Thursday, November 26, 2015

Express Appreciation

"How helpful and rewarding it would be if all of us would likewise thank God for one more day. For what? For the opportunity to take care of some unfinished business, to express appreciation, to repent, to right some wrongs, to influence for good some wayward child, to reach out to someone who cried for help—in short, to thank God for one more day to prepare to meet Him."

"Let us remember that acts of kindness with pure motives and righteous purposes can be and are encouraged to be done in quietness, gentle voices, and in privacy. We can program ourselves to build, encourage, and give strength."
Elder Marvin J. Ashton - April 1991 General Conference

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Don't Judge!

Surprise! Surprise!

I dreamt death came the other night
And heaven's gate swung wide;
With kindly grace an angel came
To usher me inside.

And there to my astonishment
Stood folks I'd known on earth,
Some of whom I'd judged unfit
And of but little worth.

Indignant words rose to my lips,
But never were set free,
For every face showed stunned surprise;
NOT ONE expected ME! 

Anonymous

Adapted from "A Book of Prayer" collected and compiled by Canon W. F. Shail, Christ Church, Dorset, United Kingdom

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Sacrament

In a talk in sacrament meeting earlier this month, one of our friends spoke and shared a couple of things I want to remember. The first was a quote or saying from her dad that the "power of an inspired teacher can change lives."

She also shared the five principles from Elder Don R. Clarke's talk on the sacrament given in the 2012 October general conference.

  • Have a feeling of gratitude for the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
  • Remember that we are renewing our baptismal covenants.
  • During the sacrament we can feel forgiven of our sins.
  • We can receive inspiration for solutions to our problems.
  • Partaking of the sacrament worthily will help us be filled with the Holy Ghost.

He said that it will always be a great sacrament meeting if the sacrament is the center of our worship, and he also shared this quote from Elder Melvin J. Ballard:

“I am a witness that there is a spirit attending the administration of the sacrament that warms the soul from head to foot; you feel the wounds of the spirit being healed, and the load being lifted. Comfort and happiness come to the soul that is worthy and truly desirous of partaking of this spiritual food.”

Friday, November 6, 2015

Reflections on a Consecrated Life

Our seminary lessons always have such great quotes as part of the devotional, and yet I've found that when I take the time to go read the entire talk from which the little blurb was taken, I learn even more. Isn't that wonderful?

Here was today's thought:

To consecrate is to set apart or dedicate something as sacred, devoted to holy purposes. True success in this life comes in consecrating our lives—that is, our time and choices—to God’s purposes. In so doing, we permit Him to raise us to our highest destiny.

But Elder Christofferson had so much more to say on the subject! Here are some more of the bits and pieces of his talk, Reflections on a Consecrated Life, that stood out to me.

The Lord’s law of consecration is an application of celestial law to life here and now.

The consecrated life is a pure life. 
Consecration therefore means repentance. [This includes] submission, a desire for correction, and acceptance of all that the Lord may require.*

A consecrated life is a life of labor.
Work builds and refines character, creates beauty, and is the instrument of our service to one another and to God. A consecrated life is filled with work, sometimes repetitive, sometimes menial, sometimes unappreciated but always work that improves, orders, sustains, lifts, ministers, aspires.

A consecrated life respects the incomparable gift of one’s physical body, a divine creation in the very image of God.
As our body is the instrument of our spirit, it is vital that we care for it as best we can.

A consecrated life is a life of service. 
Those who quietly and thoughtfully go about doing good offer a model of consecration.

A consecrated life is a life of integrity.
Integrity is not naiveté. What is naive is to suppose that we are not accountable to God.


*See Mosiah 3:19, also this quote by B. H. Roberts: “The man who so walks in the light and wisdom and power of God, will at the last, by the very force of association, make the light and wisdom and power of God his own—weaving those bright rays into a chain divine, linking himself forever to God and God to him. This [is] the sum of Messiah’s mystic words, ‘Thou, Father, in me, and I in thee’—beyond this human greatness cannot achieve.”

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sally C. Tinker

I was doing so well this morning at concentrating on the daily chores, but then in the middle of one of those chores (clearing papers off the desk), I came across this:

Before I could file it, I had to make sure the ordinance had been recorded. And that led to wondering about this, which led to wondering about that. Let's just say that after a couple of hours, the pile of papers hasn't diminished at all. 

However, while doing a quick search to see if the information I had for Joseph and Sally was as complete as possible, I came across this:
It's small print, but that's a transcription of "Lewisiana" or "The Lewis Letter." It looks like the minutes of a Lewis Family Meeting (or several of them) and includes biographies. I can hardly wait to go through it and see if it will help with some of our "dead-end" lines.

I had two children for Joseph and Sally in my records, but this mentions a third one - Mary Aurelia Lewis Lyon. It's always exciting to discover something new! And look at this, here she is, with additional mention of her husband and children.

So, Mary has been added to the family, and the next time we do a sealing session at the temple, she can be sealed to her parents. So, while I feel a touch guilty about taking so long to do this simple chore of "clear off the papers," I feel pretty good about my rationalization.

I've also had the thought that I need to do better at sharing these little discoveries with my family, so here you go. I'll try to do better in the future. And now I really am closing all the genealogy programs and going through the "open enrollment" papers!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Temple is a Holy Place

These sentences from our online seminary lesson for D&C 109 really impressed me, and I want to be able to remember them.

A dedicated temple creates a space that is completely given to God and free from the influences of the world. If such a sacred space is kept holy, it represents a part of the celestial kingdom on earth.
Here's the link to the regular home study lesson, which doesn't have the same paragraph. I wonder why.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Pioneer Day Again

I came across a couple of quotes that I wanted to record. This first one is from Elder Dallin H. Oaks. (The entire talk is worth reading.)

"It is not enough to study or reenact the accomplishments of our pioneers. We need to identify the great, eternal principles they applied to achieve all they achieved for our benefit and then apply those principles to the challenges of our day. In that way we honor their pioneering efforts, and we also reaffirm our heritage and strengthen its capacity to bless our own posterity and “those millions of our Heavenly Father’s children who have yet to hear and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ.”2 We are all pioneers in doing so."
The other comes from the autobiography of Sarah DeArmon Pea Rich, the wife of Charles C. Rich, and the sister-in-law to John President Porter, my great-great-great-grandfather. Sarah and John (with their respective families) were in the same pioneer company of 1847 - The Charles C. Rich Company. Once again, you can read her entire account of trail life here, but I just wanted to remember the following portions [spelling and punctuation modernized]:

"O, what a time we all had crossing the plains from Nauvoo to Salt Lake City!"

"It truly was a dangerous trip and had we not been convinced by the power of the Lord to know that we were preparing to help lay the foundation for the building up of the kingdom of our Heavenly Father on this earth, according to his holy commandment to his prophet Joseph Smith, we never could have undertaken such a journey."

"We realized that we must be humble and prayerful and put our trust in the Lord, and it was through his mercy and kind care that saved the people on this dangerous journey. For we prayed to the Lord in faith and he answered our prayers, for he will hear those that trust in him and obey his laws as given through his prophets."

"My young readers, let me beg of you to lay aside all folly and foolishness and humble yourselves before the Lord and seek a knowledge of this, the work of the Lord in this the latter day, and be prepared to help in this great work."

I would encourage my children and grandchildren to follow her counsel!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Happy Pioneer Day!

This morning I was reading in Deuteronomy where Moses relates the history of his people to them just before they enter the promised land. He tells them over and over to remember. I think that's one reason why I enjoy holidays. It's a time for us to remember our history.  In the past I've posted stories and biographies of our pioneer ancestors, but this year I was drawn to my living cousins.
Arthur Smith - Age 25
Arthur Smith, age 25
This is Arthur Smith, and he came across the plains with his parents James and Emma in 1866. Several days ago I wondered how many descendants are here in the United States because of that choice. As I started looking, I realized it would be a gigantic task to figure that out, so I scaled it down to my great-grandmother, Ida Smith White, and her descendants. Even then, there are quite a few.

Last year one of my mom's cousins shared a list that she had compiled of all the grandchildren of Tom and Ida White. There are 41 cousins on that list. I'm in the next generation, so I've been trying to compile that list. I've currently accounted for 151, and it's possible there are a few more.

As I've scrolled through facebook finding cousins, I've been impressed with the joy that radiates through the posted pictures. The gospel certainly does bring great happiness into our lives. That's what Moses promised the Israelites, and the promise is still true today.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Self-Reliance

Sunday we had a 5th Sunday lesson on Self-Reliance and there were a few quotes I wanted to record so I can find them again sometime. First, I thought it was interesting that when I searched for conference talks on the subject, the only ones I found were given back in the 80's. Maybe they've changed what they call it? However, I still think it should be a current topic of concern. So, here you go.

From Marion G. Romney, October 1982

"Self-reliance is not the end, but a means to an end. It is very possible for a person to be completely independent and lack every other desirable attribute."

"'In our friendly neighbor city of St. Augustine great flocks of sea gulls are starving amid plenty. Fishing is still good, but the gulls don't know how to fish.For generations they have depended on the shrimp fleet to toss them scraps from the nets. Now the fleet has moved. . . .

"'The sea gulls . . . are starving to death because they gave in to the ‘something for nothing’ lure! They sacrificed their independence for a handout.

"'A lot of people are like that, too. They see nothing wrong in picking delectable scraps from the tax nets of the U.S. Government’s "shrimp fleet." But what will happen when the Government runs out of goods? What about our children of generations to come?

"'Let’s not be gullible gulls. We … must preserve our talents of self-sufficiency, our genius for creating things for ourselves, our sense of thrift and our true love of independence.' (“Fable of the Gullible Gull,” Reader’s Digest, Oct. 1950, p. 32.)

"Elections often turn on what the candidates promise to do for voters from government funds. This practice, if universally accepted and implemented in any society, will make slaves of its citizens. We cannot afford to become wards of the government, even if we have a legal right to do so. It requires too great a sacrifice of self-respect and in political, temporal, and spiritual independence."

"Service is the very fiber of which an exalted life in the celestial kingdom is made. . . .  Can we see how critical self-reliance becomes when looked upon as the prerequisite to service? How can we give if there is nothing there?"

This connection between godhood, service, and self-reliance was a new one for me. I find it quite intriguing and deserving of more contemplation and pondering.

"We are all self-reliant in some areas and dependent in others. Therefore, each of us should strive to help others in areas where we have strengths. At the same time, pride should not prevent us from graciously accepting the helping hand of another when we have a real need. To do so denies another person the opportunity to participate in a sanctifying experience."

From Robert D. Hales, April 1986

"The welfare program requires that we develop self-reliance and live providently. Provident living requires us to develop proper attitudes - a willingness to forego luxuries, to avoid excess, and to fully use what we have - learning to live within our means."

"Joseph Fielding Smith taught us that 'it is contrary to the law of God for the heavens to be opened and messengers to come to do anything for man that man can do for himself.'"

From L. Tom Perry, April 1981

"I like the story of the old man in nineteenth-century New Hampshire who treasured his independence and self-reliance above all else in his life. He accounted it true Christianity that he cared for his own and helped others, and fiercely resisted the notion that he ought to accept help from any other mortal. When his aged wife died, he buried her himself, then dug his own grave and laid in it his open, homemade coffin. 'When my time is coming,' he said, 'I'll climb in the box and fold my arms over my chest. Won't be no bother to no one. They can just nail down the lid and push in the dirt.'"

This story reminded Wayne of his own dad. He may not have actually dug his own grave, but he's already paid for someone else to do so when that time comes. We're grateful our parents taught us these principles of self-reliance, and we hope our children know how important they are.

My cousin posted this on Facebook today. I thought it went quite well with this subject, and now you have a picture in this post!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Conference Story

Today I substituted in Primary and during sharing time - which was on the importance of listening to the prophets during general conference - we were asked if we could share something about a conference talk that answered a question we had. Because I was trying to think of something that the children could relate to, I thought of my cousin's story. I debated whether or not to share it online, but decided that a lot of this is public record anyway. Since every time I'm prompted to share it, I have to research the sources all over again, I figured this time I would put them all in one place!

"The Faith of a Child" - October 1975 general conference

"The Lighthouse of the Lord" - July 1980 Ensign

"Tabernacle Memories" - April 2007 general conference

"A Message for Misti" - September 2008 Friend


The point I felt inspired to share was that general conference is for everyone, including children. Heavenly Father knows us and loves us individually, and he will answer our questions and concerns. We can all listen to and watch general conference and gain something from it. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland put it:

"If we teach by the Spirit and you listen by the Spirit, some one of us will touch on your circumstance, sending a personal prophetic epistle just to you."

I'm thankful for the testimony of this truth that I gained at a very early age. I know that our prophets and apostles will teach by the Spirit, and I know Elder Holland's promise can come true for anyone who wishes. I'm looking forward to general conference next weekend!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Screwtape Letters


It's been years since I've read this book, and so when someone mentioned it the other day, I decided I would read it again. Here are a few of my favorite passages, which I'm recording so I can find them again one day. 

"When He talks of their losing their selves, He only means abandoning the clamour of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and he boasts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever." (Letter 13)

The horror of the Same Old Thing is one of the most valuable passions we have produced in the human heart . . . . The humans live in time, and experience reality successively. To experience much of it, therefore, they must experience many different things; in other words, they must experience change. And since they need change, the Enemy . . . has made change pleasurable to them . . . .  He has balanced the love of change in them by a love of permanence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together in the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanence we call Rhythm. He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme." (Letter 25)

"The Enemy does not foresee the humans making their free contributions in a future, but sees them doing so in His unbounded Now. And obviously to watch a man doing something is not to make him do it." (Letter 27)

"The truth is that the Enemy, having oddly destined these mere animals to life in His own eternal world, has guarded them pretty effectively from the danger of feeling at home anywhere else. That is why we must often wish long life to our patients; seventy years is not a day too much for the difficult task of unravelling their souls from Heaven and building up a firm attachment to the earth. . . . How valuable time is to us may be gauged by the fact that the Enemy allows us so little of it. . . . . It is obvious that to Him human birth is important chiefly as the qualification for human death." (Letter 28)

I first read Screwtape Letters after hearing it quoted in general conference. Truth is truth no matter where it's found. And just so you don't have to do the searching, here are links to a few general conference talks where this book was quoted.

"In his book The Screwtape Letters, a senior devil explains how to corrupt Christians and frustrate the work of Jesus Christ. One letter explains how any “extreme devotion” can lead Christians away from the Lord and the practice of Christianity. Lewis gives two examples, extreme patriotism or extreme pacifism, and explains how either “extreme devotion” can corrupt its adherent."
"Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing."
Powerful Ideas, Dallin H. Oaks, October 1995

"You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. … It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. … Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one."
"The Great Imitator," James E. Faust, October 1987

“Do what you will, there is going to be some benevolence, as well as some malice, in your patient’s soul. The great thing is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbours whom he meets every day and to thrust his benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know. The malice thus becomes wholly real and the benevolence largely imaginary.”
Out of Small Things, Michael J. Teh, October 2007

“Your patient has become humble; have you drawn his attention to the fact?” 
"To Walk Humbly with Thy God, Marlin K. Jensen, April 2001

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

January Whispers

It's time to add some new "whispers" to the column on the side, and I figured I should record the story behind them. These are examples of promptings I didn't obey; sometimes those are easier to recognize. At least it was a reminder that when I think something, immediately followed by the thought that that's a dumb idea, maybe I should think again!
One of our light bulbs burned out, and we were out of spares, so I bought a new box. When I got to the store, I realized that I couldn't remember if we got the "blue" kind or the "yellow" kind. I like the color blue better, so that's what I got. Since this was a box of six, and since it's kept on a high shelf, and since I like to know how many are left, I write 1-2-3-4-5-6 on the box, and then cross out the number as they're used. Just before writing the numbers I had the thought that maybe I should make sure we really used the "blue" ones, but I ignored that thought. You've guessed it! Once I installed that light bulb I realized it didn't match, and we really use the "yellow" CFL bulbs. Fortunately, I was able to return the light bulbs and exchange them with the proper type, but I could have avoided the threat of embarrassment if I had just followed the prompting I received.
The other example took place as we pulled out of the driveway to meet the youth for our ward's temple trip. I had the thought to ask Wayne if he had his temple recommend. I didn't ask, though, because his recommend is always in his wallet, and I didn't want to come across as a nag. Once we got to the meeting place, however, he realized that the binder with the recommends for the youth was still in his church bag at home. If I had asked him about his own, it would have reminded him of the binder, and would have saved us a trip home to get it.
Fortunately, our little side trip didn't have any negative effects. We made it to the temple on time and had a wonderful experience. We even took some family names, some of which were found as a result of actually listening to and following the inspiration received.
Later in the month we went back for an evening endowment session. While there, I received some more impressions which were helpful and inspiring, and which I won't share here. Just know that I'm grateful for temples and for the Holy Ghost.