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...

Friday, December 30, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: 1 Corinthians 12:31

"Covet earnestly the best gifts; and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way."

Almost from the moment our Christmas tree was up this year, my children were begging me for wrapping paper and tape so they could start putting presents under its welcoming branches.  My young children.  Who have no money for gifts and lack the creativity and ability of my older children to make worthwhile gifts.  Needless to say, I put them off, hoping they would forget and stop bothering me about it.

But they didn't.  Their pleas became more persistent as the days before Christmas disappeared.  So, finally, I granted their requests, pairing the youngest two with an older sibling to help wrap the "presents."  Before I knew it, an array of odd-shaped, hastily wrapped gifts appeared under the tree.

On Christmas morning, I was relieved that my husband and I had the same idea that I did: get the gifts from the younger kids out of the way first.  We began digging under the tree to make sure we had gathered them all and started passing them out, not really giving them the same attention we gave to the store bought gifts.

Unlike most Christmases where I was the one to hand the gift to the next recipient, this year my husband took on the responsibility, giving me a little extra time to catch expressions on my children's faces.  As my youngest son tore the paper from his first gift, I happened to glance at my six-year old, the giver of the gift, and saw his face aglow with excitement.  When my toddler finally pulled the well-loved stuffed animal from the paper, his older brother leaned close and asked, "Do you like it?" with the same excited light shining in his eyes.

We continued opening presents, and I watched, more amazed each minute.  More of my six-year old's stuffed animals emerged from their wrappings, and with each one, he beamed with joy, sometimes sharing why he'd selected that particular animal for that person.

Hiding in the gifts from my five-year old were some of his treasured cars, chosen based on his siblings favorite colors.  He grinned his shy little smile as each one was opened.

Then came the presents from my ten-year old.  Old enough to know that her brothers didn't want any of her princessy, girly things, she created gifts out of sheets of college ruled paper.  My husband received a maze, my oldest son a bull-fighting game with various drawings and characters.  For me, she wrapped a piece of paper around a stick that made an interesting vibrating sound when I tapped it on things.  And on her face, I saw the same smile, the pure joy that comes from giving, as everyone opened their gifts.

The gifts my children gave were not elaborate, and they were definitely not expensive.  But they were true gifts from the heart.  Thoughtful and selfless.

When I close my eyes and think about how wonderful our Christmas was this year, I see my young children's smiling faces as the presents they gave were opened.  And I almost cry to think I tried to prevent them from experiencing the joy of giving.

I'm pretty sure I don't have so many kids because I have so much to teach them, but because they have so much to teach me.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: 2 Nephi 26:22

"...and he [the devil] is the founder of all these things; yea, the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever."

Reflections on Flaxen Cords and Iron Rods

In thinking about Satan's methods in contrast to the Lord's ways, I began comparing the devil's flaxen cord to Christ's iron rod.  Flax is a fibrous plant used to make linen.  By itself, one strand of flax isn't very strong, and can easily be broken.  But when multiple strands are placed together, the resultant cord is sturdy.

Iron is a metal.  Obviously, much stronger than flax.  But the difference really lies in how they are used.  While the Lord invites us to reach out and grab the rod, thereby following him and his teachings, always affording us a choice, Satan offers us no such kindness.  He doesn't dangle his cord of sin and error in front of us like kittens, hoping we might bat at it and take hold; he wraps it around our necks at the first opportunity we give him.

Flax does not stretch and is resistant to damage.  In the devil's power, we have no room to grow, and alone, we have no hope for escape.  Only through the atonement can we find a way out of the powerful cords of sin.

Iron has the most stable nucleus of any element.  Just as the Gospel provides stability for us in an unstable world.  God and his ways are unchanging, dependable.  And iron is magnetic.  It quietly, yet powerfully draws other metals toward it, much like the way the spirit speaks to our souls, drawing us ever closer to the Savior.

While the soft, flexible fibers of the flaxen cord may seem more inviting than the rigidity of a rod of iron, that very nature is what allows the cord to bind us, to take away our ability to choose.  Whereas the stiff, unyielding iron rod, will never encircle us against our will, but only serve to every guide us on our way, keeping us free.

I'll take iron, thank you.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Proverbs 18:24

"A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly; and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother."

Moving during the middle of the school year in high school is never easy. And we had promised our oldest son that if we did move once he started high school, we would move into a house that allowed him to continue attending the same school. We lied.

Just over halfway into his sophomore year, we found a house that better accommodated our family of nine about thirty miles further away. My husband and I were fairly certain the elementary school aged children would adjust and make friends quickly, but we worried about our two teenagers. They would be moving from a small high school in a rural setting to a large suburban school. We were especially concerned about our son, whose best friend who had moved away a few years earlier had just recently moved back. When they met, at age 11, they acted less like strangers and more like long lost friends that had rediscovered each other. That kind of relationship was irreplaceable.

Our daughter, a freshman, found a group of friends she fit in with on the very first day of Seminary. But as the days and weeks passed, our son seemed to spend more and more time communicating with his friends in our old town. Our new ward and stake did not lack for young men his age that shared his interests, but as his sister hung out with her friends and talked non stop about them at home, he began to spend more time with his books and ipod.

My husband and I hoped that after a summer off, our son would be ready to make new friends at the beginning of the new school year. Instead, things got worse. He began to feel that no one liked him. No one wanted to be his friend.

The three of us sat outside one evening. Our son sat between us, crying as he poured out his feelings of loneliness to us. I didn't know what to do. I ached for my sweet son, who possessed a greater receptiveness to the spirit than I had at his age, a firm faith in the Lord. How could I help him? My mind was blank. But then my husband asked my son if he'd read his patriarchal blessing lately. Through his tears, my son told him he had not. They agreed to read it together the next day.

In reading the blessing, my son discovered a very specific commandment from the Lord to seek out friends. He had been waiting for friends to come to him; after all, that's how his sister had made her friends. Once he realized what the Lord expected of him, my son put forth greater effort.

Over the next few weeks, he talked about people he sat with at lunch or talked to before school. He seemed happier, and he even got invited to a birthday party. Although he has not found a "best friend" here, he has learned the importance of "shewing himself friendly" and even though they no longer see each other everyday, my son's friend from childhood is his friend still. We suspect he's the kind that "sticketh closer than a brother."

Friday, December 2, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Isaiah 55:6

"Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near."

I was seven or eight when I received the letter. My first real mail other than birthday cards from relatives. I read it over and over, and I couldn't wait to respond to it. So I took the letter to my mother and showed her the instructions I had received and how if I sent one dollar to the person on the top of the list and letters like mine to everyone else listed, I could possibly receive $25 dollars in return.

"It's a chain letter," my mom explained. "And they don't usually work."

"Oh," I replied, completely deflated. "Can I try it anyway?"

"That's up to you; it's your dollar," Mom said, but I could tell she didn't really want me to do it.

I returned to my room, confused and depressed. I wanted to answer the letter; I wanted to see the 'magic' promised, and I really wanted some of that money. My parents and my primary teachers had taught me that I could pray about anything. Well, if I can pray about anything, perhaps the Lord will tell me what to do about this chain letter.

So I prayed. And nothing happened. I still wanted to do the chain letter. The next morning, I decided to go ahead and mail the letter, but since the mail didn't go out until lunchtime, I decided to write the copies later and attend to more important things, like breakfast.

I poured myself a bowl of dry cereal and ate it with my fingers as I read my favorite part of the newspaper--the comics and Dear Abby. I cannot recall any of the comic strips from that day, but I have never forgotten the question posed to Abby. Someone had asked about chain letters. And in Abby's response, I found the answer to my prayer.

I hurried to my room where I grabbed the chain letter and tossed it into the trash.

When I look back on my childhood, this experience stands out as an important step in the formation of my testimony--the day I learned that if I sought the Lord, I would find Him.

Friday, November 25, 2011

National Novel Writing Month

I came, I wrote, I conquered! 50,011 words! I emerge from NaNoWriMo victorious, so Scripture Squiggles will return Friday, December 2.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Isaiah 30:8

"Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever"

Wow! Not only are the people at NaNoWriMo telling me to stop slacking and start writing, but so are the scriptures!

Okay, maybe it's a bit of a stretch. But that's what this November is going to be for me as I attempt to meet the NaNoWriMo challenge of 50,000 words. Which means, no Scripture Squiggles until the first Friday in December.

If I survive, that is...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Proverbs 15:1

"A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger."

When I was little, nothing infuriated me when I was already upset like my older brother. Whenever he saw me frowning, crying, or pouting, he would grin at me and say, "Don't smile!"

I always tried, but no matter what I did, my traitorous lips would turn upward and for a brief second a smile crept onto my face--always followed by me yelling at my brother to leave me alone.

But he had already succeeded. My foul mood was broken by his simple statement. My anger at my brother never lasted long; really it was born from a desire to hold onto whatever had been bothering me, rather than let it go, as I should.

After my brother's smile trick, though, I had to let it go. Because his trick was more than a brother teasing a sister. His trick was a brother's love for his sister, because he didn't like to see me sad or upset.

Now that I'm older, I sometimes still hear him when things get tough. I see his smiling face as he taunts, "Don't smile."

But I do.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Jonah 3:10-4:1

And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.

As a young wife and mother living in a small town of strangers, I spent a lot of my time at my in-law's house. My mother-in-law let me use her washing machine, and then I would take the wet clothes home to decorate my apartment while they dried. Laundry day back then usually amounted to about three loads, so we had plenty of time to talk. Pat, my mother-in-law's next door neighbor, was often one of our topics.

Pat's husband Tony worked with my father-in-law. A sweet, quiet man, Tony made friends quickly and everyone liked him. Pat was a loud-mouthed drunk, and I got the feeling nobody liked her, least of all my mother-in-law. We talked about Pat's yelling rampages that woke my in-laws up each night, the broken bottles that invariably fell out of the garbage, and how Pat had taken to coming over to my mother-in-law's house to chat.

I would commiserate with her, return home with my wet clothes (while silently thanking the Lord for giving me neighbors that kept to themselves), and share all of the stories with my husband.

We'd laugh and groan, and feel sorry for Tony. He deserved so much more in a wife. So I should have been overjoyed when I learned that Pat was going to be baptized. Somehow her chats with my mother-in-law had turned to the Church, and she had expressed interest. After a few discussions, Pat was transformed. She gave up drinking, the late night yelling stopped, and Pat became as likable as Tony.

Then why did I feel like Jonah felt when the people of Nineveh repented? Maybe it was because I had used Pat to feel better about myself. As long as she was doing bad things that I wasn't doing, I knew that I wasn't the lowest on the Lord's list.

Perhaps I was eager, as Jonah was, to see others face the consequences of disobedience. And I felt his disappointment when this known sinner turned around and repented. Instead of embracing charity and rejoicing over the rescued soul, I harbored jealousy and self-righteousness.

I, dependent on the Savior's mercy, ignored his example. He associated with sinners, rejoiced when they repented, and loved everyone.

Fortunately, I did get to know Pat. Her infectious smile and animated personality pulled me in, despite my misgivings.

Now, when I feel myself struggling with some one's repentance, I remember Pat, my Ninevehite, and I find I can more easily reach out and embrace.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Doctrine & Covenants 101:16

"Therefore, let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God."

I can't watch the news. Too many stories break my heart and fill me with dread and worry for my family. Sometimes, especially if one or more of my children are away from home, I am so overcome with fear for them, that I almost can't function. This promise from the Lord, that He is in charge of all things, is what I rely on to ease my fears.

The Parable of the Geckos

We do our best to protect our home from the bark scorpions that lurk outside, hoping to come in and find food and shelter. But we know they are out there, so we've taught our children to be careful when they play outside, picking things up with caution in case a scorpion is hiding underneath. And we use extra caution at night, when the scorpions are roaming around, searching for bugs.

Sometimes the knowledge of this danger threatens to overwhelm us. We know the scorpions are outside, we know they are dangerous, but, although we can take steps to prevent them from coming inside, we cannot eradicate them completely.

But we also know we are not left to fight the scorpions alone. At night, the geckos appear on our outer walls. Whether they actually eat scorpions, or just the food the scorpions seek, the geckos help us keep the scorpions away. We point them out to the kids and tell them that the geckos are on our side of the fight.

Just seeing them brings us comfort. They are our reminder that the Lord's hand is in all things.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Hebrews 2:1

"Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip."

This scripture was part of our Sunday School reading for this week. It immediately made me think of General Conference, just over a week away. Very appropriate! We should give more earnest heed to the prophets' words--we are privileged to hear them speak twice a year! My goal the past few weeks has been to better prepare myself for conference, and I've challenged my family to do the same.

A fine member of the Church was talking with a neighbor who was not of our faith. When the topic of discussion turned to general conference, the neighbor asked, “You say you have prophets and apostles? And twice a year in a worldwide conference they reveal the word of God?”

“Absolutely,” the member replied with confidence.

The neighbor thought about that for a moment. He seemed genuinely interested and then asked, “What did they say in the last general conference?”

At this point the good member of the Church went from feeling excited about sharing the gospel to feeling embarrassed. Try as he might, he couldn't think of the details of a single talk.

His friend found this troubling and said, “You mean to tell me that God speaks to man in our day and you can’t remember what He said?”

The brother felt humbled by this exchange. He vowed that he would do better to remember the words spoken by the Lord’s servants in general conference.

We all know how hard it is to remember every message of general conference, and I’m confident that we need not be embarrassed if we don’t remember everything. Nevertheless, there are messages in each general conference given as a gift and a blessing from heaven specifically for our personal life situations.

The Lord does have messages for each of us, and during those sessions of conference I've approached with specific prayers and questions I have heard those messages the Lord has sent for me. Read and follow President Uchdorf's counsel and you'll find General Conference can have personal, as well as global, meaning.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Ether 14:1

"And now there began to be a great curse upon all the land because of the iniquity of the people, in which if a man should lay his tool or his sword upon his shelf, or upon the place whither he would keep it, behold, upon the morrow, he could not find it, so great was the curse upon the land."

Sometimes I think my house in Buckeye sat on some of Jaredites' cursed land. Things disappeared pretty regularly there--and never resurfaced. The first item was the knead bar to my bread machine. The last time anyone ever saw it was in the dish drainer on the counter. Gone. My son's pacifiers were next. By the time we took his pacifier away at age three and a half, we had gone through fifteen pacifiers. They simply vanished, and no amount of searching ever uncovered them. Many other items fell victim to the curse over the eleven years we lived in that house: my daughter's stuffed pony, a swimsuit, puzzle pieces (not the small 1000 piece puzzle size, but the large, 5 piece ones designed for toddlers), jeans, t-shirts, and of course, socks. When we moved out last February, we fully expected to find the missing things. We didn't really believe the house was cursed, or that imps were running off with our possessions.

But we didn't. Not one missing item turned up when we emptied the house. Yes, we even slit the cover on the bottom of our couches to see if anything had somehow ended up inside where we couldn't see or reach. Still nothing.

The Jaredites were a numerous people. The land upon which they lived had to be vast, because my new house seems to suffer from the same curse. A few months after we moved in, my toddler's sippy cup vanished. As did my free movie tickets. And now, my oldest son's i-pod.

This house seems to have more expensive tastes.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Mosiah 23:21

"Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith."

Few things try my patience the way potty training can. Especially with my youngest son. I had decided, after six kids worth of potty training experience, that the best time to start working with a child was around the time they turned three. So, I was quite content knowing I had until next May before I even had to think about potty training. Until Levi decided he was ready for potty training, shortly after he turned two.

At first I humored him, taking his diaper off every time he indicated he needed to go and plopping him on the toilet. This went on for a week. Then one day, I pulled off his diaper, sat him on the toilet with a sigh and was surprised by a tinkling sound as he actually went potty. He was rarely dry when he said he needed to go, but he began consistently going every time he told me he needed too, usually no more than a small trickle, but going nonetheless.

So when summer started, with the older kids out of school to help, we tried putting him in underwear. He of course wet every pair we put on him. After two days we ran out of clean underwear and put him back in a diaper. The only times he wanted to go potty were during Sacrament meeting, at Wal-Mart, at Grandma's house, and after we put him to bed each night.

But he was still going. I began to worry that if I didn't try to harness his desire to go potty in the toilet and actually waited until he turned three, he would be harder to train. Alas, I determined to start things again after everyone settled back into the school routine.

I bought him new Thomas the Tank Engine underwear and we began. The first day he peed regularly--in his underwear--anytime he laughed, cried, screamed or sneezed. I prayed almost constantly for patience as I cleaned up after him each time. In the morning, I dreaded the moment he would wake up and the battle would renew.

When he did wake up, though, he was dry. He gave me his usual trickle in the toilet and then stayed dry for nearly an hour. Progress. Or not. He continued to wet, continued to refuse to go when I knew he needed to, and I continued praying for more and more patience.

We tried candies. I gave him a jelly bean every time he was dry. I checked his pants each half hour, celebrated with him when he was dry, gave him the candy, and invariably changed him a few minutes later. He hardly stayed on the toilet long enough to accomplish anything, so we tried Smarties. One Smartie if he went a little, another if he would get back on and go some more. For a while, it worked, but when he tired of the Smarties, we went right back to him jumping of the toilet before he'd even started.

Patience. A week and two days after we started full fledged training, I felt inspired to place board books in all of the bathrooms in the house. The next time he went potty, I pulled out one of his favorites and was rewarded with a boy who sat long enough to finish going.

Yesterday, he actually went nearly the entire day without an accident. He still has a way to go, but we are definitely making progress.

And the Lord continues to teach me patience--now the boy demands multiple readings of multiple books before he will got off the toilet!

Hmmm. Maybe I should be careful what I pray for...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Ephesians 5:25

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it."

My father is a dragon slayer. I've seen him in action as he defends his castle, and my mother, from the fearsome beasts. Fire breathing? No. Taller than a skyscraper? No. Massive jaws and killer claws? Again, no. Hairy, six-legged and creepy? Yes! My mother's dragons are ugly, brown, two-inch cockroaches. And my father is her hero.

My brother is also a dragon slayer. As is my husband. The dragons that terrify my sister-in-law differ from those my father slays and from the ones that attack my home. Hers are spiders; mine are scorpions. While the species of dragons differ, the love and affection the slaying of those dragons show for my mother, my sister-in-law, and for me is incredibly strong--the damsel-in-distress-knight-in-shining-armor connection.

Sure, I'm a strong, capable woman. More than once a dragon has reared its ugly head when my dragon slayer hasn't been home, and I've had to kill the monster myself. But when he is home, I'm a willing damsel in distress, and in doing so, I feed his need to protect and defend me.

All husbands should be dragon slayers--protecting the women they love from the things they fear most, whether the dragon is tangible or not. And all wives should often be the damsel, giving her husband a chance to rescue her. Stories are full of the rescued falling in love with the rescuers.

I know my heart swells with greater love every time my dragon slayer defeats another beast, scoops it up in a plastic cup and disposes of it in the garbage can.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Proverbs 22:6

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

My mom had a unique way of slipping bits of the Gospel into the lives of her children. She liked to place uplifting quotes, pictures and Mormon-ads throughout the house in places where we could not ignore them. Like the bathroom.

Even though I have been out of the house for over seventeen years, I can still remember many of the Mormon-ads on the wall of the bathroom: "Reflect on Eternity," "Rise above the Blues," "Cutting Remarks are really Hurting." I see the picture of the girl looking into a mirror and seeing, not her reflection, but her future self with a young man standing outside the temple; the one yellow balloon climbing above the group of blue ones; a young man with knives coming out of his mouth as he speaks.

On the wall beside the bathroom door, my mom placed a handwritten copy of the final stanza of the poem by Ella Wheeler Cox entitled "Gethsemane." I never saw that poem anywhere else, never studied it in church or school, but I can still quote those closing lines.

When my mom picked me up from church activities or school games, she always had uplifting music playing. Although I would unfailingly pop her cassette out of the player and turn the volume up on my own music, lines from the songs she played would linger in my mind, often steering the course of my attitude later on.

Mom never forced spirituality on us. She never argued when we changed the music, and we always had the option of using the bathroom with our eyes closed, but she surrounded herself with goodness. And because she did, when we were with her, near her, that goodness encircled us. And her children have been blessed by it.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Scripture Squiggle Doctrine and Covenants 46:32

"And ye must give thanks unto God in the Spirit for whatsoever blessing ye are blessed with."

During an address during general conference in October of 2008, President Monson reminded us, "Our realization of what is most important in life goes hand in hand with gratitude for our blessings."

The Spiral Notebook

We didn't feel very thankful as November of 2009 approached. My husband and I and our seven children were living in a three bedroom trailer without hope of improved circumstances anytime soon. It seemed the complaints multiplied with each day that passed, and I was beginning to feel crushed beneath the weight of our unhappiness. "Mom, when will I have my own room?" "She never helps me clean up." "I HATE this house!" And, although I didn't voice it, I felt the same way. How can I ever keep the house clean with so little space? A dishwasher sure would be nice. Another scratch in the linoleum?

Something had to be done. Something to remind us of all the blessings Heavenly Father had given us. So I found a lightly used spiral notebook buried in a junk drawer, tore out the used pages, and decorated the cover with a few stickers and a marker: Our Book of Daily Blessings. I showed the notebook to the family and told them my idea. Each day, everyone in the family needed to write down a blessing that they were thankful for. Those who could not write, could draw a picture or have an older sibling write it for them.

I placed the book in an accessible location and stocked the area with pens, pencils and crayons. At the end of the first day, I discovered that my family was grateful for food, clothes and other basic necessities. But by the time Thanksgiving arrived, our blessings became deeper; we were far more aware of God's hand in our lives. My son, who struggled with sharing a room with three loud, energetic siblings, wrote, "God showed me how loving my family is and how to be thankful for my trials." A daughter observed, "God gave me the ability to help a student I didn't know with work and she became my friend." And my husband, perhaps the loudest of all the complainers, penned, "Heavenly Father helped me to recognize that our current lifestyle is not as bad as some people."

We enjoyed the Book of Blessings so much that we continued writing in it long after Thanksgiving passed. We became a family full of gratitude, a family that saw God and His magnificent blessings in everything around us-- thanks to a slightly tattered, wide-ruled spiral notebook.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Doctrine & Covenants 18:23-24

"Behold, Jesus Christ is the name which is given of the Father, and there is none other name given whereby man can be saved;

Wherefore, all men must take upon them the name which is given of the Father, for in that name shall they be called at the last day"

When I discovered that some unknown someone was using my name and social security number, I felt like screaming and crying. My entire body trembled, my stomach cramped and I thought I would be sick. I felt a total lack of control. What could I do? I didn't know who was using my information; I didn't know when it had started or where they had gotten it. I just knew that someone had my name, and I wasn't sure I liked how they were using it.

In many ways, the Savior is a victim of identity theft. He warned us of Antichrists and false prophets. We've read about Sherem and Korihor in the Book of Mormon. More recently we've heard claims of imminent judgement and the end of the world, despite the declaration in the scriptures that only Heavenly Father knows when the Second Coming will occur.

What about those of us who have chosen, not to denounce the Savior or deceive those who would follow him, but to take upon us his name? Are we living in a way that is consistent with his life? Or do our actions cause him anguish. Are we damaging our Savior's love and trust in us with how we are using the name that he has given us just as the person who has stolen my name is hurting my credibility?

In an article in the April 1982 New Era entitled, "Taking Upon Us His Name", Ardeth Kapp relates, "It is in reaching out to others that we qualify ourselves and become more worthy of his name. It is our ordinary work, our seemingly routine duties, and
our familiar relationships that can become sacramental in nature."

We should consider our actions daily to be sure we are not falsely using Jesus' name. Then we can partake of the promise given in Mosiah 5:9

"And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: 3 Nephi 12:6

"And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost."

Until last night, I didn't give these words much thought. To me, this verse meant to seek after righteousness, and if we do so, we are worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost. But to hunger and thirst after something means that we really want, need, that thing, and when we attain that which we seek, we are satisfied.

I'm no stranger to feeling physically full--especially on pizza night. However, I never really considered what it meant to feel spiritually full.

Last night, at a relief society activity, I learned what that feeling is. It's knowing that I helped turn a stranger's anger into a smile by sending my daughter over to move the shopping cart out of the parking space. It's the warmth of fellowship that comes from attending Sunday meetings and chatting in the hall. It's the peace that settles my mind when I read a verse of scripture that must have been written for me, for just that moment in my life. It's a tear cried for someone else, a tear wiped away. It's a hug or a smile, or countless things, little and big, that I can do each day--for my stubborn little boys or someone I've never met.

It's a feeling I need to know so well, that I crave it as much as I crave a steaming cup of hot chocolate on a frigid day.

Am I spiritually fed each day or am I unknowingly starving, when nourishment is within my grasp? Am I teaching my children to recognize their own hunger for spiritual things? I think I'll look a little closer at my family's spiritual diet. It's never to late to start being healthy!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Helaman 12:2

"Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One--yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity."

The phrase was becoming one of my most frequently asked questions. As my husband and I toiled to convince the water pump to actually pump the water the grass so desperately needed. Why can't it ever be easy for us?

Again, when we tried to build a shelter for the tomato plants, wilting and baking in the sun. Why can't it be easy?

I asked the question every time a task turned out to be more difficult than I felt it should have--which was quite often. My husband's standard reply was, "Because we're Anderson's." To which I would grumble something about only being an Anderson by marriage and therefore should be immune to any curse.

But even the simple job of replacing windshield wipers became a frustrating, lengthy chore that left us both cross.

I was beginning to believe my husband's joking reply one night as we struggled to install a simple three-piece mount for our flat screen TV. Surely it should not take an hour to determine where to place the screws, drill the pilot holes and tighten everything into place. Alas, more than an hour had passed as we searched for the stud locator, searched for the drill bits, broke one of the thick screws, and misplaced the ratcheting screwdriver.

In the midst of the angering chaos, while trying to coax the last two screws into the back of the television I wondered aloud yet again why things couldn't go smoothly for us. From behind me, my husband gave me a soft chuckle.

"Hold on," he said and than he began to read Helaman 12:2. When he finished he set his scriptures aside. "That's why it isn't easy for us."

I tightened the last screw into place. "Things have to be difficult to remind us that we need the Lord?"

"Pretty much. I'd rather have things hard and remember that I rely on the Lord to accomplish things, even the little things instead of relying on my own strength out of pride and finding myself on the wrong side of things when Savior returns."

He moved over beside me and we lifted the TV together, attaching it to the mount on the wall. It was a little off balance, and we grinned at each other. "It can't be easy can it?" I laughed.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Doctrine and Covenants 133:14

"Go ye out from among the nations, even from Babylon, from the midst of wickedness, which is spiritual Babylon."

I saw the first scorpion one night as I walked back to the house after feeding the chickens. It was making its way toward the back door like a solitary soldier. I studied it for a moment, my heart racing as I realized that it was indeed a scorpion. Then I rushed to the door and called to my husband to bring the bug spray, quick!

I sprayed the scorpion with half the can, and my husband and I watched until we were certain it was dead. Not knowing if dead scorpions, like dead bees, could still sting, my husband scooped it into a plastic cup, placed another cup inside that one and tossed it deep into the recesses of a trash bag.

I was shaken--the safety of my home had been violated by this threat to my family. But it didn't take long before I rationalized that the scorpion had been outside, a natural place to find scorpions, and I stopped worrying about it so much.

We disturbed the second scorpion when we decided to clean out the garage. My husband was away helping his father, so all of the children came out to help. Or get in the way. I was working in the back corner, near one of the blind-covered windows when my two year old began pulling and shaking the blinds. Dust and decomposing insect bodies flew from underneath. I told him to stop, but he continued flapping the blinds against the window. One of his older brothers joined him, intrigued by the dead bugs.

Setting the broom down, I marched over to where they were just in time to see a scorpion appear on the window sill, right next to my toddler's hand. I snatched him away, shoving my other son back at the same time. I ordered my teenager to keep everyone out of the corner and sent one of my daughters in for the spray.

Not as brave as my husband, I left the body in the corner where I killed it, waiting for him to come home and dispose of the still twitching bug.

Deeply troubled, I did some searching on the Internet, and determined from the pictures I found that the scorpions I had seen were bark scorpions--the only Arizona scorpion that posed any danger. Yet again, I rationalized that the bug-infested, dirty garage was an invitation to scorpions. Now that it was cleaned, maybe we wouldn't see anymore.

Nearly a month went by without anymore scorpion sightings. Until one day my eleven-year old son came screaming up the stairs. He'd discovered a scorpion, trapped in a bag hanging from his bed. My husband and I, armed with the bug spray, hurried down to dispose of it. It was smaller than the other ones we had seen, but it was still a scorpion.

Again, I was panicked. This one had been inside the house. In my son's room. We sat as a family, talking about the scorpion and how they like to hide in dark places and that a dirty room is a perfect place for them to live. We also talked about how small of a space they needed to get into the house. By the time we finished we had determined that the scorpion had come in through my son's window and made sure he didn't open it anymore. Problem solved.

Last night, two weeks after we found the scorpion in the bedroom, my family gathered as we do every night in our living room to read scriptures and pray together. We discussed a few verses in Matthew about service then we all retired to our knees for prayer. As we were passing out hugs and kisses and preparing to send our children to bed, my nine year old daughter shouted, "Scorpion!" and I saw the critter crawling across the floor toward my husband and toddler.

I pulled my son out of the way, shouting to my husband and pointing at the invader as he moved swiftly forward. My sixteen year old jumped the back of the couch like it was nothing and cowered behind it. Someone grabbed the bug killer, and my husband sprayed it, then smashed it.

We could not rationalize away the presence of the scorpion in our living room--an area of high traffic and activity. Now we jump at every movement, imagined or real, expecting to see another scorpion. The exterminator will be here soon, but it will be a long time before we feel completely safe in our own home again.

And I wonder, if we had acting on the first sighting, would our other unpleasant, closer encounters have been avoided?

So it is with the wickedness that the Lord warns us to avoid. If we tolerate it, rationalize that it is part of the natural world and as long as it doesn't invade our sanctuary, it cannot harm us, then the evil will move closer and closer, until it is dangerously close to our families and our safety. Best to protect ourselves and our families before it becomes a threat.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: 3 Nephi 11:3-6

"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 not 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..."

As I read these verses, the Nephites' struggle to understand the Lord as He spoke to them reminded me of learning to recognize the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. The first time the voice spoke to them, the Nephites were distracted. They were conversing with each other, talking about the signs they had just seen. They heard the voice when it spoke to them, but they were unable to comprehend what the voice said.

Mormon describes the voice that spoke to them in such a way that brings to mind the Holy Ghost: the voice was small, but it pierced them to the center; it caused their hearts to burn

Often, when promptings come, we are distracted and fail to really understand that the Spirit is speaking to us. I remember a night many years ago, when my husband and I were getting ready for bed. We were tired and it was late. Suddenly I wondered if he had locked his bike up when he came home that night. His bike was his only source of transportation to work, since I had the car during the day. Being tired, and quite certain that my husband knew how to take care of his bike, I pushed the thought aside, failing to recognize the source of the thought. In the morning, the bike was gone.

The second time the Nephites heard the voice, they again failed to understand what it said. They had yet to put any effort into hearing the voice. I supposed maybe they figured if they heard it again, they'd catch the words. But it didn't work that way for them, and it doesn't work that way when it comes to the Holy Ghost, either.

Sure, no doubt I promised myself to listen better the next time the spirit whispered to me, but unless I was willing to do something to ensure I could hear better, the next time wasn't likely to turn out any different.

The third time the voice spoke, the Nephites were prepared. They were listening, they were focused on the voice by looking toward where it came from, and they were steadfast in their focus. And that time they understood.

When the Holy Ghost speaks to us, we must remember to listen, to set aside those things that would distract us, or convince us that what we're hearing is simply our own mind, not divine guidance. We must be diligent in our listening.

Contrast the story of the stolen bike with another incident. This time, me, my husband, and our two young children were in our living room. The TV was off. I was sitting on the floor preparing for Sunday's lesson, while my husband read to the kids in the overstuffed chair. A strong gust of wind rattled against the windows.

I looked up, noting that the regular windows were closed, but the storm windows were not. Outside, the day was flooded with sunlight; only a small cloud or two floated harmlessly through the sky. But I felt strongly impressed to close the storm windows. The room was quiet and filled with love and the spirit. I recognized the Holy Ghost whispering to me.

Without hesitation, I moved to the windows, closed the storm windows and locked them. I had barely returned to my lesson when a loud thump, followed by the tinkling of shattered glass, filled our quiet room. We turned to the windows that I had just closed and saw that a golf ball had slammed into one of the outside panes, reducing it to tiny pieces. But the storm pane had stopped the ball's trajectory. A path that would have taken it straight to the chair where my husband and children sat. I didn't spend much time reflecting on the damage that ball could have done to one of our small children had it struck either of them. Instead, I thanked the Lord that he had sent us a prompting--and that I had been listening.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Alma 34:19

"Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him."

Being humble in prayer can easily be forgotten, even when we are faithful in holding daily personal or family prayer. As a mother, I've found many excuses for not getting on my knees: the baby is on my lap, I don't want to disturb him; my back hurts from toting kids all day, my knees hurt from scrubbing floors all day; I'm just too tired. For a long time, my husband and I justified not getting on our knees even while we made the kids do it.

Then one evening, at a Young Women's activity, I received a powerful reminder. As we finished up the activity, a young woman was asked to say the closing prayer; she responded that she would, but then asked if she needed to stand. One of the leaders told her that the person praying stands so that the rest of the people can remain seated, otherwise, everyone should kneel.

Another young woman shared with us that she had been spending time with her grandmother recently, a woman in her nineties, and that every night, despite the elderly woman's pains and infirmities, she knelt for prayer. The young woman bore her testimony to us of the lesson she had learned from her grandmother's example of the importance of being humble, both spiritually and physically, when we pray.

After hearing this story, the young woman who was asked to say the prayer walked to the front of the room and knelt down. Everyone else got down on their knees. A greater feeling of reverence and peace filled that room during that prayer.

Now, no matter how tired, sore or lazy we are feeling, my husband and I make sure we are on our knees for family prayer. And that same feeling of reverence and peace has been infused into our home.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Ephesians 3:19

"And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God."

Driving back from family temple day last week, we approached a vehicle that seemed unable to remain in its own lane. My husband told me to use caution as I passed the car, since we couldn't be sure where it would swerve next. We glanced out the window as we moved alongside, expecting to see the driver texting or talking on his phone. What we saw instead was an older man, tears streaming down his cheeks, flowers piled on the seat beside him.

In that instant, I felt my heart drawn out to this man, and found myself praying to the Lord to help him in his obvious time of need. As I did so, it occurred to me, that while I didn't know this man's name, or what event had caused the tears to spill from his eyes, the Lord knew. Immediately after I finished my quick prayer, a song came on the radio. I was familiar with the song, Rascal Flatt's "I Won't Let Go"--about standing by someone during their time of need.

Not only did the Lord let me know that he knew the man, his name and his troubles, but He let me know that He knows me. Being who I am, I would have continued feeling bad for this man, worrying about the cause of his tears, the fact that he was alone. But through the song, the Lord put my fears to rest.

He will stand by us in our darkest hours. And He won't let go.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Doctrine and Covenants 122:7

"And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good."

I've heard often that different scriptures have different meanings depending on your circumstances and frame of mind when you read them. Eight months ago, this passage brought me comfort. Today it forces me to examine my life. The Lord promises Joseph that the trials he experiences will help him grow and allow him to become more worthy of exaltation.

Having gone through trials, just like everybody else, I understand their role in our spiritual and emotional growth. So what's the problem? I find myself afraid of growth because of my fears of what trial the Lord might send me next. I don't want to see the jaws of hell gaping at me.

Thinking about it, I believe it comes down to really believing that the Lord has our best interests in mind. Eliminating my fears means trusting the Lord. In order to continue my climb toward eternal life, I must stop looking down, fearing the fall, stop looking forward, fearing the unknown, and take the proffered hand of help the Savior reaches out to me. I must cling to that hand and keep going.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Helaman 6:4-5

"And it came to pass that many of the Lamanites did come down into the land of Zarahemla, and did declare unto the people of the Nephites the manner of their conversion, and did exhort them to faith and repentance.
"Yea, and many did preach with exceedingly great power and authority, unto the bringing down many of them into the depths of humility, to be the humble followers of God and the Lamb."

New converts to the Church always seem to have an inner fire when it comes to sharing the Gospel with others. I've seen that same drive in primary children and youth. So what happens to those of us born into the Church? Where is our urge to share our precious knowledge with others? Did we have it as children, and then lose it as we grew up? What is it that changes within us?

I think the answer is charity. As children, we hadn't yet learned that people can be cruel. We trusted everyone, played with anyone. But as we grew, we learned that some people weren't worthy of our trust. We began to approach everyone with distrust. So we lost our desire to be in the celestial kingdom with everyone, and really only wanted to be there with the ones we love and care about.

However, when we begin to feel Christ-like love for those around us, we overcome those feelings of distrust, and feel again a desire to share the gospel. We can pray for missionary experiences and opportunities all we want, but until we truly care about the people we meet or associate with, we give the Lord very little to work with.

The converted Lamanites mentioned in Helaman loved their brethren the Nephites with the love of Christ. It brought them from the land of Nephi to the land of Zarahemla, a long journey, to share their conversion stories and preach the gospel. They could have said, "The'll never change. They've become too wicked." But they didn't judge; they only loved. And in doing so, brought many Nephites back to the fold.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Matthew 26:14-15

"Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,

"And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver."

Judas wasn't just some man that decided to turn the Lord over to those seeking his death. He was one of the twelve chosen apostles. One of those men closest to Jesus, who spent time with him daily, serving and being taught. I find it hard to imagine that someone so close to the Savior could betray him.

But if we look, we can see signs that Judas' wasn't entirely focused on the things Jesus taught. An incident in John relates that a woman brought some costly ointment that she used to anoint Jesus' feet. Judas was upset, saying the ointment should have been sold and the money given to the poor. At first this seems like a charitable idea, until John points out that Judas' concern was more for the money and not for the poor. He calls his fellow apostle a "thief."

Yet, he had still seen the miracles. He knew that Jesus was innocent, even claimed to love him. So why would he betray him? Perhaps he didn't fully understand Jesus' mission. Maybe he really did believe that Jesus was the Son of God. And maybe he believed that he could make some money off the Jews, and, because Jesus was the Messiah, he could easily protect himself from his enemies and no harm would come of it.

Judas didn't start to get scared until after Jesus was condemned. Once he saw that Jesus wasn't going to free himself, Judas returned the money to the Jewish leaders. Then, knowing what he had done, knowing he was powerless to change it, and unable to live with that knowledge, Judas hung himself.

Judging and condemning Judas is easy--he betrayed the Son of God! But how often are we like Judas? Are there times we say, "I really want this item. I can't afford it, but if I pay my tithing I think things will be okay." or "The Lord will forgive me if I go to this concert. I know it's on Sunday, but it's my all-time favorite band."?

Do we betray him in little ways?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Doctrine & Covenants 63:23

"But unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give the mysteries of my kingdom, and the same shall be in him a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life."

Maybe I have water and life on the brain with all the spring rain and the green sprouting everywhere. But I came across this picture, taken in Utah a few years ago. I love how pure and crisp the water looks as it bursts forth, in stark contrast to the water it enters, water that merely sits and collects dirt, rocks, dead plants etc.

The Lord's promise to us in D&C 63:23 is that by keeping the commandments he has given us, we can keep our spiritual growth moving, progressing toward him. Obedience to the commandments gives us access to more spiritual truth and light and keeps us from getting stagnated in the world, where we would collect the dirt and grime of worldliness that prevent us from returning to our Heavenly Father.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Doctrine & Covenants 6:16

"Yea, I tell thee, that thou mayest know that there is none else save God that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart."

I find it comforting to now that only God has access to our thoughts. Sometimes it seems that Satan knows exactly what I'm thinking when he throws his temptations at me. At those times I remember this scripture and remind myself that Satan is only guessing. He knows me, because of my relationship to him in the preexistence, so he has an idea of what I might be feeling or thinking, and that's why so many times he hits the mark with his guesses.

We probably don't really notice the times when he guesses wrong because the thought or impression simply slides away unnoticed since it doesn't relate to what we are thinking. We only notice his efforts when he guesses right--that's why it seems that he knows our thoughts.

The Lord does know our thoughts, and this allows Him to truly know us. It helps me to remember this when Satan attacks me, giving me the strength to turn to the Lord and seek his guidance and protection.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Matthew 14:24-31

"But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
"And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
"And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
"But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
"And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
"And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
"But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
"And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"

Apparently, I still have faith on my mind. Peter didn't suffer from "blind faith;" he knew that Jesus could and would let him walk on the water. And he was doing fine until he let himself be distracted. So, even strong faith can waver if we take our eyes off the Savior and start worrying about what's going on around us.

In his October 2010 conference talk, Elder Richard G. Scott offered some ways that we can keep focused on the Lord when we are exercising our faith:

  • Trust in God and in His willingness to provide help when needed, no matter how challenging the circumstance.
  • Obedience to His commandments and a life that demonstrates that He can trust you.
  • Sensitivity to the quiet promptings of the Holy Spirit.
  • Courageous implementation of that prompting.
  • Patience and understanding when God lets you struggle to grow and when answers come a piece at a time over an extended period.

To help calm our fears when we see "the wind boisterous" in the world around us, Elder Scott promises:

"Satan's increasing influence in the world is allowed to provide an atmosphere in which to prove ourselves. While he causes havoc today, Satan's final destiny was fixed by Jesus Christ through His Atonement and the Resurrection. The devil will not triumph. Even now he must operate within the bounds set by the Lord. He cannot take away any blessing that has been earned. He cannot alter character that has been woven from righteous decisions. He has no power to destroy the eternal bonds forged in the holy temple between a husband, wife, and children. He cannot quench true faith. He cannot take away your testimony. Yes, these things can be lost by succumbing to his temptations. But he has no power in and of himself to destroy them."

I find this promise to be a tremendous boost to my faith. Sometimes it does seem like Satan is winning, in control. What a peaceful feeling to be reminded that he cannot win. Jesus has already taken care of that. I think knowing this makes it easier to ignore the distractions around us that try to tell us we can't, or it's impossible, and allows us to keep our focus on the Savior.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Mark 9:24

"And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."

I've always struggled with the meaning of this scripture. Does he believe or doesn't he? We're always told that doubt and faith cannot coexist, so he must either have the belief or the unbelief, not both.

He had to have some faith, because Jesus healed the man's son. So that brings us back to the question: what does this scripture mean?

In a religion class at BYU I learned some interesting things about obedience--especially the difference between blind obedience and intellectual obedience. Blind obedience is obedience because the prophet or someone we trust told us to do it. Intellectual obedience is obedience based on our own knowledge that we should do something, not just because the prophet said it.
This knowledge only occurs after prayer and study.

Maybe the same idea can be applied to the question of belief. Recently I struggled with something that I wanted very much. I prayed hard and long that this thing might be granted to me. I believed, like the afflicted child's father, that the Lord had the power to give me my desire. But, oh help my unbelief! I doubted that the Lord wanted to give it to me.

My thoughts are that blind faith would be faith in the Lord's ability to work miracles, but lacking an understanding of His will. Intellectual faith would be faith based on the Lord's matchless power as well as His will, which is revealed through the Holy Ghost. We must, therefore, study and pray, learning to feel and be guided by the spirit, so that our belief is directed at what the Lord has in store for us.

I think a beautiful example of both blind faith and intellectual faith can be found in the experiences of Alma and Amulek in the city of Ammonihah. The two men watch in horror as the people of Ammonihah put to death the families of the believers. In agony, Amulek turns to Alma and asks, "How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames."

Amulek knew the Lord had the power to save the innocent from their suffering. What he had not yet learned, was to recognize the spirit, which could help him to know the will of the Lord. Alma, on the other hand, had plenty of experience with the spirit and recognized its guiding influence.

He told Amulek, "The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord recieveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just..."

Alma knew the Lord could free the people, but his faith was intellectual, based on what was in agreement with the Lord's will as revealed to him by the spirit.

I believe. But I need to increase my receptiveness to the spirit so that I may know when my desires are in harmony with what the Lord has in mind, so that I can exercise my faith to its fullest.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Alma 23:17

"And it came to pass that they called their names Anti-Nephi-Lehies; and they were called by this name and were no more called Lamanites."

As I've read about the Anti-Nephi-Lehies the past few weeks in my personal scripture study, I was puzzled anew about their choice in a name. Obviously they didn't want to be known as Lamanites any more, rejecting any association with their wicked brethren. But the name always came across as negative toward the Nephites as well. I remembered learning something in Seminary way back when that had helped clarify things, but alas, I could not recall the information.

Amazing what moving can do! I found my old Seminary folder in a box and yes! the paper was in it. The following is from Jeffrey Chadwick, a professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU.

A Proposal for the Meaning of the Name "Anti-Nephi-Lehi"

"In Alma 23 we find that the people converted by the sons of Mosiah no longer wanted to be called Lamanites. They desired a name that distinguished them from their non-believing Lamanite brethren. Verse 17 tells us "that they called their names Anti-Nephi-Lehies; and they were called by this name and were no longer called Lamanites." An intriguing question over the years has been what is really meant by the name Anti-Nephi-Lehi.

"Sidney B. Sperry believed that the name Anti-Nephi-Lehi meant that the converted Lamanites were now opposed ("anti") to their brethren who lived in the land of "Lehi-Nephi." Hugh Nibley went one better by suggesting that the meaning of "anti" was really "ante," which connotes "being before" or "facing," suggesting that the converted Lamanites were now imitating the Nephites. For various reasons I had never felt comfortable with either of these theories.

"Having done quite a bit of work with Hebrew and Egyptian lately, I decided to apply some principles of those languages to difficult Book of Mormon terms (such as Anti-Nephi-Lehi, Rameumptom, and others) and see what could be learned. The attempt to write "Anti-Nephi-Lehies" in hieroglyphics was most instructive, and suggested a new and simple meaning for the term.

The key was the prefix "anti," which in Egyptian can only be rendered as...a pair of arms with open palms in question mode. The consonant value of [this symbol] is n. This term can be translated a variety of ways, such as anti, opposed, non-existing, never, etc., but the most basic meaning is non or not. The Oxford Universal Dictionary reveals that the English word "anti" not only connotes being opposed to something, but can also act as a simple negator, such as the words non or not.

"Now it seems clear from the text of the Book of Mormon that the "Nephi-Lehi" portion of the new name directly refers to the converted Lamanites, not to the Lamanite land or the Nephite people. For example, in Alma 23:17 the converts (plural) were referred to as Anti-Nephi-Lehies (plural), but in Alma 24:3 a single convert was called Anti-Nephi-Lehi (singular). With all of this in mind, may I suggest that the term Anti-Nephi-Lehi means Non-Nephite-Lehite, and the plural term Anti-Nephi-Lehies means Non-Nephite-Lehites, or in other words Lehites who are not Nephites.

"Remember that the motive for the name change was that the converts no longer wanted to be called Lamanites, a label which was associated with the tradition of a wicked and unbelieving ancestor. But what could the new converts call themselves? Nephites? No, they were not his descendants. The could, however, go one step beyond Laman to their common father Lehi. But to call themselves Lehites might still give the impression they were Nephites, since Lehi and Nephi were always on the same side (opposite Laman) on so many issues. To avoid any confusion the new name Non-Nephite-Lehites (or Anti-Nephi-Lehies) was perfect. It probably sounded a lot better in their language than it does in ours, and less clumsy too. Most of all, it was accurate. They were now, after all, faithful Lehites who were not Nephites."

*Note: I could not figure out how to show the symbol for "anti" so I had to remove it from the writing.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Isaiah 41:10

"Fear thou not; for I am with thee; be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."

This scripture reminds me of the poem "Footprints." Often we don't realize that the Lord is supporting us until we look back on the events we were struggling through. But oh how much easier those times would be if we could remember this verse, remember that the Lord is waiting for us to cast our burdens on him. Regardless of what is happening in our lives, the Lord can give us strength to make it through. He understands our feelings, our experiences, and our struggles.

Robert Keen took Isaiah's words and turned them into the third verse of my favorite hymn: How Firm a Foundation. That third verse, and the powerful seventh, have lifted my spirit in many dark hours:

Fear not, I am with thee; oh be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Back to Blogging Soon

With the holidays, getting sick, and a very sudden move, I haven't gotten around to keeping up with the blog. Things should be back to normal by the second week of February.