Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Word For the New Year

A few years ago, I found myself tired of making New Year’s Resolutions. They were always the same, and I’d end up breaking them right away and feeling like a total failure.


Then I read a post in a blog somewhere that changed my perspective on the idea. Instead of a goal or an ideal to work on or a promise to avoid this or that thing that I happen to really enjoy, the idea is to pick a word that you want to focus on for the year.

That first year, I had been particularly depressed, so I chose to work on “Joy”. Then, throughout the year, I would remember the word, contemplate it, think about it, read and write about it, and hopefully find more of it in my life. So, at the end of the year, I could look back and see its impact.

Gone is the guilt of failure. If I have an unjoyful week, I’m fine with that. I just continue my focus and let it grow.

Other words I’ve used in other years have been “Gratitude”, “Creativity”, and “Spirit”.

So this year, I’m going to focus on the word “Prayer”. I’m feeling a real need to re-connect myself with Heavenly Father, and to feel more divine, myself. One way to do that is to simply take a quick moment to pray whenever the thought crosses my mind. To take that thought as an inspired reminder, and to think thoughts of gratitude to God, and to ask for blessings for those around me.

I know that we’re taught that there are certain times of the day when we’re “supposed to pray”. I’m OK with that, but I don’t always remember at those times. So, I’ll take advantage of the times I do remember.

In Alma 34, Amulek teaches that it’s good to pray whenever the desire or the need strikes you, and it’s good to pray over temporal as well as spiritual things:

 17 Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you;

 18 Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save.

 19 Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him.

 20 Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks.

 21 Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening.

 22 Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies.

 23 Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness.

 24 Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them.

 25 Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase.

 26 But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.

 27 Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you.

So, that’s gonna be my focus this year.


Mark has a lifelong testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon Church). Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his Dutch Oven blog.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the Inauguration

There has been a lot said and argued about the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performing at President-Elect Donald Trump’s inauguration. Many have been angry, others supportive. One sister decided to resign the choir over the issue. I’ve seen others that seem to be questioning their testimonies over it.

This election cycle has been by far the most divisive and surprising ever. I never thought it would happen, and many are still in denial. There was talk about reversing it in the Electoral College, which didn’t happen. There were talk of recounts, which didn’t change anything.

Now we’re faced with the inauguration. The Trump administration, having a hard time booking more current and popular acts, has asked the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, sometimes called “America’s Choir” to perform.

Here are my thoughts:

First, the choir has performed for many inaugurations of both parties in the past. This one is no different. Yes, I don’t like who’s being inaugurated. I voted against him. But it’s been decided, and so the Choir wants to go sing. The Choir’s primary purpose is outreach and missionary work. Someone posted that the choir would never sing for Putin or for Kim Jong Un. I think they would. I think they would jump at the chance to share a musical message in North Korea. The choir performs in many places and for many different peoples.

Second, the Church has not made it a requirement for the members to perform. One sister has chosen to resign the Choir rather than make the performance. I admire her for taking this stance. Were I a choir member, I would have to think and pray hard to decide to perform for an event that I, personally, find so disappointing.  However, I also don’t fault those that will attend. How often do any of us get to attend a presidential inauguration as an invited guest?

Third, and the part that I find most frustrating, is the fact that Mormons said they were upset by Trump and were not going to vote for him, but, in the end, did anyway. So, with 60% of the Mormon vote, Trump won most of us over. So, the choir singing for him should be no surprise, right?

Look. I’m gonna invoke the Mo’Boy Doctrine here. If Trump ends up being as bad of a president as we think he will, there will be issues far deeper than whether or not the Choir sang. And if he turns out to be a good president, well, I’ll sing, too.

But I’m not holding my breath on that one.

Mark has a lifelong testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon Church). Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his Dutch Oven blog.

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