Stay in the Boat

Our lesson in church today was about the talk Stay in the Boat and Hold On! by Elder M. Russell Ballard.

  1. Stay in the boat

Drifting down the river,
I see the calm stretches, but
Warned of the rapids ahead
I stay in the boat.

  1. Always wear a life jacket

Rowing in sync over white water,
Gratitude hits me at the lack of fear,
From having the safety of a team, and
The reassurance of a life jacket.

  1. Hold on with both hands.

When others take a turn at the oars
And the river bounces the boat,
It’s holding on with both hands
That turns the fear to joy.

Dont forget to stay in the boat!

When the rapids end and the boat pulls in,
I will be glad, with my crewmates and guide,
To have sailed through life’s rough river
And to end in joy and peace.

Make Me

I wrote this poem after listening to General Conference on my mission, and I decided to share this poem this week.

As a missionary, I think a lot about being an instrument in the hands of God, and I thought about what different tools would symbolize and represent in terms of our earthly duties and responsibilities and ability to do God’s will.

Originally written Nov 12, 2018

Make Me

Make me a tool to change the world,
And shape me to Thy will.
Make me the instrument to move
Thy great work forward, still.

I’ll be a sword, if Thou dost wish,
To fight for right and truth.
Or be a plow, to break the ground,
And bring forth life and fruit.

I’ll be the hammer, building up
The people I’m around,
Or be the nail and hold them fast
And firmly to the ground.

I’ll be the sail, and drive along
My fellow travelers,
Or be the rudder, guiding true
Would-be wanderers.

I’ll be the hand, stretched out to lift,
To heal a life for good
I’ll be the one to follow Him
And do as He would do.

Refine me in Thy fire, Lord
Forge me strong, so I
Can go forth in Thy strength and might
Each moment till I die.

And come to Thee, that day to know
That I’ve done all I can.
And done the work Thou sendest me
Among the sons of man.

My Mountain, Your Mountain

In my Elder’s Quorum lesson today, we were discussing the General Conference talk Becoming Like Him, but Scott D. Whiting. One of the Elders mentioned an interesting idea in the discussion about how we shouldn’t compare our speed in life with that of someone else’s. Someone walking on a trail and someone climbing a cliff will go very different speeds. That idea eventually turned into this poem.

My Mountain, Your Mountain

I went out to climb a mountain
And saw you do the same.
Nature to see and wonder at,
A mountainside to tame.

We each had different paths,
but soon, you seemed higher up.
I struggled to push my self harder –
I must not be climbing fast enough.

I redoubled my efforts,
Looked again, and though we were near,
My path looked rocky and cluttered,
While yours seemed wide and clear.

I began to scale a cliff,
And saw you climb one, too.
But you went up more rapidly,
It seemed easier for you.

I neared the top, watching you,
jealous of your speed,
We reached the top together,
And you smiled, and said to me:

“You’ve climbed so well, I’ve noticed you,
I wish I was half so skilled.
I tried so hard to keep up with you,
Meting you makes me so thrilled!”

“But,” I said, “I envied you,”
“You seemed to be the best.”
We laughed at ourselves and sat down together,
Enjoying the view and the rest.

Excellence in the little things

Written Apr 07, 2018

The title and idea of this poem is one I thought about often on my mission, as I noticed that the missionaries that were the greatest were those who strove to do even the small things as well as they could. This is something I have thought about a lot recently, and it rings true to me. One of my favorite quotes is “Most often it is the sacrifices we make to keep our covenants that sanctify us and make us holy,” by Sister Carol F. McConkie in her conference talk The Beauty of Holiness, and I think that fits perfectly with this poem.

Excellence in the little things

We who seek excellence
In eternity and in forever
Truly seek for excellence
In the little things.

Excellence comes after growing
From grace to grace.
If we never perfect our little virtues,
Perfect excellence will never be our virtue

Each of us, and this whole world
Changes all at once.
The question of excellence, then,
Is a question of how to grow in a storm.

Excellence is acting,
Not reacting.
Excellence is choosing,
Not living others’ choices.

Never shrinking from the fight,
However hard, however small,
Is more important than surviving.
That’s not why we’re here.

We’re here to become excellent,
Little by little, piece by piece,
The small battles, well fought
Truly lead us to our Captain, our Lord.

So fight the good fight,
Never give up,
And always seek for
Excellence in the little things.

The Village of Krasnodosch

Sent home from my mission, Oct 08, 2018

I thought of this poem this week while listening to a conference talk describing the Jewish seder. Jewish families not only set a place for Elijah, but fill his cup to the brim and send a child to the door to see if Elijah is there. (Hosanna and Hallelujah—The Living Jesus Christ: The Heart of Restoration and Easter, by Elder Gerrit W. Gong) I think this tradition is a great example of living with faith. 

My poem this week, tentatively titled “The village of Krasnodosch” (crass- no- doesh, roughly translated as “red rain”), is a story I heard in sacrament meeting once in Ivano-Frankivsk. I put the story to verse, because I think it fits really well. The speaker used it to point out the difference between mere hope and faith. It reminds me of a quote I heard once, that “faith is what we choose to act on every day”. I liked the story and I hope you’ll enjoy it, too!

The Village of Krasnodosch

There once was a small village
With the name of Krasnodosch.
The people there loved God, and they
All followed him with hope.

One spring, the people planted fields,
But then, no rain did fall.
One week turned to two, then three,
The fields weren’t looking well. 

The people all decided they would gather
Together on the next day
And pray that God would send them rain,
So the drought would go away.

The day was hot and cloudless
As the crowd started to form,
But one young girl walked up with an
Umbrella on her arm.

They asked her why, she said, “Well,
Aren’t we here to pray for rain?”
They shrugged, and all together,
They prayed, and then they prayed again.

They prayed for several hours,
But the rain still didn’t fall.
The crowd started to go back home,
But with hope, hearts were full.

“Look!” Said the umbrella girl,
“A cloud!” The crowd all turned
And saw far off a tiny thing,
The name “cloud” barely earned

They watched as it grew closer, and
They watched as it grew big.
They wondered if this answered prayers,
And each sure hoped it did.

The cloud stood right on top of them,
But not a drop fell down
“Schwoop!” the girl’s umbrella went,
But some began to frown

Then, after a while, a drop,
Then one more, two, and then,
Someone opened heaven’s floodgates-
It began to pour down rain.

The town ran home, glad but wet-
Their hope was not in vain.
The umbrella girl, she walked home dry,
For she had prayed in faith.

Faith in a bright night

Originally published 10-03-19

I wanted to publish a poem that related to General Conference, and I thought of this one, as told from someone who had heard Samuel the Lamanite. That was a very unpopular time to listen to the prophets. We have a thing or two to learn from that time.

Faith in a bright night

Every evening, I stay up
until the sun is gone
and the sky goes dark
again.

Every day, I see
fewer and fewer watching
with hope, and more crowds
mocking faith.

One sunset set apart
by the jeering mob to be the end
of those of us who still believe
in men of God.

One night, I witness
the blazing, sunless sky
when hope was burned into my chest
and faith confirmed.

One life, I’ll live
not always seeing through the night,
but knowing there will always rise
the Son.

Behold the Man

Originally published 6-25-19

This poem is based off of Elder Uchtdorf’s eponymous talk and the scripture John 19:5, where Pilate pleads with the Jews to “Behold the man!” and to not kill the innocent Christ. I thought it would be fitting to share, as last week we read this in Come Follow Me.

Behold the Man

When encompassed with sharp grief,
Behold the Man.
When surrounded by pressing trials,
Behold the Man.

In affliction’s fiery furnace,
Behold the Man.
Under guilt’s crushing weight,
Behold the Man.

In bleak, hopeless night,
Behold the Man
Who died the darkest yet most hopeful day.
Behold the Man.

See Him as who He truly is—
Behold the Man.
Follow Him, love Him,
Behold the Man.

Peace will come when we
Behold the Man.
So come to Him, remember Him —
Behold the Man.