Category Archives: Forgiveness

How Taking Out The Trash Made Me A Better Man

I remember when I was in Ninth Grade and on a campout with friends, we went on a five-mile hike with all our equipment. We were on a dusty country road, and one kid got off the beaten path and was walking through the brush at the side. He stumbled upon a pile of magazines, which he quickly discovered were discarded pornographic magazines. As one of the wilder ones among us, he immediately let out a whoop and called everyone over to him to share in the pleasure of his treasure. While most of my friends stayed on the road, a few joined him in looking through the pictures. I remember distinctly having to make a decision. Did I feel this was right, or did I feel this was wrong? I quickly decided that this was not just wrong but very wrong, and I chose not to join the boys combing through the trash pile. When our adult leaders learned of the experience, they suggested that we go back and load the pile of trash into the back of a station wagon, which we did, and most of us were glad to discard it more appropriately. We felt that removing the pile was the right decision.

ctr-ring-with-bibleIs the concept of right and wrong something you support, something you couldn’t care less about, or something you simply find confusing? Is it possible for any of us to find an answer? In my faith tradition, we have a concept of “Choose The Right”. As kids in Primary, our children’s organization, we receive small rings – CTR rings for Choose The Right. The overall principle of right and wrong is that God is the author of right things, that decisions abound, that each of us may receive guidance from God, and that He will help us to choose the right path. I think that, while at times God may not feel strongly which decision I make, at the times when He does, as a loving Father in Heaven, He tries hard to let me know. If I listen, I can choose the right.

I’m not the only one who thinks there are unequivocal rights and wrongs. St. Augustine of Hippo taught us, “Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.” And I love this gem of hope from Henry Eyring.

I have learned for myself that right and wrong actually exist and that God blesses us liberally when we choose the right.

Just As This Man Points The Way, So Does Our Heavenly Father...

Just As This Man Points The Way, So Does Our Heavenly Father…

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Bonus Material:

1. “We all tend to approach decisions about right and wrong in one of three ways.”
—Margaret R. McLean, Director of The Applied Ethics Center at O’Conner Hospital and Director of Health Care Ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California. Read more of her three ways.

2. Read, watch or listen to President Henry B. Eyring, “A Priceless Heritage of Hope”, Apr 2014 LDS General Conference.

Education And Family Scripture Study Help Us Learn Right And Wrong

Education And Family Scripture Study Help Us Learn Right And Wrong

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

  • Photo, CTR ring with scriptures—www. lds.org/search?query=ctr+ring&x=0&y=0&lang=eng&collection=media
  • Quote: “Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.”―St. Augustine of Hippo, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustine_of_Hippo, as quoted in www. goodreads.com/quotes/tag/right-and-wrong
  • Photo, “Just As This Man Points The Way, So Does Our Heavenly Father…”—Ensign, May 2014, Page 25
  • Photo, “Education And Family Scripture Study Help Us Learn Right And Wrong”—www. lds.org/topics/family-history?lang=eng
  • Photo, “A Loving Family Helps Us To Choose The Right”—kaileyraephoto.blogspot.com/

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A Loving Family Helps Us To Choose The Right

A Loving Family Helps Us To Choose The Right

 

Unthinkable, Impossible, Unfathomable, Unprecedented

In this Easter season, we in our family want all of you to know that we believe in religious liberty, in upholding a strong tradition of civil discourse with people who aren’t like us, and in expressing a heart-felt faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We say these things on our own initiative. We feel them deep in our hearts. They make us who we are. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow everyone the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

Mary With The Resurrected Christ

Mary With The Resurrected Christ

We are glad that the Savior was born in a stable, died and came forth alive three days later with a resurrected and perfect body that would never perish, never go away. It’s because of Him that we live where traditions of religious liberty have thrived. It’s because of Him that we can be a forever family. It’s because of Him that we have the freedoms we enjoy.

“I believe that in time, with patience and good will, contending constitutional rights and conflicting personal values can be brought into mutually respectful accommodation.”
Excerpts from Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ Constitutional Symposium Address 16 April 2014. (Time 5:10.)

It was unthinkable, impossible, unfathomable, unprecedented.
He was a carpenter, a teacher, an outcast, a leader.
Like all who preceded Him, He lived, and He died.
But unlike all who preceded Him, He rose from the dead.
He lived again.
He lives, and because He lives, we all will live again.
Because of Him, death hath no sting, the grave no victory.
We can start again, and again, and again.
Because of Him, guilt becomes peace, regret becomes relief,
despair becomes hope.
Because of Him, we have second chancesclean slatesnew beginnings.
There is no such thing as The End.
Because of Him:

(Or same video at lds.org link.)

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Bonus Material:

1. Our Forever Family

Our Forever Family

2. My Kingdom is Not of This World

(Or same video at lds.org link.)

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

  •   Photo, “Mary With The Resurrected Christ”—www. .lds.org/bible-videos/videos/my-kingdom-is-not-of-this-world?cid=HPTH041714699&lang=eng

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Cleaning Maintenance, And Why A Spider Made Me Lie

Ever wish you could erase a mistake and start anew? I make mistakes all the time. Even after my baptism at eight years old, when I promised always to choose the right, I found I still made mistakes. Like when I lied.

Big Spider In Garden

Big Spider In Garden

Yes, I know. Rare raw-force exceptions aside, in general, nothing can make you do anything without your consent. So the spider didn’t make me lie. I lied and blamed the spider. You see, my blood freezes when I see spiders. I talked to my mom about it when I was a teenager, and she said that it was probably because I always saw her screaming and running from the room whenever she saw one. Hmmm, tempting—Blame the parent. Regardless of why my blood freezes, it was indeed why I decided only to pick ten strawberries and call the job done. My family assignment that day when I was nine years old was to pick a couple of pints of berries. Not hard, since we lived on a 23-acre farm in Missouri, where anything grows and grows big in the fertile Missouri mud, and where, right between the barn and the row of peach trees, we had a large strawberry patch of about an acre. Not hard at all, since there were strawberries all summer long, year after year.

Large Strawberry Patch

Large Strawberry Patch

I had picked ten berries when I saw the spider. As usual, I froze. Why is it I can’t take my eyes off a spider whenever I see one? After about twenty minutes of spider-watching-Dave and Dave-watching-spider, neither of us trusting the other much, I re-entered the farmhouse, gave my mom the ten berries, and that’s when it happened. I lied. I explained that I couldn’t find any more berries. That seemed to work…until Dad got home. By then, it was storming outside, thick Missouri rain, and Dad clearly anticipated berries with whatever we had for dinner. I didn’t see him home until he returned to the house, soaked to the skin, with about three pints of berries in his hands. Oh, and he was screaming. “No strawberries? Does this look to you like no strawberries?” (Translation: “You idiot! Why couldn’t you find these in the sun, and why did I have to find them in the rain???”) I burst into tears, told him about the big spider, how it scared the heck out of me, and I just couldn’t go any further into the patch. What if I had found more spiders?!? I must really have sounded terrified, which I was, both of Dad and of the spider on his strawberry throne, because Dad stopped what he was doing, and gave me a big hug. He was probably thinking, “You’re nine, and you’re still scared of spiders?”, but he hugged me all the same. Maybe it was because I was sobbing so hard. Or maybe it was the raw fear with which I was eyeing the three pints of berries.

I did eventually stop sobbing and grow up. When I was twelve and on one of my first overnight campouts, my brother stuck a garter snake in my face, and I said how cute it looked and asked to hold it. Since it failed to scare me, my brother was so mad that he refused to let me have the snake. I had to find my own slithering friend.

But this isn’t a post about berries or spiders or snakes. It’s not specifically about lying. It’s about making mistakes in general. And the clean-up in the aftermath.

Cleaning Maintenance

Cleaning Maintenance

Since the idea of “Forever Clean” was a bust, due to our propensity for serial sinning, we needed a way to accommodate the “Forever Cleansing” thing described in my previous post. God knew that, and He knows us, so He provided the means to erase the board every week, even when we make mistakes. He gave us the Holy Sacrament (communion, eucharist). By celestial design, the intent of the bread and wine (or for Mormons, the bread and water) is much more than mere symbols of the body and blood of Christ. It reminds us of our promises we made at baptism, to live His ways and always to remember Him. By celestial design, the intent goes way beyond the once-a-week symbols, helping us remember to follow Him in our heart and mind throughout each day wherever we happen to be and not limited to our thoughts in a holy place just on Sundays.

The Sacrament covers cleaning maintenance even when we make mistakes over and over. It’s not just for something I do just once and then decide not to do again, such lying or stealing. If I set myself on a new path of obedience, I can use it each week to stay clean from any kind of sin. I can use it if I get angry with a co-worker, overeat, or become lazy about service to others around me and not serving a friend as I should. Just as did my dad’s hug when I lied, the Sacrament helps me feel good about putting my mistakes behind me. I set aside the world. I enter instead a world bathed in light.

The Holy Sacrament helps me repent and cleanse the past. It helps me to stay clean.

Erasing The Slate; Starting Again With A Clean Slate

Erasing The Slate; Starting Again With A Clean Slate

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Bonus Material:

1. Watch, listen, or read Elder L. Tom Perry’s address discussing how partaking of the sacrament provides us with a sacred moment in a holy place, entitled, “As Now We Take the Sacrament”. (Length: 16:45.)

2. Watch, listen, or read the address of Elder Dallin H. Oaks on how the ordinance of the sacrament makes the sacrament meeting the most sacred and important meeting in the Church, entitled, “Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament”. (Length: 16:17.)

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

  • Photo, “Big Spider In Garden”—www. donrelyea.com/blog/tag/spider/sermonview.com/cart/product_info.php?products_id=5321
  • Photo, “Large Strawberry Patch”—amandasteenphoto.com/2012/07/27/strawberry-fields-forever/
  • Photo, “Cleaning Maintenance”—www.cleanmyfacility.com/carpet-hard-surface-floor-cleaning-commercial.html
  • Photo, “Erasing The Slate; Starting Again With A Clean Slate”—lifeatthirtysomething.com/2014/01/a-new-year-a-clean-slate-operation-lose-the-baby-weight-find-my-brain-etc-begins-now/
  • Photo, “Making Ablution With Friends”, photo by: Masood Bhat/Kashmir Headlines—kashmirheadlines.in/kashheadlines/11222013-ND-getting-ready-for-prayersa-group-of-people-making-ablution-to-perform-prayers-in-historic-jamia-masjid-srinagar-photo-by-masood-bhat-kashmir-headlines-3452.aspx

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Reasons to make ablution, to make wudu (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wudu):

(Source of list of reasons:
Described with beauty and grace at http://ahsanjaved.tumblr.com/)

Providing a sacred moment in a holy place:

Making Ablution With Friends

Making Ablution With Friends

My Grandson Got It Right

One of my most cherished possessions is a stick figure drawing of my husband and me drawn by my grandson.  Dave has a forthright gaze, and a jaunty, striped hat sits on his head. My hair is optimistically drawn in pigtails, and my hair bows are colored to match Dave’s hat.

Many things about this precious picture appeal to me.  For one thing, I’m portrayed as skinny, as stick figures always are, even though I am not!  The delightful labels and arrows, helping to distinguish between drawings of my husband and me, are charming.  And I love the confident lettering of the title words, separated by thick bars so anyone who sees the masterpiece will know exactly who the subject of the drawing is.  But the best parts are the slightly lop-sided smiles on each of our faces.  Dave and I may be quirky-looking, but we’re happy.

grandma-grandpa

The sweet little boy who drew this picture saw that Dave and I were happy.  I suppose he thinks we always are—probably because we ARE always happy when we can see him and his family.  But even though we have now been married more than 30 years (and we like to think we’ve worked out most of the kinks. . .), we have occasions of rancor.  Not too long ago at the dinner table, Dave said something that made me put down my fork and burst into tears.  Even more recently, I said something quite sharply to Dave, again at the table.  Our kids have memories of loud voices (mostly mine) and one particularly shameful episode of a pillow being tossed out a car window (me again).  I don’t want to paint Dave a saint and me a shrew—though he might not entirely disagree with that picture—we are just people living together, not always in harmony.   Our children have certainly seen the truth in the old adage: “when two partners always agree, one of them is not necessary.”  Obviously, Dave and I are both necessary.  And our home, while generally happy, was (is!) not always peaceful.

For a long time I worried that this atmosphere would adversely affect our children.  Would they leave home as soon as they were able?  Would they treat siblings and peers unkindly?  Would they fear Dave and I are headed toward divorce?  Would they hesitate to marry themselves?

While I can’t fully speak to all these questions, some observations from their lives have provided me reassurance.  They left home for college or missions, but didn’t move out in a flurry of escapism.  They have distinctly different personalities and preferences, but enjoy being together.  They have their own homes or apartments, in most cases quite a distance from ours, but like coming home for a visit.  They are particularly sympathetic to the less fortunate, but are wonderfully gentle to everyone.   The oldest 4 are married—a sign to me that they found the prospect of matrimony pleasing.  And I was much soothed by a comment made by my son Mike.  He told me, “I always knew that you and Dad were devoted to each other.”

I think one important reason the kids felt secure, despite the occasional spat, was our commitment to our marriage.  Dave and I were married in the Salt Lake City temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This December will  be our 32nd anniversary.  Our marriage was performed by a man who held the power—priesthood power—to seal us together as husband and wife for all eternity.  Simply put, Dave and I will be married to each other even after we die.   Of course, like all covenants made with God and blessed by the priesthood, the promise of eternal marriage depends on our willingness to be faithful.  But we ARE willing.

Much of what I know about marriage and its natural partner, the family, is found in a prophetic proclamation called “The Family: A proclamation to the World.”  You can read it for yourself here.    Knowing we are taking part in a plan devised by our loving Father in Heaven brings much to our marriage.  We have delighted in the opportunity to have children.  We recognize our responsibility to love each other.  We know that following the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ will bless our lives and the lives of our children and our children’s children.  We look forward to accounting for our efforts as husband and wife, as father and mother.

We are not getting it all right, so we’re grateful we can rely on the principles of repentance and forgiveness.  But, as our much-loved grandson has noticed, we are happy.

P.S. I checked with Dave–we’re in agreement on this one!

Discipline, Discipleship, and the Atonement

Roly Polies, Rolled And Unrolled

The other day, my 4-year-old son and I were looking for bugs, and he wanted to hold a “roly-poly”.  He was having a good time. I looked away and turned back, and I didn’t see the roly poly anymore.  I asked where it went, and he said, “I smushed him with my fingers because I was done playing with him.”  I told him sternly that we don’t do that, and later when he was recounting the scene to Amanda, he said, “I smushed him, which was not nice—He is dead, and he needs a Jesus roly poly to make him come back alive again.”  I almost peed my pants.  I think Amanda spit out whatever was in her mouth.

My younger son, who is two,  just figured out that he can bother my older just as much as he is harassed him.  Aaaaaaaaah… these kids… How did you do it, Mom and Dad?! Sometimes I secretly wonder if there were more of us kids to begin with and Mom and Dad only kept the better products alive….my 2-year-old is super cute though.

Messy Pen

My older son is crazy, funny, frustrating, and messy.  He loves to draw!  He is very good at taking apart clicky pens and putting them back together successfully, springs and all.  Sometimes, he doesn’t feel like putting them back together and thinks that playing with the ink is more fun—as we learned last week.  I got home from work, and he was in his room having some quiet time and drawing.  When I went to check on him a while later, he had pen ink smeared all over his face, legs, arms, stuffed animals, dresser, bed, box fan, and the walls of his bedroom. It was like someone threw a paint grenade in there. I started to yell and told him he could never use a pen again, when he burst into tears and said, “Daddy, Daddy, I drew a picture for you, see?! See, Daddy, this is for you!”  I almost burst into tears looking at him with tears streaming down his face and his bottom lip quivering just trying to show me his accomplishment. Whelp… So much for that discipline… Daddy’s a sucker and just melted like Silly Putty melts into carpet (another story for some other time…).  I gave him a big hug and told him how proud I was of his drawing.  I still told him that his stuffed animals were gone and that he could never use pens again (today, he is still only drawing with pencils).

This experience allowed me to reflect on the Savior’s atonement for each of us.  I thought of how many times I have screwed up in my life and the Lord has been very patient with me.  It was those experiences, knowing that I have been in my 4 year old’s shoes so many times throughout my life, that allowed me to keep my cool and be proud of his drawing.  It was difficult, and I was still very disappointed in his behavior, but I wanted him to know I was proud of his accomplishments.  I feel this is how the Savior is with each of us.  He is disappointed when we make poor decisions that we know are wrong, but He is there for us to join us in our celebrations of our accomplishments, and He encourages us to make better choices in the future.

Splatter Of Ink

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

  • Photo, messy pen—www.justdezineit.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=316
  • Photo, “Roly Polies, Rolled And Unrolled”—the-most-popular-girls-in-school.wikia.com/wiki/Rachel_Tice
  • Photo, “Splatter Of Ink”—apowl.com/how-ink-is-made/
  • Photo, “Family Studies Scriptures Together”—Ensign, Aug 2013, Page 3, photo illustration by Cody Bell

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Family Studying Scriptures Together

Family Studying Scriptures Together