Archive for June, 2011

Freebie Fridays at the Library

June 30, 2011

Did you know that the Portsmouth Public Library offers free computer classes to the public?  You do not have to be a Portsmouth resident or member of the library to register for the courses.  The classes are 1 1/2 hours long and scheduled throughout the month.  You can even get on the email list and they will send you the monthly schedule for upcoming courses.  Everything from Basics to advanced classes Word, Excel, Facebook, Link-In, etc.  I have taken Excel and Intro to Blogging.  The instructor does a nice job, provides take home instructional material, and you do not have to bring in your computer because they have computers on-site. Convenient! Just go on-line to http://www.cityofportsmouth.com/library/computerclass.htm and check it out!!!

Also, if you are a member of your local public library, check to see if they offer Mango Languages – free to members, on-line self study languages from beginner and up!!!  Portsmouth offers many languages and the format is similar to Rosetta Stone.  It is very easy to use and you can learn at your own pace.  (By the way, it is not free since you are a taxpaying citizen who has paid for these services so please take advantage of them!)

A side note on a book I would recommend maybe for an upcoming book group:

On Wednesday this week I was inducted onto the Regional Board of Directors for the American Red Cross of NH.  While attending the annual meeting in Concord, I had an opportunity to personally meet the keynote speaker, Ha T. Tran, author of “Empowered by Hope.”  Ha’s life story of survival during her escape from the oppressive regime in Vietnam, to the trials and tribulations of entering a new world and a new life in America will inspire you.  When you are having one of those days when you fret about milk spilt all over the kitchen, think about what this incredible lady and her family had experienced after you read this inspiring book.  Ha signed a hardcover copy for me which I plan to read while on vacation next week.

Below is an excerpt from the book and ordering information if you need to request it from your local library.  It is available on Amazon.com, Half.com, Barnes & Noble -used, etc.. –

Empowered by Hope, Ha T. Tran; Published April 2010; Publisher: AuthorHouse; Paperback # pages – 108

ISBN – 13: 9781449069292

ISBN 1449069290

Website: http://www.hope-empowered.com

“Imagine being brought up in luxurious wealth, only to find yourself first in a refugee camp and then a penniless immigrant in a country half-way around the world from where you were born! How would you cope? When Ha Tran found herself in this situation she remembered her beloved father’s wise words and used them to build a life for her family and herself. Ha tells her story of struggle and triumph in this inspiring book. She weaves her father’s profound, yet simple wisdom into the true story of her escape from the Communist regime in Viet Nam, living in a refugee camp, and starting life over in the United States. You will be moved and awed by what Ha has accomplished and inspired by how she demonstrates that “Hope is living with a promise in your heart.”

HAVE A SAFE AND HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!!!!!

Kristie

A Christ-Centered Home

June 30, 2011

Today my thoughts reference  the talk from April 2011 General Conference, “Establishing a Christ-Centered Home”,  addressed by Elder Richard J. Maynes Of the Seventy where he addresses the principle of eternal families as an essential element in Heavenly Father’s plan.  The doctrine that families can be together forever not only here on earth but also eternally.  Heavenly Father is our father here on earth but also the father of our spirits.

“We understand and believe in the eternal nature of the family. This understanding and belief should inspire us to do everything in our power to establish a Christ-centered home….

The principle of eternal families is an essential element in Heavenly Father’s great plan for His children. Fundamental to that plan is the understanding that we have a heavenly family as well as an earthly family. The Apostle Paul teaches us that Heavenly Father is the father of our spirits:

“That they should seek the Lord … and find him, …

“For in him we live, and move, and have our being; … For we are also his offspring.” 1

Even our children learn this basic principle in the Primary song “I Am a Child of God”.  This was a recent  theme for the year in our ward Primary.  Learning and understanding this principle is so critical during the developmental years of life and should be established early on in the marriage to build a strong and stable foundation for all members of the family.  We can do this in so many ways by holding weekly family home evenings, daily prayers and scripture reading, attending sacrament meetings together every Sunday.

“Recognizing that we have a heavenly family helps us understand the eternal nature of our earthly families. The Doctrine and Covenants teaches us that the family is fundamental to the order of heaven: “And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory.” 3 “

Elder Maynes references Alma to emphasize the importance of the family and the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ,

“…The ancient prophet Alma calls God’s plan for His children “the great plan of happiness.” 4 The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, whom we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators, have offered us this inspired counsel with regard to happiness and family life: “The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.” 5

This happiness spoken of by Alma and more recently by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will most surely be found in the home with family. It will be found in abundance if we do everything in our power to establish a Christ-centered home.”

Elder Maynes goes on to explain that understanding the eternal nature of our families is so critical especially in these days where we are challenged by so many adversarial objectives by Satan which includes various “weapons he uses to attack …… selfishness, greed, and pornography.”   He goes on the say,

“…We learned that our children might not remember everything about the family home evening lesson later in the week, but they would remember that we held it. We learned that later in the day at school they would probably not remember the exact words of the scriptures or the prayer, but they would remember that we did read scriptures and we did haveprayer. Brothers and sisters, there is great power and protection for us and our youth in establishing celestial traditions in the home.

Learning, teaching, and practicing the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ in our homes helps create a culture where the Spirit can dwell. Through establishing these celestial traditions in our homes, we will be able to overcome the false traditions of the world and learn to put the needs and concerns of others first…..”

We, as parents, are responsible for establishing and maintaining “celestial traditions” in the home – a Christ-centered environment.  We are held accountable for our children and how they will carry on these important responsibilities in life.  We are their example so it is important that we uphold Heavenly Father’s plan so that our children will not be lost but rather embraced by the gospel of our savior Jesus Christ.

  1. 1.  Acts 17:27–28.
  2. 2. “I Am a Child of God,” Hymns, no. 301.
  3. 3.  Doctrine and Covenants 130:2; see also Robert D. Hales, “The Eternal Family,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 64.
  4. 4.  Alma 42:8.
  5. 5. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Liahona and Ensign,Nov. 2010, 129.

Wednesday Words – Freedom

June 29, 2011

Last night I was reading to my daughter from the Book of Mormon Stories about “Captain Moroni and The Title of Liberty” and “King-Men versus Freeman.”  What a coincidence that we landed on these chapters.  I thought it was very timely considering we are close to celebrating our country’s independence.

This is an article from Ensign, September 1977, “Moroni and His Captains: Men of Peace in a Time of War”, by Eugene England.

Moroni and His Captains:

Compared with other portions of the Book of Mormon, the last twenty-one chapters of the book of Alma contain fewer examples of what we usually think of as “scriptural” material—no sermons per se, no visions, almost no prophesying, very little exposition of theological principles. At first it may seem to be one long, detailed record of all-out warfare between the Nephites and the Lamanites, of battles that raged back and forth through a score of cities and destroyed thousands of lives. In this part of the record, Mormon uses the precious space to examine kings and captains with the same care that he elsewhere gives to prophets and teachers. He chronicles treachery and bloodshed with the same exactness that he had earlier used in describing preaching and miracles. However, in this long section—more than a tenth of the total Book of Mormon—Mormon uses hard history to teach us powerful religious lessons: the value of freedom, God’s role in preserving it, the moral justifications for waging war to uphold freedom, and the moral limitations on bloodshed, even for freedom’s sake.

We can understand this exposition of freedom better if we understand Mormon. He must have been struck by the parallels between Moroni’s experiences and his own life of warring against the Lamanites 400 years later. When he read the story of Moroni, Mormon had already been the leader of the Nephite armies through many years of bitter battles. Like that earlier Moroni, he was never identified by the title “general” in the Book of Mormon; nevertheless, both were commanders over the Nephite armies—chief captains over chief captains—and exercised the authority of what we would call the rank of general. (See Alma 43:16–17Alma 46:11Morm. 2:1Morm. 5:1.) Mormon’s adolescence, from the time he was fifteen, had been given over to military matters. Consequently, he was prepared as few in his nation were to appreciate the consummate skill of Moroni’s earlier generalship. Righteous himself, he also must have responded deeply to Moroni’s own righteousness. He followed Moroni’s example of rigorous, self-sacrificing service both to preserve his people’s liberty by combat and also, by teaching and example, to help make his people worthy of God’s help. Like Moroni, Mormon refused to let the long, desperate fighting lead him to bloodthirstiness; instead, as the Lord directed him, he resigned his command to stand by “as an idle witness” when their wickedness led them to fight in a spirit of vengeance. (See Morm. 3:9–16.) Surely it tells us much that Mormon named his own son Moroni.

In short, our key to understanding those last twenty-one chapters of Alma lies in Mormon’s assessment of Moroni, man and military leader. That assessment is a valuable one for all of us, who, like Mormon, look for models to guide our lives through the conflicts of the present world. Here are Mormon’s words for us, as he looked down through time and yearned for us to learn from his people’s history:

“Now the Nephites were taught to defend themselves against their enemies, even to the shedding of blood if it were necessary; yea, and they were also taught never to give an offense, yea, and never to raise the sword except it were against an enemy, except it were to preserve their lives.

“And this was their faith, that by so doing God would prosper them in the land, … yea, warn them to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger; …

“And this was the faith of Moroni, and his heart did glory in it; not in the shedding of blood but in doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, and resisting iniquity.

“Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.” (Alma 48:14–17.)

Mormon obviously saw Moroni’s personal righteousness as a dominant factor in the creation of a national righteousness powerful enough to sustain national freedom against great odds. To drive home his point, he gives us ample detail and ample commentary on those crucial fourteen years from 74 B.C. to 60 B.C. The time divides itself into three periods: a sudden, savage outbreak of war and rebellion that lasted two years, a five-year respite of peace and preparation marred only by a single internal difficulty, then seven exhausting years of siege, insurrection, battle. During the five-year respite, Moroni drove his people urgently to prepare to defend themselves in case of future attacks by the Lamanites—attacks that did indeed come to pass. The social energy resulting from the necessary work of garrisoning cities overflowed into riches, prosperity, and strength (see Alma 50:1–18); and at this break in the action, Mormon took advantage of his role as a teacher of future generations to insert a “thus we see” passage that interprets the whole war, with its causes and effects, in terms of the entire history of God’s dealings with the descendants of Lehi:

“The people of Nephi did thank the Lord their God, because of his matchless power in delivering them from the hands of their enemies. …

“And there was continual peace among them, and exceeding great prosperity in the church because of their heed and diligence which they gave unto the word of God. …

“And thus we see how merciful and just are all the dealings of the Lord, to the fulfilling of all his words … which he spake unto Lehi. …

“And we see that these promises have been verified to the people of Nephi; for it has been their quarrelings and their contentions, yea, their murderings, and their plunderings, their idolatry, their whoredoms, and their abominations, which were among themselves, which brought upon them their wars and their destructions.

“And those who were faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord were delivered at all times, whilst thousands of their wicked brethren have been consigned to bondage, or to perish by the sword, or to dwindle in unbelief, and mingle with the Lamanites.” (Alma 49:28, 30;Alma 50:19, 21–22.)

Of course, Mormon is not only commenting here on events 400 years old, but on what continually led to the destruction of the Nephites in the entire course of their history, including his own time. How he must have yearned for that earlier time when Moroni’s people humbly thanked God for their victory rather than boasting in their strength as he had seen his own people do. (See Morm. 3:9.) Doubtlessly with longing, he wrote of that brief respite between wars: “But behold there never was a happier time among the people of Nephi, since the days of Nephi, than in the days of Moroni.” (Alma 50:23.)

We first meet Moroni in the crisis of the Lamanite attack under Zerahemnah. In a pattern Mormon notices throughout Nephite history, the warfare was instigated not by the Lamanites themselves but by dissenting Nephites. Zarahemnah appointed as his chief captains other former Nephites who were of “a more wicked and murderous disposition than the Lamanites” (Alma 43:6); and then, with traditional resentments and hatreds inflamed, he led his Lamanite armies in an attack against the Nephites in 74 B.C. Moroni, only twenty-five years old, was appointed leader over the Nephites (Alma 43:16–17) and immediately proved his ability by equipping his men with armor, an unexpected innovation, and then by outmanuevering Zerahemnah, whose army was more than double the size of his own (Alma 43:51). His superior tactics included posting spies, but he also sent to Alma, desiring that prophet to “inquire of the Lord whither the armies of the Nephites should go to defend themselves.” (Alma 43:23.) It was a perfect combination. Alma told Moroni where to march, and his spies told him when. The Lamanites ended up surrounded and trapped against the river Sidon. Instead of pressing his advantage, however, Moroni called a truce; he told the Lamanites, “We do not desire to slay you,” and then asked Zerahemnah to surrender. (Alma 44:1.)

In the negotiation that followed, Moroni commanded Zerahemnah to surrender “in the name of that all-powerful God, who has strengthened our arms that we have gained power over you.” (Alma 44:5.) But Zerahemnah rejected any reality but the obviously materialistic: “We do not believe that it is God that has delivered us into your hands; but we believe that it is your cunning. … Behold, it is your breastplates and your shields that have preserved you.” (Alma 44:9.)

From points of view so radically different, how could the two men agree? Moroni insisted, on his honor, that the Lamanites could go free, but only if they would covenant never to fight again, while Zerahemnah, with an interesting indication of the seriousness of oaths, declared that he would not swear an oath he knew he would break! (Alma 44:6–8.)

As Moroni returned the Lamanite weapons to recommence the struggle, Zerahemnah suddenly attacked Moroni on the field of truce, but a watchful Nephite soldier intercepted with a blow that took off Zerahemnah’s scalp. In a bizarre but effective symbolic action characteristic of the Old Testament and Book of Mormon cultures, the nameless soldier held forth the bleeding scalp on his sword before the Lamanites and threatened: “Even as this scalp has fallen to the earth … so shall ye fall … except ye will deliver up your weapons of war and depart with a covenant of peace.” (Alma 44:14.) This dramatic prophecy struck such fear into the Lamanites that most of them surrendered and made the covenant, though Zerahemnah and a few others still had to be conquered by force.

Moroni’s decisive generalship and his faith, which was so deeply shared with his men that it inspired that nameless Nephite’s spontaneous act, had been the Lord’s instruments in preserving the people. But Moroni returned from this bloody front-line battle to preserve Nephite liberty only to find that a rebellion had sprung up at home. Amalickiah, proud and rich, had opposed Helaman, the new head of the church appointed by Alma, and was seeking to become king and to destroy the church.

Angry at Amalickiah, Moroni “rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children,” fastened it to a pole, and went forth among the people. With this “title of liberty,” and the strength of having “poured out his soul to God,” he rallied the Nephites with the cry, “Come forth in the strength of the Lord, and enter into a covenant that [ye] will maintain [your] rights, and [your] religion, that the Lord God may bless [you].” (Alma 46:12, 13, 17, 20.) The people, responding to the spiritual power behind this symbolic action, ran to Moroni “rending their garments in token, or as a covenant, that … if they should transgress the commandments of God … the Lord should rend them even as they had rent their garments.” (Alma 46:21.) Continuing the symbolism, they swore to Moroni: “We covenant with our God, that … he may cast us at the feet of our enemies, even as we have cast our garments at thy feet, if we shall fall into transgression.” (Alma 46:22.)

With a spiritual insight that went much deeper than mere political astuteness, Moroni further welded this new bond that unified his people by linking their action to their great heritage as children of Israel:

“We are a remnant of the seed of Joseph, whose coat was rent by his brethren into many pieces; yea, and now behold, let us remember to keep the commandments of God, or our garments shall be rent by our brethren, and we be cast into prison, or be sold, or be slain.

“Yea, let us preserve our liberty as a remnant of Joseph.” (Alma 46:23–24.)

Who among his hearers would not stir to that heroic and sacred history? But he took the symbolism a step further still and, in the process, gave us a story about our common ancestor Joseph that must have been preserved on the brass plates, though it has not come down to us in ourBible. Before his death, Jacob saw that a fragment of Joseph’s coat had not decayed; he then prophesied, “Even as this remnant of garment of my son hath been preserved, so shall a remnant of the seed of my son be preserved by the hand of God, and be taken unto himself, while the remainder of the seed of Joseph shall perish, even as the remnant of this garment.” Moroni; revealing that he was a devoted, thoughtful student and teacher of the scriptures as well as a skilled and courageous man of action, spelled out the choice for his people: “And now who knoweth but what the remnant of the seed of Joseph, which shall perish as his garment, are those who have dissented from us? Yea, and even it shall be ourselves if we do not stand fast in the faith of Christ.” (Alma 46:24, 27.)

This typically Hebraic form of teaching through physical symbols seems rather unusual to us, but Moroni’s people understood it, and they also understood the consequences of their choice. The dissenters were captured, except for Amalickiah and a small group who escaped to the Lamanites. This brought Moroni face to face with a situation that reveals another facet of his character: a humane commitment to the rule of law as deep as his tough and pragmatic devotion to freedom. He was careful to act strictly according to the law in not executing the rebels out of hand. Instead, he gave them the choice between covenanting to support a free government or being put to death. Mormon adds, with what may be regarded as a flash of understated irony: “There were but few who denied the covenant of freedom.” (Alma 46:34–35.)

While Moroni was uniting his people in righteous love of freedom, Amalickiah was proving Mormon’s repeated observation that former Nephites, who had once known the light, were prone to become the most wicked of all. (See Alma 24:30Alma 47:36.) “A very subtle man to do evil” (Alma 47:4), Amalickiah stirred up the Lamanites and then played their armies against each other in a clever strategy that enabled him to bring about the murder of the king and take over the throne himself—and even marry the queen—this in a series of betrayals, poisonings, stabbings, and power plays that make the forty-seventh chapter of Alma read like one of Shakespeare’s bloodier history plays. But like other villains of history, his evil bravado, successful for a while, led him to overreach himself by seeking to reign over the Nephites, as well as the Lamanites. Moroni’s fortified cities repelled the attack of his armies, and the Lamanites, cowed by their second military disaster in two years due to superior Nephite armaments and tactics, retreated in such psychological and physical exhaustion that not even Amalickiah’s wrath could stir them up again at that time.

Thus came the five-year period of freedom from Lamanite attack. But even during that breathing space not all was well all of the time, for in the fifth year of peace another Nephite dissenter, Morianton, appealed to a group of land-hungry Nephites to flee into the land northward and there set up a separate kingdom. Acting under Moroni’s order, an army led by a chief captain named Teancum headed them off at a strategic location, killed Morianton, hauled the dissenters back, and presided over their covenanting to keep the peace. (See Alma 50:25–36.)

In many ways, Teancum was a heroic extension of Moroni’s own quickness, decisiveness, and boldness. Teancum’s personal courage went almost to the point of recklessness, in a way that appeals to our sense of adventure even while we recognize the dangers. When Amalickiah again stirred up his Lamanites to attack, in the midst of another internal dissension among the Nephites, it was Teancum’s army that intercepted and repulsed him. (See Alma 51:29–31.) We do not know whether Teancum soberly calculated the cost in lives of another battle or was inflamed with fury against the renegade Nephite who had caused so much bloodshed. At any rate, while the armies slept in exhaustion, he crept through the Lamanite camp to Amalickiah’s tent, killed him silently, and then withdrew. When the Lamanites awoke on the first day of the new year (in 66 B.C.) to find their king dead and the Nephites poised for battle again, they fled in terror to regroup behind Ammoron, Amalickiah’s brother. (See Alma 51:33–37Alma 52:1–3.) Moroni then joined Teancum for a decoy-attack that completely routed the already demoralized Lamanites. And again Moroni, though wounded and sore pressed in the heat of battle, still gave the confused Lamanites every opportunity to surrender, promising, “We will forbear shedding your blood.” (Alma 52:37.)

Teancum was not Moroni’s only chief captain; the record also mentions Antipus, Gid, Helaman, and Lehi and refers to numerous others. (See e.g.,Alma 52:19.) But Teancum, Helaman, and Lehi are singled out for special mention. Mormon, who knew what loyalty tested in battle meant, reveals a great deal in what he tells us of Moroni’s relationships with his chief captains. In any military society, the brutalities of war can unite men in a kind of competition of escalating toughness, competency in killing, and callousness to sensitive feelings. Instead, we see in Moroni and his chief captains an exceptional and exemplary masculine relationship based partly on shared skills and shared dangers but also on a loving friendship and a righteous desire for liberty and peace. All of these men were courageous in defense of liberty.

Lehi’s reputation as a warrior was such that the Lamanites were afraid to attack a city he held because they “feared [him] exceedingly.” (Alma 49:17.) Mormon goes on to say, “This Lehi was a man who had been with Moroni in the more part of all his battles”; and then he adds this high praise: “He was a man like unto Moroni, and they rejoiced in each other’s safety, yea, they were beloved by each other, and also beloved by all the people of Nephi.” (Alma 53:2.)

Teancum’s personal valor—possibly modeled on Moroni’s personal involvement in battle—led him not only to kill Amalickiah but also into fatal danger when he penetrated Ammoron’s camp and killed him. We know his motivation this time. He was “exceedingly angry, … insomuch that he considered that Ammoron … had been the cause of so much war and bloodshed, yea, and so much famine.” (Alma 62:35.) Teancum must have known the odds against his success. Ammoron was in a fortified city, not a tent on the other side of a battlefield. He had to scale the wall and then search for the king “from place to place.” Apparently he could not get close enough to kill the king quietly, for he had to “cast a javelin at him.” And thus the king was able to awaken his servants before he died, and they pursued and killed Teancum. (Alma 62:36.)

Epitaphs are not common in the Book of Mormon, but Mormon records that Lehi and Moroni were “exceeding sorrowful,” and he gives the reasons: Teancum “had been a man who had fought valiantly for his country, yea, a true friend to liberty; and he had suffered very many exceedingly sore afflictions.” (Alma 62:37.)

Helaman was an unusual general—and Mormon lets us know that by including some of Helaman’s correspondence with Moroni, written while each was fighting on a different front. Helaman was a son of the prophet Alma, and one of the “high priests over the church.” (Alma 46:6.) Yet in this time of his people’s need, he took up arms and went into battle, still retaining his own gentleness and righteous aversion to bloodshed.

While Moroni, Teancum, and Lehi were fighting the Lamanites in an attempt to retake the city of Mulek, which was “on the east borders by the seashore” (Alma 51:26), other Lamanite armies had penetrated the Nephite lands “on the west sea, south” (Alma 53:8). It was Helaman who filled the breach by undertaking a lengthy march at the head of a hastily recruited army of 2,000 young men, the sons of the “people of Ammon,” from their land “to the support of the people in the borders of the land on the south by the west sea.” (Alma 53:22.)

The “people of Ammon” were a group of former Lamanites that Ammon had converted about twenty-five years before. These people had been settled in Nephite territory, with Nephite armies set between them and the Lamanites for their protection, for at the time of their conversion they had sworn never to take up arms again, even in defense. Part of that covenant was a willingness to die rather than break that oath (see Alma 24:18), and their willingness had been tested almost immediately when bloodthirsty Lamanites (stirred up by dissident Nephites) slaughtered them, without resistance, until the power of such sacrificial love moved them to “forbear from slaying them.” (Alma 24:24). At that point more than a thousand of them were converted, moving Mormon to comment, “Thus we see that the Lord worketh in many ways to the salvation of his people.” (Alma 24:27.)

Now a generation later, these Ammonites were “moved with compassion” (Alma 53:13) when they saw their beleaguered Nephite brethren struggling against the Lamanites on so many fronts, and they considered breaking their oath and going to the aid of those who had been protecting them for so many years. But Helaman “feared lest by so doing they should lose their souls” (Alma 53:15), and persuaded them not to take up their weapons again. However, 2,000 of their young sons, who had not sworn the oath, volunteered as warriors and asked Helaman to lead them in the southern campaign. (See Alma 53:16–19.)

This was an unlikely army, young men raised by parents whose resolute pacifism was part of their most sacred commitments, led by a church leader turned military captain. But their story proves that, contrary to the wisdom of men, they are the very type of army the Lord can best accept and make effective in battle—while still protecting them from the soul-destroying evil of bloodlust. Helaman, whatever his doubts may have been about their fighting ability, had no qualms about the character of his “stripling soldiers.” They were “exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity,” he reported to Moroni, but also they were “men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted. Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him.” (SeeAlma 53:20–22.)

In an exciting story of march and countermarch, they decoyed the Lamanite defenders out of the city Antiparah so that Antipus could occupy it and in turn pursue the Lamanite army. After fleeing for two days, Helaman saw that the Lamanites, who had been hot on their heels, were no longer in sight and suspected that they had stopped to lure them back into a trap. He knew he did not have the numbers to stand against the Lamanites, but he was also aware that they might have turned back to attack Antipus. And so he asked his 2,000 young men, “What say ye, my sons, will ye go against them to battle?” There followed one of the great scenes of the Book of Mormon—and one of the great lessons Mormon was using this space to teach. This citizen army, not professionally trained, not indoctrinated in hatred of their enemies, responded in a way that moved Helaman to write, “And now I say unto you, my beloved brother Moroni, that never had I seen so great courage, nay not amongst all the Nephites.” What is the source and spirit of their courage? Hear Helaman’s report:

“For as I had ever called them my sons (for they were all of them very young) even so they said unto me: Father, behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; … we would not slay our brethren if they would let us alone; therefore let us go, lest they should overpower the army of Antipus.

“Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.

“And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.” (Alma 56:44–48.)

Helaman thus paid one of the greatest compliments in all scripture to those courageous women who had once faced death in passive acceptance in order to stop bloodshed—but had given their sons the valiant faith to face death as well in active resistance to bloodshed. That faith was rewarded, for they “fought as if with the strength of God … with such miraculous strength and with such mighty power … that they did frighten [the Lamanites],” Helaman exulted, “but behold, to my great joy, there had not one soul of them fallen to the earth.” (Alma 56:56.)

In two additional engagements, Helaman’s stripling warriors did not fall below the high standard they had set in that first battle. They stood “firm and undaunted” (Alma 57:20), even when they stood nearly alone; they continued to vindicate their noble mothers’ faith that they would not be slain, because they were “strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day” (Alma 58:40).

But meanwhile, needed and expected supplies and reinforcements had not been forthcoming from Zarahemla. Moroni, unaware that a new group of dissenting monarchists had risen against Pahoran, the chief judge, and driven him from Zarahemla, wrote a stinging rebuke and threat for the seeming laxity of the central government. Characteristically, his terms were scriptural: “Ye should remember that God has said that the inward vessel shall be cleansed first, and then shall the outer vessel be cleansed also. …

“Except ye do repent … and begin to be up and doing, … behold it will be expedient that we contend no more with the Lamanites until we have first cleansed our inward vessel, yea, even the great head of our government.” (Alma 60:23–24.)

Touched by Moroni’s spirit, Pahoran replied with remarkable mildness for a ruler who had been wrongly blamed, “You have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart.” (Alma 61:9.)

The greatness of Pahoran’s own heart is further demonstrated by his chief concern, which was not to retain the power of his office, but “whether it should be just in us to go against our brethren”—that is, the “king-men” under Pachus who had rebelled. Moroni’s own righteous pleas to the Lord were the answer to Pahoran’s aversion to shedding the blood even of enemies; thus, the judge quoted the general’s words in affirming their joint policy: “But ye have said, except they repent the Lord hath commanded you that ye should go against them.” (Alma 61:19–20.) Together they summoned soldiers, not to their personal cause, but to preserve freedom. After they put down the rebellion, their behavior again testified to their respect for law. The rebels were not summarily dispatched, but “received their trial, according to the law,” and either enlisted in freedom’s cause or were executed. (Alma 62:9.)

Again, attention undivided, Moroni focused his efforts on winning the war, personally scaling the wall of a Lamanite-held city and directing his men over the wall in secret. When the morning came, the astonished and frightened Lamanite defenders found themselves helpless. (See Alma 62:20–23.) This coup must have been doubly satisfying to Moroni’s righteous heart, for they took the city “without the loss of one [Nephite] soul” and “many of the Lamanites … were desirous to join the people of Ammon and become a free people.” (Alma 62:26–27.)

Final battles took about another year, then both Helaman and Moroni turned to a work that showed the spiritual depth in both men. Helaman, sensitive to the spiritual needs of a people harrowed by long war, established the church again so successfully that “notwithstanding their riches, or their strength, or their prosperity, they were not lifted up in the pride of their eyes; neither were they slow to remember the Lord their God.” (Alma 62:49.) This rare humility is Helaman’s monument. Moroni’s was in the garrisoned cities, carefully fortified and rebuilt for the future needs of the people. But after doing this, he gave the command of the armies to his son, Moronihah, and “retired to his own house that he might spend the remainder of his days in peace.” (Alma 62:43.) He was only about thirty-nine years old, a man of personal power, honored prowess, and commanding presence. We wonder about the rest of his life (he died at about age forty-three—see Alma 63:3) and the continuing contribution he may have honorably made to his society; but Mormon tells us nothing. The lesson Mormon wanted us to learn from Moroni’s life is centered in those years of terrible conflict, when both body and spirit were tried by combat, treachery, and the loneliness of command relieved by the fidelity of friendship.

Let me suggest some of the lessons Mormon wanted us to learn from this tale of carnage and villainy, of fighting prophets and peace-loving captains:

1. War most often comes to a people because of their unrighteousness and internal dissensions.

2. No matter how it comes, there is no single morally right response to the threat of violence.

God directs different people, with different backgrounds in different situations, according to his purpose in each situation. The Nephites were preserving the only scriptures that we know of in the New World, the only knowledge of the coming Savior; and God commanded them: “Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense, neither the second, ye shall not suffer yourselves to be slain by the hands of your enemies.” On the contrary, they were “to defend themselves and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion.” (Alma 43:46–47.)

In contrast, the people of Ammon had been steeped in the bloodthirsty tradition of the Lamanites before their conversion and were in danger of slipping back into bloodthirstiness if they again took up arms—even in a good cause. “It has been all that we could do … to repent of all our sins and the many murders which we have committed, and to get God to take them away from our hearts,” their inspired leader, Anti-Nephi-Lehi, said. Thus they pledged the sacrifice of their own lives rather than take such a soul-destroying risk, and the Lord blessed them and preserved them by the hand of their Nephite brethren. But then those remarkable people’s own children took up arms in the Nephite cause and, led by a priest-captain, fought valiantly and triumphed in bloody, desperate battle without losing their own gentle righteousness and worthiness before the Lord.

And that seems to be the Lord’s chief concern: He, the giver of life and the one who can restore it, can guarantee that life will continue in the next world. He alone can take life or direct when it should be taken in order to preserve greater values. Laban’s life was weighed against a nation that might “dwindle and perish in unbelief.” (1 Ne. 4:13.) Many of the Nephites’ battles were to preserve a righteous remnant in the land of promise.

3. Even when we take the awesome step of going to war, there are righteous limitations that must be observed:

“The Nephites were inspired by a better cause, for they were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church.” (Alma 43:45.)

And when we fight in what society has judged a better cause, or even if it were that God directed a people to wage war, it seems apparent that the Lord is still deeply concerned that we not succumb to the common results of violence—carnal insensitivity, rage, vengeance—becoming what the Nephites called “blood-thirsty.”

The prophet-general Mormon emphasizes again and again the proper Nephite reticence about fighting, their lack of desire for vengeance, their quickness to let Lamanites surrender—especially calling attention to the moral leadership of Moroni in these things: “He did not delight in murder or bloodshed, but he delighted in the saving of his people from destruction.” (Alma 55:19.)

At the end of this long period of warfare Mormon reminds us that it is not war—even loss of physical life—that is most crucial, but rather the spiritual effect of an action on people’s character and salvation: “Behold, because of the exceeding great length of the war … many had become hardened … ; and many [others] were softened because of their afflictions, insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depth of humility.” (Alma 62:41.) As we face the conflicts of this present world, may we be like Moroni and those humble Nephites who learned righteousness from his example.

[illustration] Battle at River Sidon. The Lamanites retreated from Lehi’s army—but when they crossed the River Sidon, they found Moroni’s army waiting for them. “Never had the Lamanites been known to fight with such exceeding great strength and courage.” (Alma 43:43; painting by Minerva Teichert.)

[illustrations] Top: Lamanites Fighting at the Gate. The Lamanites were not used to fighting fortified cities, and when they came to the gate they “were slain with an immense slaughter.” (Alma 49:21.) Moroni had fortified the city of Noah thinking that since it had been the weakest city, the Lamanites would attack there first (painting by Minerva Teichert). Bottom: Banner of Liberty. “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom and our peace, our wives, and our children”—with those ideas Moroni rallied the righteous Nephites. (Alma 46:12; painting by Minerva Teichert.)

[illustrations] Top: Helaman’s Striplings. The faithful Lamanite youths said to their leader, Helaman, “Behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth” into battle. (Alma 56:46; painting by Minerva Teichert.) Bottom: City of Gid. The Nephite spy, a Lamanite by blood, by trickery won the freedom of the Nephite prisoners—and the captors were captured in the morning! (See Alma 55:3–25; painting by Minerva Teichert.)

Eugene England, associate professor of English literature at Brigham Young University, serves as a counselor in the bishopric of the Kaysville Second Ward Kaysville Utah Stake.

Tuesdays Tips

June 28, 2011

Fun Outside Activities to do with the Kiddos!

Now that the weather is improving and sunny days are ahead, I thought of a few fun activities to do with the kids.

Getting Green!!!

Yes, I mean green under your fingernails green!  Since it is getting too late to start seedlings, go to your local garden center with the kids and pick out a few young, tender plants i.e. tomatoes, herbs, lettuce, pumpkins, cukes, marigolds.  Just get 1 or 2 plants.  Let the kids pick out their favs.  You don’t need a large patch of ground and you can always use pots.  I was amazed at my daughter’s interest in planting her garden (and the night crawlers).  We planted pumpkins, gourds, cukes, cherry tomoatoes, lettuce, Zinnias and Marigolds.  The lettuce starts to grow quickly and we are already using it for dinner salads.  My daughter is so proud that she grew this on her own.  Now she has taken ownership of all my plants and gardens!

Bubbly Fun!

It is time to get the kids outside, keep cool, and keep ’em active and busy.  I just found my “lost” recipe for Homemade Bubbles.

Here it is:

2/3 cup Joy Dish Detergent (I use Dawn and it works fine)

1 Gallon Water

2-3 Tablespoons Glycerin (available at pharmacies but I found mine in a craft store)

In a large plastic bucket or bowl, gently stir together all ingredients.  Let sit uncovered overnight.  To blow bubbles, fashion hoops from pipe cleaners or tubes from toilet paper and pater towels.  We make giant hoops about 8 inches in diameter and it makes giant bubbles.  Even adults will have fun.  The liquid lasts for as long as you keep it so the kids can have hours of fun with this.

Mondays Menus

June 27, 2011

Artichoke Dip

Ingredients:

1 can Artichoke Hearts

1 can green Chilis (mild/peeled)

8 oz. Monterey Jack Cheese with Jalapino Peppers, (Shredded or chop to small chunks)

1 cup Mayonaise

Grated Parmesan (or any cheese)

Corn Chips

Chop artichokes up well; In Microwave safe bowl, mix all ingredients together and set microwave on High for 5 minutes; check to see if melted and stir; continue to microwave every few minutes and stir until cheese is fully melted in the mixture; add grated Parmesan or any grated cheese on top; melt in Microwave for a minute; Serve warm with Blue Corn Chips or any of your favorite Corn Chips.  This is great for a cook-out or any get together.

Friday Favorites

June 24, 2011
Once again we get to hear from Jen. Thanks Jen for helping me out this week and being a fresh voice on the blog.
My Favorite Free Media websites-
I always feel better with good music playing at home. Here are a couple of my favorite music websites:

http://www.pandora.com/– You can create your personal “stations” based on music you like. You enter a song or an artist you like, they find similar music and play a continuous stream of that type of music.  My favorites include my stations: Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Alan Menken (composer of a lot of Disney movie music), Mozart, and Brandenburg Concerto. The best part is that if you don’t like a song they choose, you can give it a thumbs down and they won’t play any more of that type of music! Give a favorite song a thumbs up, and they’ll choose more like that. It’s fun.

http://www.jonschmidt.com  He’s an amazing pianist, and has free playlists on his site, all different moods and tempos available.
https://lds.org/youth/music?lang=eng– Music from a lot of the seminary classes and youth themes over the years.
Other free sites I enjoy:
http://speeches.byu.edu/  You can listen to talks given by general authorities and scholars at BYU devotionals and forums. They are so interesting and uplifting!
On Sundays we watch a lot of videos off  the church website:
http://lds.org/media-library/video?lang=eng
There is a new movie about Joseph Smith as well as one about President Monson that we have enjoyed.

lds media.

Jennifer Lyon

Thursday Thoughts:

June 24, 2011

Chapter 35 titled Obedience was our lesson last Sunday in Relief Society.

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “I made this my rule: When the Lord commands, do it”. We talked about Pres. Hutchin’s talk in Sacrament Meeting a couple weeks ago. He said that he prays every morning for direction and inspiration  and then promises the Lord that he will do whatever he is asked. Some in our Relief Society mentioned that they have taken that suggestion to heart and have seen how the Lord offers them individual guidance and then blesses then when they obey.

Sometimes we disobey because we think a commandment is not very important. The lesson reminded us of a man in the scriptures named Naaman who had a dreadful disease and traveled to ask the Prophet Elisha to heal him. When he was asked to wash in a certain river to be healed he went away offended and confused why the prophet would ask this thing of him. But his servants said, “If the prophet had bid thee to do some great thing, wouldest though have done it?” He took their counsel and washed and was healed.

It is important to obey a Prophet of God even it is a small matter and we don’t see the point.

Other times we find it hard to obey because we are like Nephi’s brothers and think that the Lord is asking too much. Like them, we may say, “This is a hard thing God requires of us.”

Each commandment is important and we can be assured that he will prepare a way for us to accomplish it.

And each time we obey we are blessed. Even in small things.

wednesday words

June 22, 2011

My niece in Washington state is also a mother of 5. They have had them even closer than I have. About a month ago they found out that their youngest child, Clara has neuroblastoma and now she is in the middle of treatment spending what will be become possibly a year in two different hospitals both over a couple of hours from their home. Can you imagine doing this with four other children whose lives are just going on also? The oldest is my daughter Camille’s age -9. They have a lot of family in the area who are all pitching in for those left at home but it is heartbreaking for the parents to be forced to not only worry immensely about their very sick two-year old undergoing cancer treatment but also to be away from the other four. She is blogging about the experience and inspires me daily on how lucky I am to be a mother home doing laundry, cleaning up messes, packing lunches every day and wearing yourself out serving those little kids that keep you so busy. She would give anything to go back to those days. If you would like you can read her story on her blog and read of her faith and fortitude amidst this extremely hard trial. We all have so much to be grateful for and reading about this has reminded me to count my blessings. Here is the link. She has retitled her blog “all these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good”

If this seems rushed that’s because it is. I totally forgot about this blog today. We have been moving all day and now need to be at the church in less than an hour. Hopefully I will see you there. Congrats to all our new graduates!

Kashann

Tuesday Tips

June 21, 2011

I thought I would bring in some fresh blood since you’ve already had a few of my tips in weeks past. Here’s what Jen Lyon could come up with when I put her on the spot.

Tuesday tips
I’ve had to get creative with some of the owies my kids need help with. Here are things that work for me. Maybe they are obvious to everyone else, but it took me a while to figure them out.

Kids and “Owies.”

Bleeding lip or mouth- suck on a wet paper towel with ice in it.
Ice packs- sometimes my kids won’t let me put ice on the bump, so I cool my own hand on the ice and then use my hand as the ice pack.
Growing pains at night- fill an extra sock (without holes) with rice, microwave for 45 sec to 1 min. Put on sore spot. Ibuprofen/tylenol rarely work as fast as the nice heat for those growing pains.
Bug bite discomfort- Benedryl spray on the bite
Bee stings- I have a little container of baking soda in my first aid kit to mix with water and make a paste.
General – I have a bag with sunscreen, sunscreen stick for faces, bug spray, tweezers, and first aid kit (bottle of antiseptic wash and bandaids) that I keep with me because you never know when an owie will appear. Thanks to Ginger for helping us all get those together at Enrichment (I mean our RS meeting!)
And a new one, thanks to James- I learned that drug stores sell Steri-strips, so you can tape up your own gashes. It’s a tape that can go right over the top of the cut.

Jen

Monday Menus

June 20, 2011
Kennon has been cooking something almost everyday lately. Last week she made whole wheat banana chocolate chip muffins, chocolate mint cookies, and even these pizza rolls. I had nothing to do with any of it. Maybe it’s because her mother is too busy to cook right now  and someone has got to pick up the slack so they don’t have to live off crackers and cold cereal. I really do plan to start cooking again once the move is completed. So Kennon has been using my favorite recipe blog to find recipes. Here’s the  blog.  It’s called Sisters Cafe. They are Mormon sisters who post something almost everyday. I have loved pretty much everything I have tried. It is indexed well so it’s easy to look up new recipes or continue to use my favorites on the blog. These pizza rolls are a new favorite. It sounds difficult but come on. My 13 year old made these all by herself and they looked exactly like the photo. And they tasted amazing. Hopefully I can make them as good as Kennon. So don’t be scared because it sounds difficult to roll up little pizza rolls and make your own dough. If a 13 year old can handle it so can you. And they are worth it. Sorry that I can’t post the photo of the pizza rolls but after wasting 10 minutes trying I give up. Here is the Pizza roll recipe including picture. I also posted the recipe here for you.

Pizza Rolls

Dough recipe: 1 c. warm water  1 tsp. sugar  1 Tb. yeast  3 Tb. olive oil   2 1/2 c. flour  1 tsp. salt.   Put warm water in bowl and stir in sugar and yeast. Let it proof for 10 minutes. Stir in the rest of ingredients and knead 10 minutes. ( We used our Bosche) Let rise until double.

Roll pizza dough out into a large rectangle. Using a pizza cutter, cut into 12 pieces.

Layer the following toppings in the center of each square of dough; about 2-3 Tb total of toppings on each.

Toppings: mozzarella cheese, shredded or cubed    pepperoni, cut into fourths     1/2 green bell pepper, diced small    1/2 small onion, diced small      1/4 cup chopped olives

Or use your favorite toppings.

Now stretch and fold the dough around the toppings, pinching to seal edges. This is the tricky part – the more toppings you use, the harder it gets to tuck them all within the dough! (fyi: pepperoni and cheese or ham and pineapple are much easier, as you can imagine.) But remember a 13 year old had no problem. Now place seam side down in a lightly greased casserole dish or glass baking dish. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle generously with garlic salt and Italian seasoning. (oregano, basil and thyme, etc) Bake in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until rolls are light brown. Serve with your favorite marinara sauce for dipping. Dig in and have fun!

Kashann