Friday, September 30, 2011

Living Now

What a change, one day I'm teaching university students and the next I'm pushing a toddler on a swing! But both are sheer delight. That is one of the benefits of living in truth. Most people spend their time worrying about the future--which means they live in fear and anxiety. Or some people fret over the past so that they live in vexation. But when a person lives in Truth there is variety and joy to be found in every moment. Yesterday mom and baby Hugh came home from the hospital and it was so fun to watch Jane and George with Hugh. They love him already. They can't wait for him to be big enough to play with them. Oh, such wonder as you find in the eyes of a child. But the best part was that I got to hold Hugh. It has been a long time since I had a newborn in my arms. What a joy and at this point in my life it brings back so many memories. It just doesn't get better than this! I hope you are enjoying your now.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Grand Children

I'm in Palo Alto, California. D6 had a baby boy on Tuesday. He weighed in at 8 pounds 12 ounces and was 21 inches long and he came early! He's a big one! Imagine how big he'd have been if he'd waited a week until he was supposed to be born, Mom and baby, Hugh, are doing well and will be home from the hospital in a few hours. I can't wait to see them. I taught my classes yesterday and then flew here last night. I arrived late so Jane and George were already asleep, but about three this morning the door opened and George peeked in just long enough to make sure I had arrived and then he went back to bed. I do know why they are called GRAND kids,

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Out of the Dark Pit and Into the Sun

I had an adventure in Truth the other day. With teaching five classes this semester my days are full with lots to be done—more than there is time for. But in the midst of the normal duties the other day I had an interruption that should have taken only a few minutes and ended up taking almost an hour. A few years ago that would have ruined my day, but Wednesday it made my day.

Every year I buy a hundred pounds of raw almonds from my cousin in California. She picks them up right at the almonds orchard and drives them out to me so they are fresh. Well, she came the other morning to deliver them while I was at work. Her daughter called to get directions so they could give me the almonds. She told me they were on University Avenue and so I told her how to get to the parking lot where my car was parked from there.

From what she told me they were close, so I hung up the phone and walked down to the parking lot and waited and waited and waited. Finally she called again. They were at UVU and, of course, they couldn’t find where I was. As I questioned her I realized that when they first called they weren’t on University Avenue at all. They were on University Parkway so that the directions I had given took them farther away instead of to me. This also meant they were a good twenty minutes from where I was.

I gave her new directions and hung up the phone. I had several options at this point and years ago I know the option I would have taken would have landed me deep in the Pit of Illusion where I would have been stuck for the rest of the day. But the Truth was they weren’t there yet. I could get upset, but it wouldn’t make them come any faster. There wasn’t enough time to go back to my office and get anything done, but instead of spending the time fretting over all I needed to do and thinking of this as wasted time, I took a deep breath, said thanks for the fact that I was waiting in a beautiful area of campus, and took a short walk. I walked down a paved path to the duck pond. The quacking greeted me before I could see the ducks and once I was near enough to see the pond, I laughed as two of the ducks raced across the pond. By half flying and half paddling their webbed feet in the water they skimmed across the pond spraying water on all the other ducks and quacking louding as if arguing over who had won the race.

Sun warmed everything to the perfect temperature and the brook gently flowed beside me as if to reassure me that all is right with the world. By the time my cousin arrived, I’d spent the most delightful twenty minutes of my day and was actually invigorated when I got back to my work. That wouldn’t have been the case if I’d slipped into the Pit of Illusion.

I love Living in Truth. All this peace is good for my soul.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Say Goodbye to Procrastination


We’ve often talked about the many benefits of Living in Truth, but there is one benefit that we’ve never discussed that is actually one of the best. Procrastination has been one of the biggest problems in my life, but Living in Truth makes it very difficult to be a procrastinator. You don’t even need to stress to make it happen. Dropping the bad habit of procrastination automatically happens when you Live in Truth.

Remember—Living in Truth is all about living in the present moment. It is all about accepting the verity of what is before you in the present moment. Procrastination happens when we fail to live in the present and let ourselves be overwhelmed by the future.

For example: You walk into your kitchen and know that it needs to be cleaned, but you only have twenty-five minutes and you have to go pick up Susie from her piano lesson. As you look around, vexation sets in. There is no way you can clean that kitchen in half an hour! It is at least a two hour job. As you ponder that fact the vexation grows into unnecessary pain and you end up throwing your hands in the air and saying, “I’ll do it tomorrow!”

But when you Live in Truth, you know that you only have control of the very minute you are now in. You walk into the kitchen knowing it needs to be cleaned but the verity of the situation (the Truth) is that you don’t have time to clean the whole kitchen. So without getting vexed you simply say to yourself, “I can’t do it all, but in twenty-five minutes I can mop the floor and clean out one drawer.” And you do it. No vexation. No beating yourself up over what a horrid house keeper you are. No unnecessary pain. As a matter of fact, you leave to get Susie feeling very good about yourself.

Or sometimes you do have two hours, but as you look around you begin to think about how much you don't like to clean and how the dried food has hardened on the plates so that it will be very difficult to get them clean and how you didn't mop the floor last time it should have been done either and so it will take more time and how you'd much rather be doing something else than cleaning the kitchen.

But when you Live in Truth, you realize that the verity of the situation is that your kitchen needs to be cleaned. So without getting vexed about what you want or don't want to do, you say to yourself, "I don't want to spend two hours in here, but fifteen minutes will make a dent in the work." And you do it. No vexation. And usually you end up spending a little more than fifteen minutes or the next day you put in another fifteen minutes and before you know it the task is done.
When we Live in Truth we realize that the present moment is all we need to think about and we ask the simple question, “How can I best use the next two minutes?” and then do it. You don't need to be overwhelmed by a two hour job, just think about the two minutes. In that way everything that really needs to be done eventually gets done without you vexing over it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dance!

I have some really Good News! this morning. If you woke up stressed about all you have to do today. If you are worried about making it through the day, or if you are discouraged about the routine of the day then stop right now and remember that “man are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25).


In other words, life isn’t meant to be a race that you are stressing to win. Life isn’t a battle that you have to worry about losing. Life isn’t about maintaining a routine. Life is a dance.

So today live in the now. Don’t push your vacuum, dance behind it. Don’t bathe the kids, play in the water. Don’t drive to work, sing yourself to work. Don’t worry about tomorrow, but listen for the music of your life and dance to that music. Perhaps you’ll hear it in a child’s laughter or a friend’s sigh or a verse of scripture that jumps off the page and wraps around your heart. Perhaps you’ll feel the motion of the dance as a gentle breeze invites you to join in. Enjoy every breath. Look for the color. Listen for the rhythm. Drink in the joy and let your body DANCE. Now!

No matter what your circumstances there is joy in the now. You CAN dance. It may be a waltzing day or a polka or jitter-bug day, or perhaps it’s a modern dance free form day. Whatever music you hear, there is a dance waiting for you—IF YOU WILL LISTEN TO THE NOW AND JOIN IN.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sabbath Scripture - You are the Letter

Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us,
written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God;
not in tables of stone,
but in fleshy tables of the heart.
KJV 2 Corinthians 3:3

You show that you are a letter from Christ,
the result of our ministry,
written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God,
not on tablets of stone
but on tablets of human hearts.
NIV 2 Corinthians 3:3

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Question

Last week in Church a teacher asked a question that has really made me ponder. She asked, “What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?”

All this week I’ve thought about the things in my life that I love and how many of them I’ve never thanked my Heavenly Father for. It has made me so appreciative and since my word of the year is gratitude, it has helped me in my pursuit of gratitude.

So I’m passing the question on to you. I hope it enriches your life like it has mine.

What if you woke up today
with only the things
you thanked God for yesterday?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Harvesting

It’s harvest time and the peaches, Italian prunes, and pears are weighing down the branches of my trees. One of my favorite things about autumn is to walk out my door, pick a peach and eat it right off the tree. It doesn’t get better than that. But the last two years we have been gone most of the summer and the trees haven’t gotten cared for as they should so that the peaches have had more pests gnawing at them than usual. When I cut out the bad spots they still taste good, but looking at them they aren’t as appealing.


This has made me think about the many scriptural verses that talk about the “fruits of our labors” (Alma 26:31), “by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:16), and bringing forth “fruit meet for repentance” (Alma 12:15). All of these references to metaphorical fruit also indicate that growing “spiritual fruits” requires care and nurturing. We have to “spray for pests” and water and fertilize and in other ways tend to our spiritual lives or the fruit is not appealing. If we get too busy or too lazy to tend to spiritual things our “fruits” will not be good.

So as I’m cutting bad spots out of my peaches this year, I’m thinking about the “bad spots” that need to be cut out of my life. That may sound discouraging, but it is not. I want my life to be as beautiful and flawless as possible. Especially I want it bug free!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Increasing our Joy



The ability to “weep with them that weep” (Romans 12:15) and the desire to “bear one another's burdens, that they may be light,” and “to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort”, (Mosiah 18:8-9) are the marks of a good Christian. But in the New Testament, Paul said that a good Christian should also “Rejoice with them that do rejoice,” (Romans 12:15). 

Most of us are good at the mourning with those that mourn, but when we Live in Truth we also rejoice with those that rejoice. I heard someone the other day criticizing a woman in her ward for “bragging and being boastful” about something good that had happened to her. But as she related the incident it sounded to me like the woman was simply excited about what had happened and joyfully sharing the news. If the woman had shared bad news or expressed negative feelings the person would have been compassionate and caring, but because it was good news she was labeled as boasting. Even worse some of us rejoice at other people's failings and misfortune.
  
When we Live in Truth we live in reality and we accept the good news as well as the bad. Instead of getting jealous or envious or being critical we simply mourn with the person who mourns and rejoice with the person who is rejoicing. So what if it is bragging? Let God worry about that. You don’t need to. Don’t vex yourself about it. Simply enjoy the moment with the person. Rejoice! Be happy for them! Delight in their excitement! 

The magical thing about this is that as we rejoice with others our own joy increases.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Making Connections

Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone is their story. When we really know their story, we share in their life in a way that connects us together like blocks on a quilt.


The other day while walking through campus, I had this overwhelming notion overtake me that I would love to approach the strangers that were around me and ask, “What’s your story?”

I refrained for fear someone would bring a straight jacket and lock me away, but I find myself still hungry to know people’s stories. Hearing their stories is like unraveling a knot. It unties the fa├žades of a person’s life and leaves bare the essence. Once the knot is untied you see the beauty and simplicity of the yarn that lies beneath the tight, stressed, wadded knot.

I can’t go up to strangers and ask for their story, but right now I am committing to listen better when friends open up and tell their stories. I want to hear them. I want to share and connect. I want to understand. I want to be "knit together in love" (Col. 2:2).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Jesus and Women

One of the reasons I love the New Testament so much is that is shows women actively participating in the gospel of Jesus Christ in important ways. It is stunning to think about the fact that Mary was the first mortal being to know that the Messiah was about to be born and Elizabeth was also among the first to know.

While traveling through Samaria, Jesus stopped at a well at noontime and asked a Samaritan woman for a drink of water. He then proceeded to tell her that He could give her the living water spoken of by Old Testament prophets such as Jeremiah (Jer. 2:13) and Isaiah (Isaiah 8:6). During this discussion Jesus proclaimed for the first time recorded in the New Testament that He is the Messiah, the great I Am of the Old Testament.

There are more examples of women being among the first, but the most significant is that Mary Magdalene is the first mortal to witness the resurrected Christ. Women aren’t just a part of the life of the Savior, they are an important part of His life. 

Isn't it great to be a woman!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pride vs. Charity


I was once in a meeting where a man bore a sweet testimony of what he had learned the Sunday before from a 16 year old girl. Her message, simple yet profound, touched him and as he related it to us we were also touched. He ended by explaining that when the Spirit is with you, a person can learn from even a small child. The next week I happened to be in another meeting with this same man and was surprised to hear him critically report on a talk he had heard by a well-known BYU religion professor. He ended this report by saying, “I didn’t learn one thing from him.” What became obvious as he spoke about the man was that he had a personal bias against people who write books on gospel topics.

Listening to him made me wonder what prejudices I have that separate me from the Spirit and keep me from growing. Paul taught the Corinthians that all members of God’s Church are one body and that to each of the individuals within the body God has given specific gifts which are to be shared. Paul said that the eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” Each part of the body has a different function but all are vital. Paul then went on to explain that “God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:28).

What Paul is explaining is that some, like the professor, have been given the gift not only of knowledge but of time to study and in turn to share what is learned. Others may not have four or five hours a day to study the scriptures, but they have the gift to listen and learn from the one who does have time. The person who listens also has other gifts, such as the gift of compassion and the ability to size up a situation and know exactly what to do to assist someone in need. The person in need may have musical talent that inspires the professor in his studies. In other words, we all need each other. We all bless each other. And if we discount any person’s gift we hurt ourselves.

As I pondered on how I let feelings toward others get in the way of my learning from them, I realized that any prejudice or bias is a form of pride. As President Ezra Taft Benson once explained, “The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means ‘hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.’ It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us.” (“Beware of Pride”, Ensign, May 1989, p.4).

It is easy to see how looking down on others is a form of pride. If someone had discounted the message of the 16 year old girl from the onset of her talk simply because she was only 16 and couldn’t possibly know anything, that is easily recognized as pride. But there is another side to the coin of pride. As President Benson explained, “Most of us consider pride to be a sin of those on the top, such as the rich and the learned, looking down at the rest of us. (See 2 Ne. 9:42.) There is, however, a far more common ailment among us—and that is pride from the bottom looking up. It is manifest in so many ways, such as faultfinding, gossiping, backbiting, murmuring, living beyond our means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and praise that might lift another, and being unforgiving and jealous” (“Beware of Pride”, Ensign, May 1989, p.4. Emphasis added).

As I pondered this more, I realized that Paul gives the solution to all of my prejudice and bias problems. After explaining the importance of spiritual gifts he says, “Covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way” (1 Cor 12:31). And what is that way? The path of charity. Charity is the antidote to pride. If instead of criticizing, we love, that love allows us to learn and grow from whatever situation we are in or whomever we are learning from. Indeed, charity never fails.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sabbath Scripture--Our Work

God tells us,
"This is my work and my glory--
to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man"
(Moses 1:39).
"This is your work,
to keep my commandments,
yea, with all your might, mind and strength."
(D&C 11:20).

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I'm Grateful

I have a terrible toothache. It started yesterday and my dentist isn’t in on Fridays. Now it is Saturday and of course he still isn’t in, but bless his heart,yesterday he answered my call on his way to run a marathon and told me what to do to make it through until he returns.

But all this has made me think about our ancestors. How many died because of a tooth infection? How many suffered excruciating pain without being able to call a dentist and get help? We are so blessed and, I for one, take those blessings too much for granted. Besides being a phone call away, I’ve got antibiotics and pain killers. A toothache is no longer a life-threatening ailment. So while I wait for the marathon to be over, I am going to be grateful instead of complaining.

I am so blessed!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Grinches Who Appeared In September

I have a favorite quote from Henry David Thoreau that I think of often: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.”


Daily I see students who “hear a different drummer.” Yesterday I passed a young man wearing green pajama bottoms splattered with a chaotic pattern of large Grinch faces in Santa hats grinning impishly at whoever would look. Even at Christmas time it would have been unusual apparel, but in September it could seem decidedly out of place. But then who am I to determine what is in place and what isn’t?

The young man is obviously marching to a different drummer than I am, but instead of being annoyed or thinking “he shouldn’t” dress that way I smiled back at all those Grinches and enjoyed the moment. To be honest, my day was brightened by his courage and I’ve been smiling about it ever since.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Unencumbered Path


In chapter three of the book of Matthew, John the Baptist explains to the people that he is the forerunner who has been sent to prepare the way for the Lord. To make his point he quotes from a prophecy of Isaiah saying that he, John, is “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”

As we read that we tend to think that the phrase “make his paths straight” means “free from curves, bends, angles, or irregularities.” There is some meaning in that but it is the Lord’s path. Isn’t His path already straight? How can we make His path straight?

When we understand this statement in a cultural context it takes on more meaning. The people listening to John knew that whenever royalty traveled anyplace a forerunner would be sent before the procession to do two things. (1) To loudly proclaim the coming of royalty. (2) To clear the path of any debris or obstacles so the party could travel safely and speedily. Thus as John spoke they would have envisioned such a messenger shouting and clearing the way.

Thus to make the Lord’s paths straight is to proclaim that he is coming, but it isn’t about making His path free of curves or bends, it is about clearing away obstacles that the adversary puts on the path. The dictionary confirms this when it tells us that another definition of the word straight is “free from extraneous matter.” Thus when Alma praised the people of Gideon saying, “Yea, I perceive that ye are making his paths straight” (Alma 7:19), and when Nephi prayed to the Lord saying, “Wilt thou make my path straight before me!” (2 Nephi 4:33), they are talking about clearing the path of obstacles that would hinder their journey. Obviously this means clearing the sin off the path, but it also is about ridding our path of anything that isn’t Truth. When we Live in Truth we are free to travel the Lord’s path with no obstacles to hinder our journey.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Heed Them Not

We learn something important about Living in Truth from the prophet Lehi. When explaining the marvelous vision he had of the Tree of Life to his son Nephi he explains that the great and spacious building he saw had no foundation. Inside it were people dressed in very fine apparel, the rich and famous of the world who know not God, and they were laughing and scoffing at the people making their way to the Tree of Life. In addition, there were many great-and-spacious-building-wanta-bes trying desperately to get inside the great and spacious building. Many of these wanta-bes drowned in the fountain of muddy waters and others got lost as they wandered in strange roads. But as many who made it to the building, as soon as they were inside they began to point the finger of scorn at Lehi and the others who were partaking of the fruit of the Tree.

But Lehi and Nephi heeded them not (1 Nephi 8:33). Those three little words are worth gold. So much of the Unnecessary Pain we suffer could be avoided if we just refused to heed the words of others.

Yesterday a woman shared with me something that illustrates why we should consider what words we heed and which we don’t. She is very pregnant and through her shirt you can see a bump where her navel is. A friend of hers had remarked to her that when she was pregnant she put a band-aid over her navel so it wouldn’t show. Without thinking, the pregnant woman laughed and replied, “Oh, I’m not that vain.”

As soon as she said it she felt bad as she realized that the insinuation was that her friend was vain and that’s not what she meant or intended. All she’d meant by the comment was that she didn’t worry about things like that or that the bump under her shirt didn’t bother her. But it came out wrong, and she hoped the other woman hadn’t taken offense at the comment.

We all encounter situations like this daily. Either we are the one saying the things that come out wrong or the one hearing them, but the point is that if we don’t take offense or beat ourselves up over what we’ve said—if we don’t heed the words whether they are intended to hurt or not—we can learn from the situation and then move on with life without the Unnecessary Pain.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Knowing Jesus Christ

In Lectures on Faith, Joseph Smith explains that in order to have faith we must know what Jesus Christ is like. I think that is one of the main reasons we are encouraged to read scripture—because that is where we get acquainted with our Savior. In scripture we come to know of his love. We read of him inviting the children to come to him (Mark 10). We read of him deciding not to leave when he knows how much the people want him to stay (3 Nephi 17). The references to his healing those in pain and sorrow are too numerous to cite and each tells us a little bit more about how very much he loves us.
Through the scriptures we also learn of his amazing attributes of justness, kindness, power, and mercy. There is no doubt that he is wonderful. But I used to find myself wanting more. I'd never seen an artist's depiction of the Savior with a full-on smile, and yet in my heart I felt certain that he smiles. I wanted to know if he laughs at jokes or if he playfully teases a child just a little. I wanted to know if he winks or if he sings when he is happy. Does he dance? Does he hug? Does he express delight at good food? What does he enjoy?
Then one day I found this quote that answered my questions. Heber C. Kimball said, “I am perfectly satisfied that my Father and my God is a cheerful, pleasant, lively, and good-natured Being. Why? Because I am cheerful, pleasant, lively and good-natured when I have His Spirit. That is one reason why I know; and another is—the Lord said through Joseph Smith, ‘I delight in a glad heart and a cheerful countenance’ (D&C 59: 15).” (JD 4:222.)
Since reading that quote, I've paid close attention to what I think, feel and am when the Spirit is with me, and by so doing I’ve come to better know my Savior. Yes, he sings! Yes, he laughs! And I’m positive that at appropriate times he winks to expresses his joy.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Giving Comfort

 "Their Joy was Full" by Walter Rane








I love what the story of Lehi and Sariah teaches me about Living in Truth. While living in the wilderness, Lehi sends his sons back to Jerusalem to get Ishmael’s family. The sons are gone a long time and Sariah’s worries and fears cause her to fall into the Pit of Illusion. Naturally when in the Pit we begin to exaggerate and complain and Sariah is no exception. She says to Lehi, “Behold thou hast led us forth from the land of our inheritance, and my sons are no more, and we perish in the wilderness.”

But Lehi is not distracted from Truth. He doesn’t chastise her and tell her she shouldn’t be saying such things. The Truth is she has said them and does feel them. He accepts that and responds by bearing testimony to her, “I know that I am a visionary man; for if I had not seen the things of God in a vision I should not have known the goodness of God, but had tarried at Jerusalem, and had perished with my brethren. But behold, I have obtained a land of promise, in the which things I do rejoice; yea, and I know that the Lord will deliver my sons out of the hands of Laban, and bring them down again unto us in the wilderness” (1 Nephi 5:4-5).

As Nephi goes on to say, “After this manner of language did my father, Lehi, comfort my mother, Sariah.” By staying in Truth, Lehi comforts instead of chastising, condemning, or calling to repentance. But there is something not written here that is important. By staying in Truth and bearing testimony (speaking words of Truth) Lehi invites the Spirit to be part of the conversation and that is what makes the comforting possible. When the Spirit (The Comforter)is present, comfort occurs.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sabbath Scripture-Light

For the word of the Lord is truth, 
and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, 
even the Spirit of Jesus Christ. 
And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; 
and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, 
that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.
D&C 84:45-46

Saturday, September 10, 2011

It's Football Season


It’s football season. It’s all I’ve heard about all week. Now I’m not big into football like the rest of my family is—including most of the females. But Living in Truth means I can resent the time they watch and talk football and make myself very miserable (Unnecessary Pain!) or I can enjoy watching them enjoy football. So that’s what I do. While they watch football, I may look like I’m watching the game, but I’m really watching them.

As far as football goes I’m like Erma Bombeck who quipped that she tried to learn the rules but at one game she drew a lot of attention to herself when she shouted out, “Just one more perversion and we win the game!” (Try that one out on the football fans in your family!)

But even though football isn’t my thing, my thing is family and I love watching how excited they get! And I mean SOOO excited—especially when BYU is winning. And their excitement is catching. So today instead of catching a little football—I’m going to Live in Truth and catch a little excitement. After all, every life can use a little bit of that.