Category Archives: Commandments/God’s Laws

Do Your Worst!

Edmond Dantès, portrayed by James Caviezel

“For the happy man prayer is only a jumble of words, until the day when sorrow comes to explain to him the sublime language by means of which he speaks to God.” [Alexandre Dumas in his masterpiece, The Count of Monte Cristo (completed in 1844).]

For some, sorrow is the teacher of this sublime language; for others, a storm is the teacher. Some in our family have been taking major tests and qualifying exams this year. For some, success is quick. For others, success will come later than expected or preferred. For everyone in our family, life has explained to us in new ways the importance of this sublime language. Here are more of the words in the language to which Dumas refers:

Albert Mondego (Albert de Morcerf), portrayed by Henry Cavill

Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome, Do your worst, for I will do mine! Then the fates will know you as we know you, as Albert Mondego, the man.

Storms teach. But the master teacher is what we see as we look into the storm.

Quote from Time 1:00-2:03 of a clip of the birthday toast from “The Count of Monte Cristo” (2002), on YouTube below (or entire movie, with or without subtitles.) :

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Mercédès Iguanada, portrayed by Dagmara Dominczyk

Mercédès Iguanada, portrayed by Dagmara Dominczyk

WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Header, Ukiyo-e Woodblock Print, “Great Wave Off Kanagawa”, Hokusai (1829-32)—en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa2.jpg, with further info at en.wikipedia. org/wiki/The_Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa
  • Bonus photo, “Edmond Dantès (Jim Caviezel) And Abbé Faria (Richard Harris), Imprisoned In Château d’If” —www. imdb.com/media/rm1540921600/ch0010200
  • Photo, “Edmond Dantès, portrayed by James Caviezel”—www. pinterest.com/pin/105764291222980072/
  • Photo, “Albert Mondego (Albert de Morcerf), portrayed by Henry Cavill”—henrycavill.org/en/filmography/best-known-as/perfect-book-boyfriend
  • Photo, “Mercédès Iguanada, portrayed by Dagmara Dominczyk”—fanpix.famousfix.com/0671183/012040677/the-count-of-monte-cristo-2002-picture.html
  • Photo, “Until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words—Wait and hope.”—www. pinterest.com/pin/120541727497864394/

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“Until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words—Wait and hope.”

“Until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words—Wait and hope.”

What Matt Brown Teaches Us All About Commitment

Faith, Discipline, Excellence: The Extraordinary Matt Brown

Faith, Discipline, Excellence: The Extraordinary Matt Brown

Matt Brown is a wrestler. And he’s a man of commitments. Penn State’s Mike Bacior explains. Let’s look closer:

Commitment is (a) a promise to do or give something, (b) a promise to be loyal to someone or something, and (c) an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action.

Let’s take these in reverse order.

  1. Restricts your freedom of action:
    Once I commit to go to a certain medical school, I also limit my options. While in school, my schedule may not be my own. I can’t poke or prod people in fun anymore. I am no longer free to walk by an injured person on the street without taking action. “The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it is not without doubt, but in spite of doubt.”—Rollo May, The Courage to Create, Page 21.
    .
  2. commit-to-give-hands-upA promise to be loyal:
    Once I commit to think for myself, I also have to take responsibility for mistaken thoughts. But through making these mistakes, I learn to have my own voice, to be loyal to myself. The mistakes are not nearly as vital as having thoughts of my own. “It’s not so important that you have correct thoughts as that you have thoughts!”—Arthur Henry King (see also his reading list).
    .
  3. A promise to give:
    Once I commit to give my hand in marriage, I also promise to do many things. And I promise not to do many things. Many of which have much to do with (1) and (2) above. “Love means to commit oneself without guarantee, to give oneself completely in the hope that our love will produce love in the loved person. Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also of little love.”—Erich Fromm

Matt Brown is a man who commits. He loves winning. He loves wrestling. He loves his faith. He loves his wife.

I have learned to practice the three lessons above. I think for myself. Rather than embrace my fear of commitment, I commit and embrace the accompanying restrictions on my freedom of action.

One thing I love about my six adult children is that they have learned these same lessons. Wrestling helped. Or maybe they learned it from rugby, football, or lifeguarding. Maybe they do it because they saw that their mom and I commit. Regardless, they apply these same lessons every day. They are committed to their families, to their faith, to themselves, to becoming their best self. And like Matt, they have found that by giving of themselves, they find themselves. Each day, they put away their fear and choose to commit.

commit-man-diving-off-cliff

Some people try to get you to fear commitment. Many know the blessings of commitment. Matt Brown is one of many who know.

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Bonus Materials:

Julie Beck describes women who know to commit and who lead others to commit. Read, watch or listen. Julie B. Beck, “Mothers Who Know”, Oct 2007 LDS General Conference.

Matt Brown on making choices to use time wisely.

 

Matt Brown, Committing Yet Again

Matt Brown, Committing Yet Again

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Header photo, “Faruk Şahin (US Army) Throws Mark Rial (Gator Wrestling Club) at USA Wrestling World Team Trials, 31 May 2009”—www. armymwr.com/news/archive/news.aspx?nid=116
  • Photo, “Faith, Discipline, Excellence: The Extraordinary Matt Brown”—onwardstate.com/2015/03/06/faith-discipline-excellence-the-extraordinary-matt-brown
  • Photo, commit-to-give-hands-up—owelpapel.wordpress.com
  • Photo, commit-man-diving-off-cliff— livebold.org/the-ultimate-life-experience
  • Photo, “Matt Brown, Committing Yet Again”— pennlive.com/sports/index.ssf/2015/03/ncaa_finals_breakdown_penn_sta.html
  • Photo, “Decide. Commit. Succeed.”— bringingbackawesome.com/commit-to-you/#sthash.VrGzM2PO.dpbs

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decide-commit-succeed

Who Is Herding Whom? What Do I Allow To Herd Me?

Australian Cattle Dog Herding A Cow

This week, I was talking to a friend who’s a gardener. We talked about what she does to fight local garden predators, such as rabbits and deer. They have a lot of land, and she has a cattle dog to keep the deer clear of the garden. Last week, she came home to find him lying down among the deer, some of which were lying down with him, and some of which were standing and munching her early garden greens. When the dog saw her and her husband, he started and quickly stood up on all fours, with a definite demeanor of guilt on his face. The dog glanced up at his deer friends, back at his masters, back at the deer, back again at his masters, clearly took a moment to make a decision, and then started barking at the deer to run them off. She said that if they had had a video of it, the absolute look of guilt on the dog’s face would have won them first prize on America’s Funniest Home Videos. My friend said that one deer was more aggressive than the others, nipped at the dog, and started chasing him around the garden. My gardener friend said simply, “That is one dead deer.”

Dog Herding SheepHow often do we put ourselves in the position of the dog? The shepherd expects a shepherd dog to do certain things. A dog is to herd the sheep, keep them together, and keep them in the pasture rather than in the hinterlands where they don’t belong. Making friends and laying down with wayward sheep may be fun for time but such haphazard fun is unlikely to continue when the shepherd comes around.

Dog Herding DucksEver notice how, after we have just a bit of fun lying down with the deer that we’re supposed to run off, some of those same deer have the nerve to chase us around the pasture? And here we thought they were friends! When we try to take control of the situation as we should have from the start, the deer show their true colors by nipping back and giving us the run-around. Some friends! Maybe the shepherd knew all along what he was talking about. Who knew?

Rin Tin Tin

Rin Tin Tin

The next time I hear the siren call of one of my pet temptations, maybe I’ll consider this story of my friend, the gardener. I may not want to follow her lead by shouting, “Kill Bambi!” or “Death to the deer!” But I may wish to consider being just as tenacious in shooing away the temptation. Maybe I’ll allow for the possibility that the good shepherd expects me to do certain things for a good reason. And who knows? I might find that supporting the shepherd by being steadfast and immovable might well be its own reward. And I may feel a bit more in control of my own life.

German Shepherd Dog

German Shepherd Dog

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Bonus Materials:

Read, watch or listen: Mary Ellen Smoot, “Steadfast and Immovable”, Oct 2001 LDS General Conference.

Read or listen: David Bednar, “Steadfast and Immovable, Always Abounding in Good Works”, Ensign, Jan 2008.

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, “Australian Cattle Dog Herding A Cow”—us/muay-thai-thailand/balance-inequality-muay-thai/attachment/australian-cattle-dog-herding-a-cow
  • Photo, dog-herding-sheep”—www. dailypuppy.com/articles/how-to-train-a-herding-puppy_802.html
  • Photo, dog-herding-ducks”—thelife-animal.blogspot.com/2012/03/border-collie.html
  • Photo, “Rin Tin Tin”—www. com/lifestyle/arts-culture/stories/rin-tin-tins-life-and-legend
  • Photo, “German Shepherd Dog”—www. com/german-shepherd-dog/
  • Photo, “Gary Larson’s The Far Side: ‘Bummer of a birthmark, Hal.’ ”—www. philipchircop.com/post/9178910566/what-is-your-birthmark-gary-larson-creator-of
Gary Larson's The Far Side: 'Bummer of a birthmark, Hal.'

Gary Larson’s The Far Side: ‘Bummer of a birthmark, Hal.’

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How Do I Teach A Young Adult To Step Out In Faith? Our Family’s Answer.

Discussing Things Of FaithReader Question:
What are ways that worked that you have found to teach a 25-yr-old-ish young adult to step out in faith?

Family Answer:
This truly is a good question. In our family, and as Mormons, we believe strongly that sincere, honest questions are always a good thing. To gather answers to this question, we talked to our adult kids and their spouses, and here are the answers we gathered:

  • A big thing I think for me is that now that they’re older they don’t
    need or want to be told what to do. Once you’re 25, you can and should be making decisions on your own. I think that examples and suggestions should be made, or stories of what others have done, but ultimately make them feel like they have the power to make good decisions and that you have confidence in them to make those decisions wisely, especially the hard ones.
  • Doubt not what you know. It was really said best recently at general conference: “First doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.” [“Come, Join with Us”, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Oct 2013 LDS General Conference.] Analyze the source of your doubts and judge its validity. Why are these doubts coming now? Are they justified? Will this crush my peace and hope? Is it worth it to dwell on this or should I cast these thoughts aside?
  • Young Adults Participate At ChurchWhat’s vital for me and for anyone is teaching me the importance of a direct connection with God. Young adults must be able to get answers directly from God, on their own, through personal revelation. The entire Church of Jesus Christ is based on this concept. If they’re not willing to try that connection, that’s OK, but they’ll never know the source of information and comfort that they’re neglecting.
  • Go about doing things with pure intent, with real intent.
  • Have the courage to live up to your standards, to live what you believe. There is a point (or should be a point) when we realize that our beliefs are really ALL that matter. And what are we, if not our beliefs? What does that make us if we can’t live what we believe?
  • We as young adults need to decide to be a disciple of Christ. Will I live this or not?
  • Parents should find ways to share with me, share deep, internal feelings with the young adults in their lives. As we’re talking together, as we go through life, find ways to bear testimony to me. Don’t be dumb about it, but find a way to continue to touch my heart about gospel topics. This is so important to find a way to connect with me about situations or on a level different from the way a parent connected with me as a little kid or as a teen.
  • The feelings you felt from God were true then and are STILL TRUE NOW. Write down what He tells you. Read it again and again. Don’t criticize your past self but give yourself credit for how you felt and trust in your past feelings. If you once felt God’s love, don’t belittle yourself by casting that aside.

Family In Love

What are ways that worked that you have found to teach 35-yr-old-ish children with kids of their own to step out in faith?

  • I really like that you tell me stories of when I was a kid. They jump in my head when I need them with my own kids.
  • I have found a huge difference between me as an adult without kids, and me as an adult with kids, in terms of spirituality. I feel that feeling the spirit takes more work as an adult with kids. This may be due to a combination of things which I have considered recently:
    1. I attend Sunday School less due to having a child in arms who is not yet nursery age.
    2. I read scriptures with my kids each night so I have become complacent with my own personal scripture study and my scripture study with my wife since I can “check off” the scriptures for the day.
    3. The house is less quiet and it takes more concentration to feel the whispering of the Holy Ghost.
    4. I haven’t been as diligent in setting aside time to self evaluate/journal write/think about my calling or home teaching families.
    5. My personal prayers have not been very consistent at all, mainly because I feel like I am praying with my kids all day! In the morning at breakfast, before they go to school, at lunch, at dinner and before they go to bed. I notice a very obvious difference in my personal spirituality when I pray personally each day, but it is easy to think to myself that I “checked off prayer a bazillion times today, I don’t need to pray before I go to bed.”
    6. If I am not praying personally, then I am not repenting each day and explaining to Heavenly Father that I want to do better tomorrow. If I am not repenting each day then I am not able to have His Spirit as much in my life and, as a result, it is more challenging to listen to the spiritual guidance I need to be hearing.
  • FernandezEach of these six things take a toll on my spirituality and my testimony of God and His truths. I have had to actively try to increase my own spiritual experiences through hard work and great effort, because I want to. They aren’t coming naturally anymore. Just going to church isn’t doing it anymore for me. I am having to make an active decision to pursue my testimony of the truth. If I did not have this desire, then I would not be motivated to go through the work it takes to gain back the good habits I have lost over time. It is hard, and it takes time away from my own selfish desires, but I have to ask myself, “What do I want out of this life?” and things are put into perspective.
  • Things I can do to counter the six things I listed that are barriers to my spirituality.
    1. Actively read over the Sunday School lesson prior to going to church (something I should be doing anyway…), so that, when I’m able to be in class, I can actively take part.
    2. Read scriptures personally and with my spouse. This takes time away from selfish desires, which makes it challenging.
    3. Make quiet time for myself, whether it is during the day, or after the kids go to bed.
    4. Make time to contemplate how I am doing/journal write/think about home teaching families and my calling.
    5. Recommit to personal prayer daily, and pray for my home teaching families (for whom I have shepherding responsibilities) and for those I serve in my calling and assignments at church. This will allow me to be more mindful of those individuals throughout the day which will allow me to be more open to what Heavenly Father wants for them. Daily prayer will also allow me the opportunity to repent each day to allow me to feel the Spirit stronger.

And let us know how we may help you further! If you find that you have any questions about religious issues that you’ve been wondering about or that you haven’t been able to get good answers to, feel free to continue on discussion with us. It turns out that there are a lot of people with questions, and most of them have given up on churches as a source of answers. In our family, it is our experience that answers are out there, that God wants us to have them, and that they tend to be answers we like and have learned to appreciate. Working together with Heavenly Father allows anyone to find certainty in uncertain times.

-Dave and the MormonPanorama Family

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We Love Our Kids

We Love Our Kids

 

WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, discussing-things-of-faith— lds.org
  • Photo, young-adults-participate-at-church—lds.org
  • Photo, family-in-love—kaileyraephoto.blogspot.com
  • Photo, family-studying-together—www. lds.org/topics/family-history?lang=eng
  • Photo, “We Love Our Kids”—soloriquezas.info/salud-y-bienestar

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Burning Lessons In The Brain: A Child’s Formative Years

The lessons learned in the home are those that last the longest.

Kid On TractorI grew up on a farm in Missouri, and many of my early lessons were about work. Mowing the fields by tractor took half a day, but it reduced the chiggers when we ran to the pond to swim each afternoon. We spent three hours each morning weeding the gardens; somehow, despite hating it, we learned that the painstaking care itself seemed to make the vegetables taste better. We’d sit in the yard for hours to shell peas, snap beans, or strip corn of the cob, and Mom would have us singing the whole time to pass the time faster. It was in the home that I learned the sweet rewards of self-imposed hard labor.

Dr. Glenn J. Doman wrote on the importance of creativity and breadth in early childhood experiences:

“The newborn child is almost an exact duplicate of an empty … computer, although superior to such a computer in almost every way. … What is placed in the child’s [mind] during the first eight years of life is probably there to stay. … If you put misinformation into his [mind] during [this period], it is extremely difficult to erase it.” Dr. Doman added that the most receptive age in human life is that of two or three years. [How to Teach Your Baby to Read, Dr. Glenn J. Doman, (1963), Pages 43-45.]

In an article entitled “A Day at the Beach”, Arthur Gordon tells how one of his early lessons was the importance of family time:

Swimming After The Work Is DoneWhen I was around thirteen and my brother ten, Father had promised to take us to the circus. But at lunchtime there was a phone call; some urgent business required his attention downtown. We braced ourselves for disappointment. Then we heard him say, “No, I won’t be down. It’ll have to wait.”

When he came back to the table, Mother smiled [and said,] “The circus keeps coming back, you know.”

“I know,” said Father. “But childhood doesn’t.” [A Touch of Wonder (1974), Pages 77-78.]

The blessings of starting early at home are real. Close families don’t emerge overnight. It takes work, and it’s all worth it—They grow up, take responsibility, and start families of their own. And by so doing, they learn some of the sweetest lessons life has to offer, such as, a child’s future is worth every sacrifice:

The hearth at home is the heart of learning. I’ve learned for myself that lasting lessons are learned at home.

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Life in the Woods at Henry David Thoreau's Walden Pond

Life In The Woods At Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond

Bonus Materials:

1. Gordon B. Hinckley stated

The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place nor fulfill its essential functions.

2. Read, watch or listen to Thomas S. Monson, “Constant Truths for Changing Times”, Apr 2005 LDS General Conference.

3. Read, watch or listen to Robert D. Hales, “Strengthening Families: Our Sacred Duty”, Apr 1999 LDS General Conference.

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, kid on tractor—www. expeditionoklahoma.com/2011/04/
  • Photo, swimming after the work is done—www. expeditionoklahoma.com/2011/04/
  • Photo, “Life In The Woods At Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond”—From personal collection
  • Photo, “Make Way For Ducklings! And Kids!”—From personal collection

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Make Way for Ducklings! & kids!

Make Way For Ducklings! And Kids!

 

Pains, Crucibles, Results

What is our mission in life?

When God provides what we need (even when painful), so that we start to see things as He sees them, He may stress and stretch our vision.

What will be our ability to make these changes?

Will it stretch us, break us, or shape us into a beautiful iron rose?

Kim Martin: “The greater our sorrow is, the greater our capacity is to feel joy.”
Spoken by an iron rose who knows.

My two older sisters have each passed away in the past month. The pain for those of us who remain is excruciating. It puts us to the test. Where we go from here will try our mettle. It helps us to see our mission in life…

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nephi-fashioning-the-plates

As he passes through a crucible of his own, Nephi uses fire to fashion metal plates for scripture

Bonus Materials:

Read, watch or listen to James E. Faust, “The Refiner’s Fire”, Apr 1979 LDS General Conference. “You are discussing a matter you know nothing about… I knew then that the angels of God were there.”

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, “As he passes through a crucible of his own, Nephi uses fire to fashion metal plates for scripture”—www. lds.org/media-library/images/nephi-fashioning-the-plates-447330?lang=eng&category=
  • Photo, mormonad-cool-it–it-is-in-your-hands—www. lds.org/media-library/images/mormonad-cool-it-1118404?lang=eng&category

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mormonad-cool-it--it-is-in-your-hands

How Do I Teach A Teen To Step Out In Faith? Our Family’s Answer.

Reader Question:
How do I teach a teenager around fifteen years old to step out in faith?

Family Answer:
This truly is a good question. In our family, and as Mormons, we believe strongly that sincere, honest questions are always a good thing. To gather answers to this question, we talked to our adult kids and their spouses, and here are the answers we gathered:

When Jesus walked on water and invited Peter to come join him, Peter’s faith waxed, and Peter walked on water for a three or six feet. When Peter’s faith waned, Christ said to him:

O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

Watch, and focus on how amazing it would be to walk that three feet. With His question, was Christ scolding Peter, beckoning Peter to think how he might walk further next time, maybe a bit of both?

(Or watch/download same video at lds.org link.)

For many of us, if not all of us, from time to time, faith may either wax or wane. What are some ways that we may teach our kids or grandkids not only to walk by faith but to step out in faith? Not just to mosey along the strait and narrow but rather to hasten down the path. Not just to act in faith but to act in faith with a bit of spunk!

Here are some ways that worked that we have found to teach 15-yr-old-ish teenagers to step out in faith:

  • Set an example; model the behavior.
  • Teenagers need to be taught, “Stick to your guns!” I hated it when my mom told me that, but now that I’m older, I now know that it was exactly what I needed to hear.
  • Teach the Why. Help teenagers understand the Why of things, both in and out of a religious realm. Beginning at 13 or 14 years old, you need to feed those cognitive processes.
  • Help teens see the need to be anxiously engaged in the gospel.
  • Encourage teenagers to bear testimony, to attend testimony meetings or other group opportunities to share what they know, to share that they know. Even if they’re silent the whole time, they get to be thinking about their own testimony for 45 minute or whatever. You think, “I don’t have anything to say, and maybe I should.” I definitely learned things from standing and sharing with friends my feelings about spiritual things.
  • One of the best things you did, Dad, when I pushed back and challenged you on stuff, was to say, “Because I’m your father.” I had to suck it in and do it anyway, only because you asked me. Heavenly Father does the same thing to all of us, over and over, and He expects me to do it even if I don’t understand, even if I don’t agree that it’s right.
  • My parents were so Mormon all the time. I kept thinking, “Do we have to be so Mormon all the time?” It took me a while to finally get that, Yes, we do! We do this to be the same inside and outside the home, just like Atticus Finch (of To Kill a Mockingbird fame).
  • After a lesson for family home evening, I love that we always posted the lesson visuals on the walls around the house. Same with pictures of the temple, of Christ, of the Family Proclamation. It helped remind me, but it also gave me missionary opportunities. It taught me not to be embarrassed by friends’ questions, no matter what they were.
  • In our home, we had a picture of Christ in our front room. All my friends, as they left, they’d always say, “ ‘Bye, Jesus!” It was a bit flippant, but it was never snide, and it helped my friends in and out of the Church to maintain a proper standard of behavior, no matter where we were.
  • All the things that we’ve listed apply not only to teenagers but also to people of any age, even to adults.

And let us know how we may help you further! If you find that you have any questions about religious issues that you’ve been wondering about or that you haven’t been able to get good answers to, feel free to continue on discussion with us. It turns out that there are a lot of people with questions, and most of them have given up on churches as a source of answers. In our family, it is our experience that answers are out there, that God wants us to have them, and that they tend to be answers we like and have learned to appreciate. Working together with Heavenly Father allows anyone to find certainty in uncertain times.

-Dave and the MormonPanorama Family

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Bonus Materials:

1. Read, watch or listen: Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s entire address, delivered as he was called to be one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ.

2. Watch or listen: Videos on Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, Waves-in-Hawaii—www. org/media-library/images/oceans?lang=eng
  • Photo, Community-on-the-ocean—www. lds.org/media-library/images/oceans?lang=eng

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