Feb 1, 2015 - I Found Something From My Mission

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I was going through some of my old papers, scattered around in various boxes when I came across this testimony I wrote to myself. This was in response to a letter my president had asked parents to write to us. This seems a good place to share this.

I'm going to type it in verbatim, but fixing typos and probably introducing new ones, but that's ok. I won't change the words or tone.

My Testimony to Myself

When my Mom started making plans for the back yard, I knew I was going to have serious problems. I cannot stand yard work of any kind! In the past we almost always ended up screaming at each other and feeling frustraed with each other. I might even go so far as to say we always ended up fighting.

The backyard, to put it mildly, looked like a mountain meadow junked up by campers. Rocks everywhere, deep rooted weeds and valleys and mountains. At least, that's the way it looked to me. But Mom wanted a garden; she was tired of not having what she wanted. She got a garden. We had our ups and downs--and then we had our really bad times; I even remember one or two good times.

The first thing we needed to do was get rid of a giant Oleander bush that had put down roots that must have covered half of the yard! (About a four foot circle, really.) That took us most of the week. We did the other "piddly" weeds between bouts with the Olenader. Then we took out all the rocks, garbage and various junk (mean things that might be useful) and put them where they belonged.

Next came the FUN part. We dug holes for the bed supports--about thirty holes. Then we placed the supports, screwed the sides of the beds to the supports and tilled and tilled and tilled. The ground was hard as a rock. I was pretty proud of myself. I had only had the urge to scream two or three times a day! And I thought that was it---we'd plant and I wouldn't have to do any more of this foolishness.

Silly boy!

Mom wanted to make a grape arbor! (Imagine a voice squeaky with horror!) Mom and I are going to make something together--in the yard! I wondered if I could plead temporary insanity or justifiable defense of some sort? Although it looks shaky and crooked, its pretty solid. But the most important thing is that we got it up without screaming at each other, or even fighting much. One of us had changed and I have a sneaking suspicion it was me. I can still remember the splinters, bruises and scars I received in that "service project." I can point them out to you if you're interestd.

I'm serving my mission now. This is the first time I've been away from home knowing that I love my family. Not because I "should love my family," because I want to love my family--for the same reasons I love my friends--because they are my friends. I would do anything for my friends.

I received a letter today from my Mom. She reminded me of this little episode in my life and pointed out some others that I had forgotten or didn't think were that important. Just before I read my Mom's letter, I read a part of another letter from my Heavenly Father: 3 Nephi 11.

It tells the story of Jesus Christ's visit to the ancient American Indians. In verse 11, He says "I have drunk of that bitter cup..." That phrase brought to mind His work on earth--His ministry, His life, everything He did was to build a garden for His Father in Heaven. I have been taught that for as long as I can remember, but I never had anything to relate it to--or so I thought.

When I read how Mom appreciated that garden--especially because I helped build it, hating every minute of it--the Spirit bore such a witness to me that the pain I felt working in that backyard for Mom's garden was like Jesus' pain (though, not as great), but that while I did it because I loved my Mom, I didn't understand why I had to help her with it.

Jesus understood why he suffered and still he accepted it. He suffered more pain than I ever have. When I was reminded of my experiences building my Mom's garden and prompted to compare it to Jesus' life, I couldn't help mysefl. I cried for a long time. I know that Jesus Christ lived, preached and died on behalf of the entire human race.

I write these words in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

May 18, 2014 - The Church's Online Journal Pros and Cons

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In my initial post, I said I was using the LDS church's online journaling system as part of my study routine. It is a decent, basic system. For the purposes of the church it is all that is needed.

There is a youtube video that describes the basics of using the system.

You can keep separate notebooks for each topic or lesson or whatever, highlight text in scriptures, articles, lessons and conference talks and you can tag each note with whatever key word, words or phrases you want.

You can choose either underlining or highlighting the selected text and you have a decent selection of colors to choose from.

You cannot mark, or highlight, anything that is not on the church's website and you cannot include embed images. And, while you can include the text of a url it is not made into a link. I also have not found a way to cross-reference a highlight.

Overall, the notebook system works well but it does not quite do everything I want. So I am still looking.