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.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Recently I noticed an interesting shop in a strip mall: "Eternal Ink: Tattoos and Body Piercings."

I wonder if the shop's owner/operator realizes just how eternal tattoos and piercings, along with all our other actions, thoughts and words, can be?

The Bible clearly teaches that we will all experience Judgment Day. The Apostle John told what we will be judged by:

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (Revelation 20:12)

Recently my Mormon daughter shared this quote from an early Latter-day Saint prophet and Church president, John Taylor.

"Man sleeps the sleep of death but the spirit lives where the record of his deeds is kept--that does not die--man cannot kill it. . . by and by he rises again from the dead and goes to judgment, and then the secret thoughts of all men are revealed before Him with whom we have to do; we cannot hide them. . . . If a man has acted fraudulently against his neighbor--has committed murder, or adultery, or anything else, and wants to cover it up, that record will stare him in the face. . . . that record is written that cannot lie--in the tablets of his own mind--that record will in that day be unfolded before God and angels who shall sit as judges."

And from a latter-day Apostle, Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

"In a real though figurative sense, the book of life is the record of the acts of men as such record is written in their own bodies. It is the record engraved on the very bones, sinews, and flesh of the mortal body. That is, every thought, word, and deed has an effect on the human body; all these leave their marks, marks which can be read by Him who is Eternal as easily as the words in a book can be read. . . . When the book of life is opened in the day of judgment, men's bodies will show what law they have lived. . . . the account of their obedience or disobedience will be written in their bodies."

Talk about eternal ink.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mormon Hymns

A gentleman (church affiliation unknown) recently told me that he would join the Methodist church, except that their hymns are dull.  "The Baptists have the best hymns," he declared.

I don't know if he's sung any Mormon hymns, and perhaps he shares Gladys Knight's dismay about Mormon hymn-singing, but I for one love Mormon hymns.  From young childhood, I'm drawn to singing the hymns of the Mormon Church not just because of the music, but also because of the thought-provoking lyrics.

Mormon lyrics are not just beautiful, they are true doctrine, and hence, powerful.  My appreciation for the light those words provide continues to grow as I continue to sing and ponder them.  

It has occurred to me that some of the best of those verses, unfortunately, don't fit in the alloted space between the treble and bass clefs, and thus relegated to the "basement," are unfortunately forgotten.

Consider the following "forgotten" lines and tell me if you can't feel doctrine melting your heart and opening your mind.

"May we who know the sacred Name
From every sin depart.
Then will the Spirit's constant flame
Preserve us pure in heart."
(vs. 4, "Sweet Is the Peace the Gospel Brings," LDS Hymnbook, hymn #14)

"When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o'erflow.
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

"The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!"
(vv. 4 and 7, "How Firm a Foundation," hymn #85)

"He looks! and ten thousands of angels rejoice,
And myriads wait for his word;
He speaks! and eternity, filled with his voice,
Re-echoes the praise of the Lord."
(v. 6, "Redeemer of Israel," hymn #6)

And finally, three of my favorite, all of them sacrament hymns:

"In word and deed he doth require
My will to his, like son to sire,
Be made to bend, and I, as son,
Learn conduct from the Holy One."
(v.4, "God Loved Us, So He Sent His Son," hymn #187)

"He died, and at the awful sight
The sun in shame withdrew its light!
Earth trembled, and all nature sighed
In dread response, 'A God has died.'"
(v.5, "Behold the Great Redeemer Die," hymn #191)

"How great, how glorious, how complete,
Redemption's grand design,
Where justice, love, and mercy meet
In harmony divine!"
(v.6, "How Great the Wisdom and the Love," hymn #195)

Next time you open a hymnbook, sing big, but sing reflectively.  Ponder the powerful truths the hymns teach.  Let them sink into your heart and move you toward Christ, the real author of all inspired music.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Quantum Theory and Families

Quantum theory tells us that every point in the universe is intimately connected to every other point, regardless of apparent distance.  To substantiate this theory, scientists point to experiments with a human observer, in which subatomic particles behave differently from the way they behave when the experiment is unobserved while in progress and the results are examined after the fact.  

What does all this mean?  Only that the interconnectedness of every point in the universe is so complete that if an enormous flock of birds bursts into flight from a marsh in Spain, the disturbance of the air caused by their wings will contribute to weather changes in Los Angeles.

Transfer that theory to human relationships, especially family relationships.  If a mother kneels in prayer for her child, does her behavior--her faith--substantially impact that child's choices?

If a father exercises faith by honoring his priesthood--being faithful as a home teacher,  steady in scripture study, and conscientious in his callings--will his son's own priesthood development be influenced?

If children choose obedience to inspired parental counsel, will their paths in lives end up at a different and more blessed destination?

Does parental faith protect and beatify generations to come?

Applying the principles of quantum physics, the answer is yes.  Perhaps that's why the Lord, in the Book of Mormon, tells parents they "must repent, and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Something New Under Every Sun

I love Mormon motherhood in all its stages.  Being the mother of a baby was especially wondrous.  Every time I opened the door to get a baby or toddler out of bed after a night's sleep or afternoon nap, seeing that little face lighting up at the sight of me never got old.   Every time, it was a fresh, new pleasure and made motherhood worth it.

Even my older children recognized the joy of that experience, hence the squabbles over who could race to the room fast enough to snatch the baby out of the crib. 

Recently one of my Mormon sons asked why I hadn't been posting for these many months.  To be honest, holiday preparations overcame me, and when I finally got around to thinking about another post--I couldn't think of what to say.  

Centuries ago the writer of Ecclesiastes said "There is nothing new under the sun."  I confess that as I considered this Mormon-centered blog, I began to think there was nothing new for me to say about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  After all, ten thousands of people have opined on that subject.

But there is something new, and I have recently realized what it is:  my daily experience with Gospel living.  

Every time I open up scriptures to ponder and study, I have new experiences with insights, understandings and motivation.

Every time I open up the Ensign magazine to read the words of latter-day prophets, I am newly taught and inspired--even when I've read those words many times.

Each humble prayer produces new love for a wise, merciful and always-responsive Father, and I am once again awed by the magnificent gift of love in his Son.

In the Mormon Church, we refer to Christ's gospel as "The New and Everlasting Covenant."  Even though that covenant has been around since before the earth was formed, it is always new to one who races eagerly to pick it up and interact.

My apologies to Mr. Ecclesiastes, but I think there is something new under the sun:  the always-fresh newness of the New and Everlasting Covenant, which makes every day worth living.