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Feeling Forgotten?

๐ƒ๐จ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ ๐Ÿ๐ž๐ž๐ฅ ๐š๐ฅ๐จ๐ง๐ž?
I am comforted by Matthew 10:29, their the Lord said that not even a sparrow falls unnoticed by the Father.
If not one sparrow is forgotten before God (Luke 12:6), how much more will our Heavenly Father remember and want desperately to sustain you and me, for โ€œye are of more value than many sparrowsโ€ (Luke 12:7)
Sometimes I wonder if anyone really knows what we are going through, or for that matter if anyone really cares.
Occasionally that thought crosses my mind, but then I remember the story of Zacchรฆus from Luke 19:1-4, who simply wanted to see the Saviour.
You will recall that the crowd was large, so he decided to climb a sycamore tree, hoping that he’d see Jesus. โ€œAnd when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchรฆus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy houseโ€ (Luke 19:5)
The Saviour knew not only his name, but also knew his heart as well, see – Luke 19:6โ€“9.
Zacchรฆus was a man who was reviled, rejected, and cast out by many. But the Saviour knew him. He knew his heart, and He loved him.
Jesus Christ came into the house of Zacchรฆus and into his heart.
I know and believe that our Lord Jesus Christ is just as aware of you and me, remembering our individual needs, just as He was of Zacchรฆus, or for that matter a tiny sparrow.
I believe He even knows us more personally and intimately than we know ourselves.
His eyes are not only on the sparrows, but on you and me – always.
I know that and know that you can know that too.
Jesus Christ does love us.
You are not alone.

A stranger here

๐ƒ๐จ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ฐ๐ข๐ฌ๐ก ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ฐ๐ž๐ซ๐ž ๐ก๐ž๐ซ๐ž?

This week marked a significant anniversary for Monic and I.

12 months ago, we arrived in the Netherlands.

Those months have simply flown by, so incredibly fast.

We have travelled throughout Belgium and the Netherlands, visited with lots of family, reacquainted ourselves with many old friends, made many new friends from all across the world and testified of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in many towns and cities.

Yesterday, we met up with fellow Scot โ€“ Mark Stewart, an Area Authority Seventy, as each of us fulfilled assignments to speak at The Hague Stake Conference in Zoetermeer this weekend.

Reflecting this morning, I was reminded of a scripture in Ephesians 2:19.

At the time the Apostle Paul was fearlessly traveling into lots of different lands and meeting many new people.

Writing to the members of the Church, or Saints as they were called and are called today, he reminded members of the Church of the blessings of belonging, when he told them, โ€œYe are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.โ€

What do you think of when you think of โ€œstrangersโ€ or โ€œforeignersโ€?

Mark and I are both Scottish, growing up on opposite sides of the country.

Speaking last night, our mother tongue, dialect, cultural background, and lifestyle may be different from the Dutch, but we were no strangers or foreigners โ€“ we were indeed fellowcitizens with the household of God, the Saints, here in the Netherlands.

In our day, in these turbulent times in which we live, strangers and foreigners are coming to us – daily.

We donโ€™t have to look far. They are all around us.

Are you welcoming?

In fact, I was a stranger here not too long ago, yet I have always felt welcome here.

I know that no-one is a stranger to Jesus Christ.

In Romans 8:16-17, the Apostle Paul explains furtherโ€ฆ

โ€œThe Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.โ€

Try as we may, we cannot separate ourselves from each other.

As children of God, we are not strangers to one another, we are all in fact brothers and sisters.

I hope that we will remember that we are all children of God and part of His family.

Have you ever felt like a stranger?

#HearHim

Be there!

๐๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ซ๐ž!
Whilst on a video call last night with our three grown children, my mind drifted back to when they were all much smaller.
In my minds eye, I was holding hands with our youngest daughter, walking through our beautiful park in town.
It felt like only yesterday, but 10 years have swiftly passed by.
Those tender moments are one of the sweetest, most enjoyable parts of life.
Suddenly โ€“ growing older, there can come a sense of having been there – and yet knowingly perhaps, I should have enjoyed the journey much, much more.
Iโ€™m sure those old like me, or older even โ€“ will understand my sentiment.
Life is going on all of the time.
Sometimes we are so focused on the next big thing, that we miss much of the beautiful scenery along the way.
Time with loved ones, the holidays, the picnics, the walks, the challenges are all part of ๐›๐ž๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ซ๐ž.
There is purpose and meaning to all that we experience and undergo in this life.
We should enjoy our children when we have them around us, as I know now, they wonโ€™t always be with us.
Back then when they were young, they not only needed us, they also wanted us too!
We live through each part of our life only once, we donโ€™t go back, so it is vitally important that we ๐’ƒ๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“๐’†!
There are few sweeter memories than your childโ€™s hand in yours, walking with you.
Wherever you are, ๐›๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ซ๐ž, be present and enjoy the moment, our life after all, is only a nanosecond of time.
How can you focus better, be present and be engaged in the here and now?

The extra mile

Recently I was asked, โ€œ๐–๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐๐จ๐ž๐ฌ ๐ข๐ญ ๐ฆ๐ž๐š๐ง ๐ญ๐จ ๐ ๐จ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ž๐ฑ๐ญ๐ซ๐š ๐ฆ๐ข๐ฅ๐ž?โ€
A scripture from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:41 came readily to mindโ€ฆ โ€œAnd whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.โ€
Back in the times of Jesus, a Roman soldier could compel a Jewish male to carry their hefty packs, armour or weapons for one mile (it was the law after all).
I am certain that back then the paths would be sweltering, dirty, difficult to travel and many (if not all) of the Jews must have detested carrying the items.
But then Jesus taught them to โ€œgo with him twain.โ€ โ€ฆmeaning to carry the soldierโ€™s packs for two miles.
What does that mean for us today?
In this verse of scripture, Jesus was teaching us one way that we can love and serve others.
We donโ€™t carry Roman packs anymore, but the principle applies to every area of our lives today.
When we go the first mile, we are only really doing what is expected of us.
But when we go the second mile, we are giving freely of our time and service to others.

Here is a little personal story.

Shortly after arriving in the Netherlands, one experience taught me a lot about going the extra mile.
Due to corona, the number of missionaries we had serving was at approximately 20% of our complement.
All of the missionaries were swamped with things to do.
I recall a missionary called me one day and asked โ€œPresident, you know that we are very busy. Can we get up one hour earlier every day, so we can get everything done?โ€
My heart melted.
I must admit to shedding a tear or two.
I replied, โ€œOf course but remember to be careful and take time to rest.โ€
The first mile is often required of us, in many things that we do.
The second mile however, is only made possible by being obedient to the first mile.
You cannot go the second mile without influencing others.
It only takes one second miler to impact others lives.
I shall ever be indebted to Daniel Andrade for the lesson he taught me that day. Thank you.
James E. Faust said โ€œSome of the most rewarding times of our lives are those โ€˜extra milesโ€™ hours given in the service when the body say it wants to relax but our better self emerges and says, โ€˜Here am I, send me.โ€™โ€
How can you apply this principle and go the second mile today?

Is love the answer?

๐ˆ๐ฌ ๐ฅ๐จ๐ฏ๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐š๐ง๐ฌ๐ฐ๐ž๐ซ?
Celebrating my 57th birthday this week, I received several lovely cards and gifts from family and friends.
One particular gift came from the missionaries.
A folder of 60 pages, 109 letters, 30 photos and a few sketches too.
As I read through the album on Thursday evening, I must admit to being moved.
The letters and photos simply touched my heart.
I shed a few tears of joy.
Think of the last time you experienced joy.
Real joy – that deep enduring feeling that seems to warm your entire soul.
I felt of their love, one by one.
โ€œGodโ€™s love is always there for you, whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simply always there.โ€ โ€“ Thomas S. Monson.
Arriving in the Netherlands nearly a year ago now, in a few meetings Monic and I have frequently sung together (also with the help of missionaries too) โ€œLove One another.โ€ It is always a beautiful experience.
In the book of John, Jesus spoke to His Apostles about love โ€œA new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved youโ€ฆ. By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.โ€
“Love is the greatest of all the commandmentsโ€”all others hang upon it. It is our focus as followers of the living Christ. It is the one trait that, if developed, will most improve our lives.” Joseph B. Wirthlin
There are a number of ways you can feel the Saviourโ€™s love.
Its different for everyone โ€“ but the missionaries can help you along the way.
“Love is the greatest power and will have the most powerful influence. โ€“ Elaine S. Dalton
May we love Him and love one another.

Sweet Reunions

๐’๐ฐ๐ž๐ž๐ญ ๐‘๐ž๐ฎ๐ง๐ข๐จ๐ง๐ฌ were aplenty this week.
Last Sunday evening Megan arrived. The next day we travelled to Brussels together to attend the BYU Ballroom Dancing Company. It had been several weeks since she was last in the Netherlands.
As we travelled together, it was great to catch up and share stories with one another, about how similar we are. Then came a funny coincidence, as without any coordination mother and daughter dressed for the evening and realised that they had both chosen almost identical outfits for the show.
See the picture evidence above!
The evening brought another sweet reunion.
Moroni Wright who had served in the Belgium Netherlands Mission and returned home several months ago, was one of the many talented performers in the BYU Ballroom Dancing Company. The show was amazing, and what a delight it was to see Moroni again and catch up with him once more. It was especially pleasing to see him living his dream, as he longed for the opportunity to perform in this dance company.
And our third sweet reunion was with Kiera and her husband Brendan โ€“ who we met for the first time.
It had been several years since our last encounter together. Kiera had become a wonderful friend with Megan, when she was studying in Arizona, in 2016. What a joy it was to see them, share stories together and feel of their love.

Reunions are special

Reunions are special, they are built on love for one another.
Travelling along our own pathway in life, letโ€™s not forget those family and friends who have passed through the gateway to the next life that we call death. I hope that we can turn our hearts to them who have gone on ahead of us. They are not dead, their spirits live on, on the other side of the veil.
In a not-too-distant time there will be a sweet reunion for each and every one of us. We need not look upon death as an enemy.
I was reminded of that this week too, as I walked through the sprawling cemeteries in Ipres, with vast numbers of the dead from WW1.
In Malachi 4:6 we read: โ€œAnd he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.โ€
We can begin our own quest for forever families, by considering our ancestors and coming to know them through online tools such as Family Search.
Then take some time to understand why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has so many Temples around the world. In them, families are united forever. Our missionaries can help explain this further to you.
Sweet reunions await us all.

Coincidence or Tender Mercy?

Looking Back and Moving Forward.
When โ€“ April 2008 (16 years ago)
Where โ€“ Conference Centre, Salt Lake City, Utah.
What โ€“ General Conference Weekend
Who – the Kleijwegs and the Watsons
Why โ€“ 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 wifeโ€™s.
A year passed by, and Chrisโ€™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? โ€“ the Kleijwegโ€™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… โ€œSometimes 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.โ€
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 peopleโ€™s lives, and those things that move Godโ€™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 Godโ€™s will, He is anxious to bless each one of us with incredible โ€œcoincidencesโ€ โ€“ or in scriptural terms, “a tender mercy of the Lord”.
The Lordโ€™s house is a house of order, and I know He is in charge.

Straight and Tall

Walking along the Vliet (our local canal), into town this week, we remarked to each other โ€œOh look โ€“ theyโ€™ve planted some young trees!โ€
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.ย  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, โ€œTrain up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from itโ€ Proverbs 22:6.
Our young missionaries are sending their roots deep into the soil of the gospel.ย  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?

Friendship

What new friendships have you made this year?
Reflecting this morning, on the year gone by, I got to thinking about all my friendships anew.
There have been many, all across the world.
A friend cares.
A friend is honest.
A friend reaches out.
A friend listens.
A friend loves.
To all my friends old and new, I discovered a poem that encapsulates how I feel about each of you. I have no idea who wrote it. Enjoy.

“๐€ ๐…๐ซ๐ข๐ž๐ง๐ ๐‹๐ข๐ค๐ž ๐˜๐จ๐ฎ”

Thereโ€™s a tenderness comes stealing
Oโ€™er this heart of mine today
And a warm and happy feeling
That can never fade away;
Just a feeling that is growing
Every day each long year through โ€“
Itโ€™s the joy that comes through knowing
That I have a friend like you.
Round my heart are memories clinging
Of the golden days of old.
And they set my soul a-singing
With a happiness untold.
Yes, our pulsing heart throbs, treasured
Through the years of friendship true
Make me prize the love unmeasured
Of a good old friend like you.
Every passing day I wish you
All the joy your heart will hold;
May success be always with you
As the coming years unfold.
That the fast-approaching morrows
May see all your dreams come true
And contain but minor sorrows,
In my wish, dear friend, for you.
May our friendship grow and strengthen
In the misty years to come,
So that when lifeโ€™s shadows lengthen
And our mortal race is run,
We may still be friends united โ€“
Still be comrades staunch and true;
That our ways may eโ€™er be lighted,
Yours by me and mine by you.
To all my friends old and new, I hope that 2022, brings you all your hopes and dreams you could ever wish for.
From one good friend to another – Much Love. ๐Ÿ’•

The difference between a good and a great leader.

Recently I was asked “what is the key to becoming a leader?”
In considering a helpful reply, several thoughts came to mind.
In my experience, the first principle of leadership is ๐’๐’๐’—๐’†.
Yes, it is that simple, lead with love.
Love makes the difference between a good and a great leader.
As you love those whom you lead, it somehow magnifies every other principle of leadership, as you show concern for others, including building trust, serving and teaching others, creating a vision, communication, building a team and dealing with change.
When others know you will put their interests ahead of your own, they wonโ€™t hesitate to trust you.
Showing interest in others, being sensitive to their problems, and conveying compassion increases peoplesโ€™ capacities to trust in you.
I have learned that great leaders donโ€™t set out to be leaders, they simply set out to make a difference.
I have also found that the best leaders also tend to be the best learners.
The more you are committed to learning the more successful you are at leadingโ€”and in turn, just about anything else.
What can you do to increase your love for others?