I’m fine. And you?

A regular reader of this little blog will know that a few years ago I hit a bit of a rough patch. Let me be clear, technically I was fine.  Physically I felt fine.  Nothing was wrong to the visible eye. My faith, though, was shaken; my future path uncertain.  When faith becomes so intertwined with one’s identity it becomes noticeable when that core loses its footing.  I couldn’t help it when my feelings and mood seeped into my blog posts.  So much so, I had faithful readers ask me about my well-being.  My foundation became shaky as I had to make a decision to stand or find a new foundation.  Let’s just say, things were up in the air a bit.  While I am still struggling a little I have continued on and tried to rebuild my foundation a bit more secure than before.  It is a process.  But that’s just a little background for the main point of this blog and that is this: you never know what struggle someone is fighting inside so be nice to people.  Seriously. Continue reading

General Conference thoughts: Good Shepherd, Lamb of God

Confession, despite living in Wyoming for more than 3/4 of my life, I know very little about sheep.  Even though I encounter a traffic jam every now and then because a flock of sheep block the road way; even though my mom’s cousin owned and operated a ranch and while visiting that ranch when I was eight years old I saw a lamb being born; and even though my town hosts our county fair and 4-H is a big deal in these parts I still have gained very little knowledge about sheep.

So, I decided to look up some facts about sheep to help give me a clearer perspective on this talk.

From onekindplanet.org:

  • Sheep have very good memories. They can remember at least 50 individual sheep and humans for years. They do this by using a similar neural process and part of the brain that humans use to remember.
  • Sheep have been shown to display emotions, some of which can be studied by observing the position of their ears.
  • Contrary to popular belief, sheep are extremely intelligent animals capable of problem solving. They are considered to have a similar IQ level to cattle and are nearly as clever as pigs.
  • Like various other species including humans, sheep make different vocalisations to communicate different emotions. They also display and recognise emotion by facial expressions.
  • Sheep are known to self-medicate when they have some illnesses. They will eat specific plants when ill that can cure them.
  • Sheep are precocial (highly independent from birth) and gregarious (like to be in a group).
  • Female sheep (ewes) are very caring mothers and form deep bonds with their lambs that can recognise them by their call (bleat) when they wander too far away.
  • Wild sheep tend to be larger than domesticated species, the largest (Argali) being 1.2m tall. They also have longer horns which they use to defend themselves from predators.
  • Egyptians believed that sheep were sacred. They even had them mummified when they died, just like humans.
  • The ancient Sumerians (4000 – 2000 BCE), who are thought to have developed the first form of writing (Cuneiform script), immortalised sheep in the form of gods in their religion.The meat of sheep is widely eaten by people across the world. Sheep milk is also drunk and used to make other products such as cheese. Many people who consume animal products would like to choose products from animals kept in higher welfare systems. However welfare labelling on products can be confusing

I threw in a few extra fun facts even though they don’t fit with Elder Gong’s talk.

Isn’t it interesting that sheep can recognize certain humans?  And they aren’t dumb but are actually intelligent animals.  If we are similar to a flock in that we are looking for our Good Shepherd, will we be as smart as the sheep and recognize the Good Shepherd?

In a September 1987 First Presidency message President Ezra Taft Benson wrote:

In Jesus’ time, the Palestinian shepherd knew each of his sheep. The sheep knew his voice and trusted him. They would not follow a stranger. Thus, when called, the sheep would come to him. (See John 10:1–5, 14.)

At night, the shepherds would lead their sheep to a corral or a sheepfold. High walls surrounded the sheepfold, and thorns were placed on top of the walls to prevent wild animals and thieves from climbing over. Sometimes, however, a wild animal driven by hunger would leap over the walls into the midst of the sheep, frightening and threatening them.

Such a situation separated the true shepherd—one who loved his sheep—from the hireling who worked only for pay out of duty. The true shepherd was willing to give his life for the sheep. He would go in among the sheep and fight for their welfare. The hireling, on the other hand, valued his own personal safety above the sheep and would usually flee from the danger.

Jesus used this common illustration of His day to declare that He was the Good Shepherd, the True Shepherd. Because of His love for His brothers and sisters, He would willingly and voluntarily lay down His life for them. (See John 10:11–18.)

Eventually the Good Shepherd did give His life for the sheep—for you and me, for us all.

(“Feed My Sheep”, Ensign September 1987)

Good Shepherd, Lamb of God

by Elder Gerrit W. Gong

When love is left out of the equation…

I listened quietly.  That’s what I do.  I am a quiet observer.

His complaint was valid, I’ll give him that.

I listened to a home teacher talk about his assigned single sister to minister to.  She owned her own home but was “needy” in that she always asked him to help with fix-it chores.  Perhaps he was just venting because he was talking to a family friend.  The problem though is that I also was there.  And I related to the single sister’s situation. Continue reading

General Conference thoughts: Be With and Strengthen Them

by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

How to be a decent human being 101.  That’s what this is all about.  If the heart is the symbol of love and we live in a time when “men’s hearts shall fail them” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:26) is it any wonder we need to be reminded how to use our heart?  Or that we need to know how to put the checklist down and focus on people?   Continue reading

General Conference thoughts: Ministering

by President Russell M. Nelson

It was Easter Sunday and the afternoon session of conference.  I needed to get across town to my brother’s house because we were going to have Easter dinner immediately following the session so that the out of town travelers could get home.  But I heard that President Nelson would be giving a short talk so I hung around for a few minutes to hear what was going to be announced.   Continue reading

General Conference thoughts: General Priesthood Session

Due to space and time, the entire Saturday evening session is combined in one post.

I don’t watch the Saturday evening of conference because after 4 hours from the morning and afternoon, my focus is shot (I’m not sure what I’ll do in October when I should watch that evening session) but I do read every talk in the Ensign.  But this session I didn’t need to watch it per se because I heard all about it.  At least, the changes announced during it. Continue reading