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Thursday, October 26, 2017

How are Mormons Trying to Make the World Better?


 A friend of mine commented that though the Mormons (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) are providing good emergency help, that is not enough to really solve the problems the people are experiencing. She gave the Caribbean area as an example. This is my response to her:

I agree that the Caribbean area is a shambles and it has been for a long, long time. The hurricanes have just made it worse. Yes, it is necessary to give emergency aide, but that is just a temporary band-aid approach. You need to do things that make long term changes in  peoples lives and hearts. Around the world, Mormons provide immunizations, wheelchairs, eyeglasses, educational loans, loans and training for small home businesses, dig wells and build houses, demonstrate how to grow crops, give sanitation and nutrition education, health and disease training, provide elementary and secondary schools in Mexico and the Pacific Islands and assistance for higher education, give self-reliance training (managing finances, preserving food, job training), maternal and newborn care, refugee help, job training, provide employment centers which not only help to find jobs but help in learning how to write resumes and interview, communication skills, education on family relationships and problem solving, teach English, family counseling, and more.

Friday, October 20, 2017

How Could I Believe in Prophets?


https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2012-04-15-we-need-living-prophets?lang=eng&_r=1

When I was in my mid-teens, I met a girl who was a "Mormon" (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). There was something different about her and her family; a sense of strength, peace, and love. After asking her many questions about her faith, she suggested that I talk to the "Mormon" missionaries. I did and had many, many questions for them.

One thing that I believed was that God must speak with someone. I had always assumed that at least the Pope talked with God. I was very surprised and disappointed to learn that he doesn't even claim to receive direct revelation from God.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Courage

This video showing women with courage, strengthened me and helped me face eye surgery. https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2013-03-004-courage?lang=eng

Facing surgery, I prayed for courage. For most people these surgeries would be only a minor inconvenience, but not for me. My adrenal glands had failed. For 15 years, I was completely dependent on adrenal medication to keep me alive. For the last two years, I no longer needed medicine, but how healed was I? Could my body handle the stress of surgery? Was my immune system strong enough to deal with all the medicines that would be used? Over and over in the past, I had passed out after just a whiff of a chemical. What would happen to me when I had surgery?

As I prayed and was given a Priesthood blessing (https://www.lds.org/topics/priesthood-blessing?lang=eng), I was assured that all would be well; and it was.

I have always felt inspired by the courage of Queen Esther ever since my husband read the story to our family. Here is a video which shows more of Esther's story. https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2011-03-30-for-such-a-time-as-this?lang=eng

You can read the rest of the story here. https://www.lds.org/scriptures/ot/esth?lang=eng
I love the justice of the ending.

Monday, October 9, 2017

"Dirty Windows"

As my eyesight dimmed, I thought of this funny video. It is about a woman who judges her neighbor, only to find that it was her own dirty window that was at fault.  I've felt as if I have been looking at life through "dirty windows".  After my eye surgery, I left my blurry, dull, yellow-gray existence behind me, waking the next morning to a world filled with stunning beauty. This emotional experience has reminded me to look for the good, to clean my own negative "dirty windows", so I that can not only see the the outer beauty, but the inner beauty in the people around me.

Looking through Windows - https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2012-01-004-looking-through-windows?lang=eng
 Read President Monson's full address"Charity Never Faileth".

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Could I leave the "Mormon" faith?

As my father was dying, he begged me to come back to our traditional family religion. He claimed that since all religions were about the same, it wouldn't make any difference. Though I knew it would mean so much to my dad, I didn't do it. Why?

To answer, I must go back to my college days. I lived just down the hill from the University of California at Berkeley. It was in the 1970's, the age of Hippies, and "Flower Power". Youth were questioning. They were tired to just being admonished to do as you are told. They didn't want to merely follow some traditional religion. They wanted answers. They wanted to know the meaning of life. Some sought "enlightenment" in Far Eastern religions and some in LSD drug highs. For most it was just a "fad", but for me it was not.

I studied the major world religions and found some truths there. I looked at Christian religions and found some truth there. But it was not enough for me. I wanted more than beliefs that some people had decided would make good guides for life. I was looking for more. I wanted truth; what was real. I was looking for something that felt right.

One day I began to study the "Mormon" faith (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). I found again the real God, a loving Heavenly Father, who I had known as a child until I became lost in all sorts of religious "mysteries". I learned that my life had purpose -- to learn, grow and become like my Heavenly Father, and that our Savior could help me reach my full potential. I had always felt that loving relationships could not just end and was thrilled to hear that we could continue in families after we left this life. It all felt right and true. It felt like I had rediscovered truths that I had always known.

It was like going from candlelight into the sun. After years of searching, I had found not some man-made set of beliefs, but the truth I was seeking and could never leave.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Should "Mormon" Church Members Question?

Of course!  Questioning is how we learn. The Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored in these latter days because a young man questioned the traditional Christian teachings. Joseph Smith prayed and asked God what church was right? Which church should I join?

But many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are very concerned that they are showing a lack of faith if they question their leaders. Though we are warned to follow our leaders to help us be safe in these perilous times, that does not mean that we are to blindly follow them like unthinking robots.  We each have a responsibility to carefully study the things our leaders say, then we must pray to know what they are saying is right.  It is only after own own effort that we can gain our own testimony, our own witness from God, of the truth of what our leaders are saying.  It is only when we act on what we have learned to be right,  that we will grow and progress.

Some members can feel OK about asking for a confirmation that what leaders are saying is right, but feel that they are doing something wrong if they question Church doctrine.  What confuses members and is causing their concern is that there are seeing two different things. One is the honest questioning of a person who is looking for answers. The other is people who are looking merely for a quick way to discount the Gospel teachings and live a less demanding life.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Am I a Suppressed Mormon Woman?

Yes, I'm a "Mormon" (The Church of Jesus Christ o Latter-day Saints) wife, but am I suppressed? Hardly! I think most of us Mormon women would find that funny. We are often overwhelmed by the load of leadership responsibility we carry.

I think where most people get confused and think that "Mormon" women are dominated by the "Mormon" men because they have heard that women are "not allowed to hold the Priesthood". Actually, the women are given the same priesthood power when we make covenants in the temple. When we promise to keep the Lord's commandments, He blesses us, both men and women, with some of His power that we might be able to grow and to accomplish the things He wants us to do.
Priesthood power is what enables women to guide their family, teach, and lead the children, young women, and women of the Church.

But you might say that the women are not allowed to hold leadership positions. It is true that men and women have been given different responsibilities.Men have the responsibility for general administration. Women have responsibility lead the children, young women, and the women of the Church under Priesthood guidance.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Boy Scouts and the Mormon church

Like me, you may have lots of questions about the change in Boy Scout program in the "Mormon" church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).  I did, and I have been looking for answers. Here is what I've found.

As of January 1, 2018 The Church will replace the Venturing and Varsity Scouting programs in the United States and Canada for young men ages 14 to 18 with a new activities program. Here is a link to the new program https://www.lds.org/youth/ymactivities?lang=eng#resources . Pretty impressive! 
Not only do they have links to all the old Venturing and Varsity Scouting activities (except aviation), but there are loads of ideas to help Youth develop Spiritually, Socially, Physically, and Intellectually. Besides the opportunity for balanced growth and development, I like that it coordinates with the Young Women's Program. No longer will the Young Men have more activities and receive more funding than the Young Women do. They will be now be equal. 

By using the Church based activities program, the Church hopes to better meet the needs of the Young Men of the Church. The Boy Scouts has always struggled with keeping boys in Scouting after the age of 14 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Boy_Scouts_of_America). Though the Varsity and Venturing programs were developed to help keep the young men involved in Scouting, it has had limited success. An added problem in keeping "Mormon" young men progressing in scouts has been that most of them earn their Eagle Award by the age of 14 and feel "done".

Though there are plenty of fun activities and outdoor experiences in the program, I like that this new program will focus less on Scouting advancement and adventure and more on developing the skills and understanding that will help them enjoy their teen years more and better prepare them for their future roles. Young Men need more than hikes and awards to make it in today's world. I think this new Activity program will give the Young Men what they need. 

Here are places for more information.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Does Obeying the Commandments of God take away my Freedom?



Some people have had enough of the immature and prideful accusations from people who use religion as a club. Beating upon others, they declare,"You did that. You are bad!", and, "I keep every rule, so I am better than you!" I almost expect next to hear the childish taunt of, "Na, na, Na, na, na", ending with, "I'm going to tell Mommy on you!"  Fed up, some people, understandably, want nothing more to do with the commandments of God.

Being a parent and grandparent has given me an interesting perspective on rules, yes, even commandments. When a child is young you can try and reason with them and try and convince them of the wisdom of doing as you have told them, but it doesn't work.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Is it really Great?


A little is too much! I've lived long enough to see the degenerating effect that choosing entertainment that dulls and crushes the spirit has had on society. Slowly we are being lead downward as more and more we excuse "just a little bad".  Motivated by greed, those who pander the base and the crude are making themselves rich as they weaken our souls. 

"The books you read, the magazines you read, the videos you look at, the television programs you look at, the shows you go to, all have an effect on you and will do if you subject yourself to the influence of those titillating kinds of things which are designed to make you poor and somebody else rich. Stay away from them." 

Gordon D. Hinckley Prophet and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 1995 to 2008

https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-of-presidents-of-the-church-gordon-b-hinckley/chapter-7-the-whispering-of-the-spirit?lang=eng

Sunday, April 16, 2017

He Is My Example

https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2011-10-025-he-is-risen?category=final-events&lang=eng

This video reminds me of not only that we can live forever because of the Savior's sacrifice, but reminds me how to live now.  I am so impressed by the Savior's great love and willingness to suffer the consequences of our mistakes, so that we can learn and grow. He does not waver from what He knows must be done to help us, even when socially persecuted and threatened with death.  He is the perfect example. He is who I desire to become like.

Here are links to videos of the Savior's last week. They help me experience the last week of the Savior's life on this earth.
https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2011-10-025-he-is-risen?category=final-events&lang=eng

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Easter Thoughts of My Savior

For God So Loved the World
https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2011-10-042-for-god-so-loved-the-world?category=topics/easter&lang=eng

Our Savior brings hope and peace to my life. He is my example and through his power I can grow.

Easter

When birds sing again
and green shoots push through bare ground;
When seemingly dead twigs
burst into blossom ,
and newness sparkles in the air;
We remember our Savior
who brought new life to man
giving us hope that after death
our bodies will live again,
and that our spirits may be healed,
and with new life,
blossom into greatness.




Easter Thoughts
by Cheryl Merrick
The depth of His love and sacrifice
I can not comprehend,
but I feel it strengthening my soul.

His determined desire and patience
in helping me experience happiness
is more than I can understand,
but I know it is there.

Peacefully,
I feel my fears and frustrations
dissolving
as my faith
in His loving wisdom
grows. 

Why Do I Celebrate Easter?


Because of Him

To many Easter is just a traditional holiday; a day when they celebrate spring; a day of bunnies, chicks, chocolate, and Easter egg hunts. Of course I'm ready for a celebration when spring finally comes, but this is not why I celebrate Easter. Like me, some remember that the bunnies, chicks, and eggs are to remind us of new life. They represent the hope for the future that we have through the atonement of our Savior.

Some people claim that when a person dies, life is over.  They are right that we do not have the power to refuse to die, or to bring someone back to life. Though we do not have such power, our God, our creator, surely does. Through the exercise of His power, the Savior made it so that all men's spirit and body can be eternally reunited.  We will then be a complete soul; not just a spirit.

Yes, everyone will live forever, but think about that more closely. Think about being as you are -- forever!  I find that a scary thought.  It reminds me of the book, Tuck Everlasting, where a family drinks from a spring and finds that they remain as they are; not only physically, but emotionally and mentally. There is no change. Just living forever even with a body that doesn't change, isn't enough for me. If I couldn't change, if I couldn't progress, if I were doomed to repeat my mistakes, I know I would be miserable!

This is why I celebrate Easter. It is a time to especially remember the gifts our Savior has given us.  Not only has He made it so that we have the opportunity to live forever, but to change and grow -- forever.  Our Savior has given us hope. Hurts can be healed, wrongs can be righted, mistakes repented of, relationships mended, and character perfected. I am so grateful for our Savior's love and gift of hope. I feel peace knowing that, though His power,  I can change today and always. This is why I joyfully celebrate Easter!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Faith in Future Blessings


I have always loved the story of Joseph being sold into Egypt. Even after his older brothers sell him into Egypt, he doesn't become bitter. He keeps trying to do his best and never loses faith in his Heavenly Father. Eventually, he becomes a ruler in Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh, forgives his brothers, and saves his entire family from starvation. (This picture shows Jacob, Joseph's father, before he dies blessing Joseph while his brothers watch.) Even though he was sold into slavery and thrown into a dungeon, he did not give up hope. In time, the Lord turned all the seeming detours into great blessings. 

I could not see the future blessings when we moved last May, and had to leave all our children and grandchildren. I couldn't see that our move would really be the answer to my deepest prayers. We especially wanted to help our youngest daughter with their baby, but we felt it was right to move, so we did. Now, instead of having to drive an hour battling the congested big city freeway traffic, sometimes icy roads, and pollution to visit them, they will be living just five minutes away from us. The Lord surely moves in mysterious ways. We never expected that they would move here, or that our prayers would be answered in this way. I could never have foreseen that moving four hours away would result in the opportunity to live close by each other and give the support we wanted, and they needed. I'm learning more and more to be like Joseph and trust the Lord's far greater wisdom. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Blessings in Disguise

I like this poster. Our adversity, is often just blessing in disguise. 

Looking back, I can see that my life has been filled with many blessings in disguise. Of course they didn't seem like "blessings" at all when I was experiencing them. How could I have known that having poor health with lots of allergies was really an opportunity to break with some dysfunctional family traditions, would help me learn to be more assertive and compassionate, strengthen my marriage, help me spend more time with my children and help them become more capable adults, and give me many opportunities for service.

This last year there have been many obvious blessing such as knowing we should move to the St George area to help improve my health, and finding a new home there in just four days. Far less obvious was the blessing of being felt alone in our new home for a month to unpack and get settled. I gained a lot of confidence in my abilities. It got me back up on my feet after being bedridden for so many years. During this time there were other blessings. One was that the city asphalted the road in front of our home. Our old neighbors had moved to the St George area a few years before and were now our neighbors again. They took me in for the day which gave me the support I needed at that time. Also, I really smacked my index finger trying to put furniture together which led to my finding a new doctor in the area.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Given More than What I Asked For

https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2012-01-014-the-will-of-god?category=topics/faith&lang=eng
This is one of my favorite stories. I have experienced a lot of "pruning" in my life.

Most of us consider our prayers answered when we receive what we asked for-- right now. Is that really how prayers are answered? Almost exactly a year ago, I prayed for help to get better. Every medical option and test had been tried, but I was still very ill. As the months passed, my health became worse and worse till I could barely stand and could only get down some pureed baby food. Were my prayers answered? Yes.  Did I immediately receive the miraculous healing I desired? No. Has my health improved since last February? Definitely!

Sounds confusing? Yes, I didn't get what I asked for, instead I got what I really wanted-- when the time was right.  I've heard it said that we ask for help building a shack only to watch the Lord knock it down in preparation for building a mansion. My life had some major demolition. When all the dust settled, I had a lovely home in an area where I could be outside and exercise. My husband was able to finally retire, so we could spend more time together. I could breathe better in the clean dry air and my lungs are healing away from all the city pollution. Not only has my health improved, but the quality of my life is better than I had hoped for.

I was thinking small. I was just peering through a crack in the fence, while the Lord could see the whole field. He knew what I really needed to heal, and He helped me finally see it for myself.  When I prayed for help, He gave me the impression to "Go to St George", then He let me discover how much better I felt there. Becoming so ill when I returned to our old home, helped my husband and me understand what we needed to do. It also gave me the determination and courage to leave my home of 40 years and our family and move to a new area.

So, were my prayers answered? Yes, and I was given far more than I had asked for.  I was given not just the opportunity to heal, but to grow.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Ensuring Happiness in the New Year

This true story gives me encouragement and hope for the future. 

I have been feeling dissatisfied, ill at ease, that something isn't quite right--why? I should be ecstatic. We moved a few months ago from a place with lots of smog and cold winters. Now, we live in a desert and the winter is mild. The problems is that even though my environment has changed, I still need to change inside. I need to have faith that my life will be better here, and not let the past fifty years of chronic illness fill me with fear of the future and discourage me from trying to improve my life.

This morning I realized that I have to do more than wait for my health to improve, I need to take the action that will insure that it will be better. I need to do stretches and exercise, eat right, get plenty of rest, and monitor my medication.  If I want to improve my relationship with my husband, then we need to spend time together doing things we enjoy, and I need to share my feelings and needs.  If I am bored, then what can I do to serve others?

I am coming to realize that happiness isn't something to wait for, but something to work at. It is having hope for the future, then taking action to fulfill that hope. It is filling my mind with positive thoughts and keeping hate and negativeness out. It is trusting in the Lord and stepping forward into the darkness. Happiness is the fruit of faith.  I can ensure my happiness when I have enough faith to do those things which will help me to be happier. My happiness is up to me.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Should the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Sing at Trump's Inauguration?

Having heard that a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has resigned
because as she says, "it will appear that Choir is endorsing tyranny and
fascism by singing for this man", I thought I would look at this situation.
Here is the official statement by the Choir leader:
“The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has a great tradition of performing at the
inaugurals of U.S. presidents," said Ron Jarrett, president of the Mormon
Tabernacle Choir. "Singing the music of America is one of the things we
do best. We are honored to be able to serve our country by providing music
for the inauguration of our next president."
Members of the 360-member volunteer choir will travel to the nation’s capital
for the historic event."
http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormon-tabernacle-choir-trump-inauguration


To me the position of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is that they desire to serve our country and uphold our government, not endorse a specific President. The facts support this conclusion. The articles I read gave a list of performances the Choir has given for different US Presidents.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year - New Start

https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2010-12-21-new-years-look-not-behind-thee?lang=eng

Here are some New Yorkers thoughts on beginning a New Year. They talk about the mistake Lot's wife made of looking back instead of moving forward.

This year I too am poised to either move on, or live in the past. Last New Year's day, my life was miserable, but very settled. After desperately praying for help, I felt impressed to go to St George, a town three hours south of where we lived. Surprised, I found myself on my feet, and knew we needed to move there if I wanted better health. We did, and my health has greatly improved.

My question now is, will I look back? Will I allow the fears of returning to poor health hobble my efforts to regain my strength? Will I reach out and make new friendships, or long to return to the comfort of my old community? Will I reach out in love to those around me, or moan that my children live far away? Will I sulk over all I can't do, or share what I can do? Will I sit dejectedly in my home, or be out as much as I can? Will I look to the future with hope and energy, or fear and depression? Will I retreat into the past, or move into the future?

Will this be a good new year? The choice is mine. Though my efforts are feeble, if I allow the Lord to help me, this will be the best year ever!