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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Ramblings of a Gospel Doctrine Teacher aka my "Reflections"

Disclaimer: This is new to me. I have wanted to "look back" and reflect on my class times for ages now and just finally caved in. I might need some time to get this right. I think this one is a little "dry". Definitely much drier than how I teach it but I feel like its important to write this stuff down. Hopefully it will get easier in the coming weeks. The main thing missing is intimacy; a sort of personalized touch; my raw feelings about what I am teaching. I will definitely consider including something of the sort as I progress in this venture.

Introduction:

The purpose of this exercise is to: 1. Review highlights from this week’s lesson material. 2. Add “reflections”. “Reflections” are my “second thoughts” and “hindsight”. These come from hearing input from other students, from material that I didn’t have time to cover in class and general closing feelings about the subject.  3. Preview upcoming lessons.

Let’s get started. This week’s lesson is #35 “Repent and Return unto the Lord.” Here is a link to the lesson: https://www.lds.org/manual/book-of-mormon-gospel-doctrine-teachers-manual/lesson-35-repent-and-return-unto-the-lord?lang=eng

Helaman 13-16. Here is a link to an online Book of Mormon: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm?lang=eng

NOTE: If I have not specified a “book” in my citations e.g. (13:8) the citation is in the covered chapter material; for this lesson the covered material is in the book of Helaman.

Lesson Overview:

I am going to take the liberty that is afforded me as a “set apart” teacher and re-name this lesson “Repent and Return [YOUR HEART] unto the Lord.”

The main idea of this selection is the story of Samuel the Lamanite prophet who was commanded by God to preach repentance to the wicked and soon-to-be-destroyed-Nephites. Samuel is called to not only invite them to repent but also to tell of the signs of Christ’s birth and death. Some people do heed Samuel’s words, the Lord chastens the people, but many seek to destroy Samuel and remain hardened in their hearts.

In class we focused on the warnings Samuel gives. He not only warns but he provides solutions. Mercifully, God does not just tell us what we do wrong but He always gives us the “what to do right” part. This period of time in the Book of Mormon very much resembles our world today. I feel strongly that this is a warning we as Latter Day Saints should pay special attention to. It was the chosen of God, the Nephites, who are rebelling, wicked, and about to be destroyed. We check ourselves often to ensure that we remain faithful to God and the gospel. The adversary’s prime targets are US, the righteous, the people of the house of Israel, those of us who have light and truth

Samuel’s warning includes signs we can use to check ourselves: hardened hearts (13:8), worshipping of riches (other gods) and pride (13:21-22), denying the words of the prophets (13:24-29), and seeking happiness in iniquity (13:38). To fix these temptations in ourselves we must soften our hearts, repent and have faith in Christ (13:6). We must remember God; remember that He is the author of our blessings and all we have; we must express our gratitude for what He has provided (13:22). As seekers of truth we should listen carefully to the counsel of our leaders, pray for guidance, and obey (13:24-29). Samuel warns about being blinded by men who would lead us to seek happiness in the things of the world.  Samuel tells us that seeking happiness in this way is contrary to the nature of God (13:38). In Alma’s words, “Wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10).

If we do find ourselves beginning to “dwell in unbelief” our key to returning is in our hearts. Ask yourself: “What is in my heart? Is my motivation to worship the God of heaven and earth, to give Him the glory? Is my heart always turned to the One who gave me life?”

Consider this example from Ted Givens: “Draw a line on a piece of paper. Now draw another parallel line somewhere below it. Label the top one beliefs and the bottom one behavior. From the perspective of one who has entered into covenants with the Father and the Son, the distance between the top line and the bottom line is sin. When we perceive that our behavior does not match our beliefs, we have two choices. We can either modify our behavior to coincide with our beliefs, which is repentance; or we can modify our beliefs to coincide with our behavior, which is rationalization.” Have we become experts at rationalization? How do we bridge the distance between our beliefs and our behavior? (http://www.ldsliving.com/BOM-Lesson-35/s/81985)

In this rationalizing we risk the consequences Samuel spoke of in 13:8. “I will take away my Word…and I will withdraw my Spirit...” As was mentioned in class, not because of His unavailability; but because of our unwillingness. One student testified that God never turns His back on us. His arms are always inviting us. We choose to turn away from Him.

Joseph Smith taught: “Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it...this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, BOM manual pg. 157)

I leave this as my testimony. I know this is truth. I know because the Spirit has witnessed it to me. I know because, like Samuel says in 13:7, “he did [and does] bring glad tidings to my soul”. All things and people in my life are a witness of the love and mercy God has for His children. 

Up ahead:

 (9/25) #36 “On the Morrow Come I into the World”        

 3 Nephi 1-7



How can we endure faithfully in times of trial and temptation?

 The righteous among the Nephites are vindicated by the fulfillment of Samuel’s prophecies of the Savior’s birth. However, between the time of His birth and death the people again grow in wickedness and ripen for destruction.

(10/9) #37 “Whosoever Will Come, Him Will I Receive”   

3 Nephi 8-11      

        

 What blessings are available to those who come unto the Savior?

What feelings do you have when you read 3 Nephi 11?

These chapters describe the Savior’s visit to the Nephites and are some of the most powerful passages in the Book of Mormon. Included are the calamities that occurred in the Americas when Jesus was crucified and the beginning of His ministry among the Nephites.


Friday, August 30, 2013

A Series of Un-Fortunate Events

 It's been awhile. Yes, a very, very long while. What have I been doing for the past two years, you ask? Raising children. That is all. What has brought me back to write here? This series of un-fortunate events. Bear with me here. This takes some background info.

 It all started last Friday. I was a little depressed. Call it hormones, life adjustments, lack of sleep or what have you, I just was not feeling 100%. I had a play date planned for the runts with some friends of ours. We met up after lunch. I hung around for a bit and chatted with my mommy friend, D. So D is preggo. After having four kids and getting them all in school, an epiphany happened and "they" decided to have a fifth. This hit a little close to home because I have always thought I wanted "just one more" but after a very harrowing and soul-searching summer, I think we are d.o.n.e. I regress...that story is for another time. Anywho, add in my SIL, who is having a complicated pregnancy and the subject naturally turned to...you guessed it...having babies. Mixed with my already tentative emotional state this was the perfect recipe for random and unwanted eye leakage. In my unstable position I make a confession to D that I am torn and at times slightly jealous of her joyous preggo state but mostly glad I am NOT going to be raising another child as I enter "the next phase" of child-rearing. With the onset of leaky eyes, I realize maybe this is not appropriate in front of her very innocent 13 yr old daughter and I abruptly take my leave. To compound the awkward-ness I see D later and ask her about the health of her pregnancy, in the process revealing some info. she had confided to me, once again in front of Miss 13.

Fast forward a few days. Superman has been out of town. He had borrowed my cell phone and thus the charger. In the meantime, D texts me apologizing for the awkward-ness and the lack of info. in regards to the pregnancy due to young ears being present. Well aren't I the worst. friend. ever. Ok I know, I know. I can be a little dramatic.

The thing is, I didn't answer the texts because I didn't have my phone, and when I did have my phone, I was driving, distracted with other things, or it was almost dead with no way to charge it. I finally send a short text saying I did receive hers, I can't elaborate now but I will talk to her soon. Two more days pass before I can text her back my full responses. Should I have just called her? Probably. But D is always saying she's not much for talking on the phone. Am I winning the Friend of the Year Award yet? D-. This brings me to the core of my story.

 It is now Thursday. Almost a week after the freaky-emotional-preggo-convo we had at her house and later mine. After receiving no responses from D, I begin to feel crushed. I mean, I feel AWEFUL! Really sick inside. Cue drama. Have I ruined our friendship? Did I hurt her feelings? Or just really tick her off? Should I call her? Or just wait? Maybe she's busy? What if something has gone wrong? I am feeling like the most horrible, unreliable, energy sucking friend that ever walked the planet.

Amid all my angst, I need to get the peach butter processed. Side note: This is the nature of my life, as any parent can testify to. There is always about 1,001 things going on outside the body while the 10,009 things are going on inside the head.

I get all my jars filled and lids on thinking I could dry the lips better but hopefully it's good enough. The curse of the distracted. Put the jars in the pot to process, set the timer, and return 15 minutes later to find in my utter zone-out I failed to screw one lid down which has resulted in a peach-butter infused water bath. Lovely. I dig out all the jars, now somewhat sticky, and manage to salvage most of the opened one. That's alright. We'll just eat that one now. The two jars I thought were "good enough" did not seal at all. At this point I am quite frustrated in my head. Believe it or not, outwardly I was perfectly calm. Kudos to me. I don't think my little princess noticed any steam coming out of my ears.

 There I was, possibly losing a dear friend, I am down one jar of preserved peach butter (that was a lot of love and labor), and now two jars haven't sealed. I go sit on my bed thinking I will have a good cry when it dawns on me to re-process them. I open, dry, and replace the lids and turn the burner back on to bring the water back up to a boil. Why isn't this working? Why isn't my water boiling...it hasn't been off that long. Turn it up higher. Play on PC while I wait.

 Sunny says "MOM. SMOKE!" in her breathless, squeaky princess voice. OK yes there is smoke...what the??? I TURNED ON THE WRONG BURNER. Now I am hearing Superman's voice in my head next to "Do I call her, do I wait?" "Don't leave stuff on the stove top". My 4-cup glass measuring bowl is there with white chocolate burning in the bottom! I grab it off and the brief thought crosses my mind that if this thing cools too fast it will explode and at that moment the mailman is honking in the driveway. I grab up the bowl with hot pad, race out onto my porch, look both ways, and set it down on the little tikes table, thinking it's 100 degrees outside, it'll hold until I get back.

 Race back through the house, get the package from mailman, and now its time for la-la land. My little Sunny with her sing song voice wants to know what's inside.  I completely forget about the burnt chocolate. We leisurely open our package. Time passes. Not many minutes later Sunny is on the porch saying "yuuumm" and I glance out the back door to see that my 4-cup bowl has been completely obliterated. I mean, it is completely un-recognize-able. It looks like a bomb what set inside and exploded. There is glass everywhere. Tiny shards, little chunks, round pieces, pin-sized pieces. When I go to move what's left of the base off the table it sticks. OH CRAP! It is still so hot it burns me. I have to get a spoon to dig it out of the melty marshmallow plastic.

The thing is, I am a perfectionist. This is the stuff that puts me into another universe. Not only have I lost one of my all-time favorite Pampered Chef bowls, I have marred the Tikes table. After all these kids and years it has survived marr-free, it is I who has im-perfected it. Gah! I could curse that mailman! Wait! Don't curse the mailman. Praise the mailman because that thing would have exploded in my kitchen, all over me and my daughter. Thank God for the mailman. To calm myself(surprisingly Sunny still has seen no sign of the steam) I decide to just fold laundry. Superman arrives randomly ten minutes later, in the middle of work day, on a 30 minute commute. He laughs at me in a "told-you-so" sort of way. What more could I expect? What else is there to do? As for this series of unfortunate events, a do-over would be ever so welcome. But since that is not an option, I guess I will settle for learning from my mistakes. And laughing along with Superman, if only in my head.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A So-So Book Makes a So-So Review

Saving Grace by Annie Jones







There is really one word to describe the book as a whole: underwhelming. I am still trying to figure out why this book is titled “Saving Grace” after a character with a minimal role. If I analyze it, I can see the stretch but because the author takes some time to get to the point of involving Grace and then she leaves her out of the action for much of the rest and then suddenly re-introduces her. It turns out that it was actually Grace simply being that saved a friendship. This book interested me in one way. It revolves around a friendship between four southern women. It describes their challenges with each other as friends as well as their personal struggles as women, wives, and mothers. Because I live all of these roles myself I could parallel the story to my own experiences, which was heart-warming. Perhaps if I’d read the first book involving these women I would have got more into this book however, as it was, it took me weeks to read and that screams “It was so-so”. I have to commend the author for keeping it clean and within keeping of standards of the Christian genre. There is no doubt this is a Christian book.





Disclaimer: I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.


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