06 June 2015

O My Father

Yesterday, I had the privilege to sing at Elder L. Tom Perry's funeral. As I thought about it, other than General Conference, this is the only other time I can remember the entire First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve (Eleven) present. It was wonderful seeing them up close. I was blessed to be just feet away from Elder's Holland, Packer, Scott, and Hales.Among the pieces sung was a sweet arrangement of "O My Father", which was arranged by one of the Tabernacle Organists, Andy Unsworth. It was so simple, yet so moving.

I have always loved this hymn as it talks about the Plan of Salvation, or rather the Plan of Happiness that we all have been given who are on this earth.

O My Father, Thou that dwellest in the high and glorious place,
When shall I regain Thy presence and again behold Thy face?
In Thy holy habitation, did my spirit once reside?
In my first primeval childhood was I nurtured near Thy side?

Our Father in Heaven and His beloved Son, Jesus Christ do dwell in that high and glorious place known as the Celestial Kingdom. We will all see His face when we pass from our mortal probation. We all lived with our Heavenly Father as His Spirit Children. Yes all of us. We were taught about earth life and presented a plan where we could choose.

For a wise and glorious purpose Thou hast placed me here on earth
And withheld the recollection of my former friends and birth;
Yet ofttimes a secret something whispered, "You're a stranger here."
And I felt that I had wandered from a more exalted sphere.

In this great plan, we were told about earth life, and that when we were on earth we would not remember anything about our former estate. As missionaries go out and proclaim the gospel, people are brought back to that knowledge. In effect, the veil that separates us, becomes a little thinner where as baptized members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we can perform sacred ordinances and witness special things which makes that veil very thin. And with this knowledge, we know that while the beauty of the earth and all of God's creations is glorious, our former estate was even more glorious.

I had learned to call Thee Father, through Thy Spirit from on high,
But until the key of knowledge was restored, I knew not why.
In the heavn's are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare!
Truth is reason; truth eternal tells me I've a Mother there.

Is it not wonder that the basic unit of the church is the family. And is it no wonder that, while the Proclamation to the Family is not canonized, we sustain it, uphold to the those values and truths. We believe that the Proclamation is not only for members of the church, but to the entire world. In this verse, we are given the concept that there is a Mother in Heaven. This is a foreign concept to other religions, but it makes perfect sense that if our Father in Heaven desires us to function in family units, He patterned that after His life. And for those who are still seeking out companions, they are promised that they will have companionship in the next estate. What a loving kind Father in Heaven that loves us so dearly!

When I leave this frail existence, when I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you in your royal courts on high?
Then, at length, when I've completed all You sent me forth to do,
With your mutual approbation let me come and dwell with you.

This verse is the on that I get very emotional over. I know that we are all born and all must die and lay our mortal bodies by while our spirits return back to that loving Father and Mother in Heaven who created us. We will also have grand reunions with those who have gone before us. As I mentioned in another blog, I was "gifted" with extreme emotions. I get emotional when friends, family, or anyone for that matter pass on from this life. All I need to see is one person weeping and I will join with them. Perhaps a better term for my "gift" is compassion. I feel for them and their joys of tears or tears of sorrow. It is all part of the Plan of Happiness. We do not know when we will  be called home, and so we must live our lives as if today was our final day on earth.

As I eluded, this hymn has a personal connection for me. As I have blogged before, I was raised by my grandmother. when her time on this earth was over, this hymn was sung at her funeral. I've sung it before then many times, but at her funeral, I gained a testimony of the Lord's Plan of Happiness through this experience. I learned even more so of our Father in Heaven's love for all of us. I learned that all the pains and challenges that we have on this earth are taken away when we die. We lay our mortal's by. Yes, this hymn speaks of the sweet plan and reinforces the family unit. And every time I sing it, I get choked up by remembering my grandmother and what she has done for me. Along with meeting my Heavenly Father and Mother, I look forward to the reunion with my grandmother to let her know of my appreciation for what she has done for me; something that I didn't vocally do when she was here. And I look forward to meeting my birth mother to tell her that it's all good; that there is a reason for everything and I appreciate her for what she has done for me. 

My wife is very much into genealogy; something that I need to do more. I imagine that those hundreds or even thousands who she has researched and done their work in temples, will fall around her neck thanking her for what she has done. After all, family history is about reuniting families together too. The veil is indeed very thin and as I personally get older and try to do what my Father in Heaven would have me do, I can see the eternal benefits of doing so - which I strive daily to do.

04 June 2015

Like a child

My cousin posted a picture on Facebook this morning for "throwback Thursday, or TBT). It showed a picture of all my cousins, parent, aunts, uncles, etc. A very nice picture that when I saw it, by mind literally did a "throwback". A comment from my cousin said, "ahhh, the good old days" - a comment that I remember my grandparents talking about when THEY were our age in the picture. So, we all go through the phases of remembering the "good old days" and reliving our childhood.

Childhood back then was, or at least seemed a lot different than today. I felt like it was a time where we felt free, but protected at the same time. We didn't have the issues that we are facing today. I'm sure there were other issues, but I can't remember any in particular. We were free (especially in the Summer) to roam our neighborhood without, or seemingly without any fear. We cousins played many "action" games that we made up on the spot and kept ourselves busy. We had "enemies" but they were far and few between the friends. We were protected by our parents (and my grandparents) from those kinds of enemies and playing "battle wounds" that occurred. All we needed to do it go crying in the house and tell our story in-between sobbing. We would get the reassuring hug, and occasional cookie and told to wait in the house while they went out to find the cause of the mishap and rectify it.

Yes, those were the days! We are told that we were born at a particular time for a particular reason. I was born in the late 50's and lived my "innocent" life as a child. My children were born in the early to mid 80's and my grandkids have been born in their particular time. Times with their individual feelings of free and protected. Not really our standards, or what we felt like when we ourselves were children. But each was born at a particular time and for a particular reason. We have been told through modern revelation that the most valiant spirits who fought for the cause of Father in Heaven were saved for the latter-days because our Father saw in them their fierce loyalty and possess in them that same fierceness to withstand the fiery darts of the adversary.

As I think about my childhood, I am reminded in the scriptures how the Savior admonishes us all to become as a little child. Could it be that the freedom and safety that we enjoyed as a child were attributes the Savior would have us also possess?

We, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have our freedoms in the gospel; if we obey the commandments. Just like in our childhood days, we were free to "roam the neighborhood", we were also told places that we should NOT go. I remember a time when I tested the rule and found out the hard way why they told me that I should not go there. so it is with our Heavenly Father; we have the commandments, where many people view them as the list of "Don't go's". But if we look at them as safety, we will indeed be and feel free, We have the freedoms to listen or not to our parents, and Heavenly Father. We are not free to the consequences of those actions.

I remember, when big thunderstorms came and rocked the house, I was frightened. The sheer power of the storms and seeing, firsthand what a bolt of lightning can do and its accompanying crash of thunder were enough to drive my fears up. I remember running to my grandmother, who gently put me into her arms. In her arms and with her reassuring voice and tone, I felt safe.

We also have a loving Father in Heaven who we can run to when the storms of life are swirling around us. We, who are baptized members have the privilege of having the Holy Ghost as our constant companion. It is through the Holy Ghost that our Father in Heaven speaks to us. The reassurance that the Holy Ghost gives to us through the still, small whisperings can help us become at peace.

Those who know me, know that I am pretty big in the Social media scene. I can also liken my interactions like a child. The internet can be had for both good and evil. People use the internet to promote their agendas, and others use it to spread happiness. I choose the latter. I like to think about the the end of the 13th article of faith and change it up a bit, "If there is anything virtuous, lovely, of good report or praiseworthy, I seek after these things. If we seek for the good in our Social media posts, comments, likes, shares, tweets, etc. we can feel at peace knowing that we are part of the "drop of water" in the sea of  sharing goodness as Elder Bednar remarked. We can choose to stand for something, as President Gordon B. Hinckley admonished, but what exactly are we standing for with our social media actions?

The primary hymn which always comes to mind (and I switch it up a bit) says, "If the Savior stood beside me, would I post the things I post ? Finally, the beloved children's song and one that is so important, that it also appears in our hymnal tells us:

  1. I am a child of God,
    And he has sent me here,
    Has given me an earthly home
    With parents kind and dear.
  2. I am a child of God,
    And so my needs are great;
    Help me to understand his words
    Before it grows too late.
  3. I am a child of God.
    Rich blessings are in store;
    If I but learn to do his will,
    I'll live with him once more.
  4. I am a child of God.
    His promises are sure;
    Celestial glory shall be mine
    If I can but endure.
  5. Chorus
    Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
    Help me find the way.
    Teach me all that I must do
    To live with him someday.
  6. Words: Naomi Ward Randall, 1908-2001. (c) 1957 IRI. Fourth verse (c) 1978 IRI

Yes, childhood and all its joys were, and will continue to be the "good old days". Our Child-like progression while on this earth; possessing all the attributes of a true child of God is really all we need to know to return back to Heavenly Father.

18 May 2015

Just because you can

This evening, I was getting a little creative with some music. I will often just turn on my digital audio workstation (DAW), set it to record and just start to play. So, whatever I start playing is saved on the computer. In this instance, I was trying to come up with a patriotic arrangement. I started to noodle with, "My Country 'Tis of Thee". I happened upon a nice chord progression which lent itself to the melody. I then looped back that piano part and started noodling with other ideas. And for some reason, "Amazing Grace" came to my fingertips. This sounded nice too, with the same chord progression. So, I saved that part and looped it back. And then, things got interesting. While the accompaniment was looping, and while the time of Amazing Grace was looping, I started to play the melody of, " My Country 'Tis of Thee" in with all of that, and you know what? It worked! My immediate thought as I'm on to something. I figured I could because of recent arrangements where I mashed two times together.  So, went on social media to ask if it sounded crazy to "mash" these together in an arrangement. I received a message from a fellow musician whom I respect, who gave me counsel in one sentence. This person said:

Just because you can, doesn't necessarily mean you should.

One sentence got my mind reeling. It made me step back and look at things in a different light. There are many choices we are presented with daily - perhaps hundreds. Some things are "no brainers". They are things that we know better. Perhaps things that we learned the hard way.  And there are things, that while they may seem the right thing to do, may not be the best, or have the best outcome. All choices we make have consequences attached with them. Many are good, but some are bad even though we may not be able to see the consequence of our choices.

Just because our car speedometer says it can go to 120 miles per hour does not necessarily mean we should test it. Just because we can mix vinegar with grape juice and drink it doesnt mean we necessarily should. And lastly, and perhaps more to the point - just because we are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and have a testimony of the restored gospel does not necessarily mean we have the right to judge another person on what they perceive or how they act. Each of these have their own consequences. By driving at 120 miles per hour, you are risking yours and others lives. By mixing two innocent ingredients together, one could get violently ill from doing so. And by judging another, one is in danger of eternal consequences.

The television and internet are littered with all sorts of things for sale. Often disguised in sensually appealing commercials and some even innocent sales used to entice. An example of this was just this evening. While watching the latest episode of "A.D. - The Bible", when commercials came on, they were completely derogatory to the wonderful biblical account that I was watching. While the commercials were not devious in any way, they were not in harmony with episode that I was watching. Just because advertisers can, does not necessarily mean they should.

Just as the respected friend who messaged me with the single profound sentence, the holy spirit does the same thing. It whispers truth to us. But if we are not willing to hear, then we are "left unto ourselves...". Just as I am grateful for wise friends, I am grateful for the spirit.

As for the music, I'll keep on developing it, but not mashed together - concentrating on one melody at a time.

Choose Eternity

19 April 2015

To everything there is a season

This passage of scripture seems to speak to me this past week. It was a week of beginnings and ends. Beginnings for those who patiently have gone through the Choir School (the Mormon Tabernacle Choir training school) who wait patiently to take their places in the choir loft. Those that have learned the essentials of good singing practices and who have tackled the difficult Mozart Requiem.

As any prospective member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, they all have to go through this process. The intensive 16 week training with lovingly wonderful choir school staff who only want to bring out the absolute best for all of the applicants. The culmination is the Chorale Concert, which happened this past Friday and Saturday. As one who has now gone through with the decision to sing with the Chorale, even though my commitment is over, I can empathize. I see myself in a little of them. I see the excitement, humility, and hard work that they show. It is a joy to now be sort of a mentor - to be looked as a "seasoned" professional. To be asked about protocol and what to expect. I don't have all the answers, but provide what I have learned. And that's not all - I learn from them. I am invigorated by they zest and zeal. I love being a part of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

I can remember my first experience in the Chorale, and those more "seasoned" members who also returned year after year, because they loved the experience of doing so. And I remember their kindness, their helpfulness and their joy. We sung a brand new piece as part of the Chorale. It was a year after the tragic Sandy Hook incident. It was the same school that our Associate Director, Ryan Murphy attended as a youth. He wrote a piece in honor of that event called "A Lullaby". We sang it as part of our choir school. It was a special feeling of gratitude for Bro. Murphy allowing us to sing his piece. Just this past weekend, Ryan's publisher released that piece and used the Chorale's performance of it as the sample so people could also love and embrace it. You can hear it here. Re-hearing that piece brought back flood of memories of when I was a new person.

The Chorale concert was wonderful. The singers new and old sang their hearts out. The new choir school members will start their new journeys next week as an official member of the the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

As in all things, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir seasons end for several each year as retirement comes.  Service in the choir is 20 years or age 60 - whichever occurs first. Of course there are some that leave earlier because of family commitments or callings. The choir members know when they will be retiring. For many, they shield this because they don't want it to end. For some, they look forward to retirement form the choir, after serving for so long, being away from family they are ready for the change. A bond of family love envelops in the choir and when one of them has to retire, we leave a part of our hearts with them as they retire. We will miss their smiles, their jokes, their voices, and their physical presence.

Today was the day of retirements. As a member of the choir now for 3 years, I have developed brotherly love for several of those members that retired today.  It is a bittersweet event. Again, I remember as a new choir school member who was among those who patiently wait for their chance to take the seat in the choir loft, but also realize that that where that now empty seat is, there was a choir member who is now retired occupying it. As a new member with the assigned part (my part number is B-54), realizing that someone else occupied this number before me. As we sang our final, "God be with you till we meet again" to those who served between 5 and 20 years, my heart was filled with appreciation for each of them. They, too went through the same process. They, too had a part number and a seat occupied by someone else in the choir, and they, too sang, "God be with you" to choir family friends.

As seasons changing are inevitable, so is membership in the Mormon Tabernacle choir. Each new choir school, and each choir retirement brings the fact that my season must end too. It is inevitable. It is bittersweet. I want to push that thought away from my thoughts and just, as a former choir friend counseled me to, "soak it all in". I want to experience every moment that I have left in the choir and continue to sing testimony to my Savior. I will continue to sing in the Chorale until I retire and see the new seasons of the choir bloom, and also sing fond farewell to those who served well. To sum it all up, this is my hope that a retiree today expressed.

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened - Dr. Seuss

God be with you, my fellow choir family members who enter into service and those who have finished their service until we sing again.

04 April 2015

I Believe

This morning, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was practicing the pieces that we would be singing today and for other sessions of the Annual General Conference. We basically sat through all of the of the pieces that we were to practice. This is unusual because the directors like to have us stand because we sing better. The music was glorious and tender. Anyway, we were singing and got to the piece that we sang for the closing of the first session, "I Believe in Christ". And then something subtly unique happened.
As the organ started playing the glorious intro, it was almost spontaneous and without prompting from the director that we all stood. It was as if we had to stand to sing that declaration!  (emphasis added by me)

I Believe in Christ, He IS my King!With ALL my heart to Him I'll sing; I'll raise my voice in praise and joy, in grand amens my tongue employ.I believe in Christ; he is God's Son.On earth to dwell his soul did come.He healed the sick; the dead he raised.Good works were his; his name be praised.
And in voices, we did! That declaration made by Elder Bruce R. McConkie was his final testimony. Only a few short weeks, he would leave this earth, his mission completed. The wonderful thing about this opening declaration as well as the other verses, no one in Christianity can object to. We who profess Jesus Christ as our Savior, can with assured voices proclaim that Jesus Christ is our King! That He is God (the Father's) Son who came to earth to experience mortality. We also profess that He did perform many miracles while He was on the earth.

I believe in Christ; OH blessed name!As Mary's Son he came to reign'Mid mortal men, his earthly kin,To save them from the woes of sin.I believe in Christ, who marked the path,Who did gain all his Father hath,Who said to men: "Come, follow me,That ye, my friends, with God may be."

We profess that Jesus Christ Came to earth, that Mary was His mother. We further profess that Jesus came to earth to save us from sin and error. His invitation to "Come follow me" is given to ALL mankind; not just LDS, Catholic, etc. but ALL men. 

I believe in Christ--my Lord, my God!My feet he plants on gospel sod.I'll worship him with all my might;He is the source of truth and light.I believe in Christ; he ransoms me.From Satan's grasp he sets me free,And I shall live with joy and loveIn his eternal courts above.

We profess that Jesus Christ built His church on the earth, and His disciples were His Apostles. We profess that Jesus said to all men that, "I am the light.." and we are bound to Him by his blood of the atonement and that HE can free us from Sin if we but believe.

I believe in Christ; he stands supreme!From him I'll gain my fondest dream;And while I strive through grief and pain,His voice is heard: "Ye shall obtain."I believe in Christ; so come what may,With him I'll stand in that great dayWhen on this earth he comes againTo rule among the sons of men.
We profess that through the atonement of Jesus Christ, that we have been given the opportunity to return to our Father in Heaven. That while we are on this earth, we will go through trials. We will fall and we will get back up and continue pressing on. This is what enduring to the end means. And we are promised that if we are true and faithful, we will be rewarded. We profess that if we keep our eyes on the eternal prize, we can obtain all that our Father in Heaven has and wants to give us. We finally profess that Jesus Christ will return to the earth to claim it and all who have tried their best to become spotless from the sins of the world. He will return in glory as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

With apologies to Elder McConkie, and in recognition of tomorrow being Easter, I would like to add one more verse (I'm not a lyricist):

I believe in Christ, He atoned for me;He pled for me in Gethsemane.And on the cross, with final breath,His work was done, then mortal death.I believe in Christ, He rose from the graveHe came forth ris'n, our souls to save.With grateful heart, I say today;He lives! His commands I'll obey.
I believe in Christ! I believe in God the Father! I believe in the Plan which was presented before the world was. I believe in the gospel. This declaration strengthens and buoys me and, like the choir did spontaneously, I "stand" and boldly proclaim this.

I am grateful for Easter-time  a time for renewal on the earth. A time for new beginnings. But most of all, I am eternally grateful that the tomb WAS empty. That Jesus did everything His Father asked. That His statement of, "Send Me and the Glory be Thine" was carried out in exactness. That Jesus, who walked this earth left his footprints for us all to follow. I wish all a Happy and Blessed Easter!

03 April 2015

Good Friday

Good Friday. Is it an oxymoron to call such a day GOOD? The day which our beloved Master, and Savior suffered unbearable pain on the cross? A day which He willingly gave His life for mankind by having spikes driven in His hands, wrists, Feet? A day where crucifixion was the worst of the worst ways to be put to death?

I prefer the German translation of Gottes Freitag, or God’s Friday. It has also been called Karfreitag, or Sorrowful Friday. Early translations suggest that it may have been originally God’s Friday and then turned into Good Friday.

In any event, the day is a day of remembrance, and should be taken as such. We commemorate all who have served our Nation with Memorial Day. I suggest this be a Sacred Memorial Day - where we pay homage to our Savior for what He has done for us. He paid the price for any sins that we have or will commit in our mortal sojourn. He paid for those in the Garden of Gethsemane and finally on the cross.

For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; 
But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; 
Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink— 
Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men. - D&C 19:16-19

No other person on this earth could do what He has done for us. The 7 last statements of the Savior as recorded in the gospels show us His true nature:

1. He asked His Father (our Father in Heaven) to forgive what those have done to Him.

2. He assured the other person on the cross that He will be remembered in paradise.

3. His concern over the welfare of His mother. So He left the care of His Mother to His disciple.

4. He feels “mortality” where God’s presence is not felt all the time and shouts, “My God, my God, why has Thou Forsaken me?

5. His only acknowledgment of the pain He feels. He says, “I thirst”. He thirsts no only for physical by spiritual food.

6. It is Finished. Acknowledgement that His mortal ministry is ending and that He did fulfill all that His Father has asked of Him.

7. Only Jesus could yield up his spirit. No one else could take His life away. By His final word, He willingly gave His life to His Father.

These Seven last words can be a footprint for how we are to govern our lives:

1. We are asked to forgive others freely.

2. We have the assurance of the gospel in our lives through those called to lead us. This weekend, we have that wonderful opportunity to have that spiritual assurance that God truly is in charge of His church and that His prophets are on this earth.

3. We are commanded to love one another. I believe this also means that we overlook others flaws. We love unconditionally.

4. When we stray from the paths of the gospel or do things which we know we should not be doing, through repentance, we will not feel alone or abandoned any more. “Now therefore, ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints…"

5. When we stray from the paths of the gospel or do things which we know we should not be doing, through repentance, our spiritual wells can be filled once again and we will not thirst again.

6. When our time on this earht is concluded, may we all say as Paul did, “I have fought the good fight, I have ginished my course, I have kept the faith..”

7. When we yield our lives completely to will of the Lord, we will be blessed for our efforts. As we do so, Satan and his minions has little power over us. We will flee from sin.

So, as we reflect on Gottes Frietag,  may we be mindful of what He has done for us; he has given us the possibility of eternal salvation. May we remember that this was the plan from the beginning. May we always hold our Savior near and dear to our hearts - and this will be a GOOD and GODLY thing.

28 March 2015

Heaven's help

Today, as I was helping my wife in her calling at our Bi-Stake Family History Discovery Day, I was helping other people with their FamilySearch login information as well as preparing names to be printed for a colorful fan chart. As I met with people, they expressed their appreciation for what I was doing.

I was initially there as a participant to go to some of the classes to find out more, but I saw and felt the need to be with my wife as she fulfilled her calling as a member of the Stake Family History department and Ward Family History Consultant. My mind wandered back to when she was set apart for the calling. I remember the words pronounced upon her head as the Bishopric said something to the effect of, "..you will and can draw upon the heavens as well your husband in support of your calling.." To be put into that list was, and is sobering. "...the path of duty was clear.."

As I was assisting others, my screen top picture popped up many times. I have a picture depicting Temple Square in the Springtime. In one side, you can see the Tabernacle, and centered in the pictures, behind the blooming trees, you can see the Salt Lake Temple. I love this picture. Every time it pops up, it reminds me of MY calling. One sister who I helped, remarked about the picture. I told her that the building on the left (the Tabernacle) is where I spend my Sunday morning's. She said, "Oh, you're in the choir?" I acknowledged that I do. Then she jokingly said, but you don't have a calling, you sing. I said oh, yes I do. I have one of the best callings in the world. So, to that end, I'd like to explain my calling - not to justify, but rather to educate others.

I am officially set apart as a service missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am a goodwill ambassador in the church as a musical missionary. I have been set apart by the Choir President, who has been set apart by the Prophet of the Lord. This is my short, but very clear calling pedigree. I am expected, as a musical missionary to live my life as if a full-time missionary in word, deed, and thought. My calling is basically to share the gospel and testimony through music.

Sunday mornings, I am responsible to be dressed in the suit and tie that is pre-chosen to be worn that Sunday and in the choir loft by 7:25AM. The weekly live "Music and the Spoken Word" broadcast starts at 9:30AM. Often we will stay after the broadcast is over to practice music for an upcoming event. In the case of tomorrow, we will begin our practice for next week's General Conference. This goes until 11:30AM. That is the typical Sunday for us.

Thursday evenings are typically our rehearsal evenings, where we practice the music for the next "Music and the Spoken Word" broadcast. They are then, taped and timed to make sure that we are within the time allotted to fit for the 30 minute broadcast. We typically begin at 7:00pm and end at 9:30pm.

When we have special events, our practice time will be increased to Tuesday, and sometimes Wednesdays evenings. In the case of next week, we will practice Tuesday evening as well as Thursday evening. In the case of events, such as Pioneer Day, Christmas and other special concerts we will practice the Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings with concerts on Friday and Saturday. And of course, on Sunday, the regular "Music and the Spoken Word" broadcast must go on (the show must go on) :)

The music we perform for the "Music and the Spoken Word" broadcasts typically shows up in our box the week before. As a new choir member, there is much more work to learn our parts outside of choir. And if the music is to be sung by memory, there is even more practice required. As the years of service in the choir increase, the pieces that we sing are known so that they become "old hat", but we still need to re-familiar ourselves with the music. There is always a new piece thrown in, so we "old timers" cannot just sit back. :)

I have felt and experienced heaven's help in my calling. I have seen tears being wiped away after singing a particular song, I have seen the look of happiness on faces. I have felt God's presence and His angels round about in us as we sang our testimonies of Him. These experiences and feelings will long linger after my service in the choir has ended.

As I was set apart in my calling, I can remember some of the words pronounced upon my head that said in effect, that "I can can call upon heaven to help me in my calling as well my wife who will be blessed as she supports me in my calling". Interesting, isn't it?  Two blessings by two completely different people who do not know each other, yet the words are remarkably similar in nature. Not a coincidence in any way, shape or form, but pronounced by two of the Lord's servants who sought heaven's help in setting us apart in our service callings.

My wife has been one of my biggest cheerleaders, and support in my calling. She understands the importance of support in callings as do I. We compliment each other in support our each other's callings. This is an extension of the right hand raised in support of a calling. I, as well as my wife love our callings. We try the best we can to magnify our callings. We both pray for heaven's help in our callings that we can touch lives.

The people that I helped today in my small way at the Family History Discovery Day were very appreciative of the help. It is my hope and prayer that they will catch the importance of family history and that there are others beyond the veil that are also appreciate that they have taken the steps to start doing research. The people that are in attendance tomorrow at the "Music and the Spoken Word" broadcast as well as those who may tune in, may also need heaven's help. They may be carrying a tremendous load and, just perhaps part of a song that we sing, or part of the spoken word that is spoken will be an answer for them. That is my hope and prayer.

And that is the way that by magnifying callings and doing the very best they can see lives changed by doing our very best in our small way. "...by small and simple things are great things brought to pass..."