Posts Tagged ‘LDS’

Mother’s Day 2010 sacrament meeting talk

As I considered what I could talk about that would be appropriate for Mother’s Day, I decided on these few things:

1. Help Mothers and motherly sisters in the ward feel the love Heavenly Father has for them for the divine work they do, and that they are appreciated by their families and by the ward.

2. Help educate those who support mothers on the magnitude of the motherly role, so their families can better appreciate and sustain them.

3. Prepare young women to be mothers.

Feel good

I’d like to start then, with a statement issued by the First Presidency:

“Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels.”

In James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (1965–75), 6:178

Nurturing children

When a woman chooses to become a mother, she chooses a course that will change her life permanently. My mom still spends time on the phone with my 32-year-old sister, and still raises my youngest sister at home who is just 13 who now is an “only child”. If my mom quit being a mom after my youngest sister reached 32 she would have been a mom for 51 years; but of course I know she’ll keep on serving her children for the rest of her life. She will be coming up from California with my sister to babysit our two kids while Cheryl and I take our first week-long vacation.

The March 1976 Ensign explains why motherhood is so important:

Motherhood is a holy calling, a sacred dedication for carrying out the Lord’s work, a consecration and devotion to the rearing and fostering, the nurturing of body, mind, and spirit of those who kept their first estate and who came to this earth for their second estate to learn and be tested and to work toward godhood.

The role of mother, then, is to help those children to keep their second estate, so that they might have glory added upon their heads forever and ever.

Mar 1976 Ensign “Mothers Had Taught Them”

Elder N. Eldon Tanner in his article “No Greater Honor: The Woman’s Role” describes the impact mothers have on the family:

A mother has far greater influence on her children than anyone else, and she must realize that every word she speaks, every act, every response, her attitude, even her appearance and manner of dress affect the lives of her children and the whole family. It is while the child is in the home that he gains from his mother the attitudes, hopes, and beliefs that will determine the kind of life he will live and the contribution he will make to society.

N. Eldon Tanner, “No Greater Honor: The Woman’s Role,” New Era, Jan 1977, 31

I wonder how many Eagle scouts there would be in the Boy Scouts of America, if it had not been for mothers. I know my mother was critical to keeping me on the track to earning my Eagle. How fitting it is that with each rank advancement in scouting, that traditionally the mother also receives a pin alongside her son’s badge.

Biological mothers are not the only women who can fulfill their divine calling to nurture children. Cheryl has expressed to me repeatedly how nice it is to be in a ward with so many sisters that she feels comfortable leaving our children with. Our children adore them, and these women nurture our children.

And girls, don’t underestimate your influence on your brothers and your sweethearts. As you live worthy of their love and respect, you can help greatly to determine that they will be clean and virtuous, successful and happy. Always remember that you can go much further on respect than on popularity. I was reading the other day of a report of a conversation between two young prisoners of war in Vietnam. One said, “I am sick of war, bombers, destruction, prison camps, and everything and everybody.”

“I feel much like that myself,” said the other. “But there is a girl back home who is praying that I will come back. She cares, and it really helps me endure all these atrocities.”

N. Eldon Tanner, “No Greater Honor: The Woman’s Role,” New Era, Jan 1977, 31


Elder Holland said:

In speaking of mothers generally, I especially wish to praise and encourage young mothers. The work of a mother is hard, too often unheralded work. The young years are often those when either husband or wife—or both—may still be in school or in those earliest and leanest stages of developing the husband’s breadwinning capacities. Finances fluctuate daily between low and nonexistent. The apartment is usually decorated in one of two smart designs—Deseret Industries provincial or early Mother Hubbard. The car, if there is one, runs on smooth tires and an empty tank. But with night feedings and night teethings, often the greatest challenge of all for a young mother is simply fatigue. Through these years, mothers go longer on less sleep and give more to others with less personal renewal for themselves than any other group I know at any other time in life. It is not surprising when the shadows under their eyes sometimes vaguely resemble the state of Rhode Island.

Elder Holland, Ensign, May 1997

If you as a mother feel overwhelmed by raising your children, Elder Ballard has something that may help you:

…even as you try to cut out the extra commitments, sisters, find some time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests. Pick one or two things that you would like to learn or do that will enrich your life, and make time for them. Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others, even to your children. Avoid any kind of substance abuse, mistakenly thinking that it will help you accomplish more. And don’t allow yourself to be caught up in the time-wasting, mind-numbing things like television soap operas or surfing the Internet. Turn to the Lord in faith, and you will know what to do and how to do it.

M. Russell Ballard, “Daughters of God,” Ensign, May 2008, 108–10

I am grateful for mothers groups, which provide mothers with the much needed opportunities for mothers to chat with others at an adult level while children play together. An exchange of ideas on how to parent children often happens here and is often healthy to mother and family. Elder Ballard stresses that it’s important to keep advice from others in perspective though and not get caught up comparing yourself to other women, and to not push your advice on others too strongly:

There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family. Many are able to be “full-time moms,” at least during the most formative years of their children’s lives, and many others would like to be. Some may have to work part-or full-time; some may work at home; some may divide their lives into periods of home and family and work. What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply and, in keeping with the devotion she has for God and her husband, prioritizes them above all else.

M. Russell Ballard, “Daughters of God,” Ensign, May 2008, 108–10

While Heavenly Father and the brethren of the Church understand that circumstances sometimes require mothers to spend time outside the home, they also stress the importance and irreplaceability of mothers. President Spencer W. Kimball said:

“This divine service of motherhood can be rendered only by mothers. It may not be passed to others. Nurses cannot do it; public nurseries cannot do it. Hired help cannot do it; kind relatives cannot do it. Only by mother, aided as much as may be by a loving father, brothers and sisters, and other relatives, can the full needed measure of watchful care be given.”

President Spencer W. Kimball

I think the balance between President Kimball’s statement and Elder Ballard’s is the motivation behind a mother’s choice to delegate a portion of her divinely appointed calling to someone else. President Kimball continues…

The mother who entrusts her child to the care of others that she may do nonmotherly work, whether for gold, for fame, for civic service should remember that in Proverbs we read, “A child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” (Prov. 29:15.)

President Spencer W. Kimball


Author Anna Quindlen reminds us not to miss the joys of parents by getting lost in the work of it. She said:

The biggest mistake I made [as a parent] is the one that most of us make. … I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of [my three children] sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less

Loud and Clear [2004], 10–11


I’d like to close with a quote from Elder Ballard:

There is nothing in this world as personal, as nurturing, or as life changing as the influence of a righteous woman.

Elder Ballard, General Conference April 2010

I love and appreciate both mothers in my life: my mom and my wife.


Letter to Elder Holland:

One young mother wrote to me recently that her anxiety tended to come on three fronts. One was that whenever she heard talks on LDS motherhood, she worried because she felt she didn’t measure up or somehow wasn’t going to be equal to the task. Secondly, she felt like the world expected her to teach her children reading, writing, interior design, Latin, calculus, and the Internet—all before the baby said something terribly ordinary, like “goo goo.” Thirdly, she often felt people were sometimes patronizing, almost always without meaning to be, because the advice she got or even the compliments she received seemed to reflect nothing of the mental investment, the spiritual and emotional exertion, the long-night, long-day, stretched-to-the-limit demands that sometimes are required in trying to be and wanting to be the mother God hopes she will be.

But one thing, she said, keeps her going: “Through the thick and the thin of this, and through the occasional tears of it all, I know deep down inside I am doing God’s work. I know that in my motherhood I am in an eternal partnership with Him. I am deeply moved that God finds His ultimate purpose and meaning in being a parent, even if some of His children make Him weep.

“It is this realization,” she says, “that I try to recall on those inevitably difficult days when all of this can be a bit overwhelming. Maybe it is precisely our inability and anxiousness that urge us to reach out to Him and enhance His ability to reach back to us. Maybe He secretly hopes we will be anxious,” she said, “and will plead for His help. Then, I believe, He can teach these children directly, through us, but with no resistance offered. I like that idea,” she concludes. “It gives me hope. If I can be right before my Father in Heaven, perhaps His guidance to our children can be unimpeded. Maybe then it can be His work and His glory in a very literal sense.” 7

Elder Holland, Ensign, May 1997

To Young Men

Elder Nelson said:

You young men need to know that you can hardly achieve your highest potential without the influence of good women, particularly your mother and, in a few years, a good wife. Learn now to show respect and gratitude. Remember that your mother is your mother. She should not need to issue orders. Her wish, her hope, her hint should provide direction that you would honor. Thank her and express your love for her. And if she is struggling to rear you without your father, you have a double duty to honor her.

Ensign, May 1999

Chastity of Women

President Spencer W. Kimball stressed the importance of the chastity of women because it impacts their role as a mother:

Mothers have a sacred role. They are partners with God, as well as with their own husbands, first in giving birth to the Lord’s spirit children and then in rearing those children so they will serve the Lord and keep his commandments. Could there be a more sacred trust than to be a trustee for honorable, well-born, well-developed children? We affirm the Church’s strong, unalterable stand against innovations or any unchastity or breaking of the laws that could possibly reflect in the lives of the children.

President Spencer W. Kimball

Consider this quote and how applicable it is:

It is of great concern to all who understand this glorious concept that Satan and his cohorts are using scientific arguments and nefarious propaganda to lure women away from their primary responsibilities as wives, mothers, and homemakers. We hear so much about emancipation, independence, sexual liberation, birth control, abortion, and other insidious propaganda belittling the role of motherhood, all of which is Satan’s way of destroying woman, the home, and the family—the basic unit of society.

Some effective tools include the use of radio, television, and magazines where pornography abounds and where women are being debased and disgracefully used as sex symbols—sex-ploited, some call it. Immodest dress, drugs, and alcohol daily take a tremendous toll through the destruction of virtue and chastity and even lives. With modern electronic devices of communication and speedy transportation, much more is being heard throughout the world by many more people than would be possible otherwise, and it is having its degrading influence and effect.

N. Eldon Tanner, “No Greater Honor: The Woman’s Role,” New Era, Jan 1977, 31

When do you think this was said? … This quote was by N. Eldon Tanner—in 1977! If it was true then, how much more true must it be today?

Standing for Truth and Righteousness…

There is nothing quite like the feeling you get when you read something that you truly believe in.  It gives you a sense of the greatness that is found in each of us if we stand with conviction and determination in a just cause.

I can think of several documents that have stirred this feeling in me…

The 13 articles of faith

The Proclamation on the Family

And the latest…The Manhattan Declaration – read it (and for that matter, read the others too).  It is powerful.  It makes me proud to be part of a nation founded by men who feared God and held sacred these freedoms and rights, and most of all, proud to be a Christian!

I encourage you to read the full version before you sign it, not just to make sure that you know what you’re signing, but because it will make signing it, all the more meaningful – it was the best 15 minutes I spent ALL day – and I had a pretty good day…

Every Good Thing

I watched in amazement and wonder as my 10 month old baby girl carefully picked item after item out of the tipped over diaper bag, tasting one thing, shaking another.  She was having a wonderful time, so interested in every item, though holding her attention for only a minute or two.  That’s the way it was of course, until, she found the lollypop.  Then it was just her and the lollypop.  Every little piece of paper with the corners now missing, every diaper changing accessory, every squeaky toy or rattle was forgotten……jackpot!


The person who coined the phrase “it’s as easy as taking candy from a baby”, never took candy from this baby, boy did she ever yell at me!  And it was actually easier to feed her her liquid peaches if I just relented and let her hold the lollypop in her hand.  She wouldn’t let it go, it was what she had dug so hard for and she was not going to just give it up after all that hard work.

It was a funny but simple illustration of how each of us endures one thing or another, good and bad experiences along the path of life, searching for the one thing that is going to carry us through.  And when we find it, that is what we cling to. 

President Eyring gave a talk recently at the First Presidency Christmas Devotional where he used the scriptural phrase, “lay hold upon every good thing.”  Even though I’m sure the rest of his talk was wonderful, everything else seemed to fade except for that statement.  And the word that jumped out at me more than anything was EVERY.

Lately, with the news being anything but positive, and so much deceit and treachery on the world stage, it really becomes important for us to focus on the things that matter most, and what will give us lasting happiness. 

The 13th Article of Faith states, “if there is anything lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”  Are we seeking out the good in life?  Do we keep a spirit of gratitude in our hearts?  Do we express it?

Perhaps that’s why Job was able to keep going when he had so little going for him.  He had boils, all his stuff was gone, his family were gone.  And yet he still praised God.  Why?  Because he had eternal perspective, and his testimony of Christ carried him through.  He knew that if he remained faithful, that in the end, it would all be okay. 

So I’m going to try and do something I haven’t done before, and that is to keep a gratitude journal.  At the end of each day, I will write one thing I am grateful for that day.  And hopefully, during the day I will keep an attitude of gratitude in my heart for EVERY thing that is good.  For there really is so much.

What REALLY was Satan’s plan?

The traditional LDS Sunday School version of Satan’s proposed alteration to Heavenly Father’s plan (henceforth referred to as Satan’s plan for brevity) tends to be that Satan wanted to force us all to be good.  This interpretation is not based in canonical scripture, and I believe actually contradicts scripture.  There is an interpretation that (to me anyway) seems to bring everything into agreement — both scripture and personal experience.

First let us review the basis for our understanding of Satan’s plan.  This quotation is from Moses 4:1,3-4 (emphasis added)

And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.

Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down;

And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.

Not only does "Satan wanted to force us all to be good" not appear anywhere in scripture, it actually contradicts the above passage.  Satan said "I will redeem all mankind."  But if Satan was going to force us to be good, there would be no one to redeem because no one would have sinned.

For him to redeem all mankind, all mankind would have to sin.  What is more, nothing would be required of us to be redeemed or else Satan could make no guarantee that every person would qualify.  This is a deviation from Heavenly Father’s plan, which required His children to individually accept the atonement of the Savior while we are here on this Earth.  It seems then that Satan wanted to allow everyone to do anything we wanted and still be saved.

But the Lord explained that Satan sought to destroy the agency of man.  Doesn’t that mean he will take away our choices by forcing us to be good?  Let me explain this with an analogy.  Suppose you and I walked into a hat shop of red and blue hats.  You were allowed to choose between a red and a blue hat, but regardless of your choice, you only got to walk out with a blue hat.  No matter how many times you went back into the shop and asked for your choice of a red hat, you only walked out with a blue one.  Did you really have a choice in this scenario?  Sort of.  Did you have agency?  No.  For agency to mean anything, you need freedom to choose and have those choices actually take effect.  Satan sought to destroy the agency of man by ensuring that no matter what we chose on Earth, we would end up ‘walking out’ with Eternal life.  Maybe, if the idea of doing anything you want and getting Eternal Life sounds a little more enticing than you first thought Satan’s plan was, you can begin to understand why one third part of the host of heaven thought so too. 

We are here on Earth because we understood the wisdom in Heavenly Father’s plan and accepted it.  We knew that some would choose evil, and for that we were sorry, but we knew that agency (our freedom to choose our own destiny) was too important to sacrifice.

One interesting fallout of this understanding of Satan’s scheme is that Satan’s scheme hasn’t changed.  Now that Satan is thrust out of heaven, he is lying to us by telling us that his own ideas are the correct ones.  We see Satan’s thoughts, for example, in some of the beliefs of Evangelical Christians, who believe they are saved regardless of what they choose to do… which was Satan’s platform in the pre-Earth life.  Frivolous lawsuits from plaintiffs who do not want to accept the consequences for their own stupid actions grow progressively more ridiculous — another sign that Satan is convincing people that they should not be held responsible for what they choose.

Please help curb false doctrine by teaching straight out of Church publications (the ones with the Church logo prominently printed on the cover).  Keep the doctrine pure.  You won’t hear me preaching my interpretation of Satan’s plan in Sunday School until I can find a church publication to back it up — but I won’t be teaching that Satan wanted to force us all to be good either.  Until I can find a publication directly addressing this, you can bet I’ll be teaching about Satan and the war in heaven directly out of the scriptures to avoid throwing in any "extra bits" I may have picked up while growing up.

Food storage for $5 a week

The best source of food storage information is probably  But here’s a useful schedule that a nearby ward put together.  With it you should be able to accumulate food for two adults for a whole year — in about a year spending $5/week.

Week 1 6 lbs salt
Week 2 5 cans cream of chicken soup
Week 3 20 lbs sugar
Week 4 8 cans tomato soup
Week 5 7 boxes macaroni & cheese
Week 6 50 lbs wheat
Week 7 10 lbs powdered milk
Week 8 8 cans tuna
Week 9 6 lbs macaroni
Week 10 50 lbs wheat
Week 11 6 lbs yeast
Week 12 20 lbs sugar
Week 13 5 cans cream of chicken soup
Week 14 1 bottle 500 multi-vitamins
Week 15 50 lbs wheat
Week 16 10 lbs powdered milk
Week 17 8 cans tomato soup
Week 18 20 lbs sugar
Week 19 5 cans cream of mushroom soup
Week 20 50 lbs wheat
Week 21 5 lbs honey
Week 22 7 boxes macaroni & cheese
Week 23 5 cans cream of mushroom soup
Week 24 20 lbs sugar
Week 25 50 lbs wheat
Week 26 20 lbs sugar
Week 27 10 lbs powdered milk
Week 28 20 lbs sugar
Week 29 5 lbs peanut butter
Week 30 8 cans tomato soup
Week 31 7 boxes macaroni & cheese
Week 32 50 lbs wheat
Week 33 10 lbs powdered milk
Week 34 8 cans tuna
Week 35 6 lbs macaroni
Week 36 50 lbs wheat
Week 37 6 lbs shortening
Week 38 20 lbs sugar
Week 39 5 cans cream of chicken soup
Week 40 1 bottle 500 multi-vitamins
Week 41 50 lbs wheat
Week 42 6 lbs salt
Week 43 8 cans tomato soup
Week 44 20 lbs sugar
Week 45 1 bottle 500 aspirin
Week 46 50 lbs wheat
Week 47 5 lbs honey
Week 48 8 cans tuna
Week 49 5 cans cream of mushroom soup
Week 50 20 lbs sugar
Week 51 50 lbs wheat
Week 52 8 cans tomato soup

Excellent article on Mormon political unacceptance

In Doug Robinson’s Deseret Morning News article on Tuesday entitled "Better duck — if you’re a Mormon", the tendency of the public to disparage Mormons in a way they wouldn’t dare to disparage the black and the female who is running for president is exposed and analyzed.

And if you like it, visit and sustain it there to give it more visibility.

The problem with the keystone analogy

arch“I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” – Joseph Smith, emphasis added.

That Joseph Smith used the keystone as an analogy to the role the Book of Mormon plays in our religion is fine.  But the way Sunday School teachers tend to expound on that analogy is what I take exception with.  Here are some points I often hear in Sunday School:

  1. The keystone bears the weight of the entire arch.
  2. If you remove the keystone the whole arch will fall.
  3. You may be able to remove any other piece of the arch, and while it may look crooked, it may still stand.

This is one of those things where it sounds good, but if you stop to think about what you’re saying (or hearing), you’ll see that the opposite is true for each of these points.  We’ll take them one at a time.

arch diagram

First, the keystone (D) bears the least weight because it is on the top.  In this diagram, the stones labeled C bear the most weight.

Next, if you can imagine quickly removing the keystone (like whipping a tablecloth off a table with plates still on it), one can easily imagine that the two sides of the arch (B stones) would fall toward each other and stop each other’s fall.  So removing the keystone does not necessarily cause the arch to fall.

Finally, I can’t prove this, but imagine pulling out one of the lower B stones.  I’m pretty sure there’s no safe way (quickly pulling or otherwise) to remove the lower B stones without causing the whole structure to fall. 

So what are we left with?  Nothing from what I typically hear in Sunday School.  I’m sure there are remaining pieces of the keystone analogy that Joseph Smith had in mind when he said it.  Perhaps it’s that the keystone is at the center of the arch, or that a lot of weight from above the arch rests on the keystone.  Who knows?

Here’s another point to thinking before you repeat what you hear–especially if you are in a teaching setting.

Dispelling Mormon myths

Mormons are not polygamists. Learn that and dispel other myths by watching this 10 minute video:

My new church calling

I’ve just been called to serve as the first counselor in the ward Young Men’s Presidency.  The whole presidency is newly called, and I’m looking forward to working with all of them.

One of the things I’ll be doing in my new calling is teaching the Teacher’s Quorum.  I’m really excited about that.  There are only 2-5 youth who will be there each week.

Christmas Eves 2007

Luke, Cheryl and I celebrated Christmas Eve twice this year: once on December 24th and again (tonight) on December 26th.  The first time we were with Cheryl’s family in Colorado.  We spent the last few days with them and flew back to Washington on the afternoon of Christmas Day. 

Our time at the Mackrory’s (Cheryl’s parents) was very enjoyable.  Andrew & KaraLynne Mackrory (with their two kids Lyman and CoriLynne) were also visiting.  We celebrated Christmas Eve with lamb, ham, squash, broccoli and other great food.  Christmas morning we opened presents.  We had left most of our own presents at home so we could open them after our own traditions when we got back.

Christmas Eve at our house tonight consisted of a quick reading of Luke 2, followed by a "Mary & Joseph supper" consisting of cheese, crackers, grape juice, beef jerky and dried fruit.  Tradition would have it that we re-enact the trek Joseph & Mary took looking for an inn in which to deliver the baby Jesus.  In interest of time and a lack of actors we just read Luke 2, and quickly so that we’d have time to put Luke (the baby) to bed at a decent hour.  The food was good.  We added sliced oranges (compliments of dad Arnott) to our meal because it might have been dad’s offering if he were there in A.D. 1.

Our family having our Mary & Joseph supper  (Andrew promises to warn Cheryl next time he snaps a picture.)

Tomorrow we will open presents from our extended family and to and from each other in our immediate family.  We’ll likely blog again tomorrow.