Saturday, September 25, 2010

Drink Deep....

I have come to a better understanding of the need I have for fresh, “living water” daily in order to successfully achieve my goals in health. Our body is about 60% to 75% water. A person at rest loses about 40 ounces of water per day. Water leaves our body in the urine, in your breath when you exhale, by evaporation through your skin, etc. Obviously, if you are working and sweating hard then you can lose much more water.

Water Functions

• Carries nutrients in and waste out of the body

• Maintains structure of molecules: proteins, glycogen, etc...

• Participates in chemical reactions in the body

• Acts as a solvent for most nutrients

• Lubrication and cushioning of joints, spinal cord, and fetus (during pregnancy)

• Helps regulate body temperature

• Maintains blood volume

• keeps all systems running smoothly

• prevents disease (esp. of the urinary tract)

• keeps you energized

Because we are losing water all the time, we must replace it. We need to take in at least 40 ounces a day in the form of moist foods and liquids. In hot weather and when exercising, your body may need twice that amount.

All this water information started me thinking. Near my home there is a pond that has all the waste from a dairy continually flowing into it. It smells terrible as you drive by on your way to Salem. I started thinking of the need to have fresh water in that pond in order to make the aroma a bit better.

A good example of this concept is the difference between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. Both are connected by the Jordan River. The Sea of Galilee has fresh, clean water continually flowing in and out of this large fresh water lake. It is “alive” with fish, plants, and wild life around its shores. In contrast, the Dead Sea has a flow of dirty, contaminated water. Eroded soil, minerals, and filth flow into the Dead Sea, but nothing flows out. As a result, the Dead Sea cannot support life. No fish live in its waters. No plants live on the shorelines. No people flock to its shores.

The Sea of Galilee is where the Savior taught many of His great lessons. Here it is where he walked on water; feed thousands with loaves and fishes; and delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Here He called is disciples to come follow Him. Here he taught that He was the “Living Water”.

It is the Savior who cares spiritual nutrients into my soul and carries the “waste” of sin out, just as water nourishes and cleanses my body. “Living Water” maintains the structure of my spirit, just as water maintains the integrity of my cells and their components. It is the Savior who “quickens” my mind and my heart as I draw closer to him through obedience and daily replenishing, just as water energizes through chemical reactions within my body. It is the spirit that lubricates tired spiritual knees and keeps things moving smoothly as I daily partake of “Living Water” through scripture study, prayer, and fasting. It is the Savior who prevents spiritual disease when I keep my eye firmly on Him, just as water keeps my body from disease. In short, everything about water reminds me of the Savior: healing, cleansing, nourishing, and living.

Change of Heart:

I have learned that water suppresses unhealthy appetites naturally and helps the body metabolize stored fat. Scriptures and prayer suppress unhealthy temptations and help my spirit repent and “store” faith. Drinking enough water is the best treatment for water retention. Drinking from the words of the Savior daily is the best treatment for “sorrow” retention. Water cleanses. The Savior cleanses. Water helps to rid the body of waste. The Savior takes away my sins, pains, frustration, disappointments, and mistakes. Water helps to maintain proper muscle tone by giving muscle their natural ability to contract and by preventing dehydration. The Savior maintains my spirit and giving me the opportunity to return to peace.

When we follow God’s law we are promised Health, wisdom, treasures of knowledge, strength, and protection from the destroying angel. I have tested this principle and have a testimony of the blessings that come from the laws of physical health and well being. The promises are real!

This really is all about having a change of heart. We must find within us the peace and the courage to change how we look at water, food, ourselves and exercise.

So drink up! Come drink Living water and live!

Monday, September 20, 2010


This morning as I sat at my desk organizing the day and week, I looked up at the corkboard above my computer and saw the delicate painted egg that a former visiting teacher gave me. I have new visiting teachers now, but I so enjoyed getting to know her then (thankfully I still see her at church and I have the privilege of teaching her and her daughter piano lessons this year).

She is shorter than I am, and she has a body shape similar to mine - round. Her eyes sparkled as she chatted with me and her laughter reminded me of Mrs. Santa - jolly, carefree, unpretentious. As I listened to her I was often struck by how loving she is; how able she is to accept everyone for who they are. My favorite visit I had with her was a discussion concerning our divine potential as daughters of God. She shared a couple quotes from the Ensign and pulled out the most beautiful egg I've ever seen.

Its beauty is in its simplicity; a simple, white, hollow egg carefully hanging on a satin ribbon, delicately painted with soft green leaves and pristine pink blooms. I carefully lifted the egg from the tissue paper, perfectly aware of the fragile condition of this beautiful creation. I rolled the egg carefully around in my hand contemplating the perfect design begun by God and finished off by a talented artist. My visiting teacher compared the egg to us; perfect creations of our Father - perfect because we are created in his image and works in progress because the Master Artist was still putting on our finishing touches through life experiences. I was so touched by her analysis and parted her company richly blessed.

Frequently my mind is brought back to the egg. I am reminded of a quote from Pres. Harold B. Lee, “Life is fragile and, therefore, should be handled with prayer”.

Fragile=easily broken or destroyed; implies extreme delicacy of material or construction and need for careful handling. Hmmm.... so many things in life should be considered fragile and should be handled with care: peace is fragile; civilizations are fragile; families are fragile; marriages are fragile; testimonies of the Savior are fragile; self confidence is fragile; life is fragile. Everything is dependent on a perfect balance and the loving care of a Supreme Being.

Just as my egg is fragile, the people I serve are fragile. They must be handled with prayer so that I am more keenly aware of their needs and the way the Father would have me serve them.

Like the egg, my family is fragile and must be handled with prayer -personal, couple, and family prayer - in order to keep "the hearts of the children towards the fathers and the hearts of the fathers toward the children". Each day I have a better understanding of how prayer is an absolute necessity for there to be peace and harmony within family relationships.

My testimony is fragile, in need of constant prayer, scripture study, and service to keep the delicate simple beauty not only protected, but strong.

Finally, I see that my own perception of whom I am as fragile. Upon reflecting on Matt. 4 , it occurred to me that Satan begins his temptation of Christ by attacking the Savior's identity - His divine nature. Not only does he tempt Jesus to misuse his power, but he attempts to cast doubt on that power with his first word, "if". "Oh the cunning plan of the evil one!"

That is the strategy he uses on me. The adversary has been attracting my belief in myself. He has attacked my self confidence. He has attempted to convince me that I am not worthy of true affection, perfection, and eternal blessings! All by attacking "if you be a child of God"! Enough! I choose freedom! I choose knowing that I am a beloved daughter of God. All those chocolate chip cookies my daughter just made mocked me yesterday, "If you had self control you could eat just one." All day my body kept saying, "If you were a real woman you would love exercise." All day my aching body seemed to taunt me with, "if you were worth it to God, he'd just melt this fat off and just give you that walk and not be weary blessing." Well, I know where that "if" mind set is coming from. I do have self control. I choose to bridle all my passions. I am a real woman. I choose to free my soul and my physical body - I wanted, I remind myself - through activity. I choose to walk every day, even for 10 minutes. I choose to park further from the store. I choose to add one more activity to each day. I am worth "all that the Father has", even health. I choose health. I choose freedom.

C.S. Lewis eloquently describes the virtue behind temptation in his book Mere Christianity. "No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good... Only those who resist temptation (I might add chocolate) know how strong it is... You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down... We never find out the strength of the evil impulses inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man (I might add God) who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means."

I cannot teach the Savior anything about pain. He knows my pain - even in my knees. I cannot teach the Savior about disappointment or anguish. He knows my disappointment - even with my size. He knows my anguish over my size or in my relationships with others. I cannot teach the Savior about the temptations of hunger - after all, he was tempted to make bread from stones after fasting for 40 days. I can safely say he understands hunger.

Neal A. Maxwell said, "How can you and I really expect to glide naively through life, as if to say, 'Lord, give me experience, but not grief, not sorrow, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal, and certainly not to be forsaken. Keep from me Lord, all those experiences which made Thee what Thou art! Then let me come and dwell with Thee and fully share Thy joy!'" (Ensign, May 1991, 88).

How absurd, I think. And yet.....

I can learn from the Savior. I can turn to Him when I'm frustrated with progress. I can choose to wait patiently on the Lord, having full faith that all righteous blessing will be granted to those who wait. I can let Him carry the burden for me when the load seems too great. I can yoke myself to the Savior and move in harmony.

That brings me back to the egg - fragile, perfectly designed, a work in progress.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Developing a my Loving, Self-Nurturing, Inner mommy Voice

I talk to a lot of people who need to conquer a nasty inner voice that degrades and belittles them. I suffer from a little voice that belittle at times as well. How do I break down my emotional walls that keep me from soaring? It’s time to develop my own kind “internal mother” voice.

Whenever I hear a baby cry I sit up and take notice. I pay attention.

In the past I had learned to be an excellent caregiver to my family and for people that I met but I didn't know how to love and care for myself!

One of the most difficult things for me to do was to love me—in practice. To admit I was emotionally unhealthy—that I needed help. To take care of MY NEEDS required spending time on me! I finally HAD to put my needs on the list—first things first—and slow down and stop fixing everyone else. THAT was hard to do.

A day at a time, I'm falling in love with myself AS I AM. I'm respecting myself and treating myself with gentleness. I'm no longer willing to harm myself for ANYone or ANYthing.

When I find myself experiencing deep inner suffering, distress, or overwhelm, I pause and tune within and ask myself what is going on. I use loving self-talk and ask myself, what do I need to feel better?

When a baby cries, you pay attention.

So… if I were that distraught little person what would I say as a comforting mom to make it all better? Maybe the conversation would go like this:

Oh, sweetheart, what is the matter? What do you need? I am here for you.


I will not abandon you and I love you.


I hear that you are in pain. Can you tell me about it? Take your time.


I will always be here for you.

OK… I have to admit I am not all that loving and nurturing. LOL. It usually comes out more sarcastic. “What is the matter with you? Buck up!” But I am trying hard to do better before all of my kids are out of the house. I might as well practice on myself too.

It feels a bit odd and unnatural at first. But I keep working at it. Hey! If I can beat myself up and can certainly pick myself up and give me a hug.

The process of healing emotional eating and emotional sitting can be summarized in a few simple steps:

Step I: Recognize it—observe it—notice that something is wrong. Something hurts. I don’t know what it is, so I just check it out.

Step 2: Accept it and look deeply—I no longer deny it; I accept whatever is in the present, ready to make a change for the future.

Step 3: Then evaluate it—what is causing it? Is it physical, emotional? Just like a doctor that evaluates an illness, I can tune-in to myself and notice the symptoms. What patterns do I have in my life that are causing the distress? Notice my habits.

Step 4: Take action. Encourage yourself to move forward… seek a change of heart…. Draw closer to the source of true peace and light

I also need to consider what nutrients (daily choices) are creating and sustaining my little voice? Notice—be mindful of— which nutrients are creating the symptoms that I am presently experiencing…

• Food nutrients? What am I eating or drinking can bring about distress in my body and mind. Do I cook and shop and eat with awareness? Just notice.

• Sense nutrients? Sights, sounds, smells, tastes, feelings of body or thoughts of mind? Am I always in constant contact with sense objects. They are food for my mind and emotions. Notice if certain objects stimulate my cravings and misery.

• Intention/Motivation nutrients? Choose to be aware of what motivates me. What do I think will bring me happiness? Do those things really bring lasting happiness?

• Nutrients stored in our subconscious? My past actions—all of my habits of body, speech, and mind are stored in my subconscious. Through repetition, these choices become unconscious and automatic. Which habits for me are creating the problems?

I can practice the path towards well-being. After I identify the kinds of nutrients that have been feeding my distress, I simply can stop ingesting them! I can't expect difficulties to go away by themselves. I have to DO something! (GO and DO) … and NOT DO other things. (Reminds me more and more of repentance) .

So that is the plan. Simple. Now to keep going at working the plan.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Prodigal... dutiful... rejoicing

This morning I find myself contemplating the parable of the prodigal son. I find myself in the unusual position of identifying with, and perhaps “being” all three characters in the story at once.

The parable of the prodigal son is the most developed of the three parables of the “lost”, the “seeker”, and the “found.” The story chronicles the three act drama: the departure of a wayward son, a parent’s enthusiastic welcome at his return, and the bitter reaction of the dutiful son.

In many ways I identify with the wayward son. I make so many mistakes. Some I feel cannot be erased or “fixed.” I squandered so many opportunities to teach my children correct principles. I wasted some many of my precious minutes on frivolous media and even procrastination. I abandoned opportunities that were placed in my path to better myself, my family’s life, and even the lives of my friends and accountancies. And for what? I know hold the cards of the consequences of my choices.

In the parable, Jesus described the consequences with painful touches of realism. A great famine arises, and the young man who did not discipline himself to plan for the future, suddenly becomes the victim of that future. Believing he had liberated himself by settling in a different country, he found himself forced to work in a job that was beneath his potential as far away from his true self as he could possibly get. The pain of hunger overcomes his situation as he is unable to even share the garbage that he is asked to feed the pigs he lives with.

The headstrong son had already thrown away his moral standards, his testimony and gospel standards and suffered a loss of status, both physically and spiritually.

Once defiant, the rebellious brother soon “comes to himself.” He determines to go to his father and admit his mistakes, saying, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,

“And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.” (Luke 15:17–19.)

Up to this point, the parable has dealt with the effects of sin and rebellion. I can’t think of a single person who cannot identify with the prodigal son. No matter how “good” we think we are, we all make mistakes and are in need of the “Healer” to restore our souls that perfect state that we all began as at our creation. If I can remember that we are all sinners I will be a more effective spouse, parent, friend, teacher, leader, and daughter.

As the story continues the story focuses on the effects of repentance and forgiveness. When I remember that I am a “prodigal” daughter and I have great need to “return” I gain the help I need from the courageous example of this son. I say courageous because it takes great effort to admit that you are wrong. Humble isn’t a strong enough word. Perhaps that is why Christ requires a “broken heart and a contrite spirit.” I reflect on how hard it is to swallow my pride to admit my mistakes and work up the courage to face those I have wronged and my respect for this prodigal son increases. It is hard work! But it is oh so worth it if we reach deep into our souls and find the courage to return!

In the story I learn that while the prodigal “was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20.)  (Wow!  The father RAN... That is a huge statement of the worth of his son's soul!)  The son admits his guilt, and the father receives him with honor and celebrates his homecoming. No matter how hard the past or the future road, the father insists personally and publicly that the returning child is still his son and that he is still loved, saying,

“For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” (Luke 15:24; see also Luke 15:32.)

Today I identify with the father in the story. I imagine this father mourned the loss of his son to riotous living. I believe he was heart sick. I wonder if his worry sometimes threatened to paralyze him. I wonder because I feel that way. I mourn my good health that is lost. I am heart sick when I lose peace at home to contention. I worry most as my loved ones make decisions that are contrary to the ways of God that I love so much. Yet, I know I would rejoice if things changed. Whether it is rejoicing because health is returning to me one pound or one step at a time or its rejoicing because peace is returned from chaos in my life and in my home or rejoicing in the little choices made to return to gospel principles, I see the “need” to rejoice when people and things are returned and restored. In the last verse, the father also says that “it was meet” that the happy celebration take place. This English phrase means “it was fitting or appropriate.” The Greek phrase is actually more intense - the happiness was “necessary.”

Some have suggested this story could also be called the parable of the father’s love, or the parable of the faithful father. Certainly the parable symbolizes God’s constant concern for his children. Since he is above all a God of love, he naturally welcomes the truly penitent. I want to develop His characteristics that I may react in such a way.

Sometimes I feel like I identify most with the older son. I often feel “wronged” because I felt I had done all I could and yet the fat cells still hung around. Or I made every effort to serve and to teach and to persuade and to follow the prophets and the commandments and yet I am currently struggling with losing a wayward son for myself. I have found myself surprised at concern for those I have wrongly deemed unworthy. I wonder where is the “fair” in allowing the returned back into full fellowship. I forget that I have experienced that greater blessing, one that will not be fully restored, and that is I always had the father’s influence near me. I know that the “returnee” now has the opportunity to have that influence again, but think of all the time lost, never to be returned. We can’t turn back time. In the process of “not transgressing” the father’s commandments, the elder son has failed to learn to love others as his father does. The son does not have a correct understanding of the principles of repentance and forgiveness. Yet his father replies: “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.” (Luke 15:31.) Sad that I find myself in this position far too often. Ironically, this kind of thinking really sends me right back to being the prodigal sinful son.

To debate about which son is more acceptable to God goes beyond the story. The truth is, we are all both sons. Salvation in both situations depends not on God’s love—which is freely given to all—but upon how one accepts God’s love.

Today as I mourn the choices of my son I sit here brokenhearted seeking understanding, comfort, and guidance. I have learned a few important principles from contemplating the parable of the prodigal son:

Trust Father in Heaven. Life is a complex mixture of joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, good and bad. Heavenly Father fully understands my conditions here in mortality, having allowed those conditions and provided agency (not FREE agency…. A price has definitely been paid for that!) as a kind of living laboratory for growth. Moreover, He Himself must have experienced all of the conditions and feelings we do, for, as the Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “God himself was once as we are now” and “dwelt on an earth” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 345, 346). Not only did one of His choicest sons rebel during our premortal existence, but that son also persuaded a third part of the Father’s children to take a devilish path.

He knows EXACTLY the heartache I feel. He will know how to heal it and make things right again.

I can remember parents in scripture who suffered parental disappointment: Adam and Eve, whose son Cain murdered his brother Abel; Lehi and Sariah, whose two older sons rebelled; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, those towering figures who, with their wives, experienced much parental sorrow; Alma the Younger, who had a rebellious son, Corianton; and Mosiah, who had several rebellious sons. Even parents who do all that the can to point their children to Christ don’t always succeed.

In 1929 Elder Orson F. Whitney of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “You parents of the willful and the wayward! Don’t give them up. Don’t cast them off. They are not utterly lost. The Shepherd will find his sheep. They were his before they were yours—long before he entrusted them to your care; and you cannot begin to love them as he loves them. They have but strayed in ignorance from the Path of Right, and God is merciful to ignorance. Only the fullness of knowledge brings the fullness of accountability. Our Heavenly Father is far more merciful, infinitely more charitable, than even the best of his servants, and the Everlasting Gospel is mightier in power to save than our narrow finite minds can comprehend” (in Conference Report, April 1929, 110).

Thanks be to GOD! Love changes everything!

I have the ultimate hope that because my children have been sealed to us in the temple, the bonds of eternal covenants will be stronger than the bonds of the adversary that now seem to grip lives. I must live with hope that the day will come when all family members will return to their eternal families and repent of wayward behavior. The prodigal son’s father trusted. I must find the courage to trust too.

Respect Agency. A governing doctrine of the universe, applicable in all ages including the eternities before God formed this earth, is that God has granted to people their agency—the right to choose between good and evil. Because we have agency, it is fair and just that we account to Him for our use of it, whether good or bad. If we had no agency, God would be responsible for us and everything we did, which would result in our never really knowing the depth of our personal convictions regarding either good or evil.

Good and evil bombard my children and I. I can do my best to teach my children correct principles allowing them to make informed choices. I must also teach that when they make choices contrary to gospel teachings, they will always suffer the consequences, some of which are serious and not always immediate. In the Doctrine and Covenants we read, “My people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience, if it must needs be, by the things which they suffer” (D&C 105:6; emphasis added). While it’s the harder pathway, the Lord is aware of young people who have been caught in addictive behaviors and is watching patiently over them as they learn through their own experience about good and evil.

As hard as it is, I must “let” my son go… yet I must “hold the line”. I wish is wasn’t so hard to tell when to let go and when to hold tight.

Paraphrasing the Prophet Joseph Smith, Elder Orson F. Whitney said “that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. … They will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God” (in Conference Report, April 1929, 110).

I can do this. This gives me something to hold onto. I can and should expect much of my children, but I cannot force them into the Lord’s mold. My children will not stay with the Church and live the gospel unless they want to.

I guess that takes me back to loving them to “want” to. The prodigal son’s father allowed him to experience life. I can do the same.

Turn to the Savior. Because God knows the inevitable consequences of agency—we all choose right as well as wrong, and we all transgress to some degree—He has provided a Savior to snatch us from our precarious situation. The Savior has taken upon Himself the burden of our sins, pains, infirmities, and feelings of despair, and we are able to receive of the healing power of His Atonement if we soften our hearts and repent of our sins and become a different person. He mourns with us in our extreme agitation, even when His long view of things requires that for our ultimate good in some situations He withhold His hand from lifting our burdens too quickly.

The spirit of the Savior’s teachings helps me understand how I should react when my loved ones go astray. I should prepare to leave the “ninety and nine” to seek the one (see Luke 15:1–7); search the house to reclaim the lost coin (see Luke 15:8–10); and welcome home even one who has wasted our goods in riotous living (see Luke 15:11–32). There is no perfect answer except through the Savior. The only answer lies in seeking help from the Lord in prayer to obtain needed direction specific for our situation. In Romans 8:26 [Rom. 8:26], the Apostle Paul explains that “we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” I’m glad the Spirit helps. Some days I don’t know what to pray for anymore. Drawing very close to the Lord and seeking the Spirit’s guidance is helping me know what steps to take next. The prodigal son’s father held to the faith. The son listened to the “pull” that was drawing him closer to the Father. I can do the same.

Heed Promptings. Once we receive whisperings of the Spirit, we need to move forward steadfastly. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart,” states the proverb, “and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Prov. 3:5). Sometimes the things we feel impressed to do may require faith on our part. Be humble! Only the Lord knows the full picture. I don’t know what will happen next. What’s more, I don’t really know the hearts of those I love. Only God does. If I am willing to turn my mind and heart over to Him, I can obtain insight that allows me to take a wise course of action for those I love at any given time. I believe that the prodigal son heeded promptings to return. I can do that. I believe the older son heeded promptings to be humble and to learn charity. I can do that. I believe the Father heeded promptings to have faith and believe that all things will be “alright”. I can do that.

Never Give Up. It seems that I cannot reach all of my children right now, but I can at least keep trying and keep loving them. I can reach out, nurture, and extend help to them as an act of love. I can believe that those efforts won’t always go unnoticed. President Joseph F. Smith offered advice that may helped me: “Fathers, (mothers can be inserted here) if you wish your children to be taught in the principles of the gospel, if you wish them to love the truth and understand it, if you wish them to be obedient to and united with you, love them! … However wayward they might be … when you speak or talk to them, do it not in anger, do it not harshly, in a condemning spirit. Speak to them kindly. … You can’t drive them; they won’t be driven” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th edition [1939], 316).

I can remember that.

The greatest message of all from the character of the father is: God welcomes us back as full sons and daughters… always. Indeed, as we read in Alma, God is a God of love, and in his mercy, he has provided repentance as a way for us to return to him: “There is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth; … if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God.

“But God ceaseth not to be God, and mercy claimeth the penitent.” (Alma 42:22–23.)

The lesson learned from the prodigal son is: to return to our Father, we must make the hard climb of consistent repentance and true reform. The powerful love of the Father and of the Savior can provide us with an immeasurable motivation. Indeed, Jesus may have added the killing of the best animal to the parable of the prodigal son as a hint that he would die for the sins of all repentant prodigals. Now that is LOVE that changes everything!

The lesson from the dutiful son: Perhaps he is like those of us who fill our assignments and attend our meetings, but fail to learn charity—that unconditional love the Father has for all his children and which he commands us to obtain and exercise. (See Moro. 7:33–48.) For those of us whose lives are similar to that of the dutiful elder brother, the challenge is to learn to welcome God’s repentant sons and daughters—our brothers and sisters—with godly love… a love that invites, persuades and changes everything.

The Savior sharply opposed sin, but frequently cautioned his disciples against rejecting the sinner. I can seek to obtain that level of powerful, earth moving love.

God help me to find it… to return… to restore through His Love.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Stop the World! It's moving too Fast!

As I keep my life in balance, my weight begins to balance out!

This has been a crazy week. I started my home school curriculum with my kids. School started today for my kids that go to the public schools for choir and math. Seminary started today. Dance started today. And I’ve been at the HS every day working on getting the new auditirium up and running before the Grand Opening Cerimony on Saturday. It’s nuts! There are time I think, “Help! I need to slow down. I’m movin’ too fast.”

We live in an environment—modern American life—that is over busy and over stimulated. I can see it in my kids. They get so grumpy when they have too many activities in one day. Why is it a surprise that I lose control when I am over scheduled? LOL. Sometimes I am a goofball. Everyone around me seems to get caught feeling restless or a feeling of depletion, compulsion, and overwhelm. This is something I am determined to avoid this year!

I like to claim that I am great at multitasking. Maybe it’s because I feel like I am wasting time if I do nothing (rest) or if I just do one thing at a time. But oh to live in a simpler time! Sadly, we have become human doings instead of human beings. Perhaps it is because we are addicted to technology and consumerism and have lost the ability to live life with wisdom, inner peace, and enjoyment. To go SLOWLY in this society is to go “against the grain.” But I am determined to SLOW down even with the chaos ranging around me.

This change requires intention, courage and lots of practice. Here it goes!

It’s a matter of choice:

Choose to slow down and take time…

Choose to stop expecting the treadmill to take me somewhere (although it is a great exercise tool on a busy day!)…

Choose to relax, observe, and allow good to happen…

Choose to spiritual tune-up every day…

Choose to simplify…

Choose to listen to me body… to notice when I’m getting overwhelmed…

Choose to leave some “down time” in my schedule…

Choose to accept my limitations…

Choose to observe (be mindful of) what I am doing with each of my daily activities:

When I wake up… when I wash dishes… when my kids hug me… when I notice my “hunger” pains – for food, rest, affection, accomplishment, or nurturing…when I go on walks… when I drive kids around… etc.

The real challenge is to explore my present lifestyle and observe the consequences of my choices. It’s a greater challenge to make a plan and follow the plan, based on my findings.

But I can do it!

May I free my heart from suffering! May I take in life in perfect balance. May I have the capacity to take in the fullness of life!

Whatever I need to know is revealed to me and whatever I need comes to me in Divine right order.

Persistence pays off. If tomorrow isn’t perfect I can try again the next day! Prioritize… plan and prepare… practice… persist with patience… apply positive and powerful problem solving!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Love Changes Everything

Lately I am obsessing over how to motive not only myself, but my children, to make good choices. It’s hard. I believe firmly that God is very concerned about the quality of my life just I am concerned for the quality of my kids lives. He wants me to do more than just believe in him. I want my kids to do more than just hang out with me. He wants me to keep his commandments to be the best I can be, thus becoming more like him. I want my kids to follow some basic rules to be the best they can be.

When I was a kid I did all that I could to make my parents happy… because I loved them. There was no need for swats or grounding or any other serious discipline. I couldn’t stand to disappoint them.

Jesus expressed his desire for this as he taught his disciples to love him.

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (John 14:15, 21)

If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you. (John 15:10, 14)

These verses help me to understand that in the scriptures, love of Christ is tied very closely to obedience to him. For example, consider the following teaching from Jesus about the greatest commandments.

Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Matthew 22:36-39)

Thus, in the context of the scriptures the greatest commandment is to love God by keeping his commandments.

This principle of love through obedience was taught by Jesus in his great Sermon on the Mount. He taught that not everyone who believed in him and confessed him would enter the kingdom of heaven. Only those who kept the commandments of God would enter the kingdom.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father, which is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)

That verse is significant: but he that doeth the will of my Father. After all, people can accept Jesus as the Christ and even do many wonderful works, as Jesus went on to explain in verses 22 and 23, but the Savior will not accept them.

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:22-23)

In the ultimate sense obedience is an issue of the heart, of purpose, and motive. The apostle Paul stated that the whole law can be summed up in the word "love" (Rom. 13:10). It really does extend to my thoughts, emotions, and actions. When my attitude of my heart is founded on God's love, then the fruit that is produced will be good and pleasing to God. It’s all in the heart.

Our life should be characterized by obedience and love that motivates. My goals in health would be more successful with obedience and love as the motivator. My kids would be happier if they were motivated to obey if they had “love” that motives. (Maybe the trick to getting them to do the right thing is to get them to love me, and more importantly God, to the point of motivating).

Obedience does not merit salvation, of course. But genuine conversion to Christ inevitably produces obedience because of love. Obedience is never a condition for salvation, it is nonetheless always salvation's fruit.

It is important to the Savior is that we change our lives through repentance and living the commandments of God. The commandments are our recipe for happy lives. Our obedience, however, does not save us nor remove our sins; Christ’s blood does that. In providing the Atonement, Jesus requires that we obey his commandments before he will allow his blood to cleanse our souls. We may not be able to perfectly keep all of God’s commandments. That is ok… or we could drive ourselves to depression. LOL. Thankfully, God truly requires us to do our best and then allow the Savior’s atonement to cover what we cannot do for ourselves.

For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. (2 Nephi 25:23, emphasis added)

During some days, our “best” is a lot, while at other times it is not much. This is normal. Life is full of “ups” and “downs”. The important thing is that we are on an upwards trend, that over time, the “ups” occur more often and last longer, while the “downs” diminish.

Now to develop the kind of “love” that motivates.

King Benjamin’s powerful discourse so moved the people that they desired to obey all of God’s commandments.

And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.

And we, ourselves, also, through the infinite goodness of God, and the manifestations of his Spirit, have great views of that which is to come; and were it expedient, we could prophesy of all things.

And it is the faith which we have had on the things which our king has spoken unto us that has brought us to this great knowledge, whereby we do rejoice with such exceedingly great joy.

And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days, that we may not bring upon ourselves a never-ending torment, as has been spoken by the angel, that we may not drink out of the cup of the wrath of God. (Mosiah 5:2-5, emphasis added)

King Benjamin’s people wanted to obey God because they were converted to Christ. All people who are converted must repent and change their lives to be like the Savior.

So the trick to getting my kids to choose the right is truly turning their hearts to God with love. The trick to gaining success in releasing my weight is truly turning my heart to God with real love and maybe even seeing me as He sees me.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Life may not be fair... it's a circus

My kids (especially my son) believe that life is not fair. At one point my husband and I were tired of hearing “It’s not fair” that my husband made up a game entitle “The Fair is in August” and we played it for family night. More recently “it’s not fair” is coupled with “that’s stupid.” With all the efforts people around me want me to make to make all things fair. With a kid entering her adult phase, 3 moody teens and a 7 year old who believes that she is going on 20, I have decided that life is not a fair, it is a circus. LOL. A quick trip to Google proved that the thought is not original at all.  It ought to count for something that I thought it without ever hearing anyone else say it before.

If you only look at the first statement, “Life is not (a) fair,” it seems to be a fairly obvious, if pessimistic, observation about life. “Life is a circus” seems to imply that life is just a bunch of wild out of control fun. Not so fast.

Life is not without consequences

We visited the county fair in the early part of August and we visited the State fair earlier this week. One thing is clear… a fair is an event intended to be short-term, and significantly different than ordinary life. With the high prices, toxic food, trash everywhere, and raucous noise gets obnoxious fast and I’m ready to go home! Some days I feel the same about “real” life. “Real” life keeps going for a long time. I can’t really afford to be wasteful or destructive. LOL… but I can’t find time to exercise or do other things for myself that I can’t afford to miss. Yet we all have to live with the consequences of the choices we make for a very long time.

Life is not the same for everyone

OK. I know it’s a different meaning of the word “fair”, but remember all is fair at the fair. Everyone pays the same ridiculously high prices, for the same garbage stuff that nobody needs. Life is not that kind of fair either. In “real” life, some people get free rides and get to skip to the front of the line, while most people work real hard and still lose their lunch before they get on the first ride.

Life is not safe and is often dangerous

The fair is also a safe place (well, mostly – a couple of my kids would argue that point since they have terrifying memories of being lost for hours at the State fair as young children and they couldn’t help but notice all the unsavory characters at the Fair on Monday but work with me here). Even the haunted house, which looks incredibly scary, turns out to be nothing but a few illusions, and nobody gets hurt. Besides, if anybody does get hurt at the fair there are people all around to help. It’s not part of the fair; that’s real life intruding into the fair. A circus is also full of real danger. Sure they use safety nets and declawed lions (nice safety measures if you are not afraid of heights and are not allergic to cats). Performers still get hurt and even killed quite frequently and life is so like that. A single misstep could easily be your last. A circus is a lot of fun, but it is also a lot of work, and the real dangers are bigger than the ones you see.

Life is confusing

The first thing I think of when I think about life being like a circus is the clowns (that would be the teenagers), monkeys (that would be the younger rug rats), and general chaos (that would be current schedule). A circus analogy definitely holds true. LOL. “Real” life is full of a lot of strange things, a lot of funny things, a lot of scary things, and a lot of amazing things. Some call this the “spice” of life. However, admit it life is confusing. I often find that I don’t know what to focus on most. So many things are happening at once, on stage and in the stands, it is nearly impossible to keep up with everything. Some days are like that.

Life has place for each person

Life is not fair for the performers at the circus either. Face it. Some get to fly high on a trapeze while others get attacked by lions. Personally, I don’t want to take on either role. I’m not one for high places and I certainly don’t enjoy being attacked by vicious beasts. Yet I am forced some day to switch up my part and face new dangers. Thankfully, most days I have a role to play in life and I try to live it with the confidence that the show would not be the same without small and insignificant part. Besides, there is no star in a circus. Every performer is a star, but there is no one person who is the main performer in every act. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that you are not “star” of the show, and neither is that person you are jealous of.

I guess it’s time to quit sulking about what I do not, or the weight I can’t shed, and the troubles with teens etc. I am going through and be thankful for what I do have. It may not be what I wanted (or thought I wanted). It may, instead, be something I need to achieve my mission in life... to learn to be more like the Savior and to return to a loving Father in Heaven. It’s hard to remember that my goal is the same as other goals, but my path will be different. I am unique. My life is unique. My skills and abilities are unique. My mission is unique.

Life may not be fair, but at least I can learn to enjoy the circus.