Friday, September 30, 2011

Sure is a Lovely Morning - Tom Snyder

We couldn’t understand it. Despite the snow and bitter cold, Dad’s attitude remained warm and sunny.
Let’s go, guys. Time to get up,” a loud voice said, unconcerned that my exhausted body needed more rest. “Yeah,” I moaned in my most convincing tone. I rolled 90 degrees and half opened one eye to see what time it was. The illuminated digital clock read 4:35 a.m. in bright red. Dad’s portly figure towered at the bedroom door. The hallway light surrounded him, giving him the aura of a heavenly messenger dressed in white. Dad’s message, however, was not exactly prophetic: “We’ve got cows to milk. You guys awake?”
“Okay, okay,” Steve said slightly annoyed.
I closed my eyes, then felt my nose with my hand. It must have been ten degrees colder than the rest of my body, which was warmed by a stack of six blankets. I snuggled, eyes closed, listening to the wind howl outside the bedroom window. I heard the bathroom door open. “Let’s go, Steve,” I said to my brother as I slowly rolled to the edge of my bed. I flipped back the covers, sat up, and quickly pulled my pants over the insulated socks and long johns I wore all night. I grabbed one flannel shirt and slipped it on, then imitated the procedure with a second.
I heard the back door close as I headed downstairs. Steve was right behind me. In the coatroom I donned another pair of pants over the ones I had on, then two more flannel shirts of a quilted style, and a dirty green army jacket. Snowmobile boots, a heavy winter cap over my ears, a thick scarf, and sheepskin gloves completed the outfit. I took a deep breath and looked at Steve. He glanced back, in almost identical clothing. We pulled open the door and stepped out into eight inches of swirling, drifting snow.
Steve’s voice was muffled by the scarf over his mouth, but I detected a sarcastic tone as he talked, “Sure is a lovely morning.”
“Yeah,” I replied, pointing to the thermometer by the milk house. “Let’s check the temperature.”
Out of habit, we walked single file, stepping in Dad’s boot tracks. The barn lights shone brightly through the windows. I could see Dad’s reflection and knew he was throwing hay to the cows. Half asleep and shivering I was barely aware of what I was doing. Dad, however, was bustling around feeding and checking each cow to make sure she had made it through the night okay. We both stopped at the telephone pole, and Steve scraped the ice off the thermometer as I adjusted my view of the mercury. “It’s only twelve below,” I mumbled, “five degrees warmer than yesterday morning.”
As we stepped in the barn and untied our scarves, the warm air penetrating our nostrils was filled with the sweet aroma of oat straw and alfalfa hay. Johnny, our dog, ran to greet us. We each took a second to say good morning to him. Then, without speaking to each other, we moved to do our preassigned chores. In sleepy silence Steve and I prepared to milk as Dad fed the cows. The clanking of neck chains and hooves on concrete was drowned out when I turned on the radio.
As we milked I watched Dad and wondered what it would be like without him. He never missed a morning in the barn. He was never late, and he never complained. No matter what happened (and things inevitably would go wrong, especially in cold weather) he always handled it with cool, efficient professionalism. I wished I could be as patient as he was. He always shared a positive attitude, explaining that things were never as bad as they could be.
The next words were spoken half an hour later when Dad said he needed to check the heifer barn to make sure the water wasn’t frozen. We heard on the radio the wind chill outside was about 55 below. He left but returned in five minutes. We watched as he got the propane torch. “Not too bad,” he shouted cheerfully on his way back out the door.
“I’ll bet that water is frozen solid. He just doesn’t want us to get perturbed at the cold.”
“Yeah,” Steve agreed, “that’s Dad.”
At 6:45 Steve and I were almost done milking. Dad returned. “Took you awhile, Dad. Everything okay up there?” I asked.
“No problem. Everything’s fine,” he said reassuringly.
I looked at Steve in disbelief. His face said without words exactly what I was thinking. “Right, Dad!”
We assembled in a circle and made sure each one knew what needed to be done before breakfast. After deciding who would do what, we dispersed. It took an extra 30 minutes on cold winter mornings to make sure every water line, calf, cow, tractor, and truck was safeguarded from the elements. I took some shortcuts while cleaning the feeder, hoping Dad wouldn’t check. It was a dumb thing to hope, but my fingers were numb and my nose resembled a circus clown’s. Of course Dad checked and discovered my slothfulness. As I refroze my fingers finishing what I hadn’t done before, I imitated Laman and Lemuel and murmured against Dad’s thoroughness.
At 7:20 we sealed up the barn and braved the bitter cold again on our way to the house. Around the breakfast table we discussed the things to do today and decided who would be responsible for each. The list seemed long, especially when I thought of the icy cold weather.
I expressed my disgust at the arctic conditions and complained to Dad about all the trivial things he wanted done. He smiled and explained the importance of each of the “trivial” jobs. I nodded in agreement, my face indifferent. Strangely, I looked forward to the next eight hours. I didn’t realize it then, but Dad was teaching me each day invaluable lessons about responsibility and preparedness. I was in the eighth grade.
Twelve years have passed since that cold January morning. We don’t milk cows anymore, but Dad hasn’t changed a bit. He still shares a positive attitude even after a crippling accident that has left him disabled. The lessons he taught us surface in my conversations and experiences all the time now. At last I understand what he has taught me by his example. I love my dad.

Walls of the Mind

To satisfy the new demands being made upon us in this great missionary work of the last days, perhaps some of us (particularly the older generation whose families are raised) need to take stock to determine whether “walls” that we have built in our own minds need to come down.
For example, how about the “comfort wall” that seems to prevent many couples and singles from going on a mission? How about the “financial wall” of debt that interferes with some members’ ability to go, or the “grandchildren wall,” or the “health wall,” or the “lack of self-confidence wall,” or the “self-satisfied wall,” or the “transgression wall,” or the walls of fear, doubt, or complacency? Does anyone really doubt for a minute that with the help of the Lord he or she could bring those walls crashing down?

-President Howard W. Hunter

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Transforming Power of Faith and Character

A consistent, righteous life produces an inner power and strength that can be permanently resistant to the eroding influence of sin and transgression.

We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day. Righteous character is a precious manifestation of what you are becoming. Righteous character is more valuable than any material object you own, any knowledge you have gained through study, or any goals you have attained no matter how well lauded by mankind. In the next life your righteous character will be evaluated to assess how well you used the privilege of mortality.

President Hugh B. Brown said: “Wherever in life great spiritual values await man’s appropriation, only faith can appropriate them. Man cannot live without faith, because in life’s adventure the central problem is character-building—which is not a product of logic, but of faith in ideals and sacrificial devotion to them”

Neither Satan nor any other power can destroy or undermine your growing character. Only you could do that through disobedience. A sterling character is converted into worthless ashes when eroded by deceit or transgression.

What are some of the empowering principles upon which faith is based?
-Trust in God and in His willingness to provide help when needed, no matter how challenging the circumstance.
-Obedience to His commandments and a life that demonstrates that He can trust you.
-Sensitivity to the quiet promptings of the Holy Spirit.
-Courageous implementation of that prompting.
-Patience and understanding when God lets you struggle to grow and when answers come a piece at a time over an extended period.

As you walk to the boundary of your understanding into the twilight of uncertainty, exercising faith, you will be led to find solutions you would not obtain otherwise. With even your strongest faith, God will not always reward you immediately according to your desires. Rather, God will respond with what in His eternal plan is best for you, when it will yield the greatest advantage. Be thankful that sometimes God lets you struggle for a long time before that answer comes. That causes your faith to increase and your character to grow.

The bedrock of character is integrity.

Noble character is like a treasured porcelain made of select raw materials, formed with faith, carefully crafted by consistent righteous acts, and fired in the furnace of uplifting experience. It is an object of great beauty and priceless worth. Yet it can be damaged in a moment through transgression, requiring painful, prolonged effort to be rebuilt. When protected by self-control, righteous character will endure for eternity.

Material things do not of themselves produce happiness and satisfaction and the joy of attainment on earth. Nor do they lead us to exaltation. It is nobility of character, that fabric of inner strength and conviction woven from countless righteous decisions, that gives life its direction. A consistent, righteous life produces an inner power and strength that can be permanently resistant to the eroding influence of sin and transgression. Your faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to His commandments will strengthen your character. Your character is a measure of what you are becoming. It is the evidence of how well you are using your time on earth in this period of mortal probation.

You cannot be passive in life, or in time the natural man will undermine your efforts to live worthily. You become what you do and what you think about. Lack of character leads one under pressure to satisfy appetite or seek personal gain. You cannot successfully bolster a weak character with the cloak of pretense.

Despite how carefully a transgressor seeks to keep the violation of commandments hidden, in time they nearly always become publicly known. Satan himself sees to that. He and his minions are determined to cause the greatest possible harm to each of Father in Heaven’s children. One serious act of disobedience or violation of trust invariably raises questions of whether or not there are others. The faith and confidence of others in that individual’s character is undermined.

This mortal life is a proving ground. How well you meet its challenges determines how strong your character will be. Your faith in Jesus Christ and His teachings fortifies your character.

Your testimony will be made strong through willing obedience to the law of tithing and by giving fast offerings, and the Lord will bless you richly for it. As your testimony is fortified, Satan will try harder to tempt you. Resist his efforts. You will become stronger and his influence on you weaker.

To summarize:
-God uses your faith to mold your character.
-Character is the manifestation of what you are becoming.
-Strong character results from consistent correct choices.
-The bedrock of character is integrity.
-The more your character is fortified, the more enabled you are to exercise the power of faith.

May I share four principles which have brought the deepest feelings of peace and happiness into my own life? The Lord has established these cornerstones in His eternal plan, and each one is essential. All work together in harmony and reinforce one another. When they are applied with diligence and consistency, they produce strength of character, increasing ability to convert the challenges of life into stepping-stones of happiness now and forever.

They are:
-Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His program to acquire the power to achieve.
-Repentance to rectify the consequences of mistakes of omission or commission.
-Obedience to the commandments of the Lord to provide strength and direction in our lives.
-Selfless service to enrich the lives of others.

If you have determined to live righteously, don’t become discouraged. Life may seem difficult now, but hold on tightly to that iron rod of truth. You are making better progress than you realize. Your struggles are defining character, discipline, and confidence in the promises of your Father in Heaven and the Savior as you consistently obey Their commandments. May the Holy Ghost prompt you to always make decisions that fortify your character and yield much joy and happiness. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Faces & Attitudes

Prison Warden Kenyon J. Scudder has told this story:

He happened to be sitting in a railroad coach next to a young man who was obviously depressed. Finally the man revealed that he was a convict returning from a distant prison. His imprisonment had brought shame on his family, and they had neither visited him nor written often. He hoped, however, that this was only because they were too poor to travel and too uneducated to write. He hoped, despite the evidence, that they had forgiven him.

To make it easy for them, however, he had written them to put up a signal for him when the train passed their little farm on the outskirts of town. If his family had forgiven him and felt that he could rebuild his life in his own home and own town, they were to put a white ribbon in the upper branch of the apple tree located in the lower pasture near the railroad tracks. If, however, they felt it would be best for him to rebuild his life in a new environment, in a new city, they were to do nothing, and he would remain on the train.

As the train neared his home town, the suspense became so great he couldn’t bear to look out of his window. His companion changed places with him and said he would watch for the apple tree. In a minute, he put his hand on the young convict’s arm. “I can see the tree,” he said.

The young man then asked, “Does it contain a white ribbon?”

The reply, “Not one white ribbon, but a white ribbon on every branch!”

In that instant, all the bitterness that had poisoned a life was dispelled. Warden Scudder said to the young man, “I feel as if I have witnessed a miracle.”

The young man responded, “Perhaps you have.”

What was the wise and inspired counsel from Alexander Pope? “To err is human; to forgive, divine.”

-Thomas S. Monson

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Getting older, Getting better

1. Accepting Ourselves and Others
Self-acceptance at this stage of life should not signal stagnation, but a mature understanding of who we are and where we are. It includes both an appreciation of our accomplishments and a desire to improve ourselves.
Accepting others as they are helps us, too. When we judge even one individual unrighteously, we damage our ability to practice charity toward all others. “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged,” the Savior advised. (Matt. 7:1–2.)
I learned the power of unconditional acceptance through a story told by a minister at a national social work conference. A long-time alcoholic had tried to quit drinking several times. He had been “on the wagon” for six months when his wife sent him to the store one day for a loaf of bread. He met an old drinking buddy, and the binge that followed lasted three days. When he returned home, his wife simply asked lovingly, “Were you able to get the loaf of bread?”
2. Sharing Feelings
Mature people share both positive and negative feelings with those they love and trust. Sharing positive feelings builds others up. And sharing negative feelings in a constructive way robs them of their power to discourage or depress.
But mature individuals do not share feelings that will unnecessarily hurt another—especially their mates. We can resolve differences more easily with a soft approach that includes signals of caring and acceptance. If we’re wise, we will ask rather than dictate or argue when feelings are involved.
3. Building, Not Bruising, Others
We cannot use the psychological weapons of depreciation, manipulation, criticism, or sarcasm on others without bruising ourselves. Instead of bruising, mature people build themselves by building others, looking at the good qualities of those around them and expressing genuine appreciation. Peace of mind grows as we build others up.
While imprisoned in Liberty Jail in March of 1839, Joseph Smith received a revelation including some guidelines that work beautifully in building others:
“No power or influence can or ought to be maintained … only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
“By kindness, and pure knowledge.” (D&C 121:41–42.)
One of my close friends exemplifies these principles. He has set a goal to build each person he meets, to say something positive to each of his daily associates. He brings happiness to many people, including himself.
4. Finding Balance in Living
Visualize a four-legged chair. The peace of mind on which we want to rest in our later years must be supported by the legs of work, spirituality, play, and rest. If one leg is shorter, longer, or missing, the chair falls over.
We continue to benefit from work even after retirement from regular employment. Except for certain debilitating illnesses, there is no reason an older person’s body can’t respond to many of the opportunities for service available in the Church or the community. The Church offers many work opportunities, such as teaching and leadership positions, temple work, family history research, and missionary work. There is also much good work to be done in the community, or through one-on-one contacts with family and friends.
One elderly gentleman, asked how he remained so robust, replied: “I work hard and sit loose.” If you want to “sit loose” after you work, play and exercise undoubtedly will help. Physical exercise can help reduce stress, relieve anxiety and depression, and keep the body flexible. With proper preparation, we older people can engage in many popular sports; King Gustave of Sweden played tennis into his nineties.
Rest is essential at any age, though the amount of sleep needed varies from person to person.
The spiritual leg of our peace-of-mind chair is especially important. Our faith in God and obedience to the gospel provides an anchor for our lives. It helps us to be reconciled with our past (through repentance, when necessary), to find joy in the present, and to prepare for the future. There may be no better ways to build peace of mind than to pray and to study the scriptures regularly.
5. Loving Maturely
In one sense, the essence of living is loving, and the essence of loving is giving.
Jesus, the Master Teacher, taught that the greatest commandment is to love God fully, with heart, head, and soul, and that the next is to love others and ourselves. (See Matt. 22:35–40.) Those who love maturely put giving ahead of getting. I know a special Church member who decided to perform at least one act of kindness every day for a year. When she looked back over that year, she realized she had not only brought joy to hundreds of people, but she had brought deep satisfaction and peace of mind to herself and her family.

Becoming what you want to be

When I was the mission president in the Bolivia Santa Cruz Mission, one of the missionaries serving with me, Elder Hinostroza, was happily serving in a town near the Brazilian border and wanted to finish serving his mission there. When it came time to make missionary transfers, I felt the impression to change Elder Hinostroza’s assignment and sent him to Santa Cruz. He said, “President, why change me when I have only six weeks left on my mission?”
I said, “I think it’s the right thing to do.”
He looked at me and said, “I’m not so sure.” But he was a good missionary and went to work.
Why Santa Cruz?
Shortly after he began serving in his new assignment, he went to teach a family. He finished teaching the lesson, and the lady took out a picture from her wallet and showed it to Elder Hinostroza. She said, “The reason I’m here in Santa Cruz is because I’m looking for my daughter, whom I have not seen in 10 years. Somebody told me that she might be here.”
More than a million people live in Santa Cruz. The chances of a mother finding her daughter in a city of that size were very slim. Elder Hinostroza looked at the picture, then looked at the mother. He said, “I know your daughter. When I served one year ago in another ward, your daughter was there. She’s a member of the Church.” That night Elder Hinostroza took this mother to find her daughter who had been lost.
Heavenly Father cared so much about one mother and one daughter that He found a way to bring them together again. After that evening Elder Hinostroza called me and said, “I now know the care Father in Heaven has for His children, and I know why I was transferred. That knowledge has changed my life.”
Episodes such as this one and many others that I have witnessed make it evident that there is a loving God who looks over us, cares about us, knows who we are, and works in very special ways to give us experiences to let us know how important that relationship with Him is.
He works with us by using the promptings of the Holy Ghost. He works with us seven days a week, 24 hours a day. He doesn’t sleep. After we have done our part, He does the rest. He tells us when we are doing right. He tells us when we are making a mistake. He helps us avoid the things that can mess us up. What we need to know is that it doesn’t matter whether we are young or old; Heavenly Father will talk to us if we are willing to listen. He will help us with our goals to become better, to achieve eternal life.
Keep Track of Your Thoughts
A few years ago I visited a family with a teenage son who was looking at a copy of Preach My Gospel. I encouraged him to write in the margins of the book the impressions he felt while reading.
I recently received a letter from this young man who is now serving a mission. He wrote: “I’ve been in the mission field for six months and want to thank you for reminding me to write down my impressions. I’ve just been called to be a trainer, and I have a new missionary companion. When my companion saw my agenda and a small notebook under my pillow, he asked me why it was there. I told him what you taught me: if I would listen, God would speak to me, so I keep it there to write down the personal revelations He gives me.
“The next night at 2:00 a.m. I had an impression come to me, and I wrote it down in my notebook. My companion said, ‘Now I understand.’”
I have a little book I carry with me. I call it my book of inspiration. What I have found, just like this elder, is that Heavenly Father does want to talk to me, and when I write it down and do what I’m impressed to do, He keeps talking to me. When we pray, we need to take the time to listen to the inspiration that comes to our minds, instead of getting up right away.
I began writing down impressions from the Holy Ghost when I was on my mission, and it has been reinforced over the years as I have served in various callings. Inspiration will come in so many different ways. It will come when we need to know what to do to help a friend. It will come when we need to know how to do better in school. Heavenly Father cares about all those things. He cares about school, He cares about our relationships with our friends, He cares about our relationships with our families. He cares about us going on our missions. He can help us if we will let Him.
It starts out in simple ways. We start off by keeping track of inspiration that comes to our minds. Then we review and ponder it. Then we follow through by taking action on the inspiration. We’ll know it’s the right thing because we will feel peace about it and because it will really work to make our lives better. It’s like the experience Joseph Smith recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants: “Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.
“Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground” (D&C 8:2–3).
If the Holy Ghost can direct Moses to divide the Red Sea and help him know that he can do it, certainly He can help us in our studies. Certainly He can help us improve our relationships with our parents. Certainly he can help us find good friends. The Holy Ghost can also help us in deciding what paths to take in deciding what kind of spouse or parent we want to become or what our job or vocation should be.
Listening to the Holy Ghost
We start listening to the Holy Ghost by reading the scriptures and following the suggestions found in For the Strength of Youth. If we are trying with all of our hearts to be clean and pure, if we are studying the scriptures and praying faithfully, all of a sudden impressions will come to our minds. We might think, “Maybe I should do this to help a widow,” or, “Maybe I should do this to do better in this class.” That’s the way it works, with just little, simple things.
My mother sent me out on my first job: shoveling the sidewalk of two elderly sisters who lived together. And that sidewalk was long. My mother was very smart. She said, “Do it anonymously so that they won’t know you did it.” I don’t know how many times my brothers and I went, but we did it without their knowing. We had to do it early in the morning so we wouldn’t be caught. I remember how good I felt. The next time it snowed, my mother didn’t have to tell me to go shovel their walk; the Holy Ghost prompted me to go back again.
My brothers and I kept shoveling their sidewalk, and one day they caught us. They became our friends. They even took us to see a semiprofessional baseball team in Idaho Falls. It wasn’t much of a trip, maybe 25 miles, but for us it was a big deal. We probably wouldn’t have been able to go to a ball game without them.
The Holy Ghost became real to me with that experience. It changed my life. My mother encouraged me to do one good thing, and then the Holy Ghost testified that it was good to keep doing it.
During my junior year in high school the principal asked me to run for vice president of the student body. It was a life-changing experience for me, because I had never considered such a thing before. I didn’t say yes at first, but I thought about it, and the Holy Ghost confirmed that it was the right thing for me to do. It scared me, but I ran and won the election. From that time to now, a whole different world has opened up as I gained confidence. Listening to the Holy Ghost helped me know I could become more than I had ever dreamed of becoming.
Learning Spanish
When I was called on a mission to Argentina, I spent three months at what was then called the Language Training Mission. We had a test every Saturday, and I kept getting low scores. I was used to getting good grades in high school, and I was not content with the grades I was getting on my tests at the LTM. The price to get better at Spanish was to get up earlier than anyone else there and practice. At the time, we memorized discussions. When I arrived in Argentina, I had memorized six lessons. When I gave my first discussion, I looked at my companion to see if I had done it right. It was far from perfect, but I felt that the Lord knew I was trying, and He helped me with the language. Learning Spanish was important so that I could serve. I served in Argentina for two years. Later I was called to serve as a mission president in Bolivia for three years and then lived in Central America for three more years, so learning Spanish has blessed my life.
We have to do our part. God is not going to tell us the answers. Success has little to do with intelligence. It has everything to do with diligence based on righteous principles. If we want to do better in our classes and want the Holy Ghost to help us, we may have to work harder or make better use of our time.
When people try to excuse themselves by saying, “That’s just the way I am,” I say, “That’s not who you are. That’s what you have chosen to be. What do you believe you could become?” With the power of the Holy Ghost, you can become whatever you want that is good and right in God’s sight. We can become what we should become. It’s about enduring. It’s about deciding what you want to be and working for it.
How does personal revelation work? It is more than just the idea of positive mental attitude. The Holy Ghost had the power to help me overcome my shyness. He has the power to do what He did for me when I was learning Spanish. I couldn’t have done it without His help. The important thing is to do those things that will bring us closer to God. He will show us the way. The doors to our understanding will be open and we will know the pathways we should take to becoming who the Lord knows we can become.
For more thoughts about following the Holy Ghost, see “The 20-Mark Note,” by President Boyd K. Packer (New Era, June 2009, 2).
“Learn to read the scriptures so they become a joy and a source of inspiration. In them you will find answers to your problems, especially if you practice the principles they teach.”

Given nothing but I asked for, but everything I hoped for

"“I asked God for strength that I might achieve. I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey. I asked for health that I might do greater things. I was given infirmity that I might do better things. I asked for riches that I might be happy. I was given poverty that I might be wise. I asked for power that I might have the praise of men. I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God. I asked for all things that I might enjoy life. I was given life that I might enjoy all things. I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered. I am, among all men, most richly blessed.”

A New Me!

"For what it’s worth, it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit.You canstart whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that stop you. I hope you feel things that you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life that you’re proud of and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again."


“Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children. “- President George W. Bush, November 11, 2001

The calamity of September 11th, 2001 has cast a long shadow. Ten years later, many of us are still haunted by its terrible tragedy of lost lives and broken hearts. It is an episode of anguish that has become a defining moment in the history of the American nation and the world. This week, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, along with Tom Brokaw, will pay its own homage to the unforgettable events of September 11, 2001.
There was, as many have noted, a remarkable surge of faith following the tragedy. People across the United States rediscovered the need for God and turned to Him for solace and understanding. Comfortable times were shattered. We felt the great unsteadiness of life and reached for the great steadiness of our Father in Heaven. And, as ever, we found it. Americans of all faiths came together in a remarkable way.
Sadly, it seems that much of that renewal of faith has waned in the years that have followed. Healing has come with time, but so has indifference. We forget how vulnerable and sorrowful we felt. Our sorrow moved us to remember the deep purposes of our lives. The darkness of our despair brought us a moment of enlightenment. But we are forgetful. When the depth of grief has passed, its lessons often pass from our minds and hearts as well.
Our Father’s commitment to us, His children, is unwavering. Indeed He softens the winters of our lives, but He also brightens our summers. Whether it is the best of times or the worst, He is with us. He has promised us that this will never change.
But we are less faithful than He is. By nature we are vain, frail, and foolish. We sometimes neglect God. Sometimes we fail to keep the commandments that He gives us to make us happy. Sometimes we fail to commune with Him in prayer. Sometimes we forget to succor the poor and the downtrodden who are also His children. And our forgetfulness is very much to our detriment.
If there is a spiritual lesson to be learned from our experience of that fateful day, it may be that we owe to God the same faithfulness that He gives to us. We should strive for steadiness, and for a commitment to God that does not ebb and flow with the years or the crises of our lives. It should not require tragedy for us to remember Him, and we should not be compelled to humility before giving Him our faith and trust. We too should be with Him in every season.
The way to be with God in every season is to strive to be near Him every week and each day. We truly “need Him every hour,” not just in hours of devastation. We must speak to Him, listen to Him, and serve Him. If we wish to serve Him, we should serve our fellow men. We will mourn the lives we lose, but we should also fix the lives that can be mended and heal the hearts that may yet be healed.
It is constancy that God would have from us. Tragedies are not merely opportunities to give Him a fleeting thought, or for momentary insight to His plan for our happiness. Destruction allows us to rebuild our lives in the way He teaches us, and to become something different than we were. We can make Him the center of our thoughts and His Son, Jesus Christ, the pattern for our behavior. We may not only find faith in God in our sorrow. We may also become faithful to Him in times of calm.
Thomas S. Monson

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Them that honour me I will honour

"In 1989 there was a terrible earthquake in Armenia that killed over 30,000 people in four minutes. A distraught father went in frantic search of his son. He reached his son’s school only to find that it had been reduced to a pile of rubble. But he was driven by his promise to his son, “No matter what, I’ll always be there for you!” He visualized the corner where his son’s classroom would be, rushed there, and started to dig through the debris, brick by brick.
Others came on the scene—the fire chief, then the police—warning him of fires and explosions, and urging him to leave the search to the emergency crews. But he tenaciously carried on digging. Night came and went, and then, in the 38th hour of digging, he thought he heard his son’s voice. “Armand!” he called out. Then he heard, “Dad!?! It’s me, Dad! I told the other kids not to worry. I told ’em that if you were alive, you’d save me and when you saved me, they’d be saved. …
“There are 14 of us left out of 33. … When the building collapsed, it made a wedge, like a triangle, and it saved us.”

“Come on out, boy!”

“No, Dad! Let the other kids out first, ’cause I know you’ll get me! No matter what, I know you’ll be there for me!”

- President Faust

In my institute class tonight Brother Anderson likened this story to us. We should be trying to rescue our friends so they can also feel of the love of the Savior.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Little Heaven On Earth

Celestial marriage is like climbing a mountain. You tie yourself to an eternal companion, and you start up the mountain. As children come along, you tie into them as well and continue your journey.

The secret of a happy marriage is to protect the Achilles’ heel and not take advantage of the weaknesses of those you know the best, love the most, and ultimately can hurt the most.

I ask you not to lean on your spouse as a crutch but to stand strong, strengthen each other, and ask for help as you pray together each night.

-Robert D. Hales