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Monday, November 30, 2009

To Everything There Is a Season, Part 3: Sacred Boundaries

Below are the slides from yesterday's presentation given during the third hour, "To Everything There Is a Season, Part 3: Sacred Boundaries." One of the key points from this presentation is that we must build all relationships—especially romantic ones—on respect and trust, otherwise love cannot thrive.

You can download the presentation in PowerPoint format from here.

Here is the link to the table of contents of A Parent's Guide.

Here is a link to the book I mentioned, How to Talk about Sex with Your Child, by Richard and Linda Eyre.

Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Winter

Winter meant no harm last Sunday night
when she stormed into our little town.
She was just having one of her days.

She misses her luminous friend, who
moved away suddenly, mumbling
about a long South American vacation.

Friendless and lonely, there is no telling what
she’ll do this time of year.

Sometimes her tears freeze on descent, then pile up
like great pillows of sorrow, or she howls away the
night until the house creaks, joints aching from the cold.

Winter forces us inside, next to the fire—
the sun's small ember—who whispers
urgently: “We just have to wait her out.”

The warm room stills our passion for movement,
quiets the mind so, at the moment sleep begins, we
hear a lone snowflake descending, finally able to
decode the mystery of its fragile message.

—Mike Fitzgerald
November 24, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Intimacy in Marriage Presentation

This is the presentation I gave on emotional, spiritual, and physical intimacy in marriage during the third hour of block meetings on Sunday, December 30, 2007. We also gave out copies of Laura Brotherson's excellent book on marital intimacy And They Were Not Ashamed. (I still have a few in the bishop's office for those who want a copy. We also have CDs for loan.)

For a PDF of the content of the slides, click here. You can also see it below. Click on the screen icon on the lower-right corner to view the document at full screen.
Since giving this presentation, here's a new summation of what I think a wife really wants from her husband:
  • To be loved and cherished by him more than any other person or other thing
  • To be the most important person in his life
  • To feel that no one else or nothing else is in higher demand for his attention
  • To be willing to listen to her needs and frustrations and to talk about his feelings
  • To respect her wishes, even if he can't fulfill them at the moment
  • To show her affection daily (without strings attached for physical intimacy)
  • Speaking respectfully of her in front of others, especially the children, even when she is not present
  • To forgive her for her mistakes and shortcomings and work with her gently for solutions
  • To ask her on dates regularly—to court her and to surprise her with unexpected adventures, especially romantic ones
  • To be helpful and cooperative when working with the children and with work in the home—to be willing to cook and change diapers and clean bathrooms, for starters
  • To be willing to sacrifice so that she can do things to achieve her true potential
  • To never forget the power and importance of flowers, chocolates and love notes
And this is what your husband really wants from his wife:
  • To respect him and honor him
  • To show him gentleness and tenderness—this is the irresistible force that will draw him to his wife forever
  • To believe in him and to trust him, even though he makes mistakes
  • To forgive him for his mistakes and shortcomings and work with him kindly for solutions
  • To support him in his work and career and church responsibilities
  • Speaking respectfully of him, especially in front of the children and her friends, even when he is not present
  • To create a cheerful, welcoming home environment
  • To be helpful and cooperative with money and other issues that are his main concern
  • To give him his space and allow him to recharge with activities of his choosing
  • To be willing to sacrifice so that he can do things to achieve his true potential
What else would be on your list? or what would take off? Please comment.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Will Your Kindness Come Back to You?

The day before Valentines Day in 1969, I went to Albertsons and got a box of Valentines cards. Our housekeeper Agnes took me. We had a housekeeper because my mother, who had multiple sclerosis, could not walk or cook or drive. When we got back, I set up the card table in our family room and filled out a card for everyone in my class. I was 11 years old. (By the way, I still have that card table. I inherited it after my parents died. It's old and torn up, but I can't seem to let it go.)

The next morning at school, however, I noticed that no one in my fifth grade class was giving out Valentine cards. My school bag was secretly full of them, but they never were to see the light of day. Somehow, I had missed the memo on Valentines cards. When the chance presented itself, I slipped into the boys bathroom across the hall and threw all my cards in the garbage can. That day, I believe, marked the official end of my childhood.

In retrospect, this experience is pretty funny and a little sad, but at the time, it was traumatic. That's why I remember the details so clearly.

It's been on my mind for several weeks, and as I've thought about it, I've wondered about the love and kindness that we all give out that seems to be discarded or falls to the ground unnoticed.

I am sure you can instantly think of experiences in your life when you have shown the tender part of yourself—perhaps in the form of romantic intentions—only to find your love unrequited, or worse, rejected and then strewn across your memory like shrapnel from a bomb. It is one of the unavoidable disasters of human life. Everyone seems to go through it, and most of us get over it to a degree. Some of us hold onto those sad feelings and they haunt us throughout our lives.

But we have promises from our Heavenly Father. Here is one that is very powerful:
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.—Galatians 6:7
Doesn't that mean that if you sow seeds of kindness and love that you will reap kindness and love again? But notice the analogy of planting and reaping. The harvest takes time. It doesn't happen immediately. Seeds planted in the spring pass through two or three seasons before they are harvested. And for every seed you plant, you get 50 to 100 seeds back. That is the law of the harvest.

No wonder the Lord says:
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. —Matthew 7:12
If we will always reap what we sow, we would be wise to do to others what we would like done to us or for us.

Earlier in that same sermon, Jesus said something similar:
...With what measure ye mete [give out], it shall be measured to you again. —Matthew 7:2
My favorite promise of returned blessings is from the apostle Paul:
...Whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord.... —Ephesians 6:8
The Lord's promises are sure. Whatever good you do, whatever love you show, will come back to you, though the harvest will likely take a season or two to deliver its bounty.

All really good things take time. Fruit takes four or five months before it is ready to harvest. Babies still need nine months to be born. Romance may sprout in a few days, but may take many years to reap. Just wait in faith. God will not fail you. The end will be worth the waiting.

Those little Valentine cards will come back to me, though probably not in the same shape or form. I'll take them in the form of hugs and kisses from my grandchildren. That will be payment enough for whatever sorrow lingers from February 14, 1969.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Leaves

Leaves, beautiful in death,
lie scattered on the ground like
memories fallen in battle,

The voice of color
lighting up the earth with the
last plumage of the dying year.

They clatter in the golden breeze,
in language too old to remember,
too familiar to forget.

Mother tree, drowsy with cold,
sings a lullaby to her windswept children,
a tender farewell that only they can hear.

Lingering sunshine eases the pain of days.
The light’s constant purpose
draws our eyes forever to the sky.

—Michael James Fitzgerald

Monday, November 2, 2009

To Everything There Is a Season Presentation

Here are the slides from yesterday's presentation on youth and dating.

Click here for the text of the slides as a PDF. They would be good talking points for a discussion with your teenager or for a family home evening.

Here is the link to the table of contents of the resource I mentioned at the end of the presentation: A Parent's Guide.

Here also is a link to a PDF version of the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet.

To download the short story about Marli and Luke in PDF, click here. If you would like a printed copy, just contact me by email and I'll get you a copy.

Thank you for reading.

A Wedding on the Trail—November 2, 1856

One of the rescuers that traveled from the Salt Lake valley to assist the handcart companies was 28-year-old James B. Cole. James had had a dream in which he saw his future wife, a beautiful young woman who wore a fur cap bound on her head with a green scarf. He told his dream to a friend and fellow rescuer William H. Kimball.

As the two men rode into camp of the Willie Handcart Company on October 21, 1856, William spotted the girl with the fur cap and green scarf and told James, "There is your dream girl." It was 23-year-old Lucy Ward who had been traveling by handcart with a group of young women.

It was on this day, November 2, in 1856, that less than two weeks after meeting, that James B. Cole and Lucy Ward were married at Fort Bridger. They spent the winter of 1856–1857 at nearby Fort Supply which had been built by the Mormons in 1853. Lucy regained her health and by the spring of 1857, James and Lucy were able to move to the Salt Lake Valley.