Sunday, February 28, 2010

Happy Sabbath!

Today is a day of rest. (I know, I used to laugh about that, too. Parents and rest is oxymoron! But, rest from your worries, stresses, cares, concerns.)
Today is a day to renew yourself so you can make it through the rest of the week. (I know, it's still the time thing, but as you free your mind of worries, stresses, cares, concerns, etc. there is room for thoughts of gratitude, charity, and love. That renews!)
Be holy.
Soak in the Holiness of the day. (The Lord made the Sabbath day holy and told us to keep it that way--we don't make it holy.)
And the best way to rest, renew and fill ourselves with the holiness of the Sabbath is to love. So love. Whatever is in front of you, beside you, or around you love it! That is the spirit of the Sabbath.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Living In Truth

For those of you who are new to Good News! or to those of you who read it from a listing, you might not have noticed that on the left side of the blog I have added a list of the terms that I use when talking about Living in Truth. If you want to understand what it means to Live in Truth or what the Truth Tools are or what the Pit of Illusion is, click on any of those items and it will take you to a post that describes them. In addition, if you click on the indexed words after any post it will bring up all the posts about that subject.

As you experiment with Living in Truth I hope you will share your stories here. Living in Truth is freeing and hearing how other people do it is encouraging. Don't be shy! Let's help each other to break out of the bondage of negative emotions and LIVE IN TRUTH.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Judges in Israel

One of the books of the Old Testament is called the Book of Judges and is a history of fifteen people who were called judges in Israel. These judges were not at all like what we picture a judge to be. You and I hear the word judge and we think of someone in a black robe sitting at a bench listening to disputes or legal trials, determining who is right and who is wrong, and then giving out a punishment. But instead of sitting in judgment over the people, the Old Testament judges were more accurately people who brought about judgment by being vindicators of the people. They were special deliverers, sent by God to free the Israelites from oppression. They were champions.

One of these fifteen judges was the prophetess Deborah. Deborah, whose story is told in Judges 4-5, was the only one of the judges to be called a prophet and the only one that was a woman. The word Deborah means “bee” and anciently it was believed that, of all the animal kingdom, the bee ranked highest in intelligence. It has been said of Deborah that she “made honey but knew when and how to sting.”
Deborah lived when the Caananites oppressed Israel and as she says in the Psalm of Deborah, “I arose a mother in Israel” (Judges 5:7) to save Israel. According to the Oxford English Dictionary a mother is “A person, quality, institution, place, etc., that produces, protects, nurtures, or sustains people, ideas, etc.” We don’t know if Deborah had children or not, but she protected, nurtured, and sustained the house of Israel and was a mother.

In our modern world mothers are sometimes disparaged, but when we realize that a mother is not just someone who bears children, we realize that as women we have the responsibility to do all we can to protect the House of Israel against all that is evil. Like Deborah of old, we should nurture wherever we are and in whatever we do. We should promote the ways of righteousness and produce goodness in our daily endeavors. We are judges—champions—of Israel!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Heaven and Hell

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about heaven and hell and I've realized that we don’t have to die to find ourselves in either state. Today I spent the day in heaven. Mr. J and I went to the Manti Temple to attend two weddings and do a session. It really was heaven and on the drive home through the snow covered fields of central Utah we saw some of the most beautiful scenery you can imagine. But as we traveled the thoughts I’ve been having about heaven and hell returned. Some people would look at the huge stretches of barren snow covered fields and think more of hell than heaven. How we see things is really a choice, and heaven and hell are states of being we create right here and now. But we have to live in the one we have created.

The most interesting thing about hell is that the door doesn’t lock from the outside. Hell isn’t a place where you are sent by someone else to suffer your punishment like a jail or prison. Hell is a place you create and then lock the door so no one can enter and disturb your notions of your victimhood or your reality. A person in hell is free to unlock the door and walk out anytime they want. Most people who have locked themselves inside hell don’t believe they can get out that easily, but there are those who have discovered the secret and left! It is possible.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Women's Conference

I have some news to share. I have been invited to speak at the BYU Women’s Conference this April. My topic is the “Intelligent Use of Agency” and as I have been preparing, I am getting more and more excited. If any of you are coming (April 29th and 30th), be sure and look me up and say hello. I am speaking Friday at 11:00 and the other speaker in the session is Kathy Clayton, the wife of Elder L. Whitney Clayton a member of the Presidency of the Seventy.

Women’s Conference is always so much fun. I love hearing the Marriott Center ring with nineteen-thousand women’s voices singing the hymns of Zion together. But the very best part is the frequent experience of watching as suddenly two people who haven’t seen each other for years recognize one another. The hugs, laughter, and sometimes even joyful tears that follow are delightful. The only thing better is when it is you who sees someone you love from your past! Love fills the air and happiness abounds at Women’s Conference. If you’ve never been, make it a goal to someday attend. It is an amazing experience.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Words, Wonderful Words!

I love words. I love the sounds they make. Say the word sesquipedalian (which means many syllables or characterized by long words) out loud and listen to the music in the hiss and snap of the syllables but also the way it tickles your tongue when you say it. I also love the etymology of words and discovering their intricate meanings which sometimes are ironic such as the word cleave which used as an intransitive verb means to “adhere firmly and closely,” but when used as a transitive verb means “to divide by cutting.” The same word means two exactly opposite things!

I especially love when writers play with words and the writers of scripture are especially good at this. For example, in Genesis we read where the Lord says, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Obviously this is the “adhere firmly and closely” use of the word, but there is a certain play with the word since at the same time it is telling us to leave or divide from the parents. Therefore, both meanings of the word cleave come into play in this verse.

In the Sermon on the Mount there is another fun use of words. Jesus tells the people, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7). Look closely at what we are instructed to do: Ask, Seek, Knock. Now take the first letter of each of those words and what do you have? The acronym ASK.

Words are instructive, they are musical, and they are delightful. Listen to the words you hear today and how they are used. It makes daily life very entertaining!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Joy And Adversity

Until you have experienced it, one of the most difficult things to understand in life is the fact that there can be joy even in adversity. Even just reading the words it seems like an impossibility; joy in adversity? Besides the illogic of it all, the adversary will do all in his power to convince anyone, especially in times of adversity, that it is absurd to even think such a things is possible. But it is real.

While flying home from Austin a few weeks ago I had an experience that helped me understand how this works. A heavy down pour of rain kept the plane we were to fly out on from landing. A weary voice kept making reassuring announcements over the PA system that the plane had arrived but was circling overhead waiting for the rain to stop so it could land. Finally the rain let up, the plane landed, we boarded and took off. Even though it had stopped raining enough for us to take off, the sky weighed down on earth in an oppressive darkness, and it was only seconds after we left the ground that we were swallowed up in dark, gray clouds. I couldn’t even see to the end of the plane’s wing. But I knew that the pilot was not navigating by sight. He had instruments and was connected to a control tower that guided him. As long as he paid attention to the instruments and flew the plane according to all the rules we would be guided to our destination.

As I thought about this, the plane suddenly broke through the clouds into brilliant sunlight that sent a jolt of surprised joy through me. I looked down to see that the dark storm clouds still covered the earth. The joy didn’t come because the storm had ended, but by listening to the control tower and using the instruments the plane had transcended the storm.

Adversity in life is like that. It doesn’t always go away, but by following the commandments and listening to the “control tower” we can be lifted above the trials and adversity and feel joy despite them.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Have a Happy Sabbath

When I was seven years old my mother was very sick for several months and I went to Church each Sunday with my dad. Dad was a counselor in the bishopric and so we went early and entered a quiet, almost empty chapel. Dad had business to attend to before the meeting and I’d find “my” bench, the second brown, wooden bench in the center section, sit down, and fight the feelings of aloneness and detachment that began to swell in me like seasickness.

Being alone is uncomfortable. Being small and alone is terrifying. To my right, metal trays clanked as priests prepared for the sacrament. To my left, people slowly trickled in through large double doors. As the minutes went by, more and more people came, towering over me, moving, talking, smiling, but not at me. I was invisible. However, about the time the feelings worked their way into my eyes where they threatened to spill out in tears, the organ began to play. Organ music is unlike any other–especially when playing hymns. Most instruments communicate with our ears. Organ music vibrates deep into the marrow of the bones and then quivers its way through every cell until at last it reaches the ears. Felt before it is heard, organ music has a tangible element that wrapped me in its goodness and began to comfort away my fears.

Dad sat on the stand with Bishop Duncan and from where I sat in the huge sea of the congregation all I could see over the podium was Bishop Duncan’s snow white hair and Dad’s brown, spiky crew-cut. It was a strange feeling being among so many people and yet feeling so alone. The beauty was that once the meeting started the feeling of aloneness vanished. I forgot all about me and was suddenly part of something more–I never understood what, but I could feel it, and I knew it was real.

This particular day Dad was conducting. His familiar voice sent extra comfort into my heart as he gave the announcements. Then came more organ music and all those people joined in for the opening song. By that time–just minutes into the meeting–more than just comfort filled me. Utter joy enveloped me. I can’t sing. As Dad used to say, “I can’t carry a tune in a bucket!” but I loved the hymns so I’d open the hymn book and sing with my heart letting everyone else’s voices wrap around mine to disguise it.

After the singing, came the quiet moments of the Sacrament. I hadn’t been baptized yet and didn’t fully understand the Sacrament, but what I felt means more to me now than all the understanding I’ve since gained. A quiet, transcendental feeling lifted me, instructing me without words and filling me with awe at the paradox of ordinary bread and water representing the most crucial advent in the history of the world.

I realize now that sitting alone made me more perceptive to what was going on. When I was sitting with Mother the borders of my awareness extended only to her. Like a satellite my world rotated around her going where she went, doing what she told me to do, not thinking or experiencing anything but her. When she was there to care for me, I was oblivious to most everything else. But being alone I had to care for myself and that meant being aware. Thus my borders expanded to the very walls of the chapel. I saw things and felt things that I would never have experienced had she been there.

After the Sacrament, Fast and Testimony meeting began. My tall, handsome father stood, bore his testimony, and invited the congregation to share theirs. I knew Dad was speaking to everyone, but for some reason that day I felt like the invitation was especially for me. I had never had that feeling before–had never born my testimony. But I’d been to testimony meetings every month of my life and so I knew how it was done. There were no microphones in those days, people just stood where they were and began to speak. Usually I loved to hear the many different ways of saying the same thing–the gospel is true!–but that day I didn’t hear a word. All I kept hearing was Dad’s invitation and the words bubbling up from my overflowing heart.

As each person sat down, I’d command myself to stand up. But despite the desire, fear cemented me to the wooden bench. Faster than ever the hour passed until I realized that if I didn’t stand next I wouldn’t get to. That thought pushed me up, and I stood to bear my simple testimony. I don’t remember how I began, but I know that I was saying, “I am thankful for my parents,” when my Dad stood and thanked the congregation for their testimonies and proceeded to end the meeting. Startled, I stared at him hoping he’d see me and invite me to go on. Instead he announced the closing hymn and the person who would give the benediction. My face burned in what I was sure was real fire as I sank to the bench without an amen.

I didn’t sing the closing hymn, nor did I feel the organ music surge through me. Instead I battled the feelings tearing at my heart. The prayer said, I ran from the chapel and didn’t stop till I reached home. Mother tried to tell me it was all right, and when Dad got home he apologized. I could tell he felt as badly as I did. He explained that it was only after the meeting when people told him what he’d done that he knew he’d interrupted me.

It was five years before I attempted to bear my testimony again. I had one, and I knew I had one. Even though my first attempt at bearing it was a disaster, the feelings that had prompted me continued to grow in proportion to the fear that kept me from doing so until one Sunday the feelings overpowered the fear, the legs stood firm, and the words came. It was then I learned how much stronger faith is than fear. Faith fed by years of organ music, congregations singing, people doing what’s right, people making mistakes yet trying hard to do what is right, talks and lessons accompanied by the warmth of the Holy Ghost, and especially the spiritual banquet of the sacrament slowly healed my fear.

I think that’s one of the reasons why I still love Sacrament meetings. They heal.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Motivating Myself

Way back in the days of manual typewriters—before word processing and before electric typewriters—I learned to test out the touch of a typewriter by typing this sentence: “Now is the time for all good boys to come to the aid of their country.” Supposedly this sentence covers most of the keys on the typewriter so you can get the feel of it. To this day, every time I put my hands on a key pad those words go through my head.

Touching my fingers to alphabet keys also brings back another memory every time I touch them. In my freshman year of college I was taking a linguistics class where we had to memorize the phonetic symbols. I transcribed the "good boys" sentence into phonetic symbols figuring if it had most of the keys it would be an easy way to learn most of the symbols. To my surprise the final exam asked us to write out that “good boys” sentence in phonetic symbols. I aced the exam!

The fact that forty-plus years later the simple act of putting my fingers on a key pad brings back those memories is intriguing to me. Our minds are powerful and if instead of just letting things happen we recognize the power of the mind and memory we can make them work for us. We can purposely make associations that will constantly remind us of the things that will make us better, bring us closer to God, and help us remember His ways.

I’ve told you before that glancing at my side-by-side refrigerator reminds me that I am yoked side-by-side with Jesus Christ. I know that sounds a little strange, but it works to motivate and encourage me. And writing this has given me an idea I wish I'd thought of years ago. I'm going to change the “good boys” sentence into something meaningful for me so that every time I put my fingers on the keys I’ll think “Now is the time for me to be the best that I can be.”

Wow! That's a good one. Thanks for being out there so I could think this up to share with you!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Light to See By

One of the reasons I love Isaiah so much is that he speaks in pictures. By that I mean that what he teaches I often can see in my head in a picture. For example in Isaiah 50:11 Isaiah says, “Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.”

I’ve never done it myself, but I once watched my brother make a fire using flint and steel. It took awhile but as he struck the flint and steel together tiny sparks would fly from his hands and eventually they ignited the kindling he had gathered. But the sparks themselves were ever so small. In a dark room they might have looked bigger, but they still wouldn’t have been enough to generate light to see anything in the room let alone guide you along a dark path.

The picture I see when I read this verse is God on one side offering us the Light of Christ which shines like sun at noon day. This light brightly illuminates the dark path of life that all of us have to navigate in order to return to God. On the other side of the picture I see people (sometimes my stubborn self) turning their backs on the proffered sunlight and proudly working to strike flint and steel and make their own sparks to try to illuminate their way through the path of life. It is a lot of work to keep striking that flint and steel and yet they keep at it, smirks on their faces as they walk by way of the sparks they are creating. They are doing it their way and are so proud. Needless to say they get lost very fast!

When I catch myself leaving the realm of humility, I think of this picture and remember the words, “This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.” That brings me back to the Light!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Musings on the Olympics

I love the Olympics—especially the stories of courage and love that are highlighted during the games. But I always feel an acute hurt for the athletes who work for years and years and at the crucial moment make a mistake that costs them a medal. It all seems as much a case of luck as it does skill. But that’s not so different than everyday life. We have all had those kinds of experiences when no matter how well prepared we are things go wrong in the crucial moment and we fall flat.

In the Olympics only one person in each event can win gold, only one wins silver, and only one wins bronze, but hundreds of others have wanted, waited, wished, worked and failed to make it that far. That is the nature of competition. That is the nature of telestial life. But, thank goodness, celestial life is much different.

As I watch the tears and the dashed hopes in the Olympic games this year, I have been reminded that the greatest feat in life, the opportunity to return to live with our Father in Heaven, is not a competition. Everyone who runs that race will win. This isn’t a race that only the first person over the finish line wins. This is a race that everyone who endures will win. The only way we will fail to make it is if we give up and refuse to run the race. There is no bronze, silver, and gold in the race to Eternal Life—if we simply keep trying we will all be gold medalists!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Joy in the Midst of Adversity

One of our daughters died less than a minute before she was born. Technically she was stillborn, but as you mothers have experienced, you know your babies even before they are born. They take on a personality and a life before you hold them in your arms. Sonoma was a peaceful, playful baby and as with all of my children, I knew and loved her before she was born. The thing that caused her death was a bacteria that entered our blood stream during the course of delivery. It immediately shut down her organs and almost did the same to me. I was in the hospital for ten days before I was able to go home.

It was a difficult time for our family, but it isn’t the death or the sadness I want to dwell on. The thing that surprised me is that even while experiencing the sorrow and the grief over what happened, there was also an under girding of joy that sustained me. It is difficult to describe, but it was very real. I didn’t understand what was happening at the time but since I’ve studied Truth I’ve come to realize that when we live in the Light of Truth, we always have joy not because the things happening to us are necessarily happy and wonderful, but because when we live in Truth our joy is in the Lord (2 Nephi 27:30). It comes from Him even in times of grief and sorrow and somehow sustains and enables us to withstand the sorrow.

As the Psalmist said, “My soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in his salvation” (Ps.35: 9). This is the key to experiencing joy even in the midst of terrible adversity. If we keep our focus on Jesus Christ and the healing, comforting power that is His salvation, we can feel joy even in times of grief and sorrow. It sounds like an impossible dichotomy, but I know it can happen because I’ve experienced it. When we live in the Light of Truth we always have joy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Mr. Snowman

When my grandchildren were here for Christmas they built me the most wonderful snowman whose smiling face and large carrot nose greeted me each morning. I’m not ashamed to say we were on speaking terms and I often found myself reminding him of the wonderful children who had made him and how thankful I was for them and how thankful he should be for them. But with the sun and rain the last week Mr. Snowman is now only a large snowball. It is very sad to see him melt away, but he has brought me such joy.

This has made me think about how simple things—like a snowman—can make such a difference in our lives. When we surround ourselves with little things that remind us of the good times in life it makes more good times. So many people are caught up in having a “Pottery Barn Home” where the d├ęcor is professional looking and everything matches perfectly and is the latest style. While that may be the stuff magazine covers are made of, it isn’t as comforting as a home where everywhere you look there are reminders of the good things in life instead of worldly success. A happy home is clean, neat, beautiful, but an archive of happiness. Those things can be temporary, like Mr. Snowman, or they can be permanent but by surrounding ourselves with reminders of the good moments in life we extend those moments and fill our hearts with goodness.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Give Yourself a Valentine Gift!

The older I get the more I realize that it isn’t the big things in life that get me; it’s the little things. Some big adversity befalls us and family, neighbors, and friends rally around to help us. But the daily negative thoughts and feelings that assault us can be devastating if left unheeded and so often we don’t stop to realize that we have control over those thoughts and feelings. Thus the negative feelings continue to wage war against us.

So I have a proposal for you to consider. Yesterday we gave everyone we love Valentines. Today let’s give ourselves one. Watch for any sign of negative thoughts or feelings that creep into the heart and at the first inclination of Illusion, use a Truth Tool to change the feeling to something positive. I’m going to watch the stories I tell myself and if they are negative I’m going to Revise them. Any little annoyance, I’m going to find something good (the Good Courage Tool) about the situation. Anything I think shouldn’t be happening, I’m going to Question if that is truth or not.

In short, I’m going to concentrate on controlling my feelings instead of letting my feelings control me. If you decide to join me, let me know how it goes. I love hearing your stories.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Be Content or Contend

I’m going to reveal how quirky my mind is, but this morning I woke up thinking about how the verbs content and contend only differ by one letter. That made me wonder whether they were related or not, and so I went to my dictionary. They aren’t related, but what I found was just as interesting.

Content means “to limit oneself in requirement, desires, or actions.” It is the feeling of being satisfied and at peace. Contend means “to strive or vie in contest or rivalry or against difficulties.” It is the feeling of struggle and war. When we think of personal peace we seldom think of its opposite as war; we reserve that term for worldly affairs. But when we aren’t living in Truth we are at war with everything around us. Instead of being content, we are contending.

But even more fascinating was seeing the etymology of both words. Content comes from the Latin continere which means “to hold in or contain.” Contend comes from the Latin contendere which is the prefix com- plus the root tendere which means “thoroughly stretched” or “thoroughly thinned.” That gives me mental images of a content person as one who spends their time holding on or containing all that is good and thus becomes bigger and fuller and better. On the other hand a contending person is one who spends their time complaining and warring against what is (Truth) and thus they grow thin, are stretched out, and become dissipated and frail.

When we are content with life and either fix or live the things as they are, we live in Truth and are at peace. When we contend with life by thinking things should be different that what they are we are in the Pit of Illusion and are at war. The difference between being content or contending is a choice—but choosing the “t” instead of the “d” can make all the difference in the world.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Great News!

I just got back from the doctor and Grizelda has shrunk 30%. They still don't know why the pressure. There are a few guesses, but eventually they think the pressure will go away! This is the best valentine I've ever had!!! Thanks for all your prayers.

Filling our Lamps With Faith

Before he died King Benjamin called his people together to give them his last words of counsel and advice. One of the first things he taught is that when people obey the Lord, “he doth immediately bless you” (Mosiah 2:24). This is true.

Whenever we obey the Lord, we are immediately blessed, but because we don’t see or hear or feel the blessing “dropping down” upon us, we usually don’t recognize or even realize it is happening. Or at other times we obey because we want a specific blessing and when it doesn’t come we begin to doubt or fear. But that is because we don’t understand the blessing of obedience. Remember “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” (D&C 130:20-21). So what is the blessing attached to the law of obedience? It is faith.

Every time we are obedient to a commandment of the Lord, we are immediately blessed with an increase in our faith. As Elder McConkie once said, “Faith is a gift of God bestowed as a reward for personal righteousness. It is always given when righteousness is present, and the greater the measure of obedience to God's laws the greater will be the endowment of faith” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed., p.264).

What this means is that every time you choose to obey the Lord you are gain a little more faith and in this way we progress through life growing “line upon line” and “precept upon precept.”  (D&C 98:12). Or, as I like to think of it, it is like the five wise virgins in the parable of the Ten Virgins who drop by drop added oil to their lamps so that when the Bridegroom called, they were ready.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thank Goodness for Truth Tools!

I got along fine during the MRI and MRA that were done on Tuesday, but now I am using every Truth Tool I know to keep from worrying while I wait for the results. Once again I am so grateful that I learned these things before Grizelda was discovered. I never would have made it through this experience without those Tools.

When Grizelda was first discovered I was blessed with an incredible calm. I didn’t experience fear or worry. There was some stress and I was upset that I wouldn’t be able to teach, but as to myself and my health, I was very unconcerned. I realize now that it was a beautiful gift from my Father in Heaven. I also know from the blessings I’ve been given that eventually everything is going to be fine. I will not lose my eyesight and I will regain my full health, but as I await the results of this MRI I find myself worrying a little and needing to use the Truth Tools and I can tell you—They Work!

Anchoring is my favorite Tool and it works especially well when I start to feel stressed. When I find myself thinking, “What if. . .” I know immediately I’m headed for the Pit and that I need to change my thinking. So I remember the words of the blessings and Revise the negative “What-If” story that is playing in my head to a positive story. I also have found the Questioning Tool very helpful. When my mind begins to horriblize, I stop and ask, “Is that true?” and I usually end up laughing at myself. In short, even though I haven’t had the same overwhelming gift of peace this time, I’ve been able to stay in Truth thanks to the Truth Tools.

I was told in the blessing I received the night before the surgery that I would need to be patient. I’ve never been good at patience, but I’m beginning to realize that the Truth Tools are all about patience. They bring me back to peace and joy when I start to slip into the Pit of Illusion.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

About the Good News!

In class today we’re discussing the Atonement. I always feel so inadequate to teach the Atonement. How do you put into words all that the Atonement is and all that it means to us? Without the Atonement of Jesus Christ we would have been doomed to an eternal state of misery and woe. I, for one, don’t like misery and woe. I prefer joy and peace. And the reason I know which I prefer is that I’ve tasted both. It isn’t even a question in my mind. I want to dwell joy and peace eternally, and I know I can because of Jesus Christ.

Too often in classes we summarize the Atonement in trite phrases such as, “It’s victory over physical and spiritual death,” and move on to the next question. But that doesn’t even begin to come close to what it means in my daily life. It may be fact, but it doesn’t capture all that the Atonement is. The Atonement gives me the opportunity to grow and change. It connects me to God’s love. It allows me communion with the Spirit. It is hope. It is salvation. And this list could go on forever because the Atonement literally makes everything in life that is good possible.

Despite my inadequacies in teaching, I love teaching the Atonement because even though I can’t express all I feel, it makes me feel it. Today is going to be a wonderful day; a day of joy and rejoicing because I’m thinking about the righteousness of my Savior.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Update on Grizelda

I appreciate so much those of you who have been praying for me. I believe in prayer and I have felt those prayers sustaining me. Thank you. Today I had an MRI and Friday the doctor will tell me if Grizelda is still hanging around or if she accepted my invitation to leave. I don’t mean to be inhospitable, but I think she’s overstayed her welcome and will be more than happy if she’s left.

I didn’t mention it here before because I looked so ugly I couldn’t bear to think about it let alone write about it, but we did the skin cancer treatments on my face during December and I am about back to normal now. The scabbing only lasted a week this time and the big red splotches are now disappearing, but the doctor told me we’d need to do it again in about September. I’m not looking forward to that but maybe next time it won’t be as bad. Maybe I should talk the doctor into waiting until October and I can do it for Halloween. I’d fit right in!

Thanks again for your prayers. I’ll let you know what I find out on Friday.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Being at D7’s home has reminded me of how Good News! got started. In September of 2007 D7 called me to tell me she had a surprise for me. She instructed me to get on my computer and type in the address, www.sherriejohnson.blogspot .com. I vaguely knew what a blog was, but I had never seen one before. I followed her instructions and found a blog called Yaddow containing the stories I had been sharing with my family about my growing up years in Centerville, Utah on it. “I thought other people besides our family should read these,” D7 told me and so I continued posting events from my history.

But loving the scriptures and knowing how much they have changed my life and how much they have given me, I began to write more from the scriptures and things I’ve discovered there. At that point I changed the name of the blog. D7 had named the blog Yaddow because that is what I call my office at home. Yaddo  is a 400 acres artist’s retreat in New York. It is a gorgeous heavily wooded area where artists can seek solace and uninterrupted peace to create. I added the “w” to the word and named my office that. My office is not a beautiful wooded area and when I’m in there I seldom have uninterrupted time, but it is my place of solace and the place where I write.

But when I began writing about the scriptures and the gospel of Jesus Christ, the name for the blog evolved because the word gospel means “good news.” For years the idea that the word meant “God’s story” has circulated, but that is a linguistic myth. However, God’s story is certainly “good news!”  and I am delighted to share the Good News and hope it shines sunlight on your day.

But the best part of all this is that every day when I log on I use the password D7 created for the blog. It is an expression of love that only she and I know. It fills me with delight every time I log on and reminds me how blessed I am to be her mother.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Thank You!

Oh what a day! Thanks to all of you who left birthday messages here or on Facebook. Even though I was away from home, I had a wonderful day. Thank you. Thank you. And thanks for all the new Followers; I’m loving your pictures!

And to all of you, I’m sending much love back your way!

Friday, February 5, 2010

My Happy Birthday

Gray skies in Austin, TX, but lots of warm hearts. The grandkids woke me up singing “Happy Birthday.” We got in so late last night they were all asleep so there were lots of hugs and kisses and giggles this morning. Then D7 cooked me a wonderful breakfast of 7 grain cereal with bananas and every berry you can imagine. Wonderful start to my day!

My heart is brimming with gratitude. I have so much to be thankful for including the fact that I am alive for this birthday and both of my eyes work. Every day is a gift, but today is a very special gift for me!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

You Make My Days

Today I leave for Texas to visit D7. Sunday we will be there for the blessing of our 30th grandchild. I haven’t a clue how I got to this point in life—ten children, 31 grandchildren, a home with my own secret garden, and Grizelda. I vaguely remember being overwhelmed with children, laundry, cooking, cleaning, and millions of errands. All I know is that “It came to pass.”

I’m turning a year older tomorrow. My long hair is short. My blond hair is gray. My running feet now walk, and as my grandson Eli recently told me, “Nana, you need to get that cream I saw on television that takes away wrinkles. It really works.” But my spirit is still twenty-one and raring to go and do.

Looking back one of the greatest blessings of my life are friends. I love people. I love getting to know them and learning from them. I love sharing with them. I just love people. Mr. J and I have often commented that one of the things that has made our lives so good is that we have lots of different friends. We have rich friends and poor friends, old friends and young friends. (At one point in our lives we were socially active with three couples that were three generations of the same family—the grandparents, the parents, and one of their daughters and her husband.) We have extremely educated friends and friends who aren’t into education. We have musical friends and non-musical friends, friends who like the same things we do and friends who don’t like any of the same things we do. I’ve always felt sorry for people who only make friends with people like themselves or people they consider to be “in.” Oh what those people miss out on.

And I love you! (I hope you feel that!) Thanks for the comments you add and what you teach me. Thanks for making my birthday wonderful by adding your picture or silhouette as a Follower—even you lurkers who don’t like to comment thanks for stopping by. Just knowing someone has come to visit Good News! makes me happy. People—that’s what life is all about—and the more we reach out and connect with each other, the better life gets!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Pit of Illusion

Let’s use an example today to talk about the Pit of Illusion. Let’s say you are in a grocery store and you pass a woman who lives in your neighborhood. You enthusiastically greet her with a warm, “How are you?” and she nods, doesn’t say anything, and pushes her cart on down the aisle. At this point you begin to tell a story to explain her behavior. The story can be positive about how the woman must have a lot on her mind or that she’s worried about something or that she just received bad news. Or the story can be negative about how she doesn’t think you are good enough for her or she is so proud and haughty or she is so thoughtless and unfeeling. 

The point is, you are telling a story when the only thing you need to deal with is the Truth. And what is the Truth? The woman responded to your greeting with a nod. All of your stories are based upon the fact that she” should have” done something different. But the Truth is she didn’t. 

When you tell yourself the negative story you fall into the Pit of Illusion. You are not dealing with Truth, you are dealing with a lie, an illusion, and whenever you are in the Pit of Illusion you are vexed. You experience misery in the form of jealousy, bitterness, anger, self-pity or hundreds of other negative, vexing emotions. You hurt yourself. 

Whenever you are in the Pit of Illusion you experience self-inflicted pain, and that pain is totally UNNECESSARY. So Living in Truth is all about living in a way that we never experience the vexation that comes from negative emotions.

Optical Illusion from

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What it Means to Live in Truth

For those of you who are new to Good News!, I thought I'd do a little review of what it means to Live in Truth. Most of us think of truth as the principles and doctrines taught in the scriptures. But the definition of truth we find in the scriptures is, “Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (D&C 93:24). This is similar to the Merriam-Webster On-line Dictionary which defines truth as: (1) The state of being the case. (2) The body of real things, events, and facts. (3) A transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality. Synonyms are: fact, verity, actuality, reality. Certainly the principles of the gospel fit this definition; they are what is, was and will be. They are the “body of real things, events, and facts.” But “the state of being the case” in this mortal world also means that war, accidents, death, disease, disappointment, distress, fear, natural disasters and so many other negative things are the truth. They are reality.

Living in Truth, then, means living the principles of the gospel and accepting the fact that in this telestial world there are going to be thorns, thistles, and weeds. Death, disease, accidents, and wars, are going to occur. People are going to say and do things you don’t like. Things are going to happen to you that hurt. That is the truth.

Whenever we are faced with Truth, we have two choices. We can fix it or live with it. If there is something we can do to fix it, we should. We can pull up the weeds or cut off the thorns or we can live with them. If we start to feel victimized because there are weeds in our lives, if we start to think that those weeds shouldn’t be there, we are fighting against truth and when you fight against truth you always lose. Thus whenever you find yourself saying things like, “She shouldn’t have said that to me,” or “He should be more considerate of my feelings,” you have left the realm of Truth. When we think about what has happened—the truth—in terms of should or shouldn’t have we are no longer dealing in truth. Remember the truth is what happened—the verity or reality. That reality is what we have to deal with, not what should have happened.

When we leave the realm of Truth we fall into the Pit of Illusion where only pain—unnecessary pain—and misery exist. And that’s what we’ll talk about tomorrow—the vexing Pit of Illusion.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Living in Truth

One of the problems we encounter when we first attempt to Live in Truth is that we have been so conditioned in the ways of Illusion. All our lives we’ve seen the same reaction to the same situations so we don’t even stop to realize there could be a different way to handle the situation.

For example, a friend of mine lived with her older married sister during her last years of high school. One day Sharon asked her sister if she could take the car to visit some friends. The sister said she could but she needed the car back by four o’clock because she was taping an educational TV show for a local channel. Sharon said she’d be back by four and left, but once with her friends she forgot all about the time—until it was six o’clock.

She hurried home, but her sister was gone. On the table was a freshly baked cake, Sharon’s favorite chocolate cake, with a note that said, “Don’t worry. I know you were having a good time. I managed to get a ride. I love you.”

In a situation like this most of us have only seen someone react in anger. So when someone lets us down or doesn’t keep a promise, we do what we’ve always seen done—we get angry. But all that does is raise our blood pressure, make us tense and fill us with vexation. Instead Sharon’s sister used that energy to bake a cake. You don’t have to have an IQ of 160 to know which reaction causes the offending person to be sorry and learn a lesson. Being late with the car never happened again and many, many years later the lesson Sharon learned that day is still in her heart guiding and directing her.

But what about the sister? By baking a cake instead of getting angry she escaped a great deal of unnecessary pain. She stayed in the realm of Truth where the spirit dwells. She went to the TV taping with positive energy instead of depleted from the vexation.

Sometimes when we feel anger swelling in us all we need to do to stay in Truth is ask ourselves the simple question, “How else could I handle this?” and then do something good with the energy building within us.