D&C 4: To run and not be weary

As I read Doctrine and Covenants section 24 last night and considered what to share with my kids for family scripture study, I honed in on the Come, Follow Me study guide suggestions to look at how the Lord lifts us up out of afflictions. I read through some of the suggested companion scriptures, spending a little extra time with Isaiah 40:28-31, OT. Years ago I “discovered” these verses towards the end of my mission. They perfectly encapsulated much of my mission experience waiting on the Lord, receiving His strength and being lifted up from some very challenging situations.

This morning with my kids we read in D&C 24:1 “I have lifted thee up out of thine afflictions…thou hast been delivered from thine enemies, and thou hast been delivered from the powers of Satan and from darkness!” We discussed some of many challenges Joseph Smith faced prior to and after organizing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1830. Molly remembered that people tried to steal the gold plates from Joseph Smith and he was forced to hide them in and around his home. Joseph had to move his family several times to escape persecution while translating the Book of Mormon. When Joseph was in the middle of baptizing his wife and several others, he was arrested for preaching from the Book of Mormon.

I followed up by asking what afflictions or challenges we have faced as a family? I reminded Rachel of her experience in fall 2019 when she rode the bus to school from our friend’s house since I had to take Molly to preschool and couldn’t get back to our town to drop Rachel off at school on time. She was assigned a seat on the bus with two other girls who would push her off the seat. She wrote a note to me and my husband one day begging us to find a different way for her to get to school. Then one day she spontaneously prayed for help with her situation. Weeks passed and things got better. She remembers that she made some new friends which improved her situation. I suggested that the pandemic was also an answer to her prayer. We were running ourselves ragged getting Rachel to our friend’s house, Molly to preschool on time every morning, turning around to pick up Molly, and all without the daily help of my husband who was gone Monday through Thursday working. The sudden lockdown lifted us out of these challenges. We also discussed how sick I was while pregnant with Abigail in early 2020 but, after praying for help, the Lord lifted me (and our whole family) out of that affliction through proper hydration (you can read my blog post about this experience).

I testified of the blessings we received as we turned to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ for help in the midst of our afflictions. We read together:

Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31, Old Testament

I pointed out the conditional blessing expressed in verse 31: if we “wait upon the Lord,” He promises to bless us with renewed strength, that we will “mount up with wings as eagles,” run “and not be weary,” walk “and not faint.” For my children’s benefit I recalled how exhausted I was when I began my mission in the Netherlands in January 2009. It was freezing cold, dark, and windy every morning when my assigned companions (colleagues) insisted on running outdoors for our daily exercise. I was not prepared for this physically or in the way of accessories and only had a short sleeve athletic shirt and some thin, baggy jogging pants. Luckily I had also brought a junky sweatshirt that I wore every morning. After the morning run, we would ride our bikes and walk all day in skirts. I suffered from jet lag (and likely from dehydration as well); it wasn’t unusual for me fall asleep during the day if we were invited into a home to share a message or teach a lesson. I would crash in bed every night around 9:30/10:00 pm, then I would wake up at 6:00 am and do it all over again. I waited on the Lord, praying for relief and placing my life in His hands, as I struggled through these challenges. He gave me strength to push through the difficulties: He lifted me out of bed and helped me run every morning, He gave me energy to crisscross the city on my feet and bike every day, and He brought me back to our apartment in one piece every night. By the end of the transfer (six week period), I could sing while biking and I had even improved my running time (my senior companion was keeping track). I know that the blessings the Lord promised through the prophet Isaiah thousands of years ago were fulfilled for me.

No matter the afflictions you face right now, if you will wait upon the Lord, He will lift you and strengthen you.

D&C 3: What’s in a name?

A few weeks ago as I listened to Doctrine and Covenants sections 10-18, I kept hearing the word “name” over and over again. (Maybe it was because I kept replaying the sections after I realized I had gotten lost in thought.) But “name” and individual’s names appear frequently in these sections.

D&C 10:61 “And I will bring to light their marvelous works, which they did in my name….”
D&C 11:30 “But verily, verily, I say unto you, that as many as receive me, to them will I give power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on my name.”
D&C 13:1 “Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron….”
D&C 14:8 “…if you shall ask the Father in my name, in faith believing, you shall receive the Holy Ghost….”
D&C 18 “Name” occurs 16 times in the printed text. These three verses arrested my attention:

And as many as repent and are baptized in my name, which is Jesus Christ, and endure to the end, the same shall be saved. Behold, Jesus Christ is the name which is given of the Father, and there is none other name given whereby man can be saved; Wherefore, all men must take upon them the name which is given of the Father, for in that name shall they be called at the last day….

D&C 18:22–24 (emphasis added)

This became the subject of pondering. I am always intensely interested in topics of identity and personhood, nomenclature and etymology. The theme of names and naming in the scriptures has a lot of depth to explore that I would like to discuss with my kids eventually but, for the present, I managed to narrow it down sufficiently to a somewhat focused Family Home Evening lesson two weeks ago.

I began by simply introducing the topic of names and what it means for a name to become associated with characteristics or qualities. On our easel I wrote the word “Daddy” and asked the girls to call out the first words that came to their minds. They said things like “entertaining,” “warm,” “fun,” “tickle,” “giggly.” (I think my husband suggested “smelly.”) We repeated the activity with the word “baby” and then with a specific member of our family to nudge their thinking in the scriptural direction I wanted to take them. (They loved this activity, by the way, and would have happily spent time going through the exercise for every member of our family.)

Then I wrote the name “Jesus Christ” on our board and asked everyone to call out the first words that came to their minds.

While writing the words on the board that everyone came up with, we had a good discussion about why we associate certain words and characteristics with Jesus. We also read D&C 18:22–24. I encouraged my kids to reflect on what they would like to be known for: if someone hears their name, will that person think of love, compassion, sacrifice, bravery? We reflected on the baptismal covenant that our oldest daughter made at her baptism in January, which includes taking the name of Christ upon herself (as mentioned in D&C 18:24). As we take Christ’s name upon us, will our behavior and actions reflect His character and influence upon us? I expressed my hope that as we each follow Jesus Christ our names will become synonymous with His.

D&C 2: Martin Harris Reflections

Last year I learned that Martin and Lucy Harris’s ancestral home was modern day Lincoln, Rhode Island—that’s right near me! Today I took my family on a field trip to view the Harris Family Burial Ground which volunteers have been renovating for almost a year. Join me on a short tour of the burial ground and learn a little more about Martin Harris’s family background.

Click here to see the video on YouTube.

Now as concerns the reading this week in Doctrine and Covenants sections 3-5, I find it fascinating how God so willingly works with us as partners in His Plan of Salvation. He is patient and loving. But when we don’t do our part or follow through on our promises, we may just lose the partnership. It’s been an important lesson for me to simply do what God asks and not stress that my weaknesses will somehow mess up God’s plan. The other great lesson is that I need to value and care for the partnering opportunities God gives me whether it is cultivating my marriage, raising my children, or serving my fellow women and men.

Martin Harris was promised that if he repented and renewed his commitment to obedience and the Book of Mormon manuscript disaster, he could once again partner in the work of the Restoration. And God was merciful! Martin Harris eventually became one of the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon and signed his name to the testimony of its divine origins, its translation by Joseph Smith through the gift and power of God, and it’s signaling the Restoration of priesthood keys, ordinances and church organization, all under the direction of Jesus Christ. Despite his weaknesses, Martin Harris did not mess up the Lord’s plan. Rather, he was once again entrusted with sacred responsibilities. He was able to participate in and contribute to the marvelous work of publishing the Book of Mormon and establishing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

D&C 1: Covenants Prepare and Protect

New year, new goals––including blogging with a little more frequency! So here I am at the start of a fresh Come, Follow Me study guide and I am so excited to share my first insight of the year with you!

Last week while reading Doctrine and Covenants section 1 I read the verses that serve as the Lord’s preface to this new book of scripture in which He states that He has called a prophet in the latter-days to warn all people on earth of coming calamity (see D&C 1:1-17). With a pandemic raging across the world, mutating and outpacing human response, and civil unrest spreading across the United States, my sense of foreboding is more than heightened. This is some scary stuff! But, I wondered, why warn us if only to frighten us? As I read further, I felt like I saw between the lines of text. This book of scripture is called Doctrine and Covenants––it contains the same eternal truths and foundational doctrines as the Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon, but it also points us to saving ordinances in which we make sacred covenants with God. Covenants, I realized, are the key to our preparation and protection in these unsettling and calamitous times. Hence the Doctrine and Covenants IS God’s warning as well as our survival handbook!

Covenants will prepare us for and protect us as we face whatever else is coming. My one resolution for this new year is to do a better job keeping the covenants I have already made with God at baptism and in the temple (both Endowment and marriage). I want to better understand the promises I made and identify ways I can more strictly honor them. In D&C 82:10, the Lord says, “I, the Lord am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” When we keep our covenants, God is required to provide for us. With an uncertain future ahead of all of us I find God’s promise immensely reassuring.

How does keeping your covenants bring you peace? How do you think keeping covenants will both prepare and protect you?