Saturday, November 29, 2014

Teaching and Showing

And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, an shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.

Exodus 18:20

This was a good reminder tonight that while the laws and ordinances of God must be taught, my children will really only learn how to walk in the covenant and apply the Gospel through example. Too often I don't live up to the bar I try to set for them, but I hope at least they see me trying and repenting and changing so that they will know the way.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

"A Large Family of Small Children"

I am starting to understand where this sister is coming from...

Today as I headed into the doctor's office, a woman was waiting for me to get my boys out of my car so she could get into hers. The usual ensued: "Three boys! Wow! You must be busy! . . . Oh, and you're having another! Do you know what it is? . . . Another boy! Wow. . ."

That wow is too often accompanied by a look of pity, because obviously we only had more children on the off chance that we might get a girl instead of another boy, and now we had failed and were stuck with four boys. I wish I had the time and words to explain, "No, this is awesome! We are so excited and blessed to have four boys! Our life is great, even if it's crazy, and even if it's not anything like yours." I don't know exactly how many children we will have or when we will have them; The Lord doesn't tend to give me information about life decisions until they need to be made. But I feel with this one I have already crossed the threshold into what the world considers that land of "crazy" people who have too many kids. I hope I can be a really happy crazy person that teaches many children to be good, loving, Christlike people.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Effects of the Holy Ghost on Israel

For some time I have wanted to understand more about Abrahamic lineage, the twelve tribes of Israel, etc. I am currently studying Genesis, and trying to look up more of the things that I have been satisfied to skim over in the past, and came across this quote regarding traits of blood descendants of Israel. I don't know that it is particularly vital knowledge, but it is certainly interesting.

This first Comforter or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge, of a man who is of the literal seed of Abraham, than one that is a Gentile, though it may not have half as much visible effect upon the body; for as the Holy Ghost falls upon one of the literal seed of Abraham, it is calm and serene; and his whole soul and body are only exercised by the pure spirit of intelligence; while the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile, is to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham. That man that has none of the blood of Abraham (naturally) must have a new creation by the Holy Ghost. In such a case, there may be more of a powerful effect upon the body, and visible to the eye, than upon an Israelite, while the Israelite at first might be far before the Gentile in pure intelligence. (Smith, Teachings, 149–50).

More explanations here.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Be a Man

Sometimes I come across a talk or piece of literature and think, "This needs to be on my boys' required reading list when they are older." Today another blogger posted this talk, and it is one of those.

From Carlos B. Away, in April 1992 Priesthood Session:

There is a lie—a vicious lie—circulating among the Latter-day Saints and taking its toll among the young. And it is that a “balanced man” is one who deliberately guards against becoming too righteous. This lie would have you believe that it is possible to live successfully and happily as a “double-minded man” with one foot in Babylon and one foot in Zion. (See James 1:8.)

. . .

Can a man be too righteous? Too Christlike? Impossible! Can the so-called “balanced man” walk successfully the beam between good and evil? No. Each step is shaky, and eventually he will teeter and fall and break himself against the commandments of God.

I have come across this attitude plenty in life, but it was most pronounced in college; from the guy that told my friend that going to do weekly baptisms for the dead was "a bit much" (FYI not a good way to impress a girl who goes to do weekly baptisms for the dead.), to people who called me "Molly Mormon" for not wanting to see certain movies, listen to certain music, or hang around certain places. If I am going to live the Gospel, I want to be all in! There are enough things I struggle with on a daily basis, why not discard things that are easily identifiable as being without merit for me?

I was very blessed with a strong group of friends who supported each other and never tore others down for striving to be their best selves, and that was one of the things that drew me to John as I got to know him. I hope that my children are blessed in that way, and that our family culture can be one where they support each other in righteousness. They will be up against a great deal of pressure to follow the ways of the world, and it is sometimes hardest when those who should be on our side add to that pressure.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Grateful in Any Circumstances

I love President Uchtdorf's talk on gratitude. So many things ring true!

How blessed we are if we recognize God’s handiwork in the marvelous tapestry of life. Gratitude to our Father in Heaven broadens our perception and clears our vision. It inspires humility and fosters empathy toward our fellowmen and all of God’s creation. Gratitude is a catalyst to all Christlike attributes! A thankful heart is the parent of all virtues.

The Lord has given us His promise that those “who [receive] all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto [them], even an hundred fold, yea, more.”

I sometimes feel as though I have been too blessed, and that at some point the other shoe is going to drop. Am I the only one who feels that way? Of course the Lord doesn't want me to spend my time worrying about what trials may or may not be ahead in my life. He wants me to be more grateful regardless of my circumstances, and He wants to give me all things and make me glorious. That process will look different for everyone, and in the end all of it is part of the process of Father making me whole and preparing me for greater blessings.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


I believe that when we determine within our hearts that by and with the blessings of God our Heavenly Father we will accomplish a certain labor, God gives the ability to accomplish that labor; but when we lay down, when we become discouraged, when we look at the top of the mountain and say it is impossible to climb to the summit, while we never make an effort it will never be accomplished.

-Heber J. Grant
Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, 37.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

What the Savior's Sacrifice can do

Oh Elder Packer, you know just what I need to hear.

If we are not aware of what the Savior’s sacrifice can do for us, we may go through life carrying regrets that we have done something that was not right or offended someone. The guilt that accompanies mistakes can be washed away. If we seek to understand His Atonement, we will come to a deep reverence for the Lord Jesus Christ, His earthly ministry, and His divine mission as our Savior.

Sometimes living back in my hometown brings back memories of unfortunate things I've said and done that could have hurt feelings and offended. There is a part of me that worries about what others might remember when we inevitably run into each other at Target or Costco or the park (i.e. the only places I go aside from Church). And I have a hard time not going back in my mind, remembering with a knot in my stomach foolish things said or done. Granted, I'm not talking anything horrible here, just things I wish I hadn't said. And I need to remember that the Atonement can right all those wrongs for me and for others, and that it should give me hope, not guilt, to think how far I've come and how much farther I can go.

On a mostly unrelated note, I love that our bishop recommended reading a conference talk each day in preparation for this conference; adding in the new talks just seems like the continuation of an established habit, and I hope I'll keep it up more consistently than in the past.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Alike in Glorious Potential

From President Eyring's talk in the last Women's Meeting:

What I didn’t know when I was young was that my Heavenly Father, your Heavenly Father, sees greater potential in His children than we or even our earthly mothers see in us. And whenever you move upward on that path toward your potential, it brings Him happiness. And you can feel His approval.

He sees that glorious potential in all of His daughters, wherever they are. Now, that puts a great responsibility on each of you. He expects you to treat every person you meet as a child of God. That is the reason He commands us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves and to forgive them. Your feelings of kindness and forgiveness toward others come as your divine inheritance from Him as His daughter. Each person you meet is His loved spiritual child.

As you feel of that great sisterhood, what we thought divides us falls away. . . . You are more alike as daughters of God than you are different.

Monday, September 29, 2014

"Women of Righteousness"

This talk from Elder Ballard is amazing, and amazingly timely, given in 2002. Satan is surely working on undermining the divine role of women in these latter days. It was hard to pick a favorite quote (seriously; read the whole thing!), but here is one:

Every sister in this Church who has made covenants with the Lord has a divine mandate to help save souls, to lead the women of the world, to strengthen the homes of Zion, and to build the kingdom of God. Sister Eliza R. Snow (1804–87), the second general president of the Relief Society, said that “every sister in this church should be a preacher of righteousness … because we have greater and higher privileges than any other females upon the face of the earth” (“Great Indignation Meeting,” Deseret Evening News, 15 Jan. 1870, 2).

Every sister who stands for truth and righteousness diminishes the influence of evil. Every sister who strengthens and protects her family is doing the work of God. Every sister who lives as a woman of God becomes a beacon for others to follow and plants seeds of righteous influence that will be harvested for decades to come. Every sister who makes and keeps sacred covenants becomes an instrument in the hands of God.

We just found out that our fourth baby will be another boy, and I hope that I can exemplify righteous womanhood to my sons and teach them to love, honor, respect, protect, care for, and follow the examples of the women around them.

Covenants: Things that Bear Repeating

Sister Burton shared this in the April Women's Meeting, and it was repeated again Saturday night. It surely bears remembering.

The best way to strengthen a home, current or future, is to keep covenants, promises we’ve made to each other and to God.

That’s what disciples do!

We tend so often to look to Pinterest boards and elaborate ideas to help our families along, but those things don't do much unless we are focused on the basics, on making and keeping sacred covenants with God, and applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ in our lives and families.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Meandering Thoughts on Being A Support

Sometimes I just have to write to sort things out in my brain, so if you bother to read this, you have been forewarned that this is more of me working out some thoughts than a cohesive statement about anything. Also, there in no huge crisis going on in my life, just things that have reminded me that I need to scale back and work on being a foundation for my family.

The word support has been on my mind a lot lately, as there always seems to be a stream of stressful things coming up in life. Sometimes when John is stressed out I have a hard time knowing how to help him, and I also tend to feel guilty for not keeping our home clean and lovely and the children under control all the time. I am no natural-born homemaker to be sure! As I think about my role as a wife, that word support keeps coming back to me. A few perspectives on what it means to support my spouse:

  1. The support system in a building, vehicle, or really anything, holds everything up. It gives stability and balance, and allows that thing to carry out its purpose. It is usually hidden, and no one really notices it unless something goes wrong.
  2. Support staff in a school or hospital take care of all of the background tasks that facilitate the care and teaching of others. They organize and maintain. They prevent many messes and clean up many more. Again, their jobs go unnoticed by all who don't personally interact with them unless something goes wrong (at which point they get handed a lot of blame).
  3. Support can also connote enduring, uplifting, sustaining under trial, supplying necessities of life, upholding, or advocating.
  4. Both husbands and wives are counseled in the scriptures and by modern prophets to support one another. We are specifically told that women have claim on their husbands for their support both temporally (D&C 83:2) and in the church (D&C 25:9). And I think that women naturally tend to take on a support role in the home to complement the husband's injunction to provide temporally for the family, but don't always give ourselves credit for our own role and influence and the ways our husbands support us, leading to a martyr complex among many and the modern view that women shouldn't be "just housewives."
For us, part of becoming one as husband and wife has been learning to support one another in our various roles. It requires us to help each other by expressing our desires and needs in loving and timely ways so that we can understand and meet each other's expectations. It requires us to recognize and thank each other for the contributions we each make.  It requires a great deal of give and take when one or the other of us may be struggling, and it requires us to learn to scale back our expectations when we are both struggling.

Like the support structure in a building or the support staff in a school, we tend to overlook the importance of that supporting role until some crisis comes about, and then suddenly we see all the holes in the foundation of our habits. In times of stress it is suddenly clear how unwisely I've used my time, or how I've failed to express frequent love and gratitude, or how letting little things go over time has lead to a lot of extra work and trouble. I think that is why our Church leaders constantly counsel us to pay attention to the basics that comprise the support structure in our lives and families--to evaluate our choices and relationships, and to cultivate love and understanding through regular, planned togetherness where communication can take place under the influence of the Spirit. 

And frankly, being a support for a spouse and family is a whole lot of work, requires a lot of diligence, and can seem thankless at times. I just have to let go of less important things and work, work, work away at the important ones, because in the end that is what upholds us when the trials come along.

The Typical Relief Society Sister: Who You Really Are

I love Sister Elaine Jack's perspective on comparisons and talents. So glad I came across this talk!

No greater heroine lives in today’s world than the woman who is quietly doing her part. Generally unsung, you live everywhere . . . You show your love for the Lord daily as you support husbands, nurture children, care for parents, benefit neighbors, serve in your schools, sit on community councils, and do much of the work of this world in and out of the home. No one is more impressive than you.

I promised to introduce you to the typical Relief Society sister.

The good news is that she actually does exist.

The better news is that she is wonderful.

The best news is that she’s you! And this is who you really are!

On the flip side, comparison can also lead us to be judgmental to others, not just to ourselves. Another more recent quote:

The adversary would have us be critical or judgmental of one another. He wants us to concentrate on our differences and compare ourselves to one another. . . .

[T]here is nothing that is worth us losing our compassion and sisterhood over. We just need to relax and rejoice in our divine differences. We need to realize that we all desire to serve in the kingdom, using our unique talents and gifts in our own ways. Then we can enjoy our sisterhood and our associations and begin to serve. . . .

If there are barriers, it is because we ourselves have created them. We must stop concentrating on our differences and look for what we have in common; then we can begin to realize our greatest potential and achieve the greatest good in this world.

-Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, April 2014

As we stop comparing not only will we see who we really are, we will also who our sisters really are, and will be filled with charity--the watchword of our organization--in a greater measure.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Desires and Treasures

From Elder Teh of the Seventy:

I bear testimony that our priorities, tendencies, inclinations, desires, appetites, and passions will have a direct bearing on our next estate. Let us always remember the words of the Savior: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

When I think of the Lord's statement that I will be judged on my desires, I often tend to link that with my desires for what I hope to someday be, or what deep down I know is best. But I don't always think of my everyday desires and tendencies--all those times I pay attention to lesser things or desire to do easy things instead of hard ones. Those are counted too, and are just as much a part of me as the former desires. Clearly I need to work harder to make my daily choices such that the gap between the two dwindles.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Obedience, Body and Spirit

An interesting quote from Elder Perry, after he compared a bit in a horse's mouth to the Holy Ghost guiding us:

We must be sensitive to our spiritual bits. Even with the slightest tug from the Master, we must be willing to completely alter our course. To succeed in life, we must teach our spirit and body to work together in obedience to God’s commandments. If we heed the gentle promptings of the Holy Ghost, it can unite our spirits and bodies in a purpose that will guide us back to our eternal home to live with our eternal Father in Heaven.

My first thought: that is a powerful little sentence tucked in the middle! Am I paying enough attention to recognize the slight tugs that that may lead me to a complete course correction? I certainly hope so.

Second: That is interesting counsel about uniting our spirits and bodies. Our culture increasingly tells us that our bodily urges are irresistible, or that it is too much to demand of people to expect them to resist them. But if we train ourselves to follow the "slightest tug from the Master," we will have the discipline to unite our body with our spirits, training them in righteousness, so that together they can fulfill the purposes of our creation.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Educating Our Desires

Last month our bishop sent out an email inviting the ward members to study one of the talks from April General Conference each day until the October sessions began, as we had as many days left as talks at that point. I took up the challenge, but find as I go I am getting ahead, because once I actually sit down and read or listen, I just want to soak up more! I can see how I am being prepared to receive more in the coming weeks, and I am thankful for that inspired counsel. Today I studied President Ridd's talk entitled, "The Choice Generation," and I loved this quote from Elder Maxwell that he shared:

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

Only by educating and training our desires can they become allies instead of our enemies!

-Neal A. Maxwell, "According to the Desire of [Our] Hearts," October 1996 General Conference.

I then had to read that Maxwell talk because he is my favorite (well, I don't really have favorites I suppose, but I love him!), and it is one for the books.

I love the idea of educating our desires. I feel like I have worked on doing this with my choices in food and how my tastes have changed. A comment from Reed Nibley that I heard during a documentary on his life and career always sticks with me--that when he found he couldn't continue living on the kind of diet he had been accustomed to, he had to "refine his tastes" in order to enjoy healthy foods.

Looking back at my young adult life (now officially over according to the Church Handbook, since I am 31), I can see how experiences, changes, and acts of repentance have educated and refined my desires so that I am not as drawn to the damaging substances or empty calories of life. I more naturally crave and desire the deep and fulfilling spiritual nourishment that comes from study, communion, and obedience. And yet still I know that my desires need yet to be educated and refined, and so many things in my daily diet of choices could be done away with in favor of more healthy options. I hope that being more conscious about that process will enable me to more effectively move forward, to feel comfortable that the desires of my heart are in tune with the desires of my Father for me.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Soft Answer

I love this quote from Elder Zwick:

The writer of Proverbs counsels, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). A “soft answer” consists of a reasoned response—disciplined words from a humble heart. It does not mean we never speak directly or that we compromise doctrinal truth. Words that may be firm in information can be soft in spirit.

I have a hard enough time doing this now when my kids are little; I need a lot of practice in composure and self-control before they become teenagers!

This also reminds me of the word "meek" and how my understanding of it has been affected by the misguided worldly perception that it is synonymous with "weak." Meekness is a vital spiritual strength and attribute of Christ.

Meekness, however, is more than self-restraint; it is the presentation of self in a posture of kindness and gentleness, reflecting certitude, strength, serenity, and a healthy self-esteem and self-control.

-Neal A. Maxwell

Those are things I could certainly use more of on a daily basis.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Elder Scott on Keeping Sight of God's Objectives

I need to remember this all the time!

God’s purpose is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” That is fundamental to all we do. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in things that we find fascinating or become so consumed by mundane responsibilities that we lose sight of God’s objectives. As you consistently focus your life on the most basic principles, you will gain an understanding of what you are to do, and you will produce more fruit for the Lord and more happiness for yourself.

-Elder Richard G. Scott, "I Have Given You an Example," April 2014 General Conference

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Kingship in the Scriptures: A Pattern

As I read in Ether today, I had the urge to write, and as I did so I found that my current study, my reading with the kids last night, recent Sunday School lessons, and things I'd been pondering in the back of my mind all came together in my mind as a type for things that are going on now in the world and in the church. I love when I can feel that inspiration come and see how various principles fit into that picture of the great whole that is truth. Here is my journal entry from today:

The issue of kingship seems to me a good example of how revelation works among the Lord's people and to His leaders. The pattern:

  1. An issue arises over rulership (e.g. The Israelites want a king like everyone else, the Nephites and the Jaredites ask for a king)
  2. The Lord says "That will lead to captivity! Bad idea!"  (see 1 Samuel 8:10-18; 2 Nephi 5:18; Ether 6:22-23)
  3. The people say, "But we want one anyway!" (se 1 Samuel 8:19-20; 2 Nephi 5:18; Ether 6:22, 24)
  4. After this advice is ignored, the Lord ceases to push the point. (se 1 Samuel 8:7-9, 22; Jacob 1:9; Ether 6:30)
  5. Thereafter, the issue of kingship isn't brought back up until the leader, the prophet, and the people are all ready to take up the issue again and willing to change, and they go seeking and asking. (see Mosiah 28-29)
Questions for thought:
  • With this pattern in mind, are the prophets that come between steps 4 and 5 somehow false or mistaken if they don't bring up the issue of kingship?
  • Are those prophets false or mistaken if they even support or endorse the king and kingship?
In answering those questions, keep this in mind: For behold, the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in all wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore we see that the Lord doeth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true. (Alma 29:8)

I am not sure if I spoil the value of asking the questions by answering them myself, but here is my view on the subject: No, I don't think that not teaching or even supporting the king or endorsing kingship makes them false. If a prophet follows the Lord's revelation for their own time and place, giving that portion that is commanded Him, he is not false if he does not see what is not meant for the people at that time. The Lord wants to give all that He has, but can only do so line upon line, according to the willingness and ability of the people to receive it.

We are blessed to live in the latter days, in the days when the promise is being fulfilled that all things will be revealed. Those things are coming, line upon line. Looking at this pattern, then, how could I personally speed along the process of greater revelation coming? This pattern tells me that the precondition for revelation isn't necessarily only that the prophet ask. The people, too, must be prepared and willing to receive, and the time must be right. So my role is to be part of that preparing process. How do I do that? Here are a couple of suggestions:
  • Search the scriptures. Treasure up gospel truths. Enjoy the words of eternal life in this life, and hope for immortal glory in the life to come. Read, ponder, and pray about all that the prophets have written. Such is the course which the Lord invites men to pursue where his holy word is concerned. And it was into this path of progress and enlightenment that young Joseph was led by that providential hand which knows the end from the beginning and rules in love and mercy over all his children. -Bruce R. McConkie, "Once or Twice in a Thousand Years" 
  • With reference to the perfecting of the Saints, the Savior has asked us to become perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect. (See Matt. 5:48.) In modern revelation we are told that we “are not able to abide the presence of God now, neither the ministering of angels; wherefore, continue in patience until ye are perfected.” (D&C 67:13.)  To accomplish the second objective, the perfecting of the Saints, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides opportunities for all members to become involved in many different kinds of activities that develop them mentally, morally, physically, and spiritually in the perfection process.  -Franklin D. Richards, "Perfecting the Saints," 
Here are the novel and unique things that come to mind: Studying the scriptures and revelations to prepare ourselves. Sharing and teaching to help others progress. Going to the temple and understanding what has already been revealed. Fulfilling our callings. Home and visiting teaching. Reaching out in service to others. Loving. Hoping. Giving.

Unsurprisingly, these are the exact things that prophets have told us repeatedly that we should do. These are the things that help to bring about Zion, to purify our hearts and prepare us to receive all that the Lord would give. I think because of their simplicity, because we've heard them a thousand times, we think that they aren't earth-shattering, and in doing so we look beyond the mark. The miracles that the Lord brings about on a daily basis are earth-shattering for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, and by small and simple things, great things are coming to pass in these last days.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My talk on Fidelity in Marriage and Relationships

I gave this talk on Sunday. I left out about 2/3 of the quotes I have here, and of course ended up giving it a bit differently than I wrote it, but the gist is the same.

Fidelity in Marriage and Relationships
As I first started reading up in preparation for this talk, the majority of the discourses I found focused on condemning all of the aspects of infidelity. We all know and understand what those are. We know how devastating adultery and pornography can be to sacred relationships. We know that small indiscretions and flirtations can damage precious relationship and lead to serious sin. We know that unfaithfulness in parents can have lasting effects on children for generations to come. But, thankfully, I didn’t feel the need, nor could I bear to spend an entire talk on those things, to, as Jacob put it, enlarge the wounds of those who are already wounded, instead of consoling and healing their wounds; and those who have not been wounded, instead of feasting upon the pleasing word of God have daggers placed to pierce their souls and wound their delicate minds.

Instead I’d like to focus on what we can do to build fidelity in our marriages and our family and personal relationships, including our relationships with ourselves and with God, because when we are actively, continually, and carefully working to build our relationships, it is much less likely that we will fall into temptation with respect to them.

Joseph Smith taught that Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God. (Teachings, p. 255-256)

While the world may teach that happiness is a product of the pleasure of outward circumstances, the Gospel of Jesus Christ tells us that happiness is the product of personal righteousness. The greater our fidelity to the Lord and to others, the greater our peace and happiness will be and the more the Lord will be able to pour out His guidance and blessings upon us. We achieve this by making and keeping sacred covenants that bind us to the Lord and school us in becoming like He is.

Meanings of fidelity:
·         Loyalty
·         Faithfulness
·         Adherence to truth
·         Accuracy and exactness
·         Strict observance of duties and promises

Lasting, loving relationships of any kind cannot survive without fidelity; without each participant living so as to earn and retain the trust of others and the approbation of God.

When I think of fidelity in this light, the 13th article of faith comes to mind. To me, it provides great practical instruction for how to join our fidelity to God with our fidelity to others. We Believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men. To me this embodies fidelity. We start by avoiding deceit and keeping our promises, being honest, true and chaste. We deepen our fidelity by seeking continually to do good and be virtuous and kind in all of our interactions.

We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. Do we trust and hope for the best in others, enduring hard things with them and lifting them up? There is no fidelity if we abandon others in the hard moments.

If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things. Fidelity also requires that we look for the true version of those around us, seeing them as God sees them and as they can become. When we look for the worst, compare and compete, criticize and tear down, we are not being true to God, to each other, or even to ourselves. Ironically, it can be easiest to fall into this trap with respect to those closest to us because we know them the best and want them to meet our expectations. But as the Article says, we must seek after the things that are lovely, good, praiseworthy, or virtuous.

I struggle with this with my children; at the end of the day, I too often feel like I’ve spent all of our interactions in breaking up fights and putting out fires; that my children have received a lot of supposed discipline without a lot of encouragement. While I do need to let them know when they have made a mistake, they need to know even more when they have been kind and thoughtful. Looking for the good in others enables us to see truth, or things as they really are. Then we will see the true, high-fidelity picture of our loved ones. Ultimately, as we lift each other, all of us will get closer to God.  

In a 1979 address at BYU,  Spencer W. Kimball said: Like some of the very sophisticated recording equipment I hear in your rooms, we not only need fidelity at this university, we need high fidelity. We need great faith on your part, for we live in a time of temptation and opposition. Allegiance to the straight and narrow path of Christ is crucial, and it has implications for you far beyond a dress and grooming code or a stated paragraph of moral behavior. We live in a day when our allegiance is being sorely tested. Satan is succeeding too well in many places, and he succeeds when he entices any person to excuse himself in wrong doing. Almost all dishonesty owes its existence and growth to that inward distortion we call self-justification. It is the first, and worst, and most insidious form of cheating: We are cheating ourselves. (“On My Honor,” BYU Address 1979)

* Bishop Richard C. Edgely: Honesty is the basis of a true Christian life. For Latter-day Saints, honesty is an important requirement for entering the Lord’s holy temple. Honesty is embedded in the covenants that we make in the temple. Each Sunday as we partake of the holy emblems of the Savior’s flesh and blood, we again renew our basic and sacred covenants—which encompass honesty. As Latter-day Saints we have a sacred obligation to not only teach the principles of honesty, but also to live them… Honesty should be among the most fundamental values that govern our everyday living.
When we are true to the sacred principles of honesty and integrity, we are true to our faith, and we are true to ourselves.

The world has much to say about what it means to be “true to ourselves,” and it mostly has to do with being “who you are” in the sense that you shouldn’t have to try to change anything to gain others’ approval. This can be an insidious twist on a true principle. We are children of God. We have inherent value, and all deserve to be loved and treated with kindness. However, being true to our eternal, divine selves means looking beyond our current state and working toward reaching our eternal potential. The Plan of Salvation teaches us that our true self is not a collection of my quirks, habits, and moods, that I put out on a “take it or leave it basis.” When I am true to myself, I demand more of myself. I see beyond and work to emulate the Savior, whose life and work embody what I can become.

As a character trait, our fidelity grows as we make and keep sacred covenants with God; those covenants bind us to be true in our treatment of others at all times, in all things, and in all places that we may be in.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said of this responsibility: The Saints are to be absolutely without guile in every aspect of their lives: in their homes and families, Church callings, all business dealings, and, especially, the private and personal parts of their lives into which only they and the Lord see.
I suggest that we look into our hearts and see whether our motives and actions are pure and above reproach and to see whether we are free of deceit and fraud. Perhaps we can ask ourselves a few questions. (I’ll list just a few of these questions, as he lists many):
Are we totally free of guile in our conversations and associations with our spouses and children so they always know what to expect and always have unquestioning trust and confidence in us?
Are we satisfied with our personal standards of integrity, morality, and honesty? Can we say of ourselves, as Jesus said of Nathanael, that we are without guile?
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Without Guile,” April 1998.

When we are true to the Lord and to ourselves, it will not be a huge leap to keep the covenant to be true to our spouses.

With respect to marriage specifically, the Lord has set out a clear outline for spouses in The Family: A Proclamation: Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.
The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. 

As Ezra Taft Benson taught: “Fidelity to one’s marriage vows is absolutely essential for love, trust, and peace. Adultery is unequivocally condemned by the Lord.

“Husbands and wives who love each other will find that love and loyalty are reciprocated. This love will provide a nurturing atmosphere for the emotional growth of children. Family life should be a time of happiness and joy that children can look back on with fond memories and associations” (Ezra Taft Benson, “Salvation—A Family Affair,” Ensign, July 1992, 2; or student manual, 283).

Before I go further, I want to emphasize a couple of points, as this subject can be a sensitive one for many. For the marriage covenant to be honored, both spouses must be faithful and true to each other and to becoming their best selves. It is a tried and true principle that you can’t fix a marriage by focusing on the other spouse’s faults, but it is also true that you can’t fix a marriage alone. Both spouses must be seeking to make the marriage work, seeking the other’s well-being before their own, and seeking to put the Lord above all. While I hope that we won’t focus on the failures of others, I also hope that none will feel themselves a failure because their best efforts did not change the bad choices of another. Loving and forgiving does not require enduring abuse or mistreatment; both spouses must choose to be true to their covenants. Having spent some time and study on family law and domestic abuse, I have learned that the same words that can rightly guide and encourage one marriage may make an abused spouse feel guilt at not being able to fix something out of their control, or obliged to remain in a harmful situation. I hope that the thoughts and quotes that I share are taken with that understanding in mind. And for all, regardless of what may be in our past or even our present, the Atonement is available and powerful, and things of the past can be made clean and should be left behind.

Jumping back in a bit more, as I’ve mentioned, fidelity goes beyond simply avoiding lying or cheating. It requires a continual building of love and trust. If we neglect these things, we not only risk our bond with our spouse, but we risk compromising the trust and growth of our children. It is likely that their own families will come to reflect what we have exemplified to them to a greater or lesser degree.

* ELDER DURREL A. WOOLSEY, “An Eternal Key” nov 1990 It is absolutely essential that you set an undeviating course of loyalty and faithfulness to your companion, to whom you have previously made these very commitments and promises. The example of your great love and respect for her, the two of you being as one, will establish a singular guiding strength that your children will desire to follow. Your voices and actions blending together in a united front as you teach and lead your little family will be the trumpet with a certain sound of strength and unity leading to safety. Synonyms of fidelity are allegiance and devotion. They will be critical supports to your foundation of fidelity.

Then-Elder Thomas S. Monson gave this advice: As parents, we should remember that our lives may be the book from the family library which the children most treasure. Are our examples worthy of emulation? Do we live in such a way that a son or a daughter may say, “I want to follow my dad,” or “I want to be like my mother”? Unlike the book on the library shelf, the covers of which shield the contents, our lives cannot be closed. Parents, we truly are an open book. Pres. Thomas S. Monson, “Hallmarks of a Happy Home,” Oct. 1988.

Much has been said about how to set this kind of example and continually build a celestial marriage relationship. Now if this talk wasn’t already enough like a quote book, it’s about to get worse. Here we go.

To wives and husbands the Lord has said: D&C 25:14  Wherefore, lift up thy heart and rejoice, and cleave unto the covenants which thou has made. Continue in the spirit of meekness, and beware of pride. Let thy soul delight in thy husband, and the glory which shall come upon him.

D&C 42:22-23  Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.

President Kimball said: It is not enough to refrain from adultery. We need to make the marriage relationship sacred, to sacrifice and work to maintain the warmth and respect which we enjoyed during courtship. God intended marriage to be eternal, sealed by the power of the priesthood, to last beyond the grave. Daily acts of courtesy and kindness, conscientiously and lovingly carried out, are part of what the Lord expects” (President Kimball in Conference Report, Oct. 1978, 7; or Ensign, Nov. 1978, 6).

Here I think I might add that in addition to giving daily acts of kindness, we should be careful in recognizing them. Sometimes when I am in one of those moods, I will get worked up about things that I wish John had done, and I completely overlook the things that he did do to show that he cares – stopping his studies to help me with the boys, changing diapers, jumping in to help me when I am getting stressed out even though he has a lot on his own plate, or taking the screaming baby when I’m at the end of my rope. We’re at a place where our wallets can’t afford a lot of flowers and our waistlines can’t afford a lot of chocolates, but I am finding that the best “I love you’s” can come in much more mundane ways.

President David O. McKay said, “There is no great thing the man or woman can do to keep love alive and healthy, but there are many little things given daily, and, if possible, hourly—a kind word, a courteous act, a smile, an endearing term, a sparkle in the eye, an unexpected service, a birthday greeting, a remembering of the wedding anniversary—these and a hundred other seemingly insignificant deeds and expressions are the food upon which love thrives.” (Secrets of a Happy Life, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1960, p. 18.)

Richard L. Evans said this: All things need watching, working at, caring for, and marriage is no exception. Marriage is not something to be indifferently treated or abused, or something that simply takes care of itself. Nothing neglected will remain as it was or is, or will fail to deteriorate. All things need attention, care and concern, and especially so in this most sensitive of all relationships of life. (Richard L. Evans in Richard L. Evans’ Quote Book, Salt Lake City, Publishers Press, 1971, p. 16.)

And President Hinckley: Be loyal in your family relationships. I have witnessed much of the best and much of the worst in marriage. Every week I have the responsibility of acting on requests for cancellation of temple sealings. …I am grateful to be able to say that divorce is much less frequent with those married in the temple. But even among these there is far more divorce than there should be.
The bride and groom come to the house of the Lord professing their love one for another. They enter into solemn and eternal covenants with each other and with the Lord. Their relationship is sealed in an eternal compact. No one expects every marriage to work out perfectly. But one might expect that every marriage in the house of the Lord would carry with it a covenant of loyalty one to another.
I have long felt that the greatest factor in a happy marriage is an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion. In most cases selfishness is the leading factor that causes argument, separation, divorce, and broken hearts.
Brethren, the Lord expects something better of us. He expects something better than is to be found in the world. Never forget that it was you who selected your companion. It was you who felt that there was no one else in all the world quite like her. It was you who wished to have her forever. But in too many cases the image of the temple experience fades. A lustful desire may be the cause. Faultfinding replaces praise. When we look for the worst in anyone, we will find it.
Brethren, be loyal to your companion. May your marriage be blessed with an uncompromising loyalty one to another. Find your happiness with one another. Give your companion the opportunity to grow in her own interests, to develop her own talents, to fly in her own way, and to experience her own sense of accomplishment.

On another occasion he elaborated: Selfishness is the antithesis of love. It is a cankering expression of greed. It destroys self-discipline. It obliterates loyalty. It tears up sacred covenants. It afflicts both men and women. (Pres. Hinckley, in Conference Report, Apr. 1991, 96; or Ensign, May 1991, 73).

I am very blessed to have had a wonderful example growing up in my loving, loyal parents who put each other and us before themselves. They had their share of trials and troubles, but their love of the Lord and of each other took first priority and they remained faithful to each other. Though I know they had their differences at times, I never heard either of them say a disparaging thing about the other to us or to anyone else.

I have been really grateful for this example in my marriage. Because I tend to do a lot of self-deprecating and poking fun at myself, when we were first married I found myself lumping John in with myself and doing the same with him. Sometimes I would catch myself and wonder if what I had said may have been hurtful, and I’ve tried to be more careful. Frankly, I am very lucky that he really doesn’t give me any material for complaining, but at times it seems like others make sport of pointing out and laughing at their spouses’ weaknesses or habits. In those moments I try to make sure that my loyalty remains with John in the things that I say to others, whether he hears them or not, and whether it is in jest or not. John has been very considerate in doing the same for me, and it has meant that we have been able to freely trust each other with our thoughts, feelings, concerns, and fears, having the confidence that neither will intentionally hurt the other.

In a March, 1979 Liahona article, Veon G. Smith pointed out three myths that can undermine marriages: The first myth says, “If I have my wedding in the temple, the marriage will take care of itself.” But it won’t. Marriage is a dynamic interaction between two growing, changing people, and it requires constant focus on the quality of that interaction if the marriage is to be close and meaningful. A temple marriage does not automatically guarantee a celestial marriage—or even a pleasant one.

The second myth says, “If the marriage is not successful, I should start over.” But success is not an instant achievement. By definition, marriage is a continuing process, not a final stage. Consequently, it will be more successful at some points than at others. Many people want or expect instant success in all dimensions of marriage; if any aspect seems less than perfect, one despairs and thinks, “I married the wrong person.” This attitude frequently turns one’s attention toward someone other than his marriage partner.

The third myth says, “Loving my spouse does not preclude the possibility of becoming involved with anyone else.” The task for every married person is to maintain loyalty and fidelity with one person; the spouse. It is inappropriate to feel and express to others the same love feelings one expresses to a spouse.

He continues:

Fidelity, like infidelity, is a process. Fidelity, the positive quality is measured by the degree of loyalty, allegiance, and commitment between husband and wife. Infidelity, the negative quality, results from insufficient feelings of loyalty and allegiance. Any action that fosters inappropriate relationships with another person erodes fidelity.
Two souls, united in matrimony, can achieve spiritual and temporal unity only if they constantly increase their friendship, love, and loyalty by expressing their feelings verbally, by maintaining mutual respect, and by demonstrating concern for each other.
Like most illnesses, infidelity is easier to prevent than to remedy, and the best prevention is to work hard at developing a good marriage. Temple marriage, entered into with a firm commitment to make the marriage an eternal relationship, is a solid foundation. Strong personal commitment, not only to one’s spouse, but to the institution of marriage as it has been divinely ordained, emphasizes the necessity of faithfulness—not only faithfulness to another person, but faithfulness to our Father in heaven.

In closing, I think that desire expressed by Elder Holland sums up how I have come to view the concept of fidelity: Fidelity in marriage, and really in any relationship, requires being true both to the other person and also to ourselves and to the Lord. “May the joy of our fidelity to the highest and best within us be ours as we keep our love and our marriages, our society and our souls, as pure as they were meant to be, I pray” (Jeffrey R. Holland, 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Gordon B. Hinckley on Women

This is a unique talk because it is given in direct answers to direct questions about women and the Gospel. A good read!  "Daughters of God," November 1991.

One excerpt:

Now, Virginia, you call attention to the statement in the scriptures that Adam should rule over Eve. (See Gen. 3:16.) You ask why this is so. I do not know. I regrettably recognize that some men have used this through centuries of time as justification for abusing and demeaning women. But I am confident also that in so doing they have demeaned themselves and offended the Father of us all, who, I am confident, loves His daughters just as He loves His sons.

I sat with President David O. McKay on one occasion when he talked about that statement in Genesis. His eyes flashed with anger as he spoke of despotic husbands and stated that they would have to make an accounting of their evil actions when they stand to be judged by the Lord. He indicated that the very essence of the spirit of the gospel demands that any governance in the home must be done only in righteousness.

My own interpretation of that sentence is that the husband shall have a governing responsibility to provide for, to protect, to strengthen and shield the wife. Any man who belittles or abuses or terrorizes, or who rules in unrighteousness, will deserve and, I believe, receive the reprimand of a just God who is the Eternal Father of both His sons and daughters.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Neal A. Maxwell on Women

Oh, I never get tired of this one:  "The Women of God," April 1978 (lots of talk about women in this conference!)

A few favorite excerpts:

[R]ighteousness is not a matter of role, nor goodness a matter of gender. In the work of the Kingdom, men and women are not without each other, but do not envy each other, lest by reversals and renunciations of role we make a wasteland of both womanhood and manhood.


We salute you, sisters, for the joy that is yours as you rejoice in a baby’s first smile and as you listen with eager ear to a child’s first day at school which bespeaks a special selflessness. Women, more quickly than others, will understand the possible dangers when the word self is militantly placed before other words like fulfillment. You rock a sobbing child without wondering if today’s world is passing you by, because you know you hold tomorrow tightly in your arms.


We have special admiration for the unsung but unsullied single women among whom are some of the noblest daughters of God. These sisters know that God loves them, individually and distinctly. They make wise career choices even though they cannot now have the most choice career. Though in their second estate they do not have their first desire, they still overcome the world. These sisters who cannot now enrich the institution of their own marriage so often enrich other institutions in society. They do not withhold their blessings simply because some blessings are now withheld from them. Their trust in God is like that of the wives who are childless, but not by choice, but who in the justice of God will receive special blessings one day.


Finally, remember: When we return to our real home, it will be with the “mutual approbation” of those who reign in the “royal courts on high.” There we will find beauty such as mortal “eye hath not seen”; we will hear sounds of surpassing music which mortal “ear hath not heard.” Could such a regal homecoming be possible without the anticipatory arrangements of a Heavenly Mother?

Spencer W. Kimball on Women

For some time now I've been wanting to do a more thorough study on women and on our Heavenly Mother. President Spencer W. Kimball is always a good place to start! Here is an excerpt from his talk "The True Way of Life and Salvation" from April 1978.

I want to express my appreciation for the wonderful women of the Church. We love the women of our Church. We love them as deeply as our own wives, our mothers, our grandmothers, our sisters, and our friends. Someday, when the whole story of this and previous dispensations is told, it will be filled with courageous stories of our women, of their wisdom and their devotion, their courage, for one senses that perhaps, just as women were the first at the sepulchre of the Lord Jesus Christ after his resurrection, our righteous women have so often been instinctively sensitive to things of eternal consequence. We recognize, as one man has wisely said, that while we speak of the impact of one’s mother’s tongue with a lasting effect upon us, it is our mother’s love which touches us everlastingly and so deeply.

We worry, therefore, conversely over these trends which would reduce the mother’s love in our world. God has placed women at the very headwaters of the human stream. So much of what our men and our institutions seek to do downstream in the lives of erring individuals is done to compensate for early failures. Likewise, so much of life’s later rejoicing is a reflection of a woman’s work well done at the headwaters of the home.

It was Goethe who said, “The Eternal Feminine draws us on.” (Johann W. von Goethe, Faust.)

“A good woman,” as the scriptures tell us, “is the glory of the man.” (1 Cor. 11:7.)

The scriptures remind us that “Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance, until their husbands are taken.” (D&C 83:2.) Women also have a claim on their husbands for respect, fidelity, and thoughtfulness for in that subtle, sweet relationship that should obtain between men and women, there is partnership with the priesthood.

We delight and marvel in the appropriate development and expressions of our sisters’ many talents. Surely the Church’s educational effort in behalf of its women is a sermon in itself.

Perhaps more than any other people of like size, we are deeply committed to the development of the skills and talents of our sisters, for we believe our educational program is not simply education for this world, but involves an education for all eternity.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has sponsored the advancement of women from its very outset. It was the Prophet Joseph Smith who set forth the ideals for womanhood. He advocated liberally for women in the purest sense of the word, and he gave them liberty to fully express themselves as mothers, as nurses to the sick, as proponents of high community ideals, and as protectors of good morals.

What more can any woman want for herself? What more could any man want for his wife? What more could any man want than to match that standard in his own conduct?

The Prophet Joseph gave us the Relief Society organization to advance these high purposes for Latter-day Saint women. That society today is a worldwide movement holding membership in national and world organizations for the advancement of women.

Finally, when we sing that doctrinal hymn and anthem of affection, “O My Father,” we get a sense of the ultimate in maternal modesty, of the restrained, queenly elegance of our Heavenly Mother, and knowing how profoundly our mortal mothers have shaped us here, do we suppose her influence on us as individuals to be less if we live so as to return there?

Perhaps many today would scoff at the question, "What more can any woman want for herself?" But the more I see the way society is going, the more I see that the greatest good I can do in the world is to love on an individual level and foster community among those around me. That is why we need more gwomen to be free from work; to be able to rely on their husbands for their support so that they can be present, not only in their children's lives but as a force for community good.

And I can practice law on the side, too =)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Spiritually Spoiled

It has been a while, so I thought I need to pick up writing again. The topic on my mind is this: I am spoiled.

With the internet and social media, I have the benefit of keeping in touch with a lot of people I would have otherwise lost, which also means that I hear about many of their trials and the trials of their friends, acquaintances, and people they've heard of. Daily I hear about some new tragedy that has happened somewhere, some new heartache someone is facing, some new difficulty coming upon another family. I have started to make a habit of saying an immediate prayer any time I read of someone's trial or someone who asks for a prayer, because I know I won't remember all of them later. 

Inevitably, I look at my own life and think, "Wow, I am spoiled!" Of course life isn't easy and I have my struggles, but almost all of them are struggles of my own choice. I want to have a big family and still practice law on the side? Yup, that is going to be a lot of work. Exactly what I longed and prayed for. I want my husband to go to medical school and become a doctor while we are having that big family? That is going to be a lot of time and hard work and struggle. Exactly what we pleaded for the Lord to allow us to do. Callings and life changes require a lot of us? Exactly what we wanted and covenanted to do, knowing the blessings that we would get in exchange. 

In short, the Lord has given me everything I've ever seriously asked for, and every day I still beg for Him to help me get through it. Pretty humbling when I think about it.

So why on earth do I slack on the work before me? Why does my scripture study vary in effectiveness and intensity? Why don't I take better care of what I am given? I have been reading in the Book of Mormon about those last years before Christ visited the Nephites, and it has been a good reminder not to take for granted my blessings or to get so caught up in advancing in the world that I let the most important things slip. One of the great lessons of the Book of Mormon is that prosperity can test spirituality as much as suffering can, and that chastisement is the Lord's way of calling His people to Him and refining them in His image.

For the record, I do not desire any additional trials to call me, but I do want to be sure that I am listening to the Lord daily through the voice of His Spirit, and acknowledging His hand in my life and learning what He would teach me.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

"Blind Obedience"

Leave it to Elder (a.k.a. Justice) Oaks to make solid distinctions in the knowledge and obedience departments.

In closing, I refer to the relationship between obedience and knowledge. Members who have a testimony and who act upon it under the direction of their Church leaders are sometimes accused of blind obedience.

Of course, we have leaders, and of course, we are subject to their decisions and directions in the operation of the Church and in the performance of needed priesthood ordinances. But when it comes to learning and knowing the truth of the gospel—our personal testimonies—we each have a direct relationship with God, our Eternal Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, through the powerful witness of the Holy Ghost. This is what our critics fail to understand. It puzzles them that we can be united in following our leaders and yet independent in knowing for ourselves.

Perhaps the puzzle some feel can be explained by the reality that each of us has two different channels to God. We have a channel of governance through our prophet and other leaders. This channel, which has to do with doctrine, ordinances, and commandments, results in obedience. We also have a channel of personal testimony, which is direct to God. This has to do with His existence, our relationship to Him, and the truth of His restored gospel. This channel results in knowledge. These two channels are mutually reinforcing: knowledge encourages obedience (see Deuteronomy 5:27; Moses 5:11), and obedience enhances knowledge (see John 7:17; D&C 93:1).

We all act upon or give obedience to knowledge. Whether in science or religion, our obedience is not blind when we act upon knowledge suited to the subject of our action. A scientist receives and acts upon a trusted certification of the content or conditions of a particular experiment. In matters of religion, a believer’s source of knowledge is spiritual, but the principle is the same. In the case of Latter-day Saints, when the Holy Ghost gives our souls a witness of the truth of the restored gospel and the calling of a modern prophet, our choice to follow those teachings is not blind obedience.

-Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "Testimony," CR April 2008.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Hope, Repentance, and Mighty Change

The sixth and final point I wish to make about the process of repentance is that we must be careful, as we seek to become more and more godlike, that we do not become discouraged and lose hope. Becoming Christlike is a lifetime pursuit and very often involves growth and change that is slow, almost imperceptible. The scriptures record remarkable accounts of men whose lives changed dramatically, in an instant, as it were: Alma the Younger, Paul on the road to Damascus, Enos praying far into the night, King Lamoni. Such astonishing examples of the power to change even those steeped in sin give confidence that the Atonement can reach even those deepest in despair.

But we must be cautious as we discuss these remarkable examples. Though they are real and powerful, they are the exception more than the rule. For every Paul, for every Enos, and for every King Lamoni, there are hundreds and thousands of people who find the process of repentance much more subtle, much more imperceptible. Day by day they move closer to the Lord, little realizing they are building a godlike life. They live quiet lives of goodness, service, and commitment. They are like the Lamanites, who the Lord said “were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.” (3 Ne. 9:20; italics added.)

We must not lose hope. Hope is an anchor to the souls of men. Satan would have us cast away that anchor. In this way he can bring discouragement and surrender. But we must not lose hope. The Lord is pleased with every effort, even the tiny, daily ones in which we strive to be more like Him. Though we may see that we have far to go on the road to perfection, we must not give up hope.

Ezra Taft Benson, "A Mighty Change of Heart," Ensign, Oct. 1989. Emphasis added.

Book of Mormon Preparation

The Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines that lays down contention. (See 2 Ne 3:12) It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time.

-President Ezra Taft Bensen (then President of the Quorum of the Twelve), Conference Report, Apr. 1975, 94-95h

Who We Are

I am sure today in our lives many of us wish that we were something other than we are, thinking likely that their lot is preferable to our own. But Alma said further: 

Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.

But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me. (Alma 29:2-3)

I believe that we, as fellow workers int eh priesthood, might well take to heart the admonition of Alma and be content with that which God hath allotted us. We might well e assured that we had something to do with our 'allotment' in our pre-existent state. This would be an additional reason for us to accept our present condition and make the best of it. It is what we agreed to do...

We unquestionably knew before we elected to come to this earth the conditions under which we would here exist, and live, and work. So little wonder it is that Alma of old said that we sin in the thought, or in the desire, or in the wish that we were someone other than ourselves. He said further: 

Now, seeing that I know these things, why should I desire more than to perform the work to which I have been called? Why should I desire that I were an angel, that I could speak unto all the ends of the earth?

For behold, the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore, we see that the Lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true.

I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy. (Alma 29:6-9)

I have a conviction deep down in my heart that we are exactly what we should be, each one of us, except as we may have altered that pattern by deviating from the laws of God here in mortality. I have convinced myself that we all have those peculiar attributes, characteristics, and abilities which are essential for us to possess in order that we may fulfill the full purpose of our creation here upon this earth.

Once again, that allotment which has come to us from God is a sacred allotment. It is something of which we should be proud, each one of us in our own right, and not wish that we had somebody else's allotment. Our greatest success comes from being ourselves. 

I think that we can console ourselves best by believing that whatever is our allotment in life, whatever is our call in the priesthood, the Lord has been wise and just, and I might add, merciful, in giving to us that which we need to accomplish the particular purpose of our call.

-Henry D. Moyle, Conference Report, Oct. 1952, pp. 71-72

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Gratitude, Mother's Day, and The Book of Mormon

Saturday was one of those days. I spent all morning diligently working and cleaning and the house was still a disaster. Loads of dishes, loads of laundry, loads of trash, and still I barely seemed to be scratching the surface. John was off studying for his exam this week, and I started to feel a little frustrated and sorry for myself on this Mother's Day weekend. Then the thought came, "I am going about this all wrong. This Mother's Day I really should focus on celebrating the three beautiful boys who gave and continue to give me the joy and privilege of motherhood."

I have been given a wonderful gift that not everyone has been able to have in mortality though they desired it with all their hearts and certainly merited the gift more than I. And I have been given that gift during an amazing era where those obnoxious daily chores are merely obnoxious and not all-encompassing daily efforts. I can read whatever I want online at my leisure. I have machines that wash my dishes and clothes. I am starting a career and everything I need I have at my fingertips in the comfort of my own home. All of this I have as a sit on a foundation laid by so many mothers before me who did so much with so much less than I have at my disposal.

Why is it that it is so easy to forget our blessings and to be ungrateful? My complaining to myself, viewed in light of all of my blessings and advantages, seems so selfish and petty, and yet I fall into that trap daily.

I think that one of the central themes of the Book of Mormon is gratitude and remembrance. We are reminded both in the introduction and closing remarks of the Book that this is part of its purpose:

Which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever.  -Title Page

Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts
-Moroni 3:3

I can't begin right now to list all the times in the Book of Mormon where the prophets counsel the people to remember how the Lord has blessed them and to live accordingly. In the spirit of that Book which has had the greatest impact in my life, I will make a greater effort to be grateful daily for the amazing blessings which are mine, and to cheerfully do the duty that falls upon me as a recipient of those blessings.