Check it out – Sunday on Monday Podcast

I had the privilege of being one of Tammy’s guests on her Sunday on Monday podcast which went live this week in conjunction with “Come Follow Me” about D&C 76, “The Vision”.

You can find it on the Deseret Book app, but if you don’t have that, you can listen to the first 13 minutes and catch the transcript here – LDSLiving

You can also find full episodes of the Sunday on Monday study group here. Or start a free trial of Deseret Bookshelf PLUS+ here.

It was such a fun experience to work with my friends, Tammy Hall and Jennifer Platt, both of whom I’ve worked with in Religious Education.

Don’t Take My Word For It …

learned for myself

So, my last two posts have been very intense. It is the side of me that is reserved for the disciplinarian at home, the professor that has to give grades to students who haven’t been working, and the teacher that has to establish rules and protocols to have an orderly and just classroom. Though it is a side that is intense, the truth of the matter is that I’d do almost anything to help my students succeed and that goes a million times more for my own children!

The most wonderful thing about the gospel is that, though there are rules and standards, a loving Father in Heaven and his equally loving Son want to help us succeed as well. Take a look:

For if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you;

And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours. (Doctrine and Covenants 78: 7, 17-18)

A while ago, I watched a video about a group of young women leaders who were trying to teach their youth why they should be modest. (I wish I could find the video, but after searching for half a day and coming up unsuccessfully, I couldn’t find it, so I will sum up.) Instead of doing a lecture, they sent the girls to the scriptures. Instead of spending an hour on it,  they spent several weeks allowing the girls plenty of time for thinking, searching, pondering, and praying. At the end of the time, each girl who had participated received direct revelation from Father in Heaven about the reasons that He wanted her (his own precious daughter) to be modest. I can’t think of anything better!

So, though I will teach revealed doctrine on this blog, the best thing that each of us can do is spend some real time asking Father directly about His teachings. The Savior himself said that the doctrine that He preached was not His own and then gave a special promise –

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself (John 7:17). 

I would highly recommend that anyone who is facing difficult doctrinal issues (or as I like to call them, Doctrinal Abrahamic Trails) should spend some time with the Lord, taking His word at face value. Trying out His doctrine in all possible ways, or if we are not able to try it (let’s say the doctrine is about children and we don’t have any) we should carefully ponder with an eye on the eternities why the Lord would command that doctrine. I read in a blog once –  that we need to “approach the issue with an eye to what the Lord would have us learn from the law.” One of the sweetest things that a young boy of 14 said after he went seeking answers from God was, “I have learned for myself.”

Answers will come. All of these issues, questions, and problems are directly provided to help us turn to the Savior. And, just as I would do almost anything to help my students and my children survive and thrive, He would do, and has done, infinitely more for you and for me.

Healing vs Fleeing

Riding without training wheels

Long-term healing. The Balm of Gilead. Recover, Refresh, Renew. The Savior is said to “arise with healing in His wings” (“wings” in the bible means the power to act and do) see Malachi 4:2.

This is the topic of today’s musings, but first, I want to start with a milestone that we reached in our house this week.  We taught two children to ride bikes without training wheels (my nephew and my six-year-old daughter).  What a miracle! Their faces beaming with delight and satisfaction. They can propel themselves forward, they can balance, they have joined the ranks of the big kids – what an accomplishment!

So, how do these ideas relate? (I’m sure you’ve figured it out already, but I’ll draw the analogy anyway!)

As we began the bike lessons, my little girl and I started with prayer (see 2 Nephi 32:9).  In her prayer, she asked Heavenly Father to help her so that she wouldn’t fall.  Well, you can’t learn to ride a bicycle without falling.  It just isn’t going to happen.  So, I took her lovingly in my arms and told her that.  Then, we spent the first little while learning how to take a fall. After she got good at that, we began to work on balance. It was hard, tiring, frustrating work. She fell, but she had learned how to deal with it, and she kept getting up. Eventually, she began to go a few lengths after I let go of the bike seat. Then a few more, until she went several houses, and finally the whole street. She was so far ahead of me that I had to run quite a way to catch up. The absolute JOY on her face was so priceless (see the picture above) after she did it.  It made all of the work so worthwhile.

Life is so similar, isn’t it.  Looking at the big picture can remind us of why we are here having to deal with all of these mortal issues.  It’s so that we can have JOY (2 Nephi 2:25). So that at the end of it all we can have experience (D&C 122:7). So we can become someone better than we are now (1 John 3:2-3).

But, it will mean that there will be some falls. Major, epic, difficult, heart wrenching falls (D&C 101: 2-5 & Hebrews 12:11).

Let me share some thoughts on the subject that I came across this week in an amazing talk.

What then is healing, and why should we seek it? My favorite talk on the subject of healing is a BYU devotional given by Elaine S. Marshall in 2002 entitled “Learning the Healer’s Art.” I strongly recommend you study it. I assign it in every class I teach, from undergraduate to doctoral level. I suggest you read it more than once. Listen closely to her definition of healing:

On [my] first day as a nurse, I assumed cure, care, and healing to be synonymous. I have learned they are not the same. Healing is not cure. Cure is clean, quick, and done—often under anesthesia. . . . Healing, however, is often a lifelong process of recovery and growth in spite of, maybe because of, enduring physical, emotional, or spiritual assault. It requires time. . . .

. . . It requires all the energy of your entire being. You have to be there, fully awake, aware, and participating when it happens.4

Healing is much more than “getting better” or “having our problems go away.” Healing is growth, development, and maturation. In a word, healing is change. It takes time and energy and struggle, but healing teaches us. As Marshall said:

Healing can help us to become more sensitive and more awake to life. . . . Healing invites gifts of humility and faith. It opens our hearts to . . . truth, beauty, . . . and grace. 5

But remember, even with all that beauty and growth and grace, healing does hurt.

Some people I have had the privilege of working with over the years have had a hard time reconciling the fact that healing requires suffering and yet is a gift from our Savior. How is it that a loving God would allow us to suffer? I have come to realize that my Savior cares more about my growth than He does about my comfort. One evidence of His love is that He does not spare me from the suffering I need for my development and progression, even when I get mad at Him. As a client once told me, “I used to feel guilty for getting mad at God. Then I realized He can handle it.”

And, unlike other humans, He does not punish me when I am mad or hold a grudge or remind me of it the next time my heart is right and I ask for His help.

The above talk, Healing = Courage + Action + Grace,  was absolutely phenomenal. It was given by Jonathan G. Sandberg on January 21, 2014.  It is WELL worth your time, as is reading the footnotes. I know that sounds weird, but I’m serious. He has given copious notes for extensive study, and well as additional thoughts on the quotes that he referenced in the talk. You can read the entire transcript here, or watch it here –

Along with this, I need to address another part of healing. Yesterday, my older daughter and I had to have a hard talk. It was about some negative actions that she has been repeatedly doing.  As we talked she cried and yelled, denied, and cried some more. Finally, she said, “Mommy, it’s just that when we talk about this stuff, it hurts. I feel so bad!”

I know it hurts.  I ache right along with her, but we needed to address the behavior, we needed to find solutions, and NOT run away from the difficult work. (As a side note, today, when the behavior happened, she followed the protocols, exactly the way that we worked it out, thus saving us grief and frustration. What an AMAZING little girl!)

Another thought from Sandberg’s talk –

[W]e have to be courageous to face the truth regarding what needs to change in our lives. This type of intense introspection requires tremendous honesty with ourselves. As Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32; see also 2 Nephi 28:28), but that is usually only after it hurts us first. Most of what I know about the courage to heal I have learned from clients. I have noticed among those who do find healing a real commitment to learning the truth about themselves, which is never easy.

I am so amazed at my beautiful children. I am amazed that they trust me to work with them, whether it’s learning to take a fall, ride a bike, or having a hard talk which will change behavior for the good.

I wonder, sometimes, if the Lord feels the same way about us. Is He thrilled right along with us as we learn to bear up under our burdens just a little bit more? Is He thankful when we offer true forgiveness and understanding to those who have caused us pain and frustration? Does it bless His life when we ask for His gifts and powers to enable ours? Is He thankful when we serve and bless others, especially when He asks the first time?

The truth is, although we may pray and ask Heavenly Father to help us so that won’t fall, life doesn’t work that way.  You can’t live in mortality without falling.  It  just isn’t going to happen.  So, when we do fall, we have some choices. We can flee and hide. That is our right and privilege as Beings with agency. We never have to learn to ride a bike. We never have to have hard talks.  But then we will never grow.

Or, we can choose to allow the Lord to take us lovingly His arms and spend some time learning how to take a fall. We can choose healing when we fall. We can choose to keep going, to keep learning, even when it hurts. We can choose to be comforted by that Being who has healing in His wings. And through these experiences, if we choose healing, then we will be able to join the ranks of “the big kids”.

 

The Principle of Equal Time

When we were children, my parents kept us on a very strict diet of classical music.  That was the only music that we listened to as a family.  Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Bach, Puccini, as well as movie soundtracks from John Williams and other movie soundtrack composers.  As I got older, and drove in my friends’ cars, I was introduced to a whole new world of sound.  Whitney Houston’s,  The Greatest Love and I Wanna Dance with Somebody.  REO Speedwagon, and Chicago, and Howard Jones, and Phil Collins, and a myriad of songs that pumped me up and made me want to MOVE!  I began a secret rebellion of listening to the “other music” whenever I could.

My parents, on finding out, weren’t upset.  I suppose they knew that the time would come when we would listen to other types of music, and wisely, they didn’t make it an issue.  They simply introduced the principle of equal time.  They asked that we would still listen to classical music in equal amounts to other music.  I agreed and began catching up on all the music I had missed, and in truth, I wasn’t very good with equal time, leaning heavily on the radio as any teenager would do.  But, when I needed peace.  When I studied for school.  When things got too loud and overwhelming, I would come back home to the music of my childhood.  As a parent, I visit classical music and religious music a lot.  There is peace there that can’t be found in modern music.  My parents were very wise.

So, my brother and I were discussing this principle last week.  He began to talk to me about a time when he felt a pull toward atheism, and if not that extreme, certainly inactivity.  The thing that pulled him back was the principle of equal time.  He realized that he should be spending at least the same amount of time in the scriptures as he had been spending on literature that was anti-religious.

I love this quote about the power of learning about the gospel.

“No one knows anything about Christ’s work simply by being born a member of the Church, and often he knows little about it after years of unmotivated exposure in meetings or classes. He must learn. And learning involves self-investment and effort. The gospel should be studied ‘as carefully as any science.’ The ‘literature of the Church’ must be ‘acquired and read.’ Our learning should be increased in our spare time ‘day by day.’ Then as we put the gospel truth to work in daily life, we will never find it wanting. We will be literate in the most important field of knowledge in the universe, knowledge for lack of which men and nations perish, in the light of which men and nations may be saved”
—Elder Marion D. Hanks, First Council of the Seventy, “Theological Illiterates”, Improvement Era (September 1969): 42

There is something about the words of the scriptures that have a power beyond anything else.  They calm, comfort, influence, steady, guide, fill with power, strength, and courage.  I love that when you “treasure up the words of life” the Holy Ghost will “bring … [them] to your remembrance” in the moment that you need it.

Note that I am not talking about someone’s interpretation of scripture.  Or someone taking a scripture or quote out of context. Or adding an interpretation that doesn’t hold up, or is based on mis-information or spurious quotes.  Remember that you can choose to drink the cool water from the source, or you can drink it down stream after all of the cows, and muck and garbage have had a chance to roll around in it.

Learning and living the principle of equal time with gospel study – making sure that you spend at least as much time in the Scriptures themselves as anything else will bring a power into your life that will be refreshing and life-giving in the moments when you need to return home.

Psalm 12-3

Something I’ve been thinking about lately

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As my husband and I continue to face the struggles and problems of life, I feel tempted to be frustrated because each new setback seems to put us further away from the dreams of success (you know – stability, luxuries, stocks and bonds, retirements, vacations, etc.)

Then I remember that if we don’t learn the lessons that we are here to learn, this earthly experience will be wasted.

Years ago, when I was at Basic Training for the Army National Guard, I faced a difficult opponent: Chow Hall. The dessert line called to me at every meal. (For those that don’t know me, I have quite the sweet tooth, and that love for desserts has always been problematic for my dress size.) I reasoned that at no time in my life had I a better reason to indulge in sweets than at BCT. I was alone, far from home, and had been working out.

One day, I finally decided, “I’ll never have this opportunity again, I may as well make the most of it.” So I refrained from treats and began to work hard.

I feel the same about life – we will never have this opportunity again, in all of our eternities. If we should fail to learn those lessons that continue to present themselves to us, what will be the point of our being here.

Dig in. Learn patience. Learn kindness. Learn charity. Learn gratitude. Learn purity. Learn repentance. Learn striving. Learn worship. Learn humility. Learn faith.

This is the time to learn to “submit to all things…as a child doth submit to his father”(Mosiah 3:19).”

To quote my hedonistic friends (though for a much different purpose) you only have one life to live, so live it. Allow the Master to polish you so that when “He shall appear we shall be like Him” (Moroni 7:48).

Filled with Light

One of my favorite scriptures has always been:

And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things (Doc. & Cov. 88:67, see also vs 63-68).

One of the reasons that I named this blog “light refreshments” was a play off of that phrase, but with the idea that when I wrote down spiritual ideas, thoughts, teachings, etc.,  it would be like refreshing one’s spirit with light.   There is something real about the idea that our very soul is refreshed when we learn about our Savior by studying the gospel.  I also love these scriptures that pertain to that idea :

 Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do (2 Nephi 32:3).

And:

Come, my brethren, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come buy and eat; yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness  (2 Nephi 9:50-51).

I LOVE that phrase “let your soul delight in fatness”.  What an amazing concept – that our souls can feast, for free, and be filled up everyday on the spiritual food that enriches mind and spirit (and that will do great good for our body as well).

There is a reason that the Savior called Himself the bread of life and the water of life, and it doesn’t just mean taking the sacrament on Sunday.  It means that He has what our souls crave, the things that will make us feel good – the gifts of the spirit: love, peace, joy, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, etc.  We get that when we drink in light and truth by study and by listening to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

In that same vein, I just saw a new video about light that I wanted to share (it’s a three-part based on a talk by Elder David A. Bednar):

Top 10 Reasons for Journal Keeping

I can’t find my journal. *Poof!* Just like that, I am unable to find part of my life. (And I was pretty pleased with some of the things that I had recorded, too!)

So in the interim, while I decide to keep looking, or to just forget it and find a new one, I’ve decided to compile a list of reasons why journals are so fantastic!

1. “Angels may quote from it”

In a talk by President Spencer W. Kimball, (Ensign, October 1975) he stated, Get a notebook, my young folks, a journal that will last through all time, and maybe the angels may quote from it for eternity.  That was an idea that really struck me when I was a young girl.  The entire talk is worth a read. Here is another thought from that talk that I love –

No one is commonplace, and I doubt if you can ever read a biography from which you cannot learn something from the difficulties overcome and the struggles made to succeed. These are the measuring rods for the progress of humanity.

As we read the stories of great men, we discover that they did not become famous overnight nor were they born professionals or skilled craftsmen. The story of how they became what they are may be helpful to us all.

Your own journal, like most others, will tell of problems as old as the world and how you dealt with them.

2. “O Remember, Remember”

In a talk by President Henry B. Eyring, General Conference, October 2007, he discussed the fact that one of the problems with mankind is that they continually forget the Lord and the wonderful things that He has done for them.  He stated that one way to remember is to write down the experiences that you have daily.  President Eyring talked about a time when he had a spiritual impression to write down an experience that he and his family had just had. He stated:

I went inside. I didn’t go to bed. Although I was tired, I took out some paper and began to write. And as I did, I understood the message I had heard in my mind. I was supposed to record for my children to read, someday in the future, how I had seen the hand of God blessing our family. Grandpa didn’t have to do what he was doing for us. He could have had someone else do it or not have done it at all. But he was serving us, his family, in the way covenant disciples of Jesus Christ always do. I knew that was true. And so I wrote it down, so that my children could have the memory someday when they would need it.

I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done. 

3. Shows where you’ve been

Going back to old journals gives you a memory of where you have been and helps others to relate.  One day, (not so very distant from today) my girls will go through junior high.  They will have heartbreaks and crushes and silliness.  When they open my journal, they will see that I did too, and though I thought that my heart would break from unrequited love from that skater guy – Brent, something-or-other, I survived, things got better.  And hey, at the end of it all, I really did have a vibrant testimony then. 🙂

4. Can give revelation for the future

Years ago, when I was doing poorly in college, I got a blessing.  It told me to start focusing on my calling in life which would be to be a teacher of the Youth of Zion and even of the World. Twice it referenced this in my journal.  Typically, I record impressions from blessings, and I like to go back later and review the blessings and see how they came to pass.  In this case however, I thought, “well my poor Dad, he probably just got the revelation wrong” because, you see, I was going to be an Elementary School teacher.  So I wrote, “You are called to be a teacher of the Children of the World” two times.

After a day or so, I got a very strong impression from the Spirit.  It stated, “I didn’t say that.  You go back and write down what I said.”  “Okay,” I thought as I whited-out the words and wrote the words from the blessing over the top, “I don’t know how you’re going to do that, but whatever…”.  About seven years later, I pulled out the journal and showed my seminary students the whited-out words, and testified about the sacred priesthood power of Father’s blessings.

5. A place to record your spiritual learning

Nephi kept the small plates, they were a record of his learning.  He taught us about going and doing, about promised land, the tree of life, the covenants of the House of Israel, and the great words of Isaiah. And that’s just part of 1st Nephi!

Nephi desired to learn and know what his father and the prophets knew.  He recorded his testimony and his learning to teach others to come unto Christ.  Nephi teaches us that we can learn all of those things too.

For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round (1 Nephi10:19).

What better place is there to write down the things of God, that the Spirit teaches us, than in our journals?

6. Place for special events

Isn’t  it sad that we don’t have the actual date of the First Vision.  All we have is Spring 1820.  I have to wonder if the date just wasn’t recorded.  We have the approximate time and the year, so maybe it doesn’t matter, but the principle that I’m getting at is the importance of writing things down –  thoughts, ideas, impressions, and details.  How precious are the experiences of mortal life, especially the sacred or special ones?  I wrote down impressions about my daughters right before they were born.  Those thoughts take me back to the pregnancies and how wonderful those experiences were.

7. The scriptures are journals – God’s dealings with man

Nothing less.  What a blessing to see how the Lord works through men, women, and children.

Remember the scripture – And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them! (Numbers 11: 29).

And another scripture on this topic that I love – And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit (Joel 2:28-29).

We have been promised that revelation will come, line upon line, and that all we need to do is ask and seek.  Remember –  knock and it shall be opened unto you?  So just as the scriptures are a record of God’s dealings with man, your journal can be a record of God’s dealings with you.

8.  A place to work out your thoughts and feelings

Knowing that my journals could be read by others, I’ve tried to keep them uplifting, however here is no better place to work out struggles and deep inner thoughts and frustrations than in a journal.   Look at Nephi’s Psalm –

 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities (2 Nephi 4: 17, see also 16-35).

It’s amazing to look through your life to see patterns, and cycles, and personal growth.

9. Snapshot in time

When I was very young, sometimes, my mom would sit us down on Sundays and have us draw pictures and write down what we were thinking or feeling.  It is so precious to me to look at those few pages.  On one page, I talked about my mean brother Karl-Heine and how he flipped rubber bands at me and wouldn’t let me watch my favourite Mr. Roger’s programme (my mother is British).  I loved that she wrote exactly what I said and I resolved to do the same things for my children.

I have large notebooks that serve as scrapbooks and journals.  I’ve written about them (what they were like as babies) and what they’ve said.  I’ve included pictures (I took a picture of them each month during their first year of life so that we could see how they’ve grown), their artwork, blessings, impressions, etc.  They LOVE to look through the books, and I know it will be something even more special for them as they get older.

10. Writing teaches you more

In several talks in the past few years, Elder Richard G. Scott has discussed the important process of recording our spiritual impressions, and that when we do, more information will come to us.

Here is a quote from a devotional talk given at BYU Campus Education Week on 1 August 2007  – 

Write down in a secure place the important things you learn from the Spirit. You will find that as you record a precious impression, often others will come that you would not have otherwise received. Also, the spiritual knowledge you gain will be available throughout your life. Always, day or night, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, seek to recognize and respond to the direction of the Spirit. Have available a piece of paper or a card to record such guidance.

And from a talk in General Conference, Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge, October 1993

Knowledge carefully recorded is knowledge available in time of need. Spiritually sensitive information should be kept in a sacred place that communicates to the Lord how you treasure it. That practice enhances the likelihood of your receiving further light.

I know that recording Spiritual impressions strengthens and deepens our love of God and our testimony of Him.  I know that He will teach and guide, through the Holy Spirit, anyone that truly seeks Him and that one of the best places to go for more knowledge about Him is through the scriptures, the living prophets,  and those who live their lives to be in tune with His ways.

Rejection – *heavy sigh!*

The Fallen Snowman

I have been working to get published for a while now.  I just received another rejection letter.  It was one of those rejections from a publishing company that I had a really good feeling about.  Bitter agony!  Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but rejection is tough.  For example,

When I try something, but my heart isn’t in it, the rejection is frustrating.

When I try something and my heart is in it, the rejection is painful.

When I try something and  heart is in it, and it’s coupled with hope, the rejection is devastating.

My sister called that last one a miscarriage of a dream (relationship, job, whatever the case may be).  After having a physical miscarriage myself, I think she may be on to something with that analogy.

Now, after that, onto something a little bit more inspiring…

I found an article by Elder Paul V. Johnson that was featured in the January Ensign 2011.  It is entitled, Make Yours a Great Life and was adapted from a commencement address given at LDS Business College on April 9, 2009.  I read it several weeks before my recent rejection, but found it again during the brouhaha.  Each time, the message has electrified me, and helped me to “get back in the saddle,” creating new plans and a new direction.

I will quote a large section, simply because I think that it applies to the conversation –

Your future is not determined by the conditions around you. It is determined by your faith, your choices, and your efforts. Yes, you live in challenging times, but so did Mary, Moroni, and Joseph Smith. You don’t have to be carried along in the current of the times. The Lord can and will help you set your own course. The challenges you face will serve to strengthen you as you move forward with your life. Each of you has a bright future, a future you cannot now fully comprehend.

How will you face your challenges? Some people complain and blame circumstances or other people for their problems. They won’t let go of bad feelings. They portray themselves as victims and become bitter. They seem to spend so much time and energy justifying themselves and pushing off responsibility to others that there is no energy left to go forward with their lives.

Others seem to live in the past and dwell on how things used to be. They are so unwilling to leave the past that they don’t turn around to face a future that would be bright if they approached it properly.

Some people dream about the future but don’t do much to move into it with power. They don’t realize that what they do—or don’t do—now will profoundly affect their future.

People who go to work with faith, knowing the Lord will bless them if they do what’s right, are the ones with a bright future. The title of the last conference address given by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve, (1917–2008) explained how these people handle challenges: “Come What May, and Love It.” Elder Wirthlin said: “If we approach adversities wisely, our hardest times can be times of greatest growth, which in turn can lead toward times of greatest happiness.” 1

Your individual future is either bright or cloudy, depending on you.

Now, it’s  time to get to work, pick that snowman up and rebuild a better one. 🙂

Time Dollars and Talents

Tonight we had a Family Home Evening on talents.  My babies are young – five and two, so FHE night has to be quick, fun, and entertaining.

I set up a display table with a bunch of items that one can use to develop talents; sporting equipment, books that I’m writing, a book on drawing, one on crafts, a book of Mormon in Bulgarian, etc.  That got the attention of the family!

We began by each sharing a talent – playing the piano, dancing and my husband sang.  Then I shared scriptures about talents, Doctrine and Covenants 60: 2, 13 (my five year old said that it meant that we needed to give our talents to Heavenly Father.  I liked that).

We acted out the parable of the talents Matthew 25: 15-29, in this case talking about talents not as money but as skills.  (I used colored pencils as the talents, the girls really loved it).

Then we wrote down the talents that we felt that we had been given from the Lord and the ones that we were going work on developing this week.

The idea that really stuck out to me was the end of verse 13 from the Doc & Cov scripture –  “Thou shalt not idle away thy time, neither shalt thou bury thy talent that it may not be known.”

That got me thinking about a concept.  Several years ago, my cousin and I began to talk about the commodity of the eternities.  What will purchase the most after this life?  We discussed the fact that the thing that will “buy” us anything at all,  is the time that we spend here.

So we came up with the idea of time dollars.  Everyone is given the same amount of time dollars each day – to use as we see fit.  However, we are accountable for what we do with the time dollars.  Some spend them more wisely than others.  And, the way that we can make it back to live with our Heavenly Father again depends entirely on what activities we do with our time here.

I believe that one of the best things that we can spend our time on is in developing our talents.  Then we can “divide our gifts from [the Lord] with every brother that [we] see” (Hymn # 219 – Because I Have Been Given Much).

It also gives us joy when we use our talents, so why do we spend so much time in idle activities?  I’m trying to give up nasty time-sucking habits, and putting in their place the things that will help me feel better about myself and most importantly, those that will help me throughout the eternities.


Begin a life’s quest for goodness

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I’ve  just set up a new page with talks that are about Culture and the Arts. For a long time now, I’ve been influenced by a quote by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, (Conference Report April 1992) –

“We can fill our lives with good.  We have so much good from which to choose that we need never partake of evil.”

I think that there is much good that needs to be sought out and created by members of the church.  I’ve started with music, books, and movies.  If it does not in some way lift and inspire us to become better people, I just don’t want to spend precious time dollars on it.

Another quote that I keep with me is something that my Dad said –

“In any sane society, the role of the artist is to reach through the veil, grasp a piece of the celestial culture and bring it into our telestial world.  Anything less risks mediocrity in the quest for excellence.”

He’s such a wise man.  Here’s another –

“Satan is the great usurper of the Arts. We cannot let him run rampant in such a powerful medium.”

It is up to us then, to gather and to create things of quality and beauty.  We cannot allow others to be the engineers of culture because the trend to “call evil good, and good evil”  (Isa. 5:20, 2 Nephi 15:20)  is prevalent and will destroy that which has the power to edify and bring our society to the higher plane.