A Lenten Personal Progress – Days 25 – 31

value-faithDuring trek this year, my married daughter will do a demonstration of cleaning wool. This is germane to trek because of the scripture in Isaiah:

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 am thinking that the image Isaiah had in mind might have been a sheep shearing where the sheep was cut in the process of removing the fleece. But even when the sheep shearer is able to remove the fleece without cutting the skin, the fleece is full of lanolin (sheep body oil), dirt, burrs, and all manner of corruption.

To clean the fiber in the fleece, one might imagine that it involves adding soap and water and agitating the mass. But this is only partly true.

It is true that you prepare a boiling-hot bath of mildly soapy water for the fleece, but then you simply immerse the fleece in the hot water. All the dirt and most of the foreign matter comes away from the wool fibers over time in the quiet immersion of the fleece in the water over time. The fleece is gently lifted from the mildly soapy water and immersed a second time in pure hot water. What remains is pure wool, as white as possible (given the sheep from which it came).

Once the wool is clean, it isn’t magically transformed into useful products. To be transformed into cloth, the clean wool must be combed and carded, spun and woven or knitted or nail-bound or crocheted.

In a similar manner, this is like baptism, cleaning us for the work ahead. And then our lives become drawn out in service, becoming a thing of utility and beauty in the hands of the Lord.

To go directly to a particular day, click on one of the following links:
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 |
Day 11 | Day 12 | Day 13 | Day 14 | Day 15 | Day 16 | Day 17 |
Day 18 | Day 19 | Day 20 | Day 21 | Day 22 | Day 23 | Day 24 |
Day 25 | Day 26 | Day 27 | Day 28 | Day 29 | Day 30 | Day 31 | Go to Top

Day 25 (Saturday)
value-faithToday you should have been praying and reading scriptures for three full weeks. If you have been able to do this, congratulations!

Praying and reading the word of God is, for your spiritual life, a bit like eating can be for your physical life. If you happen to miss a meal, you don’t say to yourself, “My goodness, I guess I’m just not very good at eating. I guess I’ll stop doing it all together.” No, you notice that you missed a meal and take pains to ensure that doesn’t happen again. You plan ahead, make sure you have access to some kind of snack in case you are again forced to be so busy that you miss the full meal.

If things don’t work that way for you, consider that when people skip several meals in a row, they actually get to a point where they don’t want to eat. This is actually a very big problem for people who have been “off” food for an extended period of time. This can happen, for example, when a person has abdominal surgery – they are asked to clean out their system before the surgery by not eating, and then it takes at least a day or more before they are allowed to eat again. When they do start again, they usually can only eat a tiny amount, and it takes a while to work back up to the level of eating that is appropriate for them, given their circumstances.

So if this is an area where you are still struggling, be kind to yourself and re-think this. Prayer and reading the word of God are precious and good things that nurture your spirit, giving you peace and guidance and refuge. What now may seem a chore will become a delight.

flower-virtueBook of Mormon: Read Alma 31 – Alma 35: Alma and Amulek go on a mission to the Zoramites, whose perversion of the gospel includes insincere public prayer from the rameumpton. The mission is insufficiently successful and in future readings we will see the terrible wars that result, along with gaining insight into why the mission largely failed.

flower-choice-and-accountabilityComplete Choice and Accountability 1: Follow a pattern of regular scripture study and prayer to receive help in making personal decisions such as choosing good friends, being kind to others, or other decisions.

honor-beeThere’s no long-term experience scheduled to start today. Take a glance at future long-term experiences – there might be something you’d like to get started earlier than planned in my schedule.

Remember to:

  • Review and keep your standards (day 25 of 31)
  • Work on the three standards you decided to improve upon (day 21 of 21)
  • Read your patriarchal blessing or set an appointment to get a recommend for one (reminder 19 of 21)
  • Increase your understanding of the atonement and plan to share your testimony.
  • Ponder Christ’s atonement and the gospel during the sacrament. (week 3 of 3)
  • Explain the plan of salvation and how it builds your faith. (reminder 14 of 14)
  • Notice and acknowledge the worthwhile qualities and attributes of others. (day 12 of 14)
  • Improve an attribute important to being a good mother. (day 11 of 14)
  • Show love for a family member and avoid unkind thoughts and actions. (day 8 of 14)
  • Act each day to remember the Lord Jesus Christ and develop your divine qualities (day 7 of 14)
  • Treat your parents with respect and kindness and do as they ask (day 6 of 14)
  • Strive to make a divine quality a part of daily life. (day 5 of 14)

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Day 26 (Sunday)

value-faithToday happens to be Father’s Day (the third Sunday in June). Some of us have wonderful fathers who are present to help us. Others do not have this blessing.

Whether you have a mortal father to honor in person today, you always have a Heavenly Father who loves you.

If you are reading the scheduled chapters from the Book of Mormon, reflect on the counsel Alma gives his three children, and which of these blessings is similar to what a loving father might say to you.

flower-virtueBook of Mormon: Read Alma 36 – Alma 41: Now that the mission to the Zoramites has failed, Alma gives blessings to his sons, Helaman, Shiblon, and Corianton.

flower- choice-and-accountability Complete Choice and Accountability 2: For three weeks you have been improving on three standards you select on day 5.

honor-beeThere’s no long-term experience scheduled to start today. Take a glance at future long-term experiences – there might be something you’d like to get started earlier than planned in my schedule.

Remember to:

  • Review and keep your standards (day 26 of 31)
  • Read your patriarchal blessing or set an appointment to get a recommend for one (reminder 20 of 21)
  • Increase your understanding of the atonement and plan to share your testimony.
  • Ponder Christ’s atonement and the gospel during the sacrament. (week 3 of 3)
  • Explain the plan of salvation and how it builds your faith. (final reminder)
  • Notice and acknowledge the worthwhile qualities and attributes of others. (day 13 of 14)
  • Improve an attribute important to being a good mother. (day 12 of 14)
  • Show love for a family member and avoid unkind thoughts and actions. (day 9 of 14)
  • Act each day to remember the Lord Jesus Christ and develop your divine qualities (day 8 of 14)
  • Treat your parents with respect and kindness and do as they ask (day 7 of 14)
  • Strive to make a divine quality a part of daily life. (day 6 of 14)

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Day 27 (Monday)

value-faithThis past weekend the missionaries visited us, to teach us about repentance. I was struck by the fact that repentance comes from the Latin for “re think.”

When we call people to repent, then, it is not so much that they are filthy sinners. Rather, they appear to have an incomplete understanding of the world around them. It may be that this incorrect understanding causes them to hurt others by lying or cheating or causing physical harm. It may be that this wrong understanding is causing them to hurt themselves by abusing alcohol or drugs. It may be that they don’t think they are precious to God.

Thus, to ask them to repent is asking them to open their eyes, to think differently, to consider that God loves them, that a way has been prepared for them to return to that God who brought them into spiritual life, the Father who was willing to let them grow by ‘leaving home’ to experience mortal life in all its glory and confusion and passion.

May we all re-think whatever thoughts are causing us to be distant from the divine potential God intends us to fulfill.

flower-virtueBook of Mormon: Read Alma 42 – Alma 45: Alma concludes his counsel to his son, Corianton, describing the plan of salvation. The Nephites are forced to defend their homes, liberties, families and religion against the Lamanites. Alma departs and some say he was taken up by the Spirit, as Moses.

flower-faithComplete  Faith 5: For two weeks you have strengthened your understanding of the atonement and should have shared your testimony.

honor-beeThere’s no long-term experience scheduled to start today. Take a glance at future long-term experiences – there might be something you’d like to get started earlier than planned in my schedule.

Remember to:

  • Review and keep your standards (day 27 of 31)
  • Read your patriarchal blessing or set an appointment to get a recommend for one (reminder 21 of 21)
  • Ponder Christ’s atonement and the gospel during the sacrament. (week 3 of 3)
  • Notice and acknowledge the worthwhile qualities and attributes of others. (day 14 of 14)
  • Improve an attribute important to being a good mother. (day 13 of 14)
  • Show love for a family member and avoid unkind thoughts and actions. (day 10 of 14)
  • Act each day to remember the Lord Jesus Christ and develop your divine qualities (day 9 of 14)
  • Treat your parents with respect and kindness and do as they ask (day 8 of 14)
  • Strive to make a divine quality a part of daily life. (day 7 of 14)

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Day 28 (Tuesday)

value-faithThe Book of Mormon is filled with references to war, as is the Old Testament. And yet Mormon includes great details regarding this one war (described in Alma 46-62), of all Nephite wars. Why?

First, I think, is the valiant example of Captain Moroni. Mormon wrote that if all men were like Captain Moroni, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever and the devil would have no power over the hearts of the children of men (Alma 48: 17). Captain Moroni was a young man when he was given leadership of the Nephite armies, only twenty-five. Mormon himself had similarly been given leadership of the Nephite armies at a young age, but Mormon lived to see his people destroyed by their own wickedness, where Captain Moroni was eventually able to achieve peace. It is no small thing that Mormon named his own son after this legendary military leader.

Second, this war was obviously about the evil that overtakes a people when they abandon the gospel. So even though this war is about war, it is also about the war between good and evil. And that struggle continues on in our modern countries and communities, families and hearts.

Besides, if Mormon hadn’t included so many details about this war, how could he have ever told us of the Sons of Ammon, the thousands of young men who volunteered to defend the Nephites. In all of canonized scripture, it is only the mothers of these young men who shine forth as honored examples of the power of mothers to inspire their children to great good. These were women who had embraced Christ even when it was unpopular, even when their husbands were killed for believing, even when they were forced to give up their homeland or be murdered themselves.

Is it any wonder that such women could inspire such faith in their sons, that “if they did not doubt, God would deliver them”? The sons of such women could honestly report, “We do not doubt our mothers knew it.”

May you be such an example to the children for whom you care, that they can know that you know.

flower-virtueBook of Mormon: Read Alma 46 – Alma 51: Amalickiah conspires to become king of the Nephites. Moroni raises the title of liberty. Amalikiah uses treachery to become king of the Lamanites and wars against the Nephites.

flower-individual-worthComplete Individual Worth 2: You learned about patriarchal blessings and either reviewed yours or prepared to receive one.

honor-beeThere’s no long-term experience scheduled to start today. Take a glance at future long-term experiences – there might be something you’d like to get started earlier than planned in my schedule.

Remember to:

  • Review and keep your standards (day 29 of 31)
  • Ponder Christ’s atonement and the gospel during the sacrament. (week 3 of 3)
  • Notice and acknowledge the worthwhile qualities and attributes of others. (final reminder)
  • Improve an attribute important to being a good mother. (day 14 of 14)
  • Show love for a family member and avoid unkind thoughts and actions. (day 11 of 14)
  • Act each day to remember the Lord Jesus Christ and develop your divine qualities (day 10 of 14)
  • Treat your parents with respect and kindness and do as they ask (day 9 of 14)
  • Strive to make a divine quality a part of daily life. (day 8 of 14)

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Day 29 (Wednesday)

value-faithIt is easy to be negative.

There is a reason for this, of course. It is by remembering the negative that we historically avoided those things that could kill us. Fire. Tainted meat. In fact all “prejudices” were, in their day, based on avoiding those things and people associated with death.

Unfortunately, there is scant evolutionary advantage to being positive. 1 Evolution merely cares that we live long enough to reproduce and protect our young. Evolution doesn’t much care if we and our families are happy.

When we care for one another, acknowledging the good others do and the worth they have, we become happier.

In this way, life becomes a joy. Our homes can be harbors of sweetness and goodness. Even when troubles come to us, they come to prepared hearts that can withstand trials.
I hope that as you have noticed the good qualities and worth of those around you, you realize that this is not merely an exercise in “being nice,” but a fundamental attribute of God, which He invites us to develop.

honor-beeBook of Mormon: Today is a free day. If you’re behind in your reading or any of the value experiences, use this time to catch up.

flower-individual-worthComplete  Individual Worth 3: For two weeks, you noticed and acknowledged the worthwhile qualities and attributes of others.

honor-beeThere’s no long-term experience scheduled to start today. Take a glance at future long-term experiences – there might be something you’d like to get started earlier than planned in my schedule.

Remember to:

  • Review and keep your standards (day 30 of 31)
  • Ponder Christ’s atonement and the gospel during the sacrament. (week 3 of 3)
  • Improve an attribute important to being a good mother. (final reminder)
  • Show love for a family member and avoid unkind thoughts and actions. (day 12 of 14)
  • Act each day to remember the Lord Jesus Christ and develop your divine qualities (day 11 of 14)
  • Treat your parents with respect and kindness and do as they ask (day 10 of 14)
  • Strive to make a divine quality a part of daily life. (day 9 of 14)

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Day 30 (Thursday)

value-faithHistory has forgotten the ancient power of women to shape the world.

In the days of the Book of Mormon, the folkways associated with the Law of Moses appear to have been in place. One of these was the practice of a dead man’s property being passed to the man who married the dead man’s widow. We see this most graphically in the Old Testament story of Ruth. Even though Ruth herself was a foreigner and destitute, it was only through marriage to Ruth that Boaz obtained the lands now referred to as Bethlehem. These are the lands that would pass from Boaz to Obed, to Obed’s son Jesse to Jesse’s son, David. And it was thereafter these lands, that were obtained by Boaz’s marriage to Ruth, that legend and prophecy foretold would be the birthplace of the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

In the Book of Mormon, we see that this form of marriage was practiced by the Lamanites. When Amalikiah caused the death of the King of the Lamanites, he does not immediately obtain the throne. It is only after presenting himself to the Queen of the Lamanites and becoming her consort that we see Amalikiah acknowledged as king.
After Amalikiah is slain by Teancum, we again see Amalikiah’s brother, Ammoron, go to the Queen of the Lamanites and become her husband. This is what gave him legitimacy to rule the Lamanites, which were to him a foreign people.

And in a final echo of the power the Queen of the Lamanites had to bestow standing on the men in her life, we will see her son, Tubaloth, acknowledged as king of the Lamanites in the stead of his father, Ammoron.

The Queen of the Lamanites fascinates me, because I know that the form of marriage we see in her story was eradicated from Western civilization a thousand years ago. The change was hastened by another Queen, my ancestor, Saint Margaret of Scotland. And for changing the definition of marriage, Queen Margaret was canonized a saint in the Catholic Church.

But it leaves me to ponder how Joseph Smith, a product of a thousand years of redefined marriage, came to describe so deftly a royal levirate marriage when such a thing was unknown in his day. I honestly can’t reconcile such a thing with the position of those who claim the Book of Mormon is not what it claims to be.

There are many attributes a woman can have that are important to being a good mother. In my opinion, one of those attributes is seeking knowledge of things as they are, so that when deceivers attempt to destroy our families and our faith, we as women are able to see the error of the tales the deceivers weave.

flower-virtueBook of Mormon: Read Alma 52 – Alma 57: Teancum having slain Amalikiah, Ammoron becomes king of the Nephites and vows to avenge his brother. The sons of the people of Ammon (the stripling warriors) raise arms to defend the Nephites.

flower-divine-natureComplete  Divine Nature 2: For two weeks you worked to develop an attribute a mother you admire thinks is important to being a good mother.

flower-good-worksBegin Good Works 4: Learn about the importance of serving others. Teach a family home evening lesson on service.

Remember to:

  • Review and keep your standards (day 31 of 31)
  • Ponder Christ’s atonement and the gospel during the sacrament. (week 3 of 3)
  • Show love for a family member and avoid unkind thoughts and actions. (day 13 of 14)
  • Act each day to remember the Lord Jesus Christ and develop your divine qualities (day 12 of 14)
  • Treat your parents with respect and kindness and do as they ask (day 11 of 14)
  • Strive to make a divine quality a part of daily life. (day 10 of 14)
  • Teach a family home evening lesson on service (reminder 1 of 7)

Day 31 (Friday)

value-faith

I mentioned that the missionaries stopped by last weekend to talk about our contribution to the ward’s mission plan.

The first thing we were supposed to do was select a family mission scripture. After some deliberation, we settled upon 1 John 4: 11, 18: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another… perfect love casteth out fear.”

The ward had written in the first goal on this plan:

“We will invite someone to be taught by the missionaries by ______________, 2015.”

As we discussed this goal, the missionaries suggested that rather than setting a hard deadline, we consider making it a goal to invite someone to be taught by the missionaries when moved upon by the spirit. This way, rather than this goal being a “one and done” goal, it would be a living opportunity to hear the prompting of the Spirit asking us to bless those around us.

In that vein, there is at any moment in time almost certainly someone you know who would appreciate being extended an invitation to worship with you. They might just be charmed to know that you believe in God. Or they might be happy to know that you care enough to reach out to them, even though they haven’t been at Church in a while.

If you are motivated by perfect love, there is nothing to fear.

flower-virtueBook of Mormon: Read Alma 58 – Alma 62: The war continues, and traitors conquer Zarahemla from within. Moroni returns and purges Zarahemla. The Lamanites are defeated and Ammoron is killed. Peace is restored.

flower-divine-natureComplete Divine Nature 3: For two weeks you showed love for a family member and avoided unkind thoughts and actions.

flower-good-worksStart Good Works 7: Invite someone to Church who isn’t already attending and share your testimony.

Remember to:

  • Review and keep your standards (This is Integrity 1 – you can complete it now or continue this through day 46 as planned)
  • Ponder Christ’s atonement and the gospel during the sacrament. (week 3 of 3)
  • Act each day to remember the Lord Jesus Christ and develop your divine qualities (day 13 of 14)
  • Treat your parents with respect and kindness and do as they ask (day 12 of 14)
  • Strive to make a divine quality a part of daily life. (day 11 of 14)
  • Teach a family home evening lesson on service (reminder 2 of 7)
  • Invite someone to Church who isn’t already attending and share your testimony (reminder 1 of 7)

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 |
Day 11 | Day 12 | Day 13 | Day 14 | Day 15 | Day 16 | Day 17 |
Day 18 | Day 19 | Day 20 | Day 21 | Day 22 | Day 23 | Day 24 |
Day 25 | Day 26 | Day 27 | Day 28 | Day 29 | Day 30 | Day 31 | Go to Top

Notes:

  1. Evolution obviously happens, and belief that we evolve in response to our environment does not preclude a belief in Adam and Eve.
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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but that Emma was right to assert she had been Joseph's only true wife.

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