Monday, July 30, 2012

Book of Mormon Sunday II- Ether 8-15

   Moroni has introduced a circle here in chapter 12 of the Book of Ether. I think it starts with the enabling power of the atonement which gives mortal man an ability to desire a relationship with deity. If they choose to exercise faith in that deity then a doorway is opened which allows us to know Jesus Christ and by attaching ourselves to Him, through faith, a hope grows that we can be united with him and with our Heavenly Father. The circle goes around again when we then share our love of God with others who we feel charity for, and we extend to them an invitation to know God as well.

   Ether 12:8 "But because of the faith of men he has shown himself unto the world, and glorified the name of the Father, and prepared a way that thereby others might be partakers of the heavenly gift, that they might hope for those things which they have not seen."
   Before Jesus came to earth the law was the way. It was His law and it prepared man to embrace Him, but, His way opened the door to receiving a new heart, truly a more excellent way to renewal.
   Ether 12:11 "Wherefore, by faith was the law of Moses given. But in the gift of his Son hath God prepared a more excellent way; and it is by faith that it hath been fulfilled."
    Paul, a world away from Moroni, knew the more excellent way was through faith in Jesus Christ, hope in his atoning sacrifice, and charity as a way of being with others.
   1 Corinthians 12:31 "But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way."
    As "natural man", we don't have the inclination to be charitable, but, as "men in Christ" that enabling power of the atonement refines our nature and we begin to love as He loves.
   Ether 12:27 "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me -- the fountain of all righteousness."
   I think Moroni cared deeply that we, his readers, would be able to accept his message. We, the Gentiles in this case, would have to have charity to do the work of salvation. Our part in the House of Israel is to bring the Church of Jesus Christ into our families and into the lives of anyone we serve.
   Ether 12:36 "And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord that he would give unto the Gentiles grace, that they might have charity. And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore, thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father."
  In Moroni's view the future requires the enabling power of the atonement in the form of " grace" to ensure that the gospel will go forth. And we know that this power brought forth the restoration in 1830. Through Joseph Smith we can more completely walk the the "more excellent" way of Jesus Christ.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Morning Lines #17- Pooh On The Mat

    Winnie the Pooh has coached me through the enjoyment of jumping, why bicycling is so fun, and now he has joined me on the mat.

   I was anxious to teach him how much he could achieve if he tried Yoga. First we warmed up our leg muscles, stretching and reaching.

    Then on to down dog, which incidentally, he didn't quite get or enjoy as he enjoys putting his nose in the air rather than close to the ground.

    The truth of the matter is, I learned more from Pooh than he did from me. First of all, he reminded me  that it was a beautiful day.

                             And that the sky was an unusual blue without a cloud to see for miles.

"What are you doing today?'
   "I'm doing something important."
"Oh, doing what?'
"Listening,"he said.
  "Listening to what?"

"To the birds. And that squirrel over there."
"What are they saying?"
"Oh, that it is a nice day," said Pooh.
"But you know that already," I said.

                 "Yes, but it is always good to hear that somebody else thinks so, too," he replied,"

                                        You are so wise, Pooh. You always keep me centered.

                                And by the way, his favorite asana was relaxation pose.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Scripture Mastery

    Each new year I make the plan to memorize all the scripture mastery verses myself, and then assist all my students to do the same. As the year progresses reality sets in that some students have a much easier time memorizing than others. The goal peters out by January, but this year I want to try again.

Ron White, a two time memory champion, has some tips for memorization.
"Memorizing skills are an art, acquired with training, practice, focus and the desire to improve your ability to remember and recall the information you want to keep. Usually the art of memorization is referred to as mnemonics – methods of remembering information that normally would be difficult to recall. Basically, the principle of mnemonics is to use as many different parts of your brain as possible to set up a code to process the information. 
The style the person learns through has an affect on the sort of mnemonics that can be considered. Visual learners (approximately 65% of the population) are more receptive to mnemonics, but auditory learners are able to adjust to their learning styles by substituting auditory cues in place of visual.  Kinesthetic learners can use their imagination to perform plays or actions, as well as use memory tools to base their memory techniques. Keep in mind that most people utilize more than just one learning style all the time.
Our brains interpret complex stimuli (such as colors, structures, language, emotions) through the senses (sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing). We create a picture in our minds of the world around us through this stimuli and our memories store all of this very efficiently. Much of what we remember is presented in such a way our brain has to “decode” it, making remembering it more difficult. An example would be a handwritten letter.
Points that make things easier to remember, no matter what learning style you use:
§         Make the images you create in your mind pleasant and positive ones.
§         Inject humor as often as possible. We remember more with humor.
§         Take notes and write things down you want to remember
§         Make the images vivid and colorful
§         Understand the material before you try to remember it. If you don’t understand it you won’t remember it.
§         Teach it to someone else. If you can do that you understand it, and it will solidify it in your mind
§         Try creating a simple formula that will make it easier to remember
§         Relate what you want to remember to your own experiences
§         Break things down into smaller segments instead of trying to remember everything at once"
     Shannon Foster, The Red Headed Hostess, gave some good advice which sounds like a plan for this year for me.
* Teach­ers:  Let me share how I final­ly fig­ured out how to do scrip­ture mas­tery after YEARS of trial and error!  First quar­ter I worked on them know­ing the key phras­es of ALL 25 (so I focused on games and activ­i­ties that taught them this skill).  Sec­ond quar­ter I worked on over­all doc­trines and prin­ci­ples found in the scrip­ture mas­tery scrip­tures so they became more and more famil­iar with them.  Third quar­ter I had them pass off each scrip­ture with the first let­ters.  And fourth quar­ter I had them pass off each scrip­ture mem­o­rized with no helps.  I found that my stu­dents did MUCH bet­ter with this tac­tic rather than just start­ing with mem­o­riza­tion at the begin­ning of the year.  What I found when I did that is that most of my stu­dents knew the first five to ten scrip­tures and then they burned out.  With my new plan very few of my stu­dents burned out first, sec­ond or third quar­ter, so at least they knew the key phras­es, the prin­ci­ples and doc­trines, and a pret­ty good idea of the words in the scrip­tures.  Also by the time you get to the mem­o­riza­tion quar­ters, your stu­dents are mem­o­riz­ing scrip­tures they have already have had a lot of expo­sure to and it is much eas­i­er for them and they are more excit­ed to put in the work mem­o­riza­tion takes."
   As for myself, I am going to use the app on my I-Phone and get started today.

Morning Lines #16- A Cycle of Things

                 A Cycle of Things
                by ME

It's early
There are few cars on the road
Most are going north
I head off to the south.

I mount carefully
Adjusting my balance
The pedals catch the gears
At first
The way is downhill.

I zip my jacket up to my neck
The wind whirls at me
Making my eyes water
My fingers curl around the brakes
But I don't squeeze,
I breathe..

On level ground
I look
And see houses waking in the sun
Pushing their working occupants
Out the door
Rushing for a boat
Another morning.

Then the pedals resist and I 
Prepare to shift into
A lower gear
My hands clutch the handlebars
As I push and strain to keep moving
Just at the top, the front tire wobbles and weaves
As I fight to stay on.

Later, at night
Re-living the feelings in my head,
I cycle the downhill,
The straight and narrow,
The upside,
And remember that each time
I come back to level ground,

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Morning Lines #15- Blooms

Of What Surrounds Me
by Mary Oliver

"Whatever it is I am saying, I always 
need a leaf or a flower, if not an 
entire field. "

Florists exist for special occasions but I say flowers are for every occasion. I love the sensory experience in the floral shop in my home town. Every corner has a unique surprise.

                                  Is this a an homage to Edgar Allen Poe?

    This season the windows are draped with a filmy, sparkly curtains to give an underwater feeling.

The cooler is filled with buckets of floral treasures, all in their prime, waiting to be fashioned into a ensemble of delight.

   The lavender bouquet accents the room leaving the right dusting of scent, while in another corner a mare, yes, a mare drinks to quench her thirst. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Book of Mormon Sunday II- Ether 1-7

The purpose of this reading of the Book of Mormon is to identify and remark upon the strengthening power of the Lord Jesus Christ. The story of the brother of Jared starts with a situation arising from the unrighteousness in the world around the Jaredites. They cry out to God with a specific need and then act in faith.
   Ether 1:34 "And the brother of Jared being a large and mighty man, and a man highly favored of the Lord, Jared, his brother, said unto him: Cry unto the Lord, that he will not confound us that we may not understand our words. And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did cry unto the Lord, and the Lord had compassion upon Jared; therefore he did not confound the language of Jared; and Jared and his brother were not confounded."
   "The enabling power of the Atonement of Christ strengthens us to do things we could never do on our own. Sometimes I wonder if in our latter-day world of ease--in our world of microwave ovens and cell phones and air-conditioned cars and comfortable homes--I wonder if we ever learn to acknowledge our daily dependence upon the enabling power of the Atonement"
   Elder Bednar "In the Strength of the Lord"
   The word prepare stands out in the following verse. Preparation has been made for each of us and then as we see what we need he invites us to act in faith make this journey through mortality successful.

    Ether 2:25 "And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come. Therefore what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?"
   "I frankly do not think many of us "get it" concerning this enabling and strengthening aspect of the Atonement, and I wonder if we mistakenly believe we must make the journey from good to better and become a saint all by ourselves through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline, and with our obviously limited capacities."
  Elder Bednar "In the Strength of the Lord"
 "Brothers and sisters, the implication of this episode for each of us is quite straightforward. As you and I come to understand and employ the enabling power of the Atonement in our personal lives, we will pray and seek for strength to change our circumstances rather than praying for our circumstances to be changed. We will become agents who "act" rather than objects that are "acted upon."
  Elder Bednar "In the Strength of the Lord"

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Strawberry Festival Parade

   My town has a festival every year which originally celebrated the strawberry season. Once many fields yielded their luscious red fruit. Now, our berries come from the mainland, but not so far away as California. A parade kicks off the festivities on Saturday.

      We have so many artists, performers, musicians, athletes, and this year I felt the parade showcased these local talents.

                            The contrast between the electric cars and the wagon made me smile.

                         If you have ambitions to play the ukelele there is a group for you.

The King and Queen of the event were sufficiently sober about representing their kingdom and the children shouted hurray to each new display of color and to the candy, flying throughout the air.

                                          This parade had everything you can possibly imagine.

                    As usual, the Thriftway Drill Team showed the respectable use of shopping carts.

   Our favorite, of course, was the float from our own company. Grandchildren and friends were involved with a wonderful presentation.

               Emma reigned as the Sawbones Queen, in her eighties and still employed and loved.

                                    Our granddaughters look so beautiful in blue, don't you think?


                   Lastly, the most thought provoking float of all, the ball and chain of public debt.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Morning Rain

   When I was little I was afraid of thunderstorms and there were many in the hot, humid summer months. With a flash of lightning I would bolt under a table or my bedcovers. My father taught me that if I could slowly count to ten the storm was too far away to strike our house.

    This morning at 6am I knew a bike ride would be too wet. Wow! The lightning was close and knocked out the power for a few minutes. On my morning run, to drop off the worker bees in my house I marveled at the light.

                                 In this early morning, day struggled to overcome the night.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Morning Lines #14- Savor

“I will practice coming back to the present moment...not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past or letting anxieties, fears, or cravings pull me out...” 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Seminary Study Skills

   At the beginning of each year I review what I wish my students could learn about studying the scriptures. Here are some things I wish for every year:

  • I wish they could pick up their scriptures and easily find verses that inspire them
  • I wish they knew how to follow a chain of scriptures to find answers to their questions
  • I wish they loved the Topical Guide
  • I wish they read all the footnotes
"Our students cannot know of God, and so love as they must love, unless they are taught by the Holy Spirit. Only by the Spirit can they know that God loved us enough to send His Son to be the propitiation for our sins and that Jesus is the Son of God and that Christ paid the price of their sins. Only by the Spirit can they know that Heavenly Father and His resurrected and glorified Son appeared to Joseph Smith. Only by the Spirit can they know that the Book of Mormon is the true word of God. And only by inspiration can they feel the love of the Father and the Son for them in giving us the
ordinances necessary to receive eternal life. Only by obtaining those witnesses, placed deep into their hearts by the Holy Ghost, will they be rooted on a sure foundation to stand steady through the
temptations and trials of their lives” (“To Know and to Love God” [an evening with President Henry B. Eyring, Feb. 26, 2010], 2). 

Mark and annotate. One of the most helpful ways for teachers and students to capture and retain the things they learn is by marking and annotating the scriptures. To mark means to designate, distinguish, set apart, or bring attention to. This can be done by underlining, shading, or outlining key words or passages in the scriptures. To annotate means to add explanatory notes or commentary. Examples of scriptural annotations could include writing personal impressions, prophetic commentary, cross-references, word definitions, or insights gained from the comments of class members in the margins next to specific scripture passages.
Scripture marking and annotating can help students and teachers to:
• Make important words, phrases, ideas, truths, people, and events easier to remember and find.
• Clarify and discover meaning in the scriptural text.
• Preserve personal insights gained and those received from others.
• Prepare to teach the gospel to others.
Teachers can encourage students to mark their scriptures by saying something like, “As you search these verses, I invite you to mark a key principle that you discover,” or “Here is an important cross-reference. You may want to write this in the margin of your scriptures.” It is better to teach, illustrate, and practice the basic elements of scripture marking throughout the year than to teach a particular marking system. 

These quotes from "Gospel Teaching and Learning" are guiding my first lessons of the new year.
To bridge the gap between the Old Testament and the New Testament we will go on a scriptural expedition. From Malachi 3:1,

to asking these three questions; Who is the messenger? Who sent the messenger? What is the message? The topical guide answers the first question. Reading through the list of scriptures we find that John 6:57 tells us the answer to the second question.

    The message, according to these verses, seems to be about the covenant God makes with his children.

   One really big theme I see in the words of Jesus Christ is his pointing us to Heavenly Father and the covenant He is willing to make with the House of Israel.

   This search and answering these questions brings me a magnified feeling about what my Heavenly Father has for me and leads me into reviewing the Plan of Salvation.