Friday, January 31, 2020

To the temple

Scott is 11 and transitioned from Primary (children) to the Young Men's (teens) program in our church.  This also meant that he could also serve in the temple as of January 1st.   But the temple was not open on new years day.

We went to the temple as a family on January 2nd.  Eric, myself, Amelia, Elanor, and Scott in the temple, and Seth and Naomi in the waiting room.  It was such a joyous moment for me to have all of my children IN the temple.

The church website said the temple would be open for baptisms at 4:30pm.  It was wrong.  Oops!  However, there was another family of 7 with an 11 year old girl waiting to go in as well.  So the temple presidency came into the baptistry.  One of them talked to Scott and the girl about it being their 1st time in the temple and the significance of temple work.  It was very special.

We also returned to the temple the following morning.  Eric and I did sealings: where we act as proxy for couples and children to be sealed for time and eternity to their families.  My great grandparents were sealed together and then my grandmother was sealed to them.  Such a sweet experience.

I found myself reflecting on our temple experience.   I delved into a study of sorts about the significance of temples.

Temple worship is not a new concept. Temples were part of life in the old Testament. David says in Psalms:

          "One thing have I desired of the Lord…that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of 
          my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple."
          —Psalms 27:4

Temple worship continued after Christ's life and ministry:
          "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ."
          —Acts 5:42

But what was and is the purpose of temples?

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a church leader, addressed this in the October 2017 General Conference.  He began by sharing an extraordinary story of a dog lost on vacation in Indiana that showed up on their doorstep 6 months later.  They lived in Oregon, over 2,000 miles away.
          "When I read of this powerful instinct in animals, I can’t help but wonder, “Is it possible that 
          human beings have a similar yearning—an inner guidance system, if you will—that draws them 
          to their heavenly home?”

          "I believe that every man, woman, and child has felt the call of heaven at some point in his or 
          her life. Deep within us is a longing to somehow reach past the veil and embrace Heavenly 
          Parents we once knew and cherished.

I think this also applies to loved ones that have passed, issuing the call of "home."
I have associated with and dearly love many people who are not of my faith, and even profess to be of no faith.  Yet several refer to their loved ones that have passed on as if they are still alive, somehow, in a different realm.  This is all very real.  

The temples of old were places of learning and of animal sacrifice.  Sacrifice - to remind and keep ever present in mind that the Messiah would come and provide the ultimate sacrifice for all.  Our Savior would atone for our sins, sorrows, hurts, injustices.  He would make it possible for every person who ever lived, and who ever will live to return to our heavenly home.

Christ came to earth.  He lived a perfect life, setting the perfect example for each of us to follow if we choose to.  He atoned for us, died on the cross, and was resurrected.  He made it possible for all to be forgiven of our sins and to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father.  He fulfilled all that was prophesied.  Before his death, he ordained His Apostles and established His church on the earth.

There is no magic.  Just the gospel.  And our choice to live it or not.  
We lived in heaven before this life.  We are alive on earth.  That is proof that we chose God's plan before!  Now we are here to use our agency to choose good in thought and in deed, which requires action on our part.

          Abraham 3:25 (scripture in the Pearl of Great Price, not in the bible)
          25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their
          God shall command them;

In James, we read:
          James 2:14 - 26
          14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? 
          can faith save him?
          20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
          24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
          26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

We learn from this and other scriptures that it is not enough alone to believe.  We have to act on our belief.

          "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be
          established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall
          flow unto it."  —Isaiah 2:2

When the gospel was restored, Joseph Smith was directed to build temples.  The ordinances that are performed in the temple unite families and connect generations.  It is performing the ordinances of baptism, endowment, sealing first for ourselves and then for our dead who did not and cannot do it for themselves.

          “Here and now then, we move to accomplish the work to which we are assigned. . . . We gather
          the records of our kindred dead, indeed, the records of the entire human family; and in sacred
          temples in baptismal fonts designed as those were anciently, we perform these sacred
          ordinances.”  (Boyd K. Packer | “The Redemption of the Dead,” Ensign, November 1975, 99)

          "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they
          then baptized for the dead?"  —1 Corinthians 15:29

The work of remembering one who is dead is a work of the utmost unselfish love. If one wants to make sure that love is completely unselfish, he eliminates every possibility of repayment.
Soren Kierkegaard

          "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of 
          the Lord:
          And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their 
          fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.   --Malachi 4:5-6

          Matthew 16:19. “Whatsoever Thou Shalt Bind on Earth Shall Be Bound in Heaven” 
          (see also Matthew 18:18John 20:23)

          "Peter and the other Apostles received priesthood keys that made their actions and decisions 
          binding both on earth and in eternity. President Russell M. Nelson explained that the keys 
          promised to Peter in Matthew 16:19 included the sealing authority exercised in our temples today, 
          that makes it possible for families to be bound together for eternity: “We should understand the 
          sealing authority of the priesthood. Jesus referred to this authority long ago when He taught His 
          Apostles, ‘Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven’ [Matthew 16:19]. That
          same authority has been restored in these latter days. Just as priesthood is eternal—without 
          beginning or end—so is the effect of priesthood ordinances that bind families together forever” 
          (“Personal Preparation for Temple Blessings,” Ensign, May 2001, 33).

As we search to connect out ancestors and help others to do so, we receive blessings of power from on high.  One church leader issued an invitation and promise.  Oh, how I cling to this promise!

          "I invite the young people of the Church to learn about and experience the Spirit of Elijah.
          I encourage you to study, to search out your ancestors, and to prepare yourselves to perform
          proxy baptisms in the house of the Lord for your kindred dead (see D&C 124:28–36). And I
          urge you to help other people identify their family histories.

          "I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you
          participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout
          your lives."  (Bednar Ensign, November, 2011)

I think I have adequately expressed myself.  Yet, there is so much more I could say.  Below are a few more quotes that I wanted to include, but will have stand alone.

"There exists a righteous unity between the temple and the home. Understanding the eternal nature of the temple will draw you to your family; understanding the eternal nature of the family will draw you to the temple."
Gary E. Stevenson

“Whereby all his children, be they alive or dead, might have the privilege of accepting or rejecting the gospel of his beloved Son.”
Joseph B. Wirthlin | Conference Report, April 1945,

“Temple ordinances, covenants, endowments, and sealings
enable…families to be sealed beyond the veil of death.”
Russell M. Nelson

“Because the temple is the house of the Lord, standards for admission are set by Him. One enters as His guest. To hold a temple recommend is a priceless privilege and a tangible sign of obedience to God and His prophets.”
Russell M. Nelson

“Each holy temple stands as a symbol of our membership in the Church, as a sign of our faith in life after death, and as a sacred step toward eternal glory for us and our families.”
Russell M. Nelson

Monday, January 13, 2020

Choosing a Horseshoeing School

About a year ago, Grandma Robin and Aunt Donna came to visit.  They had a couple of conversations with the onions about careers and what they want to be when they grow up.    Well, that got them thinking.... 

Seth has always wanted a career working with animals.  He did some research on careers and thought about things.   A couple of months later he decided he wanted to be a farrier, shoeing horses.  I suggested a school, but he had done his research and had found the one he wanted to attend.  He asked if we could go to the school and check it out.

The moment we arrived, it felt GOOD.  The school is a family business and they love what they do.  All the students are intent on their work, but cheerful, and very respectful.  There was a lot of positive peer pressure and encouragement.  I felt like we had found the TJEd commonwealth (our home school philosophy) for horseshoeing.  Everyone was positive and upbeat.  I learned that many of the students attending were young and came from homeschooling families.  After the tour, I was confident that Seth would love his experience at this school.

While we were at the school, I received a call for Seth.  Unannounced to me, Seth had applied for a job.  WHAT!  They wanted him to come in and fill out paperwork.  So Seth went in and he began working within a couple of days.

I was a bit nervous about Seth going away to school.  The owner/lead instructor assured me that he had previous students with Autism and that in his opinion might be the better student.  He also stated that his youngest student was a 13 or 14 year old Amish boy, that he had had several students begin at 17.  OK  I felt good about that.   But then I was nervous for Seth to work in the fast food industry.  I know this job was a means to an end.  I was super impressed that he took such initiative.  But part of me wondered if he could handle it.  Fast food can get hectic.  This would really reveal to all just what he was capable of.

I am proud to report that Seth has done wonderfully at his job. He has had his share of super busy and overwhelming moments.  He has made a few mistakes.  But all in all, he has succeeded in his first job.  His managers like him and have said that they wish they could clone him.  While fast food is not Seth career choice, I am grateful that he excels in the job he has.

When Seth started working, he was 16, but did not yet have his license.  Another hurdle.  Driving did not come so naturally for Seth.  I gave him a deadline by which to obtain his license.  And he did it!

Seth also applied to several scholarships.

Seth desire to go to vocational school has motivated him in ways I had always hoped for but had sometimes questioned.  I am so very proud of him!

Well.....  We realized that Seth would NOT have the tuition up front to go to the school of his choice.  He has zero response from any of the scholarships he applied to.  And, he has less in the bank than we had projected.

So in my scrambling to help Seth, I talked to a lady in our ward that is in the horse business about possible scholarships.  She suggested a different school.  I looked it up.  It was a fraction of the cost and they offered financial aid.  Seth could pay cash for this school and avoid going into debt!

But.... I got the impression that we should go in person to check it out.  Seth got a few consecutive days off during the time Eric had taken his vacation time and so we went. 

Um.... NO! 
On paper, everything looked so perfect, cost, assistance, program, recommendations. 
It didn't feel right.
There were people cussing.
The instructor we talked to was chewing tobacco and was constantly spitting on the ground.  As we walked around, I saw cigarette butts everywhere. 
Every staff there seemed to be going through the motions and doing their j-o-b.  That was the extent of it.
Even, Eric, aka Mr. Practical, did not want Seth to attend that school.

We were already out on the road and there was one more school we could go see.  It made our trip home longer but we went.

The 3rd school was okay.  Not spectacular, not awful.  It was also in the middle as far as tuition.

"Sometimes, you get what you pay for."

That can be different things for different people.  I think for Seth it is learning his trade in and environment he is comfortable in.

Seth had a big decision to make.  He weighed the pros and cons and decided to attend the 1st school.  His original top choice.

I realized that although Seth is not actively committing himself to God and living the gospel with intention, he can feel the Spirit and he does not like it when the Spirit is absent.  I doubt the first school is of our faith, but they are obviously Christian.  I am excited for Seth to flourish in that environment!

In case you are wondering....
We do not pay for college or vocational training.  If our children want it, they have to want it bad enough to do what it takes to get it. 
Seth got a job as soon as he decided on horseshoeing school.
Seth made an effort to apply for financial aid, but horseshoeing schools are not something FAFSA is will loan money for.  Seth has no assets of his own and cannot take out any kind of traditional loan. 
The school of his choice has ONE class schedule per year.  It starts in March.
Unfortunately, Eric and I do not have the full amount that Seth needs.  Tuition is required to be paid up front, in full.  We will take out a loan and Seth will repay it.

I have made it clear that when the onions are 18, they will move out, get a job and pay rent, or be in school.  That has concerned them from time to time.  I reassure them that by the time they are 18, they will want to launch, and they will be in a place to make it possible. 

I am so, so, so excited for Seth.  I am looking forward to watching the next part of his life unfold.