Sunday, August 31, 2008
We live in a choice land. Repetition, repetition, repetition – remember, remember, remember. “Be men” and put on the armor of righteousness.
2 Nephi 2
Our days should be spent in the service of God. It is important to share the gospel. I’m reminded of the “agency” lesson from seminary last year:
Four Essential Elements of Agency:
1. There must be laws that define good and evil. (You can’t earn a reward if you don’t know what to do to earn it.)
2. There must be an alternate choice to what is defined as good. (You can’t be rewarded for not taking anything off the table if there’s nothing to take off the table.)
3. A person must have knowledge of what the choices and consequences are. (You can’t choose the giant candy bar in the pocket if all you see is the tiny one on the table.)
4. A person must have complete freedom to choose between the two choices. (You can’t be limited by having your selection disappear as you reach for it.)
Every day we need to repent. Satan wants us to be miserable, but it’s our choice – we can choose to follow him and be miserable like him, or we can choose to follow the Savior and receive eternal life and happiness. Says Lehi: “I have chosen the good part” – we have a lot of good examples to follow.
“A few weeks before President Heber J. Grant passed away, one of the Brethren went to visit him in his home. Before the man left, President Grant prayed, “O God, bless me that I shall not lose my testimony and keep faithful to the end!” Can you imagine President Grant, one of the great prophets of the Restoration, the President of the Church for nearly 27 years, praying that he would keep faithful to the end? No one is immune from Satan’s influence and temptations. Do not be so proud to think that you are beyond the adversary’s influence. Be watchful that you do not fall prey to his deceptions. Stay close to the Lord through daily scripture study and daily prayer. We cannot afford to sit back and take our salvation for granted. We must be anxiously engaged our whole lives. These words of President Brigham Young motivate and remind us that we can never give up the fight to endure: ‘The men and women, who desire to obtain seats in the celestial kingdom, will find that they must battle every day [for this sacred goal].’“ (Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Press On,” Ensign, Nov 2004, 101)
2 Nephi 3
God knows our individual faith. It is a work of great worth to teach others, to be an instrument to build the kingdom of God on earth. That starts within us (see Luke 17:21) because of our individual obedience (see D&C 50:35).
2 Nephi 4
Children brought up in the way of the Lord will not depart from it, which just shows how crucial teaching young children is. Parents want their children to be happy so they teach with love and the Spirit. We can delight in the scriptures; the key is to ponder them continually. “The more I learn, the more I learn I need to learn.” Do I “wax bold in mighty prayer?” (See James 5:16) Trust in God.
2 Nephi 5
Nephi shows us the pattern of happiness: keep commandments, study scriptures, teach others, attend temple, work hard (specifically mentions planting seeds, making swords, building buildings, laboring with hands, being industrious).
“I never did a day’s work in my life—it was all fun” (Thomas Edison).
“God sells us all things at the price of labor” (Leonardo da Vinci).
“Work is a spiritual necessity” (Neal A. Maxwell).
“Each will find that happiness in this world mainly depends on the work he does, and the way in which he does it” (Brigham Young).
“The privilege to work is a gift” (David O. McKay).
from the Richard Evans’ Quote Book [Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, 1971], pp. 43-50
After pondering this topic most of the morning, it was interesting to discover that all the sacrament meeting talks today were on work, probably because tomorrow is Labor Day. Here are a few additional scriptures to reference: Matthew 11:28-30, Alma 34:32-34, Alma 36:25, Psalm 128:2, 2 Thess. 3:10. Remember that work is a god-like duty and that working honorably is a godly trait.
2 Nephi 6
Jacob repeats Nephi’s teachings from 1 Nephi 21. Teachers repeat counsel because of concern for others. Blessings come to those who wait for the Lord. See Isaiah 40:31, D&C 133:45, and 2 Thess. 3:4-5.
Friday, August 29, 2008
We also discovered when we moved to Florida that we missed the bounties of California's Central Valley. I'm not sure where our grocery stores shop, but it's just not the same. So I was excited when I was invited to be part of a group that takes advantage of the local farmer's market. It's really been a lot of fun, and has helped our food budget as well. We've tried things I never thought my kids would like - fresh pineapple, kiwi, mango, starfruit, eggplant, garlic and green peppers - along with the standard apples, oranges, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and onions. This week it was my turn to go, and I thought I should take a camera to document the experience:
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
When it’s time to work, don’t complain – just do what it takes to get the job done. We’re expected to provide for our families. The Liahona – which represents the scriptures, personal revelation, etc. – works according to our faith, diligence, and heed.
1 Nephi 17
The earth was made to be inhabited. The Lord takes care of our needs when we can’t. (See Matthew 6:28-34) The list of miracles goes on and on if you’re looking. Develop faith to do whatever God commands – start with 10 commandments: Worship God, Honor parents, Love neighbors. I like 1 Nephi 17:3 better than 3:7 because he gives us an idea of “how” we can do anything the Lord commands – he nourishes, strengthens and provides the means.
1 Nephi 18
Pray often so the Lord can give you direction. When a job needs to be done, everyone helps, working “according to age”, yet remember that children need “nourishing.”
1 Nephi 19
“Persuade to remember” - When President Spencer W. Kimball was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, he said: “When you look in the dictionary for the most important word, do you know what it is? It could be ‘remember.’ Because all of you have made covenants—you know what to do and you know how to do it—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 they ‘… may always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them’ ” (Circles of Exaltation [address delivered at seminary and institute summer school, Brigham Young University, 28 June 1968], 8).
1 Nephi 20
Invitation to “come unto me.” Share the gospel – use music. Can’t allow name to be polluted (family/discipline connotations). When you keep the commandments, your peace is as a river – constantly flowing.
1 Nephi 21-22
The righteous need not fear. Blessings come from being obedient. (See D&C 133:45.)
We had stake conference this weekend. Our leaders covered many of the same topics that Nephi did. They understand that obedience leads to righteousness which leads to happiness. We need to be aware of Satan's traps: discouragement, casualness in discipleship, worldliness, procrastination, rationalization, etc. We need to remember why we're here on earth and the promises that are ours if we keep the commandments. We've been given the standards, we just need to live them. I should do better at remembering this motto:
"Do it, do it right, do it right now!"
Friday, August 22, 2008
The menu hasn't changed much since I went to high school either. Although 90% of the time I brought lunch from home, my "flashback" for today was remembering the occasional burrito or churro I bought 30 years ago. Our kids also have the option to buy lunch at the cafeteria once a week or so, but apparently it's not worth the hassle to stand in line! They'd rather have the time to eat. So, they're stuck with the same predictable menu.
11,000 bag lunches DONE - 1,000 to go!!!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Above is a picture of "Hole in the Rock" on the Oregon coast. When we visited it on our honeymoon, Wayne was starving, with no McDonald's in sight. As we hiked down the trail, I noticed some berries on a bush and offered to pick him some. He accused me of trying to poison him and refused to eat them! (near death experience #1)
Then, being the adventurer he is, once we reached the bottom, he decided that he really needed to explore this neat phenomenon - that meant go climbing down into the hole with the tide coming in! I was terrified the whole time. (near death experience #2, or maybe it was #1 for me) It's a good thing he survived both ordeals, because we didn't have any life insurance at the time.
Also a part of our family lore, on this trip to the beach, Wayne discovered the original stones that David threw at Goliath. They have been kept in a very safe spot for the last 26 years, and are only brought out on special occasions - like when we study that story for family night.
15 years later, we visited the spot again, this time with our kids, so that they could re-enact our adventures first hand. You'll notice the bushes behind Steven, and Jeff in the rocky crevice where the waves come. There isn't a picture of the pebbly beach, but I can assure you that all the kids looked very carefully to make sure their dad didn't miss any "David and Goliath" stones!This morning we decided we're both too young to have been married this long, and it just doesn't seem possible! But it has been long enough for us to know that I would never feed him poisoned berries and that he'll never put himself in dangerously precarious positions on purpose!
We're looking forward to an eternity of additional adventures! Happy Anniversary to Us!!
Monday, August 18, 2008
Sunday, August 17, 2008
1 Nephi 8
Lehi followed the guide, but didn’t see the tree until after he prayed. Success takes both following the prophet AND receiving personal inspiration. Remember the 4 “C”s – commence, catch hold, cling, continue. It takes doing all of them to make it to the tree of life. Also, there were two great talks in last conference on “heeding them not” that remind us to ignore the temptations of the world. (See Elder Zwick and Elder Neuenschwander’s talks in the April 2008 Sunday afternoon session.)
1 Nephi 9
It’s important to keep multiple records. Journals, scrapbooks, post-it notes, wall hangings, even emails and blogs, have different purposes and “speak” to us in different ways. If you separate your spiritual insights and promptings from your daily schedules and to-do lists, it’s easier to be reminded of what you once felt when you need that reassurance and comfort. (See 2 Timothy 1:6)
Also, remember that God knows everything, so we should have faith and be obedient even when we don’t understand, and just trust in Him.
1 Nephi 10
Seek diligently to know and understand the mysteries of God. We won’t understand spiritual things without personal effort. (See Matthew 13:11-13 which explains why the Savior uses parables.)
1 Nephi 11
Righteous desires coupled with faith and prayer lead to revelation. Christ wants to fulfill our desires, and he does – the experiences of Abraham, Solomon, John the Beloved, Nephi, and the 3 Nephites show a few examples. In addition, righteous desires lead to joy. However, we still need to remember to trust God’s timing.
“Why should I desire more than to perform the work to which I have been called?” Alma 29:6
“There is a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Eccl. 3:1
“Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him. . . Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37:4-7
Reminded of song by Sally DeFord: “Hear Thou the Song of my Heart” (which can be found at http://www.defordmusic.com/ - click on the alphabetical list under quick navigation).
The word of God leads to the love of God which brings great joy. Tree of life stands for love of God, which is most desirable, but the fruit of the tree is eternal life (see 1 Nephi 15:36 and D&C 14:7), which is his greatest gift.
“Condescension of God” is first definition of the word condescend: waiving privileges of rank and authority, NOT second definition: patronizing and superior attitude.
1 Nephi 12
The way to avoid pride is to be in the temple. (See Zephaniah 3:8-11, also D&C 90:17).
Side note found in D&C 90:18 “Set in order your houses; keep slothfulness and uncleanness far from you.” – pretty good counsel for helping us become closer to God and further from Satan.
1 Nephi 13
Heavenly Father knows what he’s doing; he set up the plan from the beginning. All scriptures are of great worth. When you’re humble, you have the Spirit and can do all things. Seek to bring forth Zion.
1 Nephi 14
We each have our own individual callings and assignments (Nephi and John the Revelator).
Nephi saw our day. He saw rampant wickedness and he saw only a few saints. However, those saints were armed with righteousness. (See Ephesians 6:11-18 and D&C 27:15-18.) How do we do that? With daily prayer, scripture study, following the prophet, listening to the Spirit, trying to keep all the commandments, etc. I’m reminded of Pres. Kimball’s quote on what constitutes the drops of oil we put in our lamp of preparation. (See Elder Bednar’s comments.)
1 Nephi 15
Wonderful promise in verse 24: if we “hold fast to the word” (study the scriptures and give heed to their counsel), we will “never perish” or be overcome by the adversary.
There was an awful lot in these chapters! And most of it is nothing new. Just keep the commandments - something that while simple in concept, is not always simple in execution. But just keep trying!
Saturday, August 16, 2008
for one serving:
Put 2 tablespoons of butter/margarine in a pie/cake pan and place in a 450° degree oven to melt. While that's melting, combine 2/3 cup milk with 2/3 cup flour and 2 eggs. Pour into the hot, melted butter and bake for 12 minutes. Top with syrup.
for 4-6 servings:
Put 4-6 tablespoons of butter in a 9x13 pan and place in a 450° oven to melt. Meanwhile, combine 2 cups milk with 2 cups flour and 6 eggs. Pour into hot pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.
I was first introduced to this recipe as a teenager when my mom took a "fancy" cooking class. It's been a family favorite ever since. I think it would taste delicious topped with fruit, but the boys have always vetoed that idea.
Friday, August 15, 2008
When they were in elementary school, our children had a choice. They could play any sport they wanted, as long as it was soccer. Once they reached high school, however, we figured they could expand their horizons. So, Weston added track to soccer. Then his junior year came and he wanted to play football. FOOTBALL!! There was a reason the parents picked soccer!
Nevertheless, Weston persisted. He had valid, well-thought-out and good reasons for trying out. After signing a contract with us (that said late practices were no excuse to miss seminary or act like a grouch at home), and with the understanding that while we'd love to come to his games, there were other activities that would have priority, he joined the team. He managed his time well and enjoyed being part of the team, even though as 4th string wide receiver he didn't get a lot of playing time. However, we all have at least one fond memory - the game which made him eligible for "the receiver with the longest average for the season" - his one and only receipt for the season. It even made the paper!
And I learned some things. You don't have to be the best at something to enjoy it. Parents and children don't always have to agree. Sometimes, even, the kids are smarter and know more than the parents! He had a wonderful experience and made a lot of friends. He had the opportunity to be a good example to a lot of people. I'll admit I'm glad it only lasted one year, and that no one else felt the desire to try out for football, but overall I appreciate the lessons I learned in letting my children make their own righteous decisions.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Mom: I know, I want to play a couple of songs after prayer.
M: I liked hearing you play those songs this morning. I wish that were my alarm every day.
J: Yeah, I remember waking up to Bach and Beethoven when I was in middle school. They're my favorite composers.
Mom: Then I guess we'll have to get you a cd to be your alarm at college.
J: I already have one, symphonies one and two! (take with a grain of salt - this is Jeff after all)
After I got out "Hear Thou the Song of my Heart" yesterday morning, I realized it really didn't have anything to do with 1 Nephi 11, but the Lord had another purpose in having me remember it. I never would have known how much my kids remember and appreciate me playing the piano. I shouldn't be surprised - some of my favorite childhood memories are of waking up Sunday morning to my dad playing the piano. We get to start a new early morning routine Monday. Maybe we can throw in some Bach and Beethoven at 4:45 AM!
(Have you figured out who's who?)
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Someone wasn't very happy. Enjoy the picture while you can, because it will probably be removed in a few days.
Typical Florida downpour. At least the gutters and downspouts are clear this week!
Sunday, August 10, 2008
1 Nephi 1 - Good parents: teach, keep records, pray, read scriptures, praise God, work hard (make things with their own hand), and look for miracles (tender mercies)
1 Nephi 2 - I should be: humble, submissive, gentle, patient, temperate, diligent, obedient, prayerful, thankful, “easy to be entreated” or helpful. Faith, hope and charity lead to good works. Taken from Alma 7:23-24
1 Nephi 3 - Commandments are not from parents, but from God. We are blessed when we don’t complain, so alternatively complainers rarely see blessings. God’s ways work, not ours. First Nephi and his brothers “cast lots” – left things to chance – then they used they used their own reasoning – let’s buy the plates – before seeking for and trusting God’s way – even though they had no idea what his way was.
1 Nephi 4 - Just GO. We can’t know the Lord’s plan from the beginning, yet as we gain more knowledge it makes sense. 1) Kill Laban. 2) Kill Laban, God has delivered him into your hands. 3) Kill Laban. God has delivered him into your hands. The Lord slayeth the wicked for his purposes; it is better for one man to die than a nation to perish. “Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reasons thereof till long after the events transpire.” Joseph Smith, Teachings, pg. 256. See also D&C 64:12-13 and Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign, September 1976, pg. 83
1 Nephi 5 - Comfort others by bearing testimony to them. Example of chapter 1’s teach, pray, read scriptures, praise God, appreciate tender mercies.
1 Nephi 6 - Keep records of worth. Write about the things of God, don’t worry about everything. Persuade others to “come unto Christ.”
1 Nephi 7 - It’s a commandment to raise up children to God. We also have a responsibility to help others remember Him, and His miracles and blessings, even if they get angry with us for doing so.
These are just snippets of thoughts, but they're the ones I was inspired to record. On Saturday, I only spent a couple of minutes actually reading in the Book of Mormon. Michelle noticed and wondered why I didn't take the 15 minutes that seminary teachers require of their students. That was a good question! But I have learned that reading just a couple of minutes in the morning gives me a focus for something to think about throughout the whole day, and even a little bit makes a difference. That's one reason why I love Elder Packer's quote: “Things of the Spirit need not – indeed should not – require our uninterrupted time and attention. Ordinary work-a-day things occupy most of our attention. And that is as it should be. We are mortal beings living in this physical world. Spiritual things are like leavening. By measure they may be very small, but by influence they affect all that we do.”
A couple of months ago I was released as a seminary teacher. All of a sudden I didn't have anything all-consuming to occupy me and I was feeling just a touch lost. I turned to the latest general conference report to seek direction, and these are the phrases that jumped out at me in just the first few talks:
"We cannot be released as parents." (Elder Nelson)
"Bring up your children in light and truth." (D&C 93:40)
"Our personal journey through life provides us with many special experiences that become building blocks of faith and testimony." (Elder Rasband)
"What is the legacy we are giving our children?" (Sister Lant)
"We must hand down to future generations a foundation of faith." (Elder Johnson)
"Give encouragement, service, and support to your loved ones." (Elder Wirthlin)
I've been pondering how to apply this counsel to children that are no longer living with us, and I finally received an answer, or at least one of them. I had already decided to read the New Testament this summer in preparation for the new seminary year. The first thing that came to my mind in June was to continue to do that. We'll have two seminary students and I'm still their parent, and I can be available (and prepared!) as a very last minute substitute if necessary. Since they don't have their driver's licenses yet, I'll still be up to get them to the church on time anyway!!
Well, last week I finished the New Testament and it was time to get more direction. I decided to think about it as I prepared dinner, but was prompted to actually have a "kneel by the bed in the middle of the afternoon" prayer. I probably shouldn't be amazed at the results, but I was. I had two questions "How can I best help build the kingdom of God on earth?" and "What should I be looking for as I read the Book of Mormon through this time?" What was amazing was that I instantly realized that the second question was the answer to the first question, which then became the answer to the second question. (It doesn't matter if that makes sense to you, because it makes sense to me.) So then, while putting dinner on the table, I was able to define four areas of focus which for me entail "building the kingdom of God" and that is to help strengthen my immediate family, my extended family, my ward family, and my friends or extended church family.
With those thoughts in mind, I started with 1 Nephi 1:1 last Monday. I thought then that this blog would be a good forum for sharing those thoughts with my immediate family, since most of them aren't around for dinner table converstions, but I resisted that at first. It just seemed to be too public. However, the thought wouldn't go away. And I have learned that that means something!
I may not be able to nurture my grown children physically, but I can try to nurture them spiritually. I want a place for my children to go to receive encouragement when they're feeling down, to remember what they felt when they were living at home, and to know that they are always greatly loved, by both their earthly and heavenly parents.
So, that will be my audience for my "Scripture Study Insights" entries. If anyone else benefits from what write (and I actually do hope my thoughts are helpful for anyone who checks or stumbles across this blog), that's just an added bonus.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
(That's with baby Weston, then Weston helping her blow out her birthday candles a couple of years later, and then - kind of obvious - the beautiful bride.)
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
1996: Reilly Beckstrand born (Happy Birthday to Scott's oldest son!)
1999: Weston goes on his first date - a group date organized by his friend Jay (can't believe we didn't record the girl's name!)
2000: last Sunday in Antioch - Becky released as RS Secretary
2001: Brad makes scripture cookies for FHE
2003: Back to School!!
2007: Brad doesn't make scripture cookies for FHE even though we finish reading El Libro de Mormon.
Once we finished reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish for our family scripture study, we had a family council on what to do next, and that meant thinking back to the beginning of our tradition. Our oldest was 8 or 9 when we finally made the committment to have daily scripture time as a family. The vote then was to start with Genesis 1 and make our way through all four standard works, which we did. Years later, when that goal was complete, we went through the Book of Mormon several times. Last summer we realized that our youngest weren't even born the last time we started the Old Testament. In addition, the seminary course of study for last year was the Old Testament. So, we decided that we would read the Bible again as a family. It's been one year and we're 1/3 way through the Old Testament (that puts us in 1 Samuel). If we keep on track, we'll be able to complete this before Steven leaves home!