Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Discouraging Smoking

A Family Home Evening Lesson on the Word of Wisdom

By Cindy Beck

[As adults, we often assume that the Word of Wisdom is easy for young children to keep. However, our sons and daughters are being exposed to all manner of temptations, including the use of tobacco, at much earlier ages than in the past. Even children in elementary school can experience peer pressure about smoking. For that reason it's beneficial for us, as parents, to take the time to discuss tobacco's harmful effects with them, and to talk about ways to handle the peer pressure they may encounter.]

Song: “Keep the Commandments” (Hymns, #303)

Scripture: D&C 89: 4-9, 18

Quote: “Now is the time to set your life’s goals. Now is the time to set your standards firmly and then hold to them throughout your life.” (Spencer W. Kimball, “Decide Now,Friend, May 1985.)

Story: [Before reading the story below aloud, explain to your children that it’s based on a true event in the life of a young, LDS boy whose friend wanted him to try smoking.]

Barkies and Stogies

“Do you want to smoke some barkies and stogies?” asked Chad.

Tyler tilted his head at the question. His blond hair slid into his eyes as he said, “What are those?”

“You know—barkies are those pieces of bark that peel off the aspen trees. You roll them up like a cigarette. Stogies are left over smokes that you find on the ground in parking lots.”

Tyler scrunched his eyebrows together in thought. I want Chad to keep liking me; I want him to be my friend for a long time.

As Tyler tried to figure out what to say, Chad stuffed his hands into the pockets of his jeans and shrugged his shoulders impatiently. “Well, do you want to or not?”

Crickets chirped in the weedy lot where they’d been playing, and a grasshopper nearby jumped onto a small, purple thistle. Tyler scuffed the ground with the toe of his sneakers, and a dust cloud puffed onto the bottom of his pants. “We’re Mormons,” he finally said.

“So what? I know of a hiding place where we can go, and nobody will know if we do it.” Chad nudged Tyler with his shoulder, as if sharing an important secret.

Tyler swallowed, his mouth tasting dry and his stomach feeling like someone had filled it full of hot air balloons. He wondered if it was because he was afraid to say no or because of the four pancakes he’d wolfed down for breakfast. “We’re not supposed to smoke. Our primary teacher said so."

Chad scowled. “So what! Are you afraid?”

“No, but smoking is bad for you. And it feels crummy.”

Chad looked at Tyler slyly, his brown eyes narrowing. “If you’ve never tried it, how would you know?”

“From camping. One time when I was toasting marshmallows over the campfire, I leaned over and accidentally took a big breath. The smoke went in my mouth and up my nose. It was awful—I coughed so much I almost threw up. And my eyes stung.”

Chad pretended to take a puff on a cigarette, “You’re just making that up because you’re a chicken.”

As Tyler remembered the smoky campfire, he understood why tobacco wasn’t good for people. He straightened his shoulders and thought, I'm not going to break the Word of Wisdom—even if it does mean we're not friends anymore.

“No, Chad. I don’t want to smoke and you shouldn’t either. Heavenly Father said not to. Besides, who would be dumb enough to smoke some old bark off a tree? Or pick up garbage from a parking lot and put it in his mouth?”

Chad’s lips flattened into an angry line and his eyebrows creased. “You’re nothing but a dorky baby. Why don’t you just stay here and cry while I go smoke barkies and stogies?” As he walked away Tyler heard him taunt, “Waaah, waaah, little baby.”

Tyler stood in the vacant lot, watching until his friend turned and ran behind a grove of aspen trees through the block. He felt bad that Chad was going to break the Word of Wisdom and sad that they would no longer be friends, but he also felt good inside. Heavenly Father’s commandments were important and he was glad he said no to smoking.

And on top of that… the rocky feeling in his stomach had disappeared.


Use the following questions as a springboard to discuss the use of tobacco with your children:

What does the Word of Wisdom advise us to avoid? (See D&C 89.)

Is the Word of Wisdom easy to keep?

Will it be harder to keep as you get older?

Do you know anyone your age who thinks smoking looks interesting or fun?

Why do you suppose they think that?

Have you ever accidentally breathed in smoke from a campfire or fireplace? What did it feel like?

If a friend asks you to try smoking, what are some things you can say?

Treats: Indoor S’Mores


* 32 miniature graham crackers or 8 regular size graham crackers, broken in 1/2
* 2 milk chocolate bars, the kind that can be broken into squares
* 8 marshmallows


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Lay 1/2 of the graham crackers on a cookie sheet. Top with chocolate pieces to cover. Use kitchen scissors to snip the marshmallows in 1/2 horizontally if using miniature crackers and place 1/2 a marshmallow on top of each graham cracker. If using regular size crackers use a whole marshmallow.

Bake until the marshmallows are puffed and golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the remaining graham crackers, pressing down slightly to make a sandwich. Serve immediately, while still warm.

Recipe from the

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Secret in the Library ... by Cindy Beck

The retired couple sat in the Ephraim Fourth Ward library, poring over what looked like a set of old records. Why were they there on a weekday and what were they doing?

Photo by William Hoiles, Basking Ridge, NJ, USA

My husband and I are converts. After baptism, we embraced the gospel wholeheartedly, accepted callings and were sealed as a family in the Logan Temple. Following several years of membership, I felt well-versed in the Latter-day Saint culture in Utah. Yet, something unknown was taking place in the ward library that day in the late 1980s.

Curiosity got the better of me. Leaning through the doorway, I greeted the couple. They looked up and smiled. “What are you doing?” I asked.

“Extraction,” the woman replied.

“What’s extraction?”

Her husband explained it consisted of deciphering the names on official documents—birth, marriage, and census records—in order to make them available for genealogy and temple work.

Moving closer, I looked at the information. Warmth flooded through me—the handwriting looked curlicued and old-fashioned, but to my astonishment, I could read it. I knew with a surety I would work on similar documents.

On the drive home, my mind puzzled over the experience. Several callings already occupied my time—could I fit in another?

I can’t do it now, but someday I’ll do name extraction—maybe when I’m retired.

Feeling a bit guilty, I consoled myself with the thought that there was a season and a time for every purpose (see Ecclesiastes 3:1).

Many years passed, and I no longer saw senior couples in the ward library, unraveling the mysteries in those old records. Members of the church still worked on names, but I didn’t know how. It seemed the calling meant for me no longer existed.

The Opportunity Arises

As I rummaged through my church bag during a Sacrament meeting in the fall of 2007, an announcement from the pulpit—about computers and retrieving names from public records—zipped past me. Turning to my husband, I asked, “What did he say?”

“Something about indexing.”

“Yes, I know that. But, what about it? Is indexing the same as extraction? Is it a calling or are they asking for volunteers? Are the names online now?”

Russ shrugged his shoulders and gave a sympathetic look. “Sorry, but I didn’t catch it.”

My chance had come and I’d missed it while searching for a tissue!

It would have been a simple task to ask the bishop about it after the meeting, but suddenly, trepidation entered. Did I really need to take on another church job? What would happen if it required more time than I had available? Uncertain, I let the opportunity pass.

Several weeks later, the phone rang. “Help!” a friend said breathlessly. “Everything on my computer’s screen has turned upside down. I’m working on indexing and don’t know how to get it back to normal.” Then she added in a teasing voice, “The only way I can read the names is by standing on my head.”

I rushed over. We retraced her movements, pushed the right key and the screen returned to normal. Realizing the perfect opportunity sat in front of me, I asked her questions about indexing. She explained that I needed a computer and an Internet connection, and reassured me that the indexing website had tutorials that explained the program. In addition, the stake had a specialist available to help with questions. Finally, for each batch submitted, another indexer interpreted the same names as a crosscheck.

“The best part,” she said, pointing at the graceful, curved writing displayed on the monitor, “is that if you start a batch of names and don’t have time to finish, you can save the information and come back later. You have a whole week to complete a batch and it only takes about half an hour, total.”

She’d convinced me. I could spare half an hour a week. The calling that I’d known for years would be mine was right at my fingertips—and I wasn’t even retired yet.

The Opportunity Slips Away

I went home, sat at the computer and fidgeted. Doubts crept in, causing me to overlook the scriptural promise, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matthew 17:20). Instead, I wondered … what if I couldn’t interpret the writing, or did something wrong and scrambled the records?

Pushing the thought of indexing from my mind, I stood up from the computer, walked away, and went about my daily routine.

Thank goodness for the Spirit’s persistence. The bishopric mentioned the need for volunteers again from the pulpit. A few weeks later, I gathered my courage and went online to FamilySearch Indexing. Once there, I found a site designed so those with minimal computer savvy could excel, and that safeguards prevented mishaps. After creating an ID, a password and reading the tutorials, I wanted to continue. However, it was late in the evening, so I chose to start my first batch on the next free Sunday.

The best laid plans ….

Friday—the late afternoon sun felt unusually warm for the beginning of November. Realizing winter would soon be blowing its icy breath across the landscape, I decided on a bike ride. After enjoying the fresh air for about twenty-five minutes, I headed back. Half a block from home, a slick spot lay in wait. When my front tire hit it, the bike flipped from under me, flinging me to the ground.

Stars exploded in my head as I landed, full force, on my arm and shoulder.

Several hours later, I returned home from the emergency room with a splint-cast on my dominant, right arm. It ran from just below my shoulder down to my elbow, then bent at a ninety-degree angle and continued on to my wrist. I would do no indexing on the upcoming Sunday—or for many weeks thereafter.

It almost seemed like someone didn’t want me to accomplish what the Lord had in mind. I reminded myself that strong opposition often meant you were headed in the right direction.

The Promise is Fulfilled

And now, my dearly beloved, let me assure you that these are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation. For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers—that they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect (D&C 128:15).

Months later, I’m grateful for that quiet whisper years ago and for the persistence with which the Spirit kept whispering.

A hard to describe feeling floods over me as I work on indexing names from the eastern and southern United States. My heart rejoices when names such as John and Hannah are recognizable. I want to sing when the names of their children—Sally and Columbus—become clear. Someone is waiting for them—to place them on a pedigree chart—and one day that family will be sealed to each other.

Often, the information pops out at me, as if the individuals have waited for centuries and can wait no longer. Other times, the writing looks jumbled and I come up with a name that makes no sense—Rxzlpr or Ascie. When that happens, I send a prayer heavenward and wait for inspiration.

Now I understand what took place in the ward library, so long ago. The secret has unfolded, like a blossom warming in the morning sun. It’s not just about deciphering names in an old book, but about the soft, quiet touch by the Spirit—a touch that creates love for those beyond the veil and connects us all as children of our Heavenly Father.

That’s a secret worth sharing.

------© Cindy Beck, 2010------

This article sponsored by YourLDSNeighborhood.

Please show your appreciation by stopping for a visit. And take a minute to check out their newsletter, and yourLDSRadio as well!