Friday, February 14, 2014


Just got a spiritual kick in the rear while preparing for a church lesson I'm teaching on Sunday. I'm paraphrasing Joseph Fielding Smith saying that we are required to be willing to sacrifice everything, including our very lives if The Lord asks it of us. And even if we did sacrifice all, it would still not be equal to the great blessings that we have because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I dwell too often on the things I feel I have been denied and forget that I have really been given everything.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Princess Pornography

I have been thinking about the unrealistic standards that the Disney Princesses have set for me!  Living here in the real world, I should not expect to have a 12 inch waist, long perfect legs and gorgeous hair that falls in perfect waves to my waist.  Don't get me wrong, Princesses and fairy tales have their place.  I read a quote a while back that says something to the effect of "Fairy tales don't teach children that monsters are real.  Children know monsters exist.  Fairy tales teach children that monsters can be defeated." Or something like that.  I think that sense of wonder and fear of the unknown and confidence that good will triumph are healthy things for a child's development.  I think the flaw comes from adolesence to adulthood when young women see themselves as princesses and are waiting for their Prince Charming to whisk them away to a castle and a life of leisure.  Just as half naked women posing in skimpy clothes and gyrating in smutty movies create an unrealistic view of a healthy relationship for men, so do romance novels and princesses for women.  How can the average woman compete with the silicone, bottle blond starring in an online video? How then can the average man compete with the white knight riding up on his faithful charger to rescue the damsel in distress and worship her in a castle happily ever after.  I catch myself occasionally comparing my husband to Flynn Rider or Prince Eric or any host of other cartoon males and have to stop myself.  It is so unfair of me to set him up to fail!  I learned long ago that if I want flowers for valentines day or a date night, I need to just tell him and he'll do it!  He is not a mind reader and he is romantic in his own way, but if we are going to both get what we want from the relationship, we have to communicate our needs to eachother.  And when he does pull a Prince Charming on me every now and then, I appreciate it all the more!


I haven't posted for a long time.  It just seemed like life was getting away from me.  My family has been in something of a holding pattern for a while and we've finally come to a crossroads.  I have deferred a lot to my husband to make some decisions regarding career and moving and children.  I have noticed how aggrivating indecision can be.  I'm sure other people have felt the same. But I'm also pondering what causes such longstanding bouts of indecision.  In my heart of hearts, I believe that indecision comes from not having yet heard the possibility that truly solves your problem.  We have vascillated between renting, buying, adopting, fostering, Coronado, La Mesa.... The decisions are endless.  And neither of us were making any real steps in persuing any of the presented options.  I think it is a spiritual issue.  That little voice inside us, our conscience, our inner light, whatever you want to call it, that part of us knows what we should do. Once we find that pathway that is right for us, if we are attentive, our own nature will tell us it's right and to move forward.  I've seen this over and over in my life and it seems that when life gets crazy, it's harder to heed our little voice inside.  If we take time to relax and reconnect with ourselves, we will find the answer.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Speaking Engagement

This is going to be a long post.  I wanted to share the content of a talk I gave at church a few weeks ago.  I'm pretty proud of it and think that it is a message the most people need to hear.  Enjoy!

Good Morning Brothers and Sisters. 
We all know about the original sin that happened in the Garden of Eden.  The serpent came to Eve and tempted her into eating the fruit; she, in turn gave the fruit of the tree of knowledge, to Adam.  But most people overlook the second sin of mankind’s history.  The Lord returned to the Garden to find Adam and Eve, who had hidden themselves because they recognized their nakedness as a result of eating the fruit.  When asked plainly if he had taken of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, Adam replied that the woman did give him of the tree and he did eat.  The Lord in turn questions Eve and she immediately replies that the serpent beguiled her and she did eat.  When confronted with their guilt, our first parents’ instinct was to share the burden of culpability with someone else.  It is a tradition that most people continue to this day.
I fear something developing in the world.  It is a growing sense of self-righteousness.  This is not new, of course, but it is a taint that I see consuming more and more of our society.  So many times, our reaction to criticism is offense.  Instead of being willing to face our own shortcomings, we throw the blame on others.  “It’s not my fault!”  “So-and-so started it!”  “Why do I always get picked on?”  How many times is this the first thing that we think in an unpleasant confrontation?  “Well, so-and-so did this, so I’m justified in my actions.”  How many people have left the church because they found the truth to be hard? 
I think that human tendency is to deceive themselves.  How can we be honest with others and not be honest with ourselves.  This topic has been on my mind especially after a particular sharing time lesson I gave in junior primary. I asked for a volunteer to come up and watch some candy I had placed on a table while I left the room to grab something.  Paxton’s hand shot up and I put him in charge.  When I returned from the hallway, I found all the candy still on the table.  I asked Paxton if anyone from the class had tried to take any, and he said no.  Then I asked the class what would have happened if Paxton had been alone in the room with the candy and no one was watching him?  He promptly stated that he would not have taken any candy. And I saw in his eyes that he was telling the truth.  I explained to the children that being honorable means doing the right thing, especially when no one is there to see you.
I had an opportunity to see that lesson in action not one week later.  I pulled into the Wal-Mart parking lot and was startled by the sharp jolt of the car parked in front of me.  I saw the source of the movement to be a large SUV that was attempting to take the empty space next to the Honda in front of me and had seriously damaged both cars in the process.  I looked at the driver and saw, immediately, in her eyes that she was not going to take responsibility for what she had done.  She made a big show of getting out of her car to examine both vehicles, got back in her car and drove further down the lane to a different spot.  Maybe she thought to herself, “Well, this car is pretty old, so it doesn’t matter.”  Or perhaps, “Well, if they hadn’t been parked so close to the line, I wouldn’t have hit them.”  I took note of the plate before going about my shopping.  When I returned to my car, I saw my suspicions confirmed.  No note left on the windshield.  The offending driver was just now making her way into the store with her kids and we locked eyes again.  I saw again that she was choosing to run away from her responsibility.  So I left the driver of the Honda a note with the SUV’s plate, make and model.  It amazed me how easily you divine someone’s character by looking them in the eyes.
So now that we’ve identified a flaw in human behavior, how do we fix it? I found the answer in a talk by Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander of the Seventy called “The Path of Growth”.  He said that the key to overcoming this canker of self-justification is confession.  Now I’m not talking about shutting yourself in a box the size of a phone booth and telling a stranger what you did.  I’m talking about an honest conversation with yourself, and the Lord, and possibly the Bishop if the circumstances warrant it.
There are a couple of types of confession.  The first confession involves recognizing God’s power. In our confession of God, we recognize and accept that He is, that He is greater than we are, and that His position is preeminent.  We understand our inferior position before Him. So taught King Benjamin in Mosiah 4:9 : “Believe in God;  believe that he is,  and that he created all things, both in heaven  and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom and all power, both in heaven and in earth;  believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend” .
The personal recognition and confession of God’s preeminent position is the beginning point of religious experience. “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”  All else proceeds from this first and fundamental truth. Without this first confession of God, no confession to Him can have full meaning.
Confession involves conquering pride. If for some reason I choose not to confess God and His preeminent position, then I will put something else in that position. That something else in all probability will be myself or some extension of myself that I create with my mind or hands.  If we are successful at replacing God with ourselves, then all is permitted to us. We become judge and jury.  It is we who decide what is right and wrong, if anything at all.  Korihor misleadingly taught in Alma 30:17 that “every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime”.  
If we can recognize God as the giver of all things and develop humility, we can be placed on the path to the next type of confession.  This second type of confession is one that happens both internally and publically. This confession is a statement of personal responsibility for our actions. The battle over responsibility is a familiar one, and it reaches back far into the past even before our mortal existence.  To Moses, the Lord revealed that Satan “sought to destroy the agency of man”. What is the agency of man but the right to make choices within a framework of opposition and the assumption of responsibility for those choices? The Lord has made it clear in 2 Nephi 2:26, that through the Atonement of Christ, “the children of men … have become free forever,  knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon”. We know good from evil and we act for ourselves.  Of course, things happen in our lives that are beyond our control, things that cause us joy or pain.  But we still choose our reactions to these external stimuli and we are responsible for those choices.  For example, “I stopped going to church because a brother or sister or teacher or Bishop offended me.”  Is that really true? Or did I choose to sacrifice my eternal salvation to avoid a person that I don’t like.
Our accountability to God, as our Father and Creator,  is one of the most basic lessons of the gospel. Likewise, the assumption of responsibility for our own actions is one of the strongest indicators that we are becoming more like Him.  So by admitting our own faults and weaknesses, we draw nearer to Heavenly Father.  Now we’re coming to the crux of the problem here.  We cannot develop ourselves spiritually by blaming another for our condition.  To do so would be to deny the Atonement of Christ; which purchased our spiritual independence from the effects of Adam’s transgression. In this light, it is only through the Atonement that we can truly stand accountable before God for our actions, thoughts, and deeds. When we refuse to admit to ourselves or others our own culpability, if we say that everything is someone else’s fault and declare ourselves guiltless, then we have no need of the Atonement.  And we all know there is only one person for whom that is true.
How often do we hear that society is to blame for the wrongdoings of its members, as if this brings absolution and freedom from the consequences? “Perhaps that child’s parents failed him.”  Or “Well, gun control laws are too lax; he shouldn’t have been allowed to purchase a gun.” There comes a time in our lives, temporally and spiritually, when we must assume responsibility for our choices. In a spiritual sense, confession is our statement to God that we are responsible and accountable to Him for our actions.
A true, honest, and willing confession brings us closer to God. President Stephen L Richards, a counselor in the First Presidency, taught: “Why is confession essential? First, because the Lord commanded it, and secondly, because the offender cannot live and participate in the Kingdom of God, to receive the blessings therefrom with a lie in his heart”. And these lies that we tell ourselves, where we shift the blame for our circumstances to others, where else to we keep them, except deep in our hearts. 
Brothers and Sisters, when we learn to release these falsehoods we tell ourselves, when we confess them to the Lord and turn them over to Him, we are made free.  We are unburdened and can face the Lord on the Day of Judgment without trying to find the excuses we need to justify our actions. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Car Buying

I feel like the car companies are trying to reprogram the consumer population.  I keep seeing commercials from different dealerships advertizing their "Lowest Price Available" and "No Haggle Pricing" and "Bargain Pricing" on all their new cars.  It seems to me like they are trying to convince car buyers to come in to the dealership and just pay whatever price is on the sticker without putting up a fight.  I remember going with my dad to buy my first car.  My mom warned me in advance that at some point, I may want to go sit in the car because I'll be embarrassed.  I didn't not leave the negotiation, but I did get upset every time my dad threatened to walk away from the dealer empty handed.  He'd propose a counter offer and of course the associate would have to go back and talk to the manager.  A good time into the little car buying dance my dad was doing (and he's a professional) I grabbed his arm and said, "Dad! I really want this car! Please! I don't wanna walk away." He told me to calm down and trust him.  He assured me that after the 3 hours this guy had invested with us, he was going to give us what we wanted to make the sale.  And dad was right.  We got the car I wanted at the price Dad wanted (which was significantly below the sticker price).
It's as if these days, dealers want to make car buying as frivolous as a trip to Wal-Mart.  You don't argue the price tag there, after all!  My husband and I went to a Jeep dealership to see what kind of a deal we could get with a trade-in vehicle that blue booked at about $4000.  We identified a car we liked and began negotiations.  They offered us only $1000 trade in value for a Subaru and Julius was ready to walk out.  We weren't going to eat a $3000 value dump.  We negotiated them up to $1500 for the Subaru and we flatly told them that we considered it a concession for us at $2000 and non-negotiable at $1500.  So the associate (a snotty looking guy with a pencil line mustache who was maybe 10 years older than me and kept referring to me as young lady in a condescending way) said there was nothing he could do.  We made for our car and as we were pulling out, he jogged up and tapped on the glass of my window.  I rolled it down and he said "You're not really gonna let this car go for $500, are you?" I said, "Yes. Yes we are." and I rolled up the window and we pulled out.  He's lucky I didn't smack the pencil mustache off his face as took off. 
I don't care how gullible these commercials make the consumers look! I still intend to treat car buying as an olympic sport!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Windows of the Soul

It amazes me how you can look into someone's eyes and know exactly what they are thinking.  It amazes me even more when that happens with a complete stranger. 
I was pulling into the Walmart parking lot and as I put the car in park, the car I was facing was violently jolted.  I looked up to see a huge SUV backing up from a collision with the little Honda in front of me.  I saw the lady who was driving the offending vehicle and she saw me.  We made eye contact for what seemed like 5 minutes but couldn't have been more than a couple of seconds.  In that blink of an eye, I knew that she was not going to take responsibility for what she had done.  She made a big show of getting out of her car and walking around her vehicle and the other car.  I watched her this whole time and she made furtive glances in my direction.  I took note of her license plate as she got back into her car and drove a little further up the row and parked a bit aways.  She hovered back by her car for a bit, so I hoped that she was writing a note for the owner of the other car with her insurance information, so I decided to go about my business.  I went into the store and made my purchases.  On my way back to my car, I saw the guilty driver walking up to the store with her kids in tow.  I checked the windshield of the Honda, and I was not shocked to see that there was no note there.  I looked back at the store and the lady had stopped in front of the doors and was looking at me.  At that point, I took out my cell phone and took a picture of the Honda's damage, walked over to the SUV and took a picture of it's plate and the huge dent in the front bumper and got back in my car to write a note.  I told the owner what had happened, I put the other car's information and my cell number in the note and slipped it into the car's open window. (I'm sure that if I had left the note on the windshield, the woman would have taken if off when she returned to her car.)
Strangely enough, I did not receive a phone call from the Honda owner.  My hope is that the guilty woman had the car owner paged in the store and did her insurance exchange in person.  But I could tell from her face that she would not have done so willingly.  It reminded me of a lesson I taught to the kids in church a few weeks back about having a "word of honor". I explained that being honest is not only about what we say and do when we interact with other people, but it is more strongly shown by what we do when no one is watching us.  Do we do the right thing when no one is around to see our decisions?  With some people, the guilt is written all over their faces!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Caution! Religious Content!

So, on our way home from church today, my husband mentioned that he'd heard something about another shooting happening today.  My heart sank since this shooting is coming so rapidly on the heels of the Aurora, Colorado shooting.  There was indeed a shooting this morning, in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.  My first thought was, "Why are there so many crazy people these days?" Many times the first inclination is to blame the media or video games or political parties, but I disagree with that.  In the case of adults, I think there is no one to blame but the shooter.  Not gun control policies, not their parents, not their therapists.  Every person has the right to choose for themselves.
Unfortunately, other peoples' decisions effect the lives of people around them.  But this is the purpose of life here on this earth.  To be tested and prove ourselves worthy to be called God's Own.  How can we be tested if nothing bad ever happens to us?  Although it breaks my heart when I see children suffer and die, when I see injustice in this world, I think to myself, "What am I going to do about it?" In some cases, the answer is nothing.  Sometimes there is nothing you can do about tragedy, except learn to  find peace amidst the storms of life. 
I heard a quote that says something to the effect of, "Internal peace cannot be dependant on your external circumstances." So even though horrible things are happening in the world, we don't have to stir ourselves up in anger or sorrow, especially over things that we cannot change.  We can do our part to help out and share our opinions, but we don't have to let the ills of the world create a home in our hearts.  We can have peace knowing that all wrongs will be righted and all injustices that happen in this world will be corrected, either in this life, or the life to come.  Of course all of this depends on your belief system.  I find great comfort in my spirituality. 
This leads me to another thought.  A brother at church today shared a thought with the congregation.  He said that as he watched the news and the weather and heard about the droughts and the hardships around the country, he was reminded of how God has punished nations in the past and that we, as a country, have forgotten our religious heritage.  He challenged us all to encourage our neighbors to read their holy books, be it the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, etc.  We need to be reminded of our relationship with God and how much we need Him in our lives.  A lot of what he said rang true to me, and I think I need to be more conscious of the people around me and encourage them to find a greater spirituality. Obviously I would love for everyone to be at my church, but I think most churches are good and teach truth.  Peace can be as contagious as anger.  If more people developed internal peace, I think the world as a whole would be a better place.