Monday, January 26, 2009

The Second Stripling Warrior Character Trait You Can Apply to Your Life

Last week we learned about the first stripling warrior character trait “health.” I gave you a case scenario with a girl name Cassidy who was competing to win the high jump. It was her final jump and if she cleared the bar she’d win the championship. Instead of giving you the answer, I’m going to give you two possibilities to think over.
As Cassidy’s fingers gripped tightly on her pole, she prayed for the Lord to give her the strength she’d need. She took off, feet pounding down the path; her eyes focused on the goal. Cassidy dropped the end of her vaulting pole in the box and began her swing and roll. Her extension was right on target with her legs outstretched, her shoulders down. The pole recoiled and Cassidy was suddenly propelling upwards. She turned in a spin, facing the pole, while extending her arms. She seemed to float in slow motion as her body went over and around the bar. Finally she was falling to the landing mat. Once she landed, Cassidy quickly glanced up to find that the bar remained in position.
She’d done it!
Why was Cassidy ready to receive the strength of the Lord when she needed it?
Cassidy tore down the path, feet pounding the ground. Dropping the vaulting pole in the box, she swung up, higher and higher, but her foot caught the bar knocking it to the ground. Cassidy fell to the landing mat heartbroken. Now she and Tessy were tied. They’d both have to jump again. This time Tessy handily won. And though Cassidy was disappointed in herself, she knew she’d given it her all. She went over to Tessy and congratulated her.

Even though Cassidy lost was she still strengthened by God? And if so, how? I’m not going to answer for you. I want to hear what you think.

Commit yourself to eating healthy foods and exercising. Make a weekly plan of what you’re going to eat and when you’re going to exercise. Keep a journal of your progress. You’ll be amazed at the results. Before changing your diet and starting an exercise program always check with your doctor first.
The stripling warriors were very smart. How do I know this? There’s no scripture reference that says they were smart, but as you read their story, you realize they had to be smart to survive. The stripling warriors listened to their parents and leaders, learned to have faith from their mothers, and put their trust in God. I think that was very smart of them. Granted they didn’t have an Ivy League education, but their “smarts” was more along the lines of common sense. And I would suggest they were “quick studies.” Their training for battle had to be a crash-course; therefore, they had to learn fast or die.

My son-in-law, Greg, who dressed up as a knight and fought mock battles, he’s not six-foot- five or has the muscles of a linebacker. He’s about five-foot-six and has average muscles. I have watched him many times fight men bigger than himself, and most times he won. Why? Not only was he fast, but he used common sense and studied his opponent.
Were the stripling warriors given such a chance to study their opponents? I’m sure Captain Helaman filled them in on the Lamanites’ battle tactics so they would know what to expect. But I rather doubt they were able to watch a Lamanite fight another opponent beforehand. In battle a warrior was on his own. He not only had to be healthy, he had to be smart.

You’re not fighting an enemy with a sword to the death, so how does this apply to you? Everyday in your life you are fighting a battle with Satan and you have to make smart decisions. You need to be a “quick study” of a situation and be armed with enough knowledge to make the right choice.

How can you do the best you can to learn?

Do you listen to your parents and take their advice?

Case Scenario
Dexter had always struggled in school. Not in the learning, but in getting along with his classmates and in particular wise-cracking Ethan. Dex tried to ignore him but Ethan kept on teasing and teasing until Dex couldn’t stand it and he’d up and pop him. To add insult to injure, Dexter would be the one sent to the principal’s office. He’d been there twice in the last month. What was he to do, let Ethan continue to insult him?
Dex prayed morning and night that Ethan’d leave him alone, yet the tormenting continued. Finally Dexter asked his dad why his prayers had gone unanswered. His father replied, “Maybe there’s something the Lord wants you to learn.”
Dexter thought about this. What was he supposed to learn from a person who made fun of him? Humiliation? He knew deep in his gut that wasn’t the answer. But Dexter continued to pray hoping he could learn what the Lord was trying to teach him.
One day before school, Dexter saw Ethan getting out of his father’s car. His father yelled at him, called him an idiot because he’d forgotten his lunch and said he’d have to go without.
A light turned on for Dexter, for he realized that when Ethan was belittling him, he was modeling his father’s behavior. Now Dex understood why Ethan acted the way he did. But now what?

Using common sense, what should Dexter do?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

10 Stripling Warrior Character Traits You Can Apply To Your Life

Before I start today’s subject, I would be most ungrateful if I didn’t thank all those who came to my book signings this last week. I kicked off The Forgotten Warrior book tour (which involves every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday─sometimes Monday when it’s a holiday─until the end of March) on a foggy Thursday morning in Rexburg, Idaho at the new Deseret Book. My husband, Bruce, came with me. I was so glad he came along. He calmed my nerves and kept me on schedule. From Rexburg we traveled to Idaho Falls and had three more signings and then finished the week off Saturday afternoon in sunny Logan at the Seagull Book Store. Along the way we were able to visit with family and friends. I very much appreciate their support and well-wishes. I met so many wonderful people! I loved chatting with them and finding out what was going on in their lives. Some of them have aspirations of being writers, which is great. Some wanted a good book to read and I was happy to tell them about mine. And others told me of worries they have for their children, which touched my heart. So thank you everyone for three very memorable days!!! I have more signings this week. Please look at my schedule and come see me if you have the chance.

Now let’s talk about stripling warrior character traits. Even though the scriptures did not mention that young women were among the stripling warriors these character traits apply to girls as well, especially in this day and age. In my book, The Forgotten Warrior, one of my main characters is a girl with a black belt in karate, who passes through time. As a modern young woman, with a knowledge of the martial arts, she fights the Lamanites alongside the warriors just as young women around the world today are fighting in the war against Satan. So these traits apply to both young women and young men.

Now that we have that established, how many character traits do you think the stripling warriors had? I came up with at least ten. These are character traits many of you probably already have, but maybe you need to tweak them and lengthen your stride a little. Here are the ten I identified. The stripling warriors were healthy, smart, loyal, determined, exemplary, patriotic, obedient, courageous, faithful, and they had integrity.

Let’s focus on the first one I mentioned: health. Can you imagine running for two days…and then fighting? Well, that’s exactly what they did. In Alma 56 we learn about the battle for Judea and how instrumental the warriors were in that victory.

Captain Antipus was in charge of the army in that region. When Helaman and his warriors arrived, they wanted to know what they could do to help. So Antipus and Helaman devised a plan where the stripling warriors would be used as bait. Yes, bait!!! Their job was to run in front of the Lamanite army and draw them out of Judea. Once the Lamanites gave chase, Antipus and his army would attack from behind. The plan was set into motion.

The stripling warriors ran for two days with the Lamanites hot on their trail. And then they realized that the Lamanites were no longer following and in fact they had turned back. Knowing Antipus’ men would need help, Helaman and his warrior sons turned about and gave chase. The stripling warriors had to be healthy and strong to not only run for two days, but then to go after the Lamanites and do battle.

My son-in-law, Greg, has been a member of the Society of Creative Anachronisms. Greg would dress up in armor, like a knight, and with a shield and modified sword, he would fight another knight. Of course, they didn’t actually wound each other. Instead points were given for contact. He was very good. A fight usually didn’t last very long, but when the bout was over, both knights would be physically drained. They hadn’t run two days before fighting, and they only fought one person at a time so they could rest between battles.

How did the stripling warriors find the strength to run and fight?

The answer is in Alma 56:56 “…and they had fought as if with the strength of God; yea, never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength…”

God was with them. The warriors had kept their bodies healthy─they’d done the ground work─so when they needed more strength the Lord was able to give it to them.

How does this apply to you? Are you healthy? Are you ready to receive the strength of the Lord when you need it?

Let me give you a scenario to think about.

Cassidy had always wanted to become the best pole vault jumper in her school. She ate only healthy foods, drank water (no sodas), and exercised. During a regional high school competition that would send the winners on to the state championship, Cassidy performed better than she’d ever expected. Only two people remained: Cassidy and Tessy…the Terminator. They were in a “jump-off” to see which of them would win. No one had ever jumped higher than Tessy.

The bar was raised to the next increment. No one…not even Tessy had vaulted that high before. Many times when practicing on her own, Cassidy had tried to clear the bar at that mark and failed. To ease her fears, Cassidy sucked in deep, long breaths.

Tessy was up first. She clutched the end of her fiberglass pole and started down the path for her approach. Cassidy didn’t know if she dared watch and turned her back, but then, she couldn’t stand it and had to look. Tessy’s swing and roll was perfect; her feet cleared the bar, but during her “fly-away” her body brushed the bar as she came down, knocking it off.

Now all eyes were focused on Cassidy. She’d never been so nervous in her life. Months of training, of not eating donuts or drinking soft drinks with her friends, months of getting up before the sun and running, all that work hinged on this one moment, this one jump. Could she do it?

Tell me how you think this will end.

Next week I’ll tell you how I thought it would end, give you a challenge, and discuss the next character trait.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Stripling Warrior Mini-history

The stripling warriors’ story started long before they went to battle. They were descendents of Laman, which made them Lamanites. The Lamanites, who lived in seven lands and cities, were converted to the gospel by the sons of Mosiah. Through their conversion they became a righteous people. They were so committed to live the gospel that they didn’t want to be known as Lamanites. They wanted a different name.
The name is rather long. When you first look at it you might think it means the opposite from what it really says. In Alma 23:17 in the Book of Mormon it tells us. “…they called their names Anti-Nephi-Lehies…” When you first read this you might think they were against Nephi and Lehi. But that is not the case at all. Hugh Nibley explained their strong name very well. He said that Nephi-Lehi means a combination of Nephi and Lehi and anti, in this case and point in time, means a face-to-face meeting or a joining together with somebody. (Nibley, 339) Their new name meant they were joining together with Nephi and Lehi.

What happens in Alma chapter 24 is significant and sets the stage for the Anti-Nephi-Lehi young men to become stripling warriors. In this chapter we read that the Lamanites were riled up because the Anti-Nephi-Lehies broke away from them. They were so upset that they wanted to go to war.

What was the Anti-Nephi-Lehies’ reaction?

“Now there was not one soul among all the people who had been converted unto the Lord that would take up arms against their brethren; nay, they would not even make any preparations for war; yea, and also their king commanded them that they should not.” Alma 24:6
These people were so amazing and committed to the Lord. Knowing that their past sins had been forgiven and their swords were wiped clean by Christ’s atonement, they didn’t want to go back to the way things were. They wanted to keep their swords clean of blood.
The Anti-Nephi-Lehies had an enemy knocking on their door wanting to do battle. But instead of storing up weapons, they buried them. Their actions spoke louder than words, and what they did next becomes even more poignant. They didn’t raise the barriers between them and their enemy, they lowered them. And when they saw the enemy coming against them; they prostrated themselves before them. The Lamanites had no mercy. They killed over one thousand of these brave men. But as the Lamanites realized that the Anti-Nephi-Lehies really weren’t going to fight… a miracle happened. The Lamanites’ hearts began to swell, and they threw down their weapons. Now you’re probably thinking, but what about the men who were killed? A miracle didn’t save them. Those Anti-Nephi-Lehies, who made the ultimate sacrifice, knew what they were doing. They gained a heavenly reward. And because of their sacrifice their sons and daughters’ faith waxed strong.

Many of those children’s brothers, fathers and grandfathers lives were sacrificed on that field. Their families felt this great loss, but they knew their loved ones had gone to a better place and that their legacy would long be remembered.

Try to imagine how those who survived in the field felt. Here their fellow soldiers, their soldier-brothers, gave their lives to keep their covenant with God never to fight again. You can be certain that they would not let such a sacrifice be in vain. They would keep their covenants!

Time passed…and the Lamanites became contentious towards the Anti-Nephi-Lehies once again. Ammon, one of the sons of Mosiah and a great leader, was so worried about them that he took them to the land Jershon where the Nephites could protect them. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies became known as “…the people of Ammon” Alma 27:26. We refer to them as the Ammonites. What happened next between the Nephites and the Lamanites? All-out war. In Alma 28:2 we read “…tens of thousands of the Lamanites were slain and scattered abroad…” Verse 3 records: “Yea, and also there was a tremendous slaughter among the people of Nephi.” So this was a time of great mourning. Imagine how the Ammonites felt knowing that so many Nephites had died protecting them.

The war would rise and fall after this and would eventually become so bad that the Ammonites were willing to break their covenant with God to help in the fight. Who was it that insisted they keep their oath? He was not only a chief captain, but also a prophet and the keeper of the records. Helaman feared their very souls would be in danger if the Ammonites broke their covenant with God, so he told them thanks, but no thanks. He’d rather lose the war than have them cut off from the Lord.

Realizing the dire situation their people were in and that many Nephites were dying protecting them and also remembering that many of their brothers, fathers and grandfathers had sacrificed their very lives not to bloody their swords, the young men of the Ammonites stepped forward. They hadn’t taken the oath and they were willing to fight.
These brave boys made a covenant to fight for the liberty of the Nephites and to protect their land. They were extremely valiant and courageous and true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted.

You’re probably thinking to yourself, that’s a nice story, but how does it apply to me? Let me know how you believe this story can apply to our lives.
The Book of Mormon (The Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981).
Nibley, H. Teaching of the Book of Mormon: Part Two (Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies and Nibly LLC, 2004).

Monday, January 5, 2009


Last week I told you that over the next few months we were going to discuss:
Four of Satan’s temptations
A stripling warrior mini-history
Ten stripling warrior character traits you can apply to your life.

I thought we would start with “Four of Satan’s temptations.” Okay, already I can hear moaning, but it is important to realize that we face many of the same temptations the stripling warriors did. Hard to believe since they lived so long ago and had very different circumstances than we do, but let's dig deep and see what temptations we have in common.

To bridge the gap of time we’re going to need the help of the scriptures. In the Book of Mormon 1Nephi chapter 22 verse 23 we read:

“For the time speedily shall come that all churches which are built up to get gain and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh, and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yes, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble: and this is according to the words of the prophet.”

Within this scripture are four things Satan uses to tempt us.
They are:
1) gain
2) power
3) popularity
4) lusts (of the flesh and things of the world)

Everyday we see people fighting over these things, just as they did in Book of Mormon times. We face them in our schools, our government, and even sometimes in our homes. Fortunately for the stripling warriors they didn’t have the problems we do with entertainment such as T.V., movies, and rap music (or did they since they had drums?).

So what weapons can we use to combat these temptations? Here’s the list I’ve put together:

prayer, to keep us humble and stay in touch with our Heavenly Father...

scripture study, to help us learn of our past and about our future...

and church, to learn service and also again to keep us humble and in touch with God. Using the scriptures to help me write my book, The Forgotten Warrior, I found the Bible and the Book of Mormon are very powerful weapons in our war with Satan. The scriptures show us what happened to the people who lived long ago and they give us instructions of how to live our lives. If we were to apply in our lives the noble traits of the stripling warriors we would be much happier. This doesn’t mean if we read the scriptures we won’t experience sorrow or pain, and it doesn’t mean we won’t mess up. But what it does mean is we have a wonderful tool to help keep us out of troubled waters and help us survive hardships.

I look forward to reading your comments on temptations. Let me know what temptations you think we have in common with the stripling warriors.

Now for more winners of The Twelve Days of Christmas Contest:

Day 5: Winner of Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind
Ilona Fenton
Wales, UK

Day 6: Winner of a Scentsy Gift Certificate
Jobie Marshall
Portland, Oregon

Day 7: Winner of Loyalty’s Web
Ronda Hinricksen
(no address given)

Day 8: Winner of Chase McKay Didn’t Get Up Today
Judy Cox
Holden, LA

Day 9: Winner of Counting the Cost
Kristina Stiltner
Wise, VA

Day 10: Winner of My Squishy Pants
Patricia Andreasky
Chino Valley, AZ

Day 11: Winner of my book: The Forgotten Warrior

Kerri Waldo

Prattville, AL


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