Alone I’m Not So Good, but In a Choir I’m Awesome

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1773426During the Easter season the Mormon Tabernacle Choir invited people to sing as part of the world’s largest virtual choir. I recorded a video of myself singing the Hallelujah Chorus and submitted it with great fear and trepidation, because when I watched and listened to myself I realized that I’m horrible.

Much to my amazement I received a notice that I was included in the final result. Amazing, at least to me. However, the experience helped me to realize something I have always known.

You don’t want to hear my part all alone with no one else and with no music, totally accapella. Check it out in this video. As you can see and hear, in the choir I am incredible. CLICK HERE.

We are all better when we perform in a choir, play on a team, work with a group in a collaboration, and the end result is always far better than what we can do by ourselves.

When we unite together we can accomplish anything.

In the same way when we unite our support for someone who is struggling we bring them strength they may not have on their own. With genuine efforts to show love and support we can work miracles. Time after time I have seen people struggling and nearly giving up, and then God sends a miracle – someone like you or me.

God works His miracles through us. We can unite with Him if we will just be willing to participate. He will guide us in what we say and do, and His team is the best team to be on, and our participation not only blesses the lives of others, it bring us blessings as well.

Let’s unite together in service to others during this Christmas season. Not only on the World-wide Day of Service December 1st, but also every day through Christmas Day. United with God as our guide, we can be His agent to bless others.

Alone we are not so strong, but untied together all across the world with Heavenly Father as our guide, how can we fail? If each of us lets the Light of Christ shine within us while serving others, our combined light will indeed #LIGHTtheWORLD.

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Help Annie’s Influence Continue

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6666671485391487341Many wonderful people from all around the world have followed the events surrounding the tragic passing of Annie Schmidt, daughter or Jon Schmidt of The Piano Guys. Many knew her, but most did not and were captivated by the story as it unfolded over many days.

Annie is now a part of everyone, even if they never met her. Her life has impacted so very many people world-wide. The story is not over, and it does not have to end. We can keep her influence alive simply by being an influence ourselves.

Annie was kind and thoughtful. She was constantly seeing needs in others and putting them above her own. She knew how to reach out and help someone right when they needed it most because she was in tune with the Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost which is something we could all emulate in our efforts to be a better person, regardless of which particular Church we belong to.

Annie had genuine love for others. When she looked at someone, even someone she did not know, she did not just see them with her own eyes. She saw them the way the Savior Jesus Christ sees them – with unconditional love. This does not mean approval, but it does mean she felt love for them regardless of whether she agreed with them or not. The result was a loving concern and kindness towards everyone. We can all find ways to love others as God and Jesus Christ love them. We can carry on for Annie if we will learn to feel genuine love for others, and help them to feel our love by the things we say and do.

Annie chose to be a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Regardless of which denomination each of us belongs to, we can look at her example and incorporate it into our own life. As a missionary she studied, prayed, taught those who wished to learn, and found opportunities to love and serve the people where she lived.

Whatever church we belong to, we can become a better member of that church. We can study and learn, pray to understand, and find ways to be of service within our religious community. We can take our increasing faith and use that to motivate our actions to make the world a better place, one person at a time. Just as Annie influenced the lives of others, we can do the same within our own sphere of influence.

Daily sehqdefaultrvice is not difficult. Everyone we meet has a problem, or perhaps many problems that weigh them down. We can help lift their burden and find joy in spite of the adversity they face. If nothing else, look people in the eye and smile. Annie seemed to never stop smiling. Try it today. Look someone in the eye, smile, and keep smiling as you watch their face light up with a smile of their own.

Annie was a person who loved life, and had a great reverence and respect for nature and its wonders all around us. I’ve been a volunteer EMT, and have done volunteer search and rescue. What happened to Annie is not unique. She died because of a tragic accident in a fall from a scenic height where she had climbed to see the beauty around her. She made a few mistakes, which we can learn from. The Boy Scouts have a great rule we can all learn from – the Buddy Rule. Always have one or more people with you wherever you go and whatever you do. Respect for nature and a thirst to enjoy it first-hand also means having the training and skills to take on the challenges. Going on a nature hike may be filled with hazards and dangers. We need to always read and study the information about the area we will explore, and take the recommended precautions to avoid harm.

Annie has a profound love of her Heavenly Father and trusted in Him. However, bad things happen to good people every day. Why? Because God wants us to learn, and so as much as it hurts to see us make choices that may cause us sorrow and harm, as much as it pains Him to see others make wrong choices that also affect us in negative ways, God gives us freedom to make our own choices and does not force us to choose. However, He does try to influence us. Every person born into this world is born with the Light of Christ, a guide, and a help to us throughout our life. Think of it as our conscience, which whispers to our mind. Sometimes we hear and follow, yet other times the noise of our emotions or the noise of the world around us drowned out that still small voice. And other times we do hear it, but choose to ignore it. Let us all learn to hear, and choose to follow so that our lives might be blessed and we can be a light to others.

annie-schmidt-b-10222016We cannot change the world, or solve all the world’s many problems. We can make a difference in the life of one person at a time, and encourage them to do the same. Let us all do all that we can to love and serve those around us in such a way that they feel our genuine love for them, and remember to not go alone in anything we do in our lives.

Whether we knew Annie personally, or came to know her as a result of the accident and subsequent search efforts, we have all been blessed by her. Now we can honor her by finding ways to extend her influence. She was an agent of change in each of us, and now we can be an agent of change for others.

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Annie Brought Us Blessings

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20161024_142941The Piano Guys have brought joy and happiness to so many, including myself, and it has always been so wonderful to feel their profound faith in God through their beautiful music.

I knew immediately when I heard the news that Annie, the daughter of Jon Schmidt of The Piano Guys, was missing in Oregon, that my son David and I would go to help search. I started making plans for the trip even before David came home. I revised everything on my calendar for the next week to be sure there would be nothing to get in the way.

I told David what happened, and without knowing that I was ready to go, David told me that he wanted to go and asked me to go with him. His choir director is the arranger of the music performed by The Piano Guys, and he served his LDS mission in Oregon. We were on our way within a couple hours, taking turns driving all night.

Search and rescue is something I have done in the past, but decided I have had enough of what is a very difficult task, both physically and emotionally. But I just knew that going was the right thing to do, even though past experience on similar searches rarely had the desired results. I spent a great deal of time during the long drive in prayer (yes, even while driving), seeking spiritual guidance and help. It is not something I take lightly. I know that God hears and answers prayer, and I prayed  that we would safety and be led by the Spirit to find Annie.

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We arrived the next morning and checked in at the base camp ready to go to work. We spent the entire day hiking trails in a beautiful area with a number of dramatic waterfalls and beautiful scenery. We were as thorough as possible in our search, and I made a significant effort to be continually prayerful in my heart as we went, listening for that “still small voice” of the Holy Ghost as my “guide and companion.”

The Spirit was whispering to me, but the “noise” of my own emotions made it difficult to recognize. I wanted so much to help return a lost daughter to her mother and father, and struggled because it was my own worst fear, to lose my precious daughter.

20161022_130931A few hours into our search we came to a switchback (a sharp turn in the trail) and saw a beautiful sight. I stood in awe and amazement as the sun streamed through a break in the clouds and put on a glorious display of light through the mist in the trees. It lasted only a few minutes and then the sun was lost behind the clouds once again. God got my attention with a beautiful display. He got me to pause, be quiet, and simply empty my mind of all the many, many thoughts that were distracting me from His Spirit.  It was just what I needed.  I felt a warm, spiritual reassurance that my Heavenly Father knew what we were doing, and had sent His Spirit to comfort us and guide us, and through the Spirit I felt peace. I no longer felt sad, but still had empathy for the parents and wanted so very much to help them.

We hiked many long, difficult trails and covered about 16 miles that first day. The feeling of peace never left me, and I was happy. The sadness was gone and I was genuinely happy. Happy to be in such a beautiful place, happy to be with my son sharing this experience together, and happy to help such a very important effort.

20161023_151329The next day was Sunday. David and I teamed up with Piano Guy Steven Sharp Nelson and his wonderful wife. We hiked in an area where we felt Annie would likely go because of the very scenic waterfalls. It was a long day on 15 or so miles of trails, but my hopes and prayers to be led to where we could find Annie were not answered. I still felt a great sense of peace, but wanted so much to bring Annie home to her wonderful family. My prayers continued. It was a continual process, and I felt that Heavenly Father was listening, and the Spirit was there, but there was nothing telling me where to search. Steve spent most of the day hiking side by side, hand in hand with his lovely wife. Seeing them helped bring perspective to what we were doing.

The process of seeking spiritual guidance was not new to me. It was a part of my life. I pray about everything, and try to seek guidance in all that I do.

I was so amazed with the outpouring of support. There were hundreds of people who came from many places to help in the search. Most of the people I spoke to said they did not know The Piano Guys personally, but loved their music and had been blessed by it in some way. One man told me as we walked along together on the trail that he was not a Mormon, but heard his wife and kids talking about what happened and he just had an overwhelming feeling that he should go and help. So even though he had never met Jon Schmidt, he was out searching for his daughter.

20161024_135032Monday David and I teamed up with one of David’s friends he met while on his mission. We decided to try to cover an area where we determined had not been searched as well as perhaps it should. Volunteers tend to follow the trail be not look took thoroughly enough off to the sides. We knew this would be our last day to search, and this caused my prayers to be even more sincere in expressing my desire to find Annie. We climbed to a scenic overlook because it seemed to us that it would attract Annie, who loved to find great views and scenic wonders. We had already searched thoroughly around the water falls, and it seemed logical to now go to the highest point on the trail to look out over the Columbia River below.

20161024_124654The view was indeed spectacular. I remember thinking how grateful I was to be there seeing the beauty, and sharing the experience with my son. If it were not for Annie I might have never gone to that place and seen the sights I was enjoying. Yet if only I could find her. Sadly, it was not to be. The day came to an end, and we were exhausted after another 15 miles or so of steep trails at a quick pace.

 

20161022_141538Annie went on a hike by herself on Sunday afternoon October 16. No one knew she was missing until Wednesday, October 19th. The search began in earnest on Friday the 21st and was called off by her family the following Wednesday, October 26th.

I had a two-day Wilderness First Aid course scheduled for the Rocky Mountain Search and Rescue Dog team this past Friday and Saturday, November 11 -12. On Monday I received a message telling me that most of the group would not be at the class because they would instead be in Oregon searching with the dogs for Annie. During the first day of the course, attended by other search and rescue groups and a few from Rocky Mountain, we learned that Annie was found.

She had apparently fallen on the slippery trail, perhaps after dark and in the rain. Her location was in a steep ravine that none of us could have ever safely gone into without equipment, even though we had passed nearby right on that trail.

20161024_135538Heavenly Father answered our prayers. We received the peace safety we were seeking, and the Schmidt family were also at peace. The hundreds of searchers also were blessed with peace and safety. David and I enjoyed a father and son experience we would have never had, and we were protected. Plus we were blessed with the beauty of the area, which was quite wonderful. The Spirit did not lead us to Annie, and now I know why. Heavenly Father did not lead us to Annie because He answered our prayer to help us stay safe.

Annie was not alive when we were searching for her, and there was no need for any of us to risk our lives to go into that ravine. Heavenly Father inspired the right people to ask for help from the search dogs, and the people with the necessary gear and training. Even though the search had been called off, spiritual promptings brought a resolution to the family, and healing can now be complete. I am grateful that Heavenly Father hears and answers my prayers, even though not always in the way I would like.

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You too can help to #LIGHTtheWORLD

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