04 November 2006

Why the Prohibitions in the Word of Wisdom?

My most recent post on A Prayer of Faith deals with this theme. It has generated some interesting discussion, and at least one reader indicated that it helped her. And thus I deem it worth the time and effort it took me to write it!

21 October 2006

Getting It Right

I posted on the theme of learning patience as we accept God's help in correcting our faults at A Prayer of Faith yesterday.

09 October 2006

Some Things are Definitely Worth Looking for

Our first stop took us to the home of one of our daughters--an intelligent, beautiful, charming, thirty-eight-year-old woman who has a thriving career in marketing for one of the big housing developers in a Southwestern state.

She would trade that career in a second for the opportunity to be a SAHM of a large family.

Unfortunately, Mr. Right has not yet made an appearance. Her nieces and nephews, as well as young cousins, are the focus of her loving nature, and her new, tastefully decorated home is replete with photos of family, with emphasis on the youngest members.

Mr. Right, wherever you are, your wonderful life-partner is still available. Look for her. Your reward will be well worth the effort.

Wandering in Earnest

My husband and I have begun a road trip which is intended to last about five weeks. He does the driving, and I switch between dozing, listening to the Book of Mormon in Spanish on my personal CD player, listening to classical music on the car CD player, gazing out the window, thinking deep thoughts/meditating/praying, and contributing scintillating comments to intervals of fascinating conversation.

21 September 2006

24 April 2006

Growing Up unto the Lord (Helaman 3:21)

In a post entitled Gratifying, on A Prayer of Faith, Starfoxy recently wrote, "I love to comfort [my son], and enjoy sitting with him in my arms." Téa, in a concurring comment, wrote, "I need to hold onto those joyful moments in anticipation of when he will no longer seek to be comforted."

I like the analogy that Starfoxy then drew between a mother's relationship to her child, and our Heavenly Father's relationship to us, his spirit children: "When we need comfort from him we’re much more ’still’ we seek him out and listen carefully." And Téa remarked, "I like your application to us and our relationship with God. Do you suppose part of the gratification He feels is pleasure as we are doing as He has asked, to come unto Him, to cast our burdens on Him?"

This thought-provoking post and the ensuing comments prompted me to seek out a passage in my journal where I wrote about the changing joys that come with parenthood as our children grow up. At the time, our six children ranged in age from 13, down to just-turned-two.

18 April 2006

Searching for Truth

I was recently invited to join several other LDS women as a blogger on "A Prayer of Faith," and today I published my first (not counting my introduction) post, entitled "Oh Say, Where is Truth."
When I first starting writing the post, I had difficulty focusing in on just one main point. I knew I wanted to stimulate discussion on how we find truth in the media, and how fiction can often strike us as containing more truth than history books, biographies, works dealing with the social sciences, or even the physical sciences. I also am interested in how parents teach their children to discern truth in the media. Perhaps I can refocus my thoughts and write another post (or two) asking those questions.

10 April 2006

Showing love for our spouse

Starfoxy has an interesting post on The Prayer of Faith blog entitled Change which probes the question of how we should deal with changes we may observe in our spouse. Here are my comments (slightly modified) on Starfoxy's post and follow-up remarks by another person:

One of my father's favorite sayings is "Nothing in life is certain except change." And hopefully we can concentrate on dealing with change (in ourselves and in others) in a positive, rather than a negative way, especially as change may affect marital relationships.

21 March 2006

How Do We Deal with the "Punctually-challenged?"

Jay posed the following question on the thread dealing with punctuality at Millennial Star, "I wonder what our response to the punctually challenged should be?" link to comment

That's a great question to ask, and it prompted the following thoughts:

I witnessed how one ward dealt with a wonderful sister who was beloved by all, despite her tendancy to be late to everything. Sister X was bright, faithful, beautiful, active, and had many admirable character qualities. But she was continually late. Always apologetic, but always late.

In a way, looking back on it, Sister X was indeed "punctually challenged;" and she was treated much you might treat someone with a physical or mental disablitiy. You love them, and try to help them to participate as fully as possible in ward activities. You alter arrangements at times to meet their needs, and you encourage everyone in the ward to show appreciation and compassion to the person in question. However, a ward doesn't do away with basketball because some members are in wheel chairs; or cease to use visual aids in classrooms because some members are blind.

The response of most ward members was to simply take her as she was, but, to try to minimize the negative effects of her lateness on others.

For instance, when I, as a new member of the ward, was slated to do something with Sister X, I was warned (with a smile) that she would probably arrive much later than the appointed time, because, despite all her wonderful qualities, she tended to run late. That prepared me to wait in patience, rather than become increasingly irritated. Those she visit taught, knew she would be late, so they scheduled her visits accordingly. If you invited her and her family to dinner, you planned to eat long after the appointed time. When Sister X was hosting a R.S. activity in her home, she was asked to leave her front door open so that sisters could go in even if she was still at the store purchasing items for the salad (which is what she was doing the time I attended the activity). Sometimes, however, there was really no way to accommodate her lateness—if she was giving a lesson, once every other possible part of the meeting had been taken care of, we simply had to wait for her to show up.

As much as possible, individuals made allowances for her. And, although meetings, activities, dinners--in short, any communal activity--always started without her, as far as I could tell, she received no reproach in word or look when she finally arrived. Everyone liked her, and enjoyed being around her.

I find it rather sad, however, that Sister X missed out on so many things, and experienced so much unnecessary stress. And that so many people were so needlessly accommodating. Because being “punctually challenged” is not a real disability. It’s just a bad habit.

Some "Why?"s and "How?"s of Punctuality

I really liked Tanya Spackman's post on Millennial Star entitled"Punctuality as Part of the Pathway to Perfection." In response I wrote the following comment:

Thanks for this post, Tanya. IMO, punctuality really is an important trait to develop. Many years ago, I either read, or heard the following: "When you are late, the situation controls you; when you are early, you control the situation." This made sense to me, and I changed the way I did some things so that I could usually arrive early for meetings.

In the early years of my husband’s business career, he used to rush to the airport at the last minute when he had a business trip. Bad traffic usually meant that he was very agitated at every traffic delay, and increasingly worried that he might end up missing his plane. At some point his father mentioned that when he traveled, he always left about half an hour early, and took a book along to read once he was seated at the gate. My husband immediately changed his travel routine, and found it made a huge difference in reducing his stress level.

You wisely said,” Accept that things will take longer than you currently think they will take, and allow for that longer length of time." That is so true, and yet some of us tend to seriously underestimate how long it really takes to get out the door, get everyone belted in the car, and drive to the chapel. If we actually time those things, we can then add an appropriate number of extra minutes for taking care of last minute baby messes, finding lost shoes, hitting every light “red”, etc. It we don't add some extra minutes, we only make to church on time when there are no last minute crises, and we hit every light "green!" Of course, this scenario only works when your children are young enough for you to control. Getting teenagers out the door at the time you have set is a whole different proposition! :)

Later I posted another comment, partly in response to Geoff B's comment which mentioned that his wife, serving as activities' coordinator in a Miami ward, had taken to announcing a start time an hour earlier than the true start time, so most people would arrive at the true start time. He also said that their stake events always started on time. Here is my second comment:

Geoff B, I too have lived in Latin America; and I have seen that the leadership of a ward or stake can really make a difference. You mentioned that your stake meetings start on time, and that is great. In places where the culture essentially smiles on arriving late, I have occasionally seen a ward, or even an entire stake, where members managed to develop the punctuality habit. Instead of 25% of the congregation arriving on time, it was closer to 85%.

I can fully sympathize with your wife, but telling people an incorrect earlier starting time could be a bit dicey. It could be seen as reinforcing the cultural predilection to justify being dishonest in order to please people and/or get what you want. Also, in my experience, people eventually catch on to the deception, and readjust their arrival time accordingly. ;) I bet your wife can find a clever way to motivate your ward members to change their habits!

A personal example: When called as YW president in a Latin American ward many years ago, I was told that weekday Mutual was scheduled at 7:00 p.m., but since everyone arrived late, they usually couldn’t start until about 7:30 p.m. I convinced the YM president to help us change things. We put the word out that starting next week, we actually would start promptly at 7:00 p.m., and we did. As I recall there were only three of us there on time (some of the leaders were late, too!); but we had an opening hymn, prayer and announcements, and then stood in the foyer to direct the youth to their classes when they arrived. There were some very shocked leaders and youths that first night: “Opening exercises are OVER?!?” The word got around, and eventually almost everyone started arriving on time.

Unfortunately, I have also seen a very punctual U.S. ward (almost everyone in place a few minutes prior to the appointed time for Sacrament Meeting) change to one where the vast majority of the congregation arrived late--and this after just a few weeks of watching the new bishop always enter the chapel late, and noticing that the meeting never started before five minutes past the hour.

Some of us are perhaps too preoccupied with arriving early; some of us are chronically late; but I think most of us go with the flow. If our leaders make it clear (through words and actions) that they think it important to start and end meetings on time, we will usually try to follow their lead. If our leaders are habitually late, or seemingly heedless of scheduled times, we may cease to see punctuality as a priority, and become more and more lackadaisical and discourteous in our personal behavior.

I truly hope that in the Church we can strongly encourage punctuality, extolling its virtues as an ideal to aim for, while still always remaining compassionate [as Mary Seiver recommended in comment #5] towards those who, for whatever reason, sometimes (or even always) arrive late. :)

28 February 2006

I love Visiting Teaching!

A blog post on Proud Daughter of Eve entitled How Do You Visit Teach? prompted me to respond at length. Here is what I said:

I have been a VT for decades, in many different countries, and I love how the program has evolved over the years. Here are some ideas to start you thinking about how YOU want to carry out your assignment as a VT:

I think a good visiting teacher is more than just a friend who helps us out in times of need; she also tries to "teach" the things that our leaders feel we need to learn, as expressed in the VT message in the "Ensign."

Usually you chat a bit when you arrive, so you know how the sister is doing, and if she has any particular needs. I know some sisters that seem uncomfortable giving the "message," but personally, I think that it is a wonderful opportunity to bring the Spirit into the home of the person we are visiting. I think the word "message" in the case of VT means the sharing of some spiritual thoughts relating to a particular theme; it is not a "lesson" like we get in Sunday School or Relief Society. You generally don't need to prepare handouts, an outline,etc., unless you feel prompted to do so in a particular case.

Whether the sister is super-active or not much interested in the Church, when the Spirit is brought into play, good things can happen. The beauty of the new format with a theme and quotes is that I see at least one quote every month that is appropriate for just about any situation the sister may be in: unmarried, single parent, busy mother, elderly nursing home resident, totally active, less active. As you prayfully consider each sister you visit, you may focus in on just one, two, or several of the quotes. There is always one from a member of the R.S. general presidency, and the others are from the prophets and apostles of this dispensation and from the Scriptures.

You can introduce the subject in a natural way, perhaps by a comment like, "One of the quotes in the message for this month particularly struck me. Pres. Hinckley (or Sister Parkin, the General Relief Society President) said the following about (insert subject)," and then read, or ask your companion or the sister to read a quote. You can then ask the sister for her reaction to the quote, or her thoughts about the subject; and/or you can offer your personal reaction. As it says in the introduction to each message, "Share your experiences and testimony. Invite those you teach to do the same."

Even those of us who are fully committed, believing members, benefit from a heartfelt expression of gospel truths, and it doesn't need to be a long discussion to have an inspiring effect.

Your companion and those you teach may well become dear friends, even if you don't seem to have much in common at first. The Spirit helps us understand one another, and binds us together in love as we read and talk about the inspired words given in the monthly messages.

07 February 2006

New Year, New Venture

I have pondered the idea of starting a blog for some time, and have finally decided that now is the moment. I chose the title from a favorite scripture, which I quoted in a talk I gave recently:
"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God." Ephesians 2:19.
Dear Husband (henceforth to be referred to as DH) quoted this verse in a talk when our family moved from Latin America to the U.K.; and it has come to my mind many times since then, as we have journeyed from place to place. Our appearance, or our accent, may mark us as strangers or foreigners. But whenever we are with other members of the Church, we are united by the covenants we have made, and by our desires to sustain one another as we seek to build a Zion society.
Although I love the country of my birth, in many ways I have lived the life of a nomad. Now, in the the seventh decade of my life, family ties continue to strengthen even as they stretch across the globe. Modern communication enables me to hear or read the thoughts and feelings of those I love most, even when they are far away. The two things that enable me to find joy in the circumstances of my daily life, wherever I may be, are my close relationships with family members, and my opportunities to serve with fellowcitizens who are of the household of God.