Friday, December 31, 2010

Year End

As 2010 ends I want to thank you all for your love, the things you’ve taught me, and for stopping by to visit Good News! I enjoy writing this blog and sharing the things I‘ve learned. I hope that in some small way it’s benefited you.

If you have any suggestion as to things you’d like me to write about or know more about, please let me know!

Have a safe and happy end to 2010!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cheerfully Doing

In the Doctrine and Covenants section 123 there is a wonderful phrase that encourages and instructs. It says, “Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power.” The section is talking about how to proceed despite the persecution, wrongs committed against the saints, and the adversity they encounter. The revelation was given to Joseph Smith while he was incarcerated in Liberty Jail undergoing some of the worst persecution of his life.

The encouragement to go on striving and enduring and doing whatever is in our power for good and for righteousness is wonderful, but the thing that strikes me is that we are to do all those things cheerfully. I’m not real good at cheerful, but I want to get better at it. That’s one of the reasons I’ve studied Truth and identified the Truth Tools is because I need help in this area—it doesn’t come naturally to me. But over the last few years I’ve felt myself growing and changing and so I know cheerful is possible to learn.

This possibility of change is what Moroni is talking about when he tells us that the Lord will “make weak things become strong unto” you (Ether 12:27). Growth and change are difficult, but not impossible because we have the help of the Lord—He will make it happen if we just keep trying. And that thought helps me do all things cheerfully!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It’s “Word of the Year” Time

Only two more days left of 2010 and that means it is time for a new word of the year. For those of you who weren’t reading the Good News! last year, I don’t do new year resolutions. Instead, I pick out one word to concentrate on for the entire year. That way instead of having to keep track of lots of goals, I just apply my word to whatever I am doing at the time.

My word for last year was Rejuvenate and it worked so well I almost decided to use it again this coming year. If I was cleaning the house, I was thinking about rejuvenating the house—cleaning better, deeper than I ever had before and we redid the entire basement. If I was talking to friends I was concentrating on making the friendship better, and we looked up some old friends and renewed friendships we had missed. I think you get the gist, I learned new recipes, studied some new subjects, and rejuvenated my health! It was a great year.

But after thinking about it, I’ve decided I do need a new word for 2011. (Hopefully rejuvenate is now habit and will stick with me.) So, my new word for next year is Gratitude. Whatever I do, I am going to do it with gratitude.

I’d sure love to hear your word of the year experiences from 2010. And I’d love to hear your 2011 word choices. You’ll find that sharing them with someone else makes your commitment stronger. If you aren’t comfortable leaving a public comment, email me at smillsjohnson at 

Choose a word and get ready for the new year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Learning to Love Lemons

There is an old saying you’ve all heard; “When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.” In many ways that sums up what it means to Live in Truth, but let’s examine the statement a little closer.

When life hands you a lemon, look at it carefully before you do anything else. Anchor with that lemon. Admire the beautiful yellow color. Feel the rough texture of the rind. Breathe in the fresh scent. Think about the healthy vitamins it contains. In other words, accept what is there (the Truth) and find what there is about it to enjoy. I realize that in life situations sometimes there isn’t much, but FIND what good there is in the lemon and think about that instead of the sour taste.

For example, we lost one of our daughters at birth. It was difficult, but when my mind starting dwelling on the loss, I changed my thinking to dwell on the fact that she wouldn’t have to go through the trials and tribulations of the growing up years. I would never have to worry about where she was or what she was doing. She was safely with her Father in Heaven and I would be with her again.

Once you’ve identified the good in the situation, decide what your next step will be. Will you add water and sugar to make it more palatable? Or is there another course you can take? Maybe you could add a little vanilla, too. Examine all the options—even a few that may at first seem absurd. A friend, who is a psychologist, once told me that depression occurs when a person can see only two options and doesn’t like either one. Sometimes the answer to our problems is thinking up more options and one of the beauties of Living in Truth is that there are always more options.

Life is full of lemons, but when we Live in Truth lemons are palatable.

Monday, December 27, 2010

My Christmas

The holidays turned out very different for me than I had anticipated—much better! I was supposed to have surgery a few days before Christmas, but I got sick so they couldn’t do it. That meant my calendar was cleared and everything was ready for Christmas so I had a few days to enjoy, and I did. 

This made Christmas extraordinary for me. With raising nine children, I’m used to busy, stressful, chaotic Christmases. But I had time to enjoy my children, my grandchildren, and Christmas Eve at my mother’s house, and especially to spend some quality time with Mr. J. I read and pondered the Christmas story from the New Testament and enjoyed every minute of writing about Christmas here on the Good News! 

I hope your Christmas celebrating was enjoyable and that you had the opportunity to remember the real reason for the season.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Sabbath

What a blessing! Yesterday Christmas and today the Sabbath.

 One day we celebrate His birth and the next we partake of His holiness.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Celebrating Christmas Because. . .

This has been the best Christmas ever. I hope yours has been the same.

Thanks for celebrating with me.  But there is one last thing to celebrate. 
Everything we’ve talked about the last two weeks was for us.
That is the most important part.  

If Jesus Christ had not been born and had not died for us, 
no light, 
no sign,
no gifts,
no bread,
no star
would be enough.  
 We would spend our lives in futility and then perish. 

But because of Jesus Christ,
we live and will live.  
 Because of Him, 
all who desire will find light and life.  
 Because of Him, 
all who seek with pure intent will find and live with God again. 

There is so much to celebrate!  So. . .
Merry Christmas and much love to you all!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Celebrating Christmas—The Virgin Birth

I’ve always felt that Christmas celebrations pay too little attention to the mother. 
Perhaps it is an over-reaction to some in the world who have gone
too far in attributing power to her.
However it has happened, 
she played a magnificent role in the coming forth of
the Son of Holiness 
and my own celebrating and worshiping is enhanced when I think of her.

Most scholars believe she was young, perhaps fourteen or fifteen years old. 
Some have taken the verse, 
“But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19), 
to mean that Mary was bewildered and didn’t know what was going on. 
To me that is absurd—everyone around you has talked about the prophesied Messiah,
an angel appears to tell you that you are to bear the child, 
and then you have a baby without ever knowing a man, 
and you don’t know? Of all people, 
Mary was the one who knew not just believed..
Instead to me the verse indicates that the events and happenings were very sacred 
and so Mary kept the details to herself but pondered on them often.

Of all the women in the world, Mary was the one worthy and willing and ready
to mother the Son of God. 
We are told she was a virgin
The word originally meant a young woman. 
But the definitions now include, “an unmarried woman devoted to religion,” 
“a woman who has not had sexual intercourse” 
and “a person who is inexperienced in a usually specified sphere of activity.”  
 And Mary fits all the definitions. 
The birth we celebrate was to a virgin, innocent and pure. 

Perhaps that is the most important symbol of the season, 
for it is only in an innocent and  pure heart that 
Christ can be born again. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Celebrating Christmas—The Flight into Egypt

Throughout the Bible we repeatedly find a metaphor in which the lands of Babylon and Egypt are symbols of a corrupt and immoral world and the area of Palestine is a Promised Land. In the metaphor God directs people to leave the worldly place and flee to His Promised Land. Thus the Children of Israel left Egypt and made their way to Israel. Abraham left “Babylon” and made his way to Palestine.

But we find the reverse in the story of the Savior. Jesus was born in the Promised Land, but because even it was corrupted and full of evil, Joseph and Mary fled with their baby into Egypt. And thus a new metaphor is introduced.

"Flight into Egypt" by Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337)
This time we have God, who has obtained the Promised Land, fleeing into the corrupt and immoral world. And why? Because He has been sent to heal and save that world.

The Flight into Egypt, then, is symbolic of the fact that Jesus Christ condescended to come into the world and save us from sin (the immoral world) and corruption (death). Because of His birth and His death, you and I can flee this world and obtain a better one. It is the greatest gift anyone has ever given us.

We owe Jesus Christ everything.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Celebrating Christmas—Angels

There is one thread that weaves through the entire nativity story—the angels. The English word angel comes from the Greek word angelos which means “messenger.” And messengers are important threads that weave the story together. A messenger is someone who carries a message from one person to another and these messengers carried the message or Good News from God to man.

The angel Gabriel told Mary and then Joseph that the baby would be coming. An angel appeared to proclaim the glad tidings of joy to the shepherds and as soon as he made the announcement it was as if the heavens could not be restrained—the joy was more than even heaven could contain and suddenly a whole multitude of angels burst forth in song.

Close your eyes and imagine with me that you were one of those angels. You knew that your Savior had been born. You knew that because of that birth the misery, depravity, abuse, and horrors of a mortal world now had a cure. The Light of the world had been born to put all things right and the joy of that knowledge filled you until like a volcano it erupted out. Imagine how you felt. This wasn’t just good news; this was the greatest news of all time. And you couldn’t contain the happiness you felt. Breaking into song, you praised God by singing your gratitude and joy. What a choir that must have been—the sound of heaven rejoicing.

Heavenly Hands by Greg Olsen

But now you don’t have to imagine. You can rejoice. You can sing or shout or pray your gratitude to God. Today you are the messenger—the angel carrying the Good News from God to man that a Savior has been born. 

(painting can be found at: