Sunday, March 18, 2018

Come to the House of the Lord

Our priorities in our service are to help our family and others to come to the temple and to enjoy the promised blessings from our Heavenly Father.  This past month has increased our hope as we continue to see so many members of the Church in the temples and as we begin preparing for the rededication of the Jordan River Temple.  This includes a call as officiators in the temple and participation in the open house.  We also continue to be amazed at the goodness of the many dedicated saints in our stake and ward. 

17 of our family on the opening day of the open house, March 17

Just after we finished our last blog, Debbie and I were called and set apart as ordinance workers in the Jordan River temple.  We will be serving on Wednesdays during the day and on every other Saturday evening.  We are humbled and excited for this opportunity to serve!

The same day my mother's computer started having problems.  Some of the drivers were not functioning correctly and it quickly surpassed my ability to resolve.  So she called on the experts, my childhood best friend, Boyd Tidwell.  He spent his career in technology and has been very helpful over the years in visiting my mother and helping her with technology needs.  We couldn't find anyone better at any price.  Of course, Boyd will not accept any type of repayment.  His feeling is that he has  been blessed with talents and he loves using them to serve others.  What a wonderful attitude!  After spending a full day of trying different solutions, even Boyd was stumped.  He was able to get the drivers corrected in a "safe mode" but was unable to get the computer back out of the safe mode.

Boyd Tidwell, working on my mother's computer

In the end she decided to buy a new computer and decided on a laptop.  This will give her additional ability to be "portable" and also to use two screens in her computer activities.  Since she spends much of her time on the computer, especially for family history work, this is a very worthwhile investment.  I was able to help her to load up her back up data and software to get her back into business.
My mother using the two screens on her new computer installations.

As my 65th birthday approached, my mother brought out her old journals and we were reminded that I came into this world early on February 25, at 12:44 am.

old journal and photo of baby Thomas and his family 65 years ago

My sweetheart always makes birthdays for all of us special with beautiful wrapped presents.

One of our children said that I was growing up as I received bluetooth headphones and speaker.  Presents were geared to facilitate my exercise efforts (headphones and jogging shorts) and our listening to conference talks in our old car that does not have USB support in the sound system.

On my birthday we had the special treat to listen to Elder Spender Condie give a fireside to our ward members about our new prophet, President Russell M. Nelson.  Elder Condie had written a biography about Elder Nelson 15 years ago.  His insights were amazing and only served to strengthen our love and appreciation for our dear prophet.

Elder Condie sharing his thoughts from the pulpit

Notice of the fireside

After the fireside we enjoyed our weekly finance class with our family and then we celebrated my birthday with this beautiful Banana Cream pie prepared by my sweetheart.  As I mentioned in a discussion with others, I have officially "turned old".

Finance Class on Zoom with several of our children, including Sam in person in our home

Grandparents Day at the School

Retirement gives us opportunities to participate in family activities that otherwise are difficult to support.  This week we were able to participate in grandparent lunches with 5 of our grandchildren:

With 6 year old Jacob Digerness

With 11 year old Joshua Digerness

With almost 10 year old John Digerness

With 6 year old Tiancom Rueckert

Also with 10 year old Natalia Rueckert in the rear of this photo

We were also privileged to attend another fireside put on by our good friends Elder and Sister Stay who had returned from their mission in Europe the previous month.  This was an opportunity for them to share their amazing experiences working with the refugees in Europe.  This was shared with missionaries who had served with them previously.  We always love a missionary reunion.

Sister Stay sharing about their mission

This month's grandchild dates:

We loved having dates with five more of our grandchildren this month, four of these dates were within a few days.  We are finding these experiences to be super rewarding, as we get to know our grandchildren much better. This is the fruit of the promptings that Debbie received as we were returning from our mission.

We started with a movie with our granddaughter Nikki.  We watched The Greatest Showman, which we found very inspirational.  Nikki had already memorized most of the songs for this show.  We have only been to the movies twice since we came home, both were to see this movie.  We loved the messages of the show, but mostly we enjoyed the time with our granddaughter and meaningful discussions during our dinner together.

With our 13 year old granddaughter, Nicole Mills

Our next date was with 10 year old Cherish Garcia who wanted to go see Disney on Ice.  Once again we started with dinner and then enjoyed a magical evening together.  Cherish loves the Disney characters and was thoroughly engaged with the performance.  This was a major start with a granddaughter that we have had more limited association with in the past.  We loved it.

Together while waiting for the show to begin
Disney characters on the ice
Cherish dancing with the characters from "Frozen", her favorite.

Two days later we went to do baptisms for the dead with our 15 year old granddaughter, Katelyn Mills, in the Ogden Temple and lunch afterwards.  We were pleased with her choice of date.  Katelyn has a strong love of going to the temple and we loved sharing the experience with her.  That day the Ogden temple was really busy, so we were limited to two baptisms per person.  It still took two hours because of the back up of so many youth wanting to participate in baptisms.

With Katelyn in front of the Ogden temple

After dropping Katelyn home, we picked up Joshua and John Digerness who wanted a combined date at the Classic Fun Center, playing laser tag.  We had agreed that it would be whatever they wanted, so we changed our clothes and kept enjoying our grandchildren.  We played laser tag and a lot more, including the Blast Zone, bounce rooms, arcades, magic show and more.  By the end of the day, we were exhausted but happy.
Watching the magic show

John blaming in the Blast Zone
Joshua blasting in the Blast Zone

At dinner at Carl's Jr. afterwards

Other Grandparent opportunities:

We celebrated the 12th birthday for Kaisha Garcia and the 11th birthday for Isake Garcia (same day).  This was more  complicated to pull off, but we were able to get there the day after their birthday. 

Kaisha with her drawing book, an activity that she loves
We were able to represent our daughter, who was working, at our granddaughters New Beginnings night.  It was a joy to see the different young women, each who presented a Young Women's value and gave tribute to a women in their life.

Nikki Mills giving tribute to her mother

Katelyn Mills giving tribute to her Grandma Rueckert

We also had a nice visit from Jared and his family.  We were presented a piece of art painted by our 4 year old granddaughter, Ellie.  She has an amazing talent already.

Ellie with her painting
Painted by looking at a photo
We were also able to celebrate our daughter in law, Melanie's birthday.  As in any grandchild visit to our home, they have to enjoy our chair lift.  It brings great joy to each of them, even the older ones.
Ellie and Olivia together on the stair chair lift

Helping the Hippopotamus doll up the stairs

More temple experiences:

On March 3, we were once again able to do temple sealing with my brothers, their wives and my mother in the Salt Lake Temple.  What a privilege it is to do the work for our ancestors together as a family.  This night we were able to seal 7 couples together and over 40 children to their parents.  

We had a significant experience with a few of these names.  The day before, Debbie as able to do the work for a second wife of one of her great grandfathers and I was able to do the endowment for her father.  This grandfather had married Johanna Arnold and when she passed away, he married her younger sister.  On this day we were able to perform the sealing to the second wife , the sealing of her parents and the sealing of both of the daughters to their father.  Emotions were very high for Debbie and I as we were able to be proxy for the couples in these sealings.  This continues to be my favorite part of Family History and Temple work.

Families and couples that were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple
We signed up to help usher in the Temple open house for 4 different shifts.  The first two were before the official public open house and were canceled as they had overestimated their needs for VIP sessions.  The other two opportunities will be later in the month.  However, as Debbie was visiting teaching, she heard about a special open house invite for those in the neighborhood, so we took advantage to make our first visit to the remodeled Jordan River Temple on March 6.  It was a wonderful chance to go through the temple when the crowds were not so great and we were able to ponder and enjoy all of the details.  We also took advantage of the photo opportunity at the end of the tour, with  my mother.
We love this photo that is emailed to all open house visitors who take advantage
Later that week, we decided to go on our weekly temple visit to the Oquirrh Mountain Temple and my mother decided to go with us.  Usually we need to arrive about 45 minutes before an endowment session to make sure we are able to get in, since each endowment session is always filled, even in the middle of the day.  This day, however, we came to the parking lot and found it empty.  We immediately realized that the temple had been closed for maintenance.  

As you can only do in Utah, we got back into the car and went to a different temple.  This time we visited the Draper Temple.  We had over an hour wait their, but it was well worth it.  As we have learned to wait inside the temple for opportunities to participate, it is a wonderful time to read and ponder scriptures or just to ponder.

My wife and mother in front of the Draper Temple

20th Wedding Anniversary:

The next Monday was our 20th wedding anniversary, March 12, 2018.  Since it was a Monday, we were not able to go to the temple.  Instead we stayed near downtown Salt Lake.   That way we could do our self-reliance class with the missionaries on Welfare Square on Tuesday morning and then do an endowment session in the Salt Lake Temple afterwards.  This completed an opportunity that we have had to do all temple ordinances in the Salt Lake Temple since our mission (baptisms, initiatory work, endowment session and temple sealing).  

In front of the Salt Lake Temple, celebrating 20 years of marriage
Once again the temple was quite full, with over a hundred patrons on our endowment session.  We were selected to be the witness couple, which was a special treat.  It has been quite awhile since we participated in a live temple session in this temple together.  We found it quite enriching and helped us to gain additional insights.  As we sat in the Celestial Room, Debbie commented that the beauty in that room surpasses the beauty that we had seen in any of the castles and cathedrals in Europe.  I agreed!

On Monday we spent the day on temple square and had a wonderful time.  We went to the Joseph Smith Memorial building and watched some of the new Meet the Mormon stories and were also able to watch a few 20 minute clips on the translation of the Book of Mormon in Harmony and in Fayette.  Each 20 minute show was followed by a 10 minute intermission and then the next would begin.  As we spent 2 hours together in this process, I pondered how blessed that I am to have such a wonderful wife who enjoys the gospel of Jesus Christ as much as I do.  We can spend hours enjoying and pondering the marvels of this gospel and of the Church of Jesus Christ.  This brings so much joy to us.

We also spent a few more hours at the Church History Museum and at the Visitor's Center.  Our Church has done an amazing job of presenting the doctrines of Christ and the history of our Church.  I believe that any that will come to these different locations and participate with an open heart, will feel the Holy Ghost testifying of the truth of this gospel.

Of course, we also have to eat, so we did enjoy a German lunch at Siegried's  downtown and some barbecued ribs for dinner.  We spent the evening at the Anniversary Inn in the special Victorian Room, which is my wife's favorite style.

German lunch of Wienerschnitze. red cabbage and ward potato salad and Hungarian Goulash

A full rack of ribs to share in our dinner

In our Victorian Anniversary Inn room

Our breakfast delivered to our door

That brings us to this last weekend.  We had planned for some time a special family activity for March 17.  We acquired reservations for the Temple Open House that was beginning that day and reserved the Condominium Clubhouse for a family game and movie activity.  This included inviting all of Camila's children to join us.  Without going into details, there were many moving parts to this activity.   We did get a call from Kari that morning early to get a ride home from her work, as her car had been towed while she was at work.  That was finally resolved happily, but it did add more complexity to the situation.  We let Kari use our car to resolve her situation and my mother was using her car to go to a funeral.

The open house reservations were for three different times.  At 10:15 am, we went with Camila's kids, and Kari's kids (while she was resolving the towed car).  River also brought his family at the same time.  Camila's kids had never been in a temple and didn't know much about it, so it was a learning experience.  They loved the statue of Jesus at the end and the photos in front of the back drop of the temple.  Hopefully that will help them to remember a few of the things that they felt during the tour.

Camila's kids around the statue of Christ
Our entire group around the stature
River's family joined us for the photo at the beginning of the blog.  The four kids also wanted their own photo in front of the temple.

Camila's kids and Kari's kids helped us set up the clubhouse for the activity and played some games at our home.  Jared and Beckie came early to the activity to attend a 1:30 open house visit with their families.  If we counted them all up, 25 of our family were able to participate in the Open House this day.  Hopefully others will have this opportunity in the next month.

Finally we had at least 34 at the game (upstairs) and movie (downstairs) activity and we served them snacks and pizza.  We had multiple tables of games going on, many watching the movie and others wandering.  In the end we were exhausted but it all worked out.  We are thankful to be able to create memories with our children and grandchildren.

Some of the games available for playing.

Eating Pizza at the end of the activity.

We cleaned up the clubhouse, returned Camila's kids to their homes and participated in the Saturday night session of Stake Conference for our stake.  We belong to a wonderful stake.  Participation in meetings is amazing.  The Saturday night session filled a large stake center including the cultural hall.

This morning we participated in Stake Conference which was broadcast into three different buildings to accommodate space for all.  We participated in the stake center with two different wards and again the cultural hall was completely filled.  The music was heavenly and the speakers were inspiring. 

I don't know if it is because the Jordan River Temple is in the midst of our Stake, but the quality and commitment of the members is overwhelming. There are so many people that serve outside of their normal ward callings.  We have 61 missionaries in the field and hundreds of temple workers.  As we are among these saints we feel a feeling of Zion.

The amazing choir from our Stake conference on the video screen in the cultural hall, singing "One by One", the song written by Elder David A. Bednar
As I pondered the words from our stake conference, I learned quite a few things for myself to change.  One that stuck to me is that we talk a lot about the promises that we make in our covenants with the Lord, but not enough pondering on the promises that The Lord gives to us in return.  I want to focus much more on the promised blessings.  Clearly we need to do our part to receive those blessings, but people are more inspired by blessings than commandments.  Personally, I strongly desire that the Spirit of the Lord always be with me, the promise we receive in the ordinance of the sacrament.  That inspires me and I am sure it would inspire anyone who is looking for peace and comfort.

I watched our grandchildren who know little about the Savior to love being near the statue of the Savior.  Those are the feelings that we need to nurture in each of us, so that we can receive the strength that comes when we "Come Unto Him".

There is often talk about people who leave the Church or fall to temptation.  That certainly is always a concern, but as we have attended temples throughout this state in the past few months, we find temples filled beyond capacity everywhere we go,  even in the middle of the day.  We are limited in the number of ordinances that can be performed so that all will have the opportunity to participate.

We will surely be blessed by the opening of the Jordan River Temple to meet some of this desire to participate in the temple.  However,  I rejoice in the goodness of the members of this Church and the large numbers of them who are so committed.  I testify that the Lord's Church  is moving forward and Zion is being established and in fact it is flourishing.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

We Thank Ye O God for a Prophet

"As a new presidency, we want to begin with the end in mind. For this reason, we're speaking to you today from a temple. The end for which each of us strives is to be endowed with power in a house of the Lord, sealed as families, faithful to covenants made in a temple that qualify us for the greatest gift of God, that of eternal life. The ordinances of the temple and the covenants you make there are key to strengthening your life, your marriage and family, and your ability to resist the attacks of the adversary. Your worship in the temple and your service there for your ancestors will bless you with increased personal revelation and peace and will fortify your commitment to stay on the covenant path." 

New First Presidency of the Church, January 16, 2018

Soon after the funeral of President Thomas S. Monson, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was reorganized and Russell M. Nelson was ordained as the President. This ushered in a new chapter in the history of The Church.  As most of us do, we speculated on who might be in the next First Presidency.  The ordination of Russell M. Nelson was no surprise but the choice of counselors was.  As I listened to the announcement it made total sense to me.  I have learned long ago that the Lord knows so much more than I do.  

I remember many years ago, when two vacancies remained open in the Quorum of the Twelve for over a year.  I wondered then, why doesn't the Lord put one of the existing General Authorities into the Quorum of the Twelve to help the work move forward.  Then the next two apostles were called, Russell M. Nelson and Dallin H. Oaks, neither of whom were General Authorities at the time.  Each had specific earthly responsibilities that needed to be completed before their calling was to come.  I learned at that point to never question the timing of actions in the Church.  Now they sit as the President and the first counselor in the First Presidency after sitting beside each other for almost 34 years in the Quorum of the Twelve. 

We were thrilled to see our friend and neighbor, Elder Spencer L. Condie in the televised coverage of the establishment of the new First Presidency.  Elder Condie is a member of our ward and we have grown quite fond of his insights and humor.  It happens that Elder Condie wrote a biography of Elder Nelson 15 years ago.  We are excited to hear a fireside from Elder Condie next week on this very subject.

Elder Condie, discussing President Russell M. Nelson
Since the day before the announcement of the new First Presidency, Debbie and I made a commitment to listen to and study all of the conference talks by President Russell M. Nelson.  Generally we listen to a few talks in the morning while running or biking at the gym.  Often when we drive, we take the opportunity to listen to the next talk in our sequence.  Up until now we have listened and studied the first 36 talks from President Nelson, from 1984 to 2001.  We have learned to understand him more in depth and we have received our witnesses of his calling as the President of the Church.

Studying his talks in this way has reminded us of his unique ability to emphasize the workings of the human body into so many of his addresses.  As a surgeon, he has insights that most of us do not even consider.   He also often refers to hidden meanings from the Greek and Hebrew text as he explores gospel topics in a more in-depth way.   In these first 36 talks, he has addressed almost any topic for which we might need counsel.  His understanding of the role of a prophet has been reiterated as he has served under 5 different prophets while in the Quorum of the Twelve.  The study of his talks has brought many, many new insights into our hearts and minds.  We are using his talk on the Canker of Contention  from April 1989 in our next extended family home evening discussion.  It is a classic on this topic.  As we have completed more than half of the way through this journey of sacred utterances, we can clearly say "We Thank Thee O God For a Prophet".

Continuing on our Purpose while back home

We have spent the past month continuing to focus on our primary purpose back home, our Family.  This includes strengthening our children and grandchildren and continuing on our Family History and Temple Work for our ancestors and relatives.


We seem to be always celebrating someone's birthday.  The photos below are from some of the birthday celebrations in the past month.  We celebrated Cherish's 10th birthday with her, but somehow did not get any photos.  We also connected to Sabrina, our oldest granddaughter on her 20th birthday.  She is at the University of Oklahoma, so the contact was only by text, but we did receive a response.

With Arianna on her 4th birthday
Tiare with her 4th Birthday Cake 
Ashton with his 7th Birthday Cake and his brother Dawson

Other Family Activities

We were also able to finally connect with our son Abe.  After months of efforts, we finally connected and I was able to spend an hour with him.  He has since come to our condo on a few occasions and we have been pleased to strengthen our relationship with him.  We have also been able to help him in tracking down old 401K plans from previous employers.  This is a new skill that I will have to add to my resume.

Tom with Abe, after years of being disconnected

Our family visits included one more visit to Hyrum to experience a real snow storm, our first since returning home.

Seeing the Elk at Hardware Ranch on a snowy January morning with Jared and his two daughters.

Some of the nearly 200 Elk that we saw
Watching a large screen movie with Ellie and Olivia while their parents went to the temple.  We were using our new portable projector that does an excellent job of projecting large images on the wall.

We participated in many parties and family get togethers including our first Family Home Evening of the year, which was presented in a "council" to decide how to get together during the year.   All were able to give their input which has inspired activities for several months.

The following photos are from our kids that were at Arianna's birthday party.  It is always fun to see cousins together and sisters raising their own families.

Three granddaughters together, Addisyn, Aria and Arianna
Gina and Pollyanna with their youngest children, Hudson and Paisley
We were able to support some of Camila's children in their activities, including Caide gaining a new Karate belt and Isake playing Junior Jazz basketball.

Caide receiving his Blue belt
Also receiving a kick to the mid section

Isake dribbling the ball, he also shoots pretty well
In our visits to Camila we started to play different memory games with her to assess how well she is doing and to see how much we are truly able to help her progress.

Helping Camila to match different animals of the sea

A later visit to Camila with Ben, her ability with the memory game was much better this visit
We had a nice visit with Gina and Danny with their children after visiting the Provo City Center temple.  We facilitated the first Finance Course lesson with them also.

With Addisyn, Hudson and Danny

Our next Grandchild Date was with little Jacob, one of our six year old grandsons.  We went to the Living Planet Aquarium which was a wonderful experience, everything that we could ever ask for.  We love this little guy and feel like this fulfilled our purpose of strengthening our relationships with him.  We also quite enjoyed it ourselves.  The next two "dates" will be a "movie with our soon to be 13 year old granddaughter" and a visit to Disney on Ice with our 10 year old granddaughter.

Jacob's favorite part of the Aquarium is the Penguins.  They put on quite a show for all of us.
A selfie before entering the 3D movie

Babysitting three grandchildren for 5 days:

While our daughter Beckie and her husband were on a cruise, we tended their three children for 5 of the days.  They were absolutely wonderful kids and we had a wonderful time together.  They helped show us what is right about the children of today and give us hope for the future.  This included participating in a home school day at Classic Fun Center, theater classes, helping in service in our ward and enjoying our stair/chair lift in our home.    After an action packed week however, we were ready to be empty nesters again.

Abbie and Mckenzie with their mustaches, made from their hair put in braids

Kaleb jumping at the Fun Center
Everyone together eating lunch at the Classic Fun Center
Enjoying the projector, even after we finished our movie
Many trips on the chair lift.  This one, Kaleb is giving a ride to Abbie with the remote control
Going through a car wash, a first for the kids
Kaleb helping the High Priests set up for a funeral the next day

Perhaps the most significant day of our time with them was on Valentine's Day.  It was filled with special time together and highlighted by significant service to others.  They were angels as we did service together this day. 

Decoring Valentine Cookies to give to all of our home teaching and visiting teaching families and others
Sharing Valentine cards and cookies with Camila
Visiting one of our sisters that we home teach.  They all loved seeing our grandchildren.
Valentine cards and roses for Debbie, from all of us
Debbie's famous Valentine meatloaf, potatoes mashed by McKenzie

Results from our Photo Shoot:

We received our photos back from the Photo Shoot that we did in December with Tom's mother, brothers and sisters-in-law.  We think they turned out pretty well.  We took advantage of the sitting to get un updated photo of us also.

Tom's Mom with her living sons and daughter in laws

Tom's mom with her living sons
Un updated photo of Tom and Debbie

Fixing things at home:

One of our major accomplishments was to get our cuckoo clock working again.  As I looked for someone to fix our clock which has not been working for several years, I found some instructions for repairing cuckoo clocks.  I followed the instructions and was able to get it working!  Now it cuckoos each hour at the same time that my retirement clock plays the Westminster chimes. 

Cuckoo clock on an improvised Cuckoo clock stand, so I could make the repairs from the back .

Renewing acquaintances:

Last night we finally were able to get together once again with Elder Richard Cook and Elder John Carmack.  We loved our years when I worked with them with the Perpetual Education Fund.  Last night we joined with them and Shirley Carmack at a dinner of the Cannon/Hinckley Church History Society.  Sweet memories were revisited and friendships renewed.  They are now in their late 80s but are as productive and alert as ever.

With Elder Richard Cook and Elder John and Shirley Carmack

Self-Reliance Groups:

We continue to hold the Finance Self-Reliance group meetings with our own children.  This has been very rewarding as we not only discuss finances but also have very meaningful discussions about the gospel.  Due to scheduling conflicts we are holding 4 or 5 separate self-reliance classes each week.  That means 10 hours a week to this priority.  It takes our time, but it is time very well spent and invested.

On February 8, we were asked to present our mission experiences to the Singles of the our stake.  It was a wonderful moment together as we shared Self-Reliance principles, success stories and miracles that we experienced.  When we have these opportunities, all the special memories of our mission come back.  We are thankful to have these opportunities.  We also make sure we follow the counsel of Elder De Feo to always testify of the Savior's hand in our mission.

We were also asked to start self-reliance groups with the young missionaries at Welfare Square.  So each Tuesday morning we spent an hour with them going through the My Foundation principles.  We just finished lesson number 3.  These are young missionaries who are not able to serve in traditional missions but work at Welfare Square for the time of their missions.  They start each day with a devotional.  On Tuesdays that time is spent with the Self-Reliance classes.  We divide them into two different groups and we each facilitate the smaller groups.

Debbie with her group of missionaries 
Tom with his group of missionaries

Family History and Temple Work:

We believe that our greatest accomplishments are to do the work for our ancestors in the temples.  We have been able to get many of our siblings, mother, children and grandchildren involved in this great work.  Several are putting our finds from our mission into Family Search.  We continue to catalogue those images that we brought home with us and to find new ones through resources available to us at home.
Marriage information found on what we hope is Debbie's 5th great grandfather, Johann Gabriel Heinrich Möller.  We found this at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  We will try to confirm this on our upcoming trip back to Germany.
As the Family History work continues, we are also doing as many temple ordinances as possible.  We have shared names with cousins, siblings and our own children and grandchildren to get this important work done.  In this process, our primary temple to visit for now is the Oquirrh Mountain Temple, only 10 minutes from our home.  However, we have been able to visit other temples in the process in this past month.

Salt Lake Temple with our grandchildren, Katelyn and Joseph who did baptisms for the dead for their own relatives

Our fist endowment session in the Brigham City Temple
Our first visit to the Provo City Center Temple

 Additional Learnings:

This brings us back to our purpose.  It is not only to serve our families on earth and our ancestors, but to also grow closer to our Heavenly Father.  Our service helps us greatly in this purpose.  Our study sessions and worship services also help significantly.  Insights have come from President Russel M. Nelson, ward members and the Holy Ghost.  A few thoughts that have been helpful to us follow:

Growing into obedience of principles
From a priesthood lesson comment from emeritus General Authority Elder Keith Edwards.  He taught us that the Quorum of the Twelve have chosen to teach correct principles about the Sabbath and then let each member grow into those principles.  I received a strong witness from the Holy Ghost about this principle.  I have spent too much effort teaching practices instead of principles and holding others to my standards of living those principles.  I hope that I will allow others to grow on their own. This becomes much more meaningful and effective for them.  That same week we heard a testimony from one of our children about growing into the law of tithing.  It fit exactly under this pattern.  This obviously fits with Joseph Smith's declaration that he teaches the members of the Church correct principles and let's them govern themselves.  I have probably been too hard headed to understand this principle before, but this month I have finally understood.

Seeking Holiness
Once again, this came from our ward and a priesthood lesson about seeking holiness.  Our good bishop gave a wonderful talk about defining the core of our ward.  As he covered many thoughts, he centered his comments on the fact that the majority of the members of our ward are not seeking for riches on this earth but have dedicated their efforts to seek the treasures of heaven.  I thought that so well described what we have seen in our ward.  Most are retired, almost all are actively trying to serve others and are no longer chasing the treasures of the world.  As we studied seeking holiness in our priesthood meeting, I saw the following from the Bible Dictionary on Holiness.  "The value of worship in the eyes of God depends upon the personal character of the worshipper."  Once again, we should not overemphasize the practices or ceremonial ordinances required, but pursue the change in our hearts, our attitudes and our character.  Those practices should help us along the way, but the end result should not be in doing the practices but in acquiring the character of Christ.

Inspirational quotes from some of the talks of President Russell M. Nelson

  • As you prayerfully develop self-mastery, desires of the flesh may be subdued
  • The surest step toward joy in the morning is virtue in the evening
  • How is it possible to achieve the "impossible"? learn and obey the teachings of God.  From the holy scriptures, heaven-sent lift will be found for heaven-sent duties.
  • His peace is personal.  But that spirit of inner peace is driven away by contention.
  • In partnership with God, [a mother's] divine mission is to help spirits live and souls be lifted.
  • Honors bestowed upon me by men could not approach the inner peace provided by sealings performed in the house of the Lord.
  • I believe that in the pursuit of education, individual desire is more influential than institution, and personal faith more forceful than faculty.
  • The Lord hides His wisdom from no one: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God."
  • [Priesthood] is not conferred for honor, but for a ministry of service.
  • Divine doctrines cannot be squeezed into compact molds to make them fit fashionable patterns of the day.
  • Only the comprehension of the true Fatherhood of God can bring full appreciation of the true brotherhood of man.  That understanding inspires desire to build bridges of cooperation instead of walls of segregation.
  • Perhaps the greatest example of vicarious work for the dead is the Master himself.  He gave his life as a vicarious atonement, that all who die shall live again and have life everlasting.  He did for us what we could not do for ourselves.
  • Some allow their allegiance to God and His kingdom to slip below that of other interests in life. They have not yet determined which way they face.
  • Even though our Creator endowed us with this incredible power, He consigned a counterbalancing gift to our bodies.  It is the blessing of aging, with visible reminders that we are mortal beings destined one day to leave this "frail existence."
  • An enduring marriage results when both husband and wife regard their union as one of the two most important commitments they will ever make.  The other commitment of everlasting consequence is to the Lord.
  • The highest ordinances in the house of the Lord are received by husband and wife together and equally - or not at all!
  • When you read the Book of Mormon concentrate on the principal figure in the book - from its first chapter to the last - the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.
  • Few find the way because they ignore the divine road map provided by the Lord.  An even more serious mistake is to ignore the Maker of the map.
  • As you ponder and pray about doctrinal principles, the Holy Ghost will speak to your mind and your heart.  From events portrayed in the scriptures, new insights will come and principles relevant to your situation will distill upon your heart.
  • Time for scripture study requires a schedule that will be honored.  Otherwise, blessings that matter most will be at the mercy of thins that matter least.
This morning we listened to a talk from President Nelson that ties so well into the comments that we used to begin this blog post.  He spoke of the blessings of the temple and made the following statements:

  • Each temple ordinance is not just a ritual to go through, it is an act of solemn promising.
  • When we choose to deny ourselves of all ungodliness, we lose nothing of value and gain the glory of eternal life.  Covenants do not hold us down; they elevate us beyond the limits of our own power and perspective.
We testify that the Lord has been speaking through President Nelson for many years.  As we ponder his life and his words and follow his counsel, we certainly will be blessed.