Monday, November 28, 2016

My Favorite Hymn About The Savior

As Latter-day Saints, we preach of Christ, we believe in Christ, we have faith in Christ! Some of the greatest indicators of our belief in Jesus Christ are the hymns we sing.
Another manifestation and holy ordinance dedicated to The Savior is the Sacrament. The hymns sung during this time are especially sacred and worshipful towards the Savior.
With it’s beautiful melody and harmonies, hymn page 197, O Savior Thou Who Wearest A Crown, is a masterpiece of worshipful devotion and praise during Sacrament time. Adapted by J.S. Bach from the earlier work of Hans Leo Hassler, this piece of music has withstood the test of time, over 400 years! The words were written by inspired LDS contemporary hymn writer and author, Karen Lynn Davis, and included in our 1985 hymnbook.
Consider these poignant and powerful words:
“no creature is so lowly, No sinner so depraved, But feels thy presence holy, And thru thy love is saved.” A letter received by Elder Dallin H. Oaks part of which was read in October General Conference 2015 said, “I know that our Savior is walking these halls, and I have often felt Christ’s love within these prison walls.” He. Still. Associates. with sinners as well as walking the halls of His holy temples.
Again consider these words:
“Tho’ Craven friends betray thee, They feel thy love’s embrace; the very foes who slay thee Have access to thy grace.”  Or “Thy Sacrifice transcended the mortal law’s demand: thy mercy is extended To every time and land. “ “In our place thou didst suffer; In our place thou didst die. By heaven’s plan appointed, To ransom us, our King.
Again, Dallin Oaks, “Our Savior’s Atonement does more than assure us of immortaility by a universal resurrection and give us the opportunity to be cleansed from sin by repentance and baptism. His Atonement also provides the opportunity to call upon Him….to give us the strength to bear the burdens of mortality. He knows of our anguish, and He is there for us. Like the Good Samaritan, when He finds us wounded at the wayside, He will bind up our wounds and care for us”.
As you read some of the phrases within this hymn, did you notice something? It is as if we are speaking directly to The Savior! There are very few times, in scripture or hymn, that we are given examples of directly addressing the Savior. We pray to our Heavenly Father in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ. However One example of calling to the Savior is when Alma the younger is in the depths of despair because of his realization of his awful sins, and he cries out, “O Jesus, thou son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.”

This hymn is sung as if we are beseeching and imploring the Savior himself and that we personally recognize His great Atonement. As we sing this song, we are giving the Savior personal testimony of His mission, His life, and what He has done for us.
We preach of Him, we testify of Him, we worship Him….and sometimes we even sing directly to Him!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Choosing Faith Instead Of Doubt

Halloween is this next Saturday! I can't believe how quickly it came! And I didn't do half of all the wonderful crafts I came across on various blogs, as I sifted among some most appealing posts in order to feature them on Motivating Monday! I really meant to, but I think it's just meant to be that if we make 50% of our goals in any given week, we are doing really well!

I focused on our yearly Children's Program at church. I am the songleader, responsible for teaching the kids approximately 8 songs to sing by memory for parents, friends, and lay members. It is one of the most well-attended events of the year and it was so cute to see a family with 3 little boys get out of their minivan. The boys, all decked out in white shirts and bow ties, paused to take a family photo and I thought, "this one is a keeper and will be for the scrapebooks and memories."

It had been a struggle trying to learn the songs, since I had only been in this position for about 2 and a half months and the process usually takes at least 8 months, learning one song per month. Before that, they had been without a songleader for a very long time. I ran into people telling me "this isn't how you're supposed to do it", or "that's wrong", or "they don't know that".  It's as if they still clung to the cute and very vivacious young mom, with the gorgeous singing voice, and visual aids that were works of art, who had previously been leading them. But she moved. They didn't want to let her go, and I certainly don't blame them. She is the standard for songleaders. But unless we had a holodek and could beam her back, she wasn't coming back. Am I her? No. But I had to remember that I have my own strengths, talents, and sense of what needs to happen in order to faciliate and bring out the best in these budding young choir members. I could either have faith in my own strengths or doubt myself. Either one of those attitudes would pay out dividends. I chose to have faith in myself. 
Finally the day came, everyone was nervous, I noticed that my hands were trembling as I stood the children up and led them in their first song. They did beautifully. The second song came and went, still doing well, and the third, 4th and 5th. The children didn't let me down. They did so well! My nervousness left me as I let the children do what they had been taught to do, what I had taught them to do! In that moment I knew that I was the one they needed all along. They didn't need anyone to come back. They trusted me. And I trusted them! And it worked! Here is one of the songs that we learned and was their favorite!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Terms And Phrases Deemed Offensive

Have you noticed that there are now certain terms and phrases that are being banned or frowned upon because they supposedly conjure up negative connotations and are being considered and coined as offensive? Who dreams this stuff up? I say be careful about what you listen to, you may be getting brainwashed without knowing it. 

It seems that here in Utah we are now being associated with the Confederate South. In St. George, we have a university here named Dixie State University! Some are saying that with all the recent focus on the Confederate Flag that now might be the right time for Utah to reconsider its "unfortunate" association with the confederate south. Never mind that 80% of the community members in a recent survey say they want the name to stay and that they like it.  
 When Mormon settlers came to St. George, they called the area Dixie because it was hot and grew cotton, like in the south. But now many connect the word to slavery and the Civil War.

Here is what one person thinks about the name 'Dixie'.

"Dixie" is a horribly offensive and racist word! As a young child, I was forced to drink Kool-Aid from a Dixie Cup. I found it so incredibly derogatory and offensive. To this day, I can't bring myself to drink Kool-Aid, as it leaves such a bitter taste in my mouth.
Then there was the time I played trumpet in the high school band. My band director made us play Dixie music during Mardi Gras. I was so offended by it that I lost my embouchure. My band director and the word dixie is responsible for the millions of dollars in potential income I would have earned as a professional trumpeter.
At about this same time, I became an avid Journey fan. The albums were epic: Evolution, Infinity, Departure...then I bought the live album, 'Captured' and heard for the first time, a live track entitled, "Dixie Highway". All sense of right and wrong left me. Racial harmony no longer had any meaning in my life. My favorite band of all time was nothing but a bunch of racist bigots. I couldn't believe it! I didn't want to Stop Believin' but the proof was right there, in the track! Not long afterwards, I realized the "Dixie Highway" wasn't just a song. It was actually the name of a real highway in the United States. IN THE U.S. of all things! Yeah, a highway that runs from Detroit all the way down to Florida, 1, 385 miles of racist, offensive bigoted highway. How could my government allow that?
To this day, I blame every evil, every shortcoming, every disadvantage I've ever had in life on the word "Dixie."
--name withheld

This is a good point. There are so many things with the name 'Dixie'. Does that now mean we want to get rid of every mention of that name? 

Another great way to think about this:

"Let's try an experiment with this use of logic. Southern Utah is associated with Dixie because of cotton. Cotton was originally harvested by slaves, therefore we should equate cotton production and products with slavery. We all should boycott cotton...and no longer wear blue-jeans as a protest against slavery!
Utah's Dixie did not have slaves. Those that settled Utah's Dixie did not practice slavery--even when it was legal; settlers of Utah's Dixie were openly opposed to slavery, these settlers considered slavery evil, actively supported & espoused its abolishment, and did not permit its practice in any of their settlements...well before such laws were passed elsewhere and a generation before the 14th amendment. The settlers of Utah's Dixie did NOT afford black men (AND women even before national suffrage) only part of a vote in local elections--as was the predominate practice elsewhere. I would think from an abolitionist viewpoint that we should celebrate Southern Utah settlers and the fact that Utah's Dixie demonstrated conclusively that slave were NOT necessary to profitably produce cotton products...well before either the US abolished slavery or the advent of the cotton-gin." ---Doug Van Duker

I feel that many terms or phrases, such as "dixie"  are coming under attack for ridiculous reasons. But for right now, can we just leave Dixie out of the progressive brain washing conversation? It's designed to take away freedom of speech, one phrase or term at a time.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

How I Combat The Summer Rush, Or Any Rush

It is such a busy and rushed world these days. Summer is now upon us, the kids are out of school and we have plans, plans, plans.

I raised my sons in a very rural part of Virginia. We were transplants and hadn't been there long. We didn't have a lot of connections or social engagements. A lot of our summers were spent doing very simple things. We took walks, we played with various toys, we listened to the insects singing in the evening and we had fun with the sprinklers and our dog. Many times, I let my oldest son go out into the rather thick woods next to our home, it was called 'Black Forest Estates' for good reason. He had many an adventure, but thankfully never got hurt.

All in all it was very relaxing. Don't get me wrong, we also had camp, play dates, baseball practice and other fun things. I'm just saying that every single section of our months weren't planned with big engagements and vacations.

When asked what his favorite part of the summers were, my oldest talks about the things above. He talks about when I spent time with him, his time having adventures in the woods and times spent together as a family.

Now he's in the National Guard at Officers Training School. And when he's done with his day, he likes to go and commune with nature. He loves hiking, hunting and fishing. All of these activities are done alone and in the quiet of nature.

I am an undiagnosed, but most likely ADD adult, who is very distracted by noises, comings, goings, hustle, and bustle. I must get away for a period of time each day to get a breather from it all. I have done this for a long time now, have made my own ritual. My dog, Evee, is an essential part of my present routine. I go for hikes with her, away from the well-traveled trails of the local park. We go out where fewer people venture. Less traveled, probably, because there is wild life and one can never predict what one will come upon when you're out so far. But my dog is a companion and she is a protector. We help each other. I walk her daily and she protects me as I take a few minutes in our travels to stop, sit, meditate and pray. It gives me strength and fuels my creativity and my plans. I know there is an inner voice that I am able to hear, listen to, and then to follow. A very wise man and Apostle of  Lord said:

If you don't have a time during your day to just stop and be at one with silence, with the intent to listen to your calm, still, inner voice, I highly suggest you try it. Try going out on a walk, in the early morning or late evening. Find a nice, quiet place to sit for a few minutes. If you aren't too distracted by things around your home, find a quiet place specifically for quiet reflection and meditation. Set it up with whatever you need to sustain calm, focused, thought. Spend at least 10-15 minutes thinking about calm things. Let the thoughts be healing and positive in nature. Focus on your relationship with God. Pray, if that is in your practice. You will be enriched after you make it a part of your routine. You will begin to crave it, because of the strength and focus it brings into your life.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Water, A Desert's Most Valuable Resource!

The rains have come and with it, the true beginning of Fall.  Even though Fall officially started this past week, today is the beginning.  Last week temperatures were in the high 80's and summer was still with us.  

Last night I went to my son's football game and right as I got there, the clouds started rolling in!  People brought their umbrellas, having paid attention to the weather report that there is a huge system rolling in.  Sure enough, as the game got underway, so did the rain.  But it didn't last long and the rest of the game was played in relative dryness.

I got home at around 11:00 p.m.  Exhausted by my week, I collapsed into bed, ready to sleep for a good long time.  But in the middle of the night I was awakened by huge claps of thunder.  The lightning and thunder were spectacular! 

Today it has rained all day long and it seems like the state will be drenched!  But not so fast, this is the 2nd driest state in the Union.  And water usage is going up at an alarming rate.  Not only is the population increasing, but certain demographics are squandering the water we have, by not utilizing the natural desert landscape, and instead creating an artificial rainforest effect on their properties by watering like crazy.  
 Just how much do I mean by that?  Well, I called the city public utilities over a question about our water usage.  The lady and I got to talking and she revealed some very interesting tidbits about the various areas around the city.  I found out that my household's water usage is on the low scale of average, 30K gallons of water per week.  The average monthly water usage for my area is 30K - 80K gallons of water per week.  But there is another area just south and west of me that is totally different.  This happens to be the wealthiest real estate area in the whole state.  It comprises about 15 - 20 miles of prime real estate with property prices ranging from $850,00 to $5,000,000.  The woman at the Public Utilities Office revealed that the average water usage for this area is 200K - 300K gallons per week.  This is crazy to me!  What are these people thinking?  This is a desert, people!
 And of course, the local government has to make some changes, because the population will be increasing by another 2.5 million people in the next 35 years--and because of the current usage rate the population is projected to surpass the developed water supply by the late 2030's.

My initial concern that my household is using too much water was cut short by the astronomical usages by my neighbors to the southwest.  The decadent manner in which water is being squandered just to alter the natural vegetative state into something that isn't realistic is, to my mind, morally wrong!  

One might argue, "I pay my water bill, so I can use whatever water I want, even if it runs in the gutters, it's mine because I pay for it."  Well guess what, it's not your water, dude.  It's going to run out and then your private oasis will dry up like the rest of the state only you live with the fact that you and your fellow Neighborhood Watch friends sucked it up, only thinking about how much more lush your yard could be in comparison to your wealthy neighbor up the road.  Oh the foolishness of pride!

The state lawmakers are looking into changing how Utah deals with property taxes and water.  Apparently only Utah uses property taxes to lower the prices of water.  A study has recommended that property taxes should be reduced and instead make it a users' rate-based water fee.  

I personally think that property taxes should remain intact and that water taxes should be added on top of that.  I believe it would get people in those high-end neighborhoods to take a second look on how much water they use.  It could save everyone in the state a lot of grief in the long run.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Visit From Our Oregon Family

Well hello!  I'm sure I'm talking to an empty room because this blog has gone the way of the once a year post, and if by chance someone is here, it's your lucky day!  We had our annual visit from our (far-removed in distance but not in thoughts) family in Oregon.  That moisture-drenched, running capital of the U.S. gave up one of its finest families for about 10 days so they could come here and share their wonderful selves with the rest of us!  It really was good to see them.  

Actually one of them is here, after serving a mission in Peru, at BYU.  We see him a little more often!  Berg had just recently purchased a bike and was getting around quite nicely on it, when it was stolen from his apartment complex. He had just come from the store and went inside to put the groceries away and briefly left it unlocked.  When he came outside, the bike was gone.  So his parents came to help with what they could and he decided to purchase another bike.  He did so, the same model with some upgrades!  Yes, even in BYU territory you can't leave things unattended.  I love that kid.  He's so smart, sweet and shy.  Some special girl will be lucky to have him!

  On the 21st we celebrated at my sister Laura's home with a family barbeque.  I love doing those every so often!  It's good to catch up and have some laughs with the family, not to mention the food is delicious every time.  It was there that the boy cousins decided to participate in a race down the street.  It was really fun to see!  


Monday, March 24, 2014

A Sad Day

This last weekend I went to the viewing of my school principal's 23 year old son.  He had everything going for him, or so it seemed.

He was well liked.  When it became apparent that he was missing that Sunday, the 16th, many people pitched in to help.  Many people knew him and liked him.  One of his friends was very concerned and alarmed at how long he had been gone.  His father hadn't seen him since sometime Wednesday, assuming he had gone camping with friends.  When his friends showed up looking for him on Sunday, his Dad became alarmed.   His mother was notified that he was missing on Sunday night.  (The parents have been divorced for the past year) 

I feel sad that 3 days went by before things really started rolling.  Before that, he wasn't missed.  Friends thought he was with family. Father thought he was with friends.  Mom thought he was OK.  But when he was missed, there were many people who were alarmed and needed to know where he was.  There were over 1200 people who participated in the search. 

He was talented.  The viewing had examples of his life and how talented he was.  He was a master potter and could throw a paper-thin pot.  There was one there.  It was beautifully worked.  He was a tutor in physical science.  He wrote meticulous notes in his notebook.  Also there.  He was an avid biker.  His bike and riding shoes were on display, as well as beautiful pictures of him in motion on his bike.  

He had many friends.  Even those who weren't in his close circles, spoke of him as a kind and gentle soul.  The world was a better place with him in it.  His mother spoke of him as kind, intelligent and well-loved.  She was so heart-broken.  It was so tragic.  

When I went to the viewing, he looked so peaceful.  He looked so young, vulnerable.  His long eyelashes were brushing his cheeks.  What kind of torment did he deal with that made him do this to himself?  I shudder to think.  I am heartbroken for his mother, who I am able to work with on a limited basis.  We became rather unlikely friends, me being her subordinate quite far down the ladder, as I am part of the staff of the school she principals.  She had compassion for my own son, who attends the school with me.  He missed a year and a half of high-school, because he wouldn't go.  While choosing to live with his dad, he lacks the structure and help that he got with us.  But having lived with his dad for so long, he feels best in that environment.  It was such a blessing to me that he ended up with me at this school.  And my principal was very understanding of the situation and what he needed to quickly do in order to become successful.  She called us in several times to counsel, she helped me in several situations that I needed some assistance.  All this, while her own son was struggling with the question whether to live or die. 

A cruel irony was that the Monday he was found, our school was beginning our H.O.P.E. week, which is Suicide Prevention Week.  Needless to say, it was brought home in a brutal way.  We have a fragile population at the school.  It is an alternative high school, with many troubled kids from compromised backgrounds.  So here we have someone's child, from what many of them would consider a privileged background, do exactly what we are trying to prevent at our school.  It shows what truly a universal problem suicide is and how it cruelly strikes with no warning and no mercy.  

As we continue on with our week, my thoughts and prayers go with all of the family and all of the friends of this family and my hope is that I will hold my own sons closer and be viligent in my prayers for them and be responsive to promptings to be concerned and involved in someone else's life.  It just might save it.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Obedience Brings Blessings

It’s been quite a weekend for us, it being Greg’s birthday.  I decided to go out on a limb and surprise him with a concert to Josh Groban!  He didn’t know what was going on until on the way to the Arena, I blurted out the word concert.  I wasn’t sure we were actually going to make it to the concert by the look on his face, but he was a good sport.  I think he really enjoyed it after all and I KNOW I did!
  Yesterday we spent the afternoon playing his favorite sport, disc golf and then going to dinner with our two sons, Edward and Joseph who actually live in Utah Valley, where we lived for 13 years before moving to Sandy.
   I remember listening to President Monson’s talk on obedience this last April and I remember the impression I had.  I heard his story of the time that he, at 8 years old, had the whole hillside on fire and all the surrounding neighbors involved in putting out the fire because of his admitted disobedience to his parents’ rule of not touching the matches.  I wondered if it was at that early age that the principle of obedience sank deep into his heart.  He now, of course, is our great prophet who has shown in word and very deed what obedience to principles of the Gospel can do for us spiritually and temporally. 
       L. Whitney Clayton compared obedience to the commandments to an anchor on a boat.  The boat represents our souls adrift in the sea of life and the anchor of obedience serves to prevent our ship from floundering and being destroyed.  Sometimes we need to rely on others’ testimonies and examples as anchors until we learn how to steer our ships in the course we want them to go.
  For me personally, I’ve relied on many people to help anchor me as I have charted my course through life.  My husband serves as an incredible anchor in my life right now.  I am so grateful for his example and support.  
  Before that, I saw the examples of my dear parents, who, though not perfect, showed what it means to be steadfast and obedient in the Gospel.  My father, Hal Bresock, came from a background that wasn’t strong in the Gospel.  His father was the orphaned son of a German immigrant and who later in life embraced the Gospel enough so that he was able to take my dear grandmother to the temple and be sealed.  But until then, my father grew up as wild as an American boy can in the midst of the Depression.  He knew deprivation and heartache.  But he knew that somewhere in his mother’s past the Gospel was a big part of her life.  So when he met my mom on a boat headed back from Australia where she had just completed her mission, he jumped at the opportunity to court her.  They were married and despite vastly different backgrounds, they anchored one another.  He was an anchor of steadiness and she was an anchor of obedience to Gospel principles.  Together they navigated some very rough seas and built their eternal marriage that will bless their lives forever and the lives of all who follow in their family.  I have looked back at their resolve and obedience amidst hardship as an example in my own life.
  Another powerful example of obedience in my own life comes from the stories spoken to me by my mother of my great, great grandfather, Edward Stevenson.  He was born in Gibraltor, Spain and emigrated to the U.S. with his family.  It was in the United States, in the state of Michigan, at age 13, that he heard about the Gospel from two missionaries and from the prophet Joseph himself, on the way back from a mission to Canada, and he even delivered a juicy apple for the prophet to eat.  I can imagine how enthralled he must have been to hear of the prophet's experiences at age 14, close to his own age, of seeing the Father and the Son and the message they had for him. His diaries of that time are now in the archives of the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University because they are the earliest known works showing that the prophet did indeed testify of the First Vision prior to 1836.   

He became an ardent follower of Joseph Smith, following him to Far West and helping in the defense of the town.  He was with him at the meeting at Adam Ohndi Ahman.  Later, Edward was very obedient and served numerous missions for the church and is recorded as having traveled the most miles under his own expense of any missionary in the history of the LDS Church, having crossed the plains 18 times, helping Saints cross to come to Utah.  He crossed the Atlantic 9 times, as a missionary for the church and in his capacity as one of the first Presidents of the Seventy.  He was called on a special mission to bring the errant Martin Harris back to the headquarters of the Church. He responded obediently to that call and returned to SLC, accompanied by Martin Harris in August of 1870.  Martin Harris subsequently was pardoned for his indescretions and became a member in good standing once again…  Edward Stevenson worked tirelessly teaching the Saints in Utah of his experiences with the early brethren of the church, including Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdry, and David Whitmore.  
  Edward Stevenson’s example of complete obedience has helped me in my own life during a lengthy period in my life, or so it seemed when I was going through it, when I felt abandoned, alone and hopeless.  (Have any of us ever felt that way?)  When I thought of how obedient this ancestor of mine was and how he didn’t  join some of the leaders of the day who, starting out as friends and advocates for the prophet Joseph Smith, ended up abandoning him and some even contributing to his death.  He was always true to his knowledge that the prophet  Joseph was called of God.  I knew he didn’t and wouldn’t  do this in vain.  I know that what he stood for was true.  I even received my own witness early as a child of the truthfulness of the Gospel.  But life is real and so are Satan’s attempts to destroy us.   And in those difficult times of sadness and hardship it was tempting to say,  “I’m in so much turmoil right now...  I think I’ll take a sabbatical from church, you know, just to get my head together. “ But I did continue to press on because of the anchors of those I had chosen to look to.  Because in all reality,  no amount of living the commandments in the past can be passed down to the next generation and I knew this much:  It is up to me to get my own rock solid resolve and spiritual strength gained through what?  Obedience.  
  So who are your anchors to help you through your own life’s journey? Maybe it is a parent, a sibling, a friend or a mentor.  We need to look at those who are in our lives and we need to hold on fast to their examples of obedience and sacrifice when we struggle, so that we in turn may become anchors for those who are searching and trying to develop their own faith.  
  Referring back to Elder Clayton’s talk, he spoke about a time he was a newly called regional rep in Paraguay and was trying to impart  some wisdom that he didn’t feel he had to 7 Stake Presidents --all discouraged with the many problems in their stakes.  He was guided to ask them this question:  Are the problems you speak of also prevalent with the ones who are faithful and obedient?  Each Stake President admitted that as a matter of fact, the members who were faithful and obedient were the ones who were able to manage, who didn’t have these trying and terrible ordeals.  In other words, the Lord was blessing those who kept his commandments, just as he promises us in the scriptures.  “I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say.  But when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.”  
  So could it be that the standard answers we seem to always give to questions in Sunday School and Relief Society are actually the most important?  Scriptures, Family Prayer, temple attendance, missionary work?  I submit that they are and they are the way we will gain so many blessings.  As we learn to obey simple commandment, we will hunger to know about more commandments because obedience to them brings so much joy.  Obedience to each commandment brings blessings and refines our souls, preparing them for entrance into Heavenly Father’s presence. 

  I’m thankful for the chance I had to ponder on the importance of obedience and thank Brother Nielson for this chance.  I know that these things are true and like President Monson who quoted another great prophet ,Gordon B. Hinckley believe this to be true, ““The happiness of the Latter-day Saints, the peace of the Latter-day Saints, the progress of the Latter-day Saints, the prosperity of the Latter-day Saints, and the eternal salvation and exaltation of this people lie in walking in obedience to the counsels of … God.”