Saturday, January 5, 2013


I’m not saying that we do not need to repent. I’m just saying that forgiveness really has nothing to do with repentance - except maybe our own repentance.

At one time I remember thinking that I had forgiven my husband way more than seven times seventy and so I should be absolved of having to forgive him ever again. I even thought that Heavenly Father should do something to punish him now at this point for all of the pain he had caused. The problem was that I hadn’t really ever forgiven him – not even once.

Let me explain. If he said he was sorry or acted sorry or even just stopped the hurtful behavior for awhile, I forgave him. But as soon as the behavior reoccurred, my forgiveness flew out the door. It was always contingent on his behavior. That’s a pretty high condition to put on anyone – be perfect and I’ll forgive you.

Then I read this book called The Peacegiver by James L. Ferrell and it helped me to understand.

He tells the story of a man whose grandfather visits him in a dream. The purpose of the visit is to help him understand forgiveness. He starts by telling the story of David, Abigail, and Nabal. Nabal is a wicked but wealthy man. David and his army are out in the wilderness. They help to protect Nabal’s men and his flocks. In return, David asks Nabal for some provisions. Nabal sends them away with nothing. David and his men are angry. They arm themselves and go up to fight Nabal. In the meantime, Abigail, Nabal’s wife, gathers the provisions and goes out on the road to meet David. She takes Nabal’s sin upon herself and asks David to forgive her.

The author then makes a parallel to Christ. Christ has taken upon himself all of the sins of the world – even the very worst sins. David forgave Abigail for Nabal’s sin. When we forgive someone we are forgiving Christ. We are in a way saying that we believe in His atoning sacrifice and it is sufficient. We turn the burden back to Christ. Forgiveness of another’s sins is between oneself and God. It has nothing to do with the person we are forgiving. We have absolutely no power to forgive in the sense that Christ does. He has the power to completely absolve a person of his/her sins upon condition of repentance. We do not have that power.

Did David’s forgiveness absolve Nabal of his sins? NO. Nabal would have to repent for that to happen, and that is another story.

The next story in the book is about Jonah. Jonah was a prophet who was told to go to Nineveh and preach repentance. Jonah didn’t want to go because the people of Nineveh were very wicked so he tried to run away. We all know the story of how he eventually repents and goes to Nineveh. He tells the people that if they do not repent the Lord will destroy them in forty days. He continues to preach and eventually the people repent. But Jonah doesn’t really think they deserve to be saved, and he waits atop a hill on the fortieth day and watches for the Lord to destroy them. When it doesn’t happen, he is angry at the Lord. Then the Lord asks him, “Should not I spare Ninevah?”

God had saved Jonah when he repented. Should God not also save the people of Ninevah when they repent? If Jonah doesn’t feel like God should save them, should God also not save Jonah then?

I knew a lady who had divorced her husband. One of the reasons was that he would not keep himself worthy to go to the temple and it was something that she greatly desired. She figured that the only way that was going to happen was to divorce him and find somebody worthy to take her. Her husband made some miraculous changes, found a new woman, and married her in the temple. His ex-wife was furious. She went to his bishop to tell him of all the horrible things he had done in the past. The bishop reminded her that he had repented and had been forgiven by the Lord. This did not satisfy her. She went to the temple president and said that he should not be allowed in the temple. She was told the same thing again. She could not let go of her anger. This man had destroyed her dream and her family and he should not be forgiven. She left the church for a time.

The good news is that she was eventually able to forgive and came into full activity again.

Why does God want us to forgive even when the other person doesn’t repent?

An unforgiving heart causes feelings of resentment and even hatred towards others. We often feel justified in being cruel to the person. We believe that they deserve it. It prevents us from progressing. It can even change our personalities into something ugly if allowed to fester long. In short, an unforgiving heart causes us to sin. When we forgive, it is surprising that our minds and our hearts are open to seeing the good in the person we forgave, even when they have not repented of the sin. It helps us to realize that we don’t really know what another person is going through that has caused them to do what they have done. It reminds us that the judgment is God’s and His only. It helps us to be more compassionate.

We are all in need of repentance in varying degrees. The Atonement is for EVERYONE.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


A neighbor spoke in church today. She said she decided to go rollerblading the other day for her daily exercise. After a few blocks, a spot on her foot started to hurt. She thought about stopping to see what was causing the pain, but she didn’t want to interrupt her pace so she just kept going. By the time she made it all the way over to Freeman Park it was really beginning to cause some major discomfort. But she still kept going. About a mile from home, her foot was on fire and she knew a blister was forming. But she still kept going. When she got home and finally took off the rollerblades, she realized that the pain began from a fold in her sock. She also realized that if she had taken care of the pain when it first began it would have been easy to fix. And she could have easily avoided the unnecessary consequence of the painful blister.

President Uchtdorf says that “the longer we delay corrective action, the larger the needed changes become (like the small pain turning into a blister), and the longer it takes to get back on the correct course – even to the point where a disaster might be looming.”

We can avoid disaster and needless pain if we correct our actions now. If my neighbor had just stopped and smoothed out the fold, she could have avoided the blister.

If you already have the blister, is it too late? NO.

It may take more work, and there may be some suffering involved, but you can get to the point where the blister is completely gone and you no longer even remember the pain of it.

The point is – the consequences of our incorrect actions will not go away. They cannot be ignored. They will just continue to get worse until we finally take measures to correct them.

Friday, September 17, 2010


The straight and narrow path back to our Heavenly Father does not have any roadblocks, it does, however, have detours. I think the detours were Satan’s idea. He probably said something like this up in that great meeting in heaven, “If you’re going to provide a way for them to come back home then I’m going to make it as difficult as possible for them. I’ll provide detours along the way. My detours will be very inviting and everyone will want to take them. The cool part is, my detours will have the occasional roadblock that will cause them to take another detour and another detour and another detour. Before long they will be so lost they will never find their way back to that straight and narrow path.”

Satan also wants us to believe that the straight and narrow path does have roadblocks, because if we believe this then we are more likely to take one of his detours.

Road construction type detours here on earth take you on a more complicated and longer route, but eventually they do get you to your destination.

Satan’s detours take you on a more complicated and longer route also, but they will never lead you back to our Heavenly Father. The only way to get back is to retrace your steps and get back on that straight and narrow path.

Fortunately, God has provided a way out of all those detours even if we’ve taken so many detours that we are completely lost. The way back is called repentance.

Why do we waste so much time on those nasty detours?

Friday, August 13, 2010


The following thoughts on self-destructive behavior come directly from online articles. The address is located at the end of each.

If someone told you that she had been strung out on cocaine six days last week, or that she has been binge eating and vomiting three times a day, you'd know she was caught in self destructive behavior.

Could you recognize your own self destructive behavior as easily?

We are self destructive when we spend beyond our means; when we are sexual in ways that cause us to lose self respect; when we keep ourselves in personal relationships that cause us to feel inferior, abused, or taken advantage of.

We are self destructive when we neglect our bodies and do not give them rest and exercise; we are self destructive when we drive ourselves, overworking or over exercising to please others or to make ourselves feel okay.

We are self destructive when we make others responsible for our lives,
o by blaming "them"
o by an attitude of helplessness
o by believing and behaving as if we have no capacity to change or to manage our own lives effectively and pleasurably.

As women we are especially vulnerable to self destructive behavior which has its roots in the sense of shame.

"Why try? " "I'm flawed." "I'm disgusting." "I'm worthless." I'm powerless."

Addictions, compulsions, all the forms of self destructive behavior have the perverse function to numb shame. When we are caught in self destructive tangles, we forget to feel badly about ourselves -- for the moment.

If you find yourself caught in the tangle of self destructive behavior there are many avenues to recovery and growth.

Quit blaming yourself

Begin by taking a clear-eyed look at your life, right now. What's working? What's making you happy? What's not?

Define what needs to change

Recognize that change takes time. Give yourself both emotional space and sufficient time to make the changes that will be useful to you.

Find help

(Thinking we should be able to do everything by ourselves is another self destructive behavior!) Choose friends, helpers, teachers, groups, mentors, therapists, who offer you honest feedback, new information, and useful support for becoming the best of your own kind of person.


The process of recovery from addictive, compulsive, self destructive behaviors can be overwhelming. You may be confronted by new emotions and flooded by memories. You may find yourself replacing one set of self destructive behaviors with another.

Be aware
Women seeking recovery from self destructive behaviors frequently find their progress blocked by the previously unrecognized impact of psychological trauma, loss, childhood neglect, abuse, abandonment, sexual assault, and patterns of emotional or physical abuse as well as self neglect in adult relationships.

Too often the woman trying to recover from self destructive behavior finds herself in a revolving door of treatment / self-help / relapse because the core processes of her psychological and emotional development have not been attended to.

The key elements for moving beyond self destructive behavior are self awareness, self responsibility, and a well developed process of personal choice.


Self destructive behaviors are rigid, unhealthy patterns of responding to feelings of shame and powerlessness.

Change away from self destructive behavior proceeds by gathering the skills and self awareness to move in the world with self assurance and self determination.

Seven Weapons to Slay Self-Destruction

Weapon One: Realize that life is sacred and has ultimate meaning.
Weapon Two: Admit you are out of control and ask for help.
Weapon Three: Admit that being in control is the big issue.
Weapon Four: Set your sights on realistic goals.
Weapon Five: Clean up the messes in your life.
Weapon Six: Admit and face your abuse of yourself and others.
Weapon Seven: Admit and face the issue of abandonment.

Reasons for Self Defeating Behavior:

People are more likely to behave in a self-defeating or destructive manner when either there are threats made to their ego or when they have low self-esteem.

When a person has a low self-esteem, they are more likely to be susceptible to having depression, anxiety and, emotional distress.

Highly distraught people are more likely than others to do self destructive things.

Three Models of Self-Destructive Behavior:

The first model is called, “primary self destruction.” This model includes those human beings who deliberately and intentionally hurt themselves.

A second model of self-defeating behavior is called, “tradeoff”. This behavior is done when a person literally and knowingly makes a trade-off in a situation. It is when a person chooses a certain option that has some benefit but also has the potential to cause harm to the person as well.

The third category of self-destructiveness includes “counterproductive strategies.” This type involves self defeating behaviors is one in which “the person neither desires nor foresees the harm to self. In this instance a person is pursuing a desirable outcome but chooses a strategy or approach that backfires and produces the opposite of the desired result.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Impossible

I am extremely embarrassed to admit this, but I struggled with a 5th grade math problem. It’s embarrassing because I love math and I’m pretty good at it – usually.

Here’s the problem: 2 = 140 ÷ 2 + 12 – 4 x 2. All I had to do was add parenthesis to make the statement true.

Seems easy enough, but for some reason I really struggled with it. I must have tried at least ten different combinations of parenthesis and I wasn’t getting anywhere close to the right answer.

The problem was that I was focused on the wrong thing. I kept thinking that I needed to get the last four numbers to equal 70 since 140 ÷ 70 = 2. It just wasn’t going to work.

I figured there must be a misprint, or maybe the creators wanted to include one that was impossible. I wrote “impossible” underneath the problem and turned the paper over.

In the split second that it took me to do that, the thought came to me, “Look again. It is not impossible.”

I turned the paper over again, and instantly, I saw the solution:
2 = 140 ÷ (2 + 12) – 4 x 2. It was so easy. Why didn’t I see that before? (Because I was too focused on the wrong thing).

Then another thought came to me:

Sometimes what seems impossible is really rather simple once the solution has been found. We just have to keep looking to find the solution and trust that it is there.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Nobody wants to have weeds in their garden. Weeds are ugly, and if not taken care of and removed, they can overtake the beautiful flowers and other plants.

So what’s the best way to get rid of them?

My mom used to go out early every morning while the soil was still damp. The weeds barely even had a chance to poke their heads up before they were plucked from the ground and thrown away. It only took her a few minutes each day.

The other day I went outside to pull the weeds from the flower bed along our driveway. Some of the weeds were more than two feet tall. The tiny ones were easy to pull up, and if I pulled near the base, the entire root came too. I tried pulling some of the bigger weeds, but the roots were so tangled and deep that the tops of the weeds just broke off and the root stayed firm. I had to get out the shovel and loosen the soil around the root before I could pull it out. It took a lot more work and a lot more time.

When weeds are allowed to grow, they produce seeds that spread throughout the garden and more and more weeds grow.

It would be so much easier if I followed my mom’s example and went out there every morning to clear the weeds. It would look better too.

The thought came to me that weeds are like sins. They tend to creep up every day in our lives. If we get rid of them while they are still tiny, we can enjoy the beautiful garden – or in other words – we can more easily see and enjoy the beauty of life.

Just like with weeds, it is easy to repent of sins while they are small. When we let those sins take root in our lives, it takes a lot more work to get rid of them, and like with weeds, the sins seem to spread as they grow.

I don’t think any of us really want a life filled with sin anymore than we want a garden filled with weeds.

Now is the time to clear those nasty ugly weeds out of our gardens and make room for the beautiful flowers.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


My next few posts will be highlights from conference talks – mostly quotes.

This one is from the talk by Elder M. Russell Ballard about mothers and daughters.

“Mothers and daughters play a critical role in helping each other explore their infinite possibilities, despite the undermining influences of a world in which womanhood and motherhood are being corrupted and manipulated.”

“There is nothing in this world as personal, as nurturing, or as life changing as the influence of a righteous woman.”

Speaking to daughters:

“Everything you accomplish, every challenge you overcome brings (your mothers) pure joy. And likewise your worries and heartaches are their worries and heartaches.” (This is so true!)

“I urge you not to look to contemporary culture for your role models and mentors. Please look to your faithful mothers for a pattern to follow. (He also mentions earlier in his talk that if you do not have a faithful mother to follow that an aunt, sister, sister-in-law, etc. can fill that role. I suggest making a list of righteous women in your life.) Model yourselves after them, not after celebrities whose standards are not the Lord’s standards.”

“Look to your mother. Learn from her strengths, her courage, and her faithfulness. Listen to her. She may not be a whiz at texting; she may not even have a Facebook page. (I must not be the only one! I am completely texting illiterate!) But when it comes to matters of the heart and the things of the Lord, she has a wealth of knowledge.”

“No other person on earth loves you in the same way or is willing to sacrifice as much to encourage you and help you find happiness – in this life and forever.”
“Love your mother. Respect her. Listen to her. Trust her. She has your best interests at heart. She cares about your eternal safety and happiness. So be kind to her. Be patient with her imperfections, for she has them. We all do.”

Speaking to mothers:

“Mothers, your example is extremely important to your daughters – even if they don’t acknowledge it.”

“Today our society is bombarded with messages about womanhood and motherhood that are dangerously and wickedly wrong. Following these messages can put your daughters on the path to sin and self-destruction. Your daughters may not understand that unless you tell them.”

“Teach your daughters to find joy in nurturing children. This is where their love and talents can have the greatest eternal significance.”

“Mothers, teach your daughters that a faithful daughter of God avoids the temptation to gossip or judge one another.”

“Teach them how to repent and how to remain pure and worthy.”

“Learn from the past.”

“When you are willing to listen and learn, some of life’s most meaningful teachings come from those who have gone before you. . . How much better your life will be if you will follow the noble example of the faithful followers of Christ.”

“In these last days it is essential – even critical – that parents and children listen to and learn from one another.”

Speaking of learning from the past, my own mother was a great example. She often helped others far beyond the call of duty. Some told her that she was crazy – that these people were just taking advantage of her. Her reply was that the Lord expected her to help and she would do all she was able. It was not for her to judge. But she didn’t just give handouts; she tried to teach all those she helped to eventually be able to help themselves. She gave of her time, and she shared her skills.

She was a righteous woman who strongly desired that her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren would embrace the truths of the gospel. She loved each one so very much.

She also visited the local rest home every week for many years. My daughter Julisa is following this example. I think it takes a special kind of person to be able to do this.

I want my daughters, my granddaughters, and my daughters-in-law to know how much I love them and so much appreciate the righteous choices that they make. May we continue to always learn from each other.