Monday, January 31, 2011

My Strength

Too often in the Church we have taught and stressed the works part of “grace and works” to the exclusion of teaching about grace. In addition, the adversary is very good at tempting us with thoughts that it is all up to us, and there is no way we can do it all. He points out that there are too many commandments and we are inadequate and there is no way we can save ourselves. Well, in this case (for once!) he isn’t lying. He is right. We can’t do it all, and God knew that, and so He sent His Son to do it for us. 

All of the prophets understood this and perhaps it is why they are great. They knew in whom they trusted, and it wasn’t in themselves and in their own ability to do all that needed to be done. Instead they trusted in God. As Isaiah says, “My God shall be my strength” (1 Nephi 21:5 and Isaiah 49:5).

So much of the Unnecessary Pain we bring upon ourselves can be eliminated by just remembering this one phrase, “My God shall be my strength.” When we start to feel inadequate or when the adversary taunts us with thoughts of our mistakes and failings and insufficiencies, all we need to do is say, “I know I’m inadequate. I know I can’t do it. But Jesus Christ can, and He is my strength.” Just saying the words aloud is empowering.

I know I’m not righteous, but Jesus Christ is, and He has promised to save me. Oh, how blessed I am.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

At Last a Day of Rest!

I've been doing the "six days shalt thou labor" part of the commandment too well this week. So I am really appreciating a day of rest! I hope you enjoy yours, too!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Another Tender Mercy

Me and Nic Jr. in Ireland
Yesterday one of my grandsons was baptized. He lives in Africa, Mauritania, to be exact, and because of the distance and cost we couldn’t be there. I thought of him all day long and was with him in spirit. But let me share with you the interesting story of this baptism.

When D8 and her husband went to Mauritania (a country which is 98% Moslem) they notified Church headquarters in an effort to determine if there was a branch or Church unit there. They were told that they were the only known Mormons within 5,000 miles of where they would be living. So SIL8 was set apart as a group leader which gave him the authority to bless and pass the sacrament to his group (his family!). They have been there for about 18 months and every Saturday they have their own Sacrament Meeting and Primary. (The reason for Saturday is that the Moslem Sabbath is on Friday and so the weekend or days off work are Friday and Saturday. Sunday is the first day of the work week.)

It has been different but they have gotten along well until they realized that their oldest son would turn eight in December and needed to be baptized. SIL could do the baptizing, but they had a problem because they didn’t have two witnesses. They corresponded with headquarters to try to find a solution and the only two options were to fly the family someplace where there was a branch or ward or to wait until they returned to the States. They couldn’t afford to fly everyone out and my grandson didn’t want to wait. So they kept talking to headquarters and praying.

This is the daughter and family that met us in Ireland last July and while we were together we talked a lot about the problem and discussed possibilities, but we didn’t come up with anything feasible. After we returned home we got an email from D8 explaining that while they were in Ireland a new military group was transferred into Mauritania and there were two Mormon priesthood holders in the unit. For some reason I thought the unit had about 20 people in it, but this week she told me that it was a four man unit. Now what are the odds of a four man unit being transferred into Mauritania with two Mormon men in it? 

The baptism was held yesterday in the ambassador’s swimming pool. Many people from the embassy and the children’s school were invited to attend the event and there is no telling what other miracles will follow. I haven’t heard from D8 yet about how it went, but I’ll keep you informed.

This is definitely one of the tender mercies of the Lord. He is in charge, He knows what we need. He answers our prayers and He loves us. I am so grateful.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Receptors of Truth

At the end of each semester, students are asked to evaluate their classes. There are many items concerning the teacher and the class on the survey that are simply answered with multiple choice categories. But at the end of the survey the students can leave comments. Last semester I received a very interesting comment. One of the students said, “She tells thirty year old stories.”

When I first read that I laughed so hard I cried. Evidently he thought that because my experiences were more than a few years old they weren’t relevant or couldn’t have any meaning for him. But the reason I was laughing so hard is that it was a Book of Mormon class and the experiences we were reading and discussing were over two-thousand years old. If he didn’t like my thirty year old stories, did he also dismiss the teachings of the two-thousand year old stories?

This experience has made me stop and think about how I discount things around me. Do I refuse to learn from someone else because they are old, or poor, or different, or annoying, or any other personal characteristic? When we live in Truth we accept what is before us at its face value and not on the merits of the person speaking or the situation. We evaluate the things around us based on their value, seeking for Truths that will enrich and encourage us and dismissing things that will harm or discourage us not because of who is saying it or when it was said but because of the Truth it contains. 

When we open our hearts to Truth, it is amazing to discover how much Truth the Lord sends us in any given day and in many surprising ways.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Your Vita

In academia we are required to keep what is called a Curriculum Vita. What that amounts to is a list of all your presentations, publications, and service. I had to update mine recently and as I did it I was filled with warm memories of things I had done. In turn it made me think of the times that the adversary tempts me with thoughts of all my shortcomings and mistakes.

So I have a great idea. Everyone should keep a vita--perhaps at the back of your journal or someplace where you can find it and read it often. Divide it into categories such as Church Callings, PTA Committees, Talks Given in Church, Home and Family, Community Service, Family Service, Books Read, Hobbies, or whatever categories fit your life and then list ALL the things you do under one of the categories. You repaint the bedroom, put it under family service. You give a lesson in Home Evening, put it under Home and Family. You sew a handbag, you put it under Hobbies. You take your kids to a museum, put it under Family Service. You get the idea.

This is only for you to look at. It is not a brag sheet, it is simply a way to remember how you've spent your time so when the adversary tries to convince you you've never done anything worthwhile, you can take it out, read it, and remember the fun and worthwhile things you've done.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Line Upon Line

One of the difficulties about living in Truth is that we as human creatures want to see the end from the beginning. We are given inspiration and revelation to guide us, but we want to know where that inspiration and revelation are taking us. We want to know the results before we take the first step. But that is not how faith works. As Moroni tells us: “Ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith” (Ether 12:6). 

This is illustrated very well in the story of Nephi building a ship to sail to the Promised Land. After being told he is to build a ship, Nephi asks where to go to get ore for tools. He then makes tools and begins to build. However, he is shown what to do step at a time. As Nephi puts it, “The Lord did show me from time to time after what manner I should work the timbers of the ship” (1 Nephi 8:1). He also tells us that he is not building a ship like the ships he has seen before. He is being instructed in something new and different so he has no reference or idea of how things are going to turn out. Instead he simply follows each instruction the Lord gives him and then waits for the next instruction.

This is how life works in the Realm of Truth.  We receive instruction through commandments and revelation, we obey, and then we are given more instruction. Just as the mountains that are pictured above grew line upon line or layer at a time, we navigate life “line upon line” trusting that the Lord knows where He is taking us and what He is "growing" us into.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thank You!

I am so thankful for the people in my life who show me how to live in Truth; people who accept what life gives them and then make the most of it. I see such people all around me, but especially I watch them week after week when I go to Church. An always smiling woman confined to a wheel chair. A mother who cares diligently and happily for a severely handicapped child. A man fighting cancer. And a myriad of others who face job losses, health problems, family relationship problems, rebellious children, or mental health issues of family members. 

The resiliency of the human spirit amazes me, but even more amazing is observing how one person’s resiliency strengthens us all. To all of you who are struggling and at the same time staying in the Realm of Truth, I thank you. You not only succeed in your own endeavors, but you strengthen me and all the people around you. You add to the goodness of the world, and thereby make the world a better place for all us. 

Thank you. Thank you.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Into the Pit and Out Again!

I have a confession to make. I spoke too soon! While I did really well staying in Truth through the party and chaos of remodeling, I blew it yesterday. We have our Utah children to dinner every other Sunday, and yesterday I let the noise and chaos get to me and was a little short tempered. But the Good News! is that today is a new day and I can start all over. That is another important part of Living in Truth. 

There is nothing I can do to change yesterday. I can’t take back the annoyance I felt or the impatience I displayed, or the sharp tone in my voice. What happened is done and I can’t erase it. But I can move on and do better today. If I were to fret about what happened, and let it vex me, it would only push me into the Pit of Illusion all over again. But if I forget about it, move forward with a determination not to do it again, and stay in the Realm of Truth, things get better. 

The Truth is that there is nothing we can do about the past. We only have control of the present moment. But when I live the best I can in the present moment, my Savior will make even the past right—that’s what repentance and the Atonement are all about. So today I am moving on in Truth.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Whatever you do today, ask yourself if it fits the description of "rest from your labors." If it does continue. If it doesn't, stop and do something that is "rest from your labors." Then see how it empowers you this week.
The key isn't just in the word labors it is also in the pronoun your. We are to rest from our labors and do the Lord's labors.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Enjoying Life

You only have one life, so enjoy it!
It seems that daily I see many advantages to Living in Truth that make life so much more enjoyable and easier. Yesterday I told you it was a crazy day, the kind of day that used to throw me into the Pit, but I got through the crazy without going down. As I’ve told you before, we are painting and redoing the upstairs. But I have a friend who just finished her PhD and we wanted to celebrate so I planned a Tea Party for her. The only day I don’t teach is Fridays and yesterday was the only Friday that one of the other women invited could come. So I scheduled the Tea Party despite the chaos at my house. That was fine because my main level isn’t under construction, but the new carpet is coming next week and the tile had to be laid before the carpet and so the tile man was working while my Tea Party was going on.

Let me back up a little here. I’ve been annoyed for most of my life about people who think they can’t have company over unless they do a spring cleaning first. The Truth is that everything can’t be perfect all the time and when we cheat ourselves out of wonderful relationships just because we’re worried about a little dust, we cheat ourselves of one of the most important things in life. Another Truth is that if friends condemn or criticize us because there is a little dust in our homes or something is out of place or our furniture isn’t as new or modern or nice as other people’s, then they really aren’t friends. So acting on those two Truths, I had the Tea Party, but with the tile being laid there turned out to be some extra things to do that I wasn’t counting on and I didn’t get all I wanted to do done for the party. That turned out to be just fine also. No one but me knew they didn’t get done!

Final Truth, we had a delightful time even though the tile man walked through the room once in awhile and my entry way was a complete construction zone (replete with dust, mud, and dirt) when my guests arrived, and the sounds of sawing and hammering punctuated our conversation. The verity of the situation was that I couldn’t do a thing about it and so I didn’t. I didn’t stew or fret or stress. Instead I enjoyed my guests and had a delightful time. The Truth is that if they didn’t, it is their problem and not mine. But I don’t think any of them even noticed. They all seemed to be having as much fun as I did!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Staying There!

I'm living in Truth today. Planned much more than I can do, and the Truth is I'm not getting it all done, but that's all right because that's what is and I'm all right with what is.

That may sound basic, but it's part of the new me and not so basic for the old me. I'm learning. I'm growing. I'm not stressing. I'm staying in Truth. Feels good!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Enlarging the Soul

The Good News! today is that there is no such thing as spiritual dieting! (Yeah!) 

While Joseph Smith was incarcerated in Liberty Jail, he received a revelation (D&C 121) that explained how power corrupts most people so that they “exercise unrighteous dominion.” The revelation then goes on to teach him and us how to properly use power and influence. It says that when in a position of authority, power should be exercised with kindness, meekness, persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, and unfeigned love. I’ve been in many discussions of this revelation that have enlightened me as to how to do this, but in all those discussion never once has anyone pointed out that the revelation also explains the blessing that will come to the person who exercises power with kindness and meekness. The blessing is found in verse 42 where it explains that doing this this “shall greatly enlarge the soul.”

I’ve thought a lot about what it means to have your soul "greatly enlarged" and I like the idea. I’ve spent a life-time trying to keep my body from "enlarging," but I don't have to do that with my soul. My soul should be as large as I can get it. Feasting on the original soul food, the scriptures, (no dieting allowed here!) is one way, and now I’ve learned another which is part of what it means to Live in Truth. By using my authority as a mother, wife, teacher, Church worker, etc. with meekness and gentleness I also enlarge my soul.

So here’s to a future of soul enlargement!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mr. J!

Today is Mr. J's birthday. I can't believe I'm married to an old man! But then I look in the mirror and realize he's married to an old woman. He's been my love, my soul-mate, my helpmate, my partner for 43 years now. We met 44 years ago next week and it's been an adventure ever since. I've cried on his shoulder many a time. He's picked me up when I was down. Constantly he keeps me laughing even when there's nothing in life to laugh about. He nursed me through Grizelda and keeps encouraging me by saying we have a lot of years left. He's given me so many priesthood blessing I can't even count them all. He calls himself my Silent Serf and to prove it he works hard (right now he's painting the upstairs!) But I have no idea where he came up with the silent part. I guess it's part of his self-appointed assignment to keep me laughing. He's an amazing lover. I call him my oven, because he is always warm and since I am always cold, he shares his heat with me. (He's much better than a coat or blanket--even an electric one!) He drives me to work every morning and drops me off at the door so I don't have to walk through the muck and mud.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Mr. J and I are an item and I'm so very grateful for my old man!

Happy Birthday, Mr. J!
(He reads this, so you can leave him a message if you want!)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hope, Blessed Hope!

The Good News! today is that there is hope. (Don’t you love that word hope!) The Truth is that everyone has hope. One of the Hebrew words that is translated in the Old Testament as hope is tikvaw which literally means “cord” but it is also used for the concept of hope. It is easy to see why cord and hope were associated because our hope is in whatever we are tied to. Some people have hope in power—if they have enough power they will be safe, comfortable, secure. Others place their hope in money—if they have enough money they will be secure. Others place their hope in popularity or fame or intelligence or in their ability to do something better than anyone else.

There are many things we place our hope in, but everyone has some kind of hope. Sometimes it is said that a suicidal person has no hope, but they do; they have placed their hope in death—if they can just die they will be safe and secure.

Thus the important question for all of us to ask is “What is my hope?” And the way to tell is to determine where we spend most of our time and effort.

Getting to the Celestial Kingdom is simple. All we need to do is want it more than we want anything else. If there is nothing we want more, we place our faith and hope in Jesus Christ and He will guide us to our Promised Land, the Celestial Kingdom. 

P.S. I have a good friend that writes a blog about hope. It is called Fireflies of Hope. Check it out.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Working in Truth

There is lots of work to do at our house today. Before Christmas we painted and re-carpeted the downstairs. We are now repainting the upstairs. It will be so nice, but in the meantime, I am once again living in chaos and experimenting with Truth Tools to determine what helps me stay in the Realm of Truth amidst this mess. Mr. J is working hard. I’m working as hard as I can. (I’ve got a head cold I can’t seem to shake!) And we are at the point of the project where things keep getting messier instead of looking better. Clearing out the library to paint is a major undertaking. I have about 3,000 books and then there is the computer with a thousand cords connecting to everywhere! 

I'm using every Truth Tool in my tool box. Right now I’m using music, anchoring, and humor all at the same time to keep me grounded in Truth. If I let my head wander in thoughts about the mess and how long I am going to have to live like this, I slip into the Pit fast. Instead I have to make games out of the situation by using my imagination to think about how intriguing this is—to dwell on the fun of having a legitimate mess. Right now I’m pretending I’m a child coming into this room where everything is stashed and imagining what a delight this would be. Books are stacked everywhere and furniture makes the room into a maze. 

I’m not sure any of this makes sense—kind of like my rooms right now, but I do know I’m staying in Truth and enjoying the now. Whatever it takes!

Hope you are having a holiday full of fun!