Monday, November 30, 2009

Life! Isn't It About Family?

My heart is always full, but today it is overflowing. Saturday our 30th grandchild was born. Both mother and son are doing well and John Gregory Ferguson’s three siblings are excited to welcome him home. What a miracle birth is!

I know that many sorrow because they can’t have children or don’t have as many as they want. I don’t pretend to understand why so many wonderful people who would be such amazing parents can’t have children, but I do know that God will bless them and that at some point they will have many, many children. As the Psalmist said, “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward” (Psalm 127:3). I have been blessed with many children and grandchildren in this life, and I rejoice greatly in that blessing. But I also know that because children are “an heritage of the Lord,” those of you who now sorrow for the lack of children will be compensated in this life and blessed in the next with the reward of children.

There is so much we don’t understand. That’s where faith comes in. But this much I do understand; God loves us and will make everything all right if we just trust in Him. We don’t understand, but He does. We can’t see the end, but He can. We can’t begin to comprehend the marvelous blessings, but He is waiting to bestow them upon us. Because of Him my heart is full!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Guard Your Heart

In Proverbs I found a piece of advice that I like. It says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). The Complete Jewish Bible translates that same verse as, “Above everything else, guard your heart; for it is the source of life's consequences.” And the NIV translates it, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

This past few months as the Swine Flu scare has taken the spotlight I’ve wondered what the world would be like if we spent as much time worrying and striving to keep our hearts healthy as we do our bodies healthy. When negative things like jealously, anger, resentment, grudges, or fear enter our hearts do we seek for ways to inoculate ourselves against them? Many of us stock up on cold and flu medicine at this time of year. But are we seeking out and storing up knowledge of how to rid ourselves of spiritual illnesses? When we feel negative things creeping into our hearts do we act immediately and fight off the negative emotions or do we sit back and say, “Well that’s part of life” And let it fester and grow?

Negative feelings are sickness to the heart. But the Truth Tools are medicine that heals the heart and keeps us living in Truth. It takes effort, but it is worth it. There is only bitterness to be had by drinking from the sickspring that is found in the Pit of Illusion. Instead, we can drink from the Wellspring of Living Waters and be filled with joy and peace.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Day After

I ate way too much yesterday! But I was grateful the whole time I was eating. Does that count for anything? The house looks like a train hit it, and the noise level is beginning to pick up again after dying down for a few of the night time hours. But what do you expect? As a friend of mine told me last week, "Your family is big enough to be one of the lost ten tribes." I love it! The only sad thing is that Thanksgiving Day won’t come again for 364 more days.

I hope you all had a happy day. If not, figure out how to make today happy and make up for it! Much love to you all.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Today's the day! My favorite day of the year. And now I want to hear how all of you thankful people felt all month as you daily gave thanks.

I thought I knew how wonderful it would be, but it turned out even better than I thought. My heart would start out the day so full that sometimes I felt like I'd burst with joy. I've enjoyed this gratitude state of being so much that I hope I can keep it up. The other thing that surprised me is that I didn't even begin to run out of things to be grateful for. There is so much!!! I am so blessed!

So now you tell me. How did your thanksgiving month go? What did you experience?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Oh, the Joy!

Most of the time when we think about living the gospel of Jesus Christ, we think in terms of behavior. For example, We think in terms of “Thou shalt not steal.” However, if a person wants to steal and thinks stealing would get him what he wants in life, but has been taught he shouldn’t steal, then living the gospel is very difficult. He is always having to control the urge to steal and tempted with thoughts about how the gospel is so difficult to live and is a burden in his life.

But Jacob teaches us that living the gospel isn’t about behavior; it is about thoughts. He tells us, “Remember, to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal” (2 Ne 9:39). Behavior is born out of our thinking. If we are carnally-minded and want to steal from others then living that commandment is very difficult, and eventually those thoughts can be so strong we end up stealing. But if we are spiritually-minded so that the thought of taking something that belongs to someone else is repugnant to us, living the commandment is easy.

It is this way with all gospel principles and commandments. It starts in the mind not in the behavior. We need to learn to control our thoughts and direct them so that we are spiritually-minded and then our actions will be righteous and living the gospel a joy instead of a burden. Maybe that is why the phrase, “spiritually-minded is life eternal” forms the acronym SMILE. When you are spiritually-minded the joy you feel makes you smile!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Has Begun!

My favorite holiday is here! It has started! And the best part is that this year I have family. Two of my daughters and their families arrived last night and my son and daughter who live in Utah will be here most of the week. I have five grandchildren in my house at once and am loving it. Kirsha is staying at Mariah's house, but everyone was here for dinner last night so there were eight grandchildren in my house at one time. (I hope the excitement is echoing through the Internet!!!!) This doesn't happen to me often!

We have so many plans--a talent show, puppet shows, reading Shel Silverstein together cuddled up in the Inglenook, going to the Children's Museum together, touch football in the backyard, and especially Thanksgiving dinner! Chaos, noise, laughter, music, rowdy fun!!! That's what I have to be thankful for. (And also an endodontist that fixed my toothache today!)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Powered by Truth

One of the big problems that comes from living in the Pit of Illusion is that we become ineffective. Let’s use an example of mothering. You have a child that isn’t doing well in school and you begin to think things like, “I should be a better mother. I have failed my child. He’ll never get into college. I should have learned more in school so I could help my children. Why did I play so much instead of studying?” And with those thoughts you spiral deeper and deeper into the Pit but nothing happens to solve the problem.

But what is the simple truth? Your child is struggling in school. Does that mean you are a failure as a mother? No! So deal with the truth. Stay in the Realm of Truth. In that Realm, with the help of the Spirit, you can determine if you can help the child or if you need a tutor or if you need to get the child into a different class or whatever.

When we wallow around in the Pit of Illusion, we experience pain—unnecessary pain. But in addition we fail to help the people we were sent here on earth to help. There is no limit to the good we can do when we live in Truth because it is in the Realm of Truth that all good happens.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Blessed By Admonishment

Each year the Merriam-Webster online dictionary chooses a word of the year based on which word in the dictionary people looked up. They just announced the word of the year for 2009 which is the word admonish. Admonish means to “to indicate duties or obligations or to express warning or disapproval to especially in a gentle, earnest, or solicitous manner.”

This was interesting to me because the word appears seven times in the scriptures. Usually it is used to tell us that the Lord will admonish us, but it is also used to tell us to admonish one another. I’ve experienced both. I’ve had parents, teachers, leaders, and friends who loved me enough to admonish me when I needed it. And just last Sunday I felt the gentle disapproval of the Spirit admonishing me for a wrong attitude.

I’m grateful that my Father in Heaven loves me enough to admonish me—to put me back on track when I go astray. I’m also grateful for the gentle, loving way He does it. It is amazing to me how He can reprove me and at the same time make me feel so loved. It is one more testimony to me that He is God and is all powerful.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Just An Update

I've got a terrible tooth ache today. I've never had a tooth ache before so I guess it was time I experienced it. But I don't like it. Plus I've been getting my house ready for Thanksgiving company and I’ve been working too hard the last few days and my eye hurts. There’s something about lifting and straining that causes pressure where Grizelda resides. Don’t you all wish you had an excuse not to work like I do? But the downside is there are things that need to be done. You don’t really appreciate what a gift it is to be able to work long and hard until you can’t. (Believe me I never thought I’d be saying that!) All this from a girl who used to hide out in the orchard with a good book so her mother couldn’t ask her to work.

I hope you are all keeping your thanks giving lists and noting how it is making you feel to give thanks. We’ll report on Wednesday. But I will tell you I am grateful for all the new friends I’ve made blogging, and all the old friend who stop by. I love you all!

Friday, November 20, 2009

We Are Our Own Best Help

I was reading a book the other day on depression and was struck by something the author said: “The crucial decision to try to help yourself is the key that will allow you to feel better as soon as possible” (David D. Burns, M.D., Feeling Good, p. 23, emphasis in original). If you have been reading Good News! for long you know that I have been reading the self-help literature that is available and comparing it to the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of the teachings in the literature are based on solid gospel principles, but some of the things being taught are way off base and could be detrimental to our eternal welfare.

This statement from Dr. Burns is not only right on as a gospel principle, but is foundational to our spiritual growth. It is all about the great gift of agency that God has given us. We live in a world that teaches us that we are pawns beings manipulated by situations, heritage, environment, and chemicals within us. Some of that is true. Those things absolutely do influence us, but we underestimate the power, through our agency, we have to override those influences.

When people are dismayed, discouraged or depressed they tend to wait for a cure—a medicine that will work or a friend or health-care provider that will rescue them and give them the answers to their problems. But the gospel teaches us that we should be “anxiously engaged in a good cause” (D&C 58:27). What better cause than our own mental well-being?

Thus when we are determined to help ourselves, when we acknowledge that we can choose a different course, we begin a chain of feelings and attitudes that heal and strengthen and help us to grow spiritually, emotionally, and physically. The amazing thing is that just by determining that we are going to help ourselves, we open the door for the Spirit to be more active in our lives.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Living the Simple Life

I have defined on this blog what it means to live in Truth. But just a quick review if you are new to Good News!. Living in Truth is living with reality, or as the scriptures say “Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (D&C 93:24). I’ve been teaching the four Living in Truth workshops again and I’ve discovered that this definition is difficult for some people to comprehend maybe because it is so simple. When someone does something to you, for example, someone declines an invitation to your dinner party without telling you why they aren’t coming that is the truth of the matter—simply they declined. Any supposition as to why they can’t or don’t want to come is not part of the truth. All you need to deal with is that they are not coming. If you start trying to deal with why they aren’t coming you move into the Pit of Illusion and if the story you invent is negative you create unnecessary pain for yourself.

The verse that follows our scriptural definition of truth says, “And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning.” In other words, when we let our minds wander into thoughts such as “She should have told me why she couldn’t come,” or “She thinks she’s too good to come to my dinner party,” or “She doesn’t like me,” or “She wants to be with other friends that night,” or “She should be more considerate,” you are thinking “more or less” than the truth—and you know where that comes from.

One more example, you haven’t made your bed yet today. The simple truth is that the bed is not made. If you start think, “I am so lazy,” or “I am a terrible person,” or “My mother would be so disappointed in me now,” you are not dealing with truth.

When we stick strictly to the verity or reality of what occurs—the facts—we stick to the truth and that is all we have to deal with. The woman isn’t coming to our party. Our bed is not made. Now you’ve identified the Truth of the situation, you have two options, (1) fix it, or (2) live with it. You can’t really fix the dinner guest problem, but it is no biggy to live with it. Just set less plates at your dinner table! And the unmade bed? Make it or live with it unmade. Anything more or less than these solutions will only fill you with miserable, unnecessary pain.

Living in Truth is simple living.

picture: “The Unmade Bed, Palazetto da Schio, Venice” by Jackie Simmonds

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I'm Grateful for My Savior, But Why?

We talk about our Savior, Jesus Christ, in our homes and in Church meetings. We think about Him as we pray and study scripture. This is wonderful and good, but instead of just thinking about Him we need to recognize why we think about Him. What is it about Jesus Christ that is so important to us? In other words, our devotion to Him needs to be more specific.

 Especially as we approach Thanksgiving and to enrich my Thanksgiving experience, I’m going to acknowledge not only that I am grateful to my Savior, but the many reasons I have to be grateful for Him. For a beginning,  He saved me from sin. He saved me from eternal death. He comforts me. He makes miracles happen in my life. He heals my troubled soul. (You take it from here!)

 Jesus Christ is our Savior, but what does that mean personally in our everyday lives?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Weakness or Strength?

It seems that every where I turn lately people are suffering. I don’t know if there is really more suffering than there has been in the past, or if just the people I know are suffering more, or if I’m just more sensitive. But it does seem that more and greater burdens are being placed upon people. As I’ve observed this adversity in people’s lives I’ve learned so much. The most important thing is to never judge. You absolutely never know what people have gone through or what they are going through.

I remember a story a friend told me years ago. He had been to a party of young adults and saw a beautiful, well dressed, young woman that he maneuvered to meet. As he “positioned” himself to meet her he found out that besides being beautiful she was well educated, and everyone reported that she was a lot of fun to be around. Finally he met her, but was immediately put off by her speech. Her words were not clearly enunciated and often slurred. He thought that someone as educated should take the time to speak properly and so he left her as soon as he got the chance and went on to visit other people.

Later in the evening he was talking to someone who had seen him with the woman. “She’s amazing, isn’t she?” the man said. My friend answered, “Yes, but you’d think she’d speak more clearly.” The man stared at him, “For someone who is almost totally deaf, I think it’s remarkable that she’s learned to read lips and speak as well as she does.” I don’t need to explain how that stunned my friend. What he had judged as a failing was actually a miraculous achievement.

Not all of our adversity and suffering is obvious to others, but it all affects us and the very thing we may judge as a weakness in others may be an amazing act of bravery and courage. In short, we need to not judge but always support and encourage each other.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mouse or Shadow?

When I was very young my dad was finishing the basement of our home one room at a time. The first room he finished was my bedroom and so I slept down there alone. I never remember it bothering me except one morning when I awoke to go upstairs and as I left my bedroom and looked toward the door that led upstairs I could see through the dusky morning light a mouse on the door. I screamed for my father to come and he ran down the stairs to save me. But as he pushed open the door, I could see that what I thought was a mouse was only a shadow on the door. I felt very foolish, but Dad lovingly took my hand and led me upstairs.

 I’ve thought of that experience often over my life, and when fear assails me I ask myself if this is really something to be afraid of or is it a “shadow.” Surprisingly I’ve discovered that there are many more shadows than there are actual things to fear.  More than that I’ve discovered that even when something is  fearful, fear exaggerates the problem. There is an old German proverb that expresses this well. It says, “Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.”

Fear is the opposite of faith and when we see fear for what it is and recognize that most the things we fear aren’t real at all and the other things we fear are made worse because of our fear, it is easier to let go of the fear and have faith that all will be well.

As the Lord said, "Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not" (D&C 6:36).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Musings While I Sewed

I was sewing yesterday. My better half went to California (He went there to run a half marathon and came in second in his age group!), and with him gone I could take up the whole kitchen with machine, cutting board, ironing board, and mess. I made Roman shades for my den and since I didn't have a pattern and was just "winging it" I also did a lot of unpicking.

While sewing and unsewing and sewing again I had a lot of thinking time and I began to realize the metaphor in sewing. One little stitich at a time that material soon became a functional window dressing. It took awhile, but stitch by stitch it was accomplished. Mistakes were made, but like the repentance process, I unpicked the incorrect stitches and started over. Process. Patience. Repentance. Begin again. Process. Patience. Isn't that how you make a good life?

I think that now every time I look at those shades, I'm going to think about life. But with life I have a pattern given to me by the Savior and if I just follow it, I won't have any unpicking to do! What a blessing!

Saturday, November 14, 2009


The winners of my children's book, "Nephi and Lehi in Prison," are #4 AnnMarie and #11 Sundy Watanabe! Congratulations! If you two will email your address to smillsjo at gmail dot com, I will send your books.

Thanks to those of you who entered. And everyone have a winning day!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Power of Positives

You are all familiar with the verse in Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” It is so true. Many an argument can be averted if one party resorts to soft words. But there is a principle behind these words that extends the wisdom of this verse to so many other areas of our lives. The principle is that given enough time a positive will always overcome a negative. By positive I mean the good things such as kindness, love, hope, generosity, empathy, and consideration. By negative I mean the bad things such as hate, envy, anger, and unkindness.

The thing that confuses us is that often we resort to negative responses because they seem to work faster. If we yell loud enough or are angry enough we intimidate others into doing what we want them to do faster. But if you’ve ever had someone make you do something by yelling or getting angry at you, you know that while you may do what they want, you don’t feel good about it. Their actions generate bad feelings in you. In essence the rule is that negatives generate more negatives. While using a negative may get immediate results eventually the negative feelings will come out in negative ways.

But if we take the time to use love, gentleness, and kindness it may take more time but it creates positive feelings in both parties. If we use our imagination and are patient, we can find positive ways to deal with any problem. The very best example of the principle “If given enough time a positive will overcome a negative” is the Atonement. Eventually the Atonement (the most positive thing that has ever happened) will overcome all negatives (sin, death, disease, sorrow, hurt, etc.).

So take time to find a positive response to any situation and see what happens in your life!

"Whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward" (D&C 6:33.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Power of Resistance

Resistance, my dictionary tells me, is “the act of resisting.”  (I think I need a job as a dictionary writer!) So we go to resisting for more help. Resisting is “to exert oneself so as to counteract or defeat.” The reason I’m thinking about resistance is that I’ve been studying the people of Alma who were living in bondage in Helam. (See Mosiah 23-24.) You will remember that they had been put under guard by Amulon and are not allowed to pray vocally and were made slaves to the Lamanites. But their faith never wavered.

They couldn’t pray aloud, but no one could stop them from praying in their hearts and that they did. They prayed for deliverance and help to bear the tremendous burdens placed upon them and in response the Lord strengthened them so that their burdens seemed light. Notice, He didn’t take away their burdens, but He made them strong so they could bear their burdens.

When we want to develop strength in a muscle, we lift weights. At first a 20 pound weight may seem too heavy but as we persist in resisting against the weight our muscle grows strong until soon 20 pounds is nothing. Then we can lift 30 and eventually 40 or 50 and the more we exert ourselves to counteract the weight (resistance!), the stronger we become. Likewise when we resist evil, or idleness, or staying in our comfort zones, we grow spiritually and emotionally.

God works in our lives by making us strong, not by removing every burden.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Found More Books to Give Away

I don't have very many of my children's books left, but I was cleaning out a closet and found I had a few of the Steppingstone series I wrote for Deseret Book. These were small picture books (like Berenstien Bear books) with one Book of Mormon story in each book. There were twelve books in the series, but I only have a few left. The two I have to give away this week are the story of Nephi and Lehi in Prison.

They'd make a great gift for grandchildren or children for Christmas. If you'd like to be in the drawing for one of these books, please leave a comment about how you feel about the Book of Mormon. The contest will close at midnight on Friday and I'll post the winner on Saturday!

Good luck! I can't wait to read what you have to say!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Making Life More Fun

Part of the joy that comes from living in Truth is learning to make moments memorable and fun. Remember happiness is a choice and when we look for opportunities to make happiness happen, we find happiness in the most unusual places.

We made some fun during Halloween at our Halloween dinner. My very talented grandson made the centerpiece, a "brain" on a silver platter. (Really a small watermelon!) Then we had mummies, vampire eyes, fondue in a pumpkin, and I won't even tell you what we called the spinach balls.

The table was decked out in black garbage sacks with gummy worms and spiders crawling around. In short, it was a delightful dinner that we are still chuckling over!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Taking a Leap of Faith

Stepping out of our comfort zones to do something new and different is often difficult. Giving a talk in church, teaching a Sunday School lesson, asking someone for forgiveness, or trying to comfort someone who has experienced tragedy can be daunting experiences. The feelings must be similar to the feelings of skydiving for the first time. The moment before the jump is filled with anxiety and fear and doubt. But once the diver has taken that first leap and is soaring through the air the anxiety is replaced with exhilaration and excitement.

Stepping out of our comfort zones is a lot the same way. The fear and anxiety exist, but once we have made the choice to step forward and do what we need to do the Spirit is there to help us and the exhilaration and excitement come. When we let go of the fear and trust God to lead us we can do whatever is required of us and have a good time doing it.

As the writer of Proverbs says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (3:5). Fear is part of the Natural Man and never comes from God. When we let go of fear and trust in Him, His love and peace and joy replace the fear and are enabled to do “all things through Christ which strengtheneth [us]” (Philip. 4:13).

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Close to Heaven

Today was our Primary Children's program at church. Then we went to our daughter's ward and watched our grandson, Eli, in his Primary program. Two Primary programs in one day! It is always my favorite church meeting--to watch all those little children sing and give talks about their Savior touches something deep within me. It was all I could do to keep from weeping.

In addition to that, during Relief Society in my ward, a little boy and a little girl, both about a year old, were playing together. The little boy was standing and the girl sitting on the floor. Gently he reached over and carefully patted her head, then he gave her his toy, and she reached up to touch his tummy and they went on conveying love and delight without any words. It was so tender to watch. I couldn't help but feel like I was witnessing a bit of heaven.

I have decided that there are two things I can always do that will help me feel the Spirit in my life. First, I can offer a prayer of thanks for some blessing in my life and the Spirit comes. Second, I can watch small children. Their innocence and love are contagious! Doing both things always draws me closer to God.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Preventing Emotional Flu

During the first meeting of a committee I once served on it became obvious that one woman in the group thought she was more qualified to be chairman than the man who was chairman. She wasn’t rude or obnoxious, but in subtle ways let it be known that she knew much more than the rest of us including the chairman and that she really should be directing the committee. During subsequent meetings she usually spoke up quite a bit and tried to take the discussion in ways the chairman was not intending to go. But one day when we met she remained unusually silent. She sat next to me quietly listening to everyone else, and I thought maybe she'd changed her mind and had gained a new respect for the chairman. But even as I thought that I became aware of a strange vexation within me and couldn’t figure out why I was suddenly feeling such negative feelings. Nothing had happened for me to feel negative about! I was even thinking this positive thought about the woman.

I tried to shake the feeling, but couldn't. Finally the meeting ended and as I left the room I heard the woman speaking to the chairman. It was obvious that during the meeting she’d bottled up some negative, critical feelings which could no longer be contained. At that point I suddenly realized that the vexing feelings I’d felt during the meeting were coming from her. I’d picked up on the negative energy she was sending out even though no words had been spoken and I had no other sensory clues as to what was going on.

It was a great lesson for me. Emotions are as contagious as swine flu! We do give off negative or positive energy that influences those around us. When we are aware of this, we can consciously direct our positive influence to help and benefit others. But most importantly we can recognize when we have picked up a negative “virus” and use the Truth Tools to get rid of it before it makes us sick or spreads to others.

Have a Truth filled day!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Reasons to Shout for Joy

When Mary discovered that the sepulcher in which her beloved Master had been laid was empty, grief overcame her. Weeping she sat by the empty tomb not comprehending that what she was sorrowing over she should be shouting for joy about. The tomb was empty! Jesus Christ had overcome the barriers of death not only for himself but for her and for us!

But it wasn’t just the tomb that was empty that day. There is more that we don’t think about as often. Not only was the tomb empty, but also the cross.  Jesus Christ suffered an infinite Atonement. He suffered the pains and agonies of all mankind, but it didn’t last forever. After accomplishing its purpose, the pain and sorrow ended. Likewise all our pains and sorrows will end. They are not eternal. If we but hang on there will always be an end to our suffering.

The cross and the tomb are empty. For that we should shout for joy!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

True North

Yesterday while out walking I saw a brace of ducks flying south. Ducks are not graceful in flight and it brought a smile to my lips to watch the awkward wing movements that somehow manage to keep the ducks aloft. But what struck me the most was the wonder at how those ducks know to go south. How do caterpillars know to cuddle into a cocoon to become butterflies? How do bears know to overeat in autumn hibernate until spring? It seems that all around me are animals that know instinctively what to do when. So, I’m part of the animal kingdom. Why don’t I know?

But then I thought a little more and realized that I do know. The problem (or blessing) is that I have agency and while deep down in my heart I always know what I should do, I often use my agency to rationalize away what my heart is telling me to do. But if I treat my heart like a compass and set it on True North, which in this case is Jesus Christ, and then obey the instincts of my heart, I will always be led to what I should do when I should do it.

Maybe this True North is what Paul was wishing the people when he wrote to them, “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Thanks Giving

As King Benjamin grew old and knew his time on earth was about to end, he gathered his people together to give them his final counsel and advice. But before he spoke to them he prepared their hearts to receive his teachings. He had them observe the sacrificial rituals that were part of the Law of Moses and then  he had the people “give thanks to the Lord their God, who had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem, and who had delivered them out of the hands of their enemies, and had appointed just men to be their teachers, and also a just man to be their king, who had established peace in the land of Zarahemla, and who had taught them to keep the commandments of God, that they might rejoice and be filled with love towards God and all men” (Mosiah 2:4).

This sentence contains a lot of phrases that describe God. They are phrases of praise and love, but they can be removed from the sentence without changing the meaning of the sentence, and in this case, there are so many they actually make you forget what the sentence is all about. So lets take them out and see what the sentence says. The people gave “thanks to the Lord their God . . . that they might rejoice and be filled with love towards God and all men.”

In D&C  130:20-21 we are taught that “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated-- And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” King Benjamin knew that giving thanks was the law that would bring the people the blessing of love.  Likewise, as you and I give thanks we will be “filled with love towards God and all men.”


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"Be Not Troubled"

It is difficult to open a newspaper or watch TV news without becoming discouraged. But in the New Testament Matthew tells us, “Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled” (Matthew 23:6). This may at first seem like an impossible task. How can we see all the calamities, war, terror, looting, and evil around us and not be troubled? The answer to all that is Jesus Christ.

When we trust in Christ and look to Him instead of the worldly happenings, we can partake of His peace even in the midst of disaster. This is what Living in Truth is all about. When we trust that there are bad things in the world, but that through Jesus Christ all will be rectified and recompensed we can keep ourselves centered in His peace and not be battered about by every bit of bad news. The Savior is our hope and our anchor and our strength. He is the lighthouse we steer toward in the storm. He is the buoy we cling to in our trials. He is our salvation.

When we remember that we can have peace in a troubled world.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Telestial Cultural Shock

I’m excited about all the comments you’ve left about what you are grateful for. Just reading them fills me with good, positive feelings. Thanks.

I’ve been very busy the last two weeks. I am starting another series of the Living in Truth Workshops. This time I’ve developed a four-page handout to go with the classes and I think it will help to convey the ideas better. I do appreciate all the comments and suggestions all of you have given me that have helped me refine these principles. Thank you.

One of the first people to read a rough draft of a chapter and offer suggestions was my son-in-law, Ferg. In the chapter I explained how sometimes in life we feel a strange disconnect or dissonance that is difficult to explain. For example, one of the things that causes this disconnect is time. Sometimes time goes so fast and other times it goes so slow, but if you stop and ponder on time, it seems like an unnatural thing. I think the reason is that our spirits lived a long time in a state where time did not exist and now as we travel through this mortal world based upon time, it isn’t natural to us. It is like a fish being out of water.

After Ferg read this chapter he sent me a note saying that he called these kinds of experiences Telestial Cultural Shock. I loved that phrase! It summed it all up so well, and it is now part of the book. As you go through your week, pay attention to the things you encounter that are part of a Telestial world that will not be part of a Celestial world. There are many and it is a good exercise to recognize them for what they are. As you discover them, leave a comment about what you discover.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Join Me In A Month of Thanks Giving

It's November! Yeah! Happy Thanksgiving month.

Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday. I love getting together with family and having a special meal together. I especially like the lingering around the table afterward and talking and laughing together. I won't have all my children here this year, but some of them are coming!

I'm also going to try something new this year. Each day this month I am going to concentrate on one thing I am very grateful for. I'm going to decide what that thing will be the night before and then each morning I'm going to say first thing (before I'm even out of bed!) I thank Thee for ______ . And the rest of the day I'm going to think about how grateful I am for that specific thing.

For today, I am thankful for life--for the opportunity to grow and experience. I'm grateful to be!

Anyone want to commit to a Month of Thanks Giving with me? If so leave a comment with the first thing you are thankful for. Then on Thanksgiving day we will share not more of what we are grateful for, but what we experienced by filling our month with gratitude. I hope you all will leave a comment. The whole world is better when people are grateful! Let's fill the world around us with gratitude.