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

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

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).

Because of Him

 

Happy Easter!

I love spring.  I love watching the tiny green buds on the trees begin to sprout into delicate white and pink flowers.  We spent Saturday clearing out the dead and old wood and leaves from our rose bushes and flower beds. Then, we planted new annuals and patched up the lawn.

What a time of renewal and refreshing!

It makes me think about my own life.  Physically and Spiritually, we have the ability to start again, just as nature does.  Cast off those old burdens, hurts and habits and plant something new into your life. It’s not to late to start with the gifts that you’ve been given and make of your life, body, home or family something new and beautiful.  Start small, start with what you have, pray to see how you can make things around you better.  You’ll be surprised at what wonderful ideas you’ll get from the Holy Spirit of little changes that will make your life feel transformed!

And it’s all because of the Savior that we can.

 

Finally –

When I was a teenager, a teacher (I can’t remember which, but I am indebted for the teaching)  introduced me to this quote-

Turn Life over to God

 

It was from a talk by then, Elder Benson at a BYU devotional on December 10, 1974, you can read the full talk here.

It is one that I have tried to follow all of my life, and it’s been quite an amazing journey.  But it’s far from over.

It’s time to start over, to not give up on being a better person, to recommit, to clean up, to try harder, to work stronger, to lift up more.  Experiment upon the word, (Alma 32) see if the LORD will do it for you, too!

It’s time to get busy, it’s a new season, it’s a new day!

Earthly Inoculation

inoculationI was wondering today about inoculations. We are injected with a small bit of the disease so that we can process the antibodies necessary to ward off the disease.

So, is mortal life an inoculation? In which we are subjected to evil (temptation, weakness, etc.) so that we can gain the ability to be inoculated from evil through the eternities.

That doesn’t mean that we seek out evil to experience it (remember the injection of the disease is a weakened strain – otherwise, we would be overcome by the illness and quite possibly die.) I simply mean that here, there are experiences, choices, etc. that we could never learn in all of our eternal existence, except by coming here.

Also, the antibodies that will fight and overcome the disease can only be found in the gospel of Jesus Christ and through His magnificent Atonement.

See Also  – 2 Nephi 2:15-16 (and all 2 Nephi 15) and this talk by C. Robert Line from the UofU Institute about Bitter and Sweet.

Reclaimed – The Power of the Atonement to renew, forgive, and forget

Happy Sunday!

As I was looking over my site, the video I put up on the last post had been replaced by this one.  I changed the videos, but was so touched by this one that I wanted to share it today.  It was created for the Youth, but I feel that it is for everyone, because, (as Elder Bowen stated in the general conference talk that the video is based on), “The Atonement of Jesus Christ is available to each of us. It can clean, reclaim, and sanctify even you.”

Virtue + Charity = Power – Trying to Be like Jesus in Deed and in Thought

I just got a new calling as a team teacher for the missionary prep class in our stake.  I taught my first lesson yesterday, and then saw this message today.   It’s so inspiring.  I am impressed today about the importance that virtue plays in doing the Lord’s work.

When the Savior was touched by the woman who was plagued with an “issue of blood”, the Lord knew that someone had touched Him because, as the scripture states,  he immediately [knew] in himself that virtue had gone out of him, Mark 5:25-34.  Virtue, or the power that flows freely from virtue was part of the Savior, because He was the perfect being, the Lamb without blemish, one without sin (see also Doctrine and Covenants 121:45-46 – note that virtue and love are so vital to this scripture, and I am speaking about Christlike love, not lust, here.).

If we want to be effective leaders, teachers, mentors, spouses, parents, friends, etc. then it behooves us to follow the Master’s example on this point.  To quote from the talk that the video was taken from (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, We are all Enlisted, Gen. Conf. October 2011) –

Well, the Lord has drawn lines of worthiness for those called to labor with Him in this work. No missionary can be unrepentant of sexual transgression or profane language or pornographic indulgence and then expect to challenge others to repent of those very things! You can’t do that. The Spirit will not be with you, and the words will choke in your throat as you speak them. You cannot travel down what Lehi called “forbidden paths”5 and expect to guide others to the “strait and narrow”6 one—it can’t be done.

I also have a calling as the Primary Chorister.  This month, our song is I’m trying to be like Jesus.  I scoured the internet for ideas and found some great ones on Sugardoodle.  I quoted the scripture, Alma 5:14 –  Have ye received his image in your countenance.  We discussed what that meant, and I  took a mirror and a picture of the Savior and asked the children how their image was like the Savior’s (head, hair, eyes, etc.) and then we talked about the fact that as we spend time with people, we begin to behave and act, and sometimes look, like the people that we spend time with (I joked here about pegging my pants in High School – if you are reading this and went to school in the 90’s you’ll know what I’m talking about :). )

We began to discuss the scripture, 2 Nephi 9:9, which states that if we had not had a Savior, that we would have become like Satan, And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; and then we talked about the song , line by line –

I’m trying to be like Jesus,
I’m following in His ways.
I’m trying to love as He did
In all that I do and say.
At times I am tempted
To make a wrong choice,
But I try to listen
As the still small voice whispers:

CHORUS  – Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
For these are the things Jesus taught.

I’m trying to love my neighbor.
I’m learning to serve my friends.
I watch for that day of gladness
When Jesus will come again.

I try to remember the lessons he taught,
And the holy spirit enters into my thoughts, saying:

CHORUS

Note that the whole song is about kindness, and gentleness, and being loving, and listening to the Holy Spirit.  I talked to the kids about a friend of mine, who, one day when his child had made a mistake, got angry and yelled, “WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?”  Well, for one thing, He probably wouldn’t have yelled.  He probably would have  taken the child aside to sit down and discuss the problem, and then, would have shown forth love and expressed faith that the child would make a better choice in the future.

Finally, we talked about Moroni 7:47-48, which talks about charity, the pure love of Christ, and that, if we ask, and are filled with this love, when he shall appear we shall be like him – what an amazing thought!  That by spending time with the Savior (through scripture study, worship, and following the Spirit), and by acting as He would act – acts of love and virtue,  we will become like Him.   If we become like Him, then we will have power to do His works (see John 15: 1-7 and John 14:12).  I can’t imagine that we would sit back and expect the Savior to “tow the line” and live virtuously, and then, conversely not expect  Him to have requirements for us to follow.  We use and appreciate the Grace that He provided through His infinite atonement, and then to not try to be virtuous and loving  in our daily walk – it just doesn’t make sense.

We just finished watching the London 2012 Olympics – how inspiring to watch those men and women who had worked for four years to become something great.  How wonderful is our Coach, who accepts us, yes, but then invites us to become something better.  Who sees our divine potential to become great, to do great things in this world, to be more than the man or woman sitting on the couch, eating doughnuts, and watching T.V.  He wants so much more for each of us, and the way that we start on the path is to begin to “try to be like Jesus.”

Beneficial Fruit

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I was thinking today about the beginning of the Book of Mormon –  father and son prophets Lehi and Nephi travel to a land of promise with their large family.  The road is not easy.  Here are just some of the issues:

  • Return to Jerusalem twice (surely over a day’s journey) to get important things that they left behind
  • Robbed by Laman
  • Constant fighting and bickering
  • Broken bow in the wilderness (threat of starvation)
  • Camping in the wilderness.
  • Having children in the wilderness
  • Have to build a boat
  • Travel by boat to the new world
  • Build a home in a new, foreign land

Certainly they saw miracles (visions, revelations, angels, the liahona, women were able to have strength even while having babies in the wilderness) but it didn’t occur to me until today how much hard work and suffering they endured.  Surely a loving Heavenly Father could have had a boat waiting for them when they reached the land Bountiful!

But then we get down to the question of whether or not we want our children to walk or do we want to carry them in our arms for the rest of their lives?  When a toddler learns to walk, they will fall.  It will be a struggle.  When our children learn to tie their shoes, read, ice skate, bike, compete – whatever it may be, there will be difficultly.  Blood, sweat, tears, and more often than not,  pain (physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental).  However, if we don’t let them struggle through, how will they ever learn to do anything?

Which brings me to this absolutely amazing quote that I recently found –

Easy things never produce much beneficial fruit. Neither our Father in Heaven nor His Holy Son take delight in seeing you struggle to overcome obstacles, resolve questions, or find solutions to complex and challenging problems. However, they do rejoice when you willingly recognize that these steps are steps to growth which lead to action that molds your character.

Elder Richard G. Scott, To Learn and to teach More Effectively, 21 August 2007 during BYU Campus Education Week.  (See full transcript here.)

Beneficial fruit.

Read this next and see how it fits in –

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.   If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.  Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. (John 15: 4-8).

And look at the scripture just a few verses before this last (John 15:2) –

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

“Easy things never produce much beneficial fruit.”  We want our children to succeed,  to be better than we were.  In a modern-day and age, with so many conveniences, that’s hard to do!  So pressure of a different kind has to be placed upon us.  Disease, death, difficulty, unemployment, heartache, temptation, trial, sorrow – trials carefully calculated to help us turn to the true vine, and through Him, do amazing things with our personal pathway.

Just look at the fruit that the Book of Mormon is bringing forth.  I know it’s changed my life, and I’m grateful that though they went through difficult circumstances, they left fruit that refreshes the soul and brings one closer to the Savior.  What a precious gift to give another – the best of oneself.  And only God, with His infinite power, knowledge and love for us as individuals, can help us become the best of ourselves and then, through His power and miracle, let those gifts that we’ve brought forth go forward to bless others.

He is Risen!

Nothing brings more peace than the knowledge that because Christ is alive again, so will we be.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;  And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man  (John 5: 24-27).