Thursday, February 23, 2017

Millennials in the Book of Mormon

The other day someone shared "59 Percent of Millennials Raised in a Church Have Dropped Out—And They’re Trying to Tell Us Why." Of course the article went through its normal Facebook thrashing with some people saying Millennials haven't done a lick of good for society, while other said they have. In general, the article did start out pretty whiney, as some would say you would expect from a Millennial, but I thought the solutions the author suggested were not bad. I actually found many of them relatable enough to what I feel the LDS Church is already doing. Anyway, that's beside the point. I don't really want to review the article because that would take too long.

Two nights ago I was reading 3 Nephi 1:29-30 and realized that they had "Millennials," too:
And there was also a cause of much sorrow among the Lamanites; for behold, they had many children who did grow up and begin to wax strong in years, that they became for themselves, and were led away by some who were Zoramites, by their lyings and their flattering words, to join those Gadianton robbers. And thus were the Lamanites afflicted also, and began to decrease as to their faith and righteousness, because of the wickedness of the rising generation.
Did you catch that? Their children grew older and became "for themselves." They got selfish. Because their children got selfish and wicked, the faith and righteousness of the whole community/society also began to diminish. Doesn't that remind you of today? It seems that each generation gets a little more wicked, a little more accepting of sin, and then I guess before we know it, society has broken down and people have lost faith and they need to be saved somehow. I'd never noticed that parallel in the scriptures before. Now, I'm not saying all Millennials are bad, it's just the timing of the article and me reading the scripture lined up, so Millennials were the ones to get picked on this time. ;-)

Power in Womanhood

I feel like I'm starting to think again.

When the Teen Vogue article came out about how to help your teen friend post-abortion, I just had to roll my eyes. Really? Is this what we give the youth of America? Garbage. Just garbage. When are we going to realize that using abortion like birth control isn't building anyone up? It's creating calloused, sad, selfish people. When will we start teaching responsibility and tenderness again?

Anyway, I've seen the below video floating around and got around to watching it today. I was deeply moved. I don't know if someone helped her write her words or if she came up with them on her own or if she's just a really good speaker, but she speaks with power and of power, the true, feminine power that we women need to come to understand and embrace.


Monday, January 9, 2017

Religion Makes Roots

I can't remember if I've written this here or not, but one day my Visiting Teacher was over, and she was telling me about how her husband did not grow up "in" the Church, and how he actually didn't even grow up with basic ideas such as the Golden Rule. You'd never know that, though, as he is such a great man!

I began thinking about how so much of general ethical behavior is passed down through religious traditions. Now, however, many people aren't even practicing any religion or even believing in God. I'm wondering how much of our ethical training is being lost and leading to the many unethical/dishonest/greedy/prideful things so many people are doing in corporate America. Rather than doing things for the good of the people, people do things for their own good, not caring about who gets hurt on the way.

Yesterday I was able to teach from the President Hinckley manual from the introductory materials as well as chapter 1.  In the book, it mentions how as a young man in college during the Depression, his faith was tried a bit and he had questions about the Church. However, he noted that he had bishops, teachers, parents, belief in God, etc. to fall back on. I can't remember if it says it in the manual, but someone mentioned how when we question, we also have the testimonies of those around us to fall back on. I thought what a strength President Hinckley had to have so many around him with faith in God! I wondered, do our youth today have that assurance? I don't know. There are so many people not believing the Church and not even believing in God anymore (and mocking it, even). How sad that these are the conditions we see today and the safety net of faith in God and even mere ethical behavior is being broken.

A good thing that we discussed, though, was that when we have questions (and we talked about disappointments, too, in which this also applies), we can go straight to God - the best place for the best answers. I wonder if people (in the biggest sense of the word) will ever again see the benefit of religion in making us ethically rooted.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

2016 Election Thoughts: Power

What do we think of when we think of power? Who do we think of when we think of power? Do we ever think of women in power or do we always turn to that good old boys' club? After the election I'm not at all saying I wanted Hillary to win, I just thought she logically would and was shocked that someone from the good old boys' club won. To me I saw it as we would end up with either President Snow or President Coin in the White House: no good result. I really hoped Utah would shake it up a bit, and I agreed with this logic:

a vote for Evan McMullin [third party] makes a statement that we believe in values, liberty, integrity, and don't have to be subject to the political corruption of inferior candidates and the two party system.
If you've been brainwashed into the logic that a third party vote is "a vote for Hillary, a liberal supreme court, and killing babies. . . "-Alan B.

Anyway, after all was said and done, I got the feeling that we're still not ready for women to have too much power. I suggested that initially on a Facebook comment only to be shut down. At first I believed Hillary didn't win merely because she was "Hillary" and that people are sick of the system and they want to change it, but when I heard that certain states that have voted Democrat since 1988 flipped this year to vote Republican, it struck me that this was probably a bit of a case of sexism.

In the same thread, someone suggested that the votes taken away from her because she was a woman were probably also given to her by others because she was a woman, so it probably balanced out. Hopefully true, but still not right. When can we start voting for people for what they think rather than what party they represent or what sex they are?

Someone also suggested that Condoleezza Rice should have been the one running, and that she would have won, but I dunno. There's still that hierarchy of White Man, Black Man, White Woman, Black Woman. Condoleezza may not have had a chance.

I didn't vote for Hillary, but absolutely expected her to win because I felt she was made for this (at least that's how I expected others to view her based on her experience (watch Frontline's The Choice)---I'm personally not a fan of her secrecy and her (anti)family policies; I vowed years ago to NEVER vote for a Clinton), but I figured others would look at her professional experience and see she was fit for the job.

I wonder what would have happened if it was Bill running against Trump. I view Bill the same as Hillary. Getting Hillary in would be like getting Bill back in and Bill and Trump are nearly equivalent in their morals, but Bill has much more political experience, so why didn't Hillary win?

I'm feeling that because she lost, it sends the signal that women aren't supposed to be in power. It's ok for one to be the queen because she's kind of just a pretty little puppet and someone else really has the power. It's ok for women to advise, but just not be the Commander in Chief. I think people are afraid to give a woman too much power.

Anyway, maybe I'm wrong, and I am concerned about a Trump presidency; it makes me sick actually, but a few people gave some interesting and even consoling words on Facebook:

1) After scrolling through FB to see what people have said on this surprising election day, I'm inspired most by the fact that PEOPLE. VOTED. There were many who did so reluctantly but who showed up anyway, and many had experiences (seeing someone vote for the first time as a new U.S. citizen, being in the same room with people of different ages, socioeconomic statuses, beliefs, etc.). I got a little choked up when I saw that long line outside in the cold in a city here that lingered well beyond 11 p.m. Someday I want my epitaph to say "Just show up." Americans showed up today and that inspires me.
The upset has most people stunned, but it's a stunning reminder that the process of voting MATTERS. It can do surprising things.
2) I really, really hate the fact that Mr. Trump was so brazen in the way he campaigned. This is the main reason I didn't vote for him. He left a lot of damage in his wake and I'm seeing that in my feed, too.
But I plead with those who feel this is so personal to not turn the energy around to rhetoric the other way. Trump won for reasons that even the experts will struggle to figure out. I can't believe that somehow "America has spoken" and said that blacks don't matter or sexual violence is ok, and I think we would do well not to go there, because I think it will only make it harder to continue to unite against such things.
I think this election speaks to a complexity of our world, and speaks to a different kind of pain that many who often have no voice at all felt this election. (The stunned acceptance of the way the rural vote dominated this election is a key something that will linger in my mind for a while.)
I care deeply about the pain of those who feel the sting of his racist rhetoric. I mourn with those who have been sexually assaulted and feel this is a huge backward step in the cause to take a stand against it. There is no other word to describe his methods but "offensive."
AND I also have to hold space for the "silent voters" whose voices were heard through this historic election...people who wanted dramatic change because of their personal lens and experience. *All* voices have to matter if empathy and humanity are to prevail.
It's an awesome invitation for us all to step into. Here's to forward.-Michelle L

***
Surprisingly, I have a great feeling of peace and hope this morning. I didn't vote for Donald Trump. I don't like him. I have never felt compelled to trust what he says about his policies. But now we will get to see if he was telling the truth.
Perhaps this feeling of peace and hope stems from the fact that there is a chance he might have been telling the truth. He might actually implement some conservative policies. With a Republican House and Senate, Obamacare might actually be repealed. Immigration might be reformed. The President might actually appoint conservative Supreme Court judges. Maybe we'll even get a balanced budget.
I knew we would get none of those things with Hillary Clinton. We would have been fine if she won, but I know I would not have woken up feeling the way I do now. We knew what to expect with her.
To President-elect Trump, the Republican House and Senate, I say...
DON'T SCREW THIS UP! -Joe S.
***
I am more shocked at how people are treating each other than I am that Trump is President. Why is the solution to turn against each other? Name calling, crass words, belligerent attitudes are not going to change the outcome. I do not like Trump-at.all, but if you treat people the way he does, you're no better than him. Remember who you are, your own integrity, what you yourself stand for. Treating others as Trump would treat them, isn't going to fix this. In the words of Ellen Degeneres, "Be kind to one another!" -Kate L.
***
 I am so.....shocked maybe? That there is that much hate in America to elect a barbarian. I see your posts of make America great "again" and I wonder what time you would like to go back to? Slavery? Pre-women's votes? Segregation? Vietnam? It will be the first time in my life that I cannot have respect for the person in office of President. I am completely ashamed and disappointed.
And a little happy that by his standards I wouldn't be "beautiful enough" to violate.
Everyone says move on, get along, but I am too disgusted with the American people today. - Kim P.
***
Today I've been thinking about the promises in the Book of Mormon that our land would be blessed if we are righteous. I wonder if God's hand of protection is being lifted if through trial we, as a whole, will be brought to humility. Remember what it was like after 9-11?

While painting rooms in the house recently I've listened to the end of the Book of Mormon and have been struck by the downfall of people and the parallels to our day: 3rd Nephi (before Christ comes), 4th Nephi, Mormon, Ether, Moroni. I've also been struck by 2 Ne 28, Mosiah 23 and 29  and scriptures in Alma 2.

A few:

Mosiah 29:27
And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.

4 Ne 1:24
...there began to be among them those who were lifted up in pride, such as the wearing of costly apparel, and all manner of . . . fine things of the world. . . . And they began to be divided into classes; and they began to build up churches unto themselves to get gain, and began to deny the true church of Christ.

2 Ne 28:5
And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hat given his power unto men;

I'm out of time to find more. I'm sure Google will know.

Interestingly, Mormon 5:23 says "Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God? Know ye not that he hath all power. . .?" Maybe it's not so much that women don't have power in the United States, but that men have too much. Maybe we all, men and women, need to be seeking to be kind, humble, and serviceable and not worry about who has the power. In fact, shouldn't our leaders be be of the highest caliber and the most serviceable? Remember back to the President Benson lesson 19 on leadership? The characteristics of a leader were all of a humble nature: humility, spiritual strength, knowledge, loyalty, unity, and love & expression of confidence. 

Can we please turn back to character and integrity?


(Yes, even Nixon knew it. And John Adams sure had some good ones, 
but I never got to make up the pics.)

Anyway, this post is getting away from me. I've got to get back to real life. I turn back to the concept that I can only control myself and influence my family, so that is what I will do: fortify myself and my family and hope that our new Commander in Chief will keep his word.





Sunday, May 8, 2016

Conference Theme: Fathers

I'm slightly embarrassed to say that after listening/watching this last General Conference that I didn't notice any themes in it. I'm pretty sure that's because with four kids and an infant, I only sort of paid attention.  Over the last week, though, I've had some time to re-listen to Conference.

I recently learned that a dear, nearly life-long friend is getting divorced with the most recent reason being abuse. With that on my mind, as I listened to President Uchtdorf's and President Eyring's Priesthood Session talks, I noticed their reminders to men to step it up.
Our priesthood obligation is to put our families and the families of those around us at the center of our concern.  Every major decision should be based on the effect it will have on a family to qualify for life with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. (Eyring)
[Families] require constant, intentional work. The doctrine of eternal families must inspire us to dedicate our best efforts to saving and enriching our marriages.  (Uchtdorf)
. . . No matter how flat your relationship may be at the present, if you keep adding pebbles of kindness, compassion, listening, sacrifice, understanding, and selflessness, eventually a mighty pyramid will begin to grow. If it appears to take forever, remember: happy marriages are meant to last forever! (Uchtdorf)
The way you treat your wife or children or parents or siblings may influence generations to come. What legacy do you want to leave your posterity? One of harshness, vengeance, anger, fear, or isolation? Or one of love, humility, forgiveness, compassion, spiritual growth, and unity? . . . For the sake of your family relationships, for the sake of your soul, please be merciful, for "mercy triumphs over judgment." . . . Sincerely apologizing to your children, your wife, your family, or your friends is not a sign of weakness but of strength. Is being right more important than fostering an environment of nurturing, healing, and love? (Uchtdorf)
Then, a friend in a nearby city shared that Elder Rasband spoke to their stake recently. He basically said that Melchezidek Priesthood holders need  better protect their families and teach their children consistently so that their children will be stronger.

I also noticed when listening to Elder Christofferson's talk, "Fathers," from Conference that he also spoke on men and their duties:
In 1833, the Lord reprimanded members of the First Presidency for inadequate attention to the duty of teaching their children. To one He said specifically, "You have not taught your children light and truth, according to the commandments; and that wicked one hath power, as yet, over you, and this is the cause of your affliction. Fathers are to teach God's law and works anew to each generation.
Discipline and correction are part of teaching. As Paul said, "for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth." But in discipline a father must exercise particular care, lest there be anything even approaching abuse, which is never justified. When a father provides correction, his motivation must be love and his guide the Holy Spirit. . . .
We call on media and entertainment outlets to portray devoted and capable father who truly love their wives and intelligently guide their children, instead of the bumblers and buffoons or the "guys who cause problems," as fathers are all to frequently depicted.
Live your life so that as a man you will bring purity to your marriage and to your children.
I'm pretty sure it's safe to say that the Brethren have been discussing father's a lot lately.

I have a wonderful twelve-year old son who wants to do what's right. He wants guidance; he wants to please his parents. He likes to read and doesn't always want to be sitting around playing video games, as is the stereotype. We've noticed that most of his friends also want to do things other than video games, they just need the guidance and an adult to get them doing something that's not video games. Gaming is just so easy when there's no one there to get you to do anything else. These boys need to become good men; they need to be trained to someday protect their own families. They are up against so much; they just need guidance.

Interestingly, my husband was recently called as the Scoutmaster, and today, I was called as the Scout Committee Chair. I have in mind that we need to fill these boys with testimonies and skills that will help them on their missions and as they have families of their own. They need to become close to God through the outdoors. We've never been overly excited about Scouts, but our bishop pointed out that Scouting is the plan the Church chose to stay with even when it had the chance to leave. So, we are learning to go with it and make it what the boys need.  The Church is concerned about our boys and men and I'm willing to fight for them.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

My Advice for First-Time Parents

A pest control guy just showed up at the door. He saw me holding our 4 month old. He said his wife is 16 weeks along. Of course, I thought I'd give him some advice having this all so fresh in my mind.

1. Plan that someone will always be sick---especially when you have multiple children.

2. Plan that no one will ever get any sleep---especially when you have multiple children.

3. Give your wife a break, especially the first six weeks. She loves you, she may just not want to be romantic.

4. Do everything you can do to help your wife, especially the first several months of having a new baby. She may say, "aw, it's ok," but either just go clean the house to the very best of your ability or take the baby for a couple hours and just try and disappear.

5. Plan that you'll never do anything you want to again---especially while you have multiple, young children at home.

6. Figure out how to go on dates. I recently posted on Facebook:
"I used to have to make time to work because the rest of my time was for play; now I need to schedule time to play or I will always work."
It's the same for dates. Your relationship will suffer if you don't make time to spend together. There are always so many other things to do that together time just won't magically happen. I never understood this until I had 3 or 4 kids, now with 5 I totally get what older married couples were saying.

Now, if you follow these expectations, you'll be pleasantly surprised. Trust me. It's all about the expectations.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Faith and Works


I turn 40 tomorrow. Yikes. 40.

When my mom turned 40, two of her friends took her to lunch. One smuggled in a dead plant and put it on the table as the centerpiece. I remember 40 for my mom vividly, yet I really didn't understand why it was kind of a big deal. I mean, it wasn't a big deal to me: she was just mom.

After moving cities, then having a baby and staying much in seclusion the last four months, I've been a little worried about 40. Would anyone remember me? Would anyone even know it was my birthday? Usually birthdays aren't that big of a deal, but 40.

An older, single friend posted on Facebook how she prayed big and specifically. I decided that I guess I could do that, too. I prayed that friends would take me out to lunch; that's all I wanted for 40. I was afraid it wouldn't happen and wondered if I should drop a hint to my husband. I mentioned it, but I don't know that he'd take action on it.  I mentioned it to my mom.

Probably within a week after my prayer, my Visiting Teacher texted about meeting at a park so our daughters could play. Within an hour she texted again and said, "Your birthday is coming up! What if I bring you lunch and we can hang out at your house? Would that be easier with the baby?"  Four days later she messaged again saying two other gals wanted to come!

Not only did all these women bring lunch, they brought flowers, a card, and that crazy, amazing Costco chocolate-mousse-tuxedo-whatever-it-is-cake.

I could not believe it. Although I prayed to go to lunch, it was definitely easier to have people to my house considering the baby, the preschooler, and my two older girls are off track. I have to say, my Heavenly Father knows my needs before I do, and I thank Him for an in-tune Visiting Teacher. Wow.

That's the faith part.

Now, here's the works part. I said I mentioned it to my mom (works). After I heard initially from my Visiting Teacher, my mom asked if she should call some of my old friends and you know, put in a word. I told her, "I dunno" as I already had some new friends coming over and I really didn't want to beg for birthday wishes.

The day after we had this little conversation, I got a text from an old friend wondering about getting together for lunch for my birthday. After some planning and replanning we will be getting together with a bunch of friends, so that will be nice.

I just find it so interesting that this single situation was both answered directly in faith as well as in works. Faith, in that my prayer was directly answered without any human meddling, yet it was also answered through the works of humanly angels.

Yup, God does answer prayers and I haven't been so spoiled since I lived with my parents!

UPDATE: So I asked my husband if he had anything to do with my Visiting Teacher coming over after I wrote this last night. I can't remember exactly what he said, but it was affirmative. Now, that may spoil the faith part of my post, but just knowing that he was sensitive to my wants caused tears to come to my eyes. My husband isn't the sensitive type and like I said, I didn't expect him to do anything, so this was a BIG deal that he cared enough about my feelings to actually DO something!

I guess it's kind of like the miracle of the seagulls. When I took Utah history at BYU, I learned that the seagulls actually came every year to eat the crickets in the SL valley, so it really wasn't a miracle, was it?  BUT, the Mormon pioneers didn't know it was a common occurrence, so it was still a miracle to them.

Either way, I'm just glad God answers our prayers.

UPDATE AGAIN: My Visiting Teacher had been planning to do something special BEFORE my husband even contacted her. :)