Tag Archives: Heavenly Father

Hazy

Hazy

I can’t tell if I’m hazy because I’m fatigued, or I’m fatigued because my brain is hazy.   I’m counting the days before my next appointment.  It will be nice if the doctor can pinpoint the cause of my symptoms.

Church today went okay, but late in the afternoon, I was standing talking to my wife when I just lost all energy.  It was as though someone unplugged my power source.  I didn’t feel dizzy or faint, just zapped of all energy.

Christ Centered

We had a wonderful Christ centered Sacrament meeting today.  President and Sister Evans were our speakers.  They have amazing testimonies and their talks were amazing.

I shared with them afterwards how bad I felt when I had brought a friend to church.  The first speaker talked about the “atonement” without mentioning Christ.  I felt sad that the speaker didn’t talk about how Heavenly Father provided a Savior who would atone for our sins.  Instead, it was more like the “atonement” was some mystical thing.  It’s not.  It is a plan our Heavenly Father had and it was fulfilled by Jesus Christ.

Priesthood Meeting

Today was my first Sunday teaching Elder’s Quorum on the 4th Sunday.  Our lesson was about ministering and how ministering means serving others and not ourselves.  The men in the class gave some wonderful examples from the scriptures.  I felt very good about how the lesson went.

Women

Women

Elizabethe gave an excellent talk about women in church today.  Several people came up to me and asked me to tell her how good it was.

With her permission, I am sharing it.

Elizabethe’s Talk

When I was a young teenager I wondered if we were male and female in our premortal existence or if that was part of the choice of who we are and who we will be in this earthly life. Then The Family Proclamation came along and answered my question:

“Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”
——From the church website under the topic of Women

“Women are a necessary part of the plan of happiness, and that plan cannot operate without them. Women participate in the work of salvation, which includes member missionary work, convert retention, activation of less-active members, temple and family history work, teaching the gospel, and caring for the poor and needy. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, every woman in the Church is given the responsibility to know and defend the divine roles of women, which include that of wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. They stand strong and immovable in faith, in family, and in relief. Women participate in councils that oversee congregational activities throughout the world. They also have, by divine nature, the greater gift and responsibility for home and children and nurturing there and in other settings.”  N Eldon Tanner 1973

From the beginning God has made it clear that woman is very special, and he has also very clearly defined her position, her duties, and her destiny in the divine plan. Paul said that man is the image and glory of God, and that woman is the glory of the man; also that the man is not without the woman, neither the woman without the man in the Lord. You will note that significantly God is mentioned in connection with this great partnership, and we must never forget that one of woman’s greatest privileges, blessings, and opportunities is to be a co-partner with God in bringing his spirit children into the world.

A Conversation with a Client

Some years ago when I was working as a computer professional, one of my clients with whom I had worked for some time expressed his gratitude and appreciation, but asked me how a woman with such obvious intelligence and skill could belong to a religion that was oppressive to women?

I was very surprised and began to educate him a little about life for a woman in the Mormon church. I told him about how we can teach and pray and sing and lead.  The main thing I talked to him about was about how our leaders respect us and how they speak to us. If you listen to our leaders speak to our men you will hear them telling the men to do their duty and to live up their responsibilities and how they should do this. They often encourage the men to be more like the women in their devotion to the gospel. But at the Women’s Conference and when they speak to the women, they tell them, “Don’t be so hard on yourselves,” and “Keep doing the wonderful work you are doing, but don’t lose yourself in comparisons, or in always feeling that you should do more. “

I talked to him about the fact that for men there is no choice, they are to be the providers and protectors for their families. They do not have a righteous choice to NOT work. But women have the choice to work or not work as suits their needs. Women are consistently encouraged to pursue an education. Women are asked to choose wisely and not jeopardize the welfare of their family and children, but we do have a choice.

But what I most appreciate about the Lord’s plan was the freedom and the respect to allow women to be primarily homemakers and nurturers, without the burden of having to also work outside the home and provide for their families. As I went on, his attitude and understanding changed dramatically. He began to understand how much the gospel principles, when practiced according to God’s plan, free us and ennoble us to be all that we can possibly ever be.

My Mother’s Quote

My mother had a lovely quote which unfortunately, I could not find to use in this talk, of one of our church leaders asking the men to whom he was speaking to be more like the women of the church. I quoted that to him and said

Elder John A. Widtse wrote:
“The place of woman in the Church is to walk beside the man, not in front of him nor behind him. In the Church there is full equality between man and woman. The gospel, which is the only concern of the Church, was devised by the Lord for men and women alike” (Improvement Era, Mar. 1942, p. 161).  Spencer W. Kimball – October 1979

Within those great assurances, however, our roles and assignments differ. These are eternal differences—with women being given many tremendous responsibilities of motherhood and sisterhood and men being given the tremendous responsibilities of fatherhood and the priesthood—but the man is not without the woman nor the woman without the man in the Lord. . . .
Some women . . . must work. We understand that. We understand further that as families are raised, the talents God has given you and blessed you with can often be put to effective use in additional service to mankind. Do not, however, make the mistake of being drawn off into secondary tasks which will cause the neglect of your eternal assignments such as giving birth to and rearing the spirit children of our Father in Heaven. We wish you to pursue and to achieve that education, therefore, which will fit you for eternity as well as for full service in mortality. . . .
Quentin L. Cook April 2011

Author and historian Wallace Stegner wrote about the Mormon migration and gathering to the Salt Lake Valley. He did not accept our faith and in many ways was critical; nevertheless, he was impressed with the devotion and heroism of our early Church members, especially the women. He stated, “Their women were incredible.” I echo that sentiment today. Our Latter-day Saint women are incredible!

Divine Qualities

God placed within women divine qualities of strength, virtue, love, and the willingness to sacrifice to raise future generations of His spirit children.

A recent United States study asserts that women of all faiths “believe more fervently in God” and attend more religious services than men do. “By virtually every measure they are more religious.”
. . . . We of course told her about the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary organizations that are guided by women presidents. We noted that from our earliest history both men and women pray, perform the music, give the sermons, and sing in the choir, even in sacrament meeting, our most sacred meeting.

The recent highly acclaimed book American Grace reported on women in many faiths. It noted that Latter-day Saint women are unique in being overwhelmingly satisfied with their role in Church leadership.

Several years ago I attended a stake conference in Tonga. Sunday morning the three front rows of the chapel were filled with men between 26 and 35 years of age. I assumed they were a men’s choir. But when the business of the conference was conducted, each of these men, 63 in total, stood up as their names were read and were sustained for ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood. I was both pleased and stunned.

After the session I asked President Mateaki, the stake president, how this miracle had been accomplished. He told me that in a stake council meeting reactivation was being discussed. His stake Relief Society president, Sister Leinata Va’enuku, asked if it would be appropriate for her to say something. As she spoke, the Spirit confirmed to the president that what she was suggesting was true. She explained that there were large numbers of wonderful young men in their late 20s and 30s in their stake who had not served missions. She said many of them knew they had disappointed bishops and priesthood leaders who had strongly encouraged them to serve a mission, and they now felt like second-class members of the Church. She pointed out that these young men were beyond missionary age. She expressed her love and concern for them. She explained that all of the saving ordinances were still available to them and the focus should be on priesthood ordinations and the ordinances of the temple. She noted that while some of these young men were still single, the majority of them had married wonderful women—some active, some inactive, and some not members.

After thorough discussion in the stake council, it was decided that the men of the priesthood and the women of the Relief Society would reach out to rescue these men and their wives, while the bishops spent more of their time with the young men and young women in the wards. Those involved in the rescue focused primarily on preparing them for the priesthood, eternal marriage, and the saving ordinances of the temple. During the next two years, almost all of the 63 men who had been sustained to the Melchizedek Priesthood at the conference I attended were endowed in the temple and had their spouses sealed to them. This account is but one example of how critical our sisters are in the work of salvation in our wards and stakes and how they facilitate revelation, especially in family and Church councils.

No Apologies Needed

First, no woman should ever feel the need to apologize or feel that her contribution is less significant because she is devoting her primary efforts to raising and nurturing children. Nothing could be more significant in our Father in Heaven’s plan.

I especially appreciate this element of Heavenly Father’s plan. After 20 years of raising children in a home where I was pressured to contribute financially, I have a deep and abiding appreciation of the Lord’s plan that frees us as women to be thoroughly committed to our families when they are young and they need us.

I am very grateful for Heavenly Father’s plan and to be His daughter and to know that I am loved and appreciated. I know that His plan is the best way for us to be happy in this life and in the next.

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

It is Thanksgiving 2015 and I have a lot to be thankful for.  While my gratitude extends beyond this list, first and foremost, I’m thankful for a Heavenly Father who loves me, my wife who is my best friend and eternal companion, my children and grandchildren who bring me joy beyond measure and all the bounty God has blessed me with.

Elizabethe and I have great plans for the day.  Today we are going to do absolutely nothing.  Yup, you heard me.  We are just going to lay around and be lazy.  No fancy meal.  No going anywhere.  We’re just going to enjoy each other’s company all day.

I did pick up my phone and noticed I had nearly 100 new e-mails.

Seriously?

Am I getting that many e-mails of gratitude on this day of Thanksgiving?

I looked and sure enough, they were all Black Friday invitations.  I saw them as invitations to “opt out” of their e-mail campaign.  I despise the entire “Black Friday” sales thing.  I dislike getting all of these emails too.

We bing-watched one of Elizabethe’s favorite TV shows that had recorded on the DVR.  After a couple of episodes we both commented on how unrealistic the entire show is.  I think the highlight of the TV watching was BYU TV’s Joan of Arc.  What a wonderful documentary.  I highly recommend it.

After a while, I got bored and picked up my phone and looked at Facebook.  Big mistake.

What is it about people that makes them turn to stupidity when they get on social media?

For example, one person was posting about how Christopher Columbus started Thanksgiving… huh?  Another posted an absurd list of companies that with a little research (i.e. typing the claim into Google)  would show them the list is making erroneous claims.  And those two examples don’t even begin to touch on some of the political claims.

At one point in the day I started to laugh.  Elizabethe asked what was so funny.  I looked at the clock and said, “It’s after 5pm and it is getting dark and we’ve done absolutely nothing today.  We haven’t got a single thing accomplished.”

In her sweet and loving way, she assured me that she’s enjoyed just spending the day together talking and … doing nothing.

So, I put my phone away and realized I was bored with doing nothing and suggested to Elizabethe we call it a day.

The Purpose

The purpose of going to church is for our own perfection.  Yes, we all hear the phrase, “Nobody’s perfect”, but perfection is expected, but not all at once.  Christ said, “I would that ye should be perfect…”, and we are promised that no commandment is given without a way to accomplish it.

Nobody understands the stress of being a perfectionist as much as me.  I’m constantly reminding myself that Rome wasn’t built in one day, slow down, you can’t do it all, things take time, and the list goes on.  Nor do I expect perfection in others, in fact, many time I fault on the side of expecting mediocrity out of others; a fault I greatly need to work on.

I drew some ire with a comment yesterday regarding people not having a testimony of the gospel.  It was poorly worded, and should have been along the lines of “a complete testimony”, because everyone’s testimony is a work in progress.  Isn’t our goal to have a perfect knowledge?

I look at testimony as being like a balloon.  The more holes it has, the less likely it can float you above the dangers that lay below.  It is our goal to patch those holes, starting with the most serious ones (and that’s for you to decide).  As we patch them, we gain more altitude.  Big holes are things like the law of chastity, serious word of wisdom problems, spousal or child abuse, and things like that, whereas small holes are things like trying to understand certain points of doctrine.  But, small holes, when stress is applied to them, can become big holes, and big holes can bring the whole thing down.

During my life, I’ve watched many balloons go down in flames.  Some, because the owners had no interest in maintaining them.  Holes caused by drug abuse, immorality and other things eventually brought them down, not just spiritually, but brought them down to the grave too.  Others had small holes, that tore in to big holes.  Imagine the shock hearing someone say, “I’ve decided to leave the church because you guys just aren’t intellectual enough.”  Or, “I’ve decided it isn’t true.”  (Elder Uchtdorf’s talk last weekend address this topic:  http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/come-join-with-us?lang=eng)

We all have a unique set of holes.  I have a good friend in California who has never had a Word of Wisdom hole in his balloon.  Others have never had a Law of Tithing hole.  Some people ultimately have less holes, while others struggle daily with a multitude of holes.  Some holes are self-inflicted, while others seem to be innate, yet we still have to deal with them.  Our balloon is ours and belongs to no one but yourself.

Few people have hole-less balloons, and there’s an adversary out there with ‘fiery darts’ (D&C 3:8), shooting at our balloons.  And, even if your balloon is hole-less, when the adversary shoots his darts, you’ve got to be ready to patch those new holes.  And, if you’re busy patching holes, it becomes much harder to patch new holes.  To make things more difficult, we are the only ones who can patch them; other people are busy maintaining their balloons.  Others can offer encouragement or advise, but ultimately, it is up to us to patch those holes.

Heavenly Father provides the fill for our balloons.  His source of warmth is continuous, and always there, and his fire cannot be extinguished.  Just as he is always available to hear our prayers, that constant source is of no avail to us if we don’t take advantage of it.  Thus, constant maintenance on our balloon will keep us on the assent; it traps his warmth.

I may ask a by passer, “How did you fix that hole in your balloon?”, but I don’t go about waiving and shouting, “Hey, look at the hole in my balloon!”  Doing this accomplishes nothing.   On the other hand, I don’t make excuses for the holes in my balloon, in fact, I’m constantly trying to figure out how to patch them.  Doing this consists of pleading prayers, study, effort and doing the best I know how.

Singing in the Morning

I came out to the studio this morning and I heard the young men in the front yard. I walked closer and I could hear them singing, “The world has need of willing hands…” I stood there and listened for a while as they continued, “… put your shoulder to the wheel push along; do your duty with a heart full of song. We all have work, let no one shirk, put your shoulder to the wheel.”

What a wonderful sound to hear in the morning. I stood there and enjoyed their voices.

A little later, I met them at the Smith Farm to take their photo.

 

Young Men from Georgia

Young Men from Georgia

There is something about having this many good young men staying in your house.  They are polite, well-behaved, helpful and kind.  In fact, I was walking up to the back door, and one of them came out about as I was getting to the steps.  He stood there holding the door open for me, and as I thanked him and entered the house, I realized, he saw me coming and came out simply to hold the door open for me.

I was mowing the lawn this afternoon, and their advisor came up and told me they plan to do some service for us in the morning, and asked me to prepare a long list of things Elizabethe and I need done.  I had just been thinking how overwhelming this yard seems at times.  His comment and invitation came at just the right time.  Our Heavenly Father watches after us, and sends help when we need it.

By the time I got the lawn done, it was time to meet with my intern and review some wedding images.  From there, we went to the Palmyra Village Hall to photograph the trustees for my Get It Done on 31 ™ book.

I spent the rest of the afternoon retouching pictures and getting them ready for clients.  It’s been a full, busy day… especially for being my so-called day off.