“I said "it is my first language, my mother tongue, my family, my people, my home; it is my heart, my heart, my heart." N...moreSome of my favorite passages:
“I said "it is my first language, my mother tongue, my family, my people, my home; it is my heart, my heart, my heart." No one says any of these things. But they should.”
“How is it we come through the most difficult miles? Do we come silent or singing? Do we come in company, or do we come alone? Are we all alone on the open plains under starlit skies, all alone with the cooing owls in the dark of early morning? Our ancestors, our grandmothers, will their spirits take pity on us?”
“How badly I wanted to belong as I had when I was a young Mormon girl, to be simply a working part in the great Mormon plan of salvation, a smiling exemplar of our sparkling difference. But instead I found myself a headstrong Mormon woman staking out her spiritual survival at a difficult point in Mormon history. ”
“I can’t go on like this, I told myself. And You can’t possibly want me to feel this way, I demanded of God. God didn’t argue. Forced to choose between my nostalgia for the faith of my childhood and my dignity as an adult, I put down the doll and drove away.”
“Who watches over us when we leave? Who remembers our names when we disappear ourselves from home? Who hears the absence of our voices? Who misses the sound of our stories?”
“I am not the same kind of Mormon girl I was when I was seven, eight, or eighteen years old. I am not an orthodox Mormon woman like my mother. I am an unorthodox Mormon woman with a fierce and hungry faith. ”
“What do we do with ourselves when we find we have failed to become the adults we dreamed as pious children?” (less)
"Repent of all your present shallowness and silliness; wash off everything of this world in the waters of baptism, an...more**spoiler alert** Reading Notes:
"Repent of all your present shallowness and silliness; wash off everything of this world in the waters of baptism, and be reborn… to a course of action requiring perpetual, progressive repentance… until you are full of grace and truth… " Hugh Nibley
"He who gives that laws perfect, and reduces it to the capacity of finite beings in order that they may understand it and then receive more: thus the infinite being gives line upon line, reveals principle after principle, as the mind of the finite being expands, and when he has learned all his life he will then begin to see, that he has not yet entered upon the threshold of eternal things. Brigham Young
There are three grand secrets lying in this chapter (2 Peter 1) which no man can dig out unless by the light of revelation… which unlocks the whole chapter - as the things that are written are only hints of things which existed in the prophet's mind. Joseph Smith
What once was compelling becomes more familiar, commonplace, even cliché. The words of scripture do not define, but only point to the tips of truths. Language is two edged - it reveals and conceals. Words are pointers only, always shadows only, of the thing they represent. The words can stimulate inquiry to which the Holy Ghost can then respond with an expanding vision that transcends language. The antidote to the problems of language is personal spiritual experience. Joseph Smith said "Reading the experience of others, or the revelation given to them, can never give us a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God. Knowledge of these things can only be obtained by experience… Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject…" Our only hope for a life in Christ is to keep searching diligently in the Light of Christ, integrating more and more of it, so as to be able to bear yet more. The mind needs to be engaged spiritually in order to stay with spiritual development. The eternal spirit has an appetite for spiritual things. To flourish, it has to be fed with things that stimulate the faith that one can indeed continually interact with the miraculous. We languish in the ordinary world with its ordinary thoughts. Joseph Smith learned early on that he had to fix his mind on God if he was going to survive spiritually. The mind of man is easily turned if it is not held by the power of God through prayer. An evil spirit will try to crowd your mind with every evil and wicked thing to keep every good thought and feeling out of your mind, but you must keep your mind always staid upon God, that no evil may come into your heart. (less)
Teaching Our Children to Love and Serve Each Other Quarreling and bickering among siblings are painfully common in family life. While children are decl...moreTeaching Our Children to Love and Serve Each Other Quarreling and bickering among siblings are painfully common in family life. While children are declared innocent because of the atonement (D&C 93:38), it is also true that “when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts” (Moses 6:55). Everyone who works with children knows that they can be not only charming, sweet, and delightful, but also selfish, pouty, and demanding. They are not automatically or naturally cooperative and peace-loving. In spite of the challenges in getting children to be kind and considerate, the Lord offers this sobering injunction to parents: And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin. (Mosiah 4:14, emphasis added) It seems that God equates children’s fighting and quarreling with transgressing the laws of God and serving the devil. Since fighting and quarreling are so common, this commandment establishes a sobering challenge for parents. How can parents prevent contention between their children? The Natural Parent There are two popular methods for dealing with sibling conflict. One is parental intrusion. Parents separate the children, figure out who is the offending party, and punish them for their contention. This method can only work as long as there is a parent available to intervene in the conflict. Even if this method interrupts the conflict it does not solve the problem; children do not learn new ways of dealing with their differences with their siblings. The second method is lecturing. The main problem with lecturing is that it doesn’t work—and it generally insults and demoralizes children. Children respond to accusation with defensiveness; they blame their siblings and excuse themselves. The result is an increase in the contention in the family. That cannot be what God has in mind when he commands us to prevent fighting and quarreling. What’s the solution? Decades of research have established that the best method for parents to influence children is something that developmentalists call “induction” which is defined, as parents reasoning with children and helping them understand the effects of their behavior on others. Induction, as defined by scholars, is strikingly similar to the methods of influence recommended by the Lord: No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood [or, presumably, parenthood], only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile (D&C 121:41-42, emphasis added). God has been teaching us from the beginning of time that we cannot teach goodness with harshness. We must use gentle and wise principles of influence. His recommendations from section 121 deserve a lifetime of study. We can compare that instruction from the Doctrine and Covenants to directions given by King Benjamin immediately after counseling us to help children avoid quarreling and fighting: But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another. (Mosiah 4:15, emphasis added) Parents almost universally will agree with that objective. We want our children to love and serve each other. We want peaceful homes. We yearn for loving and helpful relationships between our children. But how can we make this happen? Helping Children Find Something Better than Quarreling Imagine that your 5-year-old daughter wanders into her older brother’s room. He is concentrating on building a Lego structure. Sister is fascinated by brother’s building. She watches and asks her brother questions for a time and then picks up some Legos to do some building of her own. He grabs the Legos from her, pushes her toward the door and shouts that she should stay out of his room. Little sister runs to you crying. You are frustrated and angry. You are tempted to lecture your son about being kind and inclusive with his sister. Or you may want to lecture your daughter about respecting your son’s space. But neither of these responses teaches the children to love and serve each other. Neither response helps the children work together. What would God have you do? The vast research on moral development gives us clues as to how to apply God’s counsel to our parenting. That research together with God’s perfect guidance can help us establish five steps. Let’s imagine that your focus is on helping your son respond to his sister more helpfully. Here are five steps that summarize the counsel of research: Engage your son in a gentle way. Give your son credit for anything you can. Show that you understand your son’s point of view. Draw your son’s attention to his sister’s distress and dilemma. Once your son feels understood (as evidenced by being calm and peaceful), then we can help him think of a way to make repairs. These steps are consistent with the research on moral development and the research on emotion coaching. In the next post, I will give more details about these five steps. Teaching Our Children to Love and Serve Each Other (Part 2) In the previous post we described a common sibling squabble and two of the most popular methods parents use to stop the battling: parental intrusion and lecturing. Both methods have a serious problem; they fail to teach children how to navigate their disagreements. I suggested five steps to help us engage our children and teach them to love and serve one another. In this article I discuss those five steps in more detail. 1. Engage your son in a gentle way. Harsh approaches arouse anxiety and block learning. The child becomes focused on our anger, entering a survival mode of thinking, and completely misses the message we are trying to communicate. Further, when we are upset, we are not able to parent effectively. In order to truly engage our children gently, we may need to take time out to get peaceful. If a situation requires immediate action, we might invite our children to also take a timeout in their rooms to prepare for a productive dialogue. But, even without their cooperation, the point is for us to get peaceful. It may take locking ourselves in our bedroom in order to pray and ask for guidance. When we’re finished, our spirits will be more at peace and ready to teach. God counsels us to use persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, and genuine love. It is important to get his attention without arousing fear: “Son, we need to talk. Your sister is very upset by the way you treated her.” 2. Give your son credit for anything you can: “I’m sure you didn’t intend to hurt your sister’s feelings.” We are often tempted to magnify the misdeeds in order to get our children to take our messages seriously. Yet when we “exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved” (D&C 121:37). In contrast, when we see our children through the lens of charity, we set the stage for love and learning. Just as we want to know our Heavenly Father still loves and sees the good in us when we mess up, our children need to know the same about their earthly parents as well. When we appreciate our children’s good intentions and sincere striving, we are more likely to find common ground. 3. Show that you understand your son’s point of view: “You just wanted to build without being distracted or interrupted.” Compassion is the key to connecting. When accusation rather than compassion is in our hearts, we alienate. When, in contrast, I see from the child’s point of view, I am able to guide effectively. It may help us to remember how we felt when we were children and felt attacked or thwarted. Compassion is the heart of the healer’s art. Once the child is comforted, he is ready to learn. 4. Draw the child’s attention to the distress of the victim: “When you ordered your sister to leave you alone, she felt sad. She felt that you don’t like to have her around. Maybe she even felt that you don’t like her.” There are really two parts to this step. Just as the Lord teaches us in our minds and in our hearts (See D&C 8:2), so we must inform our children’s minds and hearts. Both are essential for right behavior. We teach the mind about the law of the harvest—that timeless truth that we cannot sow weed seed and harvest a bounteous crop of grain. When we are unkind, we damage relationships. It is better to invite the child to learn his sister’s point of view: “I think your sister just wanted to be with you.” We also train our children’s hearts. This is delicate work! Heart surgery cannot be done with sledge hammers. Rather we gently invite our children to feel love and compassion for their siblings. “You might not know that your sister looks up to you. She wants to be like you. I hope you can find a way for her to be with you while still accomplishing the things you set out to do.” The objective in this approach is not for your son to be sunk in guilt but to be stirred to empathy and compassion. When we use harsh approaches with our children, they focus on their own distress and are likely to become stubborn and defensive. That’s not what we want. We want to help our children get outside their provincial view of their own needs and be able to see the needs of others. We cannot rush this process. When the child protests, “But she is the one who messed up my work!” we do not have to argue. We return to the third step, showing understanding for his point of view: “It’s pretty frustrating, isn’t it!” When the child feels genuinely understood, then he is ready to learn in his mind and in his heart. Help the child to feel genuine compassion for the one he has hurt. If we want our child to show compassion, we must model compassion. Naturally your child will resist your challenge: “She can’t start grabbing Legos when I’m building something.” We can argue that he shouldn’t be so unkind to his sister. And he will argue with us about his sister’s misdeeds. Rather than squabbling with the boy, we can show empathy: “It’s hard when you’re in the middle of a project and she interrupts you or starts using your Legos.” He does, after all, have a valid point. When we show him compassion, he is more able to show compassion for his sister. Incidentally, it may take several rounds of expressing understanding and compassion before he is ready to show compassion for his sister. Healing through compassion takes time, or, in the Lord’s language, “longsuffering and gentleness.” 5. Once the child feels understood (as evidenced by being calm and peaceful), then we can help the child think of a way to make repairs: “How could we help your sister feel loved and welcome without messing up your project?” When hearts are right creativity can rule. “Maybe I could help her build a house” or “I could provide her with some of the blocks.” It is a joyous surprise when children feel safe and loved and naturally love and serve each other. Any parent might reasonably protest that this process takes a lot of time. You’re right! Parenting is not quick, simple, or convenient. Parenting is a large and continuing sacrifice. Yet it is also true that, when we teach children correct principles, they are more likely to govern themselves in righteousness. An hour spent teaching them in their youth can save years of conflict, struggle, and waywardness. In the midst of sibling conflicts, it is common to try to figure out which child is the offender. This is rarely productive. Each child makes mistakes. One child intrudes, another is stingy. Rather than try to weigh offences, we invite all toward repentance. In the above process, the focus was on the son’s repenting, but a parallel process could operate with the daughter. We could show her compassion and help her understand her brother’s need to be able to concentrate. Getting our Hearts Right
Perhaps the greatest challenge to effectively teaching children is that we simply cannot do it right unless our hearts are right. We cannot teach peace while our souls are at war. We cannot teach them the principles of love and goodness while bubbling with anger or annoyed by distractions. We draw on more of King Benjamin’s wisdom to learn God’s process. Let’s apply his general counsel to the task of parenting: “For the natural [parent] is an enemy to God [and children], and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit . . .” We must yield to the gentle promptings and invitations of the Spirit if we are to be good parents. A parent who does so . . . “ . . . putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint . . .” Becometh a saint! We become true followers and disciples of Christ. Through repentance we acknowledge our limitations and turn to Christ for better ideas and motivation. When we have the mind of Christ, we are prepared to parent effectively—to teach our children the right ways to relate to each other. How is this change in our approach accomplished? What power changes us? “ . . . through the atonement of Christ the Lord . . .” As Elder Bednar has taught us, the atonement not only cleanses us, it enables and strengthens us. It is my conviction that we cannot parent as we should unless we allow the sweet peace and goodness that flows from Jesus to fill our hearts and souls. What does the atonement look like in the daily lives of parents? It includes simple but powerful principles: having faith in the Lord, repenting of our improper acts, feelings, and thoughts, making promises to God, and drawing on the power of the Holy Ghost to change our souls. Consider the wise counsel give by Amulek—and its application to the challenges of parenting: Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you; Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save. Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him. Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening. (Alma 34:17-19, 21) The Christlike parent recognizes our dependence on God, calls out for mercy, continues in prayer, and draws on the power of heaven. In parenting as in all things, He is the way, the truth, and the life. The process of forming our children’s souls requires great wisdom and patience. This should not surprise us. God gives us the opportunity to care for His precious children in His effort to make us more and more like Him—the Perfect Parent. Wallace Goddard (less)
The Spirit of the Lord is not something that may be programmed, plotted out, manufactured, or elicited; t...moreWhen No Clear Answer Comes
excerpt chapter 7;
The Spirit of the Lord is not something that may be programmed, plotted out, manufactured, or elicited; the influence of the Holy Ghost certainly cannot be demanded or coerced. We cannot force spiritual things. Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:7–8). The Prophet Joseph Smith likewise taught that “a man may receive the Holy Ghost, and it may descend upon him and not tarry with him” (D&C 130:23). We know that the Spirit will not dwell with those who are unclean and thus unworthy of its companionship (1 Corinthians 3:16–17; 6:19; compare 1 Nephi 10:21; 15:34; Alma 7:21; 3 Nephi 27:19).
In addition, we cannot always tell when we will be filled with the Spirit and when we will not. We may end the day on fire with the power of the Spirit, rejoicing in our blessings, grateful for the closeness we have felt to the Lord. When we arise a few short hours later, it would not be uncommon to feel as though we had lost something, to feel that the distance between us and Deity had increased dramatically. We ask ourselves, “What happened? Did we do something to change what we were feeling only a short time ago?”
President Joseph F. Smith taught that “every elder of the Church who has received the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, by one having authority, has power to confer that gift upon another; it does not follow that a man who has received the presentation or gift of the Holy Ghost shall always receive the recognition and witness and presence of the Holy Ghost himself, or he may receive all these, and yet the Holy Ghost not tarry with him, but visit him from time to time.” President Smith also observed that “the Holy Spirit, or the Holy Ghost, may be conferred upon men, and he may dwell with them for a while, or he may continue to dwell with them in accordance with their worthiness, and he may depart from them at his will.”
Just because we may not always recognize the workings of the Spirit in our lives does not mean that the Spirit is not with us. In looking back over the past forty years of my life, I find that I have had a variety of experiences with the Spirit and with receiving answers to prayer. Many prayers have been answered so directly, so clearly, so unambiguously that there was no doubt as to the course I should follow. On the other hand, many times when I have gone before the Lord in deep sincerity, hungering and thirsting for insight and direction, I have pondered and prayed and pleaded and wrestled and waited upon the Lord. So far as I could tell, I was not guilty of serious sin, and yet no clear answer was forthcoming. President Brigham Young taught us what our course should be in such cases: “If I do not know the will of my Father, and what He requires of me in a certain transaction, if I ask Him to give me wisdom concerning any requirement in life, or in regard to my own course, or that of my friends, my family, my children, or those that I preside over, and get no answer from Him, and then do the very best that my judgment will teach me, He is bound to own and honor that transaction, and He will do so to all intents and purposes.”
I believe there is more to President Young’s counsel than meets the eye. It is certainly true that we should pray with all our hearts for direction and then make the wisest decisions we can. It is my conviction, however, that even on those occasions when we feel so very alone—when we wonder if God is listening—if we are trusting in our Lord and Savior and relying upon his marvelous merits, the Lord is nonetheless directing our paths, for he has so promised us. No doubt there are seasons of our life when we are called upon to proceed without the clear recognition of the Spirit. Yet that does not mean we are alone. I believe that one day, when we are allowed to review the scenes of mortality from a grander perspective, we will be astounded at how closely the Lord directed our paths, orchestrated the events of our lives, and in general led us by that kindly light we know as the Holy Ghost.
Perhaps it is the case that over the years the Spirit of the Lord works in a quiet but consistent manner to educate our consciences, enhance our perspective, and polish our wisdom and judgment. After all, the Prophet Joseph explained that one of the major assignments of the Holy Ghost was to convey pure intelligence through “expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge.” It may be that one day we will look back on what we perceived at the time to be a season in which we were required to make decisions on our own, only to discover that the Lord had been, through the honing and refining processes in our souls, leading us along in paths of his choosing. That is, maybe we will learn that our own wisdom and judgment were not really our own.
Sometimes answers to our prayers do not come as quickly as we would like. We try and try again, too often concluding that God must not love us, must not hear us, or must have chosen not to answer. “The answers to our prayers come in the Lord’s due time,” President Dieter F. Uchtdorf explained. “Sometimes we may become frustrated that the Lord has delayed answering our prayers. In such times we need to understand that He knows what we do not know. He sees what we do not see. Trust in Him. He knows what is best for His child, and being a perfect God, He will answer our prayers perfectly and in the perfect time.”
Finally, it is worth noting that we may well have an experience with the Spirit, a genuine and true experience, and yet not know exactly what has taken place. Over the years it has been my privilege to work with Latter-day Saints who were struggling to repent of their sins and become clean before God. It has been one of the joys of Church service to witness the light growing in the countenance, the heart being softened, and the consciousness of right and wrong returning. But never in all my years has a member of the Church said to me, “I have been justified of the Spirit” or “I have entered the rest of God” or “I am redeemed of the Lord” or “I am born of the Spirit.” Those who have had their sins remitted and have renewed their covenant with Christ could, in fact, use any of those doctrinal phrases to describe their state or standing, and I would understand what they meant. Generally, they have said such things as “I feel good all over” or “I feel clean and pure” or “I am at peace.”
During the period of darkness before his visit to the Americas, Jesus spoke to the Nephites. “I am the light and the life of the world,” he said. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings. And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not” (3 Nephi 9:18–20; emphasis added; see also Helaman 5). Far more significant than a theological explanation is the value of a religious experience; whether we can give a ten-minute discourse on spiritual rebirth matters but little when compared to the change of heart that such a rebirth brings.
The work of the kingdom—whether at 47 East South Temple Street in Salt Lake City or at our own address—goes forward hour by hour and day by day, even when the path is not clear for the time being. “Salvation cannot come without revelation,” Joseph Smith declared. “It is in vain for anyone to minister without it.” The Almighty has promised to point the way, and so we trust in his promises and wait upon him “in all patience and faith” (D&C 21:5), though on occasion we cry out, essentially,
Lead, kindly Light, amid th’ encircling gloom; Lead thou me on! The night is dark, and I am far from home; Lead thou me on! Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see The distant scene—one step enough for me.
Answers have come. Answers will continue to come, for “we believe that [God:] will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Articles of Faith 1:9). God does not want us to proceed along the path of life on our own. - all excerpt MILLETT(less)
I wasn't sure if I was going to like this one because I've already read many books about Southern life - which always is interesting to me, but I wasn...moreI wasn't sure if I was going to like this one because I've already read many books about Southern life - which always is interesting to me, but I wasn't sure this author would have something to say that I hadn't read in other books. I was wrong. By chapter three (Skeeter), The Help became addictively, compulsively readable. I couldn’t put it down. Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny are an unlikely trio, but their work on the project unites them under a common cause and proves to them that women can connect with each other regardless of their color. Southern life described from Aibileen and Minny's point of view makes The Help and its message unique.
The Help is well-written, and it is clear that the author really understands Southern life and has made great efforts to understand what life was like for black women who served white families. The author presents sad stories that leave a great glimmer of hope. Though she examines the differences and mistakes of white women, she highlights their humanity to wonderful effect as well. And while this is a serious book, it also has wonderfully lighthearted moments, humorous moments, and strikingly funny insights into women and their behavior. It made me really examine my feelings about segregation, the Civil Rights movement and what has changed since that time. How much is really changed? What strains of racism still exist today? A complex subject that the author tackles with courage and fine ability. I love this book and was sad when I finished. I heard there will be a movie...
Some of my favorite quotes from the book;
“For women to realize, we are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I'd thought.”
"See, I think if God had intended for white people and colored people to be this close together for so much of the day, he would've made us color blind. "
"Only three things them ladies talk about: they kids, they clothes, and they friends. I hear the word Kennedy, I know they ain’t discussing no politic. They talking about what Miss Jackie done wore on the tee-vee."
"Ever morning, until you dead in the ground, you gone have to make this decision. You gone have to ask yourself, "Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today?"
"All my life I'd been told what to believe about politics, coloreds, being a girl. But with Constantine's thumb pressed in my hand, I realized I actually had a choice in what I could believe."
"Oh, it was delicious to have someone to keep secrets with...It was having someone look at you after your mother has nearly fretted herself to death because you are freakishly tall and frizzy and odd. Someone whose eyes simply said, without words, "You are fine with me."
"You got nothing left here but enemies in the Junior League and a mama that's gonna drive you to drink. You done burned ever bridge there is. And you ain't never gone get another boyfriend in this town and everbody know it. So don't walk your white butt to New York, run it."(less)
Catching Fire was a very satisfying second book. I didn't predict the rerun of the Hunger Games in Catching Fire. The second games were action packed...moreCatching Fire was a very satisfying second book. I didn't predict the rerun of the Hunger Games in Catching Fire. The second games were action packed and full of intrigue but lacked the intensity and character development of the first. Still a very good read that I finished in a few hours. I look forward to the final book which will have to tread completely new territory. Mockingjay should be a dramatically different book, and I’m awaiting it all the more eagerly for this reason. I'm dying to know the fate of poor Cinna, beloved Peeta and look forward to more page time with Gale. (less)