Sunday, February 20, 2011

"Sacrifice"--Today's talk in 76th Ward Sacrament Meeting

What a wonderful experience it was to write this talk this week. The timing was perfect for me and our family. Still, I wondered if there wasn't some way I could get out of actually reading it for everyone. But I had never really understood the power of sharing something like this with people who have been at your side through so many struggles and trials, never judging, always loving and praising and stepping in when they saw a need. If Rob and I ever pull ourselves out of this crazy financial mess it will be in large part because of our wonderful, wonderful Ward Family, in the truest sense of the word. So, enjoy!
The Primary children may remember a Sharing Time that Sis Gardner gave a short time ago. Do you remember that she taught us about how the Primary songs teach us the Plan of Salvation? One of the songs she used was “I Lived in Heaven”. Picture Sis Casey leading you in singing this song as I read it:

I lived in heaven a long time ago, it is true;
Lived there and loved there with people I know. So did you.
Then Heav’nly Father presented a beautiful plan,
All about earth and eternal salvation for man.

Father said he needed someone who had enough love
To give his life so we all could return there above.
There was another who sought for the honor divine.
Jesus said, “Father, send me, and the glory be thine.”

Jesus was chosen, and as the Messiah he came,
Conquering evil and death through his glorious name,
Giving us hope of a wonderful life yet to be-
Home in that heaven where Father is waiting for me.

So, our Savior is the central part of that plan. And what does the song say that the Father wanted him to do? He wanted him to give his life for us. So he said he would. And in the process, he also conquered evil and death through his great Sacrifice. Our Father’s plan is so simple and yet so amazingly and profoundly personal. What is one of the keys that makes it so personal for each and everyone of his billions and billions and billions of children? Sacrifice. The sacrifice of our Savior and the sacrifices that each of us make help to build up the Father’s kingdom on earth that help make the Father’s plan personal and real for each of us and they make us “worthy to live in the presence of God”.[a]

But when God presented His plan, many of God’s children didn’t like the idea of sacrifice. Apparently, it was too risky to give each of us agency and personal responsibility in the important task of salvation. And these concerns were strong enough that we fought a war over the plan that would bring us happiness, Sacrifice is a concept that was difficult to understand then and remains so today. Consequently, I am deeply grateful that our Father in Heaven speaks to each of us “in his own tongue, and in his own language”[b] to help us understand what His prophets have said about it. Our fear and misunderstanding of Sacrifice reminds me of Grover’s story, The Monster at the End of this Book. Through the language and pictures of this children’s story, we see Grover struggle every step of the way through the entire book for fear of the monster there, only to find that the monster was merely . . . himself. I think it’s a natural instinct to cringe inside when we think of making Sacrifices. Sacrifice is uncomfortable and messy just like the war in Heaven and just like Grover who made a big mess trying to keep us from getting to the end of his book.

According to the Gospel Principles manual, “Sacrifice means giving to the Lord whatever He requires of our time, our earthly possessions, and our energies to further His work.”[c] And it also means battling within ourselves to think less of Earthly goals and comforts and more about Eternal ones. The Savior commanded, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness”.[d] The Gospel Principles manual also suggests that “Our it's not JUST over coming the natural man. it's also being a part of something BIGGERedit it's not JUST over coming the natural man. it's also being a part of something BIGGERedit willingness to sacrifice is an indication of our devotion to God.”

Before the Savior’s Atonement, God used sacrifices to help His people understand the role of Sacrifice in the atonement. With Abraham God used the language of burnt offerings to help him understand Sacrifice. Waiting until he had everything ready to sacrifice his son and the knife in his hand, God then sent an angel to say, “Abraham … lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for fearing God over physical survival . . .edit fearing God over physical survival . . .edit now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.”[e] Other Sacrifices then included sin and trespass offerings and also peace offerings. According to the Bible Dictionary, “The fundamental idea of the sin and trespass offerings was atonement, expiation. They implied that there was a sin, or some uncleanness akin to a sin, that needed atoning for before fellowship with Jehovah could be obtained. . . . Peace offerings, as the name indicates, presupposed that the sacrificer was at peace with God; they were offered for the further realization and enjoyment of that peace.”Ì

This ongoing war within our hearts to seek God and also to help others follow God’s plan is still messy business . . . messy and also dirty. At the Scout Jamboree this past summer, some of you got to hear from someone who knows a lot about dirt. Mike Rowe’s thoughts that we should replace the goal of “Safety First” with “Safety Third” have enlightened this eternal struggle for me. He says, Ì “’Safety First’ discourages personal responsibility. Is it reasonable to assume that someone would hire you to work in a hazardous environment, and then tell you that nothing is more important to them than your personal safety? Of course not. Difficult and dangerous jobs are accomplished by people who are willing to assume risk – and the assumption of that risk must come before anything else.  . . . . From what I’ve seen, the key to personal safety is personal accountability and it seems to me the most genuine way to foster that in a grown-up employee is to tell them the truth. If Safety were really first, companies would pay their employees to be safe. Of course, they don’t. They pay them to work, and to assume risk. Saying “Safety Third” reminds me of that simple fact. And that keeps my [TV] crew and me more focused, and hopefully, more safe. As always, thanks for watching. And for cryin’ out loud, be careful! Mike”[f]

Life is dirty and messy and risky, but we accepted that part of the plan because we knew that personal responsibility was the only way we could progress and become more like our Father in Heaven. Moreover, no one sacrificed more than our Father when He sent His Son to put his own safety third and atone for our sins. We, in turn, are then free not only to struggle but also to faithfully and confidently overcome our own challenges. As our own family continues to face financial struggles, I have realized that “Choosing the best activities sometimes means choosing the best hard activities too.”[g] Since Rob lost his job, Rob and I have spent a huge amount of time considering our Choices. While unemployed and underemployed, one seems to encounter, for the most part, an overwhelming array of Hard choices and not so many good, better, or best ones.

Using the words of Dallin H Oaks’ talk in the October 2007 General Conference entitled, “Good, Better, Best”, I’ve edited a few words to reflect this idea of choosing the best Hard activities.
“Just because something is good hard is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good hard things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good hard, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives.”
He then recounted the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10, explaining that the Savior taught us in this passage that “learning the gospel from the Master Teacher was more ‘needful.’” With my edits, Elder Oaks goes on to say,
“As we consider various choices, we should remember that it is not enough that something is good hard. Other choices are better, and still others are best simply more needful.”

During one experience on Elder Groberg’s mission the choice before them was to wait for the wind to pick up or row to their teaching appointment. By choosing to row, Elder Groberg still had to make the Hard choice of leaving behind their chances of using wind to take them to their destination. In this case the more Needful choice was to leave the sailboat behind. Sacrifice, in and of itself is not reason enough to make a Hard choice the right one. Saul discovered, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken [to the commandments of the Lord] than the fat of rams.”[h] Consequently, Elder Groberg discovered that, “We should always pray for help, but we should always listen for inspiration and impressions to proceed in ways different from those we may have thought of”[i] even if those choices aren’t the Hard ones we expected to be more Needful.

Our family’s biggest challenge of late has been correctly understanding which Hard thing the Lord wants us. Choosing something out of our comfort zone financially or physically is only one type of Hard thing we can choose right now. Another might simply be to “let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God.”[j] Or, even more difficult sometimes is the challenge to be confident under pressure. Elder Holland explains, “There are cautions and considerations to make, but once there has been genuine illumination, beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts. … Face your doubts. Master your fears. ‘Cast not away therefore your confidence.’ Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you.”[k]

I’m grateful for this opportunity to sacrifice and make God’s Will real in my life, to choose having Faith in Him and His inspirations over doubting, even in the face of mounting pressures. I’m grateful for the questions these sacrifices put in my heart such as: What’s going to happen next week? Can I be  content that it will be in accordance with God’s will? Am I satisfied that Rob and I are fulfilling the callings and commandments that He has given us so that we are worthy of the Lord’s guidance and protection? The Savior posed a really great question himself: “If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?”[l]

Peace during times of Sacrifice comes when we ‘ask not amiss’ and these questions lead us to answers given minute by minute, hour by hour. The principle of sacrifice, then, is not the solution to our problems, but the means to the solutions of our problems. Then eventually, that kind of sacrifice makes us into what Paul calls, “living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto God”[m]. Rudyard Kipling wrote a wonderful poem about the results of this kind of living, entitled simply, “IF”:

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son![n]

I bear testimony of the power of sacrifice in making us fit for the Kingdom of God and of God’s love that requires those sacrifices from us. Thomas S Monson is the Lord’s mouthpiece on the earth and Joseph Smith was the Lord’s instrument to usher in the Last Dispensation. The Book of Mormon is the fruits of those labors. This is the Lord’s Church and His prophets will direct us through these perilous times as we work and sacrifice to prepare ourselves and the Earth for the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In His name, Amen.

[a] Gospel Principles, Chapter 26
[b] D&C 90:11
[d] Matthew 6:33
[e] Genesis 22:1–14
[g] Personal Journal, Jan 22, 1011.

[h] Hales, Robert D. “Agency: Essential to the Plan of Life.” General Conference, October 2010.

[i] John H. Groberg, “The Lord’s Wind,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 28.
[j] D&C 101:16
[k] Name withheld, "Did I Still Love Him?", Ensign, Feb. 2011, 33–35 (written, incidentally, by the best friend of a home schooling friend of mine, though I told her not to tell me her name since it’s ‘withheld’ ;)
[l] Matthew 6:30
[m] Romans 12:1
[n] My thanks to Max Eddington for posting the music video of the music he wrote and sang using the text of this poem on Facebook this week.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Online Adjunct Teaching Assistant--Finally Starting!!!

Here's the ad I found on Craig's list clear last July.

I've passed all the training and the paperwork is all in, and I got the contract for my first class this week. It's English 122 and it starts February 15. I'm very excited, nervous, but excited!!!

phoenix craigslist > central/south phx > jobs > writing/editing jobs

Online Adjunct Teaching Assistant (Clinton, IA)

Date: 2010-06-23, 1:36PM MST
Reply to: see below

Ashford University was founded on the principle that education improves lives. Ashford University employees witness such change everyday. Accelerated careers, increased earning power and improved quality of life keep Ashford University employees motivated to make a difference with each and every student. Ashford University is doing well by doing good, and we value the opportunity we've been given.

The mission of Ashford University is to provide accessible, affordable, innovative, high-quality learning opportunities and degree programs that meet the diverse needs of individuals pursuing integrity in their lives, professions, and communities.

Position Summary:

The Adjunct Teaching Assistant assists instructors in online writing-intensive courses by providing students with written feedback and guidance. To meet the demands of our rapidly increasing enrollment, Ashford University currently is accepting resumes for Online Adjunct Teaching Assistants. The Adjunct Teaching Assistant reports to the Associate Director of Writing Services.

Essential Job Duties:

• Working in an online learning environment, provides guidance to nontraditional undergraduates in accelerated five-week courses.
• Delivers feedback on student writing assignments using Web-based education software.
• Coordinates with the course instructor and the Writing Services department via Ashford University’s online learning platform.


• Strong commitment to student-centered learning.
• A willingness and ability to meet the time demands of an accelerated learning environment.
• Interest in working as an assistant to instructors in an online environment.
• Proficiency (or willingness and ability to become proficient) in Web-based course management and assessment software.
• Proficiency in Microsoft Word and Outlook applications.
• A willingness and ability to provide supportive, one-on-one guidance to nontraditional entry-level undergraduates.
• A willingness and ability to provide informed written feedback on student writing assignments.

* A Writing Sample is REQUIRED for consideration in this position. Please see prompts below...

The average Ashford University online, accelerated learner is a thirty-four-year-old female from a rural area. The primary function of Writing Services is to provide guidance to entry-level, undergraduate students in the Online Adult Accelerated Program, helping to improve writing skills and to instill confidence.

Choose from any of the following and write a short essay (2-pages, double-spaced):

1. Create a scenario and describe your response to an entry-level student seeking your support.

2. Discuss how you think a teaching assistant might instill confidence and yet provide constructive criticism.

3. Describe a time when you have had the opportunity to evaluate a student's written work and provided constructive feedback.

* Please attach your Writing Sample in "attachment 2" along with your resume. If you DO NOT attach your completed writing sample to your application, you will be UNCONSIDERED for this position.


• Residence in one of the following states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington DC, Deleware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming


• A minimum of a Bachelors Degree in English, Writing Studies, or a writing-intensive field such as Communications or Journalism, or a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree in Education with emphasis in English, Writing Studies, or in a writing-intensive field such as Communications or Journalism is required.

If interested, please apply online at

  • Location: Clinton, IA
  • Compensation: -
  • Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
  • Please, no phone calls about this job!
  • Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

PostingID: 1807360452