Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's Never Too Late To Bloom


The crocus in my garden are teaching me new lessons. I don’t know how old those bulbs are, but they surprised me the first spring after we moved in when hundreds of yellow and white flowers burst through the ground to greet me. That means they have been there at least twelve years. I love how each day they open up to the sun and close at night to take a rest. I love how they seem to defy winter and celebrate spring. But most of all I love how each year they teach me something new.


This year they have made me think about how it is never too late, (translate that to I’m not too old!) to change and grow and reach for the sun. Regardless of my age or circumstances, I have within me divine power. I am a child of God. That means I have eternal potential and like my crocus, I can keep on blooming and growing and doing until the day I die. Like my crocus, I can reach out to the light and open myself to God’s goodness. Age is a state of mind and we are never too old or too young to be what God intends us to be. So I raise my face to the light and enjoy the light it gives me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ways to Find "Whatsoever is True"

I love the King James Bible, which is celebrating its 400th birthday this year. But I also learn a lot by comparing the KJV translations with modern translations. My favorite is the New International Version, but there are many other good ones out there. My two favorite web sites to find other translations are Biblestudytools.com and Studylight.org. On both sites you can type in a scripture and then pick which version of the Bible you want to look at and it will bring the verse up.

This morning in my personal study I read these verses from the KJV and then looked them up in the NIV. 

KJV Philippians 4:8: “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just,  whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” 

NIV Philippians 4:8: “You’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious-the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”  

From there I went to the 13th Article of Faith and read, “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”

While the KJV is clear and beautiful, reading it in modern language solidifies and deepens the meaning for me. It helps me see things in new light, and by pondering on all of these I learn more about what it means to 
Live in Truth.


P.S.   HAPPY 85TH BIRTHDAY TO MY WONDERFUL MOM! 
(I don't think she ever gets on here, but just in case!)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Word Weapons!


I’ve written many times here about Truth Tools and how to use them to keep ourselves in the Realm of Truth and far from the Pit of Illusion. But sometimes I find I need something more than Tools—I need weapons. Being one of the most critical and negative people who has ever been born upon the earth, I have spent years warring against my negative ways. Truth Tools have helped, but the war is far from over, and so I’ve been accumulating an arsenal of Word Weapons that are helping me win the war. 

Weapons are used to defend and to attack. By the same token, words can hurt and harm or comfort and ease and not just other people. The words I say to myself either harm or help me. As I realized this, I also realized that my negative and criticalness is manifest by the way I have used words to attack and it doesn't hurt anyone but me. For example, one of the things I noticed is that after any kind of event, I have performed a postmortem critic of the event. Evaluating an event to learn from it and grow from it is fine if you keep your comments to yourself and keep it constructive. And on occasion if invited to do so it is instructive and helpful to pass on to the right people an evaluation that will help them to grow and learn. But that is not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about noticing every little detail that is not absolutely right or to my liking and then voicing that afterward. That’s not evaluating, that’s disparaging, murmuring, or being judgmental. And I am sorry to say I have done that and by so doing drive the Spirit right out of my life. It is a difficult habit to overcome, but I have also realized that just as words can be used destructively (to attack), they can be used constructively (to defend).

So when I am tempted to use critical words like a sword to strike out, I am learning to drop the sword and lift up my shield instead. The shield reflects the critical words and by peering over the shield, I then take note of all the good things about the event and dwell on those. Sometimes the temptation still comes to use my Word Shield to bash someone over the head, but I am learning how to hold my shield high so that it protects me and is never used to attack.

Life is a constant battle, but Words are amazing weapons that can help us or hinder us as we fight to live in the Realm of Truth.Noticing what Word Weapons we use and how we use them is an important step to take in order to fight out way out of the Pit of Illusion.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Glimpse Into A Pure Heart


Have you ever thought about what would happen if suddenly there were thousands of refugees seeking help in your neighborhood? Would you open your door? Better still would you open your pantry? I’ve thought about it a lot and hoped I would, but reading Mosiah 25 showed me what a group of righteous people did.

The people were living in Zarahemla about four years after the famous speech by King Benjamin when the people repented to the point that they experienced the mighty change of heart. At this time the people from Helam who were led by Alma and the people from Lehi-Nephi who were led by Limhi escaped captivity by sneaking past sleeping guards and made their way to Zarahemla. We don’t know how many people there were but between the two groups it would be safe to estimate they numbered in the thousands. So we have thousands of people converging on a city needing food, homes, land to grow crops, and many other things. But instead of complaining or selfishly sending them away the people of Zarahemla opened their homes and hearts to the refugees.

In Mosiah 25:8-11 we discover that upon the arrival of the strangers, “they were filled with exceedingly great joy.” When they heard the story of the adversity the newcomers had suffered they were “filled with sorrow, and even shed many tears of sorrow,” for those who had lost their lives. But the amazing thing is that they “raised their voices and gave thanks to God” for helping their brethren. How many times have we given thanks for the good fortune that befalls someone else?

This is a beautiful insight into the hearts and behavior of a righteous people. I love reading it and coming to understand more what the Lord means when He encourages us to be a Zion people.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sabbath Scripture to Ponder

"The Lord "doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you" (Mosiah 2:24).

Every time we obey we are blessed with increased faith.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Work! Work! Work!

Mr. J finished painting the upstairs and then left town to go to a conference. Yesterday the new carpet was laid and so today I am trying my best to put plug plates and switch plates back on, take off the masking tape, vacuum up the carpet strands, put curtains back up, and do as much as I can physically do before Mr. J comes home to finish the rest. 

It feels so good and I don’t mean just that it feels good to have new paint and new carpet (although that is very good!) I mean it feels good to physically work. Being a professor and writer much of my work is mental instead of physical. Before Grizelda I hated physical work which is probably why I ended up a professor and a writer. But one of the things being bedridden after brain surgery and the ensuring radiation taught me is what a blessing it is to be able to work hard.

I still have to pace myself, but as my heart gets pumping and I see things getting done I find myself saying a prayer of thanks that I can work. I’m converted. Being able to work is a wonderful blessing.

I love to work!

Friday, March 25, 2011

I Am Where I Am


I love the phrase, “Wherever you are, there you are.” But I would add, “And there you should be.” That’s the essence of Living in Truth. Wherever you are physically that is where you are and is what you need to deal with. Being in a situation or place physically and worrying about where you are going next or where you have been is vexing and sinks you in the Pit of Illusion. But when we recognize and accept the situation we are in both physically and progressively, we can deal with real life, with the truth.

All we have to deal with in life is the current moment. It’s all we have control over. Right now I can make choices and each choice leads on to other situations, but I can’t deal with them until I get to them. 

The Savior can fix the pass if I repent. He can lead me into a brighter future if I trust in Him. But I have no control or power over that past except to repent and I have no power or control over the future except to make the best use of right now. 

Realizing that helps me dump worries, longing, and vexation over the past and the future. My power lies in the moment and so I will concentrate on this moment and leave the rest to God. I am where I am and that’s where I should be.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hurray for Family!

I grew up in the hey-day of the feminist movement and the ERA. I heard all the talk about women and careers and rights and equality. I heard famous women bad mouthing women who stayed home and baked cookies. I heard it all but I’m so glad I didn’t listen to it all. Granted there were some major steps forward that I’m glad were accomplished for women. There were major problems such as unequal pay and prejudice in the job market. Some of those things still need to be better. But at the same time some of the things advocated were detrimental to women and I’ve lived long enough now that I’ve seen some things unfold and unravel. 

For one thing, I am so grateful that I had a large family. My children bring me so much joy and happiness and I ache for friends and others who opted to not have children or to not have many because of the demeaning rhetoric coming from the feminist movement. Yes, children can break your heart. Yes, they are expensive. Yes, they make mistakes. But anything in life that is worthwhile has its opposition and heartaches. Nothing good comes easy.

At this stage of life, with the rearing and raising behind me, I can honestly say that motherhood is one of the most enduring and fantastic joys of life. I love watching my children serve each other. I love seeing how they love and pray for one another. I love how even though they are scattered around the world they stay in contact with each other and support each other. I feel like John who said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 1:4).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

We're Giving Life!

A few weeks ago I heard a talk by the General Sunday School President, Russell T. Osguthorpe, in which he said, “I love the way Tahitians greet each other. The literal meaning of their greeting word—ia  ora no—means ‘life to you’ or ‘that you might live.’ We are either giving life or taking life from each other as we move forward on our way.”

To me the word life has usually meant the period between birth and death which is what is meant in Alma 34:32; “For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.” So Brother Osguthorpe’s words, “We are either giving life or taking life from each other as we move forward” made me stop and think. Besides the act of birthing, how can I give life to others? And besides the act of murder how can I take life away from others? But these thoughts brought several scriptures to mind; “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6), and “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10”10). Previously I’d just thought these were talking about Eternal Life, but Bro. Osguthorpe’s words made me wonder.

This sent me to my trusty dictionary where I found 20 main definitions for the word life. I searched through them and found two that apply to these scriptures. The first defines life as, “an animating and shaping force or principle.” The second defined it as, “providing interest and vigor.”

Yes, our words and the love we share with others does give life in that it can animate and shape the lives of others. We also can be an influence that provides interest and vigor. I like that idea that when I am sharing good and loving others I am giving them life.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Nature of Angels

The dictionary gives several definitions of the word angel, two of which are: “A spiritual being superior to humans in power and intelligence,” or “An attendant spirit or guardian.” We do recognize that angels occasionally minister to people in this life, but when we think of them we usually are thinking of citizens of the next life. However, our word angel comes from
the Greek word, angelos, which means “messenger.”
"Heavenly Hands" by Greg Olsen

When you stop to think about this, you realize that a messenger of God doesn’t have to be a citizen of the next life. We don’t need to wait until death to become angels. Instead we can be messengers of God or angels 
right here and now.

In his conference talk in April 1986 Bishop Robert D. Hales prayed that, “you and I might realize that we have the power and responsibility to help those in need, as ministering angels for the Lord Jesus Christ.” There are many “needs” around us. Some need encouragement, some need food, some need social skills, some need financial help, some need love, and some need to know more about their Savior. Thus, any time we are helping anyone in need, 
we are angels.

My heart tickles delightfully when I see myself as an angel. It helps me remember what I am on earth to do and it makes me feel closer to my Father in Heaven. I am His angel, and I am very grateful for the many angels He has sent into my life.

Monday, March 21, 2011

"Life's Not Fair!"

Every parent knows that one of a child’s favorite cries is, “This isn’t fair!” But the cry is not reserved for children. At some time or other in our adult lives all of us have been tempted to cry out, 
“It isn’t fair!” And to our logical minds it often seems that way. Bad people win prestigious prizes, succeed in their careers, gain wealth, and have good health while good people struggle to earn a living, fall victim to diseases, and suffer all kinds of afflictions. 

Not fair? 

From this side of eternity it often appears that way, but the prophet Abinadi explained that  “The time shall come when . . . 
every nation, kindred, tongue, and people shall see eye to eye 
and shall confess before God that his judgments are just” (Mosiah 16:1).

At times when I’m seeing life as not fair this verse helps me. I realize that there must be more, something I don’t yet see, that God from His side of Eternity knows and understands and that eventually everyone, including me, will know and understand. Life will be fair. And so when I’m tempted to give up and cry “Foul!” 
I hang on knowing that someday I will confess it was fair, so why not just trust and do it now!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Something to Ponder

Nephi's brothers tied him up on a ship that was being ravaged
by a terrific storm. Talk about a bad experience.
He could have been deep in the Pit of Illusion
with feelings of hatred, anger, spite, vengeance, etc.

Instead Nephi chooses to live in Truth;
"Nevertheless, I did look unto my God,
and I did praise him all the day long;
and I did not murmur against the Lord
because of mine afflictions" (1 Nephi 18:16).

Saturday, March 19, 2011

What Grizelda's Taught Me

Here in Utah it is a cold blustery day—the perfect day to cuddle up in my favorite chair covered in my favorite blanket and read a good book. But there are errands to run, meals to be fixed, drawers to be cleaned out, bills to be paid, lessons to prepare, and of course a BYU basketball game to be watched. There are always so many things to do and such little time to do them. But going through the battle with Grizelda brought me face to face with the possibility that time will run out and so I’d better use it to gather as much knowledge and make as many beautiful memories as possible because that’s all I’ll take with me—knowledge and memories.

So what will I do today? The errands first because that means getting the food for D5’s birthday dinner tomorrow. (That will be a new memory to take with me!) Next preparing a lesson for tomorrow. (That means gaining new knowledge.) And watching the game is a must because my grandson is coming to watch it with me. (Big time memory!) But I’ll also spend at least a few minutes in the chair wrapped in my favorite blanket because that is both gaining knowledge and making a warm fuzzy memory. And the rest of the things on the list will get done if there is time. 

But I’m not going to fret over them! 
I’ll just fit them into the left-over minutes if I can.

Friday, March 18, 2011

New Light

I love the symbolism in the scriptures and today I found something I’ve never noticed before. In the account of Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden of Eden, we are told that after they left, God placed “at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24).

The Cherubim (The “s” on the end in the Genesis account is a King James translation error because “im” is already plural in Hebrew.) “turn every way” so they guard the north, the south, the east, and the west. But we are specifically told that they were placed at the east. From this scholars have assumed that Adam and Eve were expelled to the east. But why not expelled to the north or south or west? And why, when so much other detail is left out, are we told the specific place in which the Cherubim were placed? The story would be easily understood by just saying they were cast out.

The reason details matter is always the same. When there are details, God is trying to teach us something. And what is He teaching us here? By casting them out to the east, He sent them in the direction of the light. He had to cast them out because of their disobedience, but because He loved them, He sent them on a path that moved them toward the sun.

Thus even though mankind has fallen from paradise or been cast out of Eden, if we will walk toward The Light, the place where the Son rises, we will find the Promised Land and be safe again.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

An Irish Morning!

“Top of the morning to you!”   
That’s my favorite Irish greeting and appropriate for this St. Patrick’s Day. 
The appropriate Irish response is, “And the rest of the day to you!” (And I'm imagining you saying it to me.)

I love St. Patrick’s Day (maybe because I still believe in leprechauns!). 
When I had children living at home, I started every St. Patrick’s Day off with green pancakes, green eggs, and green milk. 
(I used a lot of green food coloring on this day!) 
It was always fun, and now gives me lots of warm, fuzzy memories. 

But the best St. Patrick’s Day ever was the one when D5 was born. My biggest baby, she wowed everyone with her fat little cheeks and thick black hair.
She was born in the Bicentennial year, 1976, (the red, white and blue year) on St. Patrick’s Day, (green day). But there is more! 
Mariah is the one above and between Mr. J and me.
By the time she was six months old, it was evident that her hair would be a beautiful red and she has one blue eye and one brown. Thus she is my colorful child and she has lived up to that name because she has added so much color to my life. Happy birthday, Mariah!

And I hope you all enjoy your green day. 
If you don’t have St. Patrick’s Day memories warming your heart 
make some for next year!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

No Temptation Here!


During one of my Book of Mormon classes on Monday a student asked a question that more of us should ask. She wanted to know how she could make herself do what was right when she really didn’t want to do it. There are times when doing what is wrong seems easier or more fun or much more enjoyable. Her honesty in asking delighted me and I opened the question up to the class for their answers and was delighted all over again.

First I was surprised at the number of hands that went up immediately. But it was their answers that astounded me. They had some wonderful things to say and two of them especially I want to share. One young man said that when he feels tempted to do something wrong and can feel himself wanting to give in to the temptation, he imagines his mother lecturing him and that convinces him to do what is right. No one said this, but I’m not the only one that would be influenced to do what is right just by thinking about the disappointment it would cause my parents if I did what was wrong. That is another motivator.

One of the young women in my class said that when she’s tempted she immediately opens up her scriptures and begins to read. She said she thinks the adversary is tempting her less and less because he’s beginning to realize that if he tempts her she’s going to read scripture and he doesn’t want her to do that.

These young people are amazing! I think they teach me more than I teach them!

(Check back later. I couldn't find a picture I liked for this post and so I'm going to take a picture of that class later today to add to this.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Power of Stories

I heard the forum speaker at BYU today, Micheal Flaherty, speak. He is the president of Walden Media, the film company that according to their mission statement has the goal of “rekindling curiosity and recapturing imagination through the development and production of family films and literature.” They are the producers of such films as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Prince Caspian; Charlotte’s Web; Bridge to Terabithia; and Holes.

Flaherty's dedication to promote goodness and virtue were impressive, but he said something that I had never heard before and loved. He said that the Savior in the New Testament is asked 183 questions and only responds to three of these with a direct answer. In response to the other questions he tells a story or poses another question.
Write your story!

I’ve long known the power of stories. I also knew the Savior told lots of stories, but I had never realized that so many of the stories are answers to questions. That made me think about my own life. How many times when I have a question I want the Lord to answer has he given me an experience (when recounted that is a story!) to answer my question? I think that is one of the reasons the prophets have asked us to keep a journal; so that we will recognize the stories (experiences) that are the answers to our prayers.

I have been very lax in my journal keeping lately, but today I am making a commitment to record more of the stories of my life!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Shed Light

In the Sermon on the Mount the Savior told the People, 
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel,
but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works,
and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

To understand better what this means I went to my trusty dictionary and looked up the word light. 
I found three definitions that shed some light :) on these verses. Light is: 
(1) something that makes vision possible. 
(2) Spiritual illumination 
(3) something that enlightens or informs.


This made me think of the amazing people who have been a light to me. Without exception these people have increased my vision, especially my vision of myself. They have taught me the gospel by their words, but especially by their deeds. And they have all enlightened me. Unfortunately, many of them have moved on from this world and I can’t thank them, but some still live and to them and others who daily cross my path shedding their light on me, I will be forever grateful. 

People with light, warm my soul and make my path brighter.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Somthing to Ponder

"Remember the words of your God;
pray unto him continually by day,
and give thanks unto his holy name by night.
Let your hearts rejoice."
(2 Nephi 9:52)