Tag Archives: Be Yourself

Lessons Of Leadership From Sacrificing To Save Hobber

Father's Day

Father’s Day

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

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

It was his father’s voice.

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

Some people take lives. Other people save lives.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kaladin smiled, standing. “Have a seat.”

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

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

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

Family At Home In Accra, Ghana

Family At Home In Accra, Ghana

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

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

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

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

I agree with him.

A Father Dances With His Daughter In Their Home

A Father Dances With His Daughter In Their Home

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

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

Family Studying Scriptures Together

Family Studying Scriptures Together

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

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

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

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Bonus Material:

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

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

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

  • Photo, “Father’s Day”, from private collection
  • Photo, “Family At Home In Accra, Ghana”, www. lds.org/media-library/images/family-portraits?lang=eng&start=1&end=10
  • Photo, “A Father Dances With His Daughter In Their Home”, www. lds.org/media-library/images/father-daughter-dancing-1018852?lang=eng
  • Photo, “Family Studying Scriptures Together”, Aug 2013 Ensign Magazine, Page 3, photo illustration by Cody Bell
  • Photo, “Fathers Providing A Sacred Moment In A Holy Place”, photo by: Masood Bhat/Kashmir Headlines—kashmirheadlines.in/kashheadlines/11222013-ND-getting-ready-for-prayersa-group-of-people-making-ablution-to-perform-prayers-in-historic-jamia-masjid-srinagar-photo-by-masood-bhat-kashmir-headlines-3452.aspx
  • Photo, “Father And Child Canoeing On Hampton Lake, North Carolina—A Great Way To See Fall Foliage”, www. lovethesepics.com/2013/10/ american-the-beautiful-in-autumn-peak-fall-foliage-dates-for-48-states-50-pics, photo by Watson Studios
  • Photo, “Growing Old Together Amid Autumn in Seattle, Washington”, www. lovethesepics.com/2013/10/american-the-beautiful-in-autumn-peak-fall-foliage-dates-for-48-states-50-pics, photo by Rachel Sarai

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Growing Old Together Amid Autumn in Seattle, Washington

Growing Old Together Amid Autumn in Seattle, Washington

Lessons Of Leadership From Candle Flames

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flaming Red Fall Foliage In Grantwood, Missouri

Flaming Red Fall Foliage In Grantwood, Missouri

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

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

I agree with her.

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

Certain Women, Supporting A Friend Who Happens To Have Leukemia

Certain Women, Supporting A Friend Who Happens To Have Leukemia

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

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

  • Photo, “Flaming Red Fall Foliage In Grantwood, Missouri”, www. lovethesepics.com/2013/10/american-the-beautiful-in-autumn-peak-fall-foliage-dates-for-48-states-50-pics, photo by Thomas Hawk. Mary Lynn would love it!
  • Photo, “Certain Women, Supporting A Friend Who Happens To Have Leukemia”, www. lds.org/ensign/2017/05/general-womens-session/certain-women?lang=eng
  • Photo, “Family Prayer In Mongolia”, www.lds.org/ensign/2017/04/the-war-goes-on?lang=eng

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Family Prayer In Mongolia

Family Prayer In Mongolia

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.”

Heroes, Superpowers, and Kindness

When I think of superheroes, I think of Maren Halversen.

We don't have to agree on anything to be kind to one anotherI am lucky to have learned from a leader in kindness. Maren was a friend in high school. Down Syndrome never kept her from trying anything. She was the first student with Down Syndrome in the state to have been integrated into the regular school system. When I moved to her school in 8th Grade, I was young and awkward. I remember that she always said hi to me. Maren always gave me good reasons to be kind.

At our 10-year high school reunion, Maren saw me from a distance and came running up and threw her arms around me. It was fun to introduce her to my wife. But it wasn’t until later as I reflected on the reunion moment that I recognized the real lesson at work here—that all along, Maren had been the leader. She had taught me to be kind. She had taught all of us well, and we had been following her lead. Why did I think that it might be the other way around? I was glad that I finally learned to see with better eyes than that. And, again, as I reflect now on that reunion moment and the strength behind her hug, I hope that—maybe, possibly—that I saw with better eyes than that even back in high school. After the reunion moment, I think that I simply had finally learned to recognize it. Again, Maren had lead me to that point.

As we all celebrate other reunions, I hope we take time to see and to recognize the real leaders in our lives. So often, they are not the ones clamoring for attention. So often, true leaders simply lead quietly, maybe even without realizing it. As Maren did. I think that was her superpower.

We can all be superheroes. What is your superpower?

The Superpower Of Listening Closely

The Superpower Of Listening Closely

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

  • Header photo, “Children Playing Around The World: In Vietnam, a small girl helps another to ride a bike by leading from behind”—expofotomiami.org/30-magicas-fotografias-de-ninos-jugando-alrededor-del-mundo/
  • Photo, “We don’t have to agree on anything to be kind to one another”—Image with quote, from Twitter quote of Yahya Adel Ibrahim of Pemberton, Western Australia—twitter. com/yahya_ibrahim/status/587185223076487168
  • Photo, “The Superpower Of Listening Closely”—ldsmissionaries.com/tag/lds/page/13/
  • Photo, “Who Knew Reading Could Be A Superpower That Might Change Lives?”—ldsmissionaries.com/tag/lds/page/13/
  • Photo, “Young Man With Superpowers”—ldsmissionaries.com/tag/lds/page/13/

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Who Knew Reading Could Be A Superpower That Might Change Lives?

Who Knew Reading Could Be A Superpower That Might Change Lives?

Young Man With Superpowers

Young Man With Superpowers

What Parenthood Has Taught Me About God: How He Relates To Me, How I Relate To Him

One of my sons just became a father. Words cannot describe how happy he and his wife are. His hopes for his son are unbounded. It started me thinking about my relationship with God.

Good:

Sometimes, Life Takes Us By Surprise...

Sometimes, Life Takes Us By Surprise…

Over the years, life has taught me that God wants me to come as I am. He wants me to learn to be happy regardless of my circumstances, problems or pains, successes or failures. If I’ve got mud on my face, He’ll take me that way. If it will make me happier, He hands me a washcloth. While He may not care about the mud of dirt, He wants me to avoid face planting in the spiritual mud, and He patiently stands by and welcomes me back each time I’ve hit the mud puddles again. Importantly, He expects the same of others around me, encouraging those with ears to hear to welcome me back as well. As I receive the washcloth over and over, eventually I can teach myself to face plant only when there’s a good reason (like when it’s actual mud of dirt and there are grandkids around who need to be taught by example to love playing in the mud).

Father working with son in gardenI have learned that God wants me to let go of my past, to let go of the ungodly, unrighteous things I’ve done when I was pushing Him away, when I was singing not His song but rather my own discordant one. He wants me to be comfortable showing up, participating with gusto, practicing over and over, without putting on a false front or prettying myself up first. I can come and sing, mud, sour notes, and all.

Better:

Sunday-go-to-meetin' Clothes For General ConferenceMore importantly, I really think that God also wants me to put my best foot forward. When I don my Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes, I show respect for God by putting on the best that I have, whatever that is for me.

Best:

father and three of his children work together to wash a carMost importantly, God wants me to keep on keepin’ on. He doesn’t want me to get stuck.

He doesn’t want any of us to get stuck.

father dances with his daughter in their homeThe enemies of God try to convince me that I can’t improve or shouldn’t improve, that I’m a lost cause, that there’s simply no use in trying, that it’s silly to learn the dance and sillier still to try to hear the music. I’m here to tell you that they’re wrong. Real life begins when I decide to progress, to progress continually, to progress towards Him. God wants me to get off my duff and to get moving in His direction. And according to His principles. He wants me to know that He’s beside me, as I learn to improve, as I learn the joy of the dance. Joy isn’t an emotion; it’s a decision. As I keep practicing with joy in my heart, God is especially thrilled when I go beyond just the dance steps and start to hear the music. How sweet the sound!

father in Portugal sits with his children in their living room to read from the scriptures togetherSo open your mouth and prove how people can change. I’ve changed. My family has changed. We all can change. We all can keep changing. For the better.

God wants to lift us up. Let Him.

We are all His children.
What may we do today to show up, act like His children, and join in the dance?
What may we do today to improve?

father in the Philippines plays with his daughter while she is on his shoulders

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Bonus Materials:

1. “Times when families laugh together are among the most precious times a family can have.” —Mister Rogers

2. Video, “Earthly Father, Heavenly Father”:
Watch/download at the lds.org link or via YouTube below:

3. Read, watch or listen: Wilford W. Andersen, “The Music of the Gospel”, Apr 2015 LDS General Conference.

4. Read, watch or listen: Dallin H. Oaks, “Good, Better, Best”, Oct 2007 LDS General Conference.

Mud And Rugby, Rugby And Mud

Mud And Rugby, Rugby And Mud

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

  • Header photo, “Children Playing Around The World: In Indonesia, playing with a water buffalo friend with rays of sun through foliage”—expofotomiami.org/30-magicas-fotografias-de-ninos-jugando-alrededor-del-mundo/
  • Photo, “Sometimes Life Takes Us By Surprise…”—www. popmommy.com/pop-culture/5-questions-casey-from-tlcs-quints-by-surprise
  • Photo, father-working-with-son-in-garden—www. lds.org/media-library/images/father-talking-to-son-1080483?lang=eng
  • Photo, Sunday-go-to-meetin’-clothes-for-general-conference—www. lds.org/media-library/images/general-conference-october-2011-898865?lang=eng
  • Photo, father-and-three-of-his-children-work-together-to-wash-a-car—www. lds.org/media-library/images/philippines-family-washing-truck-1343760?lang=eng
  • Photo, father-dances-with-his-daughter-in-their-home—www. lds.org/media-library/images/father-daughter-dancing-1018852?lang=eng
  • Photo, father-in-Portugal-sits-with-his-children-in-their-living-room-to-read-from-the-scriptures-together—www. lds.org/media-library/images/portugal-study-studying-books-scriptures-families-1418772?lang=eng
  • Photo, father-in-the-Philippines-plays-with-his-daughter-while-she-is-on-his-shoulders—www. lds.org/media-library/images/daughter-on-shoulders-1119081?lang=eng
  • Photo, “Mud And Rugby, Rugby And Mud”—inpho.ie/; Morgan Treacy is an outstanding Irish photographer, acclaimed for his sports photography and especially for his action shots of rugby
  • Photo, “Proud New Dad”—from private collection

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Proud New Dad

Proud New Dad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Dave and the MormonPanorama Family

woman running on a beach

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Bonus Materials:

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

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

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

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

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

——– End of Bonus Materials ——–

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

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

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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.

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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/

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Blunder or Blessing? Culture or Covenant? What Does Marriage Mean To You?

Couple In LoveOur son, Todd, is getting married next month. Reactions of friends are all over the map, but generally speaking, most people respond positively to his announcement. Independent of poll results, Todd is getting married for the best reasons I know: He chooses Adrienne. She chooses him. He wants to give his life to her. They trust each other and choose to build a family together.

Couple In Love2Reaction to our daughter’s wedding announcement was often less positive. For example, when I called my aunt to tell her that Whitney was engaged and to invite her to the festivities, she immediately censured me and told me that I had to put a halt to the wedding plans, that I must tell Whit that she was making a terrible mistake—She hadn’t even finished college yet! I explained to my aunt that I felt that Whitney, as a woman, was capable of making up her own mind and that I supported her in the decision.

Couple In Love-Kyrgyz Bride And GroomMy Central Asian friends are more open to the culture of marriage. The notes of congratulations I’ve received from Central Asia are full of warm wishes for Todd and Adrienne and of prayers for happiness and lots of children. Upon greeting others, it is culturally important to my friends from the region to establish a rapport, which is done in many ways, including the asking of personal questions. One way to set at ease all conversational partners is to ask questions about family and marital status, which is considered conversationally neutral if everyone in the discussion is of the same gender. Once, a scholar from Central Asia was thoroughly enjoying a deep discussion with a student of Central Asian languages at a major university, when the scholar asked the student, “Are you married?” The student was incensed, abruptly ended the visit, and walked away. Describing the situation later, the student exclaimed, “I was so offended by the question. Why would they ask that? It was so rude! The conversation was just… over.” Not exactly conversationally neutral in modern Western culture. Conversationally speaking, the American student considered the question to be a threat. How did we get so prickly about marriage?

Couple In Love3For years, marriage has been associated with strong commitments and strong emotions. Ellis Peters illustrates the clear difference between a mere marriage of culture and a marriage for love, in her novel, The Leper of Saint Giles. I love the series of Medieval murder mysteries solved by a Benedictine monk named Brother Cadfael, but this one in particular is one of my favorite books. Peters skillfully uses a pitiable person to teach of commitment to family, to illustrate how marital vows and family bonds extend beyond personal desires and individual preferences to include mutual choice.

Couple In Love4I think that our modern culture’s resistance to marriage is rooted in a cultural resistance to choose commitment. Why open oneself unnecessarily to getting burned? Over the years, Kim and I have deliberately engineered deep discussions with our kids to educate them regarding commitment. As Mormons, we have worked hard to defend ourselves against resistance to commitment by teaching our family to have faith that marriage can extend beyond death, that families can be forever, and that there are solid and fun reasons to continue to work together even when times are tough.

Marriage well prepared for is a blast! Todd and Adrienne are well prepared. We wish them the best.

View More: http://pictureamomentintime.pass.us/adrienne--todd

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Bonus Materials:

1. Explore the topic of marriage:
https://www.lds.org/topics/marriage?lang=eng

2. Home and family:
https://www.lds.org/topics/family?lang=eng

3. Families come first:
http://www.mormon.org/values/family

4. Mormons and eternal marriage: http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/mormon/marriage/

The Leper of Saint Giles, by Ellis Peters

——– End of Bonus Materials ——–

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

  • Photo, Couple in Love—kaileyraephoto.blogspot.com
  • Photo, Couple in Love2—kaileyraephoto.blogspot.com
  • Photo, Couple in Love-Kyrgyz bride and groom—www. friendasia.or.kr/wizboard.php?BID=latestnews_out&titles=&titlenum=&mode=view&UID=122
  • Photo, Couple in Love3—kaileyraephoto.blogspot.com
  • Photo, Couple in Love4—kaileyraephoto.blogspot.com
  • Photo, Couple in Love5—from private collection
  • Cover Illustration, The Leper of Saint Giles, www. bluepixie.com/2012_02_01_archive.html
  • Photo, Couple in Love6—from private collection

——– End of WebCredits ——–

View More: http://pictureamomentintime.pass.us/adrienne--todd

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

——– End of Bonus Material ——–

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

——– End of WebCredits ——–

Hope, Liz Lemon Swingle

“Hope”, Liz Lemon Swingle

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Smiles After Opposition

Smiles After Opposition

Poetry List For Imagination And Mind-stretching? Our Family’s Answer.

oceans-oregon-coastReader Question:
Dave, can you please provide a list of poems that your family has enjoyed over the years? Our family really likes poetry, and it may be useful to have a handy list around. We would truly appreciate whatever guidance you choose to give or poetry you might suggest.

Family Answer:
Thanks for your question. Sincere, honest questions are always a good thing.

To gather an answer to your question, we talked to our adult kids, and here’s the list that we gathered. Note that this will be a living list, a living post, that we will add to over time as we remember other poems or experience new ones that we wish to include.

For us, poetry is an ancient, vital language. It limbers up our imagination. Here’s the MormonPanorama Poetry List for helping to stretch the minds of your family. These are for a general audience unless otherwise marked, and parents are encouraged to read beforehand and judge for themselves.

What we were looking for in poetry for kids as they grew up:

  • Poetry that gave us material to discuss – especially about what is right and what is wrong and how to resist wrongs that are embraced by so many others around you.
  • Poems that build up rather than drag down, that uplift and inspire.
  • We avoided literature which stated that our moral standards are silly or which encouraged us to become less than we should be.

We hope this answers your question and helps you understand us better and how to become a more effective family, create strong citizens, and have fun with our youth and young 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

 

oceans-pacific-grove

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Bonus Material:

1. 90% of People can’t pronounce this whole poem. Feel free to try it!

2. Monty Python on poetry—Kind of…

——– End of Bonus Material ——–

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

  • Photo, ocean-oregon-coast—www. lds.org/media-library/images/oceans?lang=eng
  • Photo, ocean-pacific-grove—www. lds.org/media-library/images/oceans?lang=eng

——– End of WebCredits ——–

Not Poetry, But Still Fun

Not Poetry, But Still Fun

MormonPanorama Poetry List (Extended Post Including Excerpts Of Poems)

This post is an extension of a post from MormonPanorama that lists poetry that our family has learned to love over the years.

Poems appear below for which we wanted to highlight selected lines on a webpage, or for which we happened to find no convenient website for an individual work of poetry. Enjoy!

-Dave and the MormonPanorama Family

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Martín Fierro
, epic gaucho poem from Argentina (1872) — José Hernández
·———————————————————————————————-·
I sit me here to sing my song
To the beat of my old guitar;
For the man whose life is a bitter cup,
With a song may yet his heart lift up,
As the lonely bird on the leafless tree
That sings ‘neath the gloaming star.

May the shining Saints of the heavenly band,
That sing in the heavenly choir,
Come down and help me now to tell
The good and ill that me befell,
And to sing it true to the thrumming strings;
For such is my desire.

Come down, ye Saints, that have helped me
In many a perilous pass;
For my tongue is tied and my eyes grow dim,
And the man that calls, God answers him,
And brings him home to his own roof-tree,
Out of many a deep morass.

O many singers have I seen,
That have won a singer’s wreath,
That have talked a lot as they passed the pot,
Of the songs they sang and the songs they wrought,
Till their voices rusted in their throats,
As a knife rusts in its sheath.

Now all that a son of the plains may do,
To none shall I give best;
And none may daunt with a windy vaunt,
Or bristle my scalp with a phantom gaunt,
And as song is free to all that will,—
I will sing among the rest.

I will sing my song till my breath gives out,
I will sing when they bury me;
And singing I’ll come where the angels roam
The rolling plains of their starry home,—
Into this world I came to sing,
As I sang on my mother’s knee.

And let my tongue be glib and sweet,
My words be not halt nor few,
And the men to come that I shall not see,
In days to be will remember me,
By the song I sang in the days gone by,
That now I sing to you.

[The first seven stanzas of Martín Fierro, epic gaucho poem from Argentina (1872) — José Hernández. It was very common for people to have quotes from the work hanging on the walls of their homes, with their favorite thoughts of gaucho-esque philosophy. The entire work is 2,316 lines long, 386 stanzas of payadas or rural ballads, each with a strict six-line rhyming scheme (like the six strings of a guitar) invented by Hernández specifically for this work of poetry, as well as an 8-syllable rhythmic pattern. The first line is kept “free” and unrhymed, allowing Hernández to present a “thesis” to the stanza without having to worry about the last word being part of the rhyme scheme. Lines two, three and six rhyme together while lines four and five constitute an independent rhyming group. The English translation (traditionally, the truest English translation, using an altered but similarly strict scheme) is by Scottish translator Walter Owen, who wonderfully called his work not translation but “transvernacularisation”.]

·————————————·
The Works of Ogden Nash
·————————————·
Ogden Nash was best known for surprising, pun-like rhymes, sometimes with words deliberately misspelled for comic effect. Among his most popular writings were a series of animal verses, many of which featured his off-kilter rhyming devices:

The Jellyfish
You can have my jellyfish
I’m not sellyfish

The Fly
The Lord in His wisdom made the fly
And then forgot to tell us why

The Panther
The panther is like a leopard,
Except it hasn’t been peppered.
Should you behold a panther crouch,
Prepare to say Ouch.
Better yet, if called by a panther,
Don’t anther.

The Eel
I don’t mind eels
Except as meals.
And the way they feels.

The most frequently quoted of these poems is his ode to the llama:
The Lama
The one-L lama, he’s a priest
The two-L llama, he’s a beast
And I would bet a silk pyjama
There isn’t any three-L lllama.

(Nash appended a footnote to this poem: “The author’s attention has been called to a type of conflagration known as a three-alarmer. Pooh.”)

Nash’s poetry was often a playful twist of an old saying or poem. He expressed this playfulness in what is perhaps his most famous rhyme. Nash observed the following in a turn of Joyce Kilmer’s words, “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.”
Song of the Open Road
I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I’ll never see a tree at all.

A Word to Husbands
To keep your marriage brimming,
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.

Reflections on Babies
A bit of talcum
Is always walcum.

Reflections on Ice-Breaking
Candy
Is dandy
But liquor
Is quicker.

In 1968 he added:
Pot is not.

He also commented:
I often wonder which is mine:
Tolerance, or a rubber spine?

His one-line observations are often quoted:
People who work sitting down get paid more than people who work standing up.
Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long.

Webcredits:
http://www.ogdennash.org/ogden_nash_biography.htm
and
http://poetrysplash.tripod.com/ogdennash2.htm

——– End of Post ——–

 

Movie List For Fun And To Build Up And Inspire? Our Family’s Answer.

ocean-big splash at Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area in OregonReader Question:
Dave, can you please provide a list of movies that your family has enjoyed over the years and used as you raised your kids? Our family would truly appreciate whatever guidance you choose to give or films you might suggest.

Family Answer:
Thanks for your question. Sincere, honest questions are always a good thing.

To gather an answer to your question, we talked to our adult kids, and here’s the list that we gathered. Note that this will be a living list, a living post, that we will add to over time as we remember other films or learn of new ones that we wish to include.

MormonPanorama Movie List for Encouraging Strong Families (for a general audience unless otherwise marked – parents are encouraged to view beforehand and judge for themselves):

12 Angry Men (1957) — being brave; best for older youth or adults
13 Going on 30 (2004) — being good beats being mean any day
A Cry in the Wild (1990) — breaking barriers
After Earth (2013) — learning to trust yourself
Akeelah and the Bee (2006) — learning to trust yourself
Aladdin (1992) — learning to trust
An Affair to Remember (1957) — discarding doubt
Anna and the King (1999) — breaking barriers
Anne of Avonlea (1987) — learning to trust
Anne of Green Gables (1985) — learning to trust
Avatar (2009) — breaking barriers; best for older youth or adults
Babe (1995) — out-of-the-box thinking
Bambi (1942) — being brave
Beauty and the Beast (1991) — progression
Ben-Hur (1959) — progression
Brigadoon (1954) — breaking barriers
Casablanca (1942) — discarding doubt
Charade (1963) — being brave; best for adults
Chicken Run (2000) — being brave
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) — fun
Deja Vu (2006) — breaking barriers; best for older youth or adults
Dumbo (1941) — learning to trust
Elf (2003) — learning to trust
Enchanted (2007) — learning to trust
Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998) — breaking barriers
Fantasia (1940) — culture and fun
Fantasia/2000 (1999) — culture and fun
Father Goose (1964) — breaking barriers
Fiddler on the Roof (1971) — learning to trust
Field of Dreams (1989) — learning to trust; best for adults
Finding Neverland (2004) — breaking barriers
Fireproof (2008) — forgiveness; best for older youth or adults
Frequency (2000) — repentance; best for older youth or adults
Gettysburg (1993) — being brave; best for adults
Gigi (1958) — fun
Gods and Generals (2003) — being brave; best for adults
Gone with the Wind (1939) — Americana
Groundhog Day (1993) — progression; best for older youth or adults
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) — breaking barriers
Henry V (1989) — learning to trust
Hereafter (2010) — learning to trust
Hitch (2005) — breaking barriers; best for older youth or adults
Holes (2003) — keeping promises
Hook (1991) — progression
Hoosiers (1986) — breaking barriers
How the West Was Won (1962) — breaking barriers
How to Train Your Dragon (2010) — out-of-the-box thinking
Ice Age (2002) — breaking barriers
In the Heat of the Night (1967) — breaking barriers
Inception (2010) — out-of-the-box thinking; best for adults
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) — breaking barriers
Invictus (2009) — breaking barriers
Invincible (2006) — breaking barriers
Iron Man (2008) — breaking barriers
Iron Will (1994) — breaking barriers
It Happened One Night (1934) — breaking barriers
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) — progression
John Carter (2012) — breaking barriers
Kate & Leopold (2001) — breaking barriers
K-PAX (2001) — breaking barriers; best for older youth or adults
Lady and the Tramp (1955) — learning to trust
Lady in the Water (2006) — finding your role in life; best for adults
Ladyhawke (1985) — learning to trust
Les Miserables (1978 with Richard Jordan) — progression
Man of Steel (2013) — learning to trust
Mary Poppins (1964) — progression
McLintock! (1963) — breaking barriers
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) — Americana
Men in Black (1997) — progression
Men in Black 3 (2012) — progression
Miracle (2004) — breaking barriers
Miracle on 34th Street (1947) — learning to trust
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008) — breaking barriers; best for adults
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) — fun
Nanny McPhee (2005) — progression
Newsies (1992) — breaking barriers
North & South (2004) — breaking barriers
Ocean’s Eleven (2001) — breaking barriers; best for adults
October Sky (1999) — breaking barriers
Oklahoma! (1955) — Americana
Old Yeller (1957) — being brave
On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970) — seeing people deeper
On the Town (1949) — fun and romance
Operation Petticoat (1959) — breaking barriers
Patton (1970) — breaking barriers
Pay It Forward (2000) — breaking barriers; best for adults
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) — fun
Pride and Prejudice (1995) — breaking barriers
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010) — learning to trust
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) — breaking barriers
Ratatouille (2007) — progression
Rear Window (1954) — learning to trust; best for adults
Ring of Bright Water (1969) — breaking barriers
Rudy (1993) — breaking barriers
Sabrina (1995) — breaking barriers; best for older youth or adults
Saints and Soldiers (2003) — breaking barriers
Scrooge (1970 with Albert Finney) — learning to trust
Secondhand Lions (2003) — breaking barriers
Sense and Sensibility (1995 with Emma Thompson) — breaking barriers
Sense and Sensibility (2008 with Dan Stevens) — breaking barriers
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) — breaking barriers
Seven Samarai (1954) — breaking barriers
Shadowlands (1993) — learning through practice what you preach
Sherlock Holmes (2009) — breaking barriers; best for older youth or adults
Shrek (2001) — importance of layers in parfaits
Signs (2002) — breaking barriers
Silverado (1985) — breaking barriers
Singin’ in the Rain (1952) — progression
Star Trek (2009) — breaking barriers; best for older youth or adults
Star Wars (1977) — progression
Stargate (1994) — breaking barriers
Starman (1984) — breaking barriers
Stranger Than Fiction (2006) — breaking barriers
Surf’s Up (2007) — breaking barriers
Swiss Family Robinson (1960) — being brave
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) — being brave
The African Queen (1951) — being brave
The Avengers (2012) — learning to trust
The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945) — learning to trust
The Black Stallion (1979) — being brave
The Blind Side (2009) — treating people as they may become
The Bourne Identity (2002) — breaking barriers; for older youth/adults
The Bourne Legacy (2012) — breaking barriers; for older youth/adults
The Bourne Supremacy (2004) — breaking barriers; for older youth/adults
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) — breaking barriers; for older youth/adults
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) — learning to trust
The Dirty Dozen (1967) — learning to trust
The Fugitive (1993) — being brave; best for adults
The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966) — being brave
The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980) — being brave
The Gods Must Be Crazy II (1989) — being brave
The Great Escape (1963) — breaking barriers
The Great Race (1965) — breaking barriers
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) — learning to trust
The Incredibles (2004) — discarding doubt
The Iron Giant (1999) — learning to trust
The Jungle Book (1967) — learning to trust
The Lake House (2006) — breaking barriers
The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000) — learning to trust
The Lion King (1994) — learning to trust
The Little Mermaid (1989) — learning to trust
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) — being brave
The Magnificent Seven (1960) — breaking barriers
The Maltese Falcon (1941) — being brave
The Mark of Zorro (1940) — being brave
The Mask of Zorro (1998) — learning to trust
The Miracle Worker (1962) — breaking barriers
The Mission (1986) — forgiveness
The Muppet Movie (1979) — fun
The Music Man (1962) — learning to trust
The Other Side of Heaven (2001) — breaking barriers
The Parent Trap (1961) — learning to trust
The Princess Bride (1987) — being brave
The Rescuers Down Under (1990) — out-of-the-box thinking
The Robe (1953) — breaking barriers
The Secret Garden (1993) — learning to trust
The Sixth Sense (1999) — believing in others; best for adults
The Sound of Music (1965) — progression
The Sting (1973) — breaking barriers; best for older youth or adults
The Sword in the Stone (1963) — out-of-the-box thinking
The Taming of the Shrew (1967) — learning to trust
The Village (2004) — breaking barriers; best for older youth or adults
The Vow (2012) — steadfastness; best for adults
The Water Horse (2007) — being brave
Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967) — seeing people deeper
Timeline (2003) — breaking barriers
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) — being brave
To Sir, With Love (1967) — learning to trust
Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) — breaking barriers
Toy Story (1995) — progression
Toy Story 2 (1999) — progression
Toy Story 3 (2010) — progression
Treasure Island (1950) — progression
True Grit (1969) — breaking barriers
Tuck Everlasting (2002) — breaking barriers
Up (2009) — progression against odds
Vertigo (1958) — learning to trust; best for adults
Wait Until Dark (1967) — being brave; best for adults
West Side Story (1961) — breaking barriers
What’s Up Doc? (1972) — seeing people deeper
While You Were Sleeping (1995) — learning to trust
White Christmas (1954) — fun and romance
White Fang (1991) — breaking barriers
Wizard of Oz (1939) — progression
You’ve Got Mail (1998) — progression

What we were looking for in movies for kids as they grew up:

  • Films that have tons of material to discuss – especially about what is right and what is wrong and how to resist wrongs that are embraced by so many others around you.
  • Movies and videos (YouTube, etc.) that build up rather than drag down, that uplift and inspire.
  • We avoided films which stated that our moral standards are silly or which encouraged us to become less than we should be.

We hope this answers your question and helps you understand us better and how to become a more effective family, create strong citizens, and have fun with our young 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

ocean-Hawaiian beach

——– End of Post ——–

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

——– End of WebCredits ——–

The Power Of Great Art!

The Power Of Great Art!

Crocodiles And A Questioning Mind

To me, questions are truly important. So is a having a questioning mind.

I find that I form my best opinions from talking to people who aren’t like me. Even in (especially in) everyday conversations. Recently, a Muslim friend shared some of his frustrations at his job, and he helped me see some ways I can improve my own work. A friend who happens to be Ecumenical Christian discussed with me some community efforts. The views of a Jewish friend and her thoughts about ancestors in the Holocaust have helped me to have a new appreciation for finding more of my own family history. My Bahá’í neighbor and I continue to work closely together on an interfaith project; as we ask questions of each other, my faith is always growing. In all these discussions, I learned yet again that my way of thinking is not necessarily the only valid way to think. In all of them, I have felt the spirit of God. I peppered them with questions, as they did me. I look forward to exploring further views with friends in the future.

Whirlwinds of Life

Whirlwinds of Life

Through this process, I have learned that not all questions have equal weight. There are bad and good questions. It depends on the results, on where our questions lead us. Some lead us to be fully exposed to the whirlwinds of life, while other questions lead us to a place of safety and peace. Many are a matter of good, better, best. While some questions lead us to stand in holy places full of light, others lead us only to darkness. Some questions are spiritual crocodiles.

(Or same video at lds.org link. Also, original talk.)

In our family, we prefer to avoid crocodiles and whirlwinds and to choose good questions that lead to places of safety and peace. As Mormons, it’s important that spiritually we stand in holy places and not allow ourselves to be moved from there.

Stand Ye In Holy Places And Be Not MovedSometimes that’s a tough thing to do. At times, a whirlwind of answers can make us doubt our resolve, but I’ve learned that those answers always fail to satisfy in the long term. But as tough as it is to fight such winds, as tough as it is to wrestle a crocodile, I find that it’s even tougher to stand in a holy place when the sun is shining, when I think all is going well, when I let down my guard, and I’m no longer fighting an external wind but rather only fighting myself. That’s often when I notice that I’ve been asking the wrong questions again.

 

Holy Places To Those Of Us Who Happen To Be Buddhists

Temples in Bagan, Myanmar—Holy Places To Those Of Us Who Happen To Be Buddhists

In addition, here are some of the holy places that are important to people whom I know and love.

 

 

 

 

Al-Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina, Saudi Arabia—Holy Places To Those Of Us Who Happen To Be Muslims

Al-Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina, Saudi Arabia—Holy Places To Those Of Us Who Happen To Be Muslims

If you were to stand in a holy place, where would you stand?

 

 

 

 

 

Holy Places To Those Of Us Who Happen To Be Hindus

On the Ganges River at Varanasi, India—Holy Places To Those Of Us Who Happen To Be Hindus

Where do your questions lead you?

 

 

 

 

 

Holy Places To Those Of Us Who Happen To Be Sikhs

The Golden Temple in Amritsar, India—Holy Places To Those Of Us Who Happen To Be Sikhs

Do they help you stand in holy places?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know the safety and peace that comes with standing in holy places. Honest questions, good questions, and answers from God help me to stand against the whirlwinds of life. Questions and open hearts help protect me and my family. Everyone is free to ask crocodile questions that drag people down or to ask discussion questions that build people up.

Crocodile Hiding, Lying In Wait

Crocodile Hiding, Lying In Wait

——– End of Post ——–

Bonus Material:

1. Watch, listen, or read Elder Neil L. Andersen as he talks to us about not letting whirlwinds drag us down but instead recognizing the need to stand strong, in his address, entitled “Spiritual Whirlwinds” (Length: 15:55.) See how the winds of trials may help us develop more solid roots at Time 3:08 through 3:45.

2. Additional holy places that are important to friends among us:

Holy Places To Those Of Us Who Happen To Be Jews

The Western Wall In Jerusalem By Night—Holy Places To Those Of Us Who Happen To Be Jews

···oO0···

Holy Places To Those Of Us Who Happen To Be Bahá’ís

The Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh near Acre, Israel—Holy Places To Those Of Us Who Happen To Be Bahá’ís

···oO0···

Holy Places To Those Of Us Who Happen To Be Christians

The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem—Holy Places To Those Of Us Who Happen To Be Christians

3. Holy places to Mormons
(to those of us who happen to be both Christians and Mormons):
https://www.lds.org/youth/video/standing-in-holy-places?lang=eng

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

  • Photo, “Whirlwinds of Life”—www.keyway.ca/htm2013/20130522.htm
  • Photo, Stand Ye In Holy Places And Be Not Moved—www. lds.org/new-era/2013/03/whats-up?lang=eng
  • Photo, “Temples in Bagan, Myanmar—Holy Places To Those Of Us Who Happen To Be Buddhists”—topyaps.com/top-10-buddhist-holy-places
  • Photo, “Al-Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina, Saudi Arabia—Holy Places To Those Of Us Who Happen To Be Muslims”—en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Masjid_al-Nabawi
  • Photo, “On the Ganges River at Varanasi, India—Holy Places To Those Of Us Who Happen To Be Hindus”—en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_places
  • Photo, “The Golden Temple in Amritsar, India—Holy Places To Those Of Us Who Happen To Be Sikhs”—en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_places
  • Photo, “Crocodile Hiding, Lying In Wait”—www. mrwallpaper.com/crocodile-eye-wallpaper/
  • Photo, “The Western Wall In Jerusalem By Night—Holy Places To Those Of Us Who Happen To Be Jews”—en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_places
  • Photo, “The Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh near Acre, Israel—Holy Places To Those Of Us Who Happen To Be Bahá’ís”—en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrine_of_Bah%C3%A1%27u%27ll%C3%A1h
  • Photo, “The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem—Holy Places To Those Of Us Who Happen To Be Christians”—classic.scriptures.lds.org/en/biblephotos/14
  • Photo, Stand In Holy Places (Mormonad)—www. lds.org/media-library/images/mormonad-stand-in-holy-places-1118464?lang=eng&category

——– End of WebCredits ——–

 

“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!”

Callings: Murmur or Magnify?

What’s a “calling” mean to you?

We’re Responsible To Know For Ourselves

We’re Responsible To Know For Ourselves

As a Mormon, to me it means accepting an assignment from church leaders to serve others. I know my leaders have pondered and discussed and prayed before asking me to serve. After saying Yes, I have the responsibility to kneel and to find out for myself that such a calling is from God. Because I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I want to magnify my calling.

Magnifying my calling is less concerned with what I do as I serve others and more concerned with how or why I serve others.

Conducting Music At Church

Conducting Music At Church

For example, I had a friend in college who moved into our congregation and immediately accepted a calling to lead the music in church each Sunday. Kathy was a recent convert to the Church of Jesus Christ, and she felt the calling was inspired of God. She gathered her roommates around her, told them of the new calling, and explained that she was terrified, as she had no musical experience whatsoever. They rallied around her, practiced singing and leading hymns in their living room over and over and over, for weeks on end, until she was comfortable directing the congregational music on her own.

I remember that first Sunday when Kathy stood before the congregation. Her fear was clear in every movement. With her hands, she deftly directed a perfect 3/4 meter in a little tiny triangular pattern, moving her hands about four inches from top of pattern to bottom. Her roommates ran up to her afterwards and all gave her a big hug. Weeks later, in our next testimony meeting, Kathy bore witness to how she had grown by accepting this calling and how she felt it was inspired of God. Then, the member of the bishopric who had issued the calling to her stood to explain that congregation leaders had been misinformed about her musical experience, were surprised to discover otherwise, and were pleased by Kathy’s willingness to serve in any capacity and by her roommates’ willingness to assist. As Kathy’s musical confidence grew over the next few months, the pattern of her musical direction grew to a more normal size. During those months, I remember seeing some of her roommates with tears streaming down their smiling faces as they watched Kathy’s trembling hands. We all watched as Kathy’s face smiled more and as her countenance glowed more each week as she stood before us. This calling had little to do with the knowledge of man and much to do with the knowledge of God. Kathy’s willingness to submit and to say Yes, to take initiative to educate herself, to learn new skills outside of her comfort zone, inspired us all.

Again, callings are less concerned with what we do as we serve others and more concerned with how or why we serve others. Kathy is proof. I’m glad there are so many Kathy’s in the world.

Having Learned For Ourselves, We’re Responsible To Help Others Know

Having Learned For Ourselves, We’re Responsible To Help Others Know

——– End of Post ——–

Bonus Material:

1. Watch, listen, or read Elder Dallin H. Oaks as he speaks to the general membership of the Church as one of the twelve apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ in his address, entitled “Why Do We Serve?” (Length: 19:47.)

2. Watch, listen, or read the address of Elder M. Russell Ballard on showing our love and appreciation for the Savior’s atoning sacrifice through our simple, compassionate acts of service, entitled “Finding Joy through Loving Service.” (Length: 15:03.)

3. Watch, listen, or read Elder Derek A. Cuthbert in his beloved address, entitled “The Spirituality of Service.” (Length: 9:35.) It was a landmark address, quoted for years afterwards, particularly: “Over the years, many people, especially youth, have asked me, ‘Elder Cuthbert, how can I become more spiritual?’ My reply has always been the same: ‘You need to give more service.’ ”

4. Watch, listen, or read the wonderfully inspired words of President Barbara B. Smith, entitled “She Stretcheth Out Her Hand to the Poor.” (Length: 9:54.)

5. Watch, listen, or read President Thomas S. Monson as he describes, “The Service That Counts.” (Length: 22:26.)

6. Watch, listen, or read the address of Elder Dallin H. Oaks on how our Savior teaches us to follow Him by making the sacrifices necessary to lose ourselves in unselfish service to others, entitled “Unselfish Service.” (Length: 17:19.)

——– End of Bonus Material ——–

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

  • Photo, “We’re Responsible To Know For Ourselves”—www. lds.org/media-library/images/prayer?lang=eng
  • Photo, “Conducting Music At Church”—www. lds.org/media-library/images/music?lang=eng
  • Photo, “Having Learned For Ourselves, We’re Responsible To Help Others Know”—www. lds.org/media-library/images/education/spiritual?lang=eng
  • Photo, “Studying To Learn”—www. lds.org/media-library/images/education/miscellaneous?lang=eng

——– End of WebCredits ——–

Studying To Learn

Studying To Learn

Let The Storm Rage On — Committing To Fight The Good Fight

Quick: What do you think of when you hear this word? “Ordinances.”

Okay, that may be a bit strange. Try this one: “Covenants.”

What went through your mind? Good? Bad? Ugly? Modest? Fight? Commitment?

Sometimes (often?) I feel a need to fight against expectations. At times those expectations are of good behaviors, at other times of bad. In the movie “Frozen”, the character Elsa seemed to feel much the same way:

Not everyone appreciates her the way I do, but I love the way Idina Menzel sings. To me, the good in this song is inspiring. But not the bad. In the song, good and bad are juxtaposed, in opposition to each other, just as they are in life. And as in life, I thank Heaven for the bad. By Celestial design, the bad helps me to recognize, appreciate, and embrace the good. Some of the lyrics:

I don’t care what they’re going to say.
Let the storm rage on.
Cold never bothered me anyway. (All good.)

…the fears that once controlled me, can’t get to me at all. (good)
It’s time to see what I can do, to test the limits and break through. (good)
No right, no wrong, no rules for me. (bad) I’m free. (good)

Let it go, let it go. (good) That perfect girl is gone. (bad)

Good, bad. Bad, good. What the heck does it matter? Well, according to the prophet Isaiah, it matters a lot:

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness…

“The emphasis on truth as the way things really are suggests that it contrasts with the way things seem to be, no matter how convincing that deception may be. One such truth is the reality of evil. As Isaiah pointed out, at the heart of moral relativism is an inability or unwillingness to recognize evil.”
Daniel L. Belnap

Dave, what does this good-evil stuff have to do with ordinances? I thought you’d never ask. Ordinances in any faith community help us to shun evil, to choose the right, to commit to be good. It draws a line in the snow. It draws a line in the sand, in the dirt, on the concrete.  A bar/bat mitzvah means “son/daughter who is subject to the commandment, to the law of God”. The first pillar of Islam is kalima shahadah, meaning to promise/testify/witness my word to God. Christian baptism is a covenant with God to repent, to be clean before Him, to accept Christ’s invitation when he said, “Come, follow me.” Ordinances and covenants are a two-way promise: We promise to follow God; he promises us certain blessings.

One thing I really, really love about being a Mormon is that my faith is full of ordinances. At eight years old, I was baptized. At twelve, I was ordained to the priesthood. At twenty-four, my wife and I were sealed for time and all eternity. Then our family gets to go to the temple together and do it all for others. Over and over. Each time, each ordinance, is a line in the snow/sand/whatever. Each is an additional level of commitment and reverence to God. Throughout life, we all make decisions. Ordinances help. They help us choose the right. They help us witness to God and to others that we will choose good over evil.

So, do what Elsa did. Do what you think is right. Be brave, and do it your way. Stay modest. Thumb your nose at a world that wants you to take your clothes off, and keep them on. Instead, yank off the gloves, and pull no punches. Stretch your powers as far as they can possibly go, and then stretch them a bit more. Say what is on your mind and in your heart.

FIGHT. Commit. Draw lines with ideas. Fight the good fight. Fight the good fight of faith.

I don’t care what they’re going to say.
Let the storm rage on — Good never bothered me anyway.

Elsa Ready To Fight

Elsa Ready To Fight, Gloves Off

——– End of Post ——–

Bonus Material:

1. Just like Elsa has powers she must learn about and learn to control, so do we. Listen or read Elder Ronald A. Rasband’s address regarding ways to tutor ourselves in having our hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another, entitled, “Building Spiritual Power in Priesthood Quorums”. (Length of audio: 16:18.)

2. Listen or read how God’s covenant with Abraham blesses us all. (Length of audio: 12:36.)

3. Read more about moral absolutes contrasted with moral relativism in an address by Dallin H. Oaks, “Religious Values and Public Policy“, Ensign, Oct 1992.

——– End of Bonus Material ——–

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

  • Illustration, “Else Ready To Fight, Gloves Off,” www. moviefanatic.com/gallery/frozen-elsa-idina-menzel/

——– End of WebCredits ——–

The World, Bathed In Light

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

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

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

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

Mormon Speaks At Ecumenical Event; Chapel Walls Fail To Collapse!

(Please forgive the long post. It’s for a good reason: a local interfaith/multifaith group invited me to speak at an annual ecumenical event for interwoven faiths as part of Week Of Prayer For Christian Unity. For twenty minutes. It was my pleasure to say Yes. Here’ s the result, if you wish to read it. Enjoy!)

Christian Crosses At A Joint Service For The Week Of Prayer For Christian Unity

Christian Crosses At A Joint Service For The Week Of Prayer For Christian Unity

I’ve attended many ecumenical meetings, but this is the first time I’ve ever spoken at one. As part of my faith tradition as a Mormon, I’m used to closing sacred remarks “in the name of Jesus Christ.” Will it be OK if I do so this evening at the end? (Response: Unanimous and general Yes.)


We are always teaching. What shall we teach? With the 2014 theme of this event being “Has Christ Been Divided?” and the scripture reference of 1 Corinthians Chapter 1: verses 1 through 17, I’d like to quote verses 4 through 7:

4. I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
5. That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
6. Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
7. So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jewish Quarter, Old City, Jerusalem

Jewish Quarter, Old City, Jerusalem

This past week, Rabbi Jeremy Schneider, the spiritual leader of Temple Kol Ami in Scottsdale, Arizona, and vice president of the Greater Phoenix Board of Rabbis, toured the Mormon Temple in the nearby city of Gilbert during an open house for the new building. In the recent edition of Jewish News, he teaches us:

In last week’s Torah portion, we read about Moses learning a valuable lesson from his father-in-law, Jethro. Jethro tells Moses to appoint judges who will handle the burden of judging the people from morning until night, taking only the most difficult cases for himself. Jewish sages note that Moses learns this valuable lesson from his non-Israelite father-in-law Jethro, a Midianite.

Our tradition asks the question based on this interaction: “Who is wise?” The answer, “One who learns from ALL people” (Pirkei Avot, Chapter 4: Mishna 1).

We are always teaching. What do we teach? What do we teach about God? As part of this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, I have thought of my own powerful moments of communion with God. When I was a child and walked in to see my parents at prayer, I remember the whoosh of feelings of safety and security but mostly of sacredness.

Cairo, Home Interior

Cairo, Home Interior

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

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

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

In Robert M. Edsel’s book, The Monuments Men, I recently found this gem:

Children live in a closed world, and young Harry [Ettlinger] assumed life as he knew it had gone on that way forever. He didn’t have any friends who weren’t Jewish, but his parents didn’t either, so that didn’t seem unusual. [In 1930’s Germany, he] saw non-Jews at school and in the parks, and he liked them, but buried deep within those interactions was the knowledge that, for some reason, he was an outsider. He had no idea that the world was entering an economic depression, or that hard times bring recriminations and blame. Privately, Harry’s parents worried not just about the economy, but about the rising tide of nationalism and anti-Semitism. Harry noticed only that perhaps the line between himself and the larger world of [his town of] Karlsruhe was becoming easier to see and harder to cross.

In September [1938], twelve-year-old Harry and his two brothers took the train seventeen miles to Bruchsal to visit their grandparents for the last time… Opa Oppenheimer[, Harry’s grandpa,] showed them, one last time, a few select pieces from his collection of prints… His art collection contained almost two thousand prints, primarily ex libris bookplates and works by minor German Impressionists working in the late 1890s and early 1900s. One of the best was a print, made by a local artist, of the self-portrait by Rembrandt that hung in the Karlsruhe museum. The painting was a jewel of the museum’s collection… Harry had never seen it, despite living four blocks away from it his whole life. In 1933, the museum had barred entry to Jews.

A week later, on September 24, 1938, Harry Ettlinger celebrated his bar mitzvah in Karlsruhe’s magnificent Kronenstrasse Synagogue… On October 9, 1938, they arrived in New York harbor. Exactly one month later, on November 9, [was] Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass… The Jewish men of Karlsruhe, including Opa Oppenheimer, were rounded up and put in the nearby Dachau internment camp. The magnificent hundred-year-old Kronenstrasse Synagogue…was burned to the ground. Harry Ettlinger was the last boy ever to have his bar mitzvah ceremony in the old synagogue of Karlsruhe.

Three generations of a Jewish family light a menorah during Hanukkah

Three generations of a Jewish family light a menorah during Hanukkah

But this story isn’t about Kronenstrasse Synagogue, the internment camp at Dachau, or even the Holocaust against the Jews… For when Private Harry Ettlinger, U.S. Army, finally returned to Karlsruhe, it wasn’t to search for his lost relatives or the remains of his community; it was to determine the fate of another aspect of his heritage stripped away by the Nazi regime: his grandfather’s beloved art collection. In the process he would discover, buried six hundred feet underground, something he had always known about but never expected to see: the Rembrandt of Karlsruhe. (Ibid, Pages 7-13.)

We are always teaching.

I was asked to share with you this evening the story of my own interfaith journey. I used to think that the work of interweaving faiths was about crossing lines, such as the lines that Harry Ettlinger saw between himself and the larger world of Karlsruhe. After years, I learned that I was wrong. Very wrong. I noticed that focusing on lines encourages designations of WE vs. THEY. So I started thinking instead about circles. Years earlier, when I was about eight years old, in our weekly family home evening, my mom had us memorize the poem Outwitted, by Edwin Markham:

He drew a circle that shut me out—
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!

So I began to move beyond the Here or There of lines, or even the In or Out of circles, and instead tried to focus less on who was In and who was Out and to focus more on expanding my circle to include another. Despite a person’s flaws, for me the challenge became to see the good in them, to see what good I could find to help me be good, to help me be better.

For example, I lived in South America for a couple of years as I served a Mormon mission among the people of Argentina. I had been there just a few months, when I was straightening up the bookshelf in my room, picked up some pamphlets, and saw something flutter to the floor. I stooped to pick it up and found that it was a U.S. stamp. On it was the image of Thomas Jefferson. And I burst into tears. My immediate reaction was, “I’m starting to lose it‼” But then I started to realize why I had burst into tears. This stamp was from my homeland. It had been months since I had seen anything from home. And this was Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father, author of the Declaration of Independence in just seventeen days, who wrote the words, “All men are created equal,” who wrote, “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable,” which Ben Franklin changed to, “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” I think that everyone should spend a couple of years after high school in a foreign country; it can deepen one’s feelings of patriotism, even without them knowing it. It certainly did mine.

Gauchos a caballo (1900), Ángel Della Valle (“Gauchos on horseback”)

Gauchos a caballo (1900), Ángel Della Valle (“Gauchos on horseback”)

Then, as I lived among the people of Argentina, I learned to love them. I learned traditional Argentine folk songs from our local Mormon bishop, who played a wicked Latin guitar, and we’d sing with gusto like gauchos around a campfire. I learned the National Anthem and sang it with gusto at every parade and holiday. It surprised everyone around me, but my heart just wanted to join in, and not just sing, but to know the words and why they were meaningful. In spite of the day of the stamp, I began to wonder what I was going to do when I returned home and no longer could buy delicious Mantecol candy bars or drink amargo, a bitter, BITTER soft drink that I had grown to love.

At that point, I discarded the idea of circles in my interwoven faith work. I loved the people of Argentina not because they were all Mormons—They weren’t! I found that my core feelings of being an American remained at my center and indeed were strengthened. I loved extending my circle as far as it could go, only to learn that, really, I could extend it yet a little further. But the circle analogy didn’t seem to work anymore; it just didn’t seem expressive enough for what I felt. I had lived in Argentina for not yet a year, and I realized that I no longer felt like an outsider extending my circle. I was Argentine. I was American. Americans were my people, and Argentines were my people. I had developed a dual citizenship of the heart. Just as I had moved beyond the We/They of lines, I had moved beyond the concept of designating circles. I had learned that what was important for me was to develop feelings down deep. I would be happy in the United States my entire life. I now would be happy in Argentina my entire life, “perhaps until the day I die.” I had succeeded in making their lives my life.

We are always teaching. What should we teach? I suggest that we take a cue from my Muslim friend and teach about duty. We should teach about our duty to God. Anyone involved in the Boy Scouts of America, youth or adult, uses the Scout Oath to teach others “to do my duty to God and my country.” Part of our duty to God is to listen to Him, to see as God sees, to think as God thinks, to act as He would, to be a tool in His hands. The prophet Isaiah taught us:

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

Las Lajas Sanctuary, Ipiales, Colombia

Las Lajas Sanctuary, Ipiales, Colombia

I learned yet again to go beyond lines and circles, learning yet again the importance of feeling things down deep, when I hurried to help Felipe, whose wife and family had just died in a plane crash. I helped Arturo, his brother, as we stood and waited for hours in the heat, watching as officials opened each body bag they had carried from the helicopters to the basketball arena used as a temporary morgue, until, in the last helicopter trip of the day, the bags opened to familiar faces, and we were able to identify the bodies of their loved ones. Felipe wasn’t a Latter-day Saint; he was Catholic. I was from the United States, and he was from Colombia. He was athletic and an avid soccer player; my wife is the sportsman in our family. Despite our differences, Felipe and I bonded. Despite his being suicidal at the time, despite all the turmoil in his life that made him crawl into a shell and shut out the world, he would allow me in. This surprised me as much as it surprised his extended family, but in his darkest moments, they would come running to me repeatedly: “Come, Davy. Come quick. Felipe needs you again.” I’d hasten once more to his side—we’d sit, sometimes talk. He liked looking at pictures of my kids. But I felt that our hearts were in constant conversation, even in silence, and I could feel him taking strength from me, and I gave freely, for I knew that I had strength to spare. By connecting with those around him, with people for whom he cared deeply, he quickly learned to develop his own sources of strength.

Panorama Of Las Lajas Sanctuary, Ipiales, Colombia

Panorama Of Las Lajas Sanctuary, Ipiales, Colombia

Felipe asked me to be with him as he entered sacred ground, as he and Arturo returned to his apartment for the first time after the deaths of his wife and children. I was there when he entered the bedroom that he had shared with his wife, Amparo. Felipe just sat on the bed, and it was as if the energy just left him; he seemed like a beaten man, forsaken and alone. I looked over at the bedroom’s TV; on it, I saw a ceramic object and a stuffed toy, a plush lion cub, “Simba”, from “The Lion King.” A thought hit me to pick up the little Simba and to give it to Felipe to cuddle, which I did. Felipe pulled the toy to his barrel chest, doubled over as he sat on the edge of the bed, and just sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. My first thought was, “Oh, Dave, you blew it.” But immediately on its heels came the assurance that, no, this was exactly what Felipe needed. We stayed quiet a few minutes and let time pass; eventually, he approached me and said, “Thank you, Davy.  That was perfect.” I’ll never know what that little Simba meant to Felipe and Amparo, nor do I need to know; maybe its only meaning was simply something to cuddle for the moment. Regardless, I followed an impulse when it occurred to me, and it appears it was the right thing to do. I had no need at the moment to be a tool in God’s hands, but Felipe was hurting, and God knew he was hurting and needed to heal some very deep wounds. And God trusted me to listen and to know without trying what Felipe was feeling down deep. It’s my feeling that on that day, I did my duty to God.

Interfaith experiences can even occur among people of the same faith. When I lived in another state, my congregation leaders assigned me as a home teacher (a volunteer shepherd) to a family with five young children. Jason and I had nothing in common, and our belief systems were vastly different, even though we were both LDS. For example, he held a cultural belief in the little people, such as leprechauns and fairies, and several of his tattoos bore an Irish Celtic theme, whereas my Celtic roots are Welsh, and the little people are not part of my reality. Despite his severe substance abuse concerns, this young father and I bonded easily, to the amazement of everyone in our congregation, including ourselves. I’d been visiting him for about a year, and he was working very hard to stay clean—he had recently developed a deeper desire to conquer his addictions, to really lick it this time. On one visit, we had just sat down to talk with Jason and his wife, when he interrupted, “How do you do it, Dave? How do you get us to feel these things?” After that, we opened our hearts to each other like never before, and our souls were knit together like David and Jonathan of old. It was as if we could read each other’s minds. Each time, we would plan our next visit, a week away or more often a month away, depending on what he felt he needed for support. Sometimes, in the dead of night, when the pull of drugs was strong and he was weak and needed to talk, he would just call me out of the blue and say, “Please come, Dave. I need your help. I need to stay clean.” These were some of my favorite moments. We’d sit on the stoop of his small house in the darkness, and we’d have the most amazing discussions filled with light. As we talked of truths at night (“Sweet Is the Work,” end of Verse 1), I remember many times thinking, “There is nowhere else on earth that I would rather be than right here, right now, on this stoop, talking with this man.” I could feel him taking courage from me, and I gave freely, for I knew that I had courage to spare. But I simply could not go to see him often enough, and I looked forward to each visit with all my heart. Eventually, he moved away, then I moved, and always I will miss our conversations.

Accra Ghana LDS Temple Grounds

Accra Ghana LDS Temple Grounds

We are always teaching. What do we teach? What do we teach about God? We teach that, as important as actions are, the feelings behind our actions are even more important. We teach that there is no We/They; we teach that there is no reason to expand our circle, because mankind is our circle. We teach the need to stand in holy places, to spend time there, to spend some quality time there on our knees, not just during this Week of Prayer but always, for Christian unity and for global unity. We teach that God doesn’t need just one of us, he needs all of us, and that if we work together as individual wires of communication with God, that interwoven together, we become a cable, and with cables, we may all build a bridge. And we teach that life is too short merely to go through the motions but that we must feel these things in our hearts. Each of us must feel these things down deep.

In closing, I’d like to share another of Edward Markham’s poems, this one entitled Anchored To The Infinite:

The builder who first bridged Niagra’s gorge,
Before he swung his cable, shore to shore,
Sent out across the gulf his venturing kite
Bearing a slender cord for unseen hands
To grasp upon the further cliff and draw
A greater cord, and then a greater yet;
Till at the last across the chasm swung
The cable then the mighty bridge in air!

So may we send our little timid thought
Across the void, out to God’s reaching hands—
Send out our love and faith to thread the deep—
Thought after thought until the little cord
Has greatened to a chain no chance can break,
And we are anchored to the Infinite!

We are always teaching. What shall we teach?

I say these things in the sacred name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thank you for your time tonight.

(By the way, the sponsoring organization was the local Mennonite Fellowship congregation, with additional support from the Bloomington, Indiana Unit of Church Women United. My earliest years were in Eastern Ohio in the middle of Amish and Mennonite country. We spent long hours at friends’ homes with no electricity, and my pre-school was a local Mennonite Bible School. Consequently, at this Week of Prayer event, many congregation members looked so dang familiar, even though we had just met. I felt very at home, they made us feel very welcome, and I’m glad I hung around until the last dog was hung for the warm conversations afterwards.  It was just plain fun making new friends of people from all sorts of backgrounds and faiths.)

Experts say that parents modeling how to practice faith is important, but that influence can be blunted if either parent doesn’t have a close relationship with their children

Experts say that parents modeling how to practice faith is important, but that influence can be blunted if either parent doesn’t have a close relationship with their children

——– End of Post ——–

Bonus Materials:

1. “Faith in the family: How belief passes from one generation to the next”, Article by Matthew Brown, Deseret News, Thu 26 Dec 2013

2. I Choose To Be Pure: Teens Of Diverse Faiths Speak Out On Purity And Chastity

(Or same video at lds.org link.)

3. Mormonism: A Christ-centered, Global Faith

(Or same video at lds.org link.)

4. Come With Us: Video for youth (see Moroni 10:32)

(Or same video at lds.org link.)

5. Mormon Myths and Reality

——– End of Bonus Material ——–

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

  • Photo, “Christian Crosses At A Joint Service For The Week Of Prayer For Christian Unity”—en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Week_of_Prayer_for_Christian_Unity
  • Photo, “Jewish Quarter, Old City, Jerusalem”—carta-jerusalem. com/biblical-sites/old-city-jerusalem/
  • Photo, “Cairo, Home Interior”—Personal collection
  • Photo, “Three generations of a Jewish family light a menorah”—www. deseretnews.com/article/865593024/Faith-in-the-family-How-belief-passes-from-one-generation-to-the-next.html?pg=all
  • Painting, “Gauchos a caballo” (1900), Ángel Della Valle (“Gauchos on horseback”)—commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%C3%81ngel_Della_Valle_-_Gauchos_a_caballo,_c._1900.jpg
  • Photo, “Las Lajas Sanctuary, Ipiales, Colombia”—www. hotelclub.com/blog/beautiful-cathedrals-south-america/
  • Photo, “Panorama Of Las Lajas Sanctuary, Ipiales, Colombia”—www. hotelclub.com/blog/beautiful-cathedrals-south-america/
  • Photo, “Accra Ghana LDS Temple Grounds”—www. mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormonism-in-pictures-beauty-purpose-mormon-temples?cid=HPWE103013152
  • Photo, “Experts say that parents modeling how to practice faith is important, but that influence can be blunted if either parent doesn’t have a close relationship with their children”—www. deseretnews.com/article/865593024/Faith-in-the-family-How-belief-passes-from-one-generation-to-the-next.html?pg=all (NOTE: This image is not in the online version but only in the print version, Page P7.)
  • Photo, “Interwoven Faiths”—www. isna.net/. The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is an independent, open and transparent membership organization that strives to be an exemplary and unifying Islamic organization in North America by contributing to the betterment of the Muslim community and society at large. ISNA is committed to freedom, to eradicating prejudice and to creating a society where Muslims can live peacefully and prosper alongside other Americans from all walks of life and diverse traditions and faith. Everyone is helpful, warm and gracious, and Dave loves visiting there.

——– End of WebCredits ——–

Interwoven Faiths

Interwoven Faiths

5 Secrets of Staying Clean

Have you ever been so grungy that you clearly felt unclean? In St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, in the days after Hurricane Katrina, I joined a group of volunteers to help people clean up and repair their homes in the communities of Covington and Mandeville on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain. It was grueling work, and we were truly grungy. We overnighted at a local church with no power and no shower facilities. Someone came up with the brilliant idea to make an outdoor camp shower by drooping a garden hose over the top of a fence as a makeshift shower. For modesty, tarps were thrown over the fences, allowing a couple hundred volunteers from a dozen states to take a decent shower. I was surprised that it felt so good to be clean after a long day of backbreaking labor—and from such a small and simple thing.

Staying Clean And Sober

Staying Clean And Sober

I remember a close friend who worked very hard to stay clean, a young father with five small children. He had severe substance abuse problems with various substances, but he had recently developed a deeper desire to conquer them, to really lick it this time. On one visit, we had just sat down to talk with Jason and his wife, when he interrupted, “How do you do it, Dave? How do you get us to feel these things?” After that, we opened our hearts to each other like never before, and our souls were knit together like brothers. Each time, we would plan our next visit, a week away or more often a month away, depending on what he felt he needed for support.  Sometimes, in the dead of night, he would just call me out of the blue and say, “Please come, Dave. I need your help. I need to stay clean.” These were some of my favorite moments, sitting and talking in the dark on the small stoop outside his home. But I simply could not go to see him often enough, and I looked forward to each visit with all my heart.

Getting Clean, Staying Clean

Getting Clean, Staying Clean

These experiences remind me of how I felt on the day I was baptized. I was eight years old, and I think I was prepared to understand its value. In the months leading up to it, I remember distinctly talking to some young friends who had been baptized recently about how if I were to do any big-time sinning, I had better do it quickly before I was baptized so that I could wash away all those wrongs. While I didn’t yet have the attitude that God wanted me to have in recognizing the sacrifices that His Son has made on my behalf, it was clear that I understood the meaning of the ordinance of baptism as a symbol of cleansed sins and living a new life.

So, here are some secrets of staying clean:

  1. Recognize the need to get clean.
  2. Commit to getting clean.
  3. Put yourself in situations/places where you may stay clean.
  4. Ask for clean help when you need it.
  5. Be honestly curious. Learn more about staying clean.

I have learned for myself the importance of getting clean and staying clean. For me, the symbolic cleansing of baptism is a vital part of me doing so. 

Alma Baptizing People (Mosiah 18:7-17)

Alma Baptizing People (Mosiah 18:7-17)

——– End of Post ——–

Bonus Material:

1. Read or listen: Alma baptizing as people came into the church of Jesus Christ, Mosiah 18:7-17 (in The Book of Mormon)

2. Watch, listen, or read James E. Faust’s address regarding this sacred ordinance, entitled, “Born Again”. (Length: 18:02.)

3. Resources to stay clean from drugs (most towns have some great community resources; this is merely an example): http://www.louisvilledrugrehabs.com/rehab-types/staying-clean-from-drugs/

——– End of Bonus Material ——–

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

  • Photo, Katrina volunteers—www. perfectplank.com/katrina.html
  • Photo, “Staying Clean And Sober”—www. louisvilledrugrehabs.com/rehab-types/staying-clean-from-drugs/
  • Photo Montage, “Getting Clean, Staying Clean”—blog. docsuggest.com/753/personal-hygiene-sofiya-sujad/
  • Illustration, “Alma Baptizing People”—www. lds.org/media-library/images/gospel-art/book-of-mormon?lang=eng#alma-baptizing-people-39653
  • Photo, “St. Tammany Katrina Clean-up”—www. nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2014/01/fema_canceling_disaster_loans.html

——– End of WebCredits ——–

St. Tammany Katrina Clean-up

St. Tammany Katrina Clean-up