Category Archives: Speaking Up

Change & Scary Hard Things

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Today my thankfulness focused on this knowledge, that nothing remains the same; we are living today as well as dying. Our ego buries that last fact far away from our consciousness but it’s truth. Having that knowledge has encouraged me to live my life and not wait for my life to happen.  The knowledge that I am in control of each thought and action, each act and reaction to the data and information I daily encounter has helped me choose to live in this moment, I try to live ‘in the now’, I try to live in change, live through change, grow from change, and sometimes I actually look forward to the next change.

The knowledge that today I have a day to live … that I am able to choose, that I can do something important or something smaller, I can grow from whatever happens in this day. I am grateful for that knowledge that I can change and I need not dread tomorrow or things which I have no control over.

Such knowledge has increased my faith in the future: “for faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Alma 32:21).

I have knowledge that I can rely upon those things that I don’t know, but I do know it is true that through faith in Jesus Christ I can do anything ( like all those hard things and scary things I might never have tried. Those things which changed me the most and for the better). That’s the greatest knowledge I have and for which I am overwhelmingly grateful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grateful for “The Ability to Love”

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My very loved and well used trekkers … walk, walk, walk

Today’s gratitude question For what abilities am I grateful? I had actually been thinking something like this the other day while Sweetie and I were walking. Sweetie had a Major accident about 2 months ago and tore his quad off of his knee … after surgery and 6 weeks in a brace he is able to walk with me again. How grateful for being ambulatory I am; heel to toe, right foot, left foot moving forward however slowly or limpingly.

Finger exercise … lesson in patience

I am grateful to know how to use a keyboard, I was going to say ‘type’ which is what I learned to do in 8th grade on a heavy Underwood typewriter. Pounding keys with an eraser at hand for my many ‘typos’. It was only in high school that correction tape was allowed (or maybe invented ? ). So the ability to use a keyboard to capture my thoughts, with almost instant error correction, is an ability for which I am grateful.

But, for this ability I am deeply, truly, profoundly grateful … the ability to love. To feel love. To give love. To accept love. To share love. To recognize love in all of its aspects. Those thoughts to reach out to the stranger, neighbor, or friend, the thought of wonder for a beautiful sunset, a hug when it is the least expected, or a personal message when reading the scriptures that fills my heart and lets me realize that God knows exactly what I need, and when I need it; the perfect love from our perfect Father in Heaven.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Feed my Body & my Soul

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This morning began in earnest the planning and divvying up of food assignments for Thanksgiving. Spread it out over 15 people and it doesn’t seem so overwhelming when you’re hosting (not me, I’m just showing up with my stuffing and pies). I’m so grateful for the traditions of Thanksgiving; the food is “just like this” and if it isn’t well the fam has No Problem letting the offender know they’ve breached protocol trying something new. (The finger is pointed directly at me folks – message sent — message received).

I am grateful for the tradition and time we take at Thanksgiving to be aware of all of our temporal blessings. When food and each other and all the blessings we receive from God are the only thing we have to concentrate on. Blessings beyond measure.

Mary at the open tomb of our resurrected Lord & Savior Jesus Christ

Then the other side of my For what holiday am I most grateful is Easter. The celebration of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His supernal gift of forgiveness and eternal life. He lived, he died for us, and was resurrected the third day, and He Lives! Easter represents the greatest of spiritual blessings that turn our hearts toward eternity and away from the world. Gifts and blessings to our spirits to fill us with hope and faith and turn our hearts to Him.

For what holiday(s) am I most grateful?  Thanksgiving & Easter; they feed my body and feed my soul.

Count your blessings;
Name them one by one.
Count your blessings;
See what God hath done.
Count your blessings;
Name them one by one.
Count your many blessings;
See what God hath done.
(Chorus from Count Your Blessings

 

 

Grateful for The BEST Book EVER !!

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Today’s gratitude question was a no brainer for me … For What Book are you Most Grateful … The Book of Mormon,  The sense of peace and the depth of spiritual knowledge contained within its pages testify to me daily that it is what it claims to be, Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

Best book ever … The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ

If you’ve ever wondered if God knows you, if you’ve ever desired to know where you came from, or where we go when we die, if you’ve ever felt a stranger upon this earth read The Book of Mormon.  If you sincerely desire to know the truth of this inspired book, read it, and pray as you read and the Lord God will witness to you of its divine origin and mission.

I encourage you to follow the admonition of Moroni, the last Prophet of the Nephites, who sealed the book up unto the Lord to be brought forth in God’s time. I encourage you to read this book and when you do you’ll find out why it is The Best Book Ever!

I exhort you when ye read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, even from the creation of Adam even down unto the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your heart.

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost.

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. ~Moroni 10:3-5

 

“It’s Simple, but it’s Not Easy”

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I have a friend who is an internationally known body builder and health trainer. I once told him I was ready to get in shape, I was ready to lose some weight, and I asked him for some advice.  He said I can tell you what to do, “it’s simple, but it’s not easy”.

Simple: Eat less, exercise correctly.  Easy? No. It was tough to eat less, it was hard to do exercises that worked my body correctly. Though I tried to stay strong and focused I sabotaged myself. I made cookies, one cookie wouldn’t make a difference.  Then, one cookie became 3 and then it was even harder to go back to simple and finally I lost sight of my goals, and then just stopped following his advice, because it wasn’t easy.

I’ve thought about what he said quite often “It’s simple, but it’s not easy”. Many important and life changing things are simple. But not very easy. Why?  Because Easy doesn’t strengthen us, easy doesn’t encourage us, easy doesn’t build character … expecting something great while the way to get it is easy is one of Satan’s more well used and popular tools of deception.

God gives us straight-forward, seemingly simple, commandments; Love the Lord your God with all your heart, might, mind, and strength and the other is like unto it, Love your neighbor as yourself.

In our most fundamental doctrine we’ve been given the knowledge that we are children of a living God. The scriptures teach us this in many ways:

So, I asked myself some questions … Do I believe I am a child of God? Do I act like I am a child of God? Do I treat everyone with kindness and compassion knowing they are children of God? Do I reach out to my neighbors without a goal to convert them? Am I afraid to reach out to my neighbor because I think they might try and convert me? Am I welcoming and loving to everyone I meet?

I thought, yes? That Yes has an attached question mark. Then I thought about the word all. We are all God’s children. Well, then I thought … What about the people around the corner with 27 old cars out front that I criticize every time I drive by? What about that screaming child kicking the back of my seat in the airplane? What about people who have different political opinions? How about those people that just rub me the wrong way? How about people that … well you get the idea.  I didn’t like my answers … they weren’t a solid yes! My answers were  ‘well’, ‘kinda’, ‘sorta I do’, ‘maybe’, ‘sometimes’ …

How do we forget this fundamental doctrine? Because it’s a simple truth. We know we are children of God, but it’s not easy to remember and act upon when we aren’t focused on it, because the natural man sees with the eyes not the heart.

Satan works very hard to keep us separate. He works to keep us focused inward on ME and to forget WE.  Looking around on social media, listening to the news, even conversations within our own families we can see he’s been very successful in creating an environment of Us versus Them.

I want to focus on 3 ways or ‘weapons’ that Satan is using to blind us and stop us from seeing & treating God’s children as our brothers and sisters.  Then I will share with you the Secret, Not-so-Secret weapon God has given us to defeat Satan in this on-going war.

The first weapon Satan is using is Contention.  This is so blatant that the Lord gave us specific scriptural warning to beware:

“He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me [saith the Lord], but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another”.[v]

Contention stops us from seeing everyone as a child of God by separating us into groups so we comfortably live our life in our own bubbles; contention breaks our personal peace and causes us to harden our hearts and blind our eyes to everyone not like us. Who look differently, live differently, believe differently.

President Russel M. Nelson taught us how to combat contention[vi]

He says, “…show compassionate concern for others. Control the tongue, the pen, and the keyboard. Whenever tempted to dispute, remember this proverb: “He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.” (Prov. 11:12; see also Prov. 17:28.)

He goes on to say: Bridle the passion to speak or write contentiously for personal gain or glory. The Apostle Paul counseled the Philippians, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Philip. 2:3.)

But the ultimate step lies beyond beginning control of expression. Personal peace is reached when one, in humble submissiveness, truly loves God.”

He then directed us to Heed carefully this scripture:

“There was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.”

A second tool Satan is using is Pride

I never thought of myself as prideful. But I was so excited when I bought the next best car to my dream car which is a 1963 corvette … my new car was a nice little silver blue Z3 … it looked like the old ‘vette. So, one day I’m driving down the road, feeling all, this is cool, when I realized I wasn’t feeling this is cool, it was I’m cool. I was comparing my car with those around me. It was like a punch in the stomach.  I was like the Nephites!

Most of The Book of Mormon is seeing the rise of pride in the Nephites. We read about their Pride in their wealth, pride in their clothing, pride in their homes, and pride in their own strength… The pride which was their downfall.

First I tried to talk myself out of that thought, I’m not prideful! But after that day almost every time I got in my little car I remembered that feeling and those thoughts. Finally, the ultimate reason I sold my car was because of those feelings.  I’m not saying driving a nice car makes a person prideful, but I was prideful when I drove that car. After that moment of knowing; I saw many other places I had let pride in; like being at work and thinking I can do this better, more efficiently than anyone here in this meeting … why do I have to listen to what they have to say?

The Guide to the Scriptures describes this hurtful Pride as:

A lack or absence of humility or teachableness.

It goes on to say: Pride sets people in opposition to each other and to God. A proud person sets himself above those around him and follows his own will rather than God’s will.  Conceit, envy, hardheartedness, and haughtiness are also typical of a proud person.

In the New Testament, James (2:2) teaches us how pride separates us from one another and how to combat that pride within ourselves.

For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;

And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:

Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?

8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, though shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well:

But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

Mormon also teaches us to combat pride through yielding our hearts unto God:

Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God”.[vii]

And another tool Satan is using to blind us from seeing and treating one another as brothers and sisters is Unrighteous Judgement.

President Thomas S. Monson in his 2010 General Conference talk Charity Never Faileth, told this story:

 “A young couple, Lisa and John, moved into a new neighborhood. One morning while they were eating breakfast, Lisa looked out the window and watched her next-door neighbor hanging out her wash.

“‘That laundry’s not clean!’ Lisa exclaimed. ‘Our neighbor doesn’t know how to get clothes clean!’

“John looked on but remained silent.

“Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, Lisa would make the same comments.

“A few weeks later Lisa was surprised to glance out her window and see a nice, clean wash hanging in her neighbor’s yard. She said to her husband, ‘Look, John—she’s finally learned how to wash correctly! I wonder how she did it.’

“John replied, ‘Well, dear, I got up early this morning and washed our windows!”

Although we are warned about judging un-righteously we do need to judge daily about many things and people.

From True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference we learn:

“Sometimes people feel that it is wrong to judge others in any way. While it is true that you should not condemn others or judge them unrighteously, you will need to make judgments of ideas, situations, and people throughout your life. The Lord has given many commandments that you cannot keep without making judgments…

Judgement is an important use of your agency and requires great care, especially when you make judgments about other people. All your judgments must be guided by righteous standards”.

Elder Lynn Robbins in his Oct 2016 General Conference talk The Righteous Judge taught us to follow Christ’s example of righteous judgement.

“In His mortal life, Jesus Christ was a loving judge, uncommonly wise and patient. He is known in the scriptures as “the righteous judge”, and His counsel to us is to also “judge righteous judgment” and to “put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good … [and] to judge righteously”.[viii]

Heavenly Father commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves. He has given us the best tool or weapon to combat Contention, combat Pride, and combat Unrighteous Judgement. Really, it’s the tool to combat all that Satan throws at us.

It is God’s love. This is the Secret, not-Secret weapon God has given us to defeat Satan.

  • We see he told us the weapon to use against contention is to “Fill our heart with God’s love”,
  • the weapon against pride is to “pray and fast and yield our heart to God”, and
  • then, to combat unrighteous judgement rely upon Him and “trust in the spirit”.

My family is a microcosm of the world … as its grown it has become truly diverse in every way. Even though they are adults with children of their own I have struggled, and do struggle with their choices; I struggle as to how to reconcile my beliefs and theirs, my lifestyle with theirs, my viewpoints and theirs.

At one point I gave in to anger, judgement, & frustration. I was angry with them, I was fearful for them, I often was ashamed of them.  I would feel guilt, shame & more frustration. It was overwhelming and heart-breaking. I could hardly be with some of them, or even talk to them. There was little or no love in my heart or between us in our family.

On my knees praying for help, praying for forgiveness, asking for guidance … begging for God to help me understand them, and begging to know what I could do, what I should do … The Lord answered my prayer so profoundly that I am not the same.

He told me that it is not my job to judge them. He told me that he knows them, He knows their paths, he knows their plan, and He knows what they need.  They are His, as am I. My job is only to Love them.

That answer to my prayers taught me and helps me remember to treat and love each one in my family circle as a precious son or daughter of God. I don’t always succeed, but God’s love helped me separate their actions from who they are, his children … and love has returned.

Over time, I’ve come to understand that His words apply to everyone I encounter. Heavenly Father wants us to remember that He knows everyone. He knows everyone’s paths, He knows everyone’s plan. We all are His. Our only job is to love one another. Everyone. Not just in church, not just those who like what we like, or do what we do, but everyone.

How has he taught us to love one another? How has he taught us to love our families? Love our neighbors?  The stranger? The refugee? The prisoner? The homeless? The sick?  Those of different religions, colors, creeds, tongues, lands and people?

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

And he also taught us

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; …

46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?

47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others?[ix]

God’s not so secret weapon is that we are to love and serve one another. We are to love with God’s love, and we know that God’s love is the pure love of Christ, which pure love is Charity. And we know that God’s Charity Never Faileth.

In the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Moroni gave direction as to how to be filled with Charity …

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; [x]

President John Taylor, the third president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taught the importance of not only believing, but practicing the Savior’s plea to love our neighbor.

Love one another, and work the works of righteousness, and look after the welfare of all, and seek to promote the happiness of all. That is what God is doing.”   

“When you get the Spirit of God, you feel full of kindness, charity, long-suffering, and you are willing all the day long to accord to every man that which you want yourself. You feel disposed all the day long to do unto all men as you would wish them to do unto you.”[xi]

Going back to what my friend told me, “It’s simple, but it’s not easy” … Simple: treat everyone as a son or daughter of God.  Love thy neighbor as thyself. But to remember and do that is often not easy because we are only men and women and are not perfect.  I believe that as we follow Moroni’s guidance to pray with all the energy of [our] heart for the gift of Charity and the guidance of the Holy Ghost and if we follow Nephi’s counsel to press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men  we will see everyone as they truly are, we will treat them and serve them as our brothers and sisters; as children of our Father in Heaven  … As God knows and sees us.

May we always remember we are all our Father’s children. May we all desire and pray for the gift of Charity, and may God’s love enable us to overcome Satan whose only desire is to stop us from returning home to live in Celestial glory with our Heavenly Father & Jesus Christ.

I testify that we are, all of us, the sons and daughters of God; our Father in Heaven knows each of our names, each of our needs, and knows our heart’s greatest desires. He loves every one of us with His infinite love, no matter our circumstances, where we were born or live, our trials, our opportunities, or our choices. For the Father offered even his son, Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life as an example to us.  Our Savior, Jesus Christ, died and atoned for our sins, the sins of everyone, in every place, in every time, in every circumstance.

Hands Across America 1986 — Philadelphia

Hands Across America 1986 – Midwest, USA

 

 

[i] Moses Chapter 1:13

[ii] Psalms 82:6

[iii] Acts 17:29

[iv] Doctrine and Covenants 76:34

[v] 3 Nephi 11:29

[vi] The Canker of Contention, by Elder Russell M. Nelson

[viii] The Righteous Judge, by Elder Lynn G. Robbins

[ix] Matthew 25:35-47

[x] Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ  Moroni 7:48

[xi] Teachings of the Presidents of the Church (of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), President John Taylor, Chpt 3 Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself

“Milk Money” Art Collection on the Auction Block

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Heritage Up for Auction

Cache Valley Utah perches in the far northern end of the Wasatch Mountains. It’s roots were and are fairly rural and Logan, the county seat and largest metropolis is the home to Utah State University, once Utah State Agricultural College (Go Aggies!).  Cache Valley was named for the fur stashes hidden there by many Rocky Mountain Fur Company trappers.

It’s still a relatively quiet and very picturesque valley with small towns scattered in the high mountain valleys.  If you take the exit east through Brigham City, through narrow canyons you’d love to visit the American West Heritage Center in Wellsville, or drop in to the Cache Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum in Logan, or take a hike up to Naomi Peak. All things I’ve loved to do.

This quiet valley isn’t too quiet right now. In board meetings the Logan City School District has decided that it is in their financial interest to divest themselves of 11 of 42 paintings purchased by the children of Cache Valley for their education and edification, the proceeds to be used for “student travel”.  Many of these artists lived in or had roots in Cache Valley.

Alice Merrill Horne, was the Utah legislator who passed the 1899 “Art Bill” which created the Utah Art Institute and pushed for the “Milk Money for Art” program. Her idea was that, “as far as possible, children should be exposed to quality art without having to have rich parents”.

By James Harwood. One of the Cache Valley School District paintings up for auction.

Children all over Utah donated nickles and dimes (their milk money)  through the 1930’s to purchase fine art from local and regional artists. The art was displayed in public schools throughout Utah. I recall paintings in the hallways of my own elementary school in Utah County. Humm, I wonder if they’re still there?

Our history & heritage should not be for sale to the highest bidder. It disrespects the sacrifices made to procure these works of fine art by children and their families while in their poverty during the Great Depression.

Please sign this petition to stop the auction, which may allow local and state groups an opportunity to work to keep the collection together, protect and preserve it and keep it available to the public.   http://www.utahculturalalliance.org/lcsd-art-collection

Link to view Milk Money Paintings

For more complete information, both pro and con, please take some time to read these excellent articles.

Logan City School District’s Plan to Auction Paintings Meets with Concerns

Controversial Auction of Works from Logan City School District Collection

Logan School District Superintendent Commentary on School District Art Decision

 

One voice can start an avalanche … be heard.