Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mormon Soprano's Blog on Marriage

I read a wonderfully researched and thought-out post on Marriage.

"What Is Marriage?

Marriage is a “hot topic” right now in the media and the blog world due to Proposition 8 in California. Emotions are running high. There is much being said regarding this topic, combined with intensive personal investments of energy, money, time and effort. Some reports are staying neutral and open-minded, but often the tone becomes bitter, negative, and contentious. This saddens me, and I encourage my readers not to participate in spiteful conversations. Please take the high road. Or, as Elder Robert D. Hales so beautifully instructed in his recent Conference Talk – show your love and discipleship by practicing Christian Courage. I give fair warning that this site is a “contention free zone“. I invite anyone who prefers a war of words and intolerance to go elsewhere. However, I hope that the rest of you will stay, read, share your thoughts and participate in gaining better understanding and respect.

It is not my wish to add another “Proposition 8 Battle-Cry” to the pile. Instead, I would like to devote this post to the core issue in question:

Marriage.

Specifically, I would like to give you a brief explanation of what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) believe about Marriage.

Marriage and Family mean everything to us. It is part of God’s Holy Plan. We believe that being part of a family unit is essential to each stage of our progression; before this life, during this life, and in the life to come.

We believe that all of us lived as one large family before this life. Spirit children; brothers and sisters, with Heavenly Parents. God our Heavenly Father created this earth as part of a divine plan, which included receiving a body, and a family. This life would be our time to prove ourselves, exercise our free agency, and live by faith. After this life ends, we will continue to live and progress. An important part of God’s Plan is to provide the way for us to be eternally linked with the people who mean the very most to us; our family.

Read more...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Staying Pure for Marriage

I got this in an email about four and a half years ago. It has been really helpful for my teenagers and their friends. I hope it is helpful for others as well.


"CELESTIAL DATING" or
HOW TO PREPARE FOR LIFE AND REALLY FALL IN LOVE ON THE LORD'S TERMS
by BISHOP STEVEN H. SATTERFIELD

PREFACE: TO PARENTS and YOUNG ADULTS

David of old, choice in the sight of God, allowed his eternal soul to fall into the depths of hell. Can we say that God has been with us as much as He was with David in his youth? Can we claim the faith in God that David showed? Yet, David fell! And we can fall too, no matter how choice we are! To fail to believe that is to have fallen prey to one of Satan's biggest lies.

Why did David fall? He failed to obey his God. In doing this he physically placed himself in a position which could allow sin to strike. Had David turned away his head and not invited Bathsheba to his home, he likely would be exalted today.

I have looked into the tear-filled, sorrowful eyes of too many good Latter-day saint youth involved in sexual transgressions not to know how easy it is to fall! I have asked myself time and time again why some fall and others don't. Surely such a question requires a very complicated answer. Nevertheless, after many hundreds of hours of interview, several common errors, among those who had fallen into transgression, became obvious.

Time after time, physical surroundings, circumstances, and activities were all repeated, and all seemed to set the stage for sin to enter into young lives. Bitterness, regret, sorrow, and a feeling of despair quickly replaced excitement and enthusiasm. The message of the following rules is plain and simple: You CAN and must be the one to control your life in order to be free from sin. Where you are, who you are with, where you are going, what you are doing, what time you are doing it, are all controlled by you, and will be to your good or to your detriment.

In order to help substantiate what I have written, I have used many quotes from President Kimball, but much of the inspiration comes from countless hours of interview with young people. To live these rules will require spiritual strength added to a sincere desire to do what is right. Prayer, scripture study, attendance at church, and service, are all necessary prerequisites to having the strength to follow these rules. The rules are strict, but make no mistake, so is the Lord! The rewards of a chaste life are far greater than the sacrifices necessary to follow this counsel. Nothing can be of greater assistance to you in obtaining the Celestial Kingdom than to be worthy to marry the right person at the proper time in your life in the Temple.

RULES FOR CELESTIAL DATING

1. NO DATING UNTIL AGE 16; NO SINGLE DATING UNTIL 18. President Kimball tells us, "Any dating or pairing off in social contacts should be postponed until at least the age of 16 or older, and even then there should be much judgment used in selections and in the seriousness." President Kimball goes on to counsel us that beginning the dating process too soon almost always brings young, immature marriages or immorality and sin. He says that early dating is often done with parental approval, "yet it is near criminal to subject a tender child to the temptations of maturity." Remember, NO STEADY dating until after missions. It is an excellent idea to always double or group date until at least the age of 18. (Quotes in order: Ensign, February 1975, p. 4; Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 223.)

2. MISSIONS BEFORE SERIOUS DATING. President Kimball advises us that "every boy should have been saving money for his mission and be free from any and all entanglements so he will be worthy. When he is returned from his mission at 21, he should feel free to begin to get acquainted and to date." He tells us further that, "one can have all the blessings if he is in control and takes the experiences in proper turn: first some limited social get-acquainted contacts, then his mission, then his courting, then his temple marriage and his schooling and his family, then his life's work." A word to you young ladies of the church: You should always encourage a young man to fulfill his mission. NEVER be the cause of a young man deciding to stay home for any reason, for you will be held accountable. Missions for young men of the church supersede marriage in importance from ages 19 to 25. (Quotes: Ensign, February 1975, p. 4.

3. DO NOT DATE NONMEMBERS OR UNWORTHY MEMBERS. NO MISSIONARY WORK ONE-ON-ONE WITH THE OPPOSITE SEX. I do not believe that the Lord would expect the choice young people of His church to find their eternal mates among nonmembers! He would not ask us to go against both HIS counsel throughout the ages or against the counsel of his prophets. President Kimball tells us, "clearly right marriage begins with right dating...therefore, this warning comes with great emphasis. Do not take the chance of dating nonmembers, or members who are untrained and faithless." Now, do not rationalize by saying that you are doing missionary work. The Lord does not instruct us to do missionary work one-on-one with members of the opposite sex. Fellowshipping should be done in groups. Missionary work needs to be done without hazard of emotional romantic involvement that could lead to conditions which confuse the potential candidate. Many potential members have been "turned off" by improper dating of LDS people. I am quite aware that we have faithful members of the church who have joined as a result of exposure to the church by his or her marriage partner. We are grateful for them. However, for every success story I have heard, I am aware of many sad examples of both members and nonmembers being hurt by not following the counsel of the prophet in this matter. (Quote: The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 241.)

4. DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN "KISSING-HUGGING" SESSIONS (making out, or necking, as it is called). I am not talking about the serious sin of "petting," but the lengthy make out sessions that many feel are "okay" as long as you do not let it go too far. President Kimball teaches us, "among the most common sexual sins our young people commit are necking and petting. Not only do these improper relations often lead to fornication, pregnancy, and abortions -- all ugly sins -- but in and of themselves they are pernicious evils...". Necking or making out, the kissing hugging session, is wrong IN AND OF ITSELF, not just because it may lead to something worse. I am not saying that there isn't a proper time in a dating relationship to kiss. There is a proper time and place. President Kimball advises us, 'kissing would be saved at least until these later hallowed courtship days when they could be free from sex and have holy meaning." In an address delivered to returned missionaries (not high school-age people), President Kimball said, "a kiss is an evidence of affection. A kiss is an evidence of love, not an evidence of lust -- but it can be. Don't ever let a kiss in your courtship spell lust. Necking and petting are lustful; they are not love. I don't mind your kissing each other after you have had several dates, but not the 'Hollywood kiss,' not the kiss of passion, but the kiss of affection and there won't be any trouble. Now remember these things." (Quotes in order: The Miracle of Forgiveness; p. 65; Ibid., p. 231; An address delivered by Elder Spencer W. Kimball January 2, 1959.)

5. NO FRENCH KISSING. This type of conduct is far too intimate and too suggestive of the sex act itself. A French kiss does not meet the standards President Kimball describes above.

6. DO NOT PARK. Especially in the high school years, parking in an automobile has been the downfall of many choice young people. Our prophet, President Kimball, tells us that, "in interviewing repenting young folks, as well as some older ones, I am frequently told that the couple met their defeat in the dark, at late hours, in secluded areas. The car was too often the confessed seat of the difficulty. It became their brothel." BEWARE! Often I have found that a couple originally parked to discuss a problem or work out an argument -- not to make out. However, after the problem was resolved, they kissed to make up and things developed from there. It does not matter the reason; DO NOT PARK. After a date, GO HOME! Once you get there, go into the house, ALONE!

7. NEVER, NEVER G0 INTO A HOME OR AN APARTMENT ALONE. I estimate that 80 to 85 percent of the young people I interviewed, who were involved in sexual transgression of any sort, got involved in a home or an apartment alone. This is especially true of COLLEGE-age members who have their own apartments. If you would live just this one rule ALWAYS, you would significantly reduce your chances of ever falling. If you are in a home and everyone leaves but you and your date, ONE OF YOU should leave also! DON'T GIVE SATAN A CHANCE. That is all he needs!

8. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GO INTO A BEDROOM. Bedrooms are not for entertaining friends of the opposite sex; not even to "just listen to records," watch TV, etc. Do not let- a bedroom become a "familiar" place to be with members of the opposite sex.

9. NO BACK RUBS. Becoming too familiar with each other physically offers liberties NOT entitled to single couples, and is wrong. Back rubs have too often led to more intimate acts.

10. DO NOT LIE DOWN BY EACH OTHER OR ON TOP OF EACH OTHER. Lying down to watch TV, lying down in the park, on the beach, or wherever, places you in a position that is not needed and spiritually unhealthy. When you watch TV, SIT UP! When you go on a picnic, sit up! When you have a good night kiss, at the proper time in a relationship, don't recline to do it. ALSO, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER lie on top of each other! This is absolutely wrong. Remember, do not do anything you would not want your own son or daughter to do.

11. ATTEND ONLY WHOLESOME ACTIVITIES. X-, R-, and most PG-13-rated movies are NOT appropriate to see on dates or at any time. President Kimball advises us that, "danger spots likely to have most appeal among the youth, and which should be shunned as one would shun a poisonous serpent, are undesirable movies and improper TV programs." I have had many members (young and old) tell me that they just "over look" the filth in a movie and not let it affect them adversely. To that I say baloney! You cannot go to a movie or to any entertainment that portrays sexual or violent material, as do most movies today, and not be affected and spiritually hurt. It affects you whether you like it or not! In fact, if you find that this kind of material does not offend you, then this is a sure sign that you have already been spiritually damaged in your life and do not even know it. We should avoid Drive-in movies for dates. President Spencer W. Kimball in talking of drive-in movies, said the following: "There in the car, in dark privacy, with suggestive, voluptuous acting on the screen, was Satan's near-perfect setting for sin. With outward appearances of decency and respectability, with an absence of holy influences and with legions of vicious, hovering tempters, even good youth are trapped into immoral acts --acts which would at least be much less likely in the living room or in the formal theater on Main Street." Further, if you find yourself at a party where alcoholic beverages are being served, where the lighting is poor, where couples are making out in the corners, where drugs are being used, or anything else not conducive to maintaining the spirit, LEAVE! When you are at dances be careful of your posture on slow dances (NO BEAR HUGGING) and your intimations on fast dances. Now, never, should you go to bars. Even "just to dance" or "listen to the music," is not sufficient reason to go to bars. If you frequent bars consistently, you will fall into serious moral sin. I HAVE YET TO FIND AN EXCEPTION TO THAT STATEMENT. (Quotes in order: The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 229; lbid, p. 225.)

12. NO IMMODEST DRESS. Dress that is modest and becoming of an LDS young man or young lady is most important at all times, especially when dating. Girls, immodest clothing includes two- piece swimming suits (or ones with low necklines), halter tops, short shorts, tight-fitting clothes, low necklines, short skirts, etc. Boys, keep your shirts on and buttoned up! President Kimball tells us that those who do not actively resist the evil influence of immodesty will "absorb and foster it." He goes on to say, "I see some of our LDS mothers, wives, and daughters wearing dresses extreme and suggestive in style. Even some fathers encourage it. I wonder if our sisters realize the temptation they are flaunting before men when they leave their bodies partly uncovered or dress in tight-fitting, body-revealing, formfitting sweaters.... We cannot overemphasize immodesty as one of the pitfalls to be avoided if we would shun temptation and keep ourselves clean." On occasion I have found young ladies who wore things that were immodest and did not realize it. All looked well in the mirror as they stood there with shoulders back and standing up straight. What they did not realize is that they don't stand straight all day --they sit, they stoop, they lean over and their clothes become immodest. Make sure all of your clothing is modest for all occasions. (Quote: The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 226.)

13. DATE IN COUPLES OR GROUPS MOST OFTEN. Even after the age of 18, it is desirable to date in couples or groups. Dating in groups is not only safer, but you will find that it is much more enjoyable. You will also get to know things about your date that you could not find out any other way. As we get older, we tend to think that we are "above group dating." This is a serious error. Do not make single-dating the largest portion of your dating. Sometimes when we start to like someone quite a bit, we tend to single date almost exclusively. This is a dangerous mistake.

14. NO LATE HOURS. We should be in from our dates by 12:30 OR SOONER. Most proper functions you attend will end by 12:00 or sooner. You then have 30 minutes to get home. If it does not take 30 minutes to get home, then get home sooner. Do not make it a habit to be out late or up late for that matter. Not all moral problems occur late at night, but many, many do! When we are tired and have become quite familiar with each other through the evening, it is very easy to let down our guard; that is all Satan needs. Resistance seems to be lower at night, so make it a habit to be in early from your dates. THIS DOES NOT MEAN that if your go to one of your homes you can stay longer than 12:30! You should both be home by that hour.

NOTE TO PARENTS: You would be shocked to know the number of young people that I have talked to that lost their virtue in their own front room, or family room, or bedroom. Parents, care enough to chaperon your children while in your home through the entire evening. DO NOT go to bed until the "party is over" and everyone has left! Do not let a young couple go to parts of the home isolated for long periods of time. WAIT UP until they are home from date.

15. EACH PARTNER SHOULD BE RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS OWN ACTIONS. Dating is a two- way arrangement. You are each responsible for your own actions. Never allow another person to control your actions. Never say to yourself, "This young man (or woman) is so good that they could never do anything wrong. What ever they would do would be OK." Anyone can make errors. You must have firmly planted in your mind right from wrong, and do not let ANYONE talk you into anything that would not meet the Savior's approval. Know exactly what you are going to do on a date before you go. To go on a date without a plan may sound harmless or even exciting but can lead to trouble very easily.

16. DISCUSS DATING RULES WITH PARTNERS. As you date, especially with those you really like, discuss these rules and your standards so that you each understand what you expect from yourself and your relationship with each other. Set the stops now while your minds are clear and unhampered by emotions. It's too difficult to set them in the middle of a passion-filled night. If a dating partner is not willing to follow these rules or thinks they are too strict, DROP THEM FLAT! Never let your standards relax -- even for what may seem to be the best young man or woman you have ever known!! If you want the help of the Lord and his blessing, follow his counsel.

17. DO NOT THINK THAT YOU ARE THE EXCEPTION TO THESE RULES. Don't say to yourself, "Boy, do I know so-and-so who needs these rules. " The rules are for you! To think that it could never happen to you is an error. It CAN happen to you. YOU ARE NOT SO IN CONTROL THAT YOU CAN AFFORD TO SAY TO YOURSELF, "Oh, I would NEVER do that, therefore, I can go into an apartment alone with my date, or park, or whatever." This is an open invitation to Satan to prove you wrong! And, he will! The biggest error of all is to think that you are an exception to one of these rules.

These are not all the rules we might follow in dating. But, I have never talked to a young person yet who has committed a moral transgression of ANY kind who has not broken several of these rules. REMEMBER, breaking these rules interferes with Celestial Dating and falling in love. They DO NOT bind you down, but rather free you from the things that cause countless heartaches. Things that have contributed to many a Celestial candidate falling to a lower kingdom!"

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Specific, Sincere Prayer

A long time ago, when my testimony wasn't as strong as it is now, I had just read The Book of Mormon and was praying about its truthfulness. I was having a hard time understanding that if Heavenly Father loves His children so much why He did allow the Nephites to be slaughtered. I didn't understand how justice must be satisfied if the people are disobedient, but that is another topic altogether.
I had been praying and pondering about the sacrifices and obedience that is required to gain eternal life. I wanted to know if it was worth it. Maybe I would be just as happy in a lesser kingdom? Obviously, I wasn't very spiritually mature at the time, but I was sincere in my questions. I wanted to understand better. I thought if I prayed to remember the love that I had for Heavenly Father maybe that would help me want to live more righteously. So I did just that, I knelt and prayed an innocent, sincere prayer to remember what the love that I had for Him.
My answer was immediate, overwhelming, and sweet beyond words. How I long to do all that I can to always feel His love, to remember how I love Him, and make whatever sacrifices necessary to return to His presence!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Good Music in My Life

Music touches me in so many ways. I can hear or sing a hymn and be unexpectedly moved to tears. It can bring forth cherished memories, invite the Holy Ghost, and bring peace. It often stays with me through the day and gladdens my heart. A beautiful melody can pick me up when I am down, or help me escape to a happier place.

I have memories of learning music as a child, and in high school band. The thrill of participating in making music is indescribable. I have sung in choirs, singing praises and prayers to my Heavenly Father. Being a part of it fills my soul on a level that is deeper than many others. I feel connected. Connected with those around me, but mostly connected to spiritual things, to the Spirit of God.

I have had answers to my prayers come through music and lyrics. I've had dreams where new melodies were sung and awakened with them briefly in my head. How I wish they would linger long enough for me to capture them.

I have also awakened to my daughters' singing. The joy that their sweet voices brings into my heart makes the rest of the day richer. I'm so thankful for good music in my life.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What a beautiful world!

Today as I was hurrying through Logan to a dentist appointment my heart swelled as I took in the beauty around me. The crystal clear sky hung above me and the Wellsville mountains stood majestically to the west. The sight enticed me to slow down and drink in the divine creation before my eyes. How could I rush through each day without noticing? How ungrateful to do so!

I haven't posted here for too long, but so often I think, "I should put this on my Tender Mercies blog." Yet, here this blog sits pretty empty with those precious Tender Mercies quickly forgotten as I rush to the next thing. I don't think this is how it is suppose to be.

We went to the Twin Falls Temple open house last Saturday. I was touched by the video at the beginning of the tour. Elder Holland talked about how heaven wouldn't be heaven without the sweet associations and relationships with our family members continuing. I'm so grateful for the knowledge that I have that those things will.

My husband's 45 year old sister has terminal cancer. We went to visit her with our daughters and almost 2 year old granddaughter, Emma. She had never met Emma. She was so delighted just to watch and hold that little girl. Children are truly angels that surround us. I am so glad that we made the trip. No amount of money can replace the true joy I witnessed.

This summer I've been able to attend 3 musical performances. One with our immediate family and Grandma Jo, one with Ryan and Becky, and one with my mom, Mindy, and April. I grew up with opera music filling my home. Puccini and Verdi reigned supreme. My dad was always telling my mom to turn it down the way a parent would tell a teenager. But how I've come to love it! And my girls, too. My mom wanted us to go to the Utah Festival Opera's productions of Manon Lescaut and Aida. She hasn't been in the best health and didn't think that she could attend. I was able to convince her to go to a matinee of Manon Lescaut at the last minute. We took pictures (go see here). The music was breathtaking. The experience divine. And the company couldn't have been better. Having my mom there to enjoy it with us made it complete somehow. I was so glad that she was able to come. It will be a memory that we won't forget.

I'm so thankful for the blessings in my life. So aware of the many, many of which I'm unaware. Those that I am cognisant of are too many to list in my prayers. I know Heavenly Father hears my heart sing in thanks.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Repentance, Renewel, and the Atonement

Today I got an email that I had received academic renewal on my college transcripts. In a nut shell, it means that the bad grades on my transcript from fall of 1982 are no longer computed into my GPA. I can't tell you how much that mistake has haunted me! (For the Reader's Digest version, go here.)

My academic adviser, Jessica was holding my graduation packet until she got the news that it was approved. I forwarded the email from the record's dept. to her and got back a "Wahoo! I'm so happy for you! Look at those beautiful transcripts!" She just met me yesterday and I felt genuine concern from her for my academic and personal wellbeing. She was rejoicing with me over it.

I couldn't help but associate this experience with repentance. I have gone to school off and on since 1987 and done my very best to get good grades. But it seemed that no amount of A's would make up for that quarter of school. I had messed up and it was there lurking around. That D was making my GPA a 3.8, even after 62 other credits. I felt shamed. No matter how hard I tried, it was there. I had no power to correct it for myself.

Then with a small fee of twenty-five dollars, and the signature of the right person, it was gone, erased. I have renewal! It is now only a mistake from which to learn. No longer a blemish on my GPA. I couldn't do it on my own. It was done for me. What a great feeling!

Even joy. Not because a 3.8 isn't acceptable, but because it made me think of the true joy that comes from repentance and doing one's best after the sinning is stopped. Knowing that because of the Savior and His Atonement, I can have those sins and mistakes gone, erased. I have had them erased. The shame for the sins that I've committed is gone, and my heart is light because after all that I can do, the Savior has paid the price for me and has done the rest.

How I love Him! How grateful I am for my knowledge and faith in Him, even Jesus the Christ! Academic Renewal is but a reminder for me of the greatest renewal, spiritual renewal, and the greatest gift, my Savior Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Small Witnesses of the Spirit

Today Tessa sang a duet with her cousin, Shelly in Shelly's ward. My sister was asked to sing and she volunteered them. It was absolutely beautiful!! They sang "The Olive Tree" by Kurt Bester. I wish I could have recorded it and put it on here! I love to sing, but having my children share their talents and witnessing it is even more rewarding than doing it myself.

I have few talents which I can consecrate, but singing is one that I have only done a couple of times outside of church in a public setting. I have to say that it had a completely different feeling for me. I sang a duet once at a civic meeting and it seemed so pointless somehow. I do love singing in church, either in a choir or small group. I love how often the music fits perfectly with the theme of the meeting even when the people arranging the music had no idea ahead of time. I had that happen on several occasions when I was the Sacrament Meeting chorister. I would pick the music a couple of months ahead and then the talks would be on that very subject.

One Fast and Testimony Meeting, I happened to choose (a month before) "Called to Serve" for the closing hymn. We ended up having a missionary from our ward come home for a couple of weeks to have knee surgery. He bore such a strong testimony in that meeting about miracles in his behalf. The doctors sent him home thinking that he would have to have a second invasive surgery and when they got into his knee, it was completely healed! They just had to take the pin out that they had placed in his knee the year before. He was able to go back out on his mission after only a very short delay. Then to close the meeting, our ward sang, "Called to Serve." I don't know if anyone else knew, besides me and my organist, how things fell into place that day, but it was a testimony to me that God has His Hand in even the smallest things in His church.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

I just kept it to myself.

While in Fast and Testimony meeting today, there were a couple of long waits in between testimonies. As I had been listening to the first few testimonies, I had sweet witnesses of the spirit. A couple of women bore their testimonies of President Monson, and I thought of the incredible witness and joy I felt as I watched him enter the Salt Lake Tabernacle last month before April and I sang in Joseph Smith the Prophet.

After the first few testimonies, there was a rather long break before someone got up and bore testimony of The Book of Mormon. The thought went through my mind how much I love that book of scripture, and love teaching it to my 11 and 12 year old primary girls.

I have 15 in my class, and usually at least two of the 15, if not more, will bear their testimonies each month in sacrament meeting. I am always so proud of them and their examples. I thought about standing and sharing that with their parents and the ward.

Long silences are unusual in our ward during testimony meetings. So many of the primary children, and young men and women bear their testimonies. I love hearing them. I sit and fill my bucket listening to the testimonies of others.

During this long silence, I thought of the testimony meeting I went to in Honolulu, Hawaii 9 years ago. There was a 15 person line that materialized in the first 5 minutes of the meeting. My sister commented on how chatty the people are there and how their meetings always go over. I drank in every testimony and have wanted every testimony meeting since to be just that full, with people so excited to share what they felt in their hearts. I hate when precious testimony time is wasted.

My heart stirred that maybe I should go up. Ross was asleep on my lap. I woke him up and was thinking about what to say. I even prayed about what to say. I didn't want to do the travelogue thing, but I felt grateful that I had been able to watch Tessa graduate in Mesa, and that I had been able to see old, close friends and feel of their love. I wanted to bear my testimony about being able to sing for President Monson and how truly special that was to me, but I had told a few people about it before, and didn't want to repeat myself. I really did want to tell my class and their parents how much I love them, and appreciate their example, and about my love of teaching The Book of Mormon to them, but I didn't know what else I would say. I didn't feel that it was enough. But I didn't want any more precious testimony time top waste, so I was going to go for it.

Just then, one of the amazing, valiant girls from my class stood and bore her testimony, and then her father, and then her sister, and then her mother. I sat and drank it in again and the meeting was over.

I felt let down, like I should have realized sooner that the testimony that I was feeling in my mind and heart could have been borne out loud. The spirit was there from the get-go.

I went to my primary class and thanked the two girls that bore their testimonies, and I told them how I was going to, but then Sari did, so I didn't. They were disappointed that I hadn't. I told them what I had wanted to say, but it wasn't enough. I still felt that I missed some opportunity that I should have taken. Maybe one of their parents needed to hear how much I love my girls. Maybe I would have been prompted to share something that someone needed. I don't know, but I'm pretty sure that I should have borne my testimony in that meeting. Why did I hesitate? I'm sorry that I did. I feel that I was selfish somehow.

Opportunities missed are gone. I bear my testimony to my class every time I teach. We have a great time learning together about the scriptures. Those girls are taught so well by their parents. Maybe I just needed to share it more publicly. My children haven't heard it for awhile, but they are the ones that say, "You've told us that already, Mom."

Well, what is done is done. Next time I'm going up with the first sweet whispering!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Eternal Relationships

This morning I got to attend the blessing of my nephew, Paris Ashcroft's first baby. We had the blessing in my sister's home. As Paris blessed his son, Graham Paris Ashcroft who is now a month old, I could feel the generations of family around us, not only in Wendy's home, but on both sides of the veil. It was a small glimpse of eternity as I could picture Paris and Ali's children to come, and Graham's children and so on.
My son, Ryan and his wife, Becky were there, who are still technically newly weds. They had been holding the baby before the blessing. Becky smiled and beamed at Graham and then at Ryan with longing in her eyes. They have been waiting to get insurance to start a family. I hope it is soon for them. I'd love to have another grandchild or 20. One is just not enough.
I am so very blessed with a close family who not only live close, but who love and care for each other and me. I'm so blessed with close friends who some are as close as my family. As I age, I realize that the good relationships are what truly matter, good relationships with loved ones and with my Savior and Heavenly Father. It is what is most important.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

We Sang for the Prophet!

Last night April and I sang in Joseph Smith the Prophet with Rob Gardner, composer and conductor. Yesterday at 4 pm was the first time that we rehearsed with the orchestra and all the soloists. Jordan Bluth (who is my new favorite tenor) was one of them. All were wonderful! As we rehearsed, it was tricky to keep time with Rob and the orchestra because the sound reverberation in the tabernacle makes a delay. So if we kept time with Rob's conducting as he instructed, it felt as if we were always coming in early. But we got use to it and it came together in the performances.
Before we started, we were told at the end we would have to wait for the "special guests" to leave first, then we could. I thought that we might have an apostle come. Then we saw President Uchtdorf and his wife come in. Then people started standing and I saw President Monson and his wife coming in. One man started singing We Thank Thee Oh, God for a Prophet, and everyone joined in. My heart was full as I looked at the prophet and his smiling face. As I practiced the music at home and during the two rehearsals, it never occurred to me that we would be performing for him. I had a prayer in my heart that the music would be all that it could be, and it was! When we finished Rob was beaming and mouthed, "Perfect! Perfect!" From him that is high praise, indeed.
President Monson and the audience gave us a standing ovation. As he and President Uchtdorf left, they waved and blew us kisses the whole way out. President Uchtdorf pointed at April and smiled, waving right at her. She was the youngest member of the choir. She thought her braces may have given her away.
The music filled the hall and our hearts, as we bore testimony of the Savior and the prophet, Joseph Smith. We are singing again tonight. I hope it goes as well. It was most likely a once in a life time opportunity, that I hope to have again if we get to do He is Jesus Christ with Rob.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Angels in My Life

I am one of the most blessed individuals. I have friends everywhere I turn. I feel so grateful for all the people who surround me with love and acceptance. I've felt it so much the last few weeks. Not that it wasn't there before, because it always has been, but I wasn't paying attention.

So, to all you wonderful angels in and throughout my life, thank you. Thank you for your examples of Christian goodness, of a diligent work ethic, of hope and belief in the goodness of others and the future, of serving others (myself included), and of strength through adversity. Your examples bless my life, make me stronger, give me hope, and help me know my Savior better. Because you are like Him!

Go read Candace Salima's story on her blog. It is about how one of her former Laurels gave her husband a kidney. What courage, and love! What a great example and what an angel!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Singing with Rob Gardner

April and I are singing Joseph Smith the Prophet with composer Rob Gardner at the Salt Lake Tabernacle on April 25th, & 26th. We had rehearsal last night and it was amazing to sing in the tabernacle with a huge choir of people with incredible voices. One soprano sitting by me sings in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I felt very humbled surrounded by all the talent. The soloists are some of the best of the best. It will be two wonderful nights of bearing testimony of both the prophet and the Savior in song. There may still be tickets available at lds.org.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Wish and a Prayer, Heavenly Father will answer both

Remember, remember...
Yesterday, I was sitting in Sunday school listening to a lesson on coming unto Christ and avoiding the flaxen cords of the adversary. Something stirred within me, and I began thinking about several times when Heavenly Father has answered my prayers. I thought of the big things; Dan getting a job in my hometown after being laid off, Elder Jarom Walz (an old friend of his) taking care of Ryan when he had to have a surgical procedure on his mission, when teaching the gospel to a dear friend, having the very things I should say come to me by power of the Holy Ghost, and when I had been striving diligently to share the gospel, I had a very sacred and overwhelming experience that let me know that Heavenly Father had forgiven me of my sins. Then some small, sweet things went through my mind, like hearing a favorite song when feeling down, or reading a scripture and feeling like it was written just for me to read that very day, or a kind word or deed from someone that was completely unexpected (which most are). I felt that Heavenly Father wants me to remember these things because I need to remember them. Not just on Sunday, but on everyday. I need to remember because He does answer my prayers, because He did answer them before, and will again and again. Not because I am deserving, because I am not. Not because He has to, because He does not. But because He loves me, no matter what. His answers to my prayers, both the big and the little are a testimony to me that this is the truth.
And I will remember. How I love Him!



Here is a Tender Mercy Story on ANWA Founder & Friends Blog. It really touched me, and got me thinking about how Heavenly Father really does take care of us all.

Tchaikowsky, Heavenly Father, and Me

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Two Happy Things

Today I was dreading going to work for several reasons. So I procrastinated...well, I didn't go, which is different.
But anyway, while NOT going to work, I did dishes, laundry, checked my email, and looked in on some blogs. It is amazing the things you get done while procrastinating other things.
I had an email about Rob Gardner, composer of He is Jesus Christ, and Joseph Smith the Prophet, getting together a choir to sing the latter in the Salt Lake Tabernacle! I'm going to join them on April 25th, and 26th. I’m really excited because I love to sing Rob’s music!

The other happy thing was while I was linking over to another LDS webring blog, I saw the Misiego family blog and reconnected with Elder Javier Misiego of our “More Than Words” Tender Mercy story! Sometimes you do get rewarded for procrastination!!!

Monday, February 04, 2008

President Hinckley and the Prophet's Mantle

I've been linking through the LDS Webring, and reading tributes to President Gordon B. Hinckley So many of them have touched me quite deeply. I appreciate all the testimonies, antidotes, and thoughts about this great man.
I remember that I had a friend question something President Hinckley didn't do that she thought he should do when he was in the first presidency with President Benson. I didn't know much about him because I had been less active in my youth. Then after I truly studied and came to know of the truthfulness of the gospel during President Benson's stewardship, I felt President Benson was MY prophet. When he died, there was a hole in my heart for him.
I don't know where my mind was when President Hunter was the prophet. I think it was one of my baby years (being sick and pregnant and out of it). So when President Hinckley became the prophet, I remember turning the TV on and watching the beginning of a documentary. They showed a black and white clip of a man coming into the tabernacle and up to the pulpit. I felt that strong, sweet witness that this was MY prophet. I thought, "It's a documentary on President Benson." I was so excited. Then the camera zoomed in, and the narrator said something about Gordon B. Hinckley being set apart as a new apostle. I was so surprised by the strength of the witness. I hadn't really even been thinking about it, or questioning if I would accept him as my prophet. I still didn't know anything about him, but I knew he was the new prophet of God, MY prophet.
I think what I experienced at that time was much like what the people did when they saw the mantle go upon Brigham Young after Joseph died. The small doubt that was sewn by my friend was forgotten because of the witness of the Holy Ghost. I'm so thankful for it. How we will miss that sweet, dear prophet!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Quote of the Day:

"The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium."
~Norbet Platt

Kathleen H. Hughes, "Remembering the Lord's Love"

"The Savior's invitation is clear and direct, and importantly for us, it is constant: 'Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden. . . . Take my yoke upon you, . . . for . . . my burden is light'(Matthew 11:28-30). This is the Lord's promise to me and to you."My prayer for each of us is that we will remember when the Lord has spoken His peace to us and has encircled us in the arms of His love. And just as important, will you, if you haven't felt that love for a while, seek to see it and feel it as you go about the ordinary tasks of your life. As you do this, over the days and months and years of your life, the memories of those interactions with the Lord will become sweet gifts to open a second time--or many times--to bolster you when life is difficult." 'Peace I give unto you,' the Lord promises, 'not as the world giveth, give I unto you' (John14:27). Peace. Strength. It is what we long for and what is possible. We only need to turn toward His reaching arms."

This was posted on Magic Valley Mormon Blog. I like what Sister Hughes said about spiritual memories being "sweet gifts to open a second time--or many times-- to bolster you when life is difficult." I believe that this is why I keep a journal, so that I can later remember the spiritual gifts from Heavenly Father and feel that same sweet warmth and gratitude from knowing that He loves me, and answers my prayers.

Kathleen H. Hughes, "Remembering the Lord's Love," Ensign, Nov. 2006

Friday, January 11, 2008

Reactions to Sister Julie B. Beck's Talk

There have been some negative reactions to Sister Julie Beck's talk, Mothers Who Know .
At first, I was surprised and baffled. I truly enjoyed her talk. As I listened, I remember thinking how pleased I was with my daughter, Mindy who is one of those really young "mothers who know". She is one of my heros, and examples of how to choose righteously in a world where righteous choices are not very popular.
But I was quite taken aback by the reactions to Sister Beck's talk. I didn't understand why it caused such a stir. It seemed like pretty standard counsel to me, nothing new or controversial. I read about the reactions to Sister Beck's talk online after hearing that a man in my ward had a pod-cast. I went to his website, and I listened as a panel of various women in the church discussed the negative reactions to her talk and was dumb-founded. I loved her talk. My thoughts, as I heard about the reaction reading from blog to blog, were not very kind toward the people writing them. My first reaction was that the wicked take the truth to be hard.
Somehow I wanted to let Sister Beck know of the women in the church that felt the Spirit during her talk and said a hearty "Amen".

Then a few weeks later, I read an article in our local paper about the people in our community that signed the rebuttal/petition. One of the signers is a friend of mine. I know her and love her. She has taught what I felt were uplifting, spiritual lessons in young womens this last year. Reading that she signed this rebuttal compelled me to read it. Some of the items in it were just expounding on Sister Beck's ideas, taking more time to detail what they felt that was missing in her talk. Some things, in my opinion, were just "puffed up in their own understanding". But because of my friend signing it, I have tried to seek for better understanding of why so many were offended. I haven't come to any great conclusions, but I realize that Satan wants us to be divided, and that he wins a battle if we forget charity in the face of conflict. I have wanted to blog about this for a while, but have had such strong feelings surrounding it that I couldn't put my thoughts down.

Tonight as I was reading from one of my favorite blogs, ANWA's Founders and Friends, I linked over to Christine Thackeray's blog and read her thoughts on the reactions. I agree with what she said.

I was talking to a different friend in my ward about the uproar and she pulled a letter out of her purse from Sister Beck to herself thanking her for writing words of support. Then, I received an email from another friend about someone who was gathering signatures from people who wanted Sister Beck to know of the silent majority's love and gratitude for her message. Last I heard they had over 2500 signatures and had sent them on to Sister Beck. I was happy to sign it. Words and voices can be powerful and dividing things.