Category Archives: Life Lessons in 45 Seconds

The New NextDoorMormon

NextDoorMormon is moving in a new direction. We have focused, over the years, on sharing experiences and perspectives of everyday Mormons. We have tried to provide another place on the web to find out what Mormons are all about, to highlight the diversity of our community and our shared faith in Jesus Christ. None of that is changing.

But we are now focusing on sharing the experiences and perspectives of a particular group of Mormons, those who are new or returning to participation in the Church.

New Mormons and those renewing their relationship and commitment to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints experience many and varied challenges. Affiliation with the Church often requires great sacrifice. It usually means adjusting to a new social, cultural, and theological environment. In general, it’s not easy.

However, new and returning Mormons also experience great joy and generally find their engagement with the Church personally enriching and deeply meaningful. That is part of why they choose to be Mormons.

We hope that providing a forum where these converts can freely share their faith, thoughts, experiences, doubts, and difficulties will strengthen them as they seek to remain committed to Jesus Christ and the Church. We hope that those who blog here will strengthen each other.

We also hope that the conversations, stories, expressions of faith, sincere questions, and, in general, the perspectives of these new and returning Mormons will inspire all who read and respond to seek God in their own lives. We believe these new NextDoorMormon bloggers will provide a powerful example of everyday Mormons who are converted to Christ.

As the number of full-time Mormon missionaries (those smartly dressed young women and men with the black name tags) surges toward 100,000, the commitment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to sharing the teachings of Jesus Christ with all who will listen becomes increasingly evident. We’ve never tried to hide it.

So as it relates to this blog, it is probably worth mentioning that we would love for everyone to make a free and informed choice to become a Mormon, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We would love for everyone to be converted to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

But we believe that conversion is a process that each of must independently choose to pursue. We believe that we do not have the power to change hearts and minds, but that God teaches truth and spreads his love through the Holy Ghost. We are not out to convert anyone through NextDoorMormon, but we do hope that all will be converted.

If you are a new or returning member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we hope you will consider blogging with us. If you would like to join the team, please submit your information on the “Blog With Us” page of the website.

To everyone, we hope you will return frequently to enjoy, ponder, question, comment on, share, and otherwise interact with the thoughts and stories shared on this blog and with those who shared them. We hope you will feel welcome to participate whatever your religious affiliation (or non-affiliation).

There’s a place here for everyone who is willing to engage in a civil and respectful conversation about topics and experiences that matter deeply to many of us.

The Sabbath in 45-seconds

Anyone who saw us on Sunday knows that our Sunday was not the most….reverent. I am working hard with my son to teach him how to sit still for longer than 30 seconds. I know it’s possible, he sits quite still while watching Cars or Winnie the Pooh. This is important on many fronts: going out to eat, being still for church, having guests over, etc. Back to Sunday, anyone who was with us at church or our friends who came over for dinner that evening know that this is a lesson we are ‘still working on.’

After our wrestling match during sacrament meeting I realized that our Family Home Evening lesson needed to be on appropriate behavior for the Sabbath. Having one day different from the rest is a pretty abstract concept for a two-year-old who doesn’t know  about the days of the week. Every day is pretty similar for him. I don’t feel like two-year-olds are a lost cause though. It may take a long time for him to understand certain concepts but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t start teaching now. The magic word is patience (don’t you just hate that word?).

My Family Home Evening lesson actually ended up being longer than 45-seconds this week because my son was actually very into it. He repeated everything I said and was excited to look at pictures and talk about Jesus. But, though a two-year-old can have a day where his attention span is longer than 45-seconds I know the bloggosphere is not so giving so I’ll abridge my lesson and keep it to 45-seconds. Here’s my short version of Sunday being a different day from the rest of the week.

Sunday is different from every other day of the week. On Sunday our focus is on  Jesus Christ, our Savoir. On Sunday we worship Christ and Heavenly Father by going to church and taking the sacrament. At church we are reverent and we keep our thoughts focused on Jesus. We also dedicate the whole day to doing what Jesus wants us to do. There are lots of different things we can do to dedicate the day to Christ; sometimes we visit people in need or we invite friends over for dinner or we go to meetings to discuss how to help people or we spend the day together as a family. We do not  do the regular everyday things that make us forget that Sunday is the Sabbath.

I also read a few quotes from a talk by one of our Apostles, Elder L. Tom Perry about the Sabbath, I highly recommend it. I love that we have a day that is separate from the rest of the week. It helps me renew my commitments to the Savior and gives me a boost for the rest of the week. What are your thoughts on the Sabbath?

The Plan of Happiness in 45 Seconds

I’ve realized that most people have an attention span of about 45 seconds, not just two-year-olds. I would definitely fit into that category. So, I’ve decided to frequently do 45-second life lessons. Most of them will probably come from Family Home Evening lessons. Normally what I teach my son is what I am thinking about that week. (And let’s be honest, I get to kill two birds with one stone). It also helps motivate me to put more thought into my Family Home Evening lessons. It’s a win/win situation (or win/win/win? Anyone watch the Office?:)

This week I asked my son what he wanted to learn about at FHE. He said, “Jesus!” That makes my job easy, only every gospel topic is directly about or related to Jesus. But I actually love that he knows that Family Home Evening means learning about Jesus. So I narrowed it down from there and I taught him about what we call the Plan of Happiness (or the Plan of Salvation). Here it goes, get your stopwatch ready…

Before the earth was created we all lived with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as spirits. Heavenly Father wanted us to progress and be like him by receiving bodies. There was a problem though. If we received mortal bodies we would be subject to mortal weakness and inevitably make mistakes. We would not be able to return to live with Heavenly Father because we would be imperfect and Heavenly Father is a celestial being. Jesus Christ volunteered himself to live a perfect life and to be punished for our mistakes and sins so that we could be forgiven and become perfect beings so we could live with our Heavenly Father and families after our mortal lives were over.

So there’s the 45-second version. But, there’s a lot more to the story. If you are interested to know more you can post a comment and I would be happy to respond, you can go to our ask a question page or check out Mormon.org.

Easter in 45 Seconds

Each Monday night Mormon (also known as Latter-day Saint) families are instructed to have what we call Family Home Evening. Basically it’s a time set aside out of each week for the family to be together. At Family Home Evening we sing a song and say a prayer, talk about a spiritual message together and then have some kind of activity. The activities in my house are always either playing basketball on our Nerf basketball hoop or playing trains. My son always decides; he has simple pleasures.

Growing up we would all take turns giving the spiritual message. It gave us each an opportunity to share our feelings and thoughts on spiritual matters with the rest of the family. Now, in my own family our spiritual messages are quite basic since I want my 2-year-old son to be able to understand. The message normally lasts about 45 seconds—the attention span of a 2-year-old (if I’m lucky). Each week I have to think of how I can explain things in the most basic and shortest phrases possible.

This past Monday our message was about Easter. Easter is not for a few weeks but I always like to get as much as I can out of my holidays. One day is simply not enough. I want holidays to be fun and exciting in our house. I am going shopping this week for presents for my son’s Easter basket; the presents will probably consist of various cars, trains and dinosaurs. But, I also want my son to know why we celebrate these holidays.

I thought about how to explain Easter to him on the most basic level. Here’s the 45 second version: Easter is about Jesus Christ. Jesus died for us but it wasn’t the end for him. He came back to life after three days and because of that we will live again too and can be with our families forever.

In essence, for me, Easter means hope. Death is not the end. Christ’s suffering finally ended but his life did not. I want more than anything for my son to feel hope. I want him to know that I have hope. I want him to know that it is because of our Savior, Jesus Christ that that hope is possible.