By Study and Also By Faith

An LDS (Mormon) blog representing a search for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

New Year's History and Tradition

Something I enjoy is reading the history of various holidays and the traditions that many people follow. I am providing links so that you can enjoy learning a bit about the New Year's holiday.

At Infoplease, you can read about "
A History of the New Year" and "New's Year Traditions". The history article talks about the different dates celebrated through the years and you'll learn a bit about calendars in the process. The traditions article has all the words to "Auld Lang Syne" and a bit of history and explanation about it, as well as some of the other traditions that have come into being over the years.

Another interesting article is at Wikipedia under "
New Year" and tells more about calendars and countries and when 1 January became the norm for many in celebrating the new year.

Good reading. Enjoy! And if you know about some additional traditions, please tell us about them in the comments!


Reflections on the End of Another Year

Here we are, once again at the end of a calendar year. The years seem to fly by faster and faster as I get older. I enjoy making New Year's Resolutions, but I'm not so good at follow-through, probably because I set too many goals and the ones I set are too vague.

I think what I need to do is set some priorities. What goal(s) would be most important to my well-being? Could I pick one goal in each of the areas of physical, mental (intellectual), emotional, social, character, financial, and spiritual? What kind of measurable goals can I set so I can evaluate my progress? What specific things do I need to do to reach my goals? Where can I write them down so that I can work on them daily or weekly, depending on what type of goal I've set? How often do I need to sit down and evaluate how I'm doing?

It sounds like a lot of work, doesn't it? But it is work to accomplish worthwhile things. I think, too, that figuring out how to handle set-backs is a part of goal-setting. I hate to expect set-backs. That seems like I'm setting myself up for them. Still, being human, I'm likely to slip up now and again. I do think that if I have to restart, I shouldn't try to make up things I've skipped. That makes it overwhelming. It seems better to just start in again. For example, if I were to set a goal to read 1 chapter a day in the Bible and I missed for 2 weeks, I wouldn't be thrilled at the notion of sitting down and reading 15 chapters in one evening to get back on track not to mention I probably wouldn't be paying proper attention to what I was reading). Better to just start reading 1 chapter a day again and perhaps change when I've scheduled it so that I make sure I continue.

Another thing that's hard about goals is to set ones that help me to stretch and grow and improve, but yet not set goals that are too far out of reach right now. I think that I need to not set overly ambitious goals and, if I find it's too easy to meet one of my goals, then I could reset it in February or March to make it a little harder. It's one of those things I just need to be doing in order to evaluate how it's going.

I also need to resolve to not overthink things! If I get into a lot of complicated bookkeeping to make and keep my goals, I'm liable to give up just because it has gotten out of hand to keep track of everything. What to do? What to do? I also need to resolve to not think I'm just crazy, even though I may be!

Do you set resolutions? At the beginning of the new year or some other time? If you want to, tell us one or two of your resolutions--maybe it'll give us ideas of some good ones to choose.


Sunday, December 23, 2007


The Little Drummer Boy


Come they told me (pa-rum pum pum pum)

A newborn King to see (pa-rum pum pum pum)

Our finest gifts we bring (pa-rum pum pum pum)

To lay before the King (pa-rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum)

So to honor Him (pa-rum pum pum pum)

when we come

Baby Jesu (pa-rum pum pum pum)

I am a poor boy too (pa-rum pum pum pum)

I have no gift to bring (pa-rum pum pum pum)

that's fit to give our King (pa-rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum)

Shall I play for You? (pa-rum pum pum pum)

On my drum

Mary nodded (pa-rum pum pum pum)

The ox and lamb kept time (pa-rum pum pum pum)

I played my drum for Him (pa-rum pum pum pum)

I played my best for Him (pa-rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum)

Then He smiled at me (pa-rum pum pum pum)

Me and my drum

In the Bleak Midwinter
By Christina Rossetti

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas

This time of year always brings me to a contemplation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and all He has done for us. It also makes me think of family and friends and the many good things we are blessed with--warmth and shelter, a beautiful world to live in, trees and animals and stars in the sky, to name but a few blessings.

Stars remind me of the special bright star that shone over Bethleham two thousand years ago. I imagine the manger in the stable and Mary and Joseph sitting with the Baby Jesus and pondering the many things that had happened to them and wondering about the future. I imagine God looking down on the scene and pouring out blessings upon the little family.

I think of the shepherds and the wisemen and their coming to see and worship Jesus as He lay in the manger, yet a baby, but with so much to come in the future. I like to think of the stable as being peaceful and warm with the presence of the animals who lived there. It must have been wonderful that night.

Now it seems distant--long ago and far away. Yet every year at Christmas we can reconnect to that scene. And every day, every hour, we can reconnect with Jesus Christ as we think of Him and pray to our Heavenly Father in His name and read of His teachings and example in our scriptures.

Christmas is a time to think on these things, but we can keep this Christmas spirit in our hearts throughout the year. May we do so. And may God bless all of you. Merry Christmas!

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

To Know God and Jesus Christ

In the September 1988 Ensign President Ezra Taft Benson had an article called "In His Steps". In this article, President Benson writes about the times we live in and how coming to know God and Jesus Christ and doing their will can help us make right decisions and go the right way in these difficult times where secular ideas seem to be taking over.
Each day the forces of evil and the forces of good enlist new recruits. Each day we personally make many decisions showing the cause we support. The final outcome is certain—the forces of righteousness will win. But what remains to be seen is where each of us personally, now and in the future, will stand in this battle—and how tall we will stand. Will we be true to our last days and fulfill our foreordained missions?
Each of us has his or her own battlefield. The tactics which the enemy will use against us will vary from time to time. He will seek to exploit our weak spots, so we must be alert to the devil’s devious designs—the subtle sins and clever compromises as well as the obvious offenses.

We must remember that the devil seeks to make all men miserable like unto himself. We must also remember that the Lord loves us and seeks for us the fulness of joy which He enjoys. We must choose whom we will serve.
Jesus knows His kingdom will triumph, and He wants us to triumph with it. He knows in advance every strategy the enemy will use against us and the kingdom. He knows our weaknesses and He knows our strengths. By personal revelation, we may discover some of our strengths through careful and prayerful study of our patriarchal blessing. In prayer we can ask Him to reveal to us our weaknesses so that we can amend our lives.
There is much more in the article of course. I hope you will read it. The words of a prophet are wise and inspiring.

In my November 17 post, I mentioned an LDS 12-step book that is available online at Meridian Magazine. There is another LDS 12-step book available online at It's called LDS Family Services Addiction Recovery Program: A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing. You can go to this page to download the book in an Adobe pdf file. As I noted about the previously mentioned book, this book can help with addictions such as alcohol, drugs, tobacco, eating disorders, and so forth, but it can also help with any other problem and with getting closer to the Lord and seeking His help with anything. Give it a read and see what you think.

On a side note, if you have not been able to post comments because you did not have a Google/Blogger account, that is no longer the case. Blogger was making some changes to the comments portion of the program, but you can comment by selecting either "Nickname" or "Anonymous" and post a comment without having to register anywhere.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007


Today is foggy and drizzly--a perfect day to minimize errands and maximize thinking time. It is quiet and pleasant and above freezing, so no ice to contend with. Yet. We are due for an ice storm over the next couple of days.

Last Sunday, the parking lot at church was filled with Canadian geese, strolling around, staring at the people and looking for things to eat. They kept me from my usual parking spot, but I didn't want to risk scaring them or worse, hitting one. I hope they appreciated my sacrifice--I do like my favorite parking space!

When I contemplate nature, I am very thankful to God for creating this beautiful world and all the plants and animals and weather that we enjoy. It's a wonderful gift to go with the great blessing of gaining physical bodies. Life can be hard sometimes, but being able to admire a sunrise or a lovely flower or a lively bird can cheer one's heart immensely.

I am looking forward to studying the Joseph Smith manual in the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church series. I like having the manuals for reference and just to read. I have enjoyed learning more about prophets that I didn't know much about, as well as focusing in on what the various prophets have taught. There is a lot of spiritual insight in those books.

The scriptures themselves are filled with spiritual insight if we will seek it out. Prayer helps open our eyes, ears, and hearts to gospel teachings that might otherwise escape us. There is so much to learn! I've discovered (and had to rediscover numerous times) that patience and loving the process of learning is important to studying the gospel.

Each of us has different strengths and weaknesses, but the gospel has all the answers if we will ask the Lord to show them to us. Not always easy, I know, but that's where patience and loving the process come in.

Have a joyous Christmas season!

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