Monday, February 1, 2016

Eliminating Two Birds With One Stone



I always have trouble figuring out how to declutter items made of glass, due to breakage when transporting.  Necessity is the mother of invention, though.

Not only did I want to donate some glass vases, but then I remembered I also had some clothes I wanted to donate as well.  

Problem solved!


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Friday, January 1, 2016

How Well Did I Do Financially In 2015?

Just a quick update for you.

I've tallied up the balances from January 1st, 2014 and compared it to today.

Drum roll please...

Last year I paid $12,127.95 towards debt.

I still owe:  $10,334.20

That's right, I now owe less than what I paid in debt last year.

It's getting close, and it's getting exciting!

I'm just praying really hard for things to continue to go this well.  

Many thanks to Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and my wonderful friends who continue to stick with me.

Booklist For 2016

Carey, Chris. bookshelf2.jpg. 10/12/1999. Pics4Learning. 1 Jan 2016 <http://pics.tech4learning.com>


Happy New Year!

Rather than randomly picking books this year, I thought I would make a list of books I want to read or re-read, and in the order I want to read them.  This doesn't mean there will be changes to this list, and if I finish this list before the years end, I may choose some books I've had on my bookshelf but haven't read yet.

Here we go, the list:

The Book of Mormon (almost done, but will be re-reading for Sunday School Lessons)

The Peacegiver - James L. Ferrell

Falling To Heaven - James L. Ferrell

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen R. Covey

How To Win Friends & Influence People - Dale Carnegie

How To Stop Worrying & Start Living - Dale Carnegie

The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell

David & Goliath - Malcolm Gladwell

The Innovators DNA - Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, Clayton M. Christensen

Capital In The 21st Century - Thomas Piketty

A Monetary History of The United States - Milton Friedman & Anna Jacobson Schwartz

The Way To Wealth and Other Writings On Finance - Benjamin Franklin

The Millionaire Next Door - Thomas J. Stanley, William H. Danko

The Millionaire Mind - Thomas J. Stanley

To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee

Go Set It On A Watchman - Harper Lee

Little Dorrit - Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

The Casual Vacancy - J. K. Rowling

The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith

The Silkworm - Robert Galbraith

Career of Evil - Robert Galbraith

Dream New Dreams - Jai Pausch










Thursday, December 31, 2015

God Is Not A Republican

This is going to be a long post, so get comfortable, grab a snack and your favorite beverage.

I've had some thoughts I wanted to share over the past few months, so I figured I would share them to close out the year 2015.

For the first topic, I would like to start with scripture.  There are some scriptures that have stood out for me as I've read the Book of Mormon this year.

First, from the book of Alma, Chapter 4:

 And it came to pass in the eighth year of the reign of the judges, that the people of the church began to wax proud, because of their exceeding riches, and their fine silks, and their fine-twined linen, and because of their many flocks and herds, and their gold and their silver, and all manner of precious things, which they had obtained by their industry; and in all these things were they lifted up in the pride of their eyes, for they began to wear very costly apparel.
 Now this was the cause of much affliction to Alma, yea, and to many of the people whom Alma had consecrated to be teachers, and priests, and elders over the church; yea, many of them were sorely grieved for the wickedness which they saw had begun to be among their people.
Let's skip a few verses...

15 And now it came to pass that Alma, having seen the afflictions of the humble followers of God, and the persecutions which were heaped upon them by the remainder of his people, and seeing all their inequality, began to be very sorrowful; nevertheless the Spirit of the Lord did not fail him.


Now, onto the book of 3 Nephi, Chapter 6:

 10 But it came to pass in the twenty and ninth year there began to be some disputings among the people; and some were lifted up unto pride and boastings because of their exceedingly great riches, yea, even unto great persecutions;
 11 For there were many merchants in the land, and also many lawyers, and many officers.
 12 And the people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning; yea, some were ignorant because of their poverty, and others did receive great learning because of their riches.
 13 Some were lifted up in pride, and others were exceedingly humble; some did return railing for railing, while others would receive railing and persecution and all manner of afflictions, and would not turn and revile again, but were humble and penitent before God.
 14 And thus there became a great inequality in all the land, insomuch that the church began to be broken up; yea, insomuch that in the thirtieth year the church was broken up in all the land save it were among a few of the Lamanites who were converted unto the true faith; and they would not depart from it, for they were firm, and steadfast, and immovable, willing with all diligence to keep the commandments of the Lord.
 15 Now the cause of this iniquity of the people was this—Satan had great power, unto the stirring up of the people to do all manner of iniquity, and to the puffing them up with pride, tempting them to seek for power, and authority, and riches, and the vain things of the world.
Now let's move to 4 Nephi:
 14 And it came to pass that the seventy and first year passed away, and also the seventy and second year, yea, and in fine, till the seventy and ninth year had passed away; yea, even an hundred years had passed away, and the disciples of Jesus, whom he had chosen, had all gone to the paradise of God, save it were the three who should tarry; and there were other disciples ordained in their stead; and also many of that generation had passed away.
 15 And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.
 16 And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happierpeople among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.
 17 There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.
 18 And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings; yea, even they were blessed and prospered until an hundred and ten years had passed away; and the first generation from Christ had passed away, and there was no contention in all the land.

How are each of these similar?  They were all allowed to prosper by the hand of God.  
How are they different?  In Alma 4 and 3 Nephi 6, the people set their hearts on the things of this world.  Possessions, status, power.  
In 4 Nephi, do you see mention of people gaining status or power?  No.  Do you see a people setting their hearts upon the vain things of this world?  No.  Neither was there any malicious behavior between the people.  Earlier in 4 Nephi, it also states that there were no rich nor no poor.  How is that?  They all labored together and helped one another.  In verse 17, it even goes as far as to say there were no more -ites among the people.
The other interesting thing to note is that they all were allowed to prosper, but it was what they chose to do with that prosperity that made the real impact.
Does this apply to us today?  Yes.  Even within the LDS Church there are some localities where there is a division between the haves and the have-nots.  I have seen it with my own eyes.  You even have those who would be thought of as "aspirationals" who go into debt to make themselves look like they belong with the wealthy group.
Have the brethren noticed?  It is my belief that yes, they have.
I know there are several talks about finance, I'm just going to post a few.

From October, 2001




From October, 2001:




From April, 2006:





From April, 2009



From October, 2013:






This important talk is from October, 2014:






The next thing is just simply a pet peeve of mine.  I'm on Facebook, so I see a lot of the memes that get passed around.

Have you seen the meme indicating a desire to have God back in our government?

When I see this, I always think of asking, which God do you want?

Do you want the Roman Catholic God, The Greek Orthodox God, The Russian Orthodox God, the Protestant God, the Lutheran God, the Quaker God, the Baptist God, the Non Denominational God, the LDS (Mormon) God, the God of the Orthodox Jews, the God of the Reformed Jews, the Islamic God, the Hindu God?

Yes, we are all children of the same God who created this earth and all of us.  The problem is, there are very real differences in who and how God is believed to be.

The point is:  God is not a Republican.  He's not a Democrat.  God is, thankfully, a Father who loves all of us.

There is a reason why this country is not a theocracy, but rather a democratic republic.  If you don't believe me, try living as a Christian in Saudi Arabia.  They have chosen to be a theocracy, the problem is, if you don't happen to belong to the country's official religion, you are going to find life not only difficult, but possibly dangerous.

The United States of America has a separation between Church and State, notably through the First Amendment of the US Constitution.  This allows for freedom of all religious beliefs, even those we as individual citizens don't agree with personally.

Rather than trying to create a theocracy, why not support elected officials who espouse our values (and preferably not ditch them when they get into office) instead of basing those in government on which specific religion they are?

Okay, enough with Rant #2.

The last point I'm going to title Seeking The Holy Envy.

Earlier today a conversation that was obviously going on before spilled onto a post on my Facebook wall from a friend of mine.  It was a long "letter" from my LDS friend to someone of another faith who had told my friend she wasn't a Christian, that Mormons are not Christians.

I've heard this argument before, and yes, it is completely false.

What is really sad, is that this non-LDS person saying this had gotten this information, not from a member of our faith, but from someone outside the Church spreading lies.  Lies that a lot of people believe.

This reminded me of a statement I saw on the video Between Heaven & Earth that I have on DVD.  It's from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), and it discusses Temples from the perspective of other faiths, not just the LDS faith.  If you have a chance to get your hands on a copy of it, be sure to get it, it is well researched and well made.

In this video, the late Lutheran Bishop of Sweden, Krister Stendhal explained his 3 rules for interfaith discussions:

1.  When seeking information about a religion, ask those who live that religion, not the enemies of that religion.  Otherwise the enemies will be breaking a commandment:  Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness.

2.  Compare best with best when comparing religions.  Do not compare your best with their worst.

3.  Leave room for "Holy Envy".

Holy Envy are those aspects of other religions you think are pretty special.  Bishop Stendhal's Holy Envy was in the performance of Baptisms For The Dead, a vicarious ordinance done to extend the blessings of Christ and his Atonement to our ancestors who did not have that opportunity.

Personally, I have "Holy Envy" for a lot of the ancient stories of miracles with the Israelites, and how they are incorporated with today's customs with the Orthodox Jewish religion.

I also have "Holy Envy" that people in the Islamic faith stop what they are doing at a certain time of each day to kneel in prayer.

Is there anything you have "Holy Envy" of?  If not, perhaps a goal for 2016 is to find something from a different religion you could have "Holy Envy" for?

Happy New Year, everyone.  I pray for God's blessings for all who read this.  May you prosper this year and seek to serve at least one other person.


Friday, October 23, 2015

Vacation!

Yes, I work in public education, and yes, this coming week I am taking a vacation.

Perhaps I should explain.

I don't get summers off - in fact it's the peak time in the department I work in as we have numerous projects during the summer.

I don't get fall break off - we are usually finishing what didn't get done over the summer, or we are making fixes from the beginning of the school year (August) that required us to wait until the students were not in the schools to get the work done.

Now, I do have to say, I did get spring break off, so it's not like it's the only time off I've had this calendar year.

It just feels funny to know I will not be working next week.

That said, you may be asking, "where are you going?"  Staycation.  I have so much to do, so much to get done, so much that needs to get done, so many things that are driving me crazy to get done.  

Will it all get done?

Probably not, but I can make a dent, right?

Details and pics to follow.

After I've fed the cats and had some chocolate.

Yes, chocolate.

This has been one of those weeks.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Unfulfilled Expectations

This is from the Compassionate Service/Social Relations manual for the Relief Society.  The manual is no longer in print and this lesson is not on the Church's web site, so I'm manually typing it here.

Unfulfilled Expectations

"Therefore, let your hearts be comforted; for all things shall work together for good to them that walk uprightly."  (D&C 100:15)

Sisters who have some blessings withheld for a time can find peace by trusting the Lord and serving others.

Section 1:
Trusting in the Lord Brings Peace
You know the importantce of a temple marriage and long for an eternal companion, but you have had no worthy opportunity for marriage.  You have been commanded to multiply and replenish the earth, but you are childless.  Your husband is less active now than when you married him.  You desire to serve, but physical handicaps restrict you.  You and your family are in the celestial room of the temple, but some of your children are missing.

Unfulfilled expectations - we all have them.  As ppainful as these situations can be, they need not defeat us.  We can find the peace and comfort that only the Lord has to offer.  As we stretch our souls, learning to place our lives in His hands and to trust Him and His plan for us, we can find joy in our lives regardless of our circumstances.

Most of us have a vision of what our life should be - a vision that includes receiving certain opportunities and blessings.  Sister Ardeth G. Kapp, for example, as a young girl "envisioned living in a small white house with a picket fence.  I thouught I would just take care of the flowers, be active in the Church, friendly with my neighbors - and have lots of children" (quote in Karen T. Arnesen, "Ardeth Greene Kapp: A Prairie Girl, A Young Woman Still," Ensign, Sept. 1985, p.38).  For Sister Kapp the blessing of children never came just as for many of us our expectations are not fulfilled.  We may never have married; we may have been through divorce; we may have suffered infirmity or some other disappointment that has pulled us from the course we have charted.

Some of us may be troubled by certain promises in patriarchal blessings that are obviously missing in our lives, such as marriage and posterity.  President Thomse S. Monson said: "A patriarchal blessing literally contains chapters from your book of eternal possibilities.  I say eternal, for just as life is eternal, so is a patriarchal blessing.  What may not come to fulfillment in this life may occur int he next.  We do not govern God's timetable.  "For may thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

"'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts' (Isaiah 55:8-9)" (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, p.82; or Ensign Nov. 1986, p. 66).

What do we do when our life's plans are not realized?  Some, unable to have the life they desire, might become bitter or angry with the Lord and His plan.  A better choice, however, is to seek teh Lord and His guidance.  "It's the soul-rending experiences that bring us to God," Sister Kapp said.  "Trials lead you into a diligent search; they make you ask questions that only the Lord can answer.  You have to turn to Him and one day the peace comes that compensates for all the yearning" (Arnesen, "Ardeth Greene Kapp," p. 38).

The  scriptures teach us to trust the Lord, not our own understanding, as explained in Proverbs 3:5-6.  Such a trust does not come easily.  Butt it enables us to give up our expectations for our lives and accept the Lord's plan for us, a plan that will make it possible for us to return to His presence and receive all He has (see D&C 84:38).  This acceptance is not mere resignation; it is a full trust that allow us to grow in righteousness and joy in whatever path the Lord leads us along.

Patience, too, is necessary - patience with ourselves as we learn to trust, patience with others whose concern and questions sometimes deepen our pain, and patience with the Lord as we wait for him to give us the desires fo our hearts.

If the solutions to our problems were simple, we would not have to stretch our souls.  We would not have to yearn after our Father and finally learn to love and trust Him enough to give up all our doubts, knowing that "all things sall work together for good to them that walk uprightly" (D&C 100:15).

As we learn to trust in the Lord, peace will fill our hearts.  For most of us, this peace "which passeth all understanding" (Philippians 4:7) will not come all at once.  We may feel it once, then struggle to feel it again.  Or we may be in a testimony meeting and know that part of our testimony includes a knowledge that the Lord's will is being done in our lives.  We may be pondering one day and realize that it has been many months since the old pain has troubled us.  In whatever way the peace comes, we may feel confident that as we live faithfully and prayerfully, it will come, as promised in Doctrine and Covenants 59:23.

Section 2:
We Can Grow As We Learn to Reach Out to Others

As we learn to trust God, our love for Him grows.  Loving Him helps us to love others and to reach out to them even when our own unmet desires might tempt us to turn inward.  To help others in the midst of our own pain, said Elder Neal A. Maxwell, "is like the generosity of Jesus on the cross.  Empathy during agony is a portion of divinity...[So many of our sisters] do not withhold their blessings simply because some blessings are now withheld from them" (in Conference Report, Apr. 1978, p.14; or Ensign, May 1978, p. 11).

This empathy contains nothing of bitterness or martyrdom.  It is a forgetting of self that leads to reaching out to others.  But, like trust, it may not ocme without some soul stretching.  "As I look back," said Sister Kapp, "I think often that it really might have been easier to remain depressed and despondent and full of self-pity, thinking that the fact that we didn't have children wasn't our fault anyway so why should we have to go out and serve (talk given to a married students' stake at Brigham Young University, Oct. 1981).

But Sister Kapp did not give in to such feelings.  She concentrated on putting others' needs before her own.  As she did so, she discovered that while self-pity might have been eaiser, serving others was more rewarding.

Concentrating on the purpose of life rather than our own desires will help us reach out to others.  One sister said, "One day I realized that the Lord wanted me to want something in addition to marriage.  I had  spent so much time hoping for marriage that I had lost sight of the real purpose of this life - to live so as to return to our Father.  Although marriage is necessary for exaltation, faith and charity and a host of other qualities and began to work on them, my anxiety lessened.  I knew that if I remained faithful, the other blessings would come."

President Gordon B. Hinckley identified ways in which we caan serve:  "There are so many out there whose burdens you can lift.  There are the homeless, there are the hungry, there are the destitute all around us.  There are the aged who are alone in rest homes.  There are handicapped children, and youth on drugs, and the sick and the homebound who cry out for a kind word.  If you do not do it, who will?

"The best antidote I know for worry is work.  The best medicine for despair is service.  The bst cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired" ("To Single Adults", Ensign, June 1989, pp. 72-73).

To serve in this way - to reach out to others when our own arms are empty - may take more than we have to give, but it will not take more than the Lord has to give us.  He has "descended below them all" (D&C 122:8), and He can lift us up.  As we allow Him to touch our hearts, we will be more able to reach out to others, for He "comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God" (2 Corinthians 1:4).  He who gave His life for us can help us give our lives to others.


Suggestions for Teachers:

1.  Read Proverbs 3:5-6.  Ask:  Why is it sometimes difficult for us to trust the Lord in the guidance of our lives?  How can we increase our trust?
2.  You may want to ask a sister to discuss how an unfulfilled expectation has helped her learn to trust the Lord.
3.  Read Philippians 4:6-7 and Doctrine and Covenants 59:23.  Ask the sisters to share their testimonies of the peace that the Savior gives even at times when blessings are withheld.
4.  Read 2 Corinthians 1:4 and President Hinckley's statement.  Ask:  How can we gain the strength to reach out to others when all of our own needs are not met?  What blessings can result from this service?