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.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Loving Ourselves and Our Neighbors

Just as soon as I begin to think that I finally understand something, I learn about another perspective on the same subject and I find myself off balance again. I think the problem is that I’m always looking for black and white answers, and there are just so few of those in life.

The thing that caused some disequilibrium is the second great commandment – to love our neighbors as ourselves.

This morning the thought occurred to me that our love for ourselves is not necessarily a measuring stick for how much we need to love others. If I don’t love myself very much, it doesn’t excuse me from loving my neighbors. I can’t say, “I’m keeping that commandment, because I love my neighbors as much as I love myself. I just don’t love myself or my neighbors all that much, but at least it’s the same.”
Instead, I think the second commandment is a commandment to love ourselves, because when we truly love ourselves, love for others is a natural extension of that love. I’m not talking about the selfish kind of pride that is sometimes mistaken for self-love but rather a pure love that happens when we start to see ourselves the way God sees us.

When we learn who we really are in God’s eyes, it helps us to also see others from the same perspective.

I thought this was pretty good thinking, and then I read some C.S. Lewis. He had a different way of looking at the same commandment.

He says that we still love ourselves even when we do something wrong and we are quick to overlook our own shortcomings. By the same token, we should be quick at overlooking others’ faults and still love them.

But is it true that we still love ourselves when we sin?

According to Sterling W. Sill in his book The Miracle of Personality, when we sin against our own personality (“the inner man, the spirit or the real person”), it is difficult to love ourselves. We begin to feel inferior or unworthy. These feelings keep us from becoming who we really are.

Who we really are is the person God knows. Satan doesn’t want us to be that person and so he feeds us on feelings of inferiority and unworthiness. He would have us believe that all the terrible things we do are the sum total of our personalities, but it’s not true. In reality we are not any of those things. Sins we commit are just that – things we have done – they are not who we are. We can repent and we can be rid of them. Once we are rid of them, we can more clearly see our true selves.
I remember a poster that hung in my friend’s bedroom many years ago. It said, “God doesn’t make junk.” That includes all of us.

So maybe there is more than one way of looking at this commandment, and they can all be right. We can live our lives in such a way that we love ourselves and therefore love our neighbors as ourselves, and we can forgive our neighbors as easily as we forgive ourselves – remembering that we do need to forgive ourselves also. The following poem kind of sums up our need to live our lives so that we can do this.

Edgar Guest

I have to live with myself, and so,
I want to be fit for myself to know;
I want to be able as days go by,
Always to look myself straight in the eye;
I don't want to stand with the setting sun
And hate myself for the things I've done.

I don't want to keep on a closet shelf
A lot of secrets about myself,
And fool myself as I come and go
Into thinking that nobody else will know
The kind of man I really am;
I don't want to dress myself up in sham.

I want to go out with my head erect,
I want to deserve all men's respect;
But here in this struggle for fame and pelf,
I want to be able to like myself.
I don't want to think as I come and go
That I'm bluster and bluff and empty show.

I never can hide myself from me,
I see what others may never see,
I know what others may never know,
I never can fool myself- and so,
Whatever happens, I want to be
Self-respecting and conscience free.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


  • Even the vilest of sinners can repent and become clean.
  • Wickedness does not bring happiness.
  • Joy comes from living God's commandments.
  • God won't force anyone to choose Him and His ways.

For whatever reason, Alma had a rebellious spirit, but it wasn't enough that he alone rebelled. He convinced many others to follow in his wicked ways. The scriptures tell us that he and the four sons of Mosiah were "the very vilest of sinners."

This caused Alma (the dad) and King Mosiah (a righteous king) much sorrow, and they prayed continually for their sons.

Then one day an angel appeared to them and basically told them to stop their wickedness.

Alma was so overcome by this that he fell to the ground and could not move or speak. The sons of Mosiah carried him to his father, and he stayed like that for two days and nights.

During this time, his father prayed and fasted for him.

After this he regained his strength, and he told all those gathered around him, "...after wading through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an everlasting burning, and I am born of God. My soul hath been redeemed from the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was racked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more."

I have often wondered what caused Alma to repent. It couldn't have just been the visit of the angel, or everyone who sees an angel would repent. Laman and Lemuel both saw an angel and yet they continued in their wickedness. It couldn't have just been that his father was praying and fasting for him, because Lehi did the same for his sons.

For those two days when he was unable to move or speak, he allowed himself to be taught by the Spirit. He learned that everyone must repent and be changed from a "fallen state to a state of righteousness".

Satan has a remarkable way of convincing people that once they have done something wrong and they feel terrible, that they should do something awful again. It's his way of proving to them that they are of no value, and before long they are in the "darkest abyss" drowning in misery.

Fortunately for Alma, he believed the Spirit when he was told that he could repent. It wasn't an easy thing for him to do. He says that he "waded through much tribulation". Some of the words in the index that describe tribulation are: adversity, affliction, anguish, despair, grief, misery, sorrow, and suffering.

He was "nigh unto death". I imagine that the anguish was so great that he thought he would die.

Then, when God saw that he was truly repentant, He "snatched" him out of his misery and filled him with the light of the Spirit.

When we repent, I think "light" has three meanings

  1. the light that helps us to see clearly
  2. the light that causes us to feel warmth and comfort
  3. the light that is associated with weight, because we are no longer weighted down by sin

Alma completely changed his life. He became a great missionary and brought many people to the truth of the gospel.

One of his sons, Corianton, chose wickedness over righteousness. This must have really grieved his father. He spoke to his son and tried to convince him of the error of his ways.

He said, "And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness." (Alma 41:11)

He also told him, "Wickedness never was happiness." (Alma 41:10)

He would certainly know the truth of this statement from his own experience.

Now, compare this to the "exquisite joy" that was felt when Alma and the four sons of Mosiah met again and learned that they were all still living lives of righteousness.

One of the greatest gifts God gave us was our agency to choose whatever we want, but our agency doesn't allow us to choose the outcome.

"He granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction."

"He that knoweth not good from evil is blameless; but he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience."

Alma told his son, Corianton, that we cannot live a life of sin and then expect to live a life of eternal happiness.

God knew that we wouldn't always choose righteously and so He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sins so that we could choose to repent and start clean and fresh again. If we repent, God will remember our sins no more. It will be as if we never did them, and when we see Him again, our consciences will be free of the guilt.

If Alma the Younger, "the vilest of sinners", could do is, so can we.