Friday, February 14, 2014

Christlike Attributes and Patriarchal Blessings

Recently I decided I need to be more focused, more purposeful in my efforts to become more Christlike. (The world is so darned effective in distracting me from the most critical use of my time and energy!) Studying the Savior's life, pondering his teachings and attributes is one of those efforts that can yield so much more than you would think. In a few short days of this focus I've already felt improvement and hope in my efforts.

In the process of this studying, I felt impressed today to re-read my patriarchal blessing. I cannot, ever, do that without becoming emotional. Today it hit me that here is an individualized, inspired instrument that can help me do exactly what I most need to do: become more like Christ.

In this simple document my gracious and loving Heavenly Father has pointed out to me strengths--attributes--I already possess, qualities I worked on developing pre-mortally that are Christlike in nature. He also kindly but soberly highlights areas where I'm not so Christlike: weak spots, vulnerabilities, danger zones that will keep me from this all-important goal.

Reading my patriarchal blessing is something of a two-edged sword. I'm old enough now to see the sad consequences of warnings I failed to heed, and that's painful. On the other hand, I always feel hopeful as I read my blessing. I sense that even though I've goofed, sinned, fallen short (way short) of the glory of God, Heavenly Father and His Saving Son know how to save me still. And Holy Ghost starts sending small nudges as I continue my path toward salvation.

What a blessing to belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! What a blessing to access the ancient gift of patriarchal blessings, which offer the opportunity God has always offered His children of being personally directed toward their personal salvation, if they so choose.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

New Beginnings

All you Mormons out there will know by my post title where I've been tonight: our ward Young Women New Beginnings. I was there to accompany a musical number, but was the recipient of the spirit of the LDS Young Women program, as well as a beneficiary of the Holy Spirit.

These young women are loved! They are sacrificed for. They are prayed for, ministered to, and agonized over. They will probably recognize how valued they are now in about 10 to 15 years, when suddenly the shoe is on the other foot and they are the adult leaders, doing the same things for a new generation of Young Women.

Interestingly, I began my day with 21 kindergarteners. (Whoops--back up the schedule: after spending an hour with high school freshmen and sophomores in Early Morning Seminary, talking about sexual sin and why it is so abominable in the eyes to Heavenly Father, THEN I scurried over to the grade school and hung around with kindergarteners.) Anyway, kindergarten: another sort of new beginning.

I look at those little ones, some of whom already have some big hurdles in front of them, and I hope that somewhere in their homes, their communities, their society are people willing to pray for, minister to, and sacrifice for them. It isn't that big a jump from five year-olds in kindergarten to fifteen year-olds in Young Women. So much of their current happiness and their future joys depends on the adults in their lives being willing to BE the adults in their lives, teaching, directing, disciplining, and loving them.

Beginnings are just so important.

One day record

Yes. That is how long I kept my recent blogging streak going. Sad, I know. I did THINK about it yesterday, but should have acted while it was on my mind.

So: this early morning post is a catch-up for yesterday. Hopefully I'll write again tonight.

Yesterday I had planned to go to Billings after Seminary for a much-needed restocking shopping trip, but 80% chance of snow in Billings persuaded me to stay home instead. I had a nice video chat with Rachell and Maddy. Maddy was heavily into "Happy Valentines Day, Nana!" preparations, and Rachell shared some scriptural insights she gained in her morning study. I love talking to my kids about anything, but spiritual insights and growth are my favorite conversations with them.

I'm trying--again--to be better about my eating habits. I was trained to have a sweet tooth and successfully and unfortunately passed that on to my own kids. But lately I've been struggling to establish better eating habits. Two articles in the most recent Ensign have encouraged me to keep trying. So yesterday, I spent a goodly amount of time cooking up a supply of healthy grains to keep in the fridge and freezer: barley, lentils, and brown rice. It felt good to work at something healthy.

I also took Bear on an hour-plus walk into the hills. He enjoyed it; I plugged into an interview with Elder D. Todd Christofferson and his wife, which was very interesting. I was heartened to hear Sister Christofferson's voice: it's lower, very Utah-inflected, and she sounds like someone I'd like to know. For some reason I have a hard time listening to women leaders who have girly-voices. Don't ask me why. I know it has nothing to do with their intelligence or inspiration, etc. I just enjoy a more solid tone of voice. Anyway, they seem like very ordinary people. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Most of My Life Has Disappeared

I just read a summary of Stephanie Nielsen's talk at the 2014 RootsTech conference. She encouraged people to keep records-to be consistent, to record something about every day of their lives.

I am lousy at long-term commitments like blogging.

Sunday Grandma Roberts came to lunch and brought with her a shoebox of cards and letters Grandpa saved over the last 40-something years. Just one shoebox. There were a few letters from me in there, several more from Shane from various points in history (missionary letters, newlywed letters). In one of Shane's letters, written two months after our marriage, he told about having to take me into the Emergency room at UtahValley Hospital to have stitches put in my hand, a result of me breaking a glass while washing dishes after supper that night.

Shane told his dad that the emergency room physician, Dr. Hooker (for whom Shane had done landscaping at the doctor's Edgemont home), stitched me up, bandaged my hand, and said, "Don't get that wet for a week." Shane told him, "I think she did that on purpose so I'd have to wash the dishes." To which the doctor responded, "Make that thirty days."

You know what? I don't remember the incident at all. I remember that I had to get stitches shortly after we were married, but I just remember the fact, not the actual incident or anything surrounding it.

That is sad. More than sad--it's tragic. If I had been blogging all my youth and adult life--journaling in the old days--I would have a detailed memoir of my life. So much of my earthly existence would be recorded and accessible. But it's not. Truly, you lose part of yourself when you don't keep records.

So--for the record--here's what I did today:

Went to Seminary at 6ish, hoping there wouldn't be four inches of snow to shovel off the sidewalk, like there was Sunday morning (except I don't have to shovel on Sundays). Bonus! No new snow.

Stayed in Cowley to prepare tomorrow's lesson, then drove to Powell to get the car tires rotated and the oil changed. There was an hour and a half wait--boring--and then I picked up some Christmas gifts from the clearance toy section of Lintons and filled the car up with gas ($2.97/gallon). Resisted buying a cinnamon roll at Maverick, although I was sorely tempted.

Got home about 11:30. Let Bear out of the kennel; threw in some laundry, read and sorted the mail. Changed clothes, ate some diet barley soup--I'm getting tired of that stuff--and took Bear out for a 3 mile run. Clarification: I drove the car, he ran beside it for three miles. It only got up to about 10* today.

Came home, did some online diaper shopping for a family in our ward with new twins, as well as for a replacement rack bottom rack for our dishwasher. Those things are ridiculously expensive.  $175!! That's one-third the price of an entire new dishwasher. I found a gently-used one on Ebay for $67. Much more reasonable. Besides, it will match the gently-used upper rack.

Checked my email and found Elder Russell Roberts' weekly email, which always perks me up. Except this one made me feel slightly guilty for some less-than-optimistic comments about our coming ward boundary realignments. Repent, Mormon Mama!

Did some dinner prep, tried to take a nap--it lasted 13 minutes. Got on the elliptical for nearly an hour; I could sustain that because Rachell called shortly after I started and talking to her was a great distraction from the workout.

Wrote an email per Rachell's request for some life history info on me and Shane which she needs for her online history class. Shane got home from work; visited with him as I finished supper. We ate, read part of the Sunday school lesson for our FHE, went to Grandma's and visited with her for about an hour, came home, read the RootsTech talk by Sister Nielsen, am writing this and then plan to get ready for bed.

There we go. In 100 years will someone will find this interesting?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mormon Homecoming

Last Christmas our entire Mormon family--four married sons, one married daughter, one unmarried son--united at home for Christmas.

But they didn't all come home at once.

Mormon son #1 and his family arrived first, via airline and with no unexpected interruptions to itinerary. Mormon son #2 had to work up until the day before Christmas Eve, so sent his family ahead on the plane to spend a week with our daughter-in-law's family and then meet up halfway with Mormon son #3 and wife, who drove them the rest of the way to our home. Mormon son #4 and his wife drove up a day earlier than expected, trying to get ahead of a predicted winter storm. Mormon daughter and husband couldn't get away ahead of above-mentioned storm, so they braved travel in the midst of it (not as bad as expected). Mormon son #5, still a teenager, was already home.

When son #2 got to the airport in his distant city, ready to join the extended family who were now all gathered at the ancestral home, he discovered his flight was delayed, which caused him to miss a vital connection, which resulted in being stuck at another airport because all flights were cancelled by a storm which really was as bad as expected, which netted a night on the floor of the airport and jockeying for one of the few remaining seats on the last available flight and a last-minute homecoming on Christmas Eve.

But, eventually and joyfully we were all reunited for a wonderful Mormon Christmas together.

As Mormon Papa and I welcomed each and every child home, some at expected times, others earlier than planned and one at repeatedly delayed times, it occurred to me that this might in some tiny way be like the homecoming we will all experience one day to the Great Ancestral Home, our Eternal Father's home.

Some of us will arrive Home after traveling the route pretty much as planned from the beginning and without major incident: happy childhood, pleasant and rewarding family life, death at right about the average mortality rate. Others will arrive after extended delay--perhaps life will stretch on what seems to us much too long. Some of our Eternal Father's children may come home earlier than expected: sometimes the good really do die young. And then there are God's children who take twists and turns throughout life that they never expected, never wanted, but which surprising paths have to be navigated anyway.

Regardless the timing or tracking, we will eventually gather, each of us, one by one to our Heavenly Father's realm. Undoubtedly there will be anxious anticipation as those who arrive first wait and count and welcome with hugs of love and joy every returning family member, each in his own time.

And the greatest joy of all will be knowing that we expended our greatest efforts to ensure that each of God's children for whom we bear responsibility arrived safely, faith in God and valiancy through life intact.

In the words of the beautiful Mormon hymn,

"Oh, what songs of the heart we shall sing all the day,
When again we assemble at home,
When we meet ne'er to part with the blest o'er the way,
There no more from our loved ones to roam!

Tho our rapture and bliss there's no song can express,
We will shout, we will sing o'er and o'er,
As we greet with a kiss, and with joy we caress
All our loved ones that passed on before.

Oh, what songs we'll employ! Oh, what welcome we'll hear!
While our transports of love are complete,
As the heart swells with joy in embraces most dear
When our heavenly parents we meet!"

--Joseph L. Townsend

Monday, October 26, 2009

Again and Again

The other day my Mormon husband, Mormon son and I, Mormon Mom, raked leaves. And raked LEAVES. And RAKED LEAVES. AND RAKED LEAVES. I would go on, but I've run out of words to capitalize.

You get the drift. And so did we, when the next wild Wyoming wind came up two minutes later and reminded me that we would be out there raking again sooner than I cared think about.

I began pondering all the things in life that we do, and then have to re-do. And re-do.

Make beds. Wash dishes. Vacuum floors. Fix meals. Get dressed. Go to work. Rake leaves.

My kids used to argue the ridiculousness of making their beds every morning. After all, the same beds would just get unmade that night when they crawled back into them. In a way, they had a point, and I'm not talking about the ones on the tops of their little Mormon heads. Bed-making in and of itself is a rather futile exercise.

What then is the value of repeating such mundane behaviors? I think it lies in what that repetition helps us become:


It then follows that the repetition of much more meaningful things--prayer, scripture study, repentance--helps us become something even greater:

Full of love.
Submissive to God.

In the words of Mormon Apostle Dallin H. Oaks,

"The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become."

Practice makes permanent.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Blessed by Mormon Teenagers

This is my tenth year teaching Seminary for the LDS Church. No, I am not one of those truly celestial teachers who arises before daybreak during the school year and, without compensation, teaches sleep-deprived teenagers the doctrines of the Bible, Book of Mormon and Latter-day scripture. I have a cushy job: I teach three classes daily to students who walk across the street from the high school to my small modular-classroom Seminary building and yes, I am paid for my efforts. So it's not been much of a sacrifice for either me or my students.

The real blessing in this has not been the pay. The real blessing has been teaching and testifying to young people, as well as having them teach and testify to me, about eternal truths.

Teenagers can be remarkably wonderful. For instance:

When the high school history teacher was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, the students prayed for him in every opening and closing prayer for the rest of the school year.

This year, one young man runs over to the building every day in order to arrive first and hold the door for each student as they enter, smiling and greeting each one out of love, not assignment.

A current freshman comes up to me after class every day to shake my hand, thank me for the lesson, and wish me a great day.

Last year a young lady shared a scripture from the Apostle Paul as part of a devotional the year we studied the New Testament and told how she had read it the night before and it pricked her heart, teaching her she must do better. When I asked if that was how far she was in reading the New Testament for our course of study, she said, "Well, actually it's where I am on my second time through." And she lives in a home where no parental example leads the way in spiritual living.

Not all Mormon teenagers are celestial--probably because their parents aren't. But the great majority I have taught respond to things of the Spirit, desire to be more Christlike, and are much, much better than I was as a teenager.

And I am blessed by them.