Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Charity Never Faileth

You know when you hear about some gospel topic over and over again and it seems like Heavenly Father is really trying to get something through to you – and maybe He feels like you’re not going to get it the first time?

Well, on Saturday morning I woke up feeling… well, a little less than charitable. I was extremely ornery. I hopped on my computer to check the blogs I usually read, and the first thing on my blog reader was this post by Corine over at Joy in the Journey. I read this quote, and immediately knew it had to be printed and taped up on the wall in my bathroom.

image I have read Moroni 7:44-45 (men is nothing with out charity, etc) and 1 Corinthians 13 (charity suffereth long, is not puffed up, not easily provoked, etc) countless times. I have listened to and studied talk after talk after talk after talk after talk at General Conference on charity, but for some reason (natural man, anyone?) it is so hard for me to remember, in all my actions, to have charity.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul says, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” But the greatest is charity. So if you have faith and hope, fine, but if you don’t have charity, you are “nothing” as Paul so eloquently puts it.

Since Saturday I have been working really hard at being charitable. You’ll be happy to know that I haven’t woken up ornery at all since then, and I don’t plan to start being ornery again any time soon. I am being more patient with my children and my husband, and I am learning to endure difficult circumstances without feeling like a martyr. Not feeling like a martyr when I am suffering because of the actions of others is probably the very hardest thing for me – charity doesn’t come easy for me, especially when I feel like someone who shouldn’t be hurting me is hurting me. But thanks to Corine’s post, I am putting that away (that feeling like a martyr). It’s not fun, feeling like a martyr. It makes me cranky and ornery and stressed (and it makes me break out – and that is never a good thing). It makes me short tempered with my kids. Basically, when I lack charity in one area of my life, it causes my charity to vanish in all the other aspects.

So if I want to have charity with my children, I’ll have to have charity with everyone in my life – even those I don’t think deserve my charity. What?! Did I really just say that? Yes – that attitude is the very thing that has been keeping me from having charity. I was honestly believing that this person didn’t deserve my charity. Fortunately, the Savior commanded us to love everyone – not just people we think deserve our love.

Basically if I can just remember to do everything Elder Ashton describes in the quote above, I should be fine. I’ve been working on it, and I am getting better – I have been able to have so much more charity the past few days. And it feels better.

A lot better.

Do you ever notice yourself lacking charity? How do you remind yourself to have charity throughout the day? Do you post quotes up by your mirrors like I do? Do you carry around a token in your pocket? What do you do to remember to be charitable to everyone?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wheat and Tares

For in that day, before the Son of man shall come, he shall send forth his angels and messengers of heaven, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them out among the wicked; and there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. For the world shall be burned with fire. JST Matthew 13:42-44

What does it mean to be wicked or righteous? When the Savior taught the parable of the wheat and the tares and other parables about the kingdom of heaven, he said that at His coming, he would send angels and messengers to separate “all things that offend, and them which do iniquity” and “cast them out among the wicked.”

The Spirit World – levels of righteousness

In the Gospel Principles manual, we can read a little more about where those that “offend” and those “which do iniquity” will be sent. We know that during this life, those who have not accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ (whether or not they even had the opportunity) will be sent to Spirit Prison. “In the spirit prison are the spirits of those who have not yet received the gospel of Jesus Christ… also in the spirit prison are those who rejected the gospel after it was preached to them either on earth or in the spirit prison. These spirits suffer in a condition known as hell.” (p.244) In Alma we read, “ the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil – for behold they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord… these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity.” So does this mean that everyone who has not received the gospel in this life is “wicked”? We could assume that, since they are in “spirit prison” with those who suffer because they will not accept the gospel. But there is more to spirit prison than just suffering. “The spirits in paradise can teach the spirits in prison” (p.243) and “if [the spirits in prison] accept the gospel and the ordinances performed for them in the temples, they may leave the spirit prison and dwell in paradise.” (p.244) So being in spirit prison doesn’t automatically pass a judgment of “wicked” on a person. The wicked go to spirit prison and suffer in condition known as hell, while those who were righteous go to spirit prison to wait for an opportunity to accept the gospel, and to wait for their temple work to be done.

The spirit world, then, is just like the mortal world we live in right now. There are levels of righteousness and spirituality, and there are levels of suffering. In this life, when we are righteous and live the gospel, we have peace – we also experience suffering, because that is the nature of this world; however, we can experience peace as well. Those who do not have the gospel, yet live righteously, are also living in a measure of peace and happiness. Just because they don’t have the gospel does not mean they need to be tormented. There are those who have an even greater measure of the spirit and peace, those who believe in Christ, but do not have the fullness of the gospel. I think that when we realize how the spirit world is set up – that there are righteous people even in spirit prison, we can understand that there are righteous people on this earth who do not have the fullness of the gospel. This understanding of wicked and righteous helps me to be less judgmental of those I associate with.

Many of us have heard Christians who say anyone who has not accepted Christ is going to “hell” – and that they will be burned and all that. Thankfully we have a more understanding view of how the spirit world works, and those who are righteous, even if they have not had an opportunity to accept the gospel, will not suffer in “hell”, although they will dwell in spirit prison. But sometimes I think we are misguided in our understanding of what is wicked and what is righteous, and there are members of the Church who will tell you that those not of our faith will be going to hell.

The Second Coming of the Savior Jesus Christ gives us another opportunity to study the “wicked”and the “righteous”. “When Jesus comes again… the wicked will be destroyed.” (p.257) Again, who will the wicked be at the time of the Savior’s coming? Probably more those who are in the second category of the spirits who will be in spirit prison – those who reject the gospel after it has been preached to them, whether in this life or in the next. The Gospel Principles book gives us a little more insight into who will be left during the Millennium (after the Second Coming – remember, at the second coming the wicked will be destroyed, and the righteous will live on the earth during the Millennium). Who will be “the righteous”? “They will be those who have lived virtuous and honest lives. These people will inherit either the terrestrial or celestial kingdom.” (p. 263)

Will only members of the Church be living during the Millennium? No – all people who have lived virtuous and honest lives will be on the earth during the Millennium. I know many people not of our faith who are virtuous and honest people. They will all live with Christ as well. “Eventually everyone will confess that Jesus Christ is the Savior.” But until then, it will be just like living with our kind Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, atheist, black, Asian, Republican, and Democrat neighbors as we do today.

Puts it into perspective now, doesn’t it? If we cannot live in happiness and in harmony with people who are different than us now, what makes you think you will be able to live that way in the Millennium? It makes me want to be more kind and charitable to people I don’t agree with, especially if they are kind and charitable people. I want to be able to live during the Millennium, but I know that I won’t be able to if I don’t learn how to get along with people right now, in this life.

I hope it is easier for you now to understand the difference between “wicked” and “righteous” – and that not all those in spirit prison are horrible people – some of those people may even be resurrected during the Second Coming with the other righteous during the First Resurrection. (see Gospel Principles p. 260)

A sister in our Relief Society made this very profound statement, “Each person will be taught the gospel in a way that they perfectly understand what they are accepting or rejecting.” When someone rejects the gospel, we have a tendency to judge them as “wicked” – but as this wise sister said, they will have the opportunity to understand perfectly what it is they are rejecting or accepting, and maybe they don’t understand it perfectly.

How do you understand wickedness and righteousness as it pertains to the Spirit World and to the Savior’s Second Coming? Can you look around you now in your life and see people who you think might actually live during the Millennium that before you maybe thought wouldn’t? Does having a better understanding of who the righteous are help you desire to get along and associate with people you may not have before because of their beliefs?

Monday, November 28, 2011


(find the talk here)

“In the most beloved story of a baby’s birth,
there was no decorated nursery or designer crib –
only a manger for the Savior of the world.”

I have been thinking a lot about Elder Neil L. Andersen’s talk since General Conference. When I was a teenager, I thought a lot about being a mother. It was really all I wanted to be. I dreamed of having a house full of kids. Mothering children has always been on my mind.

2011-09-22 20.02.15

The thing about having children (in God’s way, at least) is that it isn’t a one-person decision. I don’t get to just decide to have kids, or not to have kids – it is a decision I have to make with my husband, “with sincere prayer and acted on with great faith.”

There are many women in today’s world who want to have children and raise them as a single mother. They don’t see anything wrong with that. I see a lot wrong with that.

The Family: A Proclamation to the World states, “Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.” When single women decide to bear and raise children by themselves, they are teaching those children the complete opposite. Sure, it’s hard to be married, and it is hard to compromise and maybe not do things exactly the way you want to, or the way you think is right. But that is where children belong – with a mother and a father who are trying to work together, to be unified. They may not always be perfect, but children are entitled to being raised with a father and a mother who are trying to make things work.

Unity in marriage is another post entirely, but there needs to be unity in marriage for the decision of bearing children – obviously, since neither a man nor a woman can biologically have children without the other. Which means that the choice to have children rests with both the husband and the wife.

Just as the world has succumbed to Satan’s lie that it’s okay for single, unmarried women to raise children on their own (I’m not talking about women who get pregnant from a dumb decision, or a mistake – I’m talking about women who purposefully get pregnant while they are single because they don’t want to get married, yet they want to have children. I am also not talking about women who would get married in a heart beat, but want to raise children and so they adopt or foster as a single woman – those women are to be praised for their courage), Elder Andersen says, “Many voices in the world today marginalize the importance of having children or suggest delaying or limiting children in a family.” I have thought of this a lot – if there is no reason you shouldn’t have more children (you don’t have a job, your health won’t permit bearing children, you are physically unable to bear children, etc – and even in some of these cases, people will bear children), then why shouldn’t you bear children? The world will tell you ___ number of children is enough. I have a boy and a girl, and I can’t tell you how many times the world has told me, “Oh, you have a boy and a girl, that’s perfect, you can be ‘done’ having kids!” What a horrible lie. Sure, I enjoy my boy and my girl, but I have never once thought that I was going to be “done” after two children – regardless of their genders! What a crazy lie the world would have us believe.

I love when the prophets and apostles quote other good Christians at General Conference. Frequently quoted are C.S. Lewis, Charles Dickens (best of times, worst of times), and William Wordsworth, but Elder Andersen actually quoted a contemporary Christian blogger, Rachel Jankovic. I almost fell over backwards when I heard him quote her, and then after conference I had to go look her up. Of course, her quote is now being spread around the internet attributed to Elder Andersen (if you spread her quote, please give her credit). The entire blog post she wrote was very powerful. The part Elder Andersen quoted was this

Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for."

Part of me wonders what Rachel thinks of being quoted from the pulpit at LDS General Conference. I took the time to read her entire post that this quote was taken from, and it was excellent. I decided today to go buy her book, Loving the Little Years. That sentiment reminds me of a quote from President Monson in General Conference of October 2008 where he said, “If you are still in the process of raising children, be aware that the tiny fingerprints that show up on almost every newly cleaned surface, the toys scattered about the house, the piles and piles of laundry to be tackled will disappear all too soon and that you will—to your surprise—miss them profoundly.”

IMG_0862The other day I came in to my bedroom where I had laid our two and a half year old to sleep on our bed. She was asleep – next to my journal and my economy Book of Mormon. When I opened up my journal, I noticed she had scribbled on a few pages and on the inside covers. I expected to get upset (my journal is very precious to me) and then I thought about reading through that journal when my little J is grown up and independent and doesn’t need me to snuggle her and put her down for naps anymore. And I thought what a beautiful reminder that scribble in my journal will be of the innocence of her childhood, and the precious child that grew up under my care.

I enjoyed the story Elder Andersen told about Elder Mason’s talk with President Spencer W. Kimball. President Kimball asked Elder Mason “Where is your faith?” When I first heard that story, and that question, I thought differently about it than I do right now. At first I thought that I didn’t have enough faith and that is why we aren’t expecting a third child yet. But now I am realizing that the Lord wants me to have faith that all my righteous desires will be realized. I need to have faith that I will have all those children my heart desires to have. And I don’t need to be bitter because I won’t have what I want right now.

I was particularly pleased that Elder Andersen reminded us not once, but twice “we should not judge one another on this matter… we should not be judgmental with one another in this sacred and private responsibility.” I think that goes both ways – we should not judge people who do not have children yet, and we should not judge people who choose to have many children, even though it may seem that they have “too many” children. It is a very personal decision, and one made between a couple and the Lord.

How have you had to have faith when it comes to bearing children? Do you think there are things that you need to do before you have children? Are children highest on your list of priorities? Do you cherish each child the Lord places into your family?

Find more insight on this talk over at
Diapers and Divinity’s General Conference Book Club

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Covenant Keeper

I have been thinking a lot about covenants lately. It is good to do a little self-evaluation every now and then to see how well we are keeping our covenants. After October General Conference, I felt a great sense of urgency to evaluate how well I am keeping my covenants – and to be more diligent and faithful in keeping them.

Sister Barbara Thompson talked about keeping covenants at General Conference, and she talked about her mother’s example. She spoke about cleaning out her mother’s belongings after her mother passed away and that her mother’s belongings were evidence that her mother was a covenant keeper. Suddenly I was filled with a great desire to be a covenant keeper.

We make many many covenants. Most of the covenants we make with God are made in His sacred and holy temples.

President Boyd K. Packer reminds us that “we are a covenant people. We covenant to give of our resources in time and money and talent—all we are and all we possess—to the interest of the kingdom of God upon the earth. In simple terms, we covenant to do good. We are a covenant people,and the temple is the center of our covenants. It is the source of the covenant.”

Our Relief Society lesson last week was on the Millennium. We talked about Satan being bound and how the scriptures teach us that “And because of the righteousness of his people, Satan has no power”. After reading this scripture we talked a little bit about how we can bind Satan in our own lives by our righteousness. We can never completely escape from Satan’s influence in our lives today because not everyone will live righteously – but if we live righteously, that is, if we keep our covenants, and we surround ourselves with those who keep their covenants, then Satan will be effectually bound in our lives – at least for the most part.

There is so much protection in keeping covenants. Sister Thompson said, “’Lift up thy heart and rejoice, and cleave unto the covenants which thou hast made.’ Keeping covenants is true joy and happiness.This is comfort and peace. This is protection from the evils of the world. Keeping our covenants will help us in times of trial.”

What strength have you received as you “cleave unto covenants”? Think of the covenants you have made. Are you “cleaving” unto them?

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn

(find the talk here)

“Family history is not simply
an interesting program
or activity sponsored by the Church;
it is a vital part
of the work of salvation
and exaltation.”

Neva Harper & Joseph Theron Smithmy maternal grandparents

I don’t know about you, but when I read Elder David A Bednar’s talk I had to keep myself from heading straight to FamilySearch to work on my family history. I usually spend Sunday afternoons working on family history work  - whether keeping a record of my own family, or working to find records of my ancestors.

When I was in Junior High school I went to an International Studies Magnet school. Basically that was just a fancy name for saying that our school offered four different language classes (Spanish, French, German, and Latin) and that the classes were often focused on other cultures and nations. In addition, eighth graders were encouraged (maybe required… I can’t quite remember) to participate in a Culture Fair – like a science fair, but instead of doing a project that had to do with science, you did a project that had to do with culture. There were several different categories you could choose from, and somehow I ended up choosing family history. I created a nice display board with a family tree I drew and glued construction paper leaves to the branches, as well as pictures of my ancestors, along with their names, birth dates, marriage dates, and death dates. In my preparation for this project, I discovered that we didn’t have any record of my great great grandfather. Normally great great grandfathers aren’t too hard to find – most people my age grew up with their great grandparents – I am no exception, I was very familiar with my father’s maternal grandmother. I was also very familiar with my father’s paternal grandfather, even though he passed away in 1949. I knew stories about him, and I knew about where he came from. But his father still eluded us.

I think that experience was the spark that ignited the spirit of Elijah in me. I have spent a lot of time off and on working on that line, trying to find information. One of the biggest trials is the political and cultural upset that surrounded my great great grandfather’s life, so the work looking for names on that line has been slow – well, really I haven’t made much progress at all. I keep trying as much as I can. Sometimes it is hard to make the time to work on family history with little ones running around, but I try to regularly spend some time doing family history research.

Elder Bednar’s talk was kind of hard for me to read, unlike most of his talks that are so straight forward and simply spoken. But maybe that was just because I kept wanting to go over to the Family Search website and find names. I did appreciate his background on the spirit of Elijah and the prophecy from Malachi about the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood. I think that we don’t really think about that very much – we kind of take it for granted. And I think people not of our faith don’t even understand it at all, so his explanation was probably as much for newer members and those not of our faith as it was for the members.

I love the idea of the temple as the place where we forge “the chain that binds the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers,which fulfills the mission of Elijah.”

When I was twelve years old, ready to go to the temple for the first time to do baptisms for the dead, I sat down with my bishop for an interview (we were actually in the mothers’ lounge in our small building because his office was being used and all the other classrooms were in use with the other ward that met in our building). I was pretty confident that I would “pass” the interview – I was a pretty good young woman, I tried to read the scriptures, say my prayers, and keep the commandments, and I felt like I had a pretty good understanding of what I would be doing in the temple. But the first thing that wise bishop asked me was “What does it mean to gather Israel?” Okay. He had stumped me. I hadn’t been through seminary or institute yet – I had just barely graduated from Primary! I had no clue what he was talking about. Thankfully I had enough sense to say so. Of course, he didn’t mind – he wasn’t testing me, he simply wanted to teach me a profound and central principle about the work that we do in the temples. That wise bishop went on to teach me about the spirit of Elijah, the keys of the Priesthood, and the significance of sealing every member of God’s family to Him in the temple. I have never forgotten that chat with that wise bishop, and I know that his wisdom and his willingness to teach me has made a huge impact on how I view the temple, family history work, and missionary work.

Back then, of course, family history work was a little more intimidating for me. There were all these microfilms and microfiches (little fish?) and big machines and old computers and pedigree charts that took up the whole wall and binders and binders of family group sheets. It was overwhelming for my young self. However, I still remember a few trips to the Family History Library in downtown Salt Lake City when we would visit Utah. I also remember spending a lot of time playing with the machines in the family history library at the stake center while my mom toiled away finding names and preparing them for the temple. By the time I was old enough to attend the temple and do baptisms myself, I was definitely a little more interested, and my mom helped me learn how to use PAF and by the time I was in high school and the internet was useful for things like this, I learned how to search the internet for family names. When I went off to college, I started spending a lot more time working on family history research. Now with the new Family Search, family history work is so much more simple and even our youth can do it – as Elder Bednar is counseling them.

It is my hope that I can help my children recognize the importance of family history work, and really have that same testimony that my bishop helped me understand as a youth. I loved Elder Bednar’s testimony that

It is no coincidence that Family Search and other tools have come forth at a time when young people are so familiar with a wide range of information and communication technologies. Your fingers have been trained to text and tweet to accelerate and advance the work of the Lord—not just to communicate quickly with your friends.

I really have a testimony that the youth can and will do this – they will use the internet and their technologically savvy minds to further the work of the Lord, and it will be amazing.

The promises that Elder Bednar made to the youth were significant. He said,

Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary.As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives.

I want those promises for my children! I worry so much about the influence of the adversary and technology and I am constantly thinking “How am I going to keep my children safe?” Well, Elder Bednar gave me the answer right here – help them get interested and get involved in family history work. My children are four and two right now, but I am sure I can think up ways to get them interested in family history work. In fact, my brain is cooking up ideas right now just by mentioning it!

In conclusion, I love this admonition from Elder Bednar,

Young people increasingly need to be learners who act and thereby receive additional light and knowledge by the power of the Holy Ghost—and not merely passive students who primarily are acted upon.

This is one of my biggest goals as a mother – to teach my children to act and not to be merely acted upon. If I can teach them to act, and most importantly, to act righteously, I think I will be a successful mother.

How do you get your small children interested in family history work? How did you gain your testimony of family history work and temple work? What does the spirit of Elijah mean to you?

Find more insight on this talk over at
Diapers and Divinity’s General Conference Book Club

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Fragments Vol 6

 1I added Facebook and Twitter buttons to the blog in the sidebar. Check ‘em out! I think they are pretty nifty. I designed them myself! Right now I don’t do a whole lot of posting on either, but the RSS feeds of the blog do show up there, so if you don’t use a blog reader and you want to get some update when I post on this blog, go ahead and follow there. I’ll often share Ensign articles, good talks, books, music, and scriptures that I like on the Facebook page. I decided next Conference that I will be “tweeting” during Conference! That’s right – My Soul Delighteth is movin’ on up in the internet age! It’s going to be exciting. And maybe I’ll even have another giveaway soon (even though I still haven’t shipped your temple prints, folks! I will do it soon, I promise! Fall caught me off guard. We started a co-op preschool, and that threw me for a loop, I guess).

2Here is a shameless plug for my Math Savers website. I am working really hard at increasing content, but that’s easier to do when you know people have questions. So if your kids have questions on their homework that you can’t answer, send them to me over there and I’ll try to write a post just for you! Math is my other love. I love math, and I absolutely love teaching math. If I wasn’t so addicted to being a mom, I’d be a high school math teacher. In a heart beat.

3If you missed my post about BYU’s parenting program You Can Do This – go check it out. If you are interested in participating, let me know. I think it is going to be really great. I already set up a blog for participants. There will be several ways to participate – we will have an in-person meeting, and if you want to participate in that via the internet, we’ll have a Google+ hangout set up for that. If you want to participate strictly off-line, you can participate through the blog found here. I am really excited to go through these principles that the folks over at BYU’s school of education have put together. I think it will be a great learning tool for us, and I hope you find it to be useful in your family as well.

4How do you deal with someone assuming you always have a bad attitude? I have tried to see where I have a bad attitude, and while I know that sometimes I do have a bad attitude, usually when this person thinks I am having a bad attitude I’m honestly not. This person gets really upset, and then there is no talking to them because they are completely convinced that I was in the wrong, and all I was doing was trying to understand. They won’t rest until I admit that I had a bad attitude (even though I didn’t have a bad attitude, I was simply trying to understand them!) and they just keep getting more and more angry – but I don’t know what to say! Should I just agree with them? It doesn’t work, they know that I don’t believe it, and then they get even more upset. If I disagree, they also get upset…

I know it may look like I am trying to make myself look good in this picture, and I am sure there are things that I could have done better, but sometimes no matter how cordial, loving, respectful, or understanding I try to be, this person still thinks that I am being disrespectful, mocking, hateful, hurtful, etc. I understand where this person is coming from because of their upbringing (this person’s parents were/are very degrading to their children, and said person was belittled almost every day of their growing up years and to some extent still is when they visit family). I know that the misperceptions are caused because of this person’s past – and so I do not judge this person for getting angry every time I open my mouth to speak. In their mind, I am being disrespectful,  because that’s how said person’s parents were. But I am not this person’s parents nor will I ever be nor do I want to be like them. So my dilemma is that this person thinks that if I didn’t do something wrong, then they did something wrong, and then this person gets upset because they are always “wrong” and I am always “right.” Something a wise marriage counselor once told me is that it is less about who is right and more about what is right.

But most of the time, this person is so concerned with who is right that they can’t see that I don’t care who is right, I care about what is right (and unfortunately, because of this person’s messed up childhood/adolescence, they have a pretty messed up perception of what is right, because they had all the trust in the world that their parents were doing it right, when in reality their parents were doing it very very wrong.) But that doesn’t make this person wrong. And I don’t know how to get us over that hump.

So how do I get this person to understand that I don’t care about which of us is right? It seems like no matter what I do, this person won’t believe that I am not trying to be right – I just want what is right. 

5I just want to be a good person. That’s all.

Find more fabulous Friday 5’s over at
Heather’s Women in the Scriptures
Friday Five linkup.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

with all the feeling of a tender parent

(1 Nephi 8:37)

Parenting is a sensitive topic, and because of the individuality of each child, there are different ways parenting has to be applied in different situations. A friend of mine often said that she didn’t really like parenting books, because she didn’t think anyone could really tell her how to raise her kids, because they were her kids, and they were unique. While I agree (somewhat) with this attitude – children are unique and indeed have unique needs – I believe that there are some universal principles that govern good parenting, and they happen to be gospel principles.

My very favorite institute teacher (someone you’ll hear me talk about a lot on this blog), Uncle Wally, talks about following Heavenly Father’s example for parenting in an article in the book, My Soul Delighteth in the Scriptures. He expounds on more gospel-related parenting skills in his book The Soft-Spoken Parent. The parenting skills and principles I have learned by listening to Brother Goddard’s advice and knowledge (and experiences) have really enriched my life as a parent.

Last night my husband and I watched the overview of a parenting program developed by Brigham Young University’s school of education. It is a program they have developed after years and years of research and study of families, children, and parenting. It’s called You Can Do This: an Approach to Raising Wonderful Children. I love that they don’t call it the approach to raising wonderful children. Obviously that leaves room for other approaches. However – I believe that this program is founded on gospel principles.

After watching the overview video, my husband and I decided that it would be a good idea for us to go through the program together. Then we had an idea. What if we could get some of our friends to participate with us, in a type of book-club? Then I had an idea – what if I could get some online friends to participate with us in a type of online book club?

I think that maybe we will wait to start until the beginning of the year, due to the holidays and the busy schedules that people will have, but I hope that this can be an enlightening experience for all of those who choose to participate, and that we can learn a lot from this program and from the parents who will participate with us.

Each week the assignment will be to read one of the “lessons” in the program, and then during the week try to implement those strategies in our families. When we get back together at the end of the week, we will discuss what went well for us, where we have room for improvement, how the principle worked in our family, and then move on to the next principle.

There are more than 50 lessons, but we will try to pare it down and maybe combine a few lessons to shorten the course. Or maybe we will do it in 3 month intervals, and repeat? If you have any ideas how to go through this program in a group setting, let me know. As I said, this will be a kind of “book club” feel – not us teaching you (we have so much to learn ourselves!)

If you would like to participate (either online or in person – in person would be in the Salt Lake Valley, since that is where we live) let me know. We will probably do the online participants in a Google+ hangout video conference.

You Can Do This - English from McKay School of Education on Vimeo.

I will post more information on the blog as we get this thing organized. In the meantime, I invite you to go check out the website, You Can Do This and watch the overview video, or I have embedded the video here on the blog. We will probably ask each couple to watch the overview video prior to the first meeting. It is about 26 minutes long, but well worth it. My husband and I really enjoyed watching it, and we are looking forward to working through this program with a group.

What parenting programs have you participated in that have been meaningful to you and have created a difference in your parenting skills? Would you be interested in participating in this program with us – whether in person or online?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Song of the Righteous

Note: This is an edited version of a talk I was asked to give in Sacrament meeting in 2008 when I was the ward choir director in a ward in Springville, UT. I tried to shorten in a bit, but it’s still pretty long (it was a 10-15 minute talk…) I have been enjoying the Mormon Channel’s new Music Stream, and it made me think of this talk and all the wonderful principles I learned while studying for it.

I have a great testimony of the power of music. I have played and sung many pieces of musical importance, and performed in various venues throughout my life. I have several favorite pieces among the great composers of Debussy, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Bach, and others. But by far my favorite music to experience, whether by listening or performing, are the hymns.

There have been times when I have been able to share my testimony through the hymns, and those are the times when my testimony feels the strongest – unbreakable, unshakeable, and immoveable. In a way, I feel that the hymns, especially those in the Children’s Songbook, have provided the foundation for my gospel knowledge.

But the hymns didn’t provide that foundation on their own. I credit that foundation to the exposure my parents gave me to the hymns from an early age.

Ever since I can remember, there has been music in our home. The earliest of those memories has to do with the hymns. When my mother was a member of the Stake Relief Society Presidency, our family would travel to the different wards in our stake, often an hour or more away from our home. It would have been a lot easier for my mother to simply take the trip herself, but she would make us go with her, and our family would sing in the ward’s sacrament meeting. Often, the song was “Love is Spoken Here.”

My father has worked in family therapy for years, and once as a young child, our family went with him to a family retreat sponsored by his agency. One evening, while all the families were gathered after dinner, our family sang “Love at Home.” Our parents loved sharing truth through music, and so experiences like these were common for us.

President Boyd K. Packer said, “Parents ought to foster good music in the home and cultivate a desire to have their children learn the hymns of inspiration.” It is hard to cultivate that desire to learn the hymns if we ourselves, as their parents, do not cultivate the desire in us to learn the hymns.

Several years ago, Elder Oaks shared the following experience,

“I had finished a special assignment on a Sunday morning in Salt Lake City and desired to attend a sacrament meeting. I stopped at a convenient ward meetinghouse and slipped unnoticed into the overflow area just as the congregation was beginning to sing these sacred words of the sacrament song:

’Tis sweet to sing the matchless love
Of Him who left his home above
And came to earth—oh, wondrous plan—
To suffer, bleed, and die for man!
(Hymns, 1985, no. 177)

My heart swelled as we sang this worshipful hymn and contemplated renewing our covenants by partaking of the sacrament. Our voices raised the concluding strains:

For Jesus died on Calvary,
That all thru him might ransomed be.
Then sing hosannas to his name;
Let heav’n and earth his love proclaim.

As we sang these words, I glanced around at members of the congregation and was stunned to observe that about a third of them were not singing. How could this be? Were those who did not even mouth the words suggesting that for them it was not “sweet to sing the matchless love” or to “sing hosannas to his name”? What are we saying, what are we thinking, when we fail to join in singing in our worship services?

I believe some of us in North America are getting neglectful in our worship, including the singing of hymns. I have observed that the Saints elsewhere are more diligent in doing this. We in the center stakes of Zion should renew our fervent participation in the singing of our hymns.” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Worship through Music,” Ensign, Nov 1994)

I witnessed this myself when our family was attending a Portuguese ward here in Utah. The Brazilians in our Portuguese ward sang the hymns with such vigor and testimony I was almost moved to tears each Sunday during Sacrament meeting. Contrast that with our English speaking ward we recently started attending. The hymns during sacrament meeting are barely whispered, and there are many who do not sing or even mouth the words. We must sing the hymns. There is no other way to gain a testimony of their significance and importance.

You can download almost all the hymns of the Church, including the hymns from the Children’s Songbook, from the Church website. There are a few hymns that are not available for download due to copyright restrictions, but for the most part, you can download (for free) and listen to and learn any hymn that might be sung in Sacrament meeting.

The First Presidency Preface to the Hymnbook says, “Teach your children to love the hymns. Sing them on the Sabbath, in home evening, during scripture study, at prayer time. Sing as you work, as you play, and as you travel together. Sing hymns as lullabies to build faith and testimony in your young ones.” These are simple suggestions that make an eternal impact of the testimonies of your children. There is nothing more special than rocking my children to sleep singing “I am a Child of God.”

My husband often comments that I have a song for everything (almost any phrase or topic can get me singing something). This is especially true for gospel topics. The songs found in the Children’s Songbook teach very deep and significant doctrinal truths in a simple, joyous manner. If our children learn the songs of the Children’s Songbook, their gospel understanding will be much more advanced by the time they graduate from primary. There are songs in Primary that teach about the Plan of Salvation, as so eloquently and simply stated in the song “I Lived in Heaven.” Children learn of baptism through dozens of simple songs. They learn of the life of the Savior, the Savior’s love for them and for all His children. They learn about the importance of helping at home, of service, of love, of scripture study, and prayer by the words of a song. There is no basic gospel principle left out of the Children’s Songbook. Do you understand what a significant blessing that music is to your children?

Elder Packer encouraged all families to make sure that music lessons are a part of their children’s upbringing, and especially that parents provide the opportunity for children to learn to play the hymns of the Church. He said,

The time for music lessons seems to come along when there are so many other expenses for the family with little children. But we encourage parents to include musical training in the lives of their children.

Somehow Andrew and Olive Kimball did, and Spencer learned to play. Somehow Samuel and Louisa Lee managed to do it, and Harold learned to play. And now, as the leaders of the Church assemble for our sacred meetings in the upper room of the temple, we always sing a hymn. At the organ is President Spencer W. Kimball or President Harold B. Lee.

How wonderful is the music instructor who will teach children and youth to play and will acquaint them with good music in their formative years, including the music of worship. To have such music as a part of one’s life is a great blessing.” (Boyd K. Packer, “Inspiring Music—Worthy Thoughts,” Ensign, Jan 1974)

My mother is a piano teacher, and she makes sure that her LDS students learn how to play the hymns. That didn’t start with her students, however. My brothers and sister and I have always been required to learn to play the hymns. It started with learning from the Hymns Made Easy book, and as our ability to play the hymns increased, if it increased, we moved on to the regular hymnbook. Some of my siblings still play from the Hymns Made Easy. Nevertheless, for each of us, it has been a great blessing in our lives, as we have been able to provide the service of accompanying any kind of meeting. It has helped us learn the importance of music, of service, and of the gospel.

You do not need to force your child to become a great performance musician. It can be as simple as teaching them to play a few simple hymns, or having someone you know teach them how to read music and play from the Hymns Made Easy book. That simple ability to play the hymns will bless them throughout their lives. Maybe you will even be inspired to learn to play the hymns as well.

I encourage each of you to ponder the words of the prophets on this subject. Think about President Packer’s admonition to give our children music lessons. I hope you take to heart Elder Oak’s counsel to sing the hymns in our worship services, to be an active participant in the music of the gospel. Cultivate the desire to understand and gain a testimony of the significance of music in the gospel. Please come to Sister Taylor or myself for help with increasing your musical abilities.

I pray that we will use the gift of music to bring the Spirit of God into our homes, into our meetings, and into our lives, and let that Spirit testify to us of the truthfulness of the gospel and the reality of our Savior.

How have you made good music a part of your life? Do you worship through song with the hymns and songs from the Children’s Songbook? Do your children learn how to play the hymns? Sing the hymns? How do you study the gospel through music?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Forget Not – You Matter to Him

(find the talk here – Forget Me Not)
(find the talk here – You Matter to Him)

In President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk, You Matter to Him, he spoke of a great paradox of man: “compared to God, we are nothing; yet we are everything to God.” To me these have always been some of the most beautiful principles of His gospel – that He knows and loves even me – one little person in a sea of faces and people and lives. And He doesn’t just know who I am, He loves me and cares for me deeply. Deeply enough that He gave His only begotten Son for me!

(image credit: wonderferret)
When I went to EFY (Especially for Youth) as a teenager just finishing high school, during one class with our session director (who just happened to be Matthew Richardson – now a member of the General Sunday School Presidency who gave a talk in October General Conference), he put a rubber glove over his head, covering everything except his mouth and blew it up. He said, “This is one kind of pride – the puffed up kind.” President Uchtdorf talked about this as one of the ways that Satan “appeal[s] to the extremes of the paradox of man.”

Then, Bro Richardson deflated the rubber glove and said, “This is the other kind of pride – the ‘I’m not worth anything’ kind of pride.” President Uchtdorf described this by saying, “[The adversary] attempts to focus our sight on our own insignificance until we begin to doubt that we have much worth. He tells us that we are too small for anyone to take notice, that we are forgotten—especially by God.”

Bro Richardson concluded by saying that neither having the rubber glove puffed up, nor having it deflated was going to be good for us. The solution was to completely remove the rubber glove from our head.

“How much larger your life would be
if your self were smaller in it.”
                                 ~G. K. Chesterton

I think that quote by G. K. Chesterton sums it up quite perfectly. President Uchtdorf said, “What matter[s]to [Heavenly Father is] that [we are] doing the best [we can], that [our] heart [is] inclined toward Him, and that [we are] willing to help those around [us].”

In President Uchtdorf’s talk from the General Relief Society Broadcast gave us a few things that if we will remember, will help us avoid having a rubber glove on our head.

When I heard the things that President Uchtdorf spoke about in his Relief Society talk, I couldn’t help but think what a timely message it was. I have been noticing a general despair among women in the Church these days (and I have by no means been exempt) and it touched me deeply that a prophet of God would know exactly what we needed to hear, and say it so perfectly.

You can read the whole talk on your own, and I highly recommend you do, so I won’t worry about quoting everything – but I will share the parts that meant the most to me.

I loved that he started by saying, “God is fully aware that you and I are not perfect.” Which I took to mean that we can stop beating ourselves up for not being perfect – because God already knows it. And then President Uchtdorf followed up with, “God is also fully aware that the people you think are perfect are not.” How often have I looked at a family and thought they were “perfect”! The irony of comparing ourselves to others is that we almost always end up playing to one or the other of the extremes President Uchtdorf spoke about in his talk about the paradox of man – we are either comparing our weaknesses to the strengths of others (thus downplaying our own worth), or we are comparing our strengths to the weaknesses of others (thus convincing ourselves that we are somehow worth more). This reminds me again of that quote from the article on refinement I posted a while ago. Talking about ourselves and talking about others are both ways to be prideful. But talking about ideas, doctrine, books, etc are the things that will inspire us to be more like the Savior.

I feel this way a lot, “Dear sisters, many of you are endlessly compassionate and patient with the weaknesses of others. Please remember also to be compassionate and patient with yourself.”

I wrote about good and foolish sacrifices a few weeks ago when I got back from a Ragnar Relay. If you haven’t read that post, I would ask that you do. It was a really significant learning experience for me. But as a disclaimer, I want to add this bit from President Uchtdorf’s talk: “Every person and situation is different, and a good sacrifice in one instance might be a foolish sacrifice in another.” Although I can’t for the life of me figure out when running a race like that would be a good sacrifice, maybe someone can help me see.

I am usually pretty good at being happy now – I am rarely waiting for my “golden ticket” – in fact, I wouldn’t even know what my “golden ticket” is! I enjoy my life in the moment so much that I have to continuously remind myself not to “temper [my] goals.” I am usually striving for the righteous desires of my heart, but I think that in my complacency and happiness with my life how it is, I sometimes slow down when I could be stepping up the pace a little. I am working hard to find that balance between enjoying what I have now, and working toward something better. My husband is usually the one waiting for his golden ticket, but I am the one who is sometimes too content with one bar of chocolate that I don’t even worry about buying more chocolate in an attempt to get a golden ticket.

“My dear sisters, the gospel of Jesus Christ is not an obligation.” When President Uchtdorf mentioned this principle, I immediately thought of people who say things like “I can’t do that, I’m Mormon.” or “I have to serve a mission, because I’m a Mormon guy.” I am working on writing down a statement that describes “why [I] committed to making [the gospel] a foundational part of [my life]” I think that if I can come up with a good “why” statement, the gospel will “[cease] to become a burden and, instead, [become] a joy and a delight.” I would love to say that it is a joy and a delight, and that it is precious and sweet – but I know that it can become more precious to me, if I will really focus on the why.

In the Mormon Messages above, go straight to 1:24 and listen to what he says about serving a mission. That is what President Uchtdorf is talking about.

“No matter how dark your days may seem, no matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you. In fact, He loves you with an infinite love.”

I wish everyone could really understand that quote – God loves you with an infinite love. He knows you! He made you! Of course He would love you. But it’s harder to really internalize than it sounds. I have had a strong testimony that the Lord loves me from the time I was very young. It has been a great blessing in my life, and it is something that my heart yearns to share with every person on this earth.

Do you know that the Lord loves you? Do you sometimes fall into one of the traps of the adversary in drawing us to the extremes of the paradox of man? How are you able to find a peaceful place where you understand both doctrines? In what ways do you try to be patient with yourself? How do you recognize foolish and good sacrifices? Are you happy with your life now? Why have you made the gospel such a fundamental part of your life? Do you know that Heavenly Father loves you?

Find more insight on this talk over at
Diapers and Divinity’s General Conference Book Club

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Fragments Vol 5


1On Fast Sunday I was fasting for a particular thing (some answers to some very important questions). As I prayed at one point during our meetings, I had a very distinct stupor of thought during which I basically forgot about what I had been fasting for. After that stupor, I received some of the most beautiful revelation about a subject that was significantly more important at this moment in my life – revelation I wouldn’t have received if I had been occupied with getting answers I thought I needed.

Turns out Heavenly Father knows my needs better than I know them. Good thing.

2My husband and I were talking last night about a woman he works with who’s husband, when her family was much younger, was always serving in bishoprics and stake presidencies. All but one of their seven children are no longer active in the Church, and in fact, want nothing to do with the Church because they see it as this horrible organization that took away their father and mother (their mother, for some reason, also had many leadership callings while their father was a bishop and their children were young). This broken-hearted woman told my husband that she thought the sacrifices they made for the Church were going to “save” her children in a sense.

Unfortunately, she didn’t understand that the Church’s role is to support the family, not the other way around. I suppose it is easy for people serving in time-intensive, leadership callings in the Church to say “Oh, I am sacrificing for the Lord’s kingdom – He will take care of my family” and proceed to virtually ignore his/her familial duties because they are so busy with their job and with their Church calling.

One important thing we discussed is that our children have agency, and even two of Lehi’s sons rebelled and chose to leave the Church – and their father was a prophet.

I commented to my husband about how President Monson was called to the apostleship at age 32, and his oldest child was nine, I believe. To the best of my knowledge (correct me if I’m wrong) all of his children are still active in the Church. I imagine that this has less to do with the Lord “taking care of it” and more to do with the fact that I am sure President Monson did his best to lead his family, even as he helped lead the Church. I am sure the Lord blessed his efforts – but that’s just it, I’m sure he made an effort to still be there for his young family.

It just something to think about, especially if you have young children and you are in leadership callings – as you sacrifice for the kingdom of God in leadership callings, don’t leave your family to chance. The Lord will bless your efforts, but you have to make an effort.

3Ha, I guess the last one was a little more than a ‘fragment’ – I’ll make up for it here. After talking about making sure you are taking care of your family duties, I’ll tell you my husband spends a lot of time away from home (between military assignments and Church assignments, there were a few weeks this summer when we maybe saw him for a few days every few weeks). He’ll be gone this weekend, too. Anyone up for a girl’s night out tonight?

My Dad is Canadian, and although the use of poppies for Veteran’s Day (or Remembrance Day in Canada) is seen in the United States as well, I don’t think it is nearly as prolific here as in other countries. Sometimes I think that is because in the United States we don’t know exactly how to honor veterans. I have associated the red poppy with Veteran’s day my entire life.

May we remember those who have given everything for freedom.

Yesterday, the US Army’s Facebook Page wrote,

A Veteran - whether active duty, retired, National Guard or Reserve - is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America" for an amount "up to, and including my life."


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Becoming a False Prophet

I was reading a post over on How to Be Superwoman about Personal Revelation, and I skimmed over an article she linked to that one of her readers had sent to her. The article was basically arguing that there is no such thing as personal revelation (or “personal words from God” – his words) because we can’t always be 100% accurate 100% of the time, and a prophet has to be 100% accurate 100% of the time.

I think the author of the article made a really good point. I don’t mean to say I agree that there is no personal revelation – of course I believe there is – however, I still think he brought up some valid concerns about personal revelation.

People who believe in personal revelation (especially us Mormons, since we rely so heavily on it) can be very susceptible to become false prophets to ourselves.

How do we avoid become false prophets to ourselves? Here is the (edited) comment I wrote on Amy’s blog. It is mostly my testimony of personal revelation, and maybe some of the scriptures or points I brought up will help us understand and discern between true personal revelation from God, and what we think is from God, but is not.

The Bible tells us to ask God "Ask, and ye shall receive... knock and it shall be opened unto you." (Luke 11:9, Matt 7:7) "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him." (James 1:5) I can tell you right now, I lack wisdom on just about every topic in my life. Especially as a mother. I have no clue what I'm doing - so I ask God, and He helps me. I am so grateful for that knowledge that God will answer my prayers.

I have asked, and I have received answers to many questions - including whether or not the Bible is true, whether or not the Book of Mormon is true, and most importantly, if Christ is my Savior. He is.

Paul said, "for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." So if we have a testimony of Jesus, we have the spirit of prophecy (when we are testifying of Christ).

I would also add that I do not believe I (or anyone) will ever receive revelation from God that will be contrary to His word in scripture and from His prophets. (i.e., the person receiving "revelation" that he should not marry - that isn't from God, IMO). The scriptures make a really good measuring stick for what is revelation from God, and what is not. The Book of Mormon says, "all things which are good cometh of God...(see James 1:17 & 1 John 4:1-6) that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve Him, is inspired of God... for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God." Moroni 7:12-13,16

"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit... Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." (Matt 7:15-20)

I think that the author of the article makes a good point that people can become false prophets to themselves, and quite possibly to others. I see it all the time both in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and out of the Church. You have to be very cautious with personal revelation. It is very easy to become a false prophet if you aren't careful. But I think the author throws the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. If we don't have any revelation, how are we to know anything? How do you know the Bible is true? How do you know Christ is your Savior? If you know these things, how did you come to a knowledge of them? Or are you simply just hoping they are true?

Or did you get that knowledge from God? (knowledge from God = revelation)

I know the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. I know that the fullness of that gospel is found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know that God loves me and that He speaks to me.

Maybe God doesn't speak to me in a burning bush, but He does speak to me through a burning in my heart. And I am grateful for it.

How do you recognize when personal revelation is from God? How do you avoid becoming a false prophet to yourself? Have you ever had what you thought was a prompting from God, only to realize, upon further inspection, that it was indeed not from God?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

We Do Not Doubt Our Mothers Knew It

DSCN5460At the Denver Temple in Littleton, CO

On Fast Sundays in Sacrament Meeting (our main worship service) congregation members are invited to get up and share their testimonies. Our four year old, V, always wants to get up. Because four year olds can be… loquacious… and sometimes say things that don’t make sense, I always grill him before he goes up (out of principle, I don’t “help” our kids with their testimonies when they are at the pulpit saying it – if I were to help them, it would be my testimony, and not theirs – if they are going to bear their testimony in front of people, they need to learn to have their own testimony. I’ll help them at home, or even in the pew, but once they get up there, it’s all on their own).

I’m glad I grilled V on Sunday because at first he was talking about Santa Claus hurting Jesus or something crazy like that (four year old imaginations are… active). Usually I tell him that he gets to go up and tell everyone the things he knows are true (and then I give him some ideas, like “I know Jesus is my Savior”  “I know Heavenly Father loves me.” “I know the scriptures are true.”)

On Sunday, his testimony (which he ran by me in the pew, and then bore powerfully – as powerfully as a four year old can – which believe me, it’s pretty powerful – at the pulpit) was this:

“Jesus died on the cross for us.
If we obey Him we can live with Him again forever.”


Last night before bed I was reading in a little book I found (probably at DI? I have no clue where this book came from. Maybe my husband’s stash of books we got last fall from his folks’ house after we finally bought our own place? Who knows) called What Latter-day Stripling Warriors Learn from their Mothers. I reached for that particular book last night because I came to Alma 53 in the Book of Mormon in my personal scripture reading before bed.

For those of you unfamiliar with Alma chapter 53, it is in this chapter where the Nephites (who have been doing a great job defending themselves against the Lamanites, and even took a bunch of Lamanites prisoner – thanks to Captain Moroni and Lehi) start getting beat down a little by the Lamanites again (“thus because of iniquity amongst themselves, yea, because of dissensions and intrigue among themselves”) and the people of Ammon (who had “taken an oath that they never would shed blood more”) were “moved with compassion and were desirous to take up arms in defence of their country.”

Well, turns out breaking covenants is frowned upon, and Helaman (another mighty Nephite military leaders) helped persuade them not to break their covenants.

But it turns out those men who had made covenants had sons who hadn’t made a covenant not to fight. So they rose up, took up arms, and “entered into a covenants to fight for the liberty of the Nephites, yea to protect the land unto the laying down of their lives; yea, even they covenanted that they would never give up their liberty, but they would fight in all cases to protect the Nephites and themselves from bondage.” I think it is interesting that we always talk about the Stripling warriors and how much their mothers taught them – but what about what their fathers taught them? Their fathers taught them about making and keeping covenants. Although the purpose of the covenant for the sons was different than the covenant of their fathers, those boys knew how to make and keep covenants because they watched their fathers make a keep covenants.

I love the story of the Stripling Warriors, and I had never really thought much about what they learned from their fathers either, but I thought it was really profound that they were willing to enter into such a covenant to protect the Nephites.

Back to the book I was reading. As I was reading I thought a lot about what the stripling warriors said to Helaman “We do not doubt our mothers knew it.” and I got to thinking, “Do my kids know that I know?” and “What did their mothers know? What do I need to know and make sure my kids don’t doubt that I know it?” I thought about the characteristics of these young boys as described in Alma 53:20-21 “they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all – they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted. Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him.” Children model what they see, so if I want my children to be like the stripling warriors, I must be like them – courageous, strong, be active, be true, be sober. And I must teach them to keep the commandments of God (by keeping those commandments myself).

In Alma 56:47, Helaman describes what they learned from their mothers, “yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.” So their mothers taught them faith in God. And they “did not doubt [their] mothers knew it.”

I want my children to be able to say that about me – I want them to know that if they have faith, God will deliver them from whatever trial or tribulation they may face. And I want them to know that I have a testimony. How do I do that? I guess I share my testimony with them every day, and I live according to my testimony.

How can I show my children that I know the gospel is true? How can I show them that I have faith? What things do I need to know so that my children will be able to say “We do not doubt our mother knew it”?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Counsel to Youth

(find the talk here)

Last night my husband and I watched the CES Devotional that President Boyd K. Packer gave. At the beginning of his talk, almost as an aside, President Packer mentioned how when he was first called as an apostle, when they would walk back to the Church office building from their weekly temple meeting, President Packer would hang back and walk with Elder LeGrand Richards. The other members of the Twelve would say to President Packer, “It’s so nice of you to stay back and help Brother Richards.” President Packer said they didn’t know why he did it. He then talked about how Elder Richards could still remember President Wilford Woodruff (the fourth president of the Church) – he had last heard President Woodruff speak when he was twelve years old. President Packer walked with Elder Richards so that he could learn from him. When my husband and I were looking for houses, I told him that I would rather live in an older neighborhood with established families, rather than the young military community near us. I told him the reason was that I would rather live around families who had already successfully raised children (and grandchildren in some cases) rather than families in the same situation as us – young, freshly married, small children – because I didn’t want to be around people making the same parenting mistakes I was going to be making. I wanted to be around people who could show me how to be a better parent.

I think in general as a society we don’t value the wisdom and experience of those who are older than us. We think that we can just learn it all, from books, TV, the internet, college. Last night my husband and I were talking about how it must have been when we were in Heaven talking with Heavenly Father about how this life was going to be. I’m sure He showed us what was going to happen, and we saw spirits with bodies and thought, “That is awesome! I want to do that!” but of course, we had never actually done that, so we didn’t know exactly what it was going to be like (which is part of why we are here). We can’t fully understand something we have never experienced. You can’t really know what it is like to loose a child unless you have lost one. You can’t really know what it is like to commune with God unless you have communed with Him. You can’t really know how to raise children until you have actually raised children.

President Packer read this poem as part of his talk at General Conference:

The old crow is getting slow.
The young crow is not.
Of what the young crow does not know
The old crow knows a lot.

At knowing things the old crow
Is still the young crow’s master.
What does the slow old crow not know?
—How to go faster.

The young crow flies above, below,
And rings around the slow old crow.
What does the fast young crow not know?
—Where to go.

That’s why it is so important to surround yourself with people who have experienced more than you have. Because they can help you learn the way to fly – even though you may be able to fly faster than them, it doesn’t do you any good if you don’t know where to fly.

(Image credit: expertinfantry)

One thing that specifically stood out to me from President Packer’s talk was when he said, “you young people are being raised in enemy territory.” I heard this as, “You parents are raising your children in enemy territory.” That sounds pretty frightening, to say the least. But I know that if I listen to the prophets, and to Heavenly Father, I will be able to successfully raise my children in this world.

I really appreciated President Packer sharing with the youth (and all of us) how he gained his testimony, and how at first he relied on the testimony of his seminary teachers. I also thought it was interesting that President Packer had not received a Patriarchal Blessing before he had enlisted in the Air Force (he had to have been at least 18 years old at that point). That made me wonder a little what his upbringing was like – it was probably just normal like any other child, rather than particularly extraordinary. But thought correct use of his agency, look where he is now! Look at how valuable he has been to furthering God’s work. I am grateful that he was willing to share such personal tidbits about his youth with our youth. I will have to remember to share this talk with my children when they are a little older.

President Packer also talked a bit about agency and the importance of and proper use of our bodies. I have been studying Elder David A Bednar’s CES Devotional talk titled Things as they Really Are in which he talks about our bodies. It has really been an enlightening experience for me, and I feel like I am coming to understand the importance of our physical bodies a little better.

What stood out to you from President Packer’s talk? How do you learn from those who are older and more experienced than you? Do you look for opportunities to learn from them as President Packer did?

Find more insight on this talk over at
Diapers and Divinity’s General Conference Book Club

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Fragments – Vol 4


If you were here reading Friday Fragments two weeks ago, you know that I ran a Ragnar Relay. If you want to know how that turned out, I wrote about it when I got home. I feel like Heavenly Father wanted to teach me some things,

and He did.


On the wall next to my bathroom mirror, I hang quotes. It is like my little corner of reminders for how I need to live my life. I recently put this quote about refined speech up there, and I am going to add these five things from an old talk by President James E Faust that Stephanie shared today. Do you have a place in your home where you hang quotes? Reminders? (I have a few above my kitchen sink, too – one is simply a picture of a mountain that says “Faith to move mountains” and the other is a quote about motherhood and needing to spend more time with my children).


If you read our family blog (if you don’t and you want to, just email me at mysouldelighteth (at) gmail and I’ll send you an invite) you know that a while ago, things were rough for our family. Details will remain private, but back in May, I wrote this post on our family blog:

“hope ya know, we had a hard time:

“…many of the trials and hardships we encounter in life are severe and appear to have lasting consequences. Each of us will experience some of these during the vicissitudes of life.” (Elder Quentin L. Cook)

We’re experiencing a little bit of this right now and could use some extra prayers.”

Well, it has been nearly six months since things got really bad, and things are really better now! My friend who has been living with us commented to me that I don’t seem as anxious (me + the kind of stress we had = anxiety … bad, bad, bad anxiety). I feel less anxious, and I feel a lot more like myself! I have been getting things done, I have been playing with the kids, I have been nicer to the kids (I am ashamed to say that I have been a really rotten mom for the past year or so… like I said, I get anxious when I am dealing with the kind of stress that was going on). I am just really grateful to Heavenly Father for 1.) helping me endure the hard times, and 2.) softening hearts so that there could be a change and things could get better. I know we still have a little ways to go, but I feel as if we have burst free from the trial that had been holding us back.


I wish I could write more about our family here on this blog, but for now, we have to keep a relatively low public profile. I should probably have a pseudonym, but I really don’t like being anonymous – I like being real. I will continue to use my children’s initials to talk about them, and I don’t mind mentioning the general area where we live, but I’ll try to steer away from talking about the city we live in, etc. If you do want to get to know our family on a more personal level, you are welcome to send me an email at mysouldelighteth (at) gmail and I will send you an invitation to view our family blog. You can also learn more about my kids over at Child’s Play (my “preschool” blog – I don’t post there very often, but you can at least get to meet my kids a little). I like to keep things relatively separated – I also have a gardening blog, which I haven’t posted on for a while, but I’ve got new plans for that one. The blog that will hopefully evolve into a money making blog is Math Savers (I got my degree in Math with a minor in Physics and I dream of someday teaching high school, but until then I content myself with tutoring occasionally, and writing posts for Math Savers). Now that I am struggling less with that anxiety, I will probably start writing more on all of these blogs (especially the math one).


I just watched this Mormon Messages video today with V (my 4 year old). He loved it, and so did I. I think it was really well done, and I love the little animation, the videography. Basically the whole thing was excellent. And the man’s testimony (I can’t remember his name) was powerful.

Read some more Five For Friday posts over here.

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