Category Archives: Prayer

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.”

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

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

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

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

Family In Love

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

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

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

-Dave and the MormonPanorama Family

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We Love Our Kids

We Love Our Kids

 

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

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

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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

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…”—the-big-fat-lie.blogspot.com/2009/09/storm-clouds-clearing.html
  • Photo, “Clouds Clearing From Yoadcomb Scar, Wild Boar Fell, Three Kilometers From Low Dovengill, Cumbria, Great Britain, UK”— geograph.org.uk/photo/1630424

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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.

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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

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Couple in Love

Couple in Love

Safe And Secure Walls Around Us

What do you do in your family to develop strong young adults? Here’s what works for us…

"Great Wave Off Kanagawa", Hokusai (1829-32)

“Great Wave Off Kanagawa”, Hokusai (1829-32)

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
William Shakespeare
(Marcus Brutus in Julius Caesar, Act IV, Scene 3, lines 217-223.)

One of the first things a little child learns in swimming lessons is the importance of the wall on the side. When kids swim out into the pool, whenever they flounder, they can always come back to the safety and security of the wall.

Learning The Importance Of The Wall On The Side

Learning The Importance Of The Wall On The Side

No matter where they go or how scary the open water gets, the wall never moves. The wall is always there. Gospel standards, the words of the prophets, the commandments of Christ: All provide my family with the safety and constancy of the wall in the water of the pool. These standards give us the confidence that we can manage things just fine, even when we get in over our heads and the water runs deep.

“…the envy and wrath of man have been my common lot all the days of my life; … deep water is what I am wont to swim in.”
Joseph Smith

As my kids grew up, I knew that the unquestioning faith they had as children would be replaced by all the important questions of youth. As parents, Kim and I encouraged lots of intellectual exploring by reading widely, continually discussing and debating with our children. It helped that she and I are usually at opposite ends of any spectrum of opinion, so the kids grew up knowing the importance of disagreeing agreeably and of digging out answers that satisfied their individual concerns. But we united as parents as far as eternal truths are concerned, and it was important that our kids have confidence that they could get solid answers. They could get solid opinions from Mom and me, and they could get solid answers directly from God. It was especially important that they do so when it came to matters of faith, whether to live righteously, to keep commandments, to stay morally clean, or to follow the weightier matters of the law. When they were teenagers, we’d spend hours studying to master scriptures and to wrestle for gospel answers, making a game of it whenever possible. Bribing with Skittles candy made it fun — It was a game only when the kids felt it was fun. Tackle scripture chase, anyone?

In the process, our children learned not only to stand on their own but to fight for what they know is right. Generally speaking, they’ve made decisions worthy of any adult, even when they were teenagers. They continue to choose to keep their feet firmly planted on the strait and narrow path, teaching their families to do so as well.

What deep discussions have achieved really is pretty dang incredible – thoughtful gospel education has helped the young adults in our family to feel the right things. It allows them to take time out of their busy schedules, to rebuke the winds of change and to calm the sea of life. It gives them experience with spiritual feelings. It gives them experience with standing on their own.

“And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?

“And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”

Family Garden

Family Garden

The opportunity to experience and experiment with spiritual feelings is essential to my kids, both as teenagers and now as adults with families of their own,  as they come to know Christ and to learn the variety of ways by which He interacts with each of us.  This training of their spirit with eternal communication processes is enhanced as they have consistent experience repeatedly hearing the words of the Prophets.

“But unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give the mysteries of my kingdom, and the same shall be in him a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life.”

I have learned for myself that these things not only bring me joy. They bring me safety and security.

Building Strong Young Adults

Building Strong Young Adults

“And he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them, as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim: and he shall bring down their pride together with the spoils of their hands.”

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Elder Bednar on answers to every question and challenge:
“Acting in accordance with the teachings of the Savior invites spiritual power into our lives—power to hear and heed, power to discern, and power to persevere. Devoted discipleship is the best and only answer to every question and challenge.”
-David A. Bednar, Ensign, March 2014

The secret of strong young adults for our family? Start ’em young. Keep sharing with them what’s really important to you when they’re old. Works for us…

Still Sharing And Finding Safety And Security In The Wall

Still Sharing And Finding Safety And Security In The Wall

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Bonus Material:

1. A Change in Course: Watch the Hopf Family story. (Length: 4:06.)

2. An Incredible Meeting, an Answered Prayer: Watch François Verny’s Story. (Length: 4:03)

Raising Strong, Studly Adults Who Contribute To Society

Raising Strong, Studly Adults Who Contribute To Society

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

  • 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
  • Photo, “Learning The Importance Of The Wall On The Side”—www. eagerbeaverswimschool.com/
  • Photo, “Start ‘Em Young To Have Confidence In The Wall”—www. examiner.com/article/study-swimming-lessons-appear-to-have-a-protective-effect-against-drowning-for-tots

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Start 'Em Young To Have Confidence In The Wall

Start ‘Em Young To Have Confidence In The Wall