Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Doctrine of Christ

We were recently asked to speak in our ward's Sacrament (church) services. I invited a few special people but they were not able to make it. As I prepared my talk I did so with them in mind and felt that they should still have the chance to hear the talk, later.

So I recorded my talk as I gave it. I post it here in hopes you find the same comfort, peace and feeling of our Father's love that I felt as I prepared and presented it. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Talk To Yourself

The second great commandment tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. In other words, treat those around you the way you treat yourself.

I can’t imagine we’d ever actually treat our friends and neighbors the way we sometimes treat ourselves. Think of the things we allow ourselves to tell us:

“Ugh. Those pants don’t fit like they used to, do they?”

“Why can’t you keep up?”

“I bet if you walked out the door right now it would be days before anyone noticed you were gone or needed you for anything.”

And on. And on.

Can you really ever imagine speaking that way to someone else?

With a hurtful personal internal dialogue, no wonder it feels good to say and do nice things to and for others. It’s a break from all the negativity we have going on between our ears!

But oh how much better – how much more good we might accomplish – if the love we give comes as an extension of the love we have for ourselves. How much more good we can do when the light in our eyes and love in our hearts pours out of us in confidence!

Start now to change the tone of the voice that is negative and hateful inside of you.

Speak to yourself the way the Savior would.

Is it possible He would point out an area where we need to improve? Of course! But can you even imagine him using words that were derogatory, belittling or full of disdain?

Not ever.

The Savior tells us, “you can do better and I can help you”.

It will take focus and conscious effort to battle the voice we’ve allowed to tell us terrible things for so long.

But we can do it.

What will you tell yourself in love today?


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

About Faith and Bumper Stickers

There's a popular bumper sticker in the area where I live. It reads, "If We Can Earn It, Why Did He Die?"

I've seen it often enough that I'm looking forward to the next time I do. Playing dumb (sort of) I'd like to ask the vehicle's owner, "what does that mean? I've seen that a lot around here."

I'd imagine he or she might tell me that there are those who believe that their salvation can somehow be earned, by their own works, diminishing or even negating the value (let alone the need) of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.


Continuing to play dumb, I might be brave enough to ask, "who in the world believes something like that?"

It won't come as a surprise to have them answer, "the Mormons".

I would trade my dumb face in and let them know that, well, I'm a Mormon and I've never been taught that. That isn't what I believe.

Mayble they'll wonder if I've been paying attention in church.

Maybe they won't want to talk to me any more, because, suddenly, they're best bumper sticker isn't as awesome as they thought.

Maybe they'll want to listen.

Maybe. Maybe.

Don't worry too much about those with these bumper stickers. They're simply expressing an incredibly common mis-conception about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons). And the number of bumper stickers is small compared to those who have been told in error that somehow Mormons think they can get to heaven


No wonder! people don't believe that we're really Christians. If what people said about Mormons were true, they'd be right!

In reality, Mormons are Christians who believe in Jesus who was born of Mary in a stable in Bethlehem, who taught in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas, who established His church, who was literally the Son of God. This is the same Jesus that is written of in the New Testament in the Bible.

The same Jesus who went in to the garden of Gethsemane and came out bloody; the same Jesus who allowed himself to hang from a cross and who ultimately gave up His life so that each of us could live with Him and His Father again.

This same Jesus who rose from the tomb on the third day; who overcame both spiritual and physical death so that the demands of justice might be met.

A while ago I heard about different main-stream Christian congregations being taught about what Mormons believe. I heard a sentence that started with "well, we've been told that...."

This is disturbing on so many levels.

I'd welcome the news if what was being taught was correct information. But it obviously isn't if the population of bumper stickers is so high.

When people choose a line out of a book and then create opinions out of context; when information is gathered from people who used to be members of the church; when then internet is used...

What has been hardest to come to terms with is that not everyone is looking for truth. They aren't looking for enlightenment.

They're looking to be right and have be wrong what they want to prove wrong. This ensures that everyone loses, and that's too bad.

Sharing beliefs is one of my favorite things to talk about. I don't care about how people think talking politics or religion will only end in argument. It takes two to argue and I won't be one of them. I'm sure others feel the same way.

I also know that it isn't my job to convince or - heaven forbid - convert anyone. That isn't my job. And it's what relieves most of the pressure in talking with someone. The pressure that remains is simply that I get my facts straight.

In summary there are two things to remember: First, no (wo)man can earn (her)his way to heaven (did you know that the word "earn" isn't even mentioned in scripture ANYWHERE?). Second, Jesus is the Christ, our (MY) Savior and Redeemer, the Son of the living God. It is by Him and through Him that we (I) might return to live with God again.


More to come.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Milk - It's What's For Dinner

Maybe you remember Elder Perry's talk about how he used to order milk during cocktail hours when he was in the business world. He says, 
"I spent my career in the department store business. Because I was part of a management team, it was important for me to interact socially with local business organizations. The meetings with most of these organizations always started with a cocktail hour. It was a time to mix and get acquainted with the men who belonged to the organization. I have always felt uncomfortable in these social hours. At first I started asking for a lemon-lime soda. I soon discovered that lemon-lime soda looks like many of the other drinks. I could not build the impression I was a nondrinker with a clear soda in my hands. I tried root beer. It had the same problem.
Finally I decided I had to have a drink that would clearly mark me as a nondrinker. I went to the bartender and requested a glass of milk. The bartender had never had such a request. He went into the kitchen and found a glass of milk for me. Now I had a drink that looked very different from the alcoholic beverages the others were drinking. Suddenly I was the center of attention. There were a lot of jokes made of my drink. My milk was a conversation piece. I met more business leaders that evening than I ever had before at a cocktail hour.
Milk became my drink of choice at the cocktail hours. It soon became common knowledge I was a Mormon. The respect I received really surprised me, as did an interesting event that started to occur. Others soon joined me in a pure milk cocktail!
Dare to be different. Live up to the standards we are taught in the gospel."

I had a similar experience over the weekend at a dinner my husband and I were invited to. 
The night started with a cocktail hour, and since it was an open bar, the alcohol was flowing. Freely. Like Niagra Falls it was flowing freely. Woh. 
Initially I ordered a soda, ginger ale to be specific. It's my favorite and most restaurants just don't have it. It felt like a treat that I could order one that night.
But, like he explains, my awesome ginger ale looks a whole lot like others' drinks, and because no one knew me (though they know my husband well), I wanted to make sure my standards were clear, without question; that I was united with my husband in the standards he has exemplified in the many situations he's had to do so. 
So I walked to the bar and asked the bartender if they had any milk. He happily said yes and jetted away to get some. He brought back a new gallon, minus the glass he'd already filled for me. 
I came back to the small group I'd been chatting with, which included my husband, and what I had in my hand was quickly noticed. One of the women there said something about how now all I needed were some chocolate chip cookies. Hmmm. I'm still not sure if she was being funny and friendly or sort of mocking me. It was a fun evening either way.
Here's my milk. My ginger ale is on the bar behind it and you can see the plenteous selection people could choose from.
It feels good to stand out. It felt good to know that we could drive home later that night and not be putting our lives in jeopardy. It felt good knowing that we'd wake up the next morning feeling just fine, with out any lingering side-effects of the previous night's behavior. It felt good keeping the standards and promises we've committed ourselves to keeping. 
The world would have us believe that our standards are confining, but we know better. They are the purest kind of freedom. Freedom from all sorts of ills and consequences.
Elder Perry sums this up so well, "Sometimes we may feel that people will not be as accepting of us because of the high standards we have set for ourselves. Still, there are things we just don’t do. We have the Word of Wisdom, which helps us to live a healthier life, a type of life that is conducive to our growth and well-being. We have standards, ideals, and a way of living that are the envy of much of the world. I have found that if you live the way you should live, people notice and are impressed with your beliefs and you have an influence on the lives of others."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Look On Their Faces

I stumbled on this picture the other day and it's quickly become a new favorite.

Just LOOK at the expressions on their faces!

This is a picture by David Bowman. You can see more of his work here.

This piece is deeply moving to me.

I have a recurring daydream where I'm able to sit in the Savior's lap. To curl up, actually. He's big enough; I'm small enough. I realize there's some absurdity in the reality of this thought, but it is what it is.

His arms are big and heavy; He wraps them around me and I can feel their warmth and weight pressing on my shoulders and around my body.

There is complete peace and calm. He isn't in any hurry to go anywhere, but is content to just sit with me and hold me. The world seems to stop as we sit together.

I need Him. He loves me.

I long for a moment like this one. In dark hours, it is where my mind goes to find a solution for the relentlessness of life.

He loves all of us, perfectly, right where we are. Because we are His.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

October General Conference Reading Challenge

I decided to create my own 40-day reading challenge for October's General Conference. The one difference I made this time though is to NOT add a date to each day's reading. You're on your own schedule! Just getting back into the messages is the important part. 
I was AMAZED at how my questions were answered throughout the Conference, both because of the words of the messages presented and because of the things the Spirit taught me. Even things I just sort of have rattling around in my head ~ not really even articulated yet ~ were addressed. The Lord is SURELY in the details of our lives!
I hope you felt the Spirit as you watched Conference and continue to be fed and edified as you re-read and re-watch each address. 

Here is the PDF to print and keep handy: 

October 2014 Conference 40-day Challenge.pdf

Monday, June 9, 2014

More Gratitude, Less Gripe

It's an amazingly beautiful day where we live, and as I was driving this morning I wondered if I'd expressed as much appreciation for the fantastic Spring we've enjoyed, as I might express irritation for when the weather's bad.

I try to be careful about complaining about the weather (I've always wondered how tired Heavenly Father must be of hearing our fussing about too hot, too cold, too much wind, and on and on), but surely there are other little things that it's easy to fuss about.

When the clothes aren't quite dry in the dryer.

When one of my teenagers steals my nail polish remover for the gazillionth time.

When that same teenager (or one of her sisters) uses the car but doesn't tell anyone when she gets home that the gas light is on.

Life is good if these are the kinds of things we have to complain about.

I learned a great lesson as we disembarked from a really big boat this past January. That big boat had taken us to some amazing places and we'd spent 7 days being totally spoiled. We'd been in parts of the world where flushing toilets were reserved for tourists and grass was an acceptable roofing product. It made me realize that even on a really bad day, we as Americans have a lot going for us. Just the fact that we can walk into a WalMart or a McDonalds and use the bathroom puts us better off than 80% of the rest of the world.

As we got off that chunk of luxury floating in the water, we were asked to walk down about 50 feet, only to round a rope line and come back that same 50 feet, this time on the other side.

As I got back to the place where people were still coming off the boat, I overheard a guy see the down and back he had to do and with a heavy sigh of total put-outted-ness say, "REALLY??"

Here was the perfect example of what I didn't want to do anymore: Express irritation about the little things.

I was still floating (though not quite as literally as I had been 20 minutes before) from all we'd experienced on our trip and I wondered how this guy could even think to be frustrated by such a minor thing. I don't know anymore about him than what I saw and understand there could have been extenuating circumstances to his response, but it was his reaction that articulated exactly what I wanted to differently when I got home.

Have I succeeded these past months? I'm not completely sure. I still want my nail polish remover to be where I left it the last time I used it and for there to be enough gas to go where I want to go when I get in the car.

But I know my awareness is certainly more with regard to these kinds of little things. And even if it's the second thought, I still might get there faster than I used to.

This morning's drive in the beautiful sunshine brought more articulation to my experience and affirmation from January.

More Gratitude, Less Gripe.

That's it. Pretty simple, really.

Consciously remembering to express gratitude and appreciation for more little, every day things and lay off the griping about the other kinds of little things.

Based on past experiences, I know that having more gratitude in our hearts brings peace and contentment.

What are some of the little things you're seeing today that you might express gratitude for?