24 December 2013

Merry Christmas

This Christmas with only two chuns at home, I'm more grateful than ever for the blessings of eternal families. Christmas for me is a celebration of the gifts of a Savior, and the restoration of His Gospel with all its attendant blessings.

May you have a joyous day with loved ones. Merry Christmas!

23 November 2013

All things are relative

I met a couple this week who lived in Vermont for a few years. They told me their ward covered 5,000 square miles. Astounding! I felt a little better about our "Twig".

Tomorrow I'm teaching the Relief Society Teachings for Our Times lesson using the talk Small and Simple Things by Elder Arnulfo Valenzuela. It's about missionary work, but can easily be related to doing Visiting Teaching. It has been my goal in my calling to inspire the sisters to learn to love and do Visiting Teaching. I still haven't been visited by any sister in this branch, but we have seen the reactivation of several sisters and at our 2nd Annual Relief Society Homecoming last Saturday we had double the attendance of our first homecoming. As part of that event I asked the sisters each to name one thing they like about Relief Society and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the majority appreciate the sisterhood and unity they feel.

Thank you Heavenly Father for that!

14 November 2013

Everyone is Needed

Pondering while doing the dishes today and a thought entered my head. If everyone, who already is a member of the church, would actively participate in living the gospel and keep their covenants life would be easier for us all. 

Do you find it easier to live the gospel when those around you are living it? When they unconsciously set a good example and encourage others by their actions? Do you find it easier to do your visiting teaching and home teaching when the sister or family is welcoming to your visit and receptive to your efforts to serve? Do you feel encouraged to be obedient and keep your covenants when you are visited regularly?

Does serving in the church feel better when you can count on those you've given assignments to, knowing that the work will get done? Doesn't it seem easier to serve when you see all around you others who are serving and giving?

Everyone is needed! Needed to be active, participating, covenant keeping, obedient to the commandments.

Wouldn't it be fantastic to be in a ward (branch or twig) where all the members could say with one voice: "Yes, we believe all the words we heard in General Conference, and we know the words are true because of the witness of the Holy Ghost, which has brought about a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually and keep our covenants." (see Mosiah 5:2)

If only everyone who enters into the waters of baptism would hold fast to the Iron Rod and press forward with steadfast faith, instead of giving up at the first sign of trouble or hardship.

Think of how the Kingdom would move forward!

Well, a Relief Society President can dream, can't she?

05 November 2013

Compare and Contrast

Last month I did some figuring. I got out the map and measured the area of our branch. I did the math three times because I just couldn't believe the figures. Our Branch (which I call a Twig because our attendance and activity numbers are so low) covers an area of approximately 2,700 square miles, includes 22 towns, and covers all or part of 7 counties.

When I shared all that with my husband he said "Now I understand why we put more than 30,000 miles per year on our car."

I'm sure that there are units that are bigger geographically. And I'm sure there are units that are smaller in members. Just pointing out that this has been a culture shock to us, and still is after three years.

Another shock is the pervasive attitude among long time members here of "We've always done it this way, and NOBODY is going to tell us what to do differently." It is the antithesis of a humble, teachable attitude, and it drives me crazy!!!

Okay, I got that off my chest.

This unit is the polar opposite of the one we attended in Provo, Utah which covered 4 square blocks, and a few BYU housing units (some of the RA's attended our ward). We had one non-member family, and I think, two inactive families. Our back door neighbor was in a different ward! The activity rate was in the high 90's and the only reason it wasn't 99% is because some of the members were elderly and homebound. There were so many active people that instead of having 2 or 3 jobs, 2 or 3 people shared a job! We had half a dozen organists for Sacrament Meeting alone!

But, as John Bytheway would say, I'm not bitter.

Have a great day! And count your blessings.

17 September 2013

Thoughts on "The Next Life"

After all the trials of the summer, and the continuing challenges of our little branch, I've been thinking of what the next life will be like.

I don't know about you, but I'm aiming for the Celestial Kingdom, the highest, the top! Got a long way to go, but I'm keeping my eyes on the goal and doing all I can to get there, including (especially) daily repentance.

What I was thinking about was the fact that we won't have to deal with "in-active", "less-active", non-committed saints once we get there. Only the valiant in their testimony of Jesus will be there. Hallelujah. What a restful place; what a lot of work we'll be able to accomplish, like creating worlds, without having to track down, work with, and try to persuade to come back all those poor souls who for whatever reason, don't want to come back to church, or can't decide to come back to church. Do you realize how much time and effort is spent, how many meetings are held to get people to come back? Why did they leave in the first place? Boggles my mind.

Won't it be wonderful to be with like-minded brothers and sisters? Truly of one heart and one mind. No contention, no discord, just love and encouragement, joy and rejoicing. And the gaining of knowledge! Oh, how wonderful that will be, to learn with no constraints (money, time, fatigue) and to be able to fully understand everything.

In this life I've learned that I'm happiest when I'm creating, whether it is clothing, food, a beautiful room, a story, music, a garden, whatever. While I'm creating I feel happiness. Think of creating worlds! And children to fill them! I know I'll be happy! Once, during a temple session I had a glimpse of Eternity, (I can't really explain how it happened) I fully, for a brief moment, understood the joy of eternal increase and knew that the required obedience and sacrifice would be so worth the reward. I have remembered those feelings many times when I am discouraged.

I'm not ready to graduate, as I want to finish raising my children and get to have some grandchildren too. I just think about the future and the blessings it holds.

08 September 2013

Resolution and Moving On

Our Branch President came over to talk to us on Fast Sunday in August. Although not everything was resolved, enough was resolved and I felt enough peace to return to the Branch.

I recently attended a training meeting with Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy who said that each unit, in the first generation, goes through a "Kirtland" period of trials. This branch has been there for the past five years. He said it is important to stay faithful and move on to "Nauvoo" and then "the Valley".

Today we had twelve sisters in Relief Society which felt rather nice.

31 July 2013

Trials: The Jury is Still Out

The past two months have been awful and wonderful. Awful because of trials in the form of persecution against me in the branch; wonderful because it has shown me a side of my husband hitherto not seen, and brought us closer together, which is a huge blessing. Nothing is resolved yet, but we're getting closer.

Our First Annual Family Reunion in June was a success and we look forward to next year as we establish this tradition. It was awesome to have all four sons here together. We missed our delightful daughter, but had seen her in May. For the next ten years we expect that not everyone will be at every reunion; however, if we continue in the tradition we can anticipate some wonderful times with our growing family.

School begins in two weeks! Yikes, where did the summer go? We have accomplished a lot and had some wonderful times together, I just want more!

10 June 2013

2009 Writings on Government

I found this rebuttal to an op-ed from 2009 when I was cleaning out some folders and files. I think it is good enough to share and the perspective of the subsequent four years makes it quite relevant.

Mr. Eric Samuelsen’s My View made my blood boil with indignation.  I can not keep silent.  I suggest there are several things he needs to read immediately.  First is Marvin Olasky’s book The Tragedy of American Compassion, wherein he reports in great detail how the government take over of compassionate and charitable services has decimated the family and personal responsibility for the outcomes of our lives.  Second, are Ezra Taft Benson’s addresses Our Priceless Heritage (Ensign, November 1976), and  The Proper Role of Government (The Improvement Era, Dec. 1968), which outline what government, particularly the United States government, should be doing and what they should stay out of.  Third is Samuel L. Blumenfeld’s book Is Public Education Necessary, which chronicles education in this country and makes a case against public education.  Finally, King Benjamin’s sermon from Mosiah in The Book of Mormon, which you mention.  What you neglected to mention is that King Benjamin did not confiscate his people’s wealth to redistribute to others, but invoked individual guilt as a motivator for his people to give freely to others.  He also proclaimed that he had worked for his own living so his people would not have ‘taxes, grievous to be borne.’   

 Our current president, as well as leaders in Congress, are leading us deeper into captivity and servitude, with taxes grievous to be borne, laws that restrict our freedoms of choice (something much blood has been spilt over through the ages) and strangling opportunities for improvement of individual lives, while bringing us all down collectively.  Quite an accomplishment.  Our current president and congressional leaders are some of the most frightening leaders we have ever had. 

I do not know what history you have studied, but that which I have studied leads me to opposite conclusions.  That individual enterprise is much more effective at charity and compassionate service than unwieldy governmental programs run by bureaucrats.

A balanced budget at the expense of defense is a backward proposition.  You, sir, have your governmental priorities backwards.  The national government is supposed to provide for our defense which is something we can not do individually.  Social programs, from giving generously to our neighbors in need, to setting up local school curriculum are best left to individuals and local governments, where needs are readily perceived and accountability is visible.  Confiscating my hard earned money to pay a bureaucrat to give a pittance to another is theft, pure and simple.  I would like the freedom to choose to whom and to what I give of my time, money and other resources.

I resent my money being taken and given to persons who are immoral, unrepentant, and unwilling to work (I hate working too and would much rather be a homemaker for my family), and/or persons who use the money to support addictions rather than purchasing healthful foods.  Working at a convenience store has shown me how wasteful people are with the government’s redistribution of my money.  Persons come in everyday wanting to use their food stamp card to buy sodas, donuts, chips and candy.  They get money out of the ATM on their food stamp card to buy tobacco products and alcohol.  My tax dollars are supporting their addictions.  And you wonder why I’m not for government compassion.  There is no accountability, no plan for the improvement of lives, just a constant enabling of unhealthy and immoral practices.

 Now you ask for more of my money to pay for their medical care!  Providing healthcare for all Americans is not the highest moral imperative.  The highest MORAL imperative we have is to get people to repent of their sins and obey God’s laws.  You are right about needing more done to reduce teen pregnancy, encourage adoptions and reducing abortions.  Teaching obedience to the law of chastity will do more to accomplish that than alleviating poverty by wealth distribution ever will.  Teenagers have had more sex education in recent decades than all centuries previously; but without teaching the law of chastity to them all we have done is to fan the flames of teenage hormones, then provide (at public expense) fire extinguishers and mops to clean up the mess.  We need to teach them to keep the powers of creation sacred and under control until they are willing to accept and provide for the consequences, which are real live babies.

We do not have a healthcare problem in this country.  We have a self-discipline and personal responsibility problem.  People smoking, drinking, drugging and eating themselves into disease and crisis. Not to mention all the immoral practices that bring on disease and unwanted or inconvenient pregnancies.  Everyone wants to “have their cake and eat it too.”  In other words, people want to continue their unhealthy and immoral ways and have someone else pay for fixing it.  No personal responsibility, no bad consequences for actions.  There is enough medical care for everyone.  But nobody (individually) wants to pay for it, let alone live, eat and exercise in ways to keep themselves healthy and personally responsible for their choices.  They want the government to pay.  I am the government, and so are you.  Remember, government of the people, by the people and for the people.  The government is not a money making enterprise like Wal-Mart.  At this point in time it is a confiscatory and a deficit spending enterprise; taking money from productive citizens and giving it to unproductive ones. How is that right?  How is that consistent with the ideals upon which this country was founded?

The Second Amendment is an embarrassing anachronism?  No contemporary relevance? As long as terrorists (foreign and homegrown) bent on our destruction, stalk us with illegal weapons we need the freedom and ability to protect ourselves. (No, I don’t own a gun, we have five children. But that’s another subject.)

Just what do you believe is the ‘promise of America?’  I thought it was life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  No guarantees, just pursuit.  But liberty, whatever became of that concept?  Public education doesn’t answer for or provide that promise.  This country was founded without public education.  In fact, all education (schools) in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was of a religious or religion based nature.  Publicly financed education came into being around 1830 (interesting year).  Somebody got the bright idea that education should be divorced from religion and should teach children how to act and think without any reference to God.  We can see where that has gotten us.

There is actually very little that is public about schools, except the money.  I can not, as a member of the “public” go to a class that interests me in any school.  I can’t even walk into a school without first checking in with the Gestapo in the office.  Students are not permitted to come and go freely, cannot choose courses that interest them at the time they are interested.  Public schools have become factories for turning out government programmed workers, unable to think for themselves, curiosity stifled, brainwashed with the approved governmental ideas.  What is so good about that?  And why shouldn’t students have the right to pray publicly at school, in the free exercise of their religion?  And teaching science versus religion?  Science these days takes as much faith in the unseen and unknown as religion.  I’ll take revealed religion over man made science any day.  When will we learn and acknowledge that God operates on natural laws and allows us to discover them one by one in our pursuit of “science.”  True revealed religion and science are one and the same.

I do not want to stay the current course because the course we are on is toward certain destruction.  We need drastic course corrections to bring this nation into line with safety and protection from the God of this, choice and precious above all others, nation.

The governments of the nation, states, counties and cities should look at the way the government of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints runs things.  No deficit spending, no confiscatory practices, no raising of tithing rates (which is a constant rate for everyone, rather than a progressive rate punishing those who are more productive), prudent spending, saving for future needs, pay as you go, and on and on.  Look at the great good that is accomplished by that church!  It is a model for the rest of the world.

Mr. Samuelsen calls himself liberal.  I don’t know what to call myself because I believe the labels liberal and conservative are offensive and divisive.  Very few persons are completely either one.  There are too many areas to cover: finances, social services, morality, national defense, education, commerce, and so forth.  Obedience to God’s laws covers all areas and aspects of our lives.  It is a return to obedience to His laws and following the living prophet that will bring this country back to the right course. 

Our ills cannot be cured by more government regulation and taxation.  In fact, that will add greatly to our sorrows. All the ills of the world can be cured by living the teachings of Jesus Christ, and following the prophet.  The Book of Mormon is a vivid testament to the truthfulness of that statement. 

07 May 2013

A Tiny Success

I feel just a tiny bit of pride at a tiny bit of success. We have a mentally challenged woman in our branch (result of an accident when she was a toddler) who loves to be first up for testimony bearing. For many months she drove me crazy with her recitation of what they did at her "old church" (Catholic) and who in her family she was going to visit, etc. I had been her visiting teacher for a long time but reassigned her to another sister so I could concentrate on some others. But the sister didn't visit her so I took her back because she loves to and need to be visited regularly. In April I took my partner, a member of just over a year, and I read Kristen M. Oaks' book "The Testimony Glove" to her (and my partner who needed to hear it too). She enjoyed the story and looking at the glove.

This past Sunday when Sister S. got up to speak she bore a sweet, appropriate, wonderful testimony. I was so proud of her!! I truly believe that most problems can be corrected with a little teaching, a little training, and a lot of listening to the Spirit.

22 April 2013

Lessons I Learned Too Late to Do Me Any Good, But Might Help My Children

Some time ago I began a list of lessons I wish I had learned and understood thirty or even forty years ago. I love my parents and am grateful they taught me the gospel, but there are some other things that I wish they'd taught me too. For the benefit of my adult children who are currently looking for companions here is my list, to date, of those lessons. (Not in any order other than as I thought of them and recorded them in my journal over the past few years.)

1. Work together at home. For example: when you finish a meal together, get up and clean up together; as you make this a family habit there won't be arguments about whose "turn" it is. If you eat, you help clean up and many hands make light work.

2. If you want your spouse to help with anything, express your expectations clearly, then don't criticize their methods. Praise the outcome and express gratitude.

3. Debt destroys your future--avoid it like the plague. Sacrifice now to be free later.

4. Experiences are more important than things; and some things are more important than others.

5. If you're a good listener, learn to be a talker; If you're a talker, learn to be a listener.

6. It takes faith, not time or money, to bear and rear children.

7. The cost of breaking the law of chastity is too high to be worth any momentary pleasure.

8. We reap what we sow. In everything.

9. Practice healthy habits from the beginning; help each other to stay slim, trim and vigorous from the start. Reward each other with service, notes, a flower, etc. rather than with unhealthy and fattening treats. Be active and work or play together rather than sitting and watching together.

10. Marry someone who inspires and encourages your best self, one who makes keeping your covenants and the commandments easier, not harder.

11. Don't marry someone who has an addiction of any kind, because often one leads to another.
   a. Word of Wisdom, including or maybe I should say especially caffeine
   b. Technology
   c.  Debt
   d.  Pornography
   e.  Cars (or other idols)
   f.  Sports
   g. Entertainment (TV)

12. Marry someone whose faith and faithfulness to it are the same as yours.

How can you learn these things about a potential spouse? Spend lots of time together in non-entertainment venues such as church or community service, work projects, family gatherings, and such. Marriage is not one long entertaining date; it is daily life with all the drudgery and non-exciting work that goes with it. You can talk about these things, but I've also learned that talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words. I guess that is number 13.

09 April 2013

My Spirit is Fed

Wasn't conference awesome this weekend?

I'm going to give a quick recap of what I heard in the sessions (except Priesthood);

Elder Packer talked about how the power of the priesthood is given to protect our families and I felt grateful that we are bound by temple covenants.

Elder Davies spoke of faith, repentance, baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost being the pillers sunk deep to form the foundation of our lives; he also talked of how prayer should be a natural as breathing. Very good talk.

Sister Dalton gave good advice about how our part in mortality matters because we matter! She is just so awesome, we will miss her as the YW President.

Elder Cardon gave a good explanation of repentance and forgiveness. He said "In His mercy He allows improvement over time." How grateful I am for that, because I'm not ready for a final judgement.

Elder Ballard explained about using the power of the priesthood to strengthen families, and partaking of the Living Water by turning to the Savior.

Pres. Eyring also talked about the family and drawing closer to the Lord.

Elder Scott talked lovingly of centering our lives and homes in the Savior; little things lead to big things. Simple, consistent good habits lead to big consequences. Be wise in your use of technology. We can't do all that the Lord asks of us at the same time, He speaks of times and seasons. Such good advice.

Elder Cook talked about the difference between universal or world peace and personal peace which is an abiding, deep happiness and contentment. He told us that repentance allows for peace of conscience.

Elder Ellis said "We are not spiritual orphans." And how we raise our children is more important than where. The Doctrine of Christ is the way.

Elder Dickson (who was our Stake President when we first moved to Oak Harbor, WA) talked about missionary work, both in the time of the ancient apostles and in this dispensation. He talked about the effect of revelation on spreading the gospel and told personal stories about Mexico and West Africa.

Elder Bednar gave a powerful talk about the Law of Chastity which is so needed in the world today.

Elder Nelson also talked about missionary work and proclaimed "Our living God is a loving God."

President Uchtdorf talked about Darkness and Light and said that we choose in which condition we will live. Healing comes when we walk away from the dark and dwell in the light of hope. He gave 3 keys: 1. Begin where you are; 2. Turn your heart to the Lord; 3. Walk in the light. He said Darkness cannot exist in the Light.

Elder Andersen gave a great talk about missionary work and told of miracles associated with that special work.

Sister Wixom talked about teaching and reaching children. She advised us to disconnect from technology to be about to connect with children (and each other).

Elder Clayton taught us about Faithful Marriages:
1. Husband and Wife consider the relationship to be of great worth.
2. Build a marriage on Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (be good and obedient to commandments)
3. Humble repentance is an essential element in good marriages.
4. Respect each other as equal partners
5. Cleave to each other, leave behind a single life. Love each other with complete devotion.
All promised blessings will be our for our faithfulness

Elder Perry ( former Marine) shared what he had learned from a little brown book given to him as he entered the military. "Obedience to Law is Liberty." There are moral absolutes. God and his commandments do not change. Blessings come from obedience.

Then our Prophet, Thomas S. Monson spoke about Obedience and called it an unfailing guide. Life would be simpler is we obeyed exactly. There is no greater example of obedience than our Savior.

I think that was my favorite talk! Because it is something I've been thinking about a lot and trying to teach the sisters of the Relief Society.

We heard from Elder Holland who forthrightly told us about having faith. He said to acknowledge what strength we have and to hold the ground we've already gained. He talked about having integrity, that is having our actions consistent with our beliefs. He advised us to start with what faith we do have because what we know will trump what we do not know. He encouraged us to not be afraid to ask for help, and said that belief is a good place to begin.

Elder Oaks talked about following the example of the Savior and showed from the scriptures how our church follows what Jesus did while on earth.

Elder Golden talked about the nature of Heavenly Father and encouraged us to have a true understanding of Him and His Son.

Elder Falabelle gave a good talk on marriage and parenting. At the end he said "It is not enough to know the scriptures, we have to live them."

Elder Kopischke helped us understand how to be accepted by God and others. He talked about having a soft heart, being teachable and making a conscious decision to keep our covenants by obedience and sacrifice. Having the Holy Ghost as a constant companion is the ultimate sign of our acceptance by God. He encouraged us to seek the Lord's acceptance and receive the promised blessings.

Elder Porter talked about overcoming the world. We need not fear the future for God is with us. Faithful Latter-day Saints will find sanctuary in the Stakes of Zion.

Elder Christofferson talked about Redemption coming through the Savior.

At the end President Monson bore his testimony and gave his blessing to us. He encouraged us to study the messages of conference and live them.

Now I have enough to feast on spiritually for the next five months; I say five because the last month before the next conference I feel like I'm starving!

I find it interesting to hear what others heard in the conference because by the power of the Holy Ghost we hear what we individually need to. How miraculous is that?

05 April 2013

Hungering and Thirsting

Spiritual and physical preparations for General Conference are well underway in many home including ours. I spend time cleaning and baking and cooking and such so I can enjoy a relaxing weekend. My heart is prepared and I am spiritually hungry and thirsty for the bread of life and living water.

My gratitude for living prophets knows no bounds. How do persons who do not know the truth live from day to day. All areas of my life are guided by gospel knowledge. I know these are true prophets who lead and guide us toward the Tree of Life. Hold fast to the rod! And may you enjoy a feast during conference.

01 April 2013


That is what our children called the missionaries and it has stuck. Our little branch just got a pair of missionaries after not having any for a long while. We had them over for dinner tonight.

When they introduced themselves at church and bore their testimonies the one announced that he is one of the first of the eighteen year olds. Tonight we heard the rest of the story. His family had moved from Twin Falls, Idaho to Helena, Montana last summer just before his senior year of high school. He could have stayed in Twin Falls with extended family to finish out high school, but when he prayed about it he was impressed to move with his family to Helena. There he found he could graduate mid-year and then be free to go back to Idaho to school before serving a mission. He was surprised by the announcement of the age change last October at General Conference, prayed about it and decided to graduate mid-year as planned and then immediately go on a mission.  WOW! He really is young.

What a blessing to our sons, age 16 and 14, to have him as an example and friend. We enjoyed visiting with him at dinner and found him to be articulate, personable, and valiant. Pretty impressive.

27 March 2013

We hold these truths to be self-evident

Walter Williams has written another brilliant article this week about equality, and as there is much in the blogosphere about gender equality in the church I think it is good reading.

When the founders wrote the Declaration of Independence with the phrase We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, they were responding to the fact of their life that the King and Parliament held themselves above the law (much like Congress today) in that they would enact laws for the rest of the subjects but exempt themselves from obeying the laws. Our founding document declared that all men are created equal under the law, no one is above obeying the law.

How appropriate for our day. We are all under the law of God given through his prophets. No one is above or beneath the law, all equal. Now when we talk about assignments, responsibilities and authority, also understanding of which is given to us through the prophets, that is a different matter. Who am I to tell God what to do to fulfill His plan for His children? Who am I to whine and beg (something I taught my children was fruitless) when my will doesn't match up with His?

I heard a member of the Relief Society General Board tell a story about her family that has instructed me to this day about accepting no for an answer from God. Her married daughter desperately wanted children. She and her husband did everything they could to conceive but to no avail. Eventually they asked the family to join in a special fast for them. They plead with the Lord to grant them this righteous desire of their hearts. They were so excited to have their prayers answered with pregnancy and to discover it was twins. Until the babies were born prematurely and with such enormous genetic physical defects that the medical costs have beggared the family and shattered their dreams of having beautiful, healthy children. The sister telling the story (forgive me for not writing down her name at the time) tearfully counseled her audience to trust in the Lord's will, to know that His perspective is greater than ours and that He knows what is best for us.

What does this have to do with women wanting to be ordained to the priesthood so they can be equal to men? Everything! It is God's priesthood, He has a plan, He knows what He is doing and we can trust Him. The prophet is not an old, out-of-touch male who needs to get with the times. President Monson, just as all the other prophets before him, knows better than any of us God's plans for His church and kingdom. Those who whine and beg, complain and murmur, and worse, throw a negative light on the church show their lack of faith and trust in God and His Plan.

I've always believed that the feminists lost their way and clamored for the wrong things. Instead of lowering themselves to the level of the natural man, they should have demanded that men rise to the level of spiritual women, in chastity, compassion, peacemaking, and such. How much better the world would be if that had been the case. "Clean-up your act guys!" "Keep your pants zipped!" "Instead of using your strength in gladiator sports, let's build something useful!" "Can we spend more time with our children, rather than so many hours at work?" "Can we keep an Eternal Perspective?"

I've been told that I am handicapped at understanding others because I come from a good family. My parents and grandparents were good examples of righteous partnerships. It never entered my mind to want to be ordained to the priesthood because of their examples of equality. Sadly that is not the case in many homes, but we must continue to look to the ideal and change ourselves to fit it, not attempt to change the ideal to fit our dysfunction, or the isolated problems encountered in individual wards. As our family reads the Doctrine and Covenants this year I'm reminded that the most oft repeated commandment is to repent. Perfect counsel for today.

25 March 2013

Bytheway, John . . .

After a rotten Sunday, I listened to John Bytheway all day. Talk about uplifting! He speaks to the youth but it goes right to my heart. He's funny, encouraging, serious, spiritual, knowledgeable, and just downright wonderful. I feel better for having listened. Most days when I'm down I listen to good music, such as Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Bach's Brandenberg Concertos, Yo Yo Ma playing Ennio Morricone, Vivaldi, Hymns, etc. Lots of good music out there (do you want me to list all of my cd's?). But today I wanted to hear uplifting words, something that was totally missing from church yesterday.

27 February 2013

Here's An Example . . .

Here's an example of why the illiterate can't understand the scriptures.

Last year in our Book of Mormon Gospel Doctrine class a sister read this verse of scripture:
Mosiah 19:1 And it came to pass that the army of the king returned after searching in the veins of the people of the Lord. (Were they looking for heroin or what?)
Bless her heart, she's one who constantly says she reads the scriptures but doesn't understand them and marvels at my knowledge and grasp of them.

Well, this is what the verse actually says: "And it came to pass that the army of the king returned, having searched in vain for the people of the Lord."

Big difference!! Can I rant for a moment? These good hearted brothers and sisters butcher every verse they read. They drop words, add words, mispronounce words, change words, and just generally make the scriptures unintelligible. And these are the same people who, suppossedly, would be offended at the offer of a literacy class. So we protect their feelings and offend mine!

The Gospel Doctrine class is taught at an elementary level. It is painfully boring for me to sit through it. I learn more on my own than in that class. I have never been to the Gospel Essentials class, nor would I want to as it is taught by another illiterate whose gospel understanding is based on her protestant upbringing. I feel for the newly baptized members in that class.

I enjoy many things about living in Iowa. The church is not one of them. I long to go back to a ward full of literate, educated brothers and sisters.

If the Glory of God is intelligence, in other words light and truth, why can't we have some of it out here in the Heartland? It is no wonder to me that the Branch here has been shrinking for many years. My friend, the YW's President tells that when they moved here about 18 years ago the branch was flourishing with a huge (40 children) Primary and they routinely took 10 or 11 girls to summer camp, the largest group in the Stake. What happened? A combination of factors, but I have to ask, how can a unit grow without literate members and a climate of excellence rather than one of mediocrity?

23 February 2013

Literacy, or the Lack Thereof

I love to read, in fact, I'm addicted to reading. Seriously, I feel incomplete without reading (or writing) something everyday. I learned to read before I went to Kindergarten. When I asked my mom how I learned she told me I'd see a sign, (street, billboard, store front) and I'd ask her what it said, she'd tell me and I'd remember it. I learned to decode words by myself, I think. I don't remember. I do remember learning a few phonics rules in school, but I usually got 100% on spelling tests.

Both of my parents are readers and our home was full of books and magazines. We read scriptures together and my mother read novels to me before bed. I still remember the soothing sound of her voice. She had the ability to read in the car without getting sick (I didn't inherit that trait) and would read to us as we traveled, in the olden days before anything other than AM radios were in autos. My parents subscribed to the Church News from Deseret News and all the church magazines. I read them all. When the magazines were standardized and correlated we continued to subscribe and I still read them all.

Before I got married I lived alone in a one bedroom apartment near downtown San Diego. In the little hallway between the living room and the bedroom was space and I had my dad build me some shelving to fill that space from floor to ceiling. One half of the shelves housed my books and the other half was for food and other storage. One guy I had a date with came over to pick me up and saw those shelves and asked incredulously "Have you read all those books?" "Well, most of them," I answered. He seemed disgusted and said something about it being a waste of time. I didn't go out with him again. When TopDad came over and saw all those books he exclaimed "You like to read too, cool!" I married him.

Our children have grown up in a home where the books shelves are full and there are piles of books all over the place; plus we go to the library regularly. They all can read, most like too, several are addicts like their parents. We subscribe to the Church News and the Ensign, New Era and Friend magazines. (Well, actually our Friend subscription expired and I won't renew it at this time because our youngest is almost 15, and I decided to give a gift subscription to a single dad in our branch.) We read scriptures together and I have read novels to all of the children at bedtime.

We are a literate family. I thought most other church members were like us. WRONG! Not out here in our tiny Iowa branch. Most here can't read very well if at all, and it seems that many who can, don't. There is a preponderance of reading disabilities as well as a lack of desire to improve. It drives me crazy!

As the RS President I suggested to the Branch President that we offer a "literacy class." He put it before the Branch Council for discussion. One suggestion was to call it a "book club" which I thought was a poor suggestion as people who can't read are hardly going to attend a club for readers. Another brother suggested that we must be very careful and sensitive so we won't offend anyone. My little teapot boiled over at that point and I asked "How would anyone be offended by an invitation to a voluntary class to improve their literacy so they could improve their employment skills as well as have a greater understanding of the gospel through reading and comprehending the scriptures, church magazines, and lesson manuals?" What am I missing here? Am I the only one who wants to improve in this life? The matter was tabled for another time.

Here's a little example: I learned to lead music as a child, I think from my dad, and was called to be a Primary chorister when I was still 13. From that time on I took whatever music conducting course was offered in all the wards and stakes I've lived in. I NEVER felt that I didn't need to learn more or practice to get better.

Another example: I was never offended because I was asked/assigned to take a teacher development course, even after having taken it a half dozen times. I figured there was something else I could learn.

The Glory of God is Intelligence or in other words, light and truth. But how can a person gain more light and truth if they can't read? A brother got up to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting and said something like "I've been asked to talk about the Atonement. I don't know much about the Atonement so I don' know what I can say. Now if they'd asked me to talk about NASCAR or football I could talk for two or three hours." (I thought, well there's your problem, you've spent too much time studying the wrong things, buddy.) Then he proceeded to painfully read excerpts from a General Conference address, add his testimony and sat down. He is one who would benefit from a literacy class. His wife types the Sunday bulletin, which is an embarrassment to me with all of its typos, mispellings and misinformation. She likes to read in Sunday School class, but butchers anything she reads so that it makes little sense. It is no wonder that the illiterate don't comprehend the gospel as found in the scriptures.

Has anyone who reads this been involved in a unit literacy class or effort? I'd love to hear about it.

Until next time. Right now I'm going to grab a book and relax.

16 February 2013

Thank Goodness Someone Understands

In a wonderful article over at CNS News Ashley McGuire explains something too many today don't understand. Truth, in whatever sphere it is found, is eternal. Facts may change, but truth doesn't.

For myself, I'm so thankful we (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) are led by a living prophet.  I saw in a comment somewhere "beware of false prophets" and wanted to ask the commenter if because he believed there are false prophets if he knew who the true prophet is. Why would the ancient apostles warn of false prophets if there were to be no true ones?

The world does have a true living prophet. He is Thomas Spencer Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ is Latter-day Saints. And he doesn't get to retire until he is called home to God.

11 January 2013

New Calling = Less Time

I haven't been posting because I've been just so busy with other things; particularly with my calling in the Branch as Relief Society President. This calling is time consuming in any unit but in ours it is time consuming for reasons of geographical distance rather than welfare work to be done. For example, I visited a sister yesterday, one of my assigned visiting teachees, and it took four hours! I started out on my way there at 10:20 AM (for an 11:00 AM appointment), made a stop at the bank (combining errands), then began down the country highway towards her town. After about 5 minutes I realized that I'd forgotten my Ensign and scriptures, as well as her new "prophet" manual, so I turned around and went back for them. I ended up almost 20 minutes late to our appointment. She is a wonderful woman, struggling with a mentally handicapped daughter, a stretched to the limit in his work as a surgeon husband, and loneliness in our little branch. They moved here from Price, Utah, where she had many friends and was visited regularly by her visiting and home teachers. She told me that in the five years they've been here home teachers have visited maybe three times; and she's not had any visits from visiting teachers. I listened to her for almost two hours. She just needed someone to talk to! I know the feeling. I get really lonely too and in the over two years we've lived here I've NEVER been visited by anyone from the Relief Society. Anyway, after visiting her I stopped at the store (combining errands again) and then drove home. Four hours had gone by! And that was just one visit, we have over ninety sisters in our branch. Attendance at RS on Sunday is usually four to six sisters.

As I've pondered and prayed about how to reach the sisters and help them, beyond the stupor of thought that persisted for a week, the thought keeps pressing on my heart and mind that I need to continue teaching and training the sisters in visiting teaching so that it becomes the norm and is effective. The previous RS President encouraged the sisters to simply send a card and that counted as a visit. She went so far as to instruct my visiting teacher to NOT visit me because it was "not safe." When my visiting teacher told me that I was stunned and absolutely incredulous. I live in a quiet rural town, I am a stay at home mom, and have never felt unsafe here.

I've been blessed with many revelations for this calling, from who should be my counselors, to what to put up on the bulletin boards, to what to teach. It has been a great oppotunity and blessing to me. But it sure doesn't leave much time for blogging.