Thank you Robin for letting me know that the Audible folder supports Mp3 files. Thank you Paul for the great place to find FREE Mp3 audio books.

I dream of the day when Kindle is opened up for developers and someone creates an application that combines text-to-speech, Audio books and the actual text. What a killer application for teaching my children to read. I know the technical difficulties of syncing the actor’s voice with the actual text. But one can dream :)

As a backdrop, we are living in unique times and the challenges our generation faces are not a few:

At church, in the community, when I talk to siblings, everywhere I go, the conversation tends to be skittish and fearful.  The study of the scriptures and Elder Christofferson’s recent address about Zion, has brought new insight into how Zion will protect us during difficult times as those we do and will face.

Elder Christofferson points out:

 Zion is Zion because of the character, attributes, and faithfulness of her citizens. Remember, “the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them” (Moses 7:18). If we would establish Zion in our homes, branches, wards, and stakes, we must rise to this standard. It will be necessary (1) to become unified in one heart and one mind; (2) to become, individually and collectively, a holy people; and (3) to care for the poor and needy with such effectiveness that we eliminate poverty among us. We cannot wait until Zion comes for these things to happen—Zion will come only as they happen.

Zion means being united because we choose to be, being holy and taking care of the poor.

His example of unity and the companion scripture from Isaiah is what lead me to my thoughts:

 At the end of July this year, young single adults from several countries in eastern Europe gathered outside Budapest, Hungary, for a conference. Among this group were 20 young men and women from Moldova who had spent days obtaining passports and visas and over 30 hours traveling by bus to get there. The conference program included some 15 workshops. Each person needed to select the two or three that he or she most wanted to attend. Rather than focus exclusively on their own interests, these Moldovan young adults got together and made plans so that at least one of their group would be in each class and take copious notes. Then they would share what they had learned with each other and later with the young adults in Moldova who could not attend. In its simplest form, this exemplifies the unity and love for one another that, multiplied thousands of times in different ways, will “bring again Zion” (Isaiah 52:8).

Awesome – in every sense of the word. This is not an assignment, this is a group of young people who understand that the principles of Zion are the best way for each of them.I followed the scripture in Isaiah and, with tears streaming down my face, I found myself reading 5 chapters rather than that just 52:8 (the chapters were Isaiah 52-56). Do the principles of Zion lead to:

Are not these the answers to the problems of our times? Do these words of Isaiah have the power to change the outcome of my life?

One morning in late September I woke to start a new day and – after having about everything that could possibly go wrong in that month go wrong – I stood on the cold wood floor of our home thinking about the news, the prophecies and the financial debacle. All the random details seemed to sink in and a deep realization hit me that we are probably headed for something on the scale of the Great Depression.

Surprisingly, deep inside my soul, the realization had the exact opposite impact on me as I expected – instead of despair, I felt hope. Instead of fear, I felt faith. Instead of confusion, peace. It was almost as if I heard inside of me, “this is your time. This is your lot. Lift!”

Then I thought to myself, with a smile as it were, “It’s time to get to work!” I felt happy.

I haven’t written about this for so long because I’ve been hard at work. In the midst of so many things going wrong at the time, I have since asked myself, “why this unexpected reaction? Where did that come from?”

I really don’t know for sure, but it’s real. I feel grattitude that I have the chance to help my family and my friends through such a time. I feel so optimistic about the future.

If I were to put my finger on it, I would pin the reaction to something to do with Zion in her infancy and with the peace of her children.

I would credit my Father and Mother’s struggle to stay together during difficult times. A 3am college application with Mom. My in-laws resilience. My Grandpa Harmon’s tireless work on homes. My Grandparents financial assistance. Aunt Lillian’s car. Theron’s Rupert home. Michelle’s phone calls. Tod’s lumber. Ty’s tomatoes and canner. Daniel’s vegetables and cash.  Jeffrey’s call to help a brother with work. Dallin and Troy and Toby’s service. Jenny’s notes. Truman’s, Jordan’s, Kaylisha’s, etc. unpaid babysitting and cleaning. Family.

One half a table. Children waiting for remaining food after the missionaries were fed. A fridge from an unknown sender. An officer rolling up his sleeves to change a tire. Huge smiles on Christmas mornings filled with gifts from thoughtful others. Farmers digging beets together. Snow shovels. Empty garbage cans. Warm homes/beds. Grateful satisfied stomachs. Community.

The Lord’s words through Isaiah do have the power to pull us through these times. Zion is the answer. These words are for me. They are for you. They are for those who haven’t heard them. Let’s share them.

“Come to Zion.”

I promised photos. Here are my two favorites from this morning. I measured 23 1/4 inches on our dumpster and 24 1/2 on the ground at 6am. The snow is falling only lightly now.

Dumpster


View slide show of this mornings photos.

Originally uploaded by nealsharmon

At 5:15am d I woke thinking about the fact my Elder’s quorum president had called to tell me that church was cancelled. I looked outside and realized that the snow had continued to dump during the night. The trees were sagging terribly and I started wondering what the day would bring. What are possible ways to help in this storm?

All I could find were some simple after storm actions.

Does anyone know if I should be doing anything to help out in this storm or should I just sit tight?

I’m thinking about my friend, Rick Wrigley, who said last Friday when we played basketball in the morning that he might have a third of his beets out of the ground.

I found the following information on the storm via the web:

Statement as of 01:43 am MDT on October 12, 2008 … Record daily maximum rainfall set at Burley ID… a record rainfall of 0.73 inch(es) was set at Burley ID yesterday. This breaks the old record of 0.34 set in 1984. Source.

Apparently the warning continues until 6pm. I checked the radio for news. I don’t know the stations very well because I didn’t listen to the radio.

At 6am I went out and shoveled the walk, took a few photos and measured the snow on our trash bin with a golf club. I measured anywhere from 23 1/4 inches on the trash to 24 1/2 on the ground. I’ll update this with photos.

In C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, Screwtape, one of the devil’s servants, writes his nephew about the importance of disconnecting each generation from all others.

“It is most important thus to cut every generation off from all others; for where learning makes a free commerce between the ages there is always the danger that the characteristic errors of one may be corrected by the characteristic truths of another. But thanks be to Our Father [the Devil] and the Historical Point of View, great scholars are now as little nourished by the past as the most ignorant mechanic who holds that ‘history is bunk.’

Paul Allen asked a fascinating question today on his blog: Does God Help Entreprenuers?
He continued:

Someday I want to write an entire book on this subject.

It fascinates me to look back in history, to read the biographies and autobiographies of inventors and entrepreneurs, looking for acknowledgment of divine influence in their work.

Over the years I have read and heard many stories from innovators who believe that God gave them an idea, or helped them through a problem, or guided their efforts to find solutions.

Some entrepreneurs are actively religious, attending churches, synagogues, or mosques; others are “spiritual”, connecting with Divinity in their own way, through prayer, nature, or meditation, or in other ways.

I intend to start asking many of my entrepreneurial friends, with all kinds of religious views, if they believe God has helped them, and if so, why and how? If I get enough good material, I’ll publish it sooner or later.

Here is my response to his thoughts:

Paul, a few years ago, I began to feel that everything that is good in this world is INSPIRATION or IMITATION. We either receive inspiration from another source not of our own or we imitate those who have. I believe that more everyday. I’d be happy to share a few of the many ways in which God has helped and inspired me in my work when you need content for your book. I’ve been keeping a list of the significant turning points for FamilyLearn as a result of inspiration that I can’t claim. I look forward to your findings and your book.

Sasha Pachev and are going running together this morning after I studied the scriptures. I submitted this entry on my new PDA on the way to Sasha’s house. These morning runs and study bring life and joy to my day. Life is beautiful.

Kent Burgraff, Sean Gill, Luke Ray and I have been studying ways to increase the number of families we visit home teaching. We brainstormed last Tuesday about it and Kent read a book called “Home Teaching with Purpose and Power” by Richard J. Marshall. I asked Kent if I could borrow the book and read it this week. It’s fantastic. I’m recording important references and stories here for quick access:

President Ezra Taft Benson’s Talk
“There is no greater Church calling than that of a home teacher. There is no greater Church service rendered to our Father in Heaven???s children than the service rendered by a humble, dedicated, committed home teacher.”

LDS General Conference Scripture Citation Index offers cross referencing to General Conference talks that cite specific scriptures. Seems like a great study resource.

I’ve learned that there will be a Mormon Temple near my home town in Idaho. It will be in Twin Falls Idaho. I never thought I’d see the day one was built so close to my home town. Yes, I’m Mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). For more information on Mormon Temples, you can visit About.com.

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