Category Archives: Worship/Testimony/Feeling Things Down Deep

Answers Of Courage From Unexpected Sources

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch/download on Mormon Channel or via YouTube below:

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

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

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

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

Asking And The Willingness To Ask

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

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

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

I love the solution that Nephi found:

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

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

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

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

For Thou Hast Sought Me Diligently, With Lowliness Of Heart

For Thou Hast Sought Me Diligently, With Lowliness Of Heart

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

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

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Do Your Worst!

Edmond Dantès, portrayed by James Caviezel

“For the happy man prayer is only a jumble of words, until the day when sorrow comes to explain to him the sublime language by means of which he speaks to God.” [Alexandre Dumas in his masterpiece, The Count of Monte Cristo (completed in 1844).]

For some, sorrow is the teacher of this sublime language; for others, a storm is the teacher. Some in our family have been taking major tests and qualifying exams this year. For some, success is quick. For others, success will come later than expected or preferred. For everyone in our family, life has explained to us in new ways the importance of this sublime language. Here are more of the words in the language to which Dumas refers:

Albert Mondego (Albert de Morcerf), portrayed by Henry Cavill

Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome, Do your worst, for I will do mine! Then the fates will know you as we know you, as Albert Mondego, the man.

Storms teach. But the master teacher is what we see as we look into the storm.

Quote from Time 1:00-2:03 of a clip of the birthday toast from “The Count of Monte Cristo” (2002), on YouTube below (or entire movie, with or without subtitles.) :

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Mercédès Iguanada, portrayed by Dagmara Dominczyk

Mercédès Iguanada, portrayed by Dagmara Dominczyk

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

  • Header, Ukiyo-e Woodblock Print, “Great Wave Off Kanagawa”, Hokusai (1829-32)—en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa2.jpg, with further info at en.wikipedia. org/wiki/The_Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa
  • Bonus photo, “Edmond Dantès (Jim Caviezel) And Abbé Faria (Richard Harris), Imprisoned In Château d’If” —www. imdb.com/media/rm1540921600/ch0010200
  • Photo, “Edmond Dantès, portrayed by James Caviezel”—www. pinterest.com/pin/105764291222980072/
  • Photo, “Albert Mondego (Albert de Morcerf), portrayed by Henry Cavill”—henrycavill.org/en/filmography/best-known-as/perfect-book-boyfriend
  • Photo, “Mercédès Iguanada, portrayed by Dagmara Dominczyk”—fanpix.famousfix.com/0671183/012040677/the-count-of-monte-cristo-2002-picture.html
  • Photo, “Until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words—Wait and hope.”—www. pinterest.com/pin/120541727497864394/

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“Until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words—Wait and hope.”

“Until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words—Wait and hope.”

Never Been Easier To Share Your Life With Others

When I started writing my personal history, I was 18 years old, just out of high school, and I found it difficult simply to get started. I bought a nicely bound journal, but I wanted to start on scrap paper so that it would look good for my kids and grandkids when I wrote my thoughts in the journal. I had untold false starts and threw away tons of scrap paper with scratched out paragraphs. I was young, but I still wanted to include some challenges that I had experienced, some times when I succeeded, as well as times when I felt things down deep. I wrote about people who were important to me. After several months, I had about thirty pages of my life to date, and I was pleased with it.

I wish I had had this list of starter questions. It would have made it tons easier, possibly with fewer false starts. I happen to be a person who loves to ask questions. Maybe there are some questions on this list that makes family history easier for you?

Dave As A Baby

Dave As A Baby

Once you get a good start on what you want to leave behind about yourself, if you wish to consider doing something similar for your parents, grandparents, or other ancestors, a 30-page booklet called My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together is an easy way to get you kickstarted. You can print the PDF file or fill it out online for free.

Hope this helps you to get started on your family history. I’ve had a lot of fun gathering info over the years, and I hope you find it fun, too.

Dave with his barbershop quartet from high school, at the state fair

Dave with his barbershop quartet from high school, at the state fair

Forever Begins Today

“BEEP, BEEP BEEP!” It’s 6:30 AM and after a rude awakening by the alarm clock, my sister and I sluggishly get out of bed. After packing the car on this cold December morning, we are off to my aunt’s house. Upon our arrival, we receive a warm welcome with a sweet smile and a hot breakfast. In our excitement we had forgotten to eat so the pancakes dripping in maple syrup tasted absolutely delicious and helped to fill our empty bellies. bkwedding-6My cousin’s husband asks, “So what are you up to today? You have any plans?” After he and I share a laugh it’s time for me to start getting ready. My sister and my cousin help me with my hair and make-up. My little sister is a rock star and helps me with all the little errands I need. There is a sense of energy and liveliness in the house, as if everyone knows that there is something different about today. For you see, today is not just any other ordinary day, it is my wedding day.

The photographer and videographer arrive and the reality still hasn’t quite set in that I am about to marry my best friend and the love of my life. My family waves me off as I rush out the door to drive to the temple, the house of the Lord, where my future husband was waiting for me. Since I needed to be there before my extended family, I went ahead and drove by myself. I laughed at the fact that I was driving myself to my own wedding. PicsArt_1421088316398I guess I always pictured it a little differently. I was a little nervous about finding my way and arriving on time. Along the way, I talked with my Heavenly Father. I was in awe of His plan for me.Then all of a sudden I saw my parents in their car on the freeway. We drove next to each other a bit and it felt like I wasn’t alone anymore. My belief that God truly does love me and wants me to be happy was renewed and strengthened. We arrived at the temple in a timely fashion and I felt at peace.

Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed of the day that I would marry my prince in the Lord’s Holy House (see temple). I knew that I wanted to find a worthy man who believed in God, followed Christ, lifted those around him, served a mission, and who was worthy to take me to the temple to be sealed for time and all eternity. And that day had finally come!

My parents helped me carry all my bags inside. There were many people already there but as I looked around I was only concerned about a special someone. When I saw him we walked up to each other and after a hug and a kiss we were escorted to our rooms to change and prepare for the moment we had been preparing, waiting, and anxiously counting down to for months (seriously, I still remember when Kevin, my husband to be, said we only had 42 more nights to say goodbye. 42?! That seemed like a lifetime to me!)

The sealer, the man who has the priesthood authority, talked us through what was about to happen then gave us some time by ourselves to talk and again, an overwhelming sense of peace came over me. I knew that God was happy with the decision that Kevin and I had made to be sealed in the temple. When we walked into the sealing room, our friends, family, and loved ones were all gathered waiting for us. All eyes were on us and we were exploding with happiness! Kevin and I were able to kneel across an altar. Each time we caught eyes we couldn’t help but smile. We made sacred covenants to God that day. We entered into the everlasting covenant of marriage and were sealed together for not only time but also eternity. It wasn’t about ‘til death do you part’, it was about forever, our forever.

bkwedding-221I didn’t just make a promise with Kevin that day, that I would take care of him and stay by his side, I made a promise with God. Through the sealing ordinance I was able to promise God that I would take care of Kevin, love him, and fight for our marriage. So even more than my love and commitment to Kevin is my love and commitment to God; someone who is always perfect and unchanging, who is just and in whom I can put my complete trust, faith, and reliance on. This is a promise and a covenant that Kevin and I both intend on keeping. It is going to take time, commitment, love, sacrifice and so much more, but it will be worth it.

A great example to illustrate this was made by a man named F. Burton Howard. He told a story about how all his wife ever wanted for their wedding when they were poor college students was silverware. She didn’t receive that gift for her wedding so she scrimped and saved to buy a set which she collected one piece at a time. Over the years they would only bring the set out on special occasions and she would make sure that each piece of silver was polished and had no blemishes. This is what her husband said of her, “For years I thought she was just a little bit eccentric, and then one day I realized that she had known for a long time something that I was just beginning to understand. If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. You shield it and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by. Eternal marriage is just like that. We need to treat it just that way.” (see his talk here)

Kevin and I proved that we want our marriage to last forever by getting married in the temple and now we need to continue to prove it daily through our actions. It won’t always be easy, but then again, rarely are the things that are of the most worth easy.

It has been said, “This will be the most important decision of your life, the individual whom you marry. . . . Marry the right person in the right place at the right time” (“Life’s Obligations,” Ensign).

The right person for me was, and is, Kevin and the right time was a blistering cold winter day. As far as the right place? Well for me it was the temple!

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Here is a great document about the importance of families that I absolutely love!

Why I’m a Mormon: My Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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. expeditionoklahoma.com/2011/04/
  • Photo, swimming after the work is done—www. expeditionoklahoma.com/2011/04/
  • 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!

 

Grief and the “Sting of Death”

From my journal: 18 February 2014

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

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

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

Another excerpt 13 August 2014

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

Another excerpt 03 January 2015

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

One more excerpt  4 Januray 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selfless Gifts, Simple Gifts

When I think of Christmas stories of being selfless, I don’t have any personal stories of great import. That may be a good thing. I think of fairly normal things. Like when I was in college and got a bunch of friends together to walk the halls of retirement homes singing Christmas carols and sharing cookies, simply because my family had always done that, and I missed it. Service was just a part of our upbringing.

Or my first Christmas when I lived in Argentina, and the culture was so different — December falls in summer on the other side of the equator, so I had a decision to make. Would I choose to focus as did many North Americans on the fact that there were no Christmas colors (such as red & green), no carols, no decorations, few Christmas trees, no gift giving (since gifts are given two weeks after on Day of the Three Kings, January 6), few Christmas stories, just beer and fireworks? Or would I instead choose to focus on the fact that Argentine culture simply differs from mine, that people celebrate differently than I, that I should go and enjoy the dancing, learn to love polkas and chacareras as much as they, see beyond differences between Papá Noel and Santa Clause to see the similarities their roles represent, and just sit and enjoy the eating and talking and eating and talking ’til the wee hours of the morning? Enjoying cultural differences was just part of my upbringing. So was deciding to love other people as they are. As I made the less fleeting decision, I made their experience my experience, made Argentines my family, made their stories part of my family story. And now I miss those times, actively miss the differences, sorely miss the people.

I think one of the best things I can do at Christmas is to learn to get outside of myself and make the season not about me but rather about the people around me. If it’s about me, the season may be frenzied and unsettling. If it’s about others, I may find my days merry and bright.

My mental and spiritual state can be independent of the culture, the geography or the weather. I can bring my own mental snow, mental flocking, mental glowing white candles. I have learned that a white Christmas isn’t just an ideal; it’s a state of mind.

 

Other selfless Christmas stories below. Enjoy!

A young boy gives selflessly to another child in need:

 

John Rhys-Davies retells the story of Luke Chapter 2:

 

John Rhys-Davies explains the importance of the Christmas story:

 

Cloverton Hallelujah: Love the chords, and I applaud the holiday lyrics which magically upgrade this gorgeous ballad with Cohen’s discordant words into something we love to sing. Thank you, thank you, Cloverton, for the wonderful music!

Here’s the audio:

Here’s the video with audio muted:

I love the changes in the lyrics, and I find this verse particularly meaningful:

I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah
Hallelujah

 

The first gift of Christmas wasn’t from a store. What does love mean to you? Life? Peace? Or hope?

(Or watch/download same video at mormon.org link.)

 

From our family to your family — This season and always, may you have many selfless moments and simply find magic in these moments!

-Dave and the MormonPanorama Family

 


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 lds.org 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. lds.org/media-library/images/oceans?lang=eng

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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.

——– End of Bonus Materials ——–

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

——– End of WebCredits ——–

 

What’s In It For Me?

2010 Earthquake in Haiti

2010 Earthquake in Haiti

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

And from President Oscarson on feeling these things down deep:

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

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

Haiti Earthquake, Disaster Relief

Haiti Earthquake, Disaster Relief

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Bonus Materials:

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

——– End of Bonus Materials ——–

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

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

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

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

Miracle Roots

bus-stationMy son, Mike, worked a miracle in a woman’s life. While living in Portland, Oregon, he knew a woman whose boyfriend abused her physically. She was personally at risk. She had tried other solutions, all of which had failed. Mike and a friend helped her to leave her situation, get on a bus, leave town, save her life, and start a new life elsewhere. She was free as she hadn’t been in some time. The dictionary defines the term ‘miracle’ as “a wonderful or surpassing example of some quality.” My son, Mike, is miraculous (“having or seeming to have the power to work miracles”). His actions impacted this woman’s life for good.

I’ve noticed that not just Mike but many people may have a deep impact for good. It is my experience that we can be a miracle in the lives of others.

Basket Of Tepary Beans As An Important Source Of FoodFarmers in the hot, dry, desert area of northwest Mexico plant seeds and grow varieties of corn and beans that are unusually hardy and resistant to drought. While other plants would wither and die in a harsh climate, these varieties survive and flourish. The white tepary bean is one of these plants. It sends its roots as deep as six feet into the rocky, sandy earth to find the moisture it needs, even when very little rain falls. It can flower and fruit in the 115-degree (Fahrenheit, or 46-degree Celsius) desert temperatures with only one rainfall each year. Its leaves remain remarkably green, even in the heat of mid-July. (See Gary Paul Nabhan, “Seeds of Renewal,” World Monitor, Jan. 1989, Pages 17–20.)

Joseph Wirthlin applied this concept to our own behavior:

Perhaps members of the Church could emulate the example of these hardy, sturdy plants. We should send our roots deep into the soil of the gospel. We should grow, flourish, flower, and bear good fruit in abundance despite the evil, temptation, or criticism we might encounter. We should learn to thrive in the heat of adversity.

Deep Roots

Deep Roots

Each of my adult children is a miracle. Just as my wife, Kim, presided over the birth of each of them, I felt strongly that it was my role, my job as a father, to preside over their second birth. All six of my kids have grown up with roots that go down deep, harboring in their hearts a deep sense of who they are, how they should act towards others, how they should follow God. In doing so, they have not only saved others—They have saved themselves.

Did these miracles happen? Did these happenings constitute miracles? It depends on your perspective:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

Here are some associated thoughts from Harvard Business School Innovation Expert Clay Christensen:

I believe that the reason these remarkable people succeeded in the face of today’s apparent indifference toward religion is that these member missionaries tried to know and follow God’s thoughts and His ways as best they could. I believe that the miracles that occurred in their lives will be predictable in our lives, too—when we follow His thoughts and ways as well. (The Power of Everyday Missionaries, Chapter 16, Pages 145-150.)

I have learned for myself that each of us may work miracles—in others, and more importantly, in ourselves. In order to do so, we must have roots that go down deep, roots that change our lives. For good.

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Bonus Materials:

1. Read, watch or listen to the entire address: “Seeds of Renewal”, Joseph B. Wirthlin, April 1989 LDS General Conference.

——– End of Bonus Materials ——–

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

  • Photo, bus-station—commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Arriva_buses_in_Middlesbrough _bus_station_5_may_2009_pic_3.jpg
  • Photo, “Basket Of Tepary Beans As An Important Source Of Food”
    —www. pricklypearjuice.org/tepary-beans.php
  • Photo, “Deep Roots”—highlyfavored.affiliateshelpdesk.com/page/2/

——– End of WebCredits ——–

Why Can’t My Brother See His Son’s Wedding? Our Family’s Answer.

Happy First Anniversary, MormonPanorama!

Exactly a year ago, I published our family’s first post, which was about my friend, Patrice. You may remember that she happened to need a bit of space after our earlier conversation. Here’s an update. Patrice is now consistently talking to me as a good friend, and we are able to open our hearts more to each other’s challenges. Her most recent challenge regards a nephew soldier who decided a while ago that he wanted to join the LDS Church and now is getting married in a Mormon temple. Patrice’s brother (the soldier groom’s dad) is unable to attend the wedding, and she is upset and asks. “Why can’t my brother see their wedding?”

That brief majestic moment after every sunset when you may see heaven and earth at the same time-TimHansenPhotography.com

That brief majestic moment after every sunset when you may see heaven and earth at the same time…

It’s a good question and not uncommon. I answered that our son, Todd, will be married next month and that we have several friends who happen not to belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as friends who belong to our church but cannot enter the temple for a variety of reasons, who will fly to our town and then drive with us seven hours to a temple in the tiny town of Nauvoo, Illinois. They’ve attended past weddings of our other kids at other temples, so they know the drill and happily choose to see us enter the temple and hug us 45 minutes later when we emerge. It’s no biggy for them and, to them, worth the repeat travel. They don’t share the same faith that we do, but they want to be close by when our kids get married for time and all eternity, because they love us and love our kids and simply want to celebrate with us because these occasions are so important to us. I explained to Patrice that it’s possible to view this chiefly as a matter of individual perspective, that individually we may choose to view a temple wedding as a negative thing or as a positive thing. She did not accept that and did not appreciate any effort to place attitudinal responsibility on her shoulders or on the shoulders of her brother. But over time, again, I think the idea will grow on her in the future, just as in the past another idea grew on her over a period of several weeks, the idea that I, as a Mormon, might continue to be a person that she likes. In the meantime, I work hard to continue a good friendly relationship between Patrice and me so that we continue to talk about things that we feel down deep.

In our family, and as Mormons, we believe strongly that sincere, honest questions are always a good thing. To gather other answers to this complex question, we talked to our adult kids, and here are the answers we gathered:

Kim explains:

I know it seems hard when family and much loved friends are not permitted to attend temple weddings. Many times parents and siblings have looked forward for years to this eventful day. However, temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not simply houses of worship. They are sacred places whose holiness is maintained and protected by the worthiness of the people who enter them. Thus, only members of the Church in good standing can attend temple services, like weddings. However, everyone is welcome on the temple grounds, and family (including young siblings) and friends who are not able to enter the temple will find pleasant waiting rooms in most temples. Also, a temple wedding (called a “sealing”) is generally a short service, and the bride and groom are eager to greet loved ones when they leave the temple. Some of the happiest moments in my life as a parent have been watching my sons and their wives emerge smiling and happy from the doors of the temple.

I hope those who are not able to be present at the sealing will still come to the temple and be among the loved ones ready to share in the joy of the day.

Amanda shares with us:

The temple is a sacred place for Mormons, designed in a symbolically similar fashion as the first tabernacle in the Old Testament. Only the Levites were to enter the tabernacle and perform the sacred ceremonies. As in the days of Moses, the Lord has again prepared a sacred place for His children to attend to worship him and make covenants. But He wants us to be worthy to enter. So He has asked us to first show our commitment to Him by being baptized and confirmed a member of his church. He asks us to keep His commandments and continually witness to Him by partaking of the Sacrament each week that we are true followers. Then we interview with a bishop, who is a judge in Israel, answering questions about our relationship with God and whether or not we have been true to the covenants we have made. The bishop can then recommend us to enter a temple. The Temple is the Lord’s house where He can physically visit, and which we must keep sacred. So only those who have made the covenants to walk His path as members of the Church, are allowed to enter. This is not to keep others out; on the contrary, we want everyone to experience the blessings of the temple, but as a house of order, God has specific guidelines on how He wants us to go about it.

Many members of the church with non-member families choose to have a ring ceremony after getting married in the temple, as a way to include their family members that are unable to enter the temple. Whether or not a couple decides to do this, it is still a joyous occasion to celebrate a couple wanting to commit not only to each other, but also to promise God they will be loyal. In this way, we strive to come closer to our spouse as we grow closer to God.

We hope this answers your question and helps you to understand us better, to understand better a marriage and sealing in a Mormon temple, and to understand why Patrice’s nephew feels so strongly about getting married there.

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

Couple-in-Love7

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Bonus Materials:

1. Why Temple Marriage?
https://www.lds.org/youth/article/why-temple-marriage?lang=eng

2. What to Expect at a Mormon Temple Wedding
http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/mormon/weddings/

——– End of Bonus Materials ——–

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

  • Photo, Big Dipper: “That brief majestic moment after every sunset when you may see heaven and earth at the same time…”
    —timhansenphotography.com
  • Photo, couple-in-love7—www. lds.org/youth/article/why-temple-marriage?lang=eng

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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. artsmia.org/blogs/new-pictures/category/mia-photo-exhibitions/
  • 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. goodreads.com/quotes/420532-two-men-looked-out-from-prison-bars-one-saw-the
  • 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. ldsart.com/p-10603-fathers-gift.aspx. 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. world-wide-art.com/art/Liz_Lemon_Swindle.html. 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

 ···oO0···

Smiles After Opposition

Smiles After Opposition

“There’s no one I’d rather be than me”

Unfortunately, I have a tendency to look around at other people and wish that I was something more, or someone different. At the school I go to, there are many talented and skilled people, and one can often feel a little inadequate or incompetent. I am usually very confident in myself and my abilities, but every once in awhile I hear myself saying, “Why can’t I be more like them? Why can’t I have those talents? Why can’t I be better at this?” And my personal favorite, “Why can’t that happen to me?” I find myself suddenly thinking of everything that I don’t have or that I’m not, and I forget the things I do have, or who I am.

I don’t know if you have ever felt the same, but I think it’s more common than we would like to admit. These thoughts haunted me for a long time, and I didn’t know how to escape them. They made me feel helpless, worthless, and lonely, and I wanted it to stop. It wasn’t until I learned to accept myself for who I am and what I was that these feelings stopped.

Similarly, there’s a character from Disney Pixar’s Wreck-It Ralph that was goes through the same thing. Ralph is a character of video game in the movie. He is the “bad guy” in his game, but he wants to be a “good guy” instead. He goes throughout the movie to try a prove himself something he’s not, a “good guy”. It isn’t until the end that he learns what I need to learn a long time ago. Here’s the clip where he finally understood and learned to accept himself for who he is.

This part in the movie hit me at my core. Many times throughout my life I had felt like Ralph, wanting to be something or someone else, wanting to be better, wanting to be acknowledged. But, we must grasp a deeper understanding of who we are, an acceptance of ourselves, and an appreciation for what we have. There is no one I’d rather be than me!

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Alma had a similar experience to mine and Wreck-It Ralph’s. Alma has a desire to be more than he is and exclaims, “O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God . . . and cry repentance unto every people . . . but behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things the Lord hath alloted unto me” (Alma 29: 1-4). Even though Alma wanted to help others repent and come unto God, his desire was beyond his capabilities and he wasn’t satisfied with his current situation.

The Lord wants us to be happy. He wants us to be satisfied with ourselves and with what we have in this life. I know that now, and I understand it. We are so much more than what we know. We are children of God! We are so blessed, and we have many gifts and talents that we have been given. Why should we want to be anything or anyone different? Accepting yourself takes time and understanding, but the Lord will help us as we try to do so. Then we will be able to say with Alma, “I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it” (Alma 29: 6-9)

Let us remember who we are! Let us remember what we can do! Let us remember why we are here! I know that as we do so we will be happy, confident, and able to overcome what obstacles that lay before us. We will be able to say with Ralph that “there’s no one I’d rather be than me!”

Unthinkable, Impossible, Unfathomable, Unprecedented

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

Mary With The Resurrected Christ

Mary With The Resurrected Christ

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

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

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

(Or same video at lds.org link.)

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Bonus Material:

1. Our Forever Family

Our Forever Family

2. My Kingdom is Not of This World

(Or same video at lds.org link.)

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

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

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Stumped by my Son

Once a week we hold a family activity we call, Family Home Evening.  Or if you are my second son “Hamily Fome Evening.”  He is definitely big enough to say it correctly.  However, I’m pretty sure I’ll cry when he stops calling it that.

Family Home Evening is a program designed for parents to give gospel instruction in the home and for fun!  Our children love Family Home Evening! As a parent, I love what it does for my family.  I love taking an opportunity to teach formally about gospel principles and scripture stories.  Most of all, I love helping my children learn how to take these principles and stories and apply them in their own lives, and in our home!  “Making connections!” as my seven-year old would say.

Many wonderful things can come out of preparing for, and holding, regular Family Home Evening.  I truly believe that it was a strength and blessing in my life growing up, and that it will be in the lives of my children.  If nothing else, Family Home Evening provides us a setting to ask questions, discuss, testify, and grow in our faith at home.

One such question came up this week.  Brendan and I had wrangled all the kids into the living room, through the opening song and prayer, and coerced them all into reverence (sort of…).  I pulled out the objects I needed to present my lesson on King Solomon and Wisdom when my son raised his hand and asked, “Mom, how did Jesus do it?  How did He not ever mess up and do anything bad?…Because, it’s hard…” My son’s voice trailed off and he choked a little on that last line.  Looking down at him, seated on the floor next to his 5 year old brother and his 4 year old sister, he suddenly seemed so old to me.  And so young.  He swallowed hard. I could see the tears begin to brim in his eyes.  Those blue almond shaped eyes, like his Dad’s.  I had never really considered his question before.  How had Christ done it? because it IS hard!  Even for wonderful little boys (and girls) who know what is right and want what is right! IT IS HARD!  I struggled with my answer.

Fortunately, my husband had an insight that I think is true.  Brendan explained to our children that Jesus could live a life without sin, without doing anything bad, because He loved Heavenly Father more than anything else!  Jesus loved Heavenly Father so much that He never let anything this world had to offer come between Them!  Jesus loved Heavenly Father so much that with every decision He made (big or small) He never forgot what Heavenly Father wanted Him to do.  More importantly, Jesus never forgot the kind of person Heavenly Father wanted Him to become!

So, how do we live our lives to be Christ-like?

“Thou Shalt love the Lord they God with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and with all they mind.  This is the first and the great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (I added the italics KJV Matt 22:27-28)

“If ye love me, keep my commandments” (KJV John 14:15)  Obedience is the evidence of our love for the Savior, as was the Savior’s obedience evidence of His love for the Father.

My son is right, though.  It truly is hard.  We live in a fallen world, but we are not left without resources to guide and strengthen our faith!  We are not left without a way to correct our mistakes!  Through the Atonement, through Christ’s suffering in Gethsemane, His death, and His glorious Resurrection we are blessed with power over the bad!   We are blessed with the power of repentance!

Repentance is what makes perfection possible in this life.  Repentance is the sweetest blessing.

To my sweet boy, who feels things deeper than many, and to all of us pondering similar questions:  You LOVE God the Father.  You LOVE the Savior.  You LOVE all others.  And when you mess up, whether you meant to or not, you LOVE the Father and the Son enough to turn to them, confessing your wrong, seeking forgiveness, compensating and making amends to those you wronged.  Love Him enough not to do it again.  It will be hard.

Don’t worry, sweet boy, I’ll help you.  I’ll remind you how very much our Heavenly Father loves and treasures His Children.  I’ll remind you that hard things always take practice and that’s what this life is for, to practice!

Will you help me, too?  I need you to remind me that it’s okay to forget and mess up and that we can make it better by turning to the Savior.  I need you to help me remember how to forgive quickly.  You are so good at that.

Please, let’s help each other.  Let’s love Heavenly Father more than anything this world has to offer.  Let’s help others on their way.

Wandle Your Way Home?

In my last post, we explored three ways in which Mormons are peculiar. For me, these significant three are like finding a treasure after a life-long search. They’re why my ancestors decided to be Mormons, why anyone has decided to be a Mormon, and certainly why I’m a Mormon. To illustrate, I’ll share the story of Wandle Mace, my great-great grandfather.

Wandle Mace, Younger

Wandle Mace, Younger

Wandle (pronounced not like magic “wand” but like “band”, rhyming with “candle” or “handle”) grew up in the early 1800s and was taught to read by reading the scriptures. In his journal, he records that he had memorized the New Testament by the time he was twelve years old. While in his day that was unusual, I know of others of that period who achieved the same goal, so it appears it was more common then than now, and with no TV, more achievable. For example, we know high schoolers today in the Amish/Mennonite communities of Oklahoma and Arkansas who memorize the New Testament before they graduate. Because of his education at his mother’s knee, Wandle knew that the many churches he attended around him did not teach the same things he knew for himself were in the Bible, and for years he searched for a church that taught those same things. He was expelled from some of them for teaching things from the New Testament that conflicted with their teachings, but he held to the things he knew to be true.

Parley P. Pratt

Parley P. Pratt

Eventually, Parley P. Pratt knocked on Wandle’s door, talking about a church that matched in every respect the teachings Wandle had learned as a boy, the three same teachings that Elder Holland described. Wandle explained to Parley that while he was glad finally to find someone who taught the truths found in the New Testament, that fact alone did not give Parley the authority that Jesus Christ held allowing him to teach these truths. Wandle said that, before they were to continue on discussion, he would need to know that they possessed this authority from God.

Three months later, when Wandle’s baby Charles took sick, Wandle and his wife called in the elders to bless and heal Charles. Parley returned, Charles was healed, and Wandle and his family decided in their hearts that this church indeed included the power and authority originally established by Jesus Christ. It was insufficient to teach the proper things; Wandle knew that they had to be taught with proper authority in order to be from God. And Wandle recognized that the holy priesthood, which had been restored to the earth by those who held it anciently, signaled the return of divine authorization, for which he had been watching and waiting for many years.

Wandle was not alone. People before him and after had similar experiences regarding authority. If you wish, feel free to view the experiences of Vincenzo di Francesca, which are similar to Wandle’s, in the movie How Rare a Possession—The Book of Mormon. (Length: 63:19.)

I will always be grateful for great people in my life who are willing to teach things they feel down deep, even when it’s difficult, even when people around them disagree with them. Like them, I feel that it is important to stand strong for correct principles, even against tremendous odds, and I am glad to see my adult children all standing tall for what they have learned for themselves to be true. Wandle would be pleased.

Wandle Mace, Older

Wandle Mace, Older