Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Signs of the Second Coming

The act of looking for a sign is an interesting thing, particularly the signs of when Jesus Christ will come again in glory. On one hand, the Savior warned against an adulterous generation who seeks for a sign. (Matthew 16:4) On the other, the Lord also commanded His disciples to watch for the signs of His coming. (Matthew 24:42) This comparison is worth pondering when studying the topic of the Second Coming. A more specific question to ask is, “Am I looking for signs as proof or for hope?” I think intent will determine whether the topic is sensational or spiritual.

In preparation for stake conference this weekend, I have been thinking of some scriptures that pertain to the signs of the Second Coming. I am listing them here as a reference, not as a talk or a message, but a compilation of topics grouped by specific signs. For someone who may not be familiar with the signs recorded in the scriptures, this list will provide an overview of these events.

I have listed some of the scriptural references pertaining to these signs in five categories. “Long before” refers to events that were to take place long before the Lord’s coming. “Sometime before” refers to events that will precede the Second Coming but do not have a specific timeframe. “Just before” refers to events that the scriptures say will occur just before His Coming. “After” refers to events that will take place following His coming and “Near the end” lists some signs that are often included with the signs of the times but will pertain to the end of the Millennium.

No effort has been made to predict the order of these latter-day events except to follow the order in which these scriptural references appear in their respective accounts. This summary does group each of the scriptural accounts with like scriptures that relate to the sign being described. Thus, each of the bolded words or phrases refer to a specific or related sign of the time. This list does not contain all signs of the Second Coming, but does group those found in Daniel 7, Joseph Smith Matthew, and sections 29, 45, 88, 116, and 133 of the Doctrine & Covenants.

Lastly, there are some notes I have made for my own use which are typed in blue. This includes questions I have pondered and notes that help to understand how some of the signs relate to others.

If you have read this far, perhaps it is because you have some interest in understanding the signs of the second coming. I hope this list of scriptural references is helpful in your own personal study.

What I Believe…


Long before

False Christs. Many will say that they are Christ and will deceive many.
JSM 1:6

The apostles will be hated and killed.
JSM 1:7

Many will be offended, and will hate and betray one another.
JSM 1:8

False prophets will arise.
JSM 1:9

The love of many will wax cold.
JSM 1:10

Abomination of Desolation
Stand in the holy place when you see the abomination of desolation
JSM 1:12

Temple, and Jerusalem to be destroyed
D&C 45:18-20
JSM 1:3

Judah will flee to the mountains.
JSM 1:13-17

Great tribulation on the Jews, which are the beginning of their sorrows.
JSM 1:18-19

Those days will be shortened for the elects sake.
JSM 1:20

Scattering of Israel
Israel will be scattered among all nations
D&C 45:19, 24

Sometime before

Continued apostasy
Again, false Christs and false prophets will arise showing great signs and wonders to deceive the elect. He will not be in the desert or secret places.
JSM 1:22, 25

The Lord will hasten His work
D&C 88:73 (this is a prophecy for the last days)

Wars and commotion
In the times of the Gentiles there will be wars and rumors of wars, the earth will be in commotion, men’s hearts will fail them, they will say that God delays His coming. The love of men shall wax cold. Fear will come upon all people.
D&C 45:26-27
D&C 88:91
JSM 1:23, 28-29, 30

In spite of earthquakes and desolations, men will take up the sword and kill one another.
D&C 45:33

Preaching of the gospel
Angels (first mention) will fly in the midst of heaven to prepare the people for the coming of the Lord.
D&C 88:92
D&C 133:17

Angel flying in the midst of heaven having the everlasting gospel will appear unto many.
D&C 133:36

The gospel will be preached unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.
D&C 133:37
JSM 1:31

The servants of God will say: Fear God, and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come. Worship Him.
D&C 133:38-39

In the times of the Gentiles the gospel will be taken to those who sit in darkness. Many will not receive it because of the precepts of men.
D&C 45:28-29

In this generation the times of the Gentiles will be fulfilled
D&C 45:30

Parable of the fig tree – when the light begins to break forth, summer is nigh at hand.
D&C 45:36-38
JSM 1:38

Gathering of Israel
The elect will be gathered like eagles to the carcass from the four quarters of the earth.
JSM 1:27

Restoration of scattered Israel
D&C 45:17

Remnant will remain scattered until the times of the Gentiles is fulfilled
D&C 45:25

The remnant will be gathered to their place
D&C 45:43

Watching for signs
Those that fear the Lord will look for the great day of the Lord to come, even the signs of His coming.
D&C 45:39

Those who don’t watch for the signs will be cut off.
D&C 29:11
D&C 45:44

The servants of God will pray that He will come down and rend the heavens, and cause the mountains to flow down. Their prayer will be answered.
D&C 133:40-41

The Lord has prepared great things for those who wait for Him.
D&C 133:45

Watch, for you know not the day nor the hour that the Lord will come. Be ready.
JSM 1:40, 46, 48

Signs and wonders
There will be signs and wonders in heaven and on earth.
D&C 45:40

Blood, fire, and vapors of smoke.
D&C 45:40-41
(See also “signs in heaven” below)

There shall be famines.
JSM 1:29

A desolation sickness will cover the land.
D&C 45:31

JSM 1:29

Holy Places
Disciples will stand in holy places.
D&C 45:32

The wicked will curse God and die.
D&C 45:32

Earthquakes and desolations
There will be earthquakes and many desolations in diverse places.
D&C 45:33
D&C 88:87-89
D&C 133:40
JSM 1:29

Testimony of thunder, lightning, tempests, and waves that heave themselves beyond their bounds
D&C 88:90

Zion, The New Jerusalem
The Lord will stand upon Mount Zion, the New Jerusalem with 144,000 with the name of the Father written on their foreheads.
D&C 133:18
D&C 84:2

The New Jerusalem will be a land of peace, a city of refuge, and a place of safety.
D&C 45:66

The wicked will not come to Zion because of the glory and terror of the Lord which will be upon it.
D&C 45:67, 70

Those among the wicked who don’t want to fight will need to flee to Zion.
D&C 45:68

Righteous people from every nation will be gathered there.
D&C 45:68, 71

Those among the Gentiles are to flee to Zion.
D&C 133:12

The Lord will utter His voice out of Zion. (When?)
D&C 133:21

Return of the city of Enoch (Not sure if this will be before, at, or after.)
D&C 45:11-14

Those among the Jews are to flee to Jerusalem, and the mountains of the Lord’s house. (Is this referring to the Mount of Olives rather than the temple?)
D&C 133:13

The Lord will speak from Jerusalem. (When?)
D&C 133:21

Ocean and Islands
The Lord to stand upon the ocean and the islands.
D&C 133:20

Land returns
Voice of many waters and thunder will break down the mountains. The valleys shall not be found.
D&C 133:22

The lands of Jerusalem and Zion will be returned to their own place as it was before it was divided.
D&C 133:22

Water returns
The great deep will be driven back into the north countries. The islands will become one land.
D&C 133:23

Gathering at Adam-ondi-Ahman
Adam, the Ancient of Days, meets at Adam-ondi-Ahman. 1 million minister to him. 100 million stand before him. The Son of Man comes and is given dominion, glory, and a kingdom that all people will serve Him.
Daniel 7:9-14
D&C 116:1

Great hailstorm that will destroy the crops of the earth. (Before or after the famine?)
D&C 29:16

Vengeance on the wicked. Flies and maggots will devour their flesh. Tongues shall be stayed. Flesh will fall off their bones, and eyes from their sockets. Beasts and fowls will devour them. (Why won’t the beasts and fowls be affected? Or will they?)
D&C 29:16-20

Just before

Abomination of desolation
Daniel’s vision of the abomination of desolation will again be fulfilled.
JSM 1:32

Mount of Olives
Jesus will stand on the Mount of Olives and it will cleave in two creating a great valley.
D&C 45:48
D&C 133:20
Zech 14:4-7

Jews will ask about the tokens in Jesus’ hands and feet. They will know Jesus is the Son of God and will weep.
D&C 45:51-53

Signs in heaven
Immediately after angels (first mention in D&C 88) fly through the midst of heaven to prepare the way, a great sign will appear in heaven, and all people will see it together.
D&C 88:93

Another angel (second mention, “first trump?”) will sound his trump regarding the mother of abominations, the great and abominable church, and all nations will hear it.
D&C 88:94

There will be silence in heaven for half an hour.
D&C 88:95

Immediately after, the curtain of heaven will be unfolded as a scroll. The face of the Lord shall be unveiled. (I’m not certain as to when the other signs in heaven will occur, whether before or after.)
D&C 88:95

Sun darkened, moon turned to blood, stars will fall, greater signs
D&C 29:14
D&C 45:42
D&C 88:87
D&C 133:49
JSM 1:33

The heavens will shake
D&C 45:48
JSM 1:33
(See also “signs and wonders” above)

The Lord Appears
The Lord will reveal Himself in the clouds with the hosts of heaven.
D&C 29:11
D&C 45:44

The Lord will come in power and glory.
D&C 29:11
D&C 45:16
JSM 1:36

As the light of the morning comes out of the east, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.
JSM 1:26

Judgment of the righteous
The Twelve in Jerusalem will Judge the House of Israel.
D&C 29:12

Righteous dead will be resurrected, trump will sound (second mention, “first trump?”), earth will quake.
D&C 29:13
D&C 88:98
D&C 133:56

The heathen nations who knew no law will be resurrected
D&C 45:54

Meeting in the cloud
Two will be in the field, or the mill, and one will be taken.
JSM 1:44-45

The Lord will meet those who rejoice and work righteousness and remember Him.
D&C 133:44

The saints who are alive will be quickened and caught up to meet the Lord in the cloud.
D&C 88:96

The saints who have slept will meet the Lord in the cloud.
D&C 45:45
D&C 88:97

The parable of the ten virgins will be fulfilled. Those who are wise will not be cast into the fire.
D&C 45:56

Voice of the Lord
The Lord will utter his voice, and the ends of the earth shall hear it.
D&C 45:49

Second Trump: Redemption from spirit prison
Another angel (third mention, “second trump”) will sound. Those who accepted the gospel in the spirit world will be resurrected
D&C 88:99

The adversaries of the Lord will tremble at His presence when He does terrible things that they aren’t looking for.
D&C 133:42

The arm of the Lord will fall upon all nations.
D&C 45:47

The Lord will make bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations.
D&C 133:42

The Lord will come down in garments dyed red.
D&C 133:46-48

Wicked will burn
The presence of the Lord will be as a melting fire that burns and causes waters to boil.
D&C 133:3

Wicked will be burned as stubble that wickedness will not be on the earth
D&C 29:9
D&C 45:50
D&C 133:64
Malachi 4:1

The great and abominable church will be cast down by fire.
D&C 29:21

Third Trump: Those who will remain in spirit prison
Another angel (fourth mention, “third trump”) will sound. Those in spirit prison who are condemned will remain the thousand years are ended.
D&C 88:100-101

Fourth Trump: Sons of perdition
Another angel (fifth mention, “fourth trump”) will sound. There are those among those who will remain in the spirit prison those who will remain filthy still (sons of perdition)
D&C 88:102

Fifth Trump: The hour of judgment has come
Another angel (sixth mention, “fifth trump”) will sound. All people, in heaven, in earth, and under the earth shall hear: Fear God, and give glory to him who sitteth upon the throne, forever and ever; for the hour of his judgment has come.
D&C 88:103-104

Sixth Trump: She is fallen
Another angel (seventh mention, “sixth trump”) will sound. The whore of all the earth is fallen.
D&C 88:105

Seventh Trump: It is finished
Another angel, Michael the archangel, (eighth mention, “seventh trump”) will sound. The Lamb of God hath overcome and trodden the wine-press alone
D&C 88:106

The angels will be crowned with the glory. The saints shall be filled with His Glory, receive their inheritance, and be made equal with the Lamb in power, might, and dominion.
D&C 76:95
D&C 88:107

Repeated Trumps: Revealing the secret acts of men, Satan is bound
The first angel will sound his trump again, revealing the secret acts of men and the mighty works of God in the first thousand years. Each of the other angels will do the same making known these things for each thousand years until the seventh.
D&C 88:108-109

The seventh angel will sound his trump and will swear that there is time no longer, and Satan will be not be loosed for a thousand years.
D&C 88:110


Satan will be bound
Satan will have no place in the hearts of men.
D&C 45:55

The earth will be an inheritance
Those who were wise, like the five virgins, will multiply and their children will grow up without sin.
D&C 45:58

The Lord will reign
The Lord will dwell with men on earth a thousand years.
D&C 29:11

The Lord will be in the midst of the righteous. He will be their king and their lawgiver.
D&C 45:59

The Lord will stand in the midst of His people and will reign over all flesh.
D&C 133:25

The return of the Lost Tribes of Israel
(Not sure if this is before or after the second coming. It comes after D&C 133:25 which is commonly associated with the millennial reign. The references are placed here as a placeholder.)

Those in the north countries will come in remembrance of the Lord.
D&C 133:26

The prophets of the Lost Tribes will hear the Lords voice and will no longer stay themselves.
D&C 133:26

They will smite the rocks and the ice and it will flow down at their presence. A highway shall be cast up in the great deep.
D&C 133:26-27

Their enemies will be a prey to them.
D&C 133:28

There will be pools of water in barren deserts.
D&C 133:29

The Lost Tribes will bring their rich treasures to Ephraim.
D&C 133:30

The everlasting hills will tremble at their presence.
D&C 133:31

They will be crowned with glory by Ephraim in Zion.
D&C 133:32

Judah will be sanctified
Judah will be sanctified after their pain so that they can dwell in the presence of God.
D&C 133:35

Near the End

Wickedness returns
When the thousand years are ended, men will begin to deny God.
D&C 29:22

A little season
The earth is spared for a little season
D&C 29:22

Satan will be loosed for a little season to gather his armies.
D&C 88:111

The Battle of the Great God
Michael will gather his armies, even the hosts of heaven.
D&C 88:112

The devil will gather his armies, even the hosts of hell to come up to battle with Michael and his armies.
D&C 88:113

Then cometh the battle of the great God, the devil and his armies will be cast away. Michael will overcome him.
D&C 88:114-115

The resurrection
Before the end, Michael will sound his trump and the righteous will be resurrected.
D&C 29:22

The end
Heaven and earth shall be consumed and pass away. A new heaven and a new earth.
D&C 29:22

The beginning
The earth abideth the laws of the celestial kingdom and will be quickened after it passes away, and the righteous will inherit it.
D&C 88:25-26

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Women in My Life

This morning I am replaying a particular memory that took place in my backyard when I was about five. It was a sunny afternoon and I was standing next to my Mom for a picture. I remember very little except for the fact that the sun was in my eyes. We stood next to our painted redwood fence where there was a rose bush with little yellow flowers. With my arm around her, I asked her if she would marry me when she was finished being married to Dad. I don’t think I really understood the concept of marriage at that age, but I knew she loved me and I loved her back. My Mom was the first person to teach me about love. She has never stopped teaching, and I’ve never stopped loving her.

Jo Ann Jaurigue is another woman who has shown me a lot of love. I was a missionary in Fresno, California, and she was taking the discussions to learn more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She had actually met with quite a few missionaries and already knew a lot about the Church. I don’t know all the reasons, but it was while I was there that she found her testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel. There was a special connection between us, one of familiarity that hasn’t gone away. She and her daughter, and since then her grandchildren, have been baptized and have found a greater happiness in life. She has never stopped expressing her gratitude to me for sharing something with her family. I am very thankful for her and love her very much.

My wife, Liz, and I have been married for almost seventeen years now. It wasn’t long after we were married that she became the Mother of our little family. She has literally poured her life into me and our children. She is constantly drawing from a well of spirituality so that she can give more to those she loves. I don’t know how she manages to do it, but she gives and gives and gives, and her well doesn’t seem to run out. Her love is beautiful to me. I have learned more about love from her than any other person in this world, and I have known some people who are capable of immense love. It is such a treasured blessing for me to know that we have a marriage that has been designed to not only last, but grow forever. The sealing ordinances of the Holy Temple are a tremendous comfort in our marriage. It is a blessing I would wish for every marriage.

Several years ago, my wife’s grandmother, Cecile Smith, passed away. Grandma Cec was dear to me. She loved me like I was one of her own, and I am thrilled to have her claim me. Not long before she passed away, I visited her in her home. She couldn’t speak. She was barely conscious. I didn’t feel the need to say anything to her. Instead I took her hand and held it as we stared into each other’s eyes. It was such a beautiful moment as I felt her love for me. Again I felt a feeling of familiarity that seemed to extend into eternity. I miss her very, very much. Occasionally I will feel that feeling again, and I wonder. Whether she is near or not, she remains very close in my heart.

Kerstin Koldewyn is a close friend who often seems more like a fraternal twin. She gets me. While we have our differences of opinion, I find that we often think like mirror images. The nice thing for me is that she is also honest, direct, and even blunt. She is not afraid to speak her mind, even when she knows I will likely disagree. This is a wonderful gift. Kerstin helps me to challenge my own opinions, and consider other points of view. In a kind way, she has helped me to see my weaknesses more clearly so I can change. She has taught me a lot about trust and what it means to be a true friend in every sense of the word. I am grateful for her selfless gift.

From the time when I was five years old, I can’t ever remember an occasion when Fay Evans didn’t have an extra supply of smiles for me. She has been a lifelong friend who has always been interested, has always been encouraging, and has always been my example. Though now a widow, she seems to have as much energy and enthusiasm for life as she has ever had. Whether it was taking me and a bunch of cub scouts fishing at Camp Tracy, or recently giving service together in a small senior living community, she has long been a source of faith and testimony.

As I think about the many, many good women in my life, I am grateful to God for the way they have each blessed me. My forgoing list is short, but there are numerous others including sisters, nieces, cousins, aunts, family by marriage, friends, neighbors, and other acquaintances, that have profoundly affected my life for good. Women have unique and wonderful gifts that have blessed all mankind, not the least of which is the gift of Motherhood. To each of you wonderful women who demonstrate love, compassion, and charity, I wish you the happiest of Mother's Days. May God bless you for sharing your gifts!

What I Believe…

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Why I Believe

This morning, my thoughts are turned to what I consider the singularly most significant morning of my life. I was not there, but I believe. More than that, I feel. In my mind I see brief moments where a supposed gardener spoke to a woman who was crying. Mary Magdalene was beyond sorrowful, first at the death of Jesus, and secondly, because His body which she had prepared for burial had been taken. It took only one word to renew her hope. Mary. The Lord spoke her name in a very personal way, and she recognized the Master.

I realize that she and I share something in common. Both of us believed in something that we did not see with our eyes, yet heard and then felt in our hearts. This prescribed pattern for most believers is the same, to trust in things that we cannot see but hope are true – things that we feel.

Before Jesus offered his life as a ransom in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, he told his apostles, “These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:25-27)

Pondering on the magnitude of the Savior’s sacrifice and the miracle of His glorious resurrection, I am filled with gratitude that He would offer such wonderful gifts to a soul so rebellious and proud as mine. Because He triumphed over the effects of sin and death, I can too. Through His holy name, I can believe, become clean, and live in His presence again. I can be there with family, friends, and loved ones because this gift is offered to all who will believe.

I may not hear the Lord’s voice as clearly as did Mary, but I can still hear His voice call my name when I listen to the voice of His Holy Spirit. When I pay attention to the peace and comforting feeling that attends all truth, the Holy Ghost brings special feelings to my remembrance. It is then that I remember how it feels to be called by the voice of the Master. In a very personal way, I can recognize His invitation to follow Him and have the assurance that it is right.

Had I been at the empty tomb with Mary, and seen the angels who were present, I may not have believed any more than she. Yet as I learn to recognize the promptings of the Holy Ghost, my revelation is as clear as hers. The Master lives, for He is risen. Because of that glorious morning, there will be an eternity of beautiful mornings. Each morning we may hear His voice, if we will but pause to listen and then recognize the Master.

What I Believe…

Sunday, April 17, 2011


I sometimes wonder if being grumpy is a technique that gets easier with age. Is it just practice that makes perfect, or does too much familiarity with life make it easier to complain to customer service? Either way I had another grumpy moment this week that I’m not proud of, and I’m going to chalk it up to age. Next, I’m going to figure it out and see if I can make myself a little younger by decreasing my grump proficiency.

My wife and I had just left a particular art gallery on Friday night, when I asked her, “Are you thirsty?” I was thinking large fruit smoothie. I could tell that she, on the other hand, was thinking, “We just spent our month’s date budget on eating out tonight. I’m not sure I want to spend more on a splurge.” She responded that she was thirsty, but water would do. Without verbalizing anything, even to myself, my mood changed. For the moment, being grumpy seemed about as delicious as the smoothie.

Grumpalicious is a term a friend of mine coined years ago as a nick-name for one of her younger brothers. It is a term that seems to describe very well one who is grumpy and is happy being so. On occasion, I have become aware that I have a grownup way of pouting when I don’t get what I want. Am I spoiled? I hope not. But perhaps I have more in common with my young children in that regard. Having said that, I am waiting for the predictable one-liner, “Well, I wonder where they get that from?” followed by a parenthetical wink and text message emoticon.

I don’t think my attitude is what the Savior had in mind when He taught his disciples, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) His conversion, I believe, refers to the other half of the equation. I’ve noticed that my kids don’t harbor bad feelings for very long. In fact, an ice cream frosty or some other treat can fix most ill feelings. While we may have pouting in common, in whatever form we choose, I have to ask, “How am I doing in the other half of the comparison. Am I quick to turn my heart toward or away? Is the turn of my heart conditional?”

Moments later I said to my wife, “Liz, I’m not sure I like the new me. I tend to get grumpier easier than I used to.” As you can imagine, that led to a discussion on the subject of me for the next little while. I apologized and we moved on. I regret to say, however, that the turn of my heart took about 20 minutes. Can you imagine if you had to make a U-turn in your car on any given street that would take that long? If you saw another driver exerting that much effort, wouldn’t you question whether or not they actually knew how to drive? So when I am driving my own emotions, I wonder why it is so hard to steer. Hmmm. I think it’s time to review my driver’s manual.

It’s not that every circumstance to which I am inclined to be grumpy is that simple. Life is most often complicated. Complications are connected to expectations, exasperations, and other complicated words that end in t-i-o-n. Some of those “tions” are worth shunning. The simplest thing for me to remember is that I am in control, and if I am not in control of my emotions, I am at least responsible. I can choose how I react to any given circumstance.

One thing I remember pondering as I reviewed my personal driver’s manual is how I choose to define my choice. It’s not just what, it’s who. My choice was not just about a fruit smoothie, it was about my wife and how I feel about her. I had to ask myself, “Is the smoothie more important than my wife? Am I really going to place my feelings in front of hers, over a smoothie?” Suddenly I seemed, to myself, very small. My mistake was pretty small, too, but I had to fix it. I felt like I was groping my hands around a steering wheel where the power steering had gone out. It was all manual. I felt like I had to wrestle my feelings to the ground to make my U-turn back to my wife. See. I told you it was nothing to be proud of.

Feeling close to my wife again was a lot more delicious than being grumpy. Once I chose to consider what was really important, my difficult challenge became easier. It added power to my steering. Mind you, a good fruit smoothie has still been on my mind and I’m still thirsty, but it’s not worth being grumpalicious.

What I Believe…

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Remembering Your Gifts

A few years ago, I made a very difficult decision to set aside one of my personal interests. It was a novel I hope to write. For almost a decade I felt compelled to tell a story that was constantly in my head, and I spent much of my spare time developing characters, plot and subplots, and a culture and history to go with it. The story is about a young woman in a city of merchants. In the middle of a successful venture opportunity that is offered her, she finds herself surrounded by intrigue, a national revolution, and secret combinations. I have become very familiar with this character in the past ten years. When I made the decision to put my story aside, my feelings were deep.

At the time, I felt a couple of compelling reasons why I needed to put my own interests on hold. While I had responsibilities with work and also with my church, the biggest reason was my family. I considered the amount of time that I had available to spend with my children, and I figured that most of it would be taken in order to write my story. The two interests were starting to compete. The second reason was that I felt I needed to spend more time with people. I needed to make some visits. When I considered how much happiness I felt when I would visit a friend or an acquaintance I hadn’t seen in a while, and then compared it to the frustration I felt after spending a small amount of time on my story and not get anywhere, I decided it was time.

I remember the day I put my story in boxes. I had sketches and maps that covered the wall of my study, with storylines and resource material that I had researched. At no time did my interest seem wrong. It just seemed that it wasn’t the right time. I had this feeling that was small and quiet. I felt that putting my interests aside for a time was the right thing. It reminded me a lot of when I made the decision to serve a full-time mission and I had to leave family and friends at home, and focus on serving people I had never met before. The two years passed and were incredible. Afterward, I came back and continued the important relationships in my life. They have become much better.

Since that time, my interests haven’t gone away. I find that I still have a strong desire to write, and I take some time to do it. I still love to read, and I look for little places in my schedule that I can carve out for it. I love to paint and draw. I don’t get to as much as I would like, but I still have this strong desire to do so. Each of these is a gift. They are all things that I am interested in and have some ability to do.

As I have focused on my other responsibilities, I think I forgot some of the reasons for putting my interests aside. It wasn’t because I was too busy. My biggest reason was because of my children. Recently I was reminded of my gifts and how I could better use them.

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to watch Rose Datoc Dall paint at a Deseret Book Lunch and Learn. I have admired her work for a couple of years now, and it was great to see her in person. She is a beautiful artist. As she painted she described some of the challenges and blessings she feels as a mother. Trying to find balance is not always easy. In fact, it often doesn’t exist because our circumstances are always changing. As we shared some examples of using our gifts and talents, I mentioned that I recently hadn’t painted as much due to time constraints. Her comment was, “Why don’t you paint with your kids?” That simple suggestion got me thinking.

Initially, the reason I stopped working on my story was because it was taking time away from my family. As I thought about other interests I have, I wondered why I shouldn’t spend more time sharing those interests with them. It would give us more in common and could help all of us to grow.

This morning I have been pondering a scripture about gifts. While it is specifically about gifts of the spirit, I think it has some relevant application. The Lord, Himself, taught, “seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given … they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me….” (Doctrine & Covenants 46:8-9)

I have other friends who have provided constant encouragement and support for my talents. I am grateful for dear friends. They, with the events of the last few weeks, have given me reason to reflect on gifts that we are each given. What a blessing it is when a friend will share their gifts and talents with me. It is a privilege to do the same in return.

Perhaps the real lesson I needed to learn was not to set aside my gifts and interests, but to look for ways that they could bring me closer to those that I care about, remembering why friends and gifts are given.

The Art of Rose Datoc Dall

What I Believe…

Sunday, April 3, 2011


I'm not much of a grduge holder, but last night I was intrigued by a story that President Thomas S. Monson told in the priesthood session of General Conference about a couple who had some serious grudges. Ouch. Whether or not that sounds like you, there are times where a grudge can seem like a really good idea. I think it is worth thinking twice.

I’m angry still!
I feel so good when I hold out.
Of all the friends that could have stung,
It’s you this had to be about.

It wasn’t much, but just enough
To make my patience crawl.
Can I pretend that things are good?
Instead I’ll nail it to the wall.

I’ll build more walls with thorny looks
And silent words that stay unthought.
“So there!” Oh, oops. Two words slipped through
To help connect the dot-to-dot.

And then I wake to see my room
With thorns and scrawls, and me alone.
Does anger really feel so good,
When peace is knocked down from its throne?

I wipe the scrawls between the dots,
And pull the thorn on which I stepped.
I see the clock and wonder at
How many hours of sting it’s kept.

It’s been too long since I have thought
About my friend and what we share.
If truth be told, I’d rather have
More friends than walls forever there.

What I Believe…

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What Should I Do?

Occasionally someone I know will ask me a general question about confessions. Often the question they want to ask is, “I have done something wrong, and I want to fix it, but do I need to talk to my bishop?” Moments like these are very personal and delicate. Admitting guilt and acknowledging our weaknesses is a difficult thing to do.

Generally, I think there is an awareness that serious transgressions require a confession. This would include deliberate offenses to another person such as intentional physical injury, sexual violations, abuse of any kind, theft, fraud, or illegal activity. Yet, if an individual’s sins are not of that magnitude, he or she may not know if confession is necessary, especially if the sin appears to involve no one else but the individual.

It is not uncommon for someone who has made a serious mistake to wonder, “How do I know if I need to talk to my bishop? What should I say? How much do I have to tell, and what will happen?” I think there are a number of people who could enjoy more peace in their lives if they knew the answers to these questions and acted on them.

The Lord, Himself, said, “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more. By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins – behold, he will confess them and forsake them.” He also said, “I, the Lord, forgive sins, and am merciful unto those who confess their sins with humble hearts….” Doctrine & Covenants 58:42-43, 61:2)

The simplest answer of how to know if you should confess to a priesthood leader is to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost. A baptized member of the Lord’s Church is entitled to the companionship of the Holy Ghost. That is what the Lord intends. In His role as the Comforter, the Holy Ghost can provide spiritual guidance, comfort, and peace. If you do not feel His influence, that may be the first indicator that something else is missing. If you have made personal efforts to repent and have confessed to God in prayer, but still do not feel divine help, you may want to council with a bishop to determine why.

Another instance that may suggest a need for confession is when an individual has sinned and made restitution, but does not feel forgiven. It’s as though thoughts of the sin continue to linger and weigh on the mind. A bishop can help an individual determine if there is more they need to do to be forgiven, or if they are simply being harder on themselves than the Lord. Let me share a personal example.

When I was fourteen, I made some poor choices that led to some poorer decisions. This led to a sin that I was ashamed of. In this case, I was not guilty of a serious transgression, but I no longer felt at peace in my life. What I did feel was sincere remorse and I wanted to do whatever it took to have that burden lifted. At the same time, I didn’t want to expose my weaknesses to anyone else. I prayed repeatedly for forgiveness, yet this didn’t seem enough.

Shortly after I prayed, the idea came to my mind that maybe I should talk with my bishop. I dismissed the thought, thinking my sins weren’t that serious, but the idea lingered. It had a presence in my mind that almost seemed to gently nag. I later recognized that persistent presence as the influence and companionship of the Holy Ghost, trying to guide me and answer my prayer.

Finding some courage, and feeling that confession would ease my conscience, I asked my bishop if I could meet with him. He kindly replied yes. Having since served as a bishop, myself, I can imagine how happy he was that I asked him for that opportunity. As we sat together in his office, I didn’t know what to say. I felt awkward. My situation was very uncomfortable. Feeling a need to do something, I began.

I shared with the bishop how I felt at the time, that something was still troubling me. I told him a little about what I had done, enough for him to understand what my sin was. I then explained what I had done to repent and how I still felt uncomfortable. I asked what I should do. He was very kind and understanding. He listened. I hope every bishop will listen as well as he did. My bishop then gave me some counsel. He offered some specific suggestions that would help me avoid the same mistake again. He helped me to clearly understand the impact of my decisions and he reassured me. In that instance, nothing more was needed. He thanked me for talking with him and offered his help again if I needed it.

As I left his office, I remember having an incredible feeling. The heavy burden I carried on my shoulders when I went into his office had been lifted. It was gone. I felt capable and happy. The peace I had been seeking had returned. At that moment, I felt the importance of a bishop as a Judge in Israel. I felt at peace with God, and that was truly worth any amount of discomfort to have it back.

A voluntary willingness to confess and admit one’s sins demonstrates a repentant attitude. Sometimes prayer may not be enough, simply because we need the help of others to overcome greater sins. When our faith is combined, it is much easier to accomplish difficult things. I am grateful to have learned that lesson at an early age.

What I Believe…

This is not an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am solely responsible for the views expressed here.