• Quote of the Day

    “Surely the reason Christ said, ‘Father, forgive them,’ was because even in that terrible hour He knew that this was the message He had come through all eternity to deliver.”
    —Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Hope and Healing in Recovering from Abuse

In something of a follow-up to Elder Richard G. Scott’s last general conference address, the Ensign has published an article called “Hope and Healing in Recovering from Abuse.”

Written by Sister Sarah E. Miller, a psychotherapist in the United Kingdom, this article centers around the hope and healing to be found in the Savior’s Atonement. However, it also casts an unflinching eye on the hurt and suffering that result from abuse, and it offers some practical suggestions for overcoming them. Sister Miller has advice for both the abused and those who care about them. For instance, she says:

“To help the abused person forgive, leaders, friends, and family members can acknowledge the gravity of the offense, allowing the innocent person to work through his or her anger and pain. Much abuse involves the denial of feelings and truth, so people who have been abused need to be heard and have their feelings validated if they are to truly recover and regain self-worth. When the person who has been abused is pressured to forgive, he or she may feel an added measure of guilt, taking the blame not only for the abuse itself but also for being unable to forgive. Allowing the person time to forgive can be a lengthy process, but it is critical to healing.”

The article presents a realistic but hopeful outlook on the situation faced by victims of abuse. For them, it offers ways of understanding how they can see God’s love and be healed through Christ’s Atonement. For those who know a victim of abuse, it offers ways of understanding their difficulties and giving them the support they need in order to eventually be healed.

Photo Gallery: Guatemala

The New Era has posted a gallery of photos from the article “From Generation to Generation” in the September issue. The article centers on two teenage members of a family in Guatemala. The photos aren’t breathtaking landscapes or stunning portraits such as those you might see in National Geographic, but they tell the story of a hard-working family trying to pass along important life skills to the next generation.

Love, Limits, and Latitude

The August Ensign contains an article with great guidelines to common-sense parenting. “Love, Limits, and Latitude,” by Craig H. Hart, Lloyd D. Newell, and Julie H. Haupt, offers advice on avoiding parenting that is too authoritarian or too permissive, focusing instead on the love parents should show toward their children, as well as the limits they should set and the ways they should encourage good behavior and discourage bad behavior. For instance, it says:

“Milk will spill; children will sometimes be less than careful on the playground; teens may let their social life sabotage their grades. These experiences can teach them that certain actions are not productive. Helping to clean up the milk, bandaging the wound, or talking through an improved study schedule would be more effective than scolding a child in an attempt to teach a lesson that is already obvious.”

The article also discusses how to foster children’s sense of independence by giving them latitude. This approach often requires negotiation and compromise on the rules at times, but it helps children prepare for real-world situations. Children can also benefit from this approach in their spiritual lives. As the article says:

“Providing latitude also gives children space to develop their own feelings about the gospel. Teens who have learned to recognize the Spirit and to make choices based on their understanding of right and wrong—rather than simply on parents’ demand for obedience—will be better equipped to make wise decisions in the face of stress or peer pressure.”

This sort of advice seems like common sense, but It’s sometimes hard for parents to follow it. The Ensign does a good service by offering reminders and examples like those in this article.

Ensign Survey

Let your voice be heard!

The Ensign has posted an online survey with a variety of questions about its content and layout. You can link to it from the Ensign home page. It asks questions such as the following:

The layout and design of the Ensign is: (Please mark all that apply)

❏ Modern
❏ Repetitive
❏ Fresh
❏ Too formal
❏ Appealing
❏ Dignified
❏ Old-fashioned
❏ Inviting
❏ Predictable
❏ Too idealized
❏ Other

The survey then asks which articles you usually read, what would like to see more of, and whether you would agree or disagree with various statements about the Ensign. There is also a space for comments and suggestions you would like to share.

So have at it. Let the Ensign know what you think.

I Almost Lost My Sister

Whether directly or indirectly, most people’s lives have been affected by someone who has suffered from some form of depression. And when someone close to you goes so far as to attempt suicide, your feelings and thoughts can range from confused to angry to guilty.

This month’s New Era includes a story called “I Almost Lost My Sister,” which, as the title suggests, was written by a young woman whose sister tried to kill herself. This young woman’s description of her reaction to her sister’s desperate act is poignant because it is so accurate and human.

This story has no miraculous ending, though it is a happy one, of sorts. And the lesson the author learns is no less impressive than a miracle: to cherish our family relationships and to “fight to keep the relationships strong.”

I’m glad to have these sorts of personal narratives in addition to the more general, clinical, or principle-based articles on subjects such as this.

Grasshoppers, Purple Bathtubs, and Other Surprises

As we all know from reading the comments of bloggernacle denizens who studiously read the Church magazines each month, the stories in the magazines never reflect the real lives of average Latter-day Saints. They’re just pablum, eyewash, mini-sermons that are sanitized for general LDS consumption.

Well, I, of course, disagree somewhat with that assessment, and I would like to offer as proof the article “Grasshoppers, Purple Bathtubs, and Other Surprises” from this month’s Ensign. It’s a quite humorous tale of one woman’s journey from confident and idealistic new mother who had studied child development in college to harried and all-too-realistic mother of four who constantly has to deal with surprises her schooling did not prepare her for.

Her experiences have given her some wise insights. For instance:

“I’ve learned some of life’s most valuable lessons from preschool children: to greet each day with enthusiasm and eagerness; to pursue adventure despite obstacles; to delight in new discoveries; to enjoy spontaneous fun; to regard the eating of toothpaste and the emptying of sand-filled shoes on the carpet as minor problems, not major catastrophes.”

For these and many other descriptions of situations all parents can relate to, read the full article. Maybe it’s not the nitty-gritty, questioning fare you’ll find on many a Mormon blog, but it really doesn’t pull any punches and actually gives some good advice.

Good Sports

Now that the 2008 Olympics have begun, the media and general public will be showing a great deal of interest in sports that haven’t been mentioned on the air or in print in, oh, I’d say about four years. The same goes for the participants. Because of this increased interest, it’s not surprising that LDS-themed publications, such as the Church News and Mormon Times, are covering the LDS athletes in Beijing.

In a slightly different (and welcome) vein, this month’s New Era contains an article called “Good Sports,” which profiles eight young LDS athletes who have achieved success in their sports and who discuss how their “participation in athletics has helped them better understand and live the gospel and has taught them how to maintain balance in their lives.”

None are Olympic athletes (though it seems that a couple could be someday), and they all have strong testimonies of the gospel. I particularly like the story of the 14-year-old boy from England who competes in tae kwon do. He has a great story and some interesting things to say.

To see some pictures of these athletes, read the PDF version of the article.

Extra Smile Online

For the first time, the New Era has posted online one of the comics from its humor section, The Extra Smile. You can find it on the New Era’s home page. I’ll let you be the judge of how funny this particular comic is (the caption is on the New Era’s page). In any event, it’s there, and it appears that the New Era may update this feature periodically.

Joseph Smith’s “Forgotten” Brother

Some may know him as one of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon and one of the first missionaries of this dispensation, and others may know him as the man who brought the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum back to Nauvoo from Carthage. But in this month’s Ensign, we all get to know Samuel H. Smith a little better as the great and humble man that he was.

The article, simply titled “Samuel H. Smith,” gives a run-down of facts about Samuel’s life, as well as quotes from those who knew him. It focuses on what a hard worker he was and how his willingness to take care of temporal labors allowed his brothers to have “more freedom to fulfill their missions relative to the Restoration of the gospel.”

I’m sure most people probably didn’t know much of the information in the article, aside from some Church history buffs and descendants of Samuel Smith. I like the story about his being shot at on the way from Nauvoo to Carthage. There’s even a picture of it in the article (which you can see in the PDF version).

I see Samuel in a similar light as other brothers of prophets, such as Sam, Shiblon, and Jared, each of whom was likely a great man in his own right but who is not featured prominently in our records. However, we can all take comfort in the knowledge that our contributions are known to the Lord. As Joseph Smith Sr. said to Samuel in a blessing, “Thou shall hear [the Lord’s] voice [saying] Samuel, Samuel. Thou shalt be equal to thy brethren.”