Category Archives: Spiritual

Joy

by Julienna Viegas-Haws

I felt like sharing this poem with you because I had a pretty bad day… I have learned something very powerful while serving a full time mission for my church, about 12 years ago, one of the best things you can do when you have a horrible feeling is concentrate on its exact opposite.

JOY

is a Prayer

JOY

is Strength

JOY

is Love

JOY

is a net of LOVE by which you can catch souls.

She gives most who gives with JOY

The best way to show our gratitude to God and the people is to accept everything with JOY.

A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning with LOVE.

We all long for heaven where God is but we have it in our power to be in heaven with Him right now–to be happy with Him at this very moment. But being happy with him now means:

Loving as He loves,

Helping as He helps,

Giving as He gives,

Serving as He serves,

Rescuing as He rescues,

Being with Him for all the twenty-four hours,

Touching Him in his distressing disguise.

Mother Teresa

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Are You a Hidden Leader?

by Julienna Viegas-Haws

The reason why I am bringing up this topic is because I am tired of all these puppet leaders out there. Whether you look at the political realm, the business world, the entertainment and sports world, even some “religious” leaders out there are just plain scandalous in every way.  These false leaders deceive their followers by presenting an image they are not or one that should not be followed. They are taking advantage of the people following them for their own glory rather than the benefit of all. There is no use in me starting to point out fingers and throw names. If you don’t believe me just turn on your television (as far as I am concerned I avoid it).

First let me give you my preferred summarized definition of leadership, there are many variations out there, this one is from Professor Peter G.Northouse[i]:

“Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal.”

The false leader is not working towards achieving a common goal. The false leader is working towards  achieving his/her own selfish goal and couldn’t care less about what happens to the followers.

“Good leaders are made not born. If you have the desire and willpower, you can become an effective leader. Good leaders develop through a never ending process of self-study, education, training, and experience.” (Jago,1982)

The world is screaming for great leadership. There are just too many bad “leaders” out there.  In my opinion, there are too many dormant great leaders who just won’t answer to the call: “Great Leaders Needed”.

I truly think that when my favorite leader told his followers that they should be the “salt of the earth[ii]” he meant: with everything I taught you, with everything you know, with the promises you have made, you ought to be an example to those around you and share what you have received because it is for everyone.

Not everyone will lead a nation, a state, an organization or a community. However, anyone can be a good leader in their home, be a positive influence in their community and to everyone they come in contact with. Yes, that is called caring for others.

Caring for others comes with a responsibility. I believe that what most potential great leaders are trying to avoid is the responsibility that comes with leadership.

Here are 5 common reasons why people decline leadership:

(“I just don’t want to” is not a valid answer because there is a “why” underneath):

  1. Don’t want the responsibility
  2. Don’t want to deal with other people’s problem
  3. Don’t feel they have the “right” type of personality
  4. Don’t want to deal with people in general
  5. Feel like they already have too much going on in their own life

The bottom line is, if you don’t step up in the leadership role, someone else will and you may not always like what is happening.

I recently attended a communication skills workshop and found out how people easily hide behind their personality traits in order not to be “noticed” and therefore they cannot reach their full potential and fulfill their true mission in this life. Don’t worry, I have been there too. If you are familiar with the Personality Color Code test (very abridged: Red=bossy-leader; Blue=emotional-giver; White=peaceful- introvert; Yellow=fun-carefree). If you want more details you can go take the test here. Of course we all have a little bit of everything but there is a predominant “color” in our personality. They all have their positive and negative sides. The key is to learn how to transform the weakness into strength and develop the positive attributes of the other colors (for my Christian friends basically follow the admonition: “…ye should be perfect even as I[iii]…”). I am predominantly red, raised by a “red” and married to a “red” this means lots of sparks… Thanks to my faith which helped me develop more humility, I have been able to eliminate a lot of the bad “red” attributes and develop the good ones (work in progress).

My point is that it helps knowing what personality type you are because then you can more clearly see your strength and continue to develop them and you can better see your weaknesses and work on them as well. When you also recognize what type of personality the people around you have, you can learn to communicate in the right way with them. 90% of the problems we have with others (in and out of our home) are due to miscommunication. Therefore learning to communicate effectively with the four major types of personalities can alleviate a lot of pain and save a lot of time. There is a lot more to be said about this but it will be for another post.

People respond to a variety of different leaders, some can really reach you and others don’t. That is why your personality is perfect for those who respond well to you.

To end I want to share one of my all time favorite quote by Marianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”



[i]  Concepts of Leadership

Count Your Blessings

I have to make up for the somewhat negative intro of my last post… So I want everyone to know that I am extremely grateful for my life, my husband, my children, my family, my friends and all the many good things I have been given in life.

And “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required”

Luke 12:48

One of the reasons I am most grateful is that although I was born and grew up in Belgium, my origins are from the Congo and Angola. I have not yet stepped on the African continent, one day I will. When I go there though, I don’t want to just be a tourist and just enjoy the good things and disregard the not so good. When I go there it will be to help out those in need. There are people in need all over the world and we can do what we can where we are. I do feel an obligation to go help out my people from my ancestors’ continent at some point – They are suffering because of wars, famine, sicknesses, lack of education, and the list goes on. Yes they are those to blame for it but in the meantime there are countless innocents who are suffering and dying.

Here is a story that was published in one of the magazines from my church a while ago. This story shook me to the core and still does every time I read it. The reason being, it could have been me. I read her story in the New Era magazine a few years ago.  She served in my mission a few months after I left. So sad I missed being around her for a while. This beautiful African woman is always smiling and happy, she just beams. Today she has impacted millions with her incredible life story. She is one more reason why I love the Church I belong to, gospel in action. Her name is Mariama Kallon and this is her story:

Amid the horrors of a civil war, I found hope in a book and a plastic bag

Sierra Leone was a sad place during my teenage years, but it was my home. For much of my life, my small West African country was torn by a civil war. The war affected everything. My family and I were constantly on the run, trying to escape the rebel soldiers. It was terrifying every time the rebels came through a city. Someone would see their torches approaching in the night, warn the others, and we would all run for the bush, grabbing whatever we could along the way.

About seven years after the war began, the rebels came to our city. My whole family was running to escape, but my parents, who were just a few steps behind me, were shot and killed. I was so sad to lose them, but I had to keep moving.

My brother, sister, and I moved to a safer place, and for a short while we were all right, but the rebels eventually hit that town, too. This time we didn’t have time to run away. My brother was taken and later killed. My sister and I were lined up outside with all the other women. The rebel soldiers were chopping limbs off of all the women in the line. We were all so frightened. Everyone was crying and praying—even people who had never believed in God before. I was not a member of the Church at the time, but I believed in God and prayed that His will would be done and hoped that He would find a way to save me.

My dear sister, who was several places ahead of me in line, had both of her legs cut off. But as the rebels reached the woman in front of me, our army came rushing in and the rebels ran away. I know that I was not better than the people who were in front of me or behind me, but I thanked God that I had been spared and prayed that I might understand His plan for me.

I moved to another village to live with a friend. As I was telling my story to my friend and some of her neighbors, one neighbor said, “Mariama, we don’t have anything to offer you except an invitation to church tomorrow. That’s where we find safety. That’s where we find hope.” I loved God already and needed comfort in my life, so I decided to go.

My first Sunday in that LDS branch is a day I will never forget. I learned of hope. You could just see that there was hope in those people, and I was drawn to them. I was given the Book of Mormon and started reading right away. I remember hearing in church about how families could be together again after death and then reading in Alma 11 where Alma teaches about how our bodies will be made perfect again in the Resurrection. I felt the Spirit so strong as I thought of my family. I knew that the Church was true and that we could be together forever—each of us well and whole.

There were no missionaries in Sierra Leone at that time, so I took the lessons from my branch president and was baptized soon after. We were blessed in our town, because the Church sent food and humanitarian kits for the members of the Church and others. The food kept us all alive. Everyone was so grateful even to receive a small bag of rice or beans. I received a blanket and a hygiene kit that included a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, a comb, and a washcloth.

Not long after, the rebels hit again. They burned down the house I was living in, and as I was running to escape the flames, I took time to save only two things—my scriptures and my hygiene kit. We had to live on the run for a while after that, and I used my hygiene kit to help those around me. I would squeeze out one pinch of toothpaste for each person, or we would go to the river and carefully pass my bar of soap from person to person. The kit was so precious to us. The blanket, too, was invaluable. It sheltered us for many days until I used it to wrap an old woman who had died and had nothing to be buried in.

Eventually, I went back to my town and my branch. It was then that I decided I wanted to serve a mission. This was a difficult decision for me, because I had nothing and would be leaving behind people I loved. As I was trying to decide, I read D&C 84:81 and 88, which say, “Therefore, take ye no thought for the morrow, for what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, or wherewithal ye shall be clothed … for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” I knew the Lord would care for me, so I turned in my mission papers and was called to the Utah Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission.

I arrived in Utah with practically nothing, but I insisted on bringing my hygiene kit, because it meant so much to me. One day, my companion and I were taking a tour of the Humanitarian Center in Salt Lake, and I recognized a blanket that had the Relief Society logo embroidered on it, just like the one I’d had in Sierra Leone. I looked around and saw hygiene kits like mine and familiar bags of beans and rice, and I began cry.

“This is where they came from!” I thought to myself. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I remembered what these things sitting in stacks in the Humanitarian Center in Salt Lake meant to my friends and to me in Sierra Leone. I was so grateful to the Lord for preserving me, for bringing the gospel into my life, and for allowing me to serve a mission. I knew that His angels truly had been round about me, to bear me up.

[photo] Mariama Kallon (right), dressed in her traditional African clothing, holds one of her most precious possessions—a hygiene kit. (Photographs by Riley M. Lorimer.)

[photo] When I received my humanitarian kit, my stepsister received a school kit. She was the only child in her school who had paper. Carefully, she tore out one piece for each of her friends and broke her three pencils in half, giving one half to each friend. Every day, the children would write down their lessons and then gently erase everything each night so that they could use the sheet of paper again the next day. They were so grateful for the tools to learn. (Paper and pencils by Emily Leishman.)

Story taken from the New Era, November 2006.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mx3sSZTuOyA

It’s all about perspective

Today was one of those days where the kids drove me craaazy all day. Reflecting back on the day I was reminded of an old favorite short story of mine from an unknown author. I have shared it many times in the past. I dugged in my old files and found the story so here it is:

God’s Embroidery

When I was a little boy my mother used to embroider a great deal.  I would sit at her knee and look up from the floor and ask what she was doing. She informed me that she was embroidering.

As from the underside I watched her work within the boundaries of the little round hoop that she held in her hand, I complained to her that it sure looked messy from where I sat.

She would smile at me, look down and gently say, “Son, you go about your playing for a while, and when I am finished with my embroidering, I will put you on my knee and let you see it from my side.”

I would wonder why she was using some dark threads along with the bright ones and why they seemed so jumbled from my view. A few minutes would pass and then I would hear Mother’s voice say, “Son, come and sit on my knee.” This I did only to be surprised and thrilled to see a beautiful flower or a sunset. I could not believe it, because from underneath it looked so messy.

Then Mother would say to me, “My son, from underneath it did look messy and jumbled, but you did not realize that there was a pre-drawn plan on the top. It was a design. I was only following it. Now look at it from my side and you will see what I was doing.”

Many times through the years I have looked up to my Heavenly Father and said, “Father, what are You doing?” He has answered, “I am embroidering your life.” I say, “But it looks like a mess to me. It seems so jumbled. The threads seem so dark. Why can’t they all be bright?” The  Father seems to tell me, “‘My child, you go about your business of doing  My business, and one day I will bring you to Heaven and put you on My knee and you will see the plan from My side.”

Author Unknown