Friday, April 30, 2010

Moving and Music

This week we moved. It was just a little move in distance, but it means big changes for my family. One of those changes comes in the form of where we will be attending church. For my 5-year-old girl, this was a major point of concern. She did not want to change her church class where she had comfortably been attending for the past two years! However, Sunday came and we headed to our new meetinghouse. After Sacrament, we went to Primary where my little girl kept looking around nervously. I looked at the room through her eyes and could see the differences. This room was so much bigger than her last and instead of five kids (all of which she knew very well), this room was filled with at least fifty faces - almost all of them brand new.

But, once the Primary leaders started the meeting I could sense my little one's anxiety leaving. The sweet music leader got up and sang the "Hello" song to her and she was excited that she got a special moment to be welcomed. Then, when they began singing the songs they have been working on for the year, she turned to me with the hugest smile and said, "I know this song! We have been learning it too!" She then proceeded to sing with the group the sweetest song, which is a new one the children are learning this year.

Having never before heard this piece, I began listening to the words and was overcome with gratitude for a number of things. First of all, I felt grateful for our inspired church leaders who have standardized lessons so that no matter where we move, or visit, we will be able to stay in step with what others all over the world are learning at the same time. Secondly, I was grateful for all of the people who dedicate their time to teaching in our church and specifically those who have been teaching my children. And, thirdly, I felt grateful for the beautiful things that we are taught each week when we attend our meetings. To give you a glimpse of the beautiful messages that our children are taught, here are the lyrics from the song that my daughter's new Primary sung that day:

I Know My Savior Loves Me
by Tami Jeppson Creamer & Derena Bell

A long time ago in a beautiful place, children were gathered ‘round Jesus
He blessed and taught as they felt of His love.
Each saw the tears on His face.
The love that He felt for His little ones I know He feels for me.
I did not touch Him or sit on his knee,
Yet Jesus is real to me.
I know he lives! I will follow faithfully.
My heart I give to Him. I know that my Savior loves me.

Now I am here in a beautiful place,
Learning the teachings of Jesus.
Parents and teachers will help guide the way,
Lighting my path evry day.
Wrapped in the arms of my Savior’s love,
I feel His gentle touch.
Living each day, I will follow His way,
Home to my Father above.
I know he lives! I will follow faithfully.
My heart I give to Him. I know that my Savior loves me.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Being led in all things

In my institute class last night, we were studying in Alma chapters 36-39 where Alma gives counsel to his three sons. The three sons are all very different and need differing degrees of counsel. His son Helaman is given counsel to aid him in serving as the prophet and spiritual leader of the people. His other son Corianton has really messed up and doesn't understand the doctrine, so Alma spends quite some time talking to him. However, the shortest chapter is devoted to a third son named Shiblon.

Shiblon is a righteous son who has suffered stoning and being thrown into prison because of his preaching. However, Alma counsels his son Shiblon to be "diligent and temperate in all things" (Alma 38:10). And Hugh Nibley, a gospel scholar, believed that Shiblon was a bit of a self-righteous guy, and perhaps a bit overbearing. On that note, Elder Oaks, an apostle in our church, stated that there are some ways we can become overbearing in our obedience. He had quite the list... one day maybe I'll share it, but the one that stuck out to me was:

A Desire to be led in all things

Many of us, including myself, often wish the Lord would just lead us by the hand and tell us everything right then... but then we would never have faith, but simply blind obedience. We are to ACT. We are to move. Faith is a principle of action. It's not always easy, in fact, most of the time it is very scary and extremely hard to move forward in faith "not knowing beforehand what [we] should do" (1 Nephi 4:6), but, as, Nephi, being led by the spirit. My wise institute teacher said, "The spirit seems to yell in your face when you make a mistake, but when you do something right, he whispers "good job" with a pat on the back."

So, as hard as it is... I guess I'll keep moving forward and trust that the Lord won't let me make a wrong choice as long as I am faithful and worthy of the companionship of His spirit.

PS- to read Elder Oaks' full talk, click on his name to be re-directed to it. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Fruit and Fashion

In the early chapters of the Book of Mormon both Lehi and Nephi are blessed with a marvelous vision of the tree of life. This tree of life, which represents the love of God, is described as exceeding all beauty and bearing fruit that was desirable above all other fruit. Running by the tree is a river of water, and on the other side of the river is a great and spacious building (See 1 Nephi 8, 11-14).

It is primarily on the inhabitants of the building that I would like to focus. One thing to note about them is that “their manner of dress [is] exceedingly fine”, and another is that it seems that their only activity consists of “mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit” (1 Nephi 8:27).

Those people could certainly see the tree, and noted its exceeding beauty. I wonder if their exceedingly fine manner of dress was not an attempt to imitate that beauty. I believe that happens far too much in the world today. Making things look nice on the outside is no doubt easier than fighting their way across the river and through the mist of darkness while clinging to an unfashionable iron rod (all of which require some serious faith and repentance), but in the end the nice clothes will not make one happy, as will the fruit of the tree.

Now that the excitement of the new clothes has faded the inhabitants have to find something else to do. For all its greatness and spaciousness there does not seem to be a lot of diversions in the building, so the people turn to mocking those partaking of the fruit from the tree. From this we can learn some things. The diversions the world has to offer will not satisfy for long and sometimes the mocking and pride of the world is nothing more than jealousy at what those partaking of the fruit have. It is like the kid who did not study and fails the test calling the kid who worked hard and did well a nerd. Of course the taunt is nothing more than jealousy.

Based on this I would hope for two things for all of us. First, that we, like the Lord, would not worry too much about outward perfection, but would worry about perfecting our hearts (See 1 Samuel 16:7). Second, that we would not heed the mocking attitudes that we encounter from the world in general and sometimes from those much closer too us, but would rather let them know that there is no need to be jealous for there is no shortage of fruit and the tree is open to all.