Thursday, November 24, 2011


Thou gracious God, whose mercy lends

Thou gracious God, whose mercy lends
the light of home, the smile of friends,
our gathered flock thine arms enfold
as in the peaceful days of old.

Wilt thou not hear us while we raise
in sweet accord of solemn praise
the voices that have mingled long
in joyous flow of mirth and song?

For all the blessings life has brought,
for all its sorrowing hours have taught,
for all we mourn, for all we keep,
the hands we clasp, the loved that sleep.

The noontide sunshine of the past,
these brief, bright moments fading fast,
the stars that gild our darkening years,
the twilight ray from holier spheres.

We thank thee, Father; let thy grace
our loving circle still embrace,
thy mercy shed its heavenly store,
thy peace be with us evermore.

--Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., 1869

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Adam and Eve

In an article about the divine nature and destiny of women, Glenn L. Pace states "I’d like to share a perspective from John Milton’s Paradise Lost that fully resonates with my soul." As I was reading what he shared it also resonated with me, (especially after reading a comment from a friend on a different post) so I wanted to share it here with you:

 Milton describes the beauty of the Garden and the variety of animals. In his account, Adam watches the interplay between the animals and communicates with them as best he can. However, Adam concludes something is drastically amiss. Milton wrote: 

They rejoice 
Each with their kind, lion with lioness; 
So fitly them in pairs thou hast combin’d; 
Much less can bird with beast, or fish with fowl 
So well converse, nor with the ox the ape; 
Worse then can man with beast, and least of all. 

In other words, Adam is saying, “What’s wrong with this picture?” Milton goes on to suggest that God delayed the introduction of Eve until Adam could fully appreciate her. Seeing that Adam is now ready for the introduction of Eve, God describes what is going to happen next. I love Milton’s description of what Eve would mean to Adam: 

What next I bring shall please thee, be assur’d, 
Thy likeness, thy fit help, thy other self, 
Thy wish exactly to thy heart’s desire. 

“Thy fit help”? No, this doesn’t mean she would be in good shape. It means she would be a match, a complement, a counterpart, even his “other self.” Finally, Eve stood before him, and she exceeded his highest expectations. He had never seen anything like her in the garden. Milton continues: 

Under his forming hands a creature grew, 
Manlike, but different sex, so lovely fair, 
That what seem’d fair in all the world, seem’d now 
Mean, or in her summ’d up, in her contain’d, 
And in her looks, which from that time infus’d 
Sweetness into my heart, unfelt before. 

I hope Milton will forgive me for adding my opinion that the “sweetness” Adam felt, which was “unfelt before,” was much more than that which was generated by Eve’s physical appearance. Those feelings flowing into him had as their source her wellspring. His feelings were the direct result of standing in front of one of the daughters of heavenly parents who had a divine nature different from, but complementary to, his own divine nature.

 I think God also does the same for each of us, delaying our introduction to our "fit help" until we are each prepared to fully appreciate the other. I believe that in that moment we will each experience that same sweetness and complimentary power.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

the signs of the coming of the Song of Man

We read this quote in institute:
"There will be wars and rumors of wars, signs in the heavens above and on the earth beneath, the sun turned into darkness and the moon to blood, earthquakes in divers places, the seas heaving themselves beyond their bounds; then will appear one grand sign of the Son of Man in heaven. But what will the world do? They will say it is a planet, a comet, etc. But the Son of Man will come as the sign of the coming of the Son of Man, which will be as the light of the morning cometh out of the east (Teachings, 286-287)."  
"When the sign is given however it will be known to and identified by the prophet of God on earth" (Teachings, 279-280) 
And we briefly discussed what the sign might be and ultimately decided that whatever it is, will be BIG and, to anyone who is looking for it, obviously IT (though it won't hurt that the Saints will also have it pointed out by the prophet!).

And of course I couldn't help but start thinking about those prophecies of the last days, and how ALL of them are happening... the signs have ALL started -- and not only started but increased!

Isaiah 24:20
The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.

how about all those recent earthquakes? (the chart to the left was published in april of this year so that number may be higher...)

Doctrine and Covenants 88:90
And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds.

Tsunamis having been making the news a lot lately too. the chart to the right seems to indicate consistent increase.

An article by NOAA scientists stated it the abstract that "Analysis of the database revealed that while the total number of magnitude 7.5 earthquakes per decade since 1901 has remained consistent, the last decade has experienced some of the most devastating geologic events in history.

But back to that one grand sign of the coming of the Song of Man... It's hard not to wonder every time I read about an approaching comet or planetary intrigue if this is going to be IT... it certain puts Matthew 24 into perspective, especially versus 46-48:

46 And what I say unto one, I say unto all men; watch, therefore, for you know not at what hour your Lord doth come.
47 But know this, if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to have been broken up, but would have been ready.
48 Therefore be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My witness

I have sacrificed to be sanctified. 

D&C 101
3 Yet I will own them, and they shall be mine in that day when I shall
come to make up my jewels.
4 Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham,
who was commanded to offer up his only son.
5 For all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be

Monday, November 7, 2011

a Chronicles of Narnia quote

This is one of my favorite quotes, from the mouse who is trying to get to the king's country (very applicable to us...)

"My own plans are made. While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Treader. When she fails me, I paddle east in my coracle. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws. And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan's country, or shot over the edge of the world in some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise..."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

a very personal experience

i have to tell you about the fireside i went to.

i almost didn't go. i was planning on going but then a phone convo. went right up to 6:55 and the fireside was at 7 and i almost just stayed home... i am so so so glad i went.

when i got there, they were just singing the opening hymn. there was a prayer and a musical number and the speak got up and started telling us about when he received the phone call asking him to speak at the fireside. he said he felt a little overwhelmed at the request because he knows we often go to firesides with expectations. we have problems or questions - and we go to firesides hoping to find an answer or some direction in what the speaker says. that's a lot of responsibility and our speaker tonight said it was really important to him to make sure that we were able to be taught by the spirit tonight, and whatever it was we came looking for, we would find answers. 

i got feeling really hopeful at this point. 

he asked us to write down one questions or issue we were struggling with and pray that the Lord would bless us with the spirit to find an answer tonight. so i wrote down a concern of mine (having to do with my future - i won't get into specific detail but i wrote that i was looking for added hope and guidance). he told us that he wanted us to "get out of the boat" -- the way peter did when he saw christ walking on the water towards them. he got out and put his feet onto water that every time up until then he had sunk in...and this time he didn't sink. this time he walked on water towards the savior. he put himself in a vulnerable situation and received enabling power. (we need to learn to do the same.)

the speaker then proceeded to explain that he wanted to teach us tonight that whenever we had a difficulty in our lives we can immediately turn to the Lord -- and that we can immediately access the Lord's guidance in the Book of Mormon. he went on to explain that he had a lot of struggles as a single 29-year old mormon living in provo. there were often times when he felt there was something wrong with him, or that he was just doing all the wrong things somehow and was in the wrong place. he felt he was often attacked for being unmarried and he shared with us a couple instances of this. he explained that these experiences, as hard as they were, helped him learn to -- in those moments when he felt like "where do i go from here?" and was enveloped by frustration and at times despair -- turn to God and turn to answers in the book of mormon. specifically he said to us that when we are struggling we ought to pray and ask God "will you show me what story or experience in the Book of Mormon can help me with this problem?"

he explained that he hoped to show us tonight how the book of mormon could help us, then shared three stories from the book of mormon.

first, the story of nephi -- how he and his brothers had been commanded to get the plates and they tried the logical thing - asking for them - which failed. then they tried the next logical thing - trying to buy them - which failed as well and it wasn't until after the failure of all their ideas/plans that nephi just went into the city "not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do. nevertheless [he] went forth" one thing followed another and nephi was able to acquire the plates -- the speaker (i wish i knew his name... i missed the part where they announced it) explained that sometimes we reach a point in our lives when we have done all the sensible things we can try to do, and that for all of us there comes a time when we must learn to faithfully turn over our lives to god so that we can reach the end goal we are working towards. 

he went on to remind us of the story of abish in alma 19 -- how she had long been converted to the Lord but for reasons we don't know about had stayed in a hostile land. she may have wondered at times what she was doing there, since in so many ways she did not fit, she didn't belong there, but the time eventually came when the lord said to her "abish, NOW!" and the reason for her being there became apparent. (when ammon came and preached and converted the people) we often find ourselves in places we didn't expect, working jobs we may not have anticipated, living in a place we love and hate (he said living at home!) but we have to ask ourselves, in spite of this... in spite of all the ways this isn't what i expected or want or see the point of -- do i nonetheless feel this is right? am i at peace with this generally? can i wait and see what the Lord's purpose is for me here?

lastly he spoke of moroni -- of how everyone moroni knew and loved was killed. how he said in Mormon 8 that it basically didn't matter where he went from there. and so he wandered and it wasn't until years later that he writes the book of moroni and says, well i'm still alive so let me say a few things -- and it was that time that he spent wandering that prepared him to say the things he then said, to testify of christ is a personal and powerful way. his "hopeless" situation was not hopeless, and he learned from his struggles, and it led him to be able to say "And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise" (moroni 7:41).   

he ended by referring back to "getting out of the boat" -- that like peter we need to step out, and even when our faith falters, when we struggle -- we can cry to the Lord and know that the lord will catch us, IMMEDIATELY.

Matt. 14:29
 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
 32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.

And holding our hand the Lord will walk us back to the ship, where -- once we are back IN the ship -- the winds will cease. And not only will they cease, but they will make sense. Why our plans didn't work out, why we found ourselves in situations we didn't expect/understand, and why we had to struggle for so long. 

I can not begin to emphasize how strongly I felt this entire talk was directed towards me. it was like God had told the speaker what was going on in my life and he stood up and looked right at me and talked right to me. i HAD gone in with questions. i have been struggling with that issue i wrote down for a while now, but i've felt it pulling me down especially strong these last few weeks. i have cried to the Lord for answers and for help... and in a VERY real and meaningful way I had every question answered and every concerned addressed. not just in the manner of the talk, but in the actual stories and scriptures. i felt the spirit so strongly. i have had this happen in bits before -- having a little thing here or there stand out -- but i've never had it happen so completely... i've never felt that an entire talk was so directly meant JUST FOR ME.

The young man who gave the closing prayer prayed that we would remember these things, and remember to write them down so that they could help us in the future. (that is part of why i am writing this.) 

i hope that you find things in here that bless you. 

i know that God hears our prayers and in HIS time, when the timing is right and we are ready, he answers them. i walked out of the chapel feeling SO LOVED. I am so grateful to know and feel he is aware of me and that he loves me.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

"Why I believe"

The following is an excerpt from the testimony of Clayton M. Christensen, a professor at Harvard Business School. I think this is a remarkable and inspiring story of personal conversion -- and beautifully and poignantly written (I really recommend reading his entire talk).

...I was born into a wonderful Mormon family, and as I grew up I found few reasons to disbelieve the teachings of the church.  My parents had deep faith in its precepts, and their example and encouragement were powerful – I believed in my parents, and I knew that they believed the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It was not until I was 24, however, that I came to know these things for myself. 

I had been given a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University in England.  After I had  lived there for a few weeks, far away from the supportive environment in which I had been raised, it became clear that adhering to Mormonism in that environment was going to be  very inconvenient.  In fact, doing the sorts of things I described in the first part of this essay within the Mormon congregation in Oxford would preclude my participation in many of the things that had made Oxford such a rich experience for prior recipients of my scholarship.  I decided, as a result, that the time had come for me to learn for certain and for myself whether Mormonism was true.  

I had read the Book of Mormon before – seven times, to be exact.  But in each of those instances I had read it by assignment – from my parents or a teacher – and my objective in reading it was to finish the book.  This time, however, my objective was to  find out if it was a true book or a fabrication. Accordingly, I reserved the time from 11:00 until midnight, every night, to read the Book of Mormon next to the fireplace in my chilly room at the Queen’s College.  I began each of those sessions by kneeling in verbal prayer.  I told God, every night, that I was reading this to know if it was His truth.  I told Him that I needed an answer to this question – because if it was not true I did not want to waste my time with this church and would search for something else.  But if it was true, then I promised that I would devote my life to following its teachings, and to helping others do the same.  

I then would sit in the chair and read a page in the Book of Mormon.  I would stop at the bottom of the page and think about it.  I would ask myself what the material on that page meant for the way I needed to conduct my life.  I would then get on my knees and pray aloud again, asking the Lord to tell me if the book was true.  I would then get back in the chair, turn the page, and repeat the process, for the remainder of the hour.  I did this every evening.

After I had done this for several weeks, one evening in October, 1975, as I sat in the chair and opened the book following my prayer, I felt a marvelous spirit come into the room and envelop my body.  I had never before felt such an intense feeling of peace and love.  I started to cry, and did not want to stop.
I knew then, from a source of understanding more powerful than anything I had ever felt in my life, that the book I was holding in my hands was true.  It was hard to see through the tears.  But as I opened it and began again to read, I saw in the words of the book a clarity and magnitude of God’s plan for us that I had never conceived before.  The spirit stayed with me  for that entire hour.  And each night thereafter, as I prayed and then sat in that chair with the Book of Mormon, that same spirit returned.  It changed my heart and my life forever. 

It was as if I had been looking out as far as I could see toward the horizon, and had been quite satisfied that I could see everything that there was to see.  When I undertook to read the Book of Mormon in that manner, however, I discovered that so much more beauty and truth about who we are and what God has in store for us, lies beyond that old horizon.  I did not know what I did not know.

I love to go back to Oxford.  As the beautiful, historic home of the world’s oldest university, the town is filled with students and tourists.  To me, however, it is a sacred place.  It is there that I learned that the fundamental message of the Book of Mormon is in fact true – that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  It is there that I learned that God is indeed my Father in Heaven.  I am His son.  He loves  me, and even knows my name.  And I learned that Joseph Smith, the man who translated the Book of Mormon and organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was a prophet of God in the same sense that Peter and Moses were prophets.  I love to return to Oxford to remember the beautiful, powerful spirit that came to my heart and conveyed these messages to me.