Ministering through the years

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This week covers the Sunday Afternoon Session of the April 1986 Conference.

 Here's a quote from Elder James M. Paramore that sounds like it could have been given in this last year, with all the emphasis on ministering! I can see why the general authorities chose the word "ministering" to replace home and visiting teaching—it is so descriptive, and has such a great history of use in the scriptures and from the prophets! Like this:
The great promise to all of God’s children who truly minister, serve, love, and teach the gospel is that one day they may sit at the right hand of the Savior and be received into His presence. May the Lord make us “able ministers”, as were Ammon and my friend. This should be the end result of every principle and truth we learn in the gospel. This is truly the gospel in action. 
May we truly minister and teach all of our people, but especially reach out to those who plead in their hearts and through the long, lonely nights for help—our widows, our divorced, our nonmembers, our aged, our less active—to let them know of our concern, our love, and the love of God, until a happier people cannot be found upon the whole land, for “they taught and did minister one to another.”

Learning, Not Learning, Profanity, and Homesickness

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This week covers the Sunday Morning Session of the April 1986 Conference.
There were a bunch of little snippets I liked from this session of Conference. Here are my favorites:

Elder Packer, on reading the scriptures:
[In the Book of Mormon], just as you settle in to move comfortably along, you will meet a barrier. The style of the language changes to Old Testament prophecy style. For, interspersed in the narrative, are chapters reciting the prophecies of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. They loom as a barrier, like a roadblock or a checkpoint beyond which the casual reader, one with idle curiosity, generally will not go. 
You, too, may be tempted to stop there, but do not do it! Do not stop reading! Move forward through those difficult-to-understand chapters of Old Testament prophecy, even if you understand very little of it. Move on, if all you do is skim and merely glean an impression here and there. Move on, if all you do is look at the words.
I didn't think that much about this when I first read it, but I've remembered it over and over as I've read the scriptures this week. I know we should be always seeking to get more from the scriptures; to move beyond skimming. And I've had some great teachers that have helped me with these more difficult sections. So I know it's very rewarding. But…I don't know, there are still just some parts of the scriptures I do NOT understand, and it was comforting to imagine Elder Packer saying to me, "It's okay—just glean an impression here and there…just look at the words if you have to. You don't have to get all this stuff right now."

Elder Jack H. Goaslind, sounding like Elder Maxwell:
Our yearnings for happiness were implanted in our hearts by Deity. They represent a kind of homesickness, for we have a residual memory of our premortal existence. They are also a foretaste of the fulness of joy that is promised to the faithful. We can expect with perfect faith that our Father will fulfill our innermost longings for joy.
Elder Oaks, on profanity:
Profanity leads to more ungodliness because the Spirit of the Lord withdraws and the profane are left without guidance.
Vulgar and crude expressions are also offensive to the Spirit of the Lord…Profane and vulgar expressions are public evidence of a speaker’s ignorance, inadequacy, or immaturity. 
A speaker who profanes must be ignorant or indifferent to God’s stern command that his name must be treated with reverence and not used in vain…Members of the Church, young or old, should never allow profane or vulgar words to pass their lips. The language we use projects the images of our hearts, and our hearts should be pure.…
When the names of God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, are used with reverence and authority, they invoke a power beyond what mortal man can comprehend.
It should be obvious to every believer that these mighty names—by which miracles are wrought, by which the world was formed, through which man was created, and by which we can be saved—are holy and must be treated with the utmost reverence.
I've encountered profanity in a few unexpected situations lately and haven't been exactly sure why I've been so disturbed by it. It's so normal these days you do tend to get used to it…even in news articles or other places that used to be free of it. And I know it's maybe not a terrible sin, and that "taking the Lord's name in vain" can mean more than just swearing. But the fact remains that I've felt a spiritual uneasiness in those situations, and Elder Oaks' talk helped me understand why. I especially liked his positive statements about the power of the names of the Father and of Christ. When you think of their power and who they are, it makes sense why we'd want to use only words of love and respect toward them.

President Hinckley, on lifelong learning:
This restored gospel brings not only spiritual strength, but also intellectual curiosity and growth. Truth is truth. There is no clearly defined line of demarcation between the spiritual and the intellectual when the intellectual is cultivated and pursued in balance with the pursuit of spiritual knowledge and strength.
Maybe this seems like the opposite of my first quote, but I suppose they balance each other out. Sometimes I feel inspired to learn forever…sometimes I feel like my brain is full and I'll never be able to learn again! :)

Other posts in this series:

To Study Carefully the First Vision—by Jan Tolman

The last leaves, for real this time

After seeing how dry and dead the trees were after our early October cold spell, I wasn't sure we'd be able to find pretty ones anywhere! But we had one more day of projected good weather, and Goldie and Teddy were sad they'd missed our other trip up the canyon, so I cancelled school for the afternoon and the middle children and I went out looking for Fall. The mountains appeared mostly bare and dull from our house, but the day was warm, and we had a picnic lunch, which always does wonders for the collective mood.

We went up Big Cottonwood Canyon to one of our usual spots (we'd had a fun time playing Family there last year, which the children remembered fondly) but everything was dead there. Dead and bare. Then as we drove back down to the mouth of the canyon, we saw one little area that was beautiful flaming orange. And after a bit of trouble trying to find the turn-off, and navigate around a port-a-potty truck packing things up for the season, and so forth…we got there!

The lady we met (she was the "campground host") in the picnic area said she had been all up and down the canyon and this was the very last spot with colored leaves still on the trees. She said the aspens up at the top never even got to turn yellow. I don't know how this spot had managed to escape the worst of the frost!
The view from our picnic table was just lovely. A perfect rainbow of leaves!
Daisy brought her hammock. We are quite experienced hammock-put-uppers by now, you know. We pride ourselves on it. It's lovely to lie in a hammock out in the woods!
Little Goldie-elf.
These red trees were so spectacular!
Do you see that little mound Daisy is patting? It's Marigold! Buried in leaves.
It was lovely and warm—high 60s!—but you could see dark clouds rolling slowly toward us, and they looked stormy. And the wind was coming down the canyon. It made it all even nicer somehow—knowing we were catching the very last dregs of the good weather, and it would be over all too soon.
Daisy and Junie found a wooden "sword" and they were fighting dragons with it. This hammock strap was a very floppy dragon. Rather hard to fight, actually.
Tiny leaf Daisy found!
This tree was my favorite one—so big and spread-out, just right for climbing.
Finally the wind started acting like it was serious, so we packed up our things and fled back home, just ahead of the 20-degree temperature drop that ushered in our coooooold Halloween week (7 degrees! It was 7 degrees one morning!)…after which we have had the most warm and glorious November, so I guess you never know. But hooray for this one warm yellow-orange afternoon, at any rate! I hope we stored up enough of it to last us through the winter days ahead!

Elder Maxwell, on a favorite theme

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This week covers the Priesthood Session of the April 1986 Conference.
We are not now ready for all things the Lord has prepared in the City of God for them that love Him. Our present eyes are unready for things which they have not yet seen, and our ears are not prepared for the transcending sounds and music of that city. 
The trek will be proving and trying. Faith, patience, and obedience are essential, but he who completes the journey successfully will be immeasurably added upon. And he who does not will have subtracted from the sum of his possibilities. 
When we arrive home, we shall be weary and bruised. But at last our aching homesicknesses will cease. Meanwhile, our mortal homecomings are but faint foreshadowings of that Homecoming!
Elder Neal A. Maxwell, "Called and Prepared from the Foundation of the World"

Other posts in this series:

Hope for those who wander aimlessly—by Jan Tolman

Pumpkins and Dead Leaves

Pictures of Fall! Quick! While it's still Fall!

We didn't go to our favorite pumpkin patch this year. (Or last year.) So sad. They've priced us right out! We still got apple cider donuts there, of course, but Sam just picked them up for us and we ate them at a park in the gathering gloom of what Monday nights are this year. Sam teaches until late, so our family home evenings are always in what feels the middle of the night! But that was fun, anyway.

Pumpkins still had to be gotten somewhere, so another day we (some of us…it's sad to me that the big boys usually don't get to come with us on our little field trips these days, but I must admit it also makes things simpler in some ways!) went to the little farm right by our house, and it turned out to be quite fun. They had emus, for one thing, which Ziggy immediately identified as BIG CHICKENS. So THAT was good.
They had one of those corn pits that seem so fun. Maybe not quite as fun as ball pits, but fun!
Goats. Ziggy loved them and called the long-eared ones "bunnies."
More "big chickens."

So! That was a pretty good pumpkin-y thing to do, as it turned out. Now as to whether we actually CARVED said pumpkins…we did not. But the kids drew faces on them with sharpies, and a bunny on one for me, so that was all right too.
It was kind of a strange Fall all around. We had early cold and early snow, so most of the leaves just turned brown and fell off the trees before we could ever enjoy them! That made me sad. Daisy and Junie and I went up American Fork Canyon like we sometimes do after piano lessons, and everything seemed SO dull and dead at first. It almost didn't seem like the same beautiful place it's been before! But then we found little patches of prettiness—like we always do—and even the less-pretty areas started seeming nicer, once we settled in and started exploring and feeling proprietary about them. By the time we left we were quite convinced we'd been lucky enough to stumbled upon the best spot in the whole canyon. I guess there's a lesson in that somewhere, about finding unexpected beauty once you've looked for it and hoped for it long enough. 
Anyway, you know how it is being outside when the sun is out and you can hear wind in the trees. It's so restorative! I always think, "Why don't we do this more often? Just sit outside doing nothing?"
Looking at these pictures now, I wonder why I thought it was so dull and dead? There is lots of color and life, especially as the sun warms up the tops of the trees.
And as the light hits the water! (I think I take this same picture every time we're here. [Yep.])
The girls rode tree branches like horses, and played orphanage, and I half-read my book (started out as a promising "Emma" retelling…ended with depressing existential drivel…sigh, why do I ever read random books from the library anymore? I don't, very often, and that's why) and half-watched the girls and listened to their funny little make-believes, and enjoyed being there in the warm air, among the dead leaves, letting the sun wrap my shoulders like a blanket until I was almost convinced it would never have to end.
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