Feb 4, 2008

Zion or bust

It was a rough day in the Bartle household. I'm always a victim of what a good friend terms "vacation depression," or the emotional letdown that inevitably comes after a fabulous period of rest and relaxation away from home. While I wouldn't characterize our latest excursion as restful (what with very late nights, a nursing baby, and wild children), it was extremely enjoyable and hard to give up. Coming home to laundry list of house selling/moving to-do's, a showing appointment, piano lessons sans babysitter, and general responsibility strained my already-reduced coping abilities. As a result, I was a bad wife, parent, and human being today.

However, today was Monday. I figured that holding Family Home Evening might salvage what was left of our Very Bad Day. Tyler picked a lesson kit about Book of Mormon stories, and as we sat around the coffee table guessing what character, principle, or topic corresponded with each letter of the alphabet, I felt like I ought to share something I heard about yesterday related to The Book of Mormon.

The prophet and president of our church, Gordon B. Hinckley, died last week. As a tribute to this beloved leader, some wonderful soul created an online challenge to read The Book of Mormon in 97 days (one day for each year of President Hinckley's life). My parents and siblings sent the information to me, and since I always need a little external motivation to keep the commandments, I opted to join the challenge. Having the support of family members and feeling united in a worthy goal made me happy. Though not as formal, this is reminiscent of the time a couple of years ago that President Hinckley issued a church-wide challenge to read The Book of Mormon in four months. Our little family participated and really enjoyed the experience.

It wasn't until tonight that I considered involving Garry and the boys in the challenge. I had only planned to participate on a personal level. But as our Family Home Evening proceeded and I saw my boys soaking up the lessons of the scriptures, I asked them if they would like to commit to read The Book of Mormon in 97 days. I was sure they would balk at the commitment, but they surprised me. They were excited and wanted to start right away, and so we did. Our morning scripture studies have gotten us to Alma 52, so we decided to start there and loop back over the next three months. One day down, 96 to go.

As I was explaining the challenge to the boys, I found myself bearing testimony of the power the scriptures can have in our lives, and how obeying the commandments can bring amazing blessings of the Holy Ghost. I confess that I hoped the boys would be open to the challenge simply because our little family could really use an extra dose of the Spirit these days. We need to figure some things out and make life work better around here, and hopefully this project will help.

My dad was inspired to institute the goal of being a "Zion Family" in 2008. Every week he sends out a quote from the prophets on a different theme. The very first one is from Joseph Smith, as quoted by Joseph Fielding Smith:

"Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness; and keeping all the commandments of God....

"... [A]s God has designed our happiness—and the happiness of all His creatures, he never has—He never will institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed, and which will not end in the greatest amount of good and glory to those who become the recipients of his law and ordinances."

I have taken those words to heart, hoping and praying that they are true. We're on the path, just trying to keep up. Hopefully we'll get where we want to go!
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