Category Archives: Hope

Answers Of Courage From Unexpected Sources

"Without courage, all other virtues lose their meaning." --Winston Churchill

“Without courage, all other virtues lose their meaning.” (Click on image to enlarge)

Sometimes, we ask why life doesn’t turn out the way we expect.

Or for any topic, sometimes, the answers available to us have little or nothing to do with the answers we want.

It’s times such as this that test our mettle. What we do at times like this can determine our level of courage.

Esther, Queen of Persia, decided to show courage at such a time as this:

Watch/download on Mormon Channel or via YouTube below:

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

  • Header image, “Courage”, www. lds. org/media-library/video/2013-03-004-courage?lang=eng
  • Photo, “Without courage, all other virtues lose their meaning”, quote from Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister, www. slideshare.net/ssuser63877e/famous-quotation-the-courage
  • Painting credit, “Queen Esther”, by Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), www. lds.org/media-library/images/queen-esther-old-testament-792485?lang=eng.

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Esther, Queen Of Persia, Book Of Esther, Old Testament, Holy Bible

Esther, Queen Of Persia, Book Of Esther, Old Testament, Holy Bible

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.”

Teaching Happens…

Teaching styles are so important. It seems to me that every person who hates math can trace it to a teacher that they say made them hate math. Every person I know who loves math can trace it to a teacher that they say made them love math. I love math, and it’s because of my 7th Grade math teacher, Ms. Jane Crowley. It wasn’t one thing she did that made the difference, but a lot of little things, or more probably, simply in the way she taught us. She loved math, and that alone went a long way to help us to love math. Her husband’s job changed, and she moved away, so we threw her a goodbye party at the end of the year. We altered the lyrics a bit of the title song of the movie, “To Sir. with Love” and sang “To Jane, with Love”. She cried and hugged all of us. Wherever you are, Ms. Crowley, we still thank you.

When our daughter, Whitney, was a teenager, Kim and I struggled to teach her to trust our judgment and to use good judgment herself. Whit would push back quite a bit and try to get us to reverse some family decisions (just as any teen does). Most of our discussions centered around receiving the Holy Ghost, which helps each of us to know the right way. When Whitney started driving, she became very quickly a responsible driver. One week, a friend invited Whitney to a party, and she asked Kim if she might plan to go and whether she could use the car. Kim replied that she trusted Whitney’s friend, but that for some reason, she was uncomfortable with Whit attending that party. After some discussion, Kim suggested that Whitney ask me. When Whit asked, I replied that I trusted her friend, but that for some reason, I was uncomfortable with her attending that party. Whit explained that Mom had given her the same answer, and after some discussion, we left it up to Whit to make the decision. We knew Whitney had experience receiving the Holy Ghost and was generally a responsible decision-maker. She considered our counsel and then decided to plan to go. On the night of the party, as she drove to her friend’s house, Whitney happened to misjudge a center divider on a freeway overpass, overcorrected, amazingly managed to keep control of the car while blowing out three tires and bending two rims before coming to rest at the far end of the bridge just at the top of a plunging hill. As she caught her breath afterwards, she said, “OK, Heavenly Father, I get it. You don’t want me to go to this party. Next time, I’ll listen more deeply to my parents.” From then on, Whitney always trusted our judgment, stopped giving us grief, and no longer challenged our authority. It was one of the best lessons ever in our family, and we weren’t the teachers—It was the Holy Ghost who taught Whitney that night. All we did as parents was to create the right environment for teaching to happen.

When I think about our teaching style, I don’t think it was one thing that made the difference, but a lot of little things, or more probably, simply the way we taught our kids. We love to receive the Holy Ghost, and that alone went a long way to help our kids to love to receive the Holy Ghost.

I think some of life’s best teaching moments just seem to happen as life unfolds.

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Teaching Happens Through Prayer...

Teaching Happens Through Prayer…

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

  • Header photo, “Father And Child Light A Menorah”—www. mormonnewsroom.org/official-statement/religious-freedom
  • Photo, “Teaching Happens Through Prayer…”—media.ldscdn.org/images/media-library/prayer/ family-praying-921856-tablet.jpg
  • Photo, “Teaching Happens Through Study…”—media.ldscdn.org/images/media-library/education/spiritual/ dominican-republic-early-morning-seminary-1206571-tablet.jpg

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Teaching Happens Through Study...

Teaching Happens Through Study…

 

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

Why I’m a Mormon: My Story

For the past few months, I’ve been thinking about what I want to share with you all. A lot of ideas have been flying around, but ultimately I felt that I should tell you all why I’m a Mormon. No, it’s not because my parents raised me this way (though that definitely was influencing factor), it’s not because that’s what was expected, and it’s not because it seemed like the right thing to do. The reason why is because I had a personal experience with God, and I learned his will for my life. I want to share this experience with you and I hope that it may help in some way if you too are looking for personal connective experiences with our Heavenly Father.

When I was about 13 years old, I began have my doubts and questions about the church and it’s teachings. Going to church every Sunday was a drag, but the youth activities were fun! I didn’t really know if this was the true church or not, but I kept going as my parents expected me to do so. Honestly, I wasn’t very fond of all the things I had to do at church and many seemed silly to me at the time. Little did I know that I would come to fall in love with those silly things.

Twice a year, the church has a large meeting for all members called General Conference. This happens over the course of two days, Saturday and Sunday. Our family would go to the local church building that was broadcasting the conference and we would watch all the sessions (each was 2 hours). It was long and boring to me as a 13 year old boy, but I knew we would be going to Old Country Buffet between the sessions on Saturday, so that was a plus!

At the close of one of the sessions, all I could think about was everything that I wanted to do as soon as the dumb meeting was over! Then the Mormon Tabernacle Choir started to sing the closing hymn, and I knew it would all be over soon. But something was different this time when I listened to the choir. The sang the song “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer” (A song about how the prophet Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ). Although I had heard this song many times, in this moment it felt like they were singing just to me. I felt a warm, peaceful feeling flow over me from my head to my toes. I had never before felt anything like it. It reached me to the deepest part of my soul, and I didn’t want it to stop. It’s hard to find words that describe how I felt and how happy I became. All negative thoughts vanished and a single statement rang with clarity in my mind, “This is true!” I began to cry. I knew that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was true and that Joseph Smith was truly called as a prophet to restore God’s church to the earth. I knew that what my father and mother had taught me was true. I knew that God want me to fully invest myself into his work and follow the teachings of His Son.

This moment changed me and changed the way I would live the rest of my life. I knew that I had to straighten up, listen to my parents, and make a true effort to follow God’s commandments. I knew this for myself, not because someone convinced me. The Spirit of God had pricked my heart and soul, and I could not deny it. Nothing is this world can change my knowledge of this truth. No argument, no temptation, no persecution, no scientific evidence or societal ideal can bring me to reject or disown what I know to be true. I stand with Joseph Smith when he said, “I knew, and I knew that God knew it, and I can not deny it!” I care more about this precious truth more than anything else I’ve learned throughout my life, and it is so important to me that I would die for it if necessary.

I’ve had the priviledge, and indeed it is a priviledge, to give my life to God, to serve as his missionary in Mexico for 2 years, to fight for his truth, and to defend his teachings. I do not claim to know more than anyone else, but this I do claim: I know that God lives. I know His Son, Jesus Christ, died for me and you to give us the opportunity to repent and be clean from our sins. I know that he has restored His church to the earth through Joseph Smith, and that the Book of Mormon is a testimony of the Living Christ. I can not, and I will not, forsake Him and his teachings, for they are the whole of life. This is my testimony to the world, that I know these things are true!

I pray that you may come to the same knowledge I have. Search, ponder, and pray, and the Lord will make Himself manifest unto you. I promise that if you sincerely look for the truth yourself, that you will find the answers you’re looking for. May my testimony bring hope to you and to those who are still earnestly seeking and to those who are struggling in the faith. Do not give up! He will never give up on you! His love for you is infinite and unconditional! I leave this testimony with you in His sacred name, even Jesus Christ, Amen.

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

Grief and the “Sting of Death”

From my journal: 18 February 2014

I got an email from Aunt Carol today updating us on Grandpa.  Grandpa’s body is failing.  It’s been true for weeks.  He can’t get enough oxygen even with the O2 levels at 100%.  He’s being moved to a hospice center for rehab.  He has a clot in his lungs.  He sleeps most of the time and tires easily.

I think of Grandpa often these days.   I remember things like being pulled off my feet by his big hands placed over my ears: compress and lift!  I remember sports and newspapers.  I remember an underwhelmed reaction (to say the least) at his first and only viewing of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

I remember a spiritual presence. Always…when I think of Grandpa’s life I think of constant, quiet service…”  Grandpa passed away 2 days later.

Another excerpt 13 August 2014

Yesterday I received a call midday from Anne [Brendan’s sister].  The police had called her.  Ben [Brendan’s brother] was found dead in his car by a self-inflicted gun shot.  Ben is dead…Anne wanted to talk to Brendan and was having trouble getting a hold of him.  I gave her his direct line and told her to tell them who she was and that it was an emergency concerning his brother.  She got through and I heard from Brendan a few minutes later.  Everyone’s reaction has been shock.  No one knew.  It seems no one ever knows with suicide.  So lonely.  So much despair that you feel the best option is death.  So difficult. … I pray for Ben.  I’m grateful for [the Grandparents] that are there to nurture Ben.  I’m grateful Heavenly Father knows all and takes into account the extraneous circumstances that lead us to despair.  I’m grateful for the Atonement which covers our griefs and sorrows.  I’m grateful for Mercy…

Another excerpt 03 January 2015

…Aunt Becky passed away the morning after Kev’s wedding.  Honestly, all I can feel is relief! For Becky!  For the first time her suffering mind will be at ease.  She’ll have her own thoughts and control over every single one!  She and Grandma can sit and chat in ways that were simply impossible during their lifetimes.  Uncle Bill spoke of Becky’s endurance of her trial in this life and how well she bore it.  I have to agree with Bill.  The imprisonment of schizophrenia is something I cannot fathom.  But for years (maybe 40?), with medication she lived in her own apartment at a living center, managed her own money, made some of her own meals, sewed her own clothes, took classes at the local community center and endured well!  I’m sad that Brendan and my kids never knew her as I knew her growing up.  My Dad pointed out that none of us ever really knew Becky except her Savior and Father in Heaven.  And now Grandma too.  That makes my heart happy. “Deep peace in Christ!”- A Gaelic Blessing Grandma’s favorite and what we sang at Grandma’s funeral a few years back.

One more excerpt  4 Januray 2015

Aunt Meg [Becky’s and my Dad’s sister] passed away this morning…my heart feels heavy.  I feel very tired.  At least Meg, Becky, and Grandma are having a glorious reunion.

My mind and my heart have been greatly weighed with grief in all sorts of ways.  I feel sorrow at Grandpa’s absence. I feel anger at the circumstances of Ben’s life that, in my grief, I am blaming for his death–there is no way to know whether this is true, but grief is not always rational or compassionate.  I feel relief for Becky and great sorrow for her dad, my still living Grandpa.  I feel weariness and sorrow at Aunt Meg’s passing.  Sorrow for Uncle Ken and my adult cousins.  I can’t imagine loosing my mother whom I still need so desperately even though I’m supposed to be a grown-up.  And great sorrow for Grandpa who lost two children in a week’s time.

I have spent a good deal of time studying my scriptures and contemplating death.  I hope to relay the impression I have felt as it has brought me peace and will carry me through my grief.

I have been particularly touched by this scripture “But there is a Resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ” (Mosiah 16:8)  The Atonement of Jesus Christ comprises two parts 1) an atoning for our sins-our spiritual death and 2) the conquering of death-The Resurrection-the restoration of our physical bodies, then perfected, with our spirits.  Both are essential to our eternal salvation.  Because Christ rose again and conquered death we will live again.  Grandpa will live again.  Ben will live again.  Becky will live again.  Meg will live again.  Their spirits will no longer be trapped by an imperfect body but liberated by a Celestial, physical body. They will be whole.

How can this not speak peace to my mind?  It brings me such peace and comfort in my grief.  Because let’s face it: death stings.  Death stings when you think of something you want to share with a loved one who is no longer there to call.  Death stings when you go to family gatherings and someone is missing.  Or there is an empty chair you know should be filled.  Death stings when you go to a wedding in the same place you were married and Grandpa isn’t there to perform the ceremony anymore.  Death stings when the family is singing in the living room and no one is jamming out a symphony on the piano. And no one is harmonizing.   Death stings when you have a question about your family heritage and the one with all the answers is now a part of that heritage.   It stings at the family reunion where the family patriarch is absent.  It stings when you put on your brothers tie for church on Sunday.

Death stings.  And I cannot express how grateful I am that “the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.”