Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jelly Doughnut

"The Jelly Doughnut" is a modern day parable.   I heard it from a missionary a few years ago.   My telling is no where near as good as the rendition the elder gave in sacrament meeting, but I hope that you can get the meaning out of it.   

Bro. Nichols was a great seminary teacher.   He worked to bring the spirit into every class and encourage unity within the kids.  Of course, in every group there are always those who are outsiders.   In this particular group, the outsider was Jason.   He arrived alone, sat alone, and left alone.   In between, he rarely spoke and was rarely spoken to.  

One Friday, Bro. Nichols stopped Jason as the class was leaving.   "Jason, your in pretty good shape, aren't you?" he asked.   
"I guess."  was the simple reply.
"I know you work with your dad on the weekends.   It's some heavy labor you guys do.   You could do 10 push-ups easily, couldn't you?"  Bro. Nichols asked.   
"Sure" replied Jason, with a shrug.   
"How about 100, just 10 at a time?" Bro. Nichols plied further.
"Yeah, I could do that"
"How about 300, 10 at a time?"
Jason's interest was peaked "How long would I have to do them?"
"An hour, I know you can do it" Bro. Nichols assured him.
"What's this all about?   Why am I doing push-ups?"
" I need you to help me out in class, I'd really appreciate it."
"Okay" said Jason

Monday, a large bakery box greeted the class as they entered the room.   The kids were barely able to contain themselves as the smell of doughnuts had filled the class.   Everyone quickly took their seats as napkins began to be passed out.   The first jelly doughnut was lifted from the box.   Jason proceeded to do 10 push-ups.   The doughnut was placed on the desk.   Obvious wonder passed over the class.   Another doughnut was lifted from the box, ten more push-ups, and another happy student received their treat.   First, doughnuts for no reason and then push-ups for no reason? 
The confused class began asking what was going on as the treats continued to be passed out.   Brother Nichols simply said that Jason was doing push-ups so that they could have their doughnuts.   This answer was not acceptable to the football jock, Brian, who was next to receive his doughnut.   
"I don't need Jason to do push-ups for me!   I'm doing my own."
"You can't do your own, Jason has to do them for you."
Jason was already working on a set of push-ups for Brian.  
"I don't want one then."
"Okay, that's your choice.   But you still get one." said Bro. Nichols and he placed the doughnut on Brian's desk.
Brian threw his doughnut in the trash with contempt.
Now, as the strange situation continued, there was less eating and more questions.   Jason was going more slowly, a few extra breaths between sets.   One of the girls asked if she could help Jason.   It was the first show of compassion that he'd ever received from his classmates.   It spurred him on.   Following her lead some began to voice sporadic support.   Others followed Brian's lead and vainly refused the gift.   
Half way through the class, Jason was beginning to sweat.   The supporters were more abundant now and the refusals were less.
Students began leaving their seats to stand and give encouragement where Jason began to struggle.
20 desks with doughnuts, few of them with students in them.   Students were actually cheering on the outsider.
250 push-ups done, sheer determination on Jason's face.
Even Brian and his followers had joined the encouraging on lookers.
By push-up 300, Jason's arms burned, so did every heart.
Tears flowed as Bro. Nichols explained that Jesus Christ gave all for the most precious gift ever given.   
Understanding crossed Brian's face when it was explained that we are free to chose.   We receive that gift, even if we throw it away.   No one else can earn it for us, we can not earn it for ourselves.   Salvation comes only from the one chosen by The Father.
Christ is always there, his Atonement is done, all is payed.   We chose our path, near him or far removed.   We chose what to do with our gift.  Throw it away all together, partake of a just a portion, or use it to it's fullest.   

This parable has been a strong influence for me.   One of the missionaries told me that it was actually done in his ward as a combined mutual night.   He testified of the strong spirit brought to that night by this activity.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Drink more water!

This is not a "saying" as such, but it is one of the pieces of sage advice you will hear from my grandmother.    It is the first thing she will say when: your tired, have a headache, sore throat, cough, fever, cold, flu, too hot, too cold, pregnant, working, going anywhere, coming home from anywhere, upset stomach, stressed. . . . . . . .you get the gist of it.    Have you been drinking enough water?   Do you have a bottle of water?   Let me get you a bottle of water.   You need to drink more water.

We tease her about her water obsession all the time.   We do, however, admit that it can't hurt and really does make a difference.   

So now, I've turned into my grandmother.   My kids know that the question will be coming, from me, and their grandmother, and their great-grandmother.    I ask anyone that's ailing in any way, "Have you been drinking enough water?"   I just had to laugh when my best friend called me to relate her visit to the doctor to me.   She was sick, the illness made worse because she was dehydrated.   Her doctor had asked her if no one cared enough about her to make sure she had been drinking enough.   She laughed, and said that yes someone cared.   I had been hounding her all week to drink more.   

Now, I tell you, because I care..... Drink more water!

If you don't listen, You'll have to feel

This is one of the things that I heard my grandmother say time and time again.   It was always her last effort to try and dissuade us from something she could foresee going wrong.    It was often followed by someone's pain.   After I had "felt" several times I began to listen.   Life was a bit less painful after that.

Monday, February 15, 2010

How long do I have?

This is a Mr. Bro. Nichols seminary lesson on how long we have to perfect ourselves.

You'll need:
a ball of clay for each person
blindfolds for each person, optional
Give each person a ball of clay and tell them to make something that represents themselves.   Blindfold each person or have them close their eyes while sculpting.   Do not give them a time limit just tell them that you will stop them when it's time.   Do not tell them how long they have or give any hint as to how much time they have, just that you will tell them when their time is up.

Give a lesson on our purpose in life.   Our responsibility is to mold our will and make ourselves into what we choose, good or evil.   

As people get "done", continue to teach the lesson.   As people begin hearing "I'm done" ring out in the room, they will try to finish up and you should be left with only a few still working.
The real point of the lesson is evident when you call time and the last sculptors ask for more time.   We do not know how long we have in this life nor do we have a true vision of what we are making of the time we have.

When our class had this lesson, I figured I was done but just couldn't stop working.   Why not keep going til time is done I thought.   After all, "There is always room for improvement."   One other boy and I were the last ones working.   As time was called, he yelled out "No! Not yet, I'm not done!".     Where I was "okay, but might as well keep working", he had really made the most of his time.   He had really worked hard the whole time.   I had made better use of my time than those who had quit altogether, but I'd still not done all I could.   Truthfully, God doesn't compare us with others, so what I'd done comparatively was of no worth.   In the end, will I feel that I'm finished?   I hope that I never feel like "I'm done".   Instead, I intend to continue to work my hardest while yelling "Not yet, I'm not done!"   

Road of life

This is one of those spur of the moment, divinely inspired, quick life lessons delivered "on the spot".

Family night came around and I could not find my book that I've been teaching out of.   I hadn't gathered everyone in yet because of it.   All of a sudden an R/C car comes barreling into the living room with my son laughing behind it.   The family took turns running it around, and started building ramps for it.   As the ramps got higher, the car had a harder time making it and finally just couldn't do it any more.   My son remarked that it might have been able to do it if it had been fully charged.  
The moral of the story: We face challenges in life.   Those challenges are everything from minor bumps to mountains.   We can get over those challenges if we keep ourselves charged, tuned, in shape, whatever applies.
How do we keep ourselves ready for the challenges of life?   Primary answer time.....Prayer, scriptures, church....
We've been talking about family and how to make it better so we included love and family.   After all, that's why we have families, to give us that little extra push up the hill.
Take a hike, take a drive, get out the R/C cars or the 4 wheelers if you have 'em.   Go tackle life's mountain and mole hills together.   Just do what it takes to prepare yourself so you can make it to the top!

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Holy Ghost

This object lesson is one that my brother came to show my son not long before his death.   It was a painful trip for my brother and a special gift for my son's eighth birthday.

You'll need:
a tea bag (it must be the tube type that is filled, folded over and stapled.)
a plate (not plastic or paper)
matches or lighter

The tea bag represents the spirit, clean and white, until we sin, (the tea).  We cannot return to our Heavenly Father dirty or with sin in our souls. 
We can clean our souls because of Jesus' atonement.   To use the atonement we must sacrifice, (cut the top with the staple off).   We must sacrifice our pride and be humble, we must sacrifice our sins and give them up, we need to have "a broken heart and a contrite spirit".   When we are willing to do this we can use the atonement to wash away our sins and become clean again.   

We are baptized to show our willingness to do these things (dump out the tea, open up the tea bag tube and stand it up on the plate).   

This is only the beginning, we must do our best to stay clean and continue to repent with the sacrament.   

It is sometimes hard to know right from wrong, so God will give us a guide, the Holy Ghost.   The Gift of the Holy Ghost is also called Baptism by Fire.   After baptism with water we can receive the Baptism by Fire, (light the top of the tea bag tube). 

If we listen to the Holy Ghost ,do the things we are prompted to do, and continue to repent with the sacrament, we can go up to live with our Heavenly Father again, (the tube will burn down and become a very fragile ash, because it is hot it will float up).

Use as much or as little detail as you want, depending on your audience.   It is a wonderful object lesson for those approaching baptism at any age.   

Tip: Do it inside, breezes and even heavy breathing can tip the tea bag tube.   Also cut the tube straight so that it will have a level bottom to stand on.   I have seen it done on a bare hand but I don't recommend it, some tea bags lift before burning completely others don't.