Wednesday, December 21, 2011

GCBC - Elder Christofferson

General Conference Book Club
Elder D. Todd Christofferson
"The Divine Gift of Repentance"

Here are a couple of the quotes that "spoke to me" as I read this talk by Elder Christofferson (which can be found here.)

"In reality the prophetic call [to repentance] should be received with joy. Without repentance, there is no real progress or improvement in life. Pretending there is no sin does not lessen its burden and pain. . . Repentance is a divine gift, and there should be a smile on our faces when we speak of it. It points us to freedom, confidence, and peace."

I love this idea that repentance should be a joyful part of our lives. And I appreciate the reminder that peace comes from being obedient, which necessitates repentance.

"Repentance means striving to change. It would mock the Savior's suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross for us to expect that He should transform us into angelic beings with no real effort on our part. Rather, we seek His grace to complement and reward our most diligent efforts."

The phrase that stood out to me in my regular scripture reading this morning was from Mosiah 27:5 - "Doing these things [laboring for their own support], they did abound in the grace of God." If we are to expect the grace of God, which means his aid and help, we need to work and do our part. That's what repentance entails. And, look, there in verse 6 we get the results again - "There began to be much peace again in the land." Repentance (obedience) brings peace, and that's my wish for you this Christmas season.

GCBC - Elder Curtis

General Conference Book Club
Elder LeGrand R. Curtis, Jr.

Elder Curtis is my mom's cousin, so my ears perked up just a bit more while he spoke during conference. (Find his talk here.) And I loved his talk, particularly the "stories of redemption" and the importance of helping others come to Christ. I'm thankful that my parents took that role in my life. I'm thankful for a heritage of pioneer ancestors. And I'm determined to do my best so that my children and grandchildren know that we can all be redeemed and return to live with our Heavenly Father because of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

Here's my favorite quote from the talk - "Those who have strayed significantly from the paths of righteousness desperately need this redemption, and if they fully repent, it is theirs to claim. But those who have worked hard to live good lives also desperately need this redemption, for none can get to the presence of the Father without Christ's help."

Sunday, December 4, 2011

GCBC - Elder Ardern

General Conference Book Club
Elder Ian S. Ardern
"A Time to Prepare"

Find the talk here. Find others' comments here.

If I had to pick a favorite talk from this conference, this one would be a contender. The subject of time management has always fascinated me (especially since that was the subject of my mom's college thesis). I wrote a lot of notes as I listened, including:
  • Need to prioritize choices to match goals
  • Use time to serve others
  • Seek the Kingdom of God first
  • Busy needs to equal productive too
  • Identify time wasting activities and "grind them to dust"
  • Poor use of time is a close cousin to idleness
  • I can be the master of electronics, not their slave
  • What am I doing today to prepare to meet God?
  • Am I prepared to be happy with the accounting I will have to give?
"It is required of the Lord, at the hand of every steward, to render an account of his stewardship, both in time and in eternity. For he who is faithful and wise in time is accounted worthy to inherit the mansions prepared for him of my Father" (D&C 72:3-4).

I also wrote a note to look up a couple of quotes. Here's the one by Elder Quentin L. Cook: (in October 2003, "Are You a Saint?". You won't be disappointed if you decide to read the whole talk.)

"Saints who respond to the Savior’s message will not be led astray by distracting and destructive pursuits and will be prepared to make appropriate sacrifices. The importance of sacrifice to those who want to be Saints is exemplified by the atoning sacrifice of the Savior, which is at the center of the gospel. What a wonderful blessing it is to be a Latter-day Saint. I love the words in the last lines of the hymn “O Saints of Zion”:

O Saints of Zion, tread the paths
Your faithful fathers trod.
Lift up your hearts in gratitude
And serve the living God! "

So, it takes a bit of sacrifice to use our time wisely! And here's the one by President Ezra Taft Benson which helps us realize the sacrifice is worth it** (given in April 1988 general conference):

"When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives."

Just last night I made the comment that it's so hard to be productive when you're tired. Wayne said, "And you're just learning that now!?" No, I knew that, but after reading this talk again that morning, I was more aware of trying to be productive and using my time wisely. And I was tired and sleepy and it was difficult. So, I guess one of the lessons I need to learn when it comes to time management is making sure I get the proper amount of sleep! I'm looking forward to keeping Elder Ardern's counsel in mind as I prepare for the current holiday season and New Year's Resolutions.

**I wrote about this before. I like this quote!

Friday, December 2, 2011

GCBC - Elder Andersen

General Conference Book Club
Elder Neil A. Andersen

Elder Andersen started his talk with some VERY powerful statements:

As we look into the eyes of a child, we see a fellow son or daughter of God who stood with us in the premortal life. It is a crowning privilege of a husband and wife who are able to bear children to provide mortal bodies for these spirit children of God. We believe in families, and we believe in children.

As I listened, I couldn't help but feel grateful that we kept this commandment to have children, and that now our children are doing the same. And I couldn't help but feel grateful that all the angst of "when and how many" is behind us! It is such a personal ("private and sacred") decision and I appreciated the repeated reminder to not judge others. I'm grateful that our challenges included wonderful children and not the lack of them. I hope I can always be suportive of those whose challenges are opposite.

Listening to this talk brought back memories of the faith it does take to have children. I love the stories he told. President Kimball's counsel (through conference talks and books - not in personal conversation!) had a huge impact in our decision making. I'm so grateful for prophets who can help us recognize and filter out the world's view and lead and guide us in the way of true happiness.
Yes, I believe in children.

Find the talk here. See what others have to say over at the GCBC here.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gratitude Day Thirty-One

Moroni 10:3
"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."

There are actually only 30 days in November, but I couldn't decide which verse to omit, and, anyway, this one brings us full circle. Nephi challenges us to read the Book of Mormon looking for examples of the tender mercies of the Lord. Moroni ends the book with the same challenge. So, now as we officially begin the Christmas season, I hope we can all look for the mercies and miracles that are inherent in this special time of year. I hope that our hearts will be ever more grateful as we celebrate our Savior's birth all month long.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gratitude Day Thirty

Ether 6:9
"And they did sing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord."
Time for one last Thanksgiving hymn of praise, but that doesn't mean we can't sing them throughout the whole year!

Sing praise to him who reigns above,
The Lord of all creation,
The source of pow'r, the fount of love,
The rock of our salvation.
With healing balm my soul he fills
And ev'ry faithless murmur stills.
To him all praise and glory!

Thus, all my toilsome way along,
I sing aloud thy praises,
That men may hear the grateful song
My voice unwearied raises.
Be joyful in the Lord, my heart!
Both soul and body bear your part.
To him all praise and glory!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gratitude Day Twenty-Nine

Mormon 9:31
"Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been."

GCBC - Elder Bednar

General Conference Book Club
Elder David A. Bednar

The other day we sang "Turn Your Hearts" (Hymn 291) for family scripture and prayer. I love the message of its words, which reminded me of this latest general conference talk by Elder Bednar.

Turn your hearts; the Lord is coming,
Malachi the prophet said.
Turn your hearts in preparation
To the work of exaltation
For the living and the dead.

In the latter days Elijah
Will renew the plan sublime.
He will teach you and remind you
Of the promises that bind you
To all men throughout all time.

Turn your hearts toward your parents --
Generations gone before.
May you seek until you find them;
In the temple seal and bind them
To your hearts forevermore.

Turn in love to all your children --
Generations yet to be.
May your deeds of gospel giving,
Temple service, righteous living,
Bless them all eternally.

I especially enjoyed the reminder that "family history" goes both directions - forward and back. I need to seek out my ancestors, yet I also need to be a good example to my children and grandchildren. I love family history work, and I am grateful for temple covenants that can seal and bind us together forever.
Elder Bednar taught that "as members of Christ's restored Church, we have the covenant responsibility to search out our ancestors and provide for them the saving ordinances of the gospel." This reminded me of a quote by Elder Russell M. Nelson that "every activity, every lesson, all we do in the Church, point to the Lord and His holy house" which he gave in general conference in 2001 and essentially repeated in 2008. Temple work is important, and it's the little things we do every day, in our homes and in our callings, that help us focus on this great work of salvation.

I also appreciated Elder Bednar's challenge to the youth to get involved. I'm excited to see what happens as a result of that challenge!

Read more insights from this talk here on Stephanie's website.

GCBC - President Uchtdorf

General Conference Book Club
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I always love President Uchtdorf's talks, and this was no exception. It IS a paradox that man is nothing, yet man is everything. I appreciated the reminder that "our Heavenly Father created the universe that we might reach our potential as His sons and daughters," and that "we have the incomprehensible promise of exaltation -- worlds without end -- within our grasp." It's that amazing.

Yet some days it's difficult to find the balance between humility and pride, between self-confidence and discouragement. Satan works so hard to make us forget who we really are. If we can remember the four principles that President Uchtdorf mentioned, maybe this would be a little easier:
1) God loves the humble and meek.
2) The Lord trusts the "weak things of the world."
3) Heavenly Father loves us individually. We are not invisible to Him.
4) The present is not the future.

It really doesn't matter if we're dealing with "marble halls or stable stalls" in our current situations. The blessings of the gospel and the Atonement are available to everyone. All we have to do is keep trying. I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who loves me; that knowledge is a priceless gift.

One of the things I love about reading the talks in the Ensign is going through the footnotes. After telling of his experience with pilot training in Texas, and how he often felt insignificant and unknown, and yet realized that all he could do was try his best, President Uchtdorf stated, "And all was well." The footnote states, "Dieter F. Uchtdorf graduated first in his class." I just love that understatement. If we follow his example and remember and practice these principles, all can be well with us as well. (The picture is of him receiving the Commander's Trophy; read about it here.)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gratitude Day Twenty-Eight

3 Nephi 10:10
"And the earth did cleave together again, that it stood; and the mourning, and the weeping, and the wailing of the people who were spared alive did cease; and their mourning was turned into joy, and their lamentations into the praise and thanksgiving unto the Lord Jesus Christ, their Redeemer."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gratitude Day Twenty-Seven

Alma 49:28
"And it came to pass, that on the other hand, the people of Nephi did thank the Lord their God, because of his matchless power in delivering them from the hands of their enemies."

There aren't always many people we can go to in times of trouble, but I love the reminders found throughout the Book of Mormon that we can always turn to God. He has the power to deliver us from all of our enemies, seen and unseen.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gratitude Day Twenty-Six

Alma 48:12
"Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people."
Captain Moroni's another worthy hero. And having a heart filled with thanksgiving is just one of his many great qualities.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gratitude Day Twenty-Five

Alma 37:37
"Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day."

This was one of my favorite scriptures when I was in seminary. Thanksgiving Day is over (I hope you enjoyed your turkey dinner!), yet the need to be prayerful and to give thanks to Heavenly Father will never be over. Let's see if we can keep a grateful heart for the next 365 days, and longer!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gratitude Day Twenty-Four

Happy Thanksgiving!
Alma 34:38
"Worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and . . . live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you."
We all hope you have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gratitude Day Twenty-Three

Alma 26:8
"Blessed be the name of our God; let us sing to his praise, yea, let us give thanks to his holy name, for he doth work righteousness forever."
This little snack mix is one way to help us remember to be thankful. And there's still time for you to make some before the big day.

Thanksgiving Blessing Mix Poem

Bugles: Shaped like a cornucopia or Horn of Plenty, a symbol of our nation's abundance.

Pretzels: Arms folded in prayer, a freedom sought by those who founded our country.

Candy corn: Sacrifices of the Pilgrims' first winter. Food was so scarce that settlers survived on just a few kernels of corn a day.

Nuts or seeds: Promise of a a future harvest, one we will reap only if seeds are planted and tended with diligence.

Dried fruits: Harvest gifts of our bountiful land.

M&Ms: Memories of those who came before us to guide us to a blessed future.

Hershey's Kiss: The love of family and friends that sweetens our lives.

Go here for the printable and instructions. And have a great time preparing for tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gratitude Day Twenty-Two

Alma 19:14
"Now Ammon seeing the Spirit of the Lord poured out according to his prayers upon the Lamanites, his brethren, who had been the cause of so much mourning among the Nephites, or among all the people of God because of their iniquities and their traditions, he fell upon his knees, and began to pour out his soul in prayer and thanksgiving to God for what he had done for his brethren; and he was also overpowered with joy; and thus they all three had sunk to the earth."

Gratitude brings joy. That reminds me of President Monson's talk "Finding Joy in the Journey." He suggests that in order to find joy in life, it's important to adapt to changes, realize what is most important, and express gratitude always. I agree with him.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gratitude Day Twenty-One

Alma 24:7-8
"Now, these are the words which he said unto the people concerning the matter: I thank my God, my beloved people, that our great God has in goodness sent these our brethren, the Nephites, unto us to preach unto us, and to convince us of the traditions of our wicked fathers. And behold, I thank my great God that he has given us a portion of his Spirit to soften our hearts, that we have opened a correspondence with these brethren, the Nephites."
We're currently "between missionaries" in our family, but I am extremely grateful that our four older boys all served missions, and that the youngest is diligently preparing to go next summer. I'm also grateful for the missionaries who introduced my great-great grandparents to the church, and for all that are serving right now so that other families may feel the joy of the gospel in their lives. Missionaries are wonderful!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gratitude Day Twenty

Alma 7:23
"And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive."
Humility, patience, gentleness, diligence, obedience, gratitude - just a few of the qualities I can be working on this week of Thanksgiving, and all year-round too.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gratitude Day Nineteen

Mosiah 26:39
"And they did admonish their brethren; and they were also admonished, every one by the word of God, according to his sins, or to the sins which he had committed, being commanded of God to pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in all things."
Pray to give thanks. What a simple concept, and yet so powerful, no matter what day of the year it is!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gratitude Day Eighteen

Mosiah 24:22
"And they gave thanks to God, yea, all their men and all their women and all their children that could speak lifted their voices in the praises of their God."

Time for another hymn; there are so many wonderful hymns of gratitude. This is the one we sang for family prayer last night. I always love it when the "next one in line" is really applicable for that particular day. Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to praise God through music.

With songs of praise and gratitude
We worship God above,
In words and music give our thanks
For his redeeming love.

Then come before God's presence!
With singing worship him!
Express the heart to full to speak
In one exultant hymn.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gratitude Day Seventeen

Mosiah 24:21
"Yea, and in the valley of Alma they poured out their thanks to God because he had been merciful unto them, and eased their burdens and had delivered them out of bondage; for they were in bondage, and none could deliver them except it were the Lord their God."

You'll be happy to know that we finally got our version of the "Blessing Box" completed. (I should go add "freedom from bondage" to one of the cards now.) These things can be quite simple. As you can see, ours is just a basket with pieces of paper inside. There's a pen in there, too, and after you write something down, you fold the paper and put it right back in the basket. I'm not sure when our little turkey showed up in the house, but he's perfect for keeping an eye on our blessings. If you push his belly, he gobbles, which someone decided we need to do each time we add something. Isn't that a nice touch that makes this activity fun?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gratitude Day Sixteen

Mosiah 8:19
"And now, when Ammon had made an end of speaking these words the king rejoiced exceedingly, and gave thanks to God, saying: Doubtless a great mystery is contained within these plates, and these interpreters were doubtless prepared for the purpose of unfolding all such mysteries to the children of men."

I love the scriptures! I had wanted to spend some more time with this post expounding on that statement, but I'm running out of time to do "all my heart yearns to do" so I'll just leave it at that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gratitude Day Fifteen

Mosiah 7:12
"And now, when Ammon saw that he was permitted to speak, he went forth and bowed himself before the king; and rising again he said: O king, I am very thankful before God this day that I am yet alive, and am permitted to speak; and I will endeavor to speak with boldness."

How often do we take the time to express gratitude just for the fact that we're still breathing? I know I take it for granted. I'm grateful that I haven't had any near-death experiences to make life itself front and center in my mind, but I guess it's important to not wait for drastic circumstances. I should be thankful every day for that new day. That would be a good resolution!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Gratitude Day Fourteen

Mosiah 5:4
"And it is the faith which we have had on the things which our king has spoken unto us that has brought us to this great knowledge, whereby we do rejoice with such exceedingly great joy."

I'm not sure I ever really thought about it before, but the ability to gain knowledge is indeed a great blessing. I'm grateful that I can learn new things every day, and I don't even have to go to school to do so!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gratitude Day Thirteen

Mosiah 2:20-21
"I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another – I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another – I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants."

This has always been a concept that's intrigued me. No matter how much gratitude I may express, I'm always behind. You'd think that would be a discouraging thought, but it really isn't. It just helps me realize how greatly blessed I've been, and encourages me to keep noticing and doing the little things. November's a great month recognize this and put it into practice.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Gratitude Day Twelve

Mosiah 2:19
"And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to thank your heavenly King!"
King Benjamin has always been one of my heroes. Service, humility, and gratitude are all great traits to emulate.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Gratitude Day Eleven

Mosiah 2:4
"And also that they might give thanks to the Lord their God, who had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem, and who had delivered them out of the hands of their enemies, and had appointed just men to be their teachers, and also a just man to be their king, who had established peace in the land of Zarahemla, and who had taught them to keep the commandments of God, that they might rejoice and be filled with love towards God and all men."

Things to be thankful for:
  • safety and deliverance
  • just teachers
  • righteous leaders
  • peace
  • guidance of the commandments
  • joy and happiness
  • love and charity
  • kind friends and family
  • a gracious Heavenly Father
Things really don't change very much over the years, do they?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gratitude Day Ten

Jacob 4:3
"Now in this thing we do rejoice; and we labor diligently to engraven these words upon plates, hoping that our beloved brethren and our children will receive them with thankful hearts, and look upon them that they may learn with joy and not with sorrow, neither with contempt, concerning their first parents."

One of the best places to compile our "list of blessings" is in our journals. Journal writing is so important. Even if no one else ever reads our journal, keeping one can help us individually. (See a great article on this here.) November would be a great month to take some time and write down all the things we're grateful for. If you did that every year, and kept it in the same place (i.e. your journal), it would be really easy to go back and compare. And then you'd have even more things to be grateful for!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gratitude Day Nine

2 Nephi 25:29
"And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out."

President Monson gave the following counsel: "Do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive? Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love. My beloved friend President Gordon B. Hinckley said, 'When you walk with gratitude, you do not walk with arrogance and conceit and egotism, you walk with a spirit of thanksgiving that is becoming to you and will bless your lives.' . . . A grateful heart, then, comes through expressing gratitude to our Heavenly Father for His blessings and to those around us for all that they bring into our lives."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gratitude Day Eight

2 Nephi 9:52
Behold, my beloved brethren, remember the words of your God; pray unto him continually by day, and give thanks unto his holy name by night. Let your hearts rejoice.

I recall President Kimball teaching that "remember" might be the most important word in the dictionary. I believe him. Remembering God and expressing gratitude through prayer truly brings happiness and rejoicing into our lives. What a blessing!

Monday, November 7, 2011

GCBC - President Packer

General Conference Book Club
"Counsel to Youth"
President Boyd K. Packer

One of the things which I loved about this talk (you can find it here) was the sense of optimism that pervaded it. Did you know that President Packer gave a very similar talk several years ago? You can find it here - "Do Not Fear." I also enjoyed listening to the CES fireside talk he gave yesterday; it seemed like he covered many of the same points, which to me just gave them more emphasis. We live in exciting times, and I'm grateful for the counsel to not worry about that - to listen to my leaders, follow the Spirit, and just do what is right.

We attended Young Women in Excellence last week, and one of the girls sang the song, "Maybe I will be There" taken from the September 2001 New Era. I thought it went quite well with this talk. You can find the music here, but here are the words:

Maybe I Will Be There

Words by Cynthia Mrazek Pyne
Music by Melissa Henrie Spencer

1. I wasn’t at the manger
Nor at the cruel cross.
I didn’t lay Him in the tomb,
Feel numb with grief and loss.

2. I wasn’t there when He arose
To worship at His feet.
I wasn’t in a Nephite land
As He taught other sheep.

But maybe I will be there
When Jesus comes again.
Maybe I will hear His voice
And see the angels then.
Surely I will praise His name
When ev’ry knee shall bend.
Maybe I will be there
When Jesus comes again!

3. I didn’t see the miracles
Or walk in Galilee.
I didn’t see Him raise the dead,
Take children on His knee.

4. I never knew His tender smile
Or heard Him call me friend.
I wasn’t there to see the pain
He suffered for all men.

But maybe I will be there
When Jesus comes again.
Maybe I will hear His voice
And see the angels then.
Surely I will praise His name
When ev’ry knee shall bend.
Maybe I will be there
When Jesus comes again!

5. My time is in the latter days
When truth has been restored.
And though I’ve never seen His face,
I know my Savior’s word.

6. The scriptures say I need not fear
If I will but prepare.
Then with the just I’ll be caught up
And meet my Savior there.

And maybe I will be there
When Jesus comes again.
Maybe I will hear His voice
And see the angels then.
Surely I will praise His name
When ev’ry knee shall bend.
Maybe I will be there
When Jesus comes again!
I pray that I will be there
When Jesus comes again!

I think that having a testimony that we've been sent to earth at the right time for us is critical. We need to know that Heavenly Father knows us individually and we need to discover what our personal mission might be. I'm grateful for talks like President Packer's that help me in this quest.

Gratitude Day Seven

2 Nephi 9:49
"Behold, my soul abhorreth sin, and my heart delighteth in righteousness; and I will praise the holy name of my God."
Here's a beautiful talk that expands on this topic: My Soul Delighteth in the Things of the Lord. As Sister Tanner mentioned, there are so many things that can bring us delight. November is a great time to remember them and be thankful for them.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Gratitude Day Six

2 Nephi 8:3
For the Lord shall comfort Zion, he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.

Here's one of my favorite hymns: On This Day of Joy and Gladness. I love its chorus of "Alleluia" and I think it makes a great Thanksgiving hymn, even if it's normally not thought of that way.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Gratitude Day Five

1 Nephi 18:16
"Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions."
I think that one of the best ways to praise God (which is definitely a form of expressing gratitude) is through music. Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow is a great one to start with.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heav'nly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

At one point it was one of our son's favorite hymns (probably because it's the shortest in the hymnbook), and having a family that also loves music is just another blessing in my life.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Gratitude Day Four

1 Nephi 7:22
"And it came to pass that we did come down unto the tent of our father. And after I and my brethren and all the house of Ishmael had come down unto the tent of my father, they did give thanks unto the Lord their God; and they did offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto him."
If you don't want a branch full of "thankful" leaves, how about a turkey full of "thankful" feathers? Here's the link: Thankful Feathers

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gratitude Day Three

1 Nephi 5:9
"And it came to pass that they did rejoice exceedingly, and did offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto the Lord; and they gave thanks unto the God of Israel."
Here's another craft/centerpiece to help us focus on gratitude for the whole month (or even just the one day) of Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving Tree.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gratitude Day Two

This verse is pretty short and simple, but isn't expressing gratitude a sweet and simple thing?

1 Nephi 2:7
"And it came to pass that he built an altar of stones, and made an offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks unto the Lord our God."

When was the last time you gave a prayer expressing only thanks? I know it's been a while since I have. That sounds like a good thing to try today. And because there are so many things I'm thankful for, I should allow plenty of time to do so.

P.S. There are a lot of neat Thanksgiving traditions built around making lists of things you're thankful for. Here are two I read about yesterday: The Blessing Box and Thanksgiving Advent Calendar.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Gratitude Day One

I'm trying to do better at following through on promptings (see the previous post), so when I had the idea to compile a list of 30 scriptures on gratitude from the Book of Mormon for the sister I visit teach, I did. And since it doesn't take much additional effort to post them here, I figured I would. At the very least, it will keep this principle of giving thanks uppermost in my own mind for the month. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

I even thought about putting them in some kind of organized progression of theme, but finally decided that just going from 1 Nephi to Moroni was organization enough. This first verse doesn't exactly mention "thanksgiving" yet whenever I read it I'm grateful for so many things. First, it reminds me of Elder Bednar's talk on The Tender Mercies of the Lord. Second, it reminds me of President Hinckley's challenge in August of 2005** to read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year. Michelle and I read it together, looking for examples of tender mercies; it was a wonderful experience. So, in my mind, this is definitely a verse that shows gratitude to the Lord for all of our many blessings. And that's what Thanksgiving is all about.

1 Nephi 1:20

"And when the Jews heard these things they were angry with him; yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out, and stoned, and slain; and they also sought his life, that they might take it away. But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance."

**"We studied the Book of Mormon in Sunday School this past year. Nonetheless I offer a challenge to members of the Church throughout the world and to our friends everywhere to read or reread the Book of Mormon. If you will read a bit more than one and one-half chapters a day, you will be able to finish the book before the end of this year. . . .

"Without reservation I promise you that if each of you will observe this simple program, regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God." (Gordon B. Hinckley, August 2005 Ensign)

Monday, October 31, 2011

GCBC - Elder Alonso

"Doing the Right Thing at the Right Time, Without Delay"
Elder José L. Alonso

I could have guessed that this would be the title of his talk when it was printed, because this phrase was repeated several times, and that's what I remember first about his talk. I get great ideas all of the time, but sometimes that's all they are - just ideas. It's the follow-through that's important, and the sooner the better.

One new concept to me from this talk is that sometimes people don't even realize that they are lost. We need to find them anyway, especially when we know that they are lost. That's a concept that I need to spend more time pondering. How do you identify those that are lost, and how do you help them recognize that?

I also liked his comment that they didn't take the time to have a planning meeting when they realized their little boy was lost. They just started looking for him while praying fervently inside. Plans and organization are important; I find that I'm more effective when I think things through first. However, sometimes we just need to stop planning and go do. Our service doesn't have to be "perfect" to be effective. If our hearts are in the right place, and we're trying to do what the Savior would do, that's what matters most.

In addition, one of the things I've learned about service is that it isn't always convenient, and it's often unpredictable. That's something I struggle with. I'm trying to do better at being less selfish and more willing to serve others. I'm a work in process, and I guess we all are. Elder Alonso's talk was a gentle reminder to me that I need to improve in serving others, and that I need to do so without delay.

P.S. Be sure to check out others' thoughts on this talk here; they're much better than mine!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

GCBC - Elder Clayton

General Conference Book Club
"The Time Shall Come" by L. Whitney Clayton

My first thought as I listened to Elder Clayton's talk was "Hey! I've been to Lima, too!" It was a great experience, but that really has nothing to do with his talk.The only note I took was after he quoted Moroni telling Joseph Smith "God has a work for you to do." God has a work for me to do as well; I just need to figure out what that is and then do it. That's what I've been pondering for the last couple of weeks. Am I doing what I'm supposed to be doing? What is my mission here on earth? How will I accomplish it? I have a responsibility to find that out, and I have the promise that I can. My patriarchal blessing is a wonderful tool, as are studying the scriptures and strengthening my testimony - topics that were discussed in the two talks before Elder Clayton spoke. Actually, I have a pretty good idea of my personal mission, and I'm grateful my Heavenly Father has confidence in my ability to complete it.

That said, it was great to take the opportunity to read the talk again. My favorite part was this quote:

"This work of the Lord is indeed great and marvelous, but it moves forward essentially unnoticed by many of mankind’s political, cultural, and academic leaders. It progresses one heart and one family at a time, silently and unobtrusively, its sacred message blessing people everywhere."

I also loved the quote from President Hinckley, given in conference eight years ago, and appreciated being able to read the entire thing:

"It was said that at one time the sun never set on the British Empire. That empire has now been diminished. But it is true that the sun never sets on this work of the Lord as it is touching the lives of people across the earth.

"And this is only the beginning. We have scarcely scratched the surface. We are engaged in a work for the souls of men and women everywhere. Our work knows no boundaries. Under the providence of the Lord it will continue. Those nations now closed to us will someday be open. That is my faith. That is my belief. That is my testimony.

"The little stone which was cut out of the mountain without hands is rolling forth to fill the earth (see Dan. 2:31–45; D&C 65:2).

"To the Latter-day Saints everywhere, as we gather in this great conference I say, may God bless you. Keep the faith; be true to your covenants. Walk in the light of the gospel. Build the kingdom of God in the earth.

"The Church is in wonderful condition and can and will improve. It will grow and strengthen.

"We are ordinary people who are engaged in an extraordinary undertaking."

The Church will continue to grow and spread until it covers the whole earth. That's a promise. What am I doing to help that happen? I may be just ordinary, but a prophet of God as told us that's okay. It's a wonderful thing to be part of something so extraordinary as "building the kingdom of God in the earth."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Faith and Personal Character

This morning I came across some notes I took from a talk by Elder Richard G. Scott (link at bottom). I'm glad I wrote them down, because I needed to reminded of these beautiful truths.
  • “Faith is a foundation building block of creation.”
  • Faith can transform our daily activities from drudgery to a “symphony of joy.”
  • “Faith and character are intimately related. Faith in the power of obedience to the commandments of God will forge strength of character available to you in times of urgent need. Such character is not developed in moments of great challenge or temptation. That is when it is intended to be used.”
  • “We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become.”
  • “Strong moral character results from consistent correct choices in the trials and testing of life.”
  • “The bedrock of character is integrity.”
  • Happiness on earth, as well as eternal salvation, comes from making many correct choices. They aren’t difficult to make, and together they forge a character that can resist temptation. This nobility of character gives our lives direction.
  • “Your character is a measure of what you are becoming. It is the evidence of how well you are using your time on earth.”
  • Serving others helps forge our character. It gives us a greater capacity to recognize the Spirit’s direction.
  • A testimony “is the very essence of character woven from threads born of countless correct decisions.”
  • “A testimony grows from understanding truth distilled from prayer and the pondering of scriptural doctrine. It is nurtured by living those truths with faith anchored in the secure confidence that the promised blessing will be obtained.”
  • “Humility is the precious fertile soil of righteous character.”
  • Cultivate seeds of growth with faith, prune with repentance, fortify with obedience and service and you’ll receive the fruit of spiritual direction.
“The Transforming Power of Faith and Character” by Elder Richard G. Scott (general conference October 2010)

Monday, October 17, 2011

GCBC - Sister Thompson

“The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life.” Julie B. Beck

This statement by Sister Beck, given in the April 2010 general conference, really struck me. It's pretty bold to declare that there is a "single most important skill" to acquire! And yet she's right. For years I've felt very strongly that learning how the Spirit talks to them was one of the most important things I could help my children learn before they left home. It was nice to have the validation from a conference talk that I was on the right track.

Anyway, Sister Thompson talked about this same topic this month in general conference. (You can find the talk here.) The phrase that stood out most to me as she was talking was this one: "Because we have a strong testimony doesn’t mean it will always remain that way. We must nourish and strengthen it in order that it will have sufficient power to sustain us."

That reminded me of a quote from President Harold B. Lee: "The testimony you have today will not be your testimony of tomorrow. Your testimony is either going to grow and grow until it becomes as the brightness of the sun, or it is going to diminish to nothing, depending on what you do about it. The greatest responsibility that a member of Christ’s church has ever had is to become truly converted—and it is just as important to stay converted." (February 1971 New Era - This is an incredible article and I'd encourage you to read the whole thing.) Did you notice that superlative "greatest responsibility" again? We become converted as we learn how to recognize the Spirit.

Once we have felt the Spirit testifying truth to us, we need to work daily to keep our testimonies. And that reminds me of one of my favorite scriptures: Alma 5:26 "And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?"

Sister Thompson taught the way to keep our testimonies strong every single day: "The way to receive personal revelation is really quite clear. We need to desire to receive revelation, we must not harden our hearts, and then we need to ask in faith, truly believe that we will receive an answer, and then diligently keep the commandments of God."

I'm grateful for my testimony. I'm thankful for the encouragement to do the little things each day to keep it growing.

P.S. Saturday we went to watch the sunrise at the beach. It was a cloudy day, but you could still tell that the sun had actually risen above the horizon. It was reminiscent of Elder Bednar's talk last spring, which Sister Thompson also referenced: "The Spirit of Revelation."

quotes from Harold B. Lee - (He didn't just say it one time!)
"Testimony is as elusive as a moonbeam; it’s as fragile as an orchid; you have to recapture it every morning of your life. You have to hold on by study, and by faith, and by prayer. If you allow yourself to be angry, if you allow yourself to get into the wrong kind of company, you listen to the wrong kind of stories, you are studying the wrong kind of subjects, you are engaging in sinful practices, there is nothing that will be more deadening as to take away the Spirit of the Lord from you until it will be as though you had walked from a lighted room when you go out of this building, as though you had gone out into a darkness."

"That which you possess today in testimony will not be yours tomorrow unless you do something about it. Your testimony is either going to increase or it is going to diminish, depending on you. Will you remember your responsibility, then? The Lord said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17)."

"No truly converted Latter-day Saint can be immoral. No truly converted Latter-day Saint can be dishonest, nor lie, nor steal. That means that one may have a testimony as of today, but when he stoops to do things that contradict the laws of God, it is because he has lost his testimony and he has to fight to regain it again. Testimony isn’t something that you have today and you keep always. Testimony is either going to grow and grow to the brightness of certainty, or it is going to diminish to nothingness, depending upon what we do about it. I say, the testimony that we recapture day by day is the thing that saves us from the pitfalls of the adversary."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Scripture Mastery Verses

I'm going to post this link, mainly so I can remember where to find it easily! Here are the 100 scripture mastery verses: Scripture Mastery List.

In addition, here's the list for the ones we memorized when I was in seminary: 160 Scripture Mastery Verses. (Note: Actually I was one of those who saved the original list in my "attic crawl space," aka my filing cabinet, but using this link saves me the trouble of typing them all.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

GCBC - Elder Scott

General Conference Book Club - Week Two
(You can find Week One here.)
This time around, we're going through the conference talks in order. That means the first one to focus on is Elder Scott's talk on the scriptures. This morning I woke up with the song "Scripture Power" running through my head. I think that about sums up this talk. Reading, studying, pondering, and memorizing scripture gives us the power to avoid temptation. It gives us courage to remember our covenants and keep the commandments. We're even promised that in the scriptures themselves:

"Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked—
"And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out" (Helaman 3:29-30).

"Whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction" (1 Nephi 15:24).

Whether we read the Bible, Book of Mormon, words of living prophets and apostles, or any other scriptures, we can find those "packets of light" that Elder Scott mentioned. My day isn't complete (and I wouldn't want it to be) without spending time with my friends, the scriptures. I hope yours isn't either.

Here are some more links:

Monday, October 3, 2011

General Conference Review

General Conference Highlights, October 2011

I told myself I needed to write these down before reading anyone else's answers, and I did. However, I have already read Stephanie's post, and we have a lot of the same answers. I guess that just means we're kindred spirits!

1. Who were your three favorite speakers?
It's really hard to narrow it down, but I'd have to say my favorite was Sister Dalton, next was Elder Carl Cook and then Elder Alonso. (My husband and sons all had Elder Holland's talk near the top of their list, so I'm anxious to go listen to that one.)

2. Which talk spoke to you the most?
Elder Ardern's talk on prioritizing time (and making the time to ponder) was a talk I needed to hear.

3. What was your favorite Hymn and why did it move you?
I loved "Consider the Lilies" because it's just a very comforting and peaceful hymn that I don't hear very often. I also loved hearing "Arise, O God, and Shine" and it's enthusiastic message "that all the world [God's] truth may know." Isn't that the purpose of conference?

4. Which speaker was the best dressed? (Come on, we can have a little fun.)
A dark suit, crisp white shirt and nice tie make any man look more and, unfortunately, equally handsome, so I'd have to go with Sister Dalton's beautiful purple suit. (I liked that Sister Thompson chose purple as well; my sister would be so pleased!)

Remember I said I'd count the color of ties in honor of my cousin's Primary? My tally was 9 red ties, 1 red & blue, 8 blue ties, 5 black/gray ties and 2 gold ones.

5. Were there any topics that you felt were repeated often? Any conference “themes”?
Overall, I felt a sense of encouragement, and that we need to use our agency to strengthen our personal relationship with Heavenly Father and do our part to build the Kingdom of God on earth. (That encompasses covenants, temples, missions, gathering, testimony, obedience, following the Holy Ghost's promptings, reading the Book of Mormon, praying, etc. etc.) I also felt that our leaders were really trying to reach the youth and young adults and encourage them to stay faithful.

6. Share a few of your favorite quotes from any of the talks (paraphrasing is fine).
"It's better to look up." (Cook quoting Monson)
"Prayer is the passport to peace." (Cornish quoting Monson)
"Decisions determine destiny." (Bennett)
"God has a work for you to do." (Clayton)
"My testimony kept me." (Thompson)
"Scriptures are our friends. They are packets of light." (Scott)
"Do the right thing at the right time without delay." (Alonso)

7. Name something(s) that made you smile or laugh during conference.
President Monson's "Hello!"
President Eyring remembering what happened to Abinadi.
Elder Nelson reminding us we "get" to participate in the gathering of Israel!

8. Was there any evidence that your children paid attention?
Our kids are old enough that I knew they would all be paying attention; however, Sunday morning when we got out our things to work on family history before conference started, our teenage daughter said, "You can't do that! I'm supposed to!" She definitely heard Elder Bednar's message.

9. What doctrine did you learn as you listened to the choir(s) sing?
My Heavenly Father lives and loves me. Families can be together forever.

10. Did the music enhance your General Conference experience? How?
My testimony is always strengthened by listening to hymns, and that just makes the beautiful music of conference even better. The hymns serve as a reminder to keep my covenants, especially as the melodies and phrases are recalled during the day. "Redeemer of Israel" reminded me of Elder Bednar's "Tender Mercies" talk, and the little things that bring joy to my own life each day. "I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go" reminded me of my teenage sons desires to serve missions. And I really appreciated the phrase "give us strength to do thy will" in the last closing hymn.

11. What are some of your post-conference goals?
Pray daily for strength to do God's will.
Take the time to really ponder as I study the scriptures.
Be a finisher.
Remember to review all of these talks frequently and set more goals!

What would your answers to these questions be? Feel free to write them down, and then link up over at Diapers & Divinity. And don't forget to come participate in the next round of the General Conference Book Club!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Recurring Quote

"Don't let a day go by without doing something to act on the promptings of the Spirit."

I've come across that counsel three times in less than 24 hours. I figure that means something!
First, I was clearing off some of the papers on my desk and found it scribbled in a notebook. Second, this month's visiting teaching message includes that subject, so I was reminded of the quote again, and decided to read the whole talk. Third, while waiting for Michelle this morning I was reading the October New Era, which arrived yesterday, and there it is again, on page 38!

Are you wondering yet who said it? Or do you already know because you've been following that counsel for the past six months? Anyway, it was said by President Uchtdorf in the April 2011 general conference priesthood session. However, you don't have to hold the priesthood to follow that advice. So, guess what I'm going to make a greater effort to do daily? How about you?

Here are the links if you want them:

Also, the VT message contains another quote by Sister Beck that I love and am trying to remember and apply: "The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life." That's a pretty bold statement, yet I know it's true. Having that ability makes it possible to do everything else we need to do.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Or the story behind a good quote.

Last Sunday our teacher read the following quote in class:

"The passage of time has not altered the capacity of the Redeemer to change men’s lives. As he said to the dead Lazarus, so he says to you and me: '… come forth.' (John 11:43.) Come forth from the despair of doubt. Come forth from the sorrow of sin. Come forth from the death of disbelief. Come forth to a newness of life. Come forth."

I thought she said it was given by Elder McConkie in the April 1974 general conference, so when I got home I looked it up; the quote wasn't there.

However, this quote was there:

"The great need in the world today is not for the Lord to send a prophet to reveal his mind and will. He has done that; we have a prophet; we are guided by many men who have the spirit of inspiration. The great need today is for men to have a listening ear and to give heed to the words that fall from the lips of those who wear the prophetic mantle." (Elder Bruce R. McConkie)

Knowing that Steven was preparing a talk about the importance of following prophets, I sent it over to him. He really liked it and actually used it for the conclusion of his talk. I just thought it was amazing how the Lord works. I don't know whether the teacher said Monson and I heard McConkie, or if she really said McConkie; it doesn't matter. What does matter is that the Lord sometimes "works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform." Steven needed that quote for his talk, and he got it.

Oh, and I eventually did find the reference for the first quote. It's from Thomas S. Monson, given at that same general conference.

Friends are Important

I've spent quite a bit of time over the past few months pondering this thought and trying to meet the challenge:

"As a member of the Church, reach out to those you do not know and greet them warmly. Each Sunday extend a hand of fellowship to at least one person you did not know before. Each day of your life, strive to enlarge your own circle of friendship." (Russell M. Nelson)

The older I get, the more I realize how important true friendship is. Although at times it may seem difficult to build strong relationships, particularly as that circle gets larger and larger, the blessings that come from the good examples and and thoughtful acts of others make it worthwhile. And the very best relationship to strengthen is the one with Heavenly Father. That will make all the rest even better.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


The following quote was shared in our Sunday School lesson this week:

“Faith is a gift of God bestowed as a reward for personal righteousness. It is always given when righteousness is present, and the greater the measure of obedience to God’s laws the greater will be the endowment of faith” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 264).

I've always loved that quote, but the teacher didn't give the reference, and I've learned (from teaching seminary!) that sources are important. This morning I found it quoted in this talk by Elder Pearson. It's a great talk and I wanted to remember it as well, so that's why I'm writing this post! I loved the whole talk, and particularly appreciated his summary:

"These Six Destructive Ds—doubt, discouragement, distraction, lack of diligence, disobedience, and disbelief—all erode and destroy our faith. We can choose to avoid and overcome them."

I'm continually reminding myself that fear and faith can't co-exist. And discouragement and distraction have been a temptation lately. I appreciate the words of the prophets that help strengthen my resolve to focus on faith and not doubt. We can do it!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Songs from the Friend

There are some wonderful songs, with great messages, that we don't sing very often because they're not in the "regular" book. If you ever want a great family night lesson, try learning one of these:

"My Testimony Grows" (April 1991)

"The Lord Will Watch Over Me" (January 1994)

"My Testimony is Growing" (March 1994)

"I Will Always Obey" (March 1996)

"Our Savior's Atonement" (April 1997)

"I Heard the Prophet Speak Today" (October 2001)

"I Know that my Savior Loves Me" (October 2002)

And here are a few Christmas ones, too!

"Samuel the Lamanite" (December 1988)

"If I had been in Bethlehem" (December 1989)

"Christmas Lullaby" (December 1994)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

General Conference

I just love general conference. And I love being able to go back and re-read all the talks. As we've been counseled, we should make these messages part of our walk and talk for the next six months. Because last October one of my visiting teaching sisters was unable to listen to conference when it was originally broadcast, we spent some time over the months sharing thoughts from each individual talk. I really appreciated that chance to review them. So, when I discovered an online General Conference Book Club this month, I was pretty intrigued. I think it will be a great way to motivate me to keep the messages of general conference in the forefront of my life.

Monday, March 7, 2011

"Lord, I Would Follow Thee"

Last night at choir practice we were going over an arrangement of the hymn, "Lord, I Would Follow Thee." Our regular choir director wasn't feeling well and stayed home. Before she started, our substitute choir director said she wanted us to know the story behind the writing of the hymn before we sang it; she had been in the same BYU ward as the author. I didn't feel comfortable sharing the sweet story online because it was so personal. However, I searched, and Susan Evan McCloud shared it herself here a year ago.

But her story reminded me of my own experience that I wanted to share. Just a few days before Steven was born I was shopping with Jeff while the other boys were at school. We had a lengthy list and at the very last store we were both exhausted. Under any other circumstances, I would have called us done and gone home. However, the crib set that would make the baby's room "perfect" just happened to be on sale that day only, and there were a few other things that we needed before his birth. We hurried into the store, got them, and stood in line to pay for them. At about that time Jeff noticed something at the check-out that he really wanted. He had already chosen his "treat" for the day and so I said no. As you can imagine he wasn't happy about that and started throwing a fit. I just tried to ignore it, pay for our stuff, and get out of there as fast as possible. Then I heard the lady behind us say something like "Why on earth is she having another baby (good thing she didn't know it was number 5!!) when she can't control the kid she already has." I was crushed. I was trying to be a good mom and just take care of my family. I was already humiliated that my three-year-old was causing a disturbance and I just wanted to disappear. Why couldn't that lady understand that I was trying to do my best, that I wasn't trying to bug her on purpose?

And so I understand what Sister McCloud was trying to say in her hymn. We don't know what's going on inside other people's lives and hearts. For the last 18 years, I've tried to remember this incident and give others the benefit of the doubt. While there's really no excuse for rudeness and unkind behavior, knowing that people are probably suffering in some way makes it easier for me to be forgiving. And smiling and offering help go a lot further than being unkind and rude back. Isn't that what the Savior taught?

1. Savior, may I learn to love thee,
Walk the path that thou hast shown,
Pause to help and lift another,
Finding strength beyond my own.
Savior, may I learn to love thee—
Lord, I would follow thee.

2. Who am I to judge another
When I walk imperfectly?
In the quiet heart is hidden
Sorrow that the eye can’t see.
Who am I to judge another?
Lord, I would follow thee.

3. I would be my brother’s keeper;
I would learn the healer’s art.
To the wounded and the weary
I would show a gentle heart.
I would be my brother’s keeper—
Lord, I would follow thee.

4. Savior, may I love my brother
As I know thou lovest me,
Find in thee my strength, my beacon,
For thy servant I would be.
Savior, may I love my brother—
Lord, I would follow thee.

Text: Susan Evans McCloud, b. 1945. © 1985 IRI

Music: K. Newell Dayley, b. 1939. © 1985 IRI

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Functional Families

This morning I was reminded of a talk by James MacArthur given at the 1999 BYU Education Week that I listened to years ago. Here's the link - Functional Families. And while I thought it had some great ideas for having a strong family, it helped me even more as a seminary teacher with my relationships with my students. In particular, #2 helped me realize that I couldn't make them stay awake and be happy to be in class at 6 AM, but that I could be prepared to do my part. I needed to re-learn that principle --one that I had learned years before when trying to put a 2-year-old to bed - I could make them stay in their room by sitting in front of the door or have miserable consequences if they made it all the way down the stairs, but I couldn't make them go to sleep!

The Functional Family: A Gospel Perspective
1. In a funtional family, there is a good, loving atmosphere.

2. In a functional family, parents are more interested in what they can offer to their kids than what their kids do with that offering. They act as guides and coaches, not as managers.

3. In a funtional family, parents intentionally parent. They meet together on a regular basis and talk about their kids and decide how they're going to handle things.

4. In a funtional family, parents are very aware of the messages that they're sending their children.

5. In a functional family, the basic human needs are met in the home. These needs are to feel significant, important, worthwhile and relevant.

6. In a functional family, relationships are of supreme importance.

7. In a functional family, parents are teachers. They plan what to teach.

8. In a functional family, parents have clearly defined roles and responsibilities that are mutually agreed upon.

9. In a functional family, parents give strong and confident leadership. They have a shared vision for the family.

10. In a functional family, mistakes are part of the learning process. The family keeps its head up and faces tough times together.

11. In a functional family, all family members play and have fun together.

12. In a functional family, the family is the gospel school.