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


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.

    Sunday, December 24, 2017

    Attribute #24 - Leadership

    One of my favorite memories from Weston's growing up years is the letter he received from my mother after he sent her a cassette tape (remember those?) of him singing "I'm Trying to be like Jesus" which at the time was a new Primary song. In the letter she mentioned how the Spirit touched her while listening to the tape and she was so grateful that Weston had sent it to her. That desire and willingness to be like Jesus is what makes Weston such a great leader. I can't express how grateful we are that as the oldest in our family he set such a great example.

    Because he earned the Eagle Scout award, excelled in high school and college, served a mission, and married in the temple, his younger brothers wanted to do so as well. And they did.

    Weston loves sports, and it's been neat to watch his leadership on his various teams throughout the years as well. I could tell stories of patience, encouragement, grit, endurance, kindness and more, all qualities that contribute to being a great leader.

    Leadership: guidance, influence, conducting, showing the way, direction

    Psalm 31:3
    For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.

    He's not only trying to be like Jesus, I think he's succeeding. I may be biased, but Weston has some great examples of his own to follow (look at these fantastic WOWs!) and he's doing a marvelous job with the next generation.

    Saturday, December 23, 2017

    Attribute #23 - Determination

    David has always been one determined person. He's excellent at setting goals and then figuring out ways to achieve them. I'm particularly impressed with one New Year's Resolution he made to floss his teeth every single day that year, and he did! I suspect that it's still a daily habit.

    Determination takes dedication and diligence and so David has those qualities as well. (Look at that alliteration!) David's smart and learned to read before he started school, but he's never really liked being a student; he'd rather be out doing things. He called it the ten-year plan, but he did graduate from BYU. Then, after a few years, he decided to go back for his master's, which he just completed this month. Congratulations!

    In addition to his career aspirations, he and Elizabeth have set some great goals for their family, and I'm fully confident they'll complete everything they set out to do. Anyone who can carry four children up a flight of stairs to bed can conquer the world!

    Determination: deciding definitely and firmly; resolution

    Moroni 6:3
    They took upon them the name of Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end.

    Scriptures and quotes from the prophets and apostles about determination are going to focus on increasing our determination to be obedient and follow God, but that's okay. As we develop our resolution at doing anything, it will help us keep decisions to choose the right always.

    Each week we have the opportunity to partake of the sacrament, which is a wonderful time to think about our level of determination and things we can do to increase it, and the fact that he uses this weekly time wisely is something I admire about David. Here's an invitation President Uchtdorf gave to the youth of the church a couple of years ago. I'd encourage you to think of it tomorrow during your worship.

    When we prepare for Christmas by pondering its real meaning, we prepare to experience the Christ and His message. May I suggest three things we may want to study, ponder, and apply in this season of preparation.

    First, rejoice in the birth of our Savior. We celebrate the birth of the Son of God, the Creator, our Messiah. We rejoice that the King of kings came to earth, was born in a manger, and lived a perfect life. When Jesus was born, the joy in heaven was so great it could not be contained (see Luke 2:8–14).

    Second, ponder His influence in our lives today. Christmas is a time for remembering the Son of God and renewing our determination to take upon us His name. It is a time to reassess our lives and examine our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Let this be a time of remembrance, of gratitude, and a time of forgiveness. Let it be a time to ponder the Atonement of Jesus Christ and its meaning for each of us personally. Let it especially be a time of renewal and recommitment to live by the word of God and to obey His commandments. By doing this, we honor Him far more than we ever could with lights, gifts, or parties.

    Third, look steadfastly for His coming. While the Christmas season is typically a time for looking back and celebrating the birth of our Lord, it seems to me that it should also be a time of looking to the future. Let us look forward. Let us prepare for that blessed day when He will come again. Let us be as wise as those ancients who watched for His coming.

    I pray that during this season and always, we will see the purity of the story of the Savior’s birth and feel sincere gratitude for His life, teachings, and saving sacrifice for us. May this gratitude cause us to renew our determination to follow Him. May it also lead us to draw closer to our family, our church, and our fellowmen. And may we look steadfastly forward to that blessed day when the resurrected Christ will walk the earth again as our Lord, our King, and our blessed Savior.

    Friday, December 22, 2017

    Attribute #22 - Virtue

    Virtue and integrity go well together. I guess that's why Cody and Brad make such a great team. One of the first things that impressed me about Cody was her commitment to choosing the right. In particular she had high standards for what she would watch for entertainment, and she kept and honored them, without making others feel badly for being less strict.

    Virtue: moral excellence, righteousness, goodness, uprightness, strength, courage

    2 Peter 1:5-7
    And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
    And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
    And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

    D&C 121:45
    Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God.

    The Parable of the Ten Virgins
    Photo Credit: Walter Rane

    Even before it became part of Personal Progress, Cody exemplified this YW Value. Sister Elaine Dalton described virtue like this:

    Young women, in a world ever growing in moral pollution, tolerance of evil, exploitation of women, and distortion of roles, you must stand guard of yourself, your family, and all those with whom you associate. You must be guardians of virtue.

    What is virtue and what is a guardian? “Virtue is a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards. It includes chastity and [moral] purity.” And what is a guardian? A guardian is someone who protects, shields, and defends. Thus, as a guardian of virtue, you will protect, shield, and defend moral purity because the power to create mortal life is a sacred and exalted power and must be safeguarded until you are married. Virtue is a requirement to have the companionship and guidance of the Holy Ghost. You will need that guidance in order to successfully navigate the world in which you live. Being virtuous is a requirement to enter the temple. And it is a requirement to be worthy to stand in the Savior’s presence. You are preparing now for that time.

    I am grateful for Cody's example of this attribute of the Savior.