The horrible nastiness of the U.S. election made me think of President Hinckley's book "Standing for Something - 10 neglected virtues that will heal our hearts and homes" and I decided to reread it. How needed in the world right now are good old values and morals. I miss President Hinckley. He helped me so much in my life. When 9-11 happened, for example, his words and optimism brought comfort and peace to me. How grateful I am for him and his cheerful outlook on life.
I find it interesting that all religions seem to teach this same thing. I'm also reading a book called The Book of Joy in which Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu talk about joy and happiness and they say the exact same thing. Selfishness never is happiness. We are happy when we look past our own self and look to help and serve others.
One of my favorite quotes from President Monson. It's from October 2013 General Conference. (I took the photo in Montana as we were driving through on our way to Utah.) Loved Elder Christensen's talk about God's love at October 2016 General Conference. People misunderstand the concept of God's love so often. "God will always love us, but He cannot save us in our sins." If we didn't need to keep his commandments, repent and be "born again"/be purified, then we would bring whatever filth we might have in us into God's kingdom. If any sinner is automatically saved "because God loves everyone", then in God's kingdom there would be thiefs, adulterers, liers, etc. We have to have a desire to change and let God's grace work in us. The Holy Ghost has to sanctify us. The Atonement has to pay the price of sin. "Repentance, then, is His gift to us, purchased at a very dear price." Elder Christensen quotes Elder Oaks:
Elder Christensen shares the story of Helen Keller and how it relates to us. Love it:
The story of Helen Keller is something of a parable suggesting how divine love can transform a willing soul. Helen was born in the state of Alabama in the United States in 1880. When just 19 months old, she suffered an undiagnosed illness that left her both deaf and blind. She was extremely intelligent and became frustrated as she tried to understand and make sense of her surroundings. When Helen felt the moving lips of family members and realized that they used their mouths to speak, “she flew into a rage [because] she was unable to join in the conversation.”26 By the time Helen was six, her need to communicate and her frustration grew so intense that her “outbursts occurred daily, sometimes hourly.”27
Helen’s parents hired a teacher for their daughter, a woman named Anne Sullivan. Just as we have in Jesus Christ one who understands our infirmities,28 Anne Sullivan had struggled with her own serious hardships and understood Helen’s infirmities. At age five, Anne had contracted a disease that caused painful scarring of the cornea and left her mostly blind. When Anne was eight, her mother died; her father abandoned her and her younger brother, Jimmie; and they were sent to a “poor house,” where conditions were so deplorable that Jimmie died after only three months. Through her own dogged persistence, Anne gained entry to the Perkins School for the Blind and vision impaired, where she succeeded brilliantly. A surgical operation gave her improved vision so that she was able to read print. When Helen Keller’s father contacted the Perkins School seeking someone to become a teacher for his daughter, Anne Sullivan was selected.29
It was not a pleasant experience at the beginning. Helen “hit, pinched and kicked her teacher and knocked out one of her teeth. [Anne] finally gained control by moving with [Helen] into a small cottage on the Kellers’ property. Through patience and firm consistency, she finally won the child’s heart and trust.”30 Similarly, as we come to trust rather than resist our divine Teacher, He can work with us to enlighten and lift us to a new reality.31
To help Helen learn words, Anne would spell the names of familiar objects with her finger on the palm of Helen’s hand. “[Helen] enjoyed this ‘finger play,’ but she didn’t understand until the famous moment when [Anne] spelled ‘w-a-t-e-r’ while pumping water over [Helen’s] hand. [Helen] later wrote:
“‘Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten … and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that “w-a-t-e-r” meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free! … Everything had a name, and each name gave birth to a new thought. As we returned to the house[,] every object … I touched seemed to quiver with life.’”32
As Helen Keller grew to adulthood, she became known for her love of language, her skill as a writer, and her eloquence as a public speaker.
In a movie depicting the life of Helen Keller, her parents are portrayed as satisfied with Anne Sullivan’s work once she has domesticated their wild daughter to the extent that Helen will sit politely at dinner, eat normally, and fold her napkin at the end of the meal. But Anne knew Helen was capable of much, much more and that she had significant contributions to make.33Even so, we may be quite content with what we have done in our lives and that we simply are what we are, while our Savior comprehends a glorious potential that we perceive only “through a glass, darkly.”34 Each of us can experience the ecstasy of divine potential unfolding within us, much like the joy Helen Keller felt when words came to life, giving light to her soul and setting it free. Each of us can love and serve God and be empowered to bless our fellowman. “As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.35
"…pay your tithing as a declaration that possession of
material goods and the accumulation of worldly wealth arenot the uppermost goals of your existence. As one
young husband and father, living on a student budget, recently told me,
“Perhaps our most pivotal moments as Latter-day Saints come when we have to
swim directly against the current of the culture in which we live. Tithing
provides just such a moment. Living in a world that emphasizes material
acquisition and cultivates distrust for anyone or anything that has designs on
our money, we shed that self-absorption to give freely, trustingly, and
generously. By this act, we say—indeed—we are different, that we are God’s
peculiar people. In a society that tells us money is our most important asset,
we declare emphatically it is not.”
This story really touched my heart today as I have been pondering this week's Sunday School lesson's "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also".
written by Karen Nolen, which appeared in theNew Erain
1974, tells of a Benjamin Landart who, in 1888, was 15 years old and an
accomplished violinist. Living on a farm in northern Utah with his mother and seven brothers and
sisters was sometimes a challenge to Benjamin, as he had less time than he
would have liked to play his violin. Occasionally his mother would lock up the
violin until he had his farm chores done, so great was the temptation for
Benjamin to play it.
In late 1892 Benjamin was asked to travel to SaltLake
to audition for a place with the territorial orchestra. For him, this was a
dream come true. After several weeks of practicing and prayers, he went to SaltLake
in March of 1893 for the much anticipated audition. When he heard Benjamin
play, the conductor, a Mr. Dean, told Benjamin he was the most accomplished
violinist he had heard west of Denver.
He was told to report to Denver
for rehearsals in the fall and learned that he would be earning enough to keep
himself, with some left over to send home.
A week after Benjamin received the good news, however, his
bishop called him into his office and asked if he couldn’t put off playing with
the orchestra for a couple of years. He told Benjamin that before he started
earning money there was something he owed the Lord. He then asked Benjamin to
accept a mission call.
Benjamin felt that giving up his chance to play in the
territorial orchestra would be almost more than he could bear, but he also knew
what his decision should be. He promised the bishop that if there were any way
to raise the money for him to serve, he would accept the call.
When Benjamin told his mother about the call, she was
overjoyed. She told him that his father had always wanted to serve a mission
but had been killed before that opportunity had come to him. However, when they
discussed the financing of the mission, her face clouded over. Benjamin told
her he would not allow her to sell any more of their land. She studied his face
for a moment and then said, “Ben, there is a way we can raise the money. This
family [has] one thing that is of great enough value to send you on your
mission. You will have to sell your violin.”
Ten days later, on March 23, 1893, Benjamin wrote in his
journal: “I awoke this morning and took my violin from its case. All day long I
played the music I love. In the evening when the light grew dim and I could see
to play no longer, I placed the instrument in its case. It will be enough.
Tomorrow I leave [for my mission].”
Forty-five years later, on June 23, 1938, Benjamin wrote in
his journal: “The greatest decision I ever made in my life was to give up
something I dearly loved to the God I loved even more. He has never forgotten
me for it.”
“Benjamin: Son of the Right Hand,”New Era, May 1974, 34–37.)
This is the scripture from this week's reading that has been on my mind a lot. When Jesus spoke at this time, it was to people who had planned to kill his servants. This small verse in the Book of Mormon is a great lesson to all of us. We need to have mild, soft voices when we speak to people around us. Especially when we talk to our children.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's talk "The Tongue of Angels" from April 2007 General Conference goes well with this scripture.
1 Kings 19:11-12 "And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.