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

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