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In a couple of weeks, I will be taking my Grandpa to Washington D.C. for a special event they are having at the World War II Memorial for surviving WWII veterans.  This will be one of the great honors of my life.

My grandfather went to war thinking he was going to be on the front-lines of battle.  However, on the way to his assignment, the atomic bombs were dropped and the war was soon over.

ptsd

Although he was mostly involved in cleaning up and the aftermath of war, it still affected him and he saw things that he had never even thought of.  As an 18 year old boy, it was very disturbing for him.  While he was on the island of Saipan, he became severely ill and lost so much weight that they honorably released him and sent him back to the United States to recover.

I spoke with him the other day and he told me that life after the war was extremely hard.  He would have nightmares, stress, and didn’t want to speak with anyone.  He went to some counseling, but he said the real therapy was when his dad gave him some land to work and he could lose himself riding horses on the range, praying, and unloading his burdens on God.

This morning, I watched a short film on some brothers who had served in the Iraq and Afgahnastan wars, who had struggled with severe PSTD as well as drug addiction to try and numb the pain.  I loved their testimony of Jesus and how they describe the healing that came over them as they turned everything over to Him.

Here’s the video:

This reminds me of a scripture from the Book of Mormon as the prophet, Alma, describes becoming born again through giving his sins over to Jesus (see Alma: 17-20):

17 And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.

18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, havemercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.

19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.

20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!

Although I have never fought in war, I have had my own personal battles, as we all do, and I have also experienced this healing that comes through the Atonement of Christ.  I won’t pretend to understand what it is like to suffer and struggle with PTSD or any other of the affects of war that our soldiers go through, but I do know that Jesus understands and pray that we can share the Good News with not only our brothers and sisters who may not understand the peace, strength, mercy, and healing that comes by casting our burdens on Him and allowing Him into our hearts.

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Our little 6 year old daughter came home after church a few weeks ago and asked my wife why she was crying while the Primary was singing the song “Gethsemane”.  She said she felt good inside but also felt like crying.

As a father, I was so glad to hear this.  We spend so much time praying for her and trying to teach her how to strengthen her relationship with God and know Him through prayer and scripture study, church attendance, serving others, etc.  She has often asked me how she can understand if God is speaking to her so it was a perfect teaching opportunity to share with her that He speaks to us through the Holy Spirit, which speaks to our spirits through feelings such as she experienced during the song.

I’ve included a very good video that has the song to help us as we each take time this weekend to reflect on the gift of the atonement that Jesus gave us.

Have a blessed and happy Easter!

I have a 2 year old son. He will be 3 in a couple of weeks. One of the greatest joys of my life is being his father. He has such a vibrant enthusiasm for life. His love is unconditional. We read books together, play ball, wrestle, he helps me in the garden and he has a little toy lawn mower that he uses after I’ve mowed the lawn to make sure that I got everything. We go on hikes together and he loves to stop and look at all of the small things along the way such as a caterpillar crawling, or various shapes of rocks. We go on “father son” dates and usually watch the big trucks or throw rocks into a lake or pond on those dates. Occasionally, we’ll go out for ice cream. He loves me to chase him and grab him and throw him in the air. My physical therapist gets plenty of business because I think I’m 20 years old frequently when throwing him around! When I tuck him in at night and I help him with saying his prayers, he’ll ask me to tell him a “farm story” and I’ll share a story with him about when I grew up on the farm. I’ll then say “Whacha got for dad?” and he’ll give me a huge hug and say “I wanna keep you”.

In 2 short years, he has become a huge part of my life and I can’t imagine life without him.

I’m sure those of you reading this who have kids can fully relate to the way I feel about my son.

With these thoughts in mind, imagine what I thought when I received and email from one of my pastor friends from another Christian congregation.

A member of his congregation was rushing out the door to get their kid to a soccer game and didn’t notice that their 2 year old son was behind the car and backed over the son, killing him.

He goes on in his email to describe how horrible the father feels and how guilty he feels. I’m sure he feels depressed, discouraged, and a number of feelings that I don’t even want to imagine. Psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, even physically this man must be feeling such a heavy burden.

I’ve never lost a child and pray that it doesn’t happen while I’m on this earth. Our kids are “supposed” to live longer than us, right?

My first thoughts on how to help this man would be to:

1. Encourage him to apply the atonement in his life
2. Seek counsel from both professionals and others who have gone through similar situations

Apply the Atonement

Probably the most famous Christian scripture is John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Imagine how our Heavenly Father must have felt watching His son suffer on the cross for our sins and afflictions. Jesus suffered for us because of his love for us and Heavenly Father allowed it to happen as well because of infinite love. Through His (Jesus’) suffering, we can cast our burdens on Him.

A Book of Mormon scripture in Alma 7:11 sheds some light on what this means:

“And he (Jesus) shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.”

Not only did Jesus take on our sins, but He took on our pains.

This man is going through a lot of pain. I pray that this mans burdens will be lifted through the mercy and grace of the atonement and that his pain can be swallowed up in faith and hope for a future that he can see his son again (which is also made possible through the atonement).

Seek Counsel

I imagine psychologically he is suffering and I would recommend going to a faith-based counselor. From my experience in pain and suffering, it helps to just talk and get it all out there both in prayer, but also to others who are professionally trained.

Additionally, when I’ve suffered great pain, it has helped me to speak with people in similar situations. I would encourage him to seek out people or groups who have had this happen and have learned how to cope with it.

There have been two very good LDS conference talks by a member of the quorum of the twelve Apostles as well as a member of the quorum of the seventy. I’ll share those messages below, and ask my pastor friend to share the talks with his friend, if they seem appropriate. The both describe of personal stories where they lost a young child.

You can read about Richard G Scott’s experience here.

Shane Bowen gave a moving talk a couple years back about his son who had died and the pain he felt and his process in healing and applying the atonement. The talk is entitled Because I live ye shall also.

Conclusion

I don’t know that this man wants to have his name shared, so I won’t share his name publicly, but I do ask that everyone who reads this pray for this man.

Also, what other words of advice would you have if you have helped someone through a similar situation, or even experienced this before?

I teach Elders Quorum (men’s group) once a month and this month we focused on the excellent talk given last April by Jeffery R Holland, one of the 12 apostles entitled “None Were With Him.”

The talk focuses on Jesus’ journey to the cross the week before his crucifixtion and all the hardships he faced so he could die for our sins. It’s a very moving talk that I wrote about last April.

We read about Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus. We discussed what led up to him betraying Jesus. All of us agreed that greed, selfishness, fear, jealousy, and other sins all left unchecked within Judas led up to his betrayal.

We then stopped and analyzed ourselves. We’re all human as well. How often are we tempted to be greedy, selfish, and to have fear instead of faith? Judas’ experience shows us what can happen if we leave things unchecked.

The question then for all of us is what can we do to “get the Judas” out of us and overcome feelings of sin that can ultimately lead us away from Jesus?

Please share what you do to “get the Judas” out of you.

Those of us in the Northwest get the benefit of some very beautiful days, and yesterday was one of them.  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the sun reflected off the crystals in the 10 degree weather.  My wife (Becca), my friend Jeremy, and I decided we would go skiing and it was a good decision!

Becca hadn’t been skiing before so the first part of the day Jeremy hit some runs on his own as I stayed with Becca and helped her out.  She was great!  I was very impressed at how well she picked it up and that even though she was a little nervous, she stuck with it.  I’d given her instructions to keep her skis in a “pizza wedge”, slowly turn back and forth down the hill, and if she felt out of control to push on the ski facing down-hill and that she would stop.  While I watched her I noticed that if she stayed focused on the instructions she did great!  However if a skier, snow-boarder, or a tree would come into view she had the tendency at first to loose concentration and focus on the other object.  Pretty soon she would head straight for the object and she would freak out a little and fall down.  However, by the end of the day she had learned to steadily make it down the mountain and avoid the obstacles.  I was very impressed with how well she’d done at learning. 

As I watched her, I thought of how this relates to our relationship with God.  God has given us instructions and a way to make it down this mountain of life and back to Him.  Sometimes there are obstacles such as sickness, death, loss of a job…and a million other things throughout any given day that we can focus on and many times we fall.  Luckily for us, we have instructions through the scriptures.  The following scripture shows us how we can “make it down the mountain.”

“Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.” (3 Ne. 15:9.) There are many other scriptures in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants that refer to this promise as well.  You can visit them here

I would like to hear some experiences and thoughts from you…

How do you “look unto the Savior”? 

What is “enduring to the end”?  (for some good clues click here.)

What are ways you’ve used to endure? 

Cleanse your Soul with Grace for Grace “Spiritual SOAP”

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