Our Home: “a Holy Place!”

Let not your heart be troubled!”  (John 14:1)

In the Holy Scriptures, we are warned concerning perils and tribulations that will occur in “the last days.”  Even the Savior Himself has warned us that in the last days there will be “wars, and rumors of wars.” And, He has added that “peace shall be taken from the earth.” (D&C 1:35) Today, we are approaching and may well be in those very days.

However, despite these warnings, and the declaration that “peace shall be taken from the earth,” the prophets also teach that peace will not be taken away “universally.”  Peace will only be taken away “generally.” The peaceable and faithful followers of Christ may continue to enjoy the love and peace that come through fellowship with the Savior and the Holy Spirit.  (See  “Blessed Are the Peacemakers,” Russell M. Nelson, Ensign Magazine, Nov. 2002, 39–41).

On four additional occasions, the Lord has said with great encouragement:

      • “…let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God.” (D&C 101:16)
      • “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14:1)
      • “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:18)  And,
      • “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)
“Stand in Holy Places!”  (D&C 87:8)

Concerning the impact of these “perils and tribulations,” the Lord counsels us to: Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved.” (D&C 87:8)  This past weekend, in a priesthood meeting, we discussed the subject of “Holy Places.”  What are they?  Where are they?  And how do we come to be there …and to “Stand” there?

By definition, “a Holy Place” is a hallowed and sacred place or sanctuary.  Holy places are often consecrated, dedicated, and set apart as sacred places of worship.  We go to these places to separate ourselves from “the World.”  As we discussed this in our priesthood class, group members identified several examples of Holy Places, including: the Lord’s Holy Temples and our Church Meetinghouses.  In addition, some individuals correctly suggested mountain tops and nature in general as Holy Places.  One member of our group (Brother Justin Gray) suggested we as individuals can create a “Holy Place” within ourselves.  Thus, we would be “a Holy Place.”  He said, we can embrace holiness in our personal lives and stand firm (“…be not moved”).  This was an insightful thought.  It suggests we can personally nurture and increase our Christ-Like behaviors and attributes of holiness in ourselves and thus always “stand in a Holy Place” in whatsoever circumstances we may find ourselves.  Essentially, we would align ourselves with the Lord and the Holy Spirit, put on the figurative “armor of God” (protecting ourselves), and enjoy the peace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ wherever we may stand.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we can and should strive to be more like Him, more Christ-Like (more Holy).  Aligning ourselves with Christ (in our behaviors, attitudes, and actions) will invite a greater influence of the Holy Spirit in our personal lives and in our homes.  It will increase our personal levels of holiness and will be visible in our countenance.  This in turn will allow us to reflect and share the Light of Christ with others.

However, and this is important, if for whatever reason there is anything in our behavior (or environment) that offends the Holy Spirit, He will out of necessity withdraw, His influence will be gone, and our holiness will vanish.  (D&C 121:36-37) Thus, if we desire to follow Christ (to be Disciples of Christ) we should always strive to be worthy, and to stand “…in Holy Places, and be not moved.”

During this past year of social distancing and restrictions, I believe we have learned that one of the holiest of places on earth can and should be “Our Homes.”  This is where we raise, teach, nourish, and protect our families from “the World.”  For that reason, we need our homes to be peaceful and secure places of refuge.  And it would be well to dedicate our homes for that sacred purpose.  We need our homes to be “Holy Places.”

President Russell M. Nelson has emphasized this point.  He said, “There are few pursuits more important than this. Between now and the time the Lord comes again, we all need our homes to be places of serenity and security.  …your commitment to make your home your primary sanctuary of faith should never end.  As faith and holiness decrease in this fallen world, your need for holy places will increase. I urge you to continue to make your home a truly holy place ‘and be not moved’ from that essential goal.”

Making our Home a “Holy Place”

I have often heard it suggested that if we want our homes to be more “Holy,” we should pattern them after the peaceful and holy atmosphere found in the Holy Temples.  While this is not entirely a bad idea, it is not very practical.  After all, we must live, love, laugh, play, sing and grow in our homes.  But, what can we do to pattern our homes after the Lord’s Holy Temples?  Among other things, we can:

    • Work as a family to instill an atmosphere of Christ-Like love, devolution, and respect for one another.
    • Work together to keep our homes clean, organization and orderly.
    • Eat family meals together and always share clean-up duties.
    • Participate in uplifting personal and family activities …together.
    • Respect and follow family norms and standards.

Also, I believe we should have a certain amount of reverence in the home, although it should not preclude joy, as well as some fun and laughter.  However, loud boisterous  noises in the home are often contrary to the peace and quiet we seek in our homes.  When our children were still at home with us, we had a few very strict rules.  One of them was:  “No yelling in the home …unless there is a fire or some other emergency.”

Please keep in mind, making our homes “Holy Places” is NOT a onetime event.  More likely, it will be a long-term family effort that will continue to improve over time.  Meanwhile, in that noble process, we should remain alert and sensitive to ideas we may have/receive along ways, ideas that may improve the holiness in our homes.  And if possible, we should diligently make those adjustments where necessary.

At times, we may struggle in our homes as we strive to meet expectations.  But, DO NOT give up!  Making our homes “Holy Places” is an enormously important duty, to ourselves, our families, and our God.  But, it is well worth the effort required.  By itself, Home Management is a science (colleges and universities actual offer degrees in Home Management).  But, from an Eternal perspective, parenting and home management is “a Holy Mission” and, “a Sacred Duty.”  It requires vision, diligence, physical strength, and spiritually.  And, it needs to be  maintained with faith, love and divine guidance.  To be sure, building and maintaining homes that are “Holy Places,” come with great blessings and rewards.  So, continue to do what you can and must do.  If you struggle with what needs to be done, and you need help, counsel together as a family, and ask the Lord for guidance.  Parenting is a sacred partnership with God.  If you ask with sincerity, the Lord will answer/inspire you.

Preparation for Success!

Do you remember the wise example of Captain Moroni (the Chief Captain of all the Nephite Armies) when he “…did not stop making preparations …to defend his people”? (See Book of Mormon, Alma 50:1-4) His diligent preparations to ready his people for battle against the Lamanites proved remarkably effective and successful.  On many levels, his example of diligent preparation can serve as a type pointing to the struggles (battles) we are facing today, and will continue to face in the future.  Moroni knew the Lamanite enemies were a threat to the Nephite people, so he diligently prepared defenses to protect them.

Like Captain Moroni, we too have an enemy at our door.  Will preparing our homes to be “Holy Places” help us?  Will preparing ourselves by faithfully keeping the commandments of God and remaining on the covenant path help us?  Will sacred ordinance work in the Holy Temple help us?  Will attending sacred worship services in our dedicated meetinghouse help us?  And, will making our homes “Holy Places” (where we can stand) protect us from the evil threats and enemies of our day?  Yes, they will!

(NOTE: Have you ever wondered why the Book of Mormon contains so much information concerning wars, rumors of wars, battles, unimaginable death counts, and destruction of whole cities (as recorded in “the so called Wars Chapters“)?  Could it be they are provided to us in these last days as a type pointing to our times and providing examples for us to follow.  Consider Moroni’s faith in God, his love for his people, and his inspired preparations for battle: their fortifications, their armor and weapons, their strength, their bravery, and their banners. Moroni was fighting against genuine evil, and the defeat of the evil enemies. We can learn and gain wisdom by reading about Captain Moroni’s preparations.  As I said, we too have enemies at our door.)

Some Personal Background

My personal home management and parenting experiences are probably quite different than most (six years of hands-on experience at single father parenting of seven children).  Shortly after the birth of our seventh child, my dear wife (Jenny) became seriously ill and passed away suddenly.  At that moment, parenting and homemaking took on a new dimension for me.  Our children (ages five months through 13 years) became my sole responsibility.  This was for me a near overwhelming responsibility. Regrettably, at the time of Jenny’s death, I was ill-prepared for the sheer volume of responsibilities and duties that came with being a single parent and homemaker (…the list is long!).  I had to somehow get my arms around the enormity of my new responsibilities.  I knew I lacked many of the skills of a homemaker, and I needed to learn those skills quickly.

At the time, I was an active-duty military man (US Air Force, 1968-1994) and for me the initial steps were obvious:  I had to “organize my unit.”  (I am not recommending my actions as the perfect solution, but for me, they worked.  We got organized.)  I began by writing Our Family Vision and Mission Statement.  I also established Edgar Family Rules (what to do, what not to do, and in rare cases: consequences for misbehavior)!  And I created “operating procedures, instructions, and checklists” for completing each household task.  I acknowledge “operating procedures, instructions, and checklists” are probably a bit over the top for the genuine homemaker, but I needed to be specific about each household task and what exactly would constitute “task completion.”  I will not include my full instructions here for fear of being ridiculed by real homemakers, and possibly frightening others.  But I will share below some of the practices, policies, philosophies, and simple guidelines I followed.

Basic Housekeeping Practices and Policies
    • Have a trash can in every room:
      Bedrooms, Bathrooms, Kitchen, Office, and Garage. Put all trash in those cans! Do not fill the cans to overflowing.  Gather the trash before the cans are full: bag and place trash in the dumpster.
    • Have a Personal Bathing schedule (Baths):
      With seven children of various ages, this was complicated.  But I did have a plan.  I won’t try to explain it here, but it included a schedule (very important), a reasonable amount of time (also very important), a limit to the number of towels allowed for one bath, and clean-up in the bathroom after the bath.
    • Have a “dirty clothes” laundry basket in every bedroom:
      Only put “soiled clothing” in the baskets.  Always return clean clothes to the closet/drawers.
    • Have a spray bottle of Windex or disinfection, and a roll of Paper Towels, under each sink in the house.
    • Have a Chores Chart:  Yes, we had a well organized chores/assignment chart (very important).  However, I won’t include a copy here.
    • Policy: Clean the kitchen immediately after each meal.  This includes clearing the trash, washing all dishes/utensils/etc., putting them away, and wiping down all surfaces with disinfectants spray.
    • Policy: Clothing items are to be kept in one of three places ONLY1) On our bodies; 2) In the laundry basket/laundry room; or 3) Put away neatly in drawers or closets.  Never leave clothing on the floor!
    • Policy: When you take something out, return it (or dispose of it if trash) when you are finished!
    • Policy: Routinely pick up things that are out of place and return them to “their place.”
    • Policy: Remove clutter when you see it!
General Housekeeping Philosophy (and Tools)
    • Think about and try to understand the truth of the old saying: “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”  What does it mean?
    • Accept ownership of your life. Be aware of your surroundings and your situation.  Clear and clean deliberately, diligently, and dependably.  Discipline yourself!
    • Include all family members in the housekeeping effort. Be a team.  Work together for the common good.  (Even small children can learn skills.)
    • Learn basic “Housekeeping Skills” and teach them to each child.
    • Plan regular and thorough house cleaning days.
    • Always be alert! Pickup and/or straighten little things as you go.
    • Understand your tools and equipment: i.e., Washing Machine, Clothes Dryer, Dishwasher, Kitchen Sink, In-sink Garbage Disposal, Vacuum Cleaner, mops, brooms, brushes, toilet/sink plunger, rags, cleaning chemicals, and the lawnmower, etc.

“Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.” (D&C 132:8)

Conclusion:

In this post, I began by considering the counsel of the Lord to “Stand ye in Holy places, and be not moved.” (D&C 87:8) I asked and identified several places that we could consider “Holy Places:” i.e., Sacred Holy Temples, Dedicated Meetinghouses, Mountain Tops, and Nature.  We also considered the value of creating a “Holy Place” within ourselves.  I believe all these “places” can be holy places for us.  However, looking back on this post, I see I focused mostly on our home as a “Holy Place.”  I believe it was for a very significant reason.  As President Nelson said: “There are few pursuits more important than this. … we all need our homes to be places of serenity and security.”  And, “I urge you to continue to make your home a truly holy place ‘and be not moved’ from that essential goal.”

Going forward, I feel it would be good to periodically and prayerfully ask ourselves this question: “How am I (and my family) doing in making our home a “Holy Place?”  And then consider this question:  “What can, or should I be doing to retain that sacred feeling in my home and with my family?”

When you receive answers to those two questions, make a note to yourself to help you remember, and then obey the promptings.


Click HERE to Read Home Insights from “Mister Mom!

Click HERE to Read Sacrament Service in our Home

Click HERE to Read Overcoming ‘Roadblocks’ to Reading the Book of Mormonwhere I discuss the War Chapter in the Book of Mormon (among other things).

Click HERE to Return to My Index of Blog Posts.

Faith in God unto Life and Salvation

PREFACE:  For the record, I believe the following is valuable and important information.  It includes readings from documents provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as personal observations, and some of my own opinions.  I am not an ecclesiastical leader, nor am I a person of authority.  I am not trying to impose my opinions; I am trying to share and express my observations and thoughts about a topic I consider important (Faith in Jesus Christ unto Life and Salvation).  I am just a man with a computer and a viewpoint.  However, I consider myself a Disciple of Jesus Christ: I strive to learn of Him and follow His teachings and examples.  The bulk of this information was extracted from historical study topics found on the website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

BACKGROUND:  The School of the Prophets and the Lectures on Faith:

In December 1832, Joseph Smith received a revelation directing him to establish a school for the elders of the Church in Kirtland. Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand.”
(Doctrine and Covenants 88:78)

Upstairs Classroom
The N.K. Whitney Store

“Joseph Smith and his contemporaries used the term School of the Prophets’ to describe this new school.  The first session of the school opened on January 22, 1833, in an upper room of Newel K. Whitney’s store.  During the 1835 session, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon taught classes based on the theological lectures that came to be known as the “Lectures on Faith.”

“The Lectures on Faith is the popular title of a set of seven theological lectures delivered in the School of the Elders.  These lectures represent perhaps the earliest attempt to formulate a systematic Latter-day Saint theology, informed by the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith’s early revelations. They define faith and the conditions on which it is acquired and nourished.  Three things are necessary, the lectures teach, for any “rational and intelligent being” to exercise the faith in God necessary for salvation: first, the idea that God exists; second, a correct idea of His character, perfections, and attributes; and third, a knowledge that the course of life one pursues is in accordance with His (God’s) will. The lectures elaborate on and explain these ideas.

“All seven lectures were published together later that year (1835) in the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.”  The lectures constituting “the doctrine,” and Joseph Smith’s revelations, “the covenants.”  The lectures were included in English editions of the Doctrine and Covenants until 1921 and in most non-English translations.

“The lectures had no specified author, and no manuscript copies exist, leading to speculation about who wrote the lectures. According to Jedediah M. Grant, a resident of Kirtland in 1835, both Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon acted as teachers in the school. Scholars who have examined the scant historical documentation argue that Sidney Rigdon was the author or at least a heavy collaborator in producing the lectures. Indeed, Brigham Young called them the lectures “Brother Sidney prepared.” The extent of Joseph Smith’s involvement in the production of the lectures, if any, is unknown. Nevertheless, the inclusion of the lectures in the Doctrine and Covenants in 1835 strongly suggests that Joseph Smith approved of the content of the lectures.   The publication of the Lectures on Faith in the Doctrine and Covenants elevated its status among Church members.

“In the early 20th century, however, Church leaders became increasingly concerned about some of the statements in the Lectures on Faith.  Elder James E. Talmage, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who led the committee that revised the 1921 Doctrine and Covenants, felt that it would be best to “avoid confusion and contention on … vital point of belief.” In addition, the lectures had not been accepted by the Church as anything other than theological lessons, Talmage’s committee argued. Based on these recommendations, the Lectures on Faith were dropped from the Doctrine and Covenants.

“Even after their removal from the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lectures on Faith have been studied frequently by missionaries and other Church members in reprinted editions, and Church publications sometimes quote from the lectures.”

Church Resources

“Lectures on the Doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” in Doctrine and Covenants, 1835, josephsmithpapers.org.

“Appendix 1: First Theological Lecture on Faith, circa January–May 1835,” in Matthew C. Godfrey, Brenden W. Rensink, Alex D. Smith, Max H Parkin, and Alexander L. Baugh, eds., Documents, Volume 4: April 1834–September 1835. Vol. 4 of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers, edited by Ronald K. Esplin and Matthew J. Grow (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2016), 457–467.


Now that you have a little background and history of the School of the Prophets and the Lectures on Faith, please read on and focus on “Lecture Third.”  This is the nugget I was most interested in sharing in this Blog Post.

“Lectures on Faith”

LECTURE THIRD

Prepared by the Prophet Joseph Smith
Delivered to the School of the Prophets in Kirkland, Ohio (1834-35).

(An Extract from pages 38-39).

“In the second lecture it was shewn how it was that the knowledge of the existence of God came into the world, and by what means the first thoughts were suggested to the minds of men that such a Being did actually exist; and that it was by reason of the knowledge of his existence that there was a foundation laid for the exercise of faith in him, as the only Being in whom faith could center for life and salvation; for faith could not center in a Being of whose existence we have no idea, because the idea of his existence in the first instance is essential to the exercise of faith in him. Romans 10:14: “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (or one sent to tell them?)  So, then, faith comes by hearing the word of God.

“Let us here observe, that three things are neces­sary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.

“First, the idea that He (Jesus Christ) actually exists.
“Secondly, a correct idea of His character, perfections, and attributes.
“Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he (meaning any rational and intelligent being) is pursuing is according to His (God’s) will.

“For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive; but with this understanding it can become perfect and fruitful, abounding in righteousness, unto the praise and glory of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

(Italics, brackets, underlining, and color are added for emphasis.)


Click HERE to read to Faith and Charity.

Click HERE to return to Index of Blog Posts.

Lectures on Faith

LECTURE THIRD
Prepared by the Prophet Joseph Smith
Delivered to the School of the Prophets in Kirkland, Ohio (1834-35).

(An Extract from pages 38-39).


“In the second lecture it was shewn how it was that the knowledge of the existence of God came into the world, and by what means the first thoughts were suggested to the minds of men that such a Being did actually exist; and that it was by reason of the knowledge of his existence that there was a foundation laid for the exercise of faith in him, as the only Being in whom faith could center for life and salvation; for faith could not center in a Being of whose existence we have no idea, because the idea of his existence in the first instance is essential to the exercise of faith in him.  Romans 10:14: “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (or one sent to tell them?) So, then, faith comes by hearing the word of God.

“Let us here observe, that three things are neces­sary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.

“First, the idea that he actually exists.
“Secondly, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes.
“Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he (meaning any rational and intelligent being) is pursuing is according to His (God’s) will.

“For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive; but with this understanding it can become perfect and fruitful, abounding in righteousness, unto the praise and glory of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

(Italics and color added for emphasis.)


Click HERE to return to or read Faith and Charity.

Click HERE to return to Index of Blog Posts.

A Hummingbird in My Palm

Consider this: Critical Hummingbird Fuel.
Hummingbirds fuel themselves with liquid nectar (sugar).  It provides critical energy for their strenuous flight activities and survival.  During daily activities, Hummingbirds will typically drink nectar six or seven times each hour for about 30-60 seconds each time.

And this: Hummingbird Metabolism.
Except for insects, hummingbirds while in flight have the highest metabolism of all animals – a necessity to support the rapid beating of their wings during hovering and fast forward flight. Their heart rate can reach as high as 1,260 beats per minute, with a breathing rate of 250 breaths per minute, even at rest.  During flight, oxygen consumption per gram of muscle tissue in a hummingbird is about 10 times higher than that measured in elite human athletes.  Hummingbirds are rare among vertebrates in their ability to rapidly make use of ingested sugars to fuel energetically expensive hovering flight, powering up to 100% of their metabolic needs with the sugars they drink (in comparison, human athletes max out at around 30%). Hummingbirds can use newly ingested sugars to fuel hovering flight within 30–45 minutes of consumption.” (from Wikipedia)


Armed with the information above, please let me share a very special Hummingbird experience!  Have you ever held a hummingbird in the palm of your hand?  Well, I have!  It was an honor, an amazing experience I will always remember.

A Hummingbird in My Palm

This event occurred in 1987, on a sunny Summer afternoon in beautiful Monterey, California.  I first saw this hummingbird in flight as I walked into the Navy Exchange building on the campus of the Naval Postgraduate School.  The poor little bird was flying in a large, counterclockwise pattern near the ceiling of the main shopping area.  He was trapped in the building, unable to find the exit, and unable to find a source of critically needed energy (nectar/sugar).

I also noticed he was descending gradually, apparently making a smooth counterclockwise descent.  Eventually, he touched the floor but slid across the polished surface, ending up right at my feet.  He was lying there flat down on the floor with his wings extended straight out from his body, his beak on the floor, and his head facing me.  I could see he was still alive and breathing, but apparently he did not have enough energy to fly.

I knew I had to get him outside where he might find some nectar.  I carefully picked him up, holding him in my palm, and walked outside.  I found a shaded area away from traffic and people and laid him gently on the ground next to a tree.  Then, I returned to the Navy Exchange.

As I walked back, it occurred to me another animal might find him.  Or, he may die from lack of food.  So, I returned to the Hummingbird, gently picked him up again, and laid him inside a very small cardboard box (an empty single serving cereal box).  I decided to take the little bird to my friends (the Bauers) who love and feed many hummingbirds.

At their home, the Bauers both met me at their front door, and we walked through to their backyard patio.  They had a clear glass eyedropper which they filled with sugar nectar.  While I held the tender little hummingbird in the open palm of my hand, they slipped the eyedropper over the bird’s long beak; and immediately, he began drinking the nectar.  Through the glass of the eyedropper, I could see the hummingbird’s long beak and the tip of his little tongue lapping up the nectar.  After about 30 seconds, he pulled his beak out of the eyedropper and sat up.  He looked around for a moment, and then turned back to the eyedropper and resumed lapping up the nectar.

After another 15 or 20 seconds, the hummingbird sat up again, looked about for a few moments, and then flew straight up about 10 feet above us.  He hovered there for a few moments and then flew off quickly.  The Bauers and I just sat there in amazement.  It was a sweet and rewarding experience.

But then, about 10 or 15 minutes later while we were still talking about this, the Hummingbird returned and began feeding at one of the feeders hanging on the Bauers’ porch, just a few feet away.  We immediately recognized him because of the distinctive color and markings about his head and neck.  It was the same Hummingbird.  Based upon his markings and appearance, I believe my Hummingbird was of the Broad-Tailed Hummingbird species.

Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

Note:  There are about 320 species of Hummingbirds (mostly in North, Central and South America).  They are small, often brightly colored birds of the family ‘Trochiliformes.’ These birds often have brilliant, glittering colors and elaborately specialized markings (usually of the males only).  About 12 species are found regularly in the United States and Canada. The northernmost hummingbird is the rufous, which breeds from southeastern Alaska to northern California. The Broad-Tailed Hummingbird breeds in the western United States and Central America and the Allen’s hummingbird breeds in the coastal regions of California.”
(Credit: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.)

Final Thoughts:  If you are interested in having a Hummingbird Feeder, please consider the following information concerning Natural and Artificial Hummingbird food and Feeders.

Are you interested in Hummingbird Feeders and Nectar?
In the wild, hummingbirds visit flowers to extract their natural source of nectar.  This natural nectar is 55% sucrose, 24% glucose and 21% fructose.  This is based on “dry matter” measurements (i.e., a representation of nutrients which ignores the moisture content of the food).  Hummingbirds also take sugar-water from bird feeders.  These artificial feeders allow people to observe and enjoy hummingbirds up close while providing the birds with a reliable source of energy, especially when flower blossoms are less abundant. A negative aspect of artificial feeders, however, is that the birds may seek less flower nectar for food, and thus reduce the amount of pollination their feeding naturally provides.

What is the Best Nectar to use in artificial Hummingbird Feeders?
White Granulated Sugar is the best sweetener to use in hummingbird feeders.  A ratio of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water, or 25% concentration, is a common recipe (although hummingbirds will defend feeders more aggressively when sugar content is at 35%, indicating preference for nectar with higher sweetness and sugar content.  (Please Note:  Red food dye was once thought to be a favorable ingredient for homemade solutions, but it is unnecessary and some people speculate red dye could be bad for the birds.  There is no point in adding it to the nectar.  Commercial products sold as “hummingbird food” may also contain preservatives and/or artificial flavors as well as dyes which are unnecessary.)

What NOT to use in Hummingbird Feeders!
Organic and “raw” sugars contain iron which can be harmful to birds.  Brown sugar, agave syrup, molasses, and artificial sweeteners also should not be used.  Honey is made by bees from the nectar of flowers, but it is not good to use in feeders.  Why?  Because when diluted with water, micro-organisms easily grow in the Honey causing it to spoil rapidly.  (Source: Wikipedia)


Click HERE to return to my Index of Blog Posts page.

Home Insights from “Mister Mom!”

My personal parenting experiences are probably quite different than most.  My wife and I decided early on that we wanted to have eight (8) children (that was her number, and I agreed)!  We had both observed that large families seemed to be “happier” than small family units.  That is not always the case; but at the time, it seemed that way to us.  So, we began our family with eight children in mind.  Sadly, shortly after the birth of our seventh child, my dear wife (Jenny) became seriously ill and passed away suddenly (8 Apr 1984).  At that moment, parenting for me took on a new dimension.   Our seven (7) children (ages five months through 13 years) became my sole responsibility.  This was for me a near overwhelming responsibility.

Jenny was (and is still) a great woman, a loving companion, and a wonderful mother.  In our family, she was the rock.  Adored by each of us (…and, loved by everyone who knew her), we all relied on “Mom!”  It was a shock to us all when she died.  Regrettably, at the time of her death, I was ill-prepared for the sheer volume of responsibilities that came with being a single parent and homemaker.  In addition to my professional career, I became fully responsible for the care and well-being of the children.  Add to that; there was housework: cleaning, laundry, shopping, meal preparation, washing dishes, care for an infant, helping with school assignments, yard work, and general home management.  And, on top of that, there were expectations I had as the spiritual leader in the home: regular Daddy duties, church attendance, Family Home Evenings (FHE), Family Prayers, scripture reading/study, bedtime stories, and counseling.  Poor me!

Anyway, I struggled for many months; and there were good people with good intentions, who said I “…shouldn’t be expected to manage.”  They wanted to find homes for all my children.  However, I would not allow that.  I was their Dad, and I was not going to allow anyone to take them away (or separate them from each other), nor would I have someone else raise and teach them.

Fortunately, during the first month or so, the Ward Relief Society women were there to provide needed “compassionate service.”  They were wonderful, but at times their enthusiasm was a bit overwhelming.  Regardless, they were a great help!  Also, my two oldest children (Heather and Melissa) were daughters – ages 13 and 11 years.  Both were determined to fill in for their mother.  They were extremely helpful, and we all grew together.  These girls were perfect examples of the saying “the Lord makes compensations.”  But at the time of the crisis, and as the only adult in the home, I still had to somehow get my arms around the enormity of my new responsibilities.  I knew I lacked many of the skills of a homemaker, and I needed to learn those skills.

I was an active-duty military man (US Air Force, 1968-1994) and for me the solution was obvious.  I had to “organize my unit.”  I am not recommending the following actions as the perfect solution, but for me, they worked.  We got organized.  I began by writing Our Family Vision and Mission Statement.  I also established Edgar Family Rules (what to do, what not to do, and in rare cases: consequences for misbehavior)!  Then, we identified all the routine tasks that needed to be done in the home.  This included everything from house cleaning, to laundry, to food shopping and preparation, to kitchen setup and clean-up, and trash management.  We also created individual work/duty assignments and outlined a chore schedule.  I looked at each task and familiarized myself with how to accomplish them.  At that point, I created operating procedures, instructions, and checklists” for completing each household task.  I wrote the initial draft; we met as a family council to discuss them; we modified them as necessary; and then, we voted as a family to accept and follow the final draft.  Of course, we also maintained a detailed family calendar of activities and kept it up to date, as necessary.

(Please Note: If you are interested, you can read our Family Mission Statement by clicking on the link and scrolling to the bottom of the page.  Also, if you promise to be kind, and not overly critical, you are welcome to click on this link “Edgar Family Rules” and read the general rules we came up with.)

I acknowledge operating procedures, instructions, and checklists” are probably a bit over the top (or unnecessary) for the genuine homemaker, but I was on a learning curve and needed to be specific about each household task and what exactly would constitute “task completion.”  I will not include them here for fear of being ridiculed by real homemakers and possibly frightening others.  Suffice it to say, the Operating Procedures, Instructions, and Checklists were thorough; and for clarity, I tried to write them at about a 5th Grade level.

Also, I know that clean-up does not come naturally to children and can be very overwhelming and/or inconvenient for them.  But they can usually be motivated or inspired with the right type of encouragement.  Helping them to take ownership and pride in their work is an important starting point.

As I said, I will not include copies of the Operating Procedures, Instructions, and Checklists.  But I would like to share several “Mister Mom” lessons/tips I learned along the way.  My children are all on their own now (I hope I haven’t damaged them), but I personally still follow some of these lessons to this day.  These are homemaker tips that made a difference for me when I really needed help!  Some were obvious, but others had to be learned the hard way.  For me, I have learned them all the hard way.

_____________________

“Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.” (D&C 132:8)

General Housekeeping Philosophy and Preparation
      • Think about and try to understand the truth of the old saying: “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”
      • Accept ownership of your life and your situation.  Discipline yourself!  Be deliberate, diligent, and dependable.
      • Include all family members in the effort.  Be a team.  Work together for the common good.  (Even small children can learn skills.)
      • Learn basic “Housekeeping Skills” and teach them to your children.
      • Understand your tools and equipment: i.e., Washing Machine, Clothes Dryer, Dishwasher, Kitchen Sink, In-sink Garbage Disposal, Vacuum Cleaner, mops, brooms, brushes, toilet/sink plunger, rags, cleaning chemicals, and lawnmower, etc.
      • Plan regular and thorough house cleaning days.
      • And, always be alert!  Pickup and/or straighten little things as you go.
Basic Housekeeping Skills, Tools, and Policies
      • Have a trash can in every room: Bedrooms, Bathrooms, Kitchen, Office, and Garage. Put all trash in these cans!  Do not overfill the cans to overflowing.  Gather the trash before they are full: bag and place trash in the dumpster.
      • Have a “dirty clothes” laundry basket in every bedroom.  Only put “soiled clothing” in them.  Return clean clothes to the closet/drawers.
      • Have a spray bottle of Windex or disinfection under each sink in the house.
      • Have Paper Towels available under each sink in the house.
      • Policy: When you take something out, return it when you are finished!
      • Policy: Routinely pick up things that are out of place and return them  to “their place.”  Remove clutter when you see it!

(Share the above and the following principles with family members old enough to help.)

Food Shopping and Storage

Grocery shopping, food management, storage, and meal preparation were some of my greatest challenges.  Knowing what to buy, shopping for groceries, storing food in the home, and preparing meals, were not simple tasks as I had imagined.  (It is much more than just grabbing a Pizza on the way home from work.)  My methods for handling these challenges were probably unlike most, but they worked for me.  Explaining my methods requires a completely separate post.  If you dare, click the following link to see how I managed “Food Shopping, Management, and Storage.”  (I openly acknowledge my methods lay somewhere between excessive and the extreme on the Obsessive, Compulsive, Disorder scale, but these methods worked for me.)

Kitchen Management and Food Preparation
      • Keep your kitchen “neat and tidy.” Keep dishes and utensils clean and put away.  Also, keep food stuffs put away.  Be ready to start any food preparation with a clean and organized kitchen.
      • Wash your hands (with warm water and soap), rinse and dry.
      • Keep the food preparation area as clear and organized as possible.
      • As you are preparing a meal, immediately put away the ingredients you no longer need. (For example, when you are finished with the flour, or the bread, or the milk, etc., put them back where they belong.)  Do not wait to do this later!
      • As you create waste (empty packaging or other trash), put them directly into the trash can.  Do not leave trash on the counter.
      • As you finish with utensils, cups, bowls, pans, or plates (used for preparation), rinse them off and put them in the sink or dishwasher. (Do not stack these things on the counters or in the preparation area.)
Kitchen Cleaning

This is often the most challenging chore.  After a meal, most children (and adults) just want to push away from the table and expect someone else to clean the kitchen.  It does NOT have to be that way!  If you managed food preparation successfully, and if others help after the meal, kitchen cleanup should go smoothly.  (Remember: Do not wait or put this off.  Never just walk away from the table!)

Immediately after a meal:

      • Expect each capable individual to always bring their dishes and utensils to the sink area.  Train them to do this.  (The person doing the washing should receive and organize the materials to be washed.)
      • Then, first gather all paper or plastic trash from the table and put them into the trash can. (Remember, when the trash can is full, empty it in the dumpster.)
      • Next, gather all reusable foods (leftovers, beverages, seasonings, sauces, etc.) and put them away.
      • Now, scrape all solid organic trash into the trash can or down into the garbage disposal.
      • Place all the silverware into a container (e.g., a plastic pitcher) of hot soapy water (sharp ends down) and let them soak.
      • Rinse all remaining food scraps off dishes and utensils and down into the disposal.
      • When the above are completed, fill the sink with warm/hot soapy water, and wash the dishes in the following order:

First:         Glassware,
Second:    Plates and serving dishes,
Third:       The Silverware (that was soaking in a container), and
Last:          Pots and Pans.

(Even if you have a dishwashing machine, it is still a good idea to wash the dishes, in the sink, in this order, and stack them into the dishwasher to be sterilized and dried.)

      • While dishes are washing and drying in the machine, wipe down and sanitize all kitchen surfaces, and take out the trash.
      • After the washing machine finishes all cycles, open the door a little to allow cooling. When cooled, empty the dishwasher, and put everything away …in their place!
      • Finally, step back and look at your kitchen. If you have missed anything, fix it.  Otherwise, smile and enjoy your clean kitchen.

(To see more detailed instructions, click here Kitchen Clean-up …if you dare!)

Bedroom Cleaning
      • Have a Laundry Basket and a Trash Can in every bedroom.
      • Organize the bedrooms. Especially, take time to organize the clothing in drawers and closets.  Label shelves/drawers and spaces, if necessary.  (“A place for everything, and everything in its place.”)
      • Never throw clothes (clean or soiled) on the floor or on a bed!  (Clean clothes put up; soiled clothes in the laundry basket).
      • Make the beds every morning when you get up!
Laundry
      • Have a Family Rule: “Clothes are to be in one of three places ONLY.” That is:
          1. On your body,
          2. In the dirty clothes basket to be washed, or
          3. Hung up or Folded clean and put away.

(Remember: Never throw clothing (clean or soiled) on the floor or the bed.  Put them where they belong!)

      • Plan regular wash days. (With seven children plus me, we did at least one load of laundry every day and eight (8) loads on Saturday.  That worked for us.)
      • After washing and drying a load of laundry, pull out and separated the items:

First: Remove bulky items like bath towels and denim trousers (fold and put aside).
Second: Shirts, tops, dresses, and permanent press trousers (neatly lay them aside so they do not wrinkle).
Third: Underwear items and garments.  (Lay them aside to be sorted and folded.)
Fourth:   Socks.  (Done last because it is easier to match socks when nothing else is left.)
Last:  Separate, fold, match, and stack clothing by the owner/user.  (I had a small basket for each child.  The children put their own clothes away.)

      • And finally, return all empty laundry baskets to their rooms.

(Please NoteI tried to explain to my little children that a towel used to dry off “their freshly cleaned, skinny little bodies” could be hung neatly on the towel rack to dry …and used again!  I also tried to explain to my teenaged daughters that “they didn’t need to wrap their bodies with three or four towels to dry themselves.”  That is, one towel for their hair, one for their mid-section, one for their waistline and below, and one to stand on.  Frankly, with their soiled clothing and all those many towels, laundry piled up each day.  But what do I know?  I am just a Dad!  I think they were incensed that I said anything.)

Bathroom Cleaning
      • Hang and straighten bathroom towels.
      • Empty the bathroom trash can.
      • Wipe and disinfect all surfaces.
      • Put any soiled clothing or towels into the laundry basket.
      • Clean and disinfect the toilet seat and bowl. And, if you use the toilet, flush the toilet!

Final Note: The children and I were on our own for 6 years.  During that period, the Air Force moved us three times (to three separate assignments).  Regardless, I think we were happy and doing fine.  Then, about a year after our third transfer, I met my Kathy.  She was beautiful, talented, kind, and smart …and, she liked me!  I do not know for sure what she saw in me (why would any woman want to get involved with a widowed, active-duty military man with seven children?).  Anyway, she came into our lives, we fell in love, and on 24 Feb 1990, we were married.  Since then, everything changed for the better.  Hurrah, Hurrah for Motherhood!


Click HERE to return to my Index of Blogs page.

Food Shopping, Management, and Storage

Jenny’s death occurred while we were living in West Germany.  My military commander gave me the option to remain in Germany or return to our home in Utah.  I considered staying, but ultimately realized I needed the support of our family, so we decided to relocate to Utah.  My father (Melvin Timpson Edgar) offered to allow us to stay with him in Bountiful.  He had a three-bedroom apartment in the downstairs basement of his home.

As a single parent with seven (7) young children, I experienced many challenges.  Feeding my family was one of them.  The first month or two, our Ward Relief Society sister (Bountiful 9th Ward) took care of all our food needs.  I did not have to think about any food issues (except clean-up and dishwashing).  Lovingly, the sisters provided us with complete meals three (or even four) times a day … every day! The sisters were wonderful and generous.  Each meal usually came with a four or five course serving and desert …even our breakfast meals. This loving ministering by these angel sisters continued for more than a month.

However, over time it became a growing challenge for me to scrape, scrub, clean and put aside every plate, utensil, pot, pan, casserole dish, etc.  Then, these cleaned kitchen items began to pile up and fill the empty spaces of our kitchen.  I noticed most of the dishes had a strip of masking tape stuck on the bottoms with the owners’ names clearly written with a Sharpie marking pen.  (Sadly, I was new in the ward and did not recognize any of the names.)  Occasionally, a sweet sister would stop by to pickup her dishes, but not often enough.

We were a family of mostly young children with quite simple tastes and expectations, all the while feasting daily at a Royal Feast provided by the Relief Society.  At length, I eventually had to go to our Bishop and sheepishly ask him to “Please, call off the sisters.”  Their wonderfully prepared and delicious meals were much more than our little family was accustom to, and included much more food than we could actually eat.

As a single parent with seven (7) young children, I experienced many challenges.  And, by stopping the generous Relief Society meal service, I soon realized that grocery shopping, food management, storage, and meal preparations were some of my greatest challenges.  But, I knew I had to find a solution.  Once again, I relied on my problem-solving skills learned in the military.

WARNING NOTICE:  You may want to stop reading at this point.  I’m about to reveal my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  READ ON ONLY IF YOU DARE!

Before learning how to properly prepare and provide the right foods, I asked myself four simple questions:

1.  What foods should I buy?

We began with another family council meeting.  Together, we made a list of our favorite meals.  Yes, pizza was on the list, but we had many others.  We selected breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals.  I remember a list of about 35 simple meals.  Each included a main course, plus a vegetable, a fruit, bread, and sometimes a salad.

Breakfast was the easiest: scrambled eggs; or cereal (hot or cold); or pancakes (Edgar Family Famous Pancakes); and milk or orange juice.

Lunch was usually a brown bag carried to school with a sandwich, chips, a drink, and a treat/desert (a cup cake or something like that).

The evening meal was usually: fish sticks, hamburgers, hot dogs/corn dogs, chicken, spaghetti, Macaroni & Cheese, or sometimes pizza.  Of course, I tried to include vegetables (peas or corn), bread or biscuits, chips, and a salad.  I was not always successful.  Normally, we drank milk, Kool-aide, or water.

Once we settled on “the 35 simple meals,” I printed out the list of menu items and stuck it on the refrigerator.  I tried to assign the evening meals by a date.  The meals were simple enough for just about anyone to prepare.  If I got home late, I would usually find the children were finished with the meal.

2.  How do I know what foods to replenish?

Looking at our list of meals, I created another list, a shopping list of all the necessary food ingredients.  This list became the foundation for all my grocery shopping.  Plus, I organized our kitchen cabinets with places for each food item (for example, tomato soup cans were four cans deep and two cans high, etc., etc.).  Once I organized the cabinets to reflect our common foods and stuff, I labeled each spot with the name of the product that belongs there.   When the day came to do my shopping, I simply opened the cabinet doors and recorded (on my spreadsheet) the products and quantities I would need to refill the cabinets.  (Now, if you think that is crazy, read on to learn more.)

3.  Where should I buy the foods?

I selected the local Smith’s Food King as my primary grocery market.  Carefully, I first mapped out the floorplan of the store.  In that floorplan, I made notes of the location of all the food products I would need on a normal day’s shopping visit.  Then, I arranged my shopping list in order according to the location of my desired products in the store.  That way, I didn’t have to spend too much time searching.  I just went down each isle and pulled the products off the shelves, in order!

Wednesdays were my designated shopping days.  I had to get the shopping done and be home not later than 5 or 6 PM.  So, I arranged to get off work about an hour early each Wednesday.  With my floorplan and shopping list in hand, I drove straight to Smith’s Food King.  As I walked in, I started on the far right side of the store.  Pushing the basket with one hand, I just pulled my desired product straight off the shelf and into the basket.

I swept through the store quickly and filled the basket as I walked.  The store manager allowed me to park the first full basket at the end of an isle near a cashier.  Then, I grabbed another empty basket and continued my sweep through the store.

When I was finished, I grabbed both baskets and headed for the cashier.  I checked out, loaded my car, and drove home (picking up Marie and Samuel from the babysitter’s house on the way).  And finally,

4.  Where do I store the foods?

At home, the kids would help me unload the vehicle and haul our food and stuff into the kitchen.  Then, it was just a matter of opening the kitchen cabinets (and the refrigerator) and placing the foods into their labeled empty spots waiting to be filled.  At that moment, those full cabinets were “Our Food Storage!”


Click HERE to return to Home Insights from “Mister Mom”

Click HERE to return to my Index of Blogs page.

“Endure” in Righteousness

It occurs to me that many obedient souls are rightfully and faithfully following our Lord Jesus Christ …as best they can.  They abide by and follow the principles of His Gospel and His Doctrine as best they understand them. They strive to keep the commandments, attend worship services, obey the Word of Wisdom, pay an honest tithe, read the Holy Scriptures, love and teach their children, live morally clean lives, show kindness to others, and generally keep themselves unspotted from the world.  What they do is commendable, and I am sure the Lord is pleased.  We should admire and respect their righteous efforts.  And we should do likewise!  They are faithfully and diligently pressing forward in righteousness to the end, or “enduring to the end.”  By faithfully pressing forward in righteousness, we will find hope, joy, and happiness now …and in the World to come!

“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”
(Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 31:20)

But, what about this word “ENDURE?”  It conjures up the notion of abiding or persevering through painful or difficult conditions.  To be sure, sometimes life is difficult, and at times we must “endure very difficult conditions.”  But perhaps, as in the example above, it would be helpful to think in terms of “pressing forward in righteousness to the end,” or “continuing in righteousness to the end!”  I believe we should be faithfully and diligently pressing forward (enduring) in righteousness (loving God, obeying His laws and commandments, and loving our neighbors) to the end.

If we: 1) Learn of Jesus Christ, 2) have Faith in Him, 3) follow His Doctrine, and 4) press forward (endure) in righteousness; then, we will find much hope and happiness in this life …much to have hope in, much to have hope for, and much to be happy about.

COMMENTThe Holy Scripture are filled with many logical “if… then… statements.”  The format typically reads something like:  If this, …then that!  For example, you might read a reference that says: “if it so be that you…, then shall you…!”  (Please see 2 Nephi 31:13, Mosiah 4:12, 3 Nephi 26:9, 3 Nephi 27:10, and Mormon 7:10.)  This format or pattern of instruction is often used in the scriptures, and occasionally in reference to the concept of “enduring.”    

The most significant truths that bring hope and happiness are these: God our Eternal Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son Jesus Christ love us; they are both alive and well; Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world; His Gospel Fullness has been restored to the earth; the Great Plan of Salvation has been revealed …again; we can trust and have faith in Him and what He has taught us; and, in the “not too distant future,” He will return again and be among us!  If we keep His commandments, honor our sacred covenants, and remain on the “Covenant Path,” we will be redeemed and will stand confidently in His presence on the judgment day.  (Luke 12:40; D&C 29:11; D&C 34:7; D&C 35:15; D&C 45:44; 49:23; D&C 51:20; D&C 61:38; D&C 65:5-6; D&C 88:92-98; D&C 133:49; 1 Nephi 13:42).

Another significant truth in this life is this: we will experience at least some despair, often caused by a misunderstanding, a lack of knowledge (ignorance),  and the absence of hope.  Interestingly, in the Book of Mormon, the Prophet Lehi’s dream/vision of the Tree of Life provides an insight into how we can deal with despair …so we do not have to always “endure” in ignorance.  In Lehi’s dream (1 Nephi 8:5-8), he saw and rightfully obeyed “a man …dressed in a white robe.”  As he followed the man, he found himself initially in a “dark and dreary waste” or wilderness. Additionally, the scripture records he “…traveled for the space of many hours in darkness.”  So we read, Lehi obeyed and followed the man faithfully, yet he was “…in a dark and dreary” wasteland, not knowing where he was.  Lehi was “enduring in despair.”  At that point, the writer (Nephi) records that Lehi prayed unto the Lord for mercy.  Not until then did Lehi behold the grand vision of the Tree of Life, one of the most glorious and enlightening analogies in the scriptures.

Perhaps, as in Lehi’s dream, many of us trudge along through life, following the leader, striving to keep the commandments of God, distracted by the darkness, and “enduring in despair.”  However, light, happiness, and real joy in the Gospel come when we sincerely, faithfully, and regularly pray to the Father Yes, we must continue to strive to follow the Lord and keep His commandments.  However, we must also faithfully, regularly, diligently and with gratitude, pray to the Father for mercy and “further light and knowledge.”  That way, we will “endure in righteousness.”  We will gain knowledge; we will be filled with “…exceedingly great joy;” we will have greater happiness; and, we will have Hope in the Future!


Click HERE to return to my Index of Blogs page.

Hope in the Future

A personal observation from both a physical and a spiritual perspective:

Not knowing of God, or having a limited understanding of Him and His Great and Eternal Plan for His children, is often the cause of great fear in this life and a lack of hope in the future. If we find ourselves in that difficult and desperate condition, we may also notice our spiritual commitment and resilience is weakened, especially during times of tribulation.

God our Eternal Father in Heaven is alive and well! He truly is our loving Heavenly Father, and He is literally the Father of our Spirits. We knew Him in our pre-mortal spirit existence. He knows us and loves us, His children …and, He has a Great and Eternal Plan for our Happiness. Do we truly and deeply understand that?

God has asked us to pray to Him, study His Holy Scriptures, and hear Him! One of the greatest blessings of prayerful and personal scripture study is the comfort we gain from a better understanding of God, His love for us, and His Great and Eternal Plan of Salvation. Faithfully studying the Holy Scriptures will invite the Holy Spirit into our lives, increase our knowledge and understanding of Him and His Plan, will draw us closer to Him, and will bring us Hope for a Glorious Future! The Hope we seek, and gain, is a gift from God. In a very practical sense, Hope is a biproduct of our sincere Faith and understanding of God and our charity for others. Our Faith in God will grow as we learn of Him and draw near to Him. In so doing, we will have greater Hope in the Future!

(Please click on this link and watch a short and inspiring video from an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ:

Note: If you would like to learn more about the inextricable relationship between “Faith, Hope and Charity,” please click HERE and read the blog post: Faith and Charity.


Click HERE to return to the Index of Blog Posts

Always Love Your Children

I have been thinking about some of the young people (youth men, young women, and young adults) in the church who have voluntarily decided to become “less active” in the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and, who for some cause or another have withdrawn themselves from us, or from the church.  At the same time, I wonder: “What key elements would most effectively keep our children and young adults interested and committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and ultimately on the Covenant Path?”  Clearly, a strong and united family is an important and foundational advantage.  Of course, this is a goal we should all strive for.  However, too often even the best families will experience some painful disappointment.  So, with deep sorrow and  introspection of my own, I ask:  What other key elements can effectively strengthen our youth?

Recently, I viewed a General Conference Leadership broadcast of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The broadcast was entitled: “Spiritual Experiences are Key.”  The panel members included four Apostles, three other General Authority youth leaders, and a moderator.  They shared many observations, insightful ideas, and principles concerning strengthening the youth in the Church.  Notably, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland referred to the results of a major church study (from the late 1980s) on this subject.  He noted that the key elements identified in that study are still relevant today and “…haven’t changed in three decades.”  In addition to the value of a strong united family, Elder Holland said the study found “Private Religious Experiences” are also key.

According to Elder Holland, key factors that help keep our youth active in the Gospel are: “They prayed, they studied, and they had spiritual experiences on their own.  And, they had a significant adult example in their lives …a parent or some significant adult …that made them reach up.”

So, not surprising, the study found the key elements for keeping our youth active in the Gospel and in church activity are these:

      • A strong united family unit.
      • Personal prayer and scripture study.
      • Personal spiritual experiences. And,
      • A significant and positive adult example in their lives.

This is good information to know.  And I suppose you might think “the findings from the study were obvious!”  I suppose that would be right!  I can see the wisdom.  Frankly, these findings have been known, understood, and taught for many years.  Looking back, I wish I had done a better job myself.  In fact, if I had an opportunity to raise my children again, I would certainly strive more earnestly to diligently and faithfully follow, apply, and teach these principles to my children.  Hindsight is “20/20!”

However, what can we do after our children are out of the home?  What can we do when they begin to have children of their own?  Of course, we should encourage them to apply these same principles in their homes.  And many of them will do just that.  But like us, they will also experience challenges and temptations in their homes.  They will face some of the same issues we have faced.  Plus, in today’s digital world, they will contend with social media, the Internet, online gaming, instant gratification, and numerous other intervening variables that compete for their attention.  And we, as parents and grandparents, will have limited control over them and their homes.  Ultimately, we know they have their own moral agency.

What then do we do about those who have moved on, out of our homes, and who may have strayed away from the Gospel?  Even if we were perfect parents who taught and followed these key parenting principles closely, some of our children may still stray from the Gospel path.  What then?  Do we just give up on them and hope they will come back?  No, we do not give up on them.  Never!  As responsible adults themselves, some of our children may choose to move on, even after we as parents have done our best in the home.  No one is perfect!  Certainly not us; and certainly not our children.  But parenting should not end there.  Although we may become less involved overtime, parents still carry a lifelong moral commitment to their children.  “We are never released from being a parent.”

Now, if you have “less active” children, please do not agonize excessively over what you think were your failings (or theirs).  Instead, continue always to love them and make sure they know you love them, regardless of their situation!  We may not approve of their decisions and actions, but we can still love them as our children and as individuals.  Like many others, I have personally experience the heartbreaking feelings of a child distancing himself from the Gospel.  I have also felt the joy of his “coming to himself” (Luke 15:17) and returning to full fellowship with the saints.   So, be patient and forgiving.  Try very hard not to be critical.  Stridently avoid sarcasm and harsh criticism.  That is NOT the right reaction to their behavior.  It will only push them away.  We must “…labor long and unceasingly, with patience, and forgiveness, and prayerful determination.”  And, never give up on them!  Love them and be an example of a true Disciple of Jesus Christ.  Remember, our Heavenly Father knows us, He knows our struggles, and He still loves us.  Like Him, we too should continue to love and encourage our children.

In time, like the prodigal son (Luke 15:17-18), our wayward children may “come to themselves” and return.  After all, we are all on this same journey together trying to follow the Doctrine of Christ and the Doctrine of the Great Plan of Salvation.  Life is a learning journey; and by nature, our children are good!

“The patient, untiring, prayerful labors we devote to our young people who need help, and to those generally who for some cause or another have withdrawn themselves from us, often return to reward us in unspeakable joy and satisfaction in the years to come. May we labor long and unceasingly, with patience, and forgiveness, and prayerful determination among all such who need our help!”  President Heber J. Grant

Note:  If you’d like to watch an inspired and encouraging video concerning challenges in this life and Hope in the future, please click and watch the video below and listen to comments from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.


Click HERE to return to the Index of Blog Posts

Horse Lessons

I usually turned our horses out at night to graze in the pasture.  They loved being out there just grazing quietly.  In the summer months, I also enjoyed walking out and standing quietly with them as they grazed, especially during a new moon when the earth was in darkness.  I loved the peaceful majesty of the night and enjoyed viewing the inspiring canopy of stars overhead.

Horses have excellent night vision.  They could see me standing in the field, but I could NOT see them in the darkness.  They would walk toward me and gather very carefully and gently beside me.  It was inspiring when I sensed those large animals approaching out of the darkness to stand beside me. They knew who I was, I was their friend, and they trusted me.  Those moments reminded me of a verse written by the Prophet Isaiah. At the time, the Prophet saw that the Israelites had turned away from their God.  Isaiah lamented: “The ox knoweth his master, …but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider” (Isaiah 1:3).  Israel’s animals knew their masters (and trusted them), but, as a people, Israel knew not (or had forgotten) their God, who is their Master.  It was true in the days of Isaiah, and too often, it is true today.  I believe it is essential to know and trust our God who loves us and provides for us (John 17:3).

Another important lesson I learned from our horses was to “…be prepared for and anticipate the morning light.”  Our little ranch laid in a beautiful mountain valley.  I usually fed the horses late in the afternoon just before sunset, and again in the mornings, just before dawn.  The winter nights can be long, dark, and exceedingly cold.  So, on those frigid mornings, I noticed the horses would always gather on the far west side of the pasture and patiently wait to catch the first bit of sunlight as it broke over the tops of the east mountains.  They were waiting for the warmth of the sun.  I also watched for the sun to rise above the eastern horizon because I too knew as soon as it did, I would “immediately” feel the warmth of the sun on my shoulders.

This morning sunshine and warmth was an excellent lesson for me and a “type” of the Savior’s influence and in my life.  I learned that in times of hardship and despair (whether by personal or external causes), if I turned away from the cause of my discomfort and embraced the love of Jesus Christ, He would “immediately” bless and comfort me with the hope and warmth of His love.  I knew I might not be made completely whole “immediately,” but I would feel His love and have hope “immediately” as the “great plan of redemption” is “brought about” in me!  I also learned that lasting joy and hope would come as I continue to draw near to the Lord, learn more of Him, continue to follow Him, and embrace His Plan of Happiness.

“Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.”
(Book of Mormon, Alma 34:31)

My horses knew who I was.  They came to me because they loved and trusted me.  They also understood the blessings of the warm sun on their backs after a cold winter night.  Of course, these similes are overly simplified compared to the Great Love Jesus Christ has for His children and the blessings He promises us when we “Hear Him” and turn to Him!  I believe Jesus Christ knows us, understands our challenges and weaknesses, and has divine love and mercy for us.  When I soften my heart and sincerely turn to Him in faith, I “immediately” begin to feel a portion of His loving influence, and I begin to heal.  The effect is warm and inspiring, like the early morning sunlight on my shoulders after a long, cold, winter night.  His warming influence gives me immediate comfort and hope!


Please Note:  If you would like to read more about animals in my life, including my horses, please click on the following link: My Life with Animals.


Click HERE to return to my Index of Blog Posts.