Thursday, December 29, 2011

Redemption and Repentance

(find the talks here – Redemption – and here – The Divine Gift of Repentance)
“The choice to repent is a choice
to burn bridges in every direction
[having determined] to follow forever only one way,
the one path that leads to eternal life.”
-Professor Noel Reynolds

I have a strong testimony of the principle of repentance and the gift of the atonement. I am not sure when I gained that testimony – I am sure it came gradually over the years as I grew up. I am also sure that the strength of that testimony is helped by the strength of my testimony that God loves all of His children. When you know that God loves His children, it is easy to understand that He would give them a way to get back to live with Him. A loving God would not shun us at the first hint of sin.

As strong as my testimony of repentance has been, I think that my understanding as been somewhat superficial. This quote from Elder D. Todd Christofferson struck me, “Attempts to create a list of specific steps of repentance may be helpful to some, but it may also lead to a mechanical,check-off-the-boxes approach with no real feeling or change.” I want to be sure that I am not approaching repentance with “no real feeling or change.” I want to change. That is the glory of repentance.

I can remember when the first spark of real understanding of the atonement happened for me. When I was a young woman, a young man in our ward bore his testimony one Fast Sunday about the atonement. He talked about how it is the atonement that allows us to do better each day. He didn’t talk about repenting from grievous sins, he was talking about the “little” things – learning and growing each day. That has always been the foundation of my testimony of the atonement – it is the power by which we progress each day. When I get impatient with my children, it is the atonement that allows me to try again the next day (or the next minute!) and erases all the mistakes I make as I learn how to be a mother.

That’s a pretty comforting knowledge – that my mistakes are not lasting. If I partake of the atonement each day – even in each minute of each day – my mistakes can be washed away!

Having this “daily repentance” understanding of the atonement has probably been the foundation of my understanding of repentance.

The underlying principle in repentance is change. Elder Christofferson said, “Perhaps as much as praying for mercy, we should pray for time and opportunity to work and strive and overcome.” How often do we pray for forgiveness without praying for the strength and opportunity to change and do things differently?
The ability we have to repent comes from the plan of redemption. Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr said, “‘To redeem’ is to buy or to buy back…if we repent, we can be forgiven of our sins, the price having been paid by our Redeemer.” This redemption is provided, whether or not we partake of it. As President Packer said, “There is a Redeemer, a Mediator, who stands both willing and able to appease the demands of justice and extend mercy to those who are penitent.”

Ironically, the most beautiful part of the atonement to me is that there is nothing we can do to repay the Savior. Elder Curtis said, “[T]he plan of redemption calls for our best efforts to fully repent and do the will of God.”

His statement reminded me of a BYU Devotional by Brad Wilcox, in which Brother Wilcox compared the atonement to a parent paying for piano lessons for their child.

Christ’s arrangement with us is similar to a mom providing music lessons for her child. Mom pays the piano teacher. How many know what I am talking about? Because Mom pays the debt in full, she can turn to her child and ask for something. What is it? Practice! Does the child’s practice pay the piano teacher? No. Does the child’s practice repay Mom for paying the piano teacher? No. Practicing is how the child shows appreciation for Mom’s incredible gift. It is how he takes advantage of the amazing opportunity Mom is giving him to live his life at a higher level. Mom’s joy is found not in getting repaid but in seeing her gift used—seeing her child improve. And so she continues to call for practice, practice, practice.
Elder Curtis quoted the hymn Savior, Redeemer of My Soul and I loved the line “Never can I repay thee, Lord, But I can love thee.

How true! I hope that I can do my best to love the Lord and to repent daily of my weaknesses, making them strengths through His infinite atonement.

How do you partake of the atonement? What are your feelings about the plan of redemption? Are you sometimes discouraged when you have to repent over and over again? Do you recognize the growth that you have made in your repentance journey? What is the meaning of the atonement and repentance for you personally?

Find more insight on this talk over at

Diapers and Divinity’s General Conference Book Club

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Enduring Trials

I am trying to finish the Book of Mormon by the end of the year. I was inspired by Elder Richard G Scott's talk at October General Conference when he talked about how at the end of each year his wife could be found quietly finishing the Book of Mormon again.

When I heard that I decided that I would follow her example and read the Book of Mormon every year. I think January would be a fine time to start each year, and the Christmas season will be a good time to finish up each year, so I am trying to finish the rest of the Book of Mormon by the end of this year. I am close! Finishing up Helaman.

And today I read this verse, which reminded me of the trials that I have been talking about recently - the suffering that has been caused by the actions of others. Mormon describes how some of the members of the Church at this time became prideful, and persecuted the humble. And then he talks about how the humble people reacted...

"Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God."
As I have learned to yield my heart into God in my suffering, I have felt this peace and consolation, and even some of this purification. This is the correct pattern to follow when you are suffering because of the actions of others. Humble yourself and turn to Heavenly Father and He will bless you with peace, and He will help you refine your soul.

How do you deal with trials? Do you feel yourself becoming more humble? Or do you become bitter and hardened? Are you able to find "joy and consolation" in the Savior, by turning your heart to God? Do you allow yourself to be purified through your suffering?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Fragments - Vol 8

I am trying to finish the Book of Mormon before the end of the year so I can start fresh in January and start on my new habit I want to create of reading the entire Book of Mormon every year.

I have about 15 more days. I hope I can do it!

My family is spending Christmas and new years at my house this year! That means on Christmas morning we will have 9 adults, 5 children under 7, and 4 dogs at our house! It promises to be fun (if a little hairy!!) and I am looking forward to it a LOT!

My sister who lives nearby is coming over on Monday to help deep clean before the company starts arriving.

Papai was playing with our little princess today and things got a little... rough (he pulled her in the laundry basket and it fell over with her in it - she smashed her face against the side/handle of the plastic basket and ended up with a bloody nose. I think it was her first bloody nose ever.

As it didn't end up in an ER visit I am counting our blessings... but at this rate her first ER visit might not be far in the future (V already has the record for earliest and most ER visits... I think he has been to the ER at least 3 times and urgent care at least that many.

I enjoy posting from my phone using this app. I have been posting at night after I read my Book of Mormon and write in my "real" journal. It has been nice.

I turned into a mama bear today when four year old V pushed two year old J into the wall in a mini-fight over the toilet (there are three in this house... no need to fight!) - not sure if I should be happy or sad that my children fight over who gets to go potty...

Thankfully I stopped myself just before I swatted him (gently, but firmly) on his rear end. At the last second my logic overcame "mama bear" mode and I remembered that teaching non-violence with violence is simply not effective. So V and I went into his room and we talked about patience and gentleness and how the Savior didn't push people and how he was kind and gentle, and that when we do something rough, we need to fix it by doing something gentle. He went in the bathroom and gave his sister one of the sweetest hugs. It was fabulous.

Man it was nuts how fast mama bear took over when I hear J's head hit the wall outside the bathroom. And thank goodness the Spirit steps in every now and then to hold me back from yielding to that natural man!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Christmas Spirit

There is something different about the Christmas season for me this year - and ironically that is the fact that I don't feel much different at this time of year than I do all year long.

I love the fact that more people are focused on Christ at this time of year, and that He is the topic of conversation more than usual. But for me, this Christmas season came up rather unceremoniously. I have been working on being more Christ-centered in my life and in my thoughts this year - and I think that is why I don't feel like there is much different between this season and the past several months.

Now, don't get me wrong - I love Christmas and the whole season - but the worshipping Christ and thinking about him - well, it just feels like that is what I have been doing all along! Which really makes me happy, because that means that I have had a very Christ-centered year (well, at least the last five or six months).

This is a first for me, though. Usually Christmas catches me by surprise, and I find that I have been craving the Christmas Spirit all year.

So this year, the season is so different - and yet very much the same.

Do you feel different during the Christmas season, or do you feel like this is how you have been living all year? How do you keep your life Christ-centered year round, and not just at Christmas? What do you love most about the Christmas season?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Let Us Resist Evil

In Pahoran's epistle to Moroni (which was a humble to response to a scathing epistle Moroni had written to Pahoran) he described to Moroni all the wickedness and rebellion that had been going on in Zarahemla. Tonight I was struck particularly by this verse:

"[L]et us resist evil, and whatsoever evil we cannot resist with our words... let us resist them with our swords, that we may retain our freedom..." - Alma 61:14

This made me think about my own efforts to resist evil. Earlier, Pahoran had said, "we will resist wickedness even unto bloodshed." What am I willing to sacrifice for righteousness? Friends? Prestige? Popularity? My own life?

What are you willing to sacrifice for righteousness sake? Do you resist evil in your life? How do you resist evil? What are some ways you protect your home and your family from the influence of Satan?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, December 12, 2011

Look Up When You Can’t Sing

(find the talks here – It Is Better to Look Up - and here – The Songs They Could Not Sing)

Elder Quentin L. Cook pointed out that one of the questions General Authorities hear the most is “Why does Heavenly Father allow bad things to happen to good people?”

My husband and I have talked about this principle a lot. It is also spoken about in General Conference pretty frequently. There are three sources of suffering that we may experience in this mortal life.

1.) suffering caused by our own sins/disobedience to God’s commandments
2.) suffering caused by the sins of others/their disobedience to God’s commandments
3.) suffering caused by the mortality and imperfection of this world and our bodies – disease, natural disasters, etc

Elder Quentin L. Cook made a really good point when he said, “Adverse results in this mortal life are not evidence of lack of faith or of an imperfection in our Father in Heaven’s overall plan.” First of all – of course it is not evidence of an imperfection in Heavenly Father’s plan! His plan is perfect, and His plan and purpose for each of us is beautiful and perfect and will ultimately bless our lives in ways we never thought possible if we will have faith and turn to Him. I think that we are quick to judge both ourselves and others when we encounter adversity. It is easy to think that someone “brought upon themselves” their trials. But remember those three sources of suffering? Only one of them has anything to do with our own choices.

“The refiner’s fire is real, and qualities of character and righteousness that are forged in the furnace of affliction perfect and purify us and prepare us to meet God.” Lately I have been enduring some trials that have been caused by source #2. I have found myself staring at the floor, wondering what is wrong with me and why this his happening to me, and trying to figure out what I did to deserve this (that is, I was thinking that I was enduring these trials because of source #1). Elder Carl B. Cook asked, “Why is it a challenge to consistently look up in our lives? Perhaps we lack the faith that such a simple act can solve our problems.” I did not have the faith that looking up would solve my problems. My problems were being caused by the agency of another person. How could anything I could do change anything? I wasn’t the one making poor choices – I can’t make choices for other people. That was when I read Corine’s post on charity and I realized that even though the suffering was caused by another’s choices, I could choose how to deal with the trial.

Elder Carl B. Cook said, “As I thought of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ’s power, my heart found the comfort I had sought in vain from the floor of that descending elevator.” Notice that Elder Cook’s problems didn’t go away – but he did find comfort. He went on to say that if we “exercise our faith and look to God for help, we will not be overwhelmed with the burdens of life. We will not feel incapable of doing what we are called to do or need to do. We will be strengthened, and our lives will be filled with peace and joy.” I have really been experiencing a refiner’s fire lately, and as I have been turning to the Lord for strength, and practicing charity, I have been learning that these trials are the Lord’s way of perfecting me and purifying me. For what? Maybe nothing other than to live with Him again someday. But as I look to the Lord for strength in my trials, and as I learn to forgive and love, I am feeling myself grow and develop in ways I didn’t even know I needed to grow.

When Elder Quentin L. Cook spoke about songs that will not be sung, it reminded me of my older brother. My oldest brother passed away a little over a year ago. There were so many songs he didn’t get to sing – and yet, there were so many things he was able to do in his life. Elder Cook pointed out “A unique challenge for those who have lost loved ones is to avoid dwelling on the lost opportunities in this life.” For me, this lost opportunity would be the opportunity to encourage my brother to come back to the Church.

The prophet Joseph Smith said “The only difference between the old and young dying is, one lives longer in heaven and eternal light and glory than the other, and is freed a little sooner from this miserable, wicked world. Notwithstanding all this glory, we for a moment lose sight of it, and mourn the loss, but we do not mourn as those without hope.” The glorious part about loosing my brother is that he is not gone forever. He is in the Spirit world (which is all around us) and he can still learn and progress, and I feel like he may come back to the Church. I know at least that he is with our family – our grandparents and aunts and uncles, and they are looking after him and teaching him and testifying to him.

What did you learn about adversity and trial from these talks? Do you look up when you are feeling discouraged or when trials are in your way? Have you felt like you were in a refiner’s fire? Did you feel yourself growing? Did you see a more perfect version of yourself come out of the fire?

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

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Time to Prepare

(find the talk here)

I remember hearing Elder Ian S. Arden’s talk during General Conference and really loving this phrase, “We must be sure that being busy also equates to being productive.” I couldn’t help but think about all the times I have been “busy” but not productive. It happens more frequently than I would care to admit. Especially when I let myself get sucked into the blogosphere or other social networking sites. As I listened to Elder Arden’s talk again this weekend, and as I read it today, I was reminded of Elder David A. Bednar’s devotional Things as They Really Are that I posted about a while ago. Elder Bednar stressed that life should be experienced through our mortal body, not through digital or virtual worlds.

Fullscreen capture 1252011 84135 AM I have to remind myself of that when I feel like my “best friends” are some of the women whose blogs I read. When I sit in Relief Society and feel like I don’t know the sisters very well, I wonder why I have been spending so much time getting to know these bloggers, and so little time getting to know the sisters in my ward (granted, I have been reading the blogs for a few years and I have only been attending this ward for a few months – but still! I need to put in a little more effort on the real-life friendships). Part of my hesitation to get to know new people is because of my pride and my judgmental attitude (which I’m working on). “Electronic games and cyber acquaintances are no lasting substitute for real friends who can give an encouraging hug, who can pray for us and seek after our best interest.”

I have been learning that the “X” button to close a window is my greatest tool. It’s like that old rule about if something inappropriate pops up on your computer, you just turn it off. You can’t hurt your computer more than the images will hurt your soul – so just shut it off. It’s a similar principle. If I can make myself press the “X” button, rather than just minimizing the page while I go read General Conference, then I am less likely to idle away my time on another website. I particularly love to read news articles – which is good, but there is always something more to read on the internet. It’s not like a magazine or a newspaper that you can put down once you’ve read all the articles. It keeps going. Forever and ever.DSCN6209 Elder Arden talks about becoming a “master manager of our time.” This is something that I am continually working on doing – especially as a mother of young children. It’s hard to ever feel like there is enough time in the day to do everything. Almost every night when I go to bed I think, “If only I could have done more.” I can usually be found humming the hymn “I Have Work Enough to Do” – always aware that there is more to be done. I love, though, what Elder Arden said about President Monson, “With all that he does as a prophet of God, he ensures, as the Savior did, that there is still sufficient time to visit the sick, to lift the poor in spirit, and to be a servant of all.” Sometimes I think, “Why can’t I do all that, and still keep my toilets clean!?”

“Time is never for sale; time is a commodity that cannot, try as you may,be bought at any store for any price.” This quote reminded me of a trailer I saw for a movie in which time becomes money, and money becomes time. You work for time, and you can spend your time on whatever you want – but you better be careful, because if you run out of time, that’s it – you die. I haven’t seen the movie, but I think it is a good metaphor for time – you can’t buy it, of course, but you can waste it. If time was like money, and once you ran out you died, what would you spend your time on? Would you buy that candy bar? Or would you save it up and travel the world? Or give it to someone with small children?

“With the demands made of us, we must learn to prioritize our choices to match our goals or risk being exposed to the winds of procrastination and being blown from one time-wasting activity to another.” So one of the most important things we can do as we learn to become “master managers” of our time is to figure out or priorities. What does matter most to us? Once we know what we value the most, we need to learn to match our activities with our priorities.

The theme scripture of our family blog is Alma 34:32 which says, “this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God”. I truly believe that is what we are doing in this world, and so my highest priority would be to prepare myself to meet God. That seems pretty simple, but figuring out what I actually need to do to prepare myself (and it changes with every season of life) is the hard part. Right now, a lot of me preparing to meet God is learning to have patience – with myself, with my husband, with my children, with my season of life. The way I prepare to meet God might be different later than it is now.

Elder Arden’s talk at the very least has helped me be aware of the activities with which I choose to fill up my time, making sure they don’t give “the false impression of being busy and productive” but rather are productive. Sometimes I can be very productive without even appearing busy (playing with my children – do we ever say “I’m busy” when we’re playing with our kids?).

If you are having a hard time figuring out what matters most in your life, I would direct you to President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk in October 2010 General Conference titled Of Things that Matter Most. It will probably help you. I also wrote about it here on the blog.

How do you make sure that you make the best use of your time? Do you carefully choose your activities to match your priorities? Do you sometimes confuse “productive” with “busy”? How can you make sure you are choosing the “things that matter most”? How are you becoming a “master manager” of your time?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Fragments Vol 7


I have my first dentist appointment in… 2 years(!?) today. With all the moving and travelling we did over the last few years it just never happened. Well, today is the day… the moment of truth. I just hope I don’t have to have much work one… 2

I made yummy orange chicken last night. We have some extra little boys with us this week, and their favorite is orange chicken, and so last time they were with us I learned how to make it, and I promise them I would make it again for them. I’m glad they asked me the first time, because it’s a favorite around here now!


My husband and I have had a little cold (congestion and sore throat) the past few days… I hope we don’t pass it on to the kiddos. 4 If you are a mother, you need to read this post (well, the post Stephanie linked to). Seriously. Go read it. You won’t regret it. And you may actually find yourself going about your work today with a lighter heart. Really. It worked for me!5 I’m having a hard time coming up with things today – but maybe that is because I am anxious to get to the darned dentist (see #1) – mostly just to get it over with… wish me luck!

Read more randomness over at Heather’s Friday Five Linkup.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Children are hard - So don’t have any


A friend of mine shared a “funny” video the other day. If you want to watch it without having it spoiled, hurry and click on the link. If you don’t have a desire to watch it, read on.

The video opens with a young father and his son (probably 6 or 7?) at a grocery store. The young son takes some cereal off the shelf and puts it in the cart. The father picks it up and deliberately puts it back, and thus ensues a little “take it out, put it back” war between father and son. Suddenly, after the father puts it back again, the young boy starts throwing a tantrum, screaming, throwing things off the shelves, lying on the floor screaming and hitting the floor, all while the bystanders watch in displeasure and seem to give the young father one of “those” looks (if you’ve ever been in the grocery store with a screaming child, you know what I’m talking about). You notice (or maybe you don’t, but I did) that there are only adults (and most of them older – think 40s+) and none of them have children (of any age) with them. The commercial ends with a close up of the young father’s face and a message at the bottom: “Wear condoms.”

DSCN6092 Now, while the irony of the video might be somewhat funny, I found the message to be in poor taste, and exactly what Elder Neil A. Andersen was illustrating in his talk from General Conference about children and how the world views them as a lower priority than anything. The message I observed in the video was this, “Children are hard work, so make sure you don’t have any.”

DSCN5955 The video is in another language with subtitles (I think French?) and I thought that a commercial like this would probably not fly in the United States. Fortunately we have enough mothers who aggressively defend motherhood (like Rachel Jankovic) in the United States that I think there would be some really negative backlash to a commercial like this being aired in the United States. But in Europe, where families values have eroded so much that some countries are trying to get more men to be teachers so that children will have positive male role models (what happened to fathers?!) I thought this commercial was probably very well received.

I thought the message in the commercial might have been more “don’t have kids if you’re not ready to have kids” if there had been other, well-behaved children in the commercial. But in the commercial you will notice a blatant lack of children. So that leads me to believe that the marketers weren’t just targeting people who might not be emotionally, mentally, physically, or financially prepared to have children. Since the only child in the entire commercial was acting like a monster (while the father simply stands by and “lets” him throw the fit – a conversation for another day) – which even well-behaved children will do sometimes – there was no other conclusion to draw other than that the marketers view all children as trials and burdens which we should protect ourselves from  by wearing condoms (or using another form of birth control – don’t worry, I am not knocking birth control here – there is a time and place for that, too).

I know this sounds a little harsh, and maybe I am off – maybe the marketers really were saying “If you’re not ready to have kids, wait until you are.” What did you think?

PS – I included a few pictures of my two year old during some of her tantrums. (which happen quite frequently… because she is two) so you would know that I don’t think my children are always perfect. I wanted to be fair and include pictures of my four year old, but either he doesn’t throw tantrums as often as she does, or he just makes sure he isn’t throwing tantrums while we are taking pictures. Either way – parenting is hard, children are hard – mine throw tantrums all the time. But it is by far the most important thing we can ever do.

What message did you see in the commercial? Do you think the commercial illustrates, at least somewhat, the lower priority most people in the world give to having and raising successful children? Or do you think it is simply a harmless message?

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?

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