Monday, March 30, 2009

Conclusion of Ten Stripling Warrior Character Traits

I started blogging about ten stripling warrior character traits you can apply to your life way back in January. Before delving in to the character traits we discussed four of the main temptations Satan has used throughout all ages: gain, power, popularity, and lusts (1Nephi 22:23). We also talked about weapons at our disposal that help us fight against these temptations: prayer, scriptures, church service, and etc.

I also gave you a very brief stripling warrior history that told how Ammon, one of the four sons of Mosiah, taught the gospel in seven Lamanite lands and converted the people. So deep was their conversion that they wanted to be known by a different name, so they became the Anti-Nephi-Lehies.

We discussed the valiant bravery and courage of these people and how they promised God that they would never use their weapons again. They were so committed to our Heavenly Father that when the Lamanites sought to destroy them, they lowered their defenses, buried their weapons and prostrated themselves before their enemy. Over a thousand of them died before the Lamanites' hearts were softened.

Ammon then took the Anti-Nephi-Lehies to the land of Jershon where the Nephites could help protect them. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies were so grateful to Ammon that they took on his name and became known thereafter as the Ammonites. The Lamanites turned the full-force of their anger against the Nephites. The fighting became so horrendous that the Ammonites thought perhaps they should break their covenant with God and fight. Captain Helaman told them that he would rather lose the war than have them lose their eternal salvation. That was when the valiant young men of the Ammonites stepped forward to fight for their people and their freedom!

After this mini-history, we then focused on ten stripling warrior character traits. These warriors were healthy, smart, loyal, determined exemplary, patriotic, obedient, courageous, faithful and they had an abundance of integrity. Every week we have studied each trait.

While discussing the traits, we also talked about how the stripling warriors helped Captain Antipus and his men at the city Judea. And though many Nephite soldiers died, including Antipus, none of the stripling warriors perished. They followed Helaman to Antiparah, where the Lamanites had abandoned the city. Captain Helaman and the warriors then joined forces with Captain Gid and his Nephite soldiers and traveled to the city Cumeni. At first they took this city by merely waiting the Lamanites out and capturing their supplies. After Cumeni fell Helaman and Gid had a new problem on their hands: starvation. Food was near impossible to find. Lamanite prisoners were so desperate that unarmed many of them attacked the Nephites hoping to be killed and put out of their misery. Helaman and Gid knew this could not go on and so they decided that Gid and his army would take the Lamanite prisoners to Zarahemla. Not long after Gid left, Helaman discovered a mighty Lamanite army heading for Cumeni and his little band of stripling warriors.

Image the fear in Helaman's heart for his warrior sons. The horrific battle for Cumeni was won not only because Gid and his army returned to help, but also because the stripling warriors were emboldened by their faith in God and the mighty prophet leader Helaman. Many Nephite solders died, and yet, not a single stripling warrior was killed.

Book two of The Forgotten Warrior follows the stripling warriors as they travel on to help recapture the city Manti. There are so many more lessons to be learned by studying the stripling warriors and their story. I hope you'll read more about them in the Book of Mormon and hopefully in book two of The Forgotten Warrior when it is released.

Many people have asked why I would choose to write about these brave young men. My answer: I'm a mother, who hopes she has taught her children well. I carry a prayer in my heart that I have taught them to have faith in God.

Over the past several weeks I've given you several scripture references. Here's one more. This is at the end of Helaman's letter to Moroni. "May the Lord, our God, who has redeemed us and made us free, keep you continually in his presence." Alma 58:41

I wish the same for all of us.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Interview with Annette Lyon author of Tower of Strength

About a month ago, I met Annette Lyon at a luncheon our publisher held. When I heard that her new book was coming out, I jumped at the chance to interview her on my blog.


For those who are new to your writing, tell us a little about yourself and your writing career.
I've published six books now, two contemporary novels and four historical temple novels. My fifth book, Spires of Stone, was a 2007 Whitney Award finalist for Best Historical Novel. In 2007 I also received Utah's Best of State medal for fiction. My next book, tentatively titled, Band of Sisters, will be out spring 2010. With it, I return to my contemporary novel roots.

Your new book, Tower of Strength, has a beautiful cover showing the protagonist and the Manti temple. So is this book basically just for an LDS audience or would people of all faiths enjoy it?
Although the characters happen to be LDS, their struggles are universal. Being Mormon colors Tabitha's character and lifestyle, but much of her experience and choices have nothing to do with her beliefs. I think readers who are not LDS will be able to enjoy the story as much as any reader. Tabitha faces losing someone she loves, trying to hang on through stormy times by being strong, and being criticized by other people. Those are the things everyone can empathize with.

Great! Many authors use a working theme for the novels they write. Did you have a theme for this book?
I don't usually write a book with a working theme in mind. The characters and their story always come first. Themes end up being woven through the story, but they develop on their own. In this case, I think the themes of loss, renewal, and standing up for your beliefs are big ones. But aside from any theme, I hope readers come away feeling uplifted and like they had a great ride getting there.

So let's get down to basics regarding the book. Tell us about the main character in Tower of Strength. What is her inner conflict? And, what does she want most in life?
At the age of 19, Tabitha was widowed after only months of marriage, leaving her expecting a child. She left Manti and all the pain it represented behind. Six years later, she returns to own her own business and be closer to family. But now she must face all those old wounds. She runs into criticism and moral challenges with her newspaper business, and she'll have to decide whether to allow her heart open and let herself love again--risking pain--or stay safe but alone.

Tabitha sounds fascinating. There are a lot of women today that face similar situations. Tell us a little more about her struggles.
Tabitha faces intense community accusations and pressure and holds up the best she can using the strength she's gained over the years from being a single mother. She rehabilitates an abused horse, but when it becomes ill, she finally realizes that no matter how strong she is, she can't control the future. And that makes her question whether she dares open her heart to love again, because getting hurt can be too painful.

I know Tower of Strength is part of a series. For those who are not familiar with the previous books, what do readers need to know to bring them up to speed?
The "series" isn't one in the typical sense of the word, only in that each book features an old Utah temple. The only plot or character connection is between the first two, where a single character from House on the Hill (about the Logan Temple) continues on with their story in At the Journey's End (about the St. George Temple). Otherwise, each book stands alone. But you can still read At the Journey's End without having read House on the Hill. The other two temple books (Spires of Stone and Tower of Strength) are completely separate.

Will there be another book in the series?
There won't be another at this point, but I'm not saying never, because I've enjoyed it so much. If my publisher wants another temple book, I'd love to do one.

Do you have other books coming out soon?
Band of Sisters, about five women who become friends when their husbands are deployed to Afghanistan, will be out next spring.

What novel are you working on now?
I will likely do a sequel to that [Band of Sisters], about the re-entry time that follows deployment, which has its own issues. I'm working on a few other projects, including a chocolate cookbook.

Tell us about the contests you're having, your website and your blog.
I have on-going contests on my website ( where readers have to find a simple answer to a question I pose for a chance to win a book, often other LDS authors' works. This time readers can win a copy of Tower of Strength. Just visit the contest page on my website and fill in the form.

Check out Annette's blog as well as this wonderful book trailer about Tower of Strength.

Thanks, Annette, for the interview.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Integrity-Tenth Stripling Warrior Character Trait Continued...

I know we have many youth with great integrity. Sometimes though, they are tempted to make an unwise decision that can test their resolve to choose the right. The following story shows how easily integrity can be tested.

Fictional Case Scenario:
Luke looked over at his chess opponent. In two moves he’d have him in checkmate, and Luke would become South Fremont’s chess champion, an honor his family took great pride in. Playing chess in high school was a family tradition.
Luke’s older brother had been chess champion. Even Luke’s father had been chess champion. And soon, Luke’s name would be added to theirs, upholding his families’ honor.

As Luke moved his rook to king’s rook four, he let go for only a second and then instantly realized the mistake he’d made. If he left his rook there his opponent’s queen would take him. He quickly put his finger back on the rook. No one seemed to have noticed that he’d released the piece.
If Luke told, he might lose the game, and in his eyes, bring dishonor to his family.
If he didn’t tell, the only dishonor would be to himself.
What should he do?

Possible Endings
Luke confessed his error. His opponent’s queen captured Luke’s rook and he lost the game. But instead of Luke’s father and brother giving him a bad time, they told him job well done.
Luke continued to play as if nothing had happened. He won the game in just two moves. After Luke accepted the trophy, his entire family went out to dinner to celebrate.
Later, when Luke set the trophy in the living room, he could hardly look at it. Every time he did he was reminded that he had cheated.

When you find yourself in a difficult situation that tests your honesty and integrity, tell the truth. Though you might find it hard to do and there may be consequences, in the long run you will be glad you were honest.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Integrity-Tenth Stripling Warrior Character Trait

"And they were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all—they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted. Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him.”

Alma 53:20-21

The stripling warriors embodied integrity. They were young men who could be counted on to make the right decisions, young men who would have your back. A stripling warrior would never lie or cheat, he would never press a girl to have sex, he would never dishonor his parents, he would never steal, he would never bare false witness against his neighbor, he would never kill (unless in war), in fact, he would withstand all of Satan’s four temptations.
A stripling warrior was able to do this because of his integrity and faith in God.

I want to share an incident when I witnessed great integrity. It happened ten years ago while I was attending the University of Utah. I'd put off earning my degree until all my children were out of high school, so in many classes I would be the oldest student. My major was English. Most of the time we'd have to read at least a book a week and be prepared to report on the assignment the following Monday.

There was one book I found especially disturbing on many levels. I knew I had to say something about how offensive I found the reading material, and yes, I was worried. I was the old lady in the class, and I was pretty certain the others would think me old-fashioned in my values, but I didn't care. I knew I had to say something. I prayed a lot about it and asked the Lord to guide me.

Monday morning came, and the class was packed. The professor started by asking what everyone thought about the book he'd assigned. Every hand shot up, which surprised me because he usually had to beg for participation. The professor called on a young man. It seemed as though the enter room held its breath waiting...and finally the student answered by stating he thought that book was the most vile novel he'd ever read, and he wondered why the professor would make us report on it. The entire class agreed. I was thrilled to see that our youth had high values and were unafraid to let the university professor know he had offended them. This old lady didn't have to say a word, for the youth in that class were filled with integrity taught to them by goodly parents. They were stripling warriors! Young men and young women who chose to make a stand for what they knew was right.

Is there an incident in your life when you witnessed great integrity? Please feel free to share.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Do You Know A Vampire?

With the Twilight DVD release I know many of you are thinking of vampires. Have you ever thought that you might know a vampire? Okay the likelihood of you actually knowing a "suck-your-blood" vampire is slim to none, but think about the word...vampire. I looked it up in the dictionary. Part of the definition says, one who lives by preying on others. So let me ask again, do you know a vampire?

If you've watched the news you can find many vampires of society. The financial meltdown of our country is due to vampires...people preying on the lives of others: Bernie Madoff, who stole millions from investors; the sharks on wall street; some bankers; and some members of congress. Our society has a vampire problem. And just what is the average person supposed to do? Here's a thought, what if we were to weed out the vampires in our own lives? To weed them out, we need to correctly identify them.

The thing about vampires, they appear normal...kind of. Take Edward, for instance, in Twilight. He was going to school with the rest of the kids. Most of them didn't give him a second thought. Oh, they knew he was "different" but they didn't dwell on him. Then here comes Bella, someone who saw the difference and wanted to know more. In this book, though Edward is a vampire (and remember vampires prey on others), he is the hero. Now that gets your attention. How can a preying vampire be a hero? Easy. He nobly sacrifices for the benefit of others. This is key to identifying the vampires in our lives.

I'm certain you know all sorts of people, the selfish and the noble. The trick is to see them for what they truly are deep inside. Here's some key questions that might help you identify the vampires in your life.

1) Do they constantly talk about themselves?

2) Do they talk about others behind their backs?

3) Do they preach one thing and do another?

4) Are they kind to all of God's creatures?

5) Do they see the good around them?

I'm sure there are many more questions you can add to this list that will help you identify the vampires. Just be sure as you weed out the bad from the good to clearly see them for what they are. He/she may be a hero.

Let me know your thoughts. Do you know a vampire?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Faithful-Ninth Stripling Warrior Character Trait Case Scenario

Monday I promised a case scenario regarding the ninth stripling warrior character trait, faithful. Let's just dive right in.

Fictional Case Scenario:

Emma glanced down on the stack of books she’d collected for each of her college classes. She’d only searched for ones that were used, yet readable, but as she tallied up the cost, her heart sank. How was she going to pay for them? She had a scholarship that paid for her tuition, and her part-time waitress job paid for her food and lodging, but there was no money for books.
She might barely have enough if she didn’t pay tithing and only ate one meal a day for a while. But her mother had taught her to pay tithing first and things would fall into place. Emma left the stack of books near the cash register and stumbled back to her dorm room.
No way could she call her mom and ask for more money. Her mother barely made enough to pay the rent, let alone Emma’s school books. Her father, who lived in another town with his “new” family, had told her she was wasting her time going to college and that she should concentrate on finding a husband to take care of her.
What should Emma do?

Possible Endings
Emma used her tithing money to buy the books. Only eating one meal a day, she had a hard time concentrating on her lessons. Her grades suffered and she wondered if maybe her father was right.
Emma called her mother, but didn't ask for money. She only wanted her advice. Her mother told Emma to fast and pray and she would, too. But Emma did more than that, she paid her tithing. She had a firm testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel, and she felt her Father in Heaven would help her. Emma prayed every morning and night. But she didn’t pray for money, she prayed God would give her an idea of what she should do. Nothing happened, no great revelation. Still she kept praying. Towards the end of the week and just before classes started, Emma was working late one night. After a customer had left, she went to his table to clean it up and there as a humongous tip, which was more than enough to pay for her books.
There could be many endings to this story: some better and some worse. I asked the students at the U of U Institue what they would do. I received many suggestions ranging from finding another job, using a credit card or even selling her blood. All good answers (though the blood thing might be a bit excessive).
What would you do if you found yourself in the same situation as Emma? I'd love to hear your answers.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Faithful-Ninth Stripling Warrior Character Trait

Book two of The Forgotten Warrior starts at the end of the battle for the city of Cumeni. To paint a vivid picture of the scene, I wrote the following.
© Kathi Oram Peterson

An eerie quiet stole over the gory ground laden with bodies of horses, men, and young warriors. I surveyed the area around me. I’d heard about the devastation of war in my own time, the twenty-first century, but being a girl of only sixteen I’d never actually seen it up close, never fought in a battle … until today. Death was cold, grisly, and unforgiving. The scent of blood snaked through the land as steam rose from the dead. Division banners lay broken and discarded. Earth mourned her burden. The engagement for Cumeni, which had been furious and long, was finally over. Helaman and his stripling warriors, aided by Captain Gid and his troops, had won this horrific battle. Lamanites, who escaped death, ran off to fight another day, in another city. Victory was ours, but at a high price. I’d never seen anything like this, and I prayed I never would again.
As Helaman began the task of searching for his stripling warriors among the dead, I tried to envision how he felt. Many Nephite soldiers had perished. Imagine the fear that would well up within Helaman as he came to a boy lying on the ground, appearing lifeless. All of the boys’ families had trusted their sons to his care. What a tremendous responsibility. Here is another brief scene where I tried to capture this.
He [Helaman] walked over and stared down on the moccasin of a stripling warrior peeking out beneath two slain Lamanites. He quickly dragged the Lamanite bodies away. I held my breath and worried my teeth over my bottom lip. With great … even reverent care, the captain turned the young warrior over. A stab wound leaked blood from the middle of his chest. The warrior’s head lolled to one side … and then his eyes fluttered.
He was alive!
Scenes such as this could have happened over and over until every one of the stripling warriors were accounted for. Not one of them had died.

“And now, their preservation was astonishing to our whole army, yea, that they should be spared while there was a thousand of our brethren who were slain. And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe—that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power.” Alma 57:26

Such faith!
It’s kind of hard for us to understand faith like that…or is it?
My grandmother had nine children back in the early 1900s. To put food on the table sometimes my grandfather would have to go to a different town to find work. Times were tough, World War One had just ended and the great depression was fast approaching. They lived in the country and the nearest phone was in town. Hardly anyone had their own phones back then.
My grandfather had been gone for quite a spell when Grandma ran out of food. She didn’t know what she was going to do. That night she knelt and prayed that the Lord would help her. The next morning when she went out on the porch she found a sack of flour resting on the steps.
Some may say a neighbor probably brought it by and there was no miracle. But Grandma believed that even if a neighbor had brought the flour to her door they did it being prompted by the Lord. Faith brought Grandma to her knees to ask for help and the Lord delivered.

(Grandma is wearing a hat and holding a child on her lap. My mother is standing in back of her. They were visiting some cousins.)

I'm sure there are many of you who probably have similar stories of faith. If you feel comfortable doing so, please feel free to share.
Wednesday I'll post a case scenario with two possible endings, and I'll share with you the interesting answers I received when I gave this lecture at the U of U Institute.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Movies verses Books

How many times have you gone to a movie only to be disappointed because it wasn't as good as the book? I see a fair amount of nodding going on. So what's the deal?

Well...we have two very different mediums. One difference I can see is books allow you to know the heroes' innermost thoughts and movies can only show those emotions. Is one better than the other? Maybe...let's explore the issue a little more.

Take for instance Lord of the Rings. My husband has read all of J.R.R.Tolkien's books and when the movies came out, he liked them, but he was forever saying, "That's not how it really happened." (As if the books were based on facts not fiction.) So was one better than the other? I loved the movies. They had something for everyone: romances, battles, a quest for good, the defeat of evil and heroes galore. Now that's entertainment! And think about this...many people may not have cared for Tolkien's writing style; therefore, they never read the books, but with the movies that world opened up bigger than life on the screen. This made more people take another look at the books.

How about Harry Potter movies verses the books? Millions of youth read J.K. Rawling's novels, not just once, but many times. Her style invited young readers into a world of make believe. When the movies debut the theaters were packed. Were those millions of readers disappointed with the movies? My youngest daughter, who has read each book at least five times, moans and groans throughout the movies while stating so-and-so's hair is not suppose to be that color? And on and on go the complaints, but would she miss the movie? NO! Does she go more than once? YES! She would definitely say the books are better than the movies...yet she goes to see those beloved characters come to life.

Many years ago, my oldest daughter, who was in sixth grade at the time, and I happened upon Ann of Green Gables on PBS one Sunday night. What a delight. We anxiously waited each week for the next installment. Ann, the main character, seemed to click with my daughter and a life-long love for Lucy Maud Montgomery's books goes on even today, though my daugher is now in her thirties.

So now let's take another look at the question: Are books better than movies? I think it depends upon the person. Plus we refer to each medium for a different reason.

With a book you are alone as you explore the world of a novel. It's just you and those characters. Your mind envisions each person and sees each scene as words spill forth and create a universe that is intimately yours and the written word. If you need to you can set the book down, tend to real-life than come back and again the adventure is yours to cherish.

With a movie chances are you're watching in a theater with hundreds of other people...yet somehow...despite the crowd you become absorbed into the story. Your fighting alongside hobbits, dueling with evil wizards or feeling the pain of an orphan girl. The visual experience suspends real-life for a couple of hours, and then it's over, yet a good movie lingers and calls you back to witness the story again and again. maybe there isn't an answer.

Let me know what you think.

Do you like books, movies or both?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Interview with Kersten Campbell

Today's posting is an interview I had with Kerstin Campbell, the author of Confessions of a Completely Insane Mother.

How did you get the idea for writing this humor book? It was cheaper than a therapist. Seriously, I started to write these stories to make my family and friends laugh and to help me look at the ups and downs of motherhood with humor and perspective instead of getting stressed when things got a little crazy with five kids.

What’s the secret to making people laugh?
Writing humor is like drawing caricatures. You take true things that happen, or annoyances that are common to most people and you enlarge or exaggerate them and make them silly. For example…in one essay, I have exaggerated my problems with garden pests into a war against bugs…and I have enlarged my daughter’s love of nature to be a crusade to save roly-poly’s. Humor is also about surprises…you have to set people up with a very serious point and then totally hit them out of thin air with something ridiculous.

Do you really perform acts of Zucchini crime with your children on Sundays?
I’ve thought about it and been very tempted. But what we really did was just make signs on boxes pleading with people to take these big green submarines that we had grown in our garden. Of course, no one would take them.

So tell me about the characters in your book, are they part of the humor, and are they true to life?
The characters are what make the story funny and interesting. How they overcome their various ridiculous obstacles is something that puts the icing on the cake, humor-wise. The characters are sort of true, but exaggerated. I have taken true characteristics of people in my family and exaggerated them in each character to make them funny. For instance I have a mind that is always coming up with impractical new ideas to solve problems…and in the stories I blow that trait up into a character who is constantly coming up with these outrageous schemes to solve every tiny family issue.

Are there life changing ideas readers will take away from your book?
Oh definitely. They will learn how not to sew on a Cub Scout patch, why you should never let your oldest child babysit, and the secrets of why you should never clean out your church bag.

Anything else?
The book will probably save their lives by helping them lose weight. Scientific studies show that laughing burns calories….

How many calories?
(at least three)..but that doesn’t count your workout of turning pages…there’s gotta be some payoff there.

So in a year you might burn off, maybe…what a pound, two pounds?
Unless you’re like me and you balance your workout with a high-energy recovery food like chocolate doughnuts.

Is it true you are addicted to chocolate doughnuts?
Very true. I really need to kick that habit. I’m looking into starting a recovery group for Doughnut addicts and the people who love them.

Sort of a Doughnut’s Anonymous?
Yes…to help me overcome all the enablers who serve me chocolate doughnuts at church activities. But seriously, mothers and grandmothers should read this book because life can be stressful in a family. Humor is reassuring. It can ease stress, comfort, and help you cope from day to day. A positive outlook has been scientifically linked to longevity and increased resistance to illness. Plus humor just makes you really, really happy.

Why should people buy your book?
You should buy this book because it will answers many unsolved mysteries in your life, such as… Exactly where did the 50,000 pens you have bought in the last ten years disappear to? What really happened to your Aunt Betty’s Christmas fruitcake? And, most importantly, what happens when you don’t scoop out your Halloween pumpkins? (Read the book to find out.)

Your website,, has a Motherhood Support Center. Would you explain that?
Yes! I am so excited about it. I think that mothers have the most stressful job on the planet, which is why I wrote the book, to help them enjoy it more and relax about their imperfections. I am hoping the website will accomplish the same thing by bringing women of all ages together to give each other advice and tips and share their own funny family stories. This website is a place to share recipes, and a forum for tips and ideas. There is a section where you can ask questions and get answers from other moms. They can visit a chat room or look at a section where I post uplifting motherhood quotes and another section where I post interviews with experts. They can also sign up under “Humor Essays” to have a new one of my humor essays on the family emailed to them each month.

You can buy a copy of Kersten's book, Booby Trapped: And other Amazing Adventures in Motherhood through Deseret Book, Seagull Book, or through the publisher at You can also order signed copies off of Kersten's website at

Monday, March 9, 2009

Courageous-Eighth Stripling Warrior Character Trait

When the stripling warriors joined Captain Gid and the Nephite forces at Cumeni, both armies surrounded the city and made camp. Their plan was to block the Lamanites’ supplies and wait them out. The warriors and soldiers were patient yet wary for they slept with their swords in case the enemy would sneak out and attack them in the night. Ultimately this plan worked. The supplies were blocked and the Lamanites yielded up the city to Helaman.

But now Helaman had a problem on his hands. The Lamanite prisoners of war were almost as numerous as Captian Helaman and Captain Gid’s forces. Their food supply was quickly depleted and trouble was brewing. The two captains decided that Gid would take his men and escort the prisoners to Zarahemla, which would leave Helaman and his warriors vulnerable. But they really had no other choice.

Unfortunately for the stripling warriors, not long after Gid left, Helaman discovered a vast Lamanite army coming toward them. I tried to think what Helaman would say to his sons to give them courage. This is the scene I wrote in my book, The Forgotten Warrior.

Copyright © Kathi Oram Peterson

Standing before the boys, Helaman truly spoke like their father. He said, “It is true we shall face a great force.” He stopped for a moment as if searching for the right way to say something. “The Lamanites are men determined to spill our blood. They are strong and full of hate for we are descendents of Father Lehi and have chosen a different path.” Helaman clenched his teeth. His eyes became determined. “They have no pity and will show us no mercy.” He pointed to Tarik. “You, Tarik.” Then he pointed to Abraham. “And you, and all of you. We are different in this respect. We have mercy in our hearts.” His fist rested on the breastplate of his armor over his heart as he scanned the young men before him. “We hate violence, but when our people─our loved ones, our babies─are threatened, we shall fight.” He then grew quiet, his gaze purposeful. Drawing a deep breath, he continued, “We shall even kill to stand up for what we believe and for what we hold dear.
“You are boys and yet you are men. You are warriors and God will shield you because of your faith. He will sustain you. He will bless you with fearlessness and strength. You will be tireless and filled with the spirit of the Lord, who will keep you.
“There shall be a record of this day, of this battle.” He paused. The Spirit shone in his gaze as he looked at me. Tears sprang to my eyes as I humbly stared back at him. He turned to the warriors again, “It shall be written that you were firm in your conviction, undaunted in your valor. Millions of brethren will read the record of what we do this day; they will read that because of the faith your mothers’ instilled in you, we did succeed!”
A glorious shout erupted from the warriors. I stood frozen to the spot, overwhelmed by their presence, by the power of this man, who led them and by the spirit that burned within me.
“Prepare for battle,” said Helaman.
I don’t know what Helaman said to the warriors that day. But I used the scriptures as my guide for the scene. I wanted to show that the stripling warriors were probably afraid, but that their courage and faith in God would pull them through an impossible situation.

How does your faith in God give you the courage to fight Satan’s temptations?

You may never be called to fight in battle, but in the battle of everyday life how do you use courage to face your fears?

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Funny Thing About Dreams

The funny thing about dreams are...sometimes they come true.

Have you ever wanted something so bad that you'd do almost anything to get it?

I remember when I was a little girl I wanted to look like Annette Funicello. I'd seen her in the movie Babes in Toyland, and I thought she was the prettiest girl I'd ever seen. I even prayed one night that when I woke up the next morning that I'd look like her. I sprang from my bed and dashed into the bathroom only to be sadly disappointed.

Well, I think I've grown up a little since then, though my husband and family wonder sometimes. My dreams and ambitions have changed. Shortly after my first child was born, I decided I'd try to write a book. That first try was embarrassing. When I'd finished writing my first book (long hand and on lined paper), I'd ask my sister-in-law to read it. When she gave it back, she muttered something about fixing a few places, but yeah it was good. I could tell by the look on her face that my effort was a failure. She was just too kindhearted to tell me how awful it was.

Still my dream was alive. So I tried again. And again. And again. I have a file folder of rejections that could sprain your arm. Years have gone by and I've learned more about my craft. I even went back to college and earned a BA in English, worked for a publisher for a while, and then decided it was time to seriously try and accomplish this dream of publishing a fictional book.

Finally, I did it. For Christmas of 2008 I was able to hold my book in hands. What a thrill! But the funny thing about dreams...they tend to lead to more dreams. And once a dream has come true, and you find yourself on the otherside of that dream a whole new world opens up that's exciting, scary, and sometimes even hurts. But that's okay. I'll always have my dreams.

I often wonder what would have happened to me if my childish prayer had come true and I'd awakened looking like Annette Funicello. She's an amazing lady, whom I look up to and always will. But I'm awfully glad my dreams and hopes changed and that I made my own path.
What are your dreams? And what are you doing to accomplish them?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Obedient-Seventh Stripling Warrior Character Trait Continued

Monday we started the discussion about obedience being the seventh Stripling Warrior character trait. Today I'll give you a simple fictional story that I shared with my Young Women class a little while ago. They were very quiet as I read this to them.

Fictional Case Scenario
Selena loved her life. She was the president of the drill team, she had good friends who had the same values as she did, and she had a dreamy boyfriend, Troy. Many times her father had counseled her to not single date and she hadn’t. She always made certain that she and Troy were with another couple. Her father also advised Selena to not kiss on the lips. But she'd seen young couples kissing on the lips on T.V. Dad was just old fashioned. Selana thought that kissing on the lips was okay as long as she and Troy were with another couple. Besides a kiss good night, a kiss when her drill team had performed really well, a kiss in congratulations ... what was the harm in that? Dad just didn’t understand.
On prom night after Troy had picked Selena up, he told her the other couple, whom they’d planned to go with, cancelled. They were on their own.
What should Selena do?

Possible Endings

Selena was tempted to just go without another couple. She liked being alone with Troy. They could talk and kiss without worry over the other couple interrupting. One thing could lead to another and the kissing would be soooo good.
But then there would be no reason to stop at just kissing. She loved Troy and knew he was the one for her. Her father had warned her that in such situations passion could be stronger than reason. Was he right? Could emotion drive her to do something she would regret? Selena knew her father loved her and only had her well-being in mind. Hmmm. Choosing to be obedient, Selena went back into the house and called another couple to go with them.
At the end of their date when Troy was on Selena’s doorstep wanting to give her a good night kiss, she once again thought of her father. She’d nearly made a big mistake tonight in not double dating, maybe her father was right about the casual kissing, too. Maybe kissing should be saved for that special person. It might very well be Troy, but it might not. She decided to give him a kiss on the cheek, a friendly hug and go in.

Selena went with Troy alone. One thing led to another and before the night was over, Selena had done something she thought she would only do with her husband after they were married. Guilt and remorse flooded her. And another worry nagged at her mind. What if she became pregnant? She wouldn’t be able to attend college; she wouldn’t be able to go out for a good time with her friends because she would have a child that would need and deserve her attention.

My Young Women's class picked ending 1. It is my hope that when faced with a similar situation in real life that they will be prepared to make the right choice. I found this picture of some Young Women meeting President Hinckley. Talk about someone who was obedient to all of God's laws. He led an exemplary life and made the right choices.

Isn't that what life is about...the choices we make?

Maybe you have a different ending for this fictional story. Feel free to share.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Obedient-Seventh Stripling Warrior Character Trait

“Yea, and they [the stripling warriors] did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and I did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them.”
Alma 57:21

The above scripture from the Book of Mormon is talking about the stripling warriors and how they were obedient to all of God’s laws. They listened to that “still small voice” that whispered to them to fight in the place of their fathers. They stepped forward being inspired by not only Captain Helaman, but also by being prompted by the holy spirit.

Are we obedient and step forward when we need to? Do we listen to prompting sent to us from the Lord? Obedience is something we all struggle with, especially when it comes to living as we know the Lord would want us to.

Last Tuesday I had the privilege of giving a lecture at the University of Utah Institute. I told the students about the Stripling Warrior character traits they could apply in their lives. I asked them, are you obedient and follow the counsel of your leaders in the clothes you wear? the entertainment you seek? the music you listen too? the language you speak? And are you being obedient when it comes to morality?
I showed them this picture of a young couple on a date. The quality of the picture was grainy, but I told them I liked the picture because the youth were modestly dressed, the boy doesn’t have his hands on the girl and look where he’s kissing her…on the cheek. As you can imagine the students laughed over this concept. I must admit that I chuckled a little, too. A kiss on the cheek in college must seem so old-fashioned and out of date in a world where they are flooded daily with words and images that promote sexual promiscuity. My goal was to make them think. I hope they realized that though they are adults being morally clean is still very important.

I’d really like to know your thoughts on morality in our society today. Our youth are tempted more now than ever before. What can we do to help our youth and society in general live clean, moral lives? Or is it a lost cause?


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