Saturday, May 26, 2012

To Live Greatly

A message from God's prophet on the earth, President Thomas S. Monson, in the June 2010 Ensign

To live greatly, we must develop the capacity to ~

Face Trouble with Courage
Disappointment with Cheerfulness
& Triumph with Humility

You ask, “How might we achieve these goals?” I answer, “By gaining a true perspective of who we really are!” We are sons and daughters of a living God, in whose image we have been created. Think of that: created in the image of God. We cannot sincerely hold this conviction without experiencing a profound new sense of strength and power.

In our world, moral character ofttimes seems secondary to beauty or charm. But from long ago the Lord’s counsel to Samuel the prophet echoes: “The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Heart, Soul, and Mind

This is a wonderful talk by Elder Neal A. Maxwell -

I've had to listen to this talk several times to get it all - I think I still have about 28 times to go.  But here are my favorite parts from the first 2 goes at it:

The conscientious among us experience divine discontent because of progression mixed with procrastination. Hence, loving counsel is given with the confirmation of this direction, encouragement to continue the journey, and consolation as we experience individually the inherent degrees of difficulty.Spiritual submissiveness is not accomplished in an instant, but by the incremental improvements and by the successive use of stepping-stones. Stepping-stones are meant to be taken one at a time anyway. Eventually our wills can be “swallowed up in the will of the Father” as we are “willing to submit … even as a child doth submit to his father” (see Mosiah 15:7; Mosiah 3:19). 

I think the "stepping stones" he mentioned are like the different levels of conversion I mentioned in the post yesterday.  I don't need to feel bad for the level I'm at, cause they are meant to be taken one at a time anyway.  As I keep seeing and praying diligently, eventually my will will be swallowed up in the will of the Father.

Monday, May 21, 2012

5 Levels of Conversion

Bob Egan is one of our Sunday School teachers right now.  He began mission service as the mission president in South Africa about 6 years ago (pretty sure, I think they were there from 2006-2009).  Anyway, in class last week he said that they taught their missionaries that there are 5 levels of conversion.  These are the different levels of things that people are converted to:

1) People - someone could be converted because of the missionaries that taught them, or a friend who is a member.

2) Church - Someone who is converted to the Church because they enjoy the social aspects of the church and recognize how it will bless them and how they can bless others.

3) Gospel - People who are converted to the teachings of the gospel.

4) Christ - To be converted to Christ, to love the church and the gospel because they know it teaches of Christ and they love Christ.

5) Atonement - to know that the ultimate blessing of the gospel can be theirs, that they can be perfected through the atonement of Christ. (Moroni 10:32)

I think I'm on the 4th level right now, and I've only recently arrived at this level and am striving to make it stronger.  I'm glad that I did recognize on my own before this lesson that I need and want to know Christ better, and I want to gain a better understanding of, appreciation for, and testimony of the atonement of Christ.  I did begin to read the book Gethsemane and had some wonderful insights as I read it.  Didn't finish it, but I will.  I know Christ lives.  It's not some make believe story like Harry Potter or Star Wars, it's the real thing, it truly is a story of a chosen one, of a miracle birth and a man who would change the world.  Jesus is the Christ.  I know he lives and will come to earth again.  Let us build up Zion so we can be prepared as individuals and as a society to receive Him.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Conspiracy of Nauvoo

We read the kids a nail biting story "Conspiracy of Nauvoo" from this book tonight.  Here's a shortened version of it in a talk by Elder Oaks here from 1987:

As a boy, I was inspired by a story of courage in Nauvoo, which involved my grandfather’s uncle. In the spring of 1844, some men were plotting against the Prophet Joseph Smith. One of the leaders, William Law, held a secret meeting at his home in Nauvoo. Among those invited were nineteen-year-old Dennison Lott Harris and his friend, Robert Scott. Dennison’s father, Emer Harris, who is my second great-grandfather, was also invited. He sought counsel from the Prophet Joseph Smith, who told him not to attend the meeting but to have the young men attend. The Prophet instructed them to pay close attention and report what was said.

The spokesmen at this first meeting denounced Joseph Smith as a fallen prophet and stated their determination to destroy him. When the Prophet heard this, he asked the young men to attend the second meeting. They did so, and reported the plotting.

A third meeting was to be held a week later. Again the Prophet asked them to attend, but he told them this would be their last meeting. “Be careful to remain silent and not to make any covenants or promises with them,” he counseled. He also cautioned them on the great danger of their mission. Although he thought it unlikely, it was possible they would be killed. 

"But be sure," Joseph continued, "that you make no covenants, not enter into any obligations whatever with them.  ~ Boys, this will be their last meeting, and they may shed your blood, but I hardly think they will, as you are so young.  If they do, I will be a lion in their path!  Don't flinch.  If you have to die, die like men; you will be martyrs to the cause, and your crowns can be no greater.  But," he said again, "I hardly think they will shed your blood." (pg. 87)

Then, the Prophet Joseph Smith blessed Dennison and Robert by the power of the priesthood, promising them that if their lives were taken, their reward would be great.

In the strength of this priesthood blessing, they attended the third meeting and listened to the murderous plans. Then, when each person was required to take an oath to join the plot and keep it secret, they bravely refused. After everyone else had sworn secrecy, the whole group turned on Dennison and Robert, threatening to kill them unless they took the oath also. Because any refusal threatened the secrecy of their plans, about half of the plotters proposed to kill these two immediately. Knives were drawn, and angry men began to force them down into a basement to kill them.

Other plotters shouted to wait. Parents probably knew where they were. If they didn’t return, an alarm would be sounded and a search could reveal the boys’ deaths and the secret plans. During a long argument, two lives hung in the balance. Finally, the group decided to threaten to kill the young men if they ever revealed anything that had occurred and then to release them. This was done. Despite this threat, and because they had followed the Prophet’s counsel not to make any promises to the conspirators, Dennison and Robert promptly reported everything to the Prophet Joseph Smith.

For their own protection, the Prophet had these courageous young men promise him that they would never reveal this experience, not even to their fathers, for at least twenty years. A few months later, the Prophet Joseph Smith was murdered.

Many years passed. The members of the Church settled in the West. While Dennison L. Harris was serving as bishop of the Monroe Ward in southern Utah, he met a member of the First Presidency at a Church meeting in Ephraim. There, on Sunday, 15 May 1881, thirty-seven years after the Prophet Joseph Smith had sealed his lips to protect him against mob vengeance, Dennison Harris recited this experience to President Joseph F. Smith (see Verbal Statement of Bishop Dennison L. Harris, 15 May 1881, MS 2725, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City; the account was later published in the Contributor, Apr. 1884, pp. 251–60). Dennison Harris’s posterity includes many notable Latter-day Saints, including Franklin S. Harris, long-time president of Brigham Young University.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

True Success in the Ultimate Career

As C.S. Lewis is said to have remarked, “The home is the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose, and that is to support the ultimate career."

I watched this video of Mitt Romney giving a commencement address at Liberty University yesterday - I thought it went along perfectly with the book and thoughts from yesterday's post - The introduction for Governor Romney begins at 25:27 with remarks from Chancellor Falwell and Mark DeMoss, Chairman of Liberty University. (don't skip the intros):


It's all excellent, here are some of my most favorite parts:

Jerry Falwell, Senior, long ago observed that “You do not determine a man’s greatness by his talent or wealth, as the world does, but rather by what it takes to discourage him.”

Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.

The protection of religious freedom has also become a matter of debate. It strikes me as odd that the free exercise of religious faith is sometimes treated as a problem, something America is stuck with instead of blessed with. Perhaps religious conscience upsets the designs of those who feel that the highest wisdom and authority comes from government.

But from the beginning, this nation trusted in God, not man. Religious liberty is the first freedom in our Constitution. And whether the cause is justice for the persecuted, compassion for the needy and the sick, or mercy for the child waiting to be born, there is no greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in action.

Religious freedom opens a door for Americans that is closed to too many others around the world. But whether we walk through that door, and what we do with our lives after we do, is up to us.
Someone once observed that the great drama of Christianity is not a crowd shot, following the movements of collectives or even nations. The drama is always personal, individual, unfolding in one’s own life. We’re not alone in sensing this. Men and women of every faith, and good people with none at all, sincerely strive to do right and lead a purpose-driven life.

Someone once observed that the great drama of Christianity is not a crowd shot, following the movements of collectives or even nations. The drama is always personal, individual, unfolding in one’s own life. We’re not alone in sensing this. Men and women of every faith, and good people with none at all, sincerely strive to do right and lead a purpose-driven life.

And, in the way of lessons learned, by hitting the mark or by falling short, I can tell you this much for sure.

All that you have heard here at Liberty University – about trusting in God and in His purpose for each of us–makes for more than a good sermon. It makes for a good life. So many things compete for our attention and devotion. That doesn’t stop as you get older. We are all prone, at various turns, to treat the trivial things as all-important, the all-important things as trivial, and little by little lose sight of the one thing that endures forever.

No person I have ever met, not even the most righteous or pure of heart, has gone without those times when faith recedes in the busy-ness of life. It’s normal, and sometimes even the smallest glimpses of the Lord’s work in our lives can reawaken our hearts. They bring us back to ourselves – and, better still, to something far greater than ourselves.

What we have, what we wish we had – ambitions fulfilled, ambitions disappointed … investments won, investments lost … elections won, elections lost – these things may occupy our attention, but they do not define us. And each of them is subject to the vagaries and serendipities of life. Our relationship with our Maker, however, depends on none of this. It is entirely in our control, for He is always at the door, and knocks for us. Our worldly successes cannot be guaranteed, but our ability to achieve spiritual success is entirely up to us, thanks to the grace of God. The best advice I know is to give those worldly things your best but never your all, reserving the ultimate hope for the only one who can grant it.


Monday, May 14, 2012

How Will You Measure Your Life?

Corey read this news article yesterday and is very excited to read Clayton Christensen's new book -

Go read that article, it's really good. (time lapse) Did you read it?  Good stuff, huh!  Here's my favorite part:

Forbes wrote this about the book: "It mixes tested business theories, a heap of common sense and Clay's deep confidence in the authority of God. It's one of the more surprisingly powerful books of personal philosophy of the 21st century. The questions it asks are the right ones: How do I find satisfaction in work? How do I create a family with relationships that are meaningful and fulfilling? How do I raise kids who are responsible, kind and make good choices?
"Ask any recovering alcoholic or addicted gambler or adulterer. They'll tell you what Clay tells you: it's easier to hold to one's principles 100 percent of the time than it is to hold to them 98 percent of the time. For kids graduating from college right now, this is the best time to engage in this personal reflection. Life, kids, careers and other pressures have a way of swallowing up time. Decide now what you stand for. Stand for it all the time."

Corey will be getting it to read during his trip to Chile next week.  Corey's got all of the Innovators books, plus he was super flattered and thought it was fun that he was mentioned in the Innovators DNA as an example of how innovators observe and learn from their environment. Plus he's also mentioned there in the acknowledgements, fun!  It as Corey's first time being published.

Things are going great with M o v i e Mouth by the way.  I have to type M o vi e Mouth that way (with spaces) so that Google search doesn't find it on our blog, Corey's not ready for it to be publicized too much yet and our blog was too high up there on the search engine from my posts during our time in Chile.He had me go through the blog and change every reference to M o v i e Mouth to "Media Mouth", which is the official name of his incorporation. 

Anyway, loved that whole article.  True happiness is found in your relationships, in the people around you, in our family, and in righteous living. Here's another great article from the Deseret News about King Hussein and his "We don't work on Sundays" stance, great article, uplifting and inspiring, makes me want to be better and go influence the world for good.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Blessing of Opposition

Elder Marlin K. Jensen gave a talk this past Sunday that is wonderful.  Here's a link with a brief summary of what he shared.  I loved the lessons we can learn from trees.  Here is #2

Holiness can only be brought to pass through adversity and testing.

Elder Jensen spoke of an experiment conducted a few years ago in a designated area of the Sacred Grove. To provide the healthiest young trees a prime place to grow, gardeners cleaned out the area and took away opposition that could prevent the trees from growing. Their hope was that the trees would flourish and develop, as they grew without competition for water, sunlight and soil nutrients.

"As a result, none of the trees in the test plot compared in size or vitality to the trees left to grow more naturally and that had to overcome opposition in order to survive and thrive,"he said.

One of the key doctrines of the Book of Mormon is that there must be an opposition in all things, Elder Jensen taught. “A world with opposites provides choices between good and evil, so that agency can operate. Equally important, however, is the principle that opposition must exist for spiritual growth to occur—or as father Lehi puts it—for ‘holiness’ to be brought to pass.

“I want to stress that understanding this principle—that spiritual growth requires opposition and adversity—and even embracing this principle at your age is a key to accepting and being generally happy with life. It is also critical to experiencing needed personal growth and development.”
Sooner or later, all will encounter opposition and adversity, he said. “The list of opposing forces is nearly endless—and so are the blessings of personal growth and development if we have the faith to take the long view and endure it all well,” he said.

My favorite part about opposition is in this video here from 29:25 - 37:11

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Freedom of Limited Choices

I read this article last week in California - thanks to Wayne for sharing it with me, I thought it was excellent!  Here are some of my favorite parts:

To a freedom-loving people, religion can sometimes seem stifling. Religion puts our lives within certain parameters. In other words, it limits our choices.

Take the Word of Wisdom, for example. Because I made the simple choice long ago not to drink alcohol or caffeine, I never have to decide what type of wine to drink with dinner, or what kind of latte I want from Starbucks. Instead, I drink water.

In 2001, the author Yann Martel published the novel “Life of Pi,” the story of an Indian boy who gets stranded on a boat at sea. In the book, the character Pi is fascinated by religion and zoos. The correlation seems odd, until you realize what Martel’s getting at — namely, that both represent a place where something very animalistic can be kept within a prescribed boundary.

The difference, of course, is that we Mormons don’t look at commandments as putting us in a cage, but as giving us parameters by which to live our lives.  An example that keeps coming to mind is the commandment from leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to get married and start a family, without unnecessary delay. (Look no further than President Thomas S. Monson’s April 2011 talk to priesthood holders for the latest.) This counsel bucks the societal trend of putting off marriage and children. After all (as modern-day thinking goes), marrying young and starting a family limits your choices. Once you take those two life-altering steps, doors begin to close. And, in some respect, that’s true — and yet in limiting our life choices, marriage and family bring unintended benefits of clarity.
I know an awful lot of young adults who are aimless, still trying to figure out what to do with their lives. I see this trend in the Mormon missionaries who serve in our ward (and these are sister missionaries, who are already a few years older than the elders) and in the 20-something neighbors living in their parents’ basements until they can find direction. They have unlimited brands of future to choose from, and they are stuck, unable to choose at all. A little bit of college, a job here or there, but a lot of drifting in search of a purpose.

When you get married, you eliminate a lot of choices, namely whom to date and how to manage your social life. When you have children, this further limits your choices, and carries the added weight of needing to provide for a family. No more twiddling thumbs, trying to figure out what to do with your life. You just move forward.

Consider this from Barry Schwartz in the Harvard Business Review:

“There is diminishing marginal utility in having alternatives; each new option subtracts a little from the feeling of well-being, until the marginal benefits of added choice level off. What’s more, psychologists and business academics alike have largely ignored another outcome of choice: More of it requires increased time and effort and can lead to anxiety, regret, excessively high expectations and self-blame if the choices don’t work out.”

I look at that list — anxiety, regret, high expectations and self-blame — and I think of young singles today who are reportedly more depressed than any generation previously, despite having an unparalleled buffet of choices.

When I get my toddler dressed in the morning, I don’t ask him what color shirt he wants to wear. We would still be standing by the closet at noon.

Instead, I say, “Red or blue, what will it be?” It makes sense that our Father in heaven might do the same: Here are your choices — but please, pick one.

It’s an oversimplified example. Some choices we make are monumental, even eternal, and deserve careful consideration.

But life is not a t-shirt. Choose, and move forward.

Being as I am one of those people who got married young and limited my choices by tying myself to lots of cute kids and a gorgeous husband, I have to say that it's given me joy that I didn't know was there and didn't even know i wanted.  It's like as if in life we are all in a big corn maze where there are prizes to be won, and there is someone there (God/prophets) who point out to us the fastest and best way to get to the greatest reward.  I love my children, I love my husband.  Choosing to follow the prophet's counsel to have a family has given me immense joy, and I know I have an abundant life.   Thank you Lord, for your goodness to me.
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