Thursday, December 08, 2011

Romans 15:1-2

Romans 15:1-2 ~ WE then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.

I’m not sure when I found this scripture the first time, but I was reading from my mission set of scriptures a few weeks ago and found that I had especially marked this scripture.  I read it again and realized that all this scripture says is that we ought to be like Jesus.  We ought to serve others and when we serve others, we are edified and find joy.  I know from experience that when I focus on myself and my “hobbies” instead of my family or my home-teaching families, I am not happy at all.  Only when I re-focus my efforts and serve others do I find the joy that I always want to have.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Recap of October 2011 Conference

Right before October Conference, I did a recap of the April 2011 Conference.  Our Stake President, from what I've heard, highlights all the 'commandments' from each conference.  He then summarizes these on a sheet of paper and then laminates this paper to remind him what he needs to work on between conferences.

This is the best method I've heard of for trying to study, remember and implement what we hear in General Conference.

Taking that as my basis, I created my own little procedure for studying conference talks.  I work my conference talks studies into my daily scripture study.  First I read a chapter or two from the Book of Mormon.  Then I read a bit from the Sunday School weekly reading assignment.  After that, I read a talk from the conference edition of the Ensign.  I usually read one talk a day.

As for order of talks ... first I will read all the Apostle's talks (1st Presidency and Council of the Twelve).  I highlight "commandments" in each talk.  I will underline key ideas and comments as well.  After I've done this for all the Apostles' talks, I summarize the 'commandments' in a post - which is this post.

After that, I will go back and read all the non-Apostle talks.

Here's the October 2011 recap:

Elder Richard G. Scott - The Power of Scripture
learn, ponder, search and memorize scripture.
methods unlock revelation, provide guidance and inspiration; accelerates physical healing.
mark your copy of the scriptures
put notes in the margin
use all the standard works (OT, NT, BoM, D&C, PoGP)
"those who consistently read the Book of Mormon are blessed with an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a greater resolve to obey His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the divinity of the Son of God."

President Boyd K. Packer - Counsel to Youth
only employ sacred power of procreation when you are wedded as a husband and wife.
the voice of the Spirit comes as a feeling; as a thought
you will not make a major mistake without first being warned by the promptings of the Spirit
you hold the key (repentance) that will unlock the prison door from the inside
youth today are being raised in enemy territory
dress modestly, talk reverently; listen to uplifting music, avoid all immorality and personally degrading practices.
take hold of your life and be valiant.
trust in the Lord with all your heart
be trustworthy
surround yourself with friends who desire to be trustworthy as well

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf - You Matter to Him
man is nothing
always retain in your memory that we are nothing and that God is great
the worth of the souls is great in the eyes of God
Satan appeals to us with prideful tendencies as well as the fantasy of our own self-importance and invincibility.
Satan also tries to discourage us.
do your best; incline your heart to God and be willing to help those who are around you.
God loves you
what you see and experience now is not what forever will be.  you will feel loneliness, sorrow, pain or discouragement from time to time, but it will not last forever.

Elder David A. Bednar - The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn
"The spirit, power and calling of Elijah is, that ye have power to hold the key of the fullness of the Melchizedek Priesthood and to obtain all the ordinances belonging to the kingdom of God
it is sealing authority - it is essential for priesthood ordinances to be binding both on earth and in heaven.
greatest work is to seek after our dead
seal our children and our dead
the Saints come up as saviors on Mount Zion
Spirit of Elijah is a manifestation of the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the divine nature of the family.
identify, document and cherish ancestors and family members
don't wait for some arbitrary age limit to begin family history work.
learn and experience the Spirit of Elijah
"And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary.  As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives."
help your children to learn and experience Spirit of Elijah
devote more time to family history and less time playing video games, facebooking and surfing the Internet

Elder Neil L. Andersen - Children
be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth - commandment remains in force.
reject false concepts and false teachings and remain true to that which God has commanded.
he cited a blog post by a Christian mother (link)
express gratitude and love for wife - for bearing and caring for children
act in faith; never forget, dismiss or neglect God's commandment to multiply and replenish earth
do not be judgemental of others in this private and sacred responsibility
humbly seek to understand and accept God's commandments by reverently listening to Holy Ghost.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson - The Divine Gift of Repentance
"If we do not invite others to change or if we do not demand repentance of ourselves, we fail in a fundamental duty we owe to one another and to ourselves."
pray for mercy
pray for time and opportunity to work and strive to overcome
desire to come to judgement worthily
replace weakness with strength
improve your capacity to live the celestial law
abandon sin; commit to obedience
feel it

Elder L. Tom Perry - Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear
help "disabuse the public mind" and correct misinformation when we are portrayed as something we are not
share who we are
be righteous examples to others - let your light shine
speak up about the church; share you beliefs with others
accept their invitations; engage in two-way conversations
be respectful and civil; honest and open
avoid arguing; avoid becoming defensive
use the Internet and social media to reach out and share beliefs
add your voice to Internet conversations
do not put a 'spin' on our message

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland - We Are All Enlisted
care enough; sign on; speak up
do not voluntarily bind your tongue; open your mouth and speak miracles
sit up; take notice
be more morally clean than you are now
stay on the team; stop dribbling out of bounds; get in the game; play your hearts out!
be active, be clean; get active, get clean
need stronger, more devoted voice - a voice not only against evil, but voice for good - a voice for the gospel - a voice for God
unbind your tongue; watch your words work wonders

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf - Providing in the Lord's Way
remember the poor, the needy, the sick, the afflicted
love God, love your neighbor - all other goals and actions should spring from those two great commandments
have self-reliance
serve your neighbor
care for the poor
"the lord's way is not to sit at the side of the stream and wait for the water to pass before we cross.  it is to come together, roll up our sleeves, go to work, and build a bridge or a boat to cross the waters of our challenges."
study the revealed principles and doctrines - read the handbooks
reread the June 2011 Ensign
seek to apply what you have learned - you need to figure it out for yourself
individuals are responsible for personal self-reliance
sacrifice your time, talents, resources

President Henry B. Eyring - Preparation in the Priesthood: "I Need Your Help"
work with all your heart, mind and strength
serve and teach others
we must strive to have more and more self-discipline every day of our lives
build your faith through service
give more effort than you think you can give

President Thomas S. Monson - Dare to Stand Alone
have the moral courage to stand firm
be worthy
stand in holy places
do not be immoral
do not be dishonest; do not cheat or lie or use filthy language
read the book of mormon and ponder its teachings - ask heavenly father if it is true
share your testimony with others
be ready, always, give give an answer to your hope in Christ

President Henry B. Eyring - A Witness
mourn with those that mourn; stand in need of comfort, stand as a witness of god at all times and places; be redeemed, be numbered with those of the first resurrection
be charitable
be a witness of god
have courage to be a witness
"in one who is wholly converted, desire for things contrary to the gospel of jesus christ has actually died, and substituted therefor is a love of god with a fixed and controlling determination to keep his commandments" marion g. romney
drink deeply and often from the pages of the book of mormon

Elder Robert D. Hales - Waiting upon the Lord: Thy Will be Done
accept and carry out father's plan
wait on the lord
purpose of life is to grow, develop and be strengthened
wait upon the lord
mortal challenges allow us and heavenly father to see whether we will exercise our agency to follow his son
wait means to hop, to anticipate and to trust
plant seeds of faith and nourish them
ponder things in our heart
continue in patience
stand fast and press forward
rely alone on the merits of christ
cast not away your confidence
watch with him and wait upon him

Elder M. Russell Ballard - The Importance of a Name
take upon you the name of Christ
be obedient unto the end of your lives
do not transgress the name
take the name of Christ upon you
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ... not the Mormon church
teach the world this correct usage
follow Jesus Christ
remember to retain Christ's name always in your heart
stand as a witness
be willing to let others know whom we follow and to whose church we belong
we don't need to stop using the name Mormon, but we should emphasize correct usage of the correct name of the church
develop the habit within families and church activities and daily interactions by making it clear the name is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

President Thomas S. Monson - Stand in Holy Places
behaviors which were once considered inappropriate and immoral are now not only tolerated but also viewed by ever so many as acceptable
"we have been spending our moral capital with the same reckless abandon that we have been spending our financial capital" (Rabbi Sacks)
there is no counter-voice to the culture of but it, spent it, wear it, flaunt it, because you're worth it - the message is that morality is passe
our code of conduct = ten commandments and sermon on the mount
there is nothing which can bring more joy into our lives or more peace to our souls than the spirit which can come to us as we follow the savior and keep the commandments
be vigilant!
reject anything that does not conform to our standards, refusing ... to surrender ... eternal life
refuse to surrender eternal life
the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever
communicate with heavenly father through prayer
watch and pray always
work toward the goal of establishing a daily relationship with god through prayer
learn to recognize the holy ghost - trust it - follow it
trust in inspiration
be worthy to receive inspiration - trust it - follow it
draw near to the lord - seek him diligently ... as we do so, his spirit will provide us the desire and courage to stand strong and firm in righteousness ... to stand in holy places and be not moved.

Elder Russell M. Nelson - Covenants
make, keep and honor sacred covenants (a promise with God)

Elder Dallin H. Oaks - Teachings of Jesus
The way is desire and obedience.
As to desire, Jesus taught, 'ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.'
As to obedience, 'if any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of god, or whether i speak of myself.'

Elder Quentin L. Cook - The Songs They Could Not Sing
mourn and strive to bear one another's burdens
god is no respecter of persons **personal commentary on this point - i wonder if this phrase also means that god is no respecter of persons when it comes to trials or tragedies?  as the story of the titanic notes, some returning missionaries were "saved" from the tragic fate because one of the elders was late, while another member of the church (a faithful sister) was not spared and suffered the same fate of many passengers**
righteousness, prayer and faithfulness will not always result in happy endings in mortality
**more personal commentary - are we sometimes too quick to attribute good behavior as to why we are blessed?  good fortune and tragic circumstances fall on both the righteous and wicked.  as elder cook notes, we should be grateful for blessings.  but, personally speaking, i wonder if we should not be quick to attribute our blessings to righteous living.  similarly, we should not be quick to attribute misfortune to dis-obedience.  blessedness/misfortune should be considered independent of wickedness/righteousness.**
"adverse results in this mortal life are not evidence of lack of faith or of an imperfection in our father in heaven's overall plan."
trials perfect us and purify us and prepare us to meet god
these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good
the righteous are not lost ... the wicked will be held accountable for the atrocities they perpetrate
avoid dwelling on lost opportunities in this life (unfulfilled potential)
look through the wide and clear lens of the gospel instead of the limited lens of mere mortal existence

President Thomas S. Monson - Until We Meet Again
express thanks
i acknowledge His hand in all things
personal gratitude
express our deep appreciation
express profound appreciation
thank my brethren
express my gratitude
express my appreciation
strive to keep the commandments and seek Him through prayer
how blessed we are
thank you
thank you
express my gratitude
show increased kindness
be found doing the work of the lord
constantly nourish your testimony
remember me and all general authorities in your prayers

Monday, November 21, 2011 Profile

I finally got around to making a profile!

You can read it here.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

FHE on Prayer

I had to pull together a last-minute FHE lesson after dinner last night.  I usually will find a Friend article, in these situations, and read the article and discuss it.  So as I was flipping through the Friend, I found a nice short article on prayer.  It was about a couple of kids who used prayer in their lives.  The article also had some activities that you could do to help re-inforce the message.  One of these had an activity to find examples of prayer in the scriptures, but a better idea came to me and it turned out really well.

I asked my son to get the "blue box" of Church pictures.  I put the box in the middle of the floor.  Then, before I read the article, I told the kids that I was going to start a sentence and I wanted them to finish it.  I started the sentence, "Prayer is ..."  They each came up with their ideas ... beautiful, reverent, talking to God, quiet.  Then I read the article.  We talked about it a bit and then each of them wanted to share their own experiences with personal prayer and so we all listend to their personal experiences.

Then we all sat on the floor around the "blue box."  I split the pictures up between everyone in the family.  I then asked them to put the pictures that dealt with prayer in one pile and then put all the other pictures in another pile.  Then I took all their non-prayer pictures and put them back in the box.  Then I showed them how many scripture story pictures were about prayer.  I quickly went through each one; briefly recounting the story or having one of the kids recount the story.  Then I asked them, "was their prayer answered?"  Of course they were!  And just seeing all the stories in the scriptures and talking about how those prayers were answered not only helped the kids, but it really strengthened my faith too.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Israel Surrounded

This article, by Victor Davis Hanson, really raised my eyebrows ... especially the last paragraph.

So brace yourself. The next war against Israel is no longer a matter of if — only when. And it will be far more deadly than any we’ve witnessed in quite some time.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Recap of April 2011 Conference

With the October 2011 General Conference a couple of weeks away, I thought I'd do a recap of all the Apostle's talks - with emphasis on what we should do.

President Monson - opening remarks
pay your tithes and offerings and be generous with them.  contribute to other funds of the church.  consider making a donation to the general missionary fund of the church.

Elder Perry - The Sabbath and the Sacrament
commit to study and treasure the new testament.
go to the house of prayer (sacrament meeting & church meetings).
avoid worldly distractions, business and recreational activities on sunday.
confess & forsake our errors to heavenly father.
dress appropriately on the sabbath.
teach our children to love the sabbath by going to church

Elder Cook - LDS Women Are Incredible!
wives are equal to their husbands.  marriage requires full partnership - husbands and wives work side by side. to meet the needs of the family.

President Eyring - Opportunities to Do Good
consecrate your time, means and yourself to serve others.
keep your covenants by acting on feelings of sympathy.
provide for youself, your family and then reach out to help others.
spend less than you earn; with the surplus, give to others.
draw your family into the work of helping others; so they can learn from your example.
seek out the poor - it is a commandment.
prepare yourself.  be pureified, strengthened; serve god and others

President Packer - Guided by the Holy Spirit
refer to members of the church properly i.e. latter-day saints
be responsible, caring, devoted to your wife and children and revere womanhood.  nurture spiritual growth in your children.
love one another and frankly forgive offenses.
leave it alone ... forgive, forget and leave it alone.
mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that need it, be a witness of god always.
do a lot of forgiving and a little repenting.

Elder Nelson - Face the Future with Faith
combat fear by strengthening your faith.
strengthen the faith of your children.
focus your faith on heavenly father and jesus christ.  teach children they are a child of god.  teach faith in the plan of salvation; that this life is a probation - a trial - a test.
keep all of god's commandments.
faith and obedience will provide physical and spiritual protection.
faith is fortified through heartfelt prayer - intense & impassioned prayers.
enduring commitment to being a full tithe-payer is essential.
why do we need faith?  because difficult days are ahead.
the saints will suffer persecution - how you react to that persecution will either crush you or motivate you.
the future is as bright as your faith.

Elder Oaks - Desire
search your heart to determine what you really desire; determine how you rank your most important desires.
you develop desire when you have a vision of what you can become.  when you have that vision, your power to act increases enormously.
desires must be heartfelt - unwavering - permanent.
deliberately decide to lose wrong desires.
insist over and over again what you desire to become and you will become it.
work for the qualities required to become an eternal being.
do all that you can do to preserve your temple marriage.

Elder Ballard - Finding Joy through Loving Service
strive to keep your life simple and unencumbered by extraneous influences; focus on those things that matter most.
love god & christ with all your heart and share that love through acts of kindness.
when charity envelops us, our motivation and heartfelt desires are like christ's.
let the golden rule govern your home.  speak words of support and encouragement; be sensitive to other's needs.
kindness is the essence of greatness.
discern needs and then respond to those needs.
be sensitive to the promptings of the holy ghost.
help with mundane tasks.
unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives.
desire the gift of charity.

Elder Anderson - Preparing the World for the Second Coming
sidney going (rugby star athlete) said, "the blessing of bringing others into the gospel far outweighs anything you will ever sacrifice.
thousands have not asked "what will i get from my mission" rather they've asked "what can i give?"
prepare for service as a missionary - keep clean, pure and worthy to represent the lord.

President Uchtdorf - Your Potential, Your Privilege
partake of the abundant feast of spiritual opportunities and universal blessings the priesthood provides.
when impressed upon by the spirit, do it now.
read the scriptures - listen to the prophets with all your heart and mind.
don't let a day go by without doing something to act on the promptings of the holy ghost.
commit to reading the scriptures and handbooks with more purpose and focus.
read d&c 84, 107, 121
study the purpose, potential and practical use of the priesthood.
become experts in the doctrines of the gospel - especially the doctrine of the priesthood.
seek personal revelation.
plead with the lord to provide us with a spark of faith that will enable us to receive revelation.
experience the bliss of daily, practical priesthood service.
never become hardened at the wonder and awe of what the lord has entrusted to us.

President Eyring - Learning in the Priesthood
learn your duties in the priesthood and grow in the power to perform them.
love each other and don't find fault with each other.
be a peacemaker - someone who helps people find common ground when others see differences.
with enough desire to be a peacemake and to have charity, unity is possible; but it takes patience and humilty.
labor for the salvation of men.
"in the priesthood we share the sacred duty to labor for the souls of men.  we must do more than learn that this is our duty.  it must go down into our hearts so deeply that neither the many demans on our efforts in the bloom of life nor the trials that come with age can turn us from that purpose."
be determined to do something that matters.

President Monson - Priesthood Power
"the moral compass of the masses has gradually shifted to an 'almost anything goes' position."
do not subject yourself to the innuendo and outright filth from today's media (tv, movies)
stay completely away from pornography.  avoid alcohol & tabacco, drugs and addictions.
read the book of mormon.
keep your testimony alive through obedience and regular prayer and scripture study and chuch attendance.
cease any unrighteousness.
reject false concepts and teachings; and remain true to god's commandments.
get married.
in most cases, divorce does not have to be the outcome.
choose your love; love your choice.
be the right person in your marriage.  do your part.
be committed to your wife.

President Uchtdorf - Waiting on the Road to Damascus
look back on your life experiences and see that the savior has been with you.
move forward with faith and do not wait too long.
turn down the volume control on the worldly noise in your life.
learn to hearken to the promptings of the holy ghost and then be eager to heed them.
rely on and respond to the promptings of the holy ghost.
study it out in your mind, pray for guidance.
often the answer does not come on our knees, but on our feet while we are serving the lord and those around us.
open your mouth at all times.
"preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words."

Elder Bednar - The Spirit of Revelation
the spirit of revelation typically functions as thoughts and feelings that come into our minds and hearts from the holy ghost.
consider seriously and ponder prayfully how we can reject the devil's enticements
revelation comes in small increments according to our desire for it, our worthiness and preparation.
appreciate and don't overlook the customary pattern by which the holy ghost accomplishes his work.
keep pressing forward obediently.
trust in god - pray to him.

President Monson - The Holy Temple - a Beacon to the World
temples are filled with faith and fasting; built by trials and testimonies; sanctified by sacrifice and service.
set aside time in your busy life to visit the temple regularly.
there is no more important goal for you than to be worthy to go to the temple.
secure a temple recommend and regard it as a precious possession.
always have the temple in your sights.
indoctrinate your children to love the temple.

Elder Scott - The Eternal Blessing of Marriage
don't waste your time on idle pursuits if you are a young man and are not married.
be faithful to your wife - mentally, physically.
support your wife and children.
lead in scripture study, family prayer, fhe.
tell your wife, often, that you love her, hug her, express gratitude, don't hold back heart-felt expressions of love.
give, share, don't think of yourself first.
get married early in life so as to avoid developing inappropriate character traits that are hard to change.

Elder Christofferson - As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten
"the god portrayed in both the hebrew and christian scriptures asks, not just for commitment, but for our very lifes.  the god of the bible traffics in life and death, not niceness, and calls for sacrificial love, not benign whatever-ism."
be willing to accept and even seek correction.
rejoice that god considers us worth the time and trouble to correct.
repent; refine yourself; sanctify yourself; redirect your life course when god knows a better path.
parents can and must correct and even chasten.
"when a person in a position to correct another fails to do so, he is thinking of himself."
"if we resist correction, others may discontinue offering it altogether.  if we repeatedly fail to act on the chastening of a loving god, then he too will desist."
become self-correcting
analyze your peformance in every assignment and task; determine what could be done better.
pray for god's love-inspired correction.

Elder Holland - An Ensign to the Nations
elder holland's talk is one of those talks that you just have to listen to.  it can't be summarized.  his talks are always powerful and inspiring.  with that said, there was one part i felt was especially good.
"as the path of discipleship ascends, that trail gets ever more narrow until we come to that knee-buckling pinnacle of the sermon of which elder christofferson just spoke: 'be ye therefore perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect.'  what was gentle in the lowlands of initial loyalty becomes deeply strenuous and very demanding at the summit of true discipleship.

President Monson - At Parting
be good citizen of the nations and communities.
reach out to those of other faiths as well as those of our own.
be examples of honesty and integrity wherever you go and whatever you do.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Temple, Family and the Power of Prayer

Our family drove to Salt Lake City last month to attend two weddings; one for my sister-in-law and another for my niece.  I had quite a few powerful spiritual experiences there.

First off, I want to make a simple comment on the power of prayer.  Time and time again, I have seen our family "rally around" someone who needed our faith.  We prayed faithfully, as a family, for something we knew was a righteous desire.  Often, we would pray for months and even years for the desire of our hearts.  It worked.  Our prayers were answered.  Prayer works.

In the weeks leading up to my sister-in-law's wedding, we all were discussing if and how we would pull off doing a session together as a family in the SLC temple.  The challenge was finding someone to babysit the kids, get to the temple in time, then pick up the kids before making it on time to the wedding dinner.  There was discussion about whether it was even prudent to do a session with the family.  But in the end, things worked out.  It was a bit stressful ensuring the kids were ok and then getting to the temple, but in the end, we all made it there on time.

We sat together.  The image of seeing us all together in the SLC temple in the various rooms - especially the Celestial room - was powerful.  My wife's family, growing up, had a motto that was reduced to CKOB - Celestial Kingdom or Bust.  Seeing them all, with their spouses in the Celestial room was a preview of what is to come.  I felt privileged to be a part of that session.

Looking back, I understand precisely why my father-in-law and mother-in-law desired to do a session so badly.

And now a quick word about the Temple - as we walked to the different rooms in the SLC temple, I was overcome with powerful emotion as I felt the collective spirits who have walked those halls all these past years.  As I examined the intricate designs and architecture, I realized the profound dedication and sacrifice those saints made to build the SLC temple.  They too desired the blessings of the temple for their posterity and they wanted to pass that legacy on to their children and grandchildren.  That legacy lives on today as we see the explosion of growth of temples throughout the world.  And we have as many temples in the world today because of the sacrifice of those saints who built the Kirtland, the Nauvoo, the St. George, the Manti, the Logan and Salt Lake City temples.  I will never forget those feelings I felt in the SLC temple ... they will always come back to me each time I attend any temple.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Love at Home

The First Presidency Message this month is called "Love at Home."

The one paragraph from President Monson, that really stood out to me was the one entitled What is Most Important.  It states: “What is most important almost always involves the people around us. Often we assume that they must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know. Wrote William Shakespeare, ‘They do not love that do not show their love.’ We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us.”

Jill and I recently watched the last Harry Potter movie.  And as cheesy as it sounds, my favorite part of the whole movie was when Harry was able to talk to his parents before facing Tom Riddle.  The whole premise of the Harry Potter series is based on love; on the one action of Lily Potter when she attempted to save her son.

Now for a real-life example of family love.  We recently had some good friends stay at our home for the weekend.  We always knew we were somewhat distantly related.  But this time, we got out the genealogy book my parents wrote and looked up some pedigree charts.  We found and read all the stories about how the Putnams and Waltons were connected.  We found that Israel Putnam and Ruth Walton married and thus connected these two families.  We also read that Israel's father (Artemus) was baptized by George Walton on February 14, 1844!  As we told our kids these stories, their already strong friendship grew even stronger.  Again, we already knew we were distantly related somehow, but when it was confirmed and we knew we were family, our love for each other became sweeter and stronger. Family is everything!  Family is love!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

2 Nephi 4:15-16

2 Nephi 4:15-16 ~ And upon these I write the things of my soul, and many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the plates of brass. For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children.

Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.

We have been commanded by the prophets to always read and study the scriptures. We read the scriptures to learn about the commandments of God. We also learn how to apply the commandments to our life. We will only be happy and find joy in this life by keeping the commandments and we learn the commandments by reading the scriptures. There have been times and seasons in my life when I’ve not been so faithful in reading the scriptures - and I've noticed my general happiness decline. This scripture helps me to remember that there is a vast pool of knowledge in the scriptures and if we just open and read them, we’ll be happier for doing so.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Best Relief Society Lesson I Never Sat Through

Jill forwarded me an email of a Relief Society lesson that was given this past Sunday. If it was as good as it was in email format, then those sisters who listened to it had quite a treat.

Later, I'll follow-up with a few other posts about why this lesson struck me so.

* denotes name has been changed.

Here it is ... enjoy

The theme for the women’s conference at BYU this year was “By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.” Alma 37:6

Let’s dissect that phrase for a minute.

What great things do we want to come to pass? Ultimately, the truly great thing we all want is exaltation for us and our family.

So what are the small and simple things that can greatly affect us and our families in that journey to exaltation?

To name a few: Scripture Study, Prayer, Sabbath observance, faith, repentance, partaking of the sacrament, word of wisdom, what you view, what you read, what you listen to, your internet practices, magnifying your calling, modesty, tithing, temple attendance. The Strength of Youth is a great guide – for youth of ALL ages. As are the most recent Conference issues of the Ensign.

Why are these small things so important? Is there one we can ignore without it affecting us spiritually?

Satan knows this principle and uses it conversely. Therefore, he will do all in his power to diminish your resolve to do the small and simple things? Does he tell you these small things really won’t matter on the day of judgment? Does he tell you it is so small and simple it won’t make that big of a difference? You don’t have to be so strict, so exact, so undeviating. Or does he tell you that you don’t have time to worry about those little things, because you are doing other good things? Those things can wait.

Lehi’s dream offers insight. If you have seen an artist rendition of it you will note the rod of iron is barely visible but the large and spacious building can’t be missed. That is true of the world we live in. If we are not careful the world’s message can easily overwhelm the Lord’s. Satan is working hard to make sure there are ample things to distract and dissuade us from those small and simple things.

I know as Latter-day Saint women we constantly have to make stands – with neighbors, with fellow employees, with schools, and sometimes even with our families. It gets exhausting. You roll your eyes and sometimes wonder – is this small and simple thing THAT important? Is it worth yet one more stand? Sometimes we may feel we can’t fight them all so let’s just choose a few. But be careful of such a diminished resolve. Be careful which battles you choose NOT to fight. What small and simple things will you stop teaching and doing?

I don’t know how else to explain what I am seeing and feeling concerning the urgency for each of us to entrench ourselves and stand firm in even, or maybe especially, the small and simple things. So I’m going to give you same examples to hopefully better illustrate my point.

You have often heard me speak of John*, my wild and crazy son. John was unique. He wasn’t bad or rebellious. He never was in the Bishop’s office with a word of wisdom problem or morality issue. But John did give me some worries in that he questioned things. He has always needed to know the why of things. Until he had resolved things completely in his mind, he remained very anxious about them, almost agitated.

It took me a long time before I realized the reason he argued every point was because he was just thinking out loud. The need to find out “why” was so innate in him. If he didn’t see the logic behind the rule, he saw no reason to amend his behavior or accept it as a principle of the Gospel. It was almost as if there was a distrust on his part until we could prove it. Where in the scriptures does it say that! Why?! It couldn’t be just because you said so. The answer had to be logical and concise. He didn’t want to hear parables or analogies – just a straight logical answer.

I felt as if I was battling him every day of my life. There was always a thread of contention in our home. I was being drained by it. My husband came home for some of it, but let’s face it moms, we are on the front line more hours in a day than our spouses.

My husband and I discussed it once and wondered if I should just give it a rest and only fight the battles that were BIG. But after prayer we decided against it. We wondered if by doing it like that we might undermine the logic in the battles we did fight. After all, everything in the gospel is interconnected. Why would we spend so much time teaching him why to obey one thing and then not another – when both were said by a prophet or recorded in scripture. He’d be on to that hypocrisy in a heartbeat and perhaps be convinced none of it was true. We decided we would have to continue to make every stand, no matter how small. We resolved that even if John left unconvinced of why, he would have at least heard the truth, the Lord’s stand, from our mouths.

A fateful day came. A new young man moved into the ward with a bit of an attitude and John was influenced by him. It seemed that all of the sudden John's questions of why were coming more often and decidedly more antagonistically. On that fateful Saturday, John walked into our home, and the issue of face cards came up. He spoke of a new game he had just learned to play – poker.

But was it really that big of a deal? Yeah, well … it’s just a game. It’s just cards.

True to our decision, my husband didn’t hesitate. He told John the church didn’t approve of such things. At first, John was angry and shocked. He accused us of lying to him. The church had nothing to say about simple little games.

My husband then went to the book shelve and opened MORMON DOCTRINE by Elder Bruce R. McConkie. He read to John what the church’s stand is on face cards and why. John conceded.

Two days later, the Mormon Doctrine was missing from the bookshelf. About three weeks later my twelve year old son stepped into the kitchen with that book in his hand. Trying to act nonchalant about it, John simply asked, “Hey, has this guy written anything else?”

Keeping a straight face was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I led John to the bookshelf and showed him the many other books Elder McConkie had written.

Oh, I would love to say that John changed immediately that day, but he didn’t. John still struggled to get his “whys” fast enough. He still struggled to incorporate what he was learning into his behavior. There were still some intense moments in our home.

However, just over six years later, on John's nineteenth birthday, he entered the MTC – having read every published book written by Elder Bruce R. McConkie. Elder McConkie spoke John's language. He had a way of stating the whys boldly and concisely.

Today John teaches seminary for the Church. He was married in the temple and has three children. His first child is a son. His name is Bruce for a reason.

Standing firm for small and simple things can change lives.

Now the next story.

As a RS president I have been dealing with something I never dreamt I would in the First Ward – a homeless sister.

At first it was so frustrating. The church is really not equipped to deal with homelessness. We encourage people to return to their families for help or to the government or faith based organization that can give them housing. For many reasons this woman felt she was unable to do any of those things.

One day I just sat and talked with her. I was trying to figure out how she got to where she was and was trying to analyze her reasoning. She was the product of a dysfunctional family, consequently with some emotional problems, which probably led to her failed marriage. Then she was involved in a horrible car accident that left her slightly disabled. She had managed to find a place to live on her own but lost it in a blink when Hurricane Ike hit. She had been living in her car ever sense. During this conversation, it dawned on me how frighteningly close all of us are to homelessness. There is some statistic at HAAM that suggests it might be only 5 events that separates most of us from being without a home.

As I thought on that more, I realized how frighteningly close all of us are to inactivity in the church and the loss of our eternal home. How many of those small and simple things can we give up and not find ourselves in that position? Five? I think it is less. If we stop doing even one for an extended period of time we inevitably will stop another and then another. Soon we will have too little oil to keep our lamps lit and none in reserve. Doing the small and simply things makes more of a difference than we sometimes realize.

I feel to talk of one more story.

I think of Mary Fielding Smith as she trudged across the plains – widowed and with little means to support herself and the young family left to her care. The decision to go west seemed small. Follow the prophet. What was left for her in Nauvoo? Getting up every morning along the trail, preparing food, having a morning prayer, following her priesthood leaders, and organizing her family to leave each day at some point must have become as routine for her as it is for us. She just kept going. She just kept doing what she knew was right – no matter what. She stood up to those who lacked the faith she had. She vigilantly taught her children her faith by word and example. She didn’t budge. I don’t think she thought she was doing anything great. It was the small and simple things that kept her faith lit and her family together. And what great thing came of it? Her son, Joseph, was ordained an apostle at the age of 27. He became a Prophet as did her grandson. Several other descendents of the children she raised were either members of the Quorum of the Twelve or were married to a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. Today Elder Ballard serves in that Quorum.

Again what was that great thing we want? What are those small and simple things? Why are they so important? Is there one we can ignore without it affecting us spiritually?

By small and simple things great things truly can come to pass. I feel we ignore them at our own peril and at the peril of our families.

Now I know many of you are facing very difficult challenges – things you never dreamt you would be facing – things your parents and friends have never faced. We live in turbulent times. You need answers. I promise you as you do these small and simple things the Lord will direct you to know how to face these challenges. It might be to know what doctor to go to, what course of treatment is best, how to overcome an addiction, where to apply for a job, when to seek more education or how to handle a strong-willed child. The Lord has the answer to every challenge you face in life. Doing the small and simple things will open up an avenue of revelation to guide you through every challenge. I bear my witness that is true.

I pray we will take Elder Uchtdorf’s advice from the October general conference. “There is a beauty and clarity that comes from simplicity that we sometimes do not appreciate in our thirst for intricate solutions.”

He continued, “My dear brothers and sisters, we would do well to slow down a little, proceed at the optimum speed for our circumstances, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most. Let us be mindful of the foundational precepts our Heavenly Father has given to His children that will establish the basis of a rich and fruitful mortal life with promises of eternal happiness. They will teach us to do “all these things … in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that [we] should run faster than [we have] strength. [But] it is expedient that [we] should be diligent, [and] thereby … win the prize. Brothers and sisters, diligently doing the things that matter most will lead us to the Savior of the world.”

Slow down, Sisters, and make sure that above all else you are tending to the small and simple things.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Temple Veil and Christ's Body

I just read this post a few minutes ago - wow!

The post refers to Hebrews 10:19-20 and reads:
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

I like to read Bible scriptures first in the KJV and then in the NIV.  I think the footnote in the NIV is quite insightful.  It says, "When Jesus died, the curtain separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place was "torn in two from top to bottom" (Mark 15:38).  The curtain symbolizes the body of Christ in terms of suffering: Like the curtain, his body was torn to open the way into the divince presence."

The other scripture she notes in her post is John 20:26-27 which reads:
And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

This connection between feeling the marks in the Savior's body and the temple was made to me while I was on my mission.  A group of Church members were passing through Guatemala and happened to stay in the same hotel as we were (we were at a Zone Conference).  They talked of how the Savior ministered to the Nephites and how it relates to the temple.  It was eye-opening to say the least.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Stretched Forth His Hand

While reading Mosiah 16:1 this morning (in Spanish), I read a phrase that struck me in a different way.  In Spanish the phrase is "extendió la mano"  In English the phrase is "stretched forth his hand".  As I've read that phrase my whole life in English, the visual thought in my mind is that of a prophet putting his hand up in the air as if to emphasize a point for dramatic effect.  But in reading it in Spanish, it connotes a different visual thought - that of someone holding his hand out as if to help someone else - like pulling someone up out of a hole.

This second visual thought makes more sense when you read Jacob 5:47: But what could I have done more in my vineyard? Have I slackened mine hand, that I have not nourished it? Nay, I have nourished it, and I have digged about it, and I have pruned it, and I have dunged it; and I have stretched forth mine hand almost all the day long, and the end draweth nigh. And it grieveth me that I should hew down all the trees of my vineyard, and cast them into the fire that they should be burned. Who is it that has corrupted my vineyard?

In this context, the Lord is holding out a hand of rescue.  I now think that whenever a prophet stretches forth his hand before speaking, his hand is reaching out as if to help someone out of a hole, not reaching his hand to the sky.

Another context to think about is the veil at the temple.  The next time you go, listen for those words and note the actions.

Lastly, there are a few references of hands being stretched forth in the New Testament one of which is the Lord rescuing Peter after Peter's faith begins to falter while trying to walk on water.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


After Elder Oaks' talk on desire this last General Conference, I read the Elder Maxwell talk he referenced.  Both talks are exceptional.

A few things to note ...

1) Desires can be changed/taught
2) Righteous desires need to be moulded to the law of God
3) The initiation of desire is entirely up to us.
4) We can initiate any desire with a vision of what is to be

And now for the meaty quotes ...

First from Neal A. Maxwell:

"Desire denotes a real longing or craving ... much more than passive preferences or fleeting feelings."

"What we insistently desire, over time, is what we will eventually become and what we will receive in eternity."

"Righteous desires need to be relentless."

"it is our own desires which determine the sizing and the attractiveness of various temptations.  We set our thermostats as to temptations."

Quoting Brigham Young, he said, "the men and women, who desire to obtain seats in the celestial kingdom, will find that they must battle every day."

Brigham Young also said, "It is evident that many who understand the truth do not govern themselves by it; consequently, no matter how true and beautiful truth is, you have to take the passions of the people and mould them to the law of God."

"Each assertion of a righteous desire, each act of service, and each act of worship, however small and incremental, adds to our spiritual momentum."  I like this quote because it confirms the idiom that came to my mind once ... obedience is spiritual grease.

"Unquestionably, parents have such a profound role in assisting in the educating of our desires, especially when parents combine explanation and exemplification!"

"a loving God will work with us, but the initiating particle of desire which ignites the spark must be our own!"

And now a few from Elder Oaks:

"Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions.  The desires we act on determine our changing, our achieving, and our becoming."

"How do we develop desires? ... We we have a vision of what we can become, our desire and our power to act increase enormously."  He spoke of Aron Ralston as an example of getting that vision.  As I contemplated this quote, I decided that the one event in my life that I would love to experience and that I desire most is seeing each of my children walk out of the temple ... either from getting their endowments or from marriage.  This is the one thought that I use to drive my desire.

This topic has been on my mind the last few weeks.  I've gone back a few times to these articles and they have provided fortification.  I like that quote about desire and temptation.  If we find that one desire that will drive us and let it work in us (see Alma 32:27), we can come back to it again and again and we can use it to manage our temptations.  But in thinking about this a bit, the one desire must be somewhat grand and have the capacity to manage many of your actions and thoughts.  A local desire won't work.

Read the articles and think about it.  It is truly amazing, the power of desire.

“According to the Desire of [Our] Hearts” by Neal A. Maxwell
"Desire" by Dallin H. Oaks

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday School Lesson Notes from Ward Conference

The counselor in our stake presidency gave the lesson in our Sunday School today.  I always enjoy his talks and discussions.  Despite the fact that I feel so overwhelmed at the fact of how much I yet lack, when listening to him, I still feel animated to go and do.

However, this hodge-podge lesson he gave, fell a bit flat.  But there were some gems.

He started off by asking what the themes were in Sacrament Meeting when the stake president spoke along with the bishop.
- strengthen the family
- rescue
- youth attendance to meetings
- missionary tours of the buildings
- faith in Christ
- make and keep covenants
- act, don't wait
- gain a testimony

He spoke that these 'meetings' are not meetings; but they are revelatory sessions.

Boys have been called as missionaries.  We need more of them and we need them to be better prepared missionaries.

We need to strengthen the Melchizedek Priesthood base ... it is about the fathers of the boys.

Come unto Christ; rejoice in Christ.

Pay attention to the media - make sure it is not consuming your home.

Study the scriptures thirty minutes a day.  Part of that should be in the Book of Mormon.

Read the first chapter in the new Handbook of Instructions.
- actions, desires of heart and kind of person you've become - these are the basis of your judgement.

Then he shared a story of John Robinson who wrote a letter to the people on the Mayflower.  (Somehow he was a descendant of someone in the Mayflower or even John Robinson himself .. and he learned this while do Family History work.)  He advised them to repent daily.  If they did not, they would be swallowed by the dangers of others.

His counsel to us is: think of unrepented sins; think of repented sins.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spiritual Vertigo Video

This is a great video - I loved seeing the P-51s.  The lesson from vertigo is excellent.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Enduring to the End

Endure is an interesting word.  It has been on my mind the last couple of weeks.  I continue to mull over it.

Thus far, I've learned two things that are certain:

1) Enduring is about expanding our capacity ... our capacity to deal with adversity, life's challenges, stress, day to day minutiae - everything.  It deals with how much we can handle.

2) Enduring is about strengthening - being hardened - holding ground on the battle's we've already won.  It deals with how we can hold on to the gains we've made.

Combining these two thoughts, I liken enduring to battle.  We must fight the battles before us ... we must take ground (capacity) and then hold it (strength).  The cycle then continues - we move on to the next battle - confront the next challenge, deal with it, learn from it and hold on to it.  This cycle continues all through our life.

Here are the articles I've been reading, annotating and re-reading again.

Neal A. Maxwell, "“Endure It Well”", Ensign, May 1990, 33
Neal A. Maxwell, "Enduring Well", Ensign, Apr. 1997, 7
Russell M. Nelson, "Endure and Be Lifted Up", Ensign, May 1997, 70
Robert D. Hales, "“Behold, We Count Them Happy Which Endure”", Ensign, May 1998, 75
Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Press On", Ensign, Nov. 2004, 101–4
Emma Petty Addams, "Enduring Well", Ensign, Mar. 2010, 34–37

I've several more articles that I'm reading now too.  Although these deal more specifically with adversity.  But I think the lessons from enduring well and dealing with adversity are the same.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Five Prophetic Priorities

Our Stake President spoke in our ward today.  He's discussed the Five Prophetic Priorities before and he spoke on them again today.  I felt impressed to take notes.

1) Build faith in Christ
2) Strengthen the Family
3) Convert, Retain, Activate
4) Strengthen Melchizedek Priesthood base
5) Prepare and increase the number of full-time missionaries

He then shared with us his notes while he reviewed every General Conference talk President Monson has given since he became prophet.

* "serious attention" to missionary work.  Young Men: prepare now.  Age 8 is not too early to begin  preparing.

* Gratitude - be thankful for what God has given us.

* Preparing for missions

* Temple - the means of strengthening the family

* Anger

* We should pray for nations to open the doors to the missionaries.  He said we should include this plea in our personal prayers as well as our prayers from the pulpits.

* Doing something for someone

* Be of good cheer

* Avoid pornography and study the messages of General Conference

* Pray for the opening of areas (again)

* Learn, Do, Be.

* Reaching out to others.

* Joy in the Journey

* Be an example of teachings of Christ.  Love our families and treat our wives with dignity.

President Paulson then asked, "Has he talked about the five prophetic priorities?"  Yes!

It was a good talk.  I'm encouraged to go back and study those talks again from the last few General Conferences.

I've been diligent in taking notes in Gospel Doctrine class too.  Go on over to my New Testament Study blog to read notes I took from today.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Kingwood Stake Conference Notes

Our stake, along with all the other stakes of Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico participated in a sattelite broadcast from SLC.  I jotted down a few notes.

Elder Marlin K. Jensen talked about translating beliefs into action.  He quoted Mosiah 4:10 where King Benjamin said, "If ye believe all these things see that ye do them."  Covenants help us link beliefs into actions and ordinances.

He talked about a prosperity study that was done on a bunch of nations.  The one thing that was consistently linked to a nations prosperity was not resources, race or education; rather it was contract-keeping.  He then told of the example of Zoram and Nephi.  So strong were oaths in Nephi's time, that when Zoram made an oath that he would not try to flee from them, Nephi and his brothers were relieved - they did not have to worry about Zoram.  He said, in the end, after all has been said and done, all that will matter will be if you have kept your word - your covenants.  He also reminded us all of Karl G. Maeser's quote: "I have been asked what I mean by 'word of honor.' I will tell you. Place me behind prison walls--walls of stone ever so high, ever so thick, reaching ever so far into the ground--there is a possibility that in some way or another I may escape; but stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of the circle? No. Never! I'd die first!"

Sister Ann M. Dibb spoke next.  She spoke of virtue.  She talked about a sister from Nacogdoches who lived a virtuous life.  She said that everything this sister did or said was centered around being a Mormon.  This sister said, "being a member of the Church was a party of my identity."  Sister Dibb also spoke of PROS.  P for pray; R for read from the Book of Mormon; O for obeay the standards; and S for smile!

Elder Ballard spoke next.  He gave some stats ... 75 stakes + 3 districts in Texas/OK/NM.  There are over 380,000 members in those 3 states.  He spoke a bit about Lucien Woodards?  He was sent from the Prophet Joseph Smith to see about a land purchase in Texas.  Zodiac, Texas was first settled by members.

He then spoke of keeping the doctrine of Christ simple.  He then discussed and commented on the first principals and ordiances of the Gospel as outlined in the 4th Article of Faith.  He also included the enduring to the end.  With regard to enduring to the end, he related a story.  There was this 90-year-old patriarch in his ward.  He prayed every night to die in faithfulness.  Elder Ballard approached this brother and asked him "aren't you safe?"  This brother grabbed Elder Ballad by the lapels of his jacket and said, "look me in the eyes!  No man is ever safe until he endures to the very end!"

Lastly, President Monson spoke.  His talk was very similiar to several talks he's given recently.  The topic was rescueing.  Our ward has been focused on rescueing ... members, ancestors, and neighbors who are not of our faith.  He has referred several times to the painting by J.M.W. Turner entitled Shipwreck, the Rescue.  President Monson calls this painting To the Rescue!  I did some searching a while back and finally found the painting.  I'll include it here for reference.

Thursday, February 03, 2011