Thoughts: Can We Call America A Choice Land?




I saw this photo on FB and it got me thinking about the nations who have suffered bondage and captivity in this land, namely Natives and Blacks…


1. They suffered at the hands of people who might have claimed Christ as their God, but their service of Him was totally false. He did not sanction anything cruel they did in His name, and bondage of nations resulted. 


2. This slavery happened on this soil, and though it seems long and slow and discouraging, it is due to what this country is that we can gain strength and can change it. 


Through the freedom established in this country, Christianity has been allowed to continue its wandering route (apostasy, enlightenment, reformation, restoration) to return to the pure principles Jesus established during His ministry. And with all the flaws this government and country and an embarrassing number of its leaders carry, The System is still set up to have us fight those ills. 



Yes, it’s a hard fight. Yes, it takes sweat and stress and work. YES, IT IS UNFAIR. 


But civilizations change when we are allowed to work for change, and here, maybe not everyone, but enough of us have the freedom to work. We have hope for the changes we want because this is America. 


I see that hope when I see kneeling. I don’t want to see disrespect.


(this photo is cropped) 

By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA - Oakland Raiders National Anthem Kneeling, 

CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62735933


I want to see the freedom of expression permitted by this country. I see a prayer to this country for change. When I see standing for the flag again, I don’t want to see disrespect for others’ desire for change. I see the freedom of expression permitted by this country. I see a statement of confidence that because this country is already great, it can and will achieve change. 


The only disrespect in my eyes is burning the flag. Mourning can happen, must happen, but without Destruction, Vengeance, and Hate. 

Why is it so natural to hate what’s different?

So we are a land of diverse religions and cultures. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that the light of Christ (acknowledged or not) is what beats at the heart of each one. We can recognize this when our principles are the same: to love, to serve, to lift one another.

And so, when I read this US flag colored statement that comes from the Book of Mormon, I read that modern bondage and captivity based on race, class, identity will be eradicated as we grow in our service to principles of love, service, mercy, forgiveness, mourning with those who mourn, peacemaking and more.


We believe the Book of Mormon is a record of not one nation, but multiple ancient American nations, who were Christian. Where are they now? Gone y’all. Destroyed. By their own pride and WAR. They called themselves Christians (or in their language, Nephites) to the bitter end. And yet, they are the ones who are no longer here. God warned them again and again to look at their relations with His Lamanite nation (non-Christians) to serve as a gauge for Nephite righteousness. 


While the Nephite Christians were truly serving the cause of God (the cause of love, humility, and humanity), they were able to defend themselves against non-Christian Lamanite (oppression, murder, tyranny) attack. 


There was even an incredible era when Nephite Christian LOVE introduced a nation of non-Christian Lamanites to know God too, and He held nothing back in blessing their faith and service to Him with miracles. 



But when both the Lamanite and Nephite Christians got caught up in their own style of oppression, classism and tyranny, God did not support them anymore. 


In ancient America, pride manifested as a narrow-minded obsession with “more territory proves worthiness”. 


In ancient Israel, pride manifested as a narrow-minded obsession with “more law proves worthiness”.


You know what else the Book of Mormon says?


1 And verily, verily, I say unto you that I have aother sheep, which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem, neither in any parts of that land round about whither I have been to minister.

2 For they of whom I speak are they who have not as yet heard my voice; neither have I at any time manifested myself unto them.

3 But I have received a acommandment of the Father that I shall go unto them, and that they shall bhear my voice, and shall be numbered among my sheep, that there may be one fold and one shepherd; therefore I go to show myself unto them.

 

Mormon’s words: this is a choice land

Christ’s words: my sheep not of this land

 

I look at these two excerpts together, and I see the 'choiceness' of this land, this geographic area we today call the USA, is no way proof that the people who own it are in any way a supreme people of God. God has sanctioned this land to be a place where the inhabitants will reap the consequences of our own choices. Blacks, Natives, and other minorities do not suffer on this continent because of their ancestors' choices. They suffer because of what the nation at large chooses.


And they are sick of it. And because this is modern day America, they get to speak

 

ALL THE NATIONS WHO ARE HERE ARE HERE TO SPEAK. And as the Gentile Christians of this nation learn how to truly serve the Jesus Christ of the scriptures -- old new and restored -- we will witness the continual rise of all nations in this land. Not through Christian force. Not through Christian pride. Especially not through Christian anger.

 

Because as yet another scripture tells us, without Christian charity, this choice land “is nothing.” 1 Cor 13:2


New Song: Always Another Show!


Happy Birthday Stefanie!!
It’s so unfair how much we miss you. I hope we’ve made you smile since you’ve been gone. For your birthday, the three of us played together a bit, just like old times 🎉
Playing a single note on his guitar, Joseph Michael Player sang for me and a hook was born.
I sang the hook for Eli Player, and he gave it a groove and chords.
You inspired the title with your words, the ones your students painted on the halls of the drama department to forever commemorate you: “There’s always another show, another cast, and another role to experience.” - Stefanie Player
As usual, I decided to do this way too late to logically pull it off and yet here it is, right on time lol My first pop song evah! 😂 and Eli helped tidy up the mixing the best he could.

We used to spend hours together, making movies with a video camera, or animation with 8-bit graphics, or designing costumes, props and music for our thespian Barbie dolls  Spending the last 48 hours figuring this all out felt a lot like that again. Maybe you felt it too. ☺️
Sing with us today! We love you and miss you, Stef 🥰



Lyrics: Always Another Show
Sometimes the end sneaks up behind
Would you rather laugh or would you rather cry
When you look back you alone decide
How you said good in your last goodbye
There’s always another show
All your longing won’t bring more daylight
Sun sets so strictly all nationwide
Problem free was never your birthright
We need sleep to even stay alive
There’s always another show
Different cast, different faces
Different roles, different places
Sometimes the end sneaks up behind
There’s always another show
-Tanya and Stefanie 😘

Lyrics: Here's Your Kiss Goodnight

Here's your kiss goodnight
Just one minute more
Outside my door
I don't want
To let you go
Tonight the moon is low
And white
So here's your kiss goodnight

Here's your kiss goodnight
Too close to care
'Bout the chill in the air
No words
We both agree
Just one more before you leave
My sight
So here's your kiss goodnight



Friday Figment: NAPPING NONSENSE



Sleepy baby panda naps on a dolphin and drools into the sea. The dolphin has tied to the bear's tail rosy red ribbons that float on the waves. At the shore, sandcastles wash away with the tide. Sleepy baby panda rolls through their gates.

Stop snoring, Panda. The salt from the sea is drying stiff and gritty in your hair. Your paws will feel sticky! You'll smell like fish dried on the beach. The dolphin has long slipped back into the dawn-lit water. Wake up, Panda, and be on your way.


Photo Credit: Tux-t-penguin on Deviant Art http://www.deviantart.com/art/Panda-104864684

Friday Figment: LONGING LIGHTS


When the night is so late that the wolves have stopped howling and the lambs can sleep, I like to wish on the stars that are farthest away, pinpricks as faded as last year's dreams.

Someday I will hold a star like that in my hands, and watch how it illuminates my family around me. My husband will glow as transparent as a dragonfly wing. My three year old will shimmer like sunlight on the lake. Maybe I will see the tea light flame of our new baby's heart fluttering deep in my womb.

I imagine that, just before the star floats away like a seed on the wind, in that fleeting glimpse, I won't have any worry. Everything will be peace as firm and soft as fleece.

For now, I only pull at my cloak and simply look at that far away star I will someday hold, believing with all my heart that in the depth of every night there are the warm lights of a trillion mornings we are just too far away to feel.


Photo: Jean-François Millet [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Forever Faye

Faye, your presence is such a fascination to me.
Thank you for knowing I wanted you here. 
Thank you for your tender patience. 
Thank you for how happy you feel to be here. 

Thank you for continuing my journey of motherhood. 
I hope I bless you. 
I hope I give you all I can and that together we'll grow in joy and love for God, for heaven and family
 
I am filled with joy and hope and I thank you a thousand times for being you.
You are every treasure you were promised to be.

Photography by Anna Alyse  
Visit AnnaAlyse.com

Lyrics: LIVE FOR THIS







There you go again, not listening
Do realize I'm outside
While you close your eyes
You're drifting, falling
In the cracks of a past you keep on
Breaking

Rusted galleries of foggy memories
Still choosing ghosts
Overdosed on a broken road of
Heartache, mistakes
Giving strength to a cage, you give your
Days away

Taste the sun
Embrace the love
You gotta live for this
Untie the sky outside your mind
And live for this
Over and over again,
Closer and closer to when
You hit the edge and there's nothing left
Live for This

And tomorrow plays 
A familiar game
I'm losing to a dream that
Gleams with a steam that
Isn't really here, disappears, 
What's the use of a future sleeping 
Through the years?



Photo: By Hiart (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Friday Figments: Petal Pedagogy


Cherry blossoms on the branch

Draw your gaze into a trance

of candy pink, and petals grant

a fragrance stirred in France.

After winter's avalanche

of snowflakes on the grass

Spring explodes the sky with strands

of budding beds for romance.

The decorated heavens brag

A cycle sweet to understand.


Photography by Anna Harrison

Read last week's Friday Figment:


For more Friday Figments!



Lyrics: I Am Divine


One of my favorite things about being a part of this album is the gift it's been to my kids. How many parents are lucky enough to put their philosophies and life lessons to music that their kids will totally sing along to? Seriously.

The other day I found a note my oldest daughter had written for a friend. She was encouraging the friend to disregard some bullies at school, telling her how awesome she was (in proper pre-teen lingo of course). I read along (yes, snoopy mom) and eventually found the lyrics to I am Divine that she had memorized.

I always think of Stefanie, my sister, when I remember writing this song. Okay, I have reason to think about her in almost every song on this album, (now that the memories of her proof reading each one as I wrote them are treasure chest preserved). The song wasn't about her, but for some reason it was for her, fueled by some kind of desire to explain something I can't explain. Back when it was just a page in a binder, she reviewed it and said this was one of her favorites. This and a song that's shelved for now called "Coming Home".



I AM DIVINE
Tanya Hanamaikai and Stephanie Boyd

Verse
I quickly pass them in the hall
They laugh behind my back
Their bruising words they throw like stones
To make me fall
And they think I should be afraid
But they don't hear me pray
The quiet whispers light a flame
To keep me strong

Chorus
I can hold my head up high
He knows my name, He knows my light
They can't steal this peace I have inside
I am part of His design
He made my world, He made my life
I am His, and I am meant to shine
I am divine.

Verse
Spacious buldings peering down
Casting shadows on my way
Trying to blind me from 
What life is all about
But they don't see the light inside
Burning in my eyes
A fire guiding through the lies 
That keep me strong

Chorus

Bridge
Flood the night with rain
My fire keeps burning on
Bowing to now storm or shame
When I'm on my knees
His power shelters me.
Chorus
---------------------
Click Here
for more lyrics!

Too Much

I went to my grandfather for a blessing once while I was in college. Life was squeezing me through some insurmountable pressure, and I felt lucky I had him nearby. He’s been a constant spiritual leader in my life. He’s who Tenorio is named after.

English is not his first language, and I thought he’d offer the blessing in Spanish, but he took a go at the English anyway, delivering a message of comfort, courage and faith. When he finished the blessing he hugged me, and among other phrases of broken English he reassured me again and again,
           
"The Lord loves you too much.
The Lord loves you too much."

Mentally, I corrected him. He meant so much or very much. But let’s entertain my grandfather’s original wording for just a moment and absorb the idea that maybe the Lord does love us too much.

He appeared to Joseph Smith in flesh and bone so that we could have a human witness of Him—wasn’t that too much?

He gave us the Book of Mormon to be a witness, testimony and teacher to us. He prepared it over two thousand years ago for today, a time when Satan has the voice of so many loud people. He did it to prove that even millenia ago, He was concerned for you and me today—wasn’t that too much?

He has given us the priesthood, the very power of God. We can command healings. We can command peace. And we can seal our families and seal covenants that bind us to Him forever—isn’t that too much?

He gave us the Atonement. The condition that by repentance, humility, and an eternal desire to change we can be forgiven. We can take advantage of the obstacles, mishaps and failures of our lives to make us better, stronger souls instead of being cut-off and condemned by those same problems—isn’t that too much?

He had to submit his Son, his purest one, to those consequences of our sins and sorrows because it was the only way to justify, to meet the demands of that merciful gift. He sacrificed his only Son—wasn’t that too much?

He sanctioned a member of the Godhead, whose name we do not know, to be the Holy Ghost. Through a method or plan we don’t understand, this is an individual who does not have a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. “Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.” (D&C 130:22)—isn’t that too much?

It is too much. When we ponder on the greatness of what God has given us we can see like Moses, that man is nothing (Moses 1:10). With Mormon we’re humbled and say with him, “O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth. For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither … at the command of our great and everlasting God.” (Helaman 12:7-8) Even King Benjamin stood before his people on that great tower and told them: “Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth.” (Mosiah 2:25)

But what does our Heavenly Father say? What does His Son say and the Holy Ghost, the ones who are clearly giving us too much? They say, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). They say, Love one another; as I have loved you" (John 13:34). They say, "Behold, this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39).

We are children of our Heavenly Father who loves us. And we love Him.

When we can believe that He loves us, then we can believe He is always with us through that powerful Gift of the Holy Ghost.

I want to testify to you that when you cry to God, He hears you. He really hears you. He’s there. The nature of how things are makes the relationship feel very one-sided sometimes. You might dutifully kneel in prayer to Him day after day. Maybe you only remember to get on your knees when you’re forced to them through tragedy or sin. Regardless of why, or where, or how often, you have His attention every time.

My favorite words to describe that yearning for communication from our Heavenly Father come from what Enos said, “And my soul hungered” (Enos 1:4).

It just so happens there is a Book of Mormon video on the LDS website with that title.

A teenager is camping with friends when a religious conversation reveals that his best friend has a really solid testimony, and he starts asking that friend, and later his father, about how he goes about having a testimony like that for himself. While talking to his father about it, the dad ends up saying:

           "How badly do you really wanna know? I mean, are you willing to read it and dig out the answers for yourself?"

           "I guess so. If that’s what it takes."

           "Good. Because that’s the key, son. That’s the key."

I can stand here and tell you I know that we are children of our Heavenly Father. President Monson could visit, stand at this pulpit and tell you He is a true witness of Jesus Christ, and if you’re listening, the Holy Ghost might use that moment to affirm those truths to you with His influence. But maybe listening to those testimonies starts to make you aware of an emptiness you have. Maybe the Holy Ghost helps you realize your hunger, that while you appreciate the sweet, filling feeling you get when others testify to you, you are hungry to know these things for yourself. You want to be able to tell yourself that you know.

So in the video the teenager begins his search, reading scriptures and praying, and we hear some of his thoughts:

Your best friend knows, your parents know, what’s wrong with you?
He’s reading the scriptures when he thinks: I’m not exactly a spiritual giant. I don’t always do the right thing. Half the time, I don’t even say my prayers.

And after you watch days pass of him searching you hear him start thinking: Why do I have to know these things now? Why can’t I wait until I’m on my mission?

But then he tells himself, Mike didn’t wait. Why should you?

My favorite part of the video is when he’s walking, yellow and orange autumn leaves surrounding him on the path he takes to school, when he just stops. His head has been down, thinking, but then he looks up with just a hint of a smile and you know he’s just had a filling thought. Just a quiet, personal moment when he was blessed.

Personal revelation, spiritual confirmations, are those moments when the Holy Ghost gets you alone and speaks to you. Only you.

The Lord called Elijah to meet with him on the mountain: And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering of the cave"
(1 Kings 19:11-12).

Brothers and Sisters, we can’t hope to excuse ourselves like Laman or Lemuel did when Nephi asked them whether or not they had inquired of the Lord for answers to their hunger to understand their father’s testimony and revelations.

Their answer was: “We have not. For the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us" (1 Nephi 15:9).

We know that the Lord does make such things known unto us, and we know how. Prayer, scripture study, Sunday worship—the effort it takes to exercise these privileges pale in comparison to the knowledge and confidence behind every moment that I can get on my knees anywhere, at anytime, and be HEARD.

Because again, the Lord does make such things known unto us.

He loves us too much not to.


This was a talk I wrote for Sacrament meeting a few years ago.