Tag Archives: Stand In Holy Places

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!

Pains, Crucibles, Results

What is our mission in life?

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

What will be our ability to make these changes?

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

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

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

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nephi-fashioning-the-plates

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

Bonus Materials:

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

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

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

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

Selfless Gifts, Simple Gifts

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

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

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

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

 

Other selfless Christmas stories below. Enjoy!

A young boy gives selflessly to another child in need:

 

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

 

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

 

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

Here’s the audio:

Here’s the video with audio muted:

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

-Dave and the MormonPanorama Family

 


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

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

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

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

O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Dave and the MormonPanorama Family

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Bonus Materials:

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

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

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

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

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Storm Clouds Clearing…

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

Storm Clouds Clearing...

Storm Clouds Clearing…

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

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

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

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

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

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Bonus Materials:

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

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

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

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

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

Happy First Anniversary, MormonPanorama!

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

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

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

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

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

Kim explains:

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

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

Amanda shares with us:

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

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

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

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

-Dave and the MormonPanorama Family

Couple-in-Love7

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Bonus Materials:

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

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

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

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

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