Friday, July 31, 2009

Good News on Good News!

One of the reasons I've been so busy lately is that my book that I called Good News! has been accepted for publication and I have been doing some last minute editing.

Walnut Springs is going to publish it, but they don't like the title because it doesn't explain what the book is about. I agree, but we have had a terrible time coming up with anything else.

I've been waiting to tell you the good news until we had a new title, but I'm tired of waiting. The book will be out before Christmas and I am excited. I'll let you know more of the details when I have a title! But until then I have a new book coming, Untitled Good News!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Preparing For BYU Education Week

I always love teaching at BYU Education Week. I love meeting so many wonderful people, I delight in the feeling in the room with so many eager learners present, and I especially love preparing to teach. But this year it has been extra special to prepare. I will be teaching a class on The Truth Shall Make You Free at 9:30 a.m.Tuesday through Friday which is a subject that if you’ve been reading this blog long you know I love. I will also be teaching a class on Miracles in the Messages of Jesus at 11:00 am on Wednesday through Friday. Both classes are in the MARB. Both have been exciting to review and research, but the class on the Miracles has been especially invigorating.

Immersing myself in the New Testament has been so rewarding. To begin I made a data base of all the miracles that are reported by the gospel writers—there are 41. Just looking at the data base is fascinating. Of the 41 miracles the most, eleven, are performed on nature or inanimate things. These include the calming of the sea and feeding five thousand people (which is the only miracle reported by all four gospel writers). Of the healing miracles, giving sight to the blind is the most common with five being reported. Casting out unclean spirits comes next with four, and accounts of Him raising the dead occur three times besides raising from His own grave

These figures and the patterns that begin to immerge as I study them are interesting, but I wish I could convey to you the amazing feelings and knowledge I’ve gained by immersing myself in these stories and pondering on them for hours at a time. But that isn’t possible. The only thing I can do is urge you to study in depth yourself. Don’t just read the scriptures. Find something that interests you such as the parables or speeches or teachings on a specific principle and REALLY study them. Then enjoy! It is absolutely amazing what the Lord will teach you if you demonstrate your willingness to learn.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I opened my Book of Mormon this morning and a phrase marked in red jumped out at me: “Let your hearts rejoice” (2 Nephi 9:52). And so I did!

Without moving from the place I’m at, I’m rejoicing at the sun warming my cheek. The music of the hall clock as it marks the hour. The soft breeze created by the fan overhead. The bright colors of the books lined up on my book shelves. The pictures of my grandkids, one infant with his foot in his mouth, and the picture of my girls when they were young lined up like steps from the youngest to the oldest and wearing dresses I made for them. The figurines that characterize my daughters and sit on the bookshelf each day watching over me, bathing me in warm memories of all the good times we have spent together. It is amazing how in any given moment we can stop and find so much to rejoice over!

Stop for a moment and rejoice in what is around you. Then tell me what you discovered.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Approaching Hectic!

I’ve been very busy lately and after living with no stress and no pressure for the last six months to suddenly be pressured and stressed is strange. I keep asking myself how I lived with pressure for so many years. After all, this is how my life has been forever. The hardest and most time consuming part of getting ready for brain surgery was making sure all my bases were covered and that everything I normally took care of would be taken care of while I was incapacitated. I was a busy person!

Now as I return to normal, hectic life I’m encountering new challenges. I don’t have the stamina I used to. My mind, after undergoing brain surgery, doesn’t process as fast and as well. As I try to do things like I used to, I find myself growing befuddled and confused. It is very strange and disconcerting. It is as if I have a different body than the one before the surgery. But the doctors assure me that I’ll be back to 100% in another six months or so. I hope so, but even if I don’t get everything back I have learned a valuable lesson from all of this.

This has given me a whole new appreciation for other people’s limits and capacities. I am ashamed to admit it, but I used to get impatient with people who didn’t catch on to things fast. I used to judge and be critical, but I’m repenting of all that. Each of us have different capabilities and talents and abilities. Each of us have strengths and weaknesses and when we are critical of others we are looking only at their weaknesses and not their strengths. I hope I never forget that just as I am struggling right now to do my best when that best is not always optimal, others are also doing their best. Instead of being critical, I hope that from now on I can always patiently help and encourage.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Feeding Five-Thousand

Since I’m getting ready for BYU Education Week and the classes I’ll be teaching on the Messages in the Miracles of Jesus, I’ve been studying the miracles again. I’ve been doing this off and on for the past six years, and they never cease to amaze me. One of the things I’ve learned came from the miracle of the feeding of the five-thousand. Can you imagine the feelings and thoughts the disciples had when they told the Savior He ought to send the people home and instead He told them to feed them? Five-thousand men plus their wives and children! And can you imagine how the one small boy felt when the disciples asked if he would give his five loaves of bread and two fish to feed the multitude?

The numbers here are very interesting. To the people gathered numbers had symbolic meaning. Five is a symbol of the Atonement and God’s grace. Two is a symbol of opposition-good vs. bad. The elements used in this miracle are also symbolic. Bread is a symbol for Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life. And Fish are a symbol of man. Five loaves of bread plus two fish equal seven which is a symbol of perfection or completion and of covenants. Thus we trust in the Atonement of Christ (5), and endure the trials and opposition of life (2) His grace is sufficient to bring us to perfection or completion (7).

But there is more. Remember the small boy who gave all he had. So often in life we are called upon to do what seems way beyond our ability. We are called to positions in the Church. Or we feel overwhelmed by parenting, or jobs, or relationship. Or sometimes life and its trials just seem way beyond our ability to cope with. But from this miracle we learn that if we just give or use whatever we have, if we just do our best, the Lord makes it enough. We give what we can and the Lord makes up the difference.

And there is more! After feeding the thousands of people until they are full and satisfied, the disciples gather up the left-over bread and fish and discover that there are 12 baskets full. Twelve is a symbol of the priesthood, and there is one basket for each disciple so that they can continue, through the power of the priesthood, to assist in feeding all those who follow Jesus.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Trusting Father

Having some of the grand kids here has brought back a lot of memories of when my own children were young. I’ve watched my daughters and their husbands parenting, and I remember the feelings of longing I had to do what was right for each child. Usually the day to day activities kept me so busy I didn’t have time to ponder on it much, but when I stopped and did have time to think, the responsibility of helping my children return to their Heavenly Father was overwhelming. And when I made mistakes in my parenting, it hurt! In short, what I’m trying to explain here is that I tried to do my best and always wanted the best for my children and I see my own children demonstrating that exact same desire with their children.

These thoughts have made me think of a verse of scripture, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give good gifts, through the Holy Spirit, to them who ask him” (JST Luke 11:14). I made mistakes in my parenting, but our Father in heaven doesn’t make mistakes. He gives us good things and helps us through our problems in perfect ways. We can trust that what He gives and does is always right. Oh, the peace and hope that should give us. All we have to do is trust in Him.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Happy Pioneer Day!

Here in Utah we are celebrating Pioneer Day because 162 years ago today Brigham Young entered the Great Salt Lake Valley and established the Mormon Pioneers in the middle of this desert. They built forts and homes, cultivated the land, irrigated, and established an oasis in the wasteland that I now call home—a place where they could worship God without being persecuted.

I can’t help but think about my ancestors who were part of this migration and who paid such a price to come here. One of my grandmothers was about to deliver a baby and after many days on the trail, she couldn’t go any further. The rest of their company moved on while she and my grandfather waited. But there was little food. So he made her a bed under the wagon to protect her from the hot sun, took the gun, and went out hunting for food.

While waiting for my grandfather to return, my grandmother prayed that he would find something. While she prayed, a bevy of quail landed next to her. She reached out and grabbed two birds, wrung their necks and continued to wait. When Grandfather returned he was empty handed, but they ate the birds grandmother had caught and thanked God for the answer to their prayers.

As we are told in the book of Ether, one of the reason Orihah was a good and righteous king is that he “did remember how great things the Lord had done for his father, and also taught his people how great things the Lord had done for their fathers” (Ether 6:30). Even if you don’t live in Utah, take time to remember the pioneers in your family and to tell the stories of faith to those around you.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Being You

I hope each of you awakes each morning thinking, “It is so great to be me!”

God made you to be you. He put you where you are in order to serve the people that surround you and to learn from those people. Of all the situations in life, the situation you are in is the very best situation for you.

The problem is that we look around at other people and begin to doubt God. Surely He made a mistake! We should be as energetic as a friend down the street or as pretty as the lady in the grocery store or able to sing like the next door neighbor. We think life would be so much better for us if our children behaved like our sister’s children or that our husband was as considerate as our best friend’s husband. We think we aren’t as capable as the friend who owns the boutique or as the cousin with the Master’s degree. We cower and hide the talents God has given us because we deem them not as good as what everyone else has. What a mistake. Just thinking those thoughts keeps us from discovering what we are supposed to be doing. But more than that thinking that way chokes the joy right out of life!

In 1 Peter 4:10 the King James Bible reads, “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” That same verse in the NRSV Bible reads, “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” And the NIV reads, “”Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms."

Between these three translations, you can’t miss the message. Whatever God has given YOU, use it to bless the lives of others. Don’t fret about whether you have more or less or would be better off with something different. The truth is that you have all you need to do what you were sent here to do. So USE it. If you are a good listener, listen. If you have a sense of humor, laugh. If you have a beautiful smile, share it. If you see these wonderful things in others instead of coveting write a note and thank them for making your life better by sharing. If you are healthy, serve others who aren’t. If you struggle with relationships, ask God what you are to learn from it. The list goes on and on. There is a reason and a purpose for everything. Don’t waste time fretting about it. Learn from it. Grow from it. Use it to bless others!It really is great to be you!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Like Children

I’ve had my daughter here from Texas this week and so I’m very late posting today. But it has been so wonderful watching grandchildren. We adults have a lot to learn from children. I’ve watched as five-year old Anna takes great delight in ants devouring a table scrap. I’ve watched Isaac and Eli race and chase until I’m exhausted. (They aren’t!) I’ve answered more questions that I can count. I’ve listened to the giggles a simple shadow brings forth and am amazed at the wonder, delight, and joy children greet most moments with. I’m not sure I fully understand the connection, but it made me think of the verse of scripture which says, “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein” (Luke 18:17).

I do think, however, that if we want to understand the kingdom of God, we need to be more like children.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My Heritage

I can’t stop thinking about our trip to Cumorah. We had such a good time, but it was more than good. There was something almost transcendental going on. I was being tied to my roots in a spiritual way. And I watched as my children and grandchildren were drawn to their roots also. Obviously those roots include our pioneer heritage. So many people gave so much so that we could have the gospel. Martin Harris mortgaged his farm to pay for the printing of the Book of Mormon. Joseph and his family endured intense persecution. Everyone in those days paid a price to belong to the Church and while in Palmyra I felt such a kinship and tie to those people—an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

But there was more. I felt amazing ties to my Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ. Walking through the Sacred Grove is like being in a temple. The feelings are real, almost tangible, and my grandchildren were feeling those things also.

Luke turned five years old while we were there. His part in the Pageant was to be a Nephite child when the Savior appears. The scene is stunning as suddenly in the dark night, high in the sky, Jesus slowly descends to the earth. Once on the stage, Jesus walks down a flight of stairs, as people eagerly reach for Him and take His hand. Luke was one of those people and the last night we saw the production, he watched the coming of the Savior in awe as he always did, but as the Savior passed Luke looked up into Jesus’ face and said softly, reverently, “My name is Luke.”

That incident summarizes the feelings. When in Palmyra I felt like I was conversing with those who have gone before and with my Savior. While I didn’t say it, the thought was, “My name is Sherrie, and I am one link in this amazing history. This is my story, too.”

Monday, July 20, 2009

Persistence Power

Growing up my mother used to tell me the story of the little train pulling a large load at a time of crisis who accomplished the task by saying, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” The little train saved the day and did what the large trains failed to do. Mother used the story to illustrate the importance of positive thinking. That’s great, but it is also an important lesson in the power of persistence.

We don’t usually think of persistence as a gospel principle, but it is.

After the Lord confounds the language of the people at the time of the Tower of Babel, we are told that the Jaradites are led to a new home. As the Lord tells the Brother of Jared about the Promised Land He is leading them to, he says, “And there will I bless thee and thy seed, and raise up unto me of thy seed, and of the seed of thy brother, and they who shall go with thee, a great nation. And there shall be none greater than the nation which I will raise up unto me of thy seed, upon all the face of the earth. And thus I will do unto thee because this long time ye have cried unto me” (Ether 1:43). For some reason, in some circumstances, the Lord wants us to persist in our prayers and pleadings.

So what does that mean? It means we shouldn’t get discouraged because our prayers aren’t answered immediately. It means we shouldn’t give up praying for things we need or want just because our prayer hasn’t been answered yet. It means that there is something important for us to learn by being persistent in our prayers. And who know what else there may be to learn from this. In short, it means, hang in there! Who knows what great blessings are ahead!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Miracles Happen

Miracles happen.

Miracles really do happen. I’m sure if you are reading this blog you already know that and believe it. But sometimes we tend to subconsciously modify that thought to be, “Miracles happen to other people.” Not so! Miracles happen to you.

Repeat that phrase again right out loud and pay attention to how you feel when you say it, “Miracles happen.”

Just saying it brings feelings of empowerment and strength into your heart. All of us know miracles happen, but in our day to day experiences we come up against something that our logic tells us is impossible to surmount and we give in to logic instead of clinging to the fact that miracles happen. I know they do. Again, if you’ve been reading this blog for very long, you know that I have been the recipient of some major miracles. I’ve also been the beneficiary of hundreds of smaller miracles.

So my challenge to you is that at the first sign of discouragement, simply repeat to yourself out loud, “Miracles happen. Miracles happen. Miracles happen.” And then do all you can to make good of the situation, and wait expectantly for the miracle! It will happen.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Days Four and Five

We arrived home late last night. On day four we found the Sonnenberg Mansion in Canandaigua. This was a slightly different experience than the Church history sights, but wonderful. The Victorian mansion was the 41 room summer home of Mary Thompson whose husband founded what is now known as Citibank. The mansion was built in 1885-87 and was stunning. The house includes 52 acres of imaginative and delightful gardens. My favorite was the Japanese garden that had a Japanese Tea House with bridges and ponds and paths adorning it. My second favorite was the rock garden that consisted of a rock lined maze cut six feet down into the ground that twisted and turned and led into a few nooks. Everything was so magical and beautiful.

That night we attended the pageant again. It is amazing how much you miss if you only go once. There is too much to see! The first night the weather was quite cold, but the second night with jackets and blankets we were comfortable.
Yesterday morning we took Mother to Rochester because her plane left two hours before ours and then we did the “Turn left here. Oh, this looks like a good street. Maybe we should turn here. Go right now. . .” thing trying to find someplace to eat. Suddenly there was a sign telling us that the Susan B. Anthony home was on the next block. So we stopped and went through it. She is one of my heroes and I enjoyed seeing where she lived and the room in which she was arrested for voting. Especially fun was seeing the black silk dress displayed in her bedroom. Women in Utah who raised silk worms made the silk brocade fabric and gave it to Anthony as a gift for her 80th birthday and to thank her for her work to give women the right to vote. Anthony then had it made into this dress. I can’t remember for sure, but I think they said she wore the dress to Utah when she was on a lecture tour.

I am so grateful she hung in there despite all the persecution she encountered. So many rights that women enjoy today are because of Susan B. Anthony. I’ve always thought it interesting that she was born about 50 miles away from the spot of Joseph Smith’s first vision and just two months before it. The Lord send a lot of blessings in 1820!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Day Three in Palmyra

I'm sorry I couldn't post yesterday. The Internet connection in the motel went out. But we had an amazing day. Last night, with stars twinkling over head, we wrapped in blankets and watched as the Book of Mormon came to life. To begin the pageant, the entire cast of 700 people fill the stage in costumes and waving bright colored banners. Then the story unfolds. Sprays of water with bright lights shining into the mist make the Tree of Life vision come to life. Lehi and Nephi, along with their families, journey to the Promised Land in a life size ship, the huge billowing sail of the ship catching the wind until a terrible storm complete with rain rips it from it bearings. King Noah stabs a dissenter who falls ten feet to his death. Real fire consumes Abinadi, but the most spectacular part of the show is when Jesus Christ descends from high, amid the stars to gather the children in his arms and heal all who need healing.

I saw the pageant many years ago, but I had forgotten how spectacular it is. Before the show the cast members mingled with the crowd in full costume—spectacular costumes designed to be seen from hundreds of yards away. We took pictures and visited—found people who know people we know and had a great evening.

Earlier in the day we visited the Whitmer farm where Joseph did some of the translating and where the Church was organized. I study, even teach about these events every semester, but to actually be here and feel the sacredness of the places does something to one’s heart that I can’t put into words. All I can say is that Jesus Christ lives and is not only directing the Church, He is leading people to it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Day Two in Palmyra

Yesterday we spent the morning in the Smith homes and the Sacred Grove again--this time with Patrea and her family. It was just as wonderful the second time. We spent the afternoon in the Grandin building where the first Book of Mormon was printed. The fact that a press the size of that one was in a small town like Palmyra is nothing short of miraculous. But what doesn’t often get mentioned is the long involved binding process. The folded signatures of each book had to be cut open. First each signature (a paper with 16 pages printed on it) was cut in half with a bone knife. Then the two halves were folded, stacked with other signatures and the edges planed off so the pages could open. Once the signatures were compiled, each book had to be hand sewn together! And each leather cover had to be glued to cover board and then to the book. Then each book, again by hand, had to have the gold lettering that formed the title embossed on the spine one letter at a time. It took years to get all 5,000 books finished. Again, it is amazing a bindery that could handle such a large printing order was even in such a small town. So many miracles!

Palmyra is in the Finger Lakes region of New York which is still small towns and breath-takingly beautiful. Rich green corn fields abound broken occasionally by brown fields of grain. Homes on large lots with sweeping green lawns surrounding them stretch on for miles. No one fences their yards. There is no sign of cement—no sidewalks, no curb and gutters—only nature at her comfortable best.

We are staying in Canandaigua which is about 20 minutes south of Palmyra at the northern tip of Canandaigua Lake. Last night we took a dinner cruise with Patrea and her family around the lake on a real paddle boat called the Canandaigua Lady. Fantastic food. Brilliant sunset. Beautiful clean water. Friendly, accommodating crew that even let me steer the boat for awhile. In short, an amazing evening. We invited two of the crew members to come to the pageant with us tonight. We’ll see if they show up!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Joseph Smith's Boyhood Homes

It is amazing what a good night’s sleep will do for a person. As you might remember, I don’t sleep sitting up and all night on an airplane didn’t allow for much rest. But last night I slept like an angel. I’m ready to go. Our daughter and her husband from Washington, D.C. drove up to join us with their three children so we are in for a fun day.

Part of the excitement here is the back stage adventure we are having. There were a couple thousand families who tried out for the pageant. (They accept all participants as families.) And many of them who come stay behind the Hill Cumorah in Zion’s Camp, a camp ground with pavilion and bathrooms, and refrigeration facilities. They come in motor homes, trailers, pop-up tents, or tents. Some fly in and then rent a motor home here to stay in for the duration of the pageant. Some have been in the pageant before and have perfected camping. They set up their camp and then cover their entire camp with a huge blue plastic tarp to protect against the frequent rains.

The security is amazing. Everyone has to wear a badge. We visited and ate dinner with Laresa’s family and were given visitors’ badges. The organization and unity is astonishing, but again the thing that is most overwhelming is the feeling. The camaraderie and the love that fills the camp is beyond words. People come from all over the United States to be part of the 700 member cast and they are one big family! They take care of each other’s children. They share an evening, “Munch and Meet.” Yesterday everyone had been to Church before we got there and teenagers mingled in the pavilion still in their Church clothes while adults played games with little ones at picnic tables. What a sight! A camp ground with everyone in dresses and white shirts and ties.

Today we are taking in all the Church history sights with Patrea and her family. I’ll tell you more about it tomorrow. I’m so glad we have an Internet connection at the hotel!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

We Made It!

We were up all night on the red-eye special. Arrived in NY City at 5:45 a.m. Had a three hour layover and then flew to Rochester. By 1:30 p.m. we had seen Joseph Smith's frame home and the old log cabin. Then the highlight, we took a long meandering walk through the Sacred Grove. There were few people in the grove so we weren't pushed or hurried. We lingered in the dusky shadows soaking up the amazing feeling of peace and love. The grove is so dense that even though the sun is bright overhead, it feels like dusk except for the illuminated canopy of leaves that forms a mystical ceiling.

I'll write more about it later. I am so tired I can barely type. But I just wanted you all to know that we arrived and it is wonderful! There are a few places on earth that approach heaven and this is one of them!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I'm Off To Adventure

The next few days I may not be able to post. I’m on my way to Palmyra, NY, to see the Hill Cumorah Pageant. I am excited to see it because it is an amazing production, but also because my oldest daughter, Laresa, and her entire family are in it. I don’t know if I will have Internet access, but whenever I do I will keep you apprised of all the fun.

Hope you all have a great weekend! Tomorrow I’ll be in the Sacred Grove!

My wonderful photographer/husband is going with me, so I'll post pictures as soon as I can.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Help Is Here

I was speaking with a friend this morning who had just made an important decision that required prayer and the direction of the Spirit. The answer came to her, and brought with it a peace and comfort. As she ended her story, she said, “I wish I would remember to go to the Lord more when making decisions.”

Her words have made me think a lot about how we get so caught up in telestial living that we forget that there is celestial help. In the New Testament Jesus warns his followers that they will be delivered before governors and kings to be tried. “But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you” (Matthew 10:19-20). Learning to trust in that Spirit to help us makes life so much easier.

In making decisions, in bearing witness of Christ, in performing in our Church callings, in strengthening our relationships—in short, in anything we do that is good, “it shall be given us” if we just trust more in the Spirit to help us. We are not alone. Jesus Christ loves us and will help us if we will remember that He is there to help us.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


There is an old Hebrew myth that tells of a night when Abraham saw a stranger walking toward him. As the old man, weary from travel and bent with age, stumbled along the path Abraham rushed to help him. Taking him into his tent, Abraham washed the old man’s feet and gave him food and drink. But the old man began to devour the food without saying a prayer.

Surprised, Abraham asked the man, “Don’t you offer thanks to God?”

“I only worship fire. I honor no other God,” the old man replied.

At those words, Abraham grabbed the old man and threw him out into the dark night.

As the old man stumbled off, God asked Abraham, “Where is the stranger?”

Abraham replied, “I threw him out because he did not worship You.”

“I have suffered him eighty years even though he dishonors Me,” God said. “Could you not tolerate him one night?”

I like this story because it reminds me that when I Live in Truth, I don’t need to judge, or lecture, or correct others. All I have to do is access what is needed in that moment and then do it. Living in Truth is a beautiful way to simplify life.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Avoid Annoyance

Usually we think of living our religion as staying as far away as possible from sin. But there is more. If we want to live our religion we need to keep our hearts pure and as far away from bad feelings as possible. In speaking to some of the early settlers in Utah, Elder George A. Smith once said, “If you wish to enjoy your religion and the Spirit of the Almighty, you must make your calculations to avoid annoyances, as much as possible” (Journal of Discourses, 3:284).

The thing that prompted this advice was a problem with cattle. It seems that cattle were straying from their owners, wandering into other people’s farms, and destroying crops. Disputes would then ensue. Neighbors were mad at each other and demanding payment for damaged crops. Bad feelings erupted on every side, and, as Elder Smith acknowledged, bad feelings keep us from the companionship of the Spirit.

So what was Elder Smith’s solution? He told the people to build fences. If they fenced their land stray cattle couldn’t get in to destroy crops and then bad feelings wouldn’t get in to destroy hearts.

Stray cattle don’t bother most of us, but we all have things that annoy and disturb our peace. But if we look carefully at our circumstances we can come up with a strategy to help prevent the annoyance and keep our hearts pure. Sometimes it takes a little imagination and work, but there is a solution if we will look for it!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Why Worry Over One Percent?

I’ve never been much of a worrier, but when I worry I REALLY worry. I blame it on the vivid imagination I have. That’s what I’ve been working on eliminating. I once read that worry is like rocking in a rocking chair. It takes up time, but doesn’t get you anywhere. But it is worse than that! The rocking makes a rut in the ground that sinks you deeper and deeper in despair.

It has also been purported that 95% of the things we worry about never come to pass and of the 5% that does come about, four out of five of those things turn out better than what we anticipated. And of that last one percent that actually does happen, it is usually not as bad as we thought it would be.

So why do we worry? I don’t have a clue. Why make ourselves miserable when we don’t need to. When we Live in Truth, we deal with what is, not with what might be. That simple way of dealing with life saves so much pain. So stop worrying! Be happy!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Be Happy!

I am happy. My strength is almost back to normal. My stamina is starting to return, and life is wonderful. During this whole ordeal with Grizelda, I have come to understand so much more about the importance of being happy—no matter what appears on the road of life. As the Proverb says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine” (Proverbs 17:22). I really believe that and would now change it to say, “A merry heart does more good than a medicine.”

But it isn’t just the good that a merry heart does to the body. I’ve come to realize that when you look at life with a merry heart, everything is different. Colors are more vibrant. Sounds are more melodic. Smells are more delightful. And the touch of things is more intense.

The amazing thing is to realize that despite what is happening to you, you can choose to be happy. Simply smiling, even if you don’t have a reason to smile, makes chemical changes in the body. Scientists put pencils in people’s mouths and the simple act of forcing a smile in this way produced the same chemical changes in the body as if a person had a wonderful reason to smile. So smile! Be happy! Take on a merry heart and see what the medicine does for your soul!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Safely In The Stall

If you’ve been reading this blog very long, you know how much I love the words of Isaiah. He was an amazing man and an incredible teacher. His words are poetry and prophecy at the same time. One of my favorite things about him is how he encourages and uplifts. But there are other Old Testament prophets that I haven’t talked about before that also lift and encourage. One of those is Malachi.

One of my favorite verses from Malachi is “But unto you that fear my name, shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth and grow up as calves in the stall” (Malachi 4:2). You have to think about this for a few minutes to really understand what Malachi is saying. First of all the play on words with Sun substituted for Son. Christ is the Son and He is the Light—the Sun—the bright light of righteousness. He will arise from the dead with healing in His wings. Throughout scripture wings is used for a symbol of power. There are many symbols that are used to denote power and each has a slightly different emphasis. Hands denote power in that they do work. A head denotes power in that it houses our brains where we choose what we will do. A wing specifically refers to the power to escape earthly enemies just as a bird can lift itself into the air and escape predators—as long as it stays in the air! Likewise Jesus will give us the power to escape our earthly enemies and lift us to God the Father.

But the last part of this verse is my favorite. In this day and age of cities and suburbs most of us don’t recognize the amazing promise being given us that the righteous will “grow up as calves in the stall.” Cattle that roam the range have to forage for their own food which is usually grass and weeds. They have to search for water and constantly be on the lookout for predators and a place to rest safely during the night. They have no one to care for them. But a calf in the stall doesn’t have to forage. In human terms, it as if he has room service. His meals are brought to him and placed in the trough. He is not only fed hay, but often grain. Water is constantly available. The calf in the stall has shelter from the elements, and not only a fence, but a caretaker who protects him from predators. More importantly, a calf in a stall often gets special treatment such as grooming because it is going to be shown at fairs or other events.

In short, what Malachi promises is that if we will turn to Jesus Christ He will heal, empower, nurture, protect, and care for us. What more could we ask for?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

I hope you have the best Independence Day ever! It was my favorite holiday growing up because it lasted all day long. This holiday is celebrated big in most of Utah. Sirens have been going off all morning. Air Force jets do a formation fly by and there is a huge parade. I’m not much of a parade person so I’m not going, but it is a long beautiful parade. Tonight on the football field at Brigham Young University (it holds 63,000 people) a sell out crowd will watch the Jonas Brothers and SHeDAISY and a number of Patriotic things including people parachuting out of planes with flags and red, white, and blue will be everywhere. It ends with a half-hour of fireworks that will light the night sky. I do like fireworks so we will find a place on the mountainside where we can watch.

I don’t know what your town does to celebrate this important occasion, but I hope you have a wonderful day and where ever you are celebrate. We can’t take our freedom for granted. Today is a day to thank God that we live in a land of liberty.

Friday, July 3, 2009

God Trusts Us!

There is something else about people who Live in Truth that is important to understand. Living in Truth means seeing life differently.

When living in the realm of Illusion we tend to think of God’s commandments as onerous and difficult—something required by the task master. They are a burden that makes life difficult and unpleasant. We sometimes even feel like keeping the commandments is some kind of favor we are doing for God. But when we Live in Truth, we realize that it is a privilege to keep the commandments. It means God trusts us to be like Him—to live like He lives. The commandments are the way back to heaven.

You wouldn’t give the keys to your new car to someone you don’t trust to take care of your car or who doesn’t have the intellectual ability or inclination to learn to drive well. Neither would God give us the keys to His kingdom if He didn’t trust us. The sad thing is that so many have betrayed that trust. Therefore, when we Live in Truth, instead of feeling overwhelmed or burdened or regretful over the commandments, we recognize what a gift they are—the very key to heaven—and we rejoice as we implement them in our lives.

The beautiful painting "Stairway to Heaven" is by artist Jim Warren and was found at

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Leaving Illusion

Illusion: Old Woman or Young? Which Do You See?

As you remember, the opposite of Living in Truth is Living in Illusion. For those new to these pages, let me remind you of the definition of Truth. Truth is “Knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (D&C 93:24). Things as they as means verity or reality. So once something has occurred, it is truth. The truth is that yesterday there was a car crash, but if instead of dealing with that truth we begin to think, “It shouldn’t have happened. Why did God let this happen? The driver should have been more careful.” You suddenly shift from dealing with what is, the verity of the situation, to the realm of Illusion.

Once in the realm of Illusion we always experience anger and fear. In addition, the realm of Illusion constantly needs to be defended because it is not real. Truth stands on its own, but Illusion needs to be reaffirmed and reexamined and rejuvenated. It takes a lot of work to maintain Illusion. There is no work in maintaining truth. Truth maintains itself.

There is great peace in letting go of Illusion and living in peace. I’ve talked about a lot of Truth Tools in these pages. These Tools are strategies to help us let go of Illusion and Live in Truth. I don’t I don’t have a monopoly on Truth Tools. What are some of the ways you move from the realm of Illusion back into Truth? I love to hear how you do it. Tell me how the Truth Tools have worked for you or tell me other Tools you have found useful.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Humbly Brilliant

In conjunction with what I wrote yesterday, the question always comes up about humility. Aren’t we taught that we should be humble? As King Benjamin said, “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19).

So how does thinking of yourself as brilliant, talented, and fabulous fit in with humility? To answer that question let’s first define humble. My dictionary says humble is “not proud or haughty: not arrogant or assertive.” The Savior knew he was brilliant, talented, and fabulous. But He was humble because he was not proud, haughty, or arrogant about it. He was the Son of God. He knew that, but didn’t need to boast or flaunt that fact in order to make Himself feel good. Instead it was like a foundation to His character that everything else built upon but doesn’t need to be constantly referred to or pointed out.

My favorite saying about humility sums this up. People who are humble don’t think they are less than other people. Instead they think less of themselves than they do of other people. In other words, when we know we are children of God, our brilliance and talent is so much a foundation to our character that we don’t need to be constantly proving it to others (pride and haughtiness). Instead we forget about ourselves and use our inherited brilliance and talent to serve others. The key to humility is not demeaning yourself or thinking you are less than others; the key is in understanding where your brilliance and talent come from. As Williamson put it, “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.”

Part of Living in Truth means understanding the truth of who and what you are--a talented and brilliant child of royal birth.