That’s Nuts!

We were in Ijsselstein on Saturday visiting my brother-in-law Rob, for his birthday.
After a lovely visit together, we decided to take a walk into town to do some Christmas shopping.
Setting off on our little journey, “Maybe you’ll find some fresh nuts” quipped Monic.
We both love fresh nuts!
The streets were filled with music, lots of families with little children all enjoying the Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas, with countless Piet’s around town.
We were in and out of several little shops and it wasn’t too long before we came across one selling fresh nuts and cheeses.
The Dutch have a passion for fresh nuts!
Looking at the tempting array I asked “Mag ik deze proeven?”
As always, I tried a few different varieties of mixed nuts before settling on a favourite.
Different spices and a range of mixtures gave the nuts a special flavour and zing!
“𝑽𝒂𝒓𝒊𝒆𝒕𝒚’𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒚 𝒔𝒑𝒊𝒄𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒍𝒊𝒇𝒆” I thought.
Spices play a significant role.
They impart flavour to our food, as well as making it tasty and inviting!
I purchased two different mixtures.
One turned out to be our firm favourite with little dried cherries mixed in.
In a similar sense, 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐬𝐩𝐢𝐜𝐞𝐬 𝐝𝐨 𝐭𝐨 𝐟𝐨𝐨𝐝, 𝐯𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐭𝐲 𝐝𝐨𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞.
Maybe we are a little nutty (I’m sure many will agree!), but fresh nuts have become a popular choice for us.
Loaded with antioxidants, Brazil nuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, macadamias and any more, are all good for your diet.
You certainly can’t beat a good nut; I’ve noticed there are a few of them around! 😉
What is your favourite mixture?

Glorious!

Glorious!
Friday was a long day of missionary interviews in Rotterdam.
Arriving back at the house late afternoon, the mission home was filled with missionaries busy transforming the living room into a film studio for a Christmas video.
Observing from a distance, my first tuneful thought was, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…”
It wasn’t long before a beautiful Christmas Carol was sounding melodically through the mission home, filling it with love, peace and joy.
“𝑯𝒂𝒓𝒌 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑯𝒆𝒓𝒂𝒍𝒅 𝑨𝒏𝒈𝒆𝒍𝒔 𝑺𝒊𝒏𝒈, Glory to the new-born King…” they sang.
Many beautiful truths and countless Christmas traditions are even more powerful because they have been set to music.
We sing songs of praise, worship, and gladness as we recount the events of the glorious birth of Baby Jesus in Bethlehem.

Remember these inspiring Christmas carols…

“𝑱𝒐𝒚 𝒕𝒐 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑾𝒐𝒓𝒍𝒅, the Lord will come, and earth receive her King!”
“𝑶 𝑳𝒊𝒕𝒕𝒍𝒆 𝒕𝒐𝒘𝒏 𝒐𝒇 𝑩𝒆𝒕𝒉𝒍𝒆𝒉𝒆𝒎, How still we see thee lie”
“𝑶𝒉 𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒆 𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒚𝒆 𝒇𝒂𝒊𝒕𝒉𝒇𝒖𝒍, Joyful and triumphant!”
“𝑨𝒏𝒈𝒆𝒍𝒔 𝒘𝒆 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒉𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒅 𝒐𝒏 𝒉𝒊𝒈𝒉, sweetly singing o’er the plains”
“𝑺𝒊𝒍𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝑵𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕! 𝑯𝒐𝒍𝒚 𝑵𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕! All is calm, all is bright”
“𝑨𝒘𝒂𝒚 𝒊𝒏 𝒂 𝑴𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒆𝒓, no crib for his bed”
“𝑭𝒂𝒓, 𝑭𝒂𝒓 𝑨𝒘𝒂𝒚 𝒐𝒏 𝑱𝒖𝒅𝒆𝒂’𝒔 𝑷𝒍𝒂𝒊𝒏𝒔, Shepherds of old heard the joyous strains”
The Lord has said that the songs of the righteous are prayers unto Him and they should be answered with blessings upon the heads of those who sing them. (D&C 25:12)
The missionaries singing, brought greater peace and harmony into our home.
There was even more…
As their sweet voices, elegant music and sacred words passed through our ears, they penetrated deeply into our hearts, drawing each of us closer to God.
It was beautiful.
What is it that brings such love and joy into our lives?
It is the Spirit of Christmas.
Drop the last syllable and that becomes the Spirit of Christ.
His spirit had just entered our hearts once more.
One of the greatest glories of Christmas is the knowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who came to earth to help us get His glory into our lives.
Enjoy singing many carols this Christmas Season – they are truly 𝐠𝐥𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐮𝐬!
What is your favourite Christmas Carol?

A Pale Blue Dot

What is your 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞?
It is our turn on earth.
We live in troubled times.
Every day there are awful atrocities throughout our tiny planet.

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Pale Blue Dot

Our posturing’s, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbour life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
– Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.
Put things into 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞…
Frequently I’m asked – “Is there a God, is there a creator?”
In answer to that question, consider this response…
“What are the odds that a tornado spinning through a junkyard would create a Boeing 747?” – Bruce C. Hafen.
Let us focus on those things that will sustain a lasting peace of mind and heart.
That is my 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞.
Where can you turn for peace?

Don’t forget to laugh!

A fun experience from Belgium last week.
Departing our hotel room, on the second floor, fully loaded down with all our luggage, we arrived at the lift.
Our unspoken plan was to take the lift to the ground floor reception and checkout.
The visual indicator showed that the lift was on the ground floor “0.”
We both looked at the lift call buttons and independently of each other, we pushed the call buttons.
One button pointed upwards, the other button pointed downwards.
One of us pushed up, the other pushed down.
Quizzically, we looked at one another, thinking “Why did you do that?”
Do you remember the classic book on communication styles, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” by John Gray?
The book highlights the key differences between how men and women think, act, and communicate.
I must admit – that was my first thought as we stood waiting on the lift to arrive.
We turned to one another again and laughed!
It was a silly moment, but one that highlighted the simple differences between our thinking.
Stepping into the lift, we did finally arrive at our destination, after a short detour upwards, to the third floor!
After 28 years of marriage, our conclusion is this…
No two people ever see all things precisely the same!
Understanding and appreciating one another’s differences is the key to healthy relationships.
And don’t forget to laugh – often!! 😅
𝐀𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐚𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐞𝐧𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡?

“It made my day.”

Travelling has been a constant for us this week, with nights in Apeldoorn, Eindhoven and Gent.
We have met with lots of missionaries and young adults, held many interviews, given several presentations, and spoken in many meetings throughout Belgium and the Netherlands.
It has been a wonderful week and just a little busy too!
Despite all our busyness, one of my favourite moments of the week came, as Fernando Cervantes and I slowed down and took a walk in Apeldoorn on Friday morning.
As we started off on our walking interview together, we took a picture and recorded a voice message for Zachary Stoner and sent them off to him.
It was a silly little thing, but pausing for a moment, it just seemed like a fun thing to do.
It was Zachary Stoner’s last full day in the mission field and he and Fernando Cervantes had just been companions in Groningen together.
He responded to our message with “Thanks for sending that, it made my day!”
Choosing to slow down, just for a moment can make all the difference.
Seemingly insignificant small and simple things can and often do, make a huge difference, especially when practiced regularly.
One of my favourite scriptures is “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10)
It takes practice to be still, lots of it!
And I still have much to learn.
Yet, choosing to slow down, really helps!
“We would do well to slow down a little and focus on the significant and truly see the things that matter most.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf.
I am really thankful that we slowed down and felt the joy of that little moment together.
What can you do to slow down and enjoy the present moment?

To the Rescue

𝐌𝐞𝐞𝐭 𝐃𝐞𝐱…
He is an energetic 2-year-old Jack Russell Terrier that belongs to my Dutch in laws – Simone & Guus.
Every now and again, I get to spend some time with Dex.
Yesterday was one of those days. 🙂
Gleefully, we went on a little walk together.
After a few minutes on our walk, although I wanted to go in one direction, it was clear he wanted to go in another!
I relented, and off we went the way he wanted to go.
It turned out to be one of his favourite little fenced parks, dedicated to dogs, so that they can run freely.
Ball and thrower in hand, we commenced our afternoon of activity.
I was happy throwing, and he was very happy chasing.
Enthusiastically, this activity continued for around half an hour.
Then the fun really began!
Putting the ball and thrower away, it was time to depart for home.
He knew exactly what was happening, and certainly did not want to return home.
Off he raced, to hide in the woods!
For the next 45 minutes I tried every single trick in the book to entice him on to his lead.
Little treats, throwing the ball again, ignoring him, patiently trying to corner him near the fence, following him into the woods, then back to laying a trail of treats on the ground….
The Result – Nothing! 𝐙𝐄𝐑𝐎 success!
My patience was wearing very thin!
“Time to call Simone” I thought…
“𝐇𝐞𝐥𝐩!” I declared.
She smiled and laughed.
10 minutes later, as Simone and Monic arrived in the park together, Dex ran to Simone!  Job done!
Moral of the story – sometimes you just have to admit defeat, call for help, have a little laugh and wait on others to come to the rescue!
Have you rescued anyone recently?

The Master Puzzler

“I’ve seen a lot of posts lately about the church, why people stay, why they shouldn’t stay, church doctrine vs. church policy, the list goes on & on.
I heard a powerful analogy at church today that I want to share here for myself to look back on, and also for those who may need to hear it.

The Analogy…

The analogy, or parable if you will, was to think of the gospel, the church, God’s plan or even just LIFE, like a puzzle. When you start a puzzle, you start with what you know. You work on the outside pieces, pieces with clear edges, pieces you are confident belong.
As the puzzle continues, you may run into various pieces that don’t seem to belong, that fit weird, or don’t make sense. But you don’t throw out the entire puzzle just because you can’t figure out where that piece goes. You know there’s a bigger picture coming into place. You set aside that puzzle piece and keep working at the rest of the puzzle. Eventually, the picture will become more and more clear and it will be obvious where that seemingly unimportant, or incorrect piece goes. You’ll be glad you didn’t give up or throw that piece out because you’ll see the bigger picture.
There are many things I don’t have the answers to, but I know that God is the master puzzler, if you will, and every piece of this life; the gospel; and his plan is there for a reason. (1 Nephi 11:17❤️) Even if we can’t see where it fits now, don’t let what you don’t know or understand stop you from what you do. Keep doing the puzzle. Keep all the pieces in sight until you know where they go. I have a feeling it’s going to be worth it. 🤍 ”    – From a social media post by Emma Hixson

Remembrance

Today is Remembrance Sunday in the UK.
On the 11th it was also Veterans day in the USA.
It is an opportunity to remember the service and sacrifice of all those that defended our freedoms and protected our way of life.
If I were at home, I’d be gathering at a local memorial service in town.
Earlier this morning, I recalled an experience from April this year, when I had a sobering reminder of the reality of the ravages of war and in particular the horrors of WW1 whilst visiting Ipres in Belgium with a group of missionaries.
We visited several museums, trenches, tunnels, including a gigantic crater site where a huge explosion took vast numbers of soldier’s lives.
Then on to the Christmas truce site – where we sang silent night from opposing trenches together in English and German. We then played football in memory of the game played on Christmas Day 1914.
Afterwards we travelled to Tyne Cot, where we reverently walked around a vast sprawling cemetery.

Remembrance

Then onto the Menin Gate where we laid a wreath on behalf of the church.
I was also invited to deliver the exhortation, known the world over.
“They shall grow not old,
As we that are left to grow old:
Age shall not weary them,
Nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning,
We will remember them.”
The last line was then repeated by the vast crowd in attendance.
It was a sobering moment at the end of a sobering day.
Today, our world is filled with conflict.
The scope of what needs to be done to increase peace, security, human dignity and to relieve suffering throughout the world leaves one wondering where to even start.
A good place to start would be to follow Jesus Christ.
He is indeed the “Prince of Peace” – Isaiah 9:6
In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ speaks tenderly saying “Blessed are the peacemakers” – Matthew 5:9.
A peacemaker is someone who reconciles people with God and with one another.
I believe that He is the way, to long lasting peace.
We must actively seek peace in the world, in our communities and in our homes.
Turn to Christ.
𝐇𝐞 𝐈𝐬 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐖𝐚𝐲.
Follow His example.
Are you a peacemaker?

Practice!

What makes a man or a woman a good musician?
𝐏𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐞.
What makes someone a good singer?
𝐏𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐞.
What makes someone a good footballer?
𝐏𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐞.
A good artist?
𝐏𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐞.
A good teacher?
𝐏𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐞.
A good boss?
𝐏𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐞.
A good cook?
𝐏𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐞.
A good missionary?
𝐏𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐞.
A good mum, or dad?
𝐏𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐞.
A good man or woman?
𝐏𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐞.
There is really nothing else, but 𝐩𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐞..
What are you becoming through your 𝐩𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐞?

Information leads to Inspiration

“𝐆𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐩𝐢𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐢𝐬 𝐛𝐚𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐮𝐩𝐨𝐧 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐢𝐧𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧.”– Russell M. Nelson
Serving as mission leaders, our time is planned around a “transfer cycle” of 6 weeks or 42 days to be precise.
This last transfer cycle has been unquestionably the most active of our mission thus far.
With mission conferences, meetings, travel, tours and sadly a period of sickness this transfer, time was always, extremely precious.
During the transfer, every missionary has a 1-1 interview.
Each interview provides us with good information.
In preparation for the next transfer cycle, I’d normally sit down about 10 days in advance to pause, reflect and study things out in my mind, all of the necessary moves required to accommodate the arrival of new incoming missionaries.
This transfer was different.
New arriving missionaries weren’t confirmed until very late in the process, plus with only 5 days left in the transfer cycle, we were still completing the last of our interviews.
Subsequently, the information gathering process was hampered.
This last week, we met together to review the transfer moves and did our best to complete the exercise of new assignments and moves.
Admittedly, we felt a little discomfort, that stretched our spiritual capabilities.
Life has taught me that you cannot force or compel spiritual things, you just have to let things develop, nurture them, and allow them to grow in their own time.
A couple of days later (Friday, only 2 days ago) interviews were completed.

Listening

And then I stopped to really 𝒍𝒊𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒏.
As yet I still don’t fully comprehend the working or wonder of it all, but pausing once more and studying it out in my mind again, vivid impressions came.
I wrote out the thoughts, noted my feelings and followed through with the actions I was prompted to take.
Reassignments and moves for the next transfer cycle were completed and shared yesterday.
My experience is simply this…
I have complete confidence now, that good inspiration can only come from good information.
How does good information, help your inspiration?