Friday, November 11, 2016

Before we can change a nation we must change our homes.

The election, which divided the country in the preceding months, has left a gouge across the nation in its post-election outcome. Verbal protests and physical violence are being reported every day.

Now, I am just one little citizen who cast one little vote. As I went to the polls I saw my choices as voting for a Crook or a Crazy. Yes, I could have voted for a third party or even used the write-in slot and I debated that back and forth throughout the long months leading up to the election; but I realized voting that way wasn’t going to help. If I wanted to protect what I valued I needed to vote for one of the Two.

At some point my vote leaned toward each of the candidates in turn—in fact, I was constantly back and forth between the two until Election Morning. Finally, in the end, I did vote for one of them—not because I wanted that person in office but because I realized I did not want the other person there. This election, for the first time ever, I cast my vote—not to put someone into office but to try and keep the other person out.

Who got my one, tiny vote doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I’m not protesting nor acting like a spoiled child in the store who was just told they couldn’t have the toy they wanted; nor taunting another child because their toy was taken away. (Personally, I didn’t want either toy but that is not my direction here.)

Why am I not protesting? Because I realize two things.

One--in the big picture, the President of the United States is simply a figurehead. He or She wields no real power except in the Executive sense. In other words, the President is the biggest “Yes-Man” or “Yes-Woman” in the world. The real power in this Nation is held by our Legislative Branch—our elected Representatives and Senators. (The term “Congress” is a blanket term used to describe the collective powers of the House and Senate. A Congressman is either a Representative or a Senator.)

Sure, the President can sign or veto laws presented by the “Congress”. However, if the law is vetoed, it is sent back to the House and the Senate and can still be brought to law no matter what the President said by a “Simple Majority” vote or by a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate.

As for committing our soldiers to war, the President technically has that power but, again, it is limited and can be rejected by Congress.

The only real power the President holds is the power to appoint; and most of those appointments will change when the Presidency does. The only appointment that has any lasting effect on the nation is the Presidential power to appoint a judge to the Supreme Court.

That said, the real power in this nation is NOT held by the President…disappointing as it may be to every protester and naysayer out there. It is held by our elected officials in the House and the Senate. In our Nation, the President always functions with one hand tied behind his or her back and our Representatives and Senators hold that rope.

Two—and here is the bigger view I have. Whenever there is a swing in political power it is GOOD. Power swings mean that that groups who were not the pet-projects of the previous power will now get their time of needed attention. It means that no one special interest group will dominate for decades.

Yes, in our country, ALL the wheels squeak ALL the time. Every group needs and wants political attention. Every power swing mean that a new and different wheel will now get their much needed oiling…and we should be glad for the members of those groups. Glad because we know how much we benefited when our causes were oiled.

And when a power shift means OUR groups won’t be getting enough oil we can remember that it is very difficult for a new President to rescind any previous laws or protections. We will still be protected because the advances made under a previous president are not easily cast aside. They will remain while a new President—only with the approval and support of Congress—focuses on helping other groups make new advancements. The democratic process of our nation is a win-win process. We just have to wait awhile for our turn sometimes, and allow others to have their turns.

Now here is something else I know. And this is the hardest admission of all. The Presidential office does not have a “trickle down” effect. The President will not ruin our national core and fiber. Only we will do that. And if we don't like the direction our nation is headed we do NOT need to look to the President. We need to look in the mirror.

Because “individuals” vote in each President, the Presidential Office is an upward reflection of our individual values! Each President--who is a product of the homes in this nation--shows what we are, or are not, teaching in the home. (Schools cannot override the influence of the home, so don’t even try to pin that responsibility on the school system.)

If we do not like who is voted into office, rather than ransack and scream and show our hatred, we should go back to our homes and start there to teach and MODEL values of tolerance, kindness, and forgiveness. Then, maybe in 20 years we will elect a President who truly reflects those values. Before we can change a nation we must change our homes.

And that change won’t happen if we are out on the streets. It will happen only as we quietly and consistently gather our children and family members around us in love and tolerance, and teach them that the worth of all souls is great—even those souls who will be helped by a President we may or may not have voted for.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

What a young man taught me about Teancum

I remember teaching the Book of Mormon to youth and, when we came to the part in Alma that recounts Teancum’s contributions, I asked the students what they knew about Teancum.
Without hesitation, one young man piped up, “Teancum was a stud!”

At that time I remember thinking, he doesn’t know the whole story or—if he does—he doesn’t understand it. After all, Teancum died killing Ammoron in personal anger. His downfall came because instead of doing something for God he went and did something for himself. Physically and spiritually Teancum, as the scriptures record, “had gone the way of all the earth” (Alma 62:37). He had, I felt, lowered himself to the plane of the world.

Yet, over the years, my student’s statement has refused to leave me and now I realize maybe I didn’t know the whole story—maybe I didn’t understand it. Maybe my student was right. Maybe Teancum, even with his imperfections, “was a stud” and we would all be better members if we learned from his example.

Be the kind of person leaders will call on. When Captain Moroni couldn’t be there to physically stop the people of Morianton from fleeing north he called for Teancum. He trusted this Nephite military leader to do the job he couldn’t…a job that if Teancum failed would “lead to the overthrow of their liberty” (Alma 50:32). Moroni knew the consequences of failure and there was only one man he chose to call.

When our son broke his back in two places while playing football my husband was hundreds of miles away, involved in meetings. In those frantic first hours, when he couldn’t be there to give our son a blessing, my husband made a phone call to the one person he trusted enough to stand in for him as a father. That man did not hesitate and gave our son a powerful blessing, paving the way for the Spirit to calm us and give us reassurance for our son’s recovery.

There are many people you can trust with various jobs in life. There are only a handful of people you will ever trust to represent YOU fully and completely. Be that kind of person. When spiritual or physical liberty is at stake, have the strength of character that shows you will stand firm in the call. Be the kind of person leaders will actually call on. Teancum was.

Be the kind of person who builds and strengthens others. The scriptures tell us that Teancum and his men “were great warriors; for every man of Teancum did exceed the Lamanites in their strength and in their skill of war” (Alma 51:31).

The scripture notes that every man was better than the enemy…not just some of them. How does that happen?

Now it is possible that Teancum was assigned a hand-picked army of elite fighters who just happened, every man, to be bigger and stronger and better than the enemy; but chances are far more likely that Teancum had a mixture of men and ability in his army. That means, in order to make sure every man exceeded the Lamanites, Teancum worked with what he had. He taught, he trained, he encouraged—he exampled the kind of warrior these men eventually became. He built them up from what they were until every man did exceed the enemy in their strength and skill of war. That takes time and commitment and vision…the vision of seeing what other people can become. Not everyone can see that, even in themselves. Teancum not only saw potential in every man in his army, he worked to help them reach that potential.

Be the kind of person who actually does something--today. We all say it--tomorrow I’m going to start my diet. Tomorrow I’m going clean that closet. Tomorrow I’m going to start reading my scriptures again. Tomorrow I am going to get my life in order and prepare for a mission/temple marriage/(fill in the blank).

Most of us talk as if talking actually counts.

Action is what actually gets the job done.

We are admonished to “be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). Teancum understood that. He wasn’t merely a hearer or a talker. He wasn’t simply thinking about doing something. He didn’t just listen and nod to the task he’d been given to stop the Lamanite army. He was a doer—even when others felt they had done enough.

After a tremendous, day-long battle with no clear victor, the Lamanites were overpowered with fatigue and heat; yet Teancum and his men did not rest even though they had been in the same battle. Teancum and a companion, dealing with the emotional and physical aftermath of battle, “stole forth and went out by night, and went into the camp of Amalickiah…(and Teancum) stole privily into the tent of the king…and did cause the death of the king” (Alma 51:34). He then returned to his own camp, awoke his tired men and, despite their fatigue, they all stood in readiness to fight again (Alma 51:33-36). Even though rest was sorely needed and would have been easier, Teancum didn’t wait for tomorrow to stop the king. He did it that very day and, because he did, the entire battle ended when the Lamanites discovered their slain king.

Stop, for a moment, and think of how many more lives would have ended if Teancum had decided to wait and stop the king ‘tomorrow’. How many more families would have been devastated? Teancum was tired, he had lost those he loved in that battle, he may even have been wounded himself, yet he pushed forward and did what he had been asked to do…understanding the urgency of doing it now. He didn't wait until it was convenient or better suited him, personally.

Now think, for a moment, the damage your spiritual rest may be causing others. Should you be resting? Do you understand the urgency of doing it now? Are you a Teancum--up and doing even when you have a million reasons not to? Or are you like Amalickiah--asleep in your tent?

Be the kind of person who works--even when there is reason not to. There was a time when the enemy outnumbered Teancum’s army. More troops were coming to help and Teancum could have simply sat back waited for Captain Moroni’s men to arrive. But Teancum respected his leader too much to be a burden on his leader. Remember that! Instead, Teancum spent time “casting up walls round about and preparing places of resort for his men” so when the time came to go to battle their enlarged army would have extra protection (Alma 52:6).

After the battle, charged with taking prisoners to the city of Bountiful, Teancum was given additional orders by Moroni to fortify the city when he got there. Rather than complain that he already had prisoners to guard, Teancum devised a plan to put the prisoners to work. And they dug a ditch “round about the land, or the city, Bountiful. And he caused that they should build a breastwork of timbers upon the inner bank of the ditch, and they cast up dirt out of a the ditch against the breastwork of timbers….until they had encircled the city of Bountiful round about with a strong wall of timbers and earth, to an exceeding height” (Alma 53:3-4).

And then this comment about Teancum’s work that we forget: “And this city became an exceeding stronghold ever after” (Alma 53:5).

WOW! Ever after is a long legacy to leave behind for the blessing of others and Teancum did just that. How many of us can claim the same?

We don’t know if Teancum was older or younger than Captain Moroni but we do know this—no matter what his age, when his leader asked him to do something, Teancum didn’t complain, didn’t grumble, didn’t avoid the project. He rolled up his sleeves and honored his leaders by his actions. Do we do the same? And what about when our parents or loved ones ask us to do something we don’t want to do? Are we going to join the camp of Laman and Lemuel and complain and say it is a hard thing, it doesn’t fit my lifestyle, it’s not something I want to do? Or do we follow Teancum’s example and do the harder right?

In the end we learn that Teancum really was a stud. Teancum didn’t complain. He didn’t just nod and listen with half attention to the advice of his leaders. He didn’t wait until 'tomorrow'—until after he’d had his fun, 'found' himself, had his rest or watched his favorite team on T.V. This chief captain who had “suffered very many exceedingly sore afflictions” didn’t quit, didn’t wait, didn’t grumble, didn’t make up excuses (Alma 62:37). He didn’t justify or rationalize his way out of the “harder right”. He gave everything he had today and when he died both Moroni and Lehi “were exceedingly sorrowful” (Alma 62:37). That isn’t said often in the scriptures, nor is it often expressed by two great leaders. Both Captain Moroni, whose strength of character could “shake the very powers of Hell”--and Lehi, a man “like unto Moroni” who captained “the men of Lehi” felt sorrow on the death of this great man (see Alma 48 and 53:2).

Despite his personal weaknesses, Teancum was a great man. He was a great example then and now and accomplished tremendous things.

Yes, I can see why that youth said, "Teancum was a stud!"

Sunday, March 20, 2016

What Christ Shared During His Final Week of Mortal Life

If you knew you were dying, have you ever contemplated how you would spend your last days? What you would say? What you would do?

The Savior gave us the perfect pattern. His last week of mortal life was filled with examples of what to do and what to say. His last week also tells us a lot about who He was and what was important to Him.

Where did He spend His time? During the day He spent most of His time at the temple. At night He would return to the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus in Bethany and spent quiet hours there with those He loved. Spiritual connection and time with family and friends was paramount to Him.

During His last week of life He also gave us some of the greatest council He had. The parable of the 10 Virgins reminds us we have a responsibility to be personally ready to see Him. The parable of the 10 Talents reminds us to use what we have been given for good.

But do we also realize He gave us the wonderful parable of the Goats and Sheep?

I’ve owned goats and I’ve owned sheep and, personally, I would rather own the goats--so why do the goats wind up on the left and the sheep on the right? If you research it, anciently goats and sheep were very equal. They both gave meat and milk and leather. Goat hair was used to cover the tabernacle. Sheep wool was used to weave cloth. They also both played important roles in the law of sacrifice. So why the difference?

Maybe, as a rancher pointed out to me, it’s because sheep are willing to listen to and be led by a shepherd. Goats are too independent. They are always exploring places they shouldn’t and getting into trouble. The right hand of the Savior is the right hand of power…priesthood power and leadership responsibilities. If you aren’t willing to follow the Savior then how can He use you to lead others?

During his last week of life, Christ also gave us the parable of the two sons. Their father asked them for help in his vineyard. One said ‘no way’ and left, then later had a change of heart and came back. The other son said, ‘sure, I’ll do it’ and then never did. Which of the two did the will of his father? The DO-er. In his last week of life, Christ was reminding us He wants DO-ers of the word. It is not enough to say you profess Christ. You must be willing to DO as He has asked—keep His commandments and follow His example. He is also telling us a change of heart is never too late if it helps us return and DO our Father’s will.

Christ taught about the apostasy and restoration on several occasions during His last week. One time was with the parable of the wicked husbandman who killed, beat and stoned the servants of the lord of the vineyard. So the lord of the vineyard sent his son, saying the husbandman would reverence him. Yet the son was captured and killed. Then Christ asked, “When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do?....He will...destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their season” (Matthew 21:40-41). He was testifying that the vineyard, the Gospel, would be taken from the Jews and give to another. Through the restoration of the Gospel, that prophecy has been fulfilled.

And the parable of the Wedding of the King’s Son, given His last week, is also powerful in its testimony of an apostasy and a restoration with the wedding being a metaphor for the Gospel. When the King invited his people to the wedding of his Son “they would not come….and they made light of it and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise” (Matthew 22:5). They got too caught up in worldly pursuits--they were too busy to attend to frivolous things like weddings and religion.

“And some took the King’s servants and entreated them spitefully and slew them so He destroyed the murderers and burned up their city and sent out new servants to gather together all, as many as they found” (Matthew 22:6-7, 9-10). And these came to the feast and were properly dressed and ready.

The Gospel is for "all" as Christ testified. The problem, Christ taught, was when an intruder was found. Either this intruder did not enter with authority of the King or he disrespected that authority and chose not to prepare properly. God’s kingdom is based on keeping commandments and His authority and all who do not make the effort to enter by the strait gate will not be permitted. It was after this parable that Christ announced, “For many are called but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).

In his final days, Christ also taught us to keep the law of the land; He spoke on eternal marriage, forgiveness, repentance and the resurrection. He answered which was the greatest commandment of the law. “Thou shalt love the Lord they God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).

Anyone preaching hate does not understand this powerful truth...on the commandment of loving God AND our neighbors hang all the law and the prophets!

Christ taught service “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in….Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25: 35, 37 and 40).

Christ also expressed his view on poverty and his love and respect for the poor. He intentionally called over his disciples to tell them of the widow’s mite and teach them and us, “For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living” (Mark 12:44). He knows how difficult it is for the poor. That is one reason He cleansed the temple during His final week and specifically overthrew “the seats of them that sold doves” (Matt. 21:12). From the beginning of the Mosaic Law the Lord had made provisions for the poor to offer sacrifices of doves when they could afford nothing more. His own earthly parents, Mary and Joseph, had brought doves to the temple when Christ was born. He understood poverty…He lived poverty...and He understood that there were many who would “devour widows’ houses” and in His temple He would not let that take place. There would be no profit made off the selling of doves to the poor. The poor would have access to the temple as they should, so he cleansed the temple and then, with love and tenderness, watched the results. It was after he cleansed the temple that the widow woman offered her two mites.

Christ also taught us, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you” (John 13:34).

He promised peace…”Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

Of course, the Savior offered the great Intercessory Prayer. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). To know the Father AND the Son, both, is life eternal.

It was during His final hours we learn of Christ’s plea and His commitment to His Father in Heaven, no matter how difficult it was for Christ personally. “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine be done” (Luke 22:42). Do we truly have that attitude? Or do we place limits on following Him?

And, during this prayer came one of the most touching verses in all scripture: “And he said, Abba, Father…” . In English the closest thing we have to this tender term, Abba, is “Daddy”.

During His last week of life, Christ reminded Peter of the Savior's earlier charge to “his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ” (Matthew 16:20). He knew bold, courageous Peter would willingly die with the Savior rather than deny Him. During His final night in mortality, the Savior lovingly told Peter “thou shalt deny me”. It wasn't a prophecy of Peter's was a command for Peter to follow! Christ needed Peter to stay away that night and stay alive to lead the flock forward.

Peter--the disciple brave enough to climb over the edge of a ship and step onto water for the Savior.
Peter--the disciple bold enough to draw his sword and strike out to protect the Savior in face of 1,000 soldiers.
Peter--the committed disciple did as the Savior instructed and wept bitterly----for keeping his word to the Savior on that dark night was the hardest thing he had ever done. But Peter did as the Savior asked and we are blessed for it.

On His last night on earth Christ also washed the feet of all His disciples, He called Judas “Friend”. He told his disciples to put away their swords then He healed the ear of Malchus, the servant of Caiaphus—the Jew leading the charges against the Savior. Christ loved His enemies, served His enemies, helped heal His enemies. He reached out with love to those who would wound Him.

He allowed the crowd to exchange His divine life for that of Barabbas. And you know He felt no ill toward Barabbas.

Christ plead for the forgiveness of the soldiers.

Christ taught Pilate.

Christ gave hope to a criminal on the cross.

He ensured his mother was cared for.

He commended His spirit to His Father, trusting His Father’s will completely.

Despite the physical, spiritual and emotional anguish...He completed His work.

When He died the veil of the temple was rent in grief, the sun darkened in sorrow and the earth quaked in agony. All of nature knew who had died in that moment and gave the world their testimonies.

And the next morning Heavenly angels gave a new testimony. “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said” (Matthew 28:6).

I add my testimony to that…Christ is who He says He is: He is the Son of God. He has broken the bands of death and is resurrected. Because of Christ, Eternal Life is possible for everyone, our sins can be forgiven, and families can be together forever.

Image from Google Images. Jesus Christ, The Son of God. The "Learn of Me" video series from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at

Sunday, February 21, 2016

My Dream of The Tree of Life...and what I'm still learning from it.

While on my mission I had a powerful dream about the Tree of Life. I won’t go into all the details, just the thoughts that have been returning to my mind over the last several months. In my dream a man was on the path leading to the Tree of Life. He was looking down as he slowly moved forward, watching each step he took. As missionaries we came barreling by and accidentally jostled him, turning him in a different direction.

The man didn’t even know he’d been turned off the path. He took less than two steps on the wrong course and was swallowed completely by the mists of darkness. I wanted to go off the path to retrieve him but I was constrained and told I could not leave the path to retrieve anyone who had strayed. The only way I could help them was to stay on the path.

When I woke up I was horrified thinking that youthful missionary exuberance might cause someone to deviate from the path to the Tree of Life. I used that dream as a warning to be very careful in my actions and behavior. Even as a missionary I did not want to accidentally offend someone and send them away from the Gospel.

Later, as an adult, I began to notice another part of the dream…the man's disappearance into the darkness. I was stunned by how fast he was completely obscured from sight and I began to feel gratitude for that part of my dream that forbid me from going after the man. In the dream I remember thinking I could just step a foot or two off the path, reach into the darkness and grab him and bring him back. But I was clearly told I could not leave the path for anyone or I, too, would be lost just as quickly. Satan changed the mists for each person and it was folly to think I could step off the path for even a short distance and find my way back. The only way to help him—or anyone in the darkness—was to stay on the path and let my light illuminate the thick and dark mists.

I know the temptation can be strong to think we can step off the path a foot of two and reach out into the darkness and save someone we love. As an adult I have seen couples fall into this trap. One partner begins to feel they need or prefer to do other things on Sunday than go to Church. The other partner, in an attempt to “save” their marriage, decides to step off the path just a step or two thinking they can rescue their partner that way. So both begin to stay home on Sunday together. In the beginning it may appear to help their marriage, but this deviation from the path the Lord has set never works. Soon they stop holding Family Home Evening, praying, reading the scriptures, even discussing spiritual things and the mists of darkness begin to thicken around them Eventually those mists of darkness not only envelope them, they begin to surround the minds and morals of their children.

In my own life, as some of my children have decided to leave the path, I want to reach into their darkness and grab them and pull them back onto the path but I realize you can't force someone on to the path. I also realize, even more than ever, that despite their increasing wanderings I cannot lessen my own commitment. I cannot agree with their reasons or nod in acceptance of their visions. I need to stay on the path the Lord has set and pray that one day the mists of darkness clouding their minds will lift just enough that they will see the light of those on the path and start to move toward the light again.

But the wanderings of my own children have also brought to my focus on another part of my dream from years ago. That of the man’s own role in his disappearance into the mists of darkness.

The man who was jostled was looking down at his own feet when it happened. Even in my original dream his focus on his feet bothered me, but I didn’t know why. I told myself maybe he was just being careful with each step he took.

However, years later, I know why it bothered me. He was so focused on his own feet, his own progress…that he never looked up. He never glanced up at the Tree…he was not looking long-term. In fact, he was so focused on the very next step he was going to take that he never even knew he had been jostled and turned. He honestly did not realize that self-correction in his life was necessary. He was blind even before he was lost.

We can get so caught up in what we are doing in our own lives that we become blind to what is spiritually going on around us. We have a personal responsibility to look up. We have a responsibility to keep our eyes focused on eternal goals, not our next earthly step. If we are jostled by something in our lives (and we will ALL be jostled at some point), we have a personal responsibility to keep our eye on the Lord. We have a responsibility to look up and self-correct. If we come across something that does not square with our view, maybe our view isn’t where it is supposed to be. Maybe we’ve forgotten the real reason we are doing all that we do.

Elder Kevin W. Pearson understands why we must look up. He understands that we need to stay focused on the Tree of Life and not be distracted by the mists of the devil around us. He understands that we need to be fully committed in our long-term journey. “Average is the Enemy of Excellence,” he notes. Average disciples look down at their feet. Committed disciples look to the Lord. Here is the clip. Stay by the Tree

Sunday, January 31, 2016

I have long been intrigued by the term “fiery darts” in the scriptures. It’s a tiny term and only shows up four times in the scriptures but its presence, each time, is very powerful.

We read about “taking the shield of faith,” in Ephesians 6:16 so that we will “be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” A similar scripture is found in D&C 27:17 when the Lord is instructing the Saints about the sacrament and then He reminds them of the armor of God, telling them to take, “the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”

Then, in 1 Nephi 16:24 we read, “And whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them.”

Finally, in D&C 3:7-8, we learn after Joseph Smith lost the 116 pages of the Book of Mormon, “For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God. Although men set at naught the counsels of God, and despise his words—Yet you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble.”

When this term of fiery darts first intrigued me I did what I always did…I went searching for more information. I learned that flames have been part of warfare since man could hurl a burning stick or light an enemy field on fire. I also learned that, in ancient warfare, one very effective tactic was for the enemy to line up his archers and have them shoot several volleys of flaming arrows or smaller, lighter “fiery darts” at the opposing ranks.

These smaller, incendiary arrows or darts were soaked in resin or oil. Some may have had small flammable cloths or fibers, called “tow”, wrapped around the shaft. They were shot from bows with loose strings since too swift of a flight could put out the flames. Because of that these arrows didn’t travel fast or very far. They weren’t very big, either…many were simply ‘darts’…smaller arrows…but they played a major role in the battle.

These fiery darts were often the first assault tactic deployed, and for good reason. As the flaming envoys rained down on the enemy they would ignite fires behind the lines. The ground, supply wagons, tents, even buildings behind city walls were at risk of catching fire and being destroyed.

Now, if you were waiting for a battle to begin and had an important supply wagon next to you catch fire, what would you do? You would try to put it out to protect the supplies and minimize the damage—and that is just what the enemy wanted. While everyone was running around trying to put out the fires he had started, they didn’t see that real battle was approaching.

With the ranks distracted by these fires, the enemy general could then move his battle archers and javelin throwers into position, order in his cavalry and charioteers, and march in his heavy infantry, well-trained foot soldiers and axe-men. Busy with the ‘fiery darts of the adversary’ those targeted were now disorganized, distracted and at a very dangerous disadvantage. They didn’t see, and weren’t prepared to face, the real battle coming their way.

Satan has employed that very tactic today. He is sending in small fiery darts all around us as a distraction. Yes, these fiery darts can cause lots of fires and distress, but we must remember they are only the small, first wave of attack. We must never forget that they are not the real attack but a small tool Satan is using to divert us from a greater threat: his ever-advancing ranks. That’s why we need the whole armor of God, not just a shield. That is why we need to hearken to the word of God, not man's, and hold fast to what God says. He sees the entire battle. He knows where Satan is positioning his ranks next. He, and He alone, is the voice we must heed on the battle front.

If we do that, He will support us. He will “go before you…and be your rereward” (Isaiah 52:12).

In the video below, Elder Robert D. Hales shares thoughts about putting on the armor of God.

Put on the Whole Armor of God

Image courtesy of

Thursday, January 7, 2016

New year

New year. New haircut. New look to my blog.

New accomplishments to make.

This week, with my nursing classes set to begin in earnest in a few days, I finally made the decision to cut my hair short. I needed a style that would look professional all day long. In 53 years I’ve only had my hair cut short twice--(and neither time was pleasant)--so this was a big decision for me and my family.

But I’m glad now that I did it. In fact, I don’t ever plan to let my hair grow long again.

I argued with myself about going short for months. In the bathroom I’d lift my hair above my shoulders to ‘see’ what it would look like. (It doesn't work.) I looked at different haircuts and read about what kind of cuts were best for women over 50. I talked to friends who had short hair to see if it was difficult to maintain and how they first felt when they went short. I had my family look at photos of short hairstyles to get their input.

Yet, despite all that, nothing really satisfied my questions.

Finally I realized I wouldn’t know if I liked short hair on me until I actually committed and did something about…not a sort-of-mid-length cut but an all-out, above the shoulders, full-throttle commitment.

So I did.

When those first snips sounded in my ears…way up high on my neck…I was a bit rattled. My mind was screaming ‘that’s too short!’ But I knew I had made my choice and I couldn’t bolt from the chair now. So I did what any committed grownup would do. I clenched my jaw and closed my eyes.

For the next twenty minutes I barely looked at myself in the mirror. After she finished I will admit I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. It was a big change and sometimes it takes a while to adjust to big changes. Now, after a few days of getting used to the new person staring back at me from the mirror, I’m starting to enjoy the cut. It looks professional. It is easy to care for and it stays in place all day long. (Plus several people have told me it makes me look younger than before, so that helps, too!)

Some decisions in life are like that haircut. We can toss them around mentally for months or years. We can research them from every angle, ask questions, seek feedback, even dip our toe in the water to try things out from the safety of the shore. All the important things. But, until we actually DO something, until we actually make a commitment…an all-out, full-throttle commitment, we will never know for sure.

So, if there is an idea you’ve been tossing around, maybe this is the year to commit. Not a toe-in-the-water test but a full-throttle commitment.

You may like the new person staring back at you.