Saturday, December 19, 2015

December 20 - Preview

I'm taking a huge leap of faith that you'll take time out of your busy weekend to even glance at the blog ... but here goes!

Tomorrow will be another of those wrapping-two-lessons-into-one since these two go together so very well ... and you all usually let me get through most of the material. ;)

The lessons we'll be covering will be the Christmas lesson of "How can I share my testimony that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?" and "What are effective ways to share the gospel with others?"

So, if you could take a few minutes to glance over the lessons and think about how you can share your testimony of Christ's divinity and how the gospel is true and ways that it's changed your life, that'd be amazing. Please think of how you can share that with us in class.

Also, can we think of ways to reach out to the other classmates who haven't been coming to church/class? Because, well, it'd be a really good thing if we let them know that we miss them, that we think about them/are concerned about them, and that we love them ... and, even more importantly, that Jesus and Heavenly Father love them.

Have a wonderful Saturday! I'm looking forward to hearing your ideas and your reports about your experiences leading and serving during this last week!

Make me proud! (But not in a pride-is-a-sin kind of way. Ha ha ha.)
     Sister Cox

Monday, December 14, 2015

December 13 - Building the Kingdom of God in the Latter Days: How Can I Become a Better Leader?/How Can I Serve More Effectively?

Yes, it's another of those "These lessons are SO GOOD that I want to teach ALL of them ... but there are more lessons than there are weeks in the month! What can I do? COMBINE THE LESSONS!"-type lessons.

We started class by reviewing a little of what we had covered last week ... principally by reiterating that being a good teacher mainly comes down to a few, simple concepts:

  • Show love, kindness, and concern for those you teach. They'll feel that.
    (Just like in the talk that [Student] gave that morning, when he talked about how we should strive to "serve the Lord with love" from Thomas S. Monson's conference address, "Come, All Ye Sons of God." -- And [Student], regardless of how you feel, you really DID deliver a very good talk. ... If it makes you feel any better, my favorite part of when I'm assigned a talk is when it's over. I can handle talking in front of small groups, or even performing in a play for larger groups ... but giving a talk? That's more challenging. I totally get it.)
  • Make sure that you're familiar with the material. The Holy Ghost IS the teacher, yes, but it's best if we prepare ourselves so that we are able to be open to and recognize that inspiration as it comes. (And, like you mentioned about some of your lesser-enjoyed teachers, when an instructor hasn't prepared, it's rather obvious. And students will get the feeling that they're not important enough for you to put that time in. Which is totally untrue -- you all are AMAZEBALLS and totally worth it. ... It goes hand-in-hand with loving those you teach and showing that love for them.)
  • This point should probably have gone first ... hm. BUT!!
    Jesus Christ was a perfect teacher. He KNEW his audience. He KNEW what they needed to learn. He KNEW how to best reach each individual. We can strive to, with our Heavenly Father's help and the aid of the Holy Spirit, become teachers like Him.
For this week's lesson, we focused (or made the attempt to, right?) on attributes of effective leaders ... the leaders we aspire to be as member missionaries, Visiting/Home Teachers, future full-time missionaries, future parents, future employees/employers, and ... well ... as good citizens, too.
  • Like you could have guessed (even if you weren't in class ... and we missed a few of you!), Jesus Christ is a perfect example of a good leader. See the attributes listed below:
  • Good leaders show love.
    Even when someone really screws stuff up, as soon as we reprimand/correct him or her, we need to show an outpouring of love for that person. So that (1) the sting of being corrected is lessened and (2) they know that they are loved -- that you're not just being a jerk and picking on them. (Doctrine and Covenants 121:43 ... though, really, verses 34-46 are awesome as far as learning to be a good, Christlike leader.) 
  • Good leaders delegate.
    We can't do EVERYTHING that needs to get done on our own.
    And, when we delegate, we need to trust and assist those we delegate to.
    Allowing them to fulfill their assigned duties (even if it's not PRECISELY how we'd like things to get done) allows them to grow and develop talents. 
  • Good leaders serve those they lead.
    Again, think about Jesus's example. Most of his mortal ministry was spent teaching and serving those He led. We should do the same ... since, as we serve, we are developing charity and compassion more fully ... which will help us to be better disciples of our Lord and Savior. (Which will help us be better people and make the world a better place. So it's a totally win-win scenario.)
  • Good leaders serve in righteousness.
    Back to Doctrine and Covenants 121: 34-46. Like you didn't foresee that coming up (Well, maybe you didn't. If so, then, SURPRISE!).
    Good leaders lead gently. They do not force people to do what's right. They allow everyone in their stewardship/care their own moral agency.
    Just because you are ordained to the Priesthood/a member of The Church/have a highly-visible calling/are related to someone in a "big" calling ... none of that really matters. Remember, God loves everyone equally. We need to be patient with others, to learn alongside them.
    Let us lead and serve because we WANT to do what's right ... not because we want to be able to boss folks around. ... That's why the primary song says "lead me, guide me ..." and not "boss me." :P
We also discussed, since it does very much go along with Christlike leadership, serving more effectively.

We talked about how, especially as parents ... but also as friends, family members, and missionaries, we have a responsibility to be an example, to serve, and to teach those around us ... just like Jacob and Joseph (Nephi, Sam, Laman, and Lemuel's little brothers), because we don't want them to make bad choices out of ignorance.
Especially in the case of our children, if we do not fulfill our duties as parents, their sins will be upon us. (And, I don't know about YOU, but I'm far too aware that I screw up enough that I don't need anyone else's transgressions and sins on me. I have too many of my own. Trust me on this.)

We discussed how, of course, Christ is our perfect example ... but King Benjamin is also an awesome leader/servant for his people. He was aware that he was chosen by the Lord to be a king and a ruler. He was also VERY aware that he was called to "serve you with all the might, mind and strength which the Lord hath granted unto me."
He knew that it wasn't going to be easy. He worked, right along with his people. They weren't expected to support him financially at all. And he made sure to make righteous choices (both for himself and those he was entrusted to rule over).

When we choose to lead by serving those we're called to care for, we're following in the footsteps of the Savior. 

There are a lot of other really great things you can read, that we didn't have time to fully discuss in class.

"Here to Serve a Righteous Cause" - Carol F. McConkie

"The Savior's Call to Serve" - Thomas S. Monson

Doctrine and Covenants Section 4 - You'll be memorizing this as missionaries. Might as well get a jump on it now. For a chapter/section, it's not very long.
If you want, you can ask Brother Cox to recite it for you. It's been a few years since his mission, but he STILL KNOWS it. (It's pretty cool, actually. He's a much better scriptorian than I am. THAT'S what happens when you study the scriptures, though. See? I have lots to work on! Be better/smarter than I was. PLEASE.)

Also, please be aware that when you're acting on the Lord's errand (whether it's missionary work, Home or Visiting Teaching, a Church calling, leading your family, or just serving those around you), you WILL be led by the Lord. You WILL receive what you need to know/do. He's on your side. He loves you. He wants you to succeed.

I loved hearing how, last week, you all had some opportunity (that you chose to take) to help be a good teacher to friends or family members. When you share your time, talents, and energy with them, they can feel your love for them. And that makes them feel important. It helps them know that they matter. And I'm very proud of your efforts, of YOU as individuals.
Truly, you make it very easy and fun to be your teacher. I'm very blessed (and aware of it!) that I have a class full of teachable, intelligent, kind, and caring students who are willing to participate ... and who are taking it upon themselves to learn NOW very important lessons that will make you better people, better citizens, who will be prepared to make the world a better place for yourselves and those who are blessed to come in contact with you.

If you can't tell, I love you, my class, very much.
And I'm not allowing myself to think about how in a few more weeks, I won't have most of you in my class. Because that's just too sad. (But I'll still get to see you at church. And most of you are on Facebook or Google+. So it's not like I won't get to see you at all. And,if your teacher doesn't show up any Sundays, you're more than welcome to come to my class.)

Have a wonderful week! Go and be awesome! Look for opportunities to lead others and to serve others!
       Sister Cox

Sunday, December 13, 2015

December 6, 2015 - Building the Kingdom of God in the Latter Days: How Can I Become a Better Teacher?

Yes, yes, I KNOW it's already NEXT Sunday. Whoops.

But, well, better late than never, right?

This was in interesting lesson in that ... well, like all good lessons, it helps ME to learn a lot (even while teaching it).

Thank you all for your participation. Like I told you in class last week (since everyone in attendance has already turned 14), I'm really bummed that you all are going to be in someone else's class in another month. Because I LIKE you guys. (And there's also the fact that I love you all, too. Even when we're getting completely off topic and all. Because, face it, you all are very lovable. I'm keeping my hopes up that there will be some times when you new teacher needs a week off and y'all can come to my class again. Is that terribly sinful?)

So, last Sunday, we discussed how to become a better teacher ... and my one regret was that we didn't discuss more about the attributes of teachers you've loved.
(I did get to hear a lot about teachers you haven't enjoyed. And, isn't that funny ... how the bad/less-effective teachers really stick out in our memories?)

We all know that Jesus is our perfect example as a teacher.
He taught with love, with a perfect understanding of his audience. He knew how to couch his lessons in terms that would be easily understood and applied to those he taught. He understood all of the material. He was prepared. ... I mean, we could go on and on (and on and on ...).

And that's the kind of teacher we're all to emulate.

Besides going over some of the material given in the lesson, we also reviewed Brother J (our Sunday School President)'s lesson from our last combined RS/Priesthood/YM/YW lesson about having better lessons (being a better teacher/student and encouraging communication).

Here's my notes from that lesson, which we glossed over, since we'd almost run out of time!

To be a better teacher
Have students utilize scriptures moreBe more spiritually preparedStart a lesson that can be built upon in their homesGoal: strong testimoniesInvite them to return and reportInteract directly with parents, when necessaryLoveGo ye therefore and teach. Teaching comes before miracles.We are products of what we're taughtTeach and learn the gospel

To be a better student
Read the materialCome with a question in mindSpread the knowledge/Apply the knowledgeBe prepared to feel the spiritSupport the teacher/provide feedbackParticipate/Be an active listenerRespect what others have to say

To encourage communication between parents and teachers
Assign youth to report/discuss materials with their families -OR- parents actively seek for what students are learning (read the online lessons) and discuss at home.Teach curriculum as part of FHEDinner table discussion - bring church home 
Contact your youth's teachers, ask what is discussed

These are all great things that I (and you!) can work on as we are teachers and students to those around us. Just because you're not currently called to a official teaching-type calling, that doesn't mean that you're not a teacher. These skills will come in handy if/when you serve a mission (or even if you don't! "Every member a missionary!") and in your family (even if you might not have kids, you'll have family members around you. You can always be an awesome aunt or uncle, cousin, whatever). And you're not limited to teaching in those respects. You will have friends, coworkers, teachers,complete strangers, etc., around you ... and you can, through your dealings with them, bring the light of Christ into their lives.

My challenge for you all last week was to find a teaching opportunity in your life; to use that opportunity to practice being an effective teacher. Now, since I have a little more time ... I'd like to tell you about some of the most effective teachers I've had. Because they do stick in my mind.
  • I know I mention Joan, who was my main Seminary teacher when I was in high school. I've known Joan since I was three. And she is a genuinely kind and funny lady. I still keep in touch with her via Facebook. She demonstrated a love of the gospel and of her students ... even in the early-early mornings.
  • Brother Dale Kirby was my main Institute teacher. He knew his material for sure. He helped make learning very fun. He has a sly sense of humor and a wealth of knowledge at his command through a lifetime of learning. I always looked forward to his classes and (still) miss his classes very much (He's since retired from the CES. If I'm lucky, I might run into him or his wife at the temple).
  • My mom. I'd be very remiss if I didn't mention her. I mean, yes, she HAS to love me. And she really worked herself to the bone to be sure that I would be prepared for life after high school. She, as the only member of the Church in her side of the family, has been a great example to me. One of her basic lessons that's practically my life's motto is, "I love you. I won't always like what you DO, but I will always love YOU." It's really helpful and applicable to everyone in my life.
  • My high-school Theater teacher. He really helped me to learn how to more fully believe in myself (he also was a writing class teacher. That was a fun and helpful class, too). He gave me one of the best complements that I still preen over.
  • My AP English (and Photography) teacher ... not only did he teach a lot of great information, but he really let us know that he cared about his students.
  • I had two REALLY great Linguistics professors in college ... which was a WONDERFUL contrast to the first Linguistics professor that I had (as well as a Speech professor, the husband of one of those GOOD Linguistic profs. He was easily my least favorite professor. Such a contrast in teaching styles in a married couple).
  • My Shakespeare professor was an amazing lady ... as well as all of my Education Program professors. They demonstrated a love for their material and (more importantly) a love and concern for their students.
  • I'll also admit that, as a teacher's daughter, I tended to feel like nearly all my teachers from pre-school on were just honorary aunts and uncles. There were very few teachers that I haven't enjoyed (besides the two professors I mentioned above and the one Health teacher that I told you about in class. And that's because, well, none of them seemed to care about their students as much as they cared about getting their job done/getting paid. And that's just really sad).
Truth be told, I would keep in touch with nearly all my past teachers if I knew their info. Because they treated me with love and respect ... which made me love and respect them right back. And that's how I try and treat all of you. Because you deserve that love and respect as well. (And, honestly, I was nearly moved to tears last week when one of you said that you wished that I was your Seminary teacher. ... Even if I had to get up even earlier than I do now, I would do it for you guys. If I could figure out what to do with my kids during that time ... ugh. Being an adult is tough sometimes. :P) So, suffice it to say, I love you all. You're definitely worthy of being treated with love and respect. And you're definitely capable of being Christlike in how you deal with others around you. You can handle that responsibility. Okay, I'll see you later this morning/noon/whatever. Hope that you're being awesome!
Sister Cox

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Review - November 29 - Becoming Financially Self-Reliant

Last week, we talked about developing financial self-reliance ... which means, in short, we are able to take care of ourselves, (and, eventually for you) our own families, and ... after we reach that point, those around us.

We've been counseled countless times (well, you COULD count them, I'm sure ... but don't you have more important things to do?) to avoid debt whenever possible.
(Believe me, student loans aren't fun. Sometimes, they're necessary ... but they're not fun. Neither are car payments, credit card payments, mortgages ... I think I can stop here. But, suffice it to say, when the money that you're earning isn't yours to spend as you like, it's not fun. In fact, it's stressful! So, please avoid being in that situation as much as you can. I'd prefer that you not be stressed out.)

In fact, our leaders have likened being in debt to being in BONDAGE.

There's a famous quote that comes to mind:

“Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies; it never goes to the hospital; it works on Sundays and holidays; it never takes a vacation; it never visits nor travels; it takes no pleasure; it is never laid off work nor discharged from employment; it never works on reduced hours; it never has short crops nor droughts; it never pays taxes; it buys no food; it wears no clothes; it is unhoused and without home and so has no repairs, no replacements, no shingling, plumbing, painting, or whitewashing; it has neither wife, children, father, mother, nor kinfolk to watch over and care for; it has no expense of living; it has neither weddings nor births nor deaths; it has no love, no sympathy; it is as hard and soulless as a granite cliff. Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you.” -- J. Reuben Clark

It's better to never get into debt at all. Sometimes, though, we come into it for reasons beyond our control (Emergencies, medical problems, theft, ...).

On the other side of the matter, we shouldn't work to be rich at the expense of everything else.

2 Nephi 9:30
But wo unto the rich, who are rich as to the things of the world. For because they are rich they despise the poor, and they persecute the meek, and their hearts are upon their treasures; wherefore, their treasure is their god. And behold, their treasure shall perish with them also.
 And, remember how it's stated in 1 Timothy 6:10, "The love of money is the root of all evil."

This is NOT to say that money is a bad thing. I like to think of money as a neutral thing ... we can use it for good or for bad things. ... So, if we're trying to be more like Jesus Christ, we're obligated to try and use it for better things.

Now, since this IS a church lesson, you KNOW that we will talk about tithing.
We're blessed when we pay our tithing. It is a sacrifice that we make. It brings us closer to God. And, when we choose to obey this commandment, we open ourselves up to more blessings. They won't ALWAYS be financial/temporal ones ... but they often are.

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.
(Malachi 3:10-11)

We are not limited to paying tithing ... we also are blessed to have the opportunity to pay a generous fast offering and to donate to many worthy causes.

Which is another reason it's good to make sure that we are productive ... so that we have the ability to help our neighbors (nearby and on the other side of the world). If we are able to take care of the needs of ourselves and our families, we will have more opportunities to serve others.

 Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.
 But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.
 And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.
  (Jacob 2:17-19)
If we have sufficient for our needs, it enables us to serve others. One of my past callings was being the Compassionate Service Leader for the ward. One thing I did was help arrange meals for sisters/families in need (either due to sickness/injury or when a baby arrived in the household). Sometimes, due to financial hardship, I wasn't able to extend some of these service opportunities to some sisters. Which was sad, since I KNEW that these sisters would have been very happy to serve ... but, at the time, they just couldn't.

Of course, that helped me to have greater sympathy and love for them.
And, I'm sure it helped them to develop a greater appreciation of the opportunity to serve. So it's all good.

Please do be aware that, in your life, there will be times when you serve and times when you will need to be served. Be gracious in accepting charity from others. And, when you're able, you can pass on that charity in your generous service to others.

When we develop Christlike love and compassion for others, we will want them to be able to be self-sufficient. This way they can have the satisfaction of the joy of work. It's rather disheartening to know that you are dependant upon others for your needs. We can help those around us achieve that independence.

We talked a bit about the Church Welfare Program and how it differs from most welfare programs.
With Church Welfare, those who are provided for are encouraged to work (either immediately or to help pay things back when they're able). We don't want to give a hand-OUT, but a hand-UP. We want to enable people to gain/regain the ability to escape debt and to be able to provide for themselves and their families.

Brother O, who joined our class this week, was able to give examples of how some bishops have used fast offerings to help those in need ... as well as some times when the bishop had received revelation that this wasn't a good use of Fast Offering Funds (and so refrained).

When we are able to be provident (meaning that we're able to be self-sufficient [while maintaining humility, since we will always be dependent upon God]), we will be able to assist others in their efforts to rise out of debt, homelessness, and their other temporal trials.

Alma 1:29-30
And now, because of the steadiness of the church they began to be exceedingly rich, having abundance of all things whatsoever they stood in need—an abundance of flocks and herds, and fatlings of every kind, and also abundance of grain, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious things, and abundance of silk and fine-twined linen, and all manner of good homely cloth.
And thus, in their prosperous circumstances, they did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need.

What a wonderful world this would be if we were able to become self-sufficient and then, with the surplus that will arrive through the Lord's blessings, we blessed those around us, near and far ... helping them to also become self-sufficient.

When we help others, we are showing our thanks to God for His many blessings.

If you need some ideas of ways to help bless others, here are a few:

  • LDS Charities homepage has lots of wonderful information, ideas, and opportunities listed
  • Pay a fast offering (We're limited to 10% of our income for tithing. But you can always give more as a fast offering)
  • Other charitable donations (Humanitarian Service, Perpetual Education Fund, Missionary Fund, Temple Patron Fund)
  • Find volunteering opportunities
  • Create little care packages for the homeless around the community 
But, do remember, PLEASE make sure that your needs and the needs of your family are taken care of before you take on the world. The goal is to be self-sufficient, so that you CAN help others. You can't pull others out of a hole if you're down there, too (You might be able to give a boost, yes, but if the hole's too deep? It's not going to work. Everyone's just going to get frustrated. We don't want that.)

As we're in the Christmas season now, I'd like to challenge you to look for opportunities to serve and to share with those around you.

Now, go out there and be awesome!
       Sister Cox

Review - November 22 Lesson - Goals and Making Your Own Decisions

Yes, yes, I know ... it's been a while since I updated this.

HOWEVER, since none of you had read this anyways, I didn't feel TOO guilty. :p

Okay, so we were still working on Spiritual and Temporal Self-Reliance. And, with my awesome friend, Brooke, visiting class, we talked about making your own decisions and (mostly) about setting goals. (We also had Bishop drop in ... just to make sure that we're doing fine. Which, again, makes it so that we have had visitors in all but, what, two or three classes that I've taught with you all. ... If I were a less confident person, I'd wonder if they didn't trust me! :P)

A great thing is to set those big goals that you MIGHT want to do NOW.
This way, you work towards them ... even if you change your mind, you still have the basics prepared, JUST IN CASE.

Example: You might want to serve a mission. Or get married/sealed in the temple. But you're not TOTALLY sure on that.

What's the harm, then, in going forward with that goal in mind?
By preparing, just in case, you're going to be setting smaller goals/habits. And what habits will those be?
  • Daily prayer
  • Daily scripture study
  • Exercise
  • Living the Word of Wisdom
  • Avoiding pornography/living the Law of Chastity
  • Service
  • Being able to cook and clean up after yourself
  • ... I'm sure there's more, but, well, it's not even 5:20am as I'm typing this. My brain is only starting to work. Go ahead and fill in the blanks. Or ask a current or returned missionary. Or ask one of the Ward Missionaries ... they'll help you to come up with more great habits to develop.
Okay, so when you look at that list, are there any of those habits on the list that are going to be detrimental to your well-being? That will be a total waste of time?

(Truly, I'm looking at that list and just thinking, "Gosh, I need to/could strengthen, like ALL those skills. And I'm getting kinda old. And I've been married for a while ... Daaaaaaaang.)

Also, most of you are getting ready for future education or starting your careers (hey, you can totally get a summer job. Even "just" babysitting or helping with yardwork or something).
You can set yourself up for success in those fields with goals. 

You can choose NOW to decide to:
  • Be honest (because that's a GREAT skill in everyone ... and especially in an employee or boss)
  • Study hard now, so that  you'll already have some basic knowledge for college AND you'll have awesome habits that will help you perform well in college or in the workplace (a lot of professional job require that you continue to receive education or training).
  • Try new things ... an example from my life: when I WENT to college, I didn't declare a major at first. I thought about majoring in history ... but I ended up being an Education major (for early childhood and elementary grades) ... I figured, at that point, it'd be useful for when I was a mother. ... Now, it's a great major. I had lots of wonderful classes and met some really awesome people ... but I also learned (right before I graduated) that I really have no desire to teach in a classroom professionally.
    Does this mean that my education and time and effort was wasted? Oh, heck, no! I learned some great skills, read some wonderful books, and ... after being completely burnt-out at the end, discovered that I really loved volunteering and working in libraries (so, if I go to get my Masters degree, it'll be in Library Science).
  • Develop new skills ... maybe, like me, you'll find that you lose your passion for something that you've prepared for. Still, if you have some great skills, you can list those on your resume. Who knows? Maybe because you have a certain set of unique or (seemingly) unrelated skills, you will be able to get that awesome job you've applied for.
You can have overall goals, too ... just the fun types. Or the less "fun," but still really important ones:
  • Owning your own home (Equity isn't exactly glamorous ... but it's nice to have.)
  • Buying a car (Especially if you're able to pay cash for it. This way you don't have to mess with a car payment. Currently, we don't have a car payment. It's lovely to NOT be paying over $200 a month. More money for books! Or food. Or emergencies. Or whatever we CHOOSE to spend it on.)
  • Traveling
  • Experiences (I have siblings-in-law who've gone bungee-jumping or skydiving. I'm a bit tamer than that. I want to swim with dolphins. Or manatees! Or sea turtles! Or get my SCUBA license! ... I also want to see the Northern Lights. And cosplay at a ComicCon [Doesn't have to be SDCC, since I'm not wild about crowds] ...)
It's important to have some goals of things that are what YOU are choosing to do. That you have a desire to accomplish or work towards. It'll help keep you motivated.

And, as Brooke pointed out, it's not enough to have just that one BIG goal. You need to break it up, make plans, work towards smaller goals that will lead you there ... if you just have a goal, but no deadlines/plans, it's just a wish.

Part of making goals that isn't always discussed is turning to the Lord in this.
Pray about things, especially when you're not sure WHAT you want to do.

Ask for ideas. Listen for inspiration. Act. (Alma 37:37)
Make a plan, pray about it ... and follow the impressions that you receive. (Doctrine and Covenants 9:7-9)
Be sure to conduct your life so that you CAN have the Holy Ghost with you, so you can receive his guidance.
Be proactive. Develop a desire to do good things. You don't have to be commanded about every single, little thing. If you know that you're going to be helping people and drawing closer to the Lord, it's a good thing. (Doctrine and Covenants 58:26-29)

As we develop Christlike attributes, we'll WANT to do good things WITHOUT being commanded to do them. We'll WANT to help those around us. We'll WANT to establish Zion. We'll WANT to let those around us KNOW that they are children of a loving Heavenly Father and how to return to His presence. We'll WANT to do all that we can to help ourselves, our family, our friends, and those friends we haven't made yet (or haven't remade) to prepare ourselves/themselves to be able to return to our Heavenly Father's presence.

When we get to that point, we're going to be really awesome people. Some of us have farther to go to reach that goal ... like your poor teacher, here (:P), but we're all in this together.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Spiritual and Temporal Self-Reliance: How Can I Stand as a Witness of God? - Sunday, November 15, 2015

Wow, that was one enthusiastic class.

I'm glad that you were all full of energy, though it was not always focused on the lesson's topic, ha ha.
Still, thank you all for coming and participating.

Besides, your asides let me get to know you better ... which helps me to be a better teacher.

Okay, so we worked on talking about standing as a witness of God. And on some ways that we can prepare ourselves to do that.

And, as I was going through a bunch of links that I'd bookmarked to get to (eventually -- do you ever do that? In all seriousness, I have about 200 "saved" links for Facebook alone. I just really want to KNOW ALL THE THINGS! as the meme says) ... and, in it, I found this ...

Okay, do not let the name throw you. It's a really good read (as are his other posts). And, just because he's not young or whatever, that doesn't mean that he doesn't have good stuff to post that might help. (Knowing you all, though, I'm sure that I don't have to give you that push to hearken to those with experience. Heck, y'all listen to me well enough in class [THANK YOU], and I'm *gasp* over TWICE your age! SO, as I was saying, you guys and gals are very cool and wise. My job is to just help you become cooler and wiser. :P)

BUT, the post linked above is helpful ... Brother McBride (since that's the real name of MMM) even gives a list of thoughts/behaviors that can lead to apostasy ... and, if you don't have the time to read it all, here's the main gist is that people who have the Holy Ghost with them are not fooled by alternate voices of the adversary

If you have the Holy Ghost with you, if you can recognize his promptings, and if you choose to follow them, you will be a strong and faithful member of the Church. You will BE spiritually self-reliant.

And that is one of our desires for you -- from the prophet on down to your local leaders, including me as your teacher, and your families -- for you to be able to weather all the tests and trials that you will eventually face ... In fact, we don't want you just able to endure them, but to blaze through them, finding joy and peace on that journey, to be an example of the believers to all who happen to come into contact with you.

Because we believe in you. Because we KNOW that you each have the potential for awesomeness.


Okay, back to the class report.

We missed one of our classmates this week (visiting friends), but everyone else of our usual bunch was there. (Should we maybe send a card or something to those who haven't attended in a while? What are your thoughts on this?)

We discussed, again, a bit about the policy changes/clarifications and some of the reasons behind them (protecting children from having to deal with issues that are beyond their maturity to face, protecting ALL families, etc.).
We also discussed that the main and most important thing is that we love ALL people. As members of the restored Church, we have covenanted to remember Christ always. And, if we want to be considered to be part of His fold, we also covenant to be "willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; ... and ... willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life."

Part of this covenant is that we love others. ALWAYS. Even if we don't support their lifestyles or all their choices, we do our darndest to LOVE them with Christ's love. We treat them with love, respect, and compassion ... because they, like us, are children of our Heavenly Father. And He loves them , too. The best way we can improve our lives, their lives, and the world at large, is to LOVE them.

We also discussed a few scriptural examples of those who stood as a witness of God, especially in pretty awful circumstances. Samuel the Lamanite, Daniel, Joseph of Egypt (good Seminary answer!), Joseph Smith, Abinadi, ... There are bunches that we didn't cover at all, too: Ester, Mormon, ... and countless others.

I did issue a CHALLENGE: This week, will you look for examples of those standing as witnesses of God (in your life, in the scriptures, in the news ...) AND/OR look for opportunities where YOU can stand as a witness of God.

I hope that you all have a wonderful week! I expect to hear some great stories and insights! ^_^

Also, next Sunday, I'm planning (unless the Spirit steers me elsewhere) of discussing making your own decisions and setting goals towards becoming spiritually and temporally self-reliant.
If you need to look at the lesson outlines (including scriptural references and some applicable talks), look in the column on the right. I'd be thrilled if you chose to read ahead. I'll still love you, even if you don't, though.

Have a great week! I'll see you on Sunday!
Be kind, be courageous, be loving, be awesome!
        Sister Cox

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Gearing Up For Sunday - Spiritual and Temporal Self-Reliance (November 15)

Okay, class of mine!

I have no idea at all if any of you are even reading this blog at all ... but that's okay.

I figure that, since I've been working on preparing my lesson, I'll let you know a bit about what to expect tomorrow (besides some candy-candy-candy).

Especially after the social media fuss and, now, the tragedy in Paris ... we'll be concentrating on the lesson "How Can I Stand As a Witness of God?"

We'll also probably involve bits from other lessons (overcoming doubt and learning to make our down decisions) ... but the main focus will be on standing as a witness.

Now, since the class is mainly male (and, honestly, I'm going with what I know ... and I've not had the opportunity to be part of the Young Men organization, ha ha), I'm sharing the Young Women Theme:

Notice in that opening paragraph ... that it's IN the opening paragraph -- before anyone has time to lose focus while reading the YW Theme? ... that part about "standing as a witness of God at all times and in all things and in all places."

(Young Men, don't gloss over it just because it's piiiiiiink. Before WWII, pink used to be a color for boys and not girls. Just sayin'. Besides, I know that you're all too darn awesome to be tied down by cultural constructs that have no dealing with doctrine. :D)

If it's important enough for the Young Women to say this EVERY WEEK, that's pretty darn important. (Except for the new inclusions of Virtue and "strengthen home and family," I still have this memorized from when I was much, much younger. Those new bits do throw me a little. Good thing I had the opportunity to repeat this weekly when I served as YW Secretary. Good times.)

So, please be thinking of scriptural/church history/in-your-life examples of people standing as witnesses (like how one of our classmates was able to influence his friends to not swear around him!) ... as well as musing over ideas of how we can stand as witnesses of God in our lives here and now.

See you all tomorrow!

Be kind to yourself and others. And make sure to be awesome, too!

Monday, November 9, 2015

November 8 - How Can I Find Answers to My Own Gospel Questions (Spiritual and Temporal Self-Reliance)

Wow, it was a rather energetic class this Sunday.

But, better too much energy than too little ... As long as you're involved, I'm a happy instructor!
(And a happy instructor = an instructor who's happy to bring treats! Just sayin'!)

So, we discussed ... lots, really.

First, you all are pretty dang amazing. You do know more than you give yourself credit for. Keep up that great work ... and never stop learning. ^_^

You already knew that you can look up answers in the Bible Dictionary and Topical Guide.
(I was impressed!)

You also knew that you are always able to request answers from our Heavenly Father through prayer and scripture study.

Please allow me to stress that daily scripture study is a very important habit (One that I'm still working on!). You will be very blessed if you establish that habit NOW (Let me tell you, once you have a career, higher education, and/or a family, it just gets that much more difficult for you to prioritize your personal relationship with God amid all these other very important things).

Please be aware that you can always search for answers on the Church website (
There are TONS of great resources there.

You can ask people you trust: your parents or grandparents or a friend's parents, your bishop, your Stake president, your teachers/instructors/leaders ... You can even ask some of your friends. There are bunches of people out there who'd love to have the opportunity to help you.
(You could also ask other members of your ward family ... I'm sure that most would be pleased and rather flattered that you respect them enough to request their opinion/knowledge.)

When you joined Young Women's or Young Men's, you should have received a copy of the manual, True to the Faith. If you don't have it, let me know. If you can't find it, remember that it's available online.
It's an awesome resource ... which you'll probably remember me reading STRAIGHT from it to you.

(Really, it's a wonderful little manual that will help you, as you study it ... or even just use it as a reference guide, to better understand the gospel. I'm always very impressed with how GOOD and useful it is, even though it's so small.)

Here's a bit of what we talked about from True to the Faith - Revelation:
Revelation is communication from God to His children. This guidance comes through various channels according to the needs and circumstances of individuals, families, and the Church as a whole. 
When the Lord reveals His will to the Church, He speaks through His prophet. The scriptures contain many such revelations—the word of the Lord through ancient and latter-day prophets. Today the Lord continues to guide the Church by revealing His will to His chosen servants. 
Prophets are not the only people who can receive revelation. According to your faithfulness, you can receive revelation to help you with your specific needs, responsibilities, and questions and to help you strengthen your testimony.
YOU can receive revelation.
Unlike the prophet who is granted the right to receive revelation for the whole world (and the whole church), the revelation you will receive (if you seek it) will be for yourself and those you have stewardship over.
  • Yourself
  • When you are married and have children, you can receive revelations to help your family.
  • You can receive revelation for those you Home or Visit Teach
  • If you teach a class or are in a leadership position, you can receive revelation that will help you serve.
  • If you serve a mission ... or if you are being a member-missionary, you can receive revelation to help you and those that you're ministering to
  • And more, I'm sure ... but those are just the first examples that come to my mind.
In True to the Faith, it also outlines ways that we can prepare to receive revelation:
  • Pray for guidance.
    Seriously, just ask. Have a desire to know. 
  • Be reverent.
    TttF defines "reverence" as profound respect and love. It's what's being referred to when we talk of fearing the Lord. We're reverent during our Church meetings to show honor, respect, and love to our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and even to those who are around us (whether they're teaching, giving a talk, or listening to the speakers/teachers.
    If we are reverent, even if everything's crazy all around us, we can be ready to receive and recognize promptings.
  • Be humble.
    We need to be mindful that we're not perfect. We don't know everything yet. We rely on Heavenly Father and the blessings that He lovingly gives us. Being humble helps us to be open to these promptings.
  • Keep the commandments.
    This one is pretty simple, right? If we're sinning, the Holy Ghost won't be able to be with us. We will chase him off. Bummer. Don't do that.
    And, when you do (since we're not perfect)? Repent! 
  • Partake of the Sacrament worthily.
    When we partake of the Sacrament, we're reminded of our baptismal covenants.
    It's pretty dang important.
  • Study the Scriptures every day.
    I already talked about this above. And I'll talk about it a lot. But I think you've got the gist. Especially since this post is getting crazy-long already.
  • Take time to ponder.
    Direct quote from TttF: "Pondering takes your thoughts from the trivial things of the world and brings you closer to the Spirit."
  • When seeking specific guidance, study the matter out in your mind.
    Read Doctrine and Covenants 9:7-8
    Really, give yourself time to think and meditate ... when your mind is quiet and you're not distracted by ... everything else in the world, you help to open your mind and heart to promptings.
  • Patiently seek God's will.
    Remember, there may be times when you DO receive an instant answer.
    More often than that, though, you probably won't. That doesn't mean that you aren't going to get that answer. It just means that it's not now.
    Trust the Lord. Trust His timing ... He does know more and better than us, right?
Now, we weren't able to discuss (yet) the next, VERY IMPORTANT bit ...
Recognizing the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

Because, really, it's not going to do you a terrible amount of good if you're searching and striving to find answers ... and you don't realize when you've received one. Or THAT you HAVE received an answer.

Here's the list of things to remember that's given in True to the Faith:
  • The Holy Ghost speaks to the mind and heart in a still small voice.
  • He prompts us through our feelings.
  • He brings peace.
The more you seek for revelation, the more opportunities you have to receive it.
Think of how many times in our last General Conference that our leaders beseeched us to live in a way where we can have the CONSTANT companionship of the Holy Ghost to guide and direct us, to protect us. That is an awesome gift that they want for all of us to be able to have.

That's yet another reason I know that our leaders (from President Thomas S. Monson down to our local leaders) love us. They want us to choose, for ourselves -- not be forced to do it, good things. They have our best interests at heart.

And, if we ever doubt that, we can pray about it. We can study our scriptures. We can ask others for help. And, even if you're alone, without your scriptures or any way of accessing them, in the noisiest, craziest place ... you always can have the Holy Ghost there with you.

And, please, always be aware that your Heavenly Parents and Jesus Christ love you more than any words could describe. They are rooting for you. Your ancestors are cheering you on. Your leaders love you. You are important. You are valued. You can change the world for the better.

Make good choices and be kind to each other!
    Sister Cox

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Spiritual and Temporal Self-Reliance - November 1

Behold, He Cometh - Simon Dewey

Yes, it's DECIDEDLY PAST Monday and I'm FINALLY blogging. (Sorry!)

So, you've had the better part of a week to muse over what we discussed in class Sunday.

(You remember ... we had the big TV with the video that didn't fully load [again, SORRY!] and we were joined by members of next year's class, since they'd have just been sitting around during that hour, due to the practice of the Primary Program ...)

SO, as I was saying, we were talking about "how do I become spiritually self-reliant?"

And we talked about some basic answers:

  • Study your scriptures ... well, at the least, READ them ... daily is good.
  • Pray. At least morning and night is a good goal.
    (Though we are counseled, like in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 or Doctrine and Covenants 19:38, to pray ALWAYS ... which goes along with our baptismal covenant to ALWAYS remember Jesus.)
  • Serve others/love others
  • Follow the prophets and their counsel/Keep the commandments
And I hope that you understood some of the benefits ... like, if you've developed your OWN testimony, you can deal with hard times, when your faith is tested, more effectively.
OR, if you have a friend or family member (could be both!) who's having a crisis of faith/period of doubt/whatever, you can help to strengthen THEM during this.

Your testimony is rather like a life preserver, in my opinion. It helps keep you afloat in this crazy ocean of temptation and STUFF that is this mortal life. The church can be likened to M. Russell Ballard's metaphor of The Old Ship Zion ... If we're on the ship and choose to STAY on the ship, we're much safer and able to help ourselves and others more effectively. But, should something happen and we fall off/get pushed off/whatever the boat, our faith can help us persevere until we catch hold of the rope extended to us from our friends, family/ward family, the missionaries and we are able to get back onto the boat as part of the fold again.

When I was younger, I often was a bit confused by Christ's parables of the five wise and the five foolish virgins. It seemed like a jerk move not to be willing to share oil with others ... but, well, obviously I wasn't understanding the parable now, was I? [Yes, your teacher is SO not perfect. She is not the most spiritual being ever ... but she's trying to improve. So bear with me, please. ^_^]

But, as I have come to understand that the oil isn't a physical thing, but that spiritual preparedness we've been commanded to cultivate. As much as I would like to, I cannot share what personality traits  or habits I've worked (very) hard (or am STILL working) to develop as a disciple of Christ. I can't just say, "oh, here, [Your Name], looks like you don't have [a testimony of tithing/a love of service/a habit of daily prayer and scripture study/whatever], here take some of mine."

HOWEVER, if you are working toward creating those good habits and virtues in your life NOW, you WILL have them in the future ... well, as long as you keep working at it. If not, we've been warned that we can lose what light and knowledge we've gained. And that is a sad thing ... since we have to put forth a not-small amount of effort to get it in the first place!

(But if you do, I'll still love you. So will Heavenly Father and Jesus, of course! I mean, yeah, we'll all be sad. And I'll worry. But you'll still be loved. ... But please don't make me worry. I really don't need any more reasons to NEED to color my hair, okay?)

But, still if you're preparing for (1) a mission, (2) going to the temple and making covenants there, (3) having a forever family, and/or (4) celestial exaltation (and you're on the right track if you're keeping your baptismal covenants!); you NEED to be spiritually prepared.

Now, to channel President Uchtdorf for a second, with an airplane analogy --
Imagine you're on a plane. The cabin, through some rough flying, has lost pressure. Those silly-looking oxygen masks are released from the ceiling above the seats.
You're instructed that YOU PUT ON YOUR OWN MASK FIRST before helping others who can't don their own themselves.

WHY? It seems really selfish. We're commanded to put others' needs ahead of our own, right?
No. We're to love our neighbor as we love ourselves ... we have to take care of ourselves SO we're ABLE to help others. You can't give what you don't have. You can't give MORE than what you have.

So, in this case, you take care of yourself first. Since, if folks can't get a mask on themselves, they certainly are unable to help YOU if you're passing out from lack of air.

... Yes, it's easier to imagine a more concrete example -- as much as I'd WANT to give a HUGE donation to the Church's charitable organizations (e.g., the PEF [Perpetual Education Fund] and the Temple Patron Fund), if doing so makes it so that I've extended beyond our family's budget, have I really helped if NOW we're causing others to pay for our mortgage, food, and other necessities?
Not really. In fact, that money COULD have gone to taking care of other families in the ward boundaries.
So, though I'd mean well, it'd be a jerk move (especially to my husband, if I didn't get his feedback before pulling that stunt).

So, for spiritual self-reliance, you think about it like drops of oil ... and you know that you're burning this oil every day, too ... so it's in your best interest to make sure to replenish your supply daily.
  • Pray
  • Study the word of the Lord. Not just in the Standard Works, but also the words of the living prophet (Reading/re-reading General Conference talks is a great thing)
  • Serve others/Love others/Develop charity
  • Attend church/Mutual -- (Seriously, when I was a bit older than you, I had a job where I had to work on Sundays often. I'd try to make at least Sacrament Meeting, when possible. I could FEEL a difference if I wasn't at church. It wasn't a great feeling. It's helped me so that, unless I'm sick, I really make an effort to BE at church. Even though, with small children, it's HARD to concentrate. But I know that I'm where I need to be. YMMV.)
  • Keep the commandments
  • Attend the temple whenever you can (Even if it's just walking around the grounds or going to the visitor's center, I love the peace and comfort that I receive being there.)
    [Funny aside: When I was a freshman in college, one of my (Catholic) friends referred to the Portland Temple as "Mormon Disneyland." ... She was more correct than she thought, since I do find it the happiest place on earth. ^_^]
  • Many other beneficial things ... Care to bring up any in the comments? (Remember, you don't use your full, real name. Make up a pseudonym or something. ^_^ Practice internet safety, please.)
As I mentioned in class, I've had quite a few friends fall away from the Church. I still love them. But I cannot MAKE them change their choices.
What I can do is let them know that I love them and that I'm here for them; I can be an example (hopefully a good one!) to them; I can pray for them; I can even fast for them ... and I can make sure that my testimony is firm and strong enough that I can keep hold of the iron rod. And maintain the hope that my friends will CHOOSE to return.

Because, really, would YOU want to go somewhere, kicking and screaming, that someone is dragging you to? No, it's much nicer to go somewhere of your own choice and volition.

I love you guys (and gals, you're included in that). I really hope that I'm being a somewhat effective teacher to y'all. I am anxiously eager to help you learn what you'll need to know to deal with all the temptations, discouragement, and those other tools of Satan and his followers that you'll HAVE to encounter in this world.
I want you to KNOW  -- beyond any shadow of a doubt -- that you are a loved, treasured child of God. There's nothing that you can ever do to lessen His perfect love for you. He won't be thrilled with all your choices (like He's often disappointed in mine), but He still loves you and values you. You are PRECIOUS to him. And there is NOTHING in this world or anywhere else that will ever have a chance of changing that fact.
He wants YOU to be able to, to WANT to, return to His presence. Because He loves you.
Jesus Christ would go through all the suffering in Gethsemane JUST for YOU. Because you are just that precious. And nothing can change that.

And that is why it's so very sad when we make poor choices, when we turn away from the love of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ to chase after things that won't bring us eternal joy ... or we let worldly distractions come between us and that perfect love.

So, work at filling up those lamps ... so that you can find your way back to our Heavenly Father's presence, so that you can be a light and an example to those who've lost their way.

Because you are youth of a noble birthright; you have this amazing, unlimited potential for growth and progress.

Be kind to each other. Be kind to yourself. Be something amazing.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Questions from October 25th's lesson

Okay, from my scrawled-out, semi-cryptic notes, here's the questions that I didn't have (full, scriptural) answers for you on Sunday.

And I apologize. I should be more of a Scriptorian by this point.
I should get to ponderizing, huh?
  1. If Jesus brought people back to life during His mortal ministry, were they resurrected then?
  2. The reference for the "ye are the light of the world/candle and bushel" scripture
    (Which I SHOULD know, since it's my husband's favorite scripture. Yeah, epic fail, right?
    Good thing repentance is still possible!)
  3. Reference for "Without charity, ye are nothing" scripture.

Okay ... so, let's get the easy ones out of the way first.
I love blogging these answers, since I can EASILY get scripture references using a web search.
(You could also do them on your phone/tablet via the Gospel Library app. Easy-peasy-rice-and-cheesy.)

I knew that the "light of the world" scripture was in Matthew, but I hadn't grabbed out my scriptures to look it up.

It's found in Matthew 5:14-16:

"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

So, there we go. We're commanded to be a good example and bring the light of Christ and His gospel to the world. We can't just hunker down and binge-watch Netflix (bummer!) but we need to help be a force for good in the world. Others will see us and our actions ... which can lead to great opportunities to discuss the WHY we're doing these things (i.e., service, paying our tithing, observing the Sabbath, listening to our leaders, etc. Hey, we're a peculiar people [like in Titus 2:14, among MANY other references]).

I was pretty sure that Paul was the one who wrote "without charity ye are nothing." I mean, it sounds like Paul ... so, after a quick search, I was pleased to see that I was on the right track (All those years of Seminary and Institute paid off, right?).

In 1 Corinthians (being Paul's epistle/letter to those saints in Corinth), he writes:
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." 

But, it's not the only place where we find this discussed ...
"If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity." (Moroni 7:44)
(You'll notice that a lot of concepts and topics are discussed MULTIPLE TIMES in the scriptures. Probably because they're important. *nods*)

Now, to the BIG question that one of you asked in class -- If Jesus Christ brought people back from the dead while He was on earth, were they resurrected (Like Lazarus and the daughter of Jairus)?

Our Stake President did give me the nod that I was correct when I told you that my recollection is that Jesus was the first person to be resurrected. But, I was really irritated with myself that I didn't have scriptural references in my head immediately to give you as answers.

So, I did some sleuthing. And, well, this is a BIG (aka GOOD) question. We could discuss this for a few lessons, in fact. Way to raise the tough questions! I love it!

The first link to come up was from the Scripture Study Helps section online at (Seriously, bookmark this link. It's pretty awesome).

Under the Guide to the Scriptures link, there's an alphabetical index. Going to the 'R' section, I scroll down and there's "Resurrection."

In the entry, there's a LOT of information ... but the second paragraph starts. "Jesus Christ was the first person to be resurrected on this earth." WITH SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:
Acts 26:23: "That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles." (emphasis added)

Colossians 1:18: "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence." (again, emphasis added)

Also, my searching brought up the Aaronic Priesthood Manual 3. In Lesson 8 - "The Resurrection and Judgment," it states that Lazarus was not resurrected. ("No, he was brought back to mortal life, not immortal life. Lazarus would die again.")

The Teachings of Brigham Young manual (Your parents used it for Priesthood and Relief Society back in the 1990s. So did I. That's how you know that I'm OLD.) has a lesson about "Understanding Death and Resurrection":
"Jesus is the first begotten from the dead, as you will understand. Neither Enoch, Elijah, Moses, nor any other man that ever lived on earth, no matter how strictly he lived, ever obtained a resurrection until after Jesus Christ’s body was called from the tomb by the angel. He was the first begotten from the dead. He is the Master of the resurrection—the first flesh that lived here after receiving the glory of the resurrection (Discourses of Brigham Young,  page 374)." (<--- References to original materials is crazy important. Just so you know. ^_^)

Well, I hope that this helped you with some of the things we discussed last week in class.
I know that you've been waiting with BATED BREATH until I (finally) posted these answers. :P

Have a great rest of your week! I look forward to talking about Spiritual and Temporal Self-Reliance with you on Sunday! (It's not as boring as it sounds. Pinky-swear!)

October 25 - Last class of "Becoming More Christlike" (Though it's a continuing process ...)

We had a great class on Sunday.
I want to thank you all for participating. And not just because I was more than a little nervous due to the fact that our Stake President had joined us.

We discussed the lesson "How Can I Show Love for Those I Teach."

There are many ways we can show our love to others, as Jesus showed love to those He taught.

  • We can serve others.
    In Marvin J. Ashton's General Conference talk, "We Serve That Which We Love" (from April 1981), he states: "We serve that which we love. If we sacrifice and give our love for that which our Father in Heaven asks of us, it will help us set our footsteps upon the path of eternal life. Again I conclude, what we serve we learn to love, and what we love takes our time, and what takes our time is what we love."
  • We can be kind to those we teach.
    I'll admit that sometimes, as much as I do love you all, it can be a little difficult to keep your attention (That's my biggest challenge as your instructor ... and, as far as challenges go, it's one that I prefer. You all are a great class. You bring energy and a wonderful spirit to the class. You all seem to genuinely like each other and get along. You are willing to take part in our discussions. I am VERY grateful for all of this.) ... so, on the occasions that I need to redirect the focus to the topic we're discussing, BECAUSE I LOVE YOU and I'm trying to be more like Jesus, I make sure to GENTLY adjust your focus. I work really hard at not snapping and using a tone. It's one of the ways that I can show my love and respect for you (and, by practicing not losing my cool, I also get the benefit of growing just a little bit more like Jesus and our Heavenly Father. So it's a TOTAL win-win situation).
We also talked about WHO we are teaching (Hint: It's everyone. We all have opportunities to learn from each other ALL THE TIME. It's a big responsibility ... and, well, if Heavenly Father trusts us with that responsibility, He'll give us the opportunities and abilities for us to fulfill it.) -- We can be good examples to our families. We can help teach our friends. Since "every member is a missionary," we can all help to bring all those around us to an awareness of the gospel and of God's love for them. We will have opportunities to teach our children (or, if you don't have any children of your own, you can teach those children around you, like Sheri L. Dew's wonderful example ... or in the example of Great-Aunt Rose from Elder Uchtdorf's talk at the October 2015 General Women's Session).

And we also discussed the WHY of loving those whom we teach ... because, well, if someone is making me feel bad about myself and showing that they don't feel that I'm worthwhile, I sure am going to have reservations about listening to them.

Our actions will speak to others louder than our words. So, like my Seminary teacher, Joan Schofield, would tell us, "You need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk." As Ralph Waldo Emerson (he's a famous writer and poet) wrote, "What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say."
If we don't infuse our actions with charity (that pure love of Christ), others may think that we're preaching to them or being hypocritical. 

Elder Renlund, in his Conference Talk, "Through God's Eyes," tells us:
"Only when we see through Heavenly Father’s eyes can we be filled with “the pure love of Christ.”5 Every day we should plead with God for this love. Mormon admonished, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ."

As we are filled with this love, it will be evident in our actions and behavior. People will be able to FEEL, through you, the love that Heavenly Father and Jesus have for them. They will KNOW, through you and your example, that they are LOVED and VALUED and IMPORTANT.

Just imagine how different the world would be if everyone KNEW that they are important, that they are loved beyond comprehension, that they are precious and valued? And that those around them are equally loved and cherished?
I really do think that, if everyone KNEW these facts, that everyone would act in a much better, kinder, happier manner. We'd all be more eager to assist each other, to protect each other, to help each other, and to love each other with a perfect love for our spirit brothers and sisters.


We also had the opportunity to discuss a situation that one of you is/was faced with.

We've had many Conference talks (for both General and Stake Conference!) about the importance of keeping the Sabbath Day holy.

Sometimes, meetings or activities will be planned for Sunday.
Others may not always have the same beliefs or priorities as we do.
(I have a cousin-in-law who observes the Sabbath on Saturday, for instance.)
But, as we show love for those around us, that gives us an opportunity to serve and teach them.

In this case, there was going to be practice for a class.
And the teacher, after learning that a few of his students have church on Sunday, told them, "Well, come after church."

This does put one in a predicament. However, we have instructions on how to handle these things ...

1 Corinthians 10:13 --
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
In this case, it could be tempting to just say, "Oh, well, I'll go to church and then do this afterwards."
(Bonus points to your classmate for not even considering this. And bonus points to [Classmate]'s family for teaching that Sabbath day observance is a priority in their lives.)

You could also choose to just say, "I can't be there," and leave it at that. Your grade would most likely suffer.

OR, as Sister Seltz talked about in Sacrament Meeting, you could follow Sister Carole M. Stephens's example from her Conference talk.
She was in the situation where her granddaughter would NOT stay buckled in her carseat as they drove to Sister Stephens's house. Sister Stephens tried everything she could ... and said a prayer.
She received an impression to teach her granddaughter WHY staying buckled in her carseat was necessary.

We can apply this to our lives, especially in the case of a teacher (or coach) setting up things on the Sabbath day.

If this happens, let your teacher/coach/whomever know WHY you can't be there, WHY you believe that keeping the Sabbath is important, WHY the Sabbath isn't just part of the weekend ... and let them know that you're willing to make up work as needed on other days of the week (or out of class or whatever). This way they know that you're invested in this class/activity and not just blowing them off because you're irresponsible or lazy. (Because you're NOT those. We all have our moments ... like how I've not blogged about class until THURSDAY MORNING. Goodness gracious ... but you're full of unlimited potential. You surpass labels.)

Another situation we talked about is responding kindly and civilly when others ... well, aren't being kind or civil. (Just like in Proverbs 15:1 - "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger." -- I've been told that, if an argument starts and you must participate in it, lower your voice to the same degree that the other person raises his or hers. It could end up with you whispering and the other person yelling ... and it's REALLY HARD to keep up yelling or arguing with someone who's being so quiet. #TheMoreYouKnow) ... Just because someone isn't being nice doesn't mean that you need to lower yourself to that level. It gives you a great opportunity to show them (and those around) how a person can and should respond.

Yeah, that was a lot to cover in a lesson. Probably too much for just one lesson, really. ^_^
But you all did a great job of taking part in the lesson. I hope that it was enlightening and helpful to you.
(If not, please let me know what you DO need.)

See you Sunday!
(Remember that it's Fast Sunday ... and you'll all be full of Halloween candy, right ... so I won't be bringing treats THIS week. But next week should be good. ;D)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Becoming More Christlike: First Take

Due to General Conference and Stake Conference, we only have two classes this month.

And, well, I don't know that we were the most effective on Sunday. Whoops.

But we did get to know more about each other as members of the class shared what had gone on since we'd last met (two weeks ago). And that was a good thing ... maybe not the most spiritual or spiritually-enlightening, but it does make me happy that you all feel comfortable talking with your classmates (and your teacher).

We did briefly hit on the overall theme for our lessons for the month of October: Being More Christlike.

I mean, this is a HUGE topic. It's way too big to cover in four or five weeks; trying to cover it at all in only two weeks is pretty much impossible.
SO, that means that I really do need y'all to work on this outside of class.

There are five overall lessons that we COULD cover:
  •       How can I invite others to become more like the Savior?
  • Truly, that's a LOT to cover. And these are great things to develop.
    It's our overall goal to become more like Christ, our perfect example -- to develop more fully the attributes that He possesses: perfect love, wisdom, charity, compassion, kindness, understanding ... I could go on, but let's just put it this way, if there's ANY WORD that is a word to describe something good/positive/virtuous/etc., He's that.
    (Except maybe for the tasting-type words. But you know what I mean. And I'm sure that none of you are smart-alec enough to bring that up, right? :P)

    We did talk a (very) little about General Conference. One of you was rather impressed with Brother Devin G Durrant's talk, My Heart Pondereth Them Continually ... you remember, the one where he has challenged us all to "ponderize" a scripture every week for the next 52 weeks.

    I SHOULD have written or marked the other talk that one of you found that spoke to you. I believe it was one of President Uchtdorf's talks ... and, since he delivered a FEW talks, it's a little harder to narrow that one down.

    I shared with you a bit from Elder Dale G. Renlund's testimony/talk, Through God's Eyes, which is very applicable to this month's Sunday School theme. Summed up, we need to strive to look at other people through God's eyes, recognizing their individual worth and how VERY much Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love them. And we, also, should then do our darndest to treat them with that same love. That charity, when we learn to have and practice it, will help us become more Christlike. It will also help others to want to become more Christlike and to return to Him.

    I did also challenge you all to look for opportunities (or MAKE opportunities) for you to practice being Christlike, or leading others to be more Christlike.

    I also extended the challenge that you prepare yourself for Stake Conference ... so that you have questions that you'd like to have answered. And listen for answers to those questions in the speakers' addresses ... or in the feelings and impressions that you receive as you listen.

    I do hope that you're reading your scriptures and saying at least one sincere prayer daily. These are really good habits to cultivate NOW (instead of when you're OLD, like a certain teacher who's still attempting to be better. Seriously, establish those good habits NOW. It's super good advice. I wish I had done it back when I was much, much younger).

    If you have any questions or need some help on a topic, feel free to ask me for help.
    I do hope that you'd also include your parents (it's nice for them to feel needed/appreciated/honored), but I'm more than willing to help research or discuss stuff.

    Hopefully I'll see you all at Stake Conference.
    Remember, it's the WHOLE STAKE meeting at 10 am. If you want a comfy chair, you'd better try and get a seat early.
    If I see you, I'll wave to you!

    Monday, September 28, 2015

    General Conference Preparation

    You may not have noticed, but General Conference is here!

    I can say that since President Uchtdorf did tell us that what used to be just referred to as the "General Women's Meeting" (and before that was the General Relief Society and General Young Women's Broadcasts) is, indeed, General Conference.

    (Here's me getting on my soapbox: YES, Heavenly Father loves the girls/ladies just as much as the menfolk. We're reminded of this lots and lots. No, we don't have the exact same roles and responsibilities, but our Heavenly Father loves ALL his children perfectly.)

    Now, I'll confess, I missed taking my older daughter to watch the broadcast at the Stake Center. I plain forgot that it was even happening! (Naughty, naughty Sister Cox!! ... but, do realize that I've never told you that I was perfect. Because I'm SO not. I have PLENTY of room to grow and develop before I reach my goal of perfection.)

    After I got through allowing Satan to get me down and berating myself over a dumb mistake, I (figuratively speaking) brushed myself off and allowed myself the chance to repent.
    And my daughter and I brought up the broadcast on the internet and watched it at home.
    It was very nice ... especially since Brother Cox has never had the opportunity to attend a Women's Conference session before (and, young men, let me tell you, he did have some "holy envy" [this is a phrase taken from Lutheran Bishop Krister Stendahl. "Holy envy" refers to, when you observe and study other religions, trying to understand it, you should leave room for finding things that they have which are worthy of emulation -- Example: I have holy envy for the beautiful, uplifting stained glass windows found in many buildings of other faiths. I also love how many other faiths have practices that, though different than ours, are lovely and help foster charity and unity in their congregations]. Brother Cox especially enjoyed the musical numbers performed during this Women's Conference.

    (Because this broadcast is available to all people online, you can easily watch it, regardless of your gender. Just sayin'. I keep thinking about watching the broadcast of Priesthood session while my husband attends at the Stake Center ... I should actually DO it this time, instead of just reading the talks from that session after the fact.)

    OKAY, getting back to the point ... There are things that you can do to help yourself prepare for listening to/attending/participating in (I'm making this argument, since we DO have the opportunity to sustain our leaders of the WHOLE church) General Conference.

    We can pray and study our scriptures, in an effort to help us be in tune with the Holy Spirit. I hear great stories of people who, as they take notes during Conference, they write down something ... that isn't at all stated in the printed talks (or when rewatching the talks). It would be pretty amazing for that to happen, to know that you received revelation just for you (whether for your life or for dealing with those around you).

    We can make a special effort to be reverent while watching/listening to Conference.
    (As for me and my house? I find this to be a challenge. Even when my kids are playing "quietly," they're not THAT quiet. :P)
    I do my best to focus on the talks and take notes. I try to be charitable and NOT YELL at my (noisy) children.

    Another thing that I need to do is to try and make my home (where I will be watching Conference) into a place where the Holy Ghost can be more comfortable. In short, I should clean my house. Not only will it create a better atmosphere here in my home, but I, personally, will be far less distracted if I don't have to stare at messes all over my house.

    Brother Cox would remind me to say that we should come up with some questions that we'd like answered. We might not get a whole talk devoted to our questions, but, as we listen, we might hear something that would be a response ... or even just receive impressions as we listen to our loving leaders.

    If you didn't watch our first session of Conference, being the Women's Conference, here's the link to that broadcast.
    If you're in a hurry and just want to know what was discussed, here's a link to the summaries of the talks given: Conference at a Glance.

    I'll miss getting to see you all next week, since I'll be watching Conference at home.
    But I am praying that you'll all have a great week and a wonderful Conference experience!

    I'd love it if you took some notes so that we can discuss things that stood out to you when I see you again on the 11th!

    (And, if you want to read ahead, the outlines for October's discussions are in the links on the left column of the screen.
    No pressure ... other than it IS crazy-helpful if you do choose to read and familiarize yourself with what we're discussing. Don't worry! I'll be working at doing the same!)

    Happy Conference! See you soon!
         Sister Cox