Feeling Chastened

Ok, I’ll admit that at times, I come out of a sacrament meeting or a session of general conference feeling slightly chastened about something I’m not doing as well at as I’d like. This morning, I felt myself feeling the same way, and about a topic I’d never have believed possible. You see, I’ve been pretty bad at keeping up my ‘religious’ blog here at “Elders Journal” and now, blogging is being ecouraged (along with participation in other ‘New Media’) by Elder Ballard. Here are a few of the things he had to say in his address at BYU-Hawaii.

About the reasoning for our involvement:

We are living in a world saturated with all kinds of voices. Perhaps now, more than ever, we have a major responsibility as Latter-day Saints to define ourselves, instead of letting others define us.

His specific invitation/counsel to get involved:

...may I ask that you join the conversation by participating on the Internet, particularly the New Media, to share the gospel and to explain in simple and clear terms the message of the Restoration.

The value of our contribution:

The audiences for these and other New Media tools may often be small, but the cumulative effect of thousands of such stories can be great. The combined effort is certainly worth the outcome if but a few are influenced by your words of faith and love of God and His son Jesus Christ.

I guess it’s time for me to repent of my idleness and spend some more time here.

UPDATE: Wow! Elder Ballard's comment's have made the front page of www.lds.org.


Camping with the eleven year olds

A Fire In The Morning

Pollyanna is the eleven year old scout leader, I'm the scout master, and Mike is the 'New Scout Troop Guide'. This means that the three of us were all involved in a camping trip and hike last weekend, getting many requirements signed off.

(hmm, this got lost ... but I'll post it anyway.)


What I liked in 1 Ne 12

1 Ne 12 continues with Nephi's vision/experience from yesterday's reading (1 Ne 11). Some of the things that stood out to me were; vv 1-15, 19-23 — a preview of the proceedings of Nephi's descendents; and the exigetical interlude in vv 16-18 where the angel refers back to Lehi's vision to explain how Nephi's vision fit into it.

What I liked in 1 Ne 11

It's been while since any of us have blogged, so I'm stuck playing catch-up. I really don't want to break the one post per chapter model though, wo hopefully this means a bunch of posts of the next several days.

I'll start with 1 Ne 11. For a long time, I've seen this as sort of a 'temple experience' that Nephi had. He's taught about the Savior in a vision that includes: the tree of life; the birth, baptism, ministry, and crucifiction of the Lord; and the calling and ministry of the twelve apostles.


A(nother) New Stake Presidency: Part 1

(Yes, I"m behind on my "What I Liked In ..." series. We're reading every night, I've just been slacking about writing. I'll try to catch up this afternoon. I wanted to write this first, though.)

Yesterday (Saturday, Jan 20th), I attended two sessions of Stake Conference. During the first, I sat with a large group from my ward. Our Stake President spoke first, and talked about the importance of training in leadership councils. He also addressed the reorganization of the Presidency, saying:
"Today and tomorrow we are witnessing a priesthood transition. We are watching the priesthood in action."
Following his comments, we heard from the two visiting authorities, Elder Ence and Elder Workmann (who was presiding). I was especially impressed by Elder Workmann's talk, he spoke with a great deal of passion. His presentation of 'the rising generation as a cycle, not a particular group of people was very interesting. I'll try to blog about it later (after I'm caught up). I also enjoyed a quote that Elder Ence used about taking youth groups to Martin's Cove:
"Martin's cove is not too far, but Lagoon is."
During the break between meetings, we had a final choir practice before singing two pieces in the final conference session of the day. Not much of a break, but a good setting to ponder what I'd heard so far and to try to prepare myself for what was still to come.

During the next session, I was sitting on the stand with the choir (my wife and son were there too). We heard from the two councilors in the current presidency both spoke. They were retrospective, and both expressed a desire to stay true to the faith and to continue to serve in whatever positions they might be called to next. Again, I found Elder Workman to be a powerful speaker.

Overall, I really enjoyed the spirit and content of both meetings, and I'm looking forward to the general session tomorrow morning. I'm looking forward to seeing "the priesthood in action."


1 Nephi 7 - Proposing Proposals

1 And now I would that ye might know, that after my father, Lehi, had made an end of prophesying concerning his seed, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto him again, saying that it was not meet for him, Lehi, that he should take his family into the wilderness alone; but that his sons should take daughters to wife, that they might raise up seed unto the Lord in the land of promise.
2 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded him that I, Nephi, and my brethren, should again return unto the land of Jerusalem, and bring down Ishmael and his family into the wilderness.
3 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did again, with my brethren, go forth into the wilderness to go up to Jerusalem.
4 And it came to pass that we went up unto the house of Ishmael, and we did gain favor in the sight of Ishmael, insomuch that we did speak unto him the words of the Lord.
5 And it came to pass that the Lord did soften the heart of Ishmael, and also his household, insomuch that they took their journey with us down into the wilderness to the tent of our father.

This is NOT the strangest proposal I've ever heard of:
"Four+ guys, escaping the pollution of the city, like long journeys into and out of the wilderness, and like to rough up the youngest of us."


Dad's permission + Daughter + Wilderness = Marriage

How realistic is this? Could a formula like this really work in today's world?

If you haven't heard it yet, it's about time you know the story of Patrick's proposal to me.

The first time we saw each other was at a bar. . . okay, it was the breakfast bar at Shari's restaurant near Seattle where I worked graveyard, but the kids fall over into a fit of giggles when we put it this way . . . one of the reasons to have kids is to see everything anew through their eyes.

We were set up soon afterwards to go on a 'blind' triple-date with Pat's parents and the couple who had introduced us. Why the two of us? Because I worked at the same restaurant as the guy who arranged it. Patrick's parents were coming through town (Seattle) from Rhode Island on their way to be stationed in Korea and his friend was an old friend of the family from Patrick's High School days in Kansas. (Instead of a 'translation guide' I should probably include a map, huh?) This friend of Patrick's was in the Seattle area because he was engaged to a girl who lived here and they were to be married in a month, back in Kansas. Patrick's parents offered to take the five of them out to dinner and Patrick declined saying something along the lines of . . . "Why don't the four of you go out and have a good time." His friend responded with, "Well, I know a girl . . ."

I'll leave out the gory details . . . you'll have to ask in person,
but all the way home from the date, the couple kept saying, "He REALLY likes you" and asking, "So, what do YOU think of HIM?"

Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I knew I was safe in NOT marrying him. Here was a non-religious make-up wearing, punk rocker who finished his pack of cigarettes and served pre-dinner coffee at his apartment, before we left for pre-dinner alcoholic beverages at the restaurant. I declined all of these 'hors d'oeuvres' and hoped I didn't embarrass the rest of the group when the matre'de asked to see I.D. and I told them in no uncertain terms that I was well under age.

I never really expected to see Patrick again as I was 'seeing' someone else and Patrick was NOT my type. So 'fate' took a hand and made sure that I would.

That summer was crazy. I was directing my first musical, Peter Pan. (The usual drama related disasters accompanied our production: our prima-donna was always threatening to quit if things didn't go her way; one month before the show, my choreographer asked leave to go to France and be with her husband on an extended business trip, I told her that if I were married, I wouldn't want my husband alone in France, so I said it was ok; two weeks before the show, the set designer quit because his wife was filing for 'divorce' he had only cut out one cannon - leaving me with a second cannon, a large window pane, a canoe that had to move across stage, several boulders and trees for the mermaids and lost boys, and a pirate ship to make; the day before our opening night, the building-manager tried to cancel my reservation, and on the day of performance, some of the parents threatened not to let their children perform in the play because they didn't see eye-to-eye with the make up artists. . . typical theatrical mayhem.) Add to this series of fiascos, my 'boyfriend' from California coming up in the middle of rehearsals on my birthday only to find that I had the chicken pox. You know how difficult it is to run play rehearsals when you are contagious to half your cast? Yes, I was desperate.

While my customers at the restaurant were asking for this or that, I began asking my customers if they could spare time to help cut, paste, paint, etc. Patrick began to come in more often for a bottomless cup of coffee, and of course, being the swell guy that he was, he offered to help out. He would drive about an hour from the military base south of Tacoma where he was stationed and help out most afternoons.

Pat and his buddy from the restaurant would paint and paste sets in the church building where the performances were to be held and then move outside to take a smoke break . . . the questions of concerned church patrons just added to my delimmas. When it came time to take breaks, Patrick always offered to buy me lunch, but not wanting to lead him on, I paid my own way. I specifically remember praying silently over my lunch at the Shari's restaurant and asking, "Please help Patrick know that I do not like him than more than I do, and please help me not fall hopelessly head over heals just because he opens the door for me."

By the end of the summer, my nerves were a wreck and I asked my parents if I could fly down to visit my boyfriend in California after the performances ended. I guess they disapproved of my California 'dream-date' because they said that if I did that I could take my stuff with me and not plan on returning.

Enter the Herculean Tasks - stage right.

I really wanted a break between the last performance and the start of college classes so I asked if I could accompany a stranger I met at the restaurant on his way to Kansas and see one of our mutual friends tie-the-knot. This was a Sunday. Much to my surprise, my Mom said, "Yes, if you can:

#1. Get a driver's license. (Even though I attended driver's ed, I followed it with two major leg operations, one in 11th grade, the other in 12th) My parents had to take care of all 7 kids living at home, I was the oldest; my Mom worked graveyard at the hospital and ran a daycare out of our home (10-13 kids) during the day; my Dad worked at the hospital with over-time and spent his weekends in the Army Reserves; they were understandably tired of running me around. - Patrick drove me to the DMV on Tuesday.

#2. Buy a car. (This shocked me, I didn't know why she included this, unless she thought it wasn't possible). I asked one of my customers, who used to race professionally, if he could take me car shopping. -In retropect, I don't know how this could have happened on Monday, seeing I didn't have a license yet, but I drove home my car the day after my conversation with my mom - my sense of right and wrong was a bit skewed.

#3. Pay someone to clean up after the musical. (My Mom was afraid that since I was a minor, she might be held responsible if I were to just up and leave . . . I don't blame her). You remember the choreographer who left for France? She had just arrived and for $20 said she'd be happy to haul it all to the dump.

It was now Wednesday afternoon, and to make a long story short . . . too late . . . as I was racing home from the last performance and stuffing dirty clothes into a suit case to head to Kansas, my Mom asked me if I had asked my Dad. "Oh, great", I thought, "My dad runs off every boy I've ever met; including high school students, musicians, a recently enlisted military guy, college kids, a chiropractor, etc. It seemed it wasn't age, talent, education, or a career he was concerned with." - looking back it was his daughter. Normally, I'd have to wait until he got home at night, but for some reason he had come home early that day. As I came up the stairs to the living room, there was my dad and my ride out of town shooting the breeze and having a good time. He simply said, "Take care of her son." My mom later told me that from her eavesdropping position in the kitchen, she about dropped the canning jars.

So we left for Kansas, he on one side of the car, me on the other, trying not to inhale.

Since Kansas was his old stomping ground, he went and looked up old friends and, with nothing better to do, I tagged along. They would ask about me, and at first we just said we had a mutual friend, then when they would press us we'd say, "Um, yea, we're friends", but after the dozen or so inquiries, it became monotonous, so we started saying boy friend and girl friend just to appease the masses. The wedding and reception came towards the end of the week, by then, everyone in town thought we were an item. I guess the joke was on me though, because I was the only one in the state who didn't believe it. After the wedding, where I think I remember the bride and groom toasting our 'engaged relationship' we were headed home to civilization. After about 20 minutes, when we had reached a popular spot in the mid-west: 'the-middle-of-nowhere,' Patrick pulled over to the side of the road announcing he'd forgotten something. I now know what was on his mind, but all I was thinking was, good thing he remembered the item he'd left behind so soon after we'd left.

So, next to the middle of a corn field, [not quite a wilderness, but close] he told me what he had forgotten,
"I forgot to ask you to marry me."

I had been to BYU, the marriage proposal capital of the world, and including the don't leave for college without marrying me, and the 'I've enlisted, marry me' . . . I'd laughed off half a dozen proposals without even breaking a sweat, I was going to get my college degree and travel the world before I was married.

In the end, I was 'right', I just got them in the wrong order, in the first 18 years of my life I got engaged, 18 years later we traveled around the world, and 18 years from now, I hope to have finished my college degree.

So for my proposal, I guess it worked,

Dad's permission + Daughter + Wilderness = Marriage

What was my reaction to Patrick's proposal? How was the trip home from Kansas? What was everyone's reaction back in Seattle? That's another story. . . Read on.


1 Nephi 6 - Need I Say More?

"3 ... I desire the room that I may write of the things of God.
4 For the fulness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to bcome unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved.
5 Wherefore, the things which are pleasing unto the world I do not write, but the things which are pleasing unto God and unto those who are not of the world.
6 Wherefore, I shall give commandment unto my seed, that they shall not occupy these plates with things which are not of worth unto the children of men."

Need I say more?

A(nother) New Stake Presidency: Part 0

Some time ago, I wrote a series of posts about getting a new Stake Presidency in the Kent, Washington Stake. Now, about two years later, We're living in the Oak Hills, Provo, Utah Stake and we're again in the middle of the reorganization of a Stake Presidency.

I don't know the brethren presiding here as well as I did the men in Kent. I've felt their spirit though, and believe them to been called of God to the positions they hold. They've served for a long time and (by all accounts) have been wonderful leaders.

As our conference approaches, I've been reflecting on my experiences in Kent. I hope to receive a strong witness of the calling and authority of our new presidency. I've also been encouraging my family and the young men in the Deacons quorum (with whom I work) to prepare for, seek, and expect that witness as well.


What I liked in 1 Ne 10

I noticed several things in 1 Ne 10 as we read it tonight:
  • 1 Ne 10:2-11 — Lehi prophecies of the fall of Judah, the coming of the Messiah, and of John the Baptist.
  • 1 Ne 10:12-14 — Lehi compares mankind to an olive tree, prefiguring Jacob 5 (which makes me think that Jacob was probably exposed to it through his father's reading of the Brass Plates, I'm very interested in how parents language and teachings affect their children's language and teachings in the scriptures).
  • 1 Ne 10:16 — Another reference to Lehi dwelling in a tent. Hmm, maybe these bookend something, time to go back and look again.
  • 1 Ne 10:17-19 — Nephi desires to know for himself and teaches about God's willingness to share knowledge with His children.

What I liked in 1 Ne 9

1 Ne 9 is a short chapter with an important message — the Lord knows why He asks us to do something, even if we don't. If He knows, then we should probably go ahead and do it.

What I Liked in 1 Ne 8

Every time we read 1 Ne 8 I get caught up in the imagery. Some of the things that stood out to me this time were:
  • 1 Ne 8:7-8 — Lehi traveling through the dark and dreary waste. I like both the metaphor of life without the gospel and his prayer that the Lord would show him mercy according to His great and tender mercies (shades of Elder Bednar's talk).
  • 1 Ne 8:10-16 — Lehi partakes of the fruit, then wants to share it with his family.
  • 1 Ne 8:21-28 — The great and spacious building, it was interesting to read this and then hear President Packer talking about it in his devotional at BYU.
  • 1 Ne 8:36-37 — Lehi's feelings for his children.


What I liked in 1 Ne 7

On Sunday, we read 1 Ne 7, and with this entry I'll be caught up. (We don't read as a family on Monday nights, holding Family Home Evening instead.) This chapter is about a second trip back to Jerusalem (the first was covered in 1 Ne 3-4).
It impresses me that in the first trip, Nephi and his brothers collect the Plates of Brass (or, the scriptures), establishing a spiritual foundation for themselves. Then in the second trip, they go back to find wives with whom to establish families. What a great model for building successful families — it makes me think one of the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood: "Prepare to become a worthy husband and father." In the Aaronic Priesthood program, we're trying to help the young men follow the same pattern that Nephi followed.

A number of sections of this chapter stood out to me as I read:
  • 1 Ne 7:8-12 — Nephi preaching to his rebellious brothers.
  • 1 Ne 7:17-18 — Nephi praying for a miracle. This remindes me that when we're faithful, and turn to the Lord, He will give us the means to accomplish His work (see also Ether 12:27).
  • 1 Ne 7:21 &mdah; After all that they do to him, Nephi still "frankly forgives" his brothers.

What I liked in 1 Ne 6

Okay, I'm behind in my posting again. but that doesn't mean there weren't good things to read in 1 Ne 6. In this chapter Nephi writes about
  • His purpose in writing (and the purpose of scriptures in general) in 1 Ne 6:4. "For the fulness of mine intent is that I may apersuade men to bcome unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved."
  • His approach in writing (which should be our approach in teaching, and living, the gospel) in 1 Ne 6:5. "Wherefore, the things which are apleasing unto the world I do not write, but the things which are pleasing unto God and unto those who are not of the world."
Verse 5 also has parallels in Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F Smith, Chapter 5:
"Some of our good people read many of the books that are published today, popular fiction so-called but they haven’t time to read the Word of the Lord. Many of these books are beautiful, but often many ideas are expressed which are only pretty words, well-connected sentences or sentiments that are like flowers blooming on the stem without root. Real truth you can gain from books that have been adopted as standard works of the Church. I see too many of our people who are very much better read in the things that are written by some of the popular authors of books than they are in the things of God. They don’t know one thing about the real essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they don’t know or comprehend one thing about the rites of the Priesthood and the principles of government that God has revealed to the children of men to maintain the kingdom of God in the earth. They know more about novels than they do about the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants—yes, far more."



So today I got to choose how we read the Book of Mormon (everyone does, it goes from youngest to oldest). I said that we would change when the reader would could call some one else (they could only read for 2 verses at a time). Then they would have to read it was very fun

What I liked in 1 Nephi 5

Hey, I'm caught up again, yay!

Tonight as we read 1 Ne 5, I was struck by a couple of things:
  1. In 1 Ne 5:8, Sariah has just finished complaining, and then realizing how much she and her family have been blessed. In her praise, she makes it very clear that because of the trials she's just been through that her testimony is stronger — now, she knows of a surety.
  2. In 1 Ne 5:10, Lehi takes the time to 'search [the plates] from the beginning'. To me this is important for two reasons. First, even though they're travelling through the wilderness, it's important to Lehi to study the scriptures. Second, he doesn't just read them, he searches them from the beginning.
Oh, one thing from yesterday. I really liked how Nephi has already begun associating his journey through the wilderness with the Exodus and drawing parallels between the situations they find themselves in.

What I liked in 1 Nephi 4

Last night's reading (yes, I'm still a day behind) was 1 Ne 4. Once again, here's my list of neat things(which picks up with yesterday's):
  1. 1 Ne 4:1-38 — continues the set of three examples from chapter 3
  2. 1 Ne 4:19-21 — A neat parallel to Gen 27.
  3. 1 Ne 4:32-38 — the absolute adherance to oaths
In my last post I talked about two examples: doing things our way, and doing them the world's way. In this chapter, we see that the best way to get results when trying to do the Lord's work is to do it His way. It only makes sense, doesn't it.

The parallel I mentioned above is also pretty striking. Laban was the keeper of the plates, but when he failed to live up to that responsibility he was replaced in that role. If we're not living up to the responsibilities of our callings, that may be our fate as well — hopefully not as drastically as was Laban.

1 Nephi 5 - Nagging Doubts

It never ceases to bring me to some point of self evaluation when I read 1 Nephi 5:3

3: . . . My mother complained against my father

Here they were, sending their children off on a mission from God, and Sariah (Lehi's wife and the mother of Nephi) is regretting the decision to let them go on such a dangerous errand. I can not count the number of times that I've complained about serving others (at church or otherwise) - but I'm sure that God knows how many times.

After I see the benefits (that everything came together, that the goal was accomplished, that no one was injured, physically or emotionally) then I understand more why we were to do things in a certain way and how great it was from the beginning.

8: And she spake, saying: Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath commanded . . . [us to do this] . . . yea, and I also know of a surety that the Lord hath protected . . . [us in our adventures] . . . and given [us] power whereby [we] could accomplish the thing which the Lord hath commanded [us] And after this manner of language did she speak.
9: And it came to pass that they did rejoice exceedingly, and did offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto the Lord; and they gave thanks unto the God of Israel.

Why can't I seem to let go of nagging doubts and worry before and during events and regrets afterwards? I would enjoy life better.
Plan something? Yes.
Do my best? Yes.
Worry that it won't be wonderful, safe, and then afterwards loved by all? - - It's just not worth it, it takes all the joy out of it.

Someday, when I'm all grown up, (soon, I hope,) I'll be able to put these things in God's hands and carry on. Then when I read this chapter I'll no longer feel the pains of regret that I complained when there wasn't a reason to.


1 Nephi 4 - Lost and Found/Trust

I'm always impressed by two parts in this chapter,
one is the way Nephi is able to follow the Spirit into a city the size of a modern metropolis in the dark and he doesn't get lost in location or in what to do next;
the other is that Zoram trusts them not to kill him later, and they trust him not to rat them out to the highest bidder all because they take an oath.

When faced with an unknown situation, I am not always the first to hit my knees and ask for help. But I do know that it works. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints every person who joins the church through baptism and lives worthily may accept a 'call' to some voluntary work. Usually the bishop, or one of his counselor's, pray about and receive inspiration as to who the Lord wants to serve in a position, or a 'calling'. They invite you to serve in this calling until the Lord has need of you elsewhere. Sometimes a calling is one that you have some experience in, but more often than not, it is completely new territory. People often say that the reason they are called to a position is because THEY need to learn those skills the most, not because they're the greatest at it. Like the time I was asked be the pianist - I hadn't had lessons since I was in elementary school. The time I was asked to be the Emergency Preparedness Co-ordinator for our area, I hadn't put my own food storage in order yet. Or currently, as the Scout Master of the 11 year old boys - I'm allergic to almost everything out-of-doors and I have a fear of creepy crawlies. In the six months that I have had this calling, I've worn through more pants kneeling in prayer than in meandering in the woods - I still feel a bit lost, sometimes literally, but I'm beginning to find my way.

As for oaths . . .

32 And it came to pass that I spake with him, that if he would hearken unto my words, as the Lord liveth, and as I live, even so that if he would hearken unto our words, we would spare his life.
33 And I spake unto him, even with an OATH, that he need not fear; that he should be a free man like unto us if he would go down in the wilderness with us.
34 And I also spake unto him, saying: Surely the Lord hath commanded us to do this thing; and shall we not be diligent in keeping the commandments of the Lord? Therefore, if thou wilt go down into the wilderness to my father thou shalt have place with us.
35 And it came to pass that Zoram did take courage at the words which I spake. Now Zoram was the name of the servant; and he promised that he would go down into the wilderness unto our father. Yea, and he also made an OATH unto us that he would tarry with us from that time forth.
36 Now we were desirous that he should tarry with us for this cause, that the Jews might not know concerning our flight into the wilderness, lest they should pursue us and destroy us.
37 And it came to pass that when Zoram had made an OATH unto us, our fears did cease concerning him.
(emphasis added)

And you think the scenes on today's TV shows are intense - this is a live or die moment. Their conversation is without a 'free phone call.' 'Do you feel lucky?' They are putting their lives in each others hands and there is no "bad-boy, bad-boy 'desert police' " - even if there were, who's payroll do you think they'd be on anyway?

To think a man's word would be all it took. I wish that were the case today, I have trouble making a cash deposit into my own bank account without providing my full name, address, phone number and weight at birth. And if you think Zoram is a guy just out for his own agenda - personal freedom - think again, he certainly proves otherwise in upcoming chapters. . . read on!

1 Nephi 3 - Stepping into the Unknown

My earliest memories of reading The Book of Mormon with my parents and siblings all center around Nephi and his courage to do what was right and his faith that God would come through even when stepping into unknown territory. Nephi tells his father,

7: "I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."

I wanted to be like that, for my younger brothers and sisters, for my friends, and later for my husband and children.
I remember a Sunday school lesson about a child who was bringing a lunch to their father. The father was working down in a deep well. When the child arrived, they asked if they could come down there in the hole and see what it was that dad had been up to all day. The father gave his consent and then told the child to jump into his awaiting arms. The father could clearly see the child, but the child could only see shadows. Then after some reassuring words, the child made the 'leap of faith' and the father caught them safely in his strong arms.

I think about the times that our family has had to take one step into the dark. Like when we moved to the East Coast. We were just about to sign papers on a house near our street in Portland, Oregon when our landlord asked if we were interested in buying the rental home we were in. We said we'd like to sleep on it. The next day, out of the blue, my husband, Patrick, was laid off. As a manager at the company, he had been told that after the holiday break they should prepare their staff for some lay offs. The way he figures it, he prepared them, by being the first one out onto the plank and setting the example.

We went to the temple the next day to pray about what we should do. Afterwards, we talked about where it was we'd be willing to go and if there were any strong feelings or impressions about where. Both of us simultaneously mentioned Boston. Neither of us had lived there, but Patrick's parents were last stationed by the military in nearby Rhode Island. So, we went again to the temple, this time with the express purpose of getting an answer about the Boston area.

If you're not familiar with temples in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we go the first time in life to participate in a special ceremony for ourselves; after that, we return to perform the same ceremony on behalf of those in our family tree. We believe that in the life beyond, those who did not have an opportunity to perform these ordinances for themselves can then choose whether or not to accept this work, as we perform the sacred acts and make promises our thoughts are on the Savior, Jesus Christ, and on our covenants that we have made. At the end of this 'work' we may take time to reflect on current needs of others and ourselves while in the unhurried and peaceful atmosphere of the temple and it's grounds.

We both left the temple feeling as though we were already in the Boston temple, although there wasn't one in New England at the time. Within two weeks we had hosted good-bye parties for the kids, packed the house and arranged for transportation for ourselves and our things and were headed into the greater Boston area. Pat had spent every spare moment hunting remotely for work, yet there was no word from anyone. We left, leaping into the dark and hoping that He would catch us.

Our travel arrangements took only one day, but by the time we arrived, there was a job interview scheduled the first morning we would be there. Our timetable was so tight, that Pat had to drop us off at a hotel in the middle of 'no-where' and head straight there. He got the job, we found a house, two years later we attended the Boston Temple dedication with new found friends we had helped teach the gospel to, and we found reassurance that if -

we go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded . . . that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.


... finally the sprit tells nephi to kill laban and take the plates (and zoram {labans servant} comes to)

day 3

so in this chapter nephi laman sam lemuel go back to jerusalem to get the plates the try talking they try money and finally they try ... stay tuned

What I liked in 1 Nephi 3

Last night we read 1 Nephi 3, and it was late enough that I put off blogging about it until this morning. I did take some notes though, so hopefully I'm not leaving too much out.

This time around, I'd like to share three and a half things (the last one will be continued in tonight's reading):
  1. 1 Ne 3:5 — More about murmuring, again, it's Laman and Lemuel murmuring because they really don't understand what's going on.
  2. 1 Ne 3:6 — This time, we read that Nephi is favored of the Lord because he doesn't murmer against Him.
  3. 1 Ne 3:7 — This one's too good not to quote -
    And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I awill go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no bcommandments unto the children of men, save he shall cprepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.
  4. 1 Ne 3:11-4:38 — This section contains three examples of trying to accomplish the Lord's work.
Since only the first two (failed) examples (in item 4) occur in chapter three, I'll talk about them in this post and the other in my next post:
  1. 1 Ne 3:11-14 — Nephi and his brothers try to do things on their own (Laman trying to talk Laban into giving them the Brass Plates), it doesn't work.
  2. 1 Ne 3:16-27 — Nephi and his brothers try to do things the world's way (they gather up all their treasures and try to buy the Brass Plates); again, it doesn't work.
Leaving the third example isn't much of a cliff-hanger, but it's all I've got. See you tomorrow for the exciting conclusion.


1 Nephi 2 - A Dream Come True

It may not have been a 'dream vacation' for the whole family, but I can relate to what Lehi's kids and wife must have been going through.

2 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded my father, even in a dream, that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness.
3 And it came to pass that he was obedient unto the word of the Lord, wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him.

As a child our family moved in answer to prayers, visions, and dreams of where the Lord wanted our family. With every announcement of a move there the typical reactions portrayed by Lehi's family. Denial, fear, misplaced anger, rationalization, hope, and , for most of us - most of the time, acceptance. I'll share one of the dozen or so moves I remember as a child. We were living in my dad's family home down in Southern California (his parents had passed away). We tried to sell it and move into a new housing development in a place called Mira Loma, then, a new city developing outside of the Los Angeles region. In a real estate market that is normally thriving, ours wasn't getting any offers. As a family, we prayed and fasted about it. We decided to give up our bid on a house in the development and that very day our house sold. Wow! Now where do we live. As a kid, this idea of being homeless was worrisome. So we prayed again. My mom, Sharon, had a 'dream'. This is the first one I remember her telling us kids. We lived in a home near the beach, but there were evergreens there. We all had a good laugh, anyone from LA knows that only palm trees grow on beaches. Next thing we knew, my dad was accepted for his hospital residency in Northern California along the coast of McKinleyville. First thing we did when we arrived was to scope our the beach, 'And what to my wondering eyes should appear' but evergreen trees on the beach. After searching hopelessly for 6 weeks and living out of a hotel room, we found a house available on Sharon Road.
This wasn't the first or last time we were blessed by moving on a 'wing and a prayer'. So it came as no surprise to my husband and I to feel inspired to move and to feel free to follow this inspiration. My husband and I have packed up and moved 24 times in our 18 years of marriage. So, as a wife, I feel for Sariah who went out for a quick trip to the wilderness and spent 8 years in the desert, crossed an ocean, and died in a foreign place. It may not be a dream vacation, but it is certainly a dream come true.

Five Things I liked in 1 Ne 2

As you can see today we read the second chapter of First Nephi as a family. I picked out five things that I really liked:
  1. 1 Ne 2:3 — Lehi was obedient to the Lord.
  2. 1 Ne 2:7 — Lehi and his family were observant even though they were travelling, even though it was hard.
  3. 1 Ne 2:8-11 — Lehi found (and took) opportunities to teach his family in the things they did and the places they were.
  4. 1 Ne 2:12 — A great description of why we murmer.
  5. 1 Ne 2:16-17 — A pattern that helps explain why missionary work (evangelism) is so important to me.
The pattern in verses 16 and 17 is probably worth breaking out:
  1. (implied) We hear the gospel (or a specific gospel teaching).
  2. We desire to learn for ourselves.
  3. We pray to know the truth.
  4. We receive and answer by the Spirit.
  5. We then obey what we've learned (see also 1 Ne 2:3 in point 1 above).
  6. We testify to others of the truth we've learned.
I really love reading the Book of Mormon, both by myself and as a family. Even though our reading time can be filled with jokes, interruptions, and strange tangents (hey, you try reading something every night with two teenagers) it is an enriching and important part of my evenings.

day 2

favorite scripture : 1 nephi 2:15 "And my father dwelt in a tent.". I think that this will be a fun time reading through the book of mormon. So far there has already been jokes, tears, and punctuation.


Glory to God in the Highest


While we visited Europe this summer, we spent a day and a half in Heidelberg (where I lived as a kid). This sign is on a church along the pedestrian only market area in the old town.

A Record to Play Over and Over Again.

It's really great to see our family start reading The Book of Mormon again. The first time we read it as a family we read only a verse or two at a time and then explained each part at the children's level of understanding and within their attention span. It took 8-10 years. The next time we read it all in about 2 1/2 years. We finished in time to read it with our new ward in Kent, WA where there was a tradition of reading through it in one month's time every August.
We were only able to read it in a month by reading it out loud about 8-10 pages every morning and night . . . Good thing my husband was out of work at the time, it took about an hour for each reading. By the next August we had read The Book of Mormon again and yet the ward decided to read the New Testament in a month. We did this, but the results didn't yield quite the same feeling. We read it once again, this time we tried reading parts of it in Spanish on Saturdays. If you do this, and are not very accurate in your pronunciation of the Spanish language, as we are not, I suggest you use the CD's. This helped tremendously. We stayed in the Kent ward one more year and read it again with them in a month . . . the great feelings associated in reading The Book of Mormon all the way through in such a short period of time returned.
The following year we read The Book of Mormon 'backwards' starting with the last book, Moroni, reading it from start to finish, then moving onto the next to the last book, Ether, etc. This was a nice twist, kind of like the joke about playing country music backwards, everybody came and went and instead of ending with blood and carnage and only one faithful saint left alive - there was this little family of faithful members Lehi and his wife Sariah, and their faithful kids Nephi, Jacob, Joseph, and their friend, Zoram. Sobering to think that we have a little family of faithful followers right now - yet what will our posterity be like if we don't pass along a burning testimony of the gospel to future generations. We ended this version the summer that Gordon B. Hinckley asked us to read The Book of Mormon by Christmas. To our delight, our new ward (Provo, UT) also reads The Book of Mormon annually. The Relief Society does it every year ending with a Christmas brunch and testimony meeting (for everyone in the ward who reads it), which was great to attend as a family. The youth in this ward also have a Book of Mormon marathon where they read it/hear it during a 24 hours YM/YW overnight activity. This being our first year they asked us to participate and so I did what I do best, theatre. At their request, we enacted two parts of The Book of Mormon (Abinadi in King Noah's Court) and (Jesus Christ's visit to the Americas) while it was being read out of the scriptures.
This last year we have also picked up The Book of Mormon in German, Das Buch Mormon. If you've ever seen "Other Side of Heaven" or read the great stories of early church missionaries' experiences with the gift of tongues, it really does work. As an additional treat we went on a once in a life time journey to Germany (Patrick lived there twice during his youth). It was a great opportunity to put our new knowledge into practice.
So now we are reading and blogging, another goal that we've always wanted to do with our kids. . . this being the last year we are all together. (Next year our eldest of two, is planning to move out of the home headed for college life and start her own traditions with reading The Book of Mormon.) I hope this year's blogging gives her a cumulative and tangible record of our family's testimony of The Book of Mormon.

Reading Together

This week we've been reading the front-matter and started First Nephi (tonight, we read 1 Ne 1). Reading together and trying to keep everyone engaged can be a challenge.

I loved reading Joseph Smith's testimony last night. It's such a powerful couple of pages. I get chills everytime I read it. A few years ago we lived close enough to Palmyra, New York, that we were able to visit the places where these events occurred, which helped put a 'face' on the whole thing.

I've also been reading the new Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball book. Since I'm working with the Young Men, I don't get to attend the Elders Quorum classes using this and I have to take some extra time to keep up. As a convert, I really liked the section about his focus on missionary work while serving as President of the Church in the chapter on hisLife and Ministry.

The Book Of Mormon- Week One

When reading the Book of Mormon this first week I've been impressed by the ability to read along in different ways. All the time understanding what we were reading.

the bom

Hey I am reading the Book of Mormon chapter by chapter, and blogging about it too... yeah. Keep watching or would that be reading any way keep reading and see what comes up.

1 Nephi 1 - Of Goodly Parents & Mercy

It wasn't until I was a parent myself, that I realized Nephi made this statement about "being born of goodly-parents" after he was already a dad. So, I feel less pressure to have my kids walking around spurting compliments like this one.
I really loved what the newest apostle said about the 'Tender Mercies of the Lord' (Conference Report from October 2004). Nephi states it in verse 20, "But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance."
I cannot count the times that our family has been shown the 'tender mercies of the Lord' in delivering us. Whether from the storm tossed seas outside our beach front window during the Nor'Easter of 2001, or being lost, locked out, injured, sick, hungry, broke, etc. the Lord has seen fit to spare us and let us live to tell the tale, that Jesus is the Savior of the World.


Title Page, Witnesses, and Introduction

Don't skip the prelude! Last year at this time I had just finished writing, directing, and starring in a theatrical production of "Christmas with the Smiths". I don't think my testimony of Joseph Smith will ever be the same. After reading thousands of pages of Church History, personal journals, and eye-witness accounts of his time, I have come to feel that the prophet Joseph Smith is more human and more real than I ever before imagined.
So, as I read the Title page, the Witnesses testimony, and the Introduction, I see them as though they were events that were happening or being recorded afresh. The angel Moroni's "instruction and intelligence" during the "interviews" with Joseph Smith each year were not just kept to himself, but you find out by reading from his Mother's writings that young Joseph shared these things with his family in the evenings to pass the time.
You wonder if the Witnesses were afraid to sign their names to the document, or were they more fearful of the consequences if they let down the powers of heaven that allowed them to see what they did.
Even Joseph Smith's testimony comes alive when he states: "I soon found out the reason why I had received such strict charges to keep them safe, and why it was that the messenger had said that when I had done what was required at my hand, he would call for them. For no sooner was it known that I had them, than the most strenuous exertions were used to get them from me. Every stratagem that could be invented was resorted to for that purpose." Just leaving the place where he obtained the plates and getting back to his wife who awaited him with horse and wagon in the middle of the night, Joseph was attacked by assailants. But the miracles were not only in the escapes from constant danger. To me the miracles were in the ways the plates could be taken and given again on at least two occasions to keep them safe until, as Joseph says, "by the wisdom of God, they remained safe in my hands, until I had accomplished by them what was required at my hand."



I'm making a quick change in how I run this blog, and what it's for. I'm inviting my wife and kids to join me as we write about our experiences studying the scriptures this year. Since I'll be blogging more often, I may find the impetus to start blogging some more LDS specific stuff as well.