Last night’s Family Home Evening

Yesterday was election day here in Ontario, and my wife was working as a poll clerk for the day. I was off work, so I was in charge for the evening. I’m not nearly as organized as my wife is, but I still managed to fit in Family Home Evening. I shared a very brief message based on Alma 37: 36:

Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.

The kids and I discussed for a while what it meant to have our thoughts directed towards the Lord.

Our activity was that line-by-line story thing again that I mentioned last week. Here is this week’s story…

One day [a girl]
picked her nose and it started to bleed
She gathered it all and prepared herself a milkshake
The blender then exploded in her face
She cut her whole face open and went to the hospital
She was very sad because her brother cut it open
But then her brother gave her
a wet willy and grossed her out
The she repeated the action and put her finger in [another girl’s] mouth
He then kissed her for hours
Which was horrible to watch
But then super girl came to save the day. The end

Remember, the ages are 7, 10, 12, 16, and adults, so you can probably guess who wrote which lines :-)

Family Home Evening activity – Line by line story

For family home evening this week, my 10-year-old son read the story from the September 2014 Friend called Tornado!Tornado! and shared a short message about prayer.

For our activity, we did one of those line-by-line stories. I’m not sure what the official name is, but it is when you write a story a line at a time. One person writes a line, and the next person only sees that line. They write a line that matches that first line, and then the story goes to the next person. That next person only sees the most recent line (not the first one) and adds a line. So every pair of lines should kind of make sense, but by the time you get to the end, it doesn’t really flow at all. We had a good time doing it.

Here is our story:

Today is a great day because…
it was a rainy day splash
and all my clothes got wet
so I ate them
and they tasted like ketchup.
Everyone thought that ketchup tasted disgusting
What was even more disgusting was seeing a person pick up dog poo and throw it at their brother
The brother denied that it was dog poo.
He thought it was disgusting. Ew! Ew! Ew!
Because [10-year-old boy]’s feet smelled so bad!!!
So [16-year-old girl] upchucked
and started crying
Then he was grounded
Unfortunately, the grounding lasted so long, he died in his room. The end

If you haven’t tried this with your family, you should. It is a lot of fun.

“Why Religion Matters”

The Mormon Newsroom recently ran a 5-part series of articles about Why Religion Matters. Of course, the PR arm of a large Church is going to believe that religion matters. However, that doesn’t mean that you should just dismiss the series. It really is a good read.

One of my favourite quotes from the series is from Making Selves Out of Others:

And yet a principle found in many religions is that there is little separation between you and the people around you. Jesus Christ put the charge quite simply: “love thy neighbor as thyself.” In other words, your well-being is much more than aloof personal freedom; it is tied to your neighbor’s well-being also. And so, religious institutions can be helpful junctures where two cooperating impulses meet — the desire for individual purpose and the desire for communal belonging. Like all human goods, these impulses fit within a balance.

When is a prophet a prophet?

Often critics of the Church will bring up something that a prophet or apostle has done that was wrong (in their opinion) and ask how a man of God could do something like that. Defenders of the Church often then reply with this quote from Joseph Smith:

“a prophet [is] a prophet only when he [is] acting as such”

History of the Church 5:265

I definitely understand the concept, but I have to admit that seems kind of like a cop-out. It kind of gives the impression that a prophet can be a prophet, and then decide to be mean, and just say that he wasn’t being a prophet while he was being mean.

I heard a quote mentioned on a recent FairMormon podcast that I think gives more clarity on this topic. The quote was, “when God makes the prophet, he does not unmake the man.”

The full quote is from David O McKay, and is as follows:

Someone has said that when God makes the prophet, he does not unmake the man. I believe that, though being “born anew,” and being entitled to new life, new vigor, new blessings, yet the old weaknesses may still remain. The adversary stands by, ever eager and ready to attack and strike us at our weakest point.

David O. McKay, “The Divine Church“, Conference Report, April 1962, pp. 5-9

For additional thoughts on this, check out this By Common Consent post from a couple of years ago

LDS Youth Temple Challenge

A few months ago, Elder Neal L Andersen challenged the youth to take their own names to the temple (I first heard about this on LDS Media Talk). Right away an official page was setup, and word started to spread. So far over 20,000 people have signed up to accept the challenge.

Our stake hasn’t set a specific goal, but we certainly endorse the challenge. In one ward I was in recently, the youth Sunday School class (only 3 youth) were in the Family History Centre learning how to index. It’s great to see the youth getting involved like that.

“Confessions of a Mormon housewife”

This was all over the news a week or two ago, but in case any of you missed it…

CNN has a show called This is Life with Lisa Ling. Recently there was an episode where a Mormon mother spoke about her struggle with prescription drug abuse.

“Debunking that Quote about Brigham Young’s Greatest Fear”

Many of you are familiar with the quote from President Brigham Young that people use where supposedly he said:

The greatest fear I have is that the people of this Church will accept what we say as the will of the Lord without first praying about it and getting the witness within their own hearts that what we say is the word of the Lord.

Well, the Millenial Star had a  nice write-up about this recently. Apparently this is not a transcript from a talk, but a summary of a comment that Brigham Young most likely made. Interesting reading… check it out!

Nothing to smile about: Asia’s deadly addiction to betel quids

This isn’t really Mormon-related, but it does have to do with something I saw on my mission. I served in Taiwan, and at the time there was this gross thing that we called Beetle Nut (or at least that is how I thought it was spelled) that taxi drivers would chew. Apparently it gave them a bit of a “buzz”. It was essentially a stimulant. Although not “officially” mentioned in the Word of Wisdom, members and investigators were taught not to chew it.

Well, apparently it is actually called Betel Nut (or Areca Nut), and they are finding now that it leads to cancer.

CNN has a nice article about it:

Heavy users of betel quids reveal their addiction when they smile. Their teeth are stained a reddish-black, dyed from years of chewing potent parcels of areca nuts and tobacco, wrapped in a lime-coated betel leaf.

“Some people after they eat they’re drinking coffee or tea; always after eating I’m chewing the betel nut. I like it,” says Myo Min Than, a 28-year-old noodle seller at a market in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon.

Like tea or coffee, betel quids — or “nuts” as they’re often referred to — give users a lift. But unlike tea or coffee, they also give them oral cancer.

“We are His Work and His Glory”

Just a quick thought/note here…

Recently the Atonement Blog posted some remarks that Neal A Maxwell offered in his first address as an Apostle. We are all familiar with Moses 1: 39:

For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

The Atonement Blog highlighted the fact that Elder Maxwell said that WE are God’s work, and His glory.

We can love Him, we can honor Him, we can worship Him! We can keep His commandments, and we can feast upon His scriptures! Yes, we who are so forgetful and even rebellious are never forgotten by Him! We are His “work” and His “glory,” and He is never distracted!

A very nice thought! Thanks to the Atonement Blog for sharing this…

Missionary Work: Experiences Shape the Future

A while back, the Church Newsroom had a nice write-up about how missionary work shape the lives of missionaries. I know that this is put out by the Church, so people could say it was just PR work, but having served a mission myself, I definitely agree with the general premise of the article.

I served a mission in Taiwan back in the 90’s. I remember clearly sitting on the plane as I flew out of the Buffalo airport to go to the MTC, crying like I’d never cried before. It was the first time I had been away, and I was scared to death. Obviously I survived. The mission turned out to be one of the great experiences of my life.

Without getting into too much detail, I learned:

  • independence – from being away from home
  • respect for Church leadership – like many missionaries, I loved my mission presidents
  • respect for other cultures – at the time, Taiwan was still quite insulated from Western culture, so it was great to learn about and experience a culture so different from ours
  • hard work – if you want to be happy as a missionary, you’ve got to get to work
  • dealing with conflicts – dealing with a companion that you’ve never met before can be hard
  • trusting the Lord – it is His work, so we need to trust in Him
  • defining success – if it is based on the number of baptisms, I was pretty much a failure (a few people I taught were baptized, but not many). However, I feel like I had a very successful mission.

I can’t say serving a mission was the best decision I’ve ever made… my wife and my children might argue about that. However, at the time, it was definitely the right decision, and has helped shape who I am today. For that I will be eternally grateful.