Category Archives: Patience

Lessons Of Leadership From Sacrificing To Save Hobber

Father's Day

Father’s Day

Quotes on leadership that I find well-suited to Father’s Day:

Kaladin held his side, feeling the blood there. Straight laceration, only about an inch long, not wide enough to be of danger.

It was his father’s voice.

Kaladin panted. He needed to get to safety. Arrows zipped over his head, fired by the Alethi archers.

Some people take lives. Other people save lives.

He wasn’t done yet. Kaladin forced himself to his feet and staggered to where someone lay beside the bridge. It was a bridgeman named Hobber; he had an arrow through the leg. The man moaned, holding his thigh.

He checked the other two. Hobber was smiling openly. He was round-faced and lean, with a gap between his teeth and short, black hair. “Thank you,” he said. “Thank you for saving me.”

Kaladin grunted, inspecting the man’s leg. “You’ll be fine, but you won’t be able to walk for a few weeks. I’ll bring food from the mess hall for you.”

“Thank you,” Hobber whispered, taking Kaladin’s hand, clutching it. He actually seemed to be tearing up.

That smile forced back the gloom, made the aches and soreness fade. Kaladin’s father had described that kind of smile. Those smiles weren’t why Lirin had become a surgeon, but they were why he’d remained one.

“What are you up to, Kaladin?” Hobber asked just as Kaladin got a flame started.

Kaladin smiled, standing. “Have a seat.”

Hobber did just that. He hadn’t lost the near-devotion he’d shown Kaladin for saving his life. If anything, his loyalty had grown stronger.

[Quotes from Brandon Sanderson’s outstanding novel, The Way of Kings, Pages 267, 313, and 403. Yes, it’s a fantasy novel. It’s also a treatise on loyalty and leadership. Yes, everyone should read it. Try it; you’ll like it!]

I apply the above quotes to leadership of a family, quotes that hold a key to quality parenting: If you give up your life for a time to spend it parenting your kids as if parenting were a full-contact sport, then they will recognize your role in losing your life in order to save theirs. Their loyalty to you as a parent will only grow stronger as they grow to recognize your sacrifice, grow to understand it not as an intellectual exercise but as something to choose as a model for their own behavior. You will see them pay their devotion as you see them give up their own life for a time, in order to spend it parenting their own kids.

Family At Home In Accra, Ghana

Family At Home In Accra, Ghana

To me, the above quotes not only apply to Fathers’ Day but teach us important truths about leadership. D. Todd Christofferson teaches us more on loyalty and leadership:

I speak today of fathers. Fathers are fundamental in the divine plan of happiness, and I want to raise a voice of encouragement for those who are striving to fill well that calling. To praise and encourage fatherhood and fathers is not to shame or discount anyone. I simply focus today on the good that men can do in the highest of masculine roles—husband and father.

David Blankenhorn, the author of Fatherless America, has observed: “Today, American society is fundamentally divided and ambivalent about the fatherhood idea. Some people do not even remember it. Others are offended by it. Others, including more than a few family scholars, neglect it or disdain it. Many others are not especially opposed to it, nor are they especially committed to it. Many people wish we could act on it, but believe that our society simply no longer can or will.” [David Blankenhorn, Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem (1995), Page 62.]

As a Church, we believe in fathers. We believe in “the ideal of the man who puts his family first.” [Blankenhorn, Fatherless America, Page 5.] We believe that “by divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.” [“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”, Nov 1995 Ensign, Page 102, or Nov 2010 Liahona, Page 129.] We believe that in their complementary family duties, “fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.” [Family Proclamation.] We believe that far from being superfluous, fathers are unique and irreplaceable.
[D. Todd Christofferson, “Fathers”, Apr 2016 LDS General Conference.]

I agree with him.

A Father Dances With His Daughter In Their Home

A Father Dances With His Daughter In Their Home

“And now, my son, this was the ministry unto which ye were called, to declare these glad tidings unto this people, to prepare their minds; or rather … that they may prepare the minds of their children to hear the word at the time of his coming.” [Alma 39:16.]

Mike, Brian, Brendan, Kyle, Kevin, Todd, Bob, this post is for you. Thank you for helping to lead the way.

Family Studying Scriptures Together

Family Studying Scriptures Together

Please note that these quotes on loyalty and leadership apply equally to motherhood and fatherhood. They particularly apply to both of them in equal roles as complementary leaders, specifically as wife and husband leading together in the joint venture of parenthood.

Canoeing On Hampton Lake, North Carolina Is A Great Way To See Fall Foliage

Father And Child Canoeing On Hampton Lake, North Carolina—A Great Way To See Fall Foliage

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Bonus Material:

Watch/download the video, “Earthly Father, Heavenly Father” at or at YouTube below:

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.

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

  • Photo, “Father’s Day”, from private collection
  • Photo, “Family At Home In Accra, Ghana”, www.
  • Photo, “A Father Dances With His Daughter In Their Home”, www.
  • Photo, “Family Studying Scriptures Together”, Aug 2013 Ensign Magazine, Page 3, photo illustration by Cody Bell
  • Photo, “Fathers Providing A Sacred Moment In A Holy Place”, photo by: Masood Bhat/Kashmir Headlines—
  • Photo, “Father And Child Canoeing On Hampton Lake, North Carolina—A Great Way To See Fall Foliage”, www. american-the-beautiful-in-autumn-peak-fall-foliage-dates-for-48-states-50-pics, photo by Watson Studios
  • Photo, “Growing Old Together Amid Autumn in Seattle, Washington”, www., photo by Rachel Sarai

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Growing Old Together Amid Autumn in Seattle, Washington

Growing Old Together Amid Autumn in Seattle, Washington

Lessons Of Leadership From Candle Flames

A quote on leadership that I find well-suited to Mother’s Day, that I dedicate to all women, following the lead of Sheri Dew, who dares to ask women everywhere, “Are We Not All Mothers?”:

“ ‘Candle flames,’ ” Litima continued. The selection was from The Way of Kings, read from the very copy that Gavilar had once owned. “ ‘A dozen candles burned themselves to death on the shelf before me. Each of my breaths made them tremble. To them, I was a behemoth, to frighten and destroy. And yet, if I strayed too close, they could destroy me. My invisible breath, the pulses of life that flowed in and out, could end them freely, while my fingers could not do the same without being repaid in pain.’ ”

Dalinar idly twisted his signet ring in thought; it was sapphire with his Kholin glyphpair on it. Renarin stood next to him, wearing a coat of blue and silver, golden knots on the shoulders marking him as a prince. Adolin wasn’t there. Dalinar and he had been stepping gingerly around one another since their argument in the Gallery.

“ ‘I understood in a moment of stillness,’ ” Litima read. “ ‘Those candle flames were like the lives of men. So fragile. So deadly. Left alone, they lit and warmed. Let run rampant, they would destroy the very things they were meant to illuminate. Embryonic bonfires, each bearing a seed of destruction so potent it could tumble cities and dash kings to their knees. In later years, my mind would return to that calm, silent evening, when I had stared at rows of living lights. And I would understand. To be given loyalty is to be infused like a gemstone, to be granted the frightful license to destroy not only one’s self, but all within one’s care.’ ”

Litima fell still. It was the end of the sequence.

[From Brandon Sanderson’s outstanding novel, The Way of Kings, Part Two: The Illuminating Storms, Chapter 26 “Stillness”, Pages 368-369. Yes, it’s a fantasy novel. Yes, everyone should read it. Try it; you’ll like it!]

Flaming Red Fall Foliage In Grantwood, Missouri

Flaming Red Fall Foliage In Grantwood, Missouri

I think that Dew would agree that this quote applies to Mothers’ Day, this quote that teaches us important truths about leadership. After all, she has said:

Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women.
[Sheri L. Dew, “Are We Not All Mothers?”, Oct 2001 LDS General Conference.]

I agree with her.

Kim, Whitney, Mary Lynn, this post is for you. Thank you for leading the way.

Certain Women, Supporting A Friend Who Happens To Have Leukemia

Certain Women, Supporting A Friend Who Happens To Have Leukemia

Please note that this quote on candle flames applies equally to fatherhood and motherhood. It particularly applies to both of them in equal roles as complementary leaders, specifically as husband and wife leading together in the joint venture of parenthood.

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

  • Photo, “Flaming Red Fall Foliage In Grantwood, Missouri”, www., photo by Thomas Hawk. Mary Lynn would love it!
  • Photo, “Certain Women, Supporting A Friend Who Happens To Have Leukemia”, www.
  • Photo, “Family Prayer In Mongolia”,

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Family Prayer In Mongolia

Family Prayer In Mongolia

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.
  • Painting credit, from LDS media library of shareable materials, www.

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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)—, 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.
  • Photo, “Edmond Dantès, portrayed by James Caviezel”—www.
  • Photo, “Albert Mondego (Albert de Morcerf), portrayed by Henry Cavill”—
  • Photo, “Mercédès Iguanada, portrayed by Dagmara Dominczyk”—
  • 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.

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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.
  • Photo, “Teaching Happens Through Prayer…”— family-praying-921856-tablet.jpg
  • Photo, “Teaching Happens Through Study…”— dominican-republic-early-morning-seminary-1206571-tablet.jpg

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Teaching Happens Through Study...

Teaching Happens Through Study…


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonus Materials:

1. Gordon B. Hinckley stated

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

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

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

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

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

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Make Way for Ducklings! & kids!

Make Way For Ducklings! And Kids!


Pains, Crucibles, Results

What is our mission in life?

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

What will be our ability to make these changes?

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

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

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

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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.
  • Photo, mormonad-cool-it–it-is-in-your-hands—www.

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

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

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

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

O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

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

(Or watch/download same video at link.)

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

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

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

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

-Dave and the MormonPanorama Family

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Bonus Materials:

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

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

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

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

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Storm Clouds Clearing…

Whatever clouds you encounter, God will part them for your good.

Storm Clouds Clearing...

Storm Clouds Clearing…

In high school, I had a religious instruction class in the early morning at 7:30AM before general school classes started at 8:30AM. We also organized testimony meetings from 6:00-7:30AM on the first Thursday of each month, where anyone with interest might discuss with the group things he or she felt down deep about their own faith and beliefs. A small group of us decided we wanted a further opportunity to share among close friends, and we would sometimes go up on a nearby mountain to hold our own extra testimony meetings. This circle of kindred spirits was fundamental to my adult faith. One time, on our designated mountain testimony day, it had rained all morning, and we met at lunch in private in an empty classroom to pray for clear weather. The rain continued all afternoon, but we started walking up anyway. The clouds parted, the sun shone, we shared our precious testimonies, and then, as soon as we said the closing prayer, the clouds re-gathered and the rain started up again as we walked down the mountain. I don’t think that it was that important that I heard our testimonies that day, but I’m convinced that someone in our group had a need and that God knew it and provided a way. In addition, maybe He wanted someone in our little group to know without a doubt that He hears and answers our prayers. The town was a wonderful place to grow up and to grow in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

If we were to expect everything to be delivered on our time schedule, would we learn patience? Spiritual clouds always depart—in time. If we were consistently to get what we want when we want it, would we learn to be selfless? In my own experience, it is more likely that we recognize the need to stand strong, if clouds and whirlwinds come our way and allow us a chance to learn to survive storms that come into our life. God will help. And He’ll do it His way, not our way. He tells us, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Whatever clouds you encounter, I know that God will part them for your good…

Clouds Clearing From Yoadcomb Scar, Wild Boar Fell, Three Kilometers From Low Dovengill, Cumbria, Great Britain, UK

Clouds Clearing From Yoadcomb Scar, Wild Boar Fell, Three Kilometers From Low Dovengill, Cumbria, Great Britain, UK

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Bonus Materials:

1. Concept of “in time…”: Read, watch or listen to Henry B. Eyring, “A Priceless Heritage of Hope”, Apr 2014 LDS General Conference.

2. Read, watch or listen to Neil L. Andersen, “Spiritual Whirlwinds”, Apr 2014 LDS General Conference.

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

  • Photo, “Storm Clouds Clearing…”—
  • Photo, “Clouds Clearing From Yoadcomb Scar, Wild Boar Fell, Three Kilometers From Low Dovengill, Cumbria, Great Britain, UK”—

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“You’re just keeping up the habit”

I wrote this a little over a year ago, but today’s experience reminded me of it and I wanted to share it with you.  Enjoy!

“Boys, please whisper.” I’ve said that a bazillion times since we sat on this pew a half-hour ago. “We’re in the Chapel, and The Sacrament is being served. Please show reverence and think about Jesus.” My two oldest sons (ages 5 and 6) quietly resume their contest: racing to see who can find a specific Hymn number first.  I look to the ceiling and roll my eyes—I taught them that game.   Allowing them a little lee-way, I attempt to take my own advice and think of my Savior. The baby begins to fuss. I tuck his blanket around him and rock the infant carrier, hoping to sooth him to sleep. Simultaneously, I grab my 3 year old daughter’s feet to prevent them from, again, kicking the pew in front of us. Why do they have to have wooden pews in this acoustically sound room?  Rock, rock, Rock, rock. “Mommy, I’m thirsty, when will the water come?” my daughter asks at the top of her voice. Why the acoustics!? I whisper a response she doesn’t like and a tantrum begins. Fussy baby—Rock, rock, Rock, rock.  I attempt reasoning, to no avail, the tantrum escalades. Oh church during naptime! I give my daughter the option of getting a grip or having a time out on my lap in the hall. She chooses the time out.   I don’t like 3 year olds! I grumble to myself. I look down the row at the blessed woman who sits near us. She nods her head and begins to shuffle her way, over her son and my boys, toward the baby to continuing the rocking. I yank my three year old to her feet and march her down the isle and out into the hall serenaded by her discontent.  In the hall, time out is unpleasant so that behaving in the Chapel starts to look good.

Sitting with my melodramatic three year old I wonder WHY do I EVEN try!? Why do I bother coming to church? I never get to listen to the talks in Sacrament Meeting (even when I manage to STAY in Sacrament Meeting)! I partake of the Sacrament each week, but I hardly am able to think of my covenants at all. And if I’m in my other meetings I, still, can hardly hear them. Why do I do this? What do I get out of it?  

Suddenly I hear my Mom’s voice in my head, “You’re just keeping up the habit.” I think about that for a little while.

In the evening, before bedtime, we read the scriptures as a family. My oldest two boys can read (even though it is sometimes a painful lesson in long-suffering) and my daughter repeats the verse after Brendan or I read it in pieces for her.   Lying on our tummies in the living room each with his/her own set of scriptures, bookmark, and red marking pencil scripture reading goes something like this: “First Born you start.” “No! I wanted to start” “I want to read 2 and 32 and 9 and 16” “We’re only reading two each, Sweet Girl” “HE HAS MY BOOKMARK!!” Enter The Baby (10 months) “AAAAAHHHH!!!” (happy squeals as he gets a hold of someone else’s something and shreds it, or attempts to) “OKAY EVERYONE, Frist Born is starting, no more talking!” “And…behold…it…came…to…pass…’  My daughter is wielding her marking pen like a wand and whispers, “I command you to be a Chihuahua!” and whacks her scriptures. Second Born is fending off the Baby. Dad is trying to get a good grip on the 23.5 lb baby and I’m attempting to help First Born read.  The thought reoccurs to me , Why am I doing this to myself!? And again, I hear my Mom’s voice, “You’re just keeping up the habit.”

 Family Scriptures study

Sometime after my oldest was born, my Mom taught me that moms with young children go to church not because they are regularly edified and rejuvenated (although that certainly happens on occasion) but rather to keep up the habit. Mom taught me that the consistency of attending church, keeps the habit for myself, and also teaches my children that I view The Gospel as a high priority item.   I knew church was important to my parents and that was largely in part because we went to church weekly, unless we were contagiously sick. I know that regularly attending church as a child is a main contributor to my desires to be a faithfully attending adult. I also know that my daily habit of scripture study is deeply rooted in my parents’ consistent efforts to hold family scripture study. Even especially, when we were all in sports, working jobs, and had extracurricular activities.

“Keeping up the habit” circumstances like continually attending church services and holding family scripture study are cases where actions do speak volumes to my children! The things I spend my time and efforts on communicate to my children how I feel about them! THAT is why I keep attending church. THAT is why I keep holding family scripture study! In spite of the ridiculous that occurs during these sacred moments going to church and family scripture study are important to me. I want my children to know not just because I tell them, but because my actions show that these things are important to me. So I’m gonna keep “keeping up the habit” like my Mom has taught me and have hope in the promised blessings of obedience and diligence in my efforts.  I know that when we are obedient to the Laws of God, when we diligently strive to follow him by studying the scriptures and attending the church meetings which He has provided for our learning He will bless us and our families.  I have experienced those blessings myself, I know they will come!

“Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other and produce an impressive masterpiece, so our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results. “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). Consistency is a key principle as we lay the foundation of a great work in our individual lives and as we become more diligent and concerned in our own homes.”

Read, watch or listen to Elder David A. Bednar in his talk, “More Diligent and Concerned at Home”, Oct 2009.

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?



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.

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

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

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Couple in Love

Couple in Love

Beyond Dirt, Beyond Opposition, Beyond Bullying

Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936 by Dorothea Lange

Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936 by Dorothea Lange

Bullying begins early, especially when faith is involved. My friend who shoved my face in the dirt was one of many. In elementary school and junior high, when kids learned I’m Mormon, they would often ask how many moms I had. I remember wondering how much they really knew about the birth process.

I have Muslim friends, Catholic friends, Jewish friends, friends of many faiths, all with experience getting their faces shoved in the dust. Gritty, tough, beautiful faces.


Dirt and faith go together. Opposition, criticism, and antagonism are companions to truth. Whenever the truth is revealed with regard to the purpose and destiny of mankind, there will always be a force to oppose it.

Faces Of Kevin At 3 Years Old

Faces Of Kevin At 3 Years Old

When our son Kevin was three or four years old, an older sibling had a soccer match after a week of rain. At the side of the field was a narrow 25-foot-long puddle. Kev quickly learned that if he ran and threw his body on the ground in just the right way, he could slide the entire length of the water. Before long, the families around us began to watch Kevin instead of the game. One photographer mom missed her son’s only goal of the season as she focused her lens on Kev. “Gotta set priorities. Look at that face!” she said, kept snapping shots, and gave us copies of her images later that week.

Dirt and Faith on the Mexican Baja

Dirt and Faith on the Mexican Baja

Years later, Kevin’s face was again caked with dirt, this time from the dry dust of Tijuana, made a bit muddy by the ample sweat of his brow. He loved working closely with friends from Mexico as they labored to teach the truth. At one point, weeks of opposition and criticism were taking a heavy toll. His close friends were truly discouraged, and it weighed heavily on his heart. Kev decided to rip his bedsheet in two and scribbled on his Title of Liberty, “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children”, and fastened it upon the end of a pole. He called his flock of fellow laborers together to encourage them and, in his strong voice, shouted in Spanish, “Whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and promise with me that they will maintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them.” After signing the rent cloth, Kevin invited them to sign. They all did. And their courage was restored. People started really talking with these young men once again, sharing feelings down deep and listening to them, as the weeks of opposition and antagonism evaporated, leaving only the local dust on their tired, smiling faces.

Look for the biggest dust cloud billowing above the most dirt, and you’ll find that it’s being kicked at someone standing for the truth. Sometimes, no one stands with them.

“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing, persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny many defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited very clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”—Joseph Smith

Bullies will always assemble themselves. Why? Because someone is teaching the truth, and the truth will always be opposed. Time to labor harder, time to work smarter, time to smile that feel-it-deep-down smile…

Two men looked up from prison bars,
One saw the mud, the other saw stars.
—Dale Carnegie, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

Defying Opposition

Defying Opposition

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Bonus Material:

Many of these thoughts are inspired by Lawrence Corbridge. Read, watch or listen to his entire address, “The Prophet Joseph Smith”, Apr 2014 LDS General Conference.

A Father's Gift, Liz Lemon Swindle

“A Father’s Gift”, Liz Lemon Swindle

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

  • Photo, “Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936 by Dorothea Lange”—www2.
  • Photo, “Dirt and Faith on the Mexican Baja”, from private collection
  • Quote, “The Standard of Truth,” Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church, Volume 4, Page 540, from the Wentworth Letter, just before the Articles of Faith
  • Quote by Dale Carnegie, www.
  • Photo, “Defying Opposition”, from private collection
  • Painting, “A Father’s Gift”, by Liz Lemon Swindle. Swindle tells us that this tender painting portrays the love of three fathers. Our heavenly Father entrusted the twins to John and Julia Murdock. When Julia died after childbirth, Brother Murdock entrusted them to Joseph, who brought them to Emma. Emma had just lost her own twin babies within hours of their birth. Joseph and Emma loved and raised the twins as if they were their own. See www. Dave adds: To me this painting is about how a loving God follows opposition and trials by restoring smiles.
  • Painting, “Hope”, by Liz Lemon Swindle.  See www. Peter and John were no strangers to criticism and antagonism, which had cost them dearly. Swindle teaches us about illustrating a tender moment just before their faces learn to smile again:

When Mary came to the tomb, she found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. She ran to the disciples crying, “They have taken away the Lord…and we know not where they have laid him” (John 20:2). Peter and John immediately ran to the tomb.

What did they think as they ran? Were they simply curious to see for themselves? Did they fear, like Mary, that their enemies had stolen the body? Or did they remember His promise, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”?

The decision that faced Peter and John that Sunday morning is the same decision that faces each one of us today. Will we doubt? Will we hope? Or will we know that He lives? I know that He lives.

  • Photo, “Smiles After Opposition”, from private collection

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Hope, Liz Lemon Swingle

“Hope”, Liz Lemon Swingle


Smiles After Opposition

Smiles After Opposition

Scriptures, Sacred Feelings, and Other Small and Simple Things

There’s an expression that some people are “closed books”. It indicates someone who cannot be easily understood, someone unfathomable or puzzling, while others are “open books”. One may feel this way about a book of sacred writings. Some people I know feel that holy books are closed to them. Other friends feel that a book of God has things that speak specifically to them.

As a youth long ago, I learned to love the scriptures. To me, they are open books. In Seventh Grade, I remember starting to see specific verses as if they were a good friend. Learning, pondering, searching, and memorizing scriptures is like filling a cabinet with friends, values, and truths that can be called upon any time, anywhere in the world:

(Or same video at link.)

One’s feelings are key to an open book. If I love an author, it’s usually because I love the way the writer uses words, how I feel about how she or he expresses thoughts in writing. Some authors I like because they express thoughts similar to mine, while I love others, having expressed thoughts so distinct from mine, due to the way they open my mind to new things. What’s essential is less the words of sacred authors and more how their meaning resonates both to my mind and to my heart. God combines intellect and inspiration to tailor something personal to me, that nourishes my spirit, food that I need to feed my soul on a daily basis. Watch how he taught the Children of Israel this lesson:

(Or same video at link.)

I particularly love how I have come to see the scriptures as a proactive attempt on God’s part to be less puzzling, and I understand that openness to spiritual feelings is an important part of that. These spiritual feelings come in whispers to my soul. Did not our heart burn within us, …while he opened to us the scriptures? Heavenly Father speaks directly to his children through the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. One of life’s true paradoxes is that through these whispered feelings and thoughts, he does wonderful works through us.  By small and simple things, God brings to pass great things. “…by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.” 

As a boy, Joseph Smith learned from his parents to trust the scriptures. He learned to read by them, studied them, and struggled to understand them better. When reading James 1:5-6, he learned to ask important questions with confidence that God would reveal to him the answers. By following those answers, Joseph was able to help his family find certainty in uncertain times.

The epitome of the power of the small and the simple is expressed by the essence of this Christmas season—By a babe long ago in a manger in Bethlehem. Watch how we may use his scriptures to make small and simple changes to our actions in order to bring more peace into the world.

(Or same video at link.)

Christ wants all of us to feel safe and secure, even when we have pains and troubles, big or small. I have learned for myself that he has given us the scriptures to guide us away from ideas that lead us to mistakes and regrets and towards peace and happiness, both for us and for those near and dear to us. From our family to yours, may you have the happiest and holiest of holidays.

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Bonus Material:

1. Watch how a teenage competition through a maze is used as an analogy to show how the scriptures help us get through life. (Length: 10:02.)

2. Watch how this teacher encourages young men to search the scriptures. (Length: 1:41.)

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

  • Photo, family scripture study—www.
  • Video, “Words with Friends”—www.
  • Video, “Daily Bread: Pattern”—www.
  • Illustration, Joseph searching scriptures—www.
  • Photo, snowflake ornament—www.
  • Video, “The Maze”—www.
  • Video, “Searching the Scriptures”—www.
  • Photo, lights in snow on Temple Square—www.

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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

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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.
  • Blog Post, “Marriage Isn’t For You”, Seth Adam Smith—
  • Blog Re-post, “Marriage Isn’t For You”, Seth Adam Smith—
  • Document, The Family: A Proclamation to the World
  • Video, “Lean on My Ample Arm”—www.
  • Hymn, “Lean on My Ample Arm”, music, recordings, lyrics—www.
  • Video, “What Do LDS Women Get?”—www.
  • Address, “Come, Join With Us,” Dieter F. Uchtdorf, LDS General Conference Oct 2013—www.
  • Illustration, Seeing Ourselves As Brave — Being Brave For Others—https://www.

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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

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

  • Photo, Mongolian Archer—www
  • 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—
  • Photo, Ideas That Change The World—
  • 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

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“Even darkness must pass; A new day will come!”

If anyone knows our family, they know we are huge fans of the Lord of the Rings! I remember as a young boy listening to my Dad read the trilogy to me and my brothers as we laid in our beds. Dad would put all his emotions into it as he would get excited with us, laugh with us, be sad with us, and, yes, cry with us. You can imagine our joy when we heard the news that they were making the movies! Needless to say, we loved them as well!

There is one scene in The Two Towers (that wasn’t in the book, but we’ve since forgiven Peter Jackson!) that I have been pondering about a lot lately. In the city Osgiliath, Frodo hits a breaking point when his burden as a ringbearer seems too much to handle and all hope seems lost. He is about to give himself up to temptation and be captured when Samwise the Brave comes to rescue him. Sam then delivers one of the most epic speeches about overcoming adversity and fighting for what’s right.

As I have watched and rewatched this scene, I ask myself, “How many times do I feel like Frodo here?” And I ask you, how often do you feel helpless, alone, and without hope? We often hit similar breaking points where our load seems too heavy to bear. In these “Frodo” moments, we ask ourselves the same questions in Sam’s speech. These moments are the shadows and the darkness he spoke about. Even Joseph Smith had Frodo moments in the Sacred Grove and in Liberty Jail when he cried out, “Oh God, where art thou?” (D&C 121:1.)

To those who feel, or have felt, this way before, I empathize with you. I too have come to up against the wall that seems impossible to get over and move on. I have longed for a “Sam” to come rescue me and tell me everything is going to be alright. I’m here to tell you that God will come! He is our Sam in the story. He reminds us that “even darkness must pass. A new day will come! And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer!” God reminds us of our purpose and “what [we’re] holding on to.” (See Joseph Smith-History 1:16-17 and D&C 121:7-10 for God’s response to Joseph’s Frodo moments.)

I want to share a story of one my own Frodo moments. A little over a year ago I was going through a really hard time. I had just lost the girl I loved, I was struggling with finding a major at school, work was wearing me down, and it just seemed like anything I desired was always out of reach. I felt helpless, abandoned, and hopeless. I’m sure I wearied my Heavenly Father with my endless prayers of gloom and sadness. My Sam in this story came in the form of a poem that I wrote. It brought peace and hope to my life as I was able to put my thoughts into words. It inspired me to keep going:

In the same place

In the same place night after night,
My corner chair that fits just right,
I examine my considered plight,
Which has become my endless fight.

In the same place I try to see,
While Pandora sings soothingly
To my troubled and longing heart,
The pathway that I now should start.

In the same place when all retire,
I earnestly search for the fire
That drives, that pushes, and inspires,
To achieve heart’s deepest desire.

In the same place night after night,
Past memories dance into my sight.
I muse, I smile, and seldom cry,
But often time think, “why, oh why?”

In the same place through thick and thin,
I overcome the pain within.
Arise, go forth, begin to mend!
Surprises will come around the bend.

As I wrote this, I could feel the Lord’s love surround me. I was not alone, help was given, and hope restored. God is ever aware of lives and what we are passing through in this very moment. He loves us! We may feel like Frodo in our own personal Mt. Doom hanging on for dear life. The Lord, just as Sam did, reaches out to us when we are about to give up and says, “Don’t you let go!” I want you to know that your shadow IS only a passing thing, and surprises do come around the bend! I echo the words that King David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.” (1 Chronicles 28:20.)

The Lord will not give up on you, so you shouldn’t give up on yourself! Look for the “Sams” in your life; I know you’ll find them. God answers our prayers in a variety of ways, often time through other people. May we also strive to be Sam in the lives of others.

I recommend these videos that helped me in times of need. They also touch on this topic:

The words from “Does the Journey Seem Long”

“Good Things to Come” by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

What I learned in high school–almost 40 years after graduation

school exterior

At the high school where I work we have a special needs student who has a mood disorder complicated by autism.  He has difficulty controlling himself and appropriately expressing his feelings.  Once, when he became upset in our office, he threw everything off the counter tops and hurled charts and trays to the ground.  He flung himself to the floor and tossed his shoes.  It’s an understatement to say he can be quite violent.


Because of this, he wears a harness so that he can be controlled should he become aggressive.  He is always accompanied by a one-on-one aide. At the beginning of one school year, this student’s aide was a huge man, 6’ 5” and 250 lbs.  The aide managed to control the student by the sheer power of his physical presence.  In the event that the student became combative, his aide could simply man-handle him into submission.  Unfortunately, this Atlas was reassigned to another student.  Even worse, he was replaced by a petite young woman.  She was so tiny and young that I worried she would be snapped in two by one of the student’s rages—but she wasn’t.

Over the course of the following weeks, I watched this little woman charm our student.  While she always held his harness, she never had to hang on for dear life.  When he refused to cooperate, she stepped close to the student and whispered persuasively in his ear.  When they walked the halls together, she and he were in frequent eye contact, talking and laughing together.  Once when he became upset in our office, instead of cowering (which I was doing!) she stood right beside him, gently rubbing his back, soothing him into submission.  I was amazed.

This wonderful woman was able to work with and, for the most part, gain the cooperation of a most difficult student.  She knew something about the power of love.  Oh, so this is was the Savior was talking about!

After His death and resurrection, Jesus called to members of the twelve from the shore of the Sea of Galilee.  They had been fishing all night but caught nothing.  Knowing their discouragement and hunger, Jesus directed them to cast their net on the right side of the ship.  Then, when the nets were hauled in near to breaking, He bid the fishermen come ashore and dine with him.  They found a small fire with fish and bread ready to eat.  As they sat around the meal, the Savior taught Peter and those listening about love.  The Savior asked Peter, “lovest thou me?”  When Peter responded, “yea, Lord” the Savior instructed: “feed my sheep.”   A three word injunction made more powerful by repetition, this commandment should govern my every action:  in the work place, at church, in the community and at home.

Good Shepherd

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I feel I am under a particular mandate to share truth and demonstrate goodwill.  That can be difficult in this hardened world; my efforts may be (have been!) met with mistrust, cynicism, and outright disbelief.    In a 2005 General Conference talk, Ulisses Soares taught how to overcome these attitudes.  He said, “People are most receptive to our influence when they feel that we truly love them.” Read his entire address here. This is what that tiny one-on-one aide knew, what the Savior was teaching to teach Peter and what I’m trying to do.

 Fundamental to serving God is loving His sheep.  For me this is a constant challenge.  I battle impatience and annoyance all day long and return home to live with a wonderful man who sometimes makes me crazy!  And then, there are some folks are just hard to love.  I am a work in progress here, but experience has taught me that prayers for help, for a softened heart, for compassion and empathy do not go unanswered.

Thank God.

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

  • Photo, school exterior—
  • Photo, students—
  • Photo, good shepherd—
  • Address, “Feed My Sheep,” Elder Ulisses Soares, LDS General Conference, Oct 2005—www

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Broken/Intact Measures Of Success

Burnt-out Fuse

At work, I have a friend, Roseanne (names have been changed), who cleans our hallway and offices. Currently, she has some personal challenges and misses a lot of work. Patrice, a mutual friend who cleans when Roseanne is gone, is a person of strong faith and has asked me to pray for Roseanne. We’ve had some great talks, and at the end, she always reminds me of the need to keep Roseanne in our prayers. The other day, as Patrice and I talked, I felt strongly that I should tell her that I was a Mormon. Given her classic Christian faith traditions, I immediately rejected the thought, knowing that it would not end well. I again felt prompted to mention my Mormon faith, and after arguing with myself (“This REALLY will NOT end well!”), I concluded that this was in truth a prompting from a celestial source and that I should follow it. I said, “Patrice, I’ll be glad to continue praying. You know, as a Mormon, my family has an active daily prayer life, and I’ll surely keep Roseanne in my prayers.”

Patrice’s face fell, and she ended the conversation abruptly. My first thought: I had been right – It did not end well. My second thought, influenced I believe by the Holy Ghost: “Of course, it did not end well, and this is exactly what Patrice needed. You have blown a fuse in her mind. You have fried her spiritual circuits. But after a time, her circuits will heal, and she’ll replace the blown fuse. She must deal with this in order to listen more fully sometime later. Give her time.”

And indeed, it took some time. Patrice no longer spoke to me, and when I saw her, her face would fall, and she would look away from me. After a month of this, I wondered whether she would ever in this life replace the busted fuse. But after about six weeks, she has now just recently started to talk to me again, as if nothing had ever happened. She’s on the way to healing, and I hope that eventually she may be in a position to listen to a friend about the Church of Jesus Christ (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

My main point has nothing to do with Roseanne or Patrice. It has to do with what we consider success or failure in our missionary experiences. The Lord’s measures of success and our own often are not the same. As Harvard Business School innovation expert Clay Christensen teaches us in his book, The Power of Everyday Missionaries, we are a successful missionary when we communicate about the gospel of Jesus Christ. As far as God is concerned, a positive or negative response to what we teach does not influence the quality of the experience; the reaction of our conversation partner(s) is independent of our success. The quality of the experience is determined by how we follow the promptings that we receive. I have learned for myself that this is true.

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

  • Photo, “Burnt-out Fuse”—www

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