A Tale of Two Butterflies

A Tale of Two Butterflies

The first butterfly

At the end of the school year, my daughter in junior high released butterflies with her science class. Then, the teacher gave her two caterpillars to take home and watch as they developed in the beautiful circle of life. Within a few weeks, she was tired of them and so, as is often the case with parents, the responsibility became mine. And for some strange reason, the caring of the butterflies became deeply personal to me.

For the first few weeks, the two black caterpillars grew bigger and gnarlier – almost hairy – as they roamed in their little plastic container that had a paper-towel lining the top. My daughter assured me that her teacher said that, “yes, there would be plenty of oxygen, food, etc. and soon, the first little caterpillar attached itself to the paper towel and became a chrysalis.” (Surely I am getting some of the scientific words and concepts wrong and I beg pardon for that as I am not a scientist, but a reader of Eric Carle’s, The Very Hungry Caterpillar – so for all I know, these guys should be eating “one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one watermelon,” etc. 😉).

The second guy roamed around for about a week more, but by the time he went to form into a chrysalis, the paper towel had begun to mold and he couldn’t find a place to attach. It seemed that he became frantic, because one day, he scooted over to the hanging chrysalis and began to shake the other guy very vehemently (I know this sounds weird, but so it was). I realized that he was probably going to kill them both, so, I quickly wet a second paper towel and gently opened the plastic cup and began to prod the caterpillar with it so that he would leave the first one alone. Amazingly, it worked and he came over and attached to the second paper towel as the first chrysalis hung precariously by a very thin thread and rested on the gunk in the bottom of the plastic cup. After the second formed into a chrysalis, I followed some internet research and prayerful meditative thoughts and carefully moved them both into a mason jar where they both had more room to hatch.

Here you can see the blood, the first on the left and the second hanging chrysalis to the right.

After about another week, on a very beautiful sunny Saturday morning, I looked over at the mason jar and noticed a bunch of blood on the paper towel below (which was amazing really see Moses 6: 59-60). The first butterfly had emerged! I had once read a story about a boy who tried to help a butterfly emerge out of a cocoon (which btw, I have learned that butterflies emerge from chrysalis and moths from cocoons, but I digress). The story goes – And he sees the butterfly struggling. So trying to help it, he uses some scissors to cut a hole to help the butterfly to get out. As the butterfly came out the boy was surprised. It had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. He continued to watch the butterfly expecting that, at any moment, the wings would dry out, enlarge and expand to support the swollen body. He knew that in time the body would shrink and the butterfly’s wings would expand. But this never did happen and the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. The butterfly, you see, was SUPPOSED to struggle. In fact, the butterfly’s struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of the cocoon pushes the fluid out of its body and into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly would never, ever fly. Sometimes the good intentions hurt the butterfly.

So, you see, I left that butterfly alone until it had detached itself from the paper towel and was moving around in the bottom of the mason jar. And then, I had such an amazing experience with it as I helped it out and then let it go into the world. This type of butterfly was called a Painted Lady. It was so beautiful – it was truly the miracle of life! It grabbed onto my hand and we just stared at each other for a while. Later, I hoped as it flew away, that it would be able to have a lovely life (of 6-20 days) and not be gobbled up right away by some animal. Again, those who know much more than I will find that surely I have done something wrong in my upbringing of this butterfly – oh well, what can I do? But the beauty and joy of that day stayed with me for several days.

I figured that the second one would be in its chrysalis for at least another week.

Within a couple of days, my junior high daughter got into a bike accident and got a concussion and banged up her face. Thankfully she is doing much better, but on that same day of the accident, the second one emerged early. And this one had emerged well before it had finished forming. So the first half of the body was out, but the other half was in, and it was thrashing around desperately trying to get out – for hours!

You can see that this guy is not fully formed or ready to leave the chrysalis

So, there I am, caring for my poor daughter, and my poor butterfly. Checking on both, doing anything I can think of for both. I spent more time on my daughter of course, but my husband joked around with friends that I had become a butterfly physician, and my oldest daughter very astutely asked, “Mom, are you putting your emotions and worries about helping [your junior high daughter] into trying to help and heal this butterfly?” Yes. Yes. I was.

I tried to help in anyway I could as the butterfly fell out of the chrysalis into the bottom of the mason jar, half formed. I googled, I followed suggestions and intuition. Nothing I did seemed to help. My husband kept saying, “let it go!” He was probably right, but I just couldn’t give up on the little guy. It grabbed onto my hand like the first one and we looked at each other for a while. We kept thinking it had died, but then, it would defy the odds and start moving again. Finally, it began to get desperate and thrashed about like it had when it was a caterpillar. I did what I could to help it reattach and get comfortable, and it calmed and miraculously lived for a while longer, until finally, now, it is truly dead. I want to bury it in the flower patch in our home.

I’ve been thinking over the last day or so about life. For some, it is so so beautiful, like the first butterfly. For others, like the second, so desperately tragic! Without a view of Eternity, I cannot imagine how people make sense of it all. How can some who are like the first butterfly look at those like the second and think “too bad for them, but I’m good”? Or “this is my life” and give no thought to the second. Or worse, deny the hope of God, Justice, or an Eternal Reward. There cannot be only this life – the law of justice that dwells inside the human heart demands more!

It reminds me of an idea from a talk, given years ago by then Elder Boyd K. Packer called, The Play and the Plan (from a CES fireside, May 7, 1995) in which he stated,

The plan of redemption, with its three divisions, might be likened to a grand three-act play. Act I is entitled “Premortal Life.” The scriptures describe it as our First Estate. (See Jude 1:6; Abr. 3:26-28) Act II, from birth to the time of resurrection, the “Second Estate.” And Act III, “Life After Death or Eternal Life.” In mortality, we are like one who enters a theater just as the curtain goes up on the second act. We have missed Act I. The production has many plots and subplots that interweave, making it difficult to figure out who relates to whom and what relates to what, who are the heros and who are the villains. It is further complicated because you are not just a spectator; you are a member of the cast, on stage, in the middle of it all!

We progress or we are held back in life within the limits imposed by spiritual and natural law which govern all the universe. We sometimes wonder, if the plan really is the great plan of happiness, why must we struggle to find fulness of it in mortal life?

If you expect to find only ease and peace and bliss during Act II, you surely will be frustrated. You will understand little of what is going on and why it is permitted to be as they are.

Remember this! The line “And they all lived happily ever after” is never written into the second act. That Line belongs in the third act when the mysteries are solved and everything is put right. The Apostle was right when he said, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Corinthians 15:19.)

Until you have a broad perspective of the eternal nature of this great drama, you won’t make much sense out of the inequities in life. Some are born with so little and others with so much, some in poverty, with handicaps, with pain, with suffering, premature death even of innocent children. There are the brutal, unforgiving forces of nature and the brutality of man to man. We’ve seen a lot of that recently.

Do not suppose that God willfully causes that, which for His own purposes, He permits. When you know the plan and purpose of it all, even these things will manifest a loving Father in Heaven.

I will leave you to study the whole talk (which is really so lovely) and say finally, that at the end of the day, there is no justice in this life, no way to make things right, or whole, or fair, without the Atonement of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. No social justice of our time will give back justice to the Slaves, or the Jews, or the Native Americans, or any number of injustices and atrocities that the agency of men and women in this world has committed. Please understand – we should teach and talk about those injustices so that history will not forget, we we should also always remember that real justice for life’s inequities and unfairness will come for them and for us through Jesus Christ. What a blessing – a glorious truth that gives me hope everyday.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Revelation 21:4

Family History Lesson – Partner Sites

This is a lesson that I created for my family history class. It helps students to walk through the process of signing up for the family history parter sites. When you access these sites, you will be able to use their genealogical records to help find your ancestors. This lesson is intended for members of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ, who have free access with their membership.

Researching: Partner Sites

Now comes the fun! It’s time to start seeking information and evidence to prove and complete the information on your family in FamilySearch. You will be going beyond Record Hints in your pursuit of sources. FamilySearch has many sources that do not automatically appear in Record Hints that require more advanced search skills.

Additionally (with your Membership in the Church) you have access to American Ancestors, Ancestry, FindMyPast, and MyHeritage where you can search for additional information and sources. Becoming confident in your ability to search is a skill you now need to master. 

For this assignment:

  1. Watch this video for background
  2. Tips for Finding Your Ancestors in Genealogy Databases (Links to an external site.) is another resource that will give you tips on researching ancestors.
  3. Create accounts with all four Partner sites by going to www.familysearch.org/partneraccess (Links to an external site.)  (these accounts are free with your membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
    • Notes:
      • FamilySearch –  does not allow you to download a GEDCOM from the site
      • My Heritage  – will bring over a full FamilySearch Tree (takes a while to download) but will create a GEDCOM
      • Ancestry – will only import 4 generations from FamilySearch, but will create a GEDCOM
      • American Ancestors – allows an import from FamilySearch but this is what they say on their website – 
        • You can import up to 4 generations of ancestors and one generation of their descendants, or up to 8 generations of ancestors without descendants.Because we import not only facts and relationships but also stories and media, importing more generations would take a long time.You can import additional generations at any time by navigating to an end-of-line ancestor and selecting Download more from the FamilySearch icon in the toolbar.
      • Find My Past – will only take GEDCOM (will not import directly from FamilySearch)
      • Geneanet  – will only take GEDCOM (will not import directly from FamilySearch)
  4. If you are unfamiliar with a GEDCOM (Links to an external site.), it is a computer file for genealogy. In fact the word is short for Genealogical Data Communication. Here is a video from Ancestry on how to create a GEDCOM from their site. It should give you a good idea of what it is and how it is used. 
  5. Assignment: Using Google searches and help found on the sites listed above, pick one of the five main family history sites you will use for research and become an expert on advanced searching techniques for the site you selected.

Thank you!

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

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

pexels-photo-131723.jpeg

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

Seminary – Basic Doctrines

I just came off a year of teaching the Old Testament.

It was lovely to be back in the lives of the students and in the scriptures in that way. Wow! That kind of studying is powerful, and to tell the truth, I miss it already!

However, I will turn to some other pursuits and projects for the time being. But, I did want to share some awesome print-outs for any Early Morning Seminary Teachers out there (or parents, leaders, etc.) –

THE BASIC DOCTRINES 

I got them from my pre-service teacher and very easily (for about $7 at Alphagraphics [links to an external site]) had them blown up to a size for my classroom wall.

Enjoy!

Talk: Reaping the Rewards of Righteousness

“Many of our challenges are in the spiritual realm. They are societal issues we as individuals cannot necessarily resolve. Nevertheless, there are practical rewards we can achieve as individuals, even at a time when righteousness across the world is in decline.”

I am reading and loving this talk today given by Elder Quentin L. Cook, called “Reaping the Rewards of Righteousness” (this excerpt was written July 2015 from an original address on May 2, 2014). While I don’t have time today to give a lot of commentary on it, I will add some quotes that I find fascinating.

In talking about skeptics of living righteously, he stated,

“They evidence their diminished faith when, on many issues, they are more concerned with being on the wrong side of history than on the wrong side of God. There was a time when the vast majority of people understood that they would be judged by God’s commandments, not by the prevailing views or dominant philosophies of the day. Some are more concerned about being mocked by others than they are about being judged by God.”

Elder Cook talks about the reward of spirituality and posed the question, “How do I put material concerns in proper perspective as I attempt to achieve spiritual progress?”

“Could anything be more relevant to the issues of our own day than this message about humility, pride, envy, and persecution? The great debate across much of the world is about temporal day-to-day economic issues. Yet there is little discussion about returning to Christlike principles focused on preparation to meet God and on the condition of our spirits. We need to focus our lives and increase our emphasis on spiritual matters.”

He talks about successful families and raising successful children, and then talks about something that I think we, as parents, may worry about a lot –

“The scriptures are clear that living the commandments allows us to prosper in the land. But let me assure you that prospering in the land is not defined by the size of your bank account. It has a much fuller meaning than that.”

Then he went on to talk about having an abundance of the Spirit of the Lord in our lives and the peace that living the gospel gives us. That living the commandments provides for more than just physical wealth, there are also physical blessings, mental, social and of course spiritual blessings that come from keeping and living a righteous life (a life in harmony with God and His teachings as outlined in His scriptures and in the words of the living prophets). I can testify that this is true. As one who has been living on very little over the past few years, I have seen an abundance of God’s blessings in my life. The greatest blessing for me has been the peace of knowing that I have been living in the way that is acceptable to God.

King Benjamin states, “I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it” (Mosiah 2:41).

I hope that you are able to read the whole talk and that you will feel free to share your thoughts about it in the comments. Have a wonderful day!

What’s the Difference Between a Saint and a Sinner?

What’s the difference between a saint and a sinner?

It’s really simple. Are you ready?

A saint repents. And then sins, and repents again. And then makes another mistake, and (you guessed it) repents again. I’m not talking about a person who laughs at sin and continues to do it, knowing that they can “just repent later”, but real people, with real addictive behaviors, working each day, hand-in-hand with God, to repent and try to be better.

You may think that I’m being trite, but I’m not.

A sinner either thinks that there is no need for repentance (is in denial that there is such a thing as sin) or thinks that he/she is so bad that they are incapable of God’s love, or is mad at God and doesn’t want anything to do with Him … right now.

All of it is a matter of the heart. Let’s go to the scriptures to see what the Lord has to say  –

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool (Isaiah 1:18).

I love that one. I love that the Lord wants to sit down and “talk shop” with us, “let us reason together“.

Here’s another one I love. This is for when the devil tells me that there is a quota on repentance –

But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven (Moroni 6:8).

Here’s one for when the devil tries to tell me that I’ve gone beyond the point of repentance, that the Lord is so disgusted with me that He doesn’t want to be around me –

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39). 

And if that doesn’t work, I like this one –

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31).

But perhaps, one of my favorite scriptures of all, and the reason that saints go on repenting, and trying to be better –

Behold … I have spoken unto thee because of thy desires; therefore treasure up these words in thy heart. Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love (Doctrine and Covenants 6:20).

A saint has felt the love of God in the most quiet reaches of the heart, in a place where no one else has access, and then desires always to have that love with them. Being a disciple of Christ is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard work.  But the rewards are peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come (Doctrine and Covenants 59:23).

And here is the best part of this whole discussion. You and I and everyone around us can change from a sinner to a saint at any moment. Right now in fact. It is a matter of the heart. Going to God and confessing (telling Him what we did wrong) and forsaking (promising to not do it again), and if we mess up, confessing and forsaking again until we get better and better at making the distance between the sin and the repentance smaller and smaller. Until, eventually, we decide that we love God more than the sin and so we choose to pray through the temptation instead of committing the sin and praying after. Then, we begin to change our lives … to not be where the temptation is so readily available, to replace the bad in our lives with good.

We can do it. The Lord believes in us. I know that is true.

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, …
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand (How Firm a Foundation, Hymn # 85).
When Nepotism Meets Callings, Can the Church Still Be True?

When Nepotism Meets Callings, Can the Church Still Be True?

I was just reading my scriptures the other day when I found this passage of the calling of the twelve disciples in the Americas –

And it came to pass that on the morrow, when the multitude was gathered together, behold, Nephi and his brother whom he had raised from the dead, whose name was Timothy, and also his son, whose name was Jonas, and also Mathoni, and Mathonihah, his brother, and Kumen, and Kumenonhi, and Jeremiah, and Shemnon, and Jonas, and Zedekiah, and Isaiah—now these were the names of the disciples whom Jesus had chosen—and it came to pass that they went forth and stood in the midst of the multitude (3 Nephi 19:4).

And it occurred to me that this was the Savior himself choosing brothers and sons into the calling. He wasn’t worried about nepotism or being “fair”. Was I surprised? He did the same thing when He called His twelve at Jerusalem. Peter and Andrew were brothers as were James and John (see Matthew 10: 1-4). He did it with Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. Called Nephi and Lehi (both the father and son and then, years later,  the brothers). David was strengthened by his friendship with Jonathan. Ruth and Naomi. The Savior went often to pray to His Father.

Why might He allow close ties into the apostleship? Might they need to strengthen each other for the difficult days ahead? Might there be some truth to strong righteous familial lines? Do we need good and righteous friends to strengthen us?

I know that there are a lot of people who get upset because of close ties in callings. Some people have left the Church because fathers and sons, or cousins, or friends, or close colleagues have been called to work together. They leave because they think that there couldn’t possibly be inspiration at work. That it’s all a bunch of nepotism and cronyism in the leadership of the Church.

Maybe, instead of thinking there is “something fishy going on” we should take some time to ask Father if the callings were inspired. Then we can ask Him how we can better sustain our leaders. And finally we should look around and find those friends and family members that strengthen us in righteousness and cling to them.

Who has the Lord sent for you? Who is He asking you to uphold?

Don’t be surprised if you are together for a purpose, a mission of righteousness.

Father in Heaven understands that righteous people need righteous people. (See, Friends, in the Strength of Youth Pamphlet.) Please remember, as you see people all around you leaving the strength of the Gospel, their Covenants, and the Savior that there are five wise virgins as well as five foolish. We are looking for the five wise. We will stand with the five wise who take the Spirit to be their guide (see Doc. & Cov. 45: 56-57) and we will say to the five without oil – “go to them that sell … quickly!” But don’t worry, there are still five wise who also think and act as you. There are many who still believe. And if you find yourself alone, ask Father to raise up friends for you, as He has promised.

Yes, men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal life (President Ezra Taft Benson, Jesus Christ – Gifts and Expectations, December 1988).