own life, how well he knows and loves each one of us. 

What miracles, large or small, have you seen in your life? 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Fourth of July!!!

The Fourth of July has always been a fun holiday for me. It's summer, there's fireworks, yummy food, and spending time with family.

When I was young, our ward would go up the mountains and camp overnight, with a patriotic fireside by, well, the fire. It was so much fun. After a few years of this, they no longer had campouts, but we'd still go up to the church that morning for breakfast and a flag ceremony. I loved it.

Along with that, we'd have a huge pool party that our city pool hosted where there were races to win little coupons for around our tiny town, along with them throwing several dollars in coins into the pool. 

That night we'd either do fireworks at our house or we'd drive to the local college to watch fireworks and have picnic.

Did I mention how much I loved growing up where I did?

Anyway, flash forward several years and a trip to Australia. I loved it there. With all the bad things that happened, I still loved it there. But it wasn't home. It wasn't America. Their laws for repairing things, and their medical practices and so on, were not HOME. I wanted to go back where I could have my American flag.

We spent the 4th of July there, and to celebrate, we went to TGI Fridays to get the most American meal we could find. Our waiter was from America and I wanted to hug him. There were no fireworks (They're not allowed for citizens, by the way), but at least we got our steak, mashed potatoes, and corn on the cob.

We were home by the 21st of July after getting sick from yet another house. I wanted to cry when I saw our flag again for the first time. As we drove back from LA to St. George (soooo much cheaper than flying those last few hundred miles—even in two cars so we could fit our stuff!), I was thrilled to watch the landscape—MY American landscape—go by. And summer was finally back in the actual summertime. We'd left the winter back behind in Melbourne.

A few days later we went to a show at the Desert Star with some friends. I LOVE that place. The skits are hilarious, and it's just a fun atmosphere. At the end, they normally have a medley of songs that they goof up and it's hilarious. This time, it happened to be patriotic songs.

While people around me laughed, I sat there with tears rolling down my cheeks. I was home. And these songs depicted why America is so great. And while the lady sang God Bless the USA in Sarah Palin's voice, I bawled. This is MY country and I'm proud to call it mine.

Our country is going through a lot right now and the majority isn't great. We're set for a historical presidential election and I'm not looking forward to the outcome. But America is still mine. It's still ours.  And I hope we can always remember that.

God Bless America. And Happy Fourth of July!!