Is there a God?

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.
In Alma 30:44, Alma states to Korihor “All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion.”
A study of the sciences, helps us to understand that if the earth were just slightly closer to the sun, then all life on earth would simply be burnt up.
Conversely, if the earth was slightly further from the sun, then all life on earth would freeze!
I choose to believe that a divine power holds things in place through laws that have been irrevocably decreed from long before this earth was created.
I know that no matter what era we live in, we can find peace in the powerful parallels between the scriptures and our own lives.

Coincidence or Tender Mercy?

Looking Back and Moving Forward.
When – April 2008 (16 years ago)
Where – Conference Centre, Salt Lake City, Utah.
What – General Conference Weekend
Who – the Kleijwegs and the Watsons
Why – I met Chris Kleijweg and Kenneth Johnson for the first time in October 2005, when they extended a call to me to serve as President of the Dundee Scotland Stake. A few weeks later Chris challenged me to attend General Conference with our new Stake Presidency, together with our wife’s.
A year passed by, and Chris’s church assignment changed.
We lost contact.
Little did he know that we were planning a trip to Salt Lake City for the conference sessions in the spring of 2008. It turned out to be the weekend when Thomas S. Monson was sustained as President of the Church.
And then the coincidence. Or was it?
Walking out of the conference centre, that holds 21,000 people, who do we bump into, in the crowds? – the Kleijweg’s!
It was a beautiful reunion.
Little did we know that they would be there!

Coincidence?

Recently, I shared this quote from Gerald N. Lund and I want to share it again… “Sometimes blessings come in such an unusual manner and with such precise timing that they accomplish something in addition to blessing us. They so clearly confirm the reality of God’s existence that they buoy us up in times of trials.”
I believe that a coincidence is not a coincidence when the Lord is involved in what happens. It is in fact His hand, His divine signature if you will.
He is much more involved in our daily lives than we give Him credit for. His Heavenly influence can and does impact the direction of people’s lives, and those things that move God’s work along amongst His children.
As the years passed by, we were both assigned in Public Affairs & Communications, in the UK and the Netherlands respectively.
Recently the roles were reversed, when I called Chris to be a counsellor in the Presidency of the Belgium Netherlands Mission, along with a new friend, Jurgen Hoole.
I know that some of the sweetest experiences in my life have come as I feel His promptings as He directs His work.
Likewise, I also know that when we are striving to do God’s will, He is anxious to bless each one of us with incredible “coincidences” – or in scriptural terms, “a tender mercy of the Lord”.
The Lord’s house is a house of order, and I know He is in charge.

Under Pressure?

Under pressure? Feeling stressed? A lot on your plate?

Usually, our first thoughts are to dig deep, work harder and grind through the challenge at hand.

Top Personal Coaching Tip – 𝐏𝐮𝐬𝐡 𝐁𝐚𝐜𝐤!

……And counter those feelings with an opposing action.

It’s a simple thing, but remember to take a break for 15 minutes or longer.

Take a walk, stretch, meditate, breathe, relax, get some fresh air, in other words slow down and be still.

Enjoy the scenery!

I did!

Allowing yourself some mental and emotional freedom from all the pressure, with meaningful slacking time, 𝒂𝒍𝒘𝒂𝒚𝒔 has great rewards.

Oftentimes, that’s when the laughter kicks in!

Do you act or react?

Do you act or react?
I like this story told by Dallin H. Oaks…
“I recall a memorable lesson I learned from Chicago Daily News columnist Sydney J. Harris. He wrote:
“I walked with my friend, a Quaker, to the newsstand the other night, and he bought a paper, thanking the newsie politely. The newsie didn’t even acknowledge it.
“‘A sullen fellow, isn’t he?’ I commented.
“‘Oh, he’s that way every night,’ shrugged my friend.
“‘Then why do you continue to be so polite to him?’ I asked.
“‘Why not?’ inquired my friend. ‘Why should I let him decide how I’m going to act?’
“As I thought about this incident later, it occurred to me that the important word was ‘act.’ My friend acts toward people; most of us react toward them. He has a sense of inner balance which is lacking in most of us; he knows who he is, what he stands for, how he should behave. He refuses to return incivility for incivility, because then he would no longer be in command of his conduct” (“Do You Act—Or React?” condensed from the Chicago Daily News).”
Reflecting on this story, it challenges each of us to focus our attention on the individual responses that we must make, to the personal adversities sure to impact upon each of us throughout our lives – sometimes even daily!

Choosing

Each of us have the power to choose what to do, in essence to act, and not simply be acted upon.
In most encounters in life, it is my sense that we can determine the kind of experience we are going to have by how we respond.
How we choose to act and behave ultimately shapes our character. Charles A. Hall aptly described that due process in these lines:
– We sow our thoughts, and we reap our actions;
– We sow our actions, and we reap our habits;
– We sow our habits, and we reap our characters;
– We sow our characters, and we reap our destiny”
May we always remember that “A soft answer turneth away wrath.”- Proverbs 15:1
How can you choose to act and not be acted upon?

Face the Fear!

“Aren’t you a little nervous?” asked the missionaries. “Not really” I said, “well maybe a tiny wee bit!”
And off we strode to stand out front of the theatre in Amsterdam yesterday.
What a hoot we had, talking to those exiting the theatre. It was fun. I really enjoyed myself as I talked with many people about their experience.
Several times I was invited to see the musical, “it is great entertainment,” said many.
Entertainment – “the action of providing or being provided with amusement or enjoyment, or diversion provided especially by performers.”
My response was “no thank you, perhaps you’d like to read the book instead.”
The official church statement about the musical reads:
“The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.”
The Book of Mormon certainly changed my live – forever!
I met Tom, a production assistant, touring with the show. We talked for a while, and I shared a copy of the Book of Mormon with him.

Face the Fear

I was overwhelmed by the fearlessness of all the missionaries. With faith they were able to quiet their hearts in the midst of the confusion and uncertainty in the moments that followed.
It is a daunting task!
Yet, each one of them with great courage spoke to the very best of their ability, addressing complete strangers, over and over again.
To young men and women everywhere – have faith against fear, faith with great courage and conviction in Him who will not forget us or leave us alone.
All missionaries teach and testify of our Saviour – Jesus Christ.
In General Conference yesterday, President Russell M. Nelson said; “His gospel is the only answer when many in the world are stunned with fear. We have the sacred responsibility to share the power and peace of Jesus Christ with all who will listen and who will let God prevail in their lives.
The spiritual darkness in the world makes the light of Jesus Christ needed more than ever. Everyone deserves the chance to know about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Every person deserves to know where they can find the hope and peace that “[passes] all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).”
If you’ve seen the play, then I’d suggest you may want to read the book, as I know the Book of Mormon changes lives for the better, and it can change yours too.

I’ll be happy when….

I often hear people say….
“I’ll be happy when….(fill in the blank)”
“I’ll be happy when we move home.”
“I’ll be happy when I get the new job.”
“I’ll be happy when the summer comes.”
“I’ll be happy when I graduate.”
“I’ll be happy when so and so leaves.”
“I’ll be happy when I get the new car.”
“I’ll be happy when we finally pay off the mortgage.”
“When I retire.”
But of course, when we finally reach the appointed milestone, something else just takes its place.
And so our entire life can pass away.
President Russell M. Nelson taught, “The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.”
Some people are constantly changing their circumstances and their focus in their quest for happiness.
The wise learn that happiness comes through finding contentment in the things that they simply love to do.
Elder Jeffrey R Holland says “Happiness is not easy to find running straight for it. It is usually too elusive, too ephemeral, too subtle. If you haven’t learned it already, you will learn in the years ahead that most times happiness comes to us when we least expect it, when we are busy doing something else. Happiness is almost always a by-product of some other endeavour.”
Stop and make a change.
Decide that you will be happy NOW!
Don’t miss out on the joys and the happiness you have right now – enjoy the present!
What is your reason to be happy now? 😊

My Favourite Dutch Words

One of the missionaries asked….“What are your favourite Dutch words?”
Here are my top 5 for the moment!
𝐋𝐞𝐤𝐤𝐞𝐫 – The adjective lekker, denotes several positive attributes including nice, appealing and high-quality. Tasty food is commonly called lekker. However, the word extends well beyond food! For example it is often applied to nice looking people, well-made clothes, nice weather and even a good night’s sleep.
𝐆𝐞𝐳𝐞𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐞𝐢𝐝 – This is a fascinating word – it is often equated to cosiness but means even more than that. For the Dutch, I think gezelligheid represents a much broader spectrum of fun, joviality or even amicable situations that are all united by a warm sense of personal comfort and togetherness. Its just a lovely word!
-𝐭𝐣𝐞 – The Dutch use diminutives much more often than we English speakers do. They make words sound smaller, cuter or friendlier by adding the suffix –tje. For example, a small dog is a hondje, a wee nap is a dutje.
𝐈𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐰𝐢𝐤𝐤𝐞𝐥𝐝 – I just love the word for complicated, every time I use it, it just simply sounds much better in Dutch than it does in English!
𝐇𝐨𝐩𝐞𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐬 – Anyone who knows me well, will know that my favourite Dutch word of all time is this one. It simply means hopeless! And for many years it was a perfect description of my Dutch itself!! 😆😂
Do you have any favourite foreign language words?

Attitude – The Little Engine That Could

“Make no small plans. They have no magic to stir men’s souls”, said Spencer W. Kimball.
Some years ago, I considered my own plans and questioned if I had set my sights to low?
Have you?
Perhaps doubts and fears kick in, along with feelings of inadequacy. You may even resign yourself to living a life of mediocrity and dissatisfaction.
Have you been there?
On occasion, I know I have. But what is really possible?
As a child I recall the story of “The Little Engine That Could.”
Remember the story of the engine that broke down…..
A big passenger engine, the freight engine and then an old engine passed by, but none of them would pull the train over the mountain. Then a little blue engine came by, she was not very big, and was only used in the yard and had never been over the mountain, but she said to herself “I think I can, I think I can.” So, she hooked herself up to the train and with all her might and determination, eventually climbed to the top of the mountain, then going down the other side said to herself “I thought I could, I thought I could”
Thomas S. Monson frequently stated that “Attitude determines altitude.”
Simply stated, fulfilling our potential in this life, depends primarily on our positive attitude, and the inner belief that we really can make a difference.
We can put our trust in the Lord and be positive.
Yet, our faith is often tested.
Choosing faith requires strength, not weakness.
With the help of Jesus Christ and as we exercise our faith in Him, I believe we can overcome any challenge and raise our vision higher.
I love this scripture from Isaiah 40:31 “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will lift wings like eagles; they will run, and they will not tire; and walk, and do not faint.”
We must learn to hope, to dream big, to set goals and to take action.
Begin today – you will never regret it!

Straight and Tall

Walking along the Vliet (our local canal), into town this week, we remarked to each other “Oh look – they’ve planted some young trees!”
Our attention was drawn to the new soil, the intricate support structures, including the heavy banding, the strong poles, all put in place to help the tree grow straight and tall.
Each of these simple anchors will provide the tree with strength to withstand the winds and storms, that in time will surely come.
My mind started to make some connections.
Monic and I have spent the last two days in Utrecht and Antwerp.  We met with 90 young missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, currently under our care and watchful eye.
In a like manner the young trees are very much like our young missionaries.
Our two days of nurturing, instruction, and tender care were all designed to provide support for each one of them, just like the young trees, to grow straight and tall.
Like the missionaries, each of us may struggle to grow straight and tall through the storms of life.

Storms

None of us are immune from storms.
Said the writer of Proverbs, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” Proverbs 22:6.
Our young missionaries are sending their roots deep into the soil of the gospel.  There they are nurtured with love, and the enabling power of the atonement of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
I know that these young men and women with our prayers, love and support will accomplish wonders.
Jesus Christ strengthens us to do and be good, and to serve beyond our own individual desire and natural capacity.
He is my anchor.
A few simple anchors will provide the strength to withstand the storms that will pass your way.
When the storms of life approach, what anchors you?

Lessons from Juggling….

“Can anyone juggle?” I asked.

A few raised their hands and I invited them forward.

I gave them three balls each and asked them to show us how.

Admittedly, they were a little rusty, but after a few attempts, the basics returned.

“Who would like to learn how to juggle?” I asked.

A few raised their hands and I invited them forward.

I gave those who could juggle the assignment to teach those who came forward how to juggle.

The challenge – they had only two minutes to show them how.

After their time was up, the novice jugglers showed us their rudimentary skills.

The result – it wasn’t very pretty, with balls flying everywhere – but it was great fun!

After a few attempts, one even managed to complete a cycle of three balls through the air.

The Lessons –

  • Learning takes practice.
  • Growth and Development takes time.

As we grow older and develop in life, we have to learn how to juggle many responsibilities. Frequently, it can take lots of practice to get things right.

That day, I gave a new set of juggling balls to the willing learners.

Pleasingly a week later, one by one they told me of their significant improvement in their juggling skills.  Each of them had taken time to learn the techniques of throwing and catching a ball. They had practiced with 2 balls and then ultimately juggled with 3.  With lots of continuous practice, 4 balls won’t be a problem either.

Learning something new?  Don’t get too disheartened and throw in the towel too soon!

Remember, practice and time are key principles in our learning, growth and development.