Sunday, January 31, 2010

Birthday's a Coming!

The big day is fast approaching! But forget about days--Tomorrow is my birthday month and I'm going to celebrate BIG. Thanks to all of you who have already given me a present by putting your beautiful pictures on my Followers menu to the left here. I really do like it. So many wonderful friends!!!! If you haven't done it already, please help me celebrate and add yourself on.

I'm beginning my birthday month by counting all the blessings of age.

Today I am thankful that wrinkles don't hurt! Such a blessing!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bitter Into Sweet


One of the exciting things about the gospel of Jesus Christ is how the Atonement can make bitter into sweet. As we grow closer to the Savior we find that He doesn't only help us through the trials of our lives and fill our future with tender mercies, He changes the past. I don't know how He performs this miracle, but things that were once negative, horrible memories are changed. Sometimes we see them differently. Perhaps we see how we were part of the problem or we understand why someone else did such a terrible thing. Sometimes we are just able to let the memories go. It is like they are erased or at least the dark emotions attached to the experience are erased. Other times I'm not sure what happens, but with the love of the Lord in us the memories no long hurt but are somehow seen as a needed learning experiences. We actually are grateful for what the experience taught us.

I'm not sure how the Savior does it, but I am so thankful for the way He changes the bitter from my past into sweet.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Beauty: A Conscience at Peace

One of the best novels I’ve ever read is a retelling of “Beauty and the Beast,” written by Robin McKinley and titled, Beauty. The story you already know, but the characterization, writing, and wisdom conveyed is extraordinary. One scene especially has stuck with me because of the great lesson it teaches.In the story the father trespasses the estate of the Beast and takes a rose from the Beast’s garden. Because of this transgression, the Beast demands that the father send his daughter to live with the Beast or he can sacrifice his own life. When the father returns and tells his family what has happened his daughter, Beauty, has a choice to make. She can go live with the Beast or she can send her father to his death. The logic of the world would tell us that he was the one that got himself into the mess so he should be the one to suffer.

Beauty, however, feels that she should go, and does what her heart is telling her to do. In telling her story, Beauty repeats the following dialogue that takes place when she first goes to live with the Beast but before she has come to know him.

The Beast says, “'Would it help perhaps if I told you that, had your father returned to me alone, I would have sent him on his way unharmed?'

“'You would?” I said: it was half a shriek, “You mean that I came here for nothing?'

"A shadowy movement like the shaking of a great shaggy head. 'No. Not what you would count as nothing. He would have returned to you, and you would have been glad, but you also would have been ashamed, because you had sent him, as you thought, to his death. Your shame would have grown until you came to hate the sight of your father, because he reminded you of a deed you hated, and hated yourself for. In time it would have ruined your peace and happiness, and at last your mind and heart.'” (Robin McKinley, Beauty [New York: Pocket Books, 1979], 115.)

When we live in Truth and do what our heart and conscience directs, we are free of the vexation the Beast identifies here. We are free to love, to live in peace, to progress, and especially to enjoy life.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Encouragement


The word courage didn’t always mean bravery. At the time the King James translator’s were doing their work on the Bible, the word courage meant “feelings or passions of the heart.” Thus when the word is used in the scriptures we often find it preceded by the adjective good. God wants us to have “good courage” or “only good feelings and passions of the heart.”

This is especially interesting when we look at the word encouragement. The suffix –ment means “process of.” The prefix en- means to “put into.” So if we use the original definition encouragement is “the process of putting good feelings or passions of the heart into.”

As we surround ourselves with all that is good we can overcome much of the despair and disappointment that exist in the world. When we are confronted with the negative things of life we can counter the negative by clinging to the positive good things around us. Good music. Good friends. Good books. Good thoughts. These are just some of the things that can encourage and lift us.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Joy


Most of us think of joy as an emotion—a state of happiness or felicity. While that is true, like so many words in the scriptures, there are other meanings that sometimes apply to the concept of joy when the word is used in the scriptures. When the scriptures tell us, “Let the saints shout for joy” (Ps. 132:9), it probably means happiness. But when Paul says, “Ye became followers of us, and of the lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost,” we get the feeling there is more than simple emotion invoked here. This joy doesn’t come from our own heart or mind, it comes from the Holy Ghost. When the Savior says, “I come to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:13), we know that this joy isn’t just feeling good. This joy is a power that is God’s and something He shares with us. This is confirmed in Galatians 5:22-23 when Paul teaches us that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.

The dictionary helps us out here. Actually the first definition of joy is “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.” While this definition is still tied to emotion, we see a little more. Joy comes from the prospect of possessing what one desires and in the gospel context what we desire is to have the Spirit with us. As we put the scriptural verses about joy together, we realize that joy is the feeling we have within us when we are in possession of the Holy Ghost. Thus joy is more than an emotion similar to happiness;it is a state of being near to God.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bad Advice


Today is the 43rd anniversary of mine and Mr. J’s first date. It was a blind date that I didn’t want to go on and so I got unready thinking I was being spiteful to the friend who was making me go. Needless to say, the friend didn’t suffer in the least. But I came home that night and cried because I was sure he’d never ask me out again. However, miracles happen (that’s a whole different story!) and he asked me out the next day and the next and the next and before I knew it I was engaged and everyone was giving me marriage advice.

The advice I got the most often sounded so profound: “Don’t ever go to bed on an argument.” So when we got married, and had disagreements we remembered the advice and tried to work out our problems before we went to bed. What a MISTAKE! Both Mr. J and I get grumpy and ornery when we are tired and trying to solve problems late at night before we could go to bed was ridiculous. We’d be up half the night and never come to anything close to resolution.

After several years we got wise, (I know I’m a slow learner!) disregarded the terrible advice, and just went to bed. Miraculously 90% of the time the next morning we found the problem had somehow disappeared while we slept. The other 10% of the time we were able to solve the problem quickly because our minds were clear and alert.

The amazing thing to me is that a few years later I found this very principle taught by Nephi. After Nephi has the beautiful vision of the Tree of Life, he returns to the family camp and finds his brothers fighting. He knows he needs to help solve the problem, but he is exhausted from the experience he has just had. So instead of trying to jump in and solve the problem in his tired state, he tells us “after I had received strength I spake unto my brethren” (1 Nephi 15:6).

Now that’s the advice I should have been given. Trying to solve problems with children or spouses or anyone when you are tired or hungry or out of sorts doesn’t work. Like Nephi we need to wait until we have the strength to deal with the problem. That isn’t always possible, but when it is—do it!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Conveying Testimony


Yesterday the question came up in Relief Society about how our parents conveyed their testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ to us. It sent my mind whirling and has caused me to ponder a great deal. My testimony came from my father. I heard him bear a formal testimony often, but if I had only heard the words I’m not sure I would have believed like I do. Instead, it came from the things I saw him do.

One of the earliest memories I have of my father is when I was very young and he was riding to work with a man who had been an alcoholic and had gone through AA. Sober now, Seth was becoming interested in the gospel. As Dad drove back and forth to work with Seth, he talked with him about the gospel and was instrumental in bringing Seth back into Church activity. I remember Dad at the dinner table each night telling Mom what he had taught Seth during the commute. I remember Seth and his wife coming to our house. I remember Seth and Dad talking gospel in the halls of the Church. I remember Seth with tears in his eyes thanking my dad. I remember Mom telling Dad that Seth’s wife had told her how much she appreciated what Dad had done for her husband. Those were the things that impressed me.

Without words these experiences bore testimony to my young spirit that this was something very important to Dad. It witnessed to me that he loved the gospel. I knew that it was something that brought him so much joy he wanted to share it. The tone in his voice as he discussed gospel topics with Seth said more to me than words ever could. He didn’t have to tell me he knew the gospel was true; it was very evident in the excitement as he shared it.

I’ve never thought much about this until yesterday, but my testimony came to me because of Dad’s words but even more so because of the way he spent his time.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Help Me Celebrate!

I’ve never been able to understand people who want to forget about birthdays. Getting older isn’t wonderful physically, but in so many other ways it is fantastic. Life is cumulative and over the years I’ve accumulated more family, more friends, more knowledge, more wisdom, more experience, and lots more love. That’s reason to celebrate! Life is wonderful and there is no way I’m going to mourn the passing of years. I’m going to rejoice in the accumulation!

In two weeks I’m having another birthday and I’m going to celebrate the whole month of February. I was due to be born the 29th—it was leap year. And I came three weeks early on the 5th so I figure the whole month is mine. And I’m not going to be shy about it.  I’m going to ask you all for a present—a specific present. I LOVE seeing the pictures on the left side of my blog of you followers. It’s warm and friendly and makes me feel loved. So for my birthday, if you haven’t already done it, go to the followers spot and click to be a follower so I can see you there every day. (I know you must think I’m crazy, but I do love seeing you all!) Invite your family, friends, neighbors, strangers—anyone you know who might want the Good News!  The more the merrier!

I’ll be doing a lot of other things this birthday month. Like I say I don’t understand people who brush over a birthday like it was poison. Life has enough adversity. Any possible reason to shout for joy and celebrate should be celebrated. After all,  the alternative to having this birthday is to be nailed into a box and buried deep in the ground. But I’m on top of the ground, breathing, loving, learning, singing, breathing. (I know I already said that, but at my age it is REALLY important!) I’ve accumulated one more year and everything attached to that year. That is reason to celebrate. So if you haven't already, sign on and help me celebrate.
I love you!

(P.S. The picutre is of D5 celebrating New Year's. If you think it isn't very nice of me to post such a picture, you should see the picture she posted of me on her blog!!!!) 

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Let It Snow!


Last night at about 9:00 I looked outside and saw the most glorious sight: thick snow falling in huge flakes, the ground, roads, and sidewalks buried under pure white snow, and trees and bushes bowing reverently under the weight of fallen snow. There was so much white snow that it reflected street and house lights giving off a magical glow that suspended the world half-way between day and night. It was awe inspiring--one of those moments when you know there has to be a God in heaven.

I tried to take a picture, but there is no way film could capture the magic of the pristine scene. Last night Mother Nature kissed the world and left behind a fairyland.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Looking for the Words, the Power, and the Deeds

As Nephi concludes his account of his great vision, he explains that in the last days “if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks “ (1 Nephi 14:1). Sometimes I think we take for granted all that the Lord does for us. We consider it coincidence or don’t even stop to realize what blessings we have been given. Sometimes we need to be jolted into realizing what we have. To help me be more aware, I am going about my day looking for the words, the power, the deeds that the Lord is sending my way and especially I am watching for the ways that He is taking away my stumbling blocks. I am trying to be more alert and able to acknowledge His hand in my life. And I have been surprised. Just when I need it someone tells me the words I need to hear or does something for me just when I need a deed done. I’m getting better at remembering that the Lord often works through others and recognizing that He put those people and it is a manifestation of his power and love for me.

I think being aware and being more grateful are keys to receiving another blessing Nephi talks about a few verses later. In that verse Nephi says that he “beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory” (1 Nephi 14:14).

I want to be armed at all times with righteousness and the power of God. I think being more aware of the Lord working in my life will help me in that quest.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thinking About My Sisters in Malaysia


In 2004 I went to Malaysia to deliver a paper at the Asia Region United Nations Conference on the Family. The day before the conference began the Malaysian government took us on a tour of the capitol city, Kuala Lumpur. The architecture fascinated me—so many buildings with wings and towers and intricate wood carvings. And the food! I am a vegetarian and the variety of vegetables and the delicious ways they were cooked was mind boggling. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven! One of the sites they took us to was the Batu Caves where we hiked 272 steep stairs to a beautiful Hindu shrine. Along the way monkeys scurried across our path and swung in the lush trees that lined the stairs all the time laughing at us as we trudged by. I fell in love with the country.

But the thing I remember most about the trip happened the next day at the conference which was held in a beautiful five star hotel. Women from Malaysia had been invited to set up kiosks in the area outside the conference rooms to sell their wares. Between sessions I walked out to admire jewelry at one of the kiosks. Now you have to realize that I stood out like a giraffe in a horse stable. I didn’t speak the language. I am tall and none of the local women came above my shoulders. Besides that I am fair skinned and blond and they were all darker. If that weren’t enough, they all wore beautiful scarves held in place with delicate brooches and I was bare headed.

The kiosk consisted of three display cases each about eight feet long and set in a U shape against a wall so that it formed a square with the workers in the center. I was at the end—facing the wall—looking at various pieces of costume jewelry and suddenly became aware that the other women gathered at the kiosk, about three or four at each side display, were watching me. I couldn’t understand what they were saying, but as they whispered and pointed I could tell I was the topic of conversation. Curious, I watched from the corner of my eye as they slowly  inched toward me until they were as close as they could get. Then with one big giggle they began trying jewelry on me! They’d hold a brooch next to my jacket and ohh and aww and giggle and nod. Then someone else would hold ear rings against my ears and even though I didn’t understand the language, I understood when they approved and when they didn’t. They draped necklaces on my shoulders and without words asked if I liked them. They held a mirror up for me to see and waited for my reaction. At first it startled me, but I suddenly realized that they wanted to communicate with me—a strange, light skinned giant from another world, but a woman like them. They wanted to let me know they liked me and cared. This was their way of breaking through the language barrier.

It was an amazing few moments of love and delight. I ended up buying a ring, a necklace and a brooch simply because I wanted something that would reminded me of that moment forever. I hardly ever wear the jewelry, but it is in my jewelry box so that every day when I take out my wedding ring and every night when put my ring away, I see the jewelry and remember my sisters in Malaysia who without words told me they loved me.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mothers in Israel


One of the judges who reigned in Israel was a woman named Deborah. Besides being the judge she led the armies of Israel into a battle in which they succeeded in defeating their enemies. In the book of Judges chapter five we find Deborah’s song, a beautiful poem about her and the battle, but the line I like best is in verse seven when it says “I arose a mother in Israel.”

We are never told if Deborah had children or not. As a matter of fact some scholars debate whether she was married or not. In Judges 4:4 we are introduced to Deborah with these words, “And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at the time.” Since the words wife and woman in Hebrew are exactly the same and the word lapidoth means “shine or flame,” and is never again found in the Bible as a name, the phrase could have been translated as “a woman of flame” which could have been a metaphor for a sanctified or righteous or outstanding woman.

Which ever, it is interesting that while a judge and a general, Deborah identifies herself a mother in Israel, but what we see her mothering is not children—she mothers the house of Israel. I think there is a message in there for all women--that we are to mother (nurture and care for) God’s children whether we have children of our own or not. In God’s plan all righteous women are mothers. It is a title of respect and honor and as we reach out to nurture and care for others in whatever capacity we are in, we like Deborah, arise as mothers in Israel.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mr. J

Today is my husband’s birthday. We married when he was 23 years old and have now been together 42 years. It’s been a long journey and not always easy. We are about as different as two people can be making compromise an important element in our lives. On top of that there have been the trials and adversity that every couple faces. We suffered through being drafted into the army and the subsequent years of military service (1969-71). We had two daughters at the time and were making $400 a month. We still don’t know how we made it through those years except for the fact we always paid our tithing first. In 1989 Mr. J. almost died of a bleeding ulcer. That happened Christmas Eve—a Christmas I’ll never forget. In 1983 I almost died of septic shock. That happened during the birth of our ninth daughter, and the bacteria that was causing the problem in me killed her—so we lost a child and grieved together.

In short, over the 42 years we’ve cried together, laughed together, argued together, grown up together, stressed together, played together, prayed together, and somehow managed to raise our other nine children. Now we’ve come to the point where we’ve aged together and the most important part is that each year has gotten better and better. There’s more laughing and less arguing now. There’s more understanding and less selfishness. And there’s lots more love.

Mr. J. took amazing care of me last year when I had brain surgery—an amazing feat for a youngest child who was spoiled by his mother and for many years expected the same from me. I was the oldest child and had never been pampered or spoiled—until last year. I don’t know how he suddenly learned it, but he anticipated my needs before I needed. He gently helped me move around and was constantly worried about my comfort. He looked at me with such devotion in his eyes you would have thought I was a beauty queen and yet I was bald and had ugly staples in my head. He was amazing!

The hardest part of this birthday has been trying to find him a gift. Everything seems so trivial. What can I possibly give him that could express how I feel? Even the words Happy Birthday sound hollow. But they are all I have, so Happy Birthday, Mr. J. I love you.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Reminiscing


My birthday is coming up in a few weeks and that always causes me to reflect on all the years that have gone by. Life hasn’t turned out the way I planned. Some things have been disappointing and other things have been delightful surprises—better than what I planned. Some things I’d do again. Some things I’d do very differently. I’ve learned a lot and wish I’d learned more. It is amazing what you can see at this end of life—how different life looks. I wish I could have seen it from this perspective earlier, but I guess that is what life is all about—learning, growing, and changing.

With thinking about the past I’m also remembering the people that have played such an important part in my life. There are friends, mentors, teachers, and some people who I didn’t know well but who set such a great example for me. Some of these people have no idea what an influence they had on my life. Two friends from high school stopped by the other day. I didn’t associate with them a lot after school, but had classes with them and learned from them and watched how they approached life. They are wonderful women and taught me so much. I hadn’t seen them for decades and it was so fun to visit with them again and find that they are just as fantastic (even more so!) than they were back in high school.

In short, one of the things I’m realizing as I grow older is how much the people God has placed in my life have influenced me. I am who I am, to a large degree, because of these people, and I am very, very grateful for them. The people in my past and the people around me now sustain me, bring me joy, keep me laughing, and make life worth living.

So thank you to friends, family, teachers, mentors, and anyone who has cared about me even the tiniest little bit which means you if you are reading this blog. I love you!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Creative Problem Solving


There are so many ways to solve problems if we just stop to think about it. D6 is visiting D7 this week and this morning the children were quarreling about breakfast. Two wanted chocolate Malt O'meal and another wanted plain Malt O'Meal. There are a lot of ways to solve this. D6 was cooking and she could have flipped a coin. She could have insisted they go with the majority. She could have fixed two pots of cereal. But I like what she did. She cooked the plain and then added chocolate chips for the two who wanted chocolate.

The picture is what she served. Everyone was happy! No more arguing! No one felt cheated.

P.S. (Don't I have some bright daughters!)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

One Of My Favorites


I thought I'd share with you one of my favorite web sites. I did this a long time ago, but it is worth repeating. If you go to www.readthescriptures.com, you can sign up to have your daily scripture reading delivered to your email each day. You can choose from the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, or Doctrine and Covenants. You can also have the Sunday School and/or Priesthood/Relief Society Lessons sent to you weekly. But that's not all! You can get the Ensign articles sent and you can choose the schedule for any of these. You can have a chapter a day sent or tell them you want to read whatever you've chosen in 60 days (or how ever many you want) and they'll divide it out and send you how many chapters you need to read to be finished in 60 days. It is amazing.

I love waking up each morning and finding a chapter of scripture waiting for me. Try it yourself and tell me how you like it.

Friday, January 15, 2010

God Created Woman

Genesis means “beginnings” and I love the stories in Genesis, particularly the creation. In the beginning God took six periods of time and proceeded to create the earth and all that is on it. After each period of time he declares, “It is good.” But after he creates man, he says, “Is is not good.” The reason is because man alone is incomplete—he is not completed in the image of God which we are told in Genesis 1:27 is both “male and female.” In other words, a man alone cannot be a God but must be sealed to a woman to be like God.

So to complete man in the image of God, God figuratively takes a rib from the man and makes a woman. This is an interesting metaphor. We’ve all heard the comparison that God used a rib instead of a foot or a head because woman was to walk beside man and not be ruled over by man. But more interesting is the fact that in the Hebrew the word translated as rib also means side. The King James translators could just as accurately have translated the verse to read that God took one side of the man and made woman.

It is also interesting to understand the words translated as help meet which in Hebrew is ezer knegdo. Ezer, which appears 21 times in the Old Testament,means help and 16 of those times it refers to God. Throughout history people have used this verse to maintain that woman is to be man’s servant and subject to him. But God is not our servant nor is He subject to us. Servitude and subjection are not the meaning of the Hebrew word ezer. Instead it means the kind of help that alleviates a problem. Because of the Fall you and I have a problem, but Jesus Christ is our help in that He overcame the problems of the Fall. Likewise, the creation of the woman also solves the problem of man being incomplete and alone.

Knegdo was translated as meet, which means "necessary or suitable," but that is not a very good translation. The word knegdo is better translated as “exact counterpoint.” Just as my right hand is the exact counterpoint to my left hand, woman is the exact counterpoint to man. Sealed together they are completed in the image of God.

This metaphor of the creation of man and woman is powerful in what it teachers us about what the relationship of men and women, especially husbands and wives, should be as we journey through life. We are to be equal partners, walking together in the pursuit of Eternal Life.

(If you want to read more about this it can be found in my book Man, Woman, and Deity.)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

When? Is the Question

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how important it is to understand the law of justice in order to help us use our agency correctly. As Abinadi explained to King Noah’s court, “The time shall come when all shall see the salvation of the Lord; when every nation, kindred, tongue, and people shall see eye to eye and shall confess before God that his judgments are just” (Mosiah 1:1). The sooner we realize and accept the fact that our Savior is just, that He will make all things right, the easier it is to use our agency to chose to live in Truth and escape the pain and suffering that occur when we choose to live in Illusion.

But there is something else in this verse that is motivating. In Rom 14:11 we are taught, “As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” This means that at some point all people will realize that Jesus is the Christ and that life was fair. It means that at some point in time all people will accept His teachings. Thus, having agency doesn’t mean you can choose never to learn such things as repentance, forgiveness, honesty, generosity, faith, hope and charity. Everyone will someday accept those things and live them. Having agency doesn’t mean you get to choose if you’ll obey. Having agency means you get to choose when you will obey Jesus—now or later.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How Do You Think?


The beginning of the Book of Mormon is fascinating for many reasons, but one of the things I love most is the way it shows the reasoning that goes behind a decision. Moral agency is a mental power and so whenever we use it we go through a mental process and this process is detailed in the story of Nephi and his brothers.

When Lehi asks his boys to go back to Jerusalem for the plates Laman and Lemuel respond that what their father has asked of them will be hard to do. It isn’t difficult to see that they are basing their decision on selfish thinking—it is too hard. But Nephi responds, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7). Nephi doesn’t think about self. His reasoning is full of faith in the Lord.

Later after the boys have tried to obtain the plates from Laban and have failed, Laman and Lemuel are murmuring against the Lord and their father and Nephi tries to convince them to continue on in their task. At this point Laman and Lemuel argue, “How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, year, even he can slay fifty; then why not us?” (1 Nephi 3:31). Now we hear Laman and Lemuel’s reasoning take on an element of fear and it is based on the logic of men.

Nephi answers them, “Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, year, or even than his tens of thousands?” (1 Nephi 4:1).

Throughout this account Laman and Lemuel make all their decisions based upon their fear, selfishness, and the logic of man. In contrast Nephi makes all his decisions based on trust in God, faith, and selflessness. In addition, Nephi tells us that when he returns to finish the task he is “led by the Spirit.”

Too often we try to manage and improve our lives by working on behavior. But behavior springs from thoughts and attitudes. If we listen to what we are thinking as we make decisions we can change our thinking so that we always use our agency to choose the right.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

And the Winners Are. . .

Thank you so much to all of you who made me feel good by entering my contest. And thanks for sharing the Good News! I love giving my books away and just wish I could afford to give you all one. But at least I can give away two!

Drum roll please. . . ta da ta da!!!!

The first winner is Beverly@the Buzz and the second winner is Heather. If you two will email smillsjo at gmail dot com with your full names and addresses, I will mail the books to you.

Some of you asked where you can get the book if you didn't win. It is at Deseret Book, other LDS bookstores, and at Amazon.com. If you look on the left side of my blog there is a picture of the book and clicking on it will take you directly to Amazon.

Thanks again everyone and have a Truth filled day! I hope you'll keep sharing Good News! with others.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Last Day for Book Giveaway


I'm a little sad that not more people want a copy of my book. You do realize that even if you already have a copy if you win you can use it for a gift. Or if you don't want to read it there are several things you can do with it. If you have a table or chair that wobbles because the floor is uneven or one of the legs is too short, you can use it to prop the table or chair so it doesn't wobble. You can use it to raise a projector so the image hits the screen. You can stand on it when taking a picture to make yourself a half inch taller. You can use it to fan yourself if you are too hot. It works well as a fly swatter. If you fold each page on the diagonal toward the gutter of the book and then tape the covers together, it forms a vase that you can put artificial flowers in. You can use it to start a fire in your fireplace or give it to your kids to color in.

So even if you don't want to read my book, be a friend and make me feel good by clincking here and signing up to win one. Contest ends tonight at midnight. Thanks!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mother's Advice

When I got married my mother gave me two pieces of advice. The first was, “Sherrie, watch what you eat because if you are not careful you and Carl are going to look like Jack Sprat and his wife.” For those of you who don’t remember, Jack Sprat is the subject of a nursery rhyme: “Jack Sprat could eat no fat. His wife could eat no lean. And so betwixt the two of them, they licked the platter clean.” To understand why Mother told me this, you have to know that when we married Carl was 6’ tall and weighed 140 pounds if fully clothed. It was good advice.

The second piece of advice was, “Just know that you are not welcome to come back to this house to live unless he beats you or gets drunk.” To tell the truth, at the time I was shocked by that and a little hurt. It caused me to wonder if she loved me, or if she was so glad to have me gone she wanted to be sure I wouldn’t be back. But within a short time I realized the wisdom of mother’s words as I witnessed a few of my friends who when they encountered newly-wed problems run home to their mothers and eventually ended up divorced.

When Carl and I encountered the inevitable newly-wed problems, I knew I wasn’t welcome back home, but I realized that what Mother had meant was that I was to stay with my husband and work things out. It was wonderful advice and over the years I have been surprised to see how many times a marriage is ruined because a mother interferes or because at the least sign of trouble a bride runs home to momma.

This advice has been some of the best I’ve ever been given not just for marriage but for all areas of my life. Running away only prolongs problems and usually complicates them more. Staying (unless there is danger of physical harm) and working through a problem until you reach a conclusion is difficult, but it is the only way to progress and find happiness.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

What You Need Is On It's Way

I’m learning a lot of lessons lately. Ever since Grizelda was discovered I feel like I’ve been undergoing an intensive study in life. It’s like a cram course in life principles!

One of the things I’ve learned is that God puts in your path and gives you the very things you need at the very moment you need them. You can absolutely trust in that. You don’t have to worry or fret about what you need because it will be there at exactly the moment you need it. The people you need, the things you need, the direction you need, the experiences you need will all appear exactly at the moment you need them. But you have to watch for it. If you are discouraged suddenly something or someone will come to encourage you. If you are hurting something or someone will come to ease the pain. If you are joyous something or someone will come to share it with you. If you need to know which direction to take something or someone will appear to guide you.

But you have to be watching.

I also have learned that the Lord sends these things, but as mortals we often slam the door on the very thing that is being sent to help us. We get so caught up in the magnitude of our problems that we don’t notice or accept the tender mercies that are sent to help us.

So watch! Be open and eager for the things that will meet your needs. They are coming. That is a promise.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Orchestrated Life


Last night we heard the Utah Symphony play. I love the symphony, but besides the beauty of the Beethoven and Rachmaninoff pieces, I was struck with the amazing metaphor an orchestra is. Each instrument is very unique—English horns, violins, bassoon, timpani—yet when they come together they complement and enhance each other. By carefully following the composer’s score and following the conductor’s direction, the instruments make music that resonates in the marrow of the bones and surpasses anything one instrument could do alone.

I couldn’t help but think how much this is like life. Each of us is very unique and that uniqueness is important to our mission in life. If a timpani tried to play the part of a violin, the percussion of a piece would be ruined. It’s so easy to see in an orchestra, but in life too many of us are trying to be what our neighbor is instead of following our own music and being our own selves. We get jealous that the violins have more parts or that they carry the melody. We think that because we as timpani only come in once in awhile we aren’t as important and loved. But a symphony would be ruined without the timpani even though it isn’t the melody. It is still an integral part of the orchestra.

Some of us are also rebelling against the score. God is the composer and instead of following the “notes” he has written for us to obey, we want to do our own thing in our own way. Selfishly we try to make our own melody while ignoring the composer, the rest of the instruments, and the conductor (prophets and leaders). It is like a whole orchestra playing Rachmaninoff while one lone clarinet is playing jazz. It doesn’t work.

I could go on and on in the comparisons. My mind was swimming as I left the concert hall last night. But I’ll let you think of the rest. I also hope you’ll think about the music you’re playing and realize how important it is to the rest of us—especially when you are in harmony.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Giveaway Time!


I thought I’d start 2010 out with a book give away. To win a copy of my latest book, Gospel Insights for Everyday Living, tell a friend about  Good News! And then leave a comment telling me who you told and how you told them. Be creative. You can put a post or link on your own blog about Good News! or you can simply tell a friend or even write an old fashioned letter to someone you know. (Does anyone remember how?) Or if you are too shy to tell anyone about Good News!, click on the button at the left to be a follower and then leave a comment saying you've done that. Whatever works for you!

Contest ends Monday, January 11th, at midnight. I’ll choose TWO winners by doing a random drawing from those who leave comments. If you already have a link on your blog to Good News!, or if you are already a follower, that counts! Just leave a comment telling me that.

I hope to hear from all of you because it really hurts if no one wants my book!!!

Good luck!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Word Power


Several months ago my daughter (D1) was informed by her youngest son, five-year-old Luke, that the gathering her family had every Monday night was not called Family Home Evening, but Happy Family.

“Is it Happy Family tonight?” he asked and when she tried to correct him, Luke insisted that Happy Family was the real name. He has persisted in this ever since refusing to let anyone in the family call it anything but Happy Family. So the name has caught on and even the teenagers in the family are now calling it Happy Family.

The interesting thing, D1 reports, is what a difference it has made in their home. “It is so funny,” D1 told me, “but everyone’s attitude about Family Home Evening has changed. Everyone is excited about being part of Happy Family where before there were times of murmuring and reluctance. I don’t know how much is due to the name change and how much is Luke’s enthusiasm, but whatever it is, it is working! The whole family is eagerly looking forward to Happy Family each week. I love it!”

Like D1, I don’t know if the name change or the enthusiasm of a young brother has caused the change in attitude. Probably it is a combination of both. However, I do know that words have power and that what we call things and the words we choose to describe our lives influence those lives greatly.

I think I’ll remember this as I implement my word of the year. As part of my rejuvenation I’m going to think about what words I use daily. Do I have to clean the house or do I get to clean the house? It’s amazing what such a small change in words can do to lift spirits and alter the way you look at life!

(Picture is of Luke in the Hill Cumorah Pageant last July)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Living in the Now

Daily I’m finding new reasons to live in the present. As I watch myself and the people around me I realize that when problems occur in a relationship, most of the time people don’t just deal with the present problem. Instead they haul in all the baggage from past problems and heap it on the present problem which makes it so complicated it becomes almost impossible to solve. If instead we simply look at the problem confronting us and with the help of the Spirit determine what the best solution is for this problem, it is much easier to solve and then move on.

For example, a woman confided in me that in the past years her husband had been psychologically abusive and the way she had survived was to pull away from the relationship emotionally. For the sake of the children she stayed in the marriage, but she and her husband had become little more than house mates. He lived downstairs and she lived upstairs. She told me that he had softened quite a bit and was no longer very abusive, but as she went on explaining the relationship I realized that the decisions she is making now are based on the old patterns and relationship. Even though (by her own admission) he is no longer abusive, she decides what to do and how to react to him based on the old abusive man instead of reacting and accepting the new gentler man.

It was obvious that sometimes she was punishing him for all the past times he had hurt her and that because of the past she felt justified in doing so. But that only creates more problems. The only way to end a war is for one side to stop fighting. If she would forgive and forget—live in the present moment instead of the past—she could have the very happiness and joy she wants. It is no longer her husband that is keeping her from joy, love and peace—it is her own behavior.

Living in Truth means living in the present moment and dealing with what is now facing you.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Day by Day


This time of year many people are making resolutions and harboring hopes of a better year, a more productive year, a happier year ahead. We go along for days, weeks, or sometimes even a month or two with those goals and hopes and then something happens that destroys our resolution. Maybe we fail at keeping the goals or a life event dims our hope and we abandon the resolutions thinking we’ve blown it again this year. This is one of the reasons New Year resolutions fail—because we are thinking in terms of years. We set the goal for a year and it is only February! So we wait until next year to begin the process again.

But new beginnings don’t have to be measured in years. At one point in Paul’s teachings, he tells the Corinthians, “Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). In other words, our bodies might be growing older and becoming weaker, but our inward being, our spirits, are renewed daily through Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost.

That is one reason I like having a word for the year instead of goal resolutions. My word is not something that is kept or broken like a goal; it just floats with me in whatever I am doing. If I am cleaning house, I’m thinking rejuvenate—do it better than ever before. If I am studying, I’m thinking rejuvenate my studies—have more enthusiasm and excitement in my study. If I am with an old friend, I’m thinking rejuvenate my friendship—don’t take friendship for granted but cherish it. Instead of feeling like something extra to do, my word resolution enhances and invigorates everything I am already doing. In this way I help the natural process of letting the Spirit renew me day by day by day without getting discouraged or being tempted to give up. I love it!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Time to Get Some Rest

The family went home this morning and the house is empty. I’ve been cleaning and straightening and it might soon look like someone besides Oscar the Grouch lives here. Two weeks of chaos, laughter, clutter, cooking for fifteen, noise, game playing, laughter (I know I already said that, but there was enough laughter for two entries!) has come to a close. It has been a busy, but great holiday.


I hope you also had great times. Let me know what you did! I'd love to hear from all of you.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Lesson From Adam and Eve

Happy New year everyone! I’m eager to see what this year brings. The future is full of hope.

To start the beginning of the year I was reading about the beginning of the world—specifically Adam. I love the story of how Adam and Eve worshipped God by offering sacrifices to the Lord and after awhile an angel appeared to Adam and asked, “Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me” (Moses 5:6).

This verse is a good one for me to start the year off with. I am good at obeying when I can see why I should. But I struggle sometimes when I can’t see why I should do something. But Adam just did what he was told to do—trusting that whatever God told him to do would be for his good. I’m going to work on that more this year!

The angel then told Adam why he should offer sacrifice, “This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.” The angel then went on to tell Adam that because of this amazing sacrifice that would happen to save him and all mankind he should “do all that thou doest in the name of the Son” (Moses 5:7-8).

In my efforts to rejuvenate this year, I’m going to remember this verse. What it tells me is that everything I do and say should be considered a prayer or offering to God and should be done in a way that I can close my words or actions “in the name of the Son.” If I approach life with that attitude, I can’t help but be rejuvenated.