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, May 18, 2010

Scripture Squiggle: Jarom 1:11-12

"Wherefore, the prophets, and the priests, and the teachers, did labor diligently, exhorting with all long-suffering the people to diligence; teaching the law of Moses, and the intent for which it was given; persuading them to look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was. And after this manner did they teach them.
And it came to pass that by so doing they kept them from being destroyed upon the face of the land; for they did prick their hearts with the word, continually stirring them up unto repentance."

As I read these verses, I thought about our recent Stake Conference. During the Saturday night adult session, I listened as our leaders and fellow members of the stake taught us principles of the Gospel that were definitely not new. Not a conference goes by that we do not hear from some member of our mission presidency about missionary work and our part in it. Obviously what has been said about General Conference applies at the stake level--"It seems that the Lord recognizes the necessity of repetition in impressing upon the minds of the people any message he has to give. Our Savior, in his teaching, would repeat, time and time again, in different language the same idea, apparently to fasten it irrevocably upon the minds and hearts of his hearers." (Teachings of Heber J. Grant)

We have to be receptive to the spirit in order for our hearts to be pricked in the manner Jarom spoke about. Again, at our Saturday session, I felt the spirit as those assigned speakers shared their messages with us. But on Sunday, amid countless trips to the bathroom with my 1, 3, and 5 year olds, I found it difficult to feel even a part of the messages that were given. My mind was occupied with other matters and my heart was unable to be pricked to remembrance.

I hope to try harder to be receptive to the spirit so that I can be reminded of what is important, that I may be "continually stirr[ed] up unto repentance."

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fictional Story: Alma 61:13

Continued from Fictional Story: Doctrine and Covenants 98: 9-10

Ethem absently placed a piece of stale flatbread into his mouth as he watched the old man's shaky hands tap an image out of the stone. The shape of a jaguar's head emerged when the man carefully blew the chiseled dust away. He studied his work for a moment and then raised his obsidian tool and hammer and resumed his tapping.

"Andibmer, your work is the finest in the kingdom." Ethem said, moving closer to the old man and offering him the last few bites of his bread.

"You've known no life but imprisonment since the day of your birth, Ethem. You have nothing to compare my work to." Andibmer accepted the bread and sat down against the wall of the prison workroom.

"No," Ethem pressed on, "but King Riplakish himself seeks you out to carve and chisel the precious ornaments for his towers and buildings. Isn't that proof enough?"

Andibmer snorted. "All that proves is that I'm the most talented prisoner he can compel to do his work for him. Riplakish wouldn't recognize anything of true value if it dropped from the sky and landed in his gluttonous lap."

Ethem sat beside the old man. "Riplakish has ruled in Moron for over forty years, taxing the people to fund his buildings, his towers, and his throne, not to mention all of the prisons to hold those who could not or would not pay his taxes." He rubbed his thumbnail with his finger. "How many of those years have you spent here, Andibmer?"

The old man crumbled the last bit of bread and let it fall to the dirt floor. "Forty-one years and seven months." He turned to face Ethem, the slightest trace of tears sparkled in the corner of his eyes. "I was thirty-two, in my last year of apprentice to a stone carver, betrothed to the most beautiful girl I had ever laid eyes on. My master lacked the money to pay Riplakish's outrageous tax, so he paid with me instead."

Ethem shook his head and laid his hand on the man's bony shoulder. "Too many similar stories can be found in all of Riplakish's prison's throughout Moron. He has afflicted the people, both within and without the prisons." He took a deep breath. "The time has come to throw off the burdens Riplakish has cast upon us and drive him and his family from the land."

Andibmer offered his young companion a grim smile. "And who will reign in his stead? Someone else seeking power and glory?"

"No. We will govern ourselves, never again to let someone with only his own interests in mind have power over us to afflict us as he has."

"Grand views, Ethem. Very grand." Andibmer rose from the ground, his joints creaking and popping as he did. "I hope all goes as you plan, that freedom and righteousness may be restored to the land." He grabbed his tools and returned to his stone carving.

Ethem gently grabbed the man's arm. "Your freedom shall be restored as well, Andibmer. You will have your life back!"

Andibmer slowly shook his head. "Look at me, Ethem. I am old. I have lived my life; it cannot be restored to me. All that might have been, must remain as might have been."


"No, no, Ethem. Do not sorrow for me. I regained my freedom many years ago."

"How is that possible when you have resided here for so long?"

"Riplakish indeed stole everything from me when he placed me in this prison so many years ago. Although he could deny me my earthly possessions, even keep me from marrying and fathering children, Riplakish could not keep me from having faith in the Lord, from trusting that someday He would free me."

Ethem's face was drawn with confusion. "But the Lord has not freed you!"

"Ah but he has. He freed me the day he showed me how much I still had."

"Like what?"

"My life."

"But in prison!"

"Food to eat, people to talk to and befriend me."

"But in prison," Ethem repeated.

"I got to spend my entire life doing what I loved best, coaxing pictures from plain stone, creating beauty where before was only potential."

"But at what cost?" Ethem shook his head.

"Someday you'll understand. Remember me for this, Ethem, that I lived in peace with the lot I was given. No one can say I yielded to the circumstances forced upon me. Although I am Riplakish's subject, a member of his kingdom, I am not subject to Riplakish for my happiness and joy--that I found through the Lord.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Scripture Squiggle: Alma 61:13

"But behold he doth not command us that we shall subject ourselves to our enemies, but that we should put our trust in him, and he will deliver us."

Pahoran is referring to very literal enemies who are trying to take over the government and destroy the freedom of the people. Together Captain Moroni and Pahoran are able to withstand the king-men and restore the government to the chief judge. The Lord, and His power, was with them, allowing them to be delivered from their enemies.

In applying this scripture to our own lives, we should remember that our enemies don't always come in the form of people that hate us. Enemies, in gospel terms, are things that try to pull us away from the Iron Rod and lead us down the wrong path. We should also look closely at the word "subject." If someone were suffering from a debilitating illness, something that threatened their faith so that every day was a struggle to keep going onward and remember the eternal purposes of life, that illness could qualify as an enemy. This particular enemy also counts as a trial, something the Lord has given this person to help build their faith and testimony. In this case, not allowing ourselves to become subject to our enemies takes on a little bit of a different meaning.

Here it doesn't mean that we won't experience trials, but that we shouldn't allow ourselves to be ruled by them. The person who yields to the enemy of illness allows himself to become bitter and resentful that he has to suffer rather than seeking the Lord's will and allowing himself to grow from the experience. The same thing applies to the enemies known as death, pain, sorrow, etc. When we face each of these, or any other "enemies," we should remember Pahoran's counsel to Moroni and "put our trust in [the Lord], and he will deliver us." Keep in mind, of course, that the deliverance is on the Lord's timetable and not ours.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Fictional Story: Doctrine and Covenants 98:9-10

King Riplakish ran his hand over the polished gold ornamenting the back the marble throne. The tails of two dragons intertwined at the center, and their bodies stretched out to form the arms of the chair, with their angry mouths opening for a mighty roar. The throne's legs were those of dragons as well, with sharp claws scratching into the floor beneath them. The seat was far enough off the ground that the King required a stool to reach it.

Riplakish nodded in satisfaction. "Very fine work," he said as the artist of the chair rubbed it a final time with a soft cloth. "It is a throne worthy of my office." He waved his hand at the thin, stooped man who twisted the cloth nervously in his hands. "Return him to the prison until I have further need of him."

"But, you promised me that if I built you this throne, more beautiful than that of the ancient kings, that you would grant me my freedom!" The man's voice was as thin and raspy as his frame.

Riplakish tapped his finger against his lips as he considered the man's plea. "No, Andibmer, I cannot risk losing your skills. The east tower is nearly complete and will require a master's touch." The king paused. "However, I will move you to the Inner Prison and I will see that you receive of the first-foods. Take him away."

Andibmer fought against the two men who pulled him out of the room. "One day," he shouted at Riplakish, "you will die for the wickedness you've brought upon this people."

"Wickedness?" Riplakish adjusted his feathered headdress and tossed his silken cloak over one shoulder. "I have restored this people to greatness, brought back the beauty and glory of this land that was lost when the poisonous serpents invaded the land and drove us southward. Without me, Moron would be a mere shadow, a pathetic reflection of what it once was, not the glorious kingdom it is today."

"Your father restored the land; he built up a broken and suffering people and reminded them of the many blessings the Lord had shown our father Jared and his brother. He brought our people back to God, and in so doing, restored our glory."

Riplakish struck Andibmer across the face with the back of his hand. His polished silver ring tore the skin on the prisoner's cheek. "Enough! Return him to the prison at once."

To be continued...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Scripture Squiggle: Doctrine and Covenants 98:9-10

"Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn.

"Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil."

When the wicked rule the people mourn. This is true on so many levels. Of course we have seen numerous instances in government, both modern and ancient, where the people have suffered when someone with unrighteous desires has power in the government. The people of ancient Israel suffered terribly when they were ruled by wicked kings, as did the Nephites. In modern times, leaders such as Saddam Hussein have oppressed their people as they have sought for their own gratification. But wicked rulers can create mourning in smaller settings. Look at all of the problems the wicked governors of business have caused. Corrupt businessmen hurt their employees and often the economy as well. Fathers and husbands who do not rule their homes in righteousness hurt their wives and children spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Whenever wicked men and women are given even the tiniest bit of power, those who come under that power suffer.

Our responsibility to seek for honest and wise men, and to uphold them when we do find them, is an extremely important one. For as Mosiah cautioned, "if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgements of God will come upon you." (see Mosiah 29:27)