Tag Archives: God’s Way—Not Mine

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

Answers Of Courage From Unexpected Sources

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch/download on Mormon Channel or via YouTube below:

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

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

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

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

Asking And The Willingness To Ask

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

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

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

I love the solution that Nephi found:

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

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

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

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

For Thou Hast Sought Me Diligently, With Lowliness Of Heart

For Thou Hast Sought Me Diligently, With Lowliness Of Heart

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

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

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Do Your Worst!

Edmond Dantès, portrayed by James Caviezel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mercédès Iguanada, portrayed by Dagmara Dominczyk

Mercédès Iguanada, portrayed by Dagmara Dominczyk

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

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

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

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

Forever Begins Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who Is Herding Whom? What Do I Allow To Herd Me?

Australian Cattle Dog Herding A Cow

This week, I was talking to a friend who’s a gardener. We talked about what she does to fight local garden predators, such as rabbits and deer. They have a lot of land, and she has a cattle dog to keep the deer clear of the garden. Last week, she came home to find him lying down among the deer, some of which were lying down with him, and some of which were standing and munching her early garden greens. When the dog saw her and her husband, he started and quickly stood up on all fours, with a definite demeanor of guilt on his face. The dog glanced up at his deer friends, back at his masters, back at the deer, back again at his masters, clearly took a moment to make a decision, and then started barking at the deer to run them off. She said that if they had had a video of it, the absolute look of guilt on the dog’s face would have won them first prize on America’s Funniest Home Videos. My friend said that one deer was more aggressive than the others, nipped at the dog, and started chasing him around the garden. My gardener friend said simply, “That is one dead deer.”

Dog Herding SheepHow often do we put ourselves in the position of the dog? The shepherd expects a shepherd dog to do certain things. A dog is to herd the sheep, keep them together, and keep them in the pasture rather than in the hinterlands where they don’t belong. Making friends and laying down with wayward sheep may be fun for time but such haphazard fun is unlikely to continue when the shepherd comes around.

Dog Herding DucksEver notice how, after we have just a bit of fun lying down with the deer that we’re supposed to run off, some of those same deer have the nerve to chase us around the pasture? And here we thought they were friends! When we try to take control of the situation as we should have from the start, the deer show their true colors by nipping back and giving us the run-around. Some friends! Maybe the shepherd knew all along what he was talking about. Who knew?

Rin Tin Tin

Rin Tin Tin

The next time I hear the siren call of one of my pet temptations, maybe I’ll consider this story of my friend, the gardener. I may not want to follow her lead by shouting, “Kill Bambi!” or “Death to the deer!” But I may wish to consider being just as tenacious in shooing away the temptation. Maybe I’ll allow for the possibility that the good shepherd expects me to do certain things for a good reason. And who knows? I might find that supporting the shepherd by being steadfast and immovable might well be its own reward. And I may feel a bit more in control of my own life.

German Shepherd Dog

German Shepherd Dog

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Bonus Materials:

Read, watch or listen: Mary Ellen Smoot, “Steadfast and Immovable”, Oct 2001 LDS General Conference.

Read or listen: David Bednar, “Steadfast and Immovable, Always Abounding in Good Works”, Ensign, Jan 2008.

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

  • Photo, “Australian Cattle Dog Herding A Cow”—us/muay-thai-thailand/balance-inequality-muay-thai/attachment/australian-cattle-dog-herding-a-cow
  • Photo, dog-herding-sheep”—www. dailypuppy.com/articles/how-to-train-a-herding-puppy_802.html
  • Photo, dog-herding-ducks”—thelife-animal.blogspot.com/2012/03/border-collie.html
  • Photo, “Rin Tin Tin”—www. com/lifestyle/arts-culture/stories/rin-tin-tins-life-and-legend
  • Photo, “German Shepherd Dog”—www. com/german-shepherd-dog/
  • Photo, “Gary Larson’s The Far Side: ‘Bummer of a birthmark, Hal.’ ”—www. philipchircop.com/post/9178910566/what-is-your-birthmark-gary-larson-creator-of
Gary Larson's The Far Side: 'Bummer of a birthmark, Hal.'

Gary Larson’s The Far Side: ‘Bummer of a birthmark, Hal.’

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Pains, Crucibles, Results

What is our mission in life?

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

What will be our ability to make these changes?

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

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

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

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nephi-fashioning-the-plates

As he passes through a crucible of his own, Nephi uses fire to fashion metal plates for scripture

Bonus Materials:

Read, watch or listen to James E. Faust, “The Refiner’s Fire”, Apr 1979 LDS General Conference. “You are discussing a matter you know nothing about… I knew then that the angels of God were there.”

——– End of Bonus Materials ——–

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

  • Photo, “As he passes through a crucible of his own, Nephi uses fire to fashion metal plates for scripture”—www. lds.org/media-library/images/nephi-fashioning-the-plates-447330?lang=eng&category=
  • Photo, mormonad-cool-it–it-is-in-your-hands—www. lds.org/media-library/images/mormonad-cool-it-1118404?lang=eng&category

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mormonad-cool-it--it-is-in-your-hands

Storm Clouds Clearing…

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

Storm Clouds Clearing...

Storm Clouds Clearing…

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

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

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

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

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

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Bonus Materials:

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

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

——– End of Bonus Materials ——–

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

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

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Come Now, And Let’s Listen Together

Listening

Listening

Exquisite—That’s what it was. One of the most meaningful talks I’ve ever listened to was the one Neal A. Maxwell delivered as he was sustained as an apostle, “Notwithstanding My Weakness.” General Conference is an important time for any member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, because we get to sit at the feet of a prophet and listen to the word of God. Like Mary of old, we want to choose “that good part”, and Elder Maxwell certainly helped us to do that. He spoke to anyone with recurring feelings of falling forever short. Maybe to each of us?

I was in the Missionary Training Center, getting ready to go to Argentina for two years to serve my mission. During General Conference, all of us missionaries wanted to take copious notes so that we might remember all of the wonderful ideas in these talks. Recordings were not generally available back then, and we knew that we’d be out of the United States by the time the text was available in the November 1976 Ensign. For Elder Maxwell‘s talk, after taking notes furiously for four or five minutes, wanting to retain quote after great quote, I paused to look around the room. All the other elders and sisters had already stopped trying to take notes and were just sitting there listening, hands and pens at rest, trying just to soak in the spirit of the rapid-fire, beautifully worded, carefully crafted text. It was like the lyrics of a song. I struggled for a bit longer to retain it all on paper, before I, too, gave up note-taking, rested my pen, and just sat and listened. It was an incredible moment for all of us. For weeks afterwards, nearly everyone said that their favorite moment in that General Conference was when they sat and feasted on Elder Maxwell‘s words, hands and fingers exhausted from trying to keep up. It was just sweet. Every time I re-read it, every time I listen to it yet again, I get emotional, just sitting — and remembering…

I invite you to read, watch or listen to the entire address from the October 1976 LDS General Conference. It is simply exquisite. It has something for all of us, and I hope you love it as much as I.

Putting The Fun In LDS General Conference

Putting The Fun In LDS General Conference

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Bonus Materials:

1. Great are the words of Isaiah, from which I take the title of this post: “Come now, and let us reason together…”

2. Article by Caleb Trujillo, “Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice”: http://www.byui.edu/pathway/news-index/come-listen-to-a-prophets-voice

Article by Caleb Trujillo, 'Come, Listen to a Prophet's Voice'

3. “Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice”, Mormon Tabernacle Choir:

4. LDS Hymn 21, “Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice”: https://www.lds.org/music/library/hymns/come-listen-to-a-prophets-voice?lang=eng

5. Thoughts and experiences of various people on this topic:

——– End of Bonus Materials ——–

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

  • Photo, “Listening”—nature. berkeley.edu/ucce50/ag-labor/7article/article40.htm
  • Photo, “Putting The Fun In LDS General Conference”—www. lds.org/media-library/images/conference-events/general-conference?lang=eng&start=41&end=80&order=
  • Photo, “Article by Caleb Trujillo, ‘Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice’ ”—www. byui.edu/pathway/news-index/come-listen-to-a-prophets-voice
  • Photo, Hemingway quote-Listen completely—izquotes.com/quote/82873 (Source/Notes:
    As quoted in: Ernest Hemingway: the man and his work, by John K. M. McCaffery, World Publishing Co., 1956)

——– End of WebCredits ——–

Hemingway quote-Listen completely

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Dave and the MormonPanorama Family

woman running on a beach

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Bonus Materials:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In What Ways Do Mormons Serve Others In The Community? Our Family’s Answer.

What Can You Do For Your Community?

What Can You Do For Your Community?

Reader Question:
Last weekend, a friend asked, “In what ways do Mormons serve others in our community?”  

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

1. Joseph Smith taught us that we are “to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to provide for the widow, to dry up the tear of the orphan, to comfort the afflicted, whether in this church, or in any other, or in no church at all.” (Times and Seasons, 15 Mar 1842, Page 732.)

2. Here’s an example of how we strive to help others In the Church of Jesus Christ. A handful of women touched the life of a youth named Lynne when her stepfather died. Because she saw these sisters help at a critical time when she was a teenager, Lynne was determined to take her turn to serve when she grew older. As an adult, she shared this story.

“A young mother in my congregation, one of my friends, suddenly lost her only child, a beautiful three-year-old daughter, to an infection that took her life before the doctors were even aware of how serious her illness was. The other counselor and I went to the house as soon as we heard of little Robin’s death. As we approached the screened patio door, we heard the father (who was not a member of our Church) sobbing as he talked long distance to his mother. Looking up, he saw us and, still sobbing, spoke into the phone: ‘It will be all right, Mother. The Mormon women are here.’ My turn once more.” (Daughters in My Kingdom, Chapter 10, “Live Up to Your Privilege”, Page 178.)

3. In our family, we like to serve at the local community kitchen, at an interfaith shelter during the winter, at a senior center, or at a local food warehouse. We want to get out of our comfort zone to rub shoulders with people in our community in a number of ways. I think it’s particularly important to do this with people who aren’t like me. It’s important to us not only to write a check but also to donate our labor free of charge and to make new friends by sharing our time and our conversations.

We hope this answers your question and helps you to understand us better, to understand better how your Mormon neighbors serve in your community, and how you may help them out by serving together.

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

How Can You Have Fun Doing It?

How Can You Have Fun Doing It?

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Bonus Materials:

1. Get Involved In Your Community Service
http://www.mormon.org/values/community-service

2. What Can We All Do?
https://www.lds.org/topics/humanitarian-service/help?lang=eng

3. Mormon in America: A guided tour of an LDS Bishop’s storehouse
http://www.nbcnews.com/video/rock-center/48745343#48745343

There are bishop’s storehouses in many locations around the world.

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

  • Photo, “What Can You Do For Your Community?”, from “Helping Hands Day Is A Community To Community”, The Davis Enterprise (Davis, California), dated 21 Sep 2014—www. davisenterprise.com/local-news/helping-hands-day-is-a-commitment-to-community/
  • Photo, “How Can You Have Fun Doing It?”, from “Helping Hands Day Is A Community To Community”, The Davis Enterprise (Davis, California), dated 21 Sep 2014—www. davisenterprise.com/local-news/helping-hands-day-is-a-commitment-to-community/

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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

Modern 20-somethings: Explorers Or Procrastinators?

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

Debating

Debating

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bonus Material:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——– End of WebCredits ——–

Couple in Love

Couple in Love

Beyond Dirt, Beyond Opposition, Beyond Bullying

Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936 by Dorothea Lange

Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936 by Dorothea Lange

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

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

 

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

Faces Of Kevin At 3 Years Old

Faces Of Kevin At 3 Years Old

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

Dirt and Faith on the Mexican Baja

Dirt and Faith on the Mexican Baja

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

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

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

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

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

Defying Opposition

Defying Opposition

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Bonus Material:

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

A Father's Gift, Liz Lemon Swindle

“A Father’s Gift”, Liz Lemon Swindle

——– 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

 ···oO0···

Smiles After Opposition

Smiles After Opposition

How Taking Out The Trash Made Me A Better Man

I remember when I was in Ninth Grade and on a campout with friends, we went on a five-mile hike with all our equipment. We were on a dusty country road, and one kid got off the beaten path and was walking through the brush at the side. He stumbled upon a pile of magazines, which he quickly discovered were discarded pornographic magazines. As one of the wilder ones among us, he immediately let out a whoop and called everyone over to him to share in the pleasure of his treasure. While most of my friends stayed on the road, a few joined him in looking through the pictures. I remember distinctly having to make a decision. Did I feel this was right, or did I feel this was wrong? I quickly decided that this was not just wrong but very wrong, and I chose not to join the boys combing through the trash pile. When our adult leaders learned of the experience, they suggested that we go back and load the pile of trash into the back of a station wagon, which we did, and most of us were glad to discard it more appropriately. We felt that removing the pile was the right decision.

ctr-ring-with-bibleIs the concept of right and wrong something you support, something you couldn’t care less about, or something you simply find confusing? Is it possible for any of us to find an answer? In my faith tradition, we have a concept of “Choose The Right”. As kids in Primary, our children’s organization, we receive small rings – CTR rings for Choose The Right. The overall principle of right and wrong is that God is the author of right things, that decisions abound, that each of us may receive guidance from God, and that He will help us to choose the right path. I think that, while at times God may not feel strongly which decision I make, at the times when He does, as a loving Father in Heaven, He tries hard to let me know. If I listen, I can choose the right.

I’m not the only one who thinks there are unequivocal rights and wrongs. St. Augustine of Hippo taught us, “Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.” And I love this gem of hope from Henry Eyring.

I have learned for myself that right and wrong actually exist and that God blesses us liberally when we choose the right.

Just As This Man Points The Way, So Does Our Heavenly Father...

Just As This Man Points The Way, So Does Our Heavenly Father…

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Bonus Material:

1. “We all tend to approach decisions about right and wrong in one of three ways.”
—Margaret R. McLean, Director of The Applied Ethics Center at O’Conner Hospital and Director of Health Care Ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California. Read more of her three ways.

2. Read, watch or listen to President Henry B. Eyring, “A Priceless Heritage of Hope”, Apr 2014 LDS General Conference.

Education And Family Scripture Study Help Us Learn Right And Wrong

Education And Family Scripture Study Help Us Learn Right And Wrong

——– End of Bonus Material ——–

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

  • Photo, CTR ring with scriptures—www. lds.org/search?query=ctr+ring&x=0&y=0&lang=eng&collection=media
  • Quote: “Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.”―St. Augustine of Hippo, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustine_of_Hippo, as quoted in www. goodreads.com/quotes/tag/right-and-wrong
  • Photo, “Just As This Man Points The Way, So Does Our Heavenly Father…”—Ensign, May 2014, Page 25
  • Photo, “Education And Family Scripture Study Help Us Learn Right And Wrong”—www. lds.org/topics/family-history?lang=eng
  • Photo, “A Loving Family Helps Us To Choose The Right”—kaileyraephoto.blogspot.com/

——– End of WebCredits ——–

A Loving Family Helps Us To Choose The Right

A Loving Family Helps Us To Choose The Right

 

A Good Reason To Get Beaten Up

Sometimes, you just gotta rock the boat and stand up for what you believe.

I remember that, when I was a kid in Columbia, Missouri, a friend at school picked a fight on the playground. He had criticized my beliefs as a Mormon and called me a moron. I chose to say, “Yes, I believe those things,” and he beat me up. A couple years later in Fifth Grade, while waiting in line at the water fountain in the hallway, another friend asked me, “Do you really believe that Old Joe Smith saw God?” I remember thinking, “Who the heck is Old Joe Smith?” And then it hit me that he was referring to the prophet Joseph Smith (whom I’d never heard called Old Joe Smith before). I said, “Yes, I do believe that Joseph Smith saw God.” He shrugged his shoulders, and that was the end of it. We got our sips of water and went back to class.

Sometimes We Row Alone

Sometimes We Row Alone

In my previous post, I discussed the importance of being at our best—Not the importance of individual achievement but of working as a team, when we all get in the boat together and pull as one. Have you noticed that being our best can demand more than mere teamwork? Sometimes, when singled out to row without help, criticized for what we think is right, we are called upon to stand alone. And while on occasion, it happens with a bang, like my fight on the playground, I’ve noticed that in general it happens quietly. Like when I volunteer at the Family History Center—I thought I would help others learn to connect with their families, but most of the time, I find I’m slowly learning more myself. Or when I’m together with friends of multiple faiths—Not only do I learn to listen better but also to express myself better so that I invite rather than annoy. No bang, just slow progress towards being our best and working as a team.

But, on occasion, we must be willing to rock the boat.

Mashed Potato Face

Mashed Potato Face

One young woman learned this as an LDS missionary. “My companion and I saw a man sitting on a bench in the town square eating his lunch. As we drew near, he looked up and saw our missionary name tags. With a terrible look in his eye, he jumped up and raised his hand to hit me. I ducked just in time, only to have him spit his food all over me and start swearing the most horrible things at us. We walked away saying nothing. I tried to wipe the food off of my face, only to feel a clump of mashed potato hit me in the back of the head. Sometimes it is hard being a missionary, because right then I wanted to go back, grab that man, and say, ‘EXCUSE ME!’ But I didn’t.”

Jeffrey R. Holland teaches us further:

Unfortunately, messengers of divinely mandated commandments are often no more popular today than they were anciently, as at least two spit-upon, potato-spattered sister missionaries can now attest.

Run Along And Pick Marigolds, Or Stand For Something

Run Along And Pick Marigolds, Or Stand For Something

It is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds.  [See Henry Fairlie, The Seven Deadly Sins Today (1978), Pages 15-16.]

Defend your beliefs with courtesy and with compassion, but defend them.

I have learned for myself the value of standing for something. It’s especially satisfying when I may do so as part of building a team that rows as one.

——– End of Post ——–

Bonus Material:

The importance and vitality of the strait and narrow path:

Be strong. Live the gospel faithfully even if others around you don’t live it at all. Defend your beliefs with courtesy and with compassion, but defend them. A long history of inspired voices, including those you will hear in this conference and the voice you just heard in the person of President Thomas S. Monson, point you toward the path of Christian discipleship. It is a strait path, and it is a narrow path without a great deal of latitude at some points, but it can be thrillingly and successfully traveled, “with … steadfastness in Christ, … a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.” In courageously pursuing such a course, you will forge unshakable faith, you will find safety against ill winds that blow, even shafts in the whirlwind, and you will feel the rock-like strength of our Redeemer, upon whom if you build your unflagging discipleship, you cannot fall. [Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Cost—and Blessings—of Discipleship”, Ensign, May 2014, Pages 6-9.]

Sometimes, You've Got To Rock The Boat

Sometimes, You’ve Got To Rock The Boat

——– End of Bonus Material ——–

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

  • Photo, “Sometimes We Row Alone”—pseudophilosoph.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/welcome-life-has-no-meaning-but-it-can/
  • Photo, “Mashed Potato Face”—www. flickr.com/photos/mamajulie2008/6883972123/
  • Photo, “Run Along And Pick Marigolds, Or Stand For Something”—rosylittlethings.typepad.com/posie_gets_cozy/2007/08/last-night.html
  • Photo, “Sometimes, You’ve Got To Rock The Boat”—hopeofglory.typepad.com/into_the_fire/2013/04/dont-rock-the-boat-baby.html
  • Photo, “Marigolds”—gardening.about.com/od/plantprofiles/ig/Marigolds/Marigold-Colors.htm

——– End of WebCredits ——–

Marigolds

Marigolds

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

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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/

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