Why Would Anyone Sacrifice?

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A favorite hymn in our church includes the line, “Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of Heaven.”[1] It seems a strange thing to think that sacrifice brings blessings.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines sacrifice as:

: the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone

: an act of killing a person or animal in a religious ceremony as offering to please a god

: a person or animal that is killed in a sacrifice[2]

How will any of these kinds of sacrifice bring blessings of Heaven? Few religions demand a living sacrifice to be offered to please a god in today’s world. More frequently members of society will be found giving up something. Why would anyone give up something precious?

From the beginning of our world, sacrifice has been a part of life, even when it has not included the death of a person or animal. Eve, and then Adam, ate of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil, and were rejected from the Garden of Eden. They gave up a paradise for thorns, thistles, and problems. Because they did, they also gained the blessing of children and family,

Women today continue to sacrifice independence, sleep, relaxation, and often health to give birth to and raise children. Life is never the same after a child becomes part of the family, even before birth. Sacrifice of life and health for children brings blessings unknown by those who have none.

Men sacrifice time to participate in more enjoyable activities when they leave home and family for employment. Fathers often miss the sweet times in a child’s life as they grow. Taking on responsibility of wife and family often removes the opportunity to play or relax as they did when single.

If you look, you can find stories of people of all ages who have determined to help a person or an organization. They give time to help, work to raise money, and write letters and make phone calls to change laws. People sacrifice their time, their money, their good name, their influence, and their things to help a person or a cause.

No animals are sacrificed or burned to please God, but hearts, minds, and attitudes are freely given.

What do you sacrifice? Why would you do that?

[1] LDS Hymns, 27

[2] Mirriam-Webster Dictionary; on-line edition

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Families, Traditions, and Choices

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Parents have always wanted the best for their children. We want them to be beautiful, healthy, and prosperous. We’d like them to be more successful than us. Children want to be more prosperous than their parents. They desire greater success than their parents found. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t.

Throughout history parents have also been saddened when children have left the values held dear. Children become enthralled by foreign ideas, becoming lost to family ways of life and culture. A glance at the past century will illustrate the point.

Cities enticed young people away from the farms and mores of families from the country. A desire for easy living seduced them from the solid values parents believed in from their childhood. Later, things like cars, alcohol, and women beguiled children from standards parents felt were important.

Of course, parents do not begrudge a child’s success. Long ago, children were tied to the land, or required to continue the occupation of their fathers, regardless of the desires or talents of the young. These parents were cheered by any growth and improvement beyond their own. Great stories rarely come from a son continuing in his father’s livelihood. It is when the son or daughter break away and try new things that wonderful tales are shared.

Sometimes, the breaking away from childhood ethics and teachings cause parents great sorrow. The beliefs of a parent are deeply held, not given up because the world changes around them. Through time, a child leaving the religion of their parents has been a time of grief.

Eve felt heartache when her children chose to leave the faith she and Adam learned from their God in the Garden of Eden. Many children chose the darkness of the destroyer rather than the light of the gospel. Since then, this has been a source of sorrow for believing parents of all sects.

When I wrote Eve Remembers, I imagined the following conversation between Eve and her beloved Adam:

  “How did we lose them? We taught them.” I stood and began to pace.

“We taught them,” Adam said, his voice soothing. “Remember, they must have agency to choose, or we will be giving in to Lucifer’s plan. He wants us to force them to obey. We cannot. We must trust that they will return to the light.”

“I know.” I stopped pacing and stood in front of him, looking into his brilliant blue eyes. “I thought the sorrow of children would be in giving birth. Now I find that it comes as they make choices we would rather they would not. It is so much harder now, just watching, not able do anything.”

Today, parents continue to struggle with the sorrow of a child’s rejection of long held beliefs and traditions. Some manage to stay close, glad the child has found joy in the new found religion. Others become estranged, refusing to speak to each other.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could find common ground, building trust and love amongst loved ones?

Child Birth is “Worth It”

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I shared a post on Facebook today, a picture with words describing a mother’s love for her child. The post shares the love we as mothers feel for our children long before they are born. It also suggests we may make mistakes, but we try our best, and will always love our children forever.

It’s true. We love our children long before we see them, often before we are aware of their movements. Even my unexpected child was loved long before he was big enough to let me know all was well inside. My affection and love for all of my children grew long before their births.

God told Mother Eve “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children. . .”[1] Delivering children is difficult and painful for most women. We struggle through hours of pain as the child moves through the birth canal, finally pushing his head and shoulders out, both are much wider than the opening. Childbirth hurts–no argument from me.

Some women attempt to circumvent the pain with drugs that dampen or hide it. Others endure Caesarian Section deliveries, thinking unconsciousness will eliminate the pain. NOT. It does not work that way. I was surprised by the agony of the after pains brought on after mine. Our bodies must undergo the experience of birth.

Happily, the pain recedes, in our joy of having a little child to love and care for. Ask a new mother if she remembers the pain even a few days after the birth of her beloved child.

In a section of my book, Eve Remembers, Eve shares with her oldest daughter this idea.

“Mama, what is it really like to give birth? I was there when both Abigail and Abri were born. I heard your pains. But, what is child birth really like?”

“You heard me moan, even cry out in pain, for it is given to women, sorrow and pain in childbirth. I will not tell you child birth is easy, you have seen me. It is not, but, the joy after is greater than the pain. Because of the intense pain during the birth of a child, the joy of welcoming a new little life into this world is as exquisite as the pain. It makes pain worthwhile, different from other injuries. As I followed your growth, watched you become lovely young men and women, the pain becomes a nearly forgotten memory, I remember the pain for only a short time after the birth, then the joy of your lives takes over, wiping away the pain.”

“The pain is terrible, and still you can forget? I helped you with Abigail. Her birth was easier than Abri’s. Even then, you worked so hard to move her out of your body. How can you forget such pain?”

“The pain still lingers in my memory, but is swallowed up in the joy of holding her, nursing her, seeing her smile, watching you and your brothers and sisters meet and love her. All that erases the memory of the pain. If I had not forgotten, I would not have had you, or any of your other brothers or sisters after Absalom.” I smiled at her. “Great joy overcomes the pain and sorrow of birth.”

“I think I understand. Even when I know it will hurt to put my hand into the nettles to gather leaves for tea, like the one father gave you after you had Abigail, the pain is worth it to gather them. The value of the leaves is greater than the pain.”[2]

Moms, do you agree? Tell me about your deliveries. Were they forgotten? Did the joy of your little one overcome all the pain? Please share.

If you’d like to know when Eve Remembers will be coming out, feel free to share your name and address with me.

 

[1] KJB, Genesis 3:16

[2] Eve Remembers, Angelique Conger, p. 266

The Present is the Place to Live

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“The past of each of us is now inflexible. We need to concentrate on what has been called “the holy present,” for now is sacred; we never really live in the future. The holy gift of life always takes the form of now. Besides, God asks us now to give up only those things which, if clung to, will destroy us!”
-Neal A. Maxwell

It is only in the present that choices are made, wrongs repented of or forgiven, hugs are given, lives are lived. Life does not happen it the past. Though it may be forgotten, it is gone, and there is little to be done about it, except learn from mistakes or successes, and beg forgiveness if possible.

The future is similarly untouchable. We can plan for it, hope and dream of it, but not live there. No one lives in past or the future and truly lives.

The present is where life is lived. Here we make choices and deal with the consequences, whether they be good or bad. In the present we stay up too late, or rise from our beds early. We eat too much, or diet too intensely. We love those we are with, or ignore them, and forever wish we had spent more time loving and laughing.

Each moment of our lives is sacred; no second is garbage. Time spent playing silly games alone, or viewing horrible movies is a waste of our precious life. It would be better to choose sharing life with others, new friends or old, family, children, and grandchildren.

It is true that some of that time must be spent working. God placed us on earth to work, to learn, and to learn to love. Yes, work is often unpleasant; it often requires more of our life than we would like to give. It is needful, but it is more needful to remember that it is only a part of our life.

Some believe that sports are important and spend excessive hours following, watching, and thinking about a sport, or many. In moderation, and with loved ones, they are fine, but in excess, they do not build our lives. Other pursuits rob us of valued life.

It has been said that no one lies on their death bed wishing they had spent more time at work, or at a ball game. No one clings to a diploma or trophy. Everyone seeks for the hand of someone who loves them. The greatest sorrow is time not spent loving family.

Do all you possibly can to mend fences, travel distances to be with parents or grandchildren and children, give up time for your hobbies, read to a little one. Make the memories your family will have of you be positive and full of love. Teach them that of all the gifts of God, family is the greatest.

I have seen families torn apart by grudges and silliness. Those days are lost, never to be returned. But, the cause of the grudge can be forgiven, and great rents mended. Children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews need to know their families, need to know they are part of something important. And your family is important.

You may live to be 30, or 100, or somewhere in the middle. What are you doing to make that last breath a time of shared love? It cannot happen in a moment. Love takes time to develop. The love of a new child is instantaneous, but families require decades to grow. Will you have someone to love you, someone to hold your time at the moment you leave this earth to meet your God?