Thursday, January 31, 2013

Limited Vision

We’ve been reading one of my favorite stories of the Book of Mormon in our family scripture study. It’s in Helaman 8 & 9, as the Nephites are ridiculing Nephi’s lamentations about their wickedness, and he announces the murder of the chief judge and the name of the murderer in an account that’s worthy of a TV crime series.

Of particular interest to me this morning was what happens in Chapter 9 when the Nephites outside Nephi’s garden send five men to check out the story. Of course they find the judge slain. They had previously agreed that if they found what Nephi said they’d find, they would believe him and believe he was a prophet.

Of course, they find just what Nephi said they’d find. They believe him, and his other prophecies concerning their people’s wickedness, they are overcome by the spirit and (of course) they faint.

Others come to the judgment seat, find the dead judge and the fainted five, and logically assume it is the five who have killed the judge. (Frankly, I say logically, but the logic escapes me; Columbo would never have fallen for that. If you don’t know who Columbo is, Google it. Or ask an Older Person.)

What’s remarkable to me in these verses (verses 1-9 if you’d like to review them) is the imperfect vision with which all the actors see.

The five men are leaning toward belief, but only if they see the evidence; when they see it, they believe. The people at Nephi’s garden do not believe (and some even question if he was in league with Seantum when Nephi turns out to be right). The people at the judgement seat immediately see the five Nephites as the murderers. Each group operates on limited vision.

Each one, that is, except Nephi. He knows what he says is true. He knows he is right about the Nephites and their righteousness. He knows he is right about Seezoram’s murder. He knows he is right about Seantum’s guilt. And there’s a good reason: Nephi is the prophet.

It makes me think about the things I do with limited vision. I overhear my children bickering in the next room and think I know the “just” solution. I respond to political arguments with my point of view. I make decisions based on my own analysis of circumstances without perfect knowledge of potential outcomes.

I know about limited vision. I have very bad eyes – one is very nearsighted and the other is very far-sighted. I have astigmatism. Even with my glasses, I have a hard time recognizing faces much farther away than 10-20 feet. Without my glasses, I cannot read my computer monitor. I simply do not see clearly.

Just as I would not try to function without my glasses, so I should not try to function without spiritual glasses, without the benefit of those whose vision is less limited than mine. I can listen to prophets who have a longer view (even if they do not share it completely). I can read the Lord’s words in the scriptures. I can seek divine guidance in prayer and enjoy the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. I can humbly accept my own limitations and do everything I can to mitigate them. And I can hope for the Lord’s mercy in making up the difference when my efforts are inadequate.

BTW, you can read my latest post at Real Intent, "On Losing Our Religion," here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

An issue with the miracles

We finally watched 17 Miracles last week. I had not seen it before, though I certainly had heard some of the stories told in the film.

I enjoyed the movie as it reinforced for me the faith and devotion of the saints of the Willie handcart company. But I was troubled by it, too.

The movie’s protagonist is Levi Savage, a widower who became a sub-captain in the handcart company en route home from a 3-year mission to Siam. Levi is portrayed as faithful and strong, just the kind of man you’d like leading your company. He is also the one who recommended that the saint not leave for the west because of the lateness of the season.

His public opposition, portrayed as being sought by Captain Willie, was then repudiated by Willie, as well.

I don’t take issue with Savage’s opposition to leaving, nor with Willie’s encouragement to go. I presume each man operated out of his conviction. But the film does not give me that foundation. By the time this incident occurs in the film, we like Savage. We’ve seen his service in the Mormon Battalion, his loss of his wife, his mission call to Siam and his reluctant acceptance of the role as sub-captain. We like him. We trust him. We want him to lead us on a handcart trek.

We don’t know Willie at all. We only know he’s called Savage and Savage accepted. And we hear him denounce Savage publicly. We see nothing of Willie’s spiritual commitment, only his slavish obedience to his orders to deliver the company.

Later in the film, Savage is publicly reprimanded in another meeting by a visiting authority. Savage instantly recants his opposition and submits, once again, to the authority at hand. (And just in case we miss it, an end note among the credits reminds us again how wonderful it is that Levi Savage submitted after this public calling out.) As a viewer of the film (and knowing the outcome of the story), it’s very easy for me to side with Savage and assume Willie and the visiting authority are wrong and, even worse, uninspired. We watch members of the company suffer and die; those who do not die bear significant physical and emotional burdens. Yes, miracles occur, but at what cost?

I suspect life was more complicated, and I wish I had seen more of it in the film. I suspect Willie’s conviction was real, and I would have liked to have seen more of his own spiritual struggle.

I have never faced physical trials like those of the handcart companies, thank Heavens! But I have faced trials and the ambivalence that accompanies them. I have found myself having to choose between seemingly impossible alternatives. I have sought divine guidance and sometimes received it quickly and other times not. I have been questioned by doubters.

Life is complicated. And I applaud the film for showing some of the complexity that Levi Savage had to live with. But I would have preferred to see Willie’s complexity, as well.

I do not quibble about the miracles (though I could not count them). I acknowledge that miracles occur (though my teenage son watching with me did not; he kept looking for coincidences). And they still occur in my life and in the life of those I love (even if they do not see them).

I also know that most church leaders I know, especially those at the retail level in wards and branches, devote a great effort to seeking and understanding the Lord’s will. They may get it wrong sometimes, but they are trying to do the best they can with what they have. My role is to follow them as best I can, and, more importantly, to love them as best I can – that is, to love them with that Christlike love that is charity, a love that motivates me to see the best in them and to do what I can to lighten their load, to share their vision and to follow their lead.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A New Bishop

It was an eventful weekend in my ward. Not only did we have ward conference, a favorite meeting for me because I love to be taught by my bishop and stake president, but our good bishop was released, together with his counselors.

I felt an unusual tenderness that day. Part of it is knowing a bit how the newly released bishop feels, having been there twice myself. The closeness one feels to his counselors and to ward members changes with the release in a way that is difficult to describe. The passing of the mantle of bishop is very real, and being without it is something one has to get used to.

Part of it is the release of this particular bishop – a man we’ve known for years. He served as ward clerk when I was bishop. Our sons have been in the same classes in church for fourteen years. His wife has taught our daughters piano. They are good friends of ours. And he was an awesome bishop. He humbly faced his responsibilities as bishop and worked tirelessly to meet the needs of the members of his ward.

All bishops work harder than anyone realizes. Even harder than they themselves realize. I can remember hearing him talk about meetings and visits and service and phone calls from a particular weekend and thinking, “How could one person do all that?” And then realizing that I’d done the same thing when I sat in that chair. Just as any bishop would. And every bishop does.

No, he wasn’t perfect, I suppose. But don’t ask me how. I could not tell you. What I do know is he was a humble servant of the Lord and servant to our ward. He was firm in his testimony, firm in his command of the gospel and its principles, firm in defense of truth, and firm in his leadership. At the same time, he was kind and compassionate. When I served on the ward council with him for a time, I observed that he actively sought the views of all the council members. He regularly led out praising ward members for the good work they did.

We live in one of those wards with lots of leadership experience and potential. I have joked that you can’t swing a dead cat in our ward without hitting an ex-bishop, and it’s true. Our ward contributes its membership to many stake callings, as well. I’m sure that there are probably many men who could serve as bishop.

I’m glad to know our stake president is careful enough to listen for whom the Lord has called to serve as our new bishop. As soon as his name was read, it was easy to see the Lord’s hand in his call. He will certainly be different from our former bishop, and that is just how it should be – different gifts for different times. But there is no doubt in my mind that he also will serve faithfully and carefully. He is thoughtful, prayerful and faithful. He’s also a friend, and our home teacher (or was, anyway; I suppose maybe that will change).

Of course these changes are now well institutionalized in the church. We have processes to follow, forms to file, permissions to receive. And still I know that at the heart of that effort is the revelation to properly authorized servants to call others to serve. And I’m grateful for that organization, and for the service that results from it.

By the way, if you like, you can check out my latest post at Real Intent, "In the Tunnel" here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Comfort control

This is the last in my sporadic series on control. Other posts are here, here, here and here.

A popular feature in higher-end cars for some time has been Electronic Automatic Temperature Control. In fact, nowadays it’s not unusual to find two- or three-zone temperature controls so that driver, front passenger and rear passengers can all have a say in their own comfort.

We love to control our environment, and I think it’s because we are comfortable doing things over which we have control. We love our remote controls for our TVs, garage doors, ceiling fans, lights and so on. We love putting in our ear buds or putting on our noise-cancelling headphones to control what goes into our ears. We like to control what comes into our home on TV and the internet, so we install parental controls and filters. We control what goes into our bodies, so we watch our diet (or not), and we keep our divinely revealed health code (or not).

In fact, we rightly tout the virtue of self-control, praising someone who has the discipline to train as an athlete or musician, praising those who overcome adversity by their sheer grit and determination, praising students who earn great grades.

The Lord’s Plan of Happiness reminds us, however, that there are limits to our control. In the grand council in Heaven, we agreed to a plan that would allow us agency and accountability for our choices; we rejected an alternative that would have guaranteed our safe return and yielded honor and glory to the guarantor, Lucifer. (It’s worth noting that both of those provisions are offensive, though we tend to focus on the first just as I’m doing here.)

Even God Himself did not control Pharaoh as Moses sought the release of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt. God offered consequences for Pharaoh’s choices, but he could not force Pharaoh to comply. And Pharaoh only complied with God’s will once the pain of not complying was great enough. Whether God could or could not force Pharaoh to comply is a moot question: the fact is he did not.

As I’ve written in this series, I have struggle personally with the issue of control in my life. I have at times overshot the mark in trying to control my children’s behavior, trying to control outcomes in conflicts and trying to control circumstances that were clearly beyond my control.

Albert Einstein is credited with the idea that insanity is trying the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. In trying to exert control where I do not have it, I have lived that definition, and the results are not pretty. I’m fortunate that they people who matter most to me are gracious and forgiving and that our relationships are intact despite my human frailties.

As I have worked over time to sort out what I do and do not control (not what I should or should not control), I have found increased peace in letting go of the things that are not mine and focusing on the things that are.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Stress and Control: Fight or Flight

This is another in a sporadic series on control, which started here. Other installments are here and here.

After a series of nightmares over a few days about losing control of a car I was driving (well, I was driving TWO cars at the same time, against the flow of traffic, and lost control of the one I was not in, and it flipped back on top of the car I was driving), I decided it was time to see a therapist. Waking up at 2 am every night sweating and panting was a sign to me that things were not as they should be.

The therapist I met was kind and unassuming, and he was exceptionally helpful.

We talked in my first session about my job, my family, my reaction to stress, and so on. He pretty quickly helped me sort out some scenarios for the dream in relation to specific things that were going on in my life at the time.

As we continued to meet together over the next few weeks, he helped me understand some interesting relationships within myself. Each of us has, he said, because of our evolutionary heritage, a fight or flight reflex. That reflex is typically activated by some kind of stressor, and for some of us, the fuse is short and for others the fuse is longer. But for all of us, because we no longer live among predators who will eat us if we do not fight or flee, the fight or flight response may lead to overreaction to the stressors, unless we learn to do something about it.

My way to avoid stress up to that time was also my cause of stress. If I could control everything around me, then I felt no stress. Since I could not control everything around me, stress was inevitable. And often the results of my reaction to the stress were not pretty. I was at my worst the anti-poster child for Section 121’s counsel to exercise power and influence through long-suffering, kindness and meekness. And the less control I felt I had, the more I wanted.

One of the things we worked on was the fight or flight response. His hypothesis, which seems to have been correct in my case, was that stress triggered the fight portion of that response in me, and my fuse was very, very short.

We worked on ways to lengthen my fuse, so that I would have time to plan and execute my own reaction, rather than relying on my untrustworthy (and unnecessary) instinct. What was valuable to me in the process was learning to recognize that this tendency of mine was not completely a flaw in my moral character, but rather a product of my biology (and perhaps my earlier responses to my environment). Learning to overcome it was not just a matter of willing myself to improve, but it was taking positive and specific steps to give myself time to do what I knew in my heart I wanted to do, but didn’t seem to be able to do.

We tried a few exercises, but the one that worked best for me was the catastrophe exercise. In this exercise, I spent specific time in a room alone. I thought of something that would cause me stress, and I talked myself step by step through successively more serious consequences of successively less controlled circumstances until I got to some ultimately untenable conclusion. The point was to get my heart rate up, my breathing more rapid, to increase the physical feelings of stress in the process, and then, once I articulated the most dire end-game, to take a large cleansing breath and tell myself (aloud), “And that’s ok.” And then within seconds to start again. I was to build up the time I would do the exercise – five minutes a day in the first week, then ten the next week and fifteen the third week. By the end of the third week, I could no longer get myself worked up doing the exercise. That was, my therapist told me, the point.

The exercise sensitized me to the stress so that my instinctive response did not kick in immediately; instead I would have time to plan my own response.

Generally today I’m much better than I was most of the time. I still tend to rely on the fight or flight response when I’m particularly tired or when there are multiple stressors at work at the same time.

As cheesy as it seems, Stress Management for Dummies was really helpful, as was Overcoming Anxiety for Dummies. I’m sure there are more sophisticated books on the subject, but these helped me to identify quickly some key concepts that I could work on.

The reason I share this story is not to suggest the solution that worked for me will work for everyone (thought it might), but rather to point out what I said above: my reaction to stress was more than just a moral failing. It was something that I could not simply will away by "working harder." If the gospel teaches us nothing else, it teaches that we cannot overcome this moral condition without the blessings of the atonement. Each of us is dependent upon the Savior's grace to overcome the finite nature of our existence, and to overcome sin. Similarly, we may also require the help of trained professionals to help us in our path, as well.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

"Thank you, Joyce"

I noticed something in my behavior over the Christmas holiday. Some of our adult children visited and more than once I paraphrased my mother, saying to my daughter, “Thank you, Joyce.” My mother used to invoke her father’s name when she observed his behavior in me. And now I invoke my mother and father’s names when I see their behavior in my children.

I don’t pretend to know how behavior moves from one generation to another. I assume it is mostly learned, and the behaviors of my parents in my children come because I modeled those behaviors. But some traits do seem to be born with the child, just like certain physical features. My wife does not exhibit the Swedish stubbornness of her grandfather, but some of our children do, for instance.

We are quick to tell these stories in our family, especially when we see the likenesses, mostly because we want the stories to stay alive in our children’s hearts. My mother left a personal history with many stories of her life as a child and with my father, and some of mine. I’ve written a similar history of my first half-century. My mother-in-law gave us for Christmas an electronic volume with similar histories for her and my wife’s father. We treasure a collection of family stories my wife’s grandmother compiled of Mormon Pioneer relatives. And I lament that I do not have written stories of my father’s American (though not Mormon) pioneers of the Pacific Northwest.

The oldest revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants is Section 2, Moroni’s recounting of Malachi’s prophecy of hearts turning from children to fathers to the still boy prophet Joseph. Before the restoration of the priesthood, before the coming of the Book of Mormon, before the organization of quorums and presidencies and building of temples and moving of people there was a promise for linking eternal families.

Very cool.

BTW, check out a discussion of this year's study of the Doctrine & Covenants in Gospel Doctrine at Real Intent here.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Random Church Music Thoughts

Well, we’ve survived another holiday season. The children have sung; the choir has sung. Instrumental music has been played. Participants have been complimented, and hopefully the spirit was invited into our meetings.

I have some strong views about music in church. I don’t know that they all track well with official positions, but I suspect I’m pretty close. I’m not interested in having rock bands sing pop Christian music, nor am I interested in providing a platform for professional musicians to entertain a congregation.

But I am interested in having outstanding music in church.

I’m not a subscriber to the philosophy of “Do your best; the Spirit will make up the difference.” I subscribe instead to the philosophy: “Learn your craft; practice like crazy; THEN do your best and the Spirit will make up the difference.”

This is not to say I only want to hear professionals perform in church. In fact, I don’t want that at all. Our music in church should, like the rest of the meeting, invite us to come unto Christ, not to come to faun over the soloist. Further, I understand that the only way to learn to play in front of people is to play in front of people, so young pianists (for instance) will hit some wrong notes along their way to becoming seasoned organists (and that’s one reason why beginning pianists may be better placed in Primary, Priesthood and YW meetings, rather than in Sacrament Meeting; I wish our YW, including my daughter, would actually PLAY the hymns rather than using the auto-hymn feature on the electric piano in their room). And I understand that not every ward has university trained musicians as ours does, and a ward needs to start with the talent and willingness of the folks available to participate.

While I love the music of the Restoration, I do not believe that it is the only music appropriate for church meetings. (Some of the hymns in our own hymnbook pre-date the Restoration, after all.) On the flip side, I don’t advocate our singing Ave Maria, but we need not be afraid of the outstanding religious music of our western civilization.

Unless we have well trained soloists, I would rather listen to a duet or trio or other small group (of singers or instrumentalists).

I’m thrilled when our choir director includes additional instrumentalists beyond the piano to accompany the choir.

I’m also thrilled when our choir director challenges us beyond Hymnplicity music for sacrament meeting. (I do agree that Hymnplicity has its place, especially where talent is emerging, but it’s wonderful to do more.) At the same time, I’m happy when choir directors don’t expect a ward choir to sing MoTab arrangements all the time (or replicate MoTab sound).

I’ve sung in a lot of church choirs, under many different directors. Some have been confident and well trained and taught us technique and music theory. Others have been less confident and relied on the choir to rise to the occasion without a lot of technical help. Both models have worked, and that is one of the miracles of church music, if you ask me. I prefer a choir director who leads rather than seeks consensus, but I recognize that sometimes that’s what we get, and I’d rather sing in the choir than not sing.

When we lived in Venezuela years ago, one week the women of the Relief Society sang a special number in sacrament meeting. The priesthood brethren asked for “equal time” the next week, and they sang a hymn (rehearsed once in opening exercises). My first counselor (who was conducting) joked that we should ask the children whose number they preferred, but he feared they would always vote for their mothers. (As I remember, there was no question that the sisters were better, but the effect of having all the sisters sing one week and all the men the next week was remarkable.)

In the same building on another weekend, Elder Hales presided at a Priesthood Leadership meeting. After we sang an intermediate hymn, he stood and told the brethren to sing it again – they’d all sung melody and missed the counterpoint written for basses and tenors into the chorus. So we sang it again, with gusto!

Our first months in that building, we had no piano (because it was out being treated for termites). In other wards we’ve had flamboyant organists. I don’t agree with Elder Packer’s suggestion that a piano is a better instrument for prelude music than an organ, but I understand why he gave that counsel in a priesthood leadership meeting I attended. (An organ prelude played “over” the din of the crowd will only encourage people to talk louder; a skilled organist can help manage the reverence during the prelude by how she controls the volume and stops on the organ.)

I’m grateful for ward music people who plan carefully giving thought to enhancing meetings rather than filling slots on an agenda. I’m grateful to parents who encouraged their children to learn to play pianos and organs and string and woodwind instruments that have later contributed to remarkable music in meetings I’ve attended. I’m grateful for angel voices that shout praises musically, and that once in a while I get to be one of those angels. I’m grateful for composers and writers who share their musical testimonies.

My lovely wife does not consider herself an outstanding musician, but she is. She is one of our ward organists and is well trained. She teaches piano and some of her students may well one day be organists in their future congregations. She has often commented that she would rather sing in a choir or play the organ in front of hundreds of people than speak in front of ten. Though she’s quite good at teaching the ten, I’m grateful that she shares her musical gifts as she does.

My sister-in-law is a trained opera singer. After hearing her sing a French song in sacrament meeting, I felt I understood better what it meant to be ministered to by an angel.

Lest you think I’m only impressed by high talent, I also love to hear the children sing. When I sat on the stand more often, there was nothing quite like sitting there on the front row as the Primary children filed up to sing – to see their energy and excitement (which sometimes led to interesting distractions from the task at hand). We’ve had some choice talent leading those kids sing in wards we’ve attended, and the kids have been delightful contributors. (Frankly, I’d love to serve someday as Primary Music Leader; I got to sub in that role just after being released as bishop a few years back, and it was a blast!)

And while I’m at it, I’ll also mention that I love congregational singing. I live in a large ward, and we sing pretty well (meaning loud enough that we can hear it). I had a bishop once back when the green hymnbook was new who asked that we limit “new” songs to one per meeting so most of the congregational singing was familiar. That made sense to me then and it still does.

I’m grateful for the songs of the heart, and I’m grateful for talented people who share their musical gifts with the rest of us.

Friday, January 4, 2013

On the edges of testimony

More than once I’ve made reference to something Theodore M. Burton taught me about testimony. He was the Area Administrator (sort of a pre-cursor to an Area President, I suppose) in Germany while I was on my mission and spoke at a zone conference I attended.

Elder Burton was an awesome teacher, and I would have loved to have been in one of his chemistry classes (despite my ineptitude for the sciences), just to hear him teach.

Here’s what he said about testimony: when our testimony is new and small, it is like a small circle. There is little we know, but there is also only a small border between what we know and what we don’t know. As our testimony grows, the border with the unknown also expands, so that we become more aware of what we do not know. Theoretically what we don’t know actually shrinks a bit as our testimony grows, but our awareness of what we don’t know increases.

I have since that talk been somewhat intrigued by that border.

And that intrigue has a dual impact on me. On the one hand, I peer into the darkness, willing to walk by faith a step at a time to learn more. On the other hand, I’m reminded of that old story told in standards lessons about the drivers applying for a job who are asked how close they can drive to the side of the cliff: the job goes to the one who stays as far away from the edge as possible.

To torture yet another metaphor, is it better to patrol the borders or to retreat to the safety of the center? I think the answer is yes to both. My own fear is that if I sit only in the center, then over time, my testimony in the center is likely to be stronger, but my overall testimony is likely to shrink somewhat. If, however, I spend all my time on the border, I am likely to succumb to fatigue, and I will also likely end up weaker than when I started.

So in my own life, I find myself moving from the center to the border and back again. I do not shy away from questions that are difficult for me. But I also do not demand instant answers to every question. And I find regular opportunities to retreat to the center for spiritual R&R. My retreats to the center often involve reminding myself of what I already know and believe: I visit the temple; I partake of the sacrament; I read favorite scripture stories. My excursions to the border may involve more challenging reading – for me often involving church history, but not always. Sometimes I return to nagging and unanswered questions of doctrine or scriptural interpretation.

I have used this pattern for the three decades since my mission and found it works for me. I’ve had enough successful trips to the edge in which I’ve been able to defend and even expand the border of my testimony. It is sometimes in the discussions that result from those trips – either with trusted friends or family members, or just in my own private pondering – that I find the light that allows me to take a further step.

I have also learned that my border is not the same as someone else’s. I may have more or less tolerance for a trip to the edge than someone else on a given day. And I’ve learned I cannot drag someone along with me. (Well, I suppose I could, but it wouldn’t do them or me any good.) I have grown weary, for instance, of the devil’s advocate approach to High Priest Group lessons in which someone perches on the edge trying to goad the rest of the group to come along for the fun of the ride. (And I’ve consciously tried to avoid taking that approach while teaching for some time.)

But in the spirit of mourning with those that mourn and comforting those who stand in need of comfort, I’ve found that I am surprisingly (to me) resilient even when a companion needs to question his own border crossing, even if I haven’t resolved the matter for myself. For whatever reason, the Lord has granted me the grace to recognize that even if his question is not important to me or not on my radar, it is important to my companion. There was a time when such a situation might have threatened my testimony’s center, but it no longer does.

How do you navigate the edges of your testimony?

BTW, you can find my New Year's post on testimony at Real Intent here.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Resolution report

My father was big on new year’s resolutions. His birthday was also January 1, so for him it was really setting his next year’s agenda.

He was also big on personal examination. My first Sunday home from my mission, Dad spoke in our ward’s conference about the value of taking a personal inventory from time to time to determine how we are measuring up against what the Lord would have us do. (He’d just spent a few years with my mom in West Africa on a work assignment, far away from the organized church, so he’d had plenty of time for his own introspection.)

Last year I didn’t set too many resolutions, but one was almost cliché: I wanted to lose weight.

I’m happy to report that I succeeded. I dropped about sixty pounds in the first half of the year and managed to keep it off (even through this most recent holiday season).

I have not yet written resolutions for this year, but I have a few mulling about my head.

A friend suggested that since I’ve increased my exercise regimen as part of my weight loss / maintenance program that I should put a race or two on my calendar for this year. (Did I mention I hate running? My exercise is usually on my elliptical machine or my Nordic Track skier. But while on business in November of last year, I discovered I could run about 5K a day without dire consequences.)

Of course there are repeating ideas around improving my scripture and gospel study, and I’m thinking carefully about that idea. I’m especially trying to think about ways to enhance my gospel study, particularly in this year of church history in Sunday School.

I’ve also begun to feel more yearning to do family history. This happens from time to time with me, and not just when there’s a youth temple trip on the horizon. But I have some sticky problems with a few of my lines that tend to bog me down until I collapse whimpering in the corner. Maybe this is the year I move past the sticky lines to something else.

Happy to hear your thoughts about resolutions (and any suggestions you may have).

By the way, you can read my New Year's post on testimony at Real Intent here.