Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What you SEE is what you DO!

Great care is taken by our Heavenly Father and his leaders on earth to guide children of light to seek more light and avoid darkness.

Then President Marion G. Romney quoted this verse:

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien, 
As to be hated needs but to be seen; 
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, 
We first endure, then pity, and then embrace. 

(Pope, Essay on Man, epistle ii, lines 217, The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations,
 London: Oxford University Press, 1966, p. 383).

This is more than an ANTI PORNOGRAPHY post.  My intent is to share a principle that works in our lives that can work in a positive way.   Avoiding violence, noise, confusion, doom, sadness and yes, images that promote sin is just part of it.  I hope you'll take away the idea that whatever you expose your eyes and brain to inspires wishes, desires and goals that unavoidably determine what you do.  What you SEE really is what you GET! 

I heard an eye opening interview on NPR recently about hoarders.  The point of the story (well done) was to explain how psychologists have discovered that people who hoard junk--and can't seem to throw anything away function visually.  A coffee table or sofa becomes the repository of things they need to pay attention to--dirty laundy, unfinished food, utility bills all get piled up, where these unfortunate souls can see them.  Sorting and chucking is far from their capability.

Years ago I heard about an elderly couple who disappeared.  Neighbors worried about them more than usual because they didn't see them for months.   When authorities were notified and broke into the home the stench was over whelming--not just because of the two dead souls who lived there.  Police had to call in cadaver dogs.  Every room was filled nearly chest high with garbage and keepsakes.  Even the front room had little trails like scouts build in deep snow.

The story clicked with me.  A dear sister was recently released to the sorrow of her counselors, advisors and especially her dear Young Women.  One of my assignments is to gather information for the Sacrament Meeting program including the name, picture and brief profile of each youth speaker.  Young Men have an opportunity every other week, except Fast Sunday, alternating with the Young Women.

To the Young Men Presidency's credit, they follow the process carefully and with enthusiasm.  Two weeks before a young man speaks, he is called, in private and, hopefully, inspiration and charged to pick a gospel topic he feels strongly about.  I am given the name, contact him, often at church a week before and help remind him by taking a nice picture in often shirt and tie, gathering the important details of his young junior high life, writing the profile and sending it to him for approval well before my printing deadline.  It all works like clockwork--like it should.

Not so with the Young Women in our ward.  After months of waiting for a call, sending gentle, loving reminders and a list of young sisters who have spoken this year, I get nothing.   We leave the spot in the program vacant.  The Bishop asks me, gently, what the problem is and we both shake our heads.

Trouble is, this good sister has been fabulous with the young women--mostly because she is one of them.   To be fair, she has a large family of her own who love her dearly, and while she's going through nursing school in her fifties, running a catering company out of her miraculous kitchen and working full time, our former YW President is never on time, frustrates up tight camp directors and folks who don't know and love her with a laugh and "I'll get to it"

As happens too late in these matters, I figured out "the method" that works with her--and the hoarding story on public radio turned the key for me.  For the last few weeks I show up at her opening exercises and sit in the back.   (One developmentally challenged young sister came back once and said, "Welcome to Young Womens......why are YOU here?   With a completely straight face I told her I was thinking of joining.)

The YW President, by our previous agreement, seeing me in back--and darting around in a jolly chaos, guiding one young woman to write the opening agenda, skiddywampus on the white board while another practiced leading the opening hymn stopped everything to meet my need.

"Brother Howe is here to get the next Youth Speaker---who spoke last time?"  (She has never been bound down by mere mortal tools like clip boards, records, watches etc.)  The Young Women know and call out the name.  "Oh, that's right--well," she laughs, "You get to pick the next youth speaker!"

Not the most conventional method--but on reflection it has a certain charm to it.  In this way all the Young Women at once know they'll have a turn. Often they call out names of those in their group who haven't spoken yet this year (We have nearly 30 young women, so most of them will get a chance, if they want to)

One downside is that several young women stay away because they know they might get chosen. That's why the private, inspired, encouraged model is important.   The friendly, tough call out method is for the valiant, the brave, the courageous.   Wall flowers and shy little sisters who want to fit in must submit to the process or, sadly, avoid it.

At the end of it, I invite the young sister chosen into the hall, snap her picture and jot down a few facts about her life and I'm ready to write it up, insert the picture and go forward with the rest of the program.

By showing up and being seen, I got what I needed and the now released YW President didn't have to worry about it.  Unconventional?  Yes, but the result is still pretty much the same.  As I write this I do not know who will replace her--that may happen in a few weeks, but she has helped me learn the truth again that What you SEE is what you DO!  The right kind of visibility is important for such kinetic leaders.

I coach a young man in our ward who has a marvelous set of "pipes"  Just in the ninth grade, moving on this fall to High School, he has a voice that any opera singer or radio announcer would envy.  As part of our process, I encourage him to write down his heros and analyze why they are heros to him.

It's part of our 100 goal exercise taught to me by a wise leader named Rodney Brady.  He is a Harvard Phd who helmed the largest conglomerate of radio and TV stations in the Intermountain West.  On a seat next to mine in a quick hop from LA to SLC he shared his secret to success.  His debate coach in high school challenged him to write down his 100 goals on 3x5 cards, organize them and set about achieving them.  As a result of effectively setting goals for his life in high school,  he now flys his own plane, serves on the national board of the Boy Scouts of America, organized and served as President of a big pharmaceutical company and served as a college president.

In that hero exercise, the young man with the "pipes" listed the YW president as one of his heros.  When I asked him why he said, "Because she cares about me!"  At a youth conference at Lake Powell earlier this summer he tried and tried and tried again to ride a wave board behind a power boat.   He told me how the YW President sat in the back of the boat shouting encouragement and suggestions.  He never did get it--but came to appreciate and grow in admiration and love for this marvelous leader.

To some, her method is a bit scattered and a little screw ball--but it's just those qualities that make her loved.  One member of the Bishopric introduced her as a speaker in church by saying, "The Young Women love her because she is one of them!"  She gets it done right away, as long as she can see the problem before her.  She will be missed!


Monday, July 25, 2011

Pride falleth before the Teaching!

How teachable are you -- and how do you know?  The Holy Ghost only gently nudges those who are humbly "listening" for the subtle feelings and gentle impressions.  Those who are too proud or too busy or too distracted, stop their own reception.  

Who needs a Farmer's Market?
Case in point:  Today, we celebrated Pioneer Day at our house by taking an early harvest in our little garden and baking Grampa Milo's Round Tuit bread (Honey Wholewheat bread baked in 46 ounce juice cans and a few clean mushroom soup cans for some tiny friends who like their own little round loaves, "Just their size!")

This recipe was originally developed by my sweet mom, Grandma Delma for her retired husband to have something fun and nutritious to do.  I remember the aroma of this delicious healthy treat--and this is the first we've re-created it in nearly thirty years.  By the way, it makes great toast!

Grampa Milo's Round Tuit Bread
Hope you get around to it!
Our son Jeff "Chef" is, for good or ill, quite a proud and often arrogant soul who has taught himself most of his culinary skills without much advice, especially from his mom and my sweet chef, Gramma Rosie.  Jeff made a single batch of Grampa Milo's Round Tuit Bread a couple of weeks ago in our kitchen--and it turned out just fine. The aroma kept calling my name.   I just couldn't wait and ate four or five slices while it was still quite warm.  For the next 24 hours, I paid the price.  I'll wait til today's batch is cool so my digestive system can cope with slightly less input.  Avoid chugging hot bread. Your lower GI will thank you for it.

Jeff did well, but his Mother decided he needed some baking coaching whether he wanted it or not. 

If he was resistant, she was locked in lecture mode, as if our 35 1/2 year old son were 9 years old and experiencing the complex baking process for the first time.  Some folks can be tone deaf to their own effect on others.  Some folks need to learn to bob and weave, suggest rather than command etc.

The more she dictated the more he squirmed and pulled away in impatient agony.   She kept at it--and after a while he mellowed and took it with more grace.  He will admit he learned a few new things!

The lesson to me is clear--if we pull away from the whisperings of the spirit in rebellion, the signals will cease.

Learn to be teachable.  Ditch the pride and you will grow with the best directions you ever felt!


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Handcart Angel Responds to Prayer

In his Pioneer day talk at Sacrament Meeting at the Holladay Second Ward this afternoon, our great stake president Richard S. Boyer shared a modern day handcart experience.   We were all spiritually fed with a story that can be credited to a Riverton Wyoming Stake President Scott Lorimar.  He often spoke to the youth groups who came throughout the summer to reinact the handcart "pull" over rocky ridge on the Martin Handcart Company trail in his area.

One of the stories he tells the groups of eager "Trekkers" concerns a young man who really didn't want to go on "Trekk" but his mother and his bishop prevailed and he ended up on the trail pulling a handcart by himself up a long hill--and hating it.

One of the techniques that leaders use to help their youth feel the effects of the "real" pioneer experience ivolves tapping a young man or woman on the shoulder to signify that they are "dead"   They may continue walking with their group but they cannot pull or speak encouragement.  

The young man in the story. was alone in the front, but many of his team had been tapped out.  A slender young woman, age 12, was the only other one on the cart and she was pushing from  behind.  The young man couldn't have been more upset.  At first he strongly considered just lifting up "the ring" of the cart and letting it roll back down the hill, but he knew that display of temper and frustration would result in the cart rolling over his only other team mate and cause her serious injury.   His only other choice was to bow his head as he strained at the handcart and pray.

He did pray--silently to himself, begging his Father in Heaven to get him some help.  As he said a quiet amen, he noticed an older man, very tanned, in trail worn clothes slipping under the double tongue of his handcart.  Softly, the man who seemed to come out of nowhere whispered to him, "I've had a lot of experience with this--let me help you."

After the modern day story of handcarts, our speaker quoted a well known journal of a member of the Willey Handcart Company who said he knew that there were times when he could go no further and he could sense angels pushing his handcart--and the cart pushing him.

Food for thought, yes?