Friday, October 14, 2011

Change, Forgive & Contribute!

A Three Word Formula for Success!
Ever since I heard Hugh Nibley's comment that there are only two things we really can do on earth:  REPENT and FORGIVE, I've made those verbs two of the three MISSION STATEMENTS of my personal creed.  The third verb: CONTRIBUTE comes from President Marion G. Romney who taught that Service is the price you pay for the space you occupy on the earth.  He also taught that service is the very content of the Building Blocks used to build your mansion on high*.   

CHANGE by any other name is Repentance.  

I have always enjoyed the comparison between Joseph Smith and his once close friend Oliver Cowdrey.  Joseph wrote that Oliver generally considered himself to be nearly perfect, and marred by the unpleasant experiences of life.  "I, on the other hand," he continued, "am a rough stone hurtling down the mountain.  Every obstacle I come in contact with knocks off another of my many rough edges and makes me a smoother shaft in the quiver of the Almighty."  

Change is best when it grows from within rather than imposed from without .  In Brazil, I wrote in my journal that, "The 'Call to Repentance' is like the Call to Supper to nourish yourself with a change that does everybody good, especially you. The result is always rejuvinating.  See TMB post: The Parable of the Bicycle ATONEMENT Change is the part of "The Plan" that involves Do Overs until we get it right! Elder Dallin H. Oakes told a General Conference audience that, "most sin is like specks of dirt that get washed away in the laundry."  Remember, PERFECT doesn't mean flawless.  Elder Russell M. Nelson taught that PERFECT means COMPLTE--as in completed ordinances, completed requirements for eternal life.

FORGIVE means to resolve differences, unburden yourself (and others) of the friction between you and another and just "let it go!"  It means JUDGE NOT THAT YE BE NOT JUDGED.  Mother Teresa, the inspiring nun of Calcutta said, "I don't know how people can judge others.  It leaves so little time to love them." That is the spirit behind the D&C commandment: "I the Lord will forgive whom I will forgive, but unto you it is required to forgive all men."  Grudges should not be part of your life because they only hurt you--rarely the person against whom the grudge is being held.

CONTRIBUTE means the fulfillment of President Kimball's teaching that, "We pray to the Lord for help, but the answer usually comes from another.   

Plan from now on to be a prayer answerer!  One young mother Rosie and I know well often bakes a dozen shredded apple pies and then prays to know who in her neighborhood "needs a little tangible encouragement."  As they cool, she and her family pile into their van and make anonymous deliveries as inspired from above.  What a great lesson to her children!

King Benjamin worked in the fields to sustain his body and gave his spare time to his kingdom and the Lord.  It's a good balance that keeps us grounded. He changed, forgave and contributed.

NOTE:  The late Sterling W. Sill advised forward thinking saints that they should come to church with a little talk for Sacrament Meeting, inspired, researched, and written fresh for that Sunday, just in case called upon. This is my "contribution" for this Sunday, just in case. 

NOTE 1: Bishops used to call up folks from the congregation to fill time--but after a few fainting spells and the odd heart attack, it became official church policy not to do that any more.    (Of course there's nothing stopping the Bishopric living on the edge to call a dozen faithful to prepare "just in case" for a two and a half minute contribution--with that done, the conducting officer could seek inspiration and call on four or five of the folks to come up and share--that would work.  In fact we do that kind of thing every month in what is called Testimony meeting.  

NOTE 2: A non-member author wrote about dropping in on an LDS service on the first Sunday of the Month and being a bit confused, "I wasn't sure who was in charge, there were officers on the stand, but members rose out of the audience on their own accord and spoke extemporaneously, often confessing their faith with tears.  At first I thought the minister was sick and these valiant members were helping out by substituting for him to fill the time of the meeting.  Afterward I asked around and was amazed to found that this congregation does this every month of the first Sunday--and so does every other Mormon ward and branch.  If that's what they mean by a "Lay Ministry" I'm intrigued!"

NOTE 3:  Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great. -Mark Twain


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Come, Dream with Me...Outloud!

Hiking or not--Dreaming Together is Great!

One of the fun "build our marriage" exercises we do together when Gramma Rosie is in pain, is a mind diversion we call "Dream with Me...Outloud."  Often these moments happen in the car as we drive together shopping.  Rosie doesn't drive, so I often get to play Prince Phillip to her Queen Elizabeth, and truly be "an husbandman"

We invented this very practical imagination game when our Jeff and Sally were little.  It goes like this:  "If you had a million dollars that you had to spend in 30 days--where would you go, what would you do and who are two or three people you'd do it with?  Sound intriguing?  Five year olds have to really think about the issues involved..and then it seemed more like work than fun!  Rosie took the bait and began to spin a project out of her imagination that really sounded pretty good.

"If I had all that money," she told me that day, "I'd pay all our bills--and then I'd find some land where we could build some modest homes for elderly folks who had nowhere else to go."

I immediately began suggesting names.  The best I could come up with as a working title was: "Happy Dreams Acres!"  For the next few minutes her painful teeth, gimpy tummy, consistent migrane and bum knees and hip were overcome by visions of helping folks like us who had rented or gone homeless most of their lives.  I gently asked about compensation: "Oh, they'd pay a little rent, but only what they could afford," she said.  By then we'd made it to the store and bigger, more immediate issues became for the moment, upper most in her mind.

When you find yourselves in some kind of want, pain or lack of funds, consider this alternative.  We've always taught each other than a Dream is a wish that you write on paper and review the progress of occasionally.   "Happy Dreams Acres" may never happen, but we can always talk about it during a lull in the action.

Diversion of the practical kind is good for married teams and their teammate children.

One third world mother strapped for grocery money would come home late at night after foraging through the neighborhood and announce that the family would chew the beet greens she brought and sing hymns.  Sometimes it was just hymns without the greens.

Dreaming outloud with someone you trust and love can wipe away negative emotions and guide the brain to build often practical castles in the air.  The advantage is that encouraging the process builds hope and guides futures.

President Merrill of the Monterey Bay, California Stake in 1970 counseled us that parents should bring their babies to church.  Not only does it get everyone into a good habit, if the babies cry--no matter.  "You can only hear one thing at a time!" he told us.

On the other hand I have treasured Brigham Young's clever advice from the stage of the Salt Lake Theater in the early pioneer days before Social Hall Avenue was ever built. "Crying babies are like good intentions:  They should be carried out!"

The great truth in all this is that the human mind can really only concentrate on one thing at a time.  Contrary to what modern behavioralists tell us there really is no such thing as effective multi-tasking.  Most good things are consecutive--and if a good husband can divert his wife constructively with a way to harness her creative thoughts to build their family, it will be good for both of them.

Emeritus GA Elder Joe J. Christensen, former President of Ricks College once told a Priesthood Session of General Conference:  "Make the time to listen to your spouse; even schedule it regularly. Visit with each other and assess how you are doing as a marriage partner.  Brother Brent Barlow (prominent LDS Marriage Counselor) posed a question to a group of priesthood brethren: “How many of you would like to receive a revelation?” Every hand went up. He then suggested that they all go home and ask their wives how they could be better husbands. He added, “I followed my own advice, and had a very informative discussion with [my wife] Susan for more than an hour that afternoon!”  (To Build a Better Marriage," Ensign, Sept. 1992, p. 17) 

Communication--keeping the thoughts, like water flowing between us... that's what the Dream Outloud exercise is all about--and if it improves her disposition and supercedes her pain medication--all the better!  


Monday, October 3, 2011

Steak Center Restaurants: Never a Dry, Boring Meating!

Think Ward Dinner...every night!

There is an idea floating around Utah, Arizona, Missouri, Idaho and California for a chain of non-pretentious Mormon-themed restaurants called "The Steak Center" (Where There's Never a Dry, Boring Meating!).

Each Steak Center will have one enormous dining area with basketball hoops at either end and folding metal chairs and long tables covered in plastic tablecloths.

The Steak Centers will not have hostesses, but greeters -- men in their seventies will meet you at the door and talk like they have known you all your life.

The main menu items for lunch and dinner will be: 
Porterhouse Rockwell Steak
Primary Rib
Poor Wayfaring Pan of Beef
Parsley P. Pratt Funeral Potatoes
Eliza R. Snow crab (in season)
And It Came to Pasta
Kraft MacaMoroni and Cheese.

Breakfast items will include:
Pearls of Great Rice
Frosted Minivans

Also available:
In Our Lovely Desserts
Fast Sundaes
Gadianton Cobbler
Laman Meringue Pie (just sinful!)

The waiters will be 12- and 13-year-old boys wearing white shirts and their fathers' ties.

At the end of the night the customers will be asked to help fold up the chairs and tables and vacuum the floor.

Franchises are selling faster than Sunbeams on Skittles! Get yours while they last! 

--Guest post from David Dean