Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Knowing How to Get Out of the Pit is Such a Blessing

I’ve had my arsenal of Truth Tools out the last few days and am using every one of them. It seems every time I answer the telephone there is more bad news. I know all of you have had days (or weeks and months!) like that. One of the biggest of the problems is that my mother fell and on Saturday I was told she had broken two ribs in the fall. Sunday I was told she couldn’t keep any food down because of the medication (they thought!). Monday she still couldn’t keep food down and so she didn’t want to take the medication but she was in a lot of pain. Tuesday she went to the doctor and they said she had broken five ribs not two. She went home but last evening called my brother and was very incoherent. He took her to the hospital and it was discovered that she had broken six ribs and her collar bone. She had also injured one of her lungs which wasn’t working at all and was filling with fluid. They admitted her to the hospital and once on oxygen she started to perk up a bit, but two of her ribs are not just fractured they are fragmented and they are worried that pieces of bone may puncture her lung.

I’m not telling you all this so you’ll feel sorry for me or my mom. I’m telling you this because sometimes people think that it is so easy for me in my perfect, ideal life to talk about Living in Truth. So I want you to know that my life is far from ideal.This is just one problem I am dealing with right now. What I want you to know is that the Living in Truth principles I talk about on Good News! aren’t coming from someone who hasn’t experienced problems but from someone who is living a normal telestial life and has found some things that make telestial life not only more bearable but that bring peace and joy despite the pain.

I’ve sunk into the Pit of Illusion big time on occasion the last few weeks, but I am grateful for the Tools I’ve learned that help me get out of the Pit and back into Truth. I'm especially grateful to know that the pain of the Pit isn't necessary and that I have options. I can climb out of the Pit! I know, not from intellectual theorizing but from actual living, that Living in Truth means living in peace and love despite the darkest adversity life hands us. I also know that understanding how to Live in Truth is a gift from God. I am so grateful for that amazing gift.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Words Are Only Symbols

One of the things I do when I teach gospel concepts is ask my students who speak foreign languages to explain the word for the concept in their language. For example the English word repentance comes from Old French words which mean “to be sorry again.” And the Old French comes from the Latin poena which means “punishment.” This means that the original meaning of the English word repentance is to suffer the punishment of being sorry.

In Hebrew the word for repentance  is shoob which mean “to turn back or return to recompense, recover, refresh, relieve, rescue, restore.” And the Greek word for repentance is metanoieo which means “to think differently.” Each of these meaning is part of the concept of repentance, but each language focuses on a different aspect of the concept for their word that identifies the concept. 

This illustrates the point that sometimes we think of words as concrete objects, but what these differences teach us is that words are only symbols. Every act of communication is also an act of translation. When I say repentance to you (I try to communicate) the immediate thought that comes to your mind (your translation of what I am saying) may be like anyone of the above definitions or it could be something entirely different.

So what am I getting at? When we communicate with others we need to be aware that they are translating what we say into their own language (like you are doing right now!), and when we are aware of the imprecise nature of words it can help us to communicate more effectively.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Words of Power

I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting lately with words and the power they have. I’ve written about that before, but the more attention I pay to the words I use, the more convinced and amazed I am with their power. You don’t need to take my word for it. Stop right now and say out loud, “I can’t do it” about ten times. Then stop and pay close attention to what you are feeling inside you. After noting your feelings, say out loud, again about ten times, “I can do it.” And again stop and pay close attention to what you are feeling.

If you are like me, the feelings after the first exercise are depressing. I feel deflated, helpless, victimized, fearful, and just plain low. But just by changing the words the feelings change to hope, encouragement, empowerment and excitement. Did you feel a difference? Let me know what happened when you did this. I’d really like to know.

I think I’m going to go around all day today just saying, “I can do it!” Whatever “it” is, I know it will be done better and with more enjoyment accompanied by those words. Words do have power!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sabbath Scripture-Get Learning!

Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life,
it will rise with us in the resurrection.
D&C 130:18

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Enjoy Now!

I’ve been going through some life experiences lately that have confirmed and reaffirmed my conviction that Living in Truth not only makes life less painful, it makes life wonderful. The simple principles of living anchored to the present and not dragging the past into the present and of not sinking yourself in worry about the future are priceless. The value of the Truth Tools to help me avoid the Pit of Illusion, and especially the peace and joy that comes into the heart to reassure and empower us even in the darkest moments of our lives are beyond any words I have to describe them.

In conjunction with this, D3 called me the other day to tell me about a sign she had read. She couldn’t remember the exact words and I can’t remember her exact words but the gist of the sign (in my own words) was:

“If you want to be miserable, fret about the past.
If you want to be vexed, worry about the future.
If you want peace, live now.”

That works with little problems and big ones. So look around you. See, feel, touch, taste and listen to the present moment. Enjoy what is now!

Friday, February 24, 2012

What is Living in Truth?

Brigham Young once told the people, “When you are tempted, buffeted, and step out of the way inadvertently; when you are overtaken in a fault, or commit an overt act unthinkingly; when you are full of evil passion, and wish to yield to it, then stop and let the spirit, which God has put into your tabernacles, take the lead. If you do that, I will promise that you will overcome all evil, and obtain eternal lives. But many, very many, let the spirit yield to the body, and are overcome and destroyed” (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe, p.70).

Stopping the negative thinking is the first step to Living in Truth. At the first intimation that negative feelings (vexation!) are swelling inside you, use one of the Truth Tools to stop the anger, jealousy, stress, worry, fear, discouragement, or whatever the bad feeling. At that point don’t try to make it positive, just concentrate on going into neutral. Once you are in neutral you will be able to feel what you should do next. Follow those feelings and they will lead you out of the Pit of Illusion and into the Realm of Truth.

The problem comes when we give in to the negative feelings. Those negative feelings are always so overpowering, loud, and contagious that it becomes almost impossible to hear our own conscience or the Spirit while they are creating their noise. But when we quiet the negative feelings, we can hear and feel the Spirit and that Spirit will guide us true and lead us to peace and joy.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Who Are You?

When God appears to Moses in Moses 1:3 the first thing he does is introduce Himself. “Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless?”

The next thing God does is tell Moses who he is, “Behold, thou art my son.” God then tells Moses that he has a work to do and proceeds to show Moses the history of the world. After this marvelous revelation, God’s glory withdraws and Moses is left overwhelmed and physically weakened from his encounter with God.

While in this weakened state, Satan appears to Moses and tries to tempt him by saying, “Moses, son of man, worship me.”

It is very interesting to me that the first and most important things God wants Moses to know is who He is and that Moses is His son. It is equally as interesting that the first thing Satan tries to do is demean Moses’ understanding of his divine origin. Satan wants Moses to think he is just a mortal, human being.

Later, as the temptation from the adversary becomes more intense Moses resists by saying, “God said unto me: Thou art after the similitude of mine Only Begotten.” In other words, the reason Moses is able to resist is because he is not fooled by Satan. Moses remembers who and what he is and instead of questioning his divine origin, he questions Satan’s lies.

Knowing that we are the spirit children of our Heavenly Father is empowering. When we cling to the fact that we, too, are of divine origin—we are the children of God—we will also be able to resist the temptations of the adversary and live the way our Father wants us to live.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

All Is Well . . .

Years ago I was doing some research in which I was reading original journals and writings from the early days of the Church. Now I grew up in the Church, and on all lines of my family for five generations they have been members of the Churc,h and I knew about the persecution in Missouri and Illinois and Ohio. But as I read those journasl I was surprised at the atrocities and horrors those early saints encountered and I wondered why those things weren't talked about more.

As I began to review my Church history classes and what I’d learned I realized that most of the persecution was glossed over quickly. The only time I remember details was in the story of the Haun’s Mill Massacre and most of that story centered on the mother who packed her sons blown away hip with ash and how the hip grew back. In other words, even that story was centered on the positive instead of the atrocities that occurred.

Critics of the Church often criticize the Church for not dwelling more on the negative things the Church has done in the past, but as I learned from reading those journals the Church doesn’t just downplay the bad things members have done, they downplay the bad things that have been done to them. Sometimes historians or individual members will dig up the past and try to dwell on it, but the Church mostly downplays anything negative and concentrates on everything positive.

That taught me something. Critics might say we are “sweeping things under the rug” and trying to keep things quiet, but when we compare this behavior to what the Savior teaches we realize that there must be power and strength in concentrating on the good and not dwelling on the bad. Every family, every individual has good and bad within it. But if we follow the example of the Savior and the Church we realize that we can dwell on the negative things that happen to us and cause ourselves unnecessary pain and grief or we can move on and concentrate on the positive things and enjoy peace and happiness. The choice is ours!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


“For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith” (2 Nephi 27:23). I quote this verse of scripture because I’ve been thinking a lot about miracles lately. It used to be that when I heard that word, miracle, I immediately thought about sightless eyes being able to see or lame legs made strong. In other words, I thought about physical impossibilities changed into possibilities. Those kinds of miracles seem so incredible and yet I’ve never had trouble believing in them. I’ve seen some. I’ve experienced some. I know they can happen.

But lately I’ve realized that there are miracles far greater than blind eyes seeing that while being greater are at the same time more possible.  Those are the miracles of the heart, the miracles that change carnal people into saints, the miracles that make mortal beings into righteous Christ-like beings. Those are the most important and the greatest miracles of all and those are the miracles that every one of us need. But most important, those are the kind of miracles the Savior most often offers. Not all the blind who want to see will be made to see in this life, but ALL the carnal who want to be righteous will receive the miracle of change and be made saints.

A change of heart is a miracle that everyone who wants it and seeks after it will obtain. So why do I sometimes doubt that I can change? Why do I sometimes think others can't change? That is faulty thinking. We can change because there is someone who has the power to change us, if we seek after Him.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy Holiday!

I love holidays like today where I have no traditions to take up the time, but can just do anything I want. Today that means catching up on things around the house and it feels so good to get some of those things done.

It is especially nice that the sun is shining on the beautiful white snow that fell this weekend, and the world is beautiful. What a gift! I'm enjoying every minute of it and hope you are too!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sabbath Scripture - My Shelter

Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee,
 when my heart is overwhelmed:
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For thou hast been a shelter for me,
and a strong tower from the enemy.
Psalm 61:1-3

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Patience Please . . . I'm Growing

I’m looking at the age spots on my hands. Poised to type, as my hands are now, the spots are very obvious and make it seem to me like these aren’t really my hands at all. My hands are young and strong and . . . but then I remember that just two days ago I couldn’t unscrew a bottle cap. No, these are my hands.

Aging is a strange thing. I don’t feel older, but my body looks and reacts older. I wish I had understood that better when I was younger. I used to think that the old people around me were somehow different, not at all the same as me. But now I know that the old people around me felt exactly the way I did. They may have had a few more physical pains and wrinkles, but they dreamed and had goals and sorrowed and laughed just like I did.

I hope this doesn’t sound morbid. I’m not at all feeling sorry for myself. I’m only reflecting on how much in life I have learned and how as I grow more experienced and closer to the Spirit my understanding grows. In other words, I’m thinking about how spiritual growth is as much a process as physical growth. And process always requires patience. There are some things we just can’t understand until we have more life experience and growth. Therefore, patience with ourselves is as important as patience with others.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Striving Against Difficulties

In Helaman 3 we are told that the problems of the people that lead to war and destruction begin with contention. And when the Savior appears to the Nephites He tells them three times in his first instruction to them not to let any contention occur. Usually when we hear that word contention we think of arguing or fighting with other people, but the first definition of the word contend in my dictionary is “To strive or vie in rivalry against difficulties.” The second definition is, “To strive in debate.” And the third is, “To struggle for.”

The first definitions in dictionaries are the primary definitions, so what we discover here is that the primary definition of contend is to “strive against difficulties” which is what we do when we create unnecessary pain. It is no wonder the Savior admonishes us so many times to avoid contention. He isn’t just talking about arguing with others, or struggling against others, He is talking about creating unnecessary pain for ourselves. 

Contention throws us into the Pit of Illusion and makes life miserable. By refusing to contend, we stay in Truth and enjoy peace.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Many years ago psychologists insisted that the only way to emotionally and psychologically heal was to dig deep into the past, root every hurt out, and then examine it. However, during the last few decades psychologists have realized that not only does digging into the past not work, it often creates more damage and more pain. People have even been known to imagine things that didn’t actually happen simply because of the prodding and suggestions presented by the psychologist. In other words, they have discovered that prodding into the past is like taking a wound that is healing and cut it open again every day in order to see if there is anything else in there that wasn’t discovered before. That only keeps the wound from healing and creates the possibility of infection and other problems.

This newer approach to psychology is consistent with what we learn in the scriptures. Never in scripture does the Lord instruct us to dig into the past. Healing the past is part of what the Atonement is all about. He knows we have no power or ability to change the past. What happened, happened, and no matter how much we fret over, worry about, or strain to remember the past it will not change anything. That is our Savior’s job. All concentrating on the past will do is distract us and keep us from doing our job which is to move forward in the present moment doing the very best we can today.

This is illustrated beautifully in the story of the adulterous woman who is brought to the Savior by a band of men determined to have her stoned. Instead of responding to the men’s demands, the Savior stoops down and writes in the dust of the pavement. Finally he stands and says that if any of them is without sin, he should cast the first stone. (John 8:1-11). Condemned by their own hearts, the men depart one by one. At this point the Savior approaches the woman and asks if anyone condemns her. When she answers that no man does, He says to her, “Neither do I. Go thy way, and sin no more.”

She is accused of a terrible sin which usually means she has a past that includes hurt and pain and sorrow. This is most likely not the first time something bad like this has happened to her. But instead of saying, examine your past and see what has pained you or you won’t be able to get better, the Savior simply instructs her to go forward and not sin any more. The adversary wants to hold us prisoners to our past. Jesus Christ knows that He is the only one that can heal the past, and that if the adulterous woman or you and I will move forward and take care of each present moment, He can heal even the past. That is one of the great promises of Jesus Christ; a promise that delivers great hope to each one of us.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Way back in 1985 I wrote an article for the Ensign entitled “A Difficult Kind of Forgiveness.”  After it appeared the editors told me that it had generated more mail than most of their articles do. My experience has also been that any lesson on forgiveness generates more questions and comments than most other subjects because forgiveness is difficult and at the same time something we need to do almost every day of our lives.

Today I taught on forgiveness and used this quote from Joseph Smith which I wanted to share.  “One of the most pleasing scenes that can transpire on earth, is, when a sin has been committed by one person against another, to forgive that sin: and then, according to the sublime and perfect pattern of the Savior, pray to our Father in heaven to forgive also.” (“A Friendly Hint to Missouri” Times and Seasons,  March 15, 1844, p. 473. TLDP: 206).

There are two things that strike me about this quote. First, is that we not only need to forgive, but that we need to pray that God will forgive the person. Second, when you notice when and where this statement was first published you realize that it came during the Missouri persecution of the saints. If Joseph is asking the saints to forgive and pray for their enemies for the atrocious crimes being perpetrated then, certainly we can do the same with those who have trespassed against us.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Listen. Learn. Laugh. Love.

I’ve been very busy the last few days and I’ve missed you.
On Friday and Saturday I attended a wonderful conference
that lasted all day both days, and I learned so much.
 It was wonderful.

It is delightfully surprising to me that when I learn anything new
I suddenly find that thing every place I turn.
For example, I learn a new vocabulary word and for the next few days
 I hear it or read it all over the place.
Well in this conference that had nothing to do with Living in Truth
 I found several things that I loved about Living in Truth.

In one of the breakout sessions a man was talking about a woman
who had influenced his life
and he said that she once told him that whatever you encounter in life
 you need to listen to it to make sure you understand,
learn all you can from it,
laugh at yourself in it,
 and love it.
That pretty well sums up what it takes to Live in Truth!

So I’m sharing today the Four Ls:
Listen. Learn. Laugh. Love.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Song

Always carry a song in your heart
 that in momets of joy or fear or worry you can sing.
Because a song is like a blanket that covers the sorrow of life.
A song is also like wings that lift you higher even when life is good.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

It's the Little Things

Years ago I was pregnant with twins, but about midway through the pregnancy one of the twins died which signaled my body to end the pregnancy and I began to hemorrhage. For the next two months I was on bed rest trying to save my baby, but on January 31st, 1983, I went into labor and despite efforts made to stop labor, the baby continued to come. She was early, but babies her size had lived so I wasn’t too worried until suddenly my heart rate shot to 300, every muscle in my body began to shake uncontrollably, my temperature hit 106 degrees, and my white blood count 25,000. While all this was happening to me, my baby’s heart stopped beating.

My husband was sitting in a chair next to my bed–only inches away from me, his head in his hands. As I looked at him in that distressed pose the thought came to me that I was also going to die. Immediately I thought, "There’s no way he can raise eight daughters alone!" and I began fighting to stay alive. There are no words to describe what happened to me in the next few moments, but while I fought they delivered Sonoma stillborn, and whisked me to another floor of the hospital where I wouldn’t hear other babies crying and mothers cooing over their babies. More doctors came, hooking me to machines, injecting me with four different antibiotics that clanged against an IV pole near my bed and whispering about what to do next. For the next twenty-four hours, a nurse came in every fifteen minutes to check my vital signs and make sure everything was all right. At about the two o’clock checking time the nurse pulled back the covers over me and discovered that the entire white sheet was soaked in blood, turning it red without a single spot of white left showing anywhere. Quickly doctors were recalled and packets of blood replaced the bottles of antibiotics on the pole.  I was vaguely aware of what was going on but too sick to really comprehend. However, with the transfusion and the antibiotics I began to pull out of danger , stabilized, and ten days later returned home.

As we just past the 29th anniversary of that experience, I’ve thought a lot about it. I wrote once before about how that experience taught me that like the nurse monitored me we need to monitor our lives, stopping to evaluate how we are doing and what we need to do more. But I’ve also come to realize that little things can make a huge difference in our lives. The cause of Sonoma’s death was microscopic bacteria that passed through the uterine wall and killed her and then began to attack me.

Likewise in life it is often a tiny germ of a thought that something is unfair or taking offense at something said or done that seeps into our souls and like bacteria infects our spirits. When we Live in Truth we watch for the little things and keep them from infecting us. In that way we stay spiritually healthy.