Sunday, May 13, 2018

Encircled About

Today is Mother's Day. In honor of that special day, one of our sons posted the following picture on Instagram, of his wife encircled by their children:


That picture came to mind as I read the following verse in the Book of Mormon this morning:

They saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and they were encircled about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them. (3 Nephi 17:24)

I thought how neat it would be if there were a way to picture a mom encircling her children, but it's kind of hard for one person to surround five. Maybe that's why we love the "hen gathering her chickens" pictures, and maybe that's why we're given arms. Anyway, I digress. 

I realized that in this picture there could very well be unseen angels ministering to both mother and children, that they are providing that outer circle of love and protection. If I had another person's skills, I could try portraying that thought visually, but I don't - (Aren't you so grateful we each have differing, unique talents?) - so you'll need to imagine it yourself. 

I am grateful for a mother who lavished care and attention on me. I'm grateful for the opportunity I had to bear children and watch them grow and develop into incredible adults. I am thankful that our grandchildren have the best mothers in the world who are doing an awesome job as they cherish and teach the next generation. Finally, I am grateful for the help we receive from ministering angels, seen and unseen, as we continue on our path home to our heavenly parents.

Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter Chiasmus


My dad wrote this years ago, and each Easter I like to review it. It's one of my favorite personal traditions, one that doesn't involve food!

If this scanned photo is too difficult to read, go here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Son of Man

Almost a year ago I realized I should make time to go through the "Jesus Christ" scriptures in the Topical Guide, but I finally started this week. One of the first things that I noticed was that the Savior used the term "Son of man" when referring to himself. Have you noticed that?


Others have, and when I tried searching for what that term might mean, I found some possible answers.

These two - here* and here - were the easiest to read and understand. Basically, in the prophecy of Daniel, the Messiah is called the "Son of Man" so when Jesus used that title for himself, it was a way to confirm that he was the Messiah. "Son of man" is also a term that simply means human. Rather than emphasizing his divinity, Jesus used this term to emphasize his mortality.

Our LDS Bible Dictionary gives a similar explanation:

Son of Man 
A title of our Lord, found in the Gospels. . .  In the Old Testament the expression “son of man” is frequently used to denote simply “a man.”

The main ideas that probably underlie the title as applied to our Lord are (1) lowliness, humility, and suffering; (2) honor and dignity, as head and founder of the kingdom of God, and judge of all men; (3) the thought of Him as the representative or ideal Man, chosen by our Lord as expressive of His headship over the whole human family.

Latter-day revelation confirms the special meaning and sacredness of this phrase when used as a name of the Savior.

So, I learned something today, and I hope you did as well!


Note: I also looked up "son" in the collegiate dictionary. Of course, it means "male offspring" but the last definition is "a person associated with a formative agent, such as a nation, school, or group." In that sense, maybe mankind could be considered a formative agent in the Savior's life and mission. What do you think?

*Question: "What does it mean that Jesus is the Son of Man?"

Answer: Jesus is referred to as the “Son of Man” 88 times in the New Testament. A first meaning of the phrase “Son of Man” is as a reference to the prophecy of Daniel 7:13-14. The description “Son of Man” was a Messianic title. Jesus is the One who was given dominion and glory and a kingdom. When Jesus used this phrase, He was assigning the Son of Man prophecy to Himself. The Jews of that era would have been intimately familiar with the phrase and to whom it referred. Jesus was proclaiming Himself as the Messiah.

A second meaning of the phrase “Son of Man” is that Jesus was truly a human being. God called the prophet Ezekiel “son of man” 93 times. God was simply calling Ezekiel a human being. A son of a man is a man. Jesus was fully God, but He was also a human being. . . .  Yes, Jesus was the Son of God—He was in His essence God. Yes, Jesus was also the Son of Man—He was in His essence a human being. In summary, the phrase “Son of Man” indicates that Jesus is the Messiah and that He is truly a human being.

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Gift of Time

This morning I read a talk given by President Henry B. Eyring at BYU in 1986 (before he was President Eyring) and I thought I'd record a few quotes from it here. Once again, it's an excellent address that I will want to review later some day.

Child of Promise

"Since I know something of the anxiety the pressure of time creates in your life, I would like to share with you what little I have learned in my life about how to handle that feeling of hurry. It could help you in your life. It’s important to be sure we agree on the nature of the problem. Time passes at a fixed rate and we can’t store it. You can just decide what to do with it or not to do with it."

"Even a moment’s reflection will help you see that the problem of using your time well is not a problem of the mind but of the heart. It will only yield to a change in the very way we feel about time. The value of time must change for us. And then the way we think about it will change, naturally and wisely."

"Time is the property we inherit from God, along with the power to choose what we will do with it. President [Brigham] Young calls the gift of life, which is time and the power to dispose of it, so great an inheritance that we should feel it is our capital."

"One of the things that makes you a child of promise is that you know God’s promises, and you know their purpose is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. You will invest your time wisely if you value the promises."

"Now, I haven’t solved the problem of your busy schedules. You will still feel you are in a hurry and you will still find yourself not reaching the end of every list. In fact, you may find your list changing and even growing larger. But you can have peace and confidence in your choices."

No, he hasn't solved the problem of the never-ending to-do list, but he has given me hope that I can be successful and productive in doing what the Lord wants me to do. I hope this helps you as well!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Work

1990 - weekly chores - mopping floor and cleaning goldfish bowl
An interesting article showed up on my Facebook feed this morning, and - combined with someone's comment during our family calls last Sunday, which will be addressed in a different post - that got me to thinking about work. I searched just this blog and discovered that 1/3 of the posts mention work. I guess I've been thinking about it for a while! Anyway, here's the article:

Family Work

It's fairly lengthy and scholarly, but here are some of the ideas that stood out to me:

How does ordinary, family-centered work like feeding, clothing, and nurturing a family—work that often seems endless and mundane—actually bless our lives? The answer is so obvious in common experience that it has become obscure: Family work links people. On a daily basis, the tasks we do to stay alive provide us with endless opportunities to recognize and fill the needs of others. Family work is a call to enact love, and it is a call that is universal.

Some people dislike family work because, they say, it is mindless. Yet chores that can be done with a minimum of concentration leave our minds free to focus on one another as we work together. We can talk, sing, or tell stories as we work. Working side by side tends to dissolve feelings of hierarchy, making it easier for children to discuss topics of concern with their parents. We also tend to think of household work as menial, and much of it is. Yet, because it is menial, even the smallest child can make a meaningful contribution.

Scholars compared children who did “self-care tasks” such as cleaning up their own rooms or doing their own laundry, with children who participated in “family-care tasks” such as setting the table or cleaning up a space that is shared with others. They found that it is the work one does “for others” that leads to the development of concern for others, while “work that focuses on what is one’s ‘own,’” does not. Other studies have also reported a positive link between household work and observed actions of helpfulness toward others.

Traditionally, many have considered this need to labor as a curse, but a close reading of the account suggests otherwise. God did not curse Adam; He cursed the ground to bring forth thorns and thistles (Moses 4:24), which in turn forced Adam to labor. And Adam was told, “Cursed shall be the ground for thy sake” (vs. 23, emphasis added). In other words, the hard work of eating one’s bread “by the sweat of thy face” (vs. 25) was meant to be a blessing.

At every turn, we are encouraged to seek an Eden-like bliss where we enjoy life’s bounties without working for them . . .  However, back to Eden is not onward to Zion. Adam and Eve entered mortality to do what they could not do in the Garden: to gain salvation by bringing forth, sustaining, and nourishing life. As they worked together in this stewardship, with an eye single to the glory of God, a deep and caring relationship would grow out of their shared daily experience. 

1998 - "screeding" helpers - preparing to plant grass

I love this principle of the gospel, that God has his work and we have ours. (See Moses 1:39 and D&C 11:20, or this blog post.) Here are some of my other favorite quotes on the subject. With time, I imagine I could find more. What are your favorite quotes?

Elder Neal A. Maxwell - April 1998 general conference - "Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel"

Work is always a spiritual necessity even if, for some, work is not an economic necessity.

The gospel of work is part of “the fulness of the gospel.” Though joyful, missionary work is work. Though joyful, temple work is work. 

Be careful, fathers, when you inordinately desire things to be better for your children than they were for you. Do not, however unintentionally, make things worse by removing the requirement for reasonable work as part of their experience, thereby insulating your children from the very things that helped make you what you are!

2004 - taking a break from chopping down a tree

President Ezra Taft Benson - October 1982 general conference - "Fundamentals of Enduring Family Relationships"

"Children must be taught to work at home. They should learn there that honest labor develops dignity and self-respect. They should learn the pleasure of work, of doing a job well."

1989 - doing the dishes
Elder S. Dilworth Young - April 1972 general conference - "Missionary Training Begins Early"

The dusty, ill-kept room with its unmade bed is the devil’s best means of discouragement.

(Note that this talk was geared to President Russell M. Nelson whose first son - after nine daughters - had just been born. I imagine he followed some of this advice; his son did serve a mission in Russia.)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Kingship of Self-Control

I'm not sure of the details, but someone introduced a series of essays by William George Jordan to Wayne when he was a teenager, and they made a huge impact on his life. I was reminded of them again today and decided to see if I could find a copy online, and I did. Here it is:



The first essay is the one we remember, but all of them are good. One of the things I love about his opening statement is its reminder that we are children of God (although he doesn't use those words) and that we have great potential. Here are the words he uses:

"Man is never truly great merely for what he is, but ever for what he may become."

This also reminds me of a quote by C. S. Lewis that I love:

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship. … There are no ordinary people. … Your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses” (C. S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory,” in Screwtape Proposes a Toast and Other Pieces [1974], 109–10). - quoted in a conference talk by Susan W. Tanner

I'd encourage you to follow the link above and read the entire essay, but if you don't have time for that, at least read part of his conclusion:

"No man can make a habit in a moment or break it in a moment. It is a matter of development, of growth. But at any moment man may begin to make or begin to break any habit. This view of the growth of character should be a mighty stimulus to the man who sincerely desires and determines to live nearer to the limit of his possibilities. Self-control may be developed in precisely the same manner as we tone up a weak muscle,—by little exercises day by day. Let us each day do, as mere exercises of discipline in moral gymnastics, a few acts that are disagreeable to us, the doing of which will help us in instant action in our hour of need. The exercises may be very simple,— dropping for a time an intensely interesting book at the most thrilling page of the story; jumping out of bed at the first moment of waking; walking home when one is perfectly able to do so, but when the temptation is to take a car; talking to some disagreeable person and trying to make the conversation pleasant. These daily exercises in moral discipline will have a wondrous tonic effect on man’s whole moral nature. The individual can attain self-control in great things only through self-control in little things."

Okay, let's update this with a few more details. Wayne's bishop selected a series of essays from several books by William George Jordan, which he then shared with the young men. They included the following:

  • The Kingship of Self-Control
  • The Supreme Charity of the World
  • Worry, the Great American Disease
  • Living Life Over Again
  • The Power of Personal Influence
  • Failure as a Success
  • Doing Our Best at All Times
  • Facing the Mistakes of Life
  • Sitting in the Seat of Judgment
  • Forgetting as a Fine Art
  • When We forget the Equity
  • The Finer Spirit of Trusteeship
  • The Joy Note in Life
  • The Supreme Court of Self-Respect
  • What Money Cannot Buy
  • The Red Blood of Courage
  • The Glory of the Commonplace
  • The Vision of High Ideals
  • The Crowning Gift in Life

  • The first four were found in "The Kingship of Self-Control" but the others were found in three different collections:

    "The Majesty of Calmness"
    "The Crown of Individuality"
    "The Trusteeship of Life"

    I found the links at this site, which has additional links to more of his writings.

    Wednesday, January 24, 2018

    A Powerful Parable

    For some reason, I was reminded of this story that I heard as a young girl. Maybe someone referred to "a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down" or some similar saying. There are a lot of ways to describe that kindness works better than unkindness, and I like this one. Aesop apparently is the one who deserves credit for the story.

    The North Wind and The Sun

    The North Wind boasted of great strength. The Sun argued that there was great power in gentleness.

    "We shall have a contest," said the Sun.

    Far below, a man traveled a winding road. He was wearing a warm winter coat.

    "As a test of strength," said the Sun, "Let us see which of us can take the coat off of that man."

    "It will be quite simple for me to force him to remove his coat," bragged the Wind.

    The Wind blew so hard, the birds clung to the trees. The world was filled with dust and leaves. But the harder the wind blew down the road, the tighter the shivering man clung to his coat.

    Then, the Sun came out from behind a cloud. Sun warmed the air and the frosty ground. The man on the road unbuttoned his coat.

    The sun grew slowly brighter and brighter.

    Soon the man felt so hot, he took off his coat and sat down in a shady spot.

    "How did you do that?" said the Wind.

    "It was easy," said the Sun, "I lit the day. Through gentleness I got my way."


    The Wind and the Sun

    THE WIND and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly they saw a traveller coming down the road, and the Sun said: “I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveller to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger. You begin.” So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveller. But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveller wrap his cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair. Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveller, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on.
            “Kindness is more effective than severity.”
    Æsop. (Sixth century B.C.)  Fables.
    The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.