Category Archives: Humility

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

Asking And The Willingness To Ask

While Kim and I were studying together last night, I was riveted by the thoughts in these words:

And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them. [Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 2:12.]

To murmur is an interesting term. I often murmur. I often see others murmur. Is it possible that whenever any of us murmur, it’s because we don’t get it? Because we don’t understand things the way God does?

I love the solution that Nephi found:

But, behold, Laman and Lemuel would not hearken unto my words; and being grieved because of the hardness of their hearts I cried unto the Lord for them.

And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart. [Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 2:18-19.]

It should be no surprise that this was for a lesson entitled, “All Things According to His Will.”

I love the Book of Mormon. I love the things I understand as I study. I love how these answers apply not only to my life at church but to my everyday life.

For Thou Hast Sought Me Diligently, With Lowliness Of Heart

For Thou Hast Sought Me Diligently, With Lowliness Of Heart

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

  • Header image, www. lds.org/ensign/2015/12/the-new-and-everlasting-covenant?lang=eng
  • Painting credit, from LDS media library of shareable materials, www. lds.org/media-library/images/category/book-of-mormon-gospel-art-book?lang=eng.

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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…

 

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

What’s In It For Me?

2010 Earthquake in Haiti

2010 Earthquake in Haiti

Why religion? How about all this God stuff? If he exists, why would a god be concerned with us? What’s in it for me?

 

 

 

Women from around the world share thoughtful answers. I especially like what the mother from Haiti has to say: “The Holy Temple”

In Oklahoma, a close friend of mine said Yes to being my assistant as I headed our local priesthood quorum of adults. In the preceding years, Scot had not been attending a church of any kind, and he hadn’t been sure what he thought about God. He worked as a laborer, he was quiet and unassuming, humble and meek, and he certainly didn’t seek out any chance for God to be concerned with him. He was in constant pain, caused by pinched nerves in his lower spine, yet always bore a sincere cheerfulness that made everyone smile. I knew him to be a hard worker and a good man, saw his skills as a husband and as a father, and wanted him to work by my side as we went about the work of watchcare of others. As we made personal visits to the brothers in our quorum, helping them to bless their families, together we learned a lot about priesthood leadership, and I loved working with Scot. It was wonderful to see him grow over time in his confidence in approaching others, in the way he made spiritual and leadership decisions, and in his understanding of how God was truly concerned with him. Scot was a perfect example of never asking, “What’s in it for me?”

Here’s what my niece has to say about her experience at a prestigious university in the mid-West. She has learned not only the importance of religion but also the importance of not asking what’s in it for her:

Yesterday, I was talking with a friend who was surprised and a little baffled at all the time I spend “socially” with Church. True, there are lots of activities and events that I would consider social, but I don’t consider Church (or rather, Christ) to be my social life—It’s my whole life, and everything else is an appendage to it. Christ is why I go to school, Christ is why I go to work, Christ is why I do the things I do (or don’t do some of the things others do). It changes my perspective, and I then see more than earthly potential and temporary influences of even the smallest things. It’s not always easy; I’m far from perfect, but I know it’s true.

Here’s what President Uchtdorf teaches us, including what he calls the central question for the selfish person, “What’s in it for me?”:

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is not an effort of once a week or once a day. It’s an effort for once and for all. (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Are You Sleeping Through the Restoration?”, Apr 2014 LDS General Conference.)

And from President Oscarson on feeling these things down deep:

We often refer to the scripture that “where much is given, much is required.” I believe that a close corollary to this is that “where much is required, much more will be given.” In other words, if we expect more of our youth, they will step up to the challenge, and I do believe that we need to require more of them. We need to step up our teaching so that our youth do more on their own to understand the doctrines of Christ and the reality of the Restoration, and we need to find a way to motivate them to write these things on the “tablets of their hearts.” (Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President, Annual Seminaries and Institutes training broadcast on establishing greater expectations of our youth.)

To me, religion is of vital importance. I have taught my adult children to move beyond questions like, “What’s in it for me?” I have learned that I am happiest when I focus not on serving myself but rather on serving others.

Haiti Earthquake, Disaster Relief

Haiti Earthquake, Disaster Relief

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Bonus Materials:

“Glorious”, with lyrics by David Archuleta (well worth 2:53 of your time)

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

  • Photo, “2010 Earthquake in Haiti”—commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2010_Haiti_earthquake_damage3.jpg
  • Photo, “Haiti Earthquake, Disaster Relief”—www. lds.org/manual/new-testament-student-manual/introduction-to-matthew/chapter-8?lang=eng
  • Photo, “Watchcare Isn’t Complicated: Three Women And Watchcare Of Others”—www. ganellyn.com/tag/watch-care/

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Watchcare Isn't Complicated-Three Women And Watchcare Of Others

Watchcare Isn’t Complicated: Three Women And Watchcare Of Others

Are Mormon Woman Oppressed? Do Women Hold Positions Of Authority In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Our Family’s Answer.

Reader Question:
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine, who happens to be Muslim, said to me, “People are always asking me whether or not I feel oppressed as a woman in Islam. And I don’t! Are Mormon women oppressed? Do women hold positions of authority in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?”

Family Answer:
This truly is a good question. And my friend was asking in the best way possible—with a sincere heart and mind. It was a “clean question”, a phrase we use in our family to indicate a question free of any agenda. She had no intent to pounce on my answer; her question was in no way mean-spirited; she was not intending to entrap or embarrass me or the Church. She merely was seeking information and was simply an open book. It was refreshing to see her approach, because this question, being truly a good question, unfortunately is not always asked in such a constructive way. 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 here are the answers we gathered:

rocks on a misty beachAuthority to act in God’s name and the fullness of gospel truths were lost in the centuries after the death of Jesus (Bible, Amos 8:11-12, 2 Thessalonians 2:3). For example, Christ established important roles for women disciples—As the Lord’s Church was lost in apostasy, this pattern of discipleship was also lost (Julie B. Beck, Ensign, Nov 2011). After this apostasy, people noticed inconsistencies between what the current church taught and what they read. They protested against these errors and taught the truths they saw in the Bible. Various people were inspired by God to fight against various false doctrines, and little by little, many churches moved closer to the doctrines of Jesus Christ. This process also created divisions and sects that taught a variety of conflicting doctrines. When Christ restored His authority to the earth, He restored this authority to everyone, in all walks of life. Specifically for your answer, He restored His authority both to the men and the women of the world. Here are some of the ramifications. We hope that some are meaningful to you.

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1. Video by Sheri Dew: What do LDS women get? Are Mormon women oppressed?

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2. While serving on a Relief Society board, Lillian DeLong visited a rural area of Ghana. Her husband was in Priesthood meeting in another room, and she was in Relief Society meeting, each conducting leadership training. After it was over, a woman came up to Lillian. In her beautiful Ghanaian church dress, she shook her hand and kept saying, “This is a woman’s church.” Lillian asked, “What do you mean, ‘This is a woman’s church?’” And she said, “We have just been in the marvelous Relief Society that teaches us not only spiritual things but temporal things about how to make our lives and our children and our families better. And at the same time your husband is in the Priesthood room and he is teaching our husbands that the culture of the church does not allow for them to beat their wives and their children.”

And she said, “In this church, my husband and I get to go to the temple and we are going to seal our children to us. And I have seven of my eleven kids that are dead. And I want my children with me. This is a woman’s church because it protects me and gives me all of those things.” (Sharon Eubank, Director, Humanitarian Services and LDS Charities, “This is a Woman’s Church”, FairMormon Conference, Provo UT, 8 Aug 2014.

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3. In and out of the Church, Mormon women lead all the time; the influence of their leadership extends far and wide. As a global leader in the Relief Society, Sheri L. Dew taught us in Oct 2001: “Sisters, some will try to persuade you that because you are not ordained to the priesthood, you have been shortchanged. They are simply wrong, and they do not understand the gospel of Jesus Christ. The blessings of the priesthood are available to every righteous man and woman. We may all receive the Holy Ghost, obtain personal revelation, and be endowed in the temple, from which we emerge ‘armed’ with power. The power of the priesthood heals, protects, and inoculates all of the righteous against the powers of darkness. Most significantly, the fulness of the priesthood contained in the highest ordinances of the house of the Lord can be received only by a man and woman together.” (Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society, Chapter 8, “Blessings of the Priesthood for All: An Inseparable Connection with the Priesthood”, Page 128.)

I have learned for myself that women who know and live the gospel of Jesus Christ understand that “the priesthood of God is not owned by or embodied in those who hold it. It is held in a sacred trust to be used for the benefit of men, women and children alike.” (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, as quoted in Daughters in My Kingdom, Chapter 8, Page 127.)

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4. Just as Isaac and Rebekah of the Old Testament put a lot of work into ensuring that their son Jacob and his future wife enjoyed the blessings of an eternal marriage (Julie B. Beck, Aug 2009, “Teaching the Doctrine of the Family”), my wife and I have put a lot of work into our marriage and into raising our kids. The two of us together are better than the sum of the two of us separately (Sheri L. Dew, LDS General Conference, Oct 2001, “It Is Not Good for Man or Woman to Be Alone”). As Isaac and Rebekah did, we want to be the man who has the keys and the woman who has the influence, working together as a two-are-better-than-one closely-knit team to see that we are prepared and to bring about the work that God wants us to do, equally yoked in our responsibilities as spouses and parents. “In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers should help one another as equal partners.” (Family Proclamation.)

“The world does not know us, and truth…demands that we speak… We are not inferior to the ladies of the world, and we do not want to appear so.” (Eliza R. Snow, 6 Jan 1870.) While women do not hold the priesthood in the Church of Jesus Christ, women leaders in the Church impact all of us. “The world’s greatest champion of woman and womanhood is Jesus the Christ.” (Daughters in My Kingdom, Page 3.)

Early in her life, my wife, Kim, nurtured a strong desire to be a woman of power and a woman of influence. She decided that she could do that most effectively by choosing to stay at home to raise a family. Her influence on our six adult children and on their families cannot be measured. That is influence; that is power. We are grateful for her wisdom to wield these skills in such a way as to have a true impact on society.

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5. Established in 1842 for women 18 years old and older, the Relief Society is the oldest and largest women’s organization in the world. The motto is “Charity never faileth”. President Julie B. Beck has taught us: “Relief Society should be organized, aligned, and mobilized to strengthen families and help our homes to be sacred sanctuaries from the world. I learned this years ago when I was newly married. My parents, who had been my neighbors, announced that they would be moving to another part of the world… This was before e-mail, fax machines, cell phones, and Web cameras, and mail delivery was notoriously slow. One day before she left, I sat weeping with her and asked, ‘Who will be my mother?’ Mother thought carefully, and with the Spirit and power of revelation which comes to women of this kind, she said to me, ‘If I never come back, if you never see me again, if I’m never able to teach you another thing, you tie yourself to Relief Society. Relief Society will be your Mother.’ Mother knew that if I were sick, the sisters would take care of me, and when I had my babies, they would help me. But my mother’s greatest hope was that the sisters in Relief Society would be powerful, spiritual leaders for me. I began from that time to learn abundantly from women of stature and faith.” (Daughters in My Kingdom, Pages 96-98.)

I have learned that the women of the Relief Society build faith and personal righteousness and help those in need. They have strengthened my family and my home.

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We hope this answers your questions and helps you to understand us better, to understand better how women hold positions of authority in the Church of Jesus Christ and especially how Mormon women lead others, all the time and in all they do.

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

woman running on a beach

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Bonus Materials:

1. “You Were Born to Lead, You Were Born for Glory,” Sheri Dew, President and CEO of Deseret Book Company, BYU Devotional Address, 9 Dec 2003, Read: http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=984,
or Watch/Listen:

2. “Mothers Who Know,” Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President, LDS General Conference, Oct 2007, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2007/10/mothers-who-know?lang=eng#watch=video.

3. “Teaching the Doctrine of the Family,” Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President, Seminaries and Institutes of Religion Satellite Broadcast, 9 Aug 2009, http://theredheadedhostess.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/2009-beck-teaching-the-doctrine-of-the-family__eng.pdf.

4. “The Moral Force of Women,” Elder D. Todd Christofferson, LDS General Conference, Oct 2013, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/the-moral-force-of-women?lang=eng.

5. “What I Hope My Granddaughters (and Grandsons) Will Understand about Relief Society”, Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President, General Relief Society Meeting, Sep 2011, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/what-i-hope-my-granddaughters-and-grandsons-will-understand-about-relief-society?lang=eng.

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

  • Photo, rocks-on-a-misty-beach—www. org/media-library/images/oceans?lang=eng
  • Photo, woman-walking-on-a-beach—www. lds.org/media-library/images/oceans?lang=eng

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Modern 20-somethings: Explorers Or Procrastinators?

Over the years, our societal culture has embraced delayed adult development. To me, it indicates a certain lack of faith. Could it be that many parents fail to teach their kids to step out in faith?

Debating

Debating

Our daughter Whitney has always been wiser than her years and taught us repeatedly about stepping out in faith. She excelled at debate and won many awards in high school. She was going to be a senator, and she would have excelled at that, too. Then suddenly, she stopped. I was stunned. She explained, “Dad, it makes me hard.” Seeing that that was an unwise development, she no longer felt good about it, and she decided to employ her time elsewhere. She had talked with her Maker about it and chose to step out in faith in a new direction.

Leonard Bernstein said that to achieve great things, you need a plan and not quite enough time. Clinical psychologist Meg Jay teaches us about what she calls the benign neglect of adult development: “So what do you think happens when you pat a twenty-something on the head and you say, ‘You have ten extra years to start your life’? Nothing happens. You have robbed that person of his urgency and ambition, and absolutely nothing happens.” She continues:

So when we think about child development, we all know that the first five years are a critical period for language and attachment in the brain. It’s a time when your ordinary, day-to-day life has an inordinate impact on who you will become. But what we hear less about is that there’s such a thing as adult development, and our 20s are that critical period of adult development. But this isn’t what twenty-somethings are hearing. Newspapers talk about the changing timetable of adulthood. Researchers call the 20s an extended adolescence. Journalists coin silly nicknames for twenty-somethings like “twixters” and “kidults.” It’s true. As a culture, we have trivialized what is actually the defining decade of adulthood.

It’s a bold message. Here’s why she’s bold:

And then every day, smart, interesting twenty-somethings like you or like your sons and daughters come into my office and say things like this: “I know my boyfriend’s no good for me, but this relationship doesn’t count. I’m just killing time.” Or they say, “Everybody says as long as I get started on a career by the time I’m 30, I’ll be fine.”

But then it starts to sound like this: “My 20s are almost over, and I have nothing to show for myself. I had a better résumé the day after I graduated from college.”

And then it starts to sound like this: “Dating in my 20s was like musical chairs. Everybody was running around and having fun, but then sometime around 30, it was like the music turned off and everybody started sitting down. I didn’t want to be the only one left standing up, so sometimes I think I married my husband because he was the closest chair to me at 30.”

Where are the twenty-somethings here? Do not do that.

I’m glad our kids decided to skip the kidult decade. Instead, they decided to pass GO, collect $200, and become adults. They stepped out in faith in choosing a career. In choosing to date as well as to hang out. In choosing a spouse. In choosing to start having kids. In choosing to stop having kids. In choosing to stay married even when times get tough. Our kids are ready for all of these decisions. They were ready for these decisions before they turned 20.

Familia en la Ciudad de México, Distrito Federal, los Estados Unidos Mexicanos

Family in Mexico City (México, D.F. or Federal District), Mexico

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Bonus Material:

1. See Meg Jay’s presentation here on video, or interactive transcript in a variety of languages. In it, she states revealingly:

Too many thirty-somethings and forty-somethings look at themselves, and at me, sitting across the room, and say about their 20s, “What was I doing? What was I thinking?”

2. A recent line of ads is from AT&T, “Embrace Your Fear Of Commitment”. Note that AT&T ironically labeled the video: “I Heart Freedom”. This is not freedom; this is selfishness. This is choosing to share your life in a friendly adolescent way and adamantly refusing to share your life in a family adult way. Delayed adult development oozes from the text of the ad:

“Marriage is a No-go,” states Joshua in the 30-second version of the ad, which is no longer available, since AT&T decided that they no longer wanted to be married to the shorter version of the ad.

The Woodstock woman says, “It’s not that I have a fear of commitment. It’s more like, uh, interest in exploring all of my options. I have a commitment to that. I have a commitment to exploration.”

Sounds good, but here is Meg Jay on the above ideas: “I’m not discounting twenty-something exploration here, but I am discounting exploration that’s not supposed to count, which, by the way, is not exploration. That’s procrastination.”

3. A related video, at least in my mind, is from Sir Ken Robinson in his presentation, “How Schools Kill Creativity“, or see interactive transcript. It reminds me of a saying in our family that you can’t let schooling get in the way of your education. Some of the most important things we must learn in life we will learn outside of formal education.

——– End of Bonus Material ——–

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

  • Photo, “Debating”—digitaldebating.idebate.org
  • Photo, “Family in Mexico City (México, D.F. or Federal District), Mexico”—Ensign Magazine, May 2014, Page 96
  • Photo, “Couple in Love”—Personal collection

——– End of WebCredits ——–

Couple in Love

Couple in Love

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…

——– End of Post ——–

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

——– End of Bonus Material ——–

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/

——– End of WebCredits ——–

A Loving Family Helps Us To Choose The Right

A Loving Family Helps Us To Choose The Right

 

As I Walked In The Door, Everyone’s Jaws Dropped

The 1936 Varsity Crew, University of Washington

The 1936 Varsity Crew, University of Washington

I lived in Oklahoma and worked for a telecommunications company during the years leading up to the Year 2000. The entire computer industry had to deal with Y2K, adapting each line of millions of lines of code to allow for a four-digit year (where previously only a two-digit year had been the standard). In my group, we worked together well for the benefit of the team. During a critical week of software installs, one night I was assigned to be at work at 4AM. I woke up with a start at 1AM and felt I should go in early. As I walked in the door, everyone’s jaws dropped, and they couldn’t believe I was there. They had just identified a major concern, I was the only one who knew how to investigate it, and they had just confirmed these two facts when I happened to walk in the door in the middle of the night. They all said that they got goose bumps when they saw me, and for years, a few of my execs teased me about whether or not I could still do that “mind reading” thing. We had studied our code thoroughly, we took responsibility for working together well, we knew what was at stake, and we simply were in synch as a team.

Cover, The Boys In The Boat--Nine Americans And Their Epic Quest For Gold At The 1936 Berlin Olympics

Teamwork to me has always been more satisfying than claiming center stage for oneself. Maybe that’s why I loved reading The Boys in the Boat last month, which was on the LA Times bestseller list for nine months and on the NY Times list for eighteen months. In the words of author Daniel James Brown, “This is a story of who we are when we are at our best. But it approaches it not as a story about individual achievement but a story about what we do when we come together, when we all get in the boat together and pull as one.”

Here are two of my favorite quotes and what they mean to me:

“Good thoughts have much to do with good rowing. It isn’t enough for the muscles of a crew to work in unison; their hearts and minds must also be as one.” [George Yeoman Pocock, as quoted in The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Daniel James Brown (2013, Viking, New York), Pages 297.]

Losing Of Self Entirely To The Crew As A Whole

Losing Of Self Entirely To The Crew As A Whole

“Where is the spiritual value of rowing?…The losing of self entirely to the cooperative effort of the crew as a whole.” [George Pocock, ibid., Page 353.]

 

 

 

An Andes Evening In Godoy Cruz

An Andes Evening In Godoy Cruz

When I lived in Argentina, while in the city of Godoy Cruz, we just clicked with the local folks and were able to serve others as never before. Six nights a week, my missionary companion and I would would split up, go in pairs with people in the area who happened to be Mormons, and four to eight times each night, we would teach people the gospel of Jesus Christ. These people sacrificed much of their time just to help us in our work, and that certainly helped us to build a more effective team. We grew close to these people and close as missionary companions. It was an absolutely beautiful way to spend our evenings, week after week.

It’s a delight to read stories of people when we are at our best. It’s especially a delight to read stories of not being mastered by our circumstances, stories of subjugating self to team, stories that focus on conquering ourselves.

The 1936 US Olympic Rowing Team

The 1936 US Olympic Rowing Team

——– End of Post ——–

Bonus Material:

1. Video: 1936 Olympic rowing film orchestrated by German media mogul Leni Riefenstahl (with footage of actual race, then Riefenstahl was able to get her rowing close-ups with the teams a day later)

2. Video: Daniel James Brown “The Boys in the Boat” (taped author presentation)

——– End of Bonus Material ——–

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

  • Photo, “The 1936 Varsity Crew, University of Washington”—plus.google.com/+XenoM%C3%BCller/posts
  • Photo, cover, The Boys In The Boat: Nine Americans And Their Epic Quest For Gold At The 1936 Berlin Olympics—www. startribune.com/entertainment/books/211547891.html
  • Photo, need to row—www. telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/10135281/Eton-Dorney-Rowing-World-Cup-2013-Great-Britains-Olympic-champion-mens-eight-finish-third.html
  • Photo, “Losing Of Self Entirely To The Crew As A Whole”—www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/rowing/9757012/Rowing-should-get-on-its-bike-says-Greg-Searle.html
  • Photo, “An Andes Evening In Godoy Cruz”—www. mendoza.travel/Godoy_Cruz.aspx
  • Photo, “The 1936 US Olympic Rowing Team”—www. newsrt.co.uk/news/the-boys-in-the-boat-by-daniel-james-brown-review-1923027.html
  • Photo, “Godoy Cruz, A Park At Night”—www. liveargentina.com/mendoza/GodoyCruz.php

——– End of WebCredits ——–

Godoy Cruz, A Park At Night

Godoy Cruz, A Park At Night

The World, Bathed In Light

This is a photo-essay, a collection of images with a theme. A long post, but with reason. Just a gallery of pictures and paintings. Images of light. People and places around the globe, many of them in a religious light. All of them to me are spiritual. Source credits included. There are 64, and we hope you enjoy them. Click on an image to make it bigger!

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Monks releasing flying lanterns during Loy Krathong
in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Monks releasing flying lanterns during Loy Krathong in Chiang Mai, Thailand
[Credit: http://canvas-of-light.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-TPDTLsq/A]
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 A monk lighting up candles in a pond during Visakha Bucha night
in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
A monk lighting up candles in a pond during Visakha Bucha night in Chiang Mai, Thailand
[Credit: http://canvas-of-light.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-5hjBsMs/A]
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A monk slowly lighting up candles during Asalaha Bucha
in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
A monk slowly lighting up candles during Asalaha Bucha in Chiang Mai, Thailand
[Credit: http://canvas-of-light.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-Sx7rh9D/A]
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Grand Palace upper terrace and statures of mythical creatures
in Bangkok, Thailand.
Grand Palace Upper Terrace and Statures of Mythical Creatures in Bangkok, Thailand
[Credit: From private collection.]
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Wat Rong Khun, the White Temple, in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
Wat Rong Khun, the White Temple, in Chiang Rai, Thailand
[Credit: http://canvas-of-light.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-QhqjSb3/A]
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 Home interior, Cairo.
Home Interior, Cairo
[Credit: From private collection.]
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A sunset captured from the dock of a ferry
from Corfu, Greece to the mainland of Greece.

[Credit: http://canvas-of-light.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-V2Fxkb7/A]
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Cityscape panorama in Brindisi, Italy.
Brindisi Panorama
[Credit: http://canvas-of-light.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-rzC2grd/A]
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 A town of the Cinque Terre Bay of Liguria, Italy.
A town of the Cinque Terre Bay of Liguria, Italy
[Credit: http://www.understandingitaly.com/liguria-content/cinqueterre.html]
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Another town of the Cinque Terre Bay of Liguria, Italy.
Another town of the Cinque Terre Bay of Liguria, Italy
[Credit: http://www.touristmaker.com/]
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Basilica dei Fieschi in San Salvatore di Cogorno, Italy.
Basilica dei Fieschi in San Salvatore di Cogorno, Italy
[Credit: http://www.laterrazzasuifieschi.com/cosa-fare-cosa-vedere/la-basilica-dei-fieschi/]
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Family At Home in Accra, Ghana.
Family At Home
[Credit: http://www.lds.org/media-library/images/family-portraits?lang=eng&start=1&end=10]
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“Spruce Forest” («Еловый лес» or “Yeloviy Lyes”) (1892),
Ivan Shishkin, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.
Spruce Forest (1892), Ivan Shishkin, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
[Credit: From print in Shishkin book in private collection.]
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“Valiant Warriors of Old” («Богатыри» or “Bogatyri”) (1898),
Viktor Vasnetsov, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.
Valiant Warriors of Old (1898), Viktor Vasnetsov, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
[Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Die_drei_Bogatyr.jpg]
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Worshippers in the mosque in Muslim quarter of Xi’an, China.
Worshippers in the Mosque in Muslim Quarter of Xi'an, China
[Credit: From private collection.]
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Terracotta and flesh warriors in Xi’an, China.
Terracotta and Flesh Warriors in Xi'an, China
[Credit: From private collection.]
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 Mirrored walk, Parque Lezama in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Mirrored Walk, Parque Lezama in Buenos Aires, Argentina
[Credit: From private collection.]
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Behind a wall in Buenos Aires, a sublime house stood;
I knocked and asked to enter.
Behind a wall in Buenos Aires, a sublime house stood; I knocked and asked to enter
[Credit:  From private collection.]
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Turned out to be a house of God;
kind sisters gave me a tour of their chapel.
Turned out to be a house of God; kind sisters gave me a tour of their chapel
[Credit:  From private collection.]
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“Returning (Back to the Ranch)” (circa 1900), Ángel Della Valle
(“De regreso (vuelta al rancho)”).
Returning to the Ranch (circa 1900), Angel Della Valle
[Credit: http://www.arcadja.com/auctions/en/della_valle_angel/artist/403933/]
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Quintessential trees of unofficial sub-barrio Belgrano R,
in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Quintessential Trees of Belgrano R in Buenos Aires, Argentina
[Credit: http://www.latidobuenosaires.com/fotosbelgranorbarriobuenosairesargentina.html]
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Trees of Calle Melián, Belgrano R, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Trees of Calle Melian, Belgrano R, Buenos Aires, Argentina
[Credit: http://www.latidobuenosaires.com/fotosbelgranorbarriobuenosairesargentina.html]
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Avenida Santa Fe, Plaza Gral. San Martín, Barrio Retiro,
in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Avenida Santa Fe, Plaza Gral. San Martin, Barrio Retiro, in Buenos Aires, Argentina
[Credit: http://riowang.blogspot.com/2009_10_01_archive.html]
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Alpenglow of Mount Washington in New Hampshire, USA.
Mount Washington Summit In The Alpenglow
[Credit: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/portrait-or-landscape/]
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Mount Avalon in New Hampshire, USA.
The View From The Top. From Mt. Avalon To The Presidentials.
[Credit: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/portrait-or-landscape/]
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Female photographer waiting for sunrise
on Mt. Washington, New Hampshire, USA.
Awaiting Sunrise. Mt Washington, NH
[Credit: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/portrait-or-landscape/]
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Layers of color on Mt Washington, New Hampshire, USA.
White Mountain Layers
[Credit: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/portrait-or-landscape/]
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Crescent Lake at night in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Crescent Lake at Night in Dhaka, Bangladesh
[Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhaka]
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Festival of Japan, bamboo light.
Festival of Japan, Bamboo Light
[Credit: http://www.123rf.com/photo_12401506_festival-of-japan-bamboo-light.html]
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Golden field in Italy.
Golden Field in Italy
[Credit: http://canvas-of-light.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-VMJ8DSf/A]
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Morning light during fall in Kentucky, USA.
Morning light during fall in Kentucky, USA
[Credit: http://canvas-of-light.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-nQzfF3N/A]
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 Grotto in Cancun, México.
Grotto in Cancun, Mexico
[Credit: http://www.lds.org/media-library/images/international?lang=eng&start=21&end=30]
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Climbing the Great Wall at Mutianyu, China.
Climbing the Great Wall at Mutianyu, China
[Credit: From private collection.]
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Tuyoq village in Turpan, Xinjiang, China.
Tuyoq Village in Turpan, Xinjiang, China
[Credit: http://www.drokpa.com/PotD.php?image=/PotD/Turpan,-China—Tuyoq-Village-81.jpg]
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Canal along Pingjiang Road in Suzhou, China.
Canal Along Pingjiang Road in Suzhou, China
[Credit: at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Near-Pingjiang-Road.JPG
or info at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzhou]
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The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE (United Arab Emirates) is seen as a construction to ‘unite the world’, using artisans and materials from countries such as Italy, Germany, Moracco, India, Turkey, Iran, China, Greece, and the UAE.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is seen as a construction to 'unite the world'
[Credit: http://www.canvas-of-light.com/2011/03/photo-essay-sheikh-zayed-mosque-uae/]
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 In the ablution room of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE (United Arab Emirates), worshippers clean themselves in order to be in a state of purity before praying. It is decorated with marble tiles and a large fountain in the middle of the room.
In the ablution room, worshipers clean themselves in order to be in a state of purity before praying.
[Credit: http://www.canvas-of-light.com/2011/03/photo-essay-sheikh-zayed-mosque-uae/]
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The main prayer hall in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE (United Arab Emirates), features the world’s second largest chandelier (the largest one being in Doha, Qatar) hanging directly below the largest dome. It is ten meters in diameter, fifteen meters in height, and weighs nine tons.
The main prayer hall features the world’s second largest chandelier, ten meters in diameter, fifteen meters in height, and weighs nine tons.
[Credit: http://www.canvas-of-light.com/2011/03/photo-essay-sheikh-zayed-mosque-uae/]
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Natural materials were chosen for the design and construction of the Mosque due to their long-lasting qualities, including marble, stone, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals and ceramics. Again, in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE (United Arab Emirates).
Natural materials were chosen for the design and construction of the Mosque due to their long-lasting qualities
[Credit: http://www.canvas-of-light.com/2011/03/photo-essay-sheikh-zayed-mosque-uae/]
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“Paris Street; Rainy Day” (1877), Gustave Caillebotte.
Paris Street; Rainy Day (1877), Gustave Caillebotte
[Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gustave_Caillebotte_-_Paris_Street;_Rainy_Day_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg]
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Interior window in Sainte-Chapelle, Paris.
Interior window in Sainte-Chapelle, Paris
[Credit: From private collection.]
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Country chic staircase, The Queen’s Hamlet at Versailles, France.
Country Chic Staircase, The Queen's Hamlet, Versailles, France
[Credit: From private collection.]
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Water mill, The Queen’s Hamlet at Versailles, France.
Water Mill, The Queen’s Hamlet at Versailles, France
[Credit: http://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-queens-hamlet-versailles-gary-tinnes.html]
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Winter at Caravan Sarayi, 15th Century roadside inn
on ancient Silk Road, near Tash Rabat, Kyrgyzstan.
Winter at Caravan Sarayi, 15th Century Roadside Inn on Ancient Silk Road, near Tash Rabat, Kyrgyzstan
[Credit: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/kyrgyzstan/images/tash-rabat-caravanserai-kyrgyzstan$1758-11]
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 Dome interior of Caravan Sarayi near Tash Rabat, Kyrgyzstan.
Dome Interior of Caravan Sarayi near Tash Rabat, Kyrgyzstan
[Credit: http://www.traveladventures.org/continents/asia/tash-rabat.html]
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Interior hallway of dome of Caravan Sarayi
near Tash Rabat, Kyrgyzstan.
Interior Hallway of Dome of Caravan Sarayi near Tash Rabat, Kyrgyzstan
[Credit: http://www.traveladventures.org/continents/asia/tash-rabat.html]
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Caravan Sarayi dwarfed by surrounding mountains
near Tash Rabat, Kyrgyzstan.
Caravan Sarayi Dwarfed by Surrounding Mountains near Tash Rabat, Kyrgyzstan
[Credit: http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-of-the-day/silk-road-kyrgysztan/
(link no longer valid)]
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Top of the World in Lofoten Islands, Norway.
Top of the World in Lofoten Islands, Norway
[Credit: http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-of-the-day/
(link may be invalid)]
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 Women from Nigeria.
Women from Nigeria
[Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nigerian_women.jpg]
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Jerusalem panorama at sunset.
Jerusalem Panorama
[Credit: http://www.actforisrael.org/blog/blog/?attachment_id=4738]
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Arches above Eastern Gate (Golden Gate) in Jerusalem.
Arches Above Eastern Gate (Golden Gate) in Jerusalem
[Credit: From private collection.]
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The misty mountains of Yangshuo and Guilin
in the Li Jiang river region of China.
The misty mountains of Yangshuo and Guilin in the Li Jiang river region of China
[Credit: From private collection.]
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Riverside hamlet on Li Jiang Near Yangshuo, China.
Riverside Hamlet on Li Jiang Near Yangshuo, China
[Credit: From private collection.]
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 San Diego Temple
of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
(Mormon temple or LDS temple in San Diego, California, USA)
.
Mormon Temple in San Diego, California, USA[Credit: 
http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/sandiego/gallery/download.php?id=780]
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Newlyweds with bright eyes and glowing faces outside a Mormon temple.
Newlyweds with bright eyes and glowing faces outside a Mormon temple
[Credit: From private collection.]
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Plaza de Armas at night in Cuzco, Perú.
Plaza de Armas at night in Cuzco, Peru
[Credit: http://wikitravel.org/en/Cuzco]
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Roof mosaic in the Tomb of Hafez, Shiraz, Iran.
Roof Mosaic, Tomb of Hafez, Shiraz, Iran
[Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomb_of_Hafez]
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Tehran at night from Jamshidieh Park.
Tehran at night from Jamshidieh Park
[Credit: http://farrokhi.net/]
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Sunset over Granada, Spain.
Sunset over Granada - Spain
[Credit: http://canvas-of-light.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-bLsqCbP/A]
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The Alhambra palace during sunset,
shot from the mirador de San Nicolas in Granada, Spain.
The Alhambra at Sunset ~ Granada
[Credit: http://canvas-of-light.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-dppVjdR/A]
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The Plaza Isabel la Católica with a statue of
the Queen Isabel and Christopher Columbus in Granada, Spain.
Plaza Isabel la Catolica ~ Granada
[Credit: http://canvas-of-light.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-9g5W2DG/A]
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The Sun Voyager (Sólfar in Icelandic) is a sculpture by
Jón Gunnar Árnason (1931-1989), an Icelandic artist born in Reykjavik.
The Sun Voyager (Solfar in Icelandic) is a sculpture Jon Gunnar Arnason (1931-1989), an Icelandic artist born in Reykjavik
[Credit: http://canvas-of-light.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-VTJdqfv/A]
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Two nuns walking down a small street in the historic district of Cuzco, Perú.
Two nuns walking down a small street in the historic district of Cuzco, Peru
[Credit: http://kathyadamsclark.blogspot.com/2012/12/peru-photo-tour-recap-cusco.html]
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Zenkoji Temple, Nagano, Japan.
Zenkoji is a place for prayer, light, and enlightenment.
Although it is a Buddhist temple, all are welcome,
regardless of gender, creed or religious belief.
Zenkoji Temple, Nagano, Japan
[Credit: http://smba2010.blogspot.com/2010/05/saturday-may-22-2010.html]

·    ————- oOo ————-    ·

Hope you enjoyed this view through our lens
and the lens of many talented folks.
A brief and wonderful view of the world.
And what a wonderful worldview!

Forever Clean: Asking For And Receiving Help

Seminary Teacher Laughs With His Class Of High School Students

Seminary Teacher Laughs With His Class Of High School Students

Growing up as a Latter-day Saint youth, I had lots of infrastructure to help me stay clean. Much of that had to do with learning to receive help from the spirit of God, learning to receive the Holy Ghost. From 9th to 12th Grade, I had lots of friends through opportunities in  education that I found in Seminary, a before-school Bible study class where they encourage lots of questioning and lots of peppered discussions. It was high school, and we were feeling our way in life. While others around us complained, whenever life’s worries got us down, we found friends, hugs, empathy, shared tears, and hearts that listened. All this infrastructure was strengthened by lessons we taught ourselves on our own initiative by learning to receive the Holy Ghost.

Seminary Student Participates In Class

Seminary Student Participates In Class

Not limited to youth, such lessons are ones I continually learn yet again as an adult. In my previous post, I shared an experience with a suicidal friend who had just lost his entire family in an accident, who soon changed and was able to seek on his own the further help that he needed. As I see it, the help that I received and the help that he received was because we were learning to receive the Holy Ghost.

Two Mindsets, Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., Growth Mindset v. Fixed Mindset

Two Mindsets, Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., Growth Mindset v. Fixed Mindset

Have you ever felt that your life was in the toilet? I know I have. Might you know someone who has hit rock bottom? I find the WAY OUT when I understand a need to change myself, to see myself as God sees me. That’s called repentance. I submit that the WAY OUT, wherever we find it, is always lit by God. We find it when we learn to receive the Holy Ghost. In psychological or sociological terms, here’s a great graphic, brought to us by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. She describes two mindsets, a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. I have learned that I find a WAY OUT when I choose a growth mindset.

Missouri Sunrise Over Ozark Mountain Country

Missouri Sunrise Over Ozark Mountain Country

Throughout my life and through my own baptism in Missouri when I was eight years old, I’ve learned that baptism is a covenant, a two-way promise; we promise certain things to God, and He promises certain things to us. We promise to live His ways, to follow and remember Him; remembering brings us to asking Him for help. He promises to send us His Spirit if we remember Him. Baptism has two essential parts: By water and by fire (by the Spirit).

But why baptize? Why on earth should God teach us to be baptized? Joseph Smith taught: “You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Page 314.) David Bednar explains the tools of the Holy Spirit, how He works: “The influence of the Holy Ghost is described in the scriptures as ‘a still small voice’ and a ‘voice of perfect mildness’.”

My conclusion: “Forever clean” doesn’t exist. Along the way, I make lots of mistakes. We all do. The good news is that “Forever cleansing” is alive and well. The Holy Ghost helps us get back on track. By celestial design, that’s His job. I’ll be forever glad that He does it well.

Cleansing Hands

Cleansing Hands

——– End of Post ——–

Bonus Material:

Watch, listen, or read Elder David A. Bednar’s entire address regarding overcoming both sin and the desire to sin, both the taint and the tyranny of sin, entitled, “Clean Hands and a Pure Heart”. (Length: 14:33.)

——– End of Bonus Material ——–

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

  • Photo, “Seminary Teacher Laughs With His Class Of High School Students”—www. lds.org/church/news/parents-can-now-register-students-for-seminary-online?cid=HPTH012314379&im=true&lang=eng
  • Photo, “Seminary Student Participates In Class”—www. lds.org/church/news/parents-can-now-register-students-for-seminary-online?cid=HPTH012314379&im=true&lang=eng
  • Illustration, “Two Mindsets, Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., Growth Mindset v. Fixed Mindset”—alumni.stanford.edu/content/magazine/artfiles/dweck_2007_2.pdf, from web article—alumni.stanford.edu/get/page/magazine/article/?article_id=32124
  • Photo, “Missouri Sunrise Over Ozark Mountain Country”—thepanoramapoint.wordpress.com/category/missouri/
  • Photo, “Cleansing Hands”—yankeecandleblog.wordpress.com/
  • Photo, “Bathing In The Ganges River To Cleanse Sins”—www. annbrooksphotography.com/blog/?p=1290

——– End of WebCredits ——–

Bathing In The Ganges River To Cleanse Sins

Bathing In The Ganges River To Cleanse Sins

On Leprosy and Being Cleansed

Have you ever seen a person with a conspicuous disease such as leprosy? We read of an honorable military leader in the Old Testament, “a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.” Naaman sought the help of God and then rejected it: the task was too small, too simple. But upon submitting to God’s counsel, upon bathing in the small river as instructed, he was cleansed. He was healed of the leprosy, and his skin was restored to the flesh of a baby.

As Heavenly Father established His teachings among mankind, He designated symbolic cleansing as an outward proclamation of an inward commitment to serve Him. By celestial design, the act of baptism is a small and simple thing. Note that God did this not to demand subservience as does a king, queen or any human magistrate but rather because He knows that, as humans, we are at our best when serving a Higher Source than self. When the Father sent His Son to bring us back to His teachings, he re-emphasized man’s need for baptism. After we strayed anew from those teachings, God did so as He restored His truths once again.

I was very young when I learned the value of all this. I grew up on a farm in Missouri in a friendly Mormon congregation, where a number of folks in the community decided to join us in our faith. Those who joined our church were baptized in our pond. Bob, a local college student, yearned to be baptized, and he wanted first to receive the permission of his parents, whom he loved dearly. For years they refused, and, as Bob waited for their hearts to change, after each time someone else was baptized, he would stay down at the pond. For long periods of time, he would cry out his soul to God for patience and understanding, with clenched fists and raised voice. I remember seeing him come up to the farmhouse, his eyes red and puffy, and I heard him say through tears how much he looked forward to his turn in our pond, when he could finally show his willingness to put his sins behind him. His earnestness made an impression on my young spirit, and to this day, each time I see a baptism, I see in my mind’s eye the intensity of Bob’s joy when he was finally able to do this for himself.

Short-sightedness and sin have made lepers of us all. A little symbolic cleansing can help.

Cleansing Hands

Cleansing Hands

——– End of Post ——–

Bonus Material:

Watch, listen, or read Elder David A. Bednar’s entire address regarding the priesthood ordinance of baptism, entitled, “That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us”. (Length: 16:33.)

——– End of Bonus Material ——–

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

  • Illustration, Naaman cleansed—www. sermonview.com/cart/product_info.php?products_id=5321
  • Photo, baby’s skin and dad, the epitome of safe and secure—www. webmd.com/parenting/baby/ss/slideshow-baby-skin-care (gallery image 13 of 21)
  • Photo, Missouri pond—thepanoramapoint.wordpress.com/category/photos/page/2/
  • Photo, “Cleansing Hands”—yankeecandleblog.wordpress.com/
  • Illustration, “John Baptizes Jesus Christ”—www. lds.org/media-library/images/gospel-art/new-testament?#john-baptizes-christ-39544

——– End of WebCredits ——–

John Baptizes Jesus Christ

John Baptizes Jesus Christ

Restoring Furniture, a Garden, a Faith

family-restores-garden

Have you ever felt the delight of rebirth from restoring a garden, breathing new life into the soil with the work of your hands? I’ve found that digging a hole in the yard can be a great stress reliever. Whether the result be a vegetable garden, flower garden, water garden, or rock garden, the creative act of re-awakening a previously well-tended plot grows plenty of comfort and joy.

The same sense of recovering something of worth may come from restoring a chair or a desk. Furniture restoration not only reclaims the beauty of an old furniture friend, it can add to the elegance of your home, and the joy of revival can be just as satisfying as for a restored garden.

Have you had the joy of restoring the trust of a friend? A renewed confidence is more poignant if, as a headstrong loved one, I have turned myself from unruly ways, returning from an unwise path of my own obstinate will, back to the path of submitting to the will of another—And by so doing, discovering that he was always the wiser. While a recalcitrant, I treasured my errant ways, blindly unaware of my short-sightedness, until I rebuilt the foundation of the original shared trust that I had dismantled. The reawakened trust is especially sweet when for years my friend has invited me to return to his wiser ways.

My topic in this post is restoring a faith that has fizzled. Since Father Adam and Mother Eve, God has established His teachings among us. Because He loves us and because we are prone to wander, God gave us guidelines of good, better, best. And because we are prone to wander, we all have strayed from those guidelines, even when we know better. Each time a person strays, he or she may return through repentance. Each time a people strays, God always has sent someone to teach and persuade society yet again. That’s what He did with the Children of Israel, with the people in Christ’s day, and with the people who lived long after Christ. Watch how one person explains that he noticed a period of falling away (length: 2:04).

So what did God do? Even when I notice a broken chair or a disregarded plot of ground, I may choose to do nothing but simply to continue to neglect it. But when it comes to truth, God chose to restore the teachings that we had chosen to neglect. He sees our unyielding self, misguided intents, resistant societies—And He continues to see something of worth in us and sends someone to recover it. Watch as someone explains how she learned this for herself (length: 1:27).

Consider how Heavenly Father works with us. When we strayed from Adam’s teachings, God sent a babe in the bullrushes to bring us back to His ways. When we strayed again, He sent His Son as the Babe of Bethlehem to restore the Balm of Gilead, to redeem the world, and to bring us back to His ways. When we strayed yet again, He sent an uneducated, unvarnished farm boy of no renown, who asked important questions with confidence that God would reveal to him the answers. And God answered his prayers, because He trusted him to care for His people and for His truths. He knew that the young man would tend them well and make them grow.

I have learned for myself the beauty and elegance of these truths that God has restored, truths that have allowed me to rebuild my trust in Him. I have renewed and strengthened my faith, so that no matter what happens, despite pain and trials and difficulties, I can be safe and secure. As I become a person that Heavenly Father may trust, as He rebuilds me into the simple beauty of a finished chair, I should not be surprised that, as did Harry T. Burleigh, I find “a religious security as old as creation, older than hope, deeper than grief, more tender than tears.” I know these things are true, that the faith that God has restored is true. Everyone on earth may know these truths for themselves, directly from God. And that’s why I’m a Mormon.

The Simple Beauty Of A Finished Chair

The Simple Beauty Of A Finished Chair

——– End of Post ——–

Bonus Material:

1. Harry T. Burleigh, the pioneering African-American singer/composer, published in 1916 the song Deep River, which speaks both of emancipation from physical captivity and of an assurance of spiritual relief. It was the first (and would prove to be the most popular) of Burleigh’s published vocal arrangements.  He regarded these songs as “prayers” that proclaim “a religious security as old as creation, older than hope, deeper than  grief, more tender than tears.”  (See The Crisis, Page 29.) Watch Paul Robeson sing Deep River in 1940:

2. Not all moments in time are alike. Some moments are more pregnant with meaning than others. It’s a rare experience to see God eye to eye. Such was the experience of Joseph Smith. Elder Neal A. Maxwell tells of the experience of Professor Arthur Henry King’s response, after he read it, to the prophet Joseph Smith’s account of the First Vision. Brother King said: (By the way, this is the quintessential Englishman, with bowler hat and many degrees, and this is how he reacted to the First Vision.)

“When I was first brought to read Joseph Smith’s story, I was deeply impressed. I wasn’t inclined to be impressed; as a stylistician, I have spent my life being disinclined to be impressed. So when I read his story, I thought to myself: This is an extraordinary thing. This is an astonishingly matter-of-fact and cool account. This man is not trying to persuade me of anything. He doesn’t feel the need to. He is stating what happened to him, and he is stating it not enthusiastically, but in a quite matter-of-fact way. He is not trying to make me cry or feel ecstatic. That struck me, and that began to build my testimony, for I could see that this man was telling the truth. And his was not the prose of someone who was trying to work it out and make it nice. It is the prose of someone who is trying to tell it as it is, who is bending all his faculties to expressing the truth and not thinking about anything else. And above all, though writing about Joseph Smith, not thinking about Joseph Smith, not thinking about the effect he is going to have on others, not posturing, not posing, but just being himself.” (1991 CES Old Testament Symposium.)

All of us may know for ourselves that God has restored the fulness of the gospel to us through the prophet Joseph Smith. The Book of Mormon isn’t just a popular musical; it’s a book that changes lives every day. Will yours change?

3. Come, Thou Fount Of Every Blessing, traditional American hymn, arrangement by Mack Wilberg, sung by Mormon Tabernacle Choir:

4. Watch how God prepared to restore the unchanged gospel of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith’s search for truth. (Length: 19:18.) Read also in Joseph’s own words.

5. Watch a motion picture about the life and legacy of Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Length: 1:02:04.)

6. Watch, listen, or read President Boyd K. Packer’s entire address regarding these restored eternal truths, entitled, “The Standard of Truth Has Been Erected”. (Length: 16:37.)

——– End of Bonus Material ——–

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

  • Photo, family restores garden—www. watergardengems.com/index/index.php/about-us/our-testimonials
  • Photo, restoring furniture—www. restorationsecrets.com/index.php/Home/Index
  • Photo, “The Simple Beauty Of A Finished Chair”—ana-white.com/2010/04/plans-the-angle-chair-modern-simplicity-is-suprisingly-comfortable.html
  • Video, “Deep River – Paul Robeson”—www. youtube.com/ watch?v=CE4z9J3diiA
  • Video, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing – Mormon Tabernacle Choir”—www. youtube.com/watch?v=gPKpkrqBwNs

——– End of WebCredits ——–

Being Brave: Pre-mortality, Priesthood Power, and the Family Proclamation

A friend just shared this Vocal Point video with me, and an entire post popped in my head. The song is “(I Want To See You Be) Brave,” by Sara Bareilles. I thought of my wife, Kim, of our six adult kids and their families. I especially liked the sign that reads, “When I talk to new people.”

As a Mormon, as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I  believe that we lived with God before we were born. True of anyone. And by celestial design, none of us remember — It was all veiled at birth. For eons before we came here, we studied hard, acquired knowledge, and learned skills, all with the goal of trying our guts out to live as God had taught and to do whatever we could to keep ourselves and others on the narrow path back to him. As we prepared with him for the moment of our birth, we knew that we would learn more from life on earth, because here we would be able to learn to walk not by memory, not by sight, but by faith, for the first time making decisions on our own in an environment where Heavenly Father was no longer around. As he sent us off, I wonder if he was singing to us a similar pre-lullaby message of “I want to see you be brave!”

This idea of a pre-existence changes many a perspective. I see my body not as mine, not to do with as I please, but as a temple of God, a gift from him, a house for my spirit now that I’m no longer with him. Such a view demands that I treat my body with respect and not with selfishness. The idea of a pre-mortal life and the idea of your body being a temple and not your own are ideas that permeate the popular post of Mormon blogger Seth Adam Smith, “Marriage Isn’t For You” (at his blog or at Huffington Post). His earthly father taught him, “Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.” While I heartily agree, I also counsel our kids as they head to the altar that marriage is so dang fun (for themselves as well as for their spouse).

These ideas and others are discussed concisely in the LDS Family Proclamation. These ideas help protect me, keep me be safe and secure. These perspectives, these teachings, are why families are so important. Families help us get ourselves back to God.

And in addition to giving us a family to help, God went further to give us another gift, both urgent and important. He allowed us to have a portion of his power. He gave us his priesthood, the authority to act for him, to do what he would do, if he were here with his ample arm around us, whispering what he would like us to know, to do, to be, to become. The priesthood of God isn’t for some and not for others — It’s for any of us, for all of us. It applies equally to people of any gender, in any country, of any position in life. For example, watch how Sheri Dew answers the great question: “In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what do women get?”

I can see how God sent ALL of us here well prepared, not just to thrive, but to fight to find our way back. When we’re unsure of the path, he continues to guide us. We call that prayer, and it works like a phone. With a bit of effort, it’s a two-way communication device. Beats a cell phone or Star Trek communicator with a stick.

Dieter Uchtdorf taught us to be brave against doubt when he said, referring to another’s phrase which was first penned in 1924: “It’s natural to have questions—the acorn of honest inquiry has often sprouted and matured into a great oak of understanding. One of the purposes of the Church is to nurture and cultivate the seed of faith—even in the sometimes sandy soil of doubt and uncertainty. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.” (See F.F. Bosworth, Christ the Healer (1924), Page 23, as quoted in “Come, Join With Us”.)

Most importantly, these perspectives shift my thinking, so that I tend to view life through a lens of patience and peace. These ideas give me hope and humility. Seth’s dad is spot on — It isn’t all about me. Sometimes, I don’t want my stinkin’ thinkin’ shifted, but if I learn to adjust my vision to a more godly perspective, I realize that it was short-sighted to fight the shift in thought. I hope it makes me a better husband, a better father, a better man, a better person. It helps me be brave.

From the lyrics of Brave: “Show me how big your brave is.”

Seeing Ourselves As Brave -- Being Brave For Others

Seeing Ourselves As Brave — Being Brave For Others

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

  • Video, “Brave by Sara Bareilles—BYU Vocal Point (a cappella tribute)”—www. youtube.com/watch?v=XeX3r8j66Qk
  • Blog Post, “Marriage Isn’t For You”, Seth Adam Smith—sethadamsmith.com/2013/11/02/marriage-isnt-for-you/
  • Blog Re-post, “Marriage Isn’t For You”, Seth Adam Smith—
    www. huffingtonpost.com/seth-adam-smith/marriage-isnt-for-you_b_4209837.html
  • Document, The Family: A Proclamation to the World
    www. lds.org/topics/family-proclamation
  • Video, “Lean on My Ample Arm”—www. youtube.com/watch?v=iWn48w7vX80
  • Hymn, “Lean on My Ample Arm”, music, recordings, lyrics—www. lds.org/music/library/hymns/lean-on-my-ample-arm?lang=eng
  • Video, “What Do LDS Women Get?”—www. youtube.com/watch?v=-QYlDLChzig
  • Address, “Come, Join With Us,” Dieter F. Uchtdorf, LDS General Conference Oct 2013—www. lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/come-join-with-us
  • Illustration, Seeing Ourselves As Brave — Being Brave For Others—https://www. lds.org/media-library/images/primary/illustrations?lang=eng#children-barking-dog-778662

——– End of WebCredits ——–

Showing Initiative, Saving Goals, and Second Efforts

Mongolian Archer

Mongolian Archer

At the archery portion of the Naadam Festival held in July each year in Ulaanbaatar, a female archer in elegant Mongolian dress aims to topple a small wall of marked blocks from over half a football field away. The skill demonstrated by the archers in the competition is absolutely amazing as they more often than not hit the center portion of the marked blocks.

For Hunger Games archer Katniss Everdeen, it was take initiative or starve to death. After her father died and her mother was crippled with grief, feeding the family fell to Katniss. It took time, but she learned to recognize that she had developed skills that could save her family if she would put to work the tools her father had given her:

For a while, I hung around the edges of the Meadow, but finally I worked up the courage to go under the fence. It was the first time I’d been there alone, without my father’s weapons to protect me. But I retrieved the small bow and arrows he’d made me from a hollow tree. I probably didn’t go more than twenty yards into the woods that day. Most of the time, I perched up in the branches of an old oak, hoping for game to come by. After several hours, I had the good luck to kill a rabbit. I’d shot a few rabbits before, with my father’s guidance. But this I’d done on my own.

We hadn’t had meat in months… The woods became our savior, and each day I went a bit farther into its arms. It was slow-going at first, but I was determined to feed us. (The Hunger Games, Chapter 4, Paragraphs 17-19, Pages 50-51)

Nephi also learned to show initiative when faced with severe difficulties. His ability to feed his family was threatened when his bow made of fine steel was broken. He made a decision that saved his family. While others complained, he set a self-imposed goal: To make a bow of wood and to put it to work. Nephi would have had to carve a piece of wood long enough, thick enough, straight enough, and flexible yet strong enough to draw back with great force without breaking it. Suitable wood in the area may have included olive, pomegranate, acacia, or juniper.

Nephi Finds Food While Others Complained

But it’s what he did next that sets Nephi apart. He went to his spiritual leader to seek his counsel. And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow. … And I said unto my father: Whither shall I go to obtain food?

Nephi chose to act. He did what he could to fix a bad situation. He didn’t wait to be “compelled in all things” but decided to be “anxiously engaged” and to do something “of [his] own free will” (D&C 58:26–27). The Lord then blessed his efforts by helping him to have a successful hunt (1 Nephi 16:29–31). His goals were not just self-imposed goals; they were goals that saved his family.

Clay Christensen and Ideas That Change The World

Clayton M. Christensen has put this same lesson to work. As a world-renowned innovation expert and the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, he has bit of experience with showing initiative. Throughout his book, The Power of Everyday Missionaries, Clay describes repeatedly how he has used self-imposed goals to bring about incredible changes in his own life and in the lives of others. No simple quote — Just lots of inspiring counsel from one who knows, from one who learned by doing.

I have learned for myself the importance of showing initiative. It helps us to aim high, to stretch ourselves and our bowstrings, and to reach new goals. It especially helps when we seek counsel from a trusted spiritual leader. And I know that by so doing, we may save our ourselves and our families.

Nephi's Bows

Nephi’s Bows

Article: Nephi’s Bows

PDF: Nephi’s Bows

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

  • Photo, Mongolian Archer—www .pinterest.com/jurekes/arco/
  • Book, The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (2008, Scholastic Press, New York NY), ISBN 978-0-439-02348-1
  • Painting, Nephi Finds Food While Others Complained—www.lds.org/manual/book-of-mormon-student-manual/chapter-5-1-nephi-16-18
  • Photo, Ideas That Change The World—www.claytonchristensen.com
  • Book, The Power of Everyday Missionaries: The What and How of Sharing the Gospel, Clayton M. Christensen (2012, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City UT), ISBN 978-1-60907-315-2 (paperbound), 978-1-60907-316-9 (hardbound)
  • Article, “Nephi’s Bows”, New Era, Sep 2013, www .lds.org/new-era/2013/09/nephis-bows?lang=eng
    or www.lds.org/bc/content/shared/content/images/magazines/new-era/2013/09/ne13sep24-25-000-nephis-bows.pdf

——– End of WebCredits ——–

So Many Questions, So Little Time

Questions are important. Questions can be good. Questions, like anything else, come in various shapes and sizes, such as Good, Better, Best.

Thor Learning To Ask Better Questions

As do we mere mortals, Thor (God of Thunder) learned this the hard way. “My father was trying to teach me something, and I was too stupid to see it… I had it all backwards. I had it all wrong.” His friend, Erik, counseled him, “It’s not a bad thing finding out that you don’t have all the answers. You start asking the right questions.” Always tough, yet always rewarding.

Mike Nielson from Rogers, Arkansas, learned the importance of asking and discussing really good questions:

(Or same video at lds.org link.)

To Where May Questions Lead?
With his friend, Jeremy, Mike began to learn why dialogue is important. Bob Millet, former dean of Religious Education at BYU (Brigham Young University), learned this lesson as well with his friend, Pastor Greg Johnson. “I was surprised when [Greg] then said to the group: ‘Are you listening to Bob? Do you hear what he is saying? This is important! It’s time for us to stop criticizing Latter-day Saints on matters they don’t even teach today.’ …The last question asked was by a middle-aged man: ‘This thrills my soul. I think this is what Jesus would do. I have lived in Utah for many years, and I have many LDS friends. We get along okay; we don’t fight and quarrel over religious matters. But we really don’t talk with one another about the things that matter most to us–that is, our faith. I don’t plan to become a Latter-day Saint, and I’m certain my Mormon friends don’t plan to become Evangelical, but I would like to find more effective ways to talk heart to heart. Could you two make a few suggestions on how we can deepen and sweeten our relationships with our LDS neighbors?’ (Read on? Click here, Page 15.)

Questions May Lead To Certainty
My wife, Kim, and I usually see things from different points of view. Even though we know we are equally yoked in our responsibilities as spouses and as parents, each of us sees life through a different lens, and we focus on different things. We help each other to ask the best questions. I am the man who has the keys and she is the woman who has the influence (see Paragraph 8 in the section “Teaching the Rising Generation” in this address), and together we strive to bring about the work that God wants us to do in our family and in our community. By asking the right questions, I have learned for myself that working together with Heavenly Father allows any couple to raise children who find certainty in uncertain times.

Finding Certainty Together By Asking Great Questions

Finding Certainty Together By Asking Great Questions

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

  • Address, “Good, Better, Best”, Dallin H. Oaks, LDS General Conference, Oct 2007—www .lds.org/general-conference/2007/10/good-better-best?lang=eng
  • Photo, “Thor Learning To Ask Better Questions”—musingsfrommarsh.blogspot.com/2012/06/thor-co.html
  • Article, “What Is Our Doctrine?”, Robert L. Millet, The Religious Educator, 2003, p. 15—ojs.lib.byu.edu/spc/index.php/RelEd/article/viewFile/1950/1911
  • Address, “Teaching the Doctrine of the Family”, Julie B. Beck, Ensign, Mar 2011—www .lds.org/ensign/2011/03/teaching-the-doctrine-of-the-family?lang=eng

——– End of WebCredits ——–

What One Can Glean from the Mud

I used to picture life as a fist fight…in the rain.  Perhaps that is because I’m currently at home with four young children (a stage in life oft referred to as “in the trenches”), I’m not sure but a muddy fist fight is what life looked like.  If I drew a picture I would have drawn a brown rippling circle, a Goliath stick figure with a little mud on his shins and t-shirt that said, “LIFE EATS PEOPLE”  or “GUNS DON’T KILL PEOPLE LIFE DOES” and a dinky stick figure face down in the mud with a large arrow labeling it, “whitney”

Life vs Whitney

A few months after my 3rd child was born, during my husband’s last year of  medical school/intern year of residency, compounded by some mixed muddled thinking in my own head, depressed and anxiety ridden I thought about that muddy fist fight A LOT.

Generally speaking, I thought of myself as a fighter.  And I used to be! Strong mentally and physically—breaking is not something I did.  PAH!   Oh, how the proud need to be humbled.  There were times when I felt I was still in the fight but I wasn’t making any forward progress.  In fact, I didn’t really have an offensive strategy at all.  It was all defensive and evasion techniques.   Soon I lacked the strength to even be evasive.  It took everything I had just to take the hits and stay on my feet.  I was so exhausted.

Then the hits started to hurt and they started to break things.  Then my will cracked and I flounder about lost. Within months, I was lying face down in the mud trying to figure out where I was and how I came to be there.   One evening my husband sat on the end of the bed and said, “Whitney, I think we need to get you some help.”

Over the next several months of healing I realized a few things I want to share:

First, when you get that low the outcome of your fight is determined by the decision you make with your face in the mud.  Do you lay there, conquered, and die?  Or do you tap out?  Tapping out is probably the most difficult thing I have ever done.   I had no idea the strength it would take to truly yield my will to the Father’s, trust in the power of the Atonement, and turn over my burdens.  Even as debilitated as I was, I felt it necessary to finish the fight on my own.

Segue way to another thing I learned: this fight is not intended or designed to be solo. You know those scriptures that talk about not being tempted/tried above your ability to handle it.  NEWS FLASH WHITNEY: If you attempt to take it on, on your own, YOU WILL FAIL.  Our lives are a partnership with Heavenly Father through the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  In our mortal existence we are blessed with all the things necessary to successfully navigate our trials and return home to live with our Eternal Father and our families.  We are blessed with scriptures, prophets, The Holy Ghost, prayer, families, and Priesthood leadership all to aid us in our fight for life and our eternal welfare.

While these were principles I knew in theory—I had topically study: faith, hope, patience, and humility in detail before—living out the very literal application of these Christ-like characteristics is a completely different experience and lends to a whole new realm of understanding.  Especially, I think, in situations where not only do you need to turn to your Savior to pull out of this one, but some professional help as well.

Doctrine and Covenants 98:12 “For he will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I will try you and prove you herewith.”

Isaiah 28:10 “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:”

So, why the heck didn’t I tap out earlier and spare myself the pain and suffering?  Pride.  Had I been humble enough to endure my trials with the Lord as my co-pilot… had I been teachable enough to listen and learn without being ‘compelled to be humble’… my ability to be long-suffering would have been enhanced and the shirt on stick figure me would have read, HEAVEN POWERS MY PUNCHES.

Me and My CoPilot

Now, a few years later, I try to remember to start out turning to the Lord.  Through Him my burdens are lightened and I can feel peace in my trials.  And I tend to view life as a climb, rather than a fight.  It’s hard work, there are some easy stretches and some extremely difficult ones.  Sometimes you move up and sometimes you slip and slide down.  In order to be safe, you must have other people aiding you in your climb.  You still get scratches, bruises, and broken bones, but there are always resources and people there to help you, lead you, and cheer you on.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:38 KJV

Prayer And Getting Out Of Our Comfort Zone

Knock, And It Shall Be Opened Unto You

Knock, And It Shall Be Opened Unto You

To include prayer in our lives is to invite sacred moments into our lives. Watch the video Earthly Father, Heavenly Father:

(Or same video at lds.org link.)

I love the words of the narrator as we focus on his wedding ring at Time 2:53 and the kid at the door watching his parents pray at 2:34. When I walked in to see my own parents at prayer, I remember the whoosh of feelings of safety and security but mostly of sacredness.

My favorite memory of the power of a prayerful life is one at work. I knocked on a friend’s office door; normally, he responds quickly with, “Come in!”, and I open the door. Sometimes, I’ll hear water running in the office bathroom as he makes ablution, and I know not to knock at the door for a few minutes after he returns to his office. But this day I was distracted and failed to notice that my knock at the door from without brought no invitation voiced from within. Out of habit, I called him by name, adding the customary honorific suffix, and opened the door. I found my elderly friend kneeling lowly on his prayer rug. It was such a holy moment. In a familiar whoosh of feeling, I was aware that I had missed the cues of the sounds at the sink. Having cleansed himself without as he focused on cleansing himself within, he was now talking with his Maker, expressing humility without as he voiced humility within. It was just like walking in on my parents at prayer. After prayers were done, we embraced; I apologized for disturbing a sacred moment. “Oh, I don’t mind. I am just doing my duty,” he said. I replied, “It is the duty of us all.”

When I think of my favorite moments of prayer, I will always see in my mind and in my heart an elderly man from Uzbekistan, with shoes removed from off his feet, kneeling submissively on sacred ground in his office, visible to none but to Him who sees all.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-Robert Frost

Vintage Prayer Rug

Vintage Prayer Rug

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

  • Photo, “Knock, And It Shall Be Opened Unto You”—westsoundmodern.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/go-away-im-washing-my-hair-2/knock-knock-3/
  • Video, “Earthly Father, Heavenly Father”—www. youtube.com/watch?v=R5FxdCgD-qI
  • Photo, “Vintage Prayer Rug”—www .persiancarpetguide.com/sw-asia/Rugs/Turkmen/Arsary/Arsary94.htm
  • Photo, young-man-kneeling-in-prayer-from-Chap 5-ETBenson-manual—www .lds.org/manual/teachings-of-presidents-of-the-church-ezra-taft-benson/chapter-5-principles-of-true-repentance?lang=eng

——– End of WebCredits ——–

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