We’re heading home after lunch, and I haven’t actually seen the ocean yet. I’ve felt its presence, but that’s not the same as seeing it. Elizabeth and I rode down the boulevard after church yesterday, hoping to catch a few glimpses, but we struck out. The fog, even at that time of the late morning, was still so dense that we could barely make out the outlines of poles and palm trees. Today’s another day, and I plan to walk on the strand shortly.
It’s been a super weekend, just what the doctor ordered before becoming totally immersed in the semester. In addition to shopping with my lovely daughter and sister-in-law, there were some fun dining experiences, lots of shared laughter, a movie (The Book of Eli), a leisurely stroll through Barnes and Noble, and attending church in Myrtle Beach. And lest I forget, my hubby and I hung bamboo shades in the bedrooms and curtains in the dining room. Dining room is kind of a misnomer since it’s actually an area at the end of the so-called living room, but still….
What I’ll probably remember most is going to church in Myrtle Beach yesterday. That’s where I spent so many of my younger years, and the memories of that place and time are more than a little dear. Yesterday as Elizabeth, her father, Jeff R., Sister Franklin, and I sat on the back row, I remembered the Sunday that a 12-year-old Carrie stood and bore her testimony. I sat quietly listening and thought, “She’s one brave kid.” She was and still is brave and valiant when it comes to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I remembered the first time I ever spoke in Sacrament and how nervous and downright shaky I was. To control my butterflies, I looked to the right where my family was sitting and to the middle section where Dennis Stalvey was. I knew that he’d be pretending to listen even if he wasn’t, and that gave me encouragement. I remembered Gail and Tom and their precious little children and how we were all friends “back in the day.” In fact, all of the people there were and still are dear to me.
I recalled the Sunday when we got the word that several of the MB families would be thereafter attending church in the newly formed Conway branch, and we were one of them. I was in shock. How could I leave this edifice that I loved and the people within it? Little did I know how much my children would grow and reach more of their potential in that tiny church in Conway. Now that small congregation is a large, thriving, ever growing ward, and it too has friends that I enjoy worshipping with. At the moment I’m remembering the “farewell” talks that Paul and his father and I gave on his last Sunday there before leaving for the MTC and then Mexico where he served his mission. The congregation sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” because that was one of his favorites.
I didn’t mean to get so carried away. I only meant to write briefly about church yesterday and the primary message I took away: Listen to the Spirit. I’m capitalizing that because of its importance, not because of what some people might perceive as “a weird Mormon thing.” Sometimes it’s hard to discern the still, small voice from all of the other voices that vie for our attention. So how can you tell if it’s the spirit trying to get your attention or not? It’s simple. The spirit of God is going to direct you in ways that are good, good for you and for the people around you. Plus, it makes you feel serene, calm, and at peace. If you hear something like,
“You need to get revenge,”
“You should stay and gamble just a little longer,”
“It’s okay to cheat on this test,”
“Let someone else help the people in Haiti; I have my own problems.”
“It’s fine to flirt with this sexy babe or handsome hunk; my wife/husband/beloved will never know,” then you’re listening to the wrong messages. Satan’s static is interfering with the Spirit’s efforts to communicate with you. It will always direct you for good.
Enough of a sermonette. One of the best things that happened yesterday is that I reconnected with Elder Servin, a young elder who’s recently left the Camden area and is now serving in Myrtle Beach. He’s one of those especially special missionaries who going to leave his influence for good no matter where he is. I hope the folks in Myrtle Beach treat him well and that they’ll listen to his message.
As for yours truly, I’m trying to “Be still and know.”