I've been doing a lot of family history research lately and discovered two gems from Israel Hoyt, my husband's third great-grandfather. Most histories I've read tell a lot about where they lived and what they did, but I thought it was wonderful to discover two quotes from him. One, “As long as we have anything, we will divide with our friends” (Israel was the first President of the United Order), and two, "I have laid the foundation. I hope you will build on it" (his final words of counsel to his family).
My own great-grandfather, William Henry Wagstaff, received three patriarchal blessings. "I got my last Patriarchal Blessing – I have three of them – just before I was married. It was given to me by Hyrum G. Smith in Salt Lake. LaVon wanted hers so I went with her and got another one. I told you I was a mean little cuss and needed lots of guidance."
What a treasure! I read those and feel like I'm really getting to know who they were, more than the he-lived-here-and-worked-here-and-had-these children. I've read and seen many things in the past several months reminding me to make a record of my life.
It was a blessing to read Randal Wright's book "Make Every Day Meaningful." His premise is that not only should we be recording experiences from our lives, but that we need to be looking for the lessons we learn from those - every day. He gives the example of modern technology and how many advances have been made in just the last several years, then asks, "Why then are individuals and families not making progress at the same rapid rate as technology? Why do so many retain the same weaknesses and make the same mistakes year after year?" Interesting questions. Yes, we are all human with our own opportunities to choose, and many of us have to make our own mistakes to learn. But what if we had family records to look back on, much like scientific records, to see the mistakes and lessons of our ancestors? I look around at other families all the time and wonder what makes them successful or how they went wrong, but most of the time I can only guess.
Each chapter in the book presents a reason for keeping your record, and uses a variety of wonderful life examples (both Wright's experiences and others from his family and friends).
He includes chapters on:
Seeing the Hand of the Lord in Your Life
The Necessity of Recording Family Stories
Learning Meaningful Lessons from Others
How to Use Your Grand Lessons
A Protection from Serious Mistakes
Overcoming Weaknesses that Limit You
Learn to be Grateful Every Day
Meaningful Lessons are Not Lost
Writing Your Autobiography
I love the chapter "A House of Learning." He reminds us what an important place of learning the temple is, and how we should be seeking the lessons there, but my favorite part of that chapter was him talking about using the temple as a model for our homes. He mentions model homes built by home builders with all the best upgrades, and says, "The purpose of models is to show buyers the kind of home they can have if they are willing to pay the price... The temple can be a model home to help us build strong families." I've thought of my own parallels between our home and the temple before, but Wright really ran with that idea. That's a chapter I will definitely be looking back on.
Each chapter ends with challenges to practice the lessons taught in that chapter. I just read it through this time (with loads of underlining), but I plan on going back to review and work on some of the challenges.
One of those is the "Meaningful Lessons are Not Lost" chapter. For those that have heard of Wright's three word journal method of recording stories in three words that will remind you of the story so you can write it out later, this chapter reviews that and gives a list of about 600 memory cues. I have looked into buying his out-of-print book "The Three Word Journal," but I haven't found it for a reasonable price, so maybe this chapter makes up for that.
This book has helped me to evaluate my own journaling habits, and yes, I need to step things up. Wright lays out so many great reasons, both for our personal benefit ourselves and for that of others.
Now, it's just doing it.
By the way, just after reading this, I read through my first two journal which took me from about age 10 through part of junior high. I realized some journaling habits I did then that I still do that are really annoying (like just writing a scripture reference with no mention of what is there - mean!). But it was funny to read some of the entries to my 13 year old, and yes, my "don't do's and do do's" probably had a little bit more backing since she could see I had walked some of the same paths that she does.
After getting off the phone with the Bishop, I quickly felt inadequate for this talk. I haven't sent a missionary out, so I feel like a mom with her first baby in her arms looking around sacrament meeting, noting everything other people's kids are doing, and thinking, "My kids will never do that." Well guess what - they will. Since I haven't actually sent a missionary out, the things I have to say could be totally wrong, so anyone that actually has done it, don't laugh too hard at my lack of knowledge.
(I forgot about this part, but if I hadn't, this is where it would have been.)
When my brother heard I would be talking about this, he said I needed to share this advice: -- Every Elder should know how to catch, kill, prepare, and cook various forms of waterfowl (I wasn't actually going to say this one, maybe mentioning that they should be prepared to use their special gifts and talents in creative ways, and be willing to learn more).
-- Every Elder should be well-trained in how to perform sweet BMX-like tricks on a non-BMX bike
-- It is absolutely critical that every Elder possess the courage and adventurism necessary to eat whatever is placed in front of them -- and then ask for more.
In our stake we had a Relief Society activity a month ago, and one of the classes likened preparing for a mission like getting ready for the Olympics. An Olympian doesn't start learning how to play the game when they are trying to get on the Olympics team. They practice for years to get to that point. With a mission, preparation doesn't begin 120 days out when mission papers are filed. It needs to start years ahead of that.
This is my personal mothering battle vision.
Alma 49:8-9 - But behold, to their uttermost astonishment, they were prepared for them, in a manner which never had been known among the children of Lehi. Now they were prepared for the Lamanites, to battle after the manner of the instructions of Moroni. And it came to pass that the Lamanites, or the Amalickiahites, were exceedingly astonished at their manner of preparation for war.
I want my children to be prepared for battle the best they can be, so personal revelation is an inherent part of that. The things I feel are important in my family for our "astonishing" preparation might be different than the things that are important to [the missionary I was speaking with]'s family. With personal revelation, every family here would bring in different aspects to their preparation that will make their preparation new and astonishing.
In the church we've been counseled that if we follow certain patterns, our families will be blessed. The patterns I'm talking about are family home evening, family prayer, and family scripture study. We've heard about that plenty of times before so I'm not going to go into that. But it does take a consistent effort, and I'll be the first to tell you it's not easy. It's not always spiritually filling, but we keep working and we keep trying.
We had a family home evening a few weeks ago that started out really well. Erin was in charge of the lesson, and she wanted to talk about Joseph of Egypt. After going through the story, I was pointing out how all these terrible things happened to Joseph, but that he had faith like it says in the scriptures, "Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good" (D&C 90:24). By that point, family home evening had turned to chaos, so I ended my thoughts with, "just like I have faith that even though family home evening usually turns into this, I have faith that good things will come out of this too!" (My poor children...)
Even though each individual effort has been less than stellar, I am seeing the fruits from the years we've been doing these. I'm impressed with the knowledge my kids have of the scriptures, and they are gaining their own personal testimonies.
At the same stake Relief Society activity that I mentioned earlier, a video was shown with some mission advice from a couple in our stake that are serving as mission president/mission mom right now in Chili. One of the things they suggested is that before serving a mission, young men/young women should have an experience where they've had to do something really hard to the point that they wanted to quit, but that they kept going. When these missionaries are away from home for 1 1/2 to 2 years, they need experiences like that in their back pocket so they know they can continue through the new hard things they'll experience.
For our family, scouting has provided a lot of those activities, like camping out in the cold during a klondike, going on a backpacking trip, or a really long hike. During Adam's first year working at scout camp, he had been hired to work in the shooting sports area and loved it, but halfway through the summer they had some people quit and he was pulled from that area and was moved to teaching First Aid. He found out about the change on a Sunday evening, and we got a letter from him telling us about it the next Saturday (camp mail is slow). We knew how devastating it would be for him, and we discussed going up to visit. Before that was decided, Adam suddenly walked in the door. We asked about the position change, and told him how bad we felt for him. I think the question was asked, "Did you think about quitting?" because I remember him saying, "Yes, but I knew you guys would make me go back." Besides struggling through that first week without having our "you can do it!," he continued through the rest of the summer and finished well.
To bring in another point on mission preparation, let's talk about Alma the Younger for a minute. This guy came from a great family, but has made his own choices and was going around with his friends "stealing away the hearts of the people, causing much dissention," and "seeking to destroy the church" (Mosiah 27:9-10). Suddenly an angel appeared and told them to knock it off, then got him back on the right path.
I haven't seen an angel, but I am deeply grateful for the people who have been angels in my life and in the lives of my children. Susan Tanner stated that "Everywhere there are young [people] who are in the middle of their own stories, facing dangers and hardships. ...There will be 'angels round about you, to bear you up' (D&C 84:88). They will sustain us as we carry our earthly burdens. Often in our lives, those angels are the people around us, the people who love us, those who allow themselves to be instruments in the Lord’s hands."
I know that my children have been influenced by many angels in this ward. I've asked them here and there, who do you look up to in the ward? Who has been an example to you? I've told some of those people but there are many others, and I'm so grateful for the influence they've had.
Several years ago a book was written called, "It Takes a Village." I haven't read it, but I remember many people bothered by it, even retorting that "it takes a mother." Honestly, I'm in the "it takes a village" camp. I know that I couldn't do it all on my own. I have wonderful parents, but I have also had plenty of angels in my own life that have helped to make me who I am today.
(Forgot to say this paragraph and the next, but it's important...) In the fall Adam went on a hike to Ben Lomond peak with my brother and brother-in-law. We talk off and on about where our boys will go on missions, and many times we've said that Adam will go to Africa for different reasons. When he got home that day, he was all over going to South America because of everything his uncles had been saying about their missions in Uruguay and Argentina. He insists it was the food talk, but regardless, the mission excitement was passed on.
One night after YM/YW a few months ago I was waiting and waiting for my kids to get home. Finally at 10:00pm, an hour and a half after their activities should have ended, I was uptight and decided to drive to the church to drag them home, but passed them on the way. I beat them home, and waited while they pulled in the driveway to give them some correction on just when it was appropriate to come home. When they climbed out of the car, Adam got a "and where have you been?" His response - "First we played basketball for a while, then we were talking about missions with the young men's leaders there." Of course my lecture was gone, and I sent up a silent prayer about great leaders. I did tell them 10:00 was too late to be coming home, though, but a lot kinder than I would have.
GAIN A PERSONAL TESTIMONY
Probably the most important step in mission preparation is gaining a personal testimony so they can share that with the people there. Unfortunately, that's not something I can cook up, serve on a platter, and consider it done. Really, there isn't a whole lot I can do about that beyond doing these other activities and hoping they are touched by the spirit.
From Jeffrey R. Holland, "A 14-year-old boy recently said to me a little hesitantly, 'Brother Holland, I can’t say yet that I know the Church is true, but I believe it is.' I hugged that boy until his eyes bulged out. I told him with all the fervor of my soul that belief is a precious word, an even more precious act, and he need never apologize for 'only believing.' I told him that Christ Himself said, 'Be not afraid, only believe,' a phrase which, by the way, carried young Gordon B. Hinckley into the mission field... What was once a tiny seed of belief for me has grown into the tree of life, so if your faith is a little tested in this or any season, I invite you to lean on mine."
Elder Holland is great and all--I love reading his talks myself--but he isn't someone that our children can watch and hear from all the time beyond his recorded talks.
Our children need to hear our testimonies! We are people they can watch and learn from daily. To realize the importance of that, check out these three examples from the Book of Mormon.
Even though Enos had a grandfather, uncle, and father that were prophets, he still needed to gain his own testimony. While out hunting one day, he stopped to pray. "Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart" (Enos 1:3).
Alma the Younger, also the son of a prophet, made poor choices and needed a change of heart. When he was knocked from his astonishment at seeing an angel, everything he had been doing to destroy the church was running through his mind. "And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world" (Alma 36:17).
We know that the stripling warriors relied on the testimonies of their mothers. "They had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it" (Alma 56:47-48).
Maybe a huge reason for having family home evening, family prayer, and family scripture study is so we will have lots of opportunities to share our testimonies with our children. If they know we know, they can lean on our testimonies when they need to.
Hopefully in the end, even with all the mistakes I make, this end vision will come to pass.
D&C 123:17 "Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed." All I can do is cheerfully do my part, follow the patterns the church has given us, seek and follow personal revelation for my family, and do what I can to help my children gain their own testimonies. But someday I hope when I look back I will see how deeply Heavenly Father has been involved in raising our children too, through their life experiences and through the people that have influenced their lives. And hopefully, through all that, they will be well-prepared to serve a mission.
On Saturday, this guy got hankering for some good food. He found a really great recipe for blackberry rib sauce, and was all over trying it out. With ribs already in the freezer from a good deal a while back, he was in business.
Shortly after the cooking was over and we were beginning blackberry rib bliss, this guy came home from being a pioneer for 3 days with some of our homeschool friends. We got to hear some of his stories in between bites.
When that was gone, it was proposed that maybe s'mores were in order. That was quickly seconded (and thirded and fourthed...)
(Hello chickens in the background!)
In the picture below you can see our favorite s'more method. Those Keebler striped cookies with the marshmallow are much easier and in my opinion better than the traditional graham cracker and chunk of chocolate. The chocolate is well-spread and melts nicely, and the cookie breaks without being getting really crumby.
This is my favorite picture of the evening. Looking at the picture above, I was sitting in the chair next to Jamie with Isaac on the grass between as, as you see him above. While I was getting pictures of everyone, I turned the camera to get him but couldn't see what I was getting very well. After taking this, I pulled my phone up to see if it took very well. Jamie quickly started telling Madeleine to get her s'more away from Isaac, but apparently his quick little fingers had already grabbed enough to get marshmallow. By the time I turned again (seriously, seconds), it was on his hands, shirt, and blanket. I ran in for wipes, and by the time I got back his pants were involved too. I love the pre-chaos captured here, with Madeleine's hand tempting him with the perfect s'more.
Today after church I asked Adam what he wants to eat this last week before he heads off to camp again. After dutch oven cooking on the pioneer trail, dutch oven potatoes topped the list. Knowing today was probably more low-key than the rest of the week, we dove into that and had most of the pre-cooking preparation done when Jamie got home from after church meetings. He quickly set us straight on the appropriate dutch oven potatoes recipe ingredients, and the men folk got to cooking.
This picture is actually after that meal was over and the dutch oven berry chocolate cobbler was about to be partaken of. Melanie has the serving spoon at the ready.
Multiple times both evenings the words "wholesome family recreation" came to mind. It's lovely sitting around a campfire or a dutch oven, filling our tummies with great food, laughing, and sharing that time together. An important piece of what helps "establish and maintain" successful families, but so simple.
Until 2 days after Isaac was born, I had never heard of Baked Ziti. A neighbor brought me some, this recipe I believe, and it was delicious.
A couple weeks later another lovely friend in the neighborhood brought me some, and mentioned it was another friend's recipe. WOW - even more delicious! I think I hoarded the leftovers for myself.
A couple weeks later, the friend who's recipe it happened to be called to say she was dropping something off. (I have great neighbors, don't I?) I was pleasantly surprised to discover it was another pan of Baked Ziti, especially since the second ultra delicious recipe had been her recipe! We popped it in the oven for dinner, and enjoy it yet again. (And yes, I again hoarded the leftovers, but by this time everyone but me was pretty over Baked Ziti.)
I am now addicted, and happy for any opportunity to make it. Recently I heard a new neighbor was having knee surgery, and their house was already under major renovation. I offered to bring dinner - ziti! (**This recipe makes two 13x9 pans worth, so plenty for your family and another for the freezer or two share.) Before I made it I remembered we had a potluck dinner coming up, so I added another half to the recipe and made a third pan so I could selfishly enjoy it there too.
I really like to white sauce, so I make a little more than it calls for.
Cook 2 boxes of ziti or penne pasta, drain and set aside.
Cook 2 lbs. sausage in
large skillet, then add:
1 onion, chopped
1 28 oz. can tomato puree
1 16 oz. diced tomatoes
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 tsp. marjoram
1 tsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. parsley
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. thyme
2 Tbsp. sugar
6-7 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste WHITE SAUCE
Simmer in sauce pan until smooth and creamy:
1 cube butter
2 8 oz. packages of cream cheese
2/3 c. parmesan cheese, shredded
1 pint whipping cream
2 tsp. minced garlic
In a large pan, layer ziti noodles, white sauce, red sauce.
*Top with grated mozzarella.
I would feel like a fraud if I said I wrote this poem.
Just over a week ago I woke up with some of these words in my head. It started with the repeated refrain, "Have you been there in that place?" and the general feeling of how we can lift others by the things we say. The more I thought about it more words came, and as I wrote them down, more.
While I slowly woke up a few days later, I realized they were running through my mind again, only this time with music. While I thought about it, more little snippets came.
This may not be the finished product, as I'm pretty sure there is one more bit that needs to get in there, but this is what I quickly polished this morning when I remembered that I had planned on sharing it in our homeschool group today because it fit so well with the topic. To prepare for class today we had read the talk "Before I Build a Wall" by Loren C. Dunn (April 1991 general conference) and studied Al Fox, then took that study further in our own personal way.
In Moses 8:28 & 30it mentions that at Noah's time before the flood, the earth was "filled with violence." What a sad thing to look around and see that the earth now is much the same.
I brought up the idea of being "filled with" during family home evening a few weeks ago after Erin led us in talking about Joseph of Egypt. We made a chart comparing what Joseph was "filled with" vs. his brothers. Joseph's list had things like love, patience, forgiveness, and faith, and the brothers' list had revenge, anger, and violence. At one point Melanie mentioned that towards the end of Joseph's story the brothers were filled with repentence. I really liked that.
In our ward we've had some unexpected happenings recently. A few weeks ago our neighbors had a fire in their home, and yesterday a different family had their washer flood 2 1/2 rooms in their home. Ward members reacted quickly, and lots of help was both offered and given in both cases. On a more personal level, after Isaac was born we got the standard 2 meals set up by the Relief Society, but then over about the next 6 weeks we received a call almost every week from someone saying they were bringing dinner. What a blessing to closely associate with so many people that are filled with love and service! In true "pay it forward" fashion, it makes me want to give random service more myself.
A search from this last conference mentions being "filled with the spirit," "filled with faith and hope," "filled with people who desire . . . to keep the commandments," "filled with potential and grace," "filled with this love," "filled with gratitude," "filled with love for the Savior and the loving father who sent him," "filled with the rich blessings of priesthood power," and "filled with love and courtesy and the spirit of The Lord." Wow! The conference before that adds in filled with light, compassion, peace, joy, hope, miracles, courtesy, harmony, emotion, and (ha!) food. What a great list!
Besides making me want to be filled with all those things, it makes me think of Matthew 7:16-18, 20, which talks about knowing people by their fruits. What wonderful fruit this gospel brings! Gives a deeper meaning to "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteouness: for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6).
I just noticed that over the past four months I've got a lot of draft posts and very few completed and published posts. I feel like all I've got right now are flashes of intelligence. I can't keep a thought long enough to write it down since it seems I'm always in the middle of something. What I do get jotted, there's not much time to carry them further. But for a bit I enjoy pondering the flash. If it does make it to a beginning blog post, my arms and hands are busy with baby (which they most definitely enjoy and should be) so sitting where I can focus and type very long doesn't happen often.
A few examples...
The Golden Rule is "Do unto others as you would have them do to you." Do you know there is also a Silver Rule? "Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you." Isn't the difference interesting? Very simplified, "Treat people nice" vs. "Don't be mean." Would you rather live Golden or Silver?
What I learn from babies - this list could go on and on if I would write them down the moment it comes. I hope most are written in my heart somewhere. The biggest overriding lesson is to enjoy. Enjoy every sweet little moment. While I've done that this time around I've noticed a lot of determination in this guy. Maybe it's been there with all of them and I wasn't paying enough attention, or just don't remember. It's so interesting watching him learn. Working and working to control those little arms and hands, trying to get them to go where he wants them to. The past week he's been very interested in looking around. Fear stinks. Every time I realize I'm fearing something, I run 2 Timothy 1:7 through my mind to start thinking how I can instead react with power, love, and a sound mind. Just found this talk by President Hinckley that looks like a great one to study on that.
Here's to more flashes. Hopefully they'll get more intelligent. :)
My sister introduced us to a great way of making roast that our family LOVES. The blog she got it from calls it Mississippi Roast, but my sister renamed it Dragon Meat and we're sticking with that.
I've made the mistake of believing I could go to a blog for a recipe forever before, and then suddenly the blog was private and there was no way I could track down the recipe until I remembered that it was a friend that told me about it in the first place and she had printed it. So I'm reposting Dragon Meat here as a backup to their blog and to my printed copy. AND so anyone that happens to check this out can try this amazing recipe too.
Put your roast (or two - you'll want leftovers, just adjust ingredients accordingly) in the crock pot.
Sprinkle one packet of Hidden Valley Ranch mix over the roast.
Sprinkle one packet of Au
Jus gravy mix over the roast (apparently brown gravy mix works too, but I haven't tried that).
Place a whole stick of butter on top of the roast.
Put 5ish peperoncini peppers on top of the roast. (If you don't know, these peppers are pretty mild and come in a jar. The last time we did this we didn't have any, so we used yellow hot chili peppers. A touch more spicy and a touch more yum.)
If you ask to hold my baby and notice a flash of wildness in my eyes and notice my mother arms clutch a little tighter, don't take it personally.
I'm in a soaking-in-the-sweetness moment.
Call it apronstringitis that struck really early. The 3-6 month clothes are waiting in the wings. I'm pushing those away, but it's a battle soon lost. Tomorrow he'll be bigger. He's growing.
These feelings also strike at night when I've been up taking care of him and the bed calls. It will be one of those wee morning hours. He'll be fed and asleep. We could get back to bed, but his babyness has a firm grip on my heart strings. It's quiet, no one else is vying for their turn, and I can enjoy the moment.
Or two or three.
I love it.
Eventually the voice of reason starts talking, whispering things about extreme tiredness and the list of to-do's for the next day. Since I'm already sleep deprived, the voice eventually wins, but not without a battle. At least I've had my moment.
Not that I don't also love watching others enjoy him, especially my husband and other children. But this baby time is so short, as I've seen with my six others.
Then again, the three's and seven's and nine's and twelve's and fifteen's and sixteen's are short too, and I need to enjoy and appreciate those as well.
Don't mind me. There's a piece of heaven in my arms.
I learned a great lesson that I continue to learn from often in the book 10 Great Souls I Want to Meet in Heaven. S. Michael Wilcox mentions that like a compass used to draw a perfect circle from a fixed center point, we should all have a spiritual compass as well with what he refers to as a "fixed foot" and a "searching foot." As "there can be no true or complete circle without a center" (2), it is necessary to find our center and keep it planted strong, reinforcing it with consistent checks of our most reliable sources of truth. Then, we can search out more truth using our "searching foot," comparing those to our "fixed foot" and the truth we've established there. Without a firmly fixed foot, it would be easy to be dragged us away from our center in our search, giving us an imperfect circle or no circle at all.
While out walking one night I had this idea on my mind. It came to me that we could look at our circle from the side, and from that vantage point it could be more like a hill. That if we aren't holding on to that center, the further we get away from the center, the easier it would be to eventually "fall away" from the truth that we do have. (This was the best hill picture I could find, LOL.)
When I was mentioning that idea to my kids a couple days later, one of them pointed out that it's like holding to the iron rod. That again, if we aren't holding to the word of God, we can easily be pulled away to the mists of darkness and great and spacious buildings. (So blessed to have smart kids that teach me too!)
Our scripture reading yesterday in Alma 30 brought in that idea yet again. After a terrible war there began to be "continual peace." "Yea, and the people did observe to keep the commandments of the Lord; and they were strict in observing the ordinances of God" (v. 3). Apparently they were very good people, but when Korihor comes to visit a couple verses later, he causes all kinds of problems, knocking many people off their center. "And thus he did preach unto them, leading away the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms" (v. 18). I have to wonder if they questioned his words much. They were doing right and good before he came, but for whatever reason were quick to listen to and quick to believe Korihor's words over what they have been taught and what they had been living.
Yet when Korihor moved on to the people of Ammon, "they were more wise than many of the Nephites; for they took him and bound him, and carried him before Ammon, who was a high priest over that people. And it came to pass that he caused that he should be carried out of the land. And he came over into the land of Gideon, and began to preach unto them also; and here he did not have much success, for he was taken and found and carried before the high priest, and also the chief judge over the land" (v. 20-21).
How terribly sad that the first group was so easily swayed, but how excellent that the second and third groups were so quick to identify the errors and not even tolerate it being in their midst. Had the first group not been tried much? Had the second and third realized the blessing and comfort that comes through having that firm foundation? Something I want to keep thinking about. But regardless, their center was firmly planted, they recognized untruth when they heard it, and they got rid of it, not wanting his words to become part of their circle.
It's interesting to note that later when Korihor asks for a sign to know there is a God, "Korihor was struck dumb" (v. 50), essentially getting rid of the tool he was using to lead away the people.
Studying great people throughout history and the world has been a wonderful journey, seeing like Wilcox that "our Father in Heaven is a light-giving God and dispenses it as widely as the stars." And thankfully so! But Korihor's story is a great reminder to keep my center firmly planted, continually strengthening it with the teachings of Jesus Christ and his prophets and apostles. In the long run, I think I would rather be accused of having a circle that was too small but deeply founded in truth, than one so far reaching I allowed untruths to sneak in.
(Today's reading in Alma 31 brought similar thoughts, only this time pride was definitely a factor. Hmm...)
I used this during a Relief Society lesson, and my good friend mentioned that when I drew the hill with a person holding to a pole on the top, she was waiting for me to add a flag to the pole, like Captain Moroni's Title of Liberty, waving it high for all to see, THIS IS WHERE I STAND. Excellent!
Plus, while thinking about that hill, I thought of the saying "going to die on that hill." I looked it up.
The expression comes from military tradition that it is always in the defender's favor when battles are on elevated terrain. Before air warfare, one had not only to overcome an enemies defences but doing do while at a height disadvantage. Many military battles became slaughters when commanders forced their men to take heavily fortified hills.
Conventional military wisdom is that hill battles should be avoided if at all possible, the cost in men generally wouldn't be worth the fight. When a commander was ordered to take one they would often question the rationale, "Is this a hill worth dying over?"
I love the added visual there - being up on a hill, standing tall for my beliefs, and that it's much harder to be defeated when you're on the top.
Another inspiration from this idea. Standing feet can be as small as a sapling or as giant as a sequoia. To me, the most important thing isn't how big they are, but that they stand. Even big trees will fall.
One morning last week I woke up at 4:30 am, wide awake. When I realized I wasn't going back to sleep anytime soon, I pulled out my phone, glanced at my e-mail quick, then remembered a talk I've been wanting to reread -- Sister Linda Burton's talk on "The Power, Joy, and Love of Covenant Keeping."
But I really didn't get very far into it before my mind turned specifically to the marriage covenant, and I went searching on my Gospel Library app for a talk on that instead. I found one called "Eternal Marriage" by F. Burton Howard that I dove into. It's a good one, and I was reading and highlighting away till almost the end, when I hit what I was woken up at 4:30 am to be taught.
Elder Howard led into it with a story about their silverware, and how over the years his wife carefully cared for it, to the point that he was thinking she was a little over the top over this silverware. But then he realized,
If you want something to last forever,
you treat it differently.
My eyes stopped there, the Spirit teaching me. I thought first and the most about my marriage, and eventually about my children. Words came to mind like a list from the Family Proclamation - love, respect, compassion, forgiveness, trust.
And accompanying that, the desire to be better.
I finally pushed myself to continue in the talk. "If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. You shield it and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by."
In our homeschool group we've been memorizing Doctrine and Covenants 6:33, and that came to mind. "Fear not to do good . . . for whatsoever ye sew, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sew good ye shall also reap good for your reward." That first word, fear, is sadly powerful in the wrong way. Sad that the desire to do good can so easily be derailed, even within a family. Laying there in bed I made some immediate commitments to myself with some specific ways to be better.
I'm so incredibly grateful for a Heavenly Father that cares enough about making sure I got this precious message that He sent it when things are quiet, even if it meant missed sleep for me. I've been so blessed with a wonderful husband and family. They are the joy and the greatest work of my life, the things that more than anything I want to last forever.