Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Light That Comes From Truth

One of the most amazing things I’ve discovered about Living in Truth is what it does to me. There is something very liberating that occurs when you acknowledge Truth and simply do what needs to be done. Communion with the Spirit, gifts of the Spirit, miracles, and blessings are all available when we are living in Truth and are absent when we are living in Illusion. One of the greatest of these blessings that I’ve experienced when living in truth is confidence.

I have a favorite quote from Marianne Williamson that sums up what I mean by confidence and the realization that comes to you when you Live in Truth. She says, “’Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

When you Live in Truth you automatically become a light to others. Without conscious effort, you naturally do what the Savior instructed when He said, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt 5:14-16).

Monday, June 29, 2009

Little Things

I think I must have been born with the desire to be a writer. One of my earliest memories is of watching my father read and wishing with a longing so real it knotted my stomach that I could read because I knew I had to learn to read before I could write. Because of that desire, I learned to read before I went to school and as soon as I had a few “Dick and Jane” words at my written command, I began writing, illustrating, collating, and stapling together my own books and going door to door selling them. Most people said, “No, thank you.” But there were two older ladies on the street who would buy my books.

Aunt Nora, as we called her, would reach in her apron pocket and bring out a nickel for my book. Mrs. Torrey, up the street a ways, would tell me that she would love so much to buy my book but she just didn’t have any money. But she was so sincere and complimentary that I would give her the book which she always read and raved about.

I only wish these two beautiful women were still alive so I could tell them how very, very much their kind gesture has meant to me. Writing is hard. Selling what you write is even harder. Before I sold my first short story, I think I had enough rejection slips to completely cover every wall in my den. That amount of rejection is daunting to say the least. But as each rejection letter arrived, I’d remember Mrs. Torrey and Aunt Nora’s faces and their kind words and their enthusiasm over my “great talent” and I’d keep on trying.

I’m sure they didn’t even think about what they had done after I left. But to me their kindness partially shaped my life. It’s made me think a lot about the little things we do and how they can touch someone else without us even knowing.

I just hope I can be an Aunt Nora or a Mrs. Torrey in someone else’s life.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Right Stories

Yesterday while running errands I pulled up at a stop light behind a white SUV and in front of it was a black truck.Suddenly the driver of the black truck stuck his hand out the window and made an OK sign with his hand. I strained to see what he was OKing about, but could see nothing. Then he began pointing inside the truck at himself. He had my full attention now. Next he poked both hands out the window, put his thumbs and index fingers together to make a heart. Then he pointed to the driver of the white SUV behind him. The driver of the white SUV responded by sticking her arm out the window and holding up the deaf sign language symbol for “I love you!” The driver of the black truck made another OK sign, but the way he moved his hand slightly back and forth said more than just OK: it said “Really good!” I could feel the positive energy streaming out of the truck! By now the light had turned green and both the truck and the SUV turned. I never say their faces, only their arms from the elbow to the finger tips, but those two people made my day. I was chuckling about it for hours.

Since then I’ve thought about the reactions other people I’ve known might have had to this same scene. Someone might have thought, “Why doesn’t that guy pay attention to the light. He’s going to miss the green and hold us all up! *#@!” Another person might think, “Cut out the sentimental slush. Everywhere I go people are so cheesy. Get a life guy!” Another person might break into tears, “I wish I had someone to send me love signals.” Still someone else might think, “Oh those were the days when my spouse sent loving messages to me. What happened to the good days?” Any of these responses would have created negative feelings and carried that negative energy into the rest of their day. But the truth (the verity of the situation ) is that a young man showed his appreciation to a young woman. We can enjoy that or disparage it. It is our choice.

Too often we think our thoughts and reactions are automatic and can’t be helped, but we choose them and should never forget that. You and I are making up stories to accompany everything that happens to us.

You are in charge, so write a good story and enjoy!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Traveling Memory Lane

I went to lunch this week with a dear friend I’ve known since I was about three years old. Until we were nine and my parents moved, we were inseparable. I haven’t seen her in a long time, and it was so fun to visit and catch up on everything. Ever since our visit, I’ve been inundated with memories of the many things we did together—all of them warm wonderful experiences. I went on many trips with her and her family. Her parents were like second parents to me. We spent hours and hours together baking, making costumes out of crepe paper, swimming, putting on circuses, climbing trees, picnicking, and sailing cucumber boats down the irrigation ditches.

I can’t believe how wonderful the last few days have been because of all these memories. It made me realize that we need to spend more time thinking about the good things of life. We read the newspapers and hear the TV news which not only are depressing themselves, but they make us remember all the bad in our lives. Instead we need to place things around us and do things, like getting together with old friends, that constantly remind us of all the good in life.

Remembering the good is like putting gas in your car. It facilitates your travel down the road of life.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Opening Our Eyes

After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to two people on the road to Emmaus. They walked and talked with him as the traveled, but didn’t recognize Him. Mostly they talked about the miraculous things that had happened—the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is a profound irony here that while speaking of Him, they didn’t know Him.

Sometimes we as mortals have this same experience. We speak of the Savior, marvel at His goodness and miracles, yet we don’t know Him. In other words, we know about Him without knowing Him. But as Jesus taught, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).

So how did the people of the road to Emmaus finally come to know Jesus? It didn’t happen until they sat down to eat with Him. At that point Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them to eat. Obviously there this is symbolic of the sacrament and as the two people ate we are told, “Their eyes were opened, and they knew him” (Luke 24:30).

There is a great lesson in this story for us. Yes, we need to study His words and learn all we can about Jesus, but one of the ways we will really come to know Him is through the sacrament. If partaken of with real intent and feeling, the sacrament will open our eyes, also.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Blog World

I’m in a funny mood today, so please take anything I say lightly! The sun is out! The rain has stopped. And I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this blogging world. And I mean world literally. Blogging is like entering a new habitat. I’ve been blogging for about two years now and have learned some interesting things. (1) You get more readers if people think you are dying. (2) Most older people (like my mother) can’t find their way into a blog. (3) Blogging is addicting. (4) Blogging causes me to wonder how daily experiences, like a bowl of spilled cold cereal, can meaningfully fit into my blog.

I hope you are laughing. As I said, I am in a strange mood. And thinking about blogging has made me stranger! By blogging I’ve connected with friends I haven’t seen for years. I’ve met new friends. I’ve learned wonderful things from the comments you’ve left. But what is odd is the connection I’ve felt to total strangers. I see from the site meter that there are some of you that stop by daily and I haven’t a clue as to who you are. And yet I feel so connected to you. I’ve come to know you simply as my friend in Encinitas or Lake Mary, or Waterloo, or Merritt Island. A friend with the address Bryantstratton.edu used to stop by daily and then all of a sudden stopped as did one in South Africa. That’s part of what I’m feeling as strange—almost weird. I’ve missed Bryantstratton and South Africa ever since. But how can I miss someone I’ve never met? I could walk past you and not even know you are my blog friend! And yet I do miss Bryantstratton and South Africa! This technological age creates some weird phenomenon!

Of course there are others of you that I recognize from the address and it warms my heart to think of you each time I see your address. I especially love all my friends in South Carolina, Utah, and Texas who stop by daily and the one in Livermoor and so many other places. I love seeing the addresses of students that came through my classes or that worked for my husband. And I appreciate those of you who have put a link on your blog to mine. It's such a delight to think you want to pass my blog on! Especially I love those of you who say hello or add a few words or ask questions. I love comments like the wonderful one yesterday from Anonymous! Anonymous, and everyone else who leaves comments, I love you!

In short, blogging is fun and I appreciate all of you for making my days so wonderful--in this weird technological way!

Make it a great day!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Serve Others And Put On A Few Pounds

We all know that the more we eat, the fatter we get. It is a discouraging thought. After all, if you are like me, you like to eat. I’ve spent half my life eating and the other half trying to take off the pounds I’ve put on by eating! But there is comfort in the thought that while it is healthier to keep our bodies slim and trim, the spirit is healthiest when nice and fat. We can indulge all we want in the things that make our spirits grow!

I have a favorite quote by Spencer W. Kimball that explains this joyful principle. “The more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our souls. We become more significant individuals as we serve others—indeed, it is easier to ‘find’ ourselves because there is so much more of us to find!” (Ensign, Dec. 1974, p. 2).

So, serve, rejoice, and be merry! Serve, and let the spiritual pounds pile on. Serve, and let the spirit’s girth expand. Serve, and never feel a moment of guilt or regret. Just drink in the joy!

picture: http://media.photobucket.com/image/serving%20others/drolling/kirkreinertspringxe6.jpg

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Don't Worry!

Living in Truth means not worrying. That is difficult for most of us to do. For many people, worry seems to be something like a heart beat—it is always with us and we think without it life would end. But we don’t need to worry! As a matter of fact, we are told not to.

The Savior instructs us to seek “not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day shall be the evil thereof” (JST Matthew 6:33-34).

In the Greek manuscripts this last verse makes a lot more sense. What it says (I’m paraphrasing) is that we shouldn’t be troubled or anxious about the things of tomorrow because the things of tomorrow will take care of themselves. Sufficient to each day is its trouble. In other words, if we turn our minds to the things of God and not worry about the problems of life, they will be taken care of.

I can’t imagine a better promise! Don’t worry. Keep the commandments. Be happy. Trust in God and “all things shall work together for your good” (D&C 90:34).

Monday, June 22, 2009

He Knows Us!

There is a message in the story of the woman who touches the Savior’s cloak and is healed that I’ve never heard anyone talk about. You’ll remember that in this story a woman who has had health problems for twelve years makes her way through the throng of people and touches the border of the Savior’s cloak. Immediately she feels the healing power surge through her and knows that the flow of blood has stopped and she has been healed.

But also at that moment the Savior turns and says, “Who touched me? Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me” (Luke 8:45).

Peter and the other apostles are baffled by the question. Hundreds of people are present and they are all pressing forward trying to get near the Savior. “Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?” they ask in amazement.

But the woman knows that Jesus is not simply asking about a physical encounter. She felt the exchange of power and she knows that He knows what she has done. At this realization she comes forward, trembling and tells Him and the multitude what she has done and how she was been immediately healed. But instead of reprimanding, as she feared He would, the Savior praises her.

Sometimes we think of ourselves as just one of billions of people on the earth. Like Peter and the other apostles we are baffled. How can the Savior possibly single us out and know us? It would be like distinguishing one grain of sand from another on the sea shore! But the message here is that He does distinguish. He knew what this woman was doing, and He knew what every other person in the crowd was doing. There may be thousands of people around us, and it is beyond our comprehension how He can do it, but Jesus Christ knows us individually. He knows what we are doing and what is in our hearts, and especially when we make contact with him, He responds.

picture: http://oneyearbibleimages.com/jesus_woman.jpg

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day, Dad

Since today is Father’s Day, I’d like to pay a special tribute to my own father. Because of him I love to read. Because of him I love to write. Because of him I love the scriptures. I have a wonderful mother and I love her dearly, but she and I are so different that sometimes I wonder if we aren’t from different planets. But my dad and I are so much alike that I find it almost eerie how I have ended up living out his dreams.

When I was young I always felt safe when Dad was around. He was a tall, broad shouldered man and I could spot him in a crowd both because he was tall and because he had a very distinct, confident gait. I remember many nights falling asleep to the sound of dad walking through the house turning out lights and locking the doors. I always knew that he was there to safeguard and protect me at all times.

As I grew through the teen years, Dad was always available to talk something through. He always had a story to illustrate his point and he always listened without telling me I shouldn't think or feel what I was feeling.

Growing up I didn’t appreciate all that went into him being the man he was. His parents died before I could know them and so I didn’t realize how he had risen above his environment. The oldest of three boys, Dad was the only one to be active in the Church. One brother later came into the Church, but it was too late for most of his family to be raised with gospel values. But Dad served a mission, married in the temple, was always active, and instilled in his five children (who are all active in the Church) a love for the Savior and a strong desire to do what is right.

I always knew that if I ever needed anything, Dad would be there for me. I miss him, and on this Father’s Day am grateful for the many years he was here for me. I'm confident he's watching over me still.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saving the Lost

When we live in Truth, we realize that sometimes there is nothing we can do to help others who have strayed except pray and wait. In Luke 15 the Savior gave three parables in a row. Each one teaches us a lot, but when seen together they teach us even more.

The first of these parables is the story of the lost sheep. In this story a man who has 100 sheep loses one of them and goes to find it. The sheep has wandered away from the flock and doesn’t know how to get back. Thus the shepherd needs to go after it.

The second parable tells us of a woman who loses a coin. When she realizes the coin is lost she sweeps and does all she can to find the coin. Since the lost object is a coin and has no volition, we can assume that it is the woman’s fault the coin was lost and thus she needs to do all she can to find it.

The third parable is the story of the prodigal son. In this story the son is not lost, he intentionally chooses to leave. The interesting thing is that in this parable no one goes after the son.

The message here is that when someone happens to wander from the Church perhaps because they haven’t been taught or they slip into inactivity because they have no friends to keep them in the Chruch we need to do all we can to search them out and bring them back. Or when we have inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings or pushed them away we need to do everything in our power to apologize and bring them back. But when someone has willfully choosen to disobey and leave, often all we can do is pray and wait for the person to come to the realization that there is only one way to happiness and peace and that is through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Notice that the father in this story didn’t sink himself in despair or beat himself up because he was a bad parent. That would have moved him into Illusion and made it difficult to stay close to the Spirit. Instead he lived in Truth, clung to hope and faith, and eventually his son returned.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Leavening and Mustard Seed

Throughout the New Testament the Savior repeatedly teaches the people about the kingdom of God. Often He uses two or more examples at a time saying, “The kingdom of God is like. . .” and then goes on to give several metaphors. At one point he compares the kingdom of God to a grain of mustard seed which grows into a tree that houses nesting birds. He immediately follows that by saying the kingdom of God is like leaven which grows to make three measures of dough rise.

Often there are layers of interpretation in metaphors and there are in this one. When we look at the parable on the macro level we see the kingdom of God is the Church and the Book of Mormon is the mustard seed “planted” in the earth to come from the Hill Cumorah and “grow” to cover the earth. The interesting thing is that there is no such thing as a mustard tree. The mustard seed grows into a bush that probably wouldn’t accommodate many nesting birds. The Savior knew this. So what he is saying is that this tiny mustard seed (His kingdom) was going to grow into something far beyond expectations. It would be miraculous. And as we know, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon has spread the gospel in miraculous ways and the angels, like birds, now reside in its branches. The Church has also risen like bread to nourish all the people of the world who partake of it.

But there is another interpretation. Later we are told that the kingdom of God can also be in us. “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:20-21). Looking at the parable on this micro level we learn a different lesson. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines kingdom as “politically organized community or major territorial unit having a monarchical form of government headed by a king or queen” and “a realm or region in which something is dominant.” Thus we learn that if the kingdom of God is within us it has a king, Jesus Christ, and a dominant force, His gospel, within us. Both of these things, the mustard tree and the bread, begin with a tiny grain. What the Savior is teaching us is that all we need to do is plant the tiny grain and then make sure it is nourished by trusting and Living in Truth and then it will grow into a miraculous tree (something beyond our expectations) and into three loaves of bread that will nourish and sustain us—three being a symbol of the Godhead.

When the seed and/or the grain of leavening have grown, we can then offer others a safe and joyful place to reside and leavening so the kingdom of God can also abide in them.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Opened Way

At the very moment the Savior gave up His life on the cross “the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Mark 15:38). This tiny piece of information inserted in an account of so many other amazing things going on often gets overlooked. But it is so amazing.

The veil that ripped is the veil that covered the entrance into the Holy of Holies or the place the ancient Israelites considered to be the Throne of God where God dwelt. The Holy of Holies symbolically represented the celestial kingdom and the only person permitted in the Holy of Holies was the High Priest (the symbol of Jesus Christ) who could only enter one day a year to make an atonement for the sins of the people.

Ancient historians tell us that the veil that rent, the veil in Herod’s temple, was an elaborate piece of work. It measured 60 feet by 30 feet. Woven of 72 twisted plaits, each plait consisting of 24 threads, the veil was a hand breadth thick or about 4 inches! It may be an exaggeration, but the historians claim that it took 300 priests to lift the veil into place.

The symbolism of this veil ripping is so beautiful. The veil is a symbol of Jesus Christ for it is through Him that all of us gain entrance into the presence of God. The ripping of the veil signified that the way back into the presence of God was now open because of the wounding of Jesus Christ. Now not just the high priest, but every person who wanted to enter could. Nothing more stood in the way.

But there is also meaning in the fact that such a substantial barrier had miraculously been destroyed. This reminds us that any barrier we can conceive of that might keep us from returning to our Father in Heaven, no matter how big or extensive it may seem, can be overcome because of Jesus Christ. Nothing except our own decision not to go there can keep us out. Christ opened the way. Christ overcame all barriers. We only have to follow Him in.

“ Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:14-16).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Glorifying God

I have always been puzzled by verses of scripture that talk about God being glorified. For example Paul tells the Corinthians : “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's” (1 Cor 6:20). I’m going to reveal my ignorance, but the reason I was puzzled is that to me the word glorify meant to make something glorious—glorious being something or someone that possessed glory. So how could I or any other human being glorify God? He is already glorious.

A little dictionary sleuthing soon solved my problem. Glorify also means “to praise or celebrate.” So what Paul is admonishing the people to do is to celebrate and praise God in their actions and thoughts.

I especially like the celebrate part. I think we talk so much about reverence in Church meetings (which is important and right for meetings!), that we don’t celebrate our Father and Heaven and the Savior enough. Outside of meetings, in our daily living we should be more exuberant about the wonderful things God has given us and done for us. We should remember Them with excitement and enthusiasm. We should rejoice daily in the great gift of the Atonement. This happens through our thoughts and words, but the best way to be excited and show our enthusiasm is to do what They have taught us to do. Every time we suppress a bad thought, control our temper, refrain from gossiping, refuse to tell a white lie, pay our tithing, or obey any commandment of God, we are glorifying God. At those times we should rejoice and celebrate the fact that we know what it is God want us to do so that we can do it. There are many people in the world who don’t have that knowledge. But we do! Rejoice! Glorify God! Celebrate God!

In short, what I am saying is that to glorify God means to live in such a happy and obedient way that God is obvious to others in your life.

“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:8).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Empowered By Affirmation

We’ve discussed Affirmative commands as one of the Truth Tools before. We talked about how much power comes from stating our goals and desires in a positive, affirmative way rather than in a negative way.

In accordance with this, I went through my Patriarchal Blessing and wrote out the information in my blessing in short affirmative sentences that I can read quickly. For example, a blessing might state that you should have faith to accept callings given you can be made into the Affirmative command, “I have faith to do whatever I am called to do.” A sentence that tells of gifts or talents you have been given such as being a peacemaker is easily written as, “I am a peacemaker.” The admonition to raise your children in faith and wisdom becomes, “I teach my children in faith and wisdom.” The statement that you are of the noble lineage of Ephraim becomes, “I belong to the noble lineage of Ephraim.” Write each item in first person, present tense as if it is already accomplished and in the most positive terms you can. For example, a statement that you are going to experience suffering, but that suffering will help you grow in faith would be written out, “The suffering in my life increases my faith.”

After compiling everything in your blessing in a list of affirmative statements, slowly read through the list aloud. Savor each affirmation. Feel the truth behind the statement. I have been surprised how empowering this is and how immediate the positive feelings can be felt. On dark days it is like a life preserver being thrown out to me. But don’t wait for dark days. Read your list daily and see what happens!

Picture: http://affirmativethinking.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/self_made_man.jpg

Monday, June 15, 2009

Recovery and Growth

As I’ve mentioned before, since my brain surgery last December, my body has changed. I used to be very good at multi-tasking. I could be making three dishes for dinner, talking on the phone, and following the news on television all at the same time. But since the surgery, I can only do one thing at a time. My reflexes are slower. My thought processes are different and I often find myself having to force my brain to do things that before I didn’t even think about.

Yesterday, for the first time since the surgery, I was asked to play the piano at a meeting to accompany congregational singing. When asked I didn’t think anything about it. I’ve done that thousands of times. So I went to the meeting and began playing the prelude. While playing a man came to ask me how I was doing. Before that would be no problem. I could talk and play at the same time, but yesterday I found myself playing all the wrong notes as I tried to listen to him and when I answered my hands stopped playing altogether. A few minutes later, I wondered if it was time for the meeting to start and glanced up to see the clock—something I’ve done hundreds of times with no problem. But this time when I looked back down I had absolutely no idea where I was. Fumbling I picked a spot and went on playing, but it was obviously the wrong spot and sounded atrocious!

The worst part, however, was the opening song. During the prelude there was some wriggle room. I could fudge a little on timing or do my own thing and it still sounded good. But now I had to follow the leader exactly. I was only two measures into the hymn when my stomach tied into a knot and my mind began to think, “I can’t do this! I can’t keep up. I can’t read all of these notes anymore.” I started to breathe heavy and my heart pounded. Then I realized I was dooming myself to failure. Quickly I changed how I was thinking. “I can do this. My brain has changed; I just need to discover how it works now. I made it through the prelude, and I can do this.”

At those thoughts, I could physically feel a change. My heart and breathing slowed. Panic left my head, and I could think clearer. I made some mistakes, more than I would have before, but I made it through without disrupting the meeting.

As I pondered on this after the singing, my first thought was, “I’m never going to accompany anyone again. I can’t do it anymore!” But even as I thought the thought I realized I couldn’t do that. If I give in to limitations, limitations will rule my life. As I endeavor to recover my full abilities, I will make more mistakes. People might criticize me or worse make fun of me. But if I am going to recover my abilities, I need to let mistakes happen and not worry about them. Letting worries about what other people think of my playing or any other thing I do will only hinder my growth.

This is something we all need to remember. Opening ourselves up and putting ourselves in a position where we are vulnerable is essential to growth.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Gift

We’ve all heard of the rich people of the world making endowments to universities or charities. These endowments add wings to hospitals or fund research projects or many other valuable things. Thus we all know that the word endowment is synonymous with the word gift. An endowment is a gift.

The prefix en means to put into or onto. The root of the word is endow which means “to equip or supply with a talent or quality.” The suffix ment means process of. Therefore the word literally means the process of putting a talent or quality into someone or something. But what is the most interesting thing about the word is its history or etymology. Endow comes from the Old French word douer which means to provide with a dowry. Therefore the gift the groom presented to the bride could be called an endowment.

When we put this together with the fact that throughout the scriptures Jesus Christ is symbolically the groom and his people are symbolically the bride, we gain a whole new feel for the word endowment.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Storm's Over

An terrible storm blew through here today. But now pink rose petals from the dozens of rose bushes in my yard are everywhere. Everything is green and sweet smelling. The sun is brightly smiling as if laughing at mother nature’s little joke, and its rays reflect on the rain drops left behind so that everything sparkles.

The dark and dreary, gusty and dank yard, is now enchanted like something out of a fairy tale. It is amazing how fast things can change.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Follow Your Heart

One of the reasons we don’t acknowledge truth and live with it is because we are afraid. But fear is the opposite of faith. When we refuse to Live in Truth because we are afraid, we are refusing to live in faith.

We can see this exemplified in simple things in our relationships. Let’s pretend that Zelda says to her husband Ralph, “You don’t spend enough time with me.” At this point Ralph has a choice to make as to how he will react to his wife. Some of the choices that might occur to him are: to ask for more information to better understand what Zelda wants and needs. To acknowledge that he doesn’t spend enough time and work to solve the problem. To decide that it is Zelda’s problem and ignore what she is saying. To ask if he could have a little time to think about what she has told him, and then they will discuss it some more. Obviously these are just a few of the possibilities. The important thing, however, is not the possibilities, but to realize that when a problem occurs our hearts will tell us which of these possibilities is right for us at that time.

Let’s pretend again, that in our example here, when Zelda accuses Ralph of not spending enough time with her, Ralph immediately knows in his heart that what she is saying is true. But at that realization fear kicks in. He begins to think, “I’m going to have to give up my golf game on Saturday morning!” or “This is going to mean no more watching football.” So his heart is telling him Zelda is right, but his head is telling him he is going to have to suffer if he admits it. At this point he has two more choices. He can move into the realm of Illusion and will then need to counteract the negative feelings of anger that Illusion always brings with it. Most often that is done by sulking, blaming, demeaning, or accusing Zelda—anything to make it seem like it is her fault instead of his. Or Ralph can go with his heart and admit that she is right. At this point he is Living in Truth and acting in faith.He doesn’t want to suffer, but he is willing to accept the Truth and by moving forward in truth he is trusting that the Savior will show him how deal with the problem with the least amount of suffering and pain. That is an act of faith.

Living in Truth also means living in faith

Picture: http://emilymphotography.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/follow-your-heart.jpg

Thursday, June 11, 2009

More on Trust

There is one other thing about the scripture we looked at in the last post. Whenever we are worried or fretting about the future or when we are confronted with a future we don’t want and never planned on, this trust is more important than ever. It is the hope we can cling to in order to help us live in Truth.

Let me share an experience that taught me this. Two hours before our second daughter was born, my husband was drafted into the army at the height of the Vietnam War. I had prayed fervently and with all the faith I could muster for two years that Carl wouldn’t be drafted and I was devastated. I thought my world had ended. When he left I found myself not only dealing with being alone, but with trying to understand why God had forsaken me. Why hadn’t he answered my prayers?

It was difficult and lonely caring for a 14 month old and a newborn baby all by myself. I had a lot of time to think and the thoughts always took me back to negative feelings that challenged my faith. But after five months, things got a little better when the children and I were able to join Carl while he finished his training as an operating room technician. Then came the fateful day when we were told that he was to report the next morning to receive orders as to where he would be stationed. Everyone we knew who had been drafted was sent to Nam and a cousin of mine that I was very close to had been killed in Nam. I cried a lot that night. I also prayed a lot that night, but the thoughts of previous prayers being unanswered haunted me and filled me with doubt rather than faith.

The next morning Carl gathered in a room with 300 other men and the sergeant began to instruct everyone as to what they needed to do before they shipped out to Nam. About ten minutes into his instruction he stopped and said, “I forgot. Five of you are not going to Nam. If you address is an APO address instead of an FPO, you are excused. We’ll give you instructions later.” Carl looked at his written orders and to his surprise discovered he was one of the five. He was going to Germany and since it was a non-combat zone, I was able to go with him.

But there is something more to this story. From the time I was young I wanted to visit Europe. I’d read about it and fallen in love with all the old things Europe offered. During high school I made myself a promise that I was going to graduate from college and then go live in Europe for a time before I settled down. I didn’t want to be a tourist. I wanted to live there so I could get a feel for the culture and the essence of the real place. But I married half way through college and figured I had given up on my dream.

When Carl came home and told me that we were going to Germany, I suddenly realized that while I thought God had forsaken me, He instead was fulfilling my dreams. From that point on I’ve been much better at trusting in Him.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Trust in the Lord

One of my favorite passages of scripture is found in Prov 3:2-6. It reads, “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. 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.”

This passage is packed with information about Living in Truth. First we are told to bind mercy and truth around our necks and write them in our hearts. The connection between mercy and truth is interesting. It is impossible to live in Truth without having mercy. When living in Truth, or living with the verity of what is, we constantly need to be merciful to others. We need to excuse their mistakes and overlook the things they say or do that could hurt us. Living in Truth is impossible if we aren’t merciful. In addition, mercy and truth needs to be so much a part of us that that they emanate from our hearts. Helping us to do that is what the Truth Tools are all about. Mercy and truth aren’t something we do. They are something we are. The promise for becoming mercy and truth, then, is that we will find favor and understanding not only from God but from our fellow man.

All this is a big order. It may even seem absolutely overwhelming. But the writer goes on to tell us how we can do it. By trusting in the Lord, not half-heartedly, but with all of our heart we can live in Truth. We turn ourselves over to God’s divine understanding and don’t try to outguess or think we know better than He does what we should do. We simply trust Him. In conjunction with this, we acknowledge Him as the author of our lives. We acknowledge that He is wiser than we are and even if for the moment our situation seems dire, we acknowledge that He must have some purpose in it. Our job is to discover the purpose and do what needs to be done. If we do that He will direct our path and that path always ends in happiness.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

When Righteous Desires Fail

One of the big problems that keeps us from living in Truth is that sometimes we think that what we want is the only acceptable outcome for the future. This is especially true when what we want is in accordance with teachings of the gospel. For example, we want to be married, we want to have children, we want to have a happy marriage, we want to serve a mission, we want our children to be righteous, etc. Those are righteous desires and yet they are not always the verity of life—the Truth.

What we have to realize is that God’s ways are not our ways. He sees and orchestrates things from a different (make that better!) perspective. As He tells us, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa 55:9). Therefore, our responsibility is to trust in God and understand that if we “Search diligently, pray always, and be believing . . . all things shall work together for [our] good” (D&C 90:24).

Therefore, instead of moving into the realm of Illusion and experiencing pain when our righteous desires are not fulfilled, we should pray and ask God what He intends by this experience. What is it He wants you to do in your situation? Are you to stand as a witness for Him through this trial? Is He putting you in a position to help others with a similar trial? Is He preparing you for something better? Is this trial intended to make you stronger? What is the good you are to accomplish because of your situation?

Living in Truth is living with what is, not with what we want EVEN if what we want is a righteous desire.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Just before Lehi dies he calls his family to him and gives them advice and counsel. Part of the counsel to his son Jacob includes this profound statement. “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11). We’ve talked before about how this verse instructs us that opposition is necessary. But there is more taught here.

What did you think when you first read this statement? If you are like most of us, you thought about how opposition means that for every good thing there is a bad thing. That is opposition. However, this statement also means that for every bad thing there is a good thing. This is especially important to realize when thinking about the future. For some reason when we are facing difficult decisions or facing life changes in the future, the fear, the worry, the negative things pop out at us so brightly and loud that we fail to recognize that there is also going to be a positive side because “there is an opposition in all things.”

Therefore, when facing oncoming adversity several of the Truth Tools can help. One is Questioning. When negative thoughts about what might happen pop into our heads we can question it by asking, “Is that true? “ “Will the thing we are fearing really happen?” Yes, it might, but then again it might not. Why let what might not happen destroy our peace? Take it one step at a time. Do what needs to be done. Trust in God. If the thing doesn’t happen—good. You didn’t waste time fearing and worrying. If it comes about God will help you through it when the time comes that you need His help.

Another Truth Tool that helps is one we just talked about—Revision. When fear begins to pull us away from peace, we can Revise the story we are telling ourselves. Refuse to let the story of fear run in our heads and hearts by replacing the story of impending gloom and doom with a story about how Jesus Christ is going to take care of us. That story fills us with peace and joy despite the adversity we are facing. We can also Revise the story by thinking about positive outcomes that could occur or about how family and friends will help us through the trial.

Opposition works for us as much as it works against us. Opposition in all things means that for every bad thing there is also going to be a good. Cling to that thought of good.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Being a Witness for Christ

One of the authors who has most inspired my life is Jacques Lusseyran. Lusseyran was blinded in an accident at the age of eight, but blindness taught him that light doesn’t come from outside a person. It comes from within. His autobiography, And There Was Light is amazing. On every page is a new insight that changes how you think about the world and yourself.

In one of his published essays he says, “God never creates new conditions for us without giving us the strength to meet them” (Against the Pollution of the I, p. 72). This is also a truth taught in the Book of Mormon when Alma’s people are put into bondage by the Lamanites and forced into slavery. The Lord answers their prayers for relief by telling them, “I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions” (Mosiah 24:14).

There are two lessons in this for me. The first is obvious and is what Lusseyran explained. If we stay close to the Lord, He will strengthen us to meet any of life’s challenges. The second is that sometimes the purpose of the challenge is that we can stand as a living testimony of Jesus Christ. However, if we let self-pity or discouragement overtake us we fail to bear witness of Christ. Using the Truth Tools to drive away self-pity and discouragement helps us not only to be happy in the midst of affliction, it allows us to “stand as witnesses” of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Attracting Faith

Do you remember the first time you encountered the magic of magnetic forces? I do. I remember the first magnets I played with and how they repulsed each other or snapped on to one another. My dad put one magnet on top of the table and the other underneath making the one on top waltz magically across the table. Later I remember a toy that had metal filings on the face of a man and a magnet underneath moved the filings to make a beard or hair on his head. These magnetic forces that couldn’t be seen but that were so manifestly obvious seemed magical.

As I’ve grown older I’ve come to realize there are many forces like magnetic fields that are present in our world but unseen. Faith is one of those forces. It can be just as obvious even though it isn’t seen, and just as with magnetism it has an opposing pole—faith draws us closer to God and fear and doubt push us away from God. The Savior performed the Atonement which broke the barriers and allows us to be drawn to Him. Our responsibility in the relationship with Christ is to choose the attracting force, faith, and avoid the rebelling force, fear and doubt.

The Truth Tools that we have been talking about are nothing more than strategies or tools to help us tap into the positive force of faith that draws us close to Jesus Christ. The default force in life is the negative force and if we aren’t actively seeking the positive force, we will find ourselves being pulled away from God. Learning to avoid the negative forces that push us away from Christ and aligning ourselves with the positive forces that like the magnetic field actually draw us to Christ, is one of the greatest things we can do in life.

Friday, June 5, 2009

You Can Revise

The Truth Tool, Revision, is a powerful tool to use just before you go to bed. Just before you go to sleep, think about the things during the day that pulled you away from Living in Truth and into Illusion. Then Revise the story you told yourself that caused you to enter the realm of Illusion. Tell yourself the revised story and let the positive feelings go to sleep with you.

For example, let’s say that you saw on a friend’s blog that she had pictures of an outing with some other friends. They were all gathered at a restaurant having lunch. She reported all the fun things they did, but as you read the blog you are vexed by the thought that she didn’t invite you. All the rest of the day the thought nagged at you and made you sad. You began to write a story about, “Why do I always get left out?” or “They should invite more people.”

Before you go to sleep, take the thoughts you have been thinking—the story you have been telling yourself and revise it. It could become, “I’m going to invite them to lunch.” (There can be no feeling of revenge in this—just joy at making a new opportunity!) or thoughts such as, “She probably tried to call me and I wasn’t home.” Or “Maybe she just forgot.” Or (There is a probability that these things could be true and even if they aren’t, why go around with horrible feelings when you could change them with this simple thought?) Or you could think, “It doesn’t really matter. I’ve gone out to lunch a lot of times with other friends. I don't need to be included every time.” You get the idea. There are hundreds of ways to rewrite the story.

After changing the story you are telling yourself, begin to think about what you are going to do tomorrow to make someone else happy. Go to sleep with those thoughts in your head and then the next day do whatever you determined to do. You choose your thoughts! Make them good thoughts.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

BYU Education Week

I'm having computer problems and haven't been able to answer comments. I'll get to it as soon as I can. I only have a few moments so for today let me just tell you that I've been invited to speak at BYU Education Week this August 17-21. If you are coming to Education Week, look for me! I'd love to see you and talk to you.

I'm teaching two classes. One is on Living in Truth. I think it is called "The Truth Shall Make You Free." It is all about the things we have been talking about here on the blog. The other class is called "Messages in the Miracles of Jesus" and is about what we learn from the symbolism the Savior conveyed as he performed His miracles.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Finding The Kingdom of God

At one point in His teachings, Jesus said to the people, “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21).

The implications of this verse are amazing. We don’t need to wait for peace or joy or happiness or the Kingdom of God. They are available to us in any moment. It is what Living in Truth is all about. When we accept what is and then simply do what needs to be done, we are living in a heavenly way. Chaos and tumult and unrest can surround us, but inside we experience the kingdom of God and all its positive qualities.

As we learn to use the Truth Tools, we facilitate the kingdom of God. We learn how to tune into Truth and the attending peace and joy that are part of the kingdom of God. As we let go of this world and trust in God, we enter the kingdom of God. We don’t need to wait for it! It is already here. All we need to do is let it flow from us.

picture http://www.dst-corp.com/james/PaintingsOfJesus/Jesus06.jpg

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

For Good!

When the Jaredites finally boarded the ships and sailed forth to the Promised Land, we are told that a “furious wind” began to blow “thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind.” And “they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind” (Ether 6:5). We can only imagine the fear and worry this might have caused. But they were following the light and so they had no need to fear.

In symbology storms represent the adversity we encounter in life. But if we are steering by the light (like the light the Brother of Jared went to the mountain to receive), we have no need to fear. But there is more, we are also told that “the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind” (Ether 6:8).

Yes, even the adversity takes us home to the Promised Land! (If we continue to follow the light!) As the Lord has promised, “all things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28).

I knew this before, but my adventure with Grizelda has confirmed it. Even the smallest bits of suffering are turned to our good when we stay close to the Lord. It is true.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Our Promised Land Journey

When the Lord commands the Brother of Jared (Ether 2-3) to build ships to take his people to the Promised Land, he obeys. But as the ships are completed the Brother of Jared realizes that there are some problems. The first problem is that the ships are air tight and the people inside will suffocate. The other problem is that the ships are dark inside. The people sailing in the ships would not even be able to see to steer the ships! So the Brother of Jared prayed to know how to solve these two problems.

In answer to his prayer the Lord told the Brother of Jared to cut a hole in the top and in the bottom of the ship so that they could be opened when needed for air. The Brother of Jared does as he is instructed, but then prays again saying that he has obeyed the Lord’s instructions and cut the holes, but there is still a problem in that they have no light.

This time instead of telling him what to do, the Lord asked the Brother of Jared what to do about the problem. So the Brother of Jared pondered on the problem and came up with a solution. He climbed a high mountain, prepared 16 stones out of molten rock, and then prayed and asked the Lord to touch the stones so that they would give off light. The Lord answered his prayer and the 16 stones are placed in the ships where they light the way.

In Hebrew the word spirit and the words wind or breath are the same word, ruach. So symbolically we find in this story a metaphor. Our bodies are the vessels and when we are born, the Lord puts into our bodies the breath of life or our spirits so that we can make this journey through life. But as we commence the journey, we are in the dark as to how to steer our way back to God. To solve that problem we need to ask the Lord to touch our souls so we will have the light necessary to steer our vessels back to the presence of God. He gives us our spirits, but we must find the light.

There is more symbolism in just this much of the story. Ponder on it and let me know what else you learn!