Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Clinging to Truth

There is a saying in Proverbs that you have all heard : It says, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). I love this verse so much that I once set it to music so I can sing it. I’m not a composer and I’m not a singer. You’ll never hear this music but I sing it to myself often to encourage and uplift myself.

But there are two verses before these verses that are just as uplifting that you probably haven’t heard that give the above verses even more meaning. Those verses read, “Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man” (Prov. 3:3-4).

When we live in truth—when we bind it about our necks and write it on our hearts—life changes. We find favor in the sight of God and we gain understanding. It is impossible to live in truth and not receive insight, promptings from God, and increased knowledge. Living in truth takes concerted effort, but the rewards of making the effort are out of this world. They are worth it!

Monday, March 30, 2009

When It Snows . . .

We are working at warp speed here in Utah. Saturday was a beautiful spring day and Sunday it was winter. We received four inches of snow! I wonder what season it will be tomorrow!

It made me think of one of my favorite verses of scripture. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” This verse helps me realize that God is in charge. Nothing happens by coincidence or especially by accident. Therefore when it snows on our lives, instead of being upset, we can know that it is the season for snow. We can step back and say, “There is a purpose for this snow in my life right now. What am I supposed to be learning?” Instead of thinking, this isn’t supposed to be happening right now. We can think, if God sent snow right now. It is supposed to be. There is a reason.

Once we accept truth, we are then in a frame of mind to be tutored and taught by the Spirit. But more than that, we are in the right frame of mind to be guided and directed. Instead of burying our heads under the electric blanket and crying about the snow, we can build a snowman, or an igloo, or some muscle shoveling it off the driveway. There can be great joy in snow. You just need to choose it.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Blessed By The Now

For as long as I can remember I’ve gotten my best ideas or solutions to problems while in the shower. I never realized until recently why that happened, but after learning to Anchor myself in the present moment I realized that when I am in the shower I am always anchored.

I love water. I love to swim. I love to feel warm water running over my hands from the faucet. I love walking in the rain. I love standing in the shower and feeling the water hit my back. I love the sound of it hitting the tile and shower door. I love putting my face in the stream of water and feeling the warmth. In short, what I realized is that I love the shower so much that while I am in there I am always in the present—feeling, hearing, tasting, smelling, and watching it all happen. Without realizing what I was doing, I was very much Anchored every time I entered the shower and in that state I was receptive to promptings, guidance, and insights that are always available in the present.

Besides that, there is always joy and happiness in the present moment. All we need to do is Anchor ourselves and let it seep in.

Friday, March 27, 2009


My head is always full of questions. They tumble around like acrobats in a circus. Luckily every once in awhile one gets answered and leaves the arena or it would be so crowded in there I’d have to leave. Awhile back the question was, “What is the opposite of living in truth?” That question didn’t jump around long like some of my questions do. As I began to search for an answer, I realized that if we are not living in truth, we are living in illusion.

Scene change: forget about acrobats and now imagine the circus magician. I loved magic shows as a child. It was so amazing to watch impossible things happen right before my very eyes. Women who had been cut in half would suddenly jump out of a closet—perfectly whole! People floated in air. Handkerchiefs changed into birds and flew away. But it was all illusion.

Illusion lasts only for that moment. It is a trick. It isn’t what it seems to be. It is deception, and if you base your opinions of life on illusion you are basing life on a foundation with no footings—the proverbial house upon the sand.

Understanding this has made me all the more weary of “should be” and “shouldn’t be” thinking. Whenever I hear myself thinking, “He shouldn’t have. . .” or “They should have. . .” I see the magician in his black cloak hiding the truth and waving his wand to direct me to the deception of the illusion. It helps me drop the illusion and stay in the realm of truth—what is and what was. Back in the realm of truth, I am able to hear the spirit direct me as to how to deal with the verities of life. It may not be as flamboyant or exciting, but there is great peace in the realm of truth.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Happy Me!

I’m going to stray from scripture study helps and strategies for living in truth for a moment. You see, 42 years ago today my husband asked me to marry him. 42 years!! Wow! Who could have guessed how many wonderful and horrid things would happen in 42 years? But, together, we’ve made it though—so far.

We’ve lost one child. We’ve sweated through sleepless nights waiting for the other nine children to outgrow the teen years. We’ve argued our way into the wee hours of the night and the next day realized how stupid we were. We’ve worked together until not just our muscles but our bones ached. We’ve nursed each other through trauma, sickness, and disappointment. And we’ve grumbled and murmured about each other’s faults.

But we’ve healed in each other’s tears. We’ve taught each other things no one else could teach us. We’ve prayed together until our hearts seemed one. We’ve laughed together until our sides hurt. We’ve adopted likes and dislikes from each other—and learned that it doesn’t matter if some of those likes and dislikes are never adopted. We’ve learned patience from each other’s failing. We’ve grown to know what the other is thinking before he or she says it. We’ve rejoiced and delighted in the same children and grandchildren. And despite the fact that we are two very different personalities, we’ve managed to love each other through it all.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More Scripture Study Help

Besides the wonderful web site I told you about last entry, there are a couple more things I’ve learned about scripture study that have helped me a great deal. The first is to read with a question in mind or something you want to learn. For example: read to know (1) how to have faith; or (2) what Jesus’ personality is like; or (3) what sanctification is; or (4) how to fully repent; or (5) what faith is; or (6) how the Spirit works in people’s lives.

This list could go on forever, but you get the idea. To just sit down and say, “O.K. now I’m going to do what I’m supposed to do and read” doesn’t gain you much except peace and calm. But when you read like a detective, looking for clues and messages about one specific topic, things begin to jump out at you—things you never would have noticed otherwise. Then as you keep notes and put those things together, you find they build on each other and fit together like a puzzle until you realize you have gained a whole new perspective on the topic.

But the best part is instead of just gaining peace and calm, you gain knowledge and wisdom and a great enthusiasm for study. You can’t wait for the next day’s study because you know you are going to find more “clues” that are going to add to your knowledge. You find that the difficult thing is not making yourself study, but stopping when it is time.

After awhile, you don’t find any more clues and so you change the question and begin again and the same excitement comes into your study. After going through many questions, you may even decide to go back to one you’ve already done and the miracle is that you learn even more. In this way, “line upon line” you grow and it isn’t a chore, or a burden, or at all boring. Instead it is absolutely exciting.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Scripture Study Helps

Daily scripture study changed my life. I grew up in a family that talked a lot about the scriptures and watched my father study scripture every free moment he had. I loved the scriptures and knew them pretty well, but when I was 28 years old I decided I wanted more and began setting aside daily scripture study time.

When I had young children, it was difficult but so worth it. I've studied at different times over the years--early before the kids got up; in the afternoon while they napped; at night before I went to bed; or fitting it in where ever I could. Each time had its positive and negative aspects, but each fueled me with encouragement, strength to carry on, patience, and hope. I consider the day I started my daily scripture reading to be my new birth. It was the best decision I ever made.

One thing I have enjoyed the last few years is an online program called Read the Scriptures. If you go to this link, you can sign up to read any book of scripture. You can choose to have one chapter a day sent to you via email or you can tell them you want to read the New Testament (or any other book) by a certain day and they will divide the pages up and send you the exact amount you need to read each day to reach your goal. Then each morning when you wake up your daily scripture reading is waiting for you in your email. You can read it on-line or push the audio button and have it read to you.

One fun thing you can also do is form a team. Each member of the team signs up for the same thing and there is a discussion board where each person can leave comments or questions so that you can study together.

Reading scriptures daily is empowering. It brings light into dark days and shines even more illumination into sunny days. I can't even begin to tell you how it changes life! I just hope you can feel my enthusiasm through this Internet connection and that it encourages you to study more!

Monday, March 23, 2009

When I'm Helping, I'm Happy

Another of the principles of the gospel that is important in helping us jettison the unnecessary pain in our lives is service. It can also help us through the necessary pain. Many years ago an article appeared in the Church News about a woman in a nursing home who was suffering from cancer. The woman, in her 80s, lived in constant debilitating pain despite the medication she was on. A ward Relief Society leader brought her two dolls to fix up so they could be given to needy children for Christmas. When the Relief Society leader returned the dolls were ready and, in addition, the woman had made 11 baby quilts to be given to the poor. Subsequently seven more dolls were taken to the woman who made beautiful bonnets, dresses and coats for six of them before she died.

After her death her family found her diary and read the following entry, “3 a.m., couldn’t sleep, the pain was intense. Decided to work on the dolls, and the pain went away.” The following pages were filled with the same report, “Decided to work on the dolls and the pain went away.” (Church News, April 21, 1985, p. 16.)

As King Benjamin so aptly put it, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). And when you are serving God, you forget about yourself and open yourself up to the gifts and joys He is trying to give you.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

More On Forgiveness

Usually when we think of forgiveness we think of one situation where we have been hurt and dealing with that situation. But there are other kinds of forgiveness that require us to just let go of all the hurt from many situations. These types of forgiveness usually are needed in family situations.

Families are wonderful. Family relationships are deep rooted and can be a powerful support to every family member. But at the same time, because they are so close and intimate we often experience each other at our very worst. Therefore, family relationships can also create hurt—if we let it.

Many years ago I wrote an article about forgiving our parents for the way they raised us. It was published in the Ensign and was entitled “A Difficult Kind of Forgiveness.” I received a lot of response from that article and realized that almost all of us at some time or another received a few emotional “scars” inflicted by our parents because of things that happened when we were growing up. But we can let go of the past, forgive all that happened and move on. This not only frees us from unnecessary pain; it rejuvenates and enables strong family relationships in the future. Our past may not be what we wanted, but our future can be if we forgive and move on.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Forget the Pain

We’ve been talking about tools or strategies to rid our lives of unnecessary pain. So far we’ve talked about things like music and humor and affirmative thinking. But some of the most powerful tools at our disposal are gospel principles. For example, the principle of forgiveness is absolutely liberating when we learn to use it on a daily basis.

The Greek word used in the New Testament for forgive, is aphiemi which means “to send forth, yield up, to expire. “ Another definition is “To let go, let alone.” When we forgive, obviously we are yielding up thoughts of the offense or situation that we feel shouldn’t have happened, but we are also yielding up the hurt we have been holding onto because of the situation. Every time we think or tell our story of the offense we re-inflict ourselves with pain and usually the pain gets worse with every telling.

The adversary deludes us into thinking that somehow we deserve to cling to our negative story. Somehow we think vengeance will come from holding on to the unjust situation. But clinging to the injustice and refusing to forgive never hurts the other person. They don’t feel the pain. We are the only one that is in pain and we are doing it to ourselves.

The Savior counseled us, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt 6:14-15). Forgiving is one of the best ways to free ourselves from the pain caused by negative storytelling. So forgive. Forget. And be free.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

On Top Of The Lectern!

I’ve been invited to speak at BYU Education Week this coming August! I’m excited. I always meet so many wonderful people at Education Week and learn so much myself. There is one strange thing, however. On their advertisement they say that there will be 200 "quality presenters." I don't know why, but that made me feel like a piece of laundry. I think I associated it with"Quality Cleaners." I saw myself, pressed, folded, and stacked a top a lectern. Maybe I've been doing too much exaggerated thinking lately!

I’m teaching two classes: “The Truth Shall Make You Free” and “Messages in The Miracles of Jesus.” A lot of what I’ve been posting on the blog lately is part of the first class. The second class is about what we learn from the symbolism that is contained in the way the Savior performs His miracles.

I’ve been studying both topics for many years and am excited to be able to share what I have learned. If you happen to be going to Education Week, be sure to find me and say hello!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Powered By Laughter

The other day I had one of the first busy days I’ve had since my surgery. Three months ago, I used to breeze through these kinds of days. But after months of lazy recuperation, I found myself stressed over all I had to do that day, and added to that was the stress as I looked around and realized how far behind in household chores I’d gotten because I hadn’t had the strength to keep up with everything. Thoughts like “I’m never going to get all this done. No matter how hard I try, I can’t do all this. I’m so behind all ready. Things have piled up until it’s impossible. I’m going to end up in the hospital again.” At the hospital thought, I realized what I was doing. It wasn’t the tasks that were causing me pain, it was my thoughts about the tasks. I had to get rid of the thoughts.

So I went back over every thought I’d had and exaggerated it. I purposely made myself see it in my head as absurd. I played each new thought out like a movie. I saw myself frantically running from one task to the next like a chicken with its head cut off—and I mean that literally, my head was cut off so that I bumped into things I should have seen and toppled over things in my way. I saw myself sinking in the clutter of my office like a hunter sinking in quick sand. Inch by inch I slowly disappeared until all that could be seen of me was my index finger wagging frantically for help. I saw myself being rushed to the hospital in a florescent orange ambulance, me in a full body cast, and when we arrived the ambulance driver announced to the doctor (who looked a lot like Jack Black in a mustache and beard) that he had to restrain me because I was battling self-inflicted -clutter-traumatization.

I don’t have to tell you that by that time I was laughing so hard I couldn’t be upset. With the negative emotions out of the way, I tackled the tasks at hand with no pain. Humor is a powerful tool. It works especially well when we are stressing over something bad we think is going to happen. Just exaggerate the dire consequences until they become absurd. Give the image as much ridiculous detail as possible. Laugh at the “movie” you’ve created until the negative feelings are dispelled. Then, on the wings of that laughter, do what needs to be done. Laughter empowers every time!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Blame the Leprechaun

“Top of the morning to you!” (I’ve been told that is an Irish greeting.) In return you say, “And the rest of the day to you!” (I’ll imagine you are saying it to me.) And then, on this particular day, I add, “And Happy St. Patrick’s Day!”

I love St. Patrick’s Day. One of the reasons is that I added more joy to my life on this day by giving birth to my fifth daughter, Mariah. Another is that I have green eyes. On March 17th I purposely don’t wear any green so when I get pinched I show people my eyes and pinch them (softly, of course)back. In other words, there is a bit of mischievous leprechaun in me which is another reason I love St. Patrick’s Day. When the children were growing up I served them green foods all day long. Green milk. Green scrambled eggs. Green pancakes. Anything I could make green or that was already green, we ate. I loved listening to them complain, mostly because there was a bit of a chuckle in every complaint.

It isn’t just on St. Pat’s day that the leprechaun comes out in me, though. She's been with me so long I've named her the good Irish name, Síne, (pronounced SHEE-na and corresponds to the English name Jean which is the female equivalent of John). Sine is always in there dancing around in hopes of getting out. My favorite head covering while I was recovering from brain surgery was a black dou rag my daughter Patrea sent me. I also love my jaunty newsboy hat. I don’t think I’ll give either of them up even though I’m starting to appear in public without a head covering. There is something about both of these that encourages Sine to dance and makes me feel a wee bit mischievous in a good, happy sort of way.

So if you see an old lady wearing a dou rag, blame Sine. She's dancing.

Monday, March 16, 2009

More on Music (With a Little Humor Thrown In)

This isn't an IPod commecial. It's about music. I’ve already talked about music as a powerful tool to keep us from negative storytelling. But when I talked about it before I emphasized making our own music by singing. We all know that surrounding ourselves with good music can also protect us from falling victim to negative feelings. But sometimes we forget how powerful it can be. I had an experience with this once that I recorded in my journal. I had lunch with a friend I hadn’t seen for a long time and on the way home was running an errand. Here’s how my journal records what happened next. “I parked beautifully. No car damage. No problems. Got out of the car. Locked the car. Shut the door. Noticed that the car keys were dangling from the ignition. (In that order!)

Taking three long slow breaths I asked myself, what now? I could swear (which I'm unaccustomed to doing.) I could scream. (Which I have done on occasion.) Or I could walk home and get the extra set of keys. I opted for the latter and having my new Ipod in my purse, I put on some encouraging, up beat music to dispel the mood—the Beachboys—and began marching homeward. I hadn't gotten far into "Surfin' USA" when I realized that my house key was also locked in the car. No matter. That music is very cheerful and so I hoped Josh was home to let me in. Then just into the catchy, "Be True to Your School" I realized that during the hustle and bustle of getting all the girls to airports and switching cars after Dad=s funeral, my second set of car keys had been lost. But how sad can you be when you're listening to "Shish boom bah! Rah, Rah, Rah" sung in full harmony by males who were in their prime 40 years ago?

Since we were going to the temple tonight, I was very concerned that my heart not be polluted with things like anger and self pity—so I turned the music up louder, marched faster, and made it home in record time trusting that some miracle would happen.

“I got home. Josh wasn't there, but someone had left the back door unlocked! Miracle number one—accompanied by "Fun, Fun, Fun Till Daddy took the T bird Away."

“I found a Honda key in a drawer. Prayed it was to my car. And walked out just as our neighbor was backing out of his driveway. (Miracle number 2 accompanied to AThe Girls on the Beach.”) I begged a ride, and out of politeness took the ear phones out of my ears. He took me to my car, waited while I found out the key was to Carl's Honda not mine, and then drove me back home.

“As soon as he left, I put the earphones on again. "Let Him Run Wild" was playing. Still calm and collected and surfing mentally, I called the car dealership where I bought my car and asked if they had any suggestions about getting into it. Miracle number three was accompanied by "Don't Worry Baby." It seems that they offer free roadside assistance to their customers. They would have their Knight in Shining Tow Truck there in 15 minutes to open my door.

“That gave me just enough time to walk back to the car—accompanied by the rousing tempos of "Help Me, Rhonda" and "All Summer Long." When I arrived, I discovered the Knight was late and the door wasn't yet open so what could I do but go into the nearest clothing store and shop to the music of "I Get Around." It was their clearance sale and I found a sweater, a pair of pants and a shirt all for less than fifty dollars! By the time I'd made my purchase the car door was open. I drove home, my heart pure and clean of any negative emotion thanks to the gift of portable music my family had given me.

P.S. The temple session was wonderful.”

Saturday, March 14, 2009

My Surprise Finding

It has been an interesting week. Last week I went to Church for the first time without a hat. No problems. Everyone was so nice and complimentary. I felt so loved.

This week I went out into the world without a hat. Most people didn’t pay much attention to my hairdo. But there were a few surprises. It didn’t bother me, as a matter of fact it was extremely interesting. One woman looked at me, looked at my hair a momen,t and then started to laugh. One man dressed in a suit and tie, stared at me, and when he noticed I was looking back, pursed his lips, scowled, and shook his head until I finally looked away.

As I said, it didn’t bother me. But it did surprise me—a lot. It was something I never expected. I don’t pretend that I thought everyone out there would like this short “boy-cut” on a woman, but I never in a thousand years would have guessed that people would say or do anything to convey their dislike. It gave me a taste of what other people who are different must encounter. It also made me wonder how many of those “different” people have very good reasons for being different. This has taught me a great lesson in not judging others. You never know why people are the way they are.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Fret Not!

One of my favorite verses in Proverbs says, “Fret not thyself in any wise to do evil” (Proverbs 37:8). The New International Version of the Bible puts that even more succinctly. It says, “Do not fret—it leads only to evil.” And that is what happens. When we fret or stew or harbor negative thoughts about the truth, we create negative, evil feelings. We let in negative emotions which blind us to the positive things around us.

For example: Last fall I took a long walk along the Provo River. The October afternoon felt more like September. The sun shone brightly in a clear blue sky and reflected brilliantly from the golden maple trees. A gentle breeze stirred the air and rustled the leaves but not enough that the sound could be heard over the music of the river—instead they just glistened. About three-fourths of the way through my walk, however, I suddenly realized my mind had been so garbled with rehashing a meeting I’d been to the night before that I hadn’t noticed any of this. Stewing over what I should or shouldn’t have said at the meeting hadn’t accomplished one single positive thing, and because of it, I had missed a half hour of absolute beauty. Quickly I Anchored myself, changed what I was feeling, and enjoyed what was left of the walk.

“Fret not thyself!” is good advice.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I'm Watching for Miracles

This healing process is amazing to me. Every time I look in the mirror, I marvel. Just think. Two short months ago doctors cut into my skull, moved aside my brain, and stuck instruments into my orbital cavity to cut extraneous tissue off my optic nerve. And now all that remains of that invasive procedure is a thin white “C” on my scalp. Hair is growing (It’s over an inch long now!) to cover the bald spot and I am recovered. It is absolutely miraculous to think about the healing that has occurred in two months time. I can’t get over the miracle it is.

As Alma taught, “All things denote there is a God” (Alma 30:44). What I’ve discovered is that even some of the traumatic things we endure “denote there is a God.” Or maybe I should say, especially some of the traumatic things we endure “denote there is a God.”

Watching for these miracles of life is one of the best strategies we can adopt to help us overcome the negative aspects of telestial living. And right now is one of the best times to hone that habit here in the Northern Hemisphere of the world because miracles are happening all around us. Crocus are pushing out of the dark earth. Just think about the miracle that is! From tiny bulbs that have been buried for almost a year, suddenly beauty and color burst forth. And why? They serve no other purpose than to give you and I joy. The daffodil leaves have appeared and soon the yellow trumpets will appear. The tulips are next and then a profusion of fruits and vegetables. It’s a miracle! A gift from God.

This experience with Grizelda has been one of the best things that ever happened to me. Part of the reason is because of all the miracles, but most of the reason is because of all I have learned. God loves us so much He sends us daily gifts. We just need to watch for them.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Sometimes our negative stories cling to us like a static silk scarf. Usually the reason they cling is because we are going about ridding ourselves of them in the wrong way. The only way to make darkness go away is to replace it with light. It does no good to say, “Go away dark” or “It shouldn’t be so dark.” Instead you simply shine in the light and suddenly there is no darkness.

The statement that there is opposition in all things means that for every bad something there is a good something. Look for the good! Dwell on it! Enjoy! Rewrite a new positive story. Don=t cut corners here. Fill the mind with the positive story so the negative doesn’t have room to grow. Retell your old negative story by concentrating on the positives in the story. (There will always be some!) Attribute positive motives to the other person. See the situation in a new light.

Almost any author will tell you that the secret to good writing is in the revision process. Perhaps the secret of good living is also in the revision. The milk spills and the negative thoughts start to form, but you can rewrite the thoughts. “Those kids make my life so miserable” can with a little effort be revised to, “These kids certainly keep my life interesting! Never a dull moment at my house!” and “They don’t even care how much work they make for me” can be changed to, “I wonder how many times my mother did this for me? Bless her heart! I need to thank her.” “Don’t they understand we can’t afford to waste milk like this?” can become, “As long as I’ve paid for this milk, I might as well enjoy it! I’m going to have a little fun cleaning this up.”

Some people dismiss this as being Pollyannaish and unrealistic. You can call it whatever you want, but if the milk is already on the floor, why add to the pain by thinking negative thoughts? Give me one good reason! Why wallow in the negative thinking? Why stress yourself or give yourself ulcers? Just revise the story and enjoy. The truth is the milk is spilled. The meaning or feeling we attach to that truth can fill us with unnecessary pain or free us from pain. It is a choice.

picture: img234.imageshack.us/img234/5320/rewriting5ij.jpg

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Affirmative Thinking

When trying to overcome negative feelings we need to understand how the mind works. The mind does not compute “don’t.” When we tell ourselves things like, “Don’t hurt!” or “Don’t eat that!” or “Don’t hold this grudge!” it doesn’t work because the mind only calculates “do.” Try imagining not eating that donut. Just my mentioning this made you see yourself eating the donut. You may have imagined setting it down after a bit, but you first imagine eating it. You simply can’t imagine not doing something. A wise friend once told me never to say to a newly licensed, teenage driver as she backs out of the driveway, “Don’t hit the mailbox” because as soon as you say it, the mental picture of hitting the mailbox pops into her head, and the next thing you know a dented car hovers over a fallen mailbox while you try to console the hysterical driver.

So as we try to redirect our behavior or to overcome negative feelings, the most important thing we can do is replace the negative thought with a positive thought. “I eat healthy foods.” “I feel good.” “I forgive him.” As we come to understand this principle we realize that our negative and positive thoughts and feelings are powerful. But the most important thing to realize is that when given enough time, the positives always have power over the negatives. The prime example of that is the Atonement, the most positive event of all time which will eventually overcome all negatives. But remember, positive encouragement takes time. A forceful, manipulative, negative approach to get someone to do what you want them to do may intimidate them into doing it faster, but it will always generate negative feelings in the other person that can fester and cause more problems—usually worse problems. On the other hand, a positive, loving approach may take more time, but it will last and generate positive feelings in the other person and in yourself.

Keeping your self-talk positive can help you conquer and avoid unnecessary pain, and being affirmative with others can strengthen relationships.

Monday, March 9, 2009


I hope you all had a good weekend and are refreshed and ready to start a new week! Isn’t it nice that we get to start over again and again. It is our chance for constant new beginnings! Each hour, each day, each week is new and that means new possibilities. I love it! I can leave the past behind and step into a new and better me.

One of the ways I can do this is to constantly be questioning the truth of a situation. One way I cause myself negative feelings is by “horriblelizing.” For example, I find out that one of my children has done something wrong while at school. Let’s say that my second grader took a quarter from someone else’s desk and I begin to tell a story that begins something like, “Oh no, people will think I’m a bad mother. I haven’t taught Jimmy well enough. He shouldn’t have stolen the quarter. I wonder if he’s stolen other things. What if he has? He’ll be branded as a thief and none of the good kids will want to have anything to do with him. Then he’ll fall in with the bad kids. What if he keeps stealing things? If he keeps on like this, he could end up in a juvenile detention center.”

Obviously this is a little exaggerated, but not too much. We often find ourselves “horriblelizing” or writing a story that makes things a lot worse than what they are. In these situations, I question what I am thinking by simply asking the question, “Is it true?” Is it true I am a bad mother? No! Is it true I haven’t taught Jimmy? No! Is it true he’s stolen other things? Probably not. Is it true he’ll go on stealing? No! The plain and simple truth is that for some reason not yet understood by me, Jimmy took a quarter that didn’t belong to him and that is all I need to deal with. I need to find out why he took the quarter and then help him understand why it was wrong. This is the kind of experience that can be a powerful teaching moment in a child’s life if you stick to the truth of the situation and deal with it. If you get caught up in the bad mother story or the juvenile delinquent story, you get diverted from the truth and the chances are great that you will then deal with the truth of the situation too harshly or in such a way that instead of teaching it traumatizes Jimmy.

Watch how many times a day you “horriblelize” a situation and when you find yourself projecting a negative story onto a situation stop and simply ask, “Is that true?” If it isn’t true, laugh at yourself for being so funny, then drop the negative story and deal with the truth.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Hair Update

I went to Church today for the first time without a hat. I felt a little self-conscious at first, but it only took a few minutes to forget that I have no hair. (After all, I can’t see it!) But when I got to Church everyone was so nice and complimentary. I knew I could rely on my sisters to make me feel good! It is colder without the hat, but a hat wobbles around. Wearing a hat is less effort, but then you are always afraid it will fall off and reveal the disheveled mess underneath. I like the look of the hat. A hat seems to finish off an outfit, but then you have to have a hat for every outfit. So there are pros and cons. Do I go around with one inch hair, or do I wear a hat.

My daughter in Austin urged me (about twenty times a day!) to keep it this short and this color. So did my daughter Mariah. I was surprised how many people at Church today said the same thing. So I’m posting before and after pictures and asking for your opinion. Hat or no hat? Let my hair grow or keep it short? Leave it this salt and pepper gray or color it? So many decisions!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Stop-Sign Strategy

I’m on the airplane flying home from Austin and am happy to report that there is a gray-haired man behind me who does not kick. :-) So nice!

But back to strategies. . . When you find yourself writing a negative story about a situation, you are generating unnecessary pain and driving the Spirit right out of your life. The strategies we are talking about are designed to stop the negative story writing so that we can replace them with positive stories.

Brigham Young once said, “When you are tempted, buffeted, and step out of the way inadvertently; when you are overtaken in a fault, or commit an overt act unthinkingly; when you are full of evil passion, and wish to yield to it, then stop and let the spirit, which God has put into your tabernacles, take the lead. If you do that, I will promise that you will overcome all evil, and obtain eternal lives. But many, very many, let the spirit yield to the body, and are overcome and destroyed” (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe, p.70).

President Young is talking here about sin, but the beginning of all sin is negative thoughts. So if we can stop the negative thoughts and change them to positive thoughts, our actions will always be positive. The key is to find the strategies that work for us and then learn to use them.

So the second strategy (the first was Anchoring) is that whenever you find yourself writing a negative story imagine this STOP sign in your head or make a picture of a an actual stop sign and put it in a place where it can remind you such as a mirror or in your purse--anyplace you can find it fast or see it often. Then use the mental or actual picture to help you stop and rewrite negative stories.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Stories We Tell!

We’ll talk about more strategies to help us break the spell negative feelings can cast over us later. But before we do it is important to realize that all of us are storytellers. As human beings we have a driving desire to understand things and to attach meaning to the things that happen to us. Therefore, when we go through experiences of life we interpret them. We tell ourselves stories about the things that are happening to us. These stores can generate either positive or negative feelings within us. But the important thing to remember is that we are writing the stories. We are the one making them either positive or negative.

For example: You pass a friend in the store and greet them warmly. In return they nod at you and move on. At this point you begin your storytelling. You can think, “How rude. At least she could have responded with a greeting,” and continue on writing this story. Or you can think, “She must have something weighing on her mind. She wouldn’t normally have acted like that.” And continue on writing that story.

If you tell yourself the first story, you create unnecessary pain. If you tell yourself the second story you live in peace and love--pain free! It is a choice—not a circumstance. Think about it. You really cannot know what is going on in the other person’s life. To take offense at what happens doesn’t accomplish one positive thing. It only causes you pain.

For the next few days, watch what stories you tell yourself. It is a very interesting experience to listen to your own self talk and realize what you are doing. Let me know what you discover!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Anchoring Yourself

So how do we rid ourselves of unnecessary pain? Over the next few posts we’ll explore some of the things that help. The one I use the most is anchoring. I’ve talked about this before, but anchoring is accomplished by zeroing in on the present moment. Use all your senses to feel, smell, hear, see, and taste the present. Don’t let any stories of the past or worries about the future play in your head. Just Anchor yourself in the present moment. Stop and do it right now and see what happens.

I’ve done this with several groups I’ve spoken to and am amazed that every time I’ve done it the response to what they experienced while anchoring is always the same. In the present moment there is always peace, contentment, happiness, gratitude, love, and hope.

I’ve pondered on this a lot, and I think the reason these wonderful positive things are always there is because the Spirit of Truth always works in the present. In scripture, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are all called the Spirit of Truth and as we Anchor ourselves in the present we make ourselves available to them. The present is where they can be found and where they can nurture and love us. When we are living our lives by stressing over the past or fretting about the future, we miss the positive gifts they are trying to give us.

So Anchor yourself whenever you feel the anger coming on and see what happens!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Unnecessary Pain

Today, as I promised, we’re discussing unnecessary pain. The reason it is called unnecessary pain is because it is UNNECESSARY. When you catch on to this it is absolutely amazing to realize how much pain you’ve clung to in your life that you didn’t need to suffer! There are four causes of unnecessary pain.
1. Unnecessary pain is caused by our own misuse of agency. Our own hearts will tell us what we should do concerning right and wrong, and if we go against what our heart tells us our conscience is pricked and we will suffer guilt and usually much greater pain. As much as some people try, they cannot go against their own hearts and feel good.
2. Whenever we fight against the truth of a telestial world we experience unnecessary pain or, as we talked about recently, we experience anger. To review: Anger is an emotion that occurs when something or someone violates our expectation of what should be. Anytime we find ourselves thinking things like: “This shouldn’t be happening to me. I shouldn=t have fallen and broken my arm. He shouldn’t have done that. Why is God doing this or allowing this?” We are creating unnecessary pain.
3. Whenever we try to avoid the necessary pain of spiritual growth we will experience unnecessary pain. There is a great irony here. We are in pain either way, but the unnecessary pain accomplishes nothing.
4. Unnecessary pain is caused by denying Christ. How do we do that? By feeling like we have to do it all ourselves. By feeling like we can never be forgiven no matter how sincerely we have repented. By comparing ourselves to others and trying to be like them instead of discovering what God want us to do and be. By thinking we’ll never be good enough.
Choosing any of these is the path of fear—the opposite of faith. But the most important thing to realize is that there is no blessing attached to enduring unnecessary pain. It is totally UNNECESSARY. All we need to do to escape it is to drop the thoughts that are causing the pain.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Necessary Pain

Fighting against truth or as I call it, living in anger, always causes us pain. We talk a lot about pain and adversity in the Church and how to cope with it and how to help others through it. But we don’t often stop to realize that there are two kinds of pain in life: necessary pain and unnecessary pain. Tomorrow we’ll talk about unnecessary pain, but today let’s discuss necessary pain.

Necessary pain is caused by three things.
(1) Natural events that occur in a telestial world. In a telestial world there is disease, accidents, and all kinds of natural disasters and conditions that can cause pain. If you fall and break your leg there will be pain, and once it has happened there is nothing you can do about it (it is necessary) except endure the pain well.
(2) Spiritual growth always entails necessary pain. The very process of spiritual growth is called in the scriptures being born again. Birth entails pain. Repentance entails a certain amount of pain. In addition, as we grow spiritually, the Spirit often pushes us right out of our comfort zone and into situations that are uncomfortable and stressful. But all of this pain helps us to grow closer to our Father in Heaven.
(3) Often when others misuse their agency it causes us pain. We sorrow over loved ones who have strayed. Some people are hurt when a drunk driver hits them or some are hurt by attackers. In time of war, innocent people always suffer.

Staying close to the gospel and our Savior helps us through the necessary pain of life. Enduring necessary pain is the path of faith. The most important thing to note about necessary pain is that whenever we endure necessary pain there is always a blessing attached. The Lord will always compensate us for enduring necessary pain well.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Living In Truth (continued)

As we talked about last post, “truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.” That, of course, includes the principles and doctrines of the gospel, but it also means that the verities of this telestial world such as disease, disappointment, fear, pain, and terrorism are truth. For some reason, these negative things are necessary in a telestial world (See 2 Nephi 2:11), and learning to deal with them is essential to our Exaltation.

As I write this I am being tested. I am on an airplane traveling from Salt Lake City to Austin. It is a long flight especially when a child in the seat directly behind you is constantly (not once in awhile, but constantly!) kicking you in the back. Now this is a telestial situation. (I am assuming that in the celestial world there will be no kicking children!) My responsibility right now (if I want to become like my Father in Heaven) is to deal with this telestial truth in a celestial way. That rules out turning around and yelling at the child. Instead I must accept the truth of the situation and find a way to politely and lovingly deal with it. In other words, I must deal with a telestial situation in a celestial way. That is part of the test of life.

However, if I sit here and keep thinking thoughts such as, “She shouldn’t be kicking me.” “Why didn’t her mother teach her manners?” “The airlines should do something about this!” etc. I am not solving the problem; I am only fighting against truth. Anytime we find ourselves thinking about other people’s behavior or a situation in terms of “should have” or “shouldn’t have,” we are fighting truth and are in a state of anger. The word anger originally meant “troubled or vexed.” Later it took on the connotations of rage that it now includes. But even today the word anger includes a wide range of feelings that trouble us. These feelings range from mild irritation to fury, but they all are troubling and vexing. Thus I am using this word anger to mean “an emotion that occurs when something violates our expectation of what should be.” Whenever we fight against truth, we cause ourselves pain and live in a state of anger.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Living In Truth

I’m working on a new book called “Living in Truth” and speaking on this topic quite a bit lately. I have especially enjoyed the comments from those who have been in the classes and thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned about truth here on the blog and get your comments, also.

To start with, if we want to live in truth we need to understand what truth is. John 8:32 tells us that “the truth shall make you free.” When I heard that verse I used to think that the gospel was the truth that would make us free. That certainly is true, but there is more to truth than the doctrines and principles of the gospel. In D&C 93:24 we are given a definition of truth: “Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.” The gospel certainly fits this definition, but there is more. Think about it for a minute. “Things as they are and were” includes some very negative things in this telestial world.

In a telestial world “things as they are” includes thorns, thistles, weeds, war, disease, robbery, accidents and all kinds of disasters and adversity. According to the definition, they are truth—in a telestial world. They won’t be truth in a celestial world, but for now they are truth. So what do these negative telestial truths have to do with the Lord’s promise that “the truth shall make us free”? Surprisingly they have as much to do with the fact that “man is that he might have joy” as the wonderful celestial principles of the gospel.

For the next while I’ll be explaining these things here on “Good News!” I’ll present one short concept a day and let you ponder on it and leave your comments about what you learn and experience. Don’t be shy! I’d love your ideas, questions, and experiences.