Through the priesthood bleesing I received the day my uncle died and the trip to the temple I made before the funeral, I found great comfort and calm. I handled this funeral far better than I have any other funerals of late.

(Disclaimer: The some of the following is by no means doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

As I left work on Thursday, one of my coworkers told me to imagine my uncle up there playing the harp. I instantly replied, "Nah. He's playing golf!"

My uncle had been an advid golf player before the Huntington's Disease took over his body. The image of my uncle playing golf on some Heavenly golf course still brings smile to my face.

Then my cousins reminded me he also had played softball. So now the image of him starting a softball league also makes me smile.

The day of his funeral, I had another image. I imagined that as soon as his spirit separated from his body that he started jumping up and down dancing a jig (or maybe the Hokey Pokey?) because he finally had control over his body (albeit a spirit body) once more.

One thing though, the man in the casket looked nothing like my uncle as I last saw him. He was ashen and very thin. His once dark hair with male pattern baldness was almost all gone and what hair left was grey. He also did not have the "horseshoe" mustache he had as long as I can remember. But now he is whole again. I hope he has that mustache when I get to meet him.

I belive the blessing, the temple trip and these happy/fun images really helped me handle this funeral. I shed no tears at the funeral even though I do miss him.

His brother-in-law, a minister or preacher, led the funeral service. It was short and sweet with him asking us to share fun stories about my uncle. That also helped.

I did not shed any tears until the graveside services, but then they were only relatively few. At the point, it became a bit more final, even though I know my uncle is on the other side of the veil and whole once more.

One thing that is always interesting about funerals is all the family member whom you have seen in ages hugging and saying, "It's so nice to see you." One person that ws definitely great to see was a cousin - son by my uncle's first marriage. He and I both agreed that our happiest childhood memories were playing together on Saturday's when we went to visit our grandparents. He had been my best friend and almost like a brother (being much closer in age to me than either of my brothers.) It was good to meet up and now we will be able to keep in touch once more.

Out of the unhappy, sometimes comes the happy. Happy that my uncle is now whole and happy once more. Happy to reconnect with a cousin from whom I was separated so many years ago because his mother didn't want him spending the summer with his father. Happy that we both feel the same way about the times we did have together. Also happy to finally have met his wife.

So the peace continues. I thank my Heavenly Father for sending the Holy Ghost to comfort me and give me peace. I am also so very thankful for the Plan of Salvation.

"All is well. All is well." (Come, Come Ye Saints, The Church of Jesus Chirst of Latter-Day Saints hymn Book)
 
 
Things have been rough for me since last night.

Let me warn you up front. I am very tenderhearted and sensitive.

At around 17:00, my mother called to tell my my 65-year old uncle was in the hospital with some (virulent) form of pneumonia and was not expected to make it through the night.

I made the mistake of turning the news on at 18:00 just to find out that Dan Wheldon had died in a horrific car crash while racing in Las Vegas. Then I saw the racers tributes and started losing control. I totally lost control when they played Amazing Grace on the bagpipes over the intercom system at the track during the tribute.

Barely under control, my cell phone rang again. I knew who it was and what they were going to say without looking at the phone.

Around 18:30 my mother called to tell me my uncle had died.

He had Huntington's Disease and had declined to the state of total incapacitation - except that he was cognitive of what was going on around him.

My aunt had put him in a nursing home last month. On Saturday she sent an e-mail update. Apparently no one had been to visit him and she made an impassioned plea for us to go see him at least once. I wanted to see him one more time. I was trying to work out when and how since he was so far away from me and in a part of the DC area that I am extremely uncomfortable driving (to the point of panic attacks) but I wanted to see him.

Obviously that did not happen.

In addition to grief, I felt guilt because I had not gone to visit him before he passed.

Three things helping me through are:

I read a talk by Elder David A Bednar titled The Tender Mercies of the Lord.

I received a priesthood blessing of comfort after that. (Then i read the talk again.)

Our Heavenly Father's Plan - especially the promise that "We Can Live with God Again" so some day I will see my uncle again.

Actually, there is another thing that helped. My uncle is back to his normal self now. He is no longer incapacitated.

It almost seems ironic (but there are no coincidences when it comes to the ways of the Lord) that my sudden passion to do family history work came when it did.

I need to contemplate whether or not to share my testimony about our Heavenly Father's plan with my aunt (who is not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). And if so, I need to pray for the Holy Ghost to guide me as I write her (and my cousin still living with her) about it.

In the meantime, I have a funeral to attend on Friday night and graveside services to attend Saturday morning.

I was sobbing like child last night. I was in and out of tears at work until I had enough focus to do some tasks waiting for me. And though I am not distracted now, I am feeling at peace.

My uncle is well. He's happy to be normal again. The Lord has sent me His peace.

I'm sure there will be more tears in the coming days, but I will still have His peace.
 
 
Not too long ago, with a help of a good friend, I found a site where one can volunteer his or her technology knowledge to help the church (The explanation is here). I was already volunteering for the Vineyard Project, and I had heard of volunteer opportunities with technology. I just had never gone around to investigating.

So among the projects is one with the LDS Tech Blog. I am now a writer for the blog. My first article was published just before General Conference,  about interacting online as a member missionary. (If interested, you can find it here.)

To my great surprise, the Deseret News wrote about this very entry on Monday (October 10), linking to the article and recommending it as a good how-to source.

I was floored. I am also happy that I am getting one of the desires of my heart, I hope, and inspiring people around me. The reporter quoted a part of my article (in which I included a link to this blog), to my even greater surprise.

So now, I feel I have to keep writing blog entries - even with it being hard to express these things lately.

This may be a case of being careful about what I [pray] for, as I also wanted more traffic to this blog.

I will do my best though. That's all I can do.
 
 
Followup to "Malachi 4: 5-6"

I did meet with my bishop on Tuesday. I did tell him I want to help out with the family history program. He was very happy and asked if I'd even be willing to hold a class with the youth soon. He wants them to have names of their ancestors to take to the temple when they do baptisms (and confirmations) for the dead.

There is some irony here though. (And not just the fact that pubic speaking still triggers some level of a panic attack.) I mentioned Elder Ian S. Ardern's talk "A Time to Prepare" wherein he counsels us about the wise use of our time and expressed concern that today's technology is leading too many people to be busy but not productive - having time master us instead as it should be, we mastering our time.

Since "The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn," each time I go to the church websites for family history, I end up spending many hours looking around for my ancestors and seeing what other features there are of the site.  Though I need to do so if I am to help others in my congregation (ward) use the technology, I don' think Elder Ardern meant that it was OK to spend hours upon hours upon hours even on something of worth pursuit as family history.

Yet I am so excited to see these tools and eager to pick up where the younger of my 2 brothers has left off. Speaking of which, I need to ask him for at least copies of the family trees he created back in the days before these things were done via technology, so that I can build my tree and see about getting names ready for submission to the temple. It would be so neat if some of the youth did the baptisms and confirmations for them.

There are other things of that matter more that I need to work on. I am struggling to find out which ones I should focus on first and then fit them into a schedule that I must create so that I don't spend my entire evening internet city building. (I do not do internet farming and I do not fling angry birds into concrete walls to waste my time. It's city building thing that does it.)

Still, the fire remains lit. I want to do my family history and I want to help the youth and adults in my ward (or even stake if need by) do their family history with the wonderful technology the church has for this worthy pursuit.

I just need the Lord's help to know what it is I should do and say in this pursuit.

(Full entries on the "A Time to Prepare" and "It is Better to Look Up" still coming.)
 
 
To The Rescue is the name of President Monson's biography. I've been reading it and I've very touched by the humble service and compassion our prophet gives - even as busy as he is now.

In our women's meeting today, we had a special lesson. The final two were about rescuing spiritually and emotionally.

In one of my earliest entries, I spoke of the shepherd coming out to the wilderness to find me and bring me back home; however I realized today that my "rescue" did not stop there.

For the first two weeks of returning to the church, I had not met the wife of the home teacher who was taking me to church because she had a calling that was taking her to visit other wards at the time.

I finally met her the week after General Conference. It was fast Sunday so there were no special meetings she needed to attend. The week before General Conference, I had the ugliest, longest and worst panic attack I've ever had. I kept trying to fight through it but in the end I was exhausted and felt like an idiot for having such a harsh response to finally trying to attend all 3 meetings. Because of that I was unable to stay in the meeting during the third hour (when the women meet) on this Fast Sunday. I had planned to sit in the lobby and just read my scriptures during the time.

My home teacher's wife - who had not been able to attend the women's meeting for several weeks because of her calling - came out with me. She stayed with me and talked to me. She understood what I was going through. She was also able to remind me that the things I was saying about me because of this situation were Satan's way of trying to keep me from returning to activity. I felt so bad though, that she didn't stay for a meeting she hadn't attended for so long, but she wanted to be with me. She wanted to be there for me.

From that day was born a friendship  or more of a sister-ship stronger and more supportive than I ever remember having. How fortunate I was that 2 weeks later she was release from her calling and given one that meant she could come to church every week.

She was therefore me as I continued to struggle with anxiety and panic attacks. She was there for me whenever I needed her. It was with her love and support and help and understanding that helped me keep moving forward as I strove to return to the fold and stay there.

I am so thankful for my Heavenly Father for putting such a wonderful and dear person into my life right when I needed her the most.

This is yet another thing that, only in retrospect and pondering, showed me that my Heavenly Father loved me and wanted me back in the fold.

I've been active for a year plus a few weeks now. In that time I've come so far.

Last year at this special meeting (an annual event), I had a panic attack just as the final speaker, the president of our stake (the head of several congregations whose bishops report to). I didn't feel it was good form to get up and leave at that moment, so I soldiered through - barely. As soon as the closing prayer was finished I fled.

This year, not only did I stay without any panic or even anxiety, I participated in the discussion the stake president was leading. It was, in essence, about going to the rescue.  Not only did I participate. I gave the closing prayer.

I almost do not recognized the person I am now because she is so different from the person who was making her first tentative baby steps back to the fold a year ago.

How wonderful it is for my Heavenly Father to continually remind me that He loves me. He knows me. He knows the desired of my hearts. His love is perfect and it encompasses all.
 
 
So General Conference:

First quick comments:
    As usual, President Uchtdorf's talk (You Matter to Him) seemed meant for me because right now I STILL need to be reminded that God has not forgotten me. (Click here for the video or here for the text.)

    That said, his talk wasn't the one that struck me the most. Two addresses do that.
        The first talk is A Time to Prepare, (video - for text version, click here) by Elder Ian S. Ardern.
        The second talk is It is Better to Look Up, (video - for text version, click here) by Elder Carl B. Cook

I will write idividual entries for these talks later.

Something strange happened to me in the past week, and I'll blame it on Elder Bednar's talk "The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn" (video - for text version, click here). I am now zealous to pursue my family history work. More than that, however, is I very much want to help the adults in my ward (or stake even) who may be intimidated by or unfamiliar with technology. Elder Bednar specifically asked the youth to do so, but I want to do so as well. In fact, ideally I'd like to work with the youth and then team with them to help those who are less technologically savvy.

I was so excited that I went to look at the church's resources for family history work - including the one Elder Bednar mentioned that is for the youth - and spent far more hours than I intended or even had the time to spend.

(Go to https://new.familysearch.org/ to discover your family tree and https://familysearch.org/ to discover your family records)

I have a meeting planned with my bishop tonight to talk about something else, but I do plan to offer my help in working with those whith less technology knowledge when we meet.

I just can't believe how excited I am about this. I have never been this excited. It's probably a good thing. The brother who was doing all of our family history work has not touched it, as far as I can tell, in years. My other brother was working on our father's line (since we have very little information) but I'm not sure how much time he has now with his new job often him keeping late.

I hope I can keep this fire burning.
 
 
I have not used this blog as much as I had hoped. Though many wonderfully spiritual things have happened to me in these past several months, I am - for some reason - having a difficult time articulating those experiences both verbally and in written word.

I THINK I may be able to post about some of the talks our church leaders gave during last weekend's (October 1-2) general conference. I need to do a few other things first though.
 
 
Texas Pastor, Reverend Robert Jeffress and "conservative christian activist" Bryan Fischer, during the Values Voters Summit in Washington DC, claimed that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) were not Christian and referred to the church as a cult.

Here is the church's response to those allegations.

I think this article and the link within address this issue far better than I ever could so I leave you to follow the link to make the decision yourself about whether or not Mormons are christian and whether or not they are a cult.