Thanks To Mothers All Of Us Ugly Ducklings Are Swans!


What child from my era didn’t read Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale of the ugly duckling and not be uplifted and inspired by its message of the power of change and transformation. When ‘The Ugly Duckling’ saw his reflection in the water for the first time as a mature Swan, it gave hope to all children that somehow their gangly bodies would turn out to be strong and beautiful and they would majestically stand tall in the end.

But the real beauty of this story to me is that like so many little boys and girls, I was taught by my mother that I was born a swan. No matter that I was or wasn’t an ugly duckling, the reflection I saw of myself was through the eyes of my mother and like a true queen, she never saw anything but a swan.

What a great blessing mothers are in the lives of us ugly ducklings. It is because of them that our webbed feet have spread and on their wings of faith we have soared higher than the world would believe! I love you Mom! Because of you all of us feel like sons and daughters of nobility!


prodigal son

Patience With Loved Ones Progression Is Of Christ


Sometimes in our desire to help friends, family and associates, we think that by pushing them forward we are helping. We want them to be where we think they “ought” to be, not where they are. More times than not they come away with feelings of being unloved and invalidated. I am reminded of an incident that happened many years ago. A young lady came to me and told me that she was dating a man who was not a member of our faith. She expressed reservation but was determined to marry him because she loved him. He, on his part had been studying the gospel and had made the determination to be baptized. I cautioned her that if she was going to marry him that she would need to be patient with him in his new-found faith and priesthood responsibilities. She nodded her head in agreement. After they had been married for less than a year I received a phone call from her one day in which she lamented that she was frustrated with her husband because he was not taking the lead in their home. I reminded her of our previous conversation and she determined to be more patient and let her husband progress at his pace, not hers.

Now years later this man is faithfully supporting his family of five children, exercising his priesthood in a very responsible manner and is a credit to the community, the church, and his family.

This young woman learned a valuable lesson in loving and supporting her husband through his progression. She found that the heavenly virtue of patience is often required of the followers of the Savior.  (Hebrews 6:12) He above all others showed patience to all those who came to him for relief and comfort.  Remember, our time line of progression for others might not always match theirs or that of the Lord’s.



Why Does The Simple Phrase, “I Love You,” Evoke Such Universal Joy?


“What is it about true love that touches every heart? Why does the simple phrase “I love you” evoke such universal joy?

Men give various reasons, but the real reason is that every person who comes to earth is a spirit son or daughter of God. Since all love emanates from God, we are born with the capacity and the desire to love and to be loved. One of the strongest connections we have with our premortal life is how much our Father and Jesus loved us and how much we loved Them. Even though a veil was drawn over our memory, whenever we sense true love, it awakens a longing that cannot be denied.

Responding to true love is part of our very being. We innately desire to reconnect here with the love we felt there. Only as we feel God’s love and fill our hearts with His love can we be truly happy.

God’s love fills the immensity of space; therefore, there is no shortage of love in the universe, only in our willingness to do what is needed to feel it. To do this, Jesus explained we must “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, … soul, … strength, and … mind; and thy neighbour as thyself” (Luke 10:27).

The more we obey God, the more we desire to help others. The more we help others, the more we love God and on and on. Conversely, the more we disobey God and the more selfish we are, the less love we feel.

Trying to find lasting love without obeying God is like trying to quench thirst by drinking from an empty cup—you can go through the motions, but the thirst remains. Similarly, trying to find love without helping and sacrificing for others is like trying to live without eating—it is against the laws of nature and cannot succeed. We cannot fake love. It must become part of us.” (John H. Groberg, “The Power of God’s Love,” Ensign, Nov 2004, 9).

In the small quote above lies more wisdom than I have gleaned from scores of speeches I have heard from the political and social leaders of our day. I would recommend reading and re-reading the words of inspired men and women called to lead us. Their words contain wisdom, truth and inspiration needed in these troubled times.


Riding the Storm Out


A recent visit with an old childhood friend brought back memories of a devastating storm that hit Maryland in 1972. Hurricane Agnes made its way up the East Coast and ended up being the costliest hurricane to ever hit the United States up to that time. In my home state of Maryland, 19 people died and over a hundred million dollars of property damage was done. However, my memories of Hurricane Agnes center around the great fun I had in the neighborhood. With rain falling in unprecedented amounts, and seeing the effects of flooding all around us, my siblings, friends and I went outside our home to have some fun. Streams of water were now flowing everywhere, including the streets. Every street became a personal “water ride” of fun and excitement! My friend reminded me of how we rode on the crests of the heavy currents of water. There was some danger involved as you had to make sure you kept clear of the culvert pipes so as not to get sucked in and drown. I’m sure that for many, Hurricane Agnes brings back sad and tragic memories. Looking back, as a young teen, I’m sure I didn’t realize the tragedy that surrounded that storm. For me, it was simply an exciting adventure in “riding the storm out.”

Life’s storms come and go! They often leave behind devastation in the lives of those they visit. Yet, when kept in perspective and handled in the proper way, storms can provide lessons and memories that enrich the soul. There are lessons to be learned and joy to be found if we decide to “ride out the storm” with an attitude of faith. Many years ago, I was serving as a Bishop. A sister came to me and despondently related her troubled life. After listening to her for a while, I tried to calm her fears by telling her that everyone faced trials and challenges in this life. She responded, “Really! What are yours?” She asked because she seemed to think that my life was without trial. I guess she couldn’t understand how the hurricanes of life were devastating her family, but a person like myself seemed to be on a water ride having fun. And at the time, my family was docked in a rather calm vacation port. But within months, dark clouds began to form over my houseboat, and hurricanes with the force of Agnes rained upon it. No man lives in this life without experiencing a Hurricane Agnes from time to time!

No one wants spiritual hurricanes to come into their lives, but they will and they do. We must make up our minds that we need to “ride it out” and make the best of it. If we don’t, we will find ourselves drowning as we are pulled into the culvert of despair and hopelessness. Recorded in Mark is this story:

“And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he (Jesus) was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:37-39)

Storms will always be on the horizon of our lives. Have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He will not let us perish! If we call on Him, as did his disciples, He will help us ride through the storms and give peace and serenity to our lives!


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