Saturday, December 22, 2007

Glory to God in the Highest

Am I mentioned in scripture?

Luke 2:

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Many years ago someone asked me, "Do you think you were there?" Given the doctrine of the pre-mortal life, it makes perfect sense that perhaps many of those who were yet to be born were among those praising God.

I don't know if it's doctrinal, but ever since that question was raised to me, I have thought of it each time I read or hear this scripture. The thought that I might have witnessed and participated in this glorious moment is moving to me, and brings a deeper appreciation for the original Christmas story.

May I always be found exclaiming in my heart, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

On Religious Tolerance


Saturday, December 15, 2007

All I Want For Christmas Is...

My almost-one-year-old son has always been big. He was born big and he's still big. As a result, he goes through clothes fast. He was already too big for his infant clothes when he was born. Now, he's already wearing 2T to 3T clothes. That means we've gone through a lot of sizes in the last year, and it always seems we're a step behind and his clothes are always too small.

My almost-four-year old daughter hears us say often, "This shirt is just too small. We really need to get him some new clothes." Although I never knew how much she had been thinking about it until her Grandma took her to the mall to see Santa. When we picked her up from Grandma's house we, of course, asked her what she told Santa that she wanted for Christmas.

"I asked for new clothes for baby brother." she said. I don't think I've ever heard of asking for something for your siblings from Santa, but the request gets even more unique: "But I want him to give them to me so that I can give them to him."

That's a very peculiar request indeed. But surely Santa will be accommodating to the desire of a little girl to help her brother. I just wonder what she will think in 20 years when we watch the Christmas video and she sees that Santa got her little boy clothes. It never ceases to amaze me how much she loves her brother. My kids are a great example to me of brotherly, and sisterly, love.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Building the Kingdom, Stone by Stone

At the start of my mission I was struggling to reconcile how much effort we were expending--physical and otherwise--and how little progress we were seeing while trying to build up a small branch. Somehow, I thought of the builders of the Salt Lake Temple. It took them 40 years to build the temple, and my understanding is that it was all done by the general membership, without pay. I imagined what it would be like to work in the quarry--cutting stones every day and sending them off the in the wagon. Did those guys feel like they were making a difference? Did they feel like they were building the kingdom? Perhaps they did, but I imagine there were some days where they felt like all of the hard work was yielding slow, if any, progress. What about the skilled artists who carved the stone designs? I imagine their job was slightly more rewarding, but still after several years it would have become monotonous. A person who was 20 when the building began would have been 60 when it finished. The fact that it was finished is a testament to the faith and diligence of the people.

Of course there are many stories of faith in Mormon history, the most obvious of which is the Mormon pioneers with their handcarts walking across the continent seeking religious freedom. But what makes the building of the temple special as well is that it was not under extreme circumstances. These were normal people, going about their normal, daily lives, who were also doing something great over a long period of time.

Now, whenever I feel like progress is going slow, I think of the man in the quarry.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

See That Ye Be Not Troubled

This post isn't about global warming, but it starts there.

A while back I realized that I didn't know how a felt about global warming. I knew a lot of people thought it was a big deal, and others didn't. It was hard for me to accept that an issue this grounded in science could be so divisive. It's not like the abortion issue, in which one's position depended entirely on a question that can only be answered by the conscience (when does human life begin?). So I felt confident I could find the "right" answer to this issue. I began researching (OK, I'm using that term liberally). I rented An Inconvenient Truth. I watched The Great Global Warming Swindle. I read State of Fear by Michael Crichton. I checked out books from the library, and of course I googled it.

After about 50 hours of "research", I have made a decision on my position... I don't know. It's roughly the same position I had when I began, but now at least it's an informed "I don't know". Both sides of the debate have valid arguments, but both sides also misinform and are too quick to brush off the other side's arguments. The debate is too political to discover the truth.

There's something I love about the position of "I don't know". It's a position I hold for other issues as well, such as embryonic stem-cell research. The trouble with "I don't know" is that it's difficult to form a policy around, or to use it to figure out who to vote for ("I don't know" is not a popular position for politicians). However, "I don't know" is great fun for debates. Whenever the issue comes up (usually after being around extended family for too long), I can just take the other side from whoever is debating me. In my family, that usually makes me the global warming activist.

I was debating with my brother on this when he brought up an argument that both interested and disturbed me. While not central to his argument, it's the piece that I remember most, probably because I had never heard the argument before. It goes something like this:

Since we believe we live in the latter days (as evidenced from the name of our church), what we think might happen far in the future is irrelevant. When Christ comes, the earth will be transformed and global warming won't be an issue.

I have a problem with this argument for several reasons.

First, we don't know when Christ will come. If it's another 500 years, we can cause a lot of human suffering during that time.

Second, it's true that we believe that the earth will be transformed in some way when Christ comes, but it's not clear to me exactly what it will be like and how it will happen. Perhaps, instead of changing in the twinkling of an eye, the earth will require some help from us. I imagine a child waking up on a winter's morning to see snow outside. Excited to play he hurries to get on his snow pants and boots. Then his mother comes in: "You're not going anywhere until you clean up your room." Could that be what happens when Christ comes? "We'll start the millennium when you've cleaned up the mess you've made!"

Thirdly, and most importantly, are the implications of this argument on other issues (see, I told this post wasn't about global warming--it just took me a while to get to the point). Should we not worry about the national debt because when Christ comes, the fact that we owe China billions of dollars won't matter? Should we not worry about stability in the middle east, since we know when Christ comes all will be made well, and in fact it is prophesied that there will be wars in the latter times? We could apply the same reasoning to any other issue with long-term consequences. Surely we should not ignore every issue with the excuse of "When Christ comes, all will be well."

I felt confident that I had successfully recognized that argument as flawed and irrational. But today, over a year after my discussion with my brother, the scripture came to mind where Jesus is talking about the wars and great calamities that will happen during the latter days before his second coming when he said:

See that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass. (Matthew 24:6)

So how exactly does one become anxiously engaged in a good cause without first being troubled by it? Would I be pro-life if abortion didn't trouble me? Could my brother have been right all this time? Should we all just not worry so much and wait for Christ to come? Something tells me that's not what Jesus meant, but maybe that's just how I want to read it.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Thoughts on "The Speech": Let's Move On

I didn't start my blog to talk about politics, and I'm rather tired of hearing about Romney's Mormon problem. So I promise this will be my last post on Romney. (OK, I don't promise, but I don't intend to make this a political blog). But I felt I had to say something since my last post was critical of him and I think he did a great job today giving "The Speech".

This post is not an attempt at a full analysis. Probably everything I would want to say has already been said by some pundit, blogger, or commenter.

But let me try to counter some of the negatives I've been hearing, particularly from those that share my faith and his.

Romney said, "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom." I can see how the statement "Freedom requires religion" might be strange. I wish he had elaborated a bit. I also agree that the speech was a bit off-putting to less religious folk. But he is a politician and he needs the evangelical vote, so what do you expect? Still, I find it strange that some in the LDS community are critical of that statement. Our own scriptures say that only by choosing to follow Christ can we find liberty. Now, it might be stretching it a bit to extend that scripture to include the kind of freedom Romney was talking about, but at least the idea should be familiar to Mormons.

Second, Romney is being criticized by Mormons for saying "When I place my hand on the Bible and take the oath of office, that oath becomes my highest promise to God." But what about temple covenants? some Mormons say. As for me, I would not vote for anyone who didn't believe that being president was his or her highest responsibility. I'd ask those who criticize him for saying this, "How should a Mormon run for President then? Can it even be done?"

If I were deciding whether or not to run for president (Heaven forbid!), I would do so after much thought, discussion with my family, and prayer. If I could not say that being the president would be my highest responsibility, above even my religious commitments and my family, I would not run. Mrs. Romney has commented in the past (I apologize I'm too much into my rant to look up the reference) about how one of the things that Mitt worried about was that by being president, he would have a higher obligation to the country than even his own family. The family made the decision that the sacrifice was worth it. And I don't criticize him for that. The office of the president is very important to the world. The president has the power to do a lot of good in the world or cause a lot of harm. Any of us who are committed to serving others and being engaged in a good cause, as the church teaches, would not be fulfilling our duty if we did not commit to the office 100% if we had the unique opportunity and responsibility of being president.

On top of this, consider that there is no practical situation imaginable where the oath of the president and Mitt Romney's temple covenants could possibly conflict. Will he be put in a position where he has to commit adultery for the good of the country? Give me a break. This argument then, is purely idealogical. And running for president is not for idealists.

I thought the speech was wonderful. I wouldn't have said anything differently. OK, maybe the freedom requiring religion part was a bit strange, and maybe at least mention the possibility that those still searching for truth have value too, but moving on... This will be the test to see if his speech was successful: Are we still talking about Mitt's Mormon problem two weeks from now? If so, he failed, but not for any shortcoming of his own. At least now, when questioned about his religion he can just smile and say, "Read my speech."

I apologize for the political rank. I now return to my irregularly scheduled blogging.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mitt Romney on the Bible

In tonight's debate, Mitt Romney was asked if he believed every word in the Bible. He attempted to dodge the question by stating that he believes the Bible is the word of God, but when pressed to answer the question specifically he stumbled more than I've ever seen before.

Now, I think the question is flawed. I think the question stinks of a religious test. It's fine for any individual to base his decision on whatever he likes, including religion if he so chooses. But it's not OK to make ask a "religious test" question at a sanctioned debate.

Still, I'm disappointed at Romney's response. Considering the focus on his Mormonism, I would think he would be more prepared for questions like this. Here's the answer I would have given: "I believe in every word of the Bible as they were written by the prophets." It is a fact, not some crazy Mormon belief, that the Bible was compiled long after the words were written, and that the words have undergone much translation, which can change meaning.

I'm starting to wonder if Mitt Romney's desire to appease the religious right is making him fake. I'd much rather vote for someone who is not afraid of being honest than someone who is a "true conservative".

Mitt, I want to believe in you. Don't let me down.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Primary Program... Check.

Last week was our primary program in church. I am a primary teacher so I saw all the preparation that went into it. I like the primary program as much as everyone else, and I also think it is good to give the kids a chance to participate in sacrament meeting and get used to speaking in front of people.

But I couldn't help but notice the collective sigh of relief when it was all over. The music leader was noticeably giddy during singing time afterward, taking joy in singing primary songs that we haven't sang for a long time since we had to practice the program songs. The kids also seemed happier. I don't think I've ever seen them sing as well in primary this year. I think they enjoyed singing songs that were familiar to them. The spirit was strong.

Don't get me wrong, I like the songs that were written for the program, but most of them are not familiar to the kids and it takes a lot of time and effort to learn them. And there is a lot of time spent preparing in other ways. Does the primary program distract the primary leadership to some degree from what is truly important: the spiritual development of the kids?

I don't have the answers. And I respect and support the policy of the church to have a primary program. I just wonder if there is a different way we can implement this that would not feel like such a burden on those who are doing their best to serve the children.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

One Laptop Per Child

When I first saw this I thought it must be a joke. But no, it's completely serious. For just $400 you can give a laptop in Africa (and get one yourself). Here's a blurb from the website:

"The mission of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is to empower the children of developing countries to learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child. In order to accomplish our goal, we need people who believe in what we’re doing and want to help make education for the world’s children a priority, not a privilege."

Ah yes, the laptop--the staple of education. How did we ever learn with it? Seriously, I applaud them for trying to do something, but is this really the right way? My children don't have laptops and I imagine they won't have one for a long time. Will the children of Africa suddenly be educated if they have a laptop? I think our resources might be better directed toward training teachers in Africa, or fighting some of the factors that distract kids away from education like AIDS and starvation. Connectivity in comparison seems a tad lower of the list.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Boasting vs. "Let Your Light So Shine"

An interesting commentary on the Church web site raises an interesting question about our humanitarian efforts. Could it be charitable to boast?

Duty to Adopt

Pro-lifers, including myself, often promote adoption as a great alternative to abortion. Mitt Romney, for example, has been making it an issue. It's hard to see a reason where it would be acceptable to choose abortion rather than adoption, except those already listed by the Church as valid reasons for abortion such as the threatened health of the mother. So it's no wonder why pro-lifers promote it so much. A year ago the Church did a presentation in our ward about encouraging unwed mothers to put their babies up for adoption instead of abortion, and even instead of keeping the baby themselves.

While I support these efforts, I also think there is a problem with this strategy.

Currently, my understanding is that many parents need to wait years before being selected to adopt. In the Church system, birth parents can select the couple of their choice from many qualified couples. In other agencies, it might be the system that chooses and not the birth parents, but still I think there are waiting lists. (To be balanced, I've also read about children waiting to be adopted. I'm not sure where the disconnect is here. Why do some parents have to wait to adopt while there are children also waiting? But that's not central to my point.) When there are numerous qualified parents willing to adopt, it makes sense that unwed and unprepared mothers should give their children a better alternative.

However, what if we were successful? What if each of the close to a million abortions a year would instead be adoptions? Would there be enough adopting parents? I was unable to find hard numbers, but my impression is that there is not a million waiting parents. Even if there were, many of them have been waiting years and so that number would not replenish itself next year to keep up with the number of abortions.

Of course the ideal solution would be to eliminate both abortion as well as unwed, unprepared pregnancy. But if we only get rid of the former without the latter, we have a problem.

So the questions I'm considering are these: Are us pro-lifers willing to step up to the plate and adopt to support our strategy of adoptions over abortion? If my hypothetical situation were to come to pass, would the Church give a presentation encouraging married, fertile members to adopt in addition to (or perhaps even instead of) having biological children?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Telling the Truth

Clunk. "Waahh!"

"Did you just throw your shoe at your brother?" My wife asked as she drove.

"No", my daughter answered innocently. Sure enough, her foot dangled shoe-less, and the other shoe was on the floor by her brother's car seat.

As we have done before, we gave her the lecture about being honest. Telling the truth is the right thing to do. It's what Jesus wants us to do.

"But why?" she asks.

She's been asking that for the last couple of days. Strangely, it seems that since that incident, every book she reads and every cartoon she watches has to do with honesty. Yesterday, her favorite morning cartoon was about the boy who cried wolf. Each time the topic comes up she's eager to share what's she's learned.

My daughter's on a mission to find out why it's so important to tell the truth.

I only wish we could get her as passionate about other things, like going to sleep when it's bed time!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Priority Mail

Yesterday my son was crawling on the floor, getting into things he wasn't supposed to, including an old shoebox that was once used to ship something.

I noticed something stuck to his bottom. On closer inspection, I found that it was a United States Postal Service "Priority Mail" sticker. I laughed out loud, thinking perhaps someone was trying to get rid of him.

But then I realized that he is, truly, the "Priority Male" of our household. I left the sticker on for a while.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Moses and the Atonement

When the Israelites had sinned by worshipping an idol, Moses sought to atone for their sins in Exodus 32:

30 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin.

31 And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.

32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin—; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.

33 And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.

It's no wonder why this thought came to Moses. He was very familiar with the concept of transferring sin to an animal to be sacrificed. But the Lord's response teaches us about the true meaning of the sacrifices, as well as about the atonement.

The sacrificing of animals was not really what took away sin. The people were commanded to do it as a demonstration of their repentance, as well as a type of Jesus' sacrifice to come. If Moses could not take upon himself the sins of his people, surely neither can any animal, no matter how unspotted.

But there is even more to learn from this scripture, and that is something about the nature of the atonement. If Jesus' atonement was enough to take our sins upon him, why couldn't Moses make a similar proxy sacrifice? Wouldn't it have been just? If I have a debt and someone else volunteers to pay it, isn't justice served?

The problem, I believe, with Moses' sacrifice is that Moses couldn't have paid it, and he was wrong to assume he could. If there are two holes in the ground that are infinitely deep, could I take dirt out of one whole to fill the other? Of course not. Because we all fall short of perfection, and thus are cut off from God who requires perfection, we all have infinitely deep holes, even Moses.

Any punishment we endure is completely justified, but instead God extends mercy because of his Son. If Moses received any punishment, it would be wholly justified based on his own sins, and so it would not count at all for the sins of his people.

This tells us something about Christ--he was the only one without a hole, and the only one capable of filling ours. His sacrifice was acceptable because he was not deserving of any punishment, but yet he suffered greater punishment than us all.

I believe this is what Alma explained in Alma 34:

11 Now there is not any man that can sacrifice his own blood which will atone for the sins of another. Now, if a man murdereth, behold will our law, which is just, take the life of his brother? I say unto you, Nay.

12 But the law requireth the life of him who hath murdered; therefore there can be nothing which is short of an infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world.

What does "infinite atonement" mean? I believe it means that it must be done by one who is perfect, so that the punishment cannot be applied to his own sins, but to all of ours.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Our Generational Debt

It's no secret that the dual earner household is on the rise, and that kids are being put in childcare at earlier ages to allow their parents to work. It's too bad we live in a world where the cost of living has risen so much that both parents need to work. I hear about it all the time. I just heard it on the radio the other day--the "need" for both parents to work.

While this is probably true of many individual cases, I don't buy it as an explanation for the overall trend. From 1951 to 2005, the consumer price index, a measure of inflation, rose 751%. Over the same period of time, the national average wage index rose from $2,799.16 to $36,952.94 (an increase of 1220%).

I'm no statistician, but it seems to me that according to these numbers, the average income in 2005 buys a higher standard of living than the average income in 1951--62% higher, to be exact.

We should expect that average incomes should be going up faster than prices. That's progress. If it wasn't for that sort of progress, we'd all be herding goats and living in tents in the desert. The problem is that we are not happy with that progress. We want more. As a result we are building up our generational debt. We will pay for this debt in two ways.

First, just like financial debt, generational debt has a limit. Once all married couples are dual-earner families, where do we go from there? We are then forced to fall back to the normal rate of growth. After we have acclimated to our artificially high progress rate, this will be hard to accept.

Second, and more importantly, we will pay for it in generations of kids whose upbringing was outsourced. It's difficult to measure the affects of this, and surely there are many that would think I am too extreme. But I feel the result will be (and has been) higher crime, lower self respect and respect for authority, less emotional maturity, and less well-rounded children overall. Thus, the future generation will pay our debt, plus interest.

Let me re-iterate that this is not an attack on any family that has chosen, or needs to, be a dual earner family. Nor I am suggesting that the children of dual earner families will necessarily be bad members of society. But I think the overall trend is inexcusable, and the overall affects undesirable.

Guest Blog on Millenial Star

I posted on Millenial Star today:

It's Not About You, Stupid

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Practicing Service

Last week someone rang our doorbell and ran away, leaving a bag of candy on our doorstep with a poem attached. It was one of those things that says to find 3 friends and do the same service within 48 hours. My wife took is very seriously, but I didn't. "That's not really service" I said, "It's a bag of candy!".

I'm prone to this kind of thinking. Sometimes when I sit in Elders quorum (before I was a primary teacher) and hear talk about people helping people move or whatever and I think, "We are a quorum of Elders in God's kingdom. Isn't there something really important we're supposed to be doing? Something that will change people's lives?"

Today in Church we found out that one of the boys in our ward was diagnosed with cancer. Their family will be basically living in the hospital. They have 3 kids and 1 on the way. Talk about tough. The ward is going to be bringing them meals and no doubt serving them in many different ways. I'm reminded of Bishop Edgley's talk on Enduring together, in which he says, "The Lord’s organization is fully adequate to know and care for those with even the most dire emotional and spiritual needs." That's a lot to live up to.

After thinking about the boy in our ward and Bishop Edgley's talk, I realized why it is so important that we do the small acts of service--the bags of candy and the move assistance. It's not because those acts are so meaningful on their own, in my opinion. It is because they are practice. Often the moments when we really can help make a difference in someone's lives take us by surprise. If we are not prepared--if we are not ready--we might miss them and leave someone in need. Just as our muscles require constant exercise to maintain their strength, we need to exercise our habit for service, so that when we really need to serve it will be instinctual.

Next time someone brings a bag of candy to my door, I won't take it so lightly.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Car or Doll?

"Car or doll?" the woman asked after I ordered the happy meal for my daughter. "Doll" I said without thinking. I have a daughter; of course she wants the doll.

After dinner we gave her the doll without even looking at it. Today I was cleaning up and found it on the floor and saw it for the first time. It was one of those Bratz dolls wearing a halter-top and a mini skirt. I've seen the Bratz toys before, and I was shocked the first time I saw them in the toy store. I was even more shocked that they were being peddled to 3-year-olds.

The happy meal bag says "Toys for kids under 3 available". How about toys for kids under 18? Are those available?

Lesson learned: Next time someone asks me "Car or doll?", choose car.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Who is my neighbor? Really.

A lawyer asked Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?" Christians are familiar with the parable Jesus used to answer his question. So what's the answer? That's easy; I was taught that in primary. Everyone is my neighbor. Simple. Problem solved. Or maybe it's not so simple.

Listening to General Conference this past weekend, I heard at least two speakers (Elder Wirthlin and Elder Snow) quote Jesus saying that loving our neighbor is the second greatest commandment. Both spoke of love and serving others, and both were among my favorite talks of conference.

Elder Snow listed several categories of service: our church callings, in our families, and in our communities. But what about everyone else? What about the starving children in Africa, or the orphans in Russia?

Let me be clear that I am not criticizing him for not mentioning our responsibility for world-wide service. There may have been a reason why it was omitted, and it certainly is beyond the scope of one conference talk to enumerate all the ways in which we should serve others. Still, it seems like when we talk about service in the church, we usually talk about service to those around us, and people far away are often an after-thought. An exception to this is after some massive natural disaster.

I'm left to ponder whether it is more important to serve my neighbor down the street than on the other side of the world. If so, why could this by?

1) Perhaps by saying we should serve in our communities, we are including our world-wide community. But that doesn't seem consistent with the examples we often site.

2) Perhaps world-wide service is not emphasized because it's not practical that the church should expect us all to hop a plane and go to Africa. But there are other ways to serve, such as supporting the Red Cross, which we are able to do.

3) Perhaps it's not emphasized because the Church has a humanitarian program that is doing much good. Still, that doesn't feel like it absolves by responsibility, does it? At least I should be reminded to support that effort.

4) Perhaps the thinking is that if we all help out in our neighborhoods, everyone in need will be taken care of. But that assumes people who can help are evenly distributed geographically.

If my neighbor was diagnosed with some terminal disease, surely I would want to help, in whatever way I could that was not too intrusive. Don't I have the same responsibility to help those who are diseased and hungry across the world?

So who is my neighbor? Really.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Child-like Service

As I lay my son down for his mid-morning nap, I noticed a small teddy bear in his crib. This seamed strange to me, as we never put toys in his crib. But suddenly I realized how it got there.

My two kids are on a very early schedule, so I'm usually awakened by the whimpers of my son over the baby monitor. It takes a few minutes to rub the sleep from my eyes and go and get him out of his crib. On the way I pass my 3-year old daughter's room and peek in. Like always, she is already up and playing downstairs (she learned a few weeks ago that if she comes and gets us when she wakes up, we'll send her back to bed: "It's to early" we moan. But if she goes downstairs and plays quietly she can stay up).

I got my son out of his crib without noticing the teddy bear. But when I saw it later I knew what must have happened. Hearing the cries of her brother, my daughter had gone into his room and tried to soothe him the best way she knew how: with a toy to play with.

Now, I know my daughter loves her brother, and she's always willing to help him when we ask. When we're changing him: "Honey, can you get him a diaper?" When he's crying and we're busy getting ready to go to church: "Can you sing him a song?" She's always willing to help. But what made this special is that we weren't watching. She didn't expect any praise from us. She did it just because she loves her brother.

Of course, nothing we do goes unseen by our Father in heaven. But if this small act of kindness between siblings meant so much to me, how much joy must our Father feel when we serve a brother or sister in need? Many times more so when we do it out of love, instead of obligation.