Saturday, August 16, 2014

Each Life That Touches Ours For Good

At the service of my beloved poppers a true and trusted friend was speaking.  He started by paying tribute to my poppers and what a great and inspirational man he had been to him.  He then shared with us that as we were singing one of my poppers favorite hymns his eyes had drifted to the hymn sharing the page entitled "Each Life That Touches Ours for Good":

"Each life that touches ours for good. 
Reflects thine own great mercy, Lord;
Thou sendest blessings from above
Thru words and deeds of those who love.
What greater gift doest thou bestow,
what greater goodness can we know
Than Christ-like friends,
whose gentle ways
Strengthen our faith, enrich our days."


With my profession I am blessed to interact and create special bonds that will carry on through mortality and into the next phase of our journey back to our eternal home.  Each and everyone has inspired me in the brief moments of time we spent together.
Today I would like to honor  a few of those "noble and great ones." 

I have met and visited with many different clergy and many have left footprints in my heart.  Some I have not had the pleasure of meeting again as of yet here but there is no doubt in my mind we shall meet again.  Pastor Paul is a Pastor of a local non-denominational local church and works for the same company I work with so I am blessed to interact with him frequently.  He is such a humble god fearing man.  He greets everyone he meets with extended hand, quick smile and eager hug.  I was not surprised as he shared one day the he at one time was a man of the world and headed down a destructive path but he during his darkest moments came to know and find his Lord and Savior.  "I was lost but now I'm found."  Oh how I love this great man!
I also met a Baptist Preacher who was woven out of the same clothe as my beloved Pastor Paul.  He had an addiction to drugs and found his life spiraling out of control when he too found his way back to his Lord and Savior.  He too is a humble and meek man that reaches out and welcomes and loves all the "outcasts and lepers."  As I listened to him speak I kept thinking of our beloved Savior and who He ministered to, "all ye who are heavy laden....come and I shall give thee rest."  Another was a pastor of a non-denominational church.  He "hath no form nor comliness...there is no beauty..."  Just being in the presence of this humble man was an inspiration to me.

"For worthy friends whose lives proclaim
Devotion to the Saviors name
Who bless our days with peace and love
We praise thy goodness 
Lord above."

Most the Grand-mas and Grand-Pa's I sit with were god fearing and each and everyone of them had left a remarkable spiritual legacy for their posterity but they also had that one child who at the time did not wish to partake of their legacy and filled their hearts with sorrow.
Each and everyone of them had stories told on how they went beyond the call to deliver bibles to all their Heavenly Brothers and Sisters.
I have been invited to numerous bible groups and bible studies which when I was able to go edified and uplifted me.  I was surrounded by "Christ like friends whose gentle ways strenghten my faith and enriched my days."

The posterity who are left behind have also inspired me and I have shared some remarkable conversations with them which have inspired me to deeper reflection and ponderings.
One conversation I shared was with a parent whose son had committed suicide.
One of her closing comments to me during our conversation was, "You're still young one day you will understand."  I had made the comment that I could not understand why the love that surrounded my brother was not enough to keep him here.  I have been reflecting on her comment a lot and I am starting to just now understand what she meant.  As we said our good-byes with tears in her and my eyes she wrapped her arms around me and thanked me for allowing her to talk: "When you have a loved one who commits suicide you find there are none to talk to that really understand what you are going through. Thank you!!  For the first time I have been able to share my feelings and thoughts to one who understands."  She will be another I know I shall meet again and she will meet my brother and I can meet her son.  I hope that my brother was there to meet her son and he has shared with him how he began to learn and heal.

Another that touched me was a dear dear daughter who stayed an entire 19 hour shift with me to keep me awake as we sat with her beloved mother.  Oh how I love her for her sacrifice and willingness to help me a stranger who became a friend.  We talked through the night sharing tears of joy and sorrow-.
She had been a teacher and then made this profound comment, "I am in hopes that all the years I taught I touched at least one child."  She then wistfully looked away and commented, "I guess I'll never know." I then shared with her an experience that I had had.  I related to her a story about how I knew I had touched this one persons life and the joy I had felt at being able to do that.  It was years later I learned that by touching that one persons life I had caused a "ripple effect" and so many other lives had been touched.  It was a powerful moment for both her and I.  Then I related to her that one day there was not a doubt in my mind we would see the "Fruits of our Labors."  It will always be a cherished memory the time I spent with that remarkable woman.

Lastly I would like to visit about another daughter I have had the privilege of meeting.
This amazing woman has inspired me and touched me in a way different manner.
This beautiful woman was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago.
She went through endless bouts of chemo and got so very sick and then she had surgery in which she was told she was "cancer free."  One could only imagine her joy and relief.
Then a short year later she once again became sick.
Upon returning to the doctor she found out that not only had she not been cancer free the cancer had become aggressive and had spread.  More bouts of chemo and surgeries and loss of hair and sickness; only to find out she would have to be on chemo the rest of her life cause they could not stop the spread of the cancer.
Two things struck out at me as she offered me her hand and introduced herself to me.
Her bright and shining eyes and her wonderful head of beautifully colored hair.

Right away she told me how much she loved my hair.
 I joked with her about people having a love for "silver hair."
She smiled and shared with me that her hair had once been long and thick like mine but with the chemo she lost her hair.  She then smiled and gushed "but I have gotten my hair back and so far it has been a keeper!!"  I then shared with her how beautiful her hair was to me.

With that amazing sparkle in her eyes she then shared with me her stories of how she is the queen of notoriously falling.  With glee in her voice she shared with me each and every "Face Plant" because when she falls she lands right on her face.
Her laughter made me think of the laughter of angels it was so musical and soothing.
We were laughing so hard I told her that she needed to write a book to which she giggled, "agreed!!"
I then lovingly told her that she needed to consult a plastic surgeon about her face plants and her need for a few nips and tucks.  That caused a case of laughter.

This woman holds an extra special place in my heart because she is more than aware that her time here is a precious blessing and she greets each and every day with an abundance of positivity, smiles and love. She has chosen "not to shrink."  I know that one day when she is called home our beloved Savior will be there with outstretched arms, "Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father."

"When such a friend from us departs
We hold forever in our hearts
A sweet and hallowed memory
Bringing us nearer Lord to thee."

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"There's Nothing Selfish About Suicide"


With the suicide of a beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams it has brought out alot of articles on suicide.  I read this post by Katie Hurley and really enjoyed her insight since she like most of us is a "suicide survivor." 
I hope her words speaks to others who are either fighting depression or like me a suicide survivor that was left behind.


ROBIN WILLIAMS
"I am a survivor of suicide.
I don't talk about it a lot these days, as I've reached the point where it feels like a lifetime ago. Healing was a long and grief-stricken process. There were times when I felt very alone in my grief and there were times when I felt lost and confused. The trouble with suicide is that no one knows what to say. No one knows how to react. So they smile and wave and attempt distraction... but they never ever say the word. The survivors, it seems, are often left to survive on their own.
I experienced endless waves of emotion in the days, weeks, months and even years following the loss of my father. The "what ifs" kept me up at night, causing me to float through each day in a state of perpetual exhaustion. What if I had answered the phone that night? Would the sound of my voice have changed his mind? Would he have done it at a later date, anyway? Survivor's guilt, indeed.
Sometimes, I cried. Sometimes, I sat perfectly still watching the waves crash down on Main Beach, hoping for a sign of some kind that he had reached a better place. Sometimes, I silently scolded myself for not seeing the warning signs. Sometimes, I bargained with God or anyone else who might be in charge up there. Bring him back to us. Please, just bring him back. Sometimes I felt angry. Why us? Why me? Why him?
Yes, I experienced a range of emotions before making peace with the loss. But one thought that never ever (not even for one second) crossed my mind was this ill-informed opinion that suicide is selfish. Suicide is a lot of things, but selfish isn't one of them.
Suicide is a decision made out of desperation, hopelessness, isolation and loneliness. The black hole that is clinical depression is all-consuming. Feeling like a burden to loved ones, feeling like there is no way out, feeling trapped and feeling isolated are all common among people who suffer from depression.
People who say that suicide is selfish always reference the survivors. It's selfish to leave children, spouses and other family members behind, so they say. They're not thinking about the survivors, or so they would have us believe. What they don't know is that those very loved ones are the reason many people hang on for just one more day. They do think about the survivors, probably up until the very last moment in many cases. But the soul-crushing depression that envelops them leaves them feeling like there is no alternative. Like the only way to get out is to opt out. And that is a devastating thought to endure.
Until you've stared down that level of depression, until you've lost your soul to a sea of emptiness and darkness... you don't get to make those judgments. You might not understand it, and you are certainly entitled to your own feelings, but making those judgments and spreading that kind of negativity won't help the next person. In fact, it will only hurt others.
As the world mourns the loss of Robin Williams, people everywhere are left feeling helpless and confused. How could someone who appeared so happy in actuality be so very depressed? The truth is that many, many people face the very same struggle each and every day. Some will commit suicide. Some will attempt. And some will hang on for dear life. Most won't be able to ask for the help that they need to overcome their mental illness.
You can help.
Know the warning signs for suicide. 50-75% of people who attempt suicide will tell someone about their intention. Listen when people talk. Make eye contact. Convey empathy. And for the love of people everywhere, put down that ridiculous not-so-SmartPhone and be human.
Check in on friends struggling with depression. Even if they don't answer the phone or come to the door, make an effort to let them know that you are there. Friendship isn't about saving lost souls; friendship is about listening and being present.
Reach out to survivors of suicide. Practice using the words "suicide" and "depression" so that they roll off the tongue as easily as "unicorns" and "bubble gum." Listen as they tell their stories. Hold their hands. Be kind with their hearts. And hug them every single time.
Encourage help. Learn about the resources in your area so that you can help friends and loved ones in need. Don't be afraid to check in over and over again. Don't be afraid to convey your concern. One human connection can make a big difference in the life of someone struggling with mental illness and/or survivor's guilt.
30,000 people commit suicide in the United States each year. 750,000 people attempt suicide. It's time to raise awareness, increase empathy and kindness, and bring those numbers down.
It's time to talk about suicide and depression."
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
http://i1.huffpost.com/gen/1961465/thumbs/n-ROBIN-WILLIAMS-large570.jpgPosted: Updated: 
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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Thoughts From the Past

Today after church my beloved friend loaded me up with Zucchini and Squash from her garden.  As I was driving home with my prizes I found myself thinking about my mom and what she used to do with our garden goodies.

As soon as I got home I found myself pulling out her old recipe books and looking for recipes that have long been forgotten.  As I was flipping through the pages of one of her favorite recipe books I came across some little sayings in the front that brought back poignant memories for me and so I would like to share them here with you today:

Just Like Mother Made

Do you remember way back when your boy or girl was six or ten
when you got out the flour and baking tools, there seemed to be a set of rules
and you usually got it before you were through?
Cookies, dumplings, pies or cakes, they wanted to make one "like mother makes."
Sometimes you thought, "Oh what a mess!"
But anyway you soon said "Yes",
And glad you were, as they had fun while you had love from daughter or son.
Now when you bake, the house is still.
But you remember, and always will,
When your little helper sat on that stool and learned his lesson in your private school.
You made much more than pies and cakes, you made a memory
like Mother Made."
Dorothy Jones

Recipe to Preserve a Husband

In choosing a husband, women should be careful of their selection.
Do not choose one too young or too green, and take only such as have
been raised in a good moral atmosphere.
When you have decided on a selection, turn your thoughts to a domestic use.
Some wives insist on keeping husbands in a pickle, 
while others are constantly getting them in hot water.
This only makes them sour, hard and sometimes bitter.
Even the poorest varieties can be made sweet, tender and good by garnishing
them with patience, spicing them with smiles and flavoring them with kisses.
For a finished product, husbands should be wrapped in a mantle of kindness,
kept warm with the fire of devotion and served with peaches and cream.
Husbands prepared this way will keep for years.
Dorothy Jones

Recipe for Life

Take a large amount of laughter and some tear drops mixed with sighs.
Add to this some sunshine and a smile of merry eyes.
Put in two cups of morning dew, diluting it with rain.
Stir well with happiness, but season with pain.
Pour this into a golden cup, buttered well with strife.
Wrap it 'round with problems and this, my friend is life!
Dorothy Jones

A Happy Home Recipe

4 Cups love    2 Cups Loyalty  2 Cups Forgiveness    1 Cup Friendship
5 spoons of Hope    2 spoons of Tenderness
4 Quarts or Faith   1 Barrel of Laughter 
Take Love and Loyalty, mix it thoroughly with Faith.
Blend it with Tenderness, Kindness and Understanding.
Add Friendship & Hope, sprinkle abundantly with Laughter.
Bake it with Sunshine.
Serve daily with generous helpings.
Genice Zweifel

Recipe For A Home

To one half cup Friendship, add one cup of thoughtfulness.
Very lightly beaten in a bowl of Loyalty, with a cup of Faith,
one of Hope, and one of Charity.
Be sure to add a spoonful each of Gaiety that sings,
and also the ability to laugh at little things.
Moisten with the sudden tears of heartfelt sympathy.
Dorothy Jones

The last one I would like to share is on a little plague that I remember hanging in our kitchen ever since I was a little girl and to this day continues to hang in my little kitchen:

God Bless My Little Kitchen

God bless my little kitchen.  
I love it's every nook.
And bless me as I do my work, wash pots and pans and cook.
And the meals that I prepare, be seasoned from above
with Thy blessing and Thy grace, but most of all Thy love.
As we partake of earthly food, the table for us spread,
We'll not forget to thank Thee, Lord, who gives us daily bread.
So bless my little kitchen, and those who enter in.
May they find naught by Joy and peace and happiness therein.
Dorothy Jones

Well my friends I am now going to go into my little kitchen and bake some zucchini bread just as my mother had taught me and then I will share those loafs with friends and neighbors just as we did when I was a little girl.  I am sure my eyes will be moist as those childhood memories come flooding back into my mind when my mother first taught me to bake "Just Like Mother Made."
 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Do You Check Your Religion At The Door?


I was reading last month's Ensign and this article by Jeffrey R. Holland spoke deeply to me.  Because my husband and most my closest friends are not LDS I hear about of a lot of experiences like  Elder Hollands Lesson number one "Never Check Your Religion at the Door."  Sadly I have heard countless stories from my different faithed peers and then I hear the same comment, "These are your people,  ..."Aren't most these people members of your church?"  When confronted with these questions I find myself stumbling along and unable to give  my friends the answers they are looking for.

Another experience shared by a friend who at that time was serving as 

the Young  women's president.  

Each and every activity she would invite girls who were covered in

piercings or tattoos or had clothing different than what 

young Latter-Day Saint girls are encouraged to wear.

Each and every week she would be approached by the wife of the 

Bishop and chastised for "allowing girls like that in the building."

My friend was one who could relate to Elder Holland's  lesson number

two:  "...the rule forever is that our behavior has to reflect our religious 

beliefs and our gospel commitments.  Therefore, how we respond in 

any situation has to make things better, not worse.   We can't act or 

react in such a way that we are guilty of a greater offense..."

Upon reading this article by Elder Holland I found myself asking that 

most important question, "Do you check your religion at the door?"

In the article Elder Holland related how one young man stated

that "he had paid good money for this ticket and it was a Basketball 

game and for that reason it was okay to check your religion at the door."

I pasted the article below if you would like to read Elder Hollands 

inspired words and then reflect on your actions or reactions and ask

"Do I check my religion at the door?"


"The Call to Be Christlike

From a CES devotional address, “Israel, Israel, God Is Calling,” delivered at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, on September 9, 2012. For the full address, go to lds.org/broadcasts.

Jeffrey R. Holland
God is calling to Israel in these latter days to be more Christlike and to be more holy than we now are in our determination to live the gospel and establish Zion.
In the history of Israel down through the ages, when things got too sinful or society became too secular or life with the Gentiles began undermining the moral code and commandments God had given, the children of the covenant would be sent fleeing into the wilderness to start all over and reestablish Zion.
In Old Testament times, Abraham, the father of the covenant, had to flee for his life from Chaldea—literally Babylonia—in his quest for a consecrated life in Canaan, which we now call the Holy Land (see Abraham 2:3–4). But it wasn’t many generations before the descendants of Abraham lost their Zion and were in bondage in far-off, pagan Egypt (see Exodus 1:7–14). So Moses had to be raised up to lead the children of promise into the wilderness again.
Not many centuries later, a story of special interest to us unfolded when one of those Israelite families, headed by a prophet named Lehi, was commanded to flee Jerusalem because, alas, Babylon was again at the door! (See 1 Nephi 2:2.) Little did they know that they were going to an entirely new continent to establish a whole new concept of Zion (see1 Nephi 18:22–24). And little did they know that such an exodus had already happened with a group of their forefathers called the Jaredites (seeEther 6:5–13).
It is of interest to all who celebrate the Restoration of the gospel that the colonization of America was born of a group fleeing their former homelands in order to worship as they wished. A distinguished scholar of the Puritan settlement in America described this experience as Christianity’s “errand into the wilderness”—the effort of modern Israelites to free themselves of Old World godlessness and once again seek the ways of heaven in a new land.1
I remind you of one last flight. It was that of our own Church, led by our own prophets, leading our own religious ancestors. With Joseph Smith being hounded through the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Missouri, and finally being murdered in Illinois, we were to see the latter-day reenactment of Israel’s children again seeking a place of seclusion. President Brigham Young (1801–77), the American Moses, as he has been admiringly called, led the Saints to the valleys of the mountains as those foot-weary Saints sang:
We’ll find the place which God for us prepared,
Far away in the West,
Where none shall come to hurt or make afraid;
There the Saints will be blessed.2
Zion. The promised land. The New Jerusalem. For more than 4,000 years of covenantal history, this has been the pattern: Flee and seek. Run and settle. Escape Babylon. Build Zion’s protective walls.
Until this, our day.

Build Zion Where You Are

One of the many unique characteristics of our dispensation is the changing nature of how we establish the kingdom of God on earth. This dispensation is a time of mighty, accelerated change. And one thing that has changed is that the Church of God will never again flee. It will never again leave Ur in order to leave Haran in order to leave Canaan in order to leave Jerusalem in order to leave England in order to leave Kirtland in order to leave Nauvoo in order to go who knows where.
No, as Brigham Young said for us all, “We have been kicked out of the frying-pan into the fire, out of the fire into the middle of the floor, and here we are and here we will stay.”3
Of course, that statement became a statement for members of the Church all over the world. In these last days, in our dispensation, we have become mature enough to stop running. We have become mature enough to plant our feet and our families and our foundations in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people permanently. Zion is everywhere—wherever the Church is. And with that change, we no longer think of Zion as where we are going to live; we think of it as how we are going to live.
To frame this new task, I draw upon three incidents.

Three Incidents and Three Lessons

1. A few years ago a young friend of mine—a returned missionary—was on one of the college basketball teams in Utah. He was a great young man and a very good ballplayer, but he wasn’t playing as much as he had hoped he would. His particular talents and skills weren’t exactly what his team needed at that stage of its development or his. That happens in athletics. So, with the full support and best wishes of his coaches and teammates, my young friend transferred to another school, where he hoped he might contribute a little more.
Things clicked at the new school, and my friend soon became a starter. And wouldn’t you know it—the team’s schedule had this young man returning to play against his former team in Salt Lake City.
The vitriolic abuse that poured out of the stands that night on this young man—a newlywed who paid his tithing, served in the elders quorum, gave charitable service to the youth in his community, and waited excitedly for a new baby coming to him and his wife—should not have been experienced by any human being anywhere, anytime, whatever his sport or university or whatever his personal decisions had been about either of them.
The coach of this visiting team, something of a legend in the profession, turned to him after a spectacular game and said: “What is going on here? You are the hometown boy who has made good. These are your people. These are your friends.” But worst of all, he then said in total bewilderment, “Aren’t most of these people members of your church?”
2. I was invited to speak at a stake single-adult devotional. As I entered the rear door of the stake center, a 30-something young woman entered the building at about the same time. Even in the crush of people moving toward the chapel, it was hard not to notice her. She had a couple of tattoos, a variety of ear and nose rings, spiky hair reflecting all the colors now available in snow cones, a skirt that was too high, and a blouse that was too low.
Some questions leapt to my mind: Was this woman a struggling soul not of our faith, who had been led—or even better, had been brought by someone—to this devotional under the guidance of the Lord to help her find the peace and the direction of the gospel she needed in her life? Or was she a member who had strayed from some of the hopes and standards the Church encourages for its members but who was still affiliating and had chosen to attend this Church activity that night?
3. While participating in the dedication of the Kansas City Missouri Temple, Sister Holland and I were hosted by Brother Isaac Freestone, a police officer by profession and a high priest in the Liberty Missouri Stake. In our conversations he told us that late one evening he was called to investigate a complaint in a particularly rough part of the city. Over the roar of loud music and with the smell of marijuana in the air, he found one woman and several men drinking and profaning, all of them apparently totally oblivious to five little children—about two to eight years of age—huddled together in one room, trying to sleep on a filthy floor with no bed, no mattress, no pillows, no anything.
Brother Freestone looked in the kitchen cupboards and in the refrigerator to see if he could find a single can or carton or box of food of any kind—but he could find nothing. He said the dog barking in the backyard had more food than those children had.
In the mother’s bedroom he found a bare mattress, the only one in the house. He hunted until he found some sheets, put them on the mattress, and tucked all five children into the makeshift bed. Then, with tears in his eyes, he knelt, offered a prayer to Heavenly Father for their protection, and said good night.
As he arose and walked toward the door, one of the children jumped out of bed, ran to him, grabbed him by the hand, and pled, “Will you please adopt me?” With more tears in his eyes, Brother Freestone put the child back in bed, found the stoned mother (the men had long since fled), and said to her: “I will be back tomorrow, and heaven help you if some changes are not evident by the time I walk in this door. And there will be more changes after that. You have my word on it.”4
What do these three incidents have in common? They give three tiny, very different real-life examples of Babylon—one as silly as deplorable behavior at a basketball game, one more cultural and indicative of one-on-one challenges with those who live differently than we do, and one a very large and very serious matter.

Lesson 1: Never Check Your Religion at the Door

First, let’s finish the basketball incident. The day after the game, when there was some public reckoning and a call to repentance over the incident, one young man said, in effect: “Listen. We are talking about basketball here, not Sunday School. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. We pay good money to see these games. We can act the way we want. We check our religion at the door.”
“We check our religion at the door”? Lesson number one for the establishment of Zion in the 21st century: You never check your religion at the door.
That kind of discipleship cannot be—it is not discipleship at all. As the prophet Alma taught, we are “to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in” (Mosiah 18:9)—not just some of the time, in a few places, or when our team has a big lead.
Whatever the situation or provocation or problem, no true disciple of Christ can check his or her religion at the door.

Lesson 2: Be Compassionate but Be Loyal to the Commandments

That leads me to the young woman at the devotional. However one would respond to her, the rule forever is that our behavior has to reflect our religious beliefs and our gospel commitments. Therefore, how we respond in any situation has to make things better, not worse. We can’t act or react in such a way that we are guilty of a greater offense than, in this case, she is.
That doesn’t mean we don’t have opinions, we don’t have standards, or we somehow completely disregard divinely mandated “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots.” But it does mean we have to live those standards and defend those commandments in a righteous way to the best of our ability, the way the Savior lived and defended them. And He always did what should have been done to make the situation better—from teaching the truth to forgiving sinners to cleansing the temple.
So with our new acquaintance, we start, above all, by remembering she is a daughter of God and of eternal worth. We start by remembering that she is someone’s daughter. We start by being grateful that she is at a Church activity, not avoiding one. In short, we try to be at our best in this situation in a desire to help her be at her best.
We keep praying silently: What is the right thing to do here? What is the right thing to say? What ultimately will make this situation and her better? Asking these questions and really trying to do what the Savior would do is what I think He meant when He said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).
This Church can never dumb down its doctrine in response to social goodwill or political expediency or any other reason. It is only the high ground of revealed truth that gives us any footing on which to lift another who may feel troubled or forsaken. Our compassion and our love—fundamental characteristics and requirements of our Christianity—must never be interpreted as compromising the commandments.
When we face such situations, it can be very challenging and confusing. Young people may ask, “Well, we don’t believe we should live or behave in such and such a way, but why do we have to make other people do the same? Don’t they have their free agency? Aren’t we being self-righteous and judgmental, forcing our beliefs on others, demanding that they act in a certain way?”
In those situations you are going to have to explain sensitively why some principles are defended and some sins opposed wherever they are found because the issues and the laws involved are not just social or political but eternal in their consequence. And while not wishing to offend those who believe differently from us, we are even more anxious not to offend God.
It is a little like a teenager saying, “Now that I can drive, I know I am supposed to stop at a red light, but do we really have to be judgmental and try to get everyone else to stop at red lights? Does everyone have to do what we do? Don’t others have their agency? Must they behave as we do?” You then have to explain why, yes, we do hope all will stop at a red light. And you have to do this without demeaning those who transgress or who believe differently than we believe because, yes, they do have their moral agency.
There is a wide variety of beliefs in this world, and there is moral agency for all, but no one is entitled to act as if God is mute on these subjects or as if commandments matter only if there is public agreement over them. In the 21st century we cannot flee any longer. We are going to have to fight for laws and circumstances and environments that allow the free exercise of religion and our franchise in it. That is one way we can tolerate being in Babylon but not of it.
I know of no more important ability and no greater integrity for us to demonstrate in a world from which we cannot flee than to walk that careful path—taking a moral stand according to what God has declared and the laws He has given but doing it compassionately and with understanding and great charity.

Lesson 3: Use Gospel Values to Benefit Communities and Countries

Not many of us are going to be police officers or social service agents or judges sitting on a legal bench, but all of us should care for the welfare of others and the moral safety of our extended community. In speaking of the need for us to influence society beyond the walls of our own home, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said:
“In addition to protecting our own families, we should be a source of light in protecting our communities. The Savior said, ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’ …
“In our increasingly unrighteous world, it is essential that values based on religious belief be [evident in] the public square. …
“Religious faith is a store of light, knowledge, and wisdom and benefits society in a dramatic way.”5
If we don’t take gospel blessings to our communities and our countries, we will never have enough policemen—there will never be enough Isaac Freestones—to enforce moral behavior even if it were enforceable. And it isn’t. Those children in that home without food or clothing are sons and daughters of God. That mother, more culpable because she is older and should be more responsible, is also a daughter of God. Such situations may require tough love in formal, even legal, ways, but we must try to help when and where we can because we are not checking our religion at the door, even as pathetic and irresponsible as some doors are.
No, we can’t do everything, but we can do something. And in answer to God’s call, the children of Israel are the ones to do it—not to flee Babylon this time but to attack it. Without being naive about it, we can live our religion so broadly and unfailingly that we find all kinds of opportunities to help families, bless neighbors, and protect others, including the rising generation.

Reflect Your Love of Jesus Christ

Latter-day Saints are called upon to be the leaven in the loaf, the salt that never loses its savor, the light set upon a hill never to be hidden under a bushel. So start presenting!
If we do right and talk right and reach out generously with our words and our deeds, then, when the Savior cuts short His work in righteousness, says time is no more in this last dispensation, and comes in His glory, He will find us doing our best, trying to live the gospel, trying to improve our lives and our Church and our society the best way we can.
When He comes, I so want to be caught living the gospel. I want to be surprised right in the act of spreading the faith and doing something good. I want the Savior to say to me: “Jeffrey, I recognize you not by your title but by your life, the way you are trying to live and the standards you are trying to defend. I see the integrity of your heart. I know you have tried to make things better first and foremost by being better yourself and then by declaring my word and defending my gospel to others in the most compassionate way you could.”
He will certainly add: “I know you weren’t always successful with your own sins and with the circumstances of others, but I believe you honestly tried. I believe in your heart you truly loved me.”
I want to have something like that encounter someday as I want nothing else in this mortal life. And I want it for you. I want it for us all. “Israel, Israel, God is calling”6—calling us to live the gospel of Jesus Christ personally in small ways and large ways, to reach out to those who may not look or dress or behave quite as we do, and then (where we can) to go beyond that to serve in the widest community we can address.
I love the Lord Jesus Christ, whose servant I am trying to be. And I love our Heavenly Father, who cared enough to give Him to us. Regarding that gift, I know that God is calling to Israel in these latter days to be more Christlike and to be more holy than we now are in our determination to live the gospel and establish Zion. I also know that He will give us the strength and the holiness to be true disciples if we plead for them.