Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tis the season to spend your money.

This is the season, beloved of the year .. by the retail and postal industries.

What will you be getting for Christmas?

How about a phone charger of the green variety:  A grass charging station.

How about a Solar Queen, who royally waves when in the sun.

You could also go for the battery-powered remote control pillow.  Yup. 
Snuggle down with that remote and flick away.

Then you can wrap your presents up in delicious calorie-filled premium wrapping paper.

And guess what.

I still haven't opened my three packages ... and we received another package in the mail yesterday - a surprise from my family. 

Can't wait for Christmas Day.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Hello.  It's almost half past 11 pm here.  I thought it was something like 9pm.  But it's not.

I've been watching my favourite TV show.  I mentioned what it was back here.  I also mentioned there that I love the series so much that I don't want it to end .. so I stopped watching it.  That way, it didn't come to an end. 

That was several years ago.  Yup, seriously
I've since gone on a mission, married a nice chap, and finished my masters.

Thanks to my nice chap of a husband, I finally buckled down and watched several episodes.  And then several more.  It's addictive stuff, and now tonight - this very night - there is just one episode to go!  Ever!!

And I can't bring myself to watch it. 

I'm putting it down to the time - 11:30pm on a Saturday night means the Holy Ghost is about to go to bed and I need to be a spiritual being.

But really, it's because I don't know what to do once I'm done with it. 
Start watching it again from series one?  Should I pray about it?

Hmm.  Okay.  Goodnight.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thought for Friday.

I'm going away for a bit, then returning to a bazillion Christmas events and musical stuff to organise.

But for now, know this:  YOU are a child of GOD.

I love this video :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Man from Beijing.

A few months back, I came across the Swedish crime writing of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo.

Now I am discovering the world of Henning Mankell.  Another Swedish author of crime/thriller.

The Man from Beijing.

This book was fun.  In a creepy thriller kinda way.

Thrillers - usually involving murder, corruption, cover-ups - possibly my favourite genre of book. 
And this book did not disappoint.

It begins immediately with crime and chaos on a massive scale.  An eerie beginning in a small Swedish hamlet, where most of the occupants and animals are dead. And not in a pretty way.

What makes this story interesting, and perhaps more complex, is the interweaving of past and present.  And by past, I mean 150-odd years ago.  The crimes in this book are all about power and revenge, stemming from events over a century ago. 
As a reader, you are shifted from present, to past, and back again, with darting references to a history you are not shown completely, as well as being shifted from country to country.  In fact, it was Mankell's own commentary on the social and political movements in China and Africa that really beefed up the storyline. 

And the product is not a simple tale of crime.  Instead, you are reading a heartbreaking family history, a tale of political upheaval, and the suspenseful journey of a women who was intrigued by the truth.

One sentiment spoken in this book rings true:  "The truth is never simple".  "It's only in the Western world that you think knowledge is something you can acquire quickly and easily.  It takes time.  The truth never hurries."

I'm now reading Mankell's The Eye of the Leopard, another thriller set in Africa. 

So far .. it is nowhere near as captivating.  I'm in chapter five, and so far it is all character-building monologues of dreams, memories, and really vague undertones of a past ..

Monday, December 12, 2011

Testimony meeting.

This is a topic I have been wanting to write about for a long, long time.  It is a topic close to my heart - what not to do during testimony meeting.

Seriously,  I become an overly anxious soul during testimony meetings.  The potentially-ever-painful monthly thank-timony meeting.  And having these meetings coinciding with Fast Sunday doesn't help either.

We have been instructed what this meeting is for, and how to appropriately speak during it.  We have also been instructed on the importance of brevity and conciseness when bearing testimony.  [1] 
Elder Jensen once told us (and I summarise):  [2]

A testimony is not an exhortation. And it’s not a sermon or a talk. Don’t you be banging your fist and calling me to repentance. That just offends me and the spirit.
A testimony is not an experience. Sure you can share a short experience to illustrate your belief. But don’t be giving me the long-winded version of what you did that week.
A testimony is not an expression of gratitude or love. Are you shocked? Again, it may be appropriate to include some gratitude or love in there, but that is not the point of a testimony or the meeting.
A testimony is not a public confession. Enough said.
A testimony is not a long explanation of how you know, but rather what you know.

And yet, this is what I regularly hear:
1. I'd like to thank that mystery person for delivering cookies to my door when I really needed them.  I like cookies.
2.  I love this ward.  You guys are great.  My last ward wasn't nearly as friendly, but you guys are great.  And I love my family - I don't tell them nearly as often as I should. 
[Elder Bednar once said these comments make him silently squirm in his seat.]
3. I'm so grateful for the birds in my backyard.  They are nice and chirpy, and remind me of the time ...
4. I really like Young Women's.  Yeah, it's way fun.  But I don't like getting up for seminary much.
5. This week I did this, and this; and then this happened; and then my grandson called and this happened; and then I planted a tree, and watched it grow.  I like trees.

I remember being taught by my parents (now translated) that I should get up and say one or all of the following only
I now pass this on to you. 
When you share, bare, or even expose** your testimony to others, you should say one or all of the following only:

1. Your belief in God, our Heavenly Father.  You could extend this to your belief in the Godhead - God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.
2. Your belief in Jesus Christ and His atonement for us.
3. Your belief in Joseph Smith being a true prophet of God, and in his role in restoring Christ's church.
4. Your belief in the current-day prophet, leading and guiding Christ's church.
5. Your belief in the Book of Mormon, being scripture alongside the Bible.

Some also teach that a belief in Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon is actually the same, allowing for a belief in the temple as number five on the list.

** I once heard a special someone get up and say:  I don't just want to bare my testimony.  I want to expose myself.  No joke.

These five basic principles should be the foundation of your testimony, and what you say during testimony meeting.  They are the foundation of a testimony.  We should say the things which set us apart from others, the things we believe to be true.  We can expand on other principles of the gospel we know to be true and our appreciation for them, e.g. your knowledge that Heavenly Father loves you and how you appreciate that love;  your knowledge that Jesus Christ lives;  your knowledge that tithing is a principle from God because you exercised it and now understand it.

This parental advice was echoed by Bruce R. McConkie, who wrote the three great truths that must be included in every valid testimony were:
1. That Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Saviour of the world (D&C 46:13);
2. That Joseph Smith is the Prophet of God through whom the gospel was restored in this dispensation; and
3. That The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the ‘only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.’ (D&C 1:30). [3]

Note:  I understand that testimony grows through experiences.  Our knowledge of what is true will gradually increase as we exercise faith and practice what we know, but the pulpit is not the time and place to elaborate for 5-30 minutes.  We do have other opportunities to share our testimony - usually during Relief Society meetings, Sunday School meetings, etc.  If you don't have those opportunities to share your testimony-building experiences, ask for them.  Or hold a Family Home Evening dedicated to testimonies.

The following are examples of how testimonies should sound like from the pulpit:
1. "I know the Book of Mormon is true."
2. "I believe in God.  I know that President Monson is our prophet today."
3. "I know Jesus Christ died for me.  I understand the atonement more fully from my recent scripture study, and I know it to be true."
4. "I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.  I know he restored the fullness of the gospel, and that the church is the same as it was in the days of Christ.  I also know we are led by a living prophet today, and that we are able to know of these things for ourselves."

Do I need to bring out the Testimony Glove?  (Oooh! It's currently on sale ....)

Want to know what puts me on edge in Sacrament talks? 
Read my post on what not to do when giving a talk in Sacrament meeting.

[1] First Presidency letter, May 2, 2002; see also M. Russell Ballard, “Pure Testimony,” Ensign, Nov. 2004, 40–43
[2] Jay E. Jensen, ‘Bearing Testimony’, Ensign, Oct. 2005
[3] Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 785–86

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy.

How's this for a read:  the entire genealogy of Britain's kings and queens.

Starting with King Egbert and his father in the year 784.
Ending with Queen Elizabeth II and her offspring.

I just finishing reading.
And loved it!  Yes.  I'm odd.

This record does not tell stories.
I looked for details of rumour and tale of William Wallace under Edward I and Robert the Bruce.  Proof, perhaps, that Braveheart was highly accurate and that Edward III was indeed Wallace's child.  There was none.
I looked for details relating to the stress and havoc created by Robin Hood under (bad) King John.  The scandal surrounding the princes in the tower (Edward V and Richard, Duke of York).  Any proof of Mary Boleyn and her saucy ways.  And the stuttering language of King George VI.  They weren't their either.

No mention of that royal connection to Jack the Ripper.
And no mention of Camilla Parker Bowles, of course, or Charlie's other woman, "Kanga" - thankfully.

I did learn, however, the following:

1. The majority of kings had A LOT of illegitimate children.  I am sure they were all very devoted husbands who accidentally fell over the occasional woman - sometimes the same women, who they rewarded with title and land somewhere.
2. The majority of royals married .. each other.  Some married their niece.  Most married their cousin.  One was engaged to two brothers (Lizzy's grandmother).  A few were married to royalty several times.  Marriage was clearly a transaction of title and land.  Let's keep it all in the family ...
3. There was no way any of us plebs could become a part of the royal institution. 
4. There was such a kerfuffle when Edward VIII married scandalous Mrs Simpson, because she was twice divorced - and yet so many royals before him were either divorced themselves or married divorcees.  Let me introduce you to King George I, who not only divorced his wife Sophia, but forbade her to ever remarry and locked her up in a castle until she died.  The ultimate backlash from accused adultery.  (Still, a castle ain't bad.)
5.  There were a lot of miscarriages and still born babies.  Queen Anne had it tough .. she outlived all her 19 children. 
6.  I am somehow related to people in the book.  I need to track down the exact link before I can reveal my claim to a throne ... a throne that doesn't actually exist anymore.  But start practicing your curtsy anyway.

This book is a true family history of those that ruled or reigned Britain - both England and Scotland.  Following the succession, it records their names and dates, all their titles (gosh, do they accumulate), and their spouses (sometimes several - and usually a cousin or someones niece), their children (including all the illegitimate ones ... oh, so many!) and their spouses.

I read it cover to cover.

An excerpt, just for you:

George III is alleged to have married secretly, on 17th April, 1759, a Quakeress called Hannah Lightfoot, daughter of a Wapping shoemaker, who is said to have borne him three children. Documents relating to the alleged marriage, bearing the Prince's signature, were impounded and examined in 1866 by the Attorney General. Learned opinion at the time leaned to the view that these documents were genuine. They were then placed in the Royal Archives at Windsor; in 1910, permission was refused a would-be author who asked to see them. If George III did make such a marriage when he was Prince of Wales, before the passing of the Royal Marriages Act in 1772, then his subsequent marriage to Queen Charlotte was bigamous, and every monarch of Britain since has been a usurper, the rightful heirs of George III being his children by Hannah Lightfoot, if they ever existed.

Taking her 22 years to research this one book, it certainly is a unique reference book.  Alison Weir drew on countless sources and authorities - include scandalous rumour if it had some base - both ancient and modern.  Covering all the royal houses of England, Scotland, and Great Britain, it is both comprehensive and complete.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas is a little early.

A few days back, I ordered some goodies.  From me, to me.

First there was one ...

And now there are two ...

Soon there will be three ...

So the question is ... should I wait until Christmas to open them?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Book of Mormon painting eight.

Smack bang in the middle of the Book of Mormon, there are a lot of wars.  I wrote about that here, and how the Book of Mormon was literally written for our day because we learn how earlier disciples of Christ lived with war.

In and around Alma 43 - 46, the Nephite nation was put in jeopardy because of wars, dissension, and much contention – not just from the Lamanites, but from themselves.  Dangerous.

Some were just too eager for power.

The solution (for us too) was to exercise faith in Jesus Christ, and follow His prophets and other righteous leaders – like their military leader at the time, Captain Moroni.  Mormon wrote: “If all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.” (Alma 48:17).
Right there is a fine role model.  We too can remain “firm in the faith of Christ” in trying times (Alma 48:13).

Captain Moroni came up with brilliant strategies to defend the Nephite people.  And what I love most is that he started fortifying the people and their cities well in advance, as well as seeking the counsel of the prophet, while there was no threat upon them.

Talk about good judgment, as well as obedience to God’s counsel.

And what a contrast to the intentions and tactics of Amalickaih, the wicked man stirring up trouble at the time.  Actually, Mormon plainly lists the striking differences between the two for us – see Alma 48 and 49.

Arnold Friberg’s next painting in his series on the Book of Mormon is of Captain Moroni, after rallying others in a righteous cause, physically displaying his cause.

To do so, he rips his clothing - which was a symbol of making a covenant - and writes on it, making a huge banner for all to see.  He writes:  In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.

Moroni then fastened the 'title of liberty' to a pole, and placed it high for all to see in every tower.
[Alma 46:12–15, 36]

Captain Moroni Raises the Title of Liberty
Arnold Friberg

Moroni, who was the chief commander of the armies of the Nephites, … rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole. …

(And he called it the title of liberty) and he … prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren. (Alma 46:11–13)

“We are reading the thought itself that Captain Moroni expressed on his banner. Now I am supposed to picture how he wrote it. He didn’t write it in English. English was not yet invented. He wrote it in Hebrew. Mormon said he was engraving the plates in Reformed Egyptian because it takes less space. But if Moroni could write it in Hebrew it would be a lot clearer. . . . So I went to the Rabbi here [in Salt Lake City] and asked him to write the message in what would have been the common characters Lehi brought with him. It didn’t look anything like present- day Jewish script [second line of the Hebrew text below]. That squarish letter we now know as Jewish came in closer to the time of Christ. [The first line of the Hebrew text below is more ancient and more correct], so I put it on the flag even though there were those who insisted that I letter it in English.”
(Hebrew writing reads from right to left)   [1]

Sometimes we must stand, as Moroni’s people did, in defence of what we hold dear.  Our liberty, our lands, our families, our peace.

There are times when we must stand up for right and decency, for freedom and civilization, just as Moroni rallied his people in his day to the defence of their wives, their children, and the cause of liberty (see Alma 48:10).” [2]

There are times when, in remembering our “civic responsibility that ‘the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’ (Edmund Burke). . . . Do something meaningful in defence of your God-given freedom and liberty”. [3]

We read that Captain Moroni caused the title of liberty to be hoisted upon every tower which was in all the land … and thus Moroni planted the standard of liberty among the Nephites. (Alma 46:36)

“This is our need today—to plant the standard of liberty among our people throughout [our country].  “While this incident occurred some seventy years B.C., the struggle went on through one thousand years covered by this sacred Book of Mormon record. In fact, the struggle for liberty is a continuing one—it is with us in a very real sense today.” [4]

If you wish to order a free copy, let me know or click here.
Feel free to read or listen to it here.

[1] as quoted in Vern Swanson, ‘The Book of Mormon Art of Arnold Friberg, “Painter of Scripture”, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies: Vol 10, 1, 26-35, Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute, 2011
[2] Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, Nov. 2001, 72
[3] Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, May 1988, 51
[4] Conference Report, Oct. 1962, 14–15

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

the Ned Kelly look.

I'm not sure why I associate the scruffy bearded look with Ned Kelly.

Possibly because that is how I picture Ned.

My hubby has Ned Kelly phases.  Usually once a month.  He is such an outlawed bandit.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fire of the Covenant.

Back here I mentioned I had almost finished a book, a book that was so good that I didn't want it to end .. so I stopped reading it.  I do that sometimes, with books.  And with my favourite tv show.

Please tell me you've done that too.

Well, today I finished the book.  I decided I was being silly, and that it was okay to cry in public.

Fire of the Covenant, by Gerald N. Lund, was captivating, moving, and inspiring.  It gave me a renewed appreciation for the early members of my church.  And I felt so grateful, so in awe of the sacrifices given by these humble converts.

The novel tells the story of several families, some fictional some not, who travelled from various places in England and Europe in a great exodus to the great Salt Lake Valley in the 1850s as part of two particular companies of handcarts.  One led by James G. Willie; the other by Edward Martin. 

Their leader and prophet commanded it, and so they went.

In 1856, before their story begins, three handcart companies were outfitted and sent west from Iowa to the valley.  Their trip went well, and all supply wagons stationed along the way were ordered back home to the valley. 
The Willie and Martin handcart companies, however, left much later in the season, and without the knowledge of church leaders in Utah.  No one was prepared for another migration that season.  By the time these handcart companies left Florence, Nebraska - the last main town on the frontier with adequate supplies - it was almost September.  Winter was coming.  A bad winter.  And they had over one thousand miles to walk (1,300 miles to walk in total).

And yet, they walked.  And walked.  And walked.

What a title!  FIRE of the covenant.  Because faith was their driving force.  "It was not only a strong belief that propelled them forward, but a burning within that taught them the importance of "gathering to Zion", to be with the Saints and build a "House of the Lord".  [here]

Earlier, on September 25 1846, the prophet Brigham Young (while camped at Winter Quarters) received word about the situation of teh poverty-stricken saints in Nauvoo.  In spite of the dire straits they had just gone through themselves, crossing Iowa and the Missouri River, Brigham Young gather the priesthood brethren together and said:

The poor brethren and sisters, the widows and orphans, sick and destitute, are now lying on the west bank of the Mississippi, waiting for teams and wagons and means to remove them.  Now is the time for labor.  Let the fire of the covenant, which you made in the house of the Lord burn in your hearts like flame unquenchable.
The prophet then asked for those who had wagons and were able to cross Iowa to assist the destitute in joining the main body of the Saints.  Within a few days, almost a hundred wagons were moving east to rescue the poor.

The fire of the covenant spoken of by President Young is not an imaginary but a real force in the lives of all faithful Saints.  The rescuers as well as the last remnants on the banks of the Mississippi were strengthened by it.  Most, if not all of us, have felt the burning as well.  A personal witness received at baptism lights the fire.  The intensity of the flame increases as we face adversity and the furnace of affliction tempers our soul.  The flame bursts into a full-fledged fire as we enter into and live temple covenants.  [here]

This is the same author who penned the brilliant 9-book series The Work and the Glory.  Employing the same writing style here, Lund blends fictional characters with actual historial events and people, filling the story with all aspects of a great dramatic read, as well as all the historial accounts available to help us appreciate and never forget.  Every chapter is followed with comprehensive chapter notes, clarifying actual dates and historical detail, sourcing people's journals and speeches given.

Read this:
it is an except from Ephraim Banks' personal account (included in chapter #'s notes)

The night after meeting Leaders Young and Garr, I camped in the snow in the mountains.  As I was preparing to make a bed in the snow with the few articles that my pack animal carried for me, I thought how comfortable a buffalo robe would be on such an occasion, and also how I could relish a little buffalo meat for supper, and before lying down for the night I was instinctively led to ask the Lord to send me a buffalo.  Now, I am a firm believer in the efficacy of prayer, for I have on many occasions asked the Lord for blessings, which He in His mercy has bestowed upon me.  But when I, after praying as I did on that lonely night in the South Pass, looked around me and spied a buffalo bull within fifty yeards of my camp, my surprise was complete;  I had certainly not expected so immediate an answer to my prayer. 
The sight that met my gaze as I enetered their [the Martin Company's] camp can never be erased from my memory.  The starved forms and haggard countenances of the poor sufferers, as they moved about slowly, shivering with cold, to prepare their scanty evening meal, was enough to touch the stoutest heart.  When they saw me coming, they hailed me with joy inexpressible, and when they further beheld the supply of fresh meat I brought into their camp, their gratitude knew no bounds.  Flocking around me, one would say, "Oh, please, give me a small piece of meat;" another would exclaim, "My poor children are starving, do give me a litte;" and children with tears in their eyes would call out, "Give me some, give me some."
What I most took from this reading was appreciation.

This story was not new for me.  I had grown up hearing about the Willie and Martin handcart companies.  In fact, I had grown tired of hearing about them - or any pioneer story, frankly.  I wasn't a descentant of these early pioneers.  I didn't have any personal interest or tie to them, no journal inherited or family story to pass down.  I remember feeling sigh when hearing yet another pioneer story at general conference.

But honestly,  I didn't realise the effort that went into the planning and executing of the migration.  Most of travellers were from industrial cities, who needed to be physically conditioned for the trip and learn completely new skills on the frontier.  I didn't know about the trail itself (regardless of driving it on a family trip, years ago) and its harsh terrain, and just how many times these faithful people had to leave belongings on the side of the trail, or compensate for the lack of food.  Cooking soup with shoe leather? 

The endurance through physical struggles was astounding.

I recommend this book.
Whether you like reading church history.
Or you're about to embark on your own pioneer trek with the youth.
Or perhaps you need a good kick in the pants, like me.

It's a fascinating read, and a great motivator.
I have so much more appreciation for their journey and struggles. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thought for Friday.

A loudspeaker was set up somewhere in New York.

It was for anyone to use.  To say something nice.

Like "Have a nice day!"  "I love your umbrella!"  "To infinity and beyond!"

What would you say?

Go say something nice right now!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

US Senate resolves to commend our welfare.

Want to know why we fast, and where our donations go?

The following is a resolution that recently passed in the US Senate:


Recognizing the 75th Anniversary of the Welfare Program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the significant impact of the Welfare Program in the United States and throughout the world in helping people in need.

Whereas in 1936, while the United States was mired in the Great Depression, Heber J. Grant, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (referred to in this Resolution as `the LDS Church'), announced the creation of what came to be known as the Welfare Program;

Whereas President Grant explained, `Our primary purpose was to set up . . . a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished, and independence, industry, thrift and self respect be once more established amongst our people . . . The aim of the Church is to help the people to help themselves. Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership.';

Whereas, the LDS Church's Welfare Program, which is based on the principles of self-reliance and industry, has expanded throughout the world and assists people of all faiths by caring for the needy while simultaneously teaching principles to help them become self-reliant and retain their self respect;

Whereas funding for the LDS Church's Welfare Program is provided by the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who routinely fast for 2 consecutive meals every month and make donations to the LDS Church's Welfare Program that is at least equal to the money they would have spent on food;

Whereas the LDS Church's Welfare Program provides opportunities for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to help the less fortunate by working at dozens of farms and canneries located throughout the United States and Canada that produce food for needy people;

Whereas needy people in the community are identified by the leader of each local church congregation, in consultation with other local leaders, including the Relief Society President (a woman from the congregation who serves as the local leader of the LDS Church's women's organization);

Whereas people in need are provided free food and household items at facilities called Bishop's Storehouses after receiving a written requisition from the leader of their local congregation;

Whereas the 129 Bishop's Storehouses, which are located throughout the world, provide needed commodities from the consecrated sacrifices of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints;

Whereas recipients of these commodities are given service opportunities, to the extent of their ability, which allow them to demonstrate their gratitude for what they have received;

Whereas employment resource service centers, which are also part of the LDS Church's Welfare Program, provide a place where people can receive job training, learn to enhance their resumes, and find job opportunities;

Whereas there are nearly 300 employment resource service centers throughout the world, at which volunteers help hundreds of thousands of people to find jobs every year, a large percentage of whom are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints;

Whereas the LDS Church's Welfare Program also includes Deseret Industries, which serves as an employment training facility and operates thrift stores;

Whereas these thrift stores provide on-the-job experience for refugees or others who need help qualifying for long-term employment and are stocked by individual donations, which are offered to the public at inexpensive prices;

Whereas the LDS Church's Welfare Program also includes LDS Family Services, a private, nonprofit organization that provides counseling, adoption services, addiction recovery support groups, and resources for social, emotional, and spiritual challenges;

Whereas the influence and power for good exerted by the Welfare Program of the LDS Church has greatly expanded over its 75-year history; and

Whereas the positive impact of the LDS Church's Welfare Program in the United States has assisted untold numbers of United States citizens:

Now, therefore, be it

, That the Senate--

(1) recognizes the 75th Anniversary of the Welfare Program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints;

(2) congratulates the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the significant contribution that its Welfare Program has had on United States citizens and many people throughout the world; and

(3) commends the many efforts made by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members, through its Welfare Program, to serve others regardless of religious affiliation.

Pool of Bethesda
Carl Bloch

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Behind the scenes of the widow's mite.

I've almost finished a book.  It is really good. 
It's such a great read, that I don't want it to end .. so I've stopped reading it.

Please tell me you do that too, sometimes.  Or just one time.

I guess it will have to be done.  But I will re-live it, and review it for y'all.

In the meantime, watch this.

I was almost brough to tears, seeing the beautifully honest expressions on the widow's face, as she donated her last mites.
You can read more experiences during the filming here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Remember, Remember

What is the most important word?

Remember, remember,
the fifth of November
the gun powder, treason and plot.

I know of no reason
why the gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot.

The Fifth of November was a few days ago.  I'm a bit late.

Boo woo.  But I'm such a fan of the movie!  And the poem.  Do you know about Guy Fawkes?

Remembrance DayAnd, today being the Eleventh of the Eleventh month, we Australians remember our brave and fallen.  I see people wearing their poppy flower.  There are wreaths on memorials.  A minutes silence.

Actually, the word 'remember' is a favourite of mine too. 
And it is used often throughout the scriptures.  Have you noticed that?

And now, O man, remember, and perish not.  (Mosiah 4:30)

It's actually used 352 times in the scriptures, or more than 550 times including all its variants.

President Spencer W. Kimball once said that 'remember' could be the most important word in the dictionary.  "Because all of [us] have made covenants ... our greatest need is to remember.  That is why everyone goes to sacrament meeting every Sabbath day - to take the sacrament and listen to the priests pray that [we] 'may always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given [us].' ... 'Remember' is the word."
If you remember ... you won’t forget to pray. You won’t forget to serve or love. You will remember to read the scriptures. You will not forget your family and friends. You will remember to obey the prophet. You’ll keep in your heart the knowledge that Jesus Christ sacrificed his life for us, and you will love him as he loves you. You will remember why you came to this earth. And you will remember you are sons and daughters of God. You can return home to him if you remember to keep his commandments and live your lives the way he has asked(source)
What about you?  What things are in your rememberance?

Do you see evidence of God in today?
Trying to remember will allowed God to show you what He has done for you.
Find ways to recognize and remember God's kindness.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Sistine Chapel.

If you are a lover of art, an appreciator of talent, or just in need of some wonderful time-out from your day, check this out.

Prepare to be amazed.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Book of Mormon painting seven.

... I'm back!! ... from an interstate funeral, being sick (still am), and being stranded due to the unprecedented Qantas debarkle. 

“From the Book of Mormon we learn how disciples of Christ live in times of war.” [1]

Ask anyone who has read or studied the Book of Mormon – it is filled with stories of war time.  And you know what?  These accounts were included for a purpose.  Yup.

They teach us about the need to preserve freedom in order to maintain religious rights.  They teach us when there is moral justification for war.  They teach us the damage that traitors can inflict.  And they teach us spiritual strategies to combat evil, while relying on God’s power to intervene.

Take the example of ‘the Stripling Warriors’.

The people are at war.  And we learn that there is very much a difference when fighting for/with the Lord, and not.

At one point, the Nephites needed to fight to protect their homes and families, but they had taken an oath years before to never fight again.  Should they break that covenant with God?  Or have the faith that God will provide another way?

We read that their sons, who had not entered into such a covenant, were able to fight.  All two thousand of them.  They decided they would defend their country.  Helaman became their captain.

So these stripling warriors went to battle in place of their fathers.  They were young men of righteousness. They were committed to defending their country (see Alma 56:5).  They were fearless in the face of death and courageous in battle (see Alma 56:45–49, 56).

Helaman’s “stripling sons” fought with miraculous power.  And God rewarded their faith with amazing strength and protection.  Not one of them died in battle (see Alma 57:25–26).

Of course this is not always the case - sometimes the righteous “die in the Lord” (D&C 63:49).  But in the case of these young men, divine protection was given that preserved their mortal lives in battle.

They exemplified the type of manhood that all of God’s sons should emulate and stood as a witness to the Nephite nation that God would deliver them if they were faithful.

Helaman Leads an Army of 2,000 Ammonite Youths
Arnold Friberg

And they were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage. …

Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him.

And … Helaman did march at the head of his two thousand stripling soldiers, to the support of the people. (Alma 53:20–22)

What examples to our children!

The artist, Arnold Friberg, said: “They call them striplings— some say, ‘the Boy Scout army.’ No! No! They were young men. They were like David. They talk about David going out and taking on Goliath. They said, ‘He is a man of war and you are just a youth.’ That doesn’t mean that he was a little eight- year- old. In his statue of David, Michelangelo captures a splendid young man, athletic, maybe not as mature as men of war, but still a boy compared to them. That is the way I figure these youths were.

“I put Helaman on a horse. . . . Of course the Book [of Mormon] does not say that Helaman rode a horse, but in [certain] other places it mentions them. Ammon was out taking care of the king’s horses [at one point].”

The Book of Mormon states that these young men were true at all times. (Alma 53:20-21)  What does it mean to be true at all times?  The very word TRUE “implies commitment, integrity, endurance, and courage” [2].  Are we being true to the faith?  True to the faith that our parents have cherished, True to the faith for which martyrs have perished. (Hymn #254)

We are also told that they were firm and undaunted. (Alma 57:19–21)  Such powerful words.  Our former prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, discussed the importance of staying firm and undaunted with the youth: “‘You reflect this Church in all you think, in all you say, and in all you do. Be loyal to the Church and kingdom of God.’ . . . [You are] out there as the sons of Helaman in a world that is full of destructive influences. . . . But if you put your trust in the Almighty and follow the teachings of this Church and cling to it notwithstanding your wounds, you will be preserved and blessed and magnified and made happy.’

And we are in a world that is full of destructive influences. We are literally “in the midst of Babylon. The adversary comes with great destruction.” So what can we learn from these true and faithful warriors? “Stand above it, you of the noble birthright. Stand above it.” [3]

One really interesting detail the Book of Mormon tells us about these YOUTH and FAITHFUL men is that they did not doubt their mothers, and they paid tribute to that fact. (Alma 53:45-48)  Their mothers had strong testimonies of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ, meaning their children were well taught and were surrounded by strong examples.  That’s motherhood in a nutshell, right there.  Note, however, that although the boys’ reliance on their mothers is “touching and profound, but the mothers first had to know ‘it’ in such a way that the young men, observing them closely and hearing them (as is always the case with children observing parents), did ‘not doubt’ that their mothers knew that ‘it’ was true.” [4]

Sister Julie B. Beck, our Relief Society president, described covenant women who know who they are:  “The responsibility mothers have today has never required more vigilance. More than at any time in the history of the world, we need mothers who know. . . . When mothers know who they are and who God is and have made covenants with Him, they will have great power and influence for good on their children.” [5]

The leaders of my church, back in 1942, gave counsel to those in military servicebut it applies to all, as we all need to be good examples while defending the faith.  They said:

“To our young men who go into service, no matter whom they serve or where, we say live clean, keep the commandments of the Lord, pray to Him constantly to preserve you in truth and righteousness, live as you pray, and then whatever betides you the Lord will be with you and nothing will happen to you that will not be to the honor and glory of God and to your salvation and exaltation. There will come into your hearts from the living of the pure life you pray for, a joy that will pass your powers of expression or understanding. The Lord will be always near you; He will comfort you; you will feel His presence in the hour of your greatest tribulation; He will guard and protect you to the full extent that accords with His all-wise purpose. Then, when the conflict is over and you return to your homes, having lived the righteous life, how great will be your happiness—whether you be of the victors or of the vanquished—that you have lived as the Lord commanded. You will return so disciplined in righteousness that thereafter all Satan’s wiles and stratagems will leave you untouched. Your faith and testimony will be strong beyond breaking. You will be looked up to and revered as having passed through the fiery furnace of trial and temptation and come forth unharmed. Your brethren will look to you for counsel, support, and guidance. You will be the anchors to which thereafter the youth of Zion will moor their faith in man.” [6]

If you wish to order a free copy, let me know or click here.
Feel free to read or listen to it here.

[1] Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, Nov. 1986, 7
[2] Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, Nov. 1997, 73; italics added
[3] “Prophet Grateful for Gospel, Testimony,” Church News, Sept. 21, 1996, 4
[4] Neal A. Maxwell, That My Family Should Partake [1974], 58–59
[5] Ensign, Nov. 2007, 76
[6] Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark Jr., and David O. McKay, in Conference Report, Apr. 1942, 96

[Image found at]

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Book of Mormon + Lego = awesomeness.

I've mentioned before how I like blocks.  Including Lego.
It is good stuff.

Well, some other dude decided to build scenes from the Book of Mormon using lego. 
How seriously cool is that?!

Here is the prophet Mormon, abridging the records of his people.
He has a chisel.  And a nice looking helmet. 
We'll see a painting about him later ...


Here is the prophet Lehi, the one who starts the Book of Mormon record by obey God and taking his family out of Jerusalem (read that here and then here). 

Here, he is in a vision he had about the Tree of Life
You can read about that here.


We haven't talked about this man yet - Enos
But we will. 
He will answer our questions about prayer, because as you see him here, he is praying. 
He did so all day and all night ...

This is a classic. 
The story of Ammon, the great missionary, who one day chopped some bad people's arms off. 
We'll get to that story when we review another painting soon ...

Read an interview with the lego dude here.

The Book of Mormon Forum

If you wish to order a free copy, let me know or click here.
Feel free to read or listen to it here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Book of Mormon will answer your questions – part 5.

Most of us have some hard questions in the back of our minds – the kind no one else can really answer for us.  Some are far-reaching questions about the nature of our existence …

Note:  These questions are GOLD.  When chatting with someone, even just casually, and you feel you could offer them guidance, advice, or words of encouragement, the Book of Mormon can be PRICELESS.

How can I balance my family and career?

My advice would be to re-prioritise.  Simple enough?  What do the scriptures say?

In the Book of Mormon, we are taught to lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth (3 Nephi 13:19–24).

It was the Saviour Himself who said these words, as He taught the people AFTER His resurrection.  Yup, He visited His sheep, wherever they were, and taught them the same things.  You can read all about it here – He taught them about the sacrament, how to pray and say the Lord’s Prayer, and set up His church.

And He was teaching His apostles about the temporary nature of earthly treasures.

“Our affections are often too highly placed upon the paltry perishable objects. Material treasures of earth are merely to provide us, as it were, room and board while we are here at school. It is for us to place gold, silver, houses, stocks, lands, cattle, and other earthly possessions in their proper place.

“Yes, this is but a place of temporary duration. We are here to learn the first lesson toward exaltation— obedience to the Lord’s gospel plan.” [1]

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth or rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break though nor steal.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Sounds familiar?  Of course it does – the Bible and Book of Mormon teach the same principles!  See Matthew 6:19–21 for where the Saviour the same.

A living Apostle of the Lord, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, has given us insight regarding the treasures we may lay up for ourselves.  He clarifies WHAT to prioritise:

“In light of the ultimate purpose of the great plan of happiness, I believe that the ultimate treasures on earth and in heaven are our children and our posterity.” [2]

How can I strengthen my relationship with my spouse?

The Book of Mormon teaches us the doctrine and teachings of Jesus Christ.  Plain and simple.  So it’s not surprising that the Book of Mormon and the Bible overlap and sometimes read the same.

When Jesus Christ visited the Americas (see here) after His resurrection, He ensured all of God’s children were taught the same gospel – the same blueprint for our lives.  Makes sense.  We read about it in 3 Nephi.

At one point, Jesus commands the people to Judge not.  So important for everyone to hear this message, that it was taught and recorded on both continents – see Matthew 7 and 3 Nephi 14.  It is this message that helps answer our question.

Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Any why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother:  Let me pull the mote out of thine eye – and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? (3 Nephi 14:1-4)

There is a difference between righteous and unrighteous judgments.

“I have been puzzled that some scriptures command us not to judge and others instruct us that we should judge and even tell us how to do it. But as I have studied these passages I have become convinced that these seemingly contradictory directions are consistent when we view them with the perspective of eternity. The key is to understand that there are two kinds of judging: final judgments, which we are forbidden to make, and intermediate judgments, which we are directed to make, but upon righteous principles. . . .

“First, a righteous judgment must, by definition, be intermediate. . . .

“Second, a righteous judgment will be guided by the Spirit of the Lord, not by anger, revenge, jealousy, or self-interest. . . .

“Third, to be righteous, an intermediate judgment must be within our stewardship. . . .

“Fourth, we should, if possible, refrain from judging until we have adequate knowledge of the facts.” [3]
Jesus then went on to teach ‘the golden rule’ for all mankind:  Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them. (3 Nephi 14:12 – see Matthew 7:12)

It is a simple rule expressed in many theologies and ethic codes, one that encompasses “the moral code of the kingdom of God. It forbids interference by one with the rights of another. It is equally binding upon nations, associations, and individuals. With compassion and forbearance, it replaces the retaliatory reactions of ‘an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth’ [Matthew 5:38].” [4]

These teachings can be found in the Sermon on the Mount – teachings that were also taught in the Book of Mormon. “Christ came not only into the world to make an atonement for the sins of mankind but to set an example before the world of the standard of perfection of God’s law and of obedience to the Father.” His Sermon gives us a glimpse into His character, which was perfect. It is therefore an autobiography of His character and deeds, and thus “a blueprint for our own lives”. [5]

The Book of Mormon Forum

If you wish to order a free copy, let me know or click here.
Feel free to read or listen to it here.

[1] Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, June 1971, 33
[2] Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, Nov. 1993, 75
[3] Dallin H. Oaks, “‘Judge Not’ and Judging,” Ensign, Aug. 1999, 7, 9–10
[4] Russell M. Nelson, Ensign, Nov. 2002, 39
[5] Harold B. Lee, Decisions for Successful Living [1973], 55–56

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Book of Mormon painting six.

If there was a list of the most significant events in the history of mankind, this would be up there in the top five.  Surely.

Signs were given to God’s children to mark the birth of the Saviour.

In the East, wise men knew a new star would appear to mark the coming birth.  They travelled towards it and found the Messiah, born in lowly circumstances, and offered Him gifts.

In the ancient Americas, they too knew a new star would appear, just as the prophets had said.  They could see the new star, and knew that their Messiah had been born into the world.

Signs were also given to God’s children to mark the death of the Saviour.

In Jerusalem, immediately after Jesus had ‘given up the ghost’ as He hung on the cross, the sky went dark and the earth shook.  In fact, the veil inside the temple suddenly tore from top to bottom.  Graves opened, the earth quaked, and many were afraid of what they had done.  (Matthew 27)

In the ancient Americas, they too experienced the same period of darkness and disaster.  The people had the Old Testament prophesies of the Saviour too, as well as the word of contemporary propheets, and the people began to look with great eartnestness for the sign which had been given.  And it came.  A great and terrible tempest lasted for three hours, with unusually sharp lightnings, damaging the majority of the cities.  The damages was so extensive, as is the record in 3 Nephi 8 (unlike the New Testament accounts).  Then three days of darkness - thick darkness that was so intense that there could not be any light at all.  Clearly this was the same darkness and disaster experienced in Jerusalem.

The people then knew their Messiah, the light and the life of the world had been killed, as the prophets had told.  (3 Nephi 11:11)  They cried out:  O that we had repented before this great and terrible day, and had not killed and stoned our propehts, and cast them out ... the howlings of the people [were so] great and terrible.

During this time of darkness, the body of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, lay in the tomb.  On the day of His Resurrection, after Christ had overcome death, light came again to the people in America, signifying Christ’s victory.

Then, as if piercing the darkness, these people heard a voice coming from the heavens.

Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him. (3 Nephi 11:7)

Jesus Christ Appears unto the Nephite People
Arnold Friberg

And … they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them. …

He stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying:

Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. (3 Ne. 11:8–10)

How would you have responded if you had been there?

Consider the impact on the lives of those who received a spiritual and physical witness of the reality of Jesus Christ.

“The reason I made [the Savior] that small and so high up was so that no one could nail me—‘How do you know how he looked?’ So I put this little figure up in the sky and made it so small that no one could quibble over details like facial features.” – Arnold Friberg [1]

What an amazing event - this is the crowning event of the Book of Mormon.

After the scene depicted in the above painting, the resurrected Lord invited the Nephites to feel the wounds in His hands and feet (3 Nephi 11:14).  This was so they could all witness His Resurrection, and testify of what they saw and felt.

Jesus Christ teaching in the Western Hemisphere
John Scott

The wounds of the Saviour are tokens of His sacrifice:

“However dim our days may seem, they have been a lot darker for the Savior of the world. As a reminder of those days, Jesus has chosen, even in a resurrected, otherwise perfected body, to retain for the benefit of His disciples the wounds in His hands and in His feet and in His side—signs, if you will, that painful things happen even to the pure and the perfect; signs, if you will, that pain in this world is not evidence that God doesn’t love you; signs, if you will, that problems pass and happiness can be ours. Remind others that it is the wounded Christ who is the Captain of our souls, He who yet bears the scars of our forgiveness, the lesions of His love and humility, the torn flesh of obedience and sacrifice.” [2]
Also note:  these wounds are the main way we will one day recognise our Saviour, when He comes again.  I’m certain He will invite us, as He did before, to come forward and feel those wounds …

Jesus Christ promised: “Blessed are those who come unto me” (3 Nephi 9:14).  This invitation is for all of us! It applies to our daily living – wherever we are going, first come and see what He is doing; listen to His words and how He prays and spends His time. [3]

Come, follow Him.

The Book of Mormon Forum

If you wish to order a free copy, let me know or click here.
Feel free to read or listen to it here.

[1] as quoted in :Vern Swanson, ‘The Book of Mormon Art of Arnold Friberg, “Painter of Scripture”, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies: Vol 10, 1, 26-35, Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute, 2011
[2] Jeffrey R. Holland, “Teaching, Preaching, Healing,” Ensign, Jan 2003, 42
[3] Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign, Nov. 1997, 65

[Image found at]

Monday, October 24, 2011

Another plethora of testimonies about the Book of Mormon.

I recently posted a blog hop, linking you to a hundred testimonies and experiences of the Book of Mormon.  I'd say it was successful.

Did you miss it?  Well, that's just rude.  Have a quick click around - make sure you comment - and see the new blog hop below.  Woo!

The Book of Mormon will answer your questions - part 4.

Most of us have some hard questions in the back of our minds – the kind no one else can really answer for us.  Some are far-reaching questions about the nature of our existence …  

Do you believe we are accountable for our choices or actions, and to what extent?

I posted this question on Facebook.  My Dad messaged me his answer: “Yes.  Lots.”

Accountability – being held responsible for your actions – is an eternal principle.  That is, it’s been around since the beginning.

Take Adam, for example.  He did a few booboos in the Garden of Eden, like eating some forbidden fruit.  He then hid from God.  Now God, of course, knew the fruit had been eaten and by whom.  God also knew which bush Adam was hiding behind.  But God still had to ask: Where art thou? (Genesis 3:9); Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? (Genesis 3:11) God then asked Eve: What is this that thou hast done?

God made Adam and Eve accountable for their actions; they were given opportunity to explain themselves.

And so it will be with us.

The Book of Mormon does teach us that every can be saved.  It also confirms what the Bible teaches us - that Jesus Christ is our Saviour, and that Jesus Christ “will never cease his work until all [mankind] are brought up to the enjoyment of a kingdom in the mansions of his Father…” [1]

And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam. (2 Nephi 9:21)

The Book of Mormon then goes on to remind us that Christ commanded all men to repent, be baptised in His name, and exercise faith in Him.   You cannot claim Jesus as your Saviour, and then not act on His teachings.
And if they will not repent and believe on his name, and be baptised in his name, and endure to the end, they must be damned; for the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has spoken it. Wherefore, he has given a law; and where there is no law given there is no punishment; and where there is no punishment there is no condemnation; and where there is no condemnation the mercies of the Holy One of Israel have claim upon then, because of the atonement … (2 Nephi 9:23-25)

This is brilliant stuff.  The Book of Mormon is teaching us in depth about our accountability – and that we will be held accountable, so far as we know.  “To him who has never been made acquainted with a higher law, the requirements of that law do not apply in their fullness. For sin committed without knowledge – that is, for laws violated in ignorance – a propitiation has been provided in the atonement wrought through the sacrifice of the Saviour; and sinners of this class do not stand condemned, but shall be given opportunity yet to learn and to accept or reject the principles of the Gospel.” [2]

Everyone has the freedom to make their own choices.  We can live and worship “how, where or what we may” (see our eleventh Article of Faith).  We can listen to the words of Christ and not accept them.  We can try our upmost and have faith that Christ will help us, after all we can do.

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, accordingly to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.  (2 Nephi 2:27)

We are free to choose.  And we are accountable for our choices.

The Book of Mormon teaches us the key:

And now remember, remember, my brethren, that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free.

He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death; and ye can do good and be restored unto that which is good, or have that which is good restored unto you; or ye can do evil, and have that which is evil restored unto you.
(Helaman 14:30-31)

The Book of Mormon Forum

If you wish to order a free copy, let me know or click here.
Feel free to read or listen to it here.

[1] Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [1954], 56
[2] James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, 12th ed. [1924], 58

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