Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What I've Learned From a Marriage of Two Imperfect People

Thirty-eight years ago today I was a tax deduction bride. Here is what I've learned in my 38 years of a marriage that has certainly seen its share of joys and difficulties.

I have learned that marriage takes a tremendous amount of work and patience.

I have learned that each person in a relationship has a part in the difficulties and that when each person focuses on their part, there is greater healing and growth.

I have learned so much about my own inadequacies but I have also learned more about the need for and the healing power of the Atonement than I would have learned in any other way.

I have learned that if I want to make improvements, I seek guidance from my Heavenly Father and focus on what I need to improve upon. 

I have learned that differences and disagreement is healthy and to be more understanding of the other point of view instead of just defending my own position.

I have learned to look at the long term consequences of giving up and focusing on the benefits of hanging in there.

I have learned that adversity can be a great teacher and that learning to forgive and being forgiven can be the greatest healer and opportunity for growth.

I have learned to resist taking another person's mistakes and weaknesses personally and be more compassionate and supportive.

I have learned that punishment and the cold shoulder are counter productive.

I have learned that a desire for great achievements can get in the way of developing a close relationship.

I have learned that developing healthy and close attachments are the greatest source of strength and the greatest accomplishment.

I have learned that as I grow closer to God and feel His love, I naturally draw closer my spouse and want to be more loving.

I have learned that it is important to have high expectations for each other but it needs to be coupled with being supportive and responsive if we fall short.

I have learned the power of love and being able to love ourselves and others in spite of our weaknesses.

I have learned to never ever give up on those we love and in so doing have discovered a greater measure of love.

I have learned that I can be happy no matter what life dishes out to me.

I have learned that success doesn't necessarily mean a perfect marriage. The success is having difficulties but knowing where to turn to for help, and recognizing that it is the difficulties that actually teach us the most about the power and the love of God.

Finally, I have learned that marriage can always get better and better, and we can grow even more deeper in love and more appreciative of each other.  

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Life is Good Enough Without Mind Altering

Just tonight I was watching a documentary about drug use, and it was heart breaking. It was dark and depressing.  I also watched a Super Soul Sunday program earlier today about Paul Williams, who use to be an alcoholic and drug addict. His exuberance in being sober for many years was inspiring. He had truly found the brighter side of life.

When I had my wisdom teeth out and they gave me something to relax and slightly put me out, I walked out of the office with such a weird feeling of being out of control that I knew that was something I didn't want in my life. I want to be in complete control and experience life without having to alter my mind or my body.

I am incredibly grateful that I have been encouraged to stay away from anything that could harm me or potentially become addictive. I believe that if I would have started to take something to deal with the pain of some of my hard times, I wouldn't have gained the strength and wisdom that my reliance on my Heavenly Father has blessed me with, and instead I could have become dependent on something that could have ruined my life. I could have been tricked into thinking all was well but it really wasn't and I would have missed the desperate need for and help from my Heavenly Father.

The same goes from using something to make me more relaxed, outgoing, or fun. Anytime I depend on something else besides my God-given abilities that I am encouraged to develop, I can become a slave to that substance. I want to live on the brighter side of life with my mind clear and fully engaged.


Focus on YES!

I love the start of a new year. I am taking on a health challenge that includes all 5 dimensions of my life--Spiritual, Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Social. I have made a chart with positive action items in each area and I will check them off each night as I recap my day. I am focused on what I want to be doing instead of trying to just avoid what I don't want to do. What we tend to resist, persists. So now I will keep my eye on what I want and having a stronger YES burning rather than NO NO NO. It is YES to morning scriptures and journal. It is YES to 7 veggies a day. It is YES to writing in my blog. It is YES to a healthier life. YES YES YES!!! (are you feeling the enthusiasm?)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Endure to the End

Some would look at the admonishment, "endure to the end" and only think that means to suffer until the end of your life. One of the definitions of the word "endure" is suffer but the other definition is continue, persist, stay. I love what 1 Timothy 1:5 says; "the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart." Christ declared that He is the beginning and the end. His birth and life and sacrifice represents the pure love of God. For me, enduring to the end means that I see that all I have been asked to do and obedience to commandments is only a means to that end--to Christ and feeling His pure love and being changed by it and becoming more charitable. Thus "endure to the end" means that I stay focused on truly coming unto Christ. He is the ultimate end in all that I want to become.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Change is Hard

This morning while swimming laps, I thought about something I've learned in yoga. It is important to have balance in the body. What I do on one side, I must also do on the other. So I realized that I have always swam the American Crawl turning to my right side to breath thus there is an imbalance in my neck. So I decided I needed to change and take turns turning in both directions. What is usually so effortless for me became difficult. I had a hard time breathing and I kind of got this little panic feeling. Crazy how such a little change can be so hard. At least I know that the more I do it, the easier it will get. That is, if I don't drown first. I am committed to continually changing to get better. Change is hard but I can do hard things.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Oil in Our Lamps

We all know what the instruction is about the gas mask in airlines. If traveling with children, we have to put it on ourselves before we put it on our children. And if you are traveling with more than one child, you have to decide beforehand which one is your favorite.

Seriously, I believe that the story of the 10 virgins and the bridegroom is ultimately about being prepared for our Savior, but I also know that it is about being prepared for what life can throw at us. I know that I have been not only blessed but oftentimes saved from emotional, mental, physical, social, and spiritual duress because I had spiritual oil in my lamp.

I have benefited immensely from daily prayer and scripture study. For me what started as a checklist duty has now evolved into a life-changing and life-saving experience. It has prepared me to be ready and willing to have my Savior come into and bless my life.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Kindness is Powerful

I have still been reflecting on the insight of the meaning of the word admonish especially as it relates to the marriage relationship. As I said in yesterday's post, the definition of admonish is friendly encouragement and so when I read in Mosiah 26:39 that God's word admonishes us, I realize that my loving Father in Heaven offers me friendly encouragement to do better. And because I want to follow His example, I too must provide that kind of kind encouragement towards others, especially my spouse.

I mentioned John Gottman's research and how he discovered four behaviors between spouses that would predict divorce. The most significant one was having and showing contempt. Contempt in particular is a potent mix of anger and disgust. Expressing contempt involves speaking to your spouse like he is “beneath” you, or mocking your partner in a cold, sarcastic way.

It is so easy to think that scolding or criticizing will help another person improve. But after years of my own research (call me a quick study), I have found it is simply counter productive.  Kindness and heartfelt understanding is powerful. It is looking beyond the behavior and realizing that the behavior in and of itself has negative consequences and is punitive--I don't need to be. It is never accepting the bad behavior nor giving up high expectations but it is remaining kind and supportive in our spouse's quest for improvement. It is realizing that if I offer contempt instead of kindness, I can do so much more damage. Maybe even more damage than the initial infraction. When they say, it isn't what happens but how we respond that matters; it is true. Respond with kindness and friendly encouragement.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Scripture Reading

I value inspired words found in the sacred writings of scriptures. The best start of my day is to read and understand the words and the message contained. What started out for me to be a check-list task has turned into enlightenment that gives me course correction and new direction.

This morning as I reflected on the word "admonish" I was led to new understanding on how I should treat people with friendly encouragement. I was reminded of research done by John Gottman about what has been found to be a predictor of divorce. His research validates what I just read in the scriptures and because I can trust what is found in scripture, I can trust the scientific study that supports it.  

Friday, October 10, 2014

Positive Psychology & Religious Beliefs

I have officially started teaching the Positive Psychology class and have had remarkable women come. It is something I have wanted to do for a long time and it feels good to see it happen and be able to pursue my passion.

I watched a program the other day on CNN with Lisa Lang about prescription drug addiction in Utah. It was heart retching to watch the struggle of someone who's pain medicine addiction turned into a heroine addiction. I couldn't help but think that I wished I could do something to help people. I told the class last night that I realized doing this class was a way to offer preventative "medicine" in order to discover peace and happiness without mind altering drugs or alcohol.

One of the things that I said the first week in the class about Positive Psychology is that it is a scientific study of what makes people thrive and find greater well being and life satisfaction. What I appreciate about the research is that it has correlated a belief in God and participation in religion with happiness. For me, my academic study and trust in scientific research has to be in line with my spiritual beliefs and faith, and with Positive Psychology I have found that to be the case. I simply cannot separate the two. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Positive Psychology Class

It is back to school time and because I believe that the love of learning should last a life time, I wanted to be continually involved with education. Thanks to my good friend Kami for putting together this flyer. I am excited to continue to learn and  research and to discuss this with other people who are passionate about learning and growing. Please let me know if you are interested in this month's class on Thursday, September 18, and I will reserve a spot for you and get your food order. This month we will meet around a conference table and dine and discuss about the development of Positive Psychology as a new educational field of study and how it can impact your life.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Taking on a Mental Challenge


I am finally doing what I have wanted to do for a long time. I am going to teach a "college" course on Positive Psychology. It isn't going to actually be at a college but it will meet the academic requirements AND it will include eating delicious food from Corbin's Restaurant. This is not only a mental challenge for me but it is taking on and facing my fear that no one will show up. That has been why I have put it off for so long.

Rest assured I am not doing this necessarily because anyone else needs this but I NEED THIS! The teacher always learns the most and I am excited to continue my research, study, and preparation to teach some wonderful empirically studied principles and practices that can lead to a more fulfilling life. This will be a fun challenge that I am excited to pursue.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Taking on a Physical Challenge

I am taking on challenges in all areas of my life. Challenges that I choose and that lead to positive growth. My physical challenge is to really push myself doing hot yoga. It is an amazing work out. I don't just sweat, I rain. The interesting thing I have discovered is that my spine and hip placement is adjusting and I have better posture and less discomfort. It is like I am my own chiropractor. It isn't a passive adjustment done by someone else; I am proactively adjusting my body through hard work.

The other part of my physical challenge is to get serious (once again, for the millionth time) about eating healthy. In the morning I am making a smoothie that contains all the 7 highest alkaline foods--avocados, broccoli, celery, cucumbers, kale, red peppers, and spinach. I also add frozen fruit and a banana if I have one for sweetness, coconut water, protein powder, and chia seeds (I have some left over from Christmas gifts. Any of you old enough to remember Chia pets?)

Drinking this smoothie first thing in the morning and then several drinks throughout the day between meals keeps my sugar craving at bay and energizes me. Eating healthy creates more desire to exercise and then exercise makes me what to eat healthy. A healthy cycle to get into.

Saturday, August 16, 2014


I have gone through life sometimes so unaware.

Unaware of my own shortcomings
Unaware of my own discomfort
Unaware of the pain of others
Unaware of some of the simple joys in life
Unaware of how good I have it
Unaware of when I am actually full
Unaware of how beautiful the sky is 

The list goes on and on. It is time to practice awareness. Yes, practice. Any good thing takes practice. I know that if I am first and foremost better at self awareness, then I am able to be more aware of the feelings and needs of others.

How do I practice awareness? Stop, Calibrate, and Listen! (Ice Ice Baby. Ice Ice Baby) Seriously for me it means to sit still in quiet sometimes; if just for a small moment. It also means that I don't have to pull out my phone and do something on it even at a stop light (pathetic I know).

I can just take those small moments of life and breath in deeply and feel at a deeper level--at a more peaceful level. It is something as simple as becoming aware that the way I am sitting in a chair is uncomfortable and then making a minor shift into comfort. It is becoming more aware of the whisperings (key word) of the Spirit. It is becoming aware of the feelings of stress starting to build and course correcting in order to feel peace. It is noticing when I am shoveling in food that I actually am full and then to stop eating (novel idea). It is feeling the pain of someone else and offering comfort at the moment.

It is just being aware.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Choose a Challenge

I believe that a life well lived is living a progressive life. In order to grow and become better, we need challenges. I realize that if I don't have an interesting and meaningful challenge, that something hard will come my way because we can either go forward or fall backwards. We can either choose a challenge or a challenge will choose us.

I was at a stand still and started to fall backwards, so it came to me that I need to choose some new and exciting challenges. Once something becomes too easy then it is time to choose to do something hard to do that is meaningful. It might be hard to shop for 48 hours straight without sleep or eat two pounds of chocolate in two minutes, but not quite so meaningful.  I want to choose goals that stretch me spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. Today I went to hot yoga and chose to push myself more than usual. It was definitely a challenge, but stretching myself to my limits felt so exhausting but felt so good.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Anxiety Buster

Each morning I do my best at taking time to read something inspirational, particularly scriptures but anything else I am drawn to. When I do so, I do it with the prayerful intent that I will discover something I need to know. For me going "within" is actually seeking that deep soulful connection I have with my Heavenly Father.

When I do this, miracles happen. I discover truths that course correct me. I discover false beliefs I have held onto that hold me back. I discover principles that lead me into a positive and hopeful direction.

Doing this everyday keeps me in a good place even when things are going great and can certainly provide the strong foundation when difficulties arise. When I am hit with something that can create a sort of anxiety, this daily practice even becomes more essential and easier to turn to because of the habit developed. It becomes  a great way to find peace, strength, and much needed direction. It is a great anxiety buster.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Girl Friends

This morning I was walking some great friends and we ran into another group of girls also walking. What a blessing to be surrounded by so many fun, inspiring, and real but amazing women who I have had such great times with. I have lived in this neighborhood for over a century now (okay, not quite but almost) and I can honestly say that I have rubbed shoulders with some of the most Christlike but hilarious women I know. Life is incredibly good and it is even better when I have such great friends. Thanks girls, you make me want to be a better person and you make me laugh.

Saturday, August 2, 2014


Last night while leaving a restaurant in Salt Lake, a young man in his early twenties approached Kev desperately asking for money. It was clearly obvious that he was a homeless drug addict as the affects of a hard life were grossly apparent in his appearance. My heart broke for him. I can only imagine the pain and feelings of utter bondage to an addiction that has taken away his freedom, his joy, and will eventually take his life.  He is a complete slave to a substance that is destroying him.

I was grateful that Kev, even knowing that it would go to drugs, willingly gave him money. Withholding money and therefore withholding drugs wouldn't help this young man at that moment. Seeing the pain that he was obviously in, I was at least grateful that he could get a hit of drugs and feel some escape for even just an hour or two. For me, that seemed like the kindest thing we could do.

What I take from this is that I want to do what little I can do to offer a better way of living. To warn people of the devastation of the use of mind altering substances that can lead to addiction. To create a world where we can find true, long lasting joy and happiness and comfort when in pain that doesn't come from a bottle or needle.

It was interesting to me that after seeing that young man and still feeling a small portion of his pain, that this morning I would read in scriptures about bondage and how to stay out of it. Prevention is key.

PS Be careful about doing a google image search for the word "bondage"

Friday, August 1, 2014

Power of Writing

This morning I awoke with a sense of concern about something. There were several positive things I did to handle those unsettling feelings. I prayed, I cuddled with Kev, and then I turned to the scriptures. Each of those little moments and practices were very healing, especially the message from the scriptures that was incredibly timely; but the greatest healing came as I started to write.

As I was writing about what was concerning me, I suddenly started to type what was the source of the problem without even having had the thought first.  It was as if someone was writing the words for me and holding me accountable as being the  negatively influence of what I was concern about. Do you know how loved I felt. To know that someone was influencing my writing to give me the message and the help that I needed. Do you know how empowering it is to realize that I am the source of the problem. I am not the victim but I can be the victor. Now I have a proactive way to deal with the problem by repenting and changing. Wow, there is power in writing.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Getting Back Up After a Fall

My good friend, Yvonne Miller, gave a fabulous Relief Society lesson on the talk by Pres. Uchtdorf, "You Can Do It Now." She used the cute video clip of a mother duck who had gone up a couple stairs and her ducklings struggling to follow her. It was a great visual image of how sometimes we are on the bottom stair but our Heavenly Father is always there for us, waiting patiently, and knowing that we can do hard things. Just like the ducklings tried and tried again even though they kept falling, that is what we can do also.

I also appreciated the comments by a sweet woman, Shirley Noble, who shared her experience trying to learn how to walk again after being near death and in a coma for over a month. She said that she had taken a walk outside alone at the rehab center just as she was initially struggling to walk and fell but couldn't get up. The staff came and rescued her and then when she was working with her physical therapist, who knew about her fall, the therapist had her fall over and over again so she could learn to get back up on her own.

Isn't that a great lesson on life. If we can't get back up again on our own, it is possible that there will be people there to help us up but life will keep pushing us down again so that we get strong enough to get back up on our own. Life isn't about never falling. It is about learning to get back up again.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Stay on the Path

It use to be that the path was fairly smooth and the boundaries clear as in the first picture.  Just like the wooden railing, we have been given guidelines to stay on the path--prayer, scripture reading, attending church, keeping the commandments, etc. We might have taken those things for granted when the going was easy.

Now it seems like life can certainly be more treacherous. With morality slipping and addictions more prevalent, falling off the path is easier and easier to do. Thus all those guidelines have become more like the chain link in the bottom picture. We have to hang on for dear life.

Because it is so easy for me to get distracted, I have always found that there are certain morning rituals that bless my life. Praying and scripture reading and journal writing keep me focused on what is important and give my life stability and direction. Attending church each week and being reminded of the sacrifice of my Savior and feeling gratitude and renewed commitment and being surrounded by people with the same desires help me stay on the path.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Feeling Wronged? Or Feeling Gratitude?

A favorite scripture of mine talks about a people who became "wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thristy people," all because they believed in the tradition of their fathers who taught that they had been "wronged." (Mosiah 10:12) What a powerful message. If we see that we have been "wronged" by other people or the circumstances of our life, we are vulnerable to become bitter and possibly revengeful. Instead, if we can find gratitude in ALL things, then we can become purified by those same events. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dealing with Pain

I know this is true. That is why when I feel pain, I don't want to dull that pain artificially. Unless it is with a little chocolate or nachos, mind you.

I have experienced my share of emotional pain and anxiety, but I have also experienced the birth of new understanding and the opportunity to learn from it and become stronger, wiser, and more refined. That is why I don't want to dull those opportunities by using something artificial and temporary to take away the pain.

I want to embrace the pain and embrace the healing power that comes from a loving Heavenly Father who is there to help me cope and more importantly help me learn from the experience.

Because of my Savior's death and rebirth, I can be reborn spiritually, and it is usually and more effectively done through pain.

Sidenote: I don't really believe God causes our pain. We do that to ourselves. Other people often help; but in the end, it is our own reaction to what they do that causes the most pain.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Does Religion Cause Pain?


This is a link to an article by Robert Kirby from the Salt Lake Tribune that I find very interesting.  Great food for thought.

For me the bottom line is that religion should create love and faith, not resentment and fear. If I am feeling overly anxious and angry to the point of feeling pain because a loved one doesn't believe or behave in the way that I want them to, then I am simply not practicing my beliefs like I should. It would be a sign that I need to draw closer to my Father in Heaven and have faith that His love and my love and positive example is sufficient, and then to proactively pray for direction and strength to know how I can best support and love them.

I feel peace when I work on having a great and close relationship. I also feel peace knowing God loves them a heck of a lot more than I am capable of, and I just get to try and mirror that kind of love. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

7 Most Alkaline Foods

This morning I made a smoothie with all of these 7 foods. I added coconut water, frozen mangoes, and a banana for sweetness, and some flax seeds and chia seeds. Who would have thought those chia pet seeds weren't just amazing Christmas gift ideas as advertised but were healthy to eat?

The smoothie was delicious and even better, I know it is doing my body good. If I want my body to perform well, I have got to take good care of it. I am drinking to good health. Cheers.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bubonic Plague

On a tour in London, I learned an interesting bit of history about the Bubonic Plague in the Middle Ages. According to this tour guide, when the disease started to spread they assumed that cats and dogs were the carriers of the infection and so they killed hundreds of them. Because it was really caused by the rats, killing their natural predators allowed the rat population to grow and made the disease worse.

In this is an interesting parallel. Right now it seems a lot of people are discounting and even calling the commandments detrimental to a happy and carefree life. Believing that it is those expectations that cause stress and pain, they are being ignored. In this way "killing" the very thing that can serve as a protector and ultimately leads to freedom and joy.

Just like killing the cats who prey on the rats and thus allowing the disease to run rampant, we can take away the very thing that can protect individuals and a society from slow but real destruction. I say, keep the commandments.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Gotta Love Dead Man's Pose

The best thing I have ever done is get addicted to exercise. One of the best exercises I do is Bikram Yoga. I sweat, I stretch, and most importantly, I enjoy the dead man's pose.

I am determine to stay physically fit so I can enjoy a long, active life. I like to walk, swim, dance, hike, ski, bike; but I can tell the best thing for a healthy body is doing yoga. It keeps me flexible, helps with balance, and strengthens my spine. I tune more into my body and strengthen and stretch muscles that don't usually get a work out. I love the mind/body experience and the cleanse as I end drenched in sweat. It is the hardest exercise I do but I also feel the best. I think our minds and bodies are always seeking a challenge, and practicing Bikram yoga delivers that physical challenge that I crave. And I get to play dead.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Akaline & Acid

I simply have to get serious about eating healthy. I haven't been as careful and I can feel the negative affects of an acidic body--aching joints, headaches, lethargic, negative attitude, etc.  I know that if I want to live a vibrant life that I need to eat foods that are more alkaline and thus support good health. The chart above says it well--It is really living the Word of Wisdom. It shows the importance of not only avoiding certain foods but eating a lot of fruits and vegetables that create a healthy system. If it is to be--it is up to me. At my age, cheating isn't an option anymore. Dang it. Good to know that at least I don't have a problem eating too much liver since it is high in acid. I am just sad that chocolate is.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Poison Ivy

On my Saturday morning hike, I noticed that poison ivy was on both sides of the trail. I am glad that from experience with it in my own back yard, I can recognize it and know to stay away. I was also able to warn other hikers that didn't recognize it as harmful

I have experienced other things "in my own backyard" that I now know are important to stay away from.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


To experiment means to tentatively adopt a course of action without being sure of the eventual outcome. I have had faith that reading the Book of Mormon and living the truths that it teaches will make my life better. Thus I have "experimented on the words" encouraging me to do so and I have found that, for me, it has been true to the promised blessings.

I have also had faith that my experience in the temple will help me draw closer to my Father in Heaven. In adopting this "course of action" I have found a greater incentive to live a good life and have experienced a greater closeness to God and a higher purpose in life.

In the wake of all of the controversy over historical events, current excommunications, etc., I have personally found it to be a distraction from searching for and finding the peace and inspiration that the practice of reading the Book of Mormon and attending the temple can offer me. 

I want to say that I fully support questioning and searching for truth. I believe that it is important to question and find that which resonates with our connection with God and His Holy Spirit and which is true for us. I also believe it is important to experiment and find out what personally blesses and lifts us. While I read and while I attend the temple, I am always questioning and being blessed with amazing answers.

I am a huge advocate for intrinsic motivation and intrinsic joy. We can always find great direction and inspiration from others but our best validation of what is best for us comes through experimenting on that direction and inspiration and then sincere questioning is that which comes individually to me through the Holy Spirit as a confirmation of what is true and beneficial for me.

I have found that it can always be a little different for each person, and it is important for me to have faith and trust in another person's individual inspiration and their journey, even if their experimentation is a painful lesson in learning what not to do. It is still valuable for them and can help them appreciate the atonement offered by our Savior in a more profound way.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

I Have been a Modern Day Pharisee

One of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon is Mormon 9:31. "Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been."

With that said, I hope you won't condemn me but just learn to be more wise than I have been as I honestly reveal a great weakness and sin of mine. Go ahead and thank me for once again offering myself up as a bad example. I am simply one of the most selfless people I know. (sarcasm intended)

Because I was hard-wired to be a rule follower, I have often been a modern day Pharisee. I acknowledge that I have tried (try being the key word) to strictly observe the laws of God. Trying to keep the commandments wasn't the problem because I know that the commandments are given as a blessing to help us draw closer to Heavenly Father and to enjoy peace and happiness. The problem came only when I, like the Pharisees, sometimes  became obsessed with a focus on strictness. The dictionary definition of the word "strict" is very revealing.

demanding that rules concerning behavior are obeyed and observed.
• (of a rule or discipline) demanding total obedience or observance; rigidly enforced.
• (of a person) following rules or beliefs exactly.
• exact in correspondence or adherence to something; not allowing or admitting deviation or relaxation: a strict interpretation of the law.

That kind of strict observance thus became more about the letter of the law than the spirit of the law. Instead of a focus on the peace and joy and closeness I  and others can feel because of obedience to my Father in Heaven, there was more of a focus on the law. I was caught up in what was only meant to be the means to that end. I wasn't "enduring to the end" and feeling the ultimate benefits of feeling more love and peace as a result of observing the commandments; I was marching with the banner, "All of you better keep the same rules that I choose to keep!"

The focus on the letter of the law becomes even more accentuated as I worried and was in fear if other people weren't keeping the laws and I joined the commandment-keeping police academy . Talk about missing out on the love and peace I should have been feeling because of personally keeping the commandments to the best of my ability!  I would get into fear and judgment and totally gloss over the truth that they were simply missing out on the peace and joy they could have had and started to judge and condemn them all the while hoping that that kind of criticism would motivate them to change their course (All of you who have just an ounce more good sense than me already know that this course is counter productive).

Because of a focus on fear instead of faith and love, I totally discounted the truth that pain of straying from the commandments would be the best teacher and totally negated faith in the fact that wickedness never is happiness. Instead, in judging and condemning them, I created more pain in what should have been a safe and loving relationship.

I have learned that I should just live the correct principles contained in the commandments and let other people govern themselves as Joseph Smith taught. My job is mainly to love and be a good example; not ever try to force people to do it my way (I'm continually surprised I didn't follow the pre-earthly plan of no free agency). Dallin H. Oaks beautifully said that in a church setting, we should teach the principles behind the commandments and not necessarily the dos and don'ts because that is for the individuals and families to decide.

I have a very strong conviction of the benefits of being part of an organized religion in which principles for happy and healthy living and eternal blessings are taught. I also know that the social connections can be a real blessing when we are loving and serving one another.  I do believe that most of the damage in a religion happens when we as members act like Pharisees and use the commandments not to just personally benefit us but to divide us because we are judging and condemning each other. I am sure every religion has their share of Pharisees; especially in areas where a religion is the most predominate because it is easier to observe everything that is going on, and more tempting to judge.

I want to always remember that it isn't the law I should worship, but to embrace and try to live the commandments to better worship my Heavenly Father and partake of His love. I am turning in my commandment-following police badge.  I want to commit myself to be a better example of the kindness, love, and mercy my Savior exemplified. He never discounted the importance and benefits of the commandments and the spirit of the law; He just condemned those who wanted to judge and condemn others for breaking the letter of the law.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

"Cursed is the ground for thy sake"

This morning I spent some time weeding in our yard. Since we have a lot of property, we have a great guy take care of most of the yard care. It's a win-win for us both. He gets a good job and we don't have to take care of more than we can handle.  Besides, we are inept at anything with a motor.

Even though we have help, I like to leave some of yardwork for myself because I know how therapeutic it is. I have a tiny little garden that I planted and take care of and this morning I watered and pulled up weeds in our flower beds.

There is something exhilarating about pulling up a weed and having its roots slide out of the ground. It makes me better understand when the scriptures say "cursed is the ground for thy sake." Another word for sake is benefit. The weeds and the other imperfections of our lives are for our benefit. There is something wonderful to be found in the hard work that it takes to rid our lives of the weeds. But more important and really the essential part, is the opportunity to be humble and needy and to draw close to our Savior and really know that He is the only one that can take away the weeds in our lives and plant something wonderful.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Man in the Mirror

Speaking of mirrors...

This is my favorite song. Hands down. I love the beat, I love Michael Jackson, and I love the profound message.

It is human nature to want to blame someone else for our troubles. But it is true. "If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change." If I want to make a better relationship, I start with the woman in the mirror. I just need to be careful about looking in the mirror at the end of the day because invariably I realize--I have gone all day looking like this!

Myself in the Mirror

I have recently realized that if I want to continually improve and become a better version of myself (actually who I was really created to be) that people will show up and provide the mirror of myself that can be the painful wake up call that I need for course correction.

This business of praying for insight and direction can be pretty brutal sometimes. Oh golly geez, having someone behave and treat me like I know I have been to other people is a better lesson than anything I can read in a book.

It was suggested that Adam and Eve would learn from their experiences. I guess a hard-headed person like me needs to learn the hard way, and I have to experience myself in the mirror of others to literally "see" what I am doing wrong.

Thank you to all those negative mirrors out there. I really don't condemn you; I appreciate the sacrifice you made to show me what not to do, and I realize I want to give you the same kind of compassion and forgiveness that I want to receive as I also provide a negative mirror to others. I mean, that is what us self-sacrificing people do--serve as a bad example. 

Not only will people show up demonstrating what I am doing that I shouldn't do, but people will also be there to show me how my true self can and should be. Thank you to those positive mirrors.  It is nice to see what I can and want to be.  Someday I hope that I can grow up and be more of a positive mirror for others. But don't hold your breath.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Push forward Pull back

Push forward and exercise until I sweat

Pull back when I am

Push forward to love

Pull back when I am tempted to judge

Discipline of body and spirit go hand in hand. Being a disciple includes all parts.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Grandma gets to spoil

The best part of being a grandma is taking my grandkids shopping for their birthday presents and kind of spoiling them. I know that grandma's taste isn't always the same as the kids (the ugly Christmas sweaters were my first clue) and so I would much rather take them and let them pick out their own presents. Besides getting what they really want rather than a piece of clothing they would only use when they dress up like a nerd for Halloween, I get to spend some one on one time with them. In the case of these twins, two on one time or one on two time. When given the choice, they always want to go together. They not only look different from each other but their personalities are so different and their taste in shoes and clothes match their opposite personalities. What a fun day. Happy Birthday you two adorable girls.