Compromise

Here is a progressive moment I’ll share with some “non” progressive thinkers this Sabbath day: “I think everyone should live together before they get married so they can see if it will work out before couples commit to marriage”, my friend said to me a few days ago.  We were talking about the success/failure of marriages within the Mormon culture to which we both belong, when suddenly this comment came out of her mouth.  I didn’t take much of a stand about how I really feel in regard to her statement because I didn’t want to offend her. Since I didn’t know or understand where she was coming from out of her life’s experiences, judging her belief may have proven fatal to our friendship.  Thank goodness I put my “progressive” pants on that day, because we are still friends and neighbors.

Like my friend, there are many people around the world who tend to believe differently than me about sex before marriage and co-habitation.  Most older generations married, stayed married and avoided divorce like the plague, until progressives started the sexual revolution.  How that came about may stem from teenagers being sick of seeing unhappy parents in a “dead-end” marriage and who were looking for peace, love and rock-n-roll? Whatever the reason, since that time, marriage has declined drastically.   People seem afraid of commitment and compromise which ironically, are espoused in marriage.

Marriage takes lifelong work and commitment and I would wager very few people entering within its bonds are equipped for such an endeavor….much like having children (no owner’s manual included…learn by the school of hard knocks).    No one wants to get a divorce with all of its hardship on all parties including legal ramifications.   Most Christian and many non-Christian religious advocates believe in marriage; however, now that religion is on the decline among progressives, traditional marriage may seem archaic. With all that said, and with all we see in our world today and the decline of the family, sexual diseases, sexual exploitation, pornography, sexual identity confusion, mental disorders (from sexual abuse), drugs/alcohol abuses, murder, suicide, corruption of governments, war, famine, pestilence and overall wickedness…..is our focus on progression really progressive?  Are we in a custody battle wherein progressives must go with one parent while the rest go with the other? Don’t we belong to the same human race family?  Isn’t there a far greater cry to attend in this world family than who is right or wrong?  Who is the source we look toward to find this answer?

“The doctrine and theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints literally start and end with family,” said Elder Ballard   I believe the traditional family is a fundamental pillar in the structure of humanity…but that is only my belief.  Just as my beliefs differ from those of my friend who is of my same religion, and many others around the globe, we must remain civil if we all want progression.  Time may prove that our indifference to our differences will limit or even deny individual rights, beliefs and religious freedom.

“Understanding that reasonable and sincere people may view marriage as only between people of the opposite gender, the public square must accommodate and religious freedom must protect such views,” he said. “Indeed, since religious beliefs can affect how believers view the very purpose of life, such views will inform how they interact with society.”

Compromise, he added, can seem difficult and distant in a time of “extremes.”

“We hear stories of people who have tried to be true to their standards, only to be accused of bigotry or intolerance or punished on a seemingly unreasonable scale,” he said.

Even amid the challenges, there is wide support for the Church’s view of traditional marriage. There can be no surrender in the defense of truth and values, he added.

“If those who oppose us are genuine in their commitment to the values of diversity and equality, we should be able to work together to find compassion and peace,” he said.

Elder Ballard said fellowship can exist between those who disagree.

“Just as we do not or should not shun family members with whom we disagree, we cannot and should not shun those who look or think or act differently than we do,” he said. “We demonstrate our best humanity when we show love and kindness to all of God’s children. We demonstrate our discipleship when we refuse strident tones, when we refuse derisive labels, and when we enter the public square seeking fair outcomes through understanding and mutual respect.”  Elder Ballard defends Traditional family at World Conference of Families

I could sit here at my computer and spout off hundreds of reasons why the Traditional Family is, in my opinion, the best pillar for an honest and civil society wherein its inhabitants can compromise (successful marriages are good at and children learn from parents behaviors) on differences of opinion but would that be progressive?  Should we take a stand and defend what we believe to be the “best” way by bullying everyone else who doesn’t think like us, or do we allow everyone free agency to choose for himself what he deems right?  Isn’t that what a true progressive is?  Shouldn’t a progressive thinker be about compromise and the ability to overlook one’s differences and by espousing the Golden Rule: “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”15  even if it means people within or without our own religion?

I really like my friend, even to the point of giving her a haircut in the faculty bathroom during our lunch break.  I surely don’t want to “dis” our friendship just because she believes differently than me.  Given more time and not such a “hairy” situation, I would love to sit down with her to go over why she feels that way especially considering it is such a dichotomy from our traditional family beliefs.   We could share our thoughts and feelings about a very controversial subject matter in a civil manner and really come out ahead by learning from one another.  Perhaps we could come to some kind of compromise in our opinions.   Even if we don’t agree, we can amicably disagree while being kind and accepting…..now that is what I call progress!

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Miracles

“Has the day of miracles ceased?” (Moro. 7:35).  Is technology a modern miracle?  “The word miracle is used in different ways. We sometimes say that any happening we cannot explain is a “miracle.” To me, a computer is a miracle. So are cell phones and space travel. But these wonders are explainable by physical laws understood by some mortals. I call them miracles because I do not personally understand them and therefore cannot duplicate them at will.  Elder Dallin H. Oaks; Miracles-Ensign 2001

When or if technology fails us, there will always be one constant that has survived the test of time:  The Book of Mormon.  One of the greatest miracles impacting the course of my entire life has been the Book of Mormon.  I just finished reading again and I stand as a witness of its truthfulness.  How it was preserved through thousands of generations of both righteous and unrighteous leadership and then brought to light by the hand of the angel Moroni and into the hands of the Prophet Joseph Smith to translate, is nothing short of a miracle.

Within the past decade, technology has made sharing its message so great and wonderful. However, with every good thing, there is bad.  Has this modern “miracle” of technology helped or hindered us as a whole?  Does the good it bring us outweigh the bad? How has it effected our civilization? Are we better people because of it?  Do we feel peace in our homes?  Has our wisdom increased? Do we feel safer? Has it unified us?

The following are words of wisdom by God’s chosen servants who have been blessed to know greater things because of their exceeding faith:

For Peace At Home, by Richard G. Scott (Quorum of the Twelve Apostles). April 2013 General Conference

You live in a world where technological advances occur at an astounding pace. It is difficult for many of my generation to keep up with the possibilities. Depending on how technology is used, these advances can be a blessing or a deterrent. Technology, when understood and used for righteous purposes, need not be a threat but rather an enhancement to spiritual communication.
For example, many of us have a personal electronic device that fits into our pocket. We are seldom without its company; we may refer to it many times a day. Unfortunately, these devices can be a source of filth and wasted time. But, used with discipline, this technology can be a tool of protection from the worst of society.
Who could have imagined not very many years ago that the full standard works and years of general conference messages would fit into your pocket? Just having them in your pocket will not protect you, but studying, pondering, and listening to them during quiet moments of each day will enhance communication through the Spirit.
Be wise in how you embrace technology. Mark important scriptures on your device and refer back to them frequently. If you young people would review a verse of scripture as often as some of you send text messages, you could soon have hundreds of passages of scripture memorized. Those passages would prove to be a powerful source of inspiration and guidance by the Holy Ghost in times of need..

If Ye Lack Wisdom, by Marcos A. Aidukaitis (First Quorum of the Seventy)

Whatever the question is, if we need more information, we search it online. In seconds we have a lot of material. This is marvelous.
The Internet provides many opportunities for learning. However, Satan wants us to be miserable, and he distorts the real purpose of things. He uses this great tool to promote doubt and fear and to destroy faith and hope.
With so much available on the Internet, we must carefully consider where to apply our efforts. Satan can keep us busy, distracted, and infected by sifting through information, much of which can be pure garbage.
One should not roam through garbage.

Protection from Pornography–a Christ-Focused Home by Linda S. Reeves (2nd Counselor, Relief Society General Presidency)

Note: Read or watch the entire talk
Many children, youth, and adults are innocently exposed to pornography, but a growing number of both men and women are choosing to view it and are drawn back repeatedly until it becomes an addiction. These individuals may desire with all of their hearts to get out of this trap but often cannot overcome it on their own. How grateful we are when these loved ones choose to confide in us as parents or a Church leader. We would be wise not to react with shock, anger, or rejection, which may cause them to be silent again.
Pornography is more vile, evil, and graphic than ever before. As we counsel with our children, together we can create a family plan with standards and boundaries, being proactive to protect our homes with filters on electronic devices. Parents, are we aware that mobile devices with Internet capacity, not computers, are the biggest culprit?
Brothers and sisters, how do we protect our children and youth? Filters are useful tools, but the greatest filter in the world, the only one that will ultimately work, is the personal internal filter that comes from a deep and abiding testimony of our Heavenly Father’s love and our Savior’s atoning sacrifice for each one of us.
To Sweep the Earth as with a Flood, by David A. Bednar (Quorum of the Twelve Apostles).

Note: Read or watch the whole talk
We are blessed to live, learn, and serve in this most remarkable dispensation. An important aspect of the fulness that is available to us in this special season is a miraculous progression of innovations and inventions that have enabled and accelerated the work of salvation: from trains to telegraphs to radios to automobiles to airplanes to telephones to transistors to televisions to computers to satellite transmissions to the Internet—and to an almost endless list of technologies and tools that bless our lives. All of these advancements are part of the Lord hastening His work in the latter days.
The Lord is hastening His work, and it is no coincidence that these powerful communication innovations and inventions are occurring in the dispensation of the fulness of times. Social media channels are global tools that can personally and positively impact large numbers of individuals and families. And I believe the time has come for us as disciples of Christ to use these inspired tools appropriately and more effectively to testify of God the Eternal Father, His plan of happiness for His children, and His Son, Jesus Christ, as the Savior of the world; to proclaim the reality of the Restoration of the gospel in the latter days; and to accomplish the Lord’s work.
My beloved brothers and sisters, what has been accomplished thus far in this dispensation communicating gospel messages through social media channels is a good beginning—but only a small trickle. I now extend to you the invitation to help transform the trickle into a flood. Beginning at this place on this day, I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth—messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy—and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood.
Not every manifestation or miracle comes from God or from mortal deception. The adversary has great powers to deceive, and he will use these to give his corrupted copy of the genuine miracles worked by the power of God. I will say no more of this, since I believe it is not desirable to say much about the powers of the evil one. It is sufficient for us to know that his power exists and that we have been warned against it (see Rev. 13:11–14; D&C 28:11; D&C 50:1–3). 4   First, miracles worked by the power of the priesthood are always present in the true Church of Jesus Christ. 5 The Book of Mormonteaches that “God has provided a means that man, through faith, might work mighty miracles” (Mosiah 8:18). The “means” provided is priesthood power (see James 5:14–15; D&C 42:43–48), and that power works miracles through faith (see Ether 12:12; Moro. 7:37).  Elder Dallin H. Oaks; Miracles-Ensign 2001

I testify that through prayerful study of this miraculous book, the Lord through His holy spirit will help you know if it true.  Miracles that will follow will be: a greater vision to discern between good and evil in our world of confusion, anger and discord.  The blessings and gifts of God await you when your actions of faith prove His miracles have taken hold upon your heart.  “And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto you, with power and great glory at the last day, that they are true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased?  Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?  Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.  For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made.” Moroni 7:35-38

Join the throng of people who are seeking to know the will of God  “10. 6 BY THE HAND OF MORMON that it is time to take Smith’s writings more seriously. Neusner calls the Book of Mormon “a fresh Christian expression” that has too often endured scholarly neglect.” By the Hand of Mormon Terry L. Givens   I know you will come to recognize His hand of divine providence in the many miracles that abound us daily.  And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.” Mormon 9:19

These beliefs I have received as a witness of my faith because of God’s many miracles manifested to me through the power of the Holy Ghost.  I bare witness of these truths in the name of Jesus Christ.

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Tag, you’re IT!

Sweat, snot, snoring, starvation, sleeping~not, sorority style surroundings and another four letter “s” word that I’ll refer to as Honey Buckets or anywhere else for that matter (specifically along coastal borders in the USA)….tag, you’re it…welcome to a Ragnar race…or the Presidential election 2016!

If you run in a relay race like I did when I ran the Wasatch Back, don’t plan on things being easy.  This race, like another race our country just saw, is not designed for people who like everything to go their way or to always have ease and comfort…me for the past eight years.   Aside from sharing a runner’s high with your mates because you’re gonna run your butt off, plan on sharing many of the things we as humans consider deplorable and uncouth…reality of life…try living in a third world country or Syria and Iraq today.  As a team, you’ll become close friends for at least those 24 hours and not just because proximity, but because you’re accomplishing a common tough goal as you run together…we are adult citizens of the same country…not crying daycare children who argue immaturely.  When you hand over the baton to the next runner..or allegiance to our next President of the USA, you look forward to each member doing his part in helping YOU arrive to the  finish line.  Athletes like to talk themselves up, and so you see many of them and their transportation vehicles all decked out to buoy for the team’s triumph…some racers like to talk trash…it’s competitive (we trashed up our vehicle with words like go, fight, win).    

The Ragnar race is like playing tag on steroids as you each take turns running approximately 200 miles within 24 hours... American politics for as many years +.    We all remember tag as one of the best childhood games known to mankind…the free electoral process.  My husband and I still play it while raising children and running a household together….our country’s marital bond within parties.   When we reach the end of our “ropes”, we say, “tag, you’re it” and have full trust the other will take the baton of responsibility and run with it…oh wait, most Americans are divorced and the meaning of marriage has become convoluted…..hummm…do we see a pattern here?  

Aside from parenthood and marriage, each of us play tag-often.  There are many instances in life when the baton is passed to us by others either in the workforce, with our education, and with life itself.  Typically speaking, when a baton is passed from one person to another, it refers to a relay race whereupon one runner passes the baton to the next runner until all four runners have finished their leg of the race to the best of their ability.  There is a method to who runs which part of the race:  The second fastest runner starts the race, followed by the third fastest, followed by the slowest runner, and finished by the fastest runner.  Not all runners nor athletes are the same, and that’s OK, for that reason it takes all types to be in the running and compete!

Running the Wasatch Back Ragnar was one of the craziest races of my life.   No one could have prepared me for the circumstances I would be living for 24 hours…nor the post election behavior of “fellow” Americans.  Somehow, I was elected to run “Ragnar Hill” in Midway, Utah…and choose who to vote for this year.  Luckily, I had training with one of the finest world record holder ultra/mountain runners of our time, Bryce Thatcher….and my love for God/religion, my country, and my family.  Remembering his words of wisdom carried me up that mountain where I met the next runner in our relay, who, thank goodness, took our race the rest of the way up the accent…following the Holy Ghost’s guidance up until the bridegroom returns to actualize the binding to His bride in marriage;  He who is the finisher of the race and who will take the helm of the country and world. Hebrews 12: 1-2  

Tag, you’re IT!  I VOTE FOR JESUS

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Windows of Heaven are open

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There are many signs that shall prevail prior to and upon the Lord’s coming to help us know when that time draws near.  One misnomer some saints and non saints believe is to purchase fire insurance in order to be saved at the Lord’s coming, right? NOOOOOOO!   Humorously, my husband says that paying tithing saves us from being burned in the last day, but the truth regarding the scriptural reference in Malachi 4:1….“the proud who do wickedly shall burn as an oven….and shall leave them neither root nor branch”, is specifically made known “after we bring all our tithes into the storehouse….if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it”.  Malachi 3  Then the Lord gives his word, which he cannot break, for surely “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say.” (D&C 82:10; italics added.) The Lord continues: “Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.” (Mal. 3:18.)

In layman’s terms, this symbolism means: When we obey the commandments of God to repent, be baptized, pay our tithing and serve in His kingdom (church), we are blessed to see (windows) the many other blessings He has poured upon us such as the continuation of families performed in sacred and holy temples where our family branches are maintained and not cut off or burned at the last day

As mentioned in Ephesians, in the last days, a sign was to be given by God to all Saints foreordained to receive the gospel by the sealing power of the Holy Spirit of promise to know God and Christ by revelation.   At that time, we will know that Jesus Christ is head over all things… “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”  Ephesians 1:22-23  How do we know if that sign has been given?  When a man shall declare that a marvelous work has begun to come forth upon the earth again…“Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.” Acts 13:41  And Jesus said concerning those marvelous work and wonderwho do not believe…“therefore it shall come to pass that whosoever will not believe in my words, who am Jesus Christ, which the Father shall cause him to bring forth unto the Gentiles, and shall give unto him power that he shall bring them forth unto the Gentiles, (it shall be done even as Moses said) they shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant.” 3 Nephi21:11  

There will no more be strangers among us when the body (church) of Christ  and His temple is again established.  God will gather in all His children as His truth is revealed among them and they accept it according to their faith unto Him.  In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there are not strangers among us as we assist Christ by laboring in His vineyard.  We become His teachers, teaching one another under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.  We are also guided by local leaders in branches and wards who are under the guidance of stakes who are under the guidance of the quorum of the twelve apostles and first presidency of the Church.  Each of us are called through the Holy order of God known as the Holy Priesthood which is the power on earth to act in the name of God.  It is through this power that all the administration for Christ’s Church is conducted on the earth today:  Offices of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood.  “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;  In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord;  In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Ephesians 2: 19-22

Daily, new members are joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to follow Christ’s teachings of faith, repentance, baptism by fire and then to administer to others in the same way taught by the Savior.  “During His earthly ministry, Jesus was an example of one who went far beyond the simple obligation of hospitality and tolerance. Those who were excluded from society, those who were rejected and considered to be impure by the self-righteous, were given His compassion and respect. They received an equal part of His teachings and ministry. For example, the Savior went against the established customs of His time to address the woman of Samaria, asking her for some water. He sat down to eat with publicans and tax collectors. He didn’t hesitate to approach the leper, to touch him and heal him. Admiring the faith of the Roman centurion, He said to the crowd, “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.”5 Ye Are No More Strangers   First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric 

In order to be a teacher in the Church, the first prerequisite is a desire….“Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;..” Doctrine and Covenants 4:3  The second is faith and love.. And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.”  Doctrine and Covenants 4:5  “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,..” Ephesians 1:15  Charity is the most important of them all..“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”  Corinthians 13:1

Paul was one of the greatest teachers in the primitive Church of Jesus Christ and one of his first gentile converts was Cornelius even though it may have seemed odd for him to teach among the gentiles.  However, the duties of Israelites toward Gentiles were defined in the law and Jesus had taught him through example not to be selective or prejudice to those whom he should teach.  All people are saved by grace through faith knowing the blood of Christ saves Jew and Gentile alike.  The allegory of the olive tree explains this perfectly as Jacob quotes the answer to the question, “how is it possible that the Jews, after having rejected the sure foundation of Christ can ever build upon it, that it may become the head of their cornerstone?  To understand the allegory, we must first understand past and future events and the part the Gentiles will play as they become adopted into the House of Israel through baptism and continue the work of the Savior giving service in His church and temples right up to the Millenium.

Many know the sign was fulfilled when the prophet Joseph Smith became that man who declared it among us even though many did not believe….but many do believe and continue to see as they learn about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, choose to obey God’s commandments, repent from their wicked ways and have charity.   Jews and Gentiles, like Cornelius, are flocking to the gospel because they recognize the saving truths found once again upon the earth. In the temple, they recognize through the sealing power of the Holy Spirit how service to our kindred dead connects us to our roots and branches, not only blessing us now but for eternity, and saves us and our lineage in the last day from being burnt as stubble.  This is how service and sacrifice are essential in our exaltation as taught by Jesus Christ. And here is the Lord’s promise: “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” (Mal. 3:17.) I testify of these things in Jesus’ name. Amen

Open your ears

I just returned home from an amazing choral tour with The Southern Utah Heritage Choir to Central Europe.  All of our concerts were truly inspiring, whether those that were impromptu in a town’s square or in the Vienna State Opera House and Hungarian State Opera House, or our larger concerts at St. Steven’s Cathedral, master class in Augartenpalais with renown Erasmus Baumgartner (Vienna Boy’s Choir conductor) and our final and full concert in St. Matthias Church in Budapest.   The music was moving to say the least for those of us participating and those who listened, but life altering for those who opened their ears.

Touring the Haus der Musik in Vienna Austria offered learning for me on literally every level and even higher than what met my eyes and ears on the four floors of the former Palais of Archduke Charles and also the residence of Otto Nicolai (1810 – 1849), who composed the opera “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and founded the Vienna Philharmonic.  After our educational visit to the museum last week and after having rendered our own choral “sound of music” to the hills of Central Europe, I came up with an awe inspiring discovery about the power of sound….you might say, my ears were open to hear.

On the second floor, the museum allows you to “Let your ears take a stroll through the amazing world of tonal and sound phenomena. The Prenatal Sensory Rush, Instrumentarium, Sound Gallery and a lot more awaits here.” Haus der Musik   I became fascinated with sound waves as their vibration has a physical affect on all the elements within its path and even further in an unknown phenomenon.  This was demonstrated in multiple kinesthetic learning mediums: computerized sound waves, visual, touch and physical scientific demonstration.  Though I enjoyed all the different aspects of learning about sound waves and the human experience with it, my favorite was a small box filled with saw dust.  It showed how vibration from even small sound waves has the power and energy to move objects as it lifted and carried the saw dust particles into the air in a domino effect.

One of the greatest aspects of choral singing is the unified power of sound vibration and the energy and power it carries out into the world.  There are only two types of unified sound energy that has true power to penetrate deeper for those who open their ears: Prayer and music.  When we couple these two in songs of prayer, its unseen power is beyond comprehension.  Look at the walls of Jericho falling down after the trumpets sounded in unison while following the army round about for six days.  Then, waiting until the seventh day to make any verbal noise, Joshua gave the command for the men to shout following the sound of the trumpets one last time.  Joshua 6  Add one more element to this which is stated in the scripture:  God’s power; the power of the priesthood and there you find the power to move all elements….not just saw dust or what the physical world hears.

There is another sound or voice that our natural or physical world can hear but cannot understand because it’s not harsh nor loud….”notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn.” 3 Nephi 11: 3   This phenomenon didn’t even occur until after the third time the people thought they heard a voice.  “And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came. And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them:  Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name-hear ye him.” 3 Nephi 11:7

I know the sound we made collectively as a choir went out like a great energy vibration to the all the people of Central Europe, not just to those in attendance, but to those beyond the walls; this is the great blessing choral music gives freely to the world.  Its unseen force of good to those who hear and those who open their ears will resonate within every heart and into the very fibers of each soul.  To those who listen and open their ears, I pray they look steadfastly towards heaven from whence the sound came and understand that we like the army of Joshua, and the angels singing along with us like the ram horn blowers, are the mouthpiece for God in declaring that Jesus is the Christ, that our loving Heavenly Father sent His only begotten son into the world to pay the price of our sins and to teach faith, repentance, remission of sins through baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Together, and with God’s power, our unified sound as God’s Christian chorus will let down the great walls of Satan as we proclaim through prayer, music and missionary work to those who open their ears and hear Him.

“A star is a new moon”

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Él makumbababe! E! Makum be! Estrela é luanova Amb. por Villa Lobos  I sang this Brazilian beauty with my choir at Weber State University under the direction of Dr. Mark Henderson back in 1985.  In my young eyes, he was the “star” in my new moon as I first fell in love with choral music. Since then, I have sung with the Mormon Youth Chorus under the direction of Jay E.Welch and Robert C. Bowden, then with Idaho State University under Dr.Scott Anderson and Kathleen Lane, and finally, The Southern Utah Heritage under the direction of Floyd Rigby, Dr. Keith Bradshaw, Dr. Nancy Allred and currently under the direction of Dr. Ken Peterson.  I also recently joined the Southern Utah Interfaith Choir under the direction of John Ribera .  My journey with choral singing has taken me to many great places in the world and will soon take me to Europe.  I truly have been blessed to have had some of the greatest musical mentors during my life.

Both past and present, these conductors have been a mentor to me in more ways than just musically.  I was contemplating whether or not I had been touched by one greater than the other, but in truth, each one has built upon the merits and teachings of the other.  Dr. Ken Peterson has been working tirelessly with my choir in preparation for our up-coming tour by helping us with his talent for vowel modification.  His energy is endless and I know his vision for us is greater than what we see in ourselves. I know his unrelenting spirit is guiding us to perfection because people are telling us each concert was our best so far.  I feel each week we are better singers and more unified than the previous.  He is truly the greatest director who has so much passion and love for music and for us as a choir; we can’t help it, perfection is forthcoming.

Aside from all these talented mentors in the field of music, I thought of all the other great teachers who have inspired, guided and taught me many amazing things throughout the years.  My teachers and leaders in my church, school teachers, college professors, “older” friends like my parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles, many of my friends throughout the years, piano teachers, sports trainers, my siblings, my children, my husband, all little children, young adults, the elderly and people from history.  Most importantly, I thought of another mentor I could call upon to ask for guidance whenever I needed help with anything….besides the internet :), the Holy Ghost.

The pedagogy of the Holy Ghost is inspiration through the still small voice, “…we should humbly recognize that the Holy Ghost is the true teacher. Our privilege is to serve as instruments through whom the Holy Ghost can teach, testify, comfort, and inspire others. We should live worthy to receive the Spirit, pray for His guidance as we prepare and teach, and create an atmosphere in which those we teach can feel His influence.” How does the Holy Ghost help us learn and teach? John 15:26  Learning the language of the Holy Ghost is much like learning to speak a new language where we feel what the other person is saying more than we mentally understand.

Writing this blog has opened my eyes in seeing how I am tutored and perfected by the Holy Ghost. During the week, inspired thoughts come into my mind. Some stay and some leave and it isn’t until I am engaged in the act of writing that the words and thoughts become one; however, it doesn’t stop here with my blog.  I have witnessed this same guidance in every aspect of my life.  There are many times when I begin my day not knowing exactly what it is I am to accomplish, but all falls into place once I’ve began with prayer and scripture study.  By putting God first in my heart and mind, He can then use me as His instrument for good by teaching me through the voice of the Holy Spirit which enlightens my mind, quickens my spirit and teaches me each day.  I, like Jesus Christ and you, really do have our own personal life-line to God through The Holy Ghost who testifies and teaches truth and who is one of the members of the Godhead… Jesus’ prayer to Heavenly Father for guidance and gratitude John 17:6-26.

Who are your greatest teachers in life?    I’ve never thought of myself as much of a teacher through word, but rather a doer and silent teacher through example because of my passion for life. Maybe you feel the same way?   Do you ever wonder if what you say or do can have an impact on others for good?  Do you feel so insignificant in your existence that you don’t do anything because you know it won’t do any good anyway?  Do you feel hopeless and helpless about the way our world is evolving?  Do you feel afraid to do or say anything for fear of offending someone? How many people have you influenced for good?  How many people does it take to make significant better change for thousands? It only took 39 men who attended Constitutional Convention who later became the signers of the Constitution on Sept. 17,1787 to change history.   Although, only being delegates representing 12 states during the creation and signing of the the Constitution, consequently, many of these men became great leaders later within the United States government, but more importantly, their passion for peace and freedom has influenced (on a wide-spread level) the entire earth and every nation.

Taking a moment to consider those great teachers who have had such an influence on us and what our lives would be without them, I shutter to think what our existence would have been had they kept all their knowledge and passion to themselves?  Like them, you and I are more alike than we thought, we d0 have much to share and can be influential in sharing, even if it’s just for our own learning and profit, the results are worth it! It only takes one person to make a difference, you and me!  We can be that “star” that makes a new moon in the life of another.

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The secret ingredient for a successful family

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I recently asked a mother of eight adult children her secret to a successful family, “forgiveness” she said.  Reflecting back on similar words of wisdom my mother gave me when I was beginning my own family, she said, “teach your children when they are young to say I’m sorry”.  I thought, oh, that is so simple, who can’t say, “I’m sorry”? However, it soon became very apparent, this endeavor would require a continual concerted effort on my part with my 3 small children who were only a few years apart in age and always at each other’s throats.  Begrudgingly they were taught in exact sequence to say, “I’m sorry”. “I love you”. “Will you please forgive me?”.

Sorry seems to be the hardest word.  Why is it so hard to say, “I’m sorry”?  If we never feel remorse, we may never feel the need to apologize.  How can we feel remorse if we are not akin to morality, knowing there is right and wrong?  I feel in our world there is an ever increasing sense of apathy toward morality and owning up to any wrong doing.  Today’s world teaches that good is bad and bad is good.  “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”  Isaiah 5: 20 

Teaching my children to say I’m sorry, I love you, will you please forgive me became mortar in my children’s relationships as they not only learned to say them, but to feel them even if they didn’t want to say them.  Looking back on this little secret, I recognize it worked like magic in cementing their relationship through the toughest of times.  They became accountable for their actions, humbled themselves, used the word, “I” instead of you to avoid the pitfalls of blaming the other person, and grew the seeds of empathy rather than apathy for the each other. Interestingly, never once did any of my children ever refuse to forgive each other and today, they are the best of friends.

The power that comes from being an accountable person for our actions has such an incredible impact on every thing and every one in our lives. Today, suicide has become one of the most prevalent phenomenons in our present civilization. Suicide is the third leading in the nation and the first leading cause of death of 10- to 24-year-olds in Utah, how come?  There are so many philosophies behind this phenomenon, and I don’t believe we can attribute it to one single thought; however, in my blog today, I will concentrate on one part known as forgiveness, especially not forgiving ourselves.

Those feelings of helplessness in overcoming our faults are heavy weights upon our shoulders that the Savior carries when we allow Him. “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?  Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven”. Matt. 18:21-22  In quoting a story from the Children’s Friend, “Sister Price said that Jesus Christ told this one guy that he had to forgive seventy times seven times. She had us multiply it out on the chalkboard, and it came to 490 times!” He looked up at his mother with a lopsided grin. “Does that mean I have to let Tommy beat me up 490 times? There won’t be much left of me by then.”  We can’t change others, but we can chose to forgive them and ourselves as long as we live and we should never cease to our dying day.

We live in a world of instant gratification where everything we desire is at our fingertips. A world that appears so perfect on the outside but is so imperfect on the inside.  All we see is everything from our own view point which is highly tainted by unrealistic “posts” of a pseudo reality on the internet.  We see people’s kids who are cuter than ours, or whose posts receive more likes than ours.  We see friends attaining success so easily, climbing the ladder of accumulation and attainment. While in truth, many of these same people struggle just like you and me to get out of bed each day.  We truly are loosing our ability to see life and people through a realistic scope.  I wonder if our fear of not being perfect stifles us into becoming even more self-centered creatures to the point of despair and no return-or suicide?   My mom always told us to be the first to apologize even if you weren’t in the wrong.  I like that approach and you know what? It always works WONDERS with my family when I use it.  Like my friend with her 8 successful children, I believe forgiveness is the secret ingredient to a deliciously healthy and happy family.  Say it more and feel it’s effects which are liberating, full of light and love.

“It’s sad, so sad, it’s a sad, sad situation
And it’s getting more and more absurd
It’s so sad so sad, why can’t we talk it over?
Oh, it seems to me
That sorry seems to be the hardest word” Elton John

p.s.  I’m so sorry if I offended anyone in any of my blog posts.  I only have good intentions of sharing light, learning and the love that I feel from God for each one of us no matter what our beliefs. 😉