There are plenty of phrases that Latter-day Saints have heard repeated over and over again like scripture, though in reality they are only based on scripture. “Free agency” is one of them.
Most of us are probably familiar with the term "free agency" from Sunday School classes or children trying to assert their independence. But is agency really free?
There are several scriptures that may have influenced Latter-day Saints to start adding the word free onto agency. 2 Nephi 2:27; 10:23, D&C 58:27, and Helaman 14:30 all mention some variation of each of us being free to choose or act for ourselves. However, D&C 101:78 describes this principle in a different way that has recently become more widely used by Church leaders and in Mormon circles: “that every man may act in doctrine and principle … according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins” (emphasis added). Who was the first person to use this phrase, and how has the way Latter-day Saints think about agency changed over the years?
These breathtaking pieces of LDS art by J. Kirk Richards vividly portray various aspects of Christ’s mortal ministry.
The Atonement and Resurrection are the two most significant events to take place on Earth. Focusing on the Savior’s mortal ministry helps us keep the spirit of Easter alive during the spring season. These new illustrations by J. Kirk Richards capture the beauty of Christ’s life and remind us what our Easter celebrations should be centered on.
These images are available in the book This is Jesus.
Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane...and fell on his face, and prayed saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. -Matthew 26:36, 39
Going to the temple is one of the greatest ways to escape the world, but sometimes, if we’re not careful, we can bring the world inside with us.
A few weeks ago, I had a very mediocre temple visit. I was stressed about all of the things on my “to do” list, and had a nasty headache, so needless to say, by the time I went inside, I felt frazzled. I drummed my fingers impatiently on my armrest, and when the session ended, zipped out as fast as I could. It wasn’t until I was in my car driving home that the remorse set in and I realized that I had spiritually wasted my trip.
I’ve tried to make a habit of going to the temple weekly, but every once in a while, I’ll have a week when my visit feels lackluster. I’ve realized that attending the temple is a lot like fasting, in that being inside and involved requires us to make certain sacrifices. Instead of giving up food, we give up time, which can sometimes be difficult. Also like fasting, attending the temple can be less fulfilling when we have the wrong attitude about it. Temple attendance, however, can be an edifying experience that blesses both the person doing the ordinances and the person we are doing them for.
In order to truly appreciate the spirit of the temple as well as the covenants we make there, we need to go into it prepared and, while inside, be more involved with the experience. With a greater effort on our part, our temple trips can be more consistently inspiring. Here are a few things you can do to improve your temple experience.
When it comes to Easter, I want our family traditions to have more than fun, sugar, and baby animal-themed memories attached to them. Here are a few simple tips on how you can make your Easter focused on while keeping it fun for all ages.
Easter traditions are part of the religious heritage I want my children to identify with, so I want them to matter. I love the Easter bunny, hiding baskets, dying eggs, and buying color-coordinated ties for my boys (they won't agree to matching anymore) and frilly dresses for the girls. Reese’s peanut butter eggs and Cadbury Mini Eggs are very important to me as well. Very important. But, like Christmas pastimes, I want these traditions to enhance—not detract—from the “reason for the season.”
If you have an emotional response to an experience, you’re more likely to remember it. (I’m a pretty emotional person, so you’d think I’d have a better memory, but maybe I’ve over flooded that particular theory. Anywho…) I’m driven to give my kids some good memories through traditions. I figure if we repeat the same traditions, I’m more likely to get them “right” in my kids’ minds when they are all smashed together in a collective memory spanning an entire childhood. That’s the idea, anyway.
Now that my family is getting older, I feel the need to deepen the traditions we observe around Easter. I remind myself that being effective is often being simple. (I also repeat that in my mind often while perusing Pinterest.)
After the death of a loved one by suicide, we experience a different kind of grief. But we can hope to find healing in the gospel.
Ganel-Lyn holds her new baby sister, Meggan.
Ben found our sister dead.
Meggan took her own life in our parents’ backyard. There was no more hiding from suicide.
It was my mom’s birthday. We finished the cake and presents, the candles and congratulations, and topped off a peaceful, lovely day of celebrating her life. After the festivities, everyone headed toward their individual rooms and settled down for the night. I went upstairs and turned out the lights, thinking I was the last until I heard movement in the kitchen and the sound of a door handle. I found my stepdad, Daddy Jim, coming in from the garage and knew instantly that something was wrong. It was like a bowling ball smashed into my heart, then fell with a thud to my stomach. “Dad?” I asked. “Dad? Dad?”
“He walked so slowly to me. It felt more like we were swimming toward each other through the thick kitchen air. Then he said, “Ben called; there has been an accident.”
I remember screaming, knowing already. “No! No, Dad! Bring her back! No, is she dead? Is it Meg?” But I didn’t need to ask. I already knew. He gently hugged me. “Yes, Meg’s gone. We can’t bring her back.”