Friday, September 30, 2016

Day 205 or 365 days of Solace: To Forgive and Be Forgiven

I laughed at the punchline of this joke today:

"before you become too critical of lawyers listen to the words of my good friend Jim Gordon: “It is true that some lawyers are dishonest, arrogant, greedy, venal, amoral, ruthless buckets of toxic slime. On the other hand, it is unfair to judge the entire profession by a few hundred thousand bad apples.” "

While that joke is funny, I most appreciated this lawyer James R. Rasband's, insights on Jesus Christ and the atonement.** I never used to be very good about forgiving people. I held onto wounds and hurts and I could not let things go. I am sure I have room for improvement, but the last few years, but especially this one, I have learned a LOT about forgiveness. Some of those lessons have been tremendously painful, but as strange as it sounds, I have learned so much in the process.

(Near the end he even talks about whether or not it's alright for Christians to take matters to court (quite interesting))

Feeling forgiveness for others, or being truly forgiven is one of the sweetest experiences on earth because it means that the flow of God's pure love has room in your heart and mind. 
I compare forgiveness to being released from a dark-celled prison sentence, and being set free in a bright beautiful garden of Eden!

I have read/listened to many speakers about forgiveness, and if you would like recommendations I will gladly give them to you if you request, but for now I hope you will take the time to listen to a few reminders on the topic. I firmly believe that forgiveness is a skill that every truly happy person has learned some degree of! IF you want to be Happy you know what to do....Forgive!
I like another perspective of forgiveness he covers. Something to think about! Excerpt below:
"But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. [Matthew 6:14–15]"

"That our own forgivenss should be conditioned on forgiving others can be a hard doctrine, particularly if the sin against us is horribly wrong and out of all proportion to any harm we’ve ever committed. Even harder, the Lord has indicated in modern revelation that “he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin” (D&C 64:9).

This is a very strong statement: if we refuse to forgive, there remaineth in us the greater sin. How can this be? As I hope to explain, our salvation is conditioned on forgiving others because when we refuse to forgive, what we are really saying is that we reject, or don’t quite trust, the Atonement. And it is our acceptance of the Atonement that ultimately saves us."

"Why is it that we sometimes have trouble accepting the Atonement as recompense for the harms we suffer at others’ hands? My experience is that we can sometimes forget that the Atonement has two sides. Usually, when we think about the Atonement we focus on how mercy can satisfy the demands that justice would impose upon us.4 We are typically quicker to accept the idea that when we sin and make mistakes the Atonement is available to pay our debts."
"Forgiveness requires us to consider the other side of the Atonement—a side that we don’t think about
as often but that is equally critical. That side is the Atonement’s power to satisfy our demands of justice against others, to fulfill our rights to restitution and being made whole. We often don’t quite see how the Atonement satisfies our own demands for justice. Yet it does so. It heals us not only from the guilt we suffer when we sin, but it also heals us from the sins and hurts of others."

With the help of God, and through the power of Christ's perfect atonement ALL forgiveness is possible.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Day 204 of 365 days of Solace: Dulcinea

This morning I was woken up to this word- "Dulicnea." The song itself is a truly sweet message, of virtue and purity, as per the lyrics:

(from "Man of La Mancha" musical)

I have dreamed thee too long, 
Never seen thee or touched thee. 
But known thee with all of my heart. 
Half a prayer, half a song, 
Thou hast always been with me, 
Though we have been always apart. 

Dulcinea... Dulcinea... 
I see heaven when I see thee, Dulcinea, 
And thy name is like a prayer 
An angel whispers... Dulcinea... Dulcinea! 

If I reach out to thee, 
Do not tremble and shrink 
From the touch of my hand on thy hair. 
Let my fingers but see 
Thou art warm and alive, 
And no phantom to fade in the air. 

Dulcinea... Dulcinea... 
I have sought thee, sung thee, 
Dreamed thee, Dulcinea! 

Now I've found thee, 
And the world shall know thy glory, 
Dulcinea... Dulcinea!

But it seemed to me that there was more to the message. So I went and searched and discovered some wonderful articles at

I knew the message for me, and I smiled at the message Heavenly Father wanted me to understand from my research.

"....The Man of La Mancha, a play about growth and redemption. Don Quixote will not permit Aldonza, a woman sadly abused by men, to be what she thinks she is. He calls her his lady, his beautiful, pure, fair, lady. He gives her a new name, “Dulcinea,” which infuriates her. But over the course of the play his view of her takes hold, and at his deathbed someone speaks to her, calling her Aldonza. “My name,” she replies with great feeling, “is Dulcinea.” The audience breathed as one. We were all caught up in the marvelous spiritual triumph that had taken place before our eyes."

Heavenly Father wanted me to understand my real identity, pure love's identity of me. ....God's pure identity of me.  I am not defined by what others have thought of me, or what they may yet think of me. I am not defined by the abuses or mistreatment of my life.  My worth is within the words of beauty of this song, but so much more. My worth is eternal and splendid. AND SO IS YOURS!

You must believe that you are more than the experiences and labels of your life. You must believe that the no matter where you stand now, or where you have stood in the past- that today is your day of decision. You MUST decide to accept Heavenly Father's label of you--which is "LOVED." 

In the words of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 

"....wherever you are, whatever your circumstances may be, you are not forgotten. No matter how dark your days may seem, no matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you. In fact, He loves you with an infinite love."

"Just think of it: You are known and remembered by the most majestic, powerful, and glorious Being in the universe! You are loved by the King of infinite space and everlasting time!"

Isaiah 61:10

I pray you will know of how loved you are!


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Day 193 of 365 days of Solace: Death on the Sabbath

I knew a friend of mine in her 80's was dying and I planned to go do something nice for her, but I hadn't gotten to her house to see her in the last few weeks since I learned of her cancer. I guess I thought she had longer to live. But today at church when my Relief Society President, and Bishop asked us to pray she would be quickly free of pain and return home to heaven I knew I had to go get one last hug from her--if possible. I considered going right after church, but I was empty handed and wanted to take her something to brighten her day. So I came and sat on my bed and with tearful emotion I considered all the times she filled my empty cup.
I hurried to finish my painting and poem for her, well knowing she could pass away at any moment. My son, who had gone earlier today to take the sacrament to her said that when they went she was unable to eat anything, and that there was a lot of family there (Meaning, in his teenage way NOT to bug them!;)
Undaunted, I knew I wanted to try to see her one last time. But I have to tell you, that as I finished up gluing my poem onto a quick watercolor rainbow sunshine picture (with 2 suns--the smaller one representing her, and the larger one representing God) I remembered the thought I had before I wrote the poem, which was: It's alright if she has passed away before you finish it because it will comfort her family to remember how loved she is.
When I walked up to her house around the block, I discovered a lot of cars and when I asked if she was well enough for me to give her a last hug I learned that she has passed away not to long before. I hugged some family and handed my poem and tearfully walked away wondering how I'd feel about going back to church with her no longer to return. :(
Here's the poem I wrote. Not a masterpiece, but it's everything Carol has been to me, and so many others! She was a one of kind woman.
Carol, enjoy soaring with your husband, my Mom, Tyler, Susan, and so many loved ones in God's peaceful and joyful courts above. I'll miss you.

*This song comforts me. And Carol showed the Savior's loving kindness. I know that in time all aches will be soothed and healed through the power of Christ. I'm thankful for the reminders Carol always showed me of His love.

I wish I could go back in time and visit her before she passed away, but time moves on. I take comfort in knowing that she knew of my love, and even more comfort in knowing that she knows even now how many of us mourn her loss. I know the veil between heaven and earth is very thin.

The angels rejoice at reuniting with their angels, and we weep at her departure, but I take comfort in knowing that I too will see her, and all those I love, again one day-- after my frail mortal body is laid to rest. In the meantime I am going to fight with my every breath to live in a way to please God, and to show Him all my love, and give him all my will.  I want to make a difference in this world, like she did.

Let's renew our efforts to do a little more tomorrow, than we did today.

Love, Christine

Monday, September 12, 2016

Day 187 of 365 days of Solace: Hold on to dreams.

Last night as I slept several songs played into my thoughts while I slept.  One of them I hear on occasion as a reminder that I don't need to feel embarrassed, ashamed, or upset at who I am. That song is, "There's a Hero," by Mariah Carey.  I smiled as I heard it, but I also prayed in my sleep state and asked Heavenly Father wanted me to learn from that song, which I wasn't quite understanding? I didn't get an answer, but fell to sleep again, far more deeply.

This morning as I went about getting my little boys ready for school, I heard a line from a song. I couldn't place the song, but I did an online search with the few words that I could pull from memory---  "Tear them away....tomorrow..."

Well, I found Mariah's song, and I smiled because I'd gotten the answer I had prayed for as I slept many hours prior.  God was letting me know that I can believe in my dreams, no matter how others may try to dissuade me. I know that the future holds wonderful things, even though the journey is currently heart-breaking at times.

Lord knows
Dreams are hard to follow
But don't let anyone
Tear them away

Hold on
There will be tomorrow
In time
You'll find the way

I don't know what your dreams are, but I know that if God plants them in your heart and mind, and you live up to making Godly choices, He will help your fondest dreams to be realized. I don't know when I will see fruition of mine, but I trust Him completely.

This reminds us to abound in "every good work." As we do so we will have all that we need. Hold fast to the righteous dreams (desires) of your heart.

We can "do all things through Christ who strengtheneth (us)"! (Phil 4:13)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Day 175 of 365 days of Solace: A sincere apology

Recently I went to exchange a defective 8x10" print from a local store. I explained to the man about the defective print the night prior. The man at the counter was a gruff, grumpy man and he used rude, disrespectful tones to speak to me. I gave a sharp reply to him, and he consented to let me exchange the prints out. 

Without looking up at him, I studied the graphic image I'd spent the entire day working on to get just right. The irony was that the image was none other than that of Jesus Christ!! - a painting by artist, Del Parson, which I modified the background, coloration, and added text and flourishes to suit my needs (a gift for a friend). Looking at Jesus I knew I needed to apologize-- even though the circumstances SEEMed to warrant a like reply.

Looking down at the pictures, I simply said, "I'm sorry for being snappy with you. I was just really taken off guard by how you spoke to me." He said nothing, and I kept busy comparing which of the two prints to get. I chose the most beautiful of prints (which if you are interested was without the in-store automatic color correct on. The other was far too blue looking!)

I made my choice, and only look down at his hands we switched pictures. I was about to walk off and leave an unpleasant situation. I said in passing, "Again, I'm sorry for how I spoke," but I had the thought to look up at him, so I did. As our eyes met, it was as if something in him softened, and the previous attitude of his had melted. He smiled at me, raised his hand up to me, and with a wave he said, "Have a good day." He didn't ever apologize, but his apology was in his new kindness toward me. I felt very thankful to feel that sweetness of life. 

It was odd that my determination to apologize, and then to look at him made such a dramatic difference, but it did.  And I would propose that anytime we can humble ourselves and apologize, even though we may feel justified in our words or actions, that beautiful things can happen in our lives!

I'd love to hear about a time that you found the power of apology transformed a situation in your life! Please share!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Day 162 of 365 days of Solace: A Weeping Walmart Stranger

I've been working on a photography project, and it's kept me too busy too blog! But I wanted to drop a quick line about an experience I had tonight.

I headed toward walmart to pick of my 8x10 prints for a temple photo shoot I did last week.  As I drove I prayed aloud to Heavenly Father. I find those are my best, most heartfelt prayers because I'm not distracted, or hurting by kneeling on my knees! ;) 

No really, for some reason I just pour out my heart more easily as I drive. (Maybe it's because I pray aloud, and I don't always do that as I kneel.) Tonight was no exception. I told God about my sorrows, and joys, and before I knew it I was in tears as I spoke about the love I feel in my heart. I thanked him for filling my heart with that love, especially when I never thought I would know love in this life.

I formally closed my prayer with a "in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen" before I got out of my car. But, of course, my prayers never really cease because I want to give my heart and life to the will of God, and if I remember to always have a prayer in my heart, then I'm more likely to make good choices, and be accountable to God. 

Well, I digress...

I walked into Walmart, as I wiped the last few tears from my eyes, and I look over to see a Walmart associate walking quickly down the front aisle and turning to head to the back of the store. She had a tissue in hand, and was wiping her nose. I looked to see if she had just sneezed, or had allergies, but the expression on her face was much like the one I'd had as I drove there. She had that open mouth, anguished look, and she was taking heaving breaths.  

I wondered, "What can I do?"  I hurried my pace, to an almost run.  I came up behind her (she hadn't even noticed me), and I threw my right arm around her, and said, "I'm so sorry you are feeling sad." 

I kept my arm around her, as I kept pace with her. She looked over at me, made a puzzled expression, like, "Who are you, and why are you being so nice to me?" 

I quickly filled in her silence, and said, "I was crying, just like you are now, as I drove here.  I can't help but wonder if it has something to do with Walmart!" She cracked a smile.  I proceeded, "Do you have a support system to help you through this hard time?" She sincerely spoke and said "Yes, I have three wonderful supports at home." I told her I was so happy to hear that, and as I turned to head down another aisle, I added, "I'll be praying for you hon." She thanked me, and we parted ways.

I felt so very thankful that I had the right words for the situation. God helped me to have quick thoughts of what to say.  

I also felt thankful that I could comfort this woman, who seemed to feel much like me. 

I felt thankful that God had placed in my path, with his perfect timing, a woman that I could uniquely give some assurance to.  

I felt comforted by giving comfort.

I felt the Spirit witness to me that by serving others, I am showing God's love on earth. And I felt His love for me because I am willing to show His love.

I am not the woman I used to be. I used to think more about how I felt than about how others felt I didn't comfort others very well because I thought about myself too much, instead of wondering how God could use my hands and heart for the good of others.  
We  can each have regular opportunities like I had tonight. There are chances all around us. They may be  small things, like putting your arm around a stranger and saying you will pray for them, or it may be visiting an elderly person in a care center.  But, if you look for meaningful ways to give your time to others, and pray to have charity, you will begin to see that there is hope in life, even where it seems hopeless.  

You must hold on to hope. Hope helped me overcome depression. Hope in Christ, and in His love, is what keeps me moving forward through the sometimes very dark days of life.
Seek the Lord in prayer, and he will bless you with hope and strength to face life,

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Day 149 of 365 days of Solace: Letter to my Niece, K.

K., this is a poem I wrote recently. You're the first person I'm letting read it all.
Well, I did make the mistake of letting my stake president read a line or two of it to understand how I've been feeling, and he wrote back saying we needed to meet again this Sunday!! (I guess I sound sad, or something!;]

How Much?

How much sorrow can one heart hold,
I ask myself today.
If I have anymore sorrow will my heart break
or my spirit simply slip away.

How much shame can one person take,
I wonder time and again.
Do I have the strength to suffer more
and emulate His name?

How many eyes must peer at me
with wonder, and disbelief
before I cease humility
and angrily wave my fist
and tell them to go away?

And, oh,
what of the gossip whispered
behind closed doors?
What of the accusations false,
that bind me with scarlet pain.

Who can see my spirit sweet
and feel the love that pours from me?
Must I lonely wander with the bereaving
the remaining days of life?

Will anyone stand with me
and decry the mocking tones?
Can anyone see my honor
or am I doomed to stand alone?

With heavy burden I walk each day
stepping across labels that pave my way.
I try to smile and act unafraid
but the searing often scars in waves

I close my eyes with mustered hope,
combined with faith unseen,
I take a step into the dark
knowing in the end I shall win.

The path I walk is narrow
untrod by cowards feet.
Angels attend me each step of the way
and make my hours seem sweet.

At times like these I falter,
and doubt my strength from within
but trusting my all to one perfect man
I know that I shall win in the end

Yet, on days like this
when my heart is heavy
I clutch my chest and ask
How much sorrow can one heart hold?

26 July 2016- Tuesday 5:10 pm
Original Poem by Christine

Today is day 149 since some adversity really began to face me, and this trial continue to happen. I 
try to put on a good front and smile, but oh my heart has been so sad. I keep going to church because I'm not there for others. I'm there to improve myself, and to learn more about the will of God, as well as to learn to love others- even when that is not always easy.

It's been a hard journey for me, but I just keep remembering the shame and agony the Savior suffered, unimaginably harder than my own, and that through Him I can face all things. There are times you are going to feel very much alone, but at those times you need to pray to remember the things that the Spirit has already taught you.

K., Hold on to what you know and remember of sweet moments in your life. And pray to remember those sweet, spiritual moments. Try not to let the anger of injustice and hurt dictate your actions. When I let those negative feelings rile me up I start to feel so much worse.

Pray for Christ pure love--Charity. And pray for humility to submissively face things like Christ would. It's what I do everyday. And sometimes all day long- when it's especially hard! You are loved! I know it's hard to imagine, but someday you and I will look back on these hard times and realize that they were making us strong, brave champtions before the Lord!

Love, Aunt Christine

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