Tag Archive for: life

Life is a Book

Life is a book made up of days;
Each one of us writes one;
Its opened when we come to earth
And closed when life is done.
No pen but ours ere touches it,
In our own way we write,
Whether we fall or we succeed,
Turns with the page at night.
And there is no erasing it
To add or take away,
The yesterday’s account is closed,
Sealed within white or grey.
The morning gives another sheet
That’s broad and very white,
And oh, how glorious to have
Another chance to write!
No bad is there too small to show,
No good that’s ever lost,
All that we do goes into Life’s Book
In black and white embossed.
– Zelda Davis Howard

Values

Is it time to evaluate your values?
Some of my favourite coaching questions are simply these…
“What do you want?”
“What is important to you?”
“How do you want to live your life?”
“What do you enjoy doing?”
Take time to reflect upon your personal values…
Don’t live somebody else’s!
Be you!
Be mindful of what values are driving your life and look out for the illusion of ownership.
As each year passes by, I have become increasingly aware of the illusion of ownership and the world’s pre-occupation with it.
Oftentimes, I reflect on the fact we were born into this life with nothing, during our journey through life we exercise our greatest gift of free agency, (the right to choose), and with the exception of our memories and experiences we depart this mortal life with nothing.
Consider a few words – pride, envy, fear, stress, frustration.
Now think about the cause and effect of these words.
Remove the idea of ownership and the foundational characteristic of each of these words collapses.
As we understand the reality of stewardship and apply the principle in our home, family and business life, we can replace these characteristics with their polar opposites – humility, empathy, courage, peace, fulfilment.
By living our values – everything else falls into place.
What does the word “values” mean to you personally?

Biographies

At our Mission Conference in Brussels on Friday, I shared some of my favourite church leader biographies and a scripture too.
Biographies – “the story of a real person’s life.”
Our theme was “Looking for Christ”.
The Lord says in D&C 88:83, that “He that seeketh me 𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒍𝒚, shall find me and not be forsaken.”
What does it mean to seek Him, 𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒍𝒚?
It could mean to seek Him early in life.
Or another possibility could be to seek Him, every day, early in the morning.
Even another possibility could be to look for Jesus Christ before it is too late.
However we understand this verse, the message is the same… now is the time to look for Jesus Christ.
Not tomorrow, but today.
I love reading biographies, as they can give you a close-up view of a person’s life.
When you read a biography, you are not just reading any book; they’re like time capsules, understanding decades of thinking, life’s lessons, including struggles and successes.
My experience of reading so many, is that each one shares a personal story, as they look for and discover Jesus Christ, early, then choose to follow Him.
In every generation, every individual needs to discover and obtain their own knowledge and testimony of Jesus Christ.
Looking for and finding Jesus Christ is a very personal matter.
The scriptures are our primary source of biographical stories.
Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Elijah, David, Solomon, Ruth, Isaiah, Mary & Joseph, Peter, Paul, Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, Alma, Helaman, Mormon, Moroni and Jesus Christ.
On Christmas Day 1977, I received a now treasured gift, my first journal.
It was early in my life. I was 12.
Early in the morning on January 1st, 1978, I began my journal, my own biography and haven’t stopped since.
I began writing before it was too late.
This Christmas, why not begin to write, discover Jesus Christ – the Light of the World and your eternal identity.
How can you find Him, “𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒍𝒚” today?

Questions of the Soul

The autumn winds of seasonal change are blowing.
Leaves are whirling and twirling, falling to the ground.
It was a chilly wet morning in Rotterdam on Wednesday.
Monic and I were already in the church, snug in a comfortable room, busy with coaching conversations.
Upon finishing one conversation, I went to find the next missionary.
And there they were.
Resting.

Chilly

The Sister Missionaries were a little tired and cold.
Huddled together, wrapped in their jackets, they were warming themselves, comforted by the toasty radiator.
All week long, like their colleagues, they’d been boldly sharing messages about the Book of Mormon, outside on street corners, busy high streets and in parks filled with fallen autumnal leaves.
Physically, their hands and feet may have been a little cold, yet spiritually, their hearts and souls were glowing, filled with a flame of fire, burning brightly, fuelled by their faith in God and their knowledge of Him.
Thawed by the radiator and warmed by our conversation, they were ready to start all over again.
Doing what, you may ask?
Providing answers.

Questions

Daily, missionaries are asked lots of questions about life – 𝒒𝒖𝒆𝒔𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒐𝒖𝒍.
• Is there a God? (Alma 22)
• Does God know me and care about me? (2 Nephi 26:24)
• Does God answer prayers (Enos 1)
• Why is life so hard sometimes? (1 Nephi 17:3)
• How can I find peace and joy? (Mosiah 2:41)
• What is the purpose of life? (Alma 34)
The Book of Mormon addresses all of these questions and more.
It is my witness that The Book of Mormon brings warmth and comfort in times of difficulty.
Perhaps you are whirling, twirling, tired or cold, physically or spiritually?
Are you in search of an answer?
Then speak with a missionary today and read the Book of Mormon.

Growing Older

I paused.
Watching General Conference at the weekend, I observed the effect of age on many church leaders.
Like them, we are all growing older.
Similarly, I observed our departing missionaries as they gave their final testimonies at our recent Zone Conferences.
They too have grown older.
And a little wiser as well.
But, there is also something very different.
They have overcome hundreds, if not thousands of obstacles over the last 18/24 months.
They know a lot about exercising faith in Jesus Christ, loving, and serving people, being obedient and working hard.
They have learned a lot about different cultures and languages.
They know too about the principles of a disciplined life.
They have grown not only physically, but spiritually too, through their service and study of the scriptures.
They have 𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒆𝒅.
Their hearts are softer, gentler, kinder, and tender.
They have grown in knowledge, confidence, and ability.
In a few days’ time, they will no longer wear a missionary’s badge, but from personal experience, I know they will always be anxious to identify themselves as one who has served the Lord as a missionary.
Shortly, they will complete the full time missionary “chapter” in their own book of life.
And they’ll be ready for a fresh start in their next chapter, knowing what it takes to be a lifelong disciple of Jesus Christ.
To parents, family and friends, be prepared for some great inspirational stories and a powerful glow that will lift each of you to higher ground, to be better, to stand taller and to move forward with an increase in faith.
To those in Belgium and the Netherlands, if you want to speak to any of them before they go, then now is the time!
They’re growing older, by the hour!

Noise

In the Netherlands, noise pollution is a huge challenge.
One of the main sources of environmental noise in the Netherlands is road traffic.
There are statutory limits for road traffic noise.
The government encourages “quieter” tyres, silent asphalt, the installation of many different kinds of sound barriers and the insulation of homes.
Why? Because in a flat land, noise can carry over a very long distance.
We live in an area, known as the “Randstad”, and I am a witness to that noise every, single day.

Too Much Noise

Too much noise can be distracting and even overwhelming.
Yet, mild background noise can improve focus and creativity.
Many years ago, as a young salesman, I sold lots of different products, including public address systems for Premier league football stadiums.
I learned a lot about noise.

Meters

Using a 𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐛𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 sound meter, I’d often conduct surveys with a technical engineer to check on background or ambient noise levels.
A calibrated meter was an essential tool, to understand the levels of background noise.
It was calibrated regularly.
To 𝒄𝒂𝒍𝒊𝒃𝒓𝒂𝒕𝒆 something means to rectify, to correct, to change and to standardize, to adjust precisely for a particular function, and to re-measure against a standard to measure accuracy.
I especially like the definition given by the Cambridge English dictionary which is “to make small changes to an instrument.”

Personal Calibration

In a like manner, our missionaries are asked to recalibrate or re-examine their lives as disciples of Jesus Christ, daily.
Each of them carries a small booklet entitled “Missionary Standards for Disciples of Jesus Christ”.
Sometimes divine adjustments can be painful, and circumstances can compel us to change.
Like the calibrated sound meter measures noise levels, often we need to re-calibrate our personal lives and
– our relationships with our spouse, children and other family members.
– our relationship with other friends and neighbours.
– our relationships with our brothers and sisters in the gospel.
Recalibration is important in every aspect of humanity, including our relationship with Jesus Christ and with others.
Most of us are aware of areas in our lives that need correction and adjustment.
What needs re-calibrating in your life?

Change Your Life

Earlier this week at FSY, I used one of my favourite icebreaker activities; “A conversation with a time traveller”.
It goes something like this…
In pairs, one participant plays someone from the early 1600’s and gets into character/mindset.
The other participant selects a modern-day object/something from our day and explains it to the individual posing as someone from the 1600’s.
I suggest they try and explain any of the following:
– A carry out pizza
– A Smartphone
– The Cinema
– Disneyland
– Netflix
As participants get into character, the results are always fun and insightful.
Participants switch roles and repeat.
There were lot of smiles, laughter, and bewildered faces on show.
Followed by a realisation that times, things, and people have 𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒆𝒅 – substantially!
There is nothing so unchanging, so inevitable as change itself.
Everything around us seems to be changing at an accelerated pace.
Most changes in the world seem beyond our control.
Yet, you can 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞.

You can change your life…

Each of us have the power to change our lives.
“Every effort to change we make—no matter how tiny it seems to us—just might make the biggest difference in our lives.” – Michael A. Dunn
You can be a little better.
You can stand a little taller.
You can love a little deeper.
You can pick a different path.
You can walk a different walk.
You can find forgiveness.
And joy.
You can become your best you.
Because He gave His life, you can change yours.
I have experienced change first-hand through the actions I’ve taken.
As I have relied on Jesus Christ, He has helped bring true joy into my life.
He can and will for you too.

No Regrets

Reflecting this morning, I recalled a phrase I’ve used many times over, in coaching interviews for departing missionaries these last few weeks.
I interview them when they still have a few weeks to serve. In our time together, I share the phrase “𝒏𝒐 𝒓𝒆𝒈𝒓𝒆𝒕𝒔” and we discuss together what it means for them.
It got me thinking more broadly about “The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying” (Bronnie Ware 2012)
As a Palliative care nurse, Bronnie’s life was transformed by tending to the needs of those who were dying. In her book she writes about the most common regrets that the people she had cared for had expressed to her.

Top Regrets

Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as shared by Ware:
𝟏. 𝐈 𝐰𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐈’𝐝 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐚 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐲𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟, 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐦𝐞.
“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled.
𝟐. 𝐈 𝐰𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐈 𝐡𝐚𝐝𝐧’𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐞𝐝 𝐬𝐨 𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐝.
“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”
𝟑. 𝐈 𝐰𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐈’𝐝 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐦𝐲 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬.
“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”
𝟒. 𝐈 𝐰𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐈 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐲𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐨𝐮𝐜𝐡 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐦𝐲 𝐟𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐬.
“Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years.”
𝟓. 𝐈 𝐰𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐈 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐥𝐞𝐭 𝐦𝐲𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟 𝐛𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐢𝐞𝐫.
“Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”
What would your biggest 𝐫𝐞𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐭 be if this was your last day of life?
What will you set out to change today?

He Lives!

Today is 𝑬𝒂𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒓 𝑴𝒐𝒓𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈.
On that first Easter Morning, the tomb was emptied and we find hope and great peace in the words of the angel “He is not here: for he is 𝒓𝒊𝒔𝒆𝒏, as he said.” (Matt. 28:6).
We commemorate the greatest of all events in the history of mankind — the breaking of the bonds of death by Him who is the eternal Son of the living God.
I cannot remember a time that I did not believe in Jesus Christ.
It seems that the reality of His life, His death, and His resurrection has always been a real part of me.
Raised in Scotland, I was brought up in a home by parents who followed Jesus Christ.
They believed in and regularly shared their testimonies of Him and strived to follow Him – always.
I have always been grateful for that.
In our Missionary Zone Conferences this week, I spoke about Jesus Christ, His Atonement and resurrection and the impact His life has for all mankind.
In the Conferences, I shared one story about my Nana.

Nana’s story

I told them about the funeral service of my Nana, who died at the age of 94, in 1998.
As a young newly called Bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it was the first funeral service that I had ever conducted.
I recall that jokingly, Nana would often say, that when the time came, she wanted me to conduct her service – and so it was.
At her funeral service, I shared a letter she sent me whilst I served as a missionary in London in 1984.
In it, Nana refers to her own belief…
“God will bless you son, for taking his word to many. I always feel so very sorry for those who do not believe, they miss so very much and in this world. He is the only one we can hold on to…. I still love my Lord and know He is always with me to bless and guide me. To me He is everything and I know He is to you also. May He bless and keep you safe till I see you again.”

The Ultimate Question

Job asked the ultimate question “If a man die, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14)
Like so many others, I believe the answer to Job’s question is a resounding YES!
Some in the Christian world doubt the reality of a universal resurrection, however Latter-day Saints believe and declare that Jesus was resurrected to a tangible, glorified body of flesh and bones (see Luke 24:3 and 3 Nephi 11:1-15). And because of Him, and his victory over the grave, all mankind have the promise of our own resurrection.
Because of what happened in the tomb that first Easter morning, one day all of us will arise from our graves. The we will set aside our own burial clothes, just as Christ did and be reunited with family and friends who have already passed through the gateway we call death. It will be a happy and glorious
reunion.
I know that Jesus Christ is the living witness, that this is so and so can you too.

He is Risen

Gran to the left.
Nana to the right.
A little 2 year old me, in the middle.
I am so grateful for the many sweet memories.
Death takes loved ones from us.
It has been many years, since both have passed away.
But,… I am comforted to know, that through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, two millennia ago, resurrection is a reality for all of us.
The Apostle Paul said this to the people of Corinth…
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures; and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the Twelve. After that he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-8.
Each recurring Easter is a constant reminder that reinforces this eternal truth, that He lives!
“He is not here: 𝐡𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐞𝐧.” See Matthew 28:6.
Because our Redeemer lives so shall we.
I know that He lives. And you can know too.
I look forward to a happy reunion, with Gran, Nana, Dad, Jack, Joyce, Ronnie, Violet and the many other beloved relatives and dear friends who have already passed through the gateway we call death.
Why is the existence of a resurrected God so important to all of mankind?