Tag Archives: Scriptures

How to Improve Family Relationships

In one of my meetings at church today Sister Rider presented some findings from an informal survey she conducted. I don’t remember the exact question she asked the young women, but I believe it was along the lines of if there was one thing your family could do to improve your relationship, what would it be? Out of the 27 young women she surveyed, twelve said something to the effect of holding family scripture study would improve their family. This was the most common item we saw. I believe the second most popular item was prayer in some form or another. What I was most shocked by though was an item that I heard about four times: less fighting, if my parents would stop fighting, …

I don’t know why because I see this all the time, but I was just shocked/appalled at how many of these young women reported their parents fighting as something that was inhibiting their family from coming together. I understand that there are lots of things that we can fight about as parents, but take a look at what it is doing to our children!

One thought that crossed my mind was how many young women wanted to say that, but were too afraid to and went with something more encompassing like holding family scripture study or family prayer. I have been so blessed with my wife to rarely fight. I certainly hope that we are able to keep our children from wishing that we fought less. (They will probably just wish like my wife that I left her alone more!) It just utterly scares me that 15% of young women in this sample reported issues with their parents fighting.

As for the main item of holding family scripture study, I think that is an honorable thing to ask. I’m sure the parents need more involvement from their children in making this happen. In fact, in another meeting with the youth today we asked them the same question and since we had a smaller group we were able to get more detail on it. Two of the youth in attendance said that while their families hold family scripture study and prayer daily, they didn’t feel that the family was really coming together and unified during this time. They felt that the task was being checked off a list instead of being an enjoyable activity to bring the family together. Clearly we need to work on improvement in this category as well.

I know that Megan and I need to continue to work on establishing habits now that we will instill in our children. For any other newlyweds out there, now is the time to figure out how you are going to establish your house of learning and house of faith.

What do you feel would bring your family together? Are there any tips you can offer to parents that may be spending too much of their precious time fighting?

Meet the Parents

First off, I’m not such a fan of waiting for Megan to drive home, but I do really like that it gives me some time to blog. We had our parents meet each other tonight at the Prosser’s house which I think worked out pretty well. They seemed to hit it off and I don’t think we came across any major road-bumps. I enjoyed having it at the Prosser’s and allowing them to get to know my parents as well and giving my parents a bit more of a glimpse into my life and that of the church.

Work went well today. I was only in the office for about half the day and then was driving around. Jenna and I talked about Megan and our marriage/relationship for a while. We seemed confident that things were going to work out. Jenna is getting married in a little under a year and I had expressed that there was no way I could wait that long. She told me that they are trying to save up to buy a house, so that’s the reason for waiting which makes sense to me. I’m glad that I have many of those things already straight in my life.

Megan and I were talking about jewelry for the wedding today. I rediscovered one of the things that I love about her. She is so sensible with money. She’s frugal, but not extreme. We were looking at bracelets for her and she kicked many out because they cost over $500. I love that she is so reasonable to understand that she’d rather have a $300 bracelet and a trip to Hawaii instead of a $5,000 bracelet.

It has come up more than once lately as to if we have had a real date. I’m not sure how to handle that question, because of course we’ve had tons of dates, but we certainly haven’t had a formal get dressed up kind of date. I’m not set on having one before we get married, but it would be kind of nice. Maybe I can arrange to take her to Wicked, although I kind of want to do that out of town. We have been talking about going to the drive in, but that wouldn’t require getting dressed up. Maybe we’ll have the opportunity next week while we are back east.

Megan made two suggestions last night which were great. I’d been thinking for a while that we needed to get better at praying together. It seems so often that we run to the end of the wick and fall asleep before we say our evening prayers, at least as formally as I’d like to. And I know that since she wakes me up in the morning, I often get out of the routine of my morning prayers. She suggested that we start praying together and also that we start reading scriptures together. I’m game for both suggestions, we just need to figure out how to actually make it work. We also have three books now to read together, so we’re thinking about each reading one alone and then passing it along. The problem I shared is that I don’t know when either of us is going to find the time to read at all.

I’m looking forward to going to the temple in the morning, but I’m not looking forward to going without any contact with Megan for that same time. I feel like I haven’t been in a while with not going last week, so I feel like I am long overdue. It sounds like I have some errands to run after the temple tomorrow. Tomorrow night we are getting fitted for our suits, getting some jewelry taken care of and hopefully spending some time with Melissa before she leaves for London.

Hello 2009

Ready or not, here it is. The year 2009 is upon us. I’m not so sure I was ready and I’m not so sure it is off to the best of starts.

Let’s count the stupidity so far this year. I stayed up too late bringing in the new year on the computer and listening to my neighbor’s party till 2 in the morning when I finally went to sleep. I then got up too early and went to Disneyland with all the other crazies. To finish the first day, we rode splash mountain at 8 o’clock at night when it was 53 degrees. Let’s just say it was a cold ride home and ended the night for me with a splash. At least I got a free shower out of the deal. I then got up and went to work the next day. The girls said they wanted to work. The girls weren’t there. It was just me.

I got a great idea to go see the Rose Parade floats on display. Too bad they were only open 9-5 on Friday and Saturday. As I was working (the only one mind you) on Friday, that didn’t work out so well. As since I had to work a wedding today, there wasn’t enough time to go this morning. P.S. I learned that it wasn’t necessary for me to have worked this weeding, so I’m a little confused about that one.

I haven’t been reading my scriptures enough or anything along those lines lately, so I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t make that a resolution for this year. Maybe I should…. I have been enjoying reading the newspaper very much lately though. I had missed it and am so glad that I subscribed. I really am turning into my father in so many ways. I even found myself saving Tuesday’s paper when I didn’t have a chance to read it. If anyone ever sees large stacks of newspapers in my house that are waiting to be read, please throw them away for me.

Oh, yeah, so back to the wedding that I didn’t have to work today. If I hadn’t been scheduled for that, I probably would be hanging out in Idaho having fun this weekend. That also would have meant I wouldn’t have been at work yesterday. So, pretty much, it’s all the girls fault. Yep, I’m going to blame it all on them!

I’m kind of looking forward to getting to work now that all these holidays are over. I feel so lost with all these random days off and no consecutive days in the office. I think we are making progress on some fronts and I am hoping to have a very good year.

Well, before it gets to be tomorrow, I’m going to call it a night. Best wishes to all for 2009!


We had a great home evening lesson tonight on the scriptures. Alyssa shared how she has been able to better connect with the scriptures on a daily basis and I was just thinking recently how I’m doing my daily reading, but not always getting much out of it. I tend to have a hard time focusing and I think I need to spend more time pondering after reading. Maybe if I wasn’t so rushed to get the reading done and get on with the morning it would go better. Alyssa said that she started underlining different parts in different colors. I’ve never been one much for marking things in the scriptures, but maybe I need to try this out and see what I can learn. Maybe I just need to go back to writing about what I read like I was doing at BYUI.

I worked a full day today, and didn’t even leave the office till almost 5:30. We got wrapped up in meetings and such at the end of my day. Things were kind of slow, but good. I tried to spend some time clearing out some things that had been sitting around and finding my desk again. I need to get ready to take on the extra load from Tara being gone when she leaves for Boston on Wednesday.

I got some more entries into familysearch tonight after getting through the mail and other junk. I emailed my dad to see what info he already has so I don’t spend time trying to duplicate work that has already been done. It sounds like a lot of the stuff is hard copy, so I may have to make a trip down there to see what I can find.

I talked with Geoff tonight briefly about moving in. It sounds like he is really just looking for a quiet place to crash which is what I’m looking for as well! I need to ponder on it and come up with the house rules so we are all set from the get go and get him moving in.

Well, I think I’m going to try and get some sleep early here so maybe I can get up on time tomorrow and not be so rushed for my scripture reading. Good night to all!

Thoughts on Elder Ballard: Using New Media

Sister Dowden pointed out to me the other day this talk given at BYU-Hawaii’s graduation last month. I had heard about it, and read excerpts, but never taken the time to read and ponder it in full.

Elder M. Russel Ballard: Using New Media to Support the Work of the Church

LDS Newsroom Article: Apostle Urges Students to Use New Media (excerpts and commentary)

He asks, “How will you use these marvelous inventions? More to the point, how will you use them to further the work of the Lord?” The easiest thing to do with these marvelous inventions is to have fun and enjoy using them, but couldn’t we try to be mindful of the good news that we could be sharing at the same time? Maybe the easiest thing to do is just be thoughtful of how our actions may affect others and the example that we are setting for others to follow. Like some of the email fowards say, it is easy to forward on a joke, but will you forward something testifying of Christ? I don’t think you need to try and shame anyone into sending that message forward, but let’s be open about it.

Do you represent yourself to be a Christian, even a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Do you hide things that could be faith or testimony builders to others? I know I have had problems with some if not all of these. Today I’m proud to post on facebook and other sites that I am a member of Christ’s Church restored in these latter days. I am thrilled to post pictures from trips to Salt Lake and church activities. I know that people see pictures and things that I write and at least desire sometimes to be part of that fun. If someone reading this is interested in joining us, please know that you are always welcome, even if you don’t explicitly get an invitation.

Brooke setup an event on Facebook this morning (or late last night) promoting a trip to the temple to do baptisms. Sister Dowden beat me to saying it, but what a great use of the Internet and social networking (facebook). She took the extra time to put information on the event page about the reason we do baptisms which could prove useful to someone who stumbles across the page. Wouldn’t it be great for our friends to look at what events we are going to, wonder what this baptisms/temple trip is about and then read to find out why we are going? I don’t know what Brooke’s motivations were for putting that on there, but I commend her for her efforts and hope I am inundated with event requests for things like that! Maybe we need to do an event for each activity we have in the branch and try to invite everyone, even non members friends to join us. I know it could be good, but would there be something better?

Elder Ballard tells that one member shares his efforts of missionary work on his blog daily. Maybe in addition to thinking of where we have seen the work of the Lord in our day we can give examples of the missionary service we participated in. Maybe these examples will help others of our faith find a way to share with others. Maybe something in our text will help someone find the Church when they are searching Google. Maybe sharing a brief testimony everyday will help some reader to learn of the Truth.

I know I for one don’t like talking about my weaknesses, but maybe I need to more often discuss how I have been able to overcome them with the help of the restored gospel: the Church, priesthood, blessings, etc.

Eldar Ballard says:

Use stories and words that they will understand. Talk honestly and sincerely about the impact the gospel has had in your life, how has it helped you overcome weaknesses or challenges, and helped define your values. The audiences for these and other New Media tools may often be small, but the cumulative effect of thousands of such stories can be great. The combined effort is certainly worth the outcome if but a few are influenced by your words of faith and love of God and His son Jesus Christ.

I can tell you that my blog and it’s readers had something to do with me joining the Church. I’m sure it’s happened elsewhere as well. Look back to April-May-June 2004 and I’m sure you’ll find some interesting tidbits. Maybe my blog can have the opportunity to do good work again with someone else reaping the benefits.

I know that I could help demystify the work of the church to non member through my blog. Too often I write about things in my personal journal but then delete them before posting for reasons I don’t necessarily understand. I will try from this day forward to promote the things we actually do so that readers can understand and have a clearer picture. I would love to clear up the confusion between temples and chapels/meetinghouses.

Sister Dowden, thank you for reminding me to read this article and to ponder it in more depth than I previously had when I caught a glimpse of it through the Church news bulletin.

If anyone has questions about the Church or some activity, please don’t hesitate to post a comment or email me directly. If you don’t want to discuss it with me, call the Church where someone would be happy to discuss it with you. And if you want more information about joining us, please let me know as well.

I do testify that this is the True Church of Christ, restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. President Gordon B. Hinkley directs and guides some 13 million members of the Church today here on earth as a prophet of the Lord. We have the priesthood authority and the ordinances necessary to bring us back to our Father in Heaven, all we need to do is Ask and follow his counsel. The Book of Mormon is true and blessings will come to those who follow it’s teachings and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I Will Go

I got a bit of a late start to the office this morning after sleeping in and then taking care of things that kept popping up. I spent most of the day trying to catch up from being out of the office and then played with some stuff on our server before heading to Institute.

We had a good discussion about Abraham and Issac (Genesis 21-25), the faith he had to sacrifice his son and the amazing actions of Rebekah who almost immediately says “I will go” and the servant who goes to find Rebekah who pays such a detailed prayer and then when his request is granted he questions if it was at the hand of God. It was very thought provoking.

I left was getting ready for bed when I realized that there was a new CSI on tonight. I tried to catch up with the replay, but I didn’t get there until the end of the hour, so I’m watching Without a Trace in HD.

I haven’t come up with a better plan for Idaho. I am thinking more about maybe staying here and getting things done that are necessary and saving some money for once. It could be fun, but there are probably better ways to spend time and money, so maybe we’ll just have to see how things come together or don’t…


It has been way too long since I have taken the time to write about what I have read. There have been times when I haven’t read, but I have been good this year at making sure I read something before I leave the house and in the last month or so I have picked it up to read about three chapters or more. I’ve thought about writing, but wasn’t sure really what to write. However, it came to me while reading this morning that I need to spend time pondering what I’ve read.

The Sunday school lesson next week will cover in part Phillippians, so I decided to read from that this morning. Chapter 4, versus 6 through 8 stood out to me.

Verse six says that we should not “be unduly concerned about anything,” but pray and give thanks to God. I’m probably guilty of letting certain things run the course of my mind for too long when I should take the action and move on.

And verse eight is wonderful “… whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest … just … pure … lovely … think on these things.” How great is it when we can walk around thinking of the beautiful trip we just took and the amazing company we had while we were there, or the opportunity to go through the temple last weekend. I know that my days are better when I am grateful and have a prayer of thanksgiving in my heart than when I am focused on the things of the world which I cannot change.

Finally, this needs no comment. Verse 13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Mattson’s, Hot, Pray Always

Today was pretty uneventful, but great. I got to sleep in this morning and then spent some time reading and pondering. I posted some old journal/blog entries that I had written, but neglected to post and then Lauren came over. It was almost 90 when i woke up this morning. I invited Lauren over (later in the morning, when it was 105 or something) as she was hot and I figured we could leave for the Mattson’s from here then.

I was planning on stopping at Costco on the way to get water – and that would then let me get some other things I had been meaning to get for a while. I then decided we could just go to Albertson’s instead of dealing with Costco. Well, just before Rancho we hit traffic, so I decided that maybe Costco wasn’t all that bad of a plan after all. I drove up Ynez to find Costco’s parking lot empty. We reset the plan to Albertson’s on Clinton Keith, and I guess avoided the traffic on the freeway. I walked in just to get water, but found cupcakes and fudge brownies on the front table. I then decided we needed cookies as well, so I ended up getting more than I needed.

We still got to the Mattson’s right about on time. It was so hot that I only took a few hundred pictures. After a few minutes in the sun, I just couldn’t hold the camera anymore and had to retreat to the shade. I actually retreated to the water with Kelsey and Sibonet shortly after they arrived. I got to tour the new house and now am challenged with the plan to figure out whole house a/v including intercom. I’m thinking we may end up doing a phone system as well as a few surround sound systems.

I came home and immediately jumped in the shower. I was half expecting to go back to Murrieta for some sort of activity, but it never happened. I think some people gathered for a movie, but I was content to watch one at home myself. For the third night in a row though, I found myself reading instead of watching and I enjoyed it so much more. I got wrapped up in reading “Prayer.”

In my reading, I found a reference back to 2 Nephi 32:8, which we discussed yesterday. Again, the instruction to ponder was in the second line of the reading. A few lines later, was hearken. We need to think and act. It’s so clear, but apparently we just don’t get it, or at least I don’t. We’re told flat out that “it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing.” I would take that as it has been said so many times before, why don’t you just listen, receive these instructions and follow them?

“But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.” (2 Ne. 32:9).

I later found myself at D&C 19:38: “Pray always, and I will pour out my Spirit upon you, and great shall be your blessing—yea, even more than if you should obtain treasures of earth and corruptibleness to the extent thereof.”

I think I have been doing a decent job of praying frequently, but I have not been praying always, so apparently I have some work to do. We do need to pray before going to Sam’s Club because we need to pray always. We may need safety as we travel, we may need inspiration to call someone and see if they too need something from the store or there could be any number of further reasons which we may not know if we don’t follow the counsel given to us repeatedly.

Finally, along the same lines, the book lead me to look at Alma 37:37 again: “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.” Mary Ellen Edmunds emphasized, and I think we need to consider it, the part regarding rising in the morning. I need to work on being a better morning person again so that I will have the time to pour out thanksgiving.

I found this especially interesting after being asked to bless the food today at the Mattson’s. I don’t know that there is a connection, but it does seem that I am often asking others to pray, but do not step up to the plate and offer to give prayers very frequently myself.

So that my chances are higher of getting up in the morning, I think I am going to ponder some more in prayer and in bed, so good night.

All Things What Ye Should Do

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. There was lots of talk about the earthquake, but only minor aftershocks. It was still freaking hot. Church went well. Marissa did good again. It was pretty clear in council this morning though that it is wanted for us to have two classes on a regular basis. Our attendance seemed pretty light this week for sacrament, but we had the same 60 for Sunday School.

I was thinking during branch council that I haven’t been doing a very good job of greeting new people or even asking to know who I need to lift that day. I need to focus on that, especially as we have new members in the branch and ones returning from school who I do not know.

President Mattson shared 2 Nephi 32 with us this morning in council. Again, the word ponder came up in the first few words. The short story is that with the gift of the Holy Ghost, we can speak with the tongue of angels. We are told to “feast upon the words of Christ,” for, “the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:3). We related this to deciding to go to Sam’s Club at the opposite extreme. It was suggested that maybe we don’t need total guidance as to if we should go to Sam’s Club, but by seeking for an answer, we may find that we need to stop at Albertons to lift someone in need. Maybe someone needs a ride, help fixing a flat tire or the jumper cables that you have in your trunk. Somewhere else I remember hearing today to pray always. I guess if we can really work on praying always and then listening for promptings and reading the scriptures we really can receive all the guidance we may need.

Things were fairly quiet at the Dowden’s this afternoon. We had already ate at Break the Fast, so there was no dinner to cook. We all seemed extra tired, probably from the heat, so we just sat around for a good part of the evening. Just before branch prayer, we decided to play a game – something involving curses. You would get a card saying that anything someone said your name you had to say “yes sir” or your card could tell you that you have to make bunny ears whenever you talk, etc. The game seemed pretty stupid to me, but some of the curses were pretty funny, especially as people kept adding more and more. After prayer we played charades, but I wasn’t helping my team at all and decided it was time to head home after Melissa left and it was getting close to 11.

On that note, I’m headed to bed! Good night and God Bless.

Thrust in their Sickle to Reap

Today was good. I had actually been looking forward to it for a few days now. Actually I think I had been all week, which is quite a change from a few months ago. This branch is just amazing. We had good talks presented today on free agency and the difference between darkness and being in the light. We started a teacher improvement class, which I attended and enjoyed. I learned a lot, and am hoping to be able to apply it in the future. Kevin presented a good lesson on false idols in Elders Quorum as well.

In our teacher development class, we talked about D&C 11:21. Bro. Kowallis shared verse 27 with me this evening, and later all of us at branch prayer: “Behold, I speak unto all who have good desires, and have thrust in their sickle to reap.”

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about buying a house. I feel like I’m ready, and the time is right, but I just can’t decide the size or where I should be. So much of me says go big, rent out rooms and be ready for expansion for when I finally start a family. Another part of me says though that my wife may not like the house I buy today and we will end up moving. Or, we will decide to move to another area and have to sell the house. I just don’t know what to do, other than sleep!

Purify Me

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Psalm 51:7

dont take advantage of sin, just because we are forgiven from the sins we have done, are doing, and will do… knowing there forgiven already doesnt give us the right to continue to sin constantly… we all fail to do so….

(Thanks Riley!)


Heavenly Father, Help us remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic
last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry and spend a few
precious moments with her children.

Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young
man who can’t make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old college
student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not
getting his student loans for next semester.

Remind us, Lord, that the scary looking bum, begging for money in the same
spot every day (who really ought to get a job!) is a slave to
addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares.

Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slow through the
store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring this moment,
knowing that, based on the biopsy report she got back last week, this will
be the last year that they go shopping together.

Heavenly Father, remind us each day that, of all the gifts you give us, the
greatest gift is love. It is not enough to share that love with those we
hold dear. Open our hearts not to just those who are close to us, but to all
humanity. Let us be slow to judge and quick to forgive, show patience,
empathy and love.

If you send this to 5 people, then you have a chance to touch 5 people. You
won’t get any wish for material things; however you might just find
a piece of serenity and the warmth of God’s touch.

Working for God on earth doesn’t pay much……but His retirement plan is
out of this world!

Why God allows pain and suffering

Thanks Jessica! This can be the topic of my third essay that I need for tonight!

This is one of the best explanations of why God allows pain and suffering that I have seen. It’s an explanation other people will understand.

A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they began to have a good conversation. They talked about so many things and various subjects.

When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said: “I don’t believe that God exists.”

“Why do you say that?” asked the customer.

“Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn’t exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can’t imagine a loving a God who would allow all of these things.”

The customer thought for a moment, but didn’t respond because he didn’t want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop.

Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and unkempt.

The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber: “You know what? Barbers do not exist.”

“How can you say that?” asked the surprised barber. “I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!”

“No!” the customer exclaimed. “Barbers don’t exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside.”

“Ah, but barbers DO exist! What happens is, people do not come to me.”

“Exactly!”- affirmed the customer. “That’s the point! God, too, DOES exist! What happens, is, people don’t go to Him and do not look for Him. That’s why there’s so much pain and suffering in the world.”

Alma 22 – 24

24:18 … They never would use weapons again for the shedding of man’s blood; and this they did, vouching and covenanting with God, that rather than shed the blood of their brethren they would give up their own lives; and rather than take away from a brother they would give unto him; and rather than spend their days in idleness they would labor abundantly with their hands.

I think we can learn a lot from this passage. We need to run our anger towards people into charity. It is easy to ignore someone, but it can be hard for us to attempt to befriend our enemies, but this is exactly what we need to do. If we can show our enemies the charity that we have for them, we can hope that they will learn from our example and want to learn why we have this great charity. It is clearly proven that people learn from example and I think that people learn even more when they are astonished. In order to show charity, you may have to undergo some persecution, but that is all part of the price we must pay. As long as you have fully repented and have faith in God, you will be protected, one way or the other.