what is a squiggle?

According to fifth-grade teacher Mrs. Hill, a squiggle is a beginning point, a small, wiggly line on a page with the potential to become something more--a brilliantly drawn fifth-grade picture!

A beginning point. A silly phrase from my preschooler, my teenager rolling his eyes, or my kindergartner deleting my entire 3rd chapter...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Scripture Squiggle: Alma 31:21-23

"Now the place was called by them Rameumptom, which, being interpreted, is the holy stand.

Now, from this stand they did offer up, every man, the selfsame prayer unto God, thanking their God that they were chosen of him, and that he did not lead them away after the tradition of their brethren, and that their hearts were not stolen away to believe in things to come, which they knew nothing about.

Now, after the people had all offered up thanks after this manner, they returned to their homes, never speaking of their God again until they had assembled themselves together again to the holy stand, to offer up thanks after their manner."

I find it impossible not to judge the Zoramites, their high tower, and their ridiculous prayer, along with their once-a-week worship habits. They were so obviously wrong! But while it is easy for us to see the incorrectness of their tower and their prayer, how often do we climb upon a spiritual Rameumptom and look down at others, grateful that we have the truth and we'll be saved? In my mind I climb that tower as I sit in my car in the pick-up line at the school and see the man in front of me smoking his cigarette with a toddler in the backseat. Thanks, Lord that I can be better than this man that I don't know, because I have thy Gospel, and I don't smoke. And I ascend again at the store when I see that teenage boy with the spike through his ear, walking and complaining and cussing so that the entire world can hear. Again, thank thee Father that my son has the Gospel and that I don't let him go out and annoy other people with inappropriate dress and language.

Okay, so I don't actually say such prayers, but my attitude towards the people I see speaks the words just as effectively. Don't we all feel better when we see someone who falls short of the marks that we are able to conquer (just as we all feel rotten when we see someone who does well, that which we cannot)? So maybe the next time we feel ourselves scaling that ladder to the Rameumptom, we should make an effort to climb back down and remember that we have shortcomings as well.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fictional Story: Proverbs 24:17-20; 3 Nephi 12:44

A Little Friendly Competition

Rebecca Stone was the only thing blocking my path to a college education. She was also blocking my locker after classes let out on the first day of school our senior year.

“Cami Taylor, I didn’t see you in fourth hour AP Chemistry.”

“Of course you didn’t; I hate Chemistry. Do you mind moving?”

“What a shame. I thought you were serious about being valedictorian.” She flipped her hair around and started to walk away.

I forgot about getting in to my locker. “Rebecca, wait! What does Chemistry have to do with valedictorian?”

Rebecca smiled. “Everything. Our GPA’s are tied and we share five out of six classes. But that one class makes all the difference. If I score an A in Chemistry, it’s worth five points on the GPA scale. An A in your fourth hour class is only worth 4. So my GPA will be higher, I’ll be valedictorian and I’ll take the Silverton Scholarship.”

I felt as if Ryan Stanford, star of the varsity team, had just used me for tackle practice. My dreams of a higher education hinged on the Silverton Scholarship. John Silverton, the rich founder of our small Arizona town had died ten years ago. Through his will he established a $2000 scholarship awarded each year to the valedictorian of Desert West High School.

“I’m going to win the Silverton.”

“Not without AP Chemistry.”

My best friend Leslie walked up as Rebecca strolled away. “Cami, you look terrible. What did she say to you?”

I explained about AP Chemistry as I shuffled books in and out of my locker. “I’ll never be able to go to the University of Washington without that scholarship, Leslie. The full tuition scholarship the college has offered isn’t enough. I still need transportation up there and money for room and board.”

“It doesn’t have to be Washington. You could get a full ride to any college in the state.”

“It does have to be Washington.” My hand automatically reached for the college ring that hung from a silver chain around my neck – my father’s parting gift to me the summer after eighth grade.

He had come home to die, his voice scratchy and sharp from the breathing tube that had aided him for so many months. Pressing the ring into my hand he had said, “Promise me you’ll go to college, Cami. Make something of yourself. Don’t waste the precious time you have here.” Two days later, when we laid him in the ground, I had promised myself I would go to college, but not just any college, Daddy’s college – the University of Washington.

“Cami?” Leslie’s voice broke my reverie.

“I’m okay.” Slowly I released the ring. “I’m going to transfer into AP Chemistry.”

A week later, Principal Mallard asked me to meet with him after school. He sat at his desk with his fingers templed together.

"Good afternoon, Cami.” He cleared his throat and gestured for me to sit down. “We need to discuss the honor of valedictorian. The school board has voted to make the selection of valedictorian and salutatorian based off of student GPA’s after first semester.”

“First semester?”

“Yes, they feel that this will allow the recipients time to prepare their speeches and have them approved by the administration.”

Principal Mallard rearranged the photo paper weights on his desk. “If things remain as they are, Cami, you and Rebecca will be co-valedictorians and you will split the Silverton Scholarship. However, with the race as close as it is, it could be that mere hundredths of a decimal point will separate the two of you. In the instance that the numbers are that close, the district superintendent feels that the decision of whether to share the honors should rest with the student with the highest GPA.”

“So, if I’m on top I can decide if I want to share it with Rebecca?”


I thought about the Silverton money. One thousand might not be enough. Rebecca had never been very nice to me, except when she needed something. It would serve her right to end up with salutatorian. But that morning in Seminary we’d talked about Proverbs 24. ”Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth.” Thanks Sister Kampton. “Well, if it’s that close, I don’t mind sharing.”

He let out a sigh, removed his glasses and wiped his face with a handkerchief. “Don’t expect the same kindness from Rebecca. I met with her earlier today. She doesn’t care how close the GPA’s are. If she has the highest, she’ll take everything for herself.”

“Oh. Well, that doesn’t change my decision.” Inside I felt miserable, yet I tried to remind myself that I was doing the right thing.

Midterms arrived the week before Thanksgiving. Rebecca caught up with me in the hall outside U.S. History. “Hey Cam, how are the tests going?” She sounded friendly.

“Okay, I guess. Tomorrow’s the big one – Chemistry.”

“Yeah I know. Hey, I was hoping we could swap notes. It might really improve our chances for a good grade on the test.”

“Sure, that sounds great.” I dug through my backpack for my notes and handed them to her. “When will I get these back?”

“I’ll make copies of yours and mine after school. Meet me outside Government.”

That was the last time I saw my Chemistry notes. I was up well past midnight pouring over my Chemistry textbook trying to remember the explanations Mrs. Johnson had given in class. When my alarm went off at five, I was still sitting at my desk, head down with my left cheek sticking to the open page of the book.

Rebecca was waiting by the chemistry room after school. She shook her head when she saw me. “81% is pretty impressive for someone who didn’t have any notes. But it can’t compete with my 97%.”

I looked her in the eyes. “I hope my notes were useful to you.”

“Don’t flatter yourself. I didn’t even look at them before throwing them away.”

Leslie found me as I was unlocking the door of my 1975 Buick Apollo. Its puke green color matched the way I felt.

“There you are, girl! Did you forget about Debate Team?”


“Then what’s going on? We were supposed to start the practice session for next week’s big meet ten minutes ago.”

I picked at a piece of peeling paint on the roof of my car. “I have to drop the team.”


“I got a B on the midterm. Every assignment, every test or quiz from here on out has to be perfect. I’ll be living and breathing Chemistry until after finals.”

“Why did you trust Rebecca anyway?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t mind sharing my notes. She’s never been super nice or anything, but I never expected her to steal them.”

Leslie laid her hand on my arm. “Rebecca’s your alternate. If you drop the team she gets to participate in the state meet.”

“What else can I do? She has me at every turn.”

On the day of the big debate meet I walked with Leslie to where the bus waited to take the team to Tucson and the University of Arizona. I tried unsuccessfully to ignore Rebecca’s smug grin as she waved at some friends from the bus window. Three pages of Chemistry work waited for me in my backpack.

At home I grabbed a bag of pretzels and got to work. Midway through the first page my mom rushed into my room, carrying two-month old Vanessa Carter.

“Cami, I need you to watch Vanessa. I’m late for work as it is.” She plopped Vanessa in my lap. “Her bottles are in the fridge, diapers and wipes are in her bag, and her schedule is on the notepad by the phone.”

“Why can’t Mrs. Carter watch Vanessa? She’s her baby.”

“Mrs. Carter is at the hospital. Her son is having an emergency appendectomy. Please, Cami, Mrs. Carter helped us during our time of need, let’s return the favor.” She kissed my forehead and hurried out of the house.

I looked down at Vanessa. She smiled and cooed at me. “Well, baby girl, I’ve got some school work to do. Why don’t you play on your blanket right here by my desk?” I spread her blanket out and laid her on it. As soon as I did, her innocent face puckered up and she began to howl. I gave her my stuffed animals to look at and the few toys I had kept for sentimental reasons. She continued to cry. I begged her to stop and promised to buy her a car on her sixteenth birthday. She continued to holler. Finally I picked her up. The second she was in my arms, she was quiet.

The schedule mom left indicated that Vanessa would probably nap in thirty minutes or so. I grabbed a couple of my old kids’ books and sat with Vanessa in the recliner. Part way through The Monster at the End of this Book she was asleep. I stood slowly, holding Vanessa against my chest. With infinite gentleness I laid her in the playpen Mom had set up. She fussed for a moment then settled down with an airy sigh.

I crept back to my homework. Before I could even pick up my pencil, her wails began again.

Vanessa and I had just drifted to sleep when my mom got home around 3 a.m. My arms ached from holding the baby and my chemistry work sat unfinished on my desk. Mom relieved me of Vanessa and sent me to bed. I set my alarm for an hour and a half earlier than usual and crawled under the sheets.

The sun creeping in my window woke me up long after my alarm should have. I grabbed the first clothes I could find, threw my books into my backpack, and spent fifteen minutes looking for my car keys.

At lunch, I was just desperate enough to ask Rebecca for help on my Chemistry assignment. She refused. When the fourth hour bell rang I still had a half a page left.

“In my class, Ms. Taylor, incomplete work is unacceptable. If you expect to pass the Advanced Placement Exam at the end of the year and receive college credit, I expect you to behave like a college student. I made my expectations clear at the start of the year: incomplete work is an automatic zero.”

I watched Mrs. Johnson draw a large red “0” on the top of my paper and viciously slash a line through it for emphasis. I could feel Rebecca’s laughing eyes on my back as I slunk to my seat.

It’s tradition for the teachers at Desert West to provide study notes on the Monday before finals, making attendance that day a must for any academically minded students.

I expected to see Rebecca already in her seat when I walked in the classroom after lunch, but her chair was empty. It remained empty all through class.

I had just pressed the handle down on the door to the U.S. History room when a voice behind me called out, “Cami, wait!” A sense of déjà vu struck me when I turned around and saw Rebecca. I hugged the folder that held my precious chemistry notes to my chest.

“What do you want?’

“I took some friends to the Pizzeria at lunch and my car wouldn’t start. I just got back. I need your notes; you know Mrs. Johnson will never give them to me.”

“You’re crazy. There are nineteen other people in the class. Ask one of them.” I shook my head, determined to enter the classroom and leave Rebecca to her woes.

“Cami, no one else in that class can take notes like you do. Please.”

All I had to do was open the door and go to class. Rebecca could never pull an A on the final without the notes and I, Cami Taylor, would be Desert West’s Valedictorian.

“Meet me by the flag pole after school. Give me ten minutes to get the copies made.” I opened the door without waiting for her reply.

I didn’t hear much of the lecture on the Great Depression. My thoughts kept wandering to the notes I had slipped into my backpack at the start of class. The last thing in the world I wanted to do was share them with Rebecca. A little voice kept whispering that poetic justice would be served if I left Rebecca standing at the flagpole, waiting all afternoon. Or I could give her blank pages. Or make five copies of just the first page. My head began to pound from the thoughts of retribution that flooded it.

It would serve her right. After all, she’s not willing to share valedictorian if our GPA’s are hundredths apart. And she stole my midterm notes. Why should I feel obligated to help her?

My headache continued throughout Government where Mr. Shaw offered tips on how we should determine which candidate to support in our upcoming mock election. I jotted quick notes down as he spoke: share beliefs and goals, clear and precise, does not avoid issues, honest. I put my pencil down and breathed out slowly. That was why I had to give Rebecca the notes. Because I believed in being honest. I rushed to the copy room after class.

Rebecca’s eyes widened in a surprised-relieved look when she saw me. “I didn’t think you’d show up.”

“If I’m going to be valedictorian and win the Silverton, it will be because I earned it, not because I cheated. Besides, I told you I would.”

She didn’t flinch. She snatched the notes out of my hand. “You’re not going to be valedictorian. You probably need a perfect score on the final just to pull an A in the class. We both know Chemistry is not your best subject. I, on the other hand, can get a B on the final and still have an A. And now that I have these notes, that won’t be a problem.”

I clenched my teeth and stomped away. Rebecca was close – I needed a 98%.

Leslie came over the night before the Chemistry exam. In between mouthfuls of ham-and-pineapple pizza she quizzed me on terms and formulas. After she left, I spent another two hours reviewing my old assignments and rereading the portions of the text that Mrs. Johnson had mentioned in the study notes. At ten I decided that all the studying in the world wouldn’t help me if I didn’t get enough sleep; I closed my textbook and went to bed.

When I walked into the Chemistry room the next day, my hands had already started shaking and my stomach was working on setting a new world record in summersaults. I sat at my desk and pulled out my notes; I had three minutes to fit in some more studying.

“I bet you studied all night.”

“I’m studying now, Rebecca. Go away.” I kept my gaze on my papers.

“I spent about thirty minutes looking over the notes you gave me before my parents took me out to dinner in anticipation of my victory.”

“Congratulations. Now go away.”

Five minutes later, after taking roll, Mrs. Johnson passed out the exams. Then she stood at the front of the classroom with a smile. “You may begin.”

It seemed only minutes later when the bell startled me out of my intense concentration, signaling the end of class.

Semester grades wouldn’t be posted until after Christmas break. I tried to enjoy shopping, watching movies and Christmas caroling from a trailer full of hay, but worry about my Chemistry grade hovered at the back of my mind. It was a relief then, when Principal Mallard called Rebecca and me to his office during second hour the first day back after break.

He asked to speak with me first and a sense of failure washed over me. Second place is always announced first. I sat down and fought with the tears that threatened to fall. “Meeting with us individually must mean we aren’t tied for first anymore.”

“A very intelligent deduction.” Principal Mallard replied as he sat down as well. “You know, Cami, I am a firm believer that people often get what they deserve.”

“That’s probably true.” I was losing the battle against the tears.

“So, I would like to congratulate you on obtaining the honor of valedictorian!”

“What? Valedictorian? Are you sure?”

“Quite sure, Cami.”

“But how?”

“Through a lot of hard work! Of course, it didn’t hurt any that you got straight A’s for the semester, again.”

“I got an A in chemistry? But then I should be tied with Rebecca.”

“You would have been, except that Rebecca got a B in Chemistry.”

Rebecca had no way of knowing the tears streaming down my face were tears of joy; she offered me her smug grin and walked into the principal’s office. My left hand clutched at my father’s ring. Principal Mallard was right – we do often get what we deserve. But I was much happier knowing that I had treated my “enemy” fairly and reserved judgment for the Lord.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Scripture Squiggle: Proverbs 24: 17-20; 3 Nephi 12:44

"Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth;
Lest the Lord see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.
Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked;
For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out."

"But behold I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you."

Loving our enemies is not an easy task--especially when the opportunity arises to give back to them the mistreatment they've given us. In my life, I've had many chances to turn the other cheek, but I've chosen instead to give the person what I felt he deserved. Like the bill collector who keeps calling my house for somebody I've never heard of--and the caller is definitely not nice about questioning my integrity. After three or four times of telling this company that the person they're looking for does not live at my home, and no, I don't know who they are or where they might be, I get a little peeved. So on the fifth call, I gave the caller some of that irritation. Okay, so I felt better for a few minutes, but inevitably the guilt set in and I regretted my rash behavior.

In that moment, when the debt collector called my house yet again and I judged the caller worthy of my wrath, I forgot the Lord's warning that "with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged" (see Matt 7:1). We need to remind ourselves, that if we want mercy from the Lord, we have to be merciful to those around us, not just the people we happen to like or know well.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ficitonal Story: Alma 30:44

Nephihah, the chief judge watched Alma rise from his seat beside him and descend the stairs until he stood level with Korihor. Alma's simple clothing--brown sandals, tan tunic and deep green robe--enhanced Korihor's elaborate dress. As Alma walked around the man, the gold rings on Korihor's bound hands glittered, and although the prisoner had been stripped of his elaborate cape and feathered headdress, Korihor's tunic was made of the finest-twined blue linen with intricate patterns embroidered along the sleeves and hem.

Interesting, Nephihah thought, that Korihor in his fine clothes could accuse Alma of glutting on the labors of the people. Below the dais, Alma stopped in front of Korihor; he held the prisoner's gaze with his piercing blue eyes. Yet Korihor didn't flinch; his eyes smoldered with disdain for the prophet.

"Believest thou that there is a God?" Alma questioned.

"Nay," Korihor snorted with disgust.

Without dropping Korihor's gaze, Alma asked slowly, "Will ye deny again that there is a God, and also deny the Christ? For behold, I say unto you, I know there is a God, and also that Christ shall come. And now what evidence have ye that there is no God, or that Christ cometh not? I say unto you that ye have none, save it be your word only. But behold, I have all things as a testimony that these things are true; and ye also have all things as a testimony unto you that they are true; and will ye deny them? Believest thou that these things are true?"

Alma swept his arms out to encompass the world and raised his head toward the heavens as he spoke. Korihor shook his head and a small smirk sat upon his lips.

The power in Alma's words sent pulses of joy shivering up Nephihah's arms. How can anyone deny God in the face of such testimony?

Whirling around, Alma again faced Korihor; his eyes narrowed at the prisoner. "Behold, I know that thou believest, but thou art possessed with a lying spirit, and ye have put off the Spirit of God that it may have no place in you; but the devil has power over you, and he doth carry you about, working devices that he may destroy the children of God."

Korihor bowed his head in mock humility. "If thou wilt show me a sign, that I may be convinced that there is a God, yea show unto me that he hath power, and then will I be convinced of the truth of thy words."

"Thou hast had signs enough," Alma said, "will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets?" He paused and looked around the room at the group of priests and judges gathered in assembly. Alma returned his attention to Korihor. "The scriptures are laid before thee, yea and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which do move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator."

Nephihah watched Korihor for a reaction, but he just stood before Alma with his self-satisfied smile. He knows the law cannot lay hold on him for his beliefs.

Alma regarded Korihor with pity. "And yet ye go about, leading away the hearts of this people, testifying unto them there is no God? And yet will ye deny against all these witnesses?"

Korihor barely suppressed a laugh. "Yea, I will deny, except ye shall show me a sign."

Shaking his head, Alma sighed. "Behold, I am grieved because of the hardness of your heart, yea, that ye will still resist the spirit of the truth, that thy soul may be destroyed. But behold, it is better that thy soul should be lost than that thou shouldst be the means of bringing many souls down to destruction, by thy lying and by thy flattering words; therefore if thou shalt deny again, behold God shall smite thee, that thou shalt become dumb, that thou shalt never open thy mouth any more, that thou shalt not deceive this people any more."

The haughtiness in Korihor's eyes faltered. Nephihah thought he detected the faintest tremor in Korihor's voice when he replied. "I do not deny the existence of a God, but I do not believe that there is a God; and I say also, that ye do not know that there is a God; and except ye show me a sign, I will not believe."

Alma stood up straight and turned away from Korihor. "Then this will I give thee for a sign, that thou shalt be struck dumb, according to my words; and I say, that in the name of God, ye shall be struck dumb, that ye shall no more have utterance.

Korihor opened his mouth to protest, but no sound came out. His lips moved, and his bound hands flew up to hold his throat as if they could force his voice to emerge. Nephihah watched him for a minute and then reached beside his seat for the flat black rock he kept for writing. Grabbing a sharp stone, he wrote upon the surface; then he stepped down to Korihor and allowed him to read the words: Art thou convinced of the power of God? In whom did ye desire that Alma should show forth his sign? Would ye that he should afflict others, to show unto thee a sign? Behold, he has showed unto you a sign; and now will ye dispute more?"

When he finished reading, Korihor gestured for the stone so that he could write. "I always knew there was a God. But behold, the devil hath deceived me." He continued to scratch words onto the surface of the stone, blaming the devil for teaching him the words to say when he deceived the people. "Please, Alma, pray that this curse be taken from me."

Alma thrust the stone away after reading Korihor's words. "If this curse should be taken from thee thou wouldst again lead away the hearts of this people; therefore, it shall be unto thee even as the Lord will."

Korihor's eyes widened with fear. He shook his head and mouthed the word "no" several times. But Alma turned away. "Free him," Alma said to Nephihah. "He will lead no more astray."

Nephihah nodded and one of his officers stepped forward and removed the ropes around Korihor's hands and feet. Korihor rubbed his wrists; he glared at Nephihah and spat in the direction that Alma had departed. Then he raised his head, resumed his look of disdain and marched out of the assembly hall.

Outside, his followers waited. They cheered when they saw him walk out, his bonds removed. Pushing and shoving to be near their leader, his followers gathered around him and waited for him to speak. Korihor smiled, nodded, and pumped his fists in the air, but his people wanted more. Finally, Korihor gave in, he moved his lips and pointed to his throat to indicate that he was dumb, mute, unable to speak.

At first, his followers thought he was just having fun with them, but when it became apparent that Korihor was truly dumb, they began to disperse. When all were gone, and Korihor remained alone, he was left with one thought echoing in his mind: Thou hast had signs enough.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Scripture Squiggle: Alma 30:44

"But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all the things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator."

I heard a country song recently that reminded me of this verse. I thought I'd share the lyrics.

Lee Ann Womack: There is a God (Songwriters: Chris Dubois and Ashley Gorley)

Try and put your arms around the 100 year old tree
Climb up on a horse and let him run full speed
Take a look out at the world from 30,000 feet
On your next flight

Watch a flock of birds against the morning sun
Close your eyes and listen to the river run
Catch a firefly in your hand or a raindrop on your tongue
That's right

There is a God
There is a God
There is a God
How much proof do you need?

Plant a seed and see what comes out of the ground
Find the heartbeat on your baby's ultrasound
In a few years hear him laughing
And don't it sound like a song?

Stop and think about what you don't understand
Things like life and love and how the world began
Hear the doctor say he can't explain it
But the cancer is gone

There is a God
There is a God
There is a God
How much proof do you need?

Science says it's all just circumstance
Like this whole world's just and accident
But if you want to shoot that theory down
Look around, just look around

There is a God
There is a God
There is a God
How much proof do you need?

Oh, there is a God
There is a God
There is a God
How much proof do you need?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fictional Story: 3 Nephi 11:3-7

Kimberlea set her knitting down with a sigh and pushed herself out of her rocking chair to answer the sharp rap on her door. She took a peek through the peephole. Mormon missionaries. Kimberlea shook her head and her short red curls danced around her face. With another sigh, she pulled the door open.

"Good afternoon, Elders." She said and smiled as they looked at each other in confusion.

"Uh, are you LDS?" the taller of the two asked.

She leaned closer to read his name badge. "No, Elder Boon, but I have been taught by Mormon missionaries before." She paused. "Twice actually."

"Oh. well what do you think about what you learned?"

It's true. Kimberlea nearly jumped when the thought popped into her head. She shook her head trying to expel it. "You boys are good kids, and the things you teach are nice. But your church isn't for me."

"Well, take these anyway," the shorter missionary said with the slightest hint of a Hispanic accent. He pushed a handful of pamphlets into her hand. "Our number's on the back, so you can call us if you ever have any questions."

Kimberlea watched through the gap in the living room curtains as the two young men walked away. When they turned the corner at the end of the street, she dropped the pamphlets on the table; then she sat back down and retrieved her knitting needles. They flashed in her agile hands and within a few minutes she had completed a tiny set of green and white booties. She placed the pair in a basket at her side, nearly filled with more booties in varying shades of blue, pink, yellow and green. In a few days I'll have enough to drop off at the hospital.

Her eyes narrowed as her thought reminded her of the last time she had allowed the missionaries into her home.

"Are you telling me that unless I'm baptized into your church that I can't get into heaven?"

The sister missionary pulled her hair away from her face and swallowed hard before answering. "Heavenly Father has commanded us to be baptized, even Jesus Christ submitted to this law."

Kimberlea frowned. "Jesus wasn't baptized into your church."

"Well, no, but..."

Kimberlea cut her off. "You're telling me that all of the good deeds I do are worth nothing to the Lord unless I'm baptized." She grabbed her Bible from the coffee table and flipped to the page she wanted. "What about 'ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only'? It says nothing about baptizing here, and a whole lot about justification."

The sister and her companion exchanged a quick glance but said nothing.

"I think our meetings are done. I'd appreciate it if you don't contact me again."

That was two years ago, and Kimberlea still felt her chest tighten and her face flush with anger. I'm a good person; surely the Lord will see all that I have done in His name and find that far more important than which church I belong to.

Kimberlea stood up and stretched out her limbs. When she turned back to place her needles and yarn in the basket a trailing strand caught on the coffee table and pulled the pamphlets onto the floor. Kimberlea bit her lip to keep from getting angry. I should've just thrown them away to begin with. As she picked the pamphlets up, however, she felt drawn to cover picture on one of them. It was a depiction of Christ speaking with the Samarian woman at the well. I've always loved this story.

She sat back down with the pamphlet in her hand, admiring the artwork. As she studied it, a verse came to her mind--one she'd helped her granddaughter memorize for Bible School last summer.

"Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water."

"A lovely portrayal of that scene." Kimberlea said aloud. She placed the stack of pamphlets back on the table and walked into the kitchen.

Kimberlea, why do you reject my gift?

Kimberlea froze with one hand on the handle of the refrigerator. The voice, although quiet, had sounded like it came from right next to her. She glanced around, but saw no one. "What gift?"

She heard no reply, only the buzzing of the fridge and the heavy ticking of her old fashioned cuckoo clock. "What gift?" she asked again, but softer this time, more to herself. Then she remembered the pamphlet and the verse she had rehearsed. Kimberlea hurried back to the living room and grabbed the stack. She spent the next hour reading through them. When she was done, she reached for the phone.

Elder Boon's voice filled the line.

With her voice shaking, Kimberlea identified herself and asked, "Is it too late for me?"

"Of course not."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Scripture Squiggle: 3 Nephi 11:3-7

"And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn
And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they understood it not.
And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came.
And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them:
Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name--hear ye him."

I am so grateful that the Lord continues to speak to us, even if we don't understand, or don't really listen the first few times. I'd be in a lot of trouble if the Lord's law was one strike and you're out.

On the other hand, I'm glad that he doesn't always make things easy, either. Heavenly Father reminds me frequently that he values patience and persistence!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Fictional Story: 1 Kings 5:4

Continued from Fictional Story: Mosiah 4:30.

Tara tossed her books through the open window and onto the front seat of her Toyota Corolla then turned around and leaned against the vehicle. She could see Paul pushing his way through the stream of students. He wore jeans and a black muscle shirt and his brown hair was tousled; a few stray locks hung over his forehead. Wow! He's handsome. Tara waved and Paul hurried over to her car.

"Hey Beautiful, what's up?"

"Not much." Tara shrugged and felt the queasiness begin in her stomach.

Paul wrapped her in a hug and gave her a quick kiss on the lips before moving his attention to her neck. "Jared is having a party at his place tonight. Wanna hang?" he asked as he dotted her neck with kisses.

"I thought we were going to have some time for just me and you. I really need to talk to you, Paul."

"So talk. Why do we have to schedule it?"

Tara moved our of his embrace. "This really isn't the right place or time for what I have to say." She tried to keep the anger out of her voice, but Paul caught it.

"What's with you? You've been so moody lately."

"Please, Paul, not here, not right now!" Tara's eyes filled with tears that she tried to blink away.

"Oh, no," Paul shook his head, "you're not pregnant are you?"

Tara covered her face with her hands and nodded.

Paul kicked at the asphalt. "That's just great. And I suppose you have this idea that you're going to keep it, and we're going to be one big happy family?"

Tara slowly brought her hands away from her face. "Well, I had hoped, since you said you loved me..."

Paul held up one hand. "Wait a minute. I have plans, Tara, and those plans don't include a baby."

"But you said you loved me!" Tara protested.

"Ah, sheesh, Tara, do you know how many girls I've said that to?"

Tara stared at Paul; the pain from the blow he'd just dealt her kept her throat constricted. Tears began to trickle down her cheeks.

"Go ahead, turn on the faucet. I'm outta here." Paul turned on his heel and stalked away.

Tara opened the door and climbed into her car. Her vision was too blurry for her to drive, so she sat with her forehead resting on the steering wheel until her sobs subsided. Then she dabbed at her face with her sleeve and started the car. I hurt like I've never hurt before.

For a while she merely drove, completely unaware of where she was going. But as her troubled thoughts began to settle down, she knew what destination she wanted. She pulled into the Mesa Arizona Temple parking lot near the Visitor's Center and shifted her car into park. Deep green grass stretched in front of her; she remembered the area from her family's visits to the Easter Pageant. Slowly, she opened the door and got out.

You don't belong here. The thought hit her hard, almost knocking the breath out of her, and she almost climbed back into the car. You've messed up really bad; the Lord doesn't want you at his holy temple--you'll defile it. This time, Tara's knees buckled and she sank to the ground; she hugged her knees and tried not to cry. She stood up and lifted her head with determination. This is the Visitor's Center. I don't have to be pure to be here; I just won't go onto the temple grounds.

As she followed the sidewalk up to the Visitor's Center, Tara continued to argue with negative thoughts that seemed determined to prevent her from going any further. When she reached the building she looked through the glass doors and windows and saw the Christus standing with his arms open, welcoming. Tara could see the nail prints in His hands and feet.

Warmth, tingling and comforting, spread through her body. Tara, return to me. Walk the grounds of my temple and feel my rest.

"I will!" she whispered. She gazed into the tranquil reflection pool that separated the temple from the Visitor's Center and marveled at the image of the temple that sparkled in the water. She walked the sidewalks slowly admiring the different varieties of plants and flowers--from the towering palms to the small daisy shrubs. Tara lingered again at the second reflection pool, and then wandered through the small cactus garden. She sat on the cement bench and studied the Organ Pipe cactus. As she sat, she realized that her thoughts had calmed--she no longer felt hopeless; instead, she felt peace. She didn't know what she was going to do, but while she remained on the temple grounds, she knew somehow everything would be okay, eventually.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Scripture Squiggle: 1 Kings 5:4

"But now the Lord my God hath given me rest on every side, so that there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent."

King David wanted to build a temple to the Lord, but because his reign was fraught with wars and aggression, he was unable to. The Lord called upon Solomon (whose name means "peaceable"), David's son to build His house, and during Solomon's reign, the Lord brought peace to the land.

I love how appropriate this is for the building of the temple. The Lord gave Solomon "rest on every side." I feel that same peace, that "rest on every side," when I visit the temple. For those short hours that I am within the temple walls, all of my adversaries, my trials melt away in the Spirit of the Lord.