Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Come What May, And Love It Or Else

We are in the processes of repainting our upstairs. The room currently under repair is the master bedroom. As I’ve stated before, Mr. J is an expert house painter. However, he takes breaks from the painting for every BYU and Utah Jazz game there is and has taken to calling himself the Silent Serf. I’m all right with the Serf thing after all he is working hard when he works, but Silent? No way! Any of you who know Mr. J are laughing along with me at such a thought. Mr. J is the most talkative man I have ever met and working only increases his loquaciousness. 

What I’m getting at here is that painting between sporting events has meant that for the last two weeks my bed has been in the middle of the room with the armoire which is draped with old pink stripped sheets. The night stands are floating around wherever they won’t be in the way of the Not-So-Silent-Serf. The ceiling is finished with a nice bright white (so much nicer than the old cream color!) the molding is all painted white, and between the two strips of chair rail the bright yellow has been painted. But the rest of the room is still mauve above the chair railing and cream below the chair railing (that was the color I found under the wall paper it took me forever to strip off!). Some of the pale yellow edging has been done and the molding sports bright blue masking tape to protect it whenever it comes time to finish the edging. In short, it is a colorful mess.

To some this would be very disconcerting, but I love change and after eleven years in the same room with the same furniture, waking up to find myself in the middle of the room with bright discombobulated colors surrounding me has been delightful. Of course, knowing it is temporary also helps.

But what it has made me realize is that in life there are a lot of discombobulating situations that can be accepted and enjoyed or that can cause us a lot of unnecessary pain. Learning to love what comes and enjoy it instead of fretting or stressing about it is the difference between a happy life and a miserable life.  Why be miserable when you could be enjoying? It is a choice.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sorrow--Necessary or Unnecessary Pain?

The most important reason to avoid Unnecessary Pain and to stay out of the Pit of Illusion is that when we are in the Pit we have removed ourselves from the Spirit. The Spirit resides in Truth. Therefore, when we leave the Realm of Truth and fall into the Pit of Illusion we make it very difficult to receive the promptings of the Spirit. Our negative mental chatter also makes it almost impossible to hear the still, small voice that will guide us back to Truth.

Mormon realized this when he was abridging the Book of Mormon. When recounting the story of Alma admonishing his people who had strayed from the Truth, he tells us that Alma “began to be very sorrowful; nevertheless the spirit of the Lord did not fail him”(Alma 4:15). The word nevertheless means “in spite of that.” And what we learn here is that Alma is experiencing negative emotions, but in spite of that the Spirit is with him.

The reason for this is that there are a few emotions that can be Necessary Pain or Unnecessary Pain and sorrow is one of them. The difference comes in what motivates the sorrow. Sorrow means “deep distress, sadness, or regret especially for the loss of someone or something loved.” But we often call any sadness sorrow.  Among other things, we experience the Necessary Pain of sorrow when a loved one dies or as in Alma’s case when we see those around us doing things we know are going to cause them eternal suffering. We experience the Unnecessary Pain of sorrow when we are sorry for ourselves in a self-pitying way or when the sorrow comes from thinking things should be different than what they are.

The Spirit will always help us through the Necessary sorrow of life, but we are on our own when we take on Unnecessary sorrow. Therefore, we should pay attention to our own emotions and learn to identify whether we are feeling Necessary or Unnecessary Pain. Then we trust in the Lord to help us through the Necessary sorrow, and learn to drop the Unnecessary sorrow. That way we Live in Truth and the joy that accompanies it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Good Sabbath!

But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: 
in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, 
nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, 
nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, 
and rested the seventh day: 
wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. 
Exodus 20:10-11 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Little Necessary Pain

Be glad you can’t see me right now. I’m looking very ugly. For the past week I’ve been putting a cream on my face which turns bright red wherever there are cancerous places on my skin. The red spots are along the sides of my nose, on my lower lip and cover all of my chin. The red spots have now blistered making scabs appear and every time I smile or talk or try to eat the scabs crack. It hurts!

But this is necessary pain and I have to keep thinking about what a miracle modern medicine is. My great-grandmother died from skin cancer and all this pain and ugliness is healing me, helping me escape dire consequences in the future.

This is necessary pain. It is healing me. This is good. This is necessary pain. It is healing me. This is good. (I’m trying to keep the mental chatter positive!)

But besides mental chatter, I’ve been thinking about how the repentance process is like this. Sometimes we have to go through some ugly humiliation in order to humble ourselves and repent. And there is usually pain when we try to change and grow. But necessary pain is also part of the process. Much as we don’t like it, some pain is necessary. And in order to endure it we have to keep our thoughts centered on the beauty that will come with the healing.

I’m imagining that. It will be good. But right now my face is pretty scary. That's the nature of necessary pain.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Knowing God

Have you ever wondered what God is really like—I mean personality wise? 
Too often He’s portrayed as stern and stoic, a task master who commands and drives his children. But that never felt right to me. Then I found a quote by Heber C. Kimball that felt very right. 
Elder Kimball says, “I am perfectly satisfied that my Father and my God is a cheerful, pleasant, lively, and good-natured Being. Why? Because I am cheerful, pleasant, lively and good-natured when I have His Spirit.  That is one reason why I know; and another is—the Lord said through Joseph Smith, ‘I delight in a glad heart and a cheerful countenance’ (D&C 59: 15).  That arises from the perfection of His attributes; He is a jovial, lively person, and a beautiful man” (JD 4:222).

When we pay attention to the characteristics that manifest themselves in us when the Spirit is with us, we learn what God is like. That delights me not only because of what it teaches me about God but what it teaches me about myself. I’ve grown up to be very much like my mortal mother and father and as a daughter of God I can “grow up” to be like my Parents in Heaven.
As Joseph Smith taught, “if men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves” (TPJS, p. 343). 
He also said that, “Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive” (TPJS, 257).

As we come to know God, it is so much easier to trust in Him and love Him.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

It's a Thanks Giving Day!

  O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalm 136:2)

  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (Col. 3:17)

  And they gave thanks to God, yea, all their men and all their women and all their children that could speak lifted their voices in the praises of their God. (Mosiah 24:22)

I'm starting my thanks giving by thanking my God for all of you. Thanks for stopping by to visit. Thanks for your kind comments. Thanks for your friendship and love.

Have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Thanksgiving Memory Tree

I have decided that all holidays are like Christmas trees. These “holiday trees” exist only in your mind and are adorned not with decorations but with memories. For example, tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and as it approaches I am remembering all the Thanksgiving days that have come before this one. I remember my childhood Thanksgivings when all my cousins (all 17 of us) gathered in Grandpa’s two bedroom home. I’m not sure how the adults decided who got the one spare bedroom but us kids all slept on the floor in the front room. I loved being near the widow seat and can still hear the giggling and whispered chatter that went on well into the wee morning hours.

Another ornament on my memory tree is the memory of Thanksgiving at my aunt’s small apartment when the roasted but un-carved turkey was placed on the table and to this day I swear it stood up and gobbled at me. (That’s why I’m a vegetarian!) I can remember Thanksgivings at my own home where my uncle teased me about having knot knees like my mom. I can remember going to my great aunt’s house after our own dinner to join in the Anderson celebration. I loved that because they always brought out the homemade root beer they were famous for making. The bubbles tickled my nose and if I concentrate very hard I can almost taste the rich yeastiness of the homemade brew even now.

In short, holidays give us a marker to hang memories on and tomorrow I will add another “ornament” to my Thanksgiving tree. I’m going to make it a good one and I hope your new Thanksgiving ornament will be a beautiful one, too!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Bad and the Good

I just returned home from the funeral of our niece's husband. While preparing to take his son on a scout outing he was accidentally shot. It is a tragic death and yet the funeral was full of peace, love and joy mostly because of the good life that he has led. All speakers expressed their appreciation for the example he was in serving others--always willing to help out in what ever way he could. He is leaving behind a beautiful legacy for his family.

He will be missed and I have shed tears for his good wife who is left behind to care for three young children. But in times like this I am also so very grateful for the gospel--the Good News--that Jesus Christ has died to save us and to allow us to be eternal families. It is good news in times of tragedy and sorrow. Good News to cling to in times of grieving. The road ahead will be difficult for the young widow, but she is full of faith and knows that God will be with her and so will her husband. She was an amazing example to all of us present.

Today I'm thankful that bad news is always accompanied by The Good News.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pain Free Living

I gave a fireside talk this last week on Necessary and Unnecessary Pain. After the meeting a woman who is going through weekly medical procedures in order to save her life came up to me afterward to thank me. As we talked I asked her how her procedures were going and she told me they were as good as could be expected. Then she went on to explain how much she was bothered by the young technicians at the clinic because they didn’t take their jobs seriously. As she spoke I could see the anger rise into her face. She became animated and intense, fueled by negative emotion. And she kept repeating, “It bothers me so much!” 

I must not have explained Unnecessary Pain well enough or made it clear the benefits that come from dropping self-inflicted pain, because there she was minutes after the discussion filling herself with Unnecessary Pain. But then, it is so easy to see Unnecessary Pain in other people and not so easy to detect it in ourselves. 

Since I’ve learned about Living in Truth asking my Father in Heaven to help me recognize Unnecessary Pain in myself has become an important part of my prayers. So very much of the pain we experience in life is absolutely Unnecessary and the irony is that it can be so easily dropped. The good woman I was talking to has so much to deal with already that to be bothered because the technicians aren’t serious enough about their jobs is absolutely unnecessary. Why should she hurt herself over it?

My prayer is that all of us can better recognize Unnecessary Pain and jettison it rather than wallow in it. Life is so much better without it!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Sabbath Sign

Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep:
for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations;
 that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.
Exodus 31:13

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Good Things Are Coming

It’s almost here—Thanksgiving Day! It’s my favorite holiday. I love visiting with family even when my brother lectures me on why I shouldn’t have pierced ears, I love eating delicious food even though I’m a vegetarian and the main part of the meal is turkey, I love watching the children play together even though they are loud and obnoxious, and I love working in the kitchen with people I love even though there are too many chiefs giving orders.  And I’m not being sarcastic here. I really love Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to stop and evaluate whether you are a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty kind of person. It would be easy to hate Thanksgiving because of any of those negative things (I know people who do!) But it is just as easy to love Thanksgiving because of all the wonderful things that occur. 

This year I’m going to capture every good moment and save it up in my memory bank. Then when life gets a little tough I’m going to make a withdrawal from my memory savings account and enjoy the good moments all over again. Besides being good for the future, I think watching for the wonderful moments will make more of them happen. 

Thank goodness for Thanksgiving!