Friday, May 12, 2017

Prophetic Priorities

I have notes and papers in several places, which I try to keep organized, but I've found that doing a search on my blog helps me find things faster, so I'm recording this here. As a side bonus, maybe this will help someone else as well.

A while back I was given a list of current "prophetic priorities" which I want to use as I fulfill my Relief Society calling. They include:
  1. Strengthen faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His Atonement
  2. Observe the Sabbath day both at church and at home
  3. Teach in the Savior's way
  4. Teach repentance and baptize converts
  5. Understand the great latter-day work of temples
  6. Hasten the work on both sides of the veil
I'm having a difficult time finding an "official" source for this list, but I still think it's helpful anyway. God is unchanging and these six principles will always be important. I did find a talk given ten years ago at a BYU devotional - Prophetic Priorities - which contained this list:
  1. Temple work and building temples
  2. Paying tithing
  3. Avoiding unnecessary debt
  4. Extending forgiveness to others
  5. The family
  6. Personal testimony
You'll notice that some things stayed the same and some things changed. It's still important to pay our tithing and forgive others, but for some reason today we need to have Sabbath day observance emphasized more than tithing. 

In fact, I found another BYU devotional from 2013 - Prophetic Priorities and Dedicated Disciples - with another set of priorities:
  1. Missionary work
  2. Teaching and learning for youth
  3. Temple and family history work
So, if you're reading this, know that while it may be interesting and informative, knowing what the current priorities of the prophet are would be more important and beneficial to you. I'm grateful for continued revelation along with personal inspiration!


President Monson could have chosen any of a number of different topics at the latest general conference (April 2017),but he picked the importance of the Book of Mormon. I'd say that makes it a prophetic priority. He also announced five new temples, which is another consistent priority of the prophets.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

More Thoughts on the Gifts of the Spirit

Last month I attended a Sunday School class which I'm sure was to be Gospel Doctrine Lesson #15.  I was surprised that section 46 wasn't mentioned at all, since we're supposedly studying the Doctrine and Covenants churchwide. However, I have no responsibilities for that ward, so I'm not even worrying about it. Besides, we did read other scriptures and I learned some things.

When we had this lesson years ago, I recorded a favorite quote from Elder Ashton. That one was not mentioned this time, but I wanted to record a quote that was. (Among other places, it can be found in the April 2016 Ensign.)

If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make us perfect. Have I imperfections? I am full of them. What is my duty? To pray to God to give me the gifts that will correct these imperfections. If I am an angry man, it is my duty to pray for charity, which suffereth long and is kind. Am I an envious man? It is my duty to seek for charity, which envieth not. So with all the gifts of the gospel. They are intended for this purpose. No man ought to say, “Oh, I cannot help this; it is my nature.” He is not justified in it, for the reason that God has promised to give strength to correct these things, and to give gifts that will eradicate them. If a man lack wisdom, it is his duty to ask God for wisdom. The same with everything else. That is the design of God concerning His Church. He wants His Saints to be perfected in the truth. For this purpose He gives these gifts and bestows them upon those who seek after them, in order that they may be a perfect people upon the face of the earth, notwithstanding their many weaknesses, because God has promised to give the gifts that are necessary for their perfection. - Elder George Q. Cannon

The teacher shared a little scripture chain with us to show how the scriptures support this principle.

Ether 12:27 - We all have weaknesses and imperfections. If we approach the Lord in humility he will help us identify them so that we can overcome them and turn them into strengths.

Moroni 10:30 - We do that by figuring out which gift is the "antidote" to our weakness, as Elder Cannon suggested, and then pray and work to receive that gift from the Lord. I thought it was interesting that charity helps eradicate most, if not all, of our "natural man" tendencies.

Moroni 10:32 - Through the combination of our faith and works, along with the Savior's grace, we eventually can overcome our weakness and become perfect. What a beautiful promise!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Great Imitators

This Instagram post today was just too cute, and since it's difficult finding pictures again on that site, I wanted to put it here. I'm grateful for sons and daughters who are teaching their children by example.
“Children are great imitators, so give them something great to imitate.” 

- Anonymous, quoted by Joy D. Jones

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

New Beginnings

We had the opportunity to attend our ward's New Beginnings last night. It's been a while since we've participated in one of these evenings with our daughter, and it brought back great memories. I checked my blogs and realized I only wrote about one of them. I'll have to check the photo album and my journal and possibly record some of the others.


This year the theme was "Ask in Faith" (from James 1:5-6) and as usual the Young Women leaders did a marvelous job. They introduced the new Beehives by sharing information from an "About Me" questionnaire their parents filled out, had the Personal Progress leader give a short overview of the program, played a Jeopardy game using questions about Personal Progress (similar to these), showed a short video on the theme (found here) and then Wayne gave his "bishopric remarks." Although he didn't use one of the stories he had planned, I could tell he was inspired to only use the one he did (sharing how he asked in faith to gain a testimony and eventually received an answer), and I could tell the girls were touched as well. It's important to "Ask in Faith" and I'm grateful for my testimony of that.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Anna Matilda Anderson

Wayne's preparing a message for New Beginnings, on the theme of prayer, and he wanted me to pull out this family story. Anna was the sister of my great-grandmother (the Ida in the story). We're so grateful for their faith and faithfulness!
Ida Lovisa Anderson age 19
Ida Lovisa Anderson - age 19 
Here's the story told by Bonnie D. Parkin in general conference in April 1997. It was also reprinted in the Friend a couple of years ago - part one and part two. In addition, my cousin turned the story into a children's book.

Anna Matilda Anderson was a young girl who lived in Sweden in the 1880s. When she and her family joined the Church, they were ridiculed for their beliefs. Anna’s mother decided they should move to America and join the Saints in Utah. Anna was 11 years old when she and her sister, Ida, were sent ahead to earn money and bring the rest of the family. They sailed to the United States, then traveled by train to Ogden, Utah, where Ida left by covered wagon to work for her sponsors in Idaho. Anna was completely alone on that train as it continued to Salt Lake City. She spoke no English and knew no one. Can you imagine the loneliness and terror of her ride?

The train pulled into the darkened Rio Grande station just before midnight. The relative who was to meet Anna was not there. Anna stood watching with dread as the station slowly emptied. Finally, she was alone with a German family who also had no one to meet them. The darkness was thick and threatening, closing in around her. She later recalled: “I started to cry and thought about the last thing my mother told me: ‘If you come to a place where you can’t understand what the people are saying, don’t forget to pray to your Father in Heaven because He can understand you.’” Anna knelt by her suitcase and pleaded with all her might for heavenly help. Haven’t we all said prayers like that?

The German family motioned for Anna to follow them. Having no other choice, she walked behind them, crying. Arriving at Temple Square, they heard rapid footsteps. A woman was hurrying toward them, studying each person she passed. She looked at the German family, then pressed on. Anna caught the woman’s searching gaze. The woman stopped, unbelieving. She recognized the young girl! And with a shock, Anna recognized the woman. She was her Sunday School teacher who had left Sweden a year earlier! Pulling Anna tightly into her arms, the teacher wiped away her frightened tears. She told Anna: “I was awakened over and over again. … Images of the arriving immigrants raced through my mind. I could not go back to sleep. I was prompted to come to the temple to see if there was anyone I knew here” (journal of Anna Matilda Anderson, in author’s possession).

Can you believe it? A Sunday School teacher sent in a pitch-black night like an angel of light! “So you see,” Anna remembered, “my Heavenly Father more than answered my prayers. I only asked for someone who could understand me, and He sent someone I knew.”

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Great Divorce

I can't remember now when or how, but someone* quoted something from the book The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis that intrigued me enough that I wanted to read it myself. So I did. I'll admit I was curious as to what the great divorce might be, and fortunately Lewis tells us in the introduction. Basically he says that many people are trying to "marry" good and evil and make them one, but that can never be. It reminds me of the verse in Isaiah of those who call good evil and evil good. I agree with Lewis. We want to make the divide between good and evil in our own lives as great as possible.

I liked his allegory or fable or story or whatever you want to call it, but I'll let you read it for yourself. The one line I want to remember, and it's near the very end of the book when he's talking about the dimension of time, is this: "The Lord said we were gods**. How long could ye bear to look (without Time's lens) on the greatness of your own soul?"

Isn't that a wonderful thought to ponder? Maybe not the "bear to look at" part, but the "greatness of your own soul" part. It's something I need to do more often.

Imagine her eternal possibilities and potential! It's the same for us.

* I remembered because I came across it again; it was in the notes of Elder Renlund's last conference talk on repentance, where he quoted the same line Sister Kapp did below.

** Psalms 82:6 - "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High."

The Great Divorce is quoted, among many others, in the following talks and speeches:

Education: Molding Character by Elder Backman in 1991
     with an oft-quoted sentence“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done’.”

Please Forgive Me by Sister Kapp in 1976 
     with another oft-quoted sentence: “A wrong sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point.

Come Joyfully and Partake of the Gospel Feast by Sister Brown in 2004
      with the following summary:
"In his fable The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis described a busload of souls from hell who travel to the outskirts of heaven. Without exception, they have the opportunity to dwell there permanently and experience the eternal joy available to all our Father’s children. But the invitation is conditional. In order to stay, they must give up something they hold dear: one desires popularity and fame; another continues to nurse a grudge; one is committed to a false principle; another wants the power felt through selfishly manipulating others. Unfortunately, most of the travelers from hell are so immersed in their self-centered preoccupations that they don’t recognize the beauty, abundance, glory, and, yes, the joy of heaven! They refuse to see that what they would have to give up is nothing in comparison to what they would gain. Most of them choose to cling to their misery and return to hell. (See C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce [New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996].) The point here is that we are free to choose the comfort, peace, and joy of the gospel—or we can choose otherwise."

Friday, March 17, 2017

My Kids' Irish Ancestors

When I mentioned my Irish grandmother at breakfast this morning, Wayne reminded me he had an Irish grandmother as well. I haven't written much about the Youkstetter family on this blog, and so it's time to do something about that.

If Youkstetter doesn't sound Irish, that's because it really isn't. It's German. William Gottlieb Youkstetter moved from Germany to Ireland, stopping in England to marry Marie Speidel in 1898, and changing the spelling of his name somewhere along the way. That's what the dates tell us; it would be fun to look up some of the stories behind the dates, but I'm running out of time to do so today. You can find lots of neat pictures, though, on FamilySearch.org! This one's from 1905 when Grandpa Jauchstetter visited Dublin.
Grandpa Jachstetter visiting his son William Youkstetter's family in Dublin, Ireland in 1905.
Back row: William, Marie, Georg Michael Jauchstetter
Front row: Dorothy, Lena, William, Nellie
William was a butcher and owned his own shop.
W. Youkstetter Pork Butcher Shop, 21 North Strand, Dublin, Ireland around 1910
21 North Strand, Dublin - around 1910
William and Marie joined the LDS Church in 1901 and were stalwarts of the Dublin Branch. We'll add more of those stories as well some day. This is a picture of the branch in 1917.
Dublin Branch, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Sunday School.  1917.
Dorothy Youkstetter is the girl on the far left near the back with the big bow on her head. She would have been about 14. Her mother is in front of her holding her baby sister and her dad is in the center back with the mustache.
This picture was taken in 1918, so all nine of their children can claim to be Irish if they want. In 1922 the family moved to Huntington Park, California.
Youkstetter family in summer 1918
Back row: Marie, William, William (Dad), Dorothy
Middle row: Lena, Nellie, Marie (Mom), Fredrich
Back row: Frank, Pearl, Minnie

Ireland

I like celebrating St. Patrick's Day because it reminds me of my grandmother and her parents, specifically Florence Rebecca Wilson, for whom I'm named.
Last year I did some family history research in honor of them (see here and here), and I thought it was interesting that my heart turned to that again this week. This post will contain maps I've found to help put things into context. Here are the counties in Ireland (with Northern Ireland in a lighter color).

My great-grandfather, James Wilson, was born in Legnabraid, County Donegal.
You can't really tell in the above map, but it looks like Legnabraid was a part of Castlefin, and very close (less than ten miles) to Castlederg in County Tyrone, which is where Great-grandma was born, and where they were married.
Castlederg is a little town in the county of Tyrone, which is part of Northern Ireland. This site tells a little about the geography of the county; apparently "Tyrone is mainly a farming county, it has hundreds of small farms which mainly produce cattle and dairy produce. They also grow oats, barley and potatoes."

From the Irish census records we learn that Grandma was a seamstress and Grandpa was a carpenter, and they were both Presbyterian. I suspect this last fact* contributed to their decision to immigrate to America in 1916. With their three children - John, Florence and Norman - they arrived at Ellis Island on the ship Philadelphia. They lived in Hudson City, New Jersey for a few years, where twins Dorothy (Dot) and Winifred (Lin) were born, before settling in Middlesex County, Connecticut.


This photo, from ancestry.com, showed up in today's search. It's titled "Ashvale Farmhouse - 1896" and is attached to John P. Wilson, James' father. I'm not positive it's John's family, but it looks like the names and ages could match up correctly. Even if it's not my relatives, it's still a great picture. [Note that it was common for 3 year old boys to have long hair and wear "dresses".]
John P. Wilson (1838-1918) and his wife Margaret Kerr Wilson (1852-1928) and their children:
James (1877), Susan (1878), Annie Jane (1880), Robert (1883), Fanny (1887), John (1890) and William (1893).

*This site gives a good synopsis of the political history of Northern Ireland - mostly Protestant and wanting to stay part of the United Kingdom - and the rest of Ireland - mostly Catholic and wanting to be separate. Northern Ireland was created in 1921.

Another site has an even shorter synopsis:
It's time for a quick history lesson, the contents of which might sound familiar if you happen to have a love for European history (as the writer of this article does). Back in the seventeenth century, when the English empire was taking strides to conquer as much of the world as it could, they succeeded in capturing Ireland, and proceeded to settle it heavily in the island's north. Most of these English settlers were Protestant, while most of the original Irish inhabitants were Catholic. (Remember that, it's important.)

As northern Ireland became more prosperous and industrial, southern Ireland, particularaly the Catholic masses, became poor and malnourished under the ownership of English, Protestant land owners. This led to many issues, including eventual political divides between the two religious factions; Irish Catholics wanted independence from the British, while the Protestants (now both Irish and English) feared being under the home rule of a Catholic majority. Tensions rose until, in 1921, Northern Ireland was made a part of Britain and the rest of Ireland was declared a free state; enter a short period of peace, right up until the 1960's, when riots, terrorist attacks, and other bloody violence. These conflicts have continued ever since, with a bit of a stale mate since the 1990's.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Stir Thee Up in Remembrance

Not too long ago, I was reminded of an experience I had many years ago. I wrote briefly about it here in a "Scripture Study Insights" post:

Alma 4
It doesn't take long to go through “The Pride Cycle." In the 6th year the people were humbled and many joined the church in the 7th year. In the 8th year they began to wax proud which brought contention, envy, and persecution. By the 9th year, Alma had turned over the judgment seat and devoted his time to “bearing down in pure testimony” to stir the people up “in remembrance of their duty.”

One month the visiting teaching message was on this idea of “stirring up in remembrance.” The night before my visiting teacher had made cornmeal crepes for dinner. She noticed that the cornmeal settled to the bottom of the batter very quickly, and that before making each crepe she had to stir it to mix it back in. Gospel truths have a tendency to do that also. We need to constantly be doing things – prayer, scripture study, attend meetings, serve others – so our grains of testimony stay sprinkled throughout our daily lives. It’s too easy for them to slip down and be overcome by the “busyness” of the world.

Since in that post, I didn't record the scriptures with this phrase* I wanted to do that here. (And I also posted a recipe over here if you want to try making your own cornmeal crepes.)

2 Peter 1:13
"Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance."

2 Timothy 1:6
"Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

The Book of Mormon has a lot of examples as well, although most of them are a warning of what will happen if the people don't remember.

2 Nephi 5:25
"And the Lord God said unto me: They shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in remembrance of me; and inasmuch as they will not remember me, and hearken unto my words, they shall scourge them even unto destruction."

Mosiah 1:17
"Therefore, as they were unfaithful they did not prosper nor progress in their journey, but were driven back, and incurred the displeasure of God upon them; and therefore they were smitten with famine and sore afflictions, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty."

Helaman 11:4
"O Lord, do not suffer that this people shall be destroyed by the sword; but O Lord, rather let there be a famine in the land, to stir them up in remembrance of the Lord their God, and perhaps they will repent and turn unto thee."

"When we are inclined to think it is vain to serve the Lord, we should stir our faith, believe in the rich promises of God, and obey - and patiently wait. The Lord will fulfill all his rich promises. To the faithful, lavish rewards are offered. Blessings beyond one's understanding will come. Great as are the blessings in mortality which follow righteousness, they are dwarfed beside those awaiting in the world to come." (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 305-6)

* Actually, there are four pages of references with the word "stir" but many of them are talking about "stirring up to anger or war" and this post is about remembering God constantly.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Worthy Music, Worthy Thoughts

While studying 2 Corinthians 10:5* today, I was reminded of a talk President Packer gave years ago in general conference which was turned into a filmstrip and shown to the youth of the church. The idea that I can  have control over my thoughts, along with a tool to help me succeed in that, has stuck with me ever since, and has been of great benefit to me. In the hope that it might be of benefit to you as well, here's a small collection of internet resources for the talk.

The original talk - October 1973 General Conference

A condensed version - April 2008 New Era

And a YouTube creation of the original filmstrip - Worthy Music, Worthy Thoughts



*"Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."

Friday, February 17, 2017

Act Well Thy Part

Because I've had so many lessons over the years, it's not often that I actually hear something new. I've heard the "act well thy part" story taught by President McKay many, many times. However, today's lesson added some new information about the drawings included on the stone near Stirling Castle in Scotland he saw during his mission that help to shed greater light onto the importance of that saying. I thought you might like to be edified as well!

Each symbol in the nine squares of this stone represents a numerical value. Try to identify the numerical value of each shape.

What is the sum of the three numbers represented in the top row? the middle row? the bottom row?


From left to right, the symbols represent 5, 10, and 3 in the top row; 4, 6, and 8 in the middle row; and 9, 2, and 7 in the bottom row.

The numbers represented in any given row, column, or diagonal line on this stone add up to 18. One reason these shapes may have been included with the phrase “What-E’er Thou Art Act Well Thy Part” is that if any of these shapes were rearranged or if their values changed, the rows and columns on the stone would no longer add up to 18 in every direction.

Isn't that cool? Each one of us is important!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Marriage is Ordained of God

I noticed the following article in this month's Ensign - "Teaching the Proclamation to Children" - and decided they had a great idea. So, here are the wedding pictures of our grandchildren's parents and uncles and grandparents and even some great-great grandparents!
We know that "marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children,” and we're grateful for the example our parents and grandparents set for us. We hope we're passing that tradition along to the next generation.
You can find the long version of our courtship story here, but the short version is he called, we went on a date, and a week later we were engaged.

Wayne's parents both served missions in Japan and while they knew of each other during their missions, they really met at a mission reunion back in Utah. There's a story in there about a kimono; ask them about it. I don't have any pictures of their wedding day, which was 25 August 1959 in the Salt Lake Temple, but this one was taken about that time.
While my dad was serving his mission, my grandfather wrote him and told him he'd met his future wife, but he wouldn't say who it was. So, after he returned to California, Dad had to do his own searching. He met my mother at a stake seminary/institute graduation, but she wanted nothing to do with this serious, older man. He didn't give up trying to court her, though, and eventually won her over.
They were married in the Los Angeles Temple on 2 September 1961.
I love my mom's wedding dress!
Here are some pictures and stories from the next generation back:

Arthur and Dorothy met on the ferry to Catalina Island, where he was serving in the military and she was a nurse. They were drawn to each other because neither one was interested in the smoking and drinking of everyone else on leave. They were married in Los Angeles the week after Arthur baptized Dorothy, and they were sealed the next year in the Salt Lake Temple.

Vern was working in San Francisco when his friend's school teacher sister-in-law came to visit for the summer. Claude (the friend) and Mabel* (his wife and Ethel's sister) asked Vern to help her feel welcome, and he took his task seriously. They continued corresponding during the school year and were married in the Salt Lake Temple the next summer. (You can find a few more details here.)

*Mabel is Auntie, and she played a role in helping me meet my future husband as well. I wonder how many other matchmaking experiences she had!

Judge met Doris at church; both their families were members of the Huntington Park Ward in southern California. Soon after they met, Judge followed his plans to attend art school in Chicago, but that was okay because Doris was going to spend several months in Europe with her parents. They corresponded faithfully for a year, and then both returned to California where they dated and became engaged. Judge didn't feel he could support a family on what he was making there, so he went back to Chicago to find work and save money. After a couple of years of not making much progress, he took a job opportunity as a cartoonist for the St. Louis Times. Doris joined him there and they were married in St. Louis. Although disappointed that a trip to Salt Lake wasn't feasible at the time, they were later sealed in the Mesa Arizona Temple. (More details here.)
Left: Dorothy & Arthur, Top Right: Doris & Judge, Bottom Right: Ethel & Vern
Okay, wonderful grandchildren, can you identify the pictures below? Which one is your dad and mom?





Many awesome blessings have come into our lives because of marriage, and more specifically temple marriage. The bonds of family love are real and provide strength to help us navigate trials and challenges. Knowing that someone is on your side and loves you is comforting and peaceful. Having an eternal perspective makes all the difference. I'm so grateful for my eternal family!