Leman Copely, a Monkey’s Trap, and Me

Leman Copely, a Monkey’s Trap, and Me

How I’ve Heard The Voice of The Lord This Week

This week in Come Follow Me, we learn in D&C 49 that Leman Copley is having a hard time letting go of some of his beliefs from being a member of the Shaker religion to align with truth and become a fully functioning member of Christ’s Church. In fact, the Lord says, “that they [the Shakers] desire to know the truth in part, but not all” and that because of that, “they are not right” before the Lord and need to repent.

In classes this week, we likened this situation to a Monkey’s trap – you remember, the coconut (or other such contraption) with food in it and a hole cut big enough for a monkey to get its paw in to grab the food, but not big enough to get its hand out while holding food. So, unless the Monkey is willing to give up the food, he is trapped. We talked about how Leman was trapped by old attitudes and beliefs. We pondered how Modern Day Israel is trapped because some of them won’t let go of actions and attitudes that hold them back from all of the truth and blessings that Heavenly Father intends for them.

But it’s not enough to talk about them, is it? It has to be me. I have to look at my own Monkey’s paw – the trap that I’ve been caught in for years. And as I start my new diet for the ‘um-teenth’ time, I realize that I’ve been doing it all wrong. As I log my food and am tempted to bend the truth about how much I’m logging, or maybe not log the food at all, the Spirit sharply but lovingly (see D&C 121: 42-43) calls back the verse I’d been teaching to my own mind – “they [you] desire to know the truth in part, but not all” and I realize probably for the first time how not being honest with myself has been a Monkey’s trap for me. 

In saying that, you need not think that I’m a totally dishonest person. At least not to others. But to myself, now that is something that I have been pondering for the last few days as I’ve been logging my food on the app – rounding, guesstimating, and not being exact. And as the Spirit put it all together in my mind, I finally broke through another wall. I needed to start praying for the Spiritual gift of more honesty and accountability with myself. For years, I’d been begging for more temperance (i.e., self-control) and would cry at the thought of never being able to have the control I wanted. I thought that I was just a weak, weak woman. Turns out, I may just need to be a more honest one. And somehow, it seems like that is something that I have the ability to do. At least, for the first time, I feel hope in my weakness – that I finally have the tool that will help it to be made strong (Ether 12:27). 

And so, as a final act of not just hearing Him, but also of Hearkening to Him, I have been prompted by the Spirit to turn on the light and publicly write about my own issues with self-honesty so that I can “know the truth [and] chase the darkness” away from me – which, I’m sure not coincidentally, is the next chapter of Come Follow Me for this week (see D&C 50:24-25). At first, the idea of writing this seemed so humiliating. Now, I just feel humbled and thankful for answers that come when we take time to “Hear Him”.

~Laryssa Waldron

(This was originally written for my ward’s Relief Society Newsletter’s “Hear Him” Moment”.)

A poem

Something I’ve been thinking about lately.

When I’m really questioning my faith, I look to who I am. I love the woman that I am when I live the gospel (full of joy, inner peace and love). I don’t like the feelings I have when I am doubting, despairing, and discouraged about the gospel. So I wrote this as a reminder to “doubt my doubts before I doubt my faith” (Come, Join with Us, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October 2013).

Galatians 5:22-23

Matthew 7:15-20

Being a Powerful Woman (part 2 – Spiritual Gifts)

(This cake was created by my daughters to celebrate Father’s Day last year. While not perfect, it’s amazingly creative for girls making it from scratch [that’s homemade fondant] and without any prompting on my part!)

My dear sisters, you have special spiritual gifts and propensities. Tonight I urge you, with all the hope of my heart, to pray to understand your spiritual gifts—to cultivate, use, and expand them, even more than you ever have. You will change the world as you do so.

Sisters’ Participation in the Gathering of Israel, President Russell M. Nelson, October 2018.

To continue my discussion about how I am training my girls to be powerful spiritual women, I want to talk about spiritual gifts and propensities as well as physical talents.

I believe that the keys to “cultivate, use, and expand these gifts” are to teach them to practice and to be creative.

The power of small moments

The first is be wise with time. The thief of developing talents is not be in the habit of daily practice. Are we truly aware of the difference that small moments (15 minutes or so) can make when taken advantage of each day? (And obviously, if I am in a consistent pattern and miss a day here or there, it will still be okay as long as I continue.) Practice must be intentional. With all of the distractions of life, talents and gifts can be procrastinated out of existence!

I’m encouraging my children to find what they like, and to work on those things daily (while they’re young and the days are more unstructured than life will be when they reach older teenage years and adulthood). When I see them on a device, we run through a list of things that they need to do (homework, chores, etc.) and then areas in which they would like to improve (music, art, special projects, creativity, etc.). We made a calendar so that they could track daily practice to see progress.

Perhaps these things are little, but I think too many women are engaged in the smallness of spending life scrolling on social media, or shopping sites, or binge watching, or playing games – constantly comparing, constantly looking for the “newest and the best”, constantly being entertained – rather than living life. (And, yes, I’m pointing the finger at myself here too! 🥴)

Creativity to develop gifts

The second area that will train my girls to “cultivate, use, and expand these gifts” is to learn to be creative.

Let me give two examples of this.

In our family of daughters, it’s pretty easy for my husband to feel overwhelmed. Last year, our youngest daughter (age 4 at the time) finding out that it was Father’s Day, decided to “throw him a giant party!” She enlisted the help of her older sisters and they decorated, made gifts, games, and food and we had a special day celebrating their Dad. (See the picture of the cake above.) The amazing thing was, they didn’t enlist my help or money. They did it all themselves with things that we had around the house. Creative ingenuity and problem solving will be a blessing in developing gifts and talents.

Second, with the many blessings that technology has brought to us, there are myriads of creative ways that one could use to help develop talents. If I don’t have money for dance lessons, I could look for YouTube videos on the basics of dance and practice at home. And if I couldn’t find videos, I could look for books at the free public library that taught basic dance steps. And if I couldn’t get to the library, I could play music and create dance steps. And if I couldn’t play music, I could sing and then dance. (You get the picture!)

I believe powerful women take advantage of time and opportunity to creatively develop and train themselves. In this way, they improve and beautify the world, both around and within themselves.

We are expected to develop ourselves

From here, I could move on to talk about the parable of the talents, (Matthew 25:14–30) and how if we don’t develop them we could be in serious trouble when the judgement comes. I love the fact that though the parable talks of talents (as in money from that time period) it is easy to use the parable to teach about talents (as in gifts, propensities, etc.). I will leave you, the reader, to explore and ponder this parable in light of the discussion.

Not just physical talents

At the end of the day however, physical talents are not the only thing that a powerful spiritual woman needs to cultivate, though these are important.

There is a whole world of spirituality that will bless her life and the lives of many for the eternities. If I teach each daughter to be aware of how the Holy Spirit prompts her individually, our home now and her future will be rich. The Spirit will refine her and help teach internal beauty such as how to be kind, how to listen, how to reach out and put another’s need above your own, how to love and befriend those who are difficult to love and befriend.

She will then follow in the footsteps of the Savior who spent His days and His gifts and talents, blessing and serving all around. There is no denying how the Lord’s unique ministry and teachings have blessed and lifted the world.

Internal goodness and spirituality are qualities that this world desperately needs but the world at large is seldom, if ever, teaching women to gain. At least, I rarely see these qualities taught in video games, online shopping, news articles, or in music, movies and shows. They would craft women to be self-serving, self absorbed, self obsessed, and even violent. “Sex and violence sells” so they tell me, but these qualities don’t have the power to lift and bless. So, if my works never sell, what does it matter? I’m looking to generate the true spiritual power of womanhood that I believe can change the world for good. And if all I change and better is my little corner of this vast universe, so be it.

Moving forward

My next job is to help guide my girls to uncover and develop those spiritual gifts and teach them to use the gifts (both the physical talents and spiritual gifts) for uplifting and edifying others (as is taught in Doctrine and Covenants 46).

And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God. (D&C 46: 26).

And that will be the topic of my next post. For now, thank you for reading and I welcome your comments. I’d especially love to hear your thoughts, scriptures, and quotes about spiritual gifts.

Being a Powerful Woman (part 1 – Edification)

(Someone kindly left these beautiful flowers in my office last week – what a kind and very appreciated thing to do!)

On Friday I read this scripture from Proverbs 14:1

Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.

It was the day after I had been emotionally triggered by an awkward situation in which a woman who I was sent to for help was quite rude to me. (Now, I’m not sure who the woman was, nor what kind of day she had, but her words held nothing to help during a situation in which I was already quite vulnerable.)

As I pondered that scripture and the behavior of the night before, I began to think about womanhood. And what I’m teaching my daughters about being a real woman. I decided to write a few pieces of advice here to give to them later.

Building Up and Tearing Down

To edify means to build something up. I think women who build others are quite remarkable.

I’ve read many articles lately about “being a woman in a man’s world” and about how if a woman is in a position to correct then she is seen as a “witchy woman” and “oh! The unfairness if it all.” And maybe it is unfair. But perhaps, we’re doing it wrong when we’re doing it in the way that everyone else does it.

Perhaps, it’s because (whether male or female) we’re tearing other humans down instead of using our unique gifts and talents to bless them.

Yes, we will need to correct, and yes, feelings can and will get hurt as we deal with others, but we can still be kind. We can build a person up after the correction or disappointment. (See Doctrine and Covenants 121: 41-43 on the correct pattern for both how to maintain power and influence as well as how to correct) in fact, the promise is that doing this shall –

greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy and without guile – [.]

What a heaven on earth this world would be if we treated each person with the main goal of leaving them better than when we first met them!

An Example of Correction

I’ll give an example of correction. A while ago, a student was flustered and began to yell at his teacher. In a soft but firm voice, she told him that it was evident that there was some major emotion that he was feeling about the situation, but she wasn’t the one to cause those feelings. Then she assured him that she’d be happy to talk to him about it after he had some time to settle down those emotions.

After resolving the situation, she expressed the belief that they could come to areas of agreement and then pointed out some of the strengths that she had seen in his work to make sure that he knew that there were no hard feelings. She also wanted to ensure that the relationship could live and thrive well past that moment.

Perhaps one may think it’s silly, but I believe that we can practice and succeed in taking the anger and rudeness out of relationships.

Criticism versus Kindness – who are we training ourselves to be?

One way to start is to begin to train ourselves to be less critical of others. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Virtue of Kindness“, April 2005 stated,

The things you say, the tone of your voice, the anger or calm of your words—these things are noticed by your children and by others. They see and learn both the kind and the unkind things we say or do. Nothing exposes our true selves more than how we treat one another in the home.

I often wonder why some feel they must be critical of others. It gets in their blood, I suppose, and it becomes so natural they often don’t even think about it. They seem to criticize everyone—the way Sister Jones leads the music, the way Brother Smith teaches a lesson or plants his garden.

Even when we think we are doing no harm by our critical remarks, consequences often follow.

It is a marvelous talk with some very simple and yet profound principles. My favorite of which is –

Kindness is the essence of a celestial life. Kindness is how a Christlike person treats others.

Working to build others instead of tearing them down is a mark of greatness and is just one way in which women can truly find the nature of true spiritual power.

Home Centered, Church Supported Learning Survey – Henderson 2nd Ward

Hello Henderson 2nd Ward Members,

Would you please fill out this survey, Home Centered Learning Survey  as soon as possible for our meeting on Sunday, December 9th ?

 

If you  are not in the Henderson 2nd Ward, would you please fill out this short poll:

 

Thank you for your help!

To God, Equality is A Little Different

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To define equal in our modern society, one would say equal means –

Being the same in quantity, size, degree, or value.

A person or thing considered to be the same as another in status or quality.

Be the same as in number or amount.

same, uniform, equivalent

But, it seems that to the Lord, equal means something different, and thankfully

pexels-photo-132774.jpegso. For example, If I were to give everyone “equal” or “same” in terms of a car, we would all get a sports car, but that would be problematic for some, especially those with a large family.

In Church History when the Lord’s people, were introduced to living the law of consecration, the Lord assigned the first Bishop of the Church to give properties and goods to the people, this is what He said –

“Wherefore, let my servant Edward Partridge, and those whom he has chosen, in whom I am well pleased, appoint unto this people their portions, every man equal according to his family, according to his circumstances and his wants and needs.”

Doctrine and Covenants 51:3

Isn’t that interesting?

♦ every man equal according to his family, according to his circumstances and his wants and needs

God’s measuring of equal sometimes is a little different than ours.  Ours is exact sameness. His is equal in terms of opportunities, needs, wants, circumstances, etc. Even in terms of trails, spiritual gifts, blessings, assignments, etc.

Some thoughts to ponder –

  • How have you seen evidence of this in the gospel?
  • As a parent, how is this definition of equal more fair and beneficial for my children?
  • How does knowing this, help you to understand His ways (see Isaiah 55: 8-9) a little bit more?

Further study –

See Equal in the Topical Guide

All Things Are the Lord’s”: The Law of Consecration in the Doctrine and Covenants, by Steven Harper

The Old Fashioned Date – an opportunity for practice and for service

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This post is to my dear young friends that I  have been so privileged to teach. And though my primary audience is my students at BYU-Idaho, I hope some of these thoughts might be helpful to others. For those who do not share my faith, some background on why families are important, guidelines for dating, and commitments to the laws of chastity and fidelity will help you understand this piece.

Because our world has become so sexually charged, and because personal devices have made social situations awkward, and because getting married is so important in our culture (that it causes extreme anxiety in some of my students), I want to speak in favor of the old-fashioned date.

By this, I mean an inexpensive social outing in which you get to know a member of the opposite sex for a period of a few hours and one in which there is no expectation of physical intimacy nor is there expectation of life-long commitment. The point of the old-fashioned date is to get acquainted with others so that you can know for certain which personality traits work with yours and which don’t.

Another part of the date is the expectation that it is paired off (see note # 1). It should be just your date and you. Don’t invite a bunch of your closest friends along while you text them a play-by-play, or update all of your social media sites. There will be plenty of time for updates afterwards. Be present. Enjoy the moment. Give your date the gift of your company for a few hours. Practicing this rule will bless  your life for years to come!

If you date a variety of individuals (without the expectation of physical intimacy) you will be able to see the characters of the people you date. You will see which personalities you get along with and the attributes that you don’t care for. If you only date people that you are physically attracted to, and push physical intimacy too quickly, that dependence on physical gratification might mask some character flaws that would not work well with your personality. And as wonderful as sexual intimacy is in marriage, it is only a small part of marriage, and life (contrary to what the world’s fascination with sexuality teaches). It is important that the foundation of friendship, spirituality, humor, service,  hard work, etc, etc. is a major part of your choice to ultimately marry.

To my dear young brothers, yes, the expectation of dating is on your shoulders, by culture and by revelation. I once had a young seminary student who said, “Why would I want to waste money on someone elses’ wife?” My answer to him, and to you is that you may not get a wife unless you have practiced the simple social skill of dating!

Please understand, young men, that by dating, you are practicing caring for a woman. You are showing that you are able to provide and protect her for the time that you are in her company. You are responsible for her safety and well-being: spiritually, mentally, socially and emotionally. The more you practice, the more you will be able to care for your future wife and children.

I also encourage you to look at dating as a service that you are performing for these young women. You’re giving them the chance to practice their social skills and responsibilities in turn. You are allowing these young women to feel that they are acceptable enough for someone to want to be with them (please see # 2) and, by practicing, you are also serving your future wives and daughters. Not all dating will lead to marriage. But healthy and wholesome dating will lead to treasured memories and friendships and the ability to have normal and natural platonic (i.e. love or friendship that is intimate and affectionate but not sexual) social connections that will serve you well into the future. You must learn to have these platonic relationships so that you can work with, and live in communities with, and serve in wards with members of the opposite sex now and in the future.

To my dear young sisters, please allow these young men to serve you. Saying yes to a date or to a dance that lasts for three or four minutes doesn’t mean an eternal commitment! I just talked to a young man the other day (an amazing, brilliant, spiritual brother) who confided in me that the last three or four times he has asked a woman out, she has said “no”. I was totally flabbergasted, completely gobsmaked!!!! (A British phrase meaning – surprised and utterly astonished.)

Yes, sisters, we live in a bright age in which we are able to do many wonderful and amazing things for which I am truly thankful. However, just because we can open a door for ourselves doesn’t mean that we should. If you are training men not to serve you, then in the future, you will do everything yourself (which, though you have the ability, can be quite difficult when you juggle in babies, work, school and all the other wonderful demands that the world tells you that you can do perfectly.  Just a note. As amazing and brilliant as women are, the reality is that it is quite impossible to do it all perfectly! )

When you allow others to serve you, you are also serving them. Remember that the Savior, the greatest of all, served others, and it was for those others to allow Him serve them (see John 13). So, serve the future girls they date and their future wives by allowing them to practice social skills on you. And serve your future husbands by learning how to communicate, serve, and socialize with men. Of course, follow promptings if your gut tells you that something is wrong! However, if you must say no, please make it the exception rather than the rule. As I stated before, one or two dates doesn’t mean an intense or eternal commitment.

For those sisters who are not being dated. You are wonderful and brilliant! Please continue to make time in your schedule for social activities to continue to practice making and developing friendships. Also, if the men aren’t asking you out, it’s okay to  take the initiative and invite them to be with you on occasion. Here’s an idea, something that my friends and I did in our ward at BYU to invite the men out and to encourage reciprocal (i.e.- done in return) dates, we created, “The Date of The Month”. Each month we would plan out a fun group dating activity, for example, in December, we went to the Christmas Choir Concert on campus and then we went back to our apartment and had a gingerbread house making contest in which each couple would work together to decorate a pre-made graham cracker house.  Monthly, we would create a series of activities that would allow us to work with and talk with the person that we invited, but the dates were also simple, and comfortable because they included other couples.

To both my dear sisters and brothers who are so focused on your studies or your career that you don’t make time to practice these important skills (dating, socializing, serving, and caring for others) then you may not have the skills necessary to be able to have the blessing of family. Please consecrate (i.e. to set something aside for a sacred purpose) time in your busy schedules to date and socialize. Serve your future families now by making the effort to practice. Please learn the skill of making time for your family right now.

I know that it can be scary to put yourselves out there. But remember that creating families is a faith-based work! Ask the Lord to help you in your dating. If you sacrifice time and means for this important work, He can help and bless you. Ask the Lord to inspire you with ideas about whom to ask and what to do. Pray for the Holy Spirit to be part of your dates. Be brave like a student of mine who just asked a girl on a casual date. I loved that he invited her out and communicated that phrase (a casual date) to help take the pressure off. I know you can do this! Father in Heaven didn’t send you down on earth at this important time to fail in the sacred work of building families. Start today. Ask someone that you feel comfortable with on an old-fashioned date and begin now to practice and to serve!

 


NOTES:

  1. About being paired off – remember that I am talking to single adults, not teenagers. Teenagers, please see the guidelines in For the Strength of Youth on Dating.
  2. In this statement, I mean this – women are very hard on themselves and a date goes a long way to help with that! Often, when I was single, I would pray in loneliness and Father would raise up a kind young man who (I believe) would feel prompted to take me out. I have such genuine gratitude for the men that dated me, and for such happy memories of our times together on dates (fun and spiritual conversations, laughter, and good activities) before I met and married my husband.

The Blessing of an Illness

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I know. It’s Pollyanna of me to look for the rainbow while I’m in the storm. It’s my nature. I’ve been down with an ear infection (or worse) for a week now. I gave my body permission to be sick over the long weekend (President’s Day) but I was planning on being well again by Tuesday. However, my body disobeyed me! ARRGH!! 😉

The musing that I have been thinking about during my down time is this –

illness rips the trivial out and leaves in its wake only energy for the most important.

I’ve been able to cuddle my daughters more this weekend, which is truly needed as we spend too much time going, and going. I relaxed with my hubby as we did some activities that he wanted to do (instead of the endless list of things I needed to accomplish for the family, or for work). I received Priesthood Blessings and listened to a CD *that my dear friend sent me –  activities which edified my soul and reminded me of my purposes here on earth, and I watched some documentaries for work* – which got me excited to teach classes and is a reservoir of knowledge for future teaching.

As I’m still feeling dizzy and have a clogged, ringing ear (I’m now thinking that it’s an inner ear thing, antibiotics this week have not cleared it up and I have an appointment with an ENT Specialist on Monday). The whole process has slowed me down.  But it has also made me trust the Spirit and my students (who are absolutely amazing and wonderful!) I’ve had to trust my family to step-it-up (chores, be more independent, etc.). I’ve had to trust my body that it will heal and my Father in Heaven that I am still called to the work despite my faults and flaws.

So I leave you with this – if you are one that is going 100 miles an hour – it’s okay to slow down. So when those moments come, be it through a pregnancy, or an illness, or circumstances changing – enjoy and find the blessings of the pockets and slow wisps of time for you. Turn off the “rat race” and drink in the beauties and the moments of the wonderful people around you. This stage of life in a temporal sphere will not be forever. You will be more, so much more than you can possibly imagine – so enjoy the now!

Do you suppose it matters to our Heavenly Father whether your makeup, clothes, hair, and nails are perfect? Do you think your value to Him changes based on how many followers you have on Instagram or Pinterest? Do you think He wants you to worry or get depressed if some un-friend or un-follow you on Facebook or Twitter? Do you think outward attractiveness, your dress size, or popularity make the slightest difference in your worth to the One who created the universe?

He loves you not only for who you are this very day but also for the person of glory and light you have the potential and the desire to become.

More than you could ever imagine, He wants you to achieve your destiny—to return to your heavenly home in honor.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Living the Gospel Joyful, October 2014

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

1 Corinthians 2:9


* If you are interested in the media that I had the privilege of enjoying this week, I can’t recommend them more!

Ganel-Lyn Condie’s CD, You are Already Walking on Water   – This is a recording from a talk that she gave at the end of the year (December 2017). Her personality is so warm and welcoming, and as she speaks, she allows herself and all of us to be there in our broken states, and yet still helps the listener to see our tragically flawed human lives that are still full of purpose and value!  It is relatable and endearing. She beautifully uses the scriptures and ties in life stories and then challenges the listener to look at everything in our life’s work as sacred (especially simple things [so often treated by the world as mundane] such as the sacred service of changing diapers or making dinner). Such a needed reminder!

BYUTV 2017 Documentary, America’s Sacred Ground: Kirtland –  Such a wonderful documentary about the Church in Kirtland, the building of the temple, the glories and trials. It also has a section on some more modern day moments in Kirtland’s history. I am teaching the first half of the Doctrine and Covenants this semester and this Documentary makes me so excited for the Kirkland revelations!

A Prophet’s Call and Apostles’ Answer

Hello dear friends!

It’s lovely to write again. I miss it. My life has taken some amazing new turns over the past few months. I still have some videos that I created in the Isaiah in the Book of Mormon Series that I haven’t posted and more planned that I haven’t filmed. I know excuses are weak, but here it is – I shifted from part-time work, to full-time work. We also moved and my husband had knee surgery. It just seems that when it rains it pours! And yet, I keep feeling a desire, yearning, and yes, prompting to continue writing. So I’ve stolen a moment to catch up.

Now I teach religion at BYU-Idaho (as a three-year visiting professor). It is heavenly! I love the strength and faith of the students and the support of the college. And, as I prepared for one of my classes tomorrow, I put together a video, which got me thinking of this blog and finding a way to steal a precious moment.

Tomorrow we are discussing the Power of the Book of Mormon in the conversion process for my Mission Prep (REL 130) class. I was profoundly touched and humbled this conference with the example of two apostles to head the Prophet’s call, and this video and lesson stem from that. I admit to not studying the Book of Mormon as I should at times. Though, in the last few months of teaching I have been struck by the clarity of the gospel message as taught through that Book. I am going to make a more serious study of it and request to teach it in the coming years. Funnily enough, it is the only book of scripture that I have only taught once. Twice the New Testament and Doctrine & Covenants, and three times the Old Testament.

Anyway, I invite you to share your thoughts (either publicly, or in your own personal journals) on different ways that you have studied the Book of Mormon (President Nelson gave some wonderful ideas) and goals for studying it in the future. Remember that the Lord will consecrate our efforts to study, even when we can only give “stolen moments”. For example, I laugh with other women as we talk about reading or praying on the toilet because when your house and life are packed, that’s about all you can give! I know that the Lord appreciates any gifts of righteousness, and there are seasons – the ability to study more (because of time) will come, and when it does, if you are already in the habit, it will be even better!