Snapshots of Life

Monday, May 26, 2008

Tagged by Lisel

So, this is about 20 days after the tag but I guess it is better late than never. The rule is to name 6 facts about me and tag a few people at the end. I will try to name some facts that a lot of people wouldn't know about me.

1. I hate The Princess Bride and Dumb and Dumber. I know, I know, some of the most beloved movies of practically everyone. Don't throw things or post ugly comments. When it comes to The Princess Bride, the whole show just kind of annoys me. Especially that part where the girl rolls down the mountain in that hideous orange dress shouting, "aaaas yoooou wiiiiish". Then that freaky part when the witch woman is going, "boooo, booooo" or something to that effect. L-A-M-E. Then, Dumb and Dumber is just, well, DUMB!

2. I love history. When I was a kid our yearly family vacation was to St. George for the annual pharmacy convention. I would take the tourist map from the hotel room and guide my 3 younger brothers on a tour of all the historical sites in the city while my parents were in meetings. I couldn't have been more than about 11 or 12 when we started. I'm not sure what Lisel did, maybe tanning or something. It was always hot but we would see the temple, tabernacle, Brigham Young home, play house, etc. I still remember Shayne mosied around back then too, always straggling way behind everyone else. People must have thought we were a pretty strange bunch of kids. We were nerds but they are good memories! One time, we visited the Jacob Hamblin home the next day with my parents and apparently word had spread among the senior missionaries that 4 "toe heads" were walking around the city seeing the sites without their parents.

3. When I was just a toddler my uncle thought he was real funny and pushed me into the deep end of the pool. I couldn't swim. My mom was nursing one of my brothers so another uncle jumped in to save me. I still remember the picture of being under water and panicking, then being snatched up by the uncle. As a result, I was scared of water for a long time. For the first few years that my family had a boat I would pretend I was sick everytime we went waterskiing to avoid having to try. I'm mostly over it now, but I do get a little uneasy on big bodies of water if it gets at all choppy.

4. I am a major procrastinator on most things and I usually run pretty late (family trait). I did not get my eagle until the day I turned 18. I did not hold my eagle court of honor until two weeks before I left on my mission.

5. I have never broken a bone or cut myself bad enough to get stitches. I've had to have stitches or staples for some minor surgeries but never from an accident.

6. I really like to do yard work. There is something that feels really good about working outside and getting your hands dirty. I miss not having a yard to help out with. I like it so much that Jeje and I decided to plant a garden of sorts and hang it on our 3rd-story balcony. I will have to take some pictures and post the funny story to go along with it another time!

I tag Jeje and Mike, since they haven't responded to the tag from Lisel yet. I also tag anyone else who needs something to blog about but can't think of anything at the moment.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Moses 1 and the Temple

Do you ever feel like you have something to say but don't quite know what it is? It's like there are churning thoughts in the back of your mind and you want to express them but there aren't words or sentences to organize them into understandable discourse. In fact, there isn't even really a topic or focus, it's more feeling than cognition. Well, that's how I've felt the last few days. Not sure why, but I do. Maybe it's because I've been trying to make sense of a few things in my life in the last few weeks. Much to the chagrin of my feminine-communicating-style wife I've always been a private thinker and problem solver, prefering to sort things out internally before even acknowledging to others that I've been thinking about or pondering over something in the first place. Admittedly, this is an odd characteristic for someone who listens to people's thoughts and feelings all day, and who has been trained to "talk it out". But, it is what it is, and sometimes it is to my detriment. Given all of that I figured it was time to blog again, since it has been far too long and I just feel like saying something.

A few years ago I did an intense study of Moses, chapter 1. There was a great need at the time. I found some of the answers I was praying and searching for. It is, perhaps, one of the most powerful chapters of scripture ever recorded. The lessons are plentiful. More recently that study has returned to the forefront of my mind as I have worked with struggling clients. Then, over the weekend Jeje and I went to the temple and I saw very similar lessons taught there in a more visual and symbolic way.

Perhaps one of the greatest lessons that can be gleaned from Moses 1 is satanic style, in other words, the tactics of the great tempter. We know that God is unchanging, from everlasting to everlasting, He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Thus, we can learn from the scriptures and the prophets, patterns of divine interaction and involvement that engender faith in the constant character of the Creator. Similarly, I believe, we might gain insight into the patterns of the evil one, who is Lucifer, that eternally banished and fallen son of the morning. The following are a few devious devices that are demonstrated in Moses 1 and also, to some extent, played out in the temple ceremony.

1. In an amazing discourse entitled "Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence", Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught the principle, with his extraordinary power and eloquence, that Satan rears his ugly head not only previous to and in anticipation of great revelatory and spiritual moments, but also after them. It is AFTER Moses speaks to God "face to face" in the mountain, receives His glory upon him, is taught that he is in similitude of the Only Begotten, and hears that God has a work for him, that the old serpent comes to the scene. So it is with us, albeit on a smaller scale. Of course, Satan's object and design in this tactic is to cause us to question, to doubt, to forget, and to fall.

2. Satan would apparently direct our focus to our carnal nature and persuade us to follow it. We are born into a fallen world - "carnal, sensual, and devilish" - and the old nick exploits that condition as much as possible. Moses had just been informed by the Lord Himself that he (Moses) was HIs (God's) son, in similitude of His Only Begotten. Yet, the very first thing that Satan says to Moses is, "Moses, son of MAN". It seems that the adversary's tactic here is to divert Moses from what he had just learned. Satan is no dummy. He does not tell Moses that he is not a son of God, that would be too revealing of his intentions after what Moses had just experienced. Instead, he just reminds him that he is a son of man. His pattern is subtle, using the lower truth that Moses is a son of man (remember Moses had just exclaimed that "man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed") to distract him from the higher truth of his sonship to God the Father. Is there not a struggle within us all between the spirit and the flesh? Indeed, "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak". Though this dichotomy may present itself differently in each of us there is generally a part of us that feels the truth of our divine heritage, that longs to do right, and another part of us that is tempted and attracted by the things of the flesh and the world. The tendencies have varying names and manifestations but in each individual sphere the pull is great to succomb to them. Satan stands ready to remind us of that pull. Furthermore, it appears that even when we are seeking out God for direction or answers, he who rebelled against Him is there to offer some answers of his own.

3. The great serpent, who actually has no more power or authority than a harmless garden snake, commands us to worship him as if we have no choice. Following the adversary's reminder to Moses that he is a son of man, he demands, "worship me!". To worship is to love (in fact, in Italian the verb 'to worship' is 'adorare', that is, to adore or to love) and to love is to heed and to follow. The message seems to be, "you are this way so embrace it, love it, heed it, and follow me". The happy trail leads to nowhere. Perhaps this is no more aptly exemplified than in our modern world. In great irony, choice is heralded above all, but only inasmuch as it is legitimized by the loudest voices. Any decision contrary to their choice is simply backward, suppressed, or otherwise insignificant.

4. The adversary attempts to cause us to fear. Of course, fear and faith are polar opposites. When Moses initially rebuts Satan, Mr. Devil pulls the drama card and "cries with a loud voice and rants upon the earth". His tactic is evidently to lead us to lose confidence in ourselves and our Father. Thankfully, I don't know of too many who have heard Satan literally crying out or seen him ranting on the earth, but he certainly cries out in our lives and rants in our souls in a more spiritual and emotional way. The message is often something like, "You can't do this" or "God isn't listening to you" or "You're not worth it". Such rants raise fear and weaken faith necessary to call upon God for deliverance, healing, grace, or any other blessing.

5. Satan uses every strategy to convince, including intimidation and tantrum. Furthermore, he does not go easily. At one point in Moses' interaction with the evil one the devil trembles and the earth shakes. He even goes so far as to weep, wail, and gnash his teeth. Apparently when subtlety is futile he is willing to up the stakes and pull out all the stops. Although we may not see him shake the earth, we may feel him shake our faith. We might expect then, that sometimes things get worse before they get better when it comes to overcoming the influence of Satan and the flesh. We might also expect that as we grow closer to God the intensity of his buffetings may very well increase.

I do not pretend to be an expert on the subject, nor do I wish to imply that I fully understand these principles or always manage them as I should. No doubt, there are additional tactics not discussed here. Surely, there are more nuances to be observed and insights to be had. Nevertheless, these few points have been helpful for me. I believe there is strength in awareness. With greater insight into the satanic style we can then more clearly see how Moses counters it, and thus, how we can recognize it in our own experience and counter it ourselves...but that's for another post!