Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lighthouses and Random Thoughts

This last week has been a busy one for me in my church responsibilities... and each thing I've worked on has given me an opportunity to reflect on a few ideas. They aren't deep doctrinal thoughts and may not be enlightening to you, but I'll share them anyway.

Last week we had New Beginnings for the Young Women in our ward. We based the night on the 2009 Mutual Theme which is found in Timothy 4:12. It reads "Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." We ate yummy soup and cheesecake, which always starts a night off well :). We had lighthouses all around and our YW President spoke about how we can be like a lighthouse to those around us by being an example of the believers. Several of the young women spoke about each of the Young Women's Values (Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice & Accountability, Good Works, Integrity, and the newly added value of VIRTUE) and how that value can help them be an example of the believers. I love listening to these girls (12 to 18 years old) speak from their hearts about spiritual matters.

Our bishop spoke last and reminded us that light from lighthouses reaches a certain distance before it can't be seen anymore. He mentioned that one lighthouse had the capacity to reach 20 miles, which seems like a long way! He asked us to think about our own circle of influence and what we can do to make sure that we are a good example to people within that circle. As I think about how technology allows us to communicate, I am encouraged (and a little overwhelmed) to think that our circle of influence can reach all the way around the world. I don't claim to have a strong voice or influence, but I do hope that I can be a force for good.

On Sunday Ryan and I spoke during our Sacrament Meeting and we were assigned to speak about my granddad's last General Conference talk "Come What May, and Love it." When I first heard our assignment, I was excited and thought (pridefully) how great it was, because I could perhaps give some more insight to what he had said since I was his granddaughter. Very shortly after, I started to realize the error of my thinking and panicked... "Oh no! People will expect me to give more insight to his words!" We made it through our talks, and I was grateful for the chance to study my granddad's wise counsel more in depth.

His talk is about making it through challenging times in our lives by laughing, seeking for the eternal, understanding the principle of compensation, and relying on the Lord. The one thought that has stuck with me is about trying to gain an eternal perspective. I know that Heavenly Father can see and understand me and my life in a clearer way than I can. I can even verbalize that. But when it comes to praying and even desiring or hoping for certain things, I think I have it all figured out. I wonder if my imploring, however heartfelt, is the spiritual equivalent to asking to eat candy and drink soda for all of my meals or to play video games all day long. When my kids ask for things that aren't good for them, I say no, over and over again. In their minds, the requests they make are reasonable and good. In my "wisdom" though, I can see that some things aren't in their best interest--I know the consequences and I can see a broader picture. I say no because I hope for more for them and I know that in the long run, they will be glad I said no. Sometimes I don't get what I ask for from Heavenly Father either. It isn't because He doesn't love me--it's because He knows more and blesses me with the things that are best for me, on a grander scale than my mortal eyes and mind can understand. It is precisely because He loves me that I don't always get what I ask for. I have a strong desire to change my prayers from "Please bless me with..." to "Please help me to accept the ways that I am blessed..."

And a last thought is from the Relief Society lesson that I taught from Elaine Dalton's talk "A Return to Virtue" which was fitting since virtue is the newest addition to the Young Women's values. She said, "Virtue is a word we don't often hear in today's society, but the Latin root word virtus means strength. Virtuous women and men possess a quiet dignity and inner strength. They are confident because they are worthy to receive and be guided by the Holy Ghost." One sister in our class noted that in our society, virtue isn't just a word not heard often, but it can be thought of as being negative, prudish, or old fashioned. The thought that has been going over and over in my head is that we need to be the guardians of virtue... no one else will do it for us.

I love what President Monson said (and that Sister Dalton quoted in the talk): "You be the one to make a stand for right, even if you stand alone. Have the moral courage to be a light for others to follow." (This brought the lighthouse idea full circle for me.) At the end of the lesson I had the sisters sign a banner, pledging that they would return to virtue. Some of the ladies (particularly the older ones) thought I was off my rocker as I handed them a permanent marker and asked them to write on my tablecloth, but I think that if we do something tangible and make a statement that we will do something, it's more likely to happen.

All photos in this post were taken by Ryan Harper of Ryan Harper Photography. The first and third are a lighthouse that is on Cape Cod, MA (taken in September 2007) and the middle photo is of Pigeon Point on the California coast (taken in November 2008).

**Any thoughts?


RyanH said...

Cool lighthouse pictures ;)

Valerie said...

Even though you have been so busy with your responsibilities, it looks like you have been well nourished spiritually! I love the idea of us being a lighthouse for others. In my Sunday School class (of 12- and 13-year olds), I have assigned one of them as the "Lighthouse of the week". They think it sounds silly (maybe like your great idea with the tablecloth that others may have been surprised at, but I'm sure it really impacted many sisters!). That youth is in charge of bringing a spiritual message or if they forget then they can read a quote from my quote file. They help me during class and then they come up with a challenge for us pertaining to the lesson at the end of class. Okay, so I just mean I really like the idea of lighthouses.

It's great to see the beautiful photos here too to help us picture us there, lighting the way with the light of our Savior. I really enjoyed all of your post and just wish I could have heard you and your husband speak about your grandfather's talk. What an honor for you (and for him too, I'm sure!).

Lisa R.D. said...

Thanks for your good comments Valerie... and Ryan, thanks for the photos. You are an awesome photographer and you share your work so freely. I'll make sure to edit the post to give credit where it is due :).

Julie Pia said...

Wow Lisa,

You have been a busy girl and can I tell you? You are an amazing writer. I had to read your post twice just to let everything sink in. You are an amazing women and I so wish I had been there last week for your talk, New beginnings and your RS lesson. Also, the lighthouse pictures are amazzzzing. Ryan is very talented.

I'm glad I got to read your post because I'm in primary and rarely feel uplifted these days. Don't get me wrong, I love, love, love primary, but I never really have to think too deeply. I also love the new value--virtue. I think it's important for our girls and us, to take a stand and show off our prudishness. Hey, prudishness was considered beautiful hundreds of years ago. We're just bringing it back. I love it! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Lauren said...

I was seriously wondering where you got the great photos of the lighthouses! I think Ryan should quit his job and take pictures full time. :o)

Kristi said...

I always enjoy your insights. Not to be cheesy, but you are one of those light houses in my life. You have always been such a great example in word and deed and I feel like I can always look to you as a guide. You are a very wise woman! Sounds like you had a very busy week! I hope things slow down a bit for you.

Booklogged said...

Thanks for sharing some of your insights gleaned from your busy week. I loved your grandad's talk. My husband always says, "It is what it is." I suggested to him that we change that saying to "Come what may and love it."

I'm so glad they've add virtue to the YW values.

the harpers said...

Thank you for sharing. Great example of your children asking over and over, but you ultimately know whats best. You are doing a fantastic job. We are excited to see you all next weekend!! Have a great week!

Kristy said...

Your schedule sounds like mine!! We just had new beginnings as well. Whew..I am glad that it is done! It sounds like you had a great program.

Anonymous said...

I just loved your talk in sacrament meeting. I wish I could have been there for your relief society lesson. I really liked the idea of praying to accept the ways we are blessed. That is such a good way to look at it. I always try to thank Heavenly Father for blessings I have received, but I'm sure I've gotten many blessings I haven't recognized as blessings. Does that make sense???

Anyway, New Begginings turned out great too.. I really enjoyed it, and loved the Bishop's comments.

emilyw said...

Wow! What inspirational thoughts. Your YW are lucky to have you! I love your thought about asking for junk food and you knowing what's best. I truly believe that God knows what is best for us. And darn it - sometimes it just doesn't fit into what I think is right for me. :) Thanks for all the insights and things to think about!

You have an awesome photographer husband! :)