• “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Suess

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Think of a baby.
Any baby.
Name him or her.
Fix an image of that tiny child in your mind.

What can babies do?
Name a few things.

What can babies NOT do?

What can you do that the baby can not?

How come?

I will wait a minute.
Take your time.

. . .

Imagine if:
You can only go where someone else carries you.
And you could only communicate with noises.
Or with expressions of your face,
     or movements of your body.
Someone else picks out what you will eat,
     and feeds it to you.
They decide how much you get.
     You have little, if any say.
They choose music you will hear,
     and movies you will watch.
They choose the people that will see you,
     and talk to you.
They try to make you sleep,
     and say when and where.
And may wake you up anytime (or not).
They decide if you are clean and dry,
     hot or cold.
They choose if lights are on, or off.
They decide if they will teach you.
They decide what you learn.
And for how long.

Now think about what you want most.
Think as much as you want to.
. . .

Think carefully - what is most important?
Change your mind as often as you wish.
. . .

Did you decide?

What will you need to achieve that?
How can you find out if you don't know?
Where could you start?
What might you do first?
What should you avoid?
What can you  DO?
What CAN'T you do?

On Sunday I asked the youth in my class these questions.
They gave some good answers.

They like their privacy.
They like their phones, etc.
They like to drive. They WANT to drive.
They like to pick their own food,
     clothes, and friends.
They like to date.

I ask them to compare their physical state
     with their spiritual state.

We are the spirit sons and daughters of God.
We can become like our Eternal Father.

Are we spiritually self-reliant?

What can we DO?

Class members received a copy of the quote below as they arrived.

Our lesson taught:

How can I become spiritually self-reliant? 
Spiritual self-reliance is essential to our eternal well-being. When we are spiritually self-reliant, our testimonies do not depend on the testimonies of others. We seek our own spiritual experiences through praying daily, studying the scriptures, and exercising faith in Jesus Christ. We turn to our Heavenly Father for His help to resolve our own difficult problems. We are also able to strengthen others in their times of spiritual need.

Later I asked everyone to summarize this paragraph in 10 words or less. Can you?

I summarized:
"Heavenly Father is real. He will help me."

It was amazing to hear all the different individual summaries.

What would you say?

Next I asked them to trade their summary with someone and then teach that person about spiritual self-reliance using that person's summary and their own personal understanding. (They still had a copy of the quote.)

 It was chaos! It was wonderful!! 

We had so much fun, we ran out of time.
I suggested they could do this for FHE.

I asked them to read D and C 58:26–28

"For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

I asked them to pick a word from this scripture and find two more resources (scriptures or conference talks) that help them understand the word better. 

I assigned them to come to class next week with a question about the gospel or their life. I told them they will not have to share their question in class it is only for them to have in their mind as an example.

I don't intend to answer their question.
I intend they should learn how to answer it themselves.
I intend they learn how to have God help them.
He will.

Having questions is like being a baby.
Scripture study is like having a licence to drive. 
Pray is like having the keys to a car.

Where do you want to go?

Other resources:
Matthew 25:1–13;
Mormon 9:27;
Moroni 10:3–5;
D&C 130:18–19;

The Power of a Personal Testimony,” Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 37–39;

Coming to Ourselves: The Sacrament, the Temple, and Sacrifice in Service,” Robert D. Hales, Ensign or Liahona, May 2012, 34–36;

David A. Bednar, “Converted unto the Lord,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2012, 106–9;

Video: “They That Are Wise” (no download available);

see also Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Visual Resource DVD

Friday, November 1, 2013


Trick of treating just upped the ante.

A group of 5 or 6 young children arrived.
They were as excited and noisy as children can be.
And then the unthinkable happened.

For the first time ever I had a boy look over the offerings, say no thanks, and stand there with his pillow case out asking for something else! 


And an adult stood there watching him. 
She saw and heard him do that. 


We offer three different kinds of candy (because a child may have health issues like allergies) and always offer something that is non-food also. This year it was a choice between a glow-stick necklace or bracelet.

"No thanks!" the boy said.
I found his expectations and actions startling. 

How's that for an attitude of entitlement? 

Whatever happened to the gratitude and excitement of taking whatever you got and trading it to someone if it wasn't your favorite thing? 

On the LDS provident living web site about self-reliance, in Elder Marvin J Ashton's famous financial talk titled "One for the Money," he stated, "We live in a self-indulgent, me-oriented, materialistic society." I recommend his wise counsel about our expectations.

I had some other candy in the house.
I took a small, individually wrapped piece in my hand and put it in his pillow case without him seeing it or having a chance to object. I just wanted them to go away.

I just kept wondering if maybe the adult might take care of teaching him privately.

We have a trick of our own we play on kids each Halloween.
We give them some candy when they knock or ring.

If they say Thank You, we give them more.
Often it is a much more substantial treat.
None of this group qualified.

Sometimes we teach by gentle prompting.

If only one says it, gets the additional treat, and then the group all chorus thank-you we hand they all an extra treat. Including a second round for the first to say it.

We want to help them appreciate the good things of life.
To understand how gratitude increases our blessings.

The whole incident has given me much pause . . .

As I pondered, and confronted my initial outrage, and have been working to try to resolve it into a meaningful learning experience, trying to find good in the experience, I kind of a scary thought: Am I like that?

Now I find myself wondering if I act like that when I knock on Heavenly Father's "door" begging a treat. And when he offers me a selection I say no thanks, I want something different. I say no thanks to all He offers me and expect him to give me something else I want and maybe even demand . . .

I think I am going to have to repent again  . . .