Tuesday, November 22, 2016

What does it mean to FEEL the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is the third member of the Godhead. His role is to testify of God and Christ and to share with us messages of love and comfort from them. Feeling the Spirit is a spiritual feeling not a physical one.

Have you ever had a stomach ache from the flu or food poisoning? That is a physical feeling. Have you ever felt “sick” in someone’s presence or “sick” of doing something hard or unsettled about a future event or butterflies in your stomach when you’re afraid of going on stage.  These are various “spiritual” feelings. Feeling the Spirit is a feeling that comes to you when you are quiet, introspective and open to ideas.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Comfort in the Promises of the Last Days

“Despite the lack of righteousness in the world today, we live in a sacred, holy time. Prophets, with loving and longing hearts, have described our day for centuries.” (Cook)

Jeremiah said, “I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt…but this shall be my covenant…I will put my law in their inward parts…” (Jer 31:31-33)

Ezekiel said, “I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.” (Ezek 37:26) “And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.” (Ezek 44:23)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Ideal Man

There is good and bad things about idealism. Good ideals capture our imagination. For example, everyone wants to go on vacation to a place that looks picture-perfect and so when people go on vacation, they only post their best pictures. Mommy bloggers have presented a picture-perfect image of crafty DIY motherhood. This has both entranced readers and disgusted them. Jesus said “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt 5:48) Some have discounted this as obviously impossible. I say that the Father is the ideal and we should strive for the ideal.

The bad about idealism is when it is used to hide from reality. People often hide by painting a picture of perfect bliss beneath which they live a dual life. Idealism can cause disenchantment. People often express disappointment with my church because the people don’t live up to the ideal that is preached from the pulpit. Every girl who has wanted to marry a “prince charming” has had to face the reality that men are imperfect and women aren’t princesses.

This post is about the ideal man. It is for those who want to live the ideal not for criticizing people who are less-than-perfect. Without ideals, we would never prioritize good, better and best. With ideals we put our effort towards tasks that match our priorities.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Choose to Be Happy

This life is full of choices. We may choose to be friendly or prickly. We may choose to work hard or to take it easy. We may choose to believe God or to believe the hypotheses of men.

Choices are the gateways to paths that lead us to different outcomes. People who say they have no choices have forgotten that choices made in the past have led to that outcome. People who feel discouraged by life have made choices that led to that discouragement. I know this may sound harsh. I have been discouraged myself and I really had to search for which choices I made that took me there.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Hens and Chicks

In Matthew 23, Jesus says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”

In this scripture Jesus compares himself to a hen gathering her chicks under her wings. He expresses a great desire to gather the people of Jerusalem under his protective wings. His neutral observation of their choice to kill the prophets is interesting. Their choice doesn’t have to be our choice. 

A short time after his death on the cross Jesus appears to the people in the Americas who have been taught by prophets that he will come to earth and atone for their sins. They don’t get to see him during his time in Jerusalem but after his death, he goes to these people, his “other sheep.” (John 10:16) Of note, he says the same thing about gathering them like chicks. 

“And again, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, who have fallen; yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, ye that dwell at Jerusalem, as ye that have fallen; yea, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not.” (3 Nephi 10:5)

The instinctive protection of a mother bird is illustrated in this story. After the 1988 wildfire that destroyed most of Yellowstone National Park, volunteers were sent in on foot to look for any animals that survived. A volunteer saw the charred remains of a mother bird on the ground with her wings outstretched. He nudged her carcass with his boot and discovered three baby chicks underneath who had survived. She died so that they would live.

Christ died so that we would live. He sacrificed his body to protect us. His outstretched arms beckon us to come. If we put our faith in his invitation to “Come unto me” (Matt 11:28) his strength will protect our marriages, our children and our sanity.  Faith in him is testing out his advice on our problems, humbly accepting his timing, aligning our wills with his Father’s will and doing our best to go the second mile.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Best Family Councils

Have you ever said this? “We know better, but we haven’t yet made ourselves, as a family, get down on our knees each morning and evening for family prayer.” (De Platt)

Working or praying together as a family is only possible when there is a decision to do so and the resolve to implement that plan. Family councils are a strategy for regular communication about decisions that create healthy relationships. A family council can be a formal meeting with all members of the family or an informal conversation between a parent and one child. Obviously, differences in the formality of the council are reflected in the type of conversations one would expect to have and the decisions that are made. When parents involve their children in decision-making, problems may resolve in ways that involve everyone taking a role in the solution. Family councils can help unite a blended family. (Larson) “The correction of family members in front of others is to be avoided.” (Ashton) But praise and gratitude for family members should happen in front of everyone.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Realizing Our Divine Potential

We are imperfect human beings living in a mortal world as designed by our Heavenly Father in his perfect plan for our eternal progression. Before birth we lived as spirit sons and daughters with our Father in Heaven. At the designated time, we are born here with a blank slate to parents who ideally provide protection, education and support as we grow. By the time we reach adulthood, we have the mental capacity to make choices of our own and be responsible for the consequences. As our mortal life ends we pass through death and enter the world of spirits where we await our designated time to report on our mortal life. Some time afterwards our Father in Heaven will reward us with a perfected, resurrected physical body as well as a home where we will continue to live as eternal beings. This is part of the perfect plan.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Lord’s Pattern For Families

There are many parents who care for children in traditional families. These families, made of a husband and a wife who nurture and protect children, are the ideal.

“Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. …
“Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. … Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another [and] observe the commandments of God.” 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Choose to Stand For God

The Prophet: Thomas S Monson
I love the words of this scripture, “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death.” (Mosiah 18:9)

There are many great people in times past who stood their ground such as Joan D’Arc, Mother Teresa, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Joseph Smith. Which people inspire you to stand as a witness of God?

This post is about intentionally standing with people of faith. It is crucial that we identify people who are standing as a witness of God and join with them. Together we are stronger and more confident.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

When God Seems Distant

God is omnipresent, yet sometimes he seems far away. If you’ve ever thought about that deeply, you might have assumed that he is immediately available and wondered why you can’t feel or sense his presence. I can believe that you might even race ahead to the next logical conclusion that either you must then be of no value to him (since he isn’t there) or alternately that he does not exist.

Believing in God requires walking this life without seeing everything. That’s faith. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Transcend Problems Spiritually

I have lots of problems. They make me cry. If I tell you all about them, you might respond in one of two ways: empathy and understanding or the “suck-it-up” mentality which is to say, “no whining.” Your response doesn’t matter. I can detach from how you respond to me. What matters is my response.

This post is about using spiritual eyes to transcend problems.

I just learned this, so if you’ve never heard me talk about this, it’s because I didn’t know it until now. Spirituality can supply the tools for going two dimensions past any problem to where the problem isn’t the reality. Here’s how it works:

For any problem add a statement of faith and to go to the next dimension add a statement of vision. In math that would look like this:

Problem + faith + vision = something dimensionally different than the original problem

So how would a statement of faith affect a problem? Well first of all, a real problem is going to feel very permanent, unchangeable, impossible and stagnant. A statement of faith acknowledges that the problem is 99% unlikely to budge but focuses on the slim chance or 1% possibility of escape.

Take any problem and describe it. Say, “I see this problem (describe it)” then add something like
  1. I’m making it one day at a time
  2. I’m staying calm
  3. I’m good 
  4. I’m cool under pressure
  5. There’s a chance this will resolve in time
  6. There’s hope 
  7. I’m not afraid of this problem

A statement of faith takes a negative and turns it positive. It doesn’t negate the problem. It just doesn’t emphasize the problem. A statement of faith is not a solution. There may or may not be a solution. This is not about finding a solution only about transcending the problem. Now take the problem with one of the above statements of faith (or one of your own) and add a statement of vision.

A statement of vision is going to describe the potential or the goal for the present reality. So if I’m having trouble with a teenager now, my statement of vision would focus on the potential of that teenager. A statement of vision can describe the desired state or the imagined state of happiness. A statement of vision allows the problem to be while at the same time looking forward to a state without the problem. A statement of vision can give you “positive stamina.” It means that the problem is not permanent and impossible. It says, there is some other state that is possible. I am going there.

My response to problems can be negative and depressing or positive and courageous. My response is what matters. My happiness is tied to my response not your response. I take responsibility for responding with my spiritual eyes. I’m going to hit that third dimension one more time. You can too.

If you liked this post you might also like The Battle of Jericho Revisited.

All images in public domain

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Do You Believe in Miracles?

Miracles are any unusual occurrence or coincidence that can be explained as resulting from Divine Providence. Jesus did many miracles but not all who were there believed. For example it says in Mark 6:52 that when the people in the ship saw him walking on water, they were amazed and wondered (not believing) because their hearts were hardened.

When a miracle occurs in your life, a skeptical reaction comes from a hard (or injured) heart. Skepticism is a reaction that contains doubt.

Miracles don’t result in faith or belief. Faith must precede a miracle.

To demonstrate that your faith must precede a miracle, let me describe two miracles and you gauge your reaction.

Miracle 1
During the American Revolution, the soldiers were struggling to survive one particularly harsh winter. Early that Spring on February 23, 1778, a miracle occurred. Shad, a type of Herring that lives in the Atlantic Ocean, came up Schuylkill River that runs through Valley Forge. They normally arrive in peak numbers in late April to early May. If you are skeptical that Shad coming to spawn is evidence of Divine Providence, you join with others who claim that George Washington, an experienced fisherman, knew Shad came up that river and that is why he picked it. It is considered a miracle because their early arrival saved the soldiers from certain death, and thus the American's fight for freedom.

Miracle 2
During the summer of 1848 in Salt Lake City, just as grains began to ripen, thousands of crickets came down from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and began eating the crops. The people looked with horror at these insects because the loss of crops meant starvation that winter. They tried to fight off the crickets with brooms, shovels, water and even fire. In desperation, they had a special fast to petition God for help with this problem. To confirm their faith, thousands of seagulls arrived on the scene.  The seagulls ate the crickets, but they did more than eat them. They ate crickets until they were full, then flew to the nearest stream, took a sip of water and spat out what they had eaten.  They did this for three weeks until all the crickets were gone. The fact that seagulls eat crickets is not surprising. The unusual behavior of the seagulls in this particular instance was deemed a miracle by those who asked God for help. If you are skeptical that this can be explained as evidence of Divine Providence, you are not alone.

Miracles that occurred in the past do not require faith because we know that they occurred and we have no need of faith. This is explained by Alma when he says

“Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe. Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it.” (Alma 32:17-18)

When faith precedes a miracle, then the miracle confirms the faith and the faith becomes stronger and more resistant to doubt. Consider these two examples of faith that preceded a miracle. 

Miracle 3
A man was caught by surprise when a magnitude - 7.5 earthquake occurred near his home in Argentina. After assessing the damages, he quickly rode a bicycle to the house of his mother who lived nearby. She was ok, but her house was destroyed. She asked her son to save a few items that were in the rubble and while doing so, he discovered two glass bottles of fresh water that were undamaged. His mother had heard the prophet Spencer W Kimball counsel members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to store food and water in preparation for future emergencies. She believed and acted without knowing when the next emergency would occur.  When the earthquake occurred a few months later, her faith was confirmed. The miracle was in the coincidental safety of a glass item in the midst of total destruction. (Source Ensign Magazine August 2016, p. 74)

Miracle 4
Second, A man came to an Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and requested a blessing for his son. His son was born blind, deaf, and dumb with no coordination in his muscles such that he could not even crawl by the time he was five years old. The apostle, Matthew Cowley (1897-1953) blessed the child according to the will of the Lord. Within a few weeks he received a letter thanking him because the child was crawling after a ball and could both see and hear. (Source Ensign Magazine August 2016, p. 80)

In both cases, the person(s) had faith first and then witnessed a miracle second.

The result is an increase of faith. God is willing to manifest himself to those who believe. A little bit of faith is often rewarded by small coincidences and sometimes miracles.

Moroni said, “faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” (Ether 12:6) A witness may be in any form from a feeling of comfort to a display of Divine Providence.

I know that God lives because of the many witnesses that I have received confirming my faith. These things may seem small and inconsequential to a skeptic, but to me, they provide a strong defense against the doubts that I occasionally have. I encourage you to nourish your faith.  Miracles will follow.

Images used by permission
updated 8/14/16

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

On the Path to Emotional Freedom

The longer I live, the more I realize that the reality of who I am is much less than who I could be.  I have quirks, hang-ups, idiosyncrasies and neuroses that prevent me from being true to the ideal that Jesus inspires. In Romans it says “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”  

The death of God’s son guarantees that I will return to God’s presence.  I can accept the reality of myself including my weaknesses and show up at his gate with all of them in tow — or I can be “saved by his life.”  By that phrase I mean, that if I implement the pattern of his life into my own life, I will be empowered to rise above the craziness and the dross of my neuroses will be burned away through the fire of repentance.

My last post about breaking bonds focused on the service and fellowship that is required to be freed from some of those bonds. In addition to that, I must study and gain knowledge.  The first kind of knowledge is self-awareness.  I have to become aware of my hang-ups if I am to choose the path that leads to another reality. 

I have spent a good part of my life trying to achieve emotional freedom.  This post will point you to resources that I have used and some that I hope to dig into in the future.  The emphasis on this is that studying a problem is essential to solving it.  In spiritual things, we sometimes mistakenly think that God will answer our prayers just because it says in the Bible that he will. In D&C 9:7 it says, “Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.”  The thinking that goes beyond asking is the knowledge that we must gain.  God can give us knowledge but he knows how much we benefit when we work to understand a subject. He has our best interest at heart when he doesn’t just hand us the answer. I encourage you to pray, study, and dig deeper with faith and not give up. You can be free.

Principles on the Path to Freedom
  1. Gain physical strength for the journey by taking nutritional supplements to support my pancreas and immune system. (Book: Food is Your Best Medicine by Henry Bieler)
  2. Utilize the services of a BodyTalk professional healer.
  3. Read Books (See list below)
  4. Go on a Vision Quest (book: Grandfather by Tom Brown Jr)
  5. Journal in a place where all emotional tension can be explored without fear as it arises: Stop running from pain
  6. Draw with the left hand in a sketchbook (book: Recovery of Your Inner Child: The Highly Acclaimed Method for Liberating Your Inner Self)
  7. Write goals for 10 years, 5 years and 1 year (describe in the present tense as if they are already a reality)
  8. Build self esteem by exploring personal strengths, accomplishments, values, describe self
  9. Ask for insight from God for understanding problems and finding solutions, put faith in His all-seeing eye
  10. Rely on Jesus Christ’s atonement to repent of false beliefs, misdeeds, and to forgive others
The Steps to Healing 
  1. Recognition and realization
  2. Remove myself from situations that hurt and don’t take personally the other person’s disorder / no blame
  3. Moving forward, not sitting back and accepting the way things are
  4. Think about boundaries (what are my needs and rights?)
  5. Processing emotions through verbalizing, drawing, journaling - being honest
  6. Organize and make sense of my trauma/trials
  7. Open up to learning and the work that leads to growth
  8. Unconditionally love myself (self esteem)
  9. Being in the present and creating a new future (goal setting with near term benchmarks)
  10. Realizing the importance of support (counseling, friends, relatives)
  11. Regaining control of my emotional stability, thoughts, actions
  12. Centering the responsibility within myself for my actions and emotions
Reading List

Happiness Books
The Bible, Psalm 23
The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson
The Heart’s Key to Health, Happiness, and Success by Steven H Horne
*Living Beautifully: With Uncertainty and Change by Pema Chodron
Seasons of a Woman’s Life by Daniel J Levinson (He also wrote Seasons of a Man’s Life)
Love 2.0 by Barbara L Fredrickson
*Authentic Happiness by Martin E P Seligman

What is the Happiness Advantage?

Love / Marriage Books
The Road Less Traveled by Scott M Peck
Communication Miracles for Couples by Jonathan Robinson
And They Were Not Ashamed by Laura M Brotherson (religious)
Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John M Gottman
Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson
Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix
Love and War by John Eldredge
Hiding From Love by John Townsend
The Hedgehog and the Fox by Isaiah Berlin

On Transformation
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
The 8th Habit by Stephen R Covey
The Jackrabbit Factor by Leslie Householder
(On the Law of the Wall) Student Whisperer by Oliver DeMille and Tiffany Earl
*The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo
*The Inside-Out Revolution By Michael Neill
*Willpower by Roy F Baumeister
*Focal Point by Brian Tracy

On Being Honest
Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton
The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford

Debbie Ford: Light Up Your Life from Within

On Abandonment, Idolizing, Abuse, Grief, Attachment
The Journey from Heartbreak to Connection
Necessary Losses by Judith Viorst
Adult Attachment and Couple Psychotherapy:  The ‘secure base’ in Practice and Research by Christopher Clulow
*Healing the Tiger By Peter Levine

On Being Yourself and Rejection of Self
Appelemando’s Dream by Patricia Polacco
*Marianne Williamson on Self-Esteem by Marianne Williamson
*Within: A Spiritual Awakening to Love & Weight Loss by Habib Sadeghi
The Child Whisperer by Carol Tuttle
Being Enough By Chieko Okasaki (religious)

Chieko Okazaki speech "Rowing Your Boat"
On Anger
Good and Angry by Joanne Miller
*The Surprising Purpose of Anger by Marshall B Rosenberg

On Mother Wounds
Mothering Ourselves by Evelyn S Bassoff
Children of the Self-Absorbed by Nina W Brown
Emotionally Absent Mother by Jasmin Lee Cori
Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John M Gottman
*The Mom Factor by Henry Cloud
On Healing Emotional Wounds
Growing Beyond Emotional Pain by John D Preston
(Especially Negativity)  Emotional Freedom by Judith Orloff

Dr Judith Orloff 1 of 6 videos

Treating Intimacy Issues of Traumatized People by Patricia L Sheehan (Source: my personal files)

* indicates that I have not yet read this book

All images used with permission