Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Wednesday ponderings . . .




Twice a year every year the Leaders and Women of our church (all girls from age 8 and upwards) get together for our own little mini conference.  This usually comes prior to the bi-annual General Conference which is for the whole of the church.  I love these special conferences.   I am always greatly inspired and uplifted by them.   In all truth you don't need to be a member of our church to watch them or read the talks or to be inspired by them.  There is food for the soul contained in them for everyone.

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It was in October of 2011 when I listened to a talk given to us by President Dieter F Uchtdorf, entitled Forget Me Not, that I was inspired to do this painting afterwards.  He is a favourite of mine.  (I know you aren't supposed to have favourites, but I do.  I can't help myself.)  I don't know why this talk resonated with me so much.  Maybe it is because I love forget me nots.   Maybe it was because when he said  . . .

"You are not forgotten. Sisters, 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."

 I felt like he was talking just to me.  It was like his words pierced my heart and I was that  little girl again who didn't think anyone loved me, or that I was important enough, or my problems important enough that a God in Heaven with much, much more to think about or care about  could stop and care about me . . .

I sat down right after and I painted this picture and Todd said to me  . . .  "You need to send a copy of that to President Uchtdorf."   At first I said no.  I felt that it would be very forward or presumptuous of me, and that my work was not good enough to send to a man as important as him.  But in the end Todd wore me down and so we made a print of it and then bought a special frame to put it in so that we could send it over to President Uchtdorf.

It was not too long after that that I was told that I might have Ovarian Cancer.  I forgot all about sending the picture to President Uchtdorf and the Conference.

 

That was a very scary time for me.   Ovarian Cancer is a killer.  I have never heard of anyone surviving it.  I can remember thinking that I was only 55 and I had so many things left to do, issues with my family which needed to be resolved . . .  and being afraid, really afraid that these things would never be resolved in time.   It was on my mind constantly.  I could not forget it.  It was just always there  . . .  always.  In my days and in my nights and in my thoughts.  Ever present.

At that time I was also reading a book by Gerald N Lund entitled Divine Signatures, the confirming hand of God.




This was such a great book! It made me think about all of the blessings in my own life and how intricately the hand of God had always beenworking  in my life. This book was full of real life examples of how the Lord makes himself known in the lives of those willing to follow Him. I appreciated that while many stories came from the pioneers, there was also an equal amount of examples from more recent years.  Stories about things which happen in people's lives where people might say . . .  what a coincidence  . . .  but really they are God-incidences. The stories and concepts  helped make me think about my own faith and hope.

And then one day. It was a Friday and I will never forget it.   I heard the mailman post the mail through our letter box and when I went into the front hall to look, there on the carpet lay two letters.  One was from the hospital and one was from the Office of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.



Well you just know which one I opened first.  It is not often, if ever  . .  . that anyone would get one of those.

It was a lovely letter to me,  personally written to me and me alone . . .   from President Uchtdorf, thanking me for the artwork which I had sent to him.  It was a nice letter as one would expect it to be, but what struck me most was the last paragraph.  Now President Uchtdorf does not know me or of my struggles, or the sacrifices I had made coming into the church, but my Heavenly Father does and the last few sentences of the letter went like this  . . . in fact I will scan it to show to you  . . .

 

Now that might look just like a few sentences to someone else and not like very much of importance . . .  but to me . . .  who was going through such a worriesome time at that point . . .  those few sentences gave me great hope, and not a hope that was just for that circumstance.  A sense of peace came over me that I had never before felt, and which has never left me since.   With those few sentences I felt all of the love that my Heavenly Father  had for "me" in a very personal way.  This WAS a Divine Signature.  And it was as if God Himself was speaking to me  . . .  telling me that He appreciated all of my sacrifices . . .  and my having stuck with the covenants I had made with Him, even through the rough patches . . . that "That" meant something to Him and was important to Him.  More importantly . . .  that "He" was mindful of the desires of my heart . . .  and that I mattered.

President Uchtdorf could not possibly have known what I had been through in my life, or what I was going through at that moment in time, but my Heavenly Father did and He had inspired President Uchtdorf to write me those words and for them to fall through my letter box at exactly the right moment.

I knew then that all would be okay, and if it wasn't exactly okay . . .  that I could get through it, whatever happened.



I lay in bed that night next to Todd, rereading this letter, with tears rolling down my cheeks and I said to Todd . . .  "An Apostle of the Lord has told me that Heavenly Father is mindful of the desires of my heart."  That meant everything to me, and you cannot know how many times since then that I have taken that letter out and re-read it, and how many times those very words have helped to lift me when I am perhaps feeling low, or like giving up, or unimportant.  When I despair that broken fences will never be mended, or broken hearts healed.  It is a promise to me that my Heavenly Father is mindful of the desires of my heart and that He is the mender of all things, healer of all hurts, and that He can work miracles in the hearts and lives of men, predicated upon their faith in Him to do so.

 One conference talk . . .  one simple act of faith  . . . a few inspired sentences in a letter of thanks.

This is what Conference is and can mean to anyone who has the faith and the will to be able to sit down and listen to, or even just read the talks . . .

I always, always get something special from them.  And maybe I don't always have letters from the First Presidency falling through my letter box, and maybe I am not always inspired to do a piece of artwork from them . . .  but I am always touched in a special way, and I always come away wanting to be and feeling like a better person.

I would invite each of you to listen to or watch the talks and presentations from the Bi-Annual Women's Conference which just took place on this past weekend, and to watch and listen to the talks which will be given this coming weekend which will be available on the same page beginning this Saturday at 10 am MST.  You don't have to listen to all of them, but I guarantee that even if you only listen to one of them, you will come away having been uplifted and inspired.

 

Isn't this a wonderful photograph?  It is a picture of my father's father and mother and their children (my father is missing as he had grown up and already moved away from home, as is his older brother Maurice who had died as a teen.)  The three small children are my cousins, children of my Aunt Fleurette who is standing at the back in the blue jacket.  My cousins are still alive and the others which are still alive are my Aunt Nadine (in the pink at the back)  my Aunt Arlette (little girl at the far right with the long hair) and the two boys at the front, my Uncle Patrice on the left and my Uncle John Paul on the right of my grandparents.   It is a real treasure this photograph.  My cousin posted it yesterday on Facebook and I just had to save it for myself.  I think it's pretty special.

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In The English Kitchen today  . . .  Chicken Rarebits with Melting Leeks.

Have a fabulous Wednesday.  Whatever you get up to don't forget . . .

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And I do too!


8 comments:

Val said...

Ahhh, the gift of the right words at the right time. How special, Marie. I love stories like this one. ♥

Marie Rayner said...

Oh thank you Val! I am so pleased you got something from my writings and ponderings! You made my day! Love and hugs! xoxo

Suze said...

Loved your post about the timing of the the letter. God bless your day.

La Table De Nana said...

I love stories like yours:)

Marie Rayner said...

Thanks Suzan, as you can see it is just as important to me some five years after the time this all happened as it was on the day! God bless you also! xoxo

Thanks Monique, I do too! I love to hear other people's experiences. they always inspire me. xoxo

Barb said...

Hi Marie~

What a beautiful post! I love the Forget Me Nots, and the picture you painted is adorable. The other day in YW, one of my girls asked me what Forget Me Nots were. I found this talk and gave it to her! It is a beautiful by a very inspired man.

Your story is so touching. What a blessing to have, President Uchtdorf, send you had letter! It came at just the right time - not a coincident - It came at the perfect time, the Lord's time.

What a treasure to have a picture of your father's family! I love old photos, and treasure old photos that I can find of my family . . . another blessing!

I loved Women's Conference this year, the message of service is what I needed to hear. It was beautiful! What a wonderful affirmation that we are all God's children, He loves us, He cares for us, and He is mindful of our every need and desire, that brings much comfort to my soul.

I can't wait to try the recipe! It looks delicious!

Hugs and Love,
Barb

Barb said...

So sorry about all the spelling mistakes in my comment, I'm trying to get used to a new pair of contacts!! Yikes!!!

Marie Rayner said...

It is a real treasure for sure Barb! I have seen the original and it's priceless. I once had it and then I gave it to my father and he must have given it to one of my cousins. I wish I had kept it now! President Uchtdorf's letter is like a piece of gold to me. I keep it in my journal. That such a busy man would take the time out of his day to write it and with such inspiration means the world to me! I hope you get used to your contacts soon! xoxo