Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Brighter and Brighter Until the Perfect Day

To Elder Paul Freeman

July 23, 2008

Dear Son,

After I sent you my letter last week, I went back to proof and polish it for publishing on my blogs, and ultimately ended up adding to it. The finished product can be found at both A Mormon Family Journal and A Mormon Journal, so I'm not bothering to send it to you again. Honestly, I doubt that you had time to read it all last week. With that in mind, I'm only going to send that which I haven't previously sent you this week, so you can have time to finish reading it all if you have a mind. And, since I know you've got pictures to peruse and other letters to read, I'll only send the last bit. (I also got our family page up and running. You can check it out if you like).

But, before that, a bit of chat. Hurricane Dolly is headed straight for Brownsville, but she's just a timid little thing (barely a category 1), so it doesn't look to be too serious. We hope to get a bit of rain out of it, but I'm skeptical. All we've seen thus far are sprinkles.

Adam took some much needed time off last week for a bit of a vacation with the fam. They went to Galveston on Thursday, did the beach and the aquarium, and then came up here on Friday. After he and Ariane got back from the movies (they saw The Black Knight at the new IMAX on H249, they tooled around town looking at furniture, then finally ended up back here to work on their hutch (or at least that was the plan). Actually, Adam decided the oak tree out front needed trimming and followed Dad out when he went to mow the lawn. Dad didn't get the lawn mowed, but the tree did get a bit of a trim, which was nice because I really would have hated to see Dad perched up on that ladder like Adam was. Fortunately for him, Dad had been contemplating the whole business for some time and had already bought an electric tree trimmer, so the job was a lot easier than he anticipated.

I went to the temple yesterday with Sister P. That was really nice. It was Relief Society temple day, in addition to the day MW took out her endowments. It was good because more than Sister E and Sister P were there, but also the Sisters R, Sister B, Sister P, and myself. MW and BE will be getting married on August 2nd. Sister E used to do weddings for a living, so there's really not much she wants us to do, but G and I plan on putting ourselves as much in her way as possible so we can be of as much use as she allows.

Whenever I go through a session with someone who is taking out their own endowments, my mind is always full of my first visit to the temple and I wonder if their thoughts mirror my own at that time. Then, I consider how much I have learned and how my testimony has strengthened over the ensuing 28 years, and each new thing the Lord teaches me when I attend.

Last fall during the adult session of stake conference, President Tolman explained to us why our stake was not going to participate in the 'fill the temple' program that the new temple president initiated. He said that because we live within the shadow of the temple, we should not have to be compelled to attend by a sense of obligation. He didn't want attending the temple to be for us just another church assignment, as if we were filling a shift canning peanut butter. He said he hoped each of us would develop the resolve that nothing can keep us from the temple.

That need is very much a part of me. I crave to enter those walls and partake of the peace and spiritual enlightenment and instruction that awaits me there. Unfortunately, lacking transportation does keep me from the temple, but I need to strengthen my commitment and my arrangements so that even that ceases to be an issue. Aunt Carrie has started working in the temple, and the other day she told us of a scripture her temple president wanted them to memorize, which is this:

D&C 50:23-24

23: That which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness.
24: That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light growth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.

This is stunning to me when I consider how much light and knowledge of eternal things I believe myself to understand, and yet, I know that compared to the light the Father wishes to bestow me, I now scarcely hold a candle.

Sister J relayed another experience to me from her temple work. She attended a fireside of just temple workers inside the temple, and the speaker was an area authority or something of the sort. She said the things he taught them were deeply profound and awe-inspiring as things she had never learned before. Even so, now, she cannot remember of what he spoke which is typical of those in attendance that day. Overpowering all were the mighty power of the Spirit and truth and the brilliance of the light which shone upon them.

But why should this seem beyond our own grasp? It is all there in the scriptures which we are exhorted by the prophets to study. We are not admonished to memorize the Journal of Discourses or other writings or to make them a part of our daily routine. IWe are guided and instructed through the Holy Scriptures in which the complete Gospel of Jesus Christ is contained, where we obtain everything we require to gain salvation and exaltation. It is all there, at our fingertips, the same scriptures read by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and Gordon B. Hinckley, the same source of light and knowledge. The question then remains, how much light are we allowing to escape from within those pages? How much light are we allowing into our souls?

The image comes to me of a dark lantern (which sounds oxymoronic, I know), which is basically a normal lantern surrounded by a metal can with only one door that the user opens or shuts according to when and where he wants the light to shine. Our scriptures are much akin. We carry around the source of truth, knowledge, and inspiration, that conduit to the Spirit in its completeness, everything the Lord knows we require to return to him again. Do we stumble around in the dark because we refuse to open the lantern, do we open it now and again to shine on a particularly rough patch in our path, or do we open it wide and cherish the light? Do we continue in God as the light grows brighter and brighter until we reach that state of perfection in which we become that light? I see attending the temple as removing that light from the captivity of the dark lantern and into the freedom and protection of a hurricane lamp. In this, the light shines free of encumbrance, its own variable how bright we allow it to burn.

Too many of my answers to these questions are shameful. I need to improve. I need to allow that light into my life by humbling myself enough to admit that I need it and that I cannot traverse this journey without it. There pride rears its ugly head again and keeps me too much in the dark. I need meekness and humility, and in this way continue in God by obeying his commandments and keeping the covenants I have made. Only through this can I partake of that light.

Well, here is another long letter that I swore was going to be shorter. Sorry about that. I need to stop here so that you'll have time to read [my previous letter]. Know that I love you. I always pray for you. When I attend the temple on Tuesdays, a strong complement of missionaries usually attend the same session, and as we pray for them, you are indeed bright in my thoughts and sweet in my heart.

All my love,


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Yearning for Truth

To Elder Paul Freeman

July 16, 2008

Dearest Son,

The following is a letter that I started to write you on Sunday during Sunday School (the foyer, for once, was quiet and deserted). The rest I finish today with all my hopes and prayers that it may be of use to you somehow as you endeavor to bring those around you unto Christ.

Gosh. I wish there was some way I could convey to you the power of today’s sacrament meeting. I must have heard Brother Keller wrong when I understood Ben to be speaking today (I thought at the time that it seemed rather early, considering his recent return home), or, Brother Keller could have simply been Brother Keller. At any rate, the McAvoys spoke, a relatively new couple in the ward, married six or seven years and 40-ish. It was simple and simply powerful and moved everyone in that room.

Sister McAvoy spoke about being raised in the Church, her earliest recollections of feeling the witness of the Spirit (when quite young), and gaining her own testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel. She thought it a bit vague to say, “I know this Church is true,” and expounded on the definition of truth and all we imply when we use that well-known phrase.

Brother McAvoy spoke quite simply and tenderly but powerfully of his conversion experience. He told of his grandmother who was a devout Catholic, so much so that nothing prevented her from attending mass on Wednesdays and Sundays—not even the Maine winter weather. He told how he wished to believe something so strongly and with such certainty as did his grandmother, but he had too many questions regarding her religion and tired of the answers given him—answers not at all but advice: have faith, my son.

Eventually, he became frustrated enough to start seeking out and investigating other denominations. He stated that he never went to a bad church—that they all were made up of good people doing good works—but they were all missing that ‘little something’ which would have joined him to any particular denomination.

Then, having reached the conclusion that there was no sect which answered all his questions and met all his requirements, he decided that he’d give agnosticism a trial for a while, that while being a great deal of his life. However, he ultimately admitted that the national religion of commercialism and instant gratification failed to provide him with any true fulfillment. As he spoke, it felt to me that he never gave up on God or Jesus Christ, nor ceased to believe in them, nor to hunger and thirst after the eternal truths denied him. He simply gave up looking.

Realizing that living for the latest gadget left him nothing but a bunch of stuff, he thought he’d try prayer. Prayer seems so elemental, does it not? And yet, for him, he was venturing into the unknown. He said he had always prayed out of the Catholic prayer book, his prayers all preconceived by some stranger probably dead for centuries. However, he eventually reached the decision that when he prayed he would have a real conversation with God, in the hopes that he would receive real answers.

He said, then, the answers started coming—not necessarily the ones he wanted, but they came. Ultimately, these promptings led him to respond to an advertisement touting a job with ‘a great boss and positive working environment,’ etc. That certainly seemed to be the job for him. He got the job but immediately realized it was not the job for him, it was the worst job he had ever had, and he despised his boss, but every time he determined to quit on the spot, something inside him said ‘not yet’.

The one thing he liked about his place of employment was the fact that everyone discussed religion frankly and openly, and there was nothing he more enjoyed. He said people of all denominations were represented and voiced their opinions and explained their doctrines freely. However, one of his friends told him one day to “stay away from Ann. She’s a Mormon.”

Of course, this sparked his interest. He had never heard of these people called Mormons, let alone the church to which they belonged. Ann (the future Sister McAvoy) seemed perfectly normal to him, and rather nice at that. So, he determined to figure out the mystery. He had never heard of a Mormon before, and because his friend was so negative, he expected her answers to his questions to be dodgy and anything but forthright. He expected her to be evasive altogether respecting any inquiry he made and was glad to be pleasantly disappointed in his preconceptions.

Over the years of his search, he decided that there were two primary principles prerequisite to any religion with which he would associate himself. The first was the need for a ‘captain of the ship’. He said that his Catholic upbringing helped develop his opinion that the church he chose must have a central governing body and that the religion must be universally consistent in precepts and practice. His stated his prerequisite as ‘is it protestant?’ which I understood to mean, does it have a head to guide the whole church or do delegates convene to vote on doctrine which may or may not be require the adherence of individual congregations?

He asked this of Ann. She told him of the Great Apostasy and the Restoration of primitive church. We believe that Christ stands at the head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that, through his prophet, Joseph Smith and under direction of our Savior, it was again established on earth. The priesthood (the authority to administer in Christ’s name) had once again been restored. The Church is consistent worldwide: the same scriptures are used, the same principles taught, the same programs initiated. The Church is the only faith with governing body which is true to the structure of the early church established by Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry. We believe that the leaders of our Church are apostles and prophets of Jesus Christ, and that through his divine authority they lead and guide this church. We believe that each member is equally entitled to revelation over his particular calling or sphere of influence, but the stewardship of our prophet, seer, and revelator encompasses the whole earth.

Brother McAvoy went on to say that this answer moved him to ask his second prerequisite question, who goes to Heaven? Sister McAvoy told him of our temples. We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. (3rd Article of Faith, Pearl of Great Price, emphasis added). We believe that every soul shall have the opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ whether in this life or in the next. We believe the moral agency of each individual is essential to God’s great plan of salvation. We believe that missionary work continues beyond the veil which shades our mortal eyes, and all will choose of themselves whether to accept or reject the vicarious work performed for them within the House of the Lord. God will force no man to heaven.

Needless to say, this doctrine answered Brother McAvoy’s sense of injustice in the belief that only those who lived under the influence of Christianity and accepted its doctrine could possibly make it to heaven. He expressed his concerns that there were many good people in the world, those who lived Christian precepts and did good works no matter the form of worship to which they ascribed. Every sect he investigated failed to answer the injustice of that claim.

He then decided to read the Book of Mormon. However, he had not voiced his intent to Ann nor decided to meet with the missionaries, so he went to the local Christian book store to pick one up. (Here, the congregation laughed). Failing in that quest, he decided that if anyone had that book, Barnes and Noble would. (The congregation laughed again). When he again failed to find it, the clerk tried to help him by looking it up on the computer. She said, “It says we have one in stock, but I can’t figure out in what section it would be in.” Then, she mused, “That’s really weird, because my neighbor is trying to give copies away all the time.” To be fair, Barnes and Noble does carry the Book of Mormon and can be found here.

Brother McAvoy decided it was time for him to attend a meeting and accepted Ann’s invitation. Being from a Catholic background, you can imagine the paradigm shift he underwent as he grew accustomed to our particular brand of worship. The building was simple, without the usual ornaments he had come to expect. Instead of a priest or preacher standing in a pulpit before the room, members of the congregation delivered the sermons. Our faith functions on a lay ministry, where leaders and teachers of both genders donate their time and talents to the Gospel. No plate for donations was passed, which settled another point of concern for Brother McAvoy. The priesthood is conferred upon all worthy males, beginning at the age of twelve and progressed through incremental degrees. Thus, the sacrament (similar to the Holy Communion), the center and focus of our Sunday worship, is conducted by young men with great simplicity.

Brother McAvoy came away certain that it was all too good to be true. There had to be a flaw somewhere, some indiscretions of its leaders, some controversy regarding the Church, some sort of underhanded dealing. It all too perfectly suited him and answered his every concern. There had to be a fly in the ointment, and so he determined to investigate. Needless to say, he found no shortage of derogatory material to peruse on the Internet. He came across arguments against the Book of Mormon, the premises of which he easily dismissed. However, it puzzled him immensely that the primarily focus of attack centered on Joseph Smith rather than the Church itself.

He had by that time agreed to take the discussions. The missionaries came and shared with him the first discussion. The spirit was strong, their closing prayer had been said, and the missionaries took their leave. However, the senior missionary turned to him again and told him that he didn’t know why, but he had to tell him one more thing, which was this: it is all circular. If the Book of Mormon is true, then the Church has to be true, and if the Church is true, Joseph Smith was truly a prophet of God. If Joseph Smith was a prophet, then the Book of Mormon is true. It was then that Brother McAvoy realized why Joseph Smith was the brunt of so much defamation. There is nothing sinister about the Church. Attacks upon it as an institution are week and ineffectual. Thus, they focus on the man rather than the church he founded, hoping to deprive it of its foundation.

The fault with that strategy is, Joseph Smith is not the foundation of our faith. Our religion is sunk into the bedrock of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and propelled by the continuing revelation he gives to his prophets today. With that certainty burning in one’s bosom, with the whisperings of the Spirit that assures one time and again of the truthfulness of not only Christ’s divinity but also his very personal and intimate, everlasting and infinite love for each individual, the railings of its adversaries and accusations of the misinformed simply cease to be. They do not and cannot whisper the peace of the Still Small Voice. “By their fruits ye shall know them,” and the publishers of such things produce naught but anger, distrust, resentment and malice.

Finally, Brother McAvoy explained, it was time to “meet the prophet”. He knew he would know him a Man of God, a true prophet, or simply a chairman of the board who claimed divine inspiration to accomplish his own ends. This all occurred over the summer of 2001. September rolled around, and his investigation had reached this point.

Then, 9.11 happened. When he learned that President Hinckley was calling a memorial service in honor of the victims, he knew the opportunity for which he had waited presented itself. He would finally get to meet the prophet. Unfortunately, his boss was rigid and demanding. Personal days were nonexistent in that office, which meant neither Brother McAvoy or Ann would be able to attend the memorial service. As it happened, an interesting little tropical storm was pirouetting in the Gulf, threatened to land a hurricane on their city, Tampa Bay, Florida. The boss closed up shop and told everyone to stay home, which opened the way for Brother McAvoy’s attendance. He stated that he didn’t claim a personal miracle in the form of a hurricane, only that he just thought the sequence of events interesting.

President Hinckley was nothing as expected but everything Brother McAvoy hoped he would find. He wore no vestments, no great tall ornate hand, no robes or anything that overtly proclaimed to all the world that ‘Here is a Great Man!’ However, he spoke with such great power that his voice reached into Brother McAvoy and professed to him personally that he was truly the Lord’s Servant, called of God.

And there his story ended, and his bore his own sweet testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel. The Spirit bore witness of the precepts he taught, particularly as every lesson subsequent to that meeting seemed an extension of it, as if they simply broke into groups to discuss it. To see how many people he affected was not surprising, particularly when the laughter or nodding heads or tissues produced professed how nearly the converts in the chapel (which were not a few) identified his story with their own. Neither were the born-and-bred members unmoved, for every member who professes to follow Christ must at some point or another develop a testimony of their own. They must deal with the doubts and questions which niggle at them. They must have the Witness of the Holy Ghost profess that this church is Christ’s own.

I know, because I have experienced my own conversion. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I know he lives and actively engages in furthering his work and his glory, which is to bring to pass the eternal life of man. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is his Gospel, fully restored, guided and directed by his hand. I know that he suffered for our sins, that he achieved the great and infinite Atonement, all for his love for us—for me—and for his love of God the Almighty, his Father, that we, his children, may one day return again to him.

I know Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God, that he was called and ordained to be the Lord’s instrument on earth when the truth was restored. I know that his successors in that holy calling as prophet, seer, and revelator, as well as president of the Lord’s church, are equally called of God, the Lord sustains and uplifts them, they wear the mantle authority upon their shoulders and have bestowed upon them the keys of the Priesthood of the Holy Order of God.

I know that President Thomas S. Monson is the Lord’s prophet for this time, and, like every other prophet before him, He has been raising him up for this singular purpose from his birth. Do you remember when, as first counselor in the First Presidency, he came to Houston, to our chapel, and we were able to see him in person? We were not near enough to shake his hand, nor did I wish to add to the press to greet him, but as he walked into the room he brought with him such a spirit of God’s love as radiated out to encompass us all. I know he is God’s prophet, as surely as I know President Hinckley was God’s prophet, and the depth of my love and certainty for him I cannot express.

I know Jesus Christ is my lord and my savior, my son. I know his love for me is infinite. I begin to understand what it is to kneel in his presence as I petition to the Father and pray in his name because he has bestowed upon me that great privilege, as I know that experience, as overwhelming and indescribable as it is, is naught but the smallest inkling of what it will be when he at last calls me home.

Of these eternal truths I testify, in his name, even Jesus Christ, my Savior and Redeemer. Amen.

I love you. Be well, have faith, work hard, do good and rejoice! The Lord is King.


Mormon belief: Mormons believe God speaks

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Personal Revelation and the The Blessings of Forgiveness

Written by S. Bernards, to Elder BJ Bernards, on October 21, 2007

Elder B.J. (and family),

Thank you for sending your thoughts and love, as well as your learnings from the mission which have been so inspiring to us all. Thank you, also, for being such a good example for [my children].

Two recent events have taught me of God's mercy and care, and have helped me be reminded of the reality of his existence. May I share?

The first event is this: Three weeks before I finally found it again, I lost my wallet. And soon after loosing it I prayed that God would help me find it again, during the which prayer I felt an immediate assurance from the Spirit that I would find it. It was so surprising, then, that day after day it remained elusive! As each day went on and ended without my discovering the wallet's whereabouts, I found my patience wearing a little more thin, and my fears encroaching a little bit more on my faith. You see, I had a business trip to Utah scheduled, and I needed a driver's license to fly, and my corporate credit card to pay the expenses. Finally, on the Monday before the trip, my emotions reached a boiling point and I pleaded for an immediate solution, asking that I could have a miracle occur (in being guided to the wallet) so that I could share the experience with my children and thus teach them of God's reality and tender care. Immediately I felt/heard the thoughts: "Go to your closet!" So I went to my closet. "Look in your gym bag!"
"But," thought I, "I've looked through that gym bag a dozen times!" Nevertheless, I reached for the bag, and the first zipper I opened revealed the missing wallet. I was dumbstruck. "Julia," I exclaimed as I rushed out the door to the car for the drive to work, "I've got the family home evening lesson tonight! There's something that I want to share with the children about miracles!"

When I arrived at work I received an email from a colleague of South Korean heritage, who was recently converted to Christianity ([Protestant sect]) and who had asked me to be a spiritual mentor of sorts to help her learn about what Christianity was all about. (In Korea she grew up learning ancestral worship and the Buddhist philosophies, so the gospel of Jesus Christ was still very new for her). In her email she revealed that her Mom was dying of cancer and that over the weekend all of her family that had been living with her had flown to Georgia to be with her. She was lonely and afraid and without much hope, so I invited her to dinner, knowing that her friendship with Julia would likely bring her joy, hope, and a renewed perspective.

Dinner was great, and then family home evening began. For our friend (J-- K-- is her name), it was the first time she had ever experienced an in-home church service (aka Family Home Evening), and she shared with Julia and I that it was like being in "heaven on earth". During the story I shared with the children of my missing wallet, J-- listened transfixed and amazed--and I remembered that of all of the gospel principles that attracted her to Christianity, personal revelation topped her charts, and this story was evidence of the reality of personal revelation! As I bore my testimony that God loves us, and that he is very aware of our personal situations, and that he will help us in the time of our need if we ask him too, I received the knowledge that the timing of my wallet's disappearance & recovery was tied directly to J--'s needs. As a result, I felt both humbled and excited to be a tool in the Lord's hand to bring evidence of his existence to light.

The second event I'd like to share happened recently, as well, and is actually the third time in my life that a particular pattern has surfaced, namely: when you forgive someone, the Lord immediately blesses you, and sometimes with a big opportunity.

To explain, let me bring you back to 2001, when I worked for a new dot-com startup company that came to an abysmal end due to the founder of the company running away from the business with all of the remaining cash on hand. This was drastic for me because not only did the founder leave me bereft of a job, he also refused to pay my last month's wages! My emotions were very hot and angry towards this man, and thanks to the loving example of Julia and her challenge to "frankly forgive" him, I made the simple decision to drop my emotional burden into the Lord's keeping and to forgive him fully. Within days of doing so I received a call, out of the blue, from a consulting company in Florida, asking if I would be willing to take a great-paying consulting gig in Italy. Through prayer, Julia and I both received the knowledge that the blessing of this new job was a direct response to our willingness to forgive.

This pattern of being blessed for forgiving resurfaced again for the second time at the end of the consulting gig, when the consulting company took advantage of the lack of a written commitment to pay for our returning air fair, and took the thousands of dollars out of my last pay check. This, in effect, was an exact repeat of what the dot-com founder had just done to me! My last pay period's wages were stolen! Again, Julia loved me through my angry and upset emotions and challenged me to "frankly forgive" them. And again, I made the simple decision to drop my emotional burden into the Lord's keeping and to forgive them fully. Within days of doing so I received a call, out of the blue, from the CFO of the old dot-com company, stating that he and the CEO of the company had both secured a new job with the LHM automotive group, and had convinced the executives that the information systems needed a complete re-haul, and that they knew just the man to do it (and that he was just returning from a consulting gig in Italy...). And so there again, I was blessed with a new job opportunity immediately after being willing to forgive! There was no doubt in my mind that this second witness was a confirmation of the Lord's pattern.

Now that you have the context for what I'm about to describe, here is the third (and recent) time that this "forgiveness -> opportunity" pattern has surfaced in my life: Within [my employer's] headquarters is a woman who holds the authority (budget and procedural) for various "resource groups" (groups of employees aligned by cultural heritage/appreciation). As I had been asked to serve as an officer in one of those resource groups (the "Asian & Pacific Islander Resource Group"), I have come in contact this woman very frequently, and have gotten to know her predisposition towards inefficient bureaucratic policies in which her lone opinion overrides groups' desires, often to the detriment of all involved. Recently her power-struggles came to a head when she forced our resource group to go through her election process even though our members had voted to keep all officers in office (and if her desire was to rid the leadership team of the people with whom she butted heads, it worked, as the three team leaders who disliked her the most all stepped down from their post). Hearing the stories of these group leaders who stepped down served to heat up my emotions against this woman, as it seemed that she had a personal vendetta to fill, and that she used her position of power unjustly.

But then came my moment of truth when I was forced to decide between forgiving her and holding a grudge. The moment occurred at a black-tie gala banquet that Julia and I had been invited to attend, and it would have been very easy to pretend that I had not seen this woman across the ballroom. Yet perhaps because I was with Julia--and the fact that Julia has been so inspirational in my progress towards forgiving others--it was easy to make the simple decision to "frankly forgive" her. I walked Julia up to her to make the introduction, and cast my mind back on my interactions with the woman in order to share several points of her successes with Julia. The next week (this last Monday), I received a call from the woman...and what a change! She was kind and congenial, open and so friendly! And this was only the beginning of the blessings that the Lord decided to pour down. As I shared with you, the Lord has blessed me with new career opportunities each time I've come to a major moment of forgiveness, and this time was no exception! The very next day (Tuesday of this week) I had a chance encounter with the V.P. of New Store Format Development, and by the end of our short conversation he asked me to join his team (i.e., an internal job offer), stating that in order to convince me to join, he would give me the maximum possible promotion available under the H.R. regulations. (For some perspective, I heard from a colleague on his team that he has been inundated with about a dozen resumes a day from internal candidates who are all interested in leading the new store format strategy for [my company].)

And as if this weren't amazing enough, I received another job opportunity that makes me so excited I can scarcely control my breathing and beating heart: I've been asked to consider working directly for the CEO of [my company] (my boss's boss's boss's boss's boss's boss) as his right-hand man and strategic adviser. Granted, I'm the most junior (by far!) to make the short-list of 10 candidates, so the likelihood of me being selected may be remote (and it will be a miracle if I am selected!). However just to be named to this list is such a blessing and an honor.

So there you have it, two recent events that have taught me of God's mercy and care, and have helped me be reminded of the reality of his existence. I know that God lives, and that his commandments bring blessings worth far more than the cost of our obedience. I love you and am inspired by your service to our Heavenly Father. God bless you!


Your brother Sam