A place to share struggles and triumphs, a place to bless and serve - but never a place to murmur or complain. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Best Gift

One thing I have always loved to write is church talks. I don't even give them in church. I just write them. Richard G. Scott once called this type of thing..storing up treasures of knowledge. Writing down the sacred things I've learned helps me to organize the thoughts and principles of the gospel in a way that is more concrete than just thinking about them in my head. I like to keep them in a special journal, saving them for a future date to give to my children. They're my own little "Plates of Brass". I write those sacred things in the hopes that someday they will be of value to my children. I believe it helps me in my secular writing endeavors as well. Being able to record things in a meaningful way helps me to put more heart into my other writing, and it helps me learn to touch and inspire others with my writing at a deeper level.

Someday I will pass these treasures of knowledge on to my children. And I believe it will be the most important writing I've ever done.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

My Precious Gift

My life is a precious gift to me. But the gift of my family transcends all else. It is a sacred gift for which I give thanks with every breath I take. Important to me also, is my testimony. J. Reuban Clark, Jr. said, "A testimony is a sacred gift. It is not a matter to be boasted about; it is a matter in the greatest humility; to be used whenever the cause of the Lord requires it to be used, to be cherished, nurtured, fed by righteous living." A testimony of the gospel is an anchor to the soul in the midst of confusion and strife. When a person dies, their own life will be not only their eulogy but also their testimony. When we stand before the judgment bar we will be judged by what we are and that will be the sum total of what we have thought and said and done. It is obvious then that if we do things that are inconsistent with what we say, we will lose the blessings which might be earned by living a testimony.

Before Joan of Arc, the nineteen-year-old French peasant was to be burned alive, she was given a chance to retain her liberty by denying her faith. In choosing the fire above her freedom, she said:


We could say that this great person was an example of being, not seeming. She had a testimony that the cause she was fighting for was one worth defending. It is only as we take some active part in defending what we believe, or living up to our standards, that we will gain a truthfulness or testimony to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Finishing the Book of Mormon again Today

Moroni 10:23

And Christ truly said unto our fathers: If ye have faith ye can do all things which are expedient unto me.

To me, this is a very sweet verse. Everything Christ needs me to do, my faith will enable me to do through Him. The other things I will learn from and grow through, and that may be the only purpose of those experiences. When it is expedient unto Him, I will suceed. That's all I need to know.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Why do we go to Chruch?

Moroni 6: 5-6
5 And the achurch did meet together boft, to cfast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls.
6 And they did ameet together oft to partake of bread and wine, in bremembrance of the Lord Jesus.

How long have I been reading the Book of Mormon and honestly, this is the first time I've seen this scripture - Yes we go to fast and pray together, and to take the Sacrament. But we also go "to speak one with another concerning the welfare of our souls." How wonderful is that? That is exactly what happens in LDS meetings - we don't just sit and listen to a lecture and go home. Sunday School and Auxiliary Meetings provide opportunities for us to share with each other, to be sounding boards, to say to one another "You're being to hard on yourself", or "It's going to be okay." I just love the scriptures, and how they say new things every time I read them.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

On Raising Children

Two years ago, I was at a crossroads in my life. I was at the end of a beloved phase of my life, that of being at home full-time with my children. With my divorce came the necessity of working away from my home, and thankfully, my parents have been able to care for my children when I'm away. This morning I was opening my journal to write a bit about the week and opened an old journal instead, accidently. This is what I read.

I found a quote the other day on Ali Edwards' blog that seems to say what I'm can't.
Dawna Markova : I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.

Why waste a day worrying when there is so much that can be done to improve it? We have rules, and I reiterate the rules. I know that they are going to test the rules. It is the nature of curious children to test the rules. I try not to worry about messes that the kids will make either, because I know that the messes are going to happen. Sometimes BIG ones. Sometimes sticky ones. Often while in the process of breaking rules. There is almost no limit to the amount of imagination a child can transpose into mess form. Clean, happens - its true - but you can always be quite sure that mess is not far behind. Why worry?

I try to keep them safe. It's hard to improve on whole, healthy, intact bodies. I teach them not to fight, because angry voices destroy the peace we want in our home. Often enough, however, even these basic functions of motherhood find themselves thwarted. Sometimes, there is blood. Sometimes we need a stitch or two. Sometimes all you can hear is angry voices. This is the reason that some people have nannies. I take time when I need it, to talk to friends or relax. I do have to suffer through the craziness, but I'm also the one that gets all the good stuff. I watch it all happen, all day long, every day. No one can tell me that missing out on Q's tirades would be worth it. When I hear from those same little lips, a very sweet little voice saying, "I love you so much, Mommy. You're the best!" I know simultaneously what that voice is capable of and it melts me into a lump. You have to taste the bitter to know the sweet. You have to know the mess to appreciate the clean. You have to hear a lot of noise to truly savor a quiet moment.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


How fitting that we contemplate atoning Jesus – bending and curved in Gethsemane. His bleeding curvature transformed the grammar of death. Until Gethsemane and Calvary, death was a punctuating, rigid exclamation point. Then death, too, curved – into a mere comma...

Neal A. Maxwell

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Most Wonderful Gift.

In life, I don't think that there is any greater gift than of loving and being loved. I think that is exactly what the Savior is trying to tell us when he admonishes us to love one another as He has loved us. He wants us to understand the truth, that love is the greatest blessing and gift available to mankind.
There is no limit to the amount of love we can give - think about that. If we truly WANT to love others, we will find ways to love them even in difficult circumstances. It doesn't mean that we put ourselves at risk, just that we are willing to care and give without concern for what our gift will bring to us in return.
Not everyone accepts or wants the Savior's love. Many will refuse our love, too. Often we will find that those most in need of our love will openly attack or try to hurt us. They want to see how deep our love goes. I've seen this in children from time to time. When children are hurting, at times they lash out - often at the people they need most. It isn't an excuse to walk away - it is an opportunity to prove yourself steadfast. My children have been through a lot in the last year. When they are worried, they will often respond angrily - and the best medicine for that has simply been to gather them up in my arms and melt them with love. It has brought many a sweet moment to me which might otherwise been lost in power struggles.
Love isn't controlling or demanding. Love is patient and kind. Love is honest, true and chaste. Love is a very very beautiful way to live.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Children of the Prophets

3 Nephi 20:25
And behold, ye are the achildren of the prophets; and ye are of the house of Israel; and ye are of the bcovenant which the Father made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham: And cin thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.

This scripture touched me today. I've heard it hundreds of times I'm sure, but the Spirit can give new meaning to old words. I felt so blessed to have this glorious gospel in my life.

. . . and now, a little boy needs to be snuggled - so off I go to my first choice in life - being his mom.

Friday, July 31, 2009

What I learned from my temple trip to Spain

Living in Egypt, temple trips are far and in between. When my husband told me to pick a temple and fly there, I took him up on it:) The Madrid Temple is beautiful.

What I learned from my short visit there:
-from the backseat of a lost taxi, the beacon of the Angel Moroni can bring you to tears
-the sisterhood between women of the Gospel doesn't need a spoken language to be heard and felt
-there are devoted and wonderful people all over this earth, who have chosen to give up the assumptions of their country's "culture" and embrace the true principles of the Gospel
-you can take part in every aspect of the temple in any language, whether you understand it all or not, and partake of the fulness of joy that comes from it
-the celestial room in this temple has one of the most beautiful ceilings I have ever seen in any temple
-there are people serving others all across the earth, who will give up their lunch break to serve you as well
-physical and spiritual strenghtening are both possible, together.....and they are found in the temple, no matter where it is
-leaving your family in the Lord's care can strengthen your connection to them
-sacrifice really does bring forth blessings
-I can't wait to serve a mission with Brent when the kids are grown

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

"By Endurance We Conquer."

This is an incredible against-all-odds story. I believe that I will be drawing courage and inspiration from this man and his courage for the rest of my life.

The story of Sir Ernest Shackleton, as told by Allyson Lewis.
The Seven Minute Difference, pp. 2-5.

Sir Ernest Shackleton, one of history's most daring navigators, was a manwhose purpose was to leadexplorations of earth'sunknown areas.In pursuit ofthat purpose, Shackletondetermined that he would leadan expedition to explore theAntarctic. He knew that the area held a wealth of important scientific information, and that such an expedition would be both historically and scientifically significant. He had a vision, he had a purpose, and he had a burning desire to accomplish things that no man had ever accomplished.
Shackleton and a crew of 26 (and a stowaway) set sail from Plymouth, England, on August 1, 1914, aboard the Endurance, a ship named for the Shackleton family motto "By Endurance We Conquer." After sailing around the tip of South America, the ship slowly made its way through the thickening ice of the Atlantic Ocean until the crew could see the Antarctic continent before them. Then, on Janurary 19, 1915, the ship stopped completely as the huge ice floes that clogged the sea trapped it.
With no other perceived options, Shackleton decided to wait until the spring thaw. Throughout the long dark Antarctic winter the ship was locked in place, the men stranded. As a leader, Shakleton knew that he must keep the crew's spirits high or they would never be able to endure the horrible cold and loneliness of this desolate situation. He led the men in games of football and hockey on the ice. The celebrated holidays, sang patriotic songs, and raced their dog sleds in what they called the Antarctic Derby.
After ten long months, the ice floes began to shift; but instead of freeing the Endurance, they slowly crushed the ship and dragged her to the bottom of the ocean. The crew unloaded as many supplies as they could, salvaging food, lifeboats, sled dogs, and supplies, then made camp on the ice floe that had crushed their ship. If you have ever felt trapped by circumstances beyond your control, adrift, or crushed by the shifting changes of the world around you, you might have some concept of the challenges facing Shackleton and his crew during these agonizing months.
Again, Shackleton stepped forward as the leader stepped forward as a leader. He gave his men his word that he would return every one of them safely to England. He did not allow them to consider the possibility that they would fail. Shackleton assigned daily rotating duties to the men, to keep them all engaged and actively at work on achieving their purpose. He reminded them frequently of their return voyage, and he kept their dreams of home always vivid in their minds. He asked the men to describe their homes; the counties where they lived; their wives, children, parents, and friends. He treated the idea of a successful voyage home as a forgone conclusion, and made the goal of achieving that dream the driving force behind every crew member's work and purpose.
On April 12, 4 months after the breakup of the Endurance, the ice floe on which the men were camped broke free and drifted within 30 miles of tiny Elephant Island. In a courageous dash, Shackleton and his crew boarded their three tiny lifeboats and sailed for the relative safety of the island. Amazingly, all three boats landed safely. Although they were able to shelter in the inhospitable place, the only source of food on the island was its flocks of penguins. Shackleton knew that without vegetables, he and his men would contract scurvy and die, and he was determined to avoid such a horrible conclusion to their venture.
So, in a 22 1/2 foot lifeboat named the James Caird, Shackleton and five of his men set out to make the whaling station on South Georgia Island, a 25 mile strip of land 800 miles away, across the open and stormy sea. With nothing more than a compass to guide them, Shackleton and 5 other crew members accomplished on of the greatest navigational feats in history and landed on the southern coast of the Georgia Island on May 10, just 17 days after launching.
Leading his tiny crew over uncharted mountains, through an icy rushing stream, and down the 30-foot drop of a waterfall, Shackleton successfully reached the whaling station within 36 hours after landing on the small island. Then after 4 months of repeated efforts to return, Shackleton successfully sailed back to Elephant Island and rescued his remaining 22 crew members. When he landed back on the island 105 days after leaving, he was amazed to find that all of his men remained alive. As Shackleton had promised, he and his men realized their dream; all of them returned to their homes in England. These were ordinary men with the same dreams and fears we ahe, but, by sharing the deep and passionate purpose of their leader, they persevered in the pursuit of an incredible achievement. Shackleton and his crew formulated common goals, and made sue that every choice they made and every action they undertook specifically moved them closer to those goals. The drew upon their strengths to survive throughout enormous hardship. Shackleton's core belief in a single, powerful dream guided them.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Just when you think it can't get any worse. . .

even as you are struggling to do the Lord's Will, sometimes things will happen that tear at your heart and soul. Those moments test your resolve and help you sift away the unimportant details that at times demand your attention. As terrible as they are, in all the pain they cause, they will strengthen you. They will clarify and bring into focus the most important elements of your life. You will be able to see choices and commitments in a completely new light. You will realize more fully the joys that are yours, in the road you have chosen and with whom you are blessed to travel. You will be more like your Savior, and your love for Him will grow.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

That's what Mother Teresa said.

Love does not measure; it just gives.

We can do no great things; only small things with great love.

Little things are indeed little, but to be faithful in little things is a great thing.

I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor? 

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.

We need to find God, and God cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature--trees and flowers and grass--grow in silence. See the stars, the moon, and the sun, how they move in silence. The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life.

There is a terrible hunger for love. We all experience that in our lives - the pain, the loneliness. We must have the courage to recognize it. The poor you may have right in your own family. Find them. Love them.

Before you speak, it is necessary for you to listen, for God speaks in the silence of the heart.

Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.

I do not pray for success, I ask for faithfulness.

Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in your own weakness.

If you judge people, you have no time to love them.

Speak tenderly to them. Let there be kindness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile, in the warmth of your greeting. Always have a cheerful smile. Don't only give your care, but give your heart as well.

I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much. 

The more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give. But the less you have the more free you are. Poverty for us is a freedom. It is not mortification, a penance. It is joyful freedom. There is no television here, no this, no that. But we are perfectly happy. 

I pray that you will understand the words of Jesus, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Ask yourself “How has he loved me? Do I really love others in the same way?” Unless this love is among us, we can kill ourselves with work and it will only be work, not love. Work without love is slavery.

A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, must empty ourselves. The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace. 

When once a chairman of a multinational company came to see me, to offer me a property in Bombay, he first asked: “Mother, how do you manage your budget?" I asked him who had sent him here. He replied: ‘I felt an urge inside me.’ I said: other people like you come to see me and say the same. It was clear God sent you, Mr. A, as He sends Mr. X, Mrs. Y, Miss Z, and they provide the material means we need for our work. The grace of God is what moved you. You are my budget. God sees to our needs, as Jesus promised. I accepted the property he gave and named it Asha Dan (Gift of Hope).

Like Jesus we belong to the world living not for ourselves but for others. The joy of the Lord is our strength.

There is only one God and He is God to all; therefore it is important that everyone is seen as equal before God. I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic. We believe our work should be our example to people.

When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.

We have to share with our people. Suffering today is because people are hoarding, not giving, not sharing. Jesus made it very clear. Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me. Give a glass of water, you give it to me. Receive a little child, you receive me.

Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of peace of the world.

If we really want to love we must learn how to forgive..

There is no greater sickness in the world today than the lack of love. 

God loves a cheerful giver. She or he gives best who gives with a smile. 

The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread. 

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.

God made the world rich enough to feed and clothe all human beings. 

Pride destroys everything. To imitate Jesus is the key to be meek and humble in heart. 

People who love each other fully and truly are the happiest people in the world. They may have little, they may have nothing, but they are happy people. Everything depends on how we love one another.

When I was crossing into Gaza, I was asked at the checkpost whether I was carrying any weapons. I replied: Oh yes, my prayer books.

If you have a sick or lonely person at home, be there. Maybe just to hold a hand, maybe just to give a smile, that is the greatest, the most beautiful work.

Prayer gives us a pure heart and a pure heart can do much.

Keep your heart pure. A pure heart is necessary to see God in each other. If you see God in each other, there is love for each other, then there is peace.

The poor do not need our sympathy and our pity. The poor need our love and compassion.

I don't know what God is doing. He knows.We do not understand, but of one thing I'm sure, He doesn't make a mistake.

God has created us to love and to be loved, and this is the beginning of prayer--to know that he loves me, that I have been created for greater things.

The joy of Jesus will be my strength--it will be in my heart. Every person I meet will see it in my work, my walk, my prayer--in everything.

Keep the light of Christ always shining in your hearts. Only He is the Way to be trodden. He is the Truth we must speak out. He is the Love we must love.

Faith in action is love, and love in action is service. By transforming that faith into living acts of love, we put ourselves in contact with God Himself, with Jesus our Lord.

Christ is hidden under the suffering appearance of anyone who is hungry, naked, homeless, or dying.

People are hungry for God. Do you see that? Quite often we look but do not see. We are all passing through this world. We need to open our eyes and see.

We must convert our love for Christ into deeds. We must express Christian love in concrete, living ways.

Let us bring love and compassion to win the world, to bring the world the gospel of Christ. 

Let us all bring the good news that God loves the world!

You who have received so much love, share it with others. Love others the way that God has loved you, with tenderness.

My prayer for you is that you come to understand and have the courage to answer Jesus' call to you with the simple word 'yes'.

A clean heart is a free heart. A free heart can love Christ with an undivided love in chastity, convinced that nothing and nobody will separate it from his love.

Friday, June 5, 2009


For a few years I had been having a soft, but persistent feeling that I needed to work on the sincerity of my prayers. My husband sometimes likes to tease me about my morning prayer which generally lasts quite a long time…he says, “well you certainly look angelic, but I don’t know how much of that is due to prayer and how much to drifting in and out of peaceful slumber…”

Then one day I was preparing to give a talk at a Friday Forum and I was pretty proud of how I had organized the principle of joy into this neat little packaged equation. I was telling a very spiritual friend I have in the other ward about how it was so easy….if you keep commandments, pray, and do this and this,,,then you get the gift of joy. And she said “Wonderful! You have just described the letter of the law…now let me tell you about the spirit of the law. And she taught me that some people are going through all the motions, obeying the commandments…yet still they are not experiencing joy….the reason is, that it’s not just a matter of the acts…it is also a matter of the heart….and the acts are just a preparation to a change of heart.

Then she told me about her prayer experiences and her prayer journal. She said that sometimes she could almost feel her prayers ascending to the throne of God and feel Him reaching down to her. She was having these beautiful prayer experiences where she and Heavenly Father were partners in bringing great works to pass in her life and the lives of others.

I have had that experience a few times, but rarely, and I didn’t know why it happened when it happened…Most of the time I had been going through all the motions and not experiencing real and powerful prayer…I wanted that experience. I decided to experiment to find out just what was required in order to gain experiences like my friend.

My first tries were mostly failures. I tried more intensity, more desire, concentrating harder…all acts that didn’t work. After several months of failed experiments I began to get discouraged.

But then one day, quite by accident, something happened. A friend had emailed me a video of “Oh Holy Night that was sung along with pictures of the Nativity. And when I watched that something overcame me and the spirit was so strong that I was driven to my knees in awe and wonder and gratitude for the atonement and a desire that all men should be able to feel the love of God. During that prayer I realized that I was having the type of experience my friend described. And so I asked the Lord, “How is it done?’ I had to ponder it for several weeks before I figured out the answer.

Then I finally realized what my friend had been trying to teach me about prayer. It is not just a matter of the words or the acts…it is a matter of the heart.

What was different about that prayer, than all my other prayers when I hadn’t had that experience? It was the Spirit.

1. I had prepared before hand to feel the Spirit.
2. The spirit was present during the prayer.
3. I had allowed the spirit to enter my heart, and the spirit made my heart become unified with the Lord, It filled me with a powerful Love of God and Also Love of my fellow man….and an intense gratitude for the atonement….and thus instead of me rattling off a list of my needs and hoping somebody would hear….it became a sacred partnership…my will and the Lord’s will suddenly unified, and the prayer became powerful in a way that I had not felt in a long time.

Then I realized that preparing before, during, and after prayer to have the spirit present in order to make my heart and will one with Gods, is the way to meaningful and powerful prayer.
Elder Russell M. Nelson confirmed that having the spirit present is the true order of prayer….He said, “Jesus taught us how to pray. We pray to our Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Ghost. This is the ‘true order of prayer’.”

I don't have time to prepare for prayer and have these experiences every day. But I have been trying to do it more. And it has made all the difference.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Why I Run

Runner's World has a feature each month where they profile some notable non "runner" person who actually runs and the feature chronicles how they fit the running in and why they do it. Some of these people are actors, writers, statesmen, chefs, etc. But they have all found that running helps them achieve the balance in their lives that they seek.

Luke 2:52 says "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man." To me, this verse is the definition of balanced growth. I know that when I am regularly doing something (even if it's a baby step) in each of these areas (intellectual, physical, social and spiritual), I am happier, I am a better person, mom, and daughter of God. I can best hear the answers I seek from the Lord when I am balanced in my efforts at this life. I can best offer my husband and children the nourishment they need when I am replete. Being replete as a mom is not easy.

A few years ago, I felt like I should begin some sort of exercise program. I don't remember what exactly I tried, just that I gave the usual "New Year's Resolution" attention to the idea, that is to say, not much. Some time later, I was in the temple seeking answers. Once again, I no longer remember what answers I was seeking, just that I needed them. As I was worshipping in the temple, I heard in my mind the sentence: "You have not been true and faithful." Ouch. I knew at that moment that I would already have the answers I was seeking if I had given serious thought and effort to the exercise program I had been impressed to begin. I had not been faithful and so I was not entitled to or prepared for the answers I needed until I did my homework. So for me, some sort of regular exercise feels like a personal commandment.

Running has been the activity that I can best sustain over the long haul. It is very low tech, requiring no special location and no special apparel or equipment other than a good pair of running shoes. I can open my front door and begin running at any time of day and in any weather. I can run on vacation or at home. Running is the thing that I can do to be alone or to be with a friend. Both have their place. But running is always something that I do as a person, not with my mommy hat on (although it definitely impacts the sort of mommy I am).

Over the years running has taught me a few things.

I can do hard things. When I started running as a mommy, I started slow--10 minutes, then 15 minutes, slowly building up to what I could actually call a cardiovascular workout. Eventually, I began running races, first a 10K and now I'm training for my first marathon in the fall. I don't run fast and I don't train for a time. I sign up for races because it gives me a tangible goal to work toward, to keep up with the program when sleeping in is too tempting (not that it ever actually works out in my favor). And when I am done, I have something I can show myself in times of trial, to remind myself that I am strong. I have done hard things.

The power of baby steps. Running requires build up. It is unwise to run your first 10 minutes one day and then run 26.2 miles the next day. Assuming you even complete the distance, you will pay for it in spades. I have learned as I run that I can achieve many seemingly insurmountable things if I can divide the task into small pieces, growing along the way. In taking these baby steps it is important not to say, "I only ran 2 minutes today" but to say "Yeah, I RAN today." There is power in taking baby steps, because you are moving.

The rewards for running may have little to do with physical health.
I run races with my baby sister and that has given us a rich new facet to our relationship. We chat as we run during the race and we bond and commiserate as we train, even though we live several hundred miles apart. We are eight years apart in age, but we have a very close relationship because we have chosen to have running in common. We find, as we run, that we have many other things in common as well.
Answers to questions may come to me as I run, either because I'm running with a friend who can help me think through things or because I am running on my own and can "be still" while I run. I know that I am entitled to answers and blessings because running prepares me to understand them.

You can't water flowers with an empty pitcher. Running on an empty stomach or similarly on too many bad nights' sleep is suicidal. But how many times do we run figuratively on empty, giving insufficient heed to spiritual and physical nourishment and rest? I know that I can't give my husband and family my all if I have nothing to give. I have to refill my pitcher to be able to share. When I take the time to care for my body and spirit, my ability to share that preparation is boundless. My proverbial garden can bloom aplenty because I have the water to feed it.

I know I need to exercise. I need to care for this body, this second estate, with which I have been entrusted. Running makes me strong in mind and body. It enriches my relationships and deepens my feelings of self worth. When I run, I marvel at the wonder that is my body. "Look Father what I can do with this wonderful gift You have given me!" I guess in a very long term sense, I am running HOME.

What do you do and why do you do it?

Cold here tonight

It’s cold here tonight.

I am shaking just a little bit

as I write.

It’s not bad.

It seems to echo my heart.

Poor shaking heart.

Poor frightened heart.

This is my road.

It is icy and a bit dangerous.

There’s so much

at stake, so many things hanging

in the balance.

Steady now eyes.

Steady hands,


Winter will give way

to spring.

It is as certain

as the sunrise.

It will come.

Dream, heart

and feel,

your warmest days


I wrote this in January, and forgot about it. I was so happy to read it again today, now that warmer days have certainly come. I could never have imagined a year ago what my life would be today. I am happier in almost every way. We can't always imagine what the future has in store. 
I'm at another crossroads - just as I was last May. I've felt the stress, which has been profound. This time, however, I feel stronger. Experience is an excellent teacher. This next thought is going to sound random, but I'll tie it in, I promise. I've been teaching my children to float when we go to the pool. It is the first rule of water safety. Panic is your aquatic enemy. You must relax completely and be absolutely still. It occurs to me that in life, as well, thrashing around and panicking in a sea of stress is wasted energy, and possibly even emotionally lethal. We are often told to "Be Still." At times like this, even when there is literally a SEA of stress that seems as ifit would swallow me whole, quiet faith calls for that stillness. Experience has taught me to follow my heart, and allow the greater powers of the universe to guide my life.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Food for Thought

This clip is too long for blogger to embed, but watching it was worth the time for me. It is from Education Week at BYU a couple of years ago. The speaker is Connie E. Sokol. She talks about health, body image, and getting to the place where we are fit and fabulous and best able to enjoy the gift of life and vitality the Lord has given us. My favorite single line from it: "Don't water fake plants"


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Triathlon. A Triathlon.

I'm at a pivotal point in my life this week. It is very unlikely that my divorce will NOT be final within the next few days. My soon to be ex-husband has been enjoying parent time with the children in his new home on extended weekends and every Thursday night. That leaves me with time on my hands, which is something I have not experienced often as the mother of five. Time on my hands could be a bitter enemy if I allowed myself to wallow in the absence of my children. Friends have encouraged me to stay busy, and I quickly understood that their counsel was a literal life-line for me. I've tackled projects which would otherwise have been impossible with my children here. This weekend, I painted bathrooms. Soon, with the help of family and friends, I'll get the baseboards back on my walls which have been missing for 2 1/2 years. I have some desires to garden and landscape my yard. I have been reading more. I knew I needed more, however. I needed something to focus on over a long period of time, and I needed physical exercise.
I've decided to compete in a triathlon, or better said, start training to compete. I have never run for exercise, although I have walked. I have never biked for exercise - except very minimally at a gym. In high school I swam, and though I wasn't gifted by any means - I loved it. My sisters are runners, some from very early on and some only within the last couple of years, and they have been competing in marathons and half-marathons. It has been inspiring to me to witness the enjoyment and purpose it gives them to train and work hard for those goals. Running has never appealed to me at any level, but still - I was inspired. Triathlon seemed like a natural choice for me, given my love of swimming. Better yet, it would allow me to incorporate other forms of exercise into my training. I've tried swimming alone for exercise, and it is very difficult, time-wise. If I have three areas of concentration, I can suit my training to the amount of time I have, which will vary greatly. Since I know I will have every Thursday night for example, I can plan to swim on Thursday nights. As all of these thoughts began to mesh and come together in my mind, I developed a desire which has become a resolve, to set the goal and start the work. The goal is to be ready within one year. It is realistic, and yet still challenging. It feels wonderful.
Find ways within the construct of your life to meet your real needs. Set real and realistic goals for yourself. At one point, my goal was simply to learn more about and begin a yoga program. That blessed my life at the time, because it was breaking a cycle and putting my needs first in a way which I had not done before. If there are cycles with keep you trapped in unhealthiness, center your goals there. They have to be simple and focused on real possibilities. Let the Spirit guide you, a those goals will bring you out into the light. You deserve it, and the ones who love and depend on you will benefit as much as you do.  

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Arms of Safety

I taught in Relief Society about the arms of safety spoken of in Alma, by Amulek to the Zoramites. I taught about how the Atonement is literally our safety encircled about us. I taught about how Jesus really is the author of real, deep, abiding peace. I taught things I had heard before......but I learned in a fresh, new, real way. I learned that because of Jesus Christ, I am enough. My efforts are going to be enough and my seed (me) is going to yield fruit. He solves the great dilemma: God cannot withstand any unclean thing and I sin and am unclean. He bridges the gap and if I join my liabilities with His assets, I can become perfect, ONLY THROUGH HIM. I can't save myself, and I can't believe in Christ for everyone else but not actually BELIEVE that He can do all He has promised for me as well. I am so grateful for Jesus Christ and I really do know, as though it is ingrained in the flesh of my heart, that Jesus Christ can make me, and each of us, enough.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

You are Divine

“God planted within women something divine.” Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley (1997), 387

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Come Out Of The World!

One of my favorite statements of the Prophet Joseph Smith is at the end of his account of the First Vision: "It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom; else why should the powers of darkness combine against me?"
What was true of Joseph Smith is true of all of us. We were born to disturb and annoy the devil's kingdom. His rule of the lakeshore will not go unopposed. He will in the end be crushed, just as the Lord indicated in the Garden of Eden before the great battle began. We will be part of his defeat. We intend to take possession of the entire earth, and we will do so. It should not surprise us that he will hinder us at every turn, but the Lord's "widsom is greater than the cunning of the devil." Let us avail ourselves of that wisdom. It is contained in the words of prophets and apostles, both written and spoken.. It is whispered by the Holy Ghost. It is exemplified in the life of God's well-beloved Son. Let us trust in His love for us and diligently labor to deepen our love for Him. Then, as the Book of Mormon promises, we will "land our souls, yea, our immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out." (Heleman 3:30.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mormon Messages - You Tube page.

CREATE. Deiter F. Uchtdorf

The link in "CREATE" above will take you to the page. This one is particularly inspiring and I hope to check out the others as well. What a great place for a little pick me up.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

For the Love of Egypt

Our family has been residents of Cairo, Egypt now for about 2 weeks. We are learning a lot, seeing a lot and having our gratitude grow in so many ways. One thing I noticed right away about life here is that most of the Egyptian people seem to live in survival mode all the time. It really explains why some things are the way they are here....if we all lived in survival mode ALL the time, without really any enforcement of normal laws, things would be a lot more chaotic, self-focused and nonsensical (as Elizabeth Bennet put it).
While sitting in the villa they use for a church house here, I was thinking about this and realized that the pure love of Jesus Christ and His gospel is really the only way to combat these issues. Prostelyting is strictly forbidden here, but loving someone the way Christ does isn't:) I found my loophole and I know it is the way, one person at a time, to break through the chaos and find peace. As I had this thought, a greater capacity to love the people here seemed to overtake my heart. I feel love and peace and a true desire to share that love. There are risks involved, which have stopped some from reaching out....safety, fear, being uncomfortable, etc....but I feel if I(and our family) go forward with loving, open hearts, trusting that Heavenly Father will guide us through the Holy Ghost, then all will work together for our good and the good of the people we come into contact with here in this amazing land called Egypt.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bringing Prayer and Scripture Study to your Children.

I'm posting this mainly in the hope that it will be a comforting and helpful perspective. Right now my family is in what could be considered "worst case scenario" as far as family life goes. I've been actively searching for ways to strengthen my children and I hit on something that I hadn't really considered before, but which I feel could be a key in helping me to accomplish this.
First, I've felt it was very important to pray and read from the scriptures with my children, but have found that their attention spans and moods vary so widely (they are ages 3-13) that my efforts have been largely ineffective. I found something recently that has worked very well. I say very well, but that is somewhat of an understatement. This simple practice has completely changed the moods of our evening gatherings. Before the first one goes to bed at night, we all gather in my room, and we read one or two scripture passages. Then we pray. We cut out the time it takes to get everyone a book and the "which verse are we on?" and "do we have to read" - and go straight to the meat of the matter. Teaching. For Christmas years ago, my mother made cards for each of us (4.25" x 5.5") with her favorite scriptures on them. Now, we take one card each night, someone reads it aloud, maybe two or three times if necessary, we TALK about it and we pray. (I am going to go through the cards to be sure that they contain all of scriptures that have special meaning to me.) What I know already, however, is that THIS WORKS. We now have some meaningful time in the scriptures together whenever I am home in the evening, and our prayer time has improved as well, thanks to the Spirit that comes as we read and discuss the scriptures. We may at some point be able to sit together, all reading from books, but as a place to start, I highly recommend this option.
Second, in a related but separate vein, I have been especially concerned with how to strengthen my teen son. I have been pleased with the progress I mentioned above, but found something in a little pamphlet that caught my attention. I will just quote it. "In a gospel-centered home, each family member should have a plan for individual gospel study centered on the scriptures . . . IN ADDITION, you may wish to gather with your family for a few minutes each day to study the scriptures. . ." Essentially, what I realized is something I already knew but wasn't sure how to apply. What each family member needs first and foremost is their own personal experiences with the scriptures. My son will benefit most from reading on his own. I talked to him about it this morning on the way to school - which is about our only "alone" time each day. I invited him to read just one or two verses each day, and promised him that Heavenly Father would bless him with the peace and strength that he needs to make it through these incredibly difficult times if he will do that simple thing. The great part is, I know that the Lord will make good on that promise. What a blessing! I plan to make this invitation to all my reading children, and look forward to helping them to recognize the benefits of scripture study in their lives.

Friday, February 6, 2009

True faith is always tested faith.

Monday, January 26, 2009

“Don’t Shove Me”

Harold B. Lee, “‘Don’t Shove Me’,” Ensign, Apr. 1975, 60

I had an experience once that taught me something as a grandfather. It was the night of the June Dance Festival at the University of Utah football stadium, and my daughter’s two oldest children were giving her a “bad time,” as she called it. So I said, “How would you like it if I took your two boys up to the stadium to the dance festival?” She said, “Oh, Daddy, if you’d do that, I’d be so happy.”

I didn’t know what I was getting into, but I took those two boys; one of them was five and the other nearly seven. I didn’t know there was so much difference between a seven-year-old and a five-year-old. The older boy was entranced by that spectacle down on the football field. But that five-year-old, his attention span was pretty short. He’d squirm, and then he’d want to go get a hot dog and he’d want to get a drink and he’d want to go to the toilet, and he was just on the move all the time.

And here I was sitting up front with the General Authorities, and they were smiling at this little show going on as I tried to pull my grandson here and there to make him behave. Finally that little five-year-old turned on me and, with his little doubled-up fist, he smacked me on the side of the face and he said, “Grandfather, don’t shove me!”

And you know, that hurt. In the twilight I thought I could see my brethren chuckling a bit as they saw this going on, and my first impulse was to take him and give him a good spanking. That’s what he deserved. But I’d seen his little mother do something. I’d seen her when he was having a temper tantrum. She had a saying, “You have to love your children when they’re the least lovable.”

So I thought I’d try that out. I had failed in the other process. I took him in my arms and I said to him, “My boy, Grandfather loves you. I so much want you to grow up to be a fine big boy. I just want you to know that I love you.” And his angry little body began to unlimber, and he threw his arms around my neck and he kissed my cheek and he loved me. I had conquered him by love.

President Harold B. Lee
(Sunday School Conference address, October 5, 1973)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Forgiveness is the sweet smell of the rose clinging to the heel that crushed it.

Monday, January 5, 2009

When there is a rough day . . . remember.

Romans 8:18. . . the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.


"Sisters, I wish I could place my hands on both sides of your faces, look deeply into your eyes, and impart to you a clear vision of your vital role as beloved daughters of God whose “lives have meaning, purpose, and direction.” We are women who “increase our testimonies of Jesus Christ through prayer and scripture study,” who “seek spiritual strength by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost.” We “dedicate ourselves to strengthening marriages, families, and homes” and “find nobility in motherhood and joy in womanhood.” Mary Ellen W. Smoot, “Steadfast and Immovable,” Ensign, Nov 2001, 91

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Power of Spirituality

The word "spirituality" conjures up a wide range of feelings, attitudes, opinions, and responses, depending on an individual's upbringing, religious preference, experience, and lifestyle. It seems that spirituality has become a lost art. People seem afraid of offending others by talking about spiritual matters in mixed circles. Others are reluctant to develop spirituality along with their mental, emotional, physical and social talents.
I believe spirituality is the greatest of all the talents and gifts we can acquire, but it must be developed. Spirituality helps us understand our feelings. If we become past feeling, we are in trouble as individuals, families, communities, and nations. We must be able to feel or we lose the ability to care and feel compassion for others. As the old saying goes: We are not human beings trying to have a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings trying to have a human experience.
The prolific writer and thinker C.S. Lewis made this perceptive observation: "It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ORDINARY people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendors".