Tag Archives: Standards Of Behavior

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

——– End of Post ——–

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

——– End of Bonus Materials ——–

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

——– End of WebCredits ——–

Proud New Dad

Proud New Dad

What Matt Brown Teaches Us All About Commitment

Faith, Discipline, Excellence: The Extraordinary Matt Brown

Faith, Discipline, Excellence: The Extraordinary Matt Brown

Matt Brown is a wrestler. And he’s a man of commitments. Penn State’s Mike Bacior explains. Let’s look closer:

Commitment is (a) a promise to do or give something, (b) a promise to be loyal to someone or something, and (c) an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action.

Let’s take these in reverse order.

  1. Restricts your freedom of action:
    Once I commit to go to a certain medical school, I also limit my options. While in school, my schedule may not be my own. I can’t poke or prod people in fun anymore. I am no longer free to walk by an injured person on the street without taking action. “The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it is not without doubt, but in spite of doubt.”—Rollo May, The Courage to Create, Page 21.
    .
  2. commit-to-give-hands-upA promise to be loyal:
    Once I commit to think for myself, I also have to take responsibility for mistaken thoughts. But through making these mistakes, I learn to have my own voice, to be loyal to myself. The mistakes are not nearly as vital as having thoughts of my own. “It’s not so important that you have correct thoughts as that you have thoughts!”—Arthur Henry King (see also his reading list).
    .
  3. A promise to give:
    Once I commit to give my hand in marriage, I also promise to do many things. And I promise not to do many things. Many of which have much to do with (1) and (2) above. “Love means to commit oneself without guarantee, to give oneself completely in the hope that our love will produce love in the loved person. Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also of little love.”—Erich Fromm

Matt Brown is a man who commits. He loves winning. He loves wrestling. He loves his faith. He loves his wife.

I have learned to practice the three lessons above. I think for myself. Rather than embrace my fear of commitment, I commit and embrace the accompanying restrictions on my freedom of action.

One thing I love about my six adult children is that they have learned these same lessons. Wrestling helped. Or maybe they learned it from rugby, football, or lifeguarding. Maybe they do it because they saw that their mom and I commit. Regardless, they apply these same lessons every day. They are committed to their families, to their faith, to themselves, to becoming their best self. And like Matt, they have found that by giving of themselves, they find themselves. Each day, they put away their fear and choose to commit.

commit-man-diving-off-cliff

Some people try to get you to fear commitment. Many know the blessings of commitment. Matt Brown is one of many who know.

——– End of Post ——–

Bonus Materials:

Julie Beck describes women who know to commit and who lead others to commit. Read, watch or listen. Julie B. Beck, “Mothers Who Know”, Oct 2007 LDS General Conference.

Matt Brown on making choices to use time wisely.

 

Matt Brown, Committing Yet Again

Matt Brown, Committing Yet Again

——– End of Bonus Materials ——–

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

  • Header photo, “Faruk Şahin (US Army) Throws Mark Rial (Gator Wrestling Club) at USA Wrestling World Team Trials, 31 May 2009”—www. armymwr.com/news/archive/news.aspx?nid=116
  • Photo, “Faith, Discipline, Excellence: The Extraordinary Matt Brown”—onwardstate.com/2015/03/06/faith-discipline-excellence-the-extraordinary-matt-brown
  • Photo, commit-to-give-hands-up—owelpapel.wordpress.com
  • Photo, commit-man-diving-off-cliff— livebold.org/the-ultimate-life-experience
  • Photo, “Matt Brown, Committing Yet Again”— pennlive.com/sports/index.ssf/2015/03/ncaa_finals_breakdown_penn_sta.html
  • Photo, “Decide. Commit. Succeed.”— bringingbackawesome.com/commit-to-you/#sthash.VrGzM2PO.dpbs

——– End of WebCredits ——–

decide-commit-succeed

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

——– End of Post ——–

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.

——– End of Bonus Materials ——–

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.’

——– End of WebCredits ——–

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

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

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

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

Family In Love

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

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

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

-Dave and the MormonPanorama Family

——– End of Post ——–

We Love Our Kids

We Love Our Kids

 

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

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

——– End of WebCredits ——–

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

——– End of Post ——–

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.

——– End of Bonus Materials ——–

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

——– End of WebCredits ——–

 

What’s In It For Me?

2010 Earthquake in Haiti

2010 Earthquake in Haiti

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

And from President Oscarson on feeling these things down deep:

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

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

Haiti Earthquake, Disaster Relief

Haiti Earthquake, Disaster Relief

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Bonus Materials:

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

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

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

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

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

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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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

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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

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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

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Couple in Love

Couple in Love

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

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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

Safe And Secure Walls Around Us

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

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

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

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

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

Learning The Importance Of The Wall On The Side

Learning The Importance Of The Wall On The Side

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Family Garden

Family Garden

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

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

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

Building Strong Young Adults

Building Strong Young Adults

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

.
.

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

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

Still Sharing And Finding Safety And Security In The Wall

Still Sharing And Finding Safety And Security In The Wall

——– End of Post ——–

Bonus Material:

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

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

Raising Strong, Studly Adults Who Contribute To Society

Raising Strong, Studly Adults Who Contribute To Society

——– End of Bonus Material ——–

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

  • Ukiyo-e Woodblock Print, “Great Wave Off Kanagawa”, Hokusai (1829-32)—en.wikipedia. org/wiki/File:Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa2.jpg, with further info at en.wikipedia. org/wiki/The_Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa
  • Photo, “Learning The Importance Of The Wall On The Side”—www. eagerbeaverswimschool.com/
  • Photo, “Start ‘Em Young To Have Confidence In The Wall”—www. examiner.com/article/study-swimming-lessons-appear-to-have-a-protective-effect-against-drowning-for-tots

——– End of WebCredits ——–

Start 'Em Young To Have Confidence In The Wall

Start ‘Em Young To Have Confidence In The Wall

5 Secrets of Staying Clean

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

Staying Clean And Sober

Staying Clean And Sober

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

Getting Clean, Staying Clean

Getting Clean, Staying Clean

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

So, here are some secrets of staying clean:

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

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

Alma Baptizing People (Mosiah 18:7-17)

Alma Baptizing People (Mosiah 18:7-17)

——– End of Post ——–

Bonus Material:

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

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

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

——– End of Bonus Material ——–

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

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

——– End of WebCredits ——–

St. Tammany Katrina Clean-up

St. Tammany Katrina Clean-up

Scriptures, Sacred Feelings, and Other Small and Simple Things

There’s an expression that some people are “closed books”. It indicates someone who cannot be easily understood, someone unfathomable or puzzling, while others are “open books”. One may feel this way about a book of sacred writings. Some people I know feel that holy books are closed to them. Other friends feel that a book of God has things that speak specifically to them.

As a youth long ago, I learned to love the scriptures. To me, they are open books. In Seventh Grade, I remember starting to see specific verses as if they were a good friend. Learning, pondering, searching, and memorizing scriptures is like filling a cabinet with friends, values, and truths that can be called upon any time, anywhere in the world:

(Or same video at lds.org link.)

One’s feelings are key to an open book. If I love an author, it’s usually because I love the way the writer uses words, how I feel about how she or he expresses thoughts in writing. Some authors I like because they express thoughts similar to mine, while I love others, having expressed thoughts so distinct from mine, due to the way they open my mind to new things. What’s essential is less the words of sacred authors and more how their meaning resonates both to my mind and to my heart. God combines intellect and inspiration to tailor something personal to me, that nourishes my spirit, food that I need to feed my soul on a daily basis. Watch how he taught the Children of Israel this lesson:

(Or same video at lds.org link.)

I particularly love how I have come to see the scriptures as a proactive attempt on God’s part to be less puzzling, and I understand that openness to spiritual feelings is an important part of that. These spiritual feelings come in whispers to my soul. Did not our heart burn within us, …while he opened to us the scriptures? Heavenly Father speaks directly to his children through the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. One of life’s true paradoxes is that through these whispered feelings and thoughts, he does wonderful works through us.  By small and simple things, God brings to pass great things. “…by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.” 

As a boy, Joseph Smith learned from his parents to trust the scriptures. He learned to read by them, studied them, and struggled to understand them better. When reading James 1:5-6, he learned to ask important questions with confidence that God would reveal to him the answers. By following those answers, Joseph was able to help his family find certainty in uncertain times.

The epitome of the power of the small and the simple is expressed by the essence of this Christmas season—By a babe long ago in a manger in Bethlehem. Watch how we may use his scriptures to make small and simple changes to our actions in order to bring more peace into the world.

(Or same video at mormonchannel.org link.)

Christ wants all of us to feel safe and secure, even when we have pains and troubles, big or small. I have learned for myself that he has given us the scriptures to guide us away from ideas that lead us to mistakes and regrets and towards peace and happiness, both for us and for those near and dear to us. From our family to yours, may you have the happiest and holiest of holidays.

——– End of Post ——–

Bonus Material:

1. Watch how a teenage competition through a maze is used as an analogy to show how the scriptures help us get through life. (Length: 10:02.)

2. Watch how this teacher encourages young men to search the scriptures. (Length: 1:41.)

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

  • Photo, family scripture study—www. lds.org/media-library/images/scripture-study?lang=eng#family-scripture-study-208903
  • Video, “Words with Friends”—www. youtube.com/watch?v=IyMlkkkcbfs
  • Video, “Daily Bread: Pattern”—www. youtube.com/watch?v=2eMJ6ZDCAp4
  • Illustration, Joseph searching scriptures—www. lds.org/media-library/images/gospel-art/church-history?lang=eng&start=1&end=10#joseph-searching-scriptures-37717
  • Photo, snowflake ornament—www. lds.org/media-library/images/christmas?lang=eng&start=21&end=30#snowflake-ornament-130226
  • Video, “The Maze”—www. lds.org/media-library/video/2012-06-1030-the-maze?lang=eng
  • Video, “Searching the Scriptures”—www. lds.org/media-library/video/2013-03-002-searching-the-scriptures?lang=eng
  • Photo, lights in snow on Temple Square—www. lds.org/media-library/images/christmas?lang=eng&start=51&end=60#lights-temple-square-613721

——– End of WebCredits ——–

Women of Power, Women of Influence

Don't Be A DummyThis morning, I was struck by this thought-provoking sentence: “I don’t know one of [my own circle of girlfriends] who doesn’t have feelings of lingering discomfort regarding her own sexual past.” I read this in a footnote to a talk in a recent LDS General Conference interestingly titled, “The Moral Force of Women.”

The entire two-paragraph context by author Jennifer Moses is good:

So here we are, the feminist and postfeminist and postpill generation. We somehow survived our own teen and college years (except for those who didn’t), and now, with the exception of some Mormons, evangelicals and Orthodox Jews, scads of us don’t know how to teach our own sons and daughters not to give away their bodies so readily. We’re embarrassed, and we don’t want to be, God forbid, hypocrites.

Still, in my own circle of girlfriends, the desire to push back is strong. I don’t know one of them who doesn’t have feelings of lingering discomfort regarding her own sexual past. And not one woman I’ve ever asked about the subject has said that she wishes she’d “experimented” more.

Don't Short Change YourselfIn fact, the entire WSJ article is good, and not only because it stirred up a strident response. (See “Why Do We Let Them Dress Like That?”, Jennifer Moses, Wall Street Journal, 19 Mar 2011, Page C3). Here is a selection from the address that referenced Moses’ article:

[In the view of many in the world, in sharp contrast to God’s view,] there has long been a cultural double standard that expected women to be sexually circumspect while excusing male immorality. The unfairness of such a double standard is obvious, and it has been justifiably criticized and rejected. In that rejection, one would have hoped that men would rise to the higher, single standard, but just the opposite has occurred—women and girls are now encouraged to be as promiscuous as the double standard expected men to be. Where once women’s higher standards demanded commitment and responsibility from men, we now have sexual relations without conscience, fatherless families, and growing poverty. Equal-opportunity promiscuity simply robs women of their moral influence and degrades all of society. In this hollow bargain, it is men who are “liberated” and women and children who suffer most. (“The Moral Force of Women”, D. Todd Christofferson, LDS General Conference, Oct 2013. )

In his address, Christofferson also teaches us the importance of appreciating everyone’s influence for good, regardless of the ways they work all day: “A pernicious philosophy that undermines women’s moral influence is the devaluation of marriage and of motherhood and homemaking as a career. Some view homemaking with outright contempt, arguing that it demeans women and that the relentless demands of raising children are a form of exploitation. They ridicule what they call “the mommy track” as a career. This is not fair or right. We do not diminish the value of what women or men achieve in any worthy endeavor or career—we all benefit from those achievements—but we still recognize there is not a higher good than motherhood or fatherhood in marriage.”

Are Your Standards ShrinkingIn a second footnote are cited important words from another address: “If being ‘selfless’ means a woman must give up her own inner identity and personal growth, that understanding of selflessness is wrong… But today’s liberationist model goes too far the other way, stereotyping women as excessively independent of their families. A more sensible view is that husbands and wives are interdependent with each other… The critics who moved mothers from dependence to independence skipped the fertile middle ground of interdependence. Those who moved mothers from selflessness to selfishness skipped the fertile middle ground of self-chosen service that contributes toward a woman’s personal growth. Because of these excesses, debates about the value of motherhood have, ironically, caused the general society to discount not only mothers but women in general.” (“Motherhood and the Moral Influence of Women”, Bruce C. Hafen, World Congress of Families II, Geneva, Switzerland, Plenary Session IV, 16 Nov 1999.)

Some may assume that these thoughts refer to virtue, to dressing modestly, or to the value of a working woman, rather than viewing them as a related whole. For me, the issue here is one of influence and of power. Women wield power and influence in diverse ways, and everyone should appreciate good work, independent of where a woman chooses to do it. I have learned for myself that, regardless of our views, it is selfish to say unkind things. We can learn to use our power and influence to build rather than to belittle, even if a person makes choices we would not make for ourselves. Women should not limit themselves to roles that others define for them. The far-reaching effects of the power and influence of women is well described in and certainly not limited to the why-do-we-let-our-kids-wear-immodest-clothes article by Jennifer Moses, Matt Walsh’s …Me?-Ha!-I-WORK! post, Sheri Dew’s two-are-better-than-one talk, or Julie Beck’s mothers-who-know address. “The world’s greatest champion of woman and womanhood is Jesus the Christ.” (Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society, Page 3.)

Early in her life, my wife 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.

——– End of Post ——–

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

  • Poster, Don’t Be A Dummy: A mannequin wears whatever the world is selling. Your standards are higher than that.—www.lds.org/media-library/images/mormonads/dress-and-appearance?lang=eng#mormonad-dont-be-a-dummy-1118328 [Church standards of modesty apply equally to all genders.]
  • Poster, Don’t Short Change Yourself: The way you dress advertises your standards. Send the right message. (See For The Strength Of Youth, P. 8.)—www. lds.org/media-library/images/mormonads/dress-and-appearance?lang=eng#mormonad-short-change-1118313 [Church standards of modesty apply equally to all genders.]
  • Article, “Why Do We Let Them Dress Like That?”, Jennifer Moses, Wall Street Journal, 19 Mar 2011—online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748703899704576204580623018562
  • Address, “The Moral Force of Women,” D. Todd Christofferson, LDS General Conference, Oct 2013—www. lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/the-moral-force-of-women?lang=eng
  • Poster, Are Your Standards Shrinking? If it’s too tight, too short, or too revealing, it doesn’t fit church standards. Don’t stretch your standards to fit the world’s. (See For The Strength Of Youth, P. 14-16.)—www. lds.org/media-library/images/mormonads/dress-and-appearance?lang=eng#mormonad-standards-shrinking-1118383 [Church standards of modesty apply equally to all genders.]
  • Address, “Motherhood and the Moral Influence of Women,” Bruce C. Hafen, World Congress of Families II, Geneva, Switzerland, Plenary Session IV, 16 Nov 1999 —worldcongress.org/wcf2_spkrs/wcf2_hafen.htm
  • Blog Post, “You’re a stay-at-home mom? What do you DO all day?”, Matt Walsh—themattwalshblog.com/2013/10/09/youre-a-stay-at-home-mom-what-do-you-do-all-day/
  • Address, “It Is Not Good for Man or Woman to Be Alone”, Sheri L. Dew, LDS General Conference, Oct 2001—www. lds.org/general-conference/2001/10/it-is-not-good-for-man-or-woman-to-be-alone?lang=eng
  • Address, “Mothers Who Know”, Julie B. Beck, LDS General Conference, Oct 2007—www. lds.org/general-conference/2007/10/mothers-who-know?lang=eng
  • Book, Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society (2011, Intellectual Reserve, Inc., United States of America)—www. lds.org/relief-society/?lang=eng

——– End of WebCredits ——–

Prayer And Getting Out Of Our Comfort Zone

Knock, And It Shall Be Opened Unto You

Knock, And It Shall Be Opened Unto You

To include prayer in our lives is to invite sacred moments into our lives. Watch the video Earthly Father, Heavenly Father:

(Or same video at lds.org link.)

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.

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

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

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

Vintage Prayer Rug

Vintage Prayer Rug

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

  • Photo, “Knock, And It Shall Be Opened Unto You”—westsoundmodern.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/go-away-im-washing-my-hair-2/knock-knock-3/
  • Video, “Earthly Father, Heavenly Father”—www. youtube.com/watch?v=R5FxdCgD-qI
  • Photo, “Vintage Prayer Rug”—www .persiancarpetguide.com/sw-asia/Rugs/Turkmen/Arsary/Arsary94.htm
  • Photo, young-man-kneeling-in-prayer-from-Chap 5-ETBenson-manual—www .lds.org/manual/teachings-of-presidents-of-the-church-ezra-taft-benson/chapter-5-principles-of-true-repentance?lang=eng

——– End of WebCredits ——–

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