Thursday, December 14, 2017

Attribute #14 - Compassion

Next comes Hayden, and the first Christ-like attribute I noticed when I met him was compassion. Michelle has had a rough year or two, and I could tell he genuinely felt for her and wanted to make things better.

Compassion: sympathetic consciousness of others distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

Zechariah 7:9
Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother:

1 Peter 3:8
Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:

Matthew 9:36
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.

I had forgotten until this week that in President Uchtdorf's "creativity" talk, the second topic he covered was compassion. That makes it fit even more perfectly in this little Christmas countdown.

Concerning compassion, he said:

Being compassionate is another great work of our Heavenly Father and a fundamental characteristic of who we are as a people. We are commanded to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.” Disciples of Christ throughout all ages of the world have been distinguished by their compassion. Those who follow the Savior “mourn with those that mourn … and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” When we reach out to bless the lives of others, our lives are blessed as well. Service and sacrifice open the windows of heaven, allowing choice blessings to descend upon us. Surely our beloved Heavenly Father smiles upon those who care for the least of His children.

President Uchtdorf's address included this invitation:

In the end, the number of prayers we say may contribute to our happiness, but the number of prayers we answer may be of even greater importance. Let us open our eyes and see the heavy hearts, notice the loneliness and despair; let us feel the silent prayers of others around us, and let us be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to answer those prayers.

What a wonderful time of year this is, when so many are trying to follow this charge. I'm grateful for Hayden's example in this area.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Attribute #13 - Creativity

We're half-way to Christmas. That means you've met all our grandchildren and now it's time to start on our children. Because she's our youngest, Michelle is first for this little exercise. When I think of her I think of creativity. Here's one of her early creations; isn't it nice it has a Christmas theme?

And here's another from ten years later, (also with the holiday theme), created with markers, one of her preferred methods of expression.

One of her current creative outlets is a new blog - Made With Michelle. And there are even more examples at her old blog - Cliché Creativity.

Elephant sweatshirts, hair bows and graphic design.
And be sure to check out her Instagram accounts as well! Look at all the avenues for sharing creativity that are available now!
This year's holiday project!
Talking of creativity reminds me of one of President Uchtdorf's classic talks. In it he said:

You may think you don’t have talents, but that is a false assumption, for we all have talents and gifts, every one of us. The bounds of creativity extend far beyond the limits of a canvas or a sheet of paper and do not require a brush, a pen, or the keys of a piano. Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before—colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter.

It wasn't until I heard that talk that I realized making dinner or organizing a closet was a form of creativity. For some reason that change in mindset elevates ordinary household chores.

Creativity: the ability to transcend traditional ideas and to create meaningful new ones; to design and produce through imagination and skill; originality; making or inventing

Moses 1:33
And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten. 

Creativity is definitely a Christ-like attribute, and I'm grateful for Michelle's example in this area, and for the opportunities I'm given to practice this skill every day.

I also just discovered a talk originally given over 50 years ago, which is one I'll want to re-read and ponder. Maybe you will also. (And another one from just a couple of years ago.)

Creativity and the Latter-day Saint by Crawford Gates
Creativity by Claudine Bigelow

The second talk includes this seasonally appropriate quote:

What other evidence do we have of our creativity before we came here to earth? If we look closely at the scriptures we find radiant bursts of creativity from angels in important moments through time. A good example of this is the birth of our Savior. Luke tells us: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

I don’t think it is far-fetched to assume that this praise was heavenly music. I believe with all my heart that the heavenly host included all those who love the Savior and whose hearts resonate with Him. What I am trying to say is, I think we would have been included. If you could have been there, would you have? I wouldn’t have missed it. The veil is thin for me on that experience. I can almost touch it in my memory every Christmas when we raise our voices in song. Our joy must have been abundant in that moment; the heavens overflowed.

Just something else to think about as we sing the beautiful hymns and carols of Christmas!

Our beautiful bride in the dress we created together.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Attribute #12 - Enthusiasm

Wyatt was so excited to come to earth, that he decided to come a month early. We're so happy he did; it gave us an extra month to enjoy his wonderfully enthusiastic nature.

He puts his whole heart into everything he does, and is really good at focusing on tasks that he enjoys. We're so grateful that he enjoys things like paying his tithing and going to school.

Enthusiasm: lively interest; absorbing possession of the mind by any interest or pursuit

Galatians 4:18
It is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing.

D&C 58:27
Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.

As you can see, there aren't really any scriptures with the word "enthusiasm" in them, but these two are great descriptions of someone who enthusiastically chooses the right.

Plugging "enthusiasm" into the search bar at doesn't yield a lot of information either. However, this little excerpt, from an article on how to teach your children the gospel when they seem bored and distracted, was quite interesting. I especially liked the etymology lesson at the beginning.

Be enthusiastic. The word enthusiasm stems from words that literally mean “having God within us.” How essential inspiration is! Without it, and the enthusiasm it generates, our teaching can die from a lack of spirit.

Enthusiasm begins with prayer, which invites the Spirit into our hearts. It continues with dedicated preparation. Nothing kills enthusiasm as fear does, and the antidote to fear is preparation (see D&C 38:30). Keeping things simple also helps. Like Nephi of old, children delight in plainness and simplicity (see 2 Ne. 25:4).

I can see all of these traits in Wyatt, and I look forward to seeing them increase as he grows older.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Attribute #11 - Obedience

Obedience: following the commands, wishes or instructions of someone; dutiful or submissive compliance

Hebrews 5:8
Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 

D&C 105:6
And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience, if it must needs be, by the things which they suffer. 

I imagine Miss Evelyn would agree (I know I would have at her age) that obedience equals suffering. Often it means that we have to do something we don't want to do, particularly at a specific moment. However, I also know that she's learning the following scripture is true as well. Obedience leads to true happiness.

Mosiah 2:41
And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.

Several years ago in a Christmas devotional, President Monson spoke about giving and about the spirit of Christmas.

“The spirit of Christmas is something I hope each of us would have within his heart and within his life, not only at this particular season, but throughout the year. When we keep the spirit of Christmas, we keep the spirit of Christ.”

“What gifts would the Lord have me give to him or to others at this precious season of the year?

“May I suggest an answer to this searching question? Our Heavenly Father would want each of us to render to him and to his Son the gift of obedience.

“I feel he would ask us to give of ourselves and not be selfish, nor greedy, nor quarrelsome. In this marvelous dispensation of the fulness of times, our opportunities to give of ourselves are indeed limitless, but they are also perishable. There are hearts to gladden. There are kind words to say. There are gifts to be given. There are deeds to be done. There are souls to be saved.”

Even when it was difficult, Mary and Joseph were obedient to God's commandments. So was Jesus Christ. Throughout the year, as we strive to be obedient, we can feel the spirit of Christmas every single day.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Attribute #10 - Intelligence

A couple of years ago, I received a phone call wondering if I could read a story to Brooke over Skype. There was still a few minutes before Daddy came home from work and she was going a bit stir-crazy. It was a wonderful fun tradition to start, and I'm so grateful Cody was inspired to call. I'm also grateful for the technology (even if it "never works") that allows us to feel close to our family members half-way around the country, or even the world.

Since that day we've ready many stories long-distance, and I've started stopping at the children's section of the library on a regular basis. Here are some of the fun new books we've discovered recently:
        If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson
        The Thingamabob by Il Sung Na
        Toys Galore by Peter Stein

Bonus picture of another cute granddaughter experiencing joy - and not from a distance!
Reading books is a great way to increase your intelligence, and these particular books have great messages as well.

I originally had "wisdom" as the attribute for Brooke, but decided that it takes some time to develop true wisdom, and that's not probably a good way to describe any five-year-old, no matter how smart she is. (And ours is pretty smart, just like all her cousins!) However, intelligence is something we're born with and we have a responsibility to develop that innate gift to our highest potential.

Intelligence: capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc.; manifestation of a high mental capacity

D&C 93:36
The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth. 

Emulating light and truth as an angel last Christmas.
Here's the conclusion of an excellent article explaining the above scripture:

Thus, the glory of God is his intelligence, meaning, in other words, his truth and light, which are his knowledge and comprehension, his power and divinity. These are elements of God’s very being that his children are to seek if they are to be like him.
I love the symbolism of stars at Christmas time. I like that in addition to reminding us of the sign of the Savior's birth, and even the actual Light of Christ, they can also be a reminder of his inherent intelligence. And I'm grateful for Brooke's example of being excited about trying to be like Jesus and learning new things every day.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Attribute #9 - Forgiveness

Sam is kind and loving, and forgiving, too. Forgiveness can be a hard concept not only to grasp but also to live. However, it's a very important one if we want to have peace and happiness in our life.

Forgiveness: disposition or willingness to grant pardon to a person; absolution.

Ephesians 1:7
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.

Moroni 6:8
But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven. 

This first scripture reminds us that it is only through the Savior that we can be forgiven. This second scripture reminds me of the importance of seeking that forgiveness. It also reminds me of a little ritual that Sam learned in his family. When someone hurts someone else, either accidentally or deliberately, they need to go to the other person and say something like "I'm sorry for (fill in the blank). It was wrong of me and I won't do it again. Will you please forgive me?" Then the other person is supposed to say "I forgive you" and then they hug. Isn't that a neat way to deal with the topic of forgiveness?

I imagine some might think it's insincere and fake, but I also imagine if you start early enough, it becomes natural and sincere fairly quickly. It reminds me of something my parents instituted in our family when I was a teenager. The phrase was "I feel ____________ about _____________ because _____________ - and we weren't allowed to use the word "you" in the sentence. It was corny and awkward, but it worked! And I still remember it 40 years later.

I wonder if Mary and Joseph used techniques like this with their family, including Jesus. Whether or not they did, our Savior and Redeemer definitely learned to forgive and is the perfect example to follow as we strive to develop the attribute of forgiveness.

Here's just one of the many conference talks on forgiveness - "Forgiveness will change Bitterness to Love" by David E. Sorensen - which includes this paragraph:

This is not to say that forgiveness is easy. When someone has hurt us or those we care about, that pain can almost be overwhelming. It can feel as if the pain or the injustice is the most important thing in the world and that we have no choice but to seek vengeance. But Christ, the Prince of Peace, teaches us a better way. It can be very difficult to forgive someone the harm they’ve done us, but when we do, we open ourselves up to a better future. No longer does someone else’s wrongdoing control our course. When we forgive others, it frees us to choose how we will live our own lives. Forgiveness means that problems of the past no longer dictate our destinies, and we can focus on the future with God’s love in our hearts.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Attribute #8 - Peace

As mentioned in the Guide to the Scriptures, peace has two different meanings - either freedom from conflict and turmoil or the inner calm and comfort born of the Spirit that God gives to His faithful Saints. When I think of Dallin, I think of both of these types of peace, and also of the word peacemaker - or one who promotes peace. I can see him exemplifying these attributes. His sunny, infectious personality draws people together. Unity leads to peace. I'm sure his ability to promote peace will only increase as he grows more mature.

Peace: a state of mutual harmony between people or groups; the normal freedom from civil commotion and violence of a community; public order and security; freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety, an obsession, etc.; tranquillity; serenity.

D&C 19:23
Walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me.

I would propose that imagination leads to unity. You need to think "outside the box" to bring together differing opinions. Dallin has a terrific imagination!
You get another song today! This one has special meaning because I remember Michelle singing it for one of our Christmas programs. Jesus Christ did bring peace to the earth, and now it's up to us to do our part to help it stay here and grow.

Peace is Born on Earth
by Sally DeFord

I see a stable, cold and bare
A virgin mother, pure and fair
The light of heaven surrounds her there
Peace is born on earth

And in a manger, gently laid
A baby slumbers in the hay
A miracle is wrought this day
Peace is born on earth

I see the shepherds come in haste
To look upon their Savior’s face
And wise men seek this holy place
Where peace is born on earth

A new star rises in the heavens
I see the skies with glory riven
Unto us a Son is given
Peace is born on earth

Oh listen to the angel song
That heralds this eternal dawn
And through the years the strains prolong
Peace is born
Peace is born

I wonder now if I would know
Like men of wisdom long ago
The star that first was set aglow
When peace was born on earth

For as I lift my eyes afar
To seek the Bright and Morning Star
The light of heaven fills my heart
And peace is born on earth