Thursday, April 28, 2016

April 2016 General Conference: Elder Neil L. Andersen, "Whoso Receiveth Them, Receiveth Me"

Elder Anderson counselled, while a child’s earthly situation may not be ideal, a child’s spiritual DNA is perfect because one’s true identity is as a son or daughter of God.

President Thomas S. Monson has said: “Help God’s children understand what is genuine and important in this life. Help them develop the strength to choose paths that will keep them safely on the way to eternal life.”  Let’s open our arms and our hearts a little wider. These youth need our time and our testimonies.

April 2016 General Conference: Elder Ronald A. Rasband, "Standing with the Leaders of the Church"

As we press forward, choosing to follow the counsel and the warnings of our leaders, we choose to follow the Lord while the world is going in another direction. We choose to hold fast to the iron rod, to be Latter-day Saints, to be on the Lord’s errand, and to be filled “with exceedingly great joy.”

The growing question of today is clear: are you standing with the leaders of the Church in a darkening world so that you might spread the Light of Christ?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

April 2016 General Conference: Elder Dale G. Renlund, "That I Might Draw Men Unto Me"

Elder Renlund taught that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are the ultimate Givers.

Because of their proximity to the givers, recipients who receive help according to this pattern are grateful and less likely to feel entitled.

The concept—“the greater the distance between the giver and the receiver, the more the receiver develops a sense of entitlement”—also has profound spiritual applications. Our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, are the ultimate Givers. The more we distance ourselves from Them, the more entitled we feel. We begin to think that we deserve grace and are owed blessings. We are more prone to look around, identify inequities, and feel aggrieved—even offended—by the unfairness we perceive. While the unfairness can range from trivial to gut-wrenching, when we are distant from God, even small inequities loom large. We feel that God has an obligation to fix things—and fix them right now!

The closer we are to Jesus Christ in the thoughts and intents of our hearts, the more we appreciate His innocent suffering, the more grateful we are for grace and forgiveness, and the more we want to repent and become like Him. Our absolute distance from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ is important, but the direction we are heading is even more crucial. God is more pleased with repentant sinners who are trying to draw closer to Him than with self-righteous, faultfinding individuals who, like the Pharisees and scribes of old, do not realize how badly they need to repent

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Wasatch Wildflowers Series 13

Taraxacum officionale, Dandelion. Family Asteraceae. The ubiquitous flower commonly found in lawns. The blossoms are sometimes used to make wine.  Dandelion greens are said to be edible, but I disagree.

Thermopsis montana, False Lupine. Family Fabaceae. Pretty yellow flowers.  Commonly found in Utah mountain meadows.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Wasatch Wildflowers Series 12

Veratrum californicum, False Hellebore. Family Melanthiaceae.  Common in marshy riparian zones.   Rhizomes are extremely toxic. Veratrum contains highly toxic steroidal alkaloids that activate sodium ion channels and cause rapid cardiac failure and death if ingested.

Don't eat these.

Equisetum arvense, Horsetail, Scouring Rush. The only living genus from Family Equisetaceae, others are present in fossilized specimens. Ours are found in wet marshy areas. Early settlers in the Rocky Mountain region reputedly used the silica-laden stems to scour their pots and pans. Extracts have historically used for medicinal purposes, but I'd never eat this stuff.

The big leaves in the foreground are Thimbleberry.

April 2016 General Conference: Elder Steven E. Snow, "Be Thou Humble"

Elder Snow gave counsel regarding personal humility.

The Savior taught His followers that they must humble themselves as a little child in order to enter into the kingdom of heaven.  As we raise our own children, we need to help them remain humble as they mature into adulthood. We do not do this by breaking their spirit through unkindness or by being too harsh in our discipline. While nurturing their self-confidence and self-esteem, we need to teach them the qualities of selflessness, kindness, obedience, lack of pride, civility, and unpretentiousness. We need them to learn to take joy in the successes of siblings and friends. President Howard W. Hunter taught that “our genuine concern should be for the success of others.”7 If not, our children can become obsessed with self-promotion and outdoing others, jealousy, and resentment for the triumphs of peers. I’m grateful for a mother who, when seeing I was becoming too full of myself as a boy, would say, “Son, a little bit of humility right now would go a long way.”

But humility is not something reserved to be taught only to children. We must all strive to become more humble. Humility is essential to gain the blessings of the gospel. Humility enables us to have broken hearts when we sin or make mistakes and makes it possible for us to repent. Humility enables us to be better parents, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, neighbors and friends.

April 2016 General Conference: Elder Kevin R. Duncan, "The Healing Ointment of Forgiveness"

Elder Duncan counsels, forgiveness is a glorious, healing principle. We do not need to be a victim twice. We can forgive.

Just as we are all victims to the misdeeds of others at one time or another, we are also sometimes the offender. We all fall short and have need of grace, mercy, and forgiveness. We must remember that forgiveness of our own sins and offenses is conditioned upon our forgiving others. The Savior said:

“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

“But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14–15).

Forgiveness is the very reason God sent His Son, so let us rejoice in His offering to heal us all. The Savior’s Atonement is not just for those who need to repent; it is also for those who need to forgive. If you are having trouble forgiving another person or even yourself, ask God to help you. Forgiveness is a glorious, healing principle. We do not need to be a victim twice. We can forgive.

Wasatch Wildflowers Series 11

Sphaeralcea coccinea, Scarlet Globemallow. Family Malvaceae. These showy little orange flowers grace dry foothill and desert areas, just to make it more interesting.  A close relative of the Hollyhocks in our flower gardens!

Urtica dioca, Stinging Nettle. Family Urticaceae. Poisonous hairs on stems and leaves are a skin irritant. These plants are traditional source of food and medicine. Soaking in water or cooking denatures the stinging chemicals. I've still got plenty of better things to eat.

April 2016 General Conference: Elder Gary E. Stevenson, "Where are the Keys and Authority of the Priesthood?"

Elder Stevenson illustrated the vital function of keys with a story about lost car keys.  He likened this to the restoration of Priesthood Keys through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Without this restoration, we would be locked out from the vehicle necessary to transport us on our journey home to loving heavenly parents. The performance of every ordinance of salvation comprising our covenant pathway back to the presence of our Father in Heaven requires appropriate governance through priesthood keys.

Ordinances that create a record in the Church require keys and cannot be done without authorization. Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught that “ultimately, all keys of the priesthood are held by the Lord Jesus Christ, whose priesthood it is. He is the one who determines what keys are delegated to mortals and how those keys will be used.”

April 2016 General Conference: Elder Hallstrom, "I am a Child of God"

Elder Hallstrom offered counsel regarding how we can endure personal hardships.

In real life, we face actual, not imagined, hardships. There is pain—physical, emotional, and spiritual. There are heartbreaks when circumstances are very different from what we had anticipated. There is injustice when we do not seem to deserve our situation. There are disappointments when someone we trusted failed us. There are health and financial setbacks that can be disorienting. There may be times of question when a matter of doctrine or history is beyond our current understanding.

When difficult things occur in our lives, what is our immediate response? Is it confusion or doubt or spiritual withdrawal? Is it a blow to our faith? Do we blame God or others for our circumstances? Or is our first response to remember who we are—that we are children of a loving God? Is that coupled with an absolute trust that He allows some earthly suffering because He knows it will bless us, like a refiner’s fire, to become like Him and to gain our eternal inheritance?

April 2016 General Conference: Mary R. Durham, "A Child's Guiding Gift"

Sister Durham spoke of 3 Nephi 26, wherein the Savior taught of the spiritual capacity of children:
He did loose their tongues, and they did speak unto their fathers great and marvelous things, even greater than he had revealed unto the people. …
 … They both saw and heard these children; yea, even babes did open their mouths and utter marvelous things.
How do we as parents increase the spiritual capacity of our little ones? How do we teach them to kick off worldly influences and trust the Spirit when we are not with them and they are alone in the deep waters of their lives?
  • Bring to our children’s attention when they are hearing and feeling the Spirit.
  • Prepare our homes and our children to feel the still, small voice.
  • Help our children understand how the Spirit speaks to them.
Joseph Smith taught, “If He comes to a little child, He will adapt himself to the language and capacity of a little child.”

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Wasatch Wildflowers Series 10

Hackelia micrantha, Stickseed.  Family Boraginaceae.  The seeds stick very tenaciously to your socks. Similar to the genus Myosotis, Forget-Me-Not.

Sambucus cerulea, Elderberry. Family Caprifoliaceae. Abundant in Rocky Mountain region, the berries of this species are a source of sweet delight, for classic Elderberry Wine, as well as all forms of preserves, jams, and jellies, and syrup . Not only do elderberries make delicious syrup and jam, but some claim they also have particularly healthy properties. Possibly antioxidant, antibacterial, and antiviral benefits. In fact, elderberries seem particularly helpful in fighting the flu virus, if anything really does.

April 2016 General Conference: President Eyring, "Where Two or Three Are Gathered"

During President Eyring's opening address, he touched on a subject that intrigued me.  

I know from experience what the faith of good people can do to bring words from the Spirit at the close of a sermon. More than once, someone has said to me after my testimony, “How did you know what I so needed to hear?” I have learned not to be surprised when I cannot remember saying the words. I spoke the words of testimony, but the Lord was there, giving them to me in the moment. The promise that the Lord will give us words in the very moment applies especially to testimony (see D&C 24:6). Listen carefully to the testimonies borne in this conference—you will feel closer to the Lord.

As I recall, he emphasized the words " the very moment..." 

The Doctrine and Covenants passage he quotes from:

And it shall be given thee in the very moment what thou shalt speak and write, and they shall hear it, or I will send unto them a cursing instead of a blessing.

I am reviewing the Conference messages with the intent of renewing my sense of what I heard.  I am anxious to experience blessing, not cursing, to result.

April 2016 General Conferrence

Text transcriptions, as well as audio and video recording of addresses given at the April 2016 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, held recently in Salt Lake City, are now available online here.

The presentation format of Conference pages is changed slightly from previous years.  But similar content appears to be available.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Wasatch Wildflowers Series 9

Frasera speciosa, Elkweed. Family Gentianaceae. Such elegant flowers.  These grow in mountain meadows at intermediate elevation.  Other species of Frasera are found throughout Utah deserts.

Tragopogon dubius, Oyster Plant, Salsify. Family Asteraceae. The large tap root can be roasted and eaten - but it tastes pretty awful.  The mature seedheads form a large ball of fluffy seeds, similar to dandelion but much larger.

Wasatch Wildflowers Series 8

Helianthella uniflora, Onehead Sunflower. Family Asteraceae. Very showy flower common in subalpine meadows.  This beauty is the summer splendor over the high meadows on Mount Timpanogos.  Millions and millions of these blossoms turn the whole landscape into yellow gold.

Tamarix ramosissima, Salt Cedar, Tamarisk. Family Tamaricaceae. An introduced invasive species common along waterways throughout the western region of the US. Introduced to the US early in the 20th century, Tamarix is thought to crowd out native species and compromise riparian environments.  Nice flowers, but the shrubby trees are kinda messy when they get overgrown.

Wasatch Wildflowers Series 7

Eriogonum umbellatum. Sulfur-flowered Buckwheat. Family Polygonaceae. An important species providing food sources for wildlife.

Balsamorhiza sagittata, Arrowleaf Balsamroot. Family Asteraceae. Such an interesting name.  Used by indians as food and medicine source.