One of the things that is really standing out for me lately is the necessity of staying grounded in the things that are most important to me. I love The United States dearly, and I want to do whatever I can to make sure correct principles are being practiced in this great country of ours. But, there are other things that are even more core to me personally.
My faith and my family are top priority for me. I believe that when those things are top priority than other things that are important will have the proper attention and focus placed on them. I believe if you love God first in your life than He blesses you with an expanded capacity to love in general. I love my family more than I could without loving God first. The same goes for the country, I love my country more than I could without loving God and my family first. That being said I have a few experiences on faith and family that I want to share.
At a fairly young age, probably around 12, I started thinking, or I should say dreaming, about going to Israel. For some reason it captured my imagination, and my heart, and still does to this day.
At age 20 I made it there for a semester through the BYU center for Near Eastern studies program. To this day it remains one of the highlights of my life. I had some wonderful eye opening and lasting cultural and spiritual experiences. Some of them were quite unexpected.
I come from a large family, I’m the second oldest of 7 kids. We love each other’s company, and are pretty close-knit. My brother Steven is 11 years my junior. But, we always had a special bond. He was my little buddy. I probably should not call him that now since he is a full grown, terrific, man. But, I’ll always be his big sister.
Well, being literally half a world away from my family was hard and I sometimes really missed them. There was one day in particular when I was really missing Steve. Walking back to our campus with friends I was thinking about him. I noticed this adorable little Palestinian family walking a short distance ahead of us. One of the boys turned around to us with a huge grin spread across his face. I could hardly believe my eyes. This kid was the Arab version of my little brother. I kid you not, the smile, the age, the mannerisms, his facial features were just like Steven with an Arab flavor. It seemed to warm me head to toe and especially heart. I felt like my brother was there with me. I was grateful for that special gift that God had granted me, a tender mercy.
That is a great story right? But, it does not end there. I came home from Israel with lots of stories. My poor family and friends had to put up with hearing these stories over and over again. Steven, bless his heart, enjoyed hearing them. In fact we started a little tradition. When it was bed time I would tell him one of my Israel stories before tucking him in.
One night I told him the story of the little Palestinian boy who was a Steven twin and that it made me feel like Steve was there with me. I kissed him goodnight and went to turn out the lights. Then he spoke up, “Sarah?” I turned back around as he said, “That was an answer to my prayer.” That caught me off guard “What do you mean?” I asked. He then said to me “When you were gone I prayed that you would not be alone and that I could be with you.” You can imagine the Spirit that was felt at that moment. All I could say was “Yes, it was Steven, yes it was.”
The faith of this child, combined with his unselfish love made for one of those lasting experiences. Steven has continued to be this great faith filled individual. He has been a great example to me for a long time of love and faith.
I could go on and on about my family. I am one of those people blessed to have family who I consider friends, and also friends that I consider family. But, there is one other experience that has been on my mind lately.
I’ve spent a lot of years living away from my family. But, I have been able to visit fairly often. One of my great joys is spending time with my nieces and nephews. They are such a delight. I can count on seeing them fairly often because most of them live really close to each other. But, recently my brother, sister in-law and their two boys moved to Iowa. Let me tell you that seems like half-way across the world again. I knew it would be hard to say goodbye to this precious family. It would be hard for me if anyone of my siblings and their families went that far away for what is going to end up being a while. But, I did not expect how much it broke my heart to have to say goodbye to them. When I picked up little Isaac and then Will it was like a dam burst. I knew that they were going away for a really great reason and I was pleased to know they were making some great changes in their life, but I knew I would miss them terribly. It still gets me teary eyed just thinking about it. I sincerely hope nobody else in my family is planning on doing that same thing anytime soon. (hint, hint please everybody stay where you are for now and Adam come back as soon as possible) When I think about their departure, I ponder about why that was such a difficult goodbye. The answer is pretty simple, it’s because they, and all of my family, are important to me. Remembering that keeps me grounded.
I love the Gospel because I know that through Christ my family is mine forever and that He will see to their needs.
But, remembering their importance also makes me realize the necessity of making sure I do all I can to make the world a better place for them. My little brother has grown up to be a great man. I want that same opportunity for all of my nieces and nephews. They are such little warriors. I marvel at their strength and the faith they already have and they are going to need, and I’m quite certain that they will be leaders of me and others.
I know this may seem way off topic of Conservatism. But, I just feel the need to make sure that I’m grounded in the things that are the most important. That sets the foundation for my life, and the works I plan to do. This nation allows us the freedom to serve one another. I want to use my life for the benefit of others. Putting God and my family first will allow me to do that the best way I can.