Baby Shark

Essential Takeaway: I relate to a robot.

Last week was my birthday, and I LOVE everything about birthdays…. even my own! One of the awesome gifts I got was a Shark robot vacuum. I realize I’m pretty behind the game when it comes to a life necessity, but I finally joined the crowd. I have never related to a machine more than I do to Baby Shark. He understands his mission in life. He knows he was created to clean up after the people that live in this home. I understand part of my mission is similar…. clean up physically, emotionally or spiritually after the people that live here.

When Baby Shark bumps into something, he quickly turns a different direction and tries again. While I relate to Baby Shark, when I bounce around like a ping pong, I usually cry, or feel guilty about bumping into things. I need to be more like Baby Shark. Don’t get upset about bumping into something. Heavenly Father KNEW I would bump into things. Now I will try to quickly realize that was a mistake, turn another direction, and keep going with my mission.

Another thing I’ve noticed about Baby Shark is he knows where his charger is. He can not clean all day long every single day. Baby Shark knows he needs to charge or he can not complete his mission. How can I get charged? I have learned that the best charging station for me is connecting with my Savior. I need my scripture study. I need the sacrament. I need the peace that is in the temple.

Bumping along in life is difficult but we can improve our mission as we spend time charging with the Savior. From President Thomas S. Monson: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” As we make Christ the center of our lives, our fears will be replaced by the courage of our convictions.”

You will bump along while trying to fulfill your important mission. Remember to go back to your charger on a daily basis.

Time

Essential Takeaway: Time goes away.

This week most of us participated in moving our clocks forward for Daylight Savings Time. Personally, I don’t care which time we are on, I just wish we could pick one and stick with it. Time is an interesting thing. It passes no matter what we do. We can not stop it and we can not change its speed. I do think time has sped up but I do not have any scientific proof of that. When I am anticipating something happening, like Christmas morning, it seems to take FOREVER and is one of the few moments time seems to slow down. What if we are waiting on the Lord for something to happen? Maybe we are expecting a blessing of marriage, children, a better job, or a medical issue to pass? The Lord said in D&C64:31-32: “My words are sure and shall not fail,” He continued, “but all things must come to pass in their time.” Currently, I am trying to wait for a few things to come to pass. The first is for me to reach my goal weight. I have been working toward that goal for just over a year. I still have some work to go and that will take time. I am also anticipating my missionary daughter to come home. It is anticipated she will come home the end of November. I have never been described as patient. As I work and wait for these anticipated moments, I remember this quote by Elder Neal A. Maxwell: “Since faith in the timing of the Lord may be tried, let us learn to say not only, ‘Thy will be done,’ but patiently also, ‘Thy timing be done.’”  Even though we lost an hour this week,  I will try to be more patient with myself and with the Lord as I use my time on Earth to progress. Time will pass. I will improve one day at a time.

I did a thing

Essential Takeaway: It was small but huge

I did a thing. I totally blew a personal goal out of the water on the treadmill the other day. Was it a hard goal? For me it was. For just about anyone else, including a mostly dead slug, it would probably be easy. I have never, ever enjoyed running. EVER. That slightly chunky kid that was always last around the track in P.E.? Yep, I came in just before she did. I honestly have never been able to see the benefit of running. The avid runners I know complain about feet problems and knee problems. They get all annoying talking about marathon training and how much time is spent and all the time I’m wondering “where do you pee?”  Who wants that kind of fun? The other day, I was feeling especially cranky. It was still in February, and as I’ve said before, February makes me cranky. It was cold and snowy outside and I did not feel like putting my many layers of walking clothes on. Feeling the need to do something to get out of my funk, I decided to use the treadmill for something other than a place to hang things. I set a goal, turned the treadmill on, cranked up the classic rock and went for it. I won’t tell you how far I ran or how fast I ran. I will say I DOUBLED my goal with some effort, but not so much that I wanted to die.

The euphoria was amazing. In my few days of running, I have noticed running cures a cranky mood almost instantly. Is it the running? The classic rock? Being away from the kids? Maybe it is beating an incredibly low goal? Whatever the case, I look forward to planning marathons, buying knee braces, and find out where runners pee. Is a week of running enough to be considered a runner? When can I go from posing to the real deal? Set a goal, even if it is low and go for it. Push yourself just a little extra. You might be surprised at what you can actually do.

One year.

Essential Takeaway: Time passes

Sugar is EIGHT TIMES more addictive than cocaine.

One year.

No four of any kind.

No sugar of any kind (no honey).

365 days one day at a time.

Every holiday.

Every birthday.

Every day.

78 lbs lost.

Addiction recovery one day at a time.

I am not to my goal weight(many months left), but at this anniversary date I share this:  “Remember how far you’ve come, not just how far you have to go. You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be”. ~Rick Warren

Let there be light

Essential takeaway: LIGHT.

I do not care for January and February. Where I live, it is cold, wet, freezing, dark, and frigid. Did I mention I’m constantly cold?! I realize its been a “mild winter” but these dark months have felt especially heavy. I don’t have depression, but I do suffer from low vitamin d and I’m cold all the time! My docs have me on increased vitamin d, I recently started some light therapy, and I’m afraid of  the electric bill after my time with the many electric blankets I have around the house. The last couple of months have felt very dark and heavy as I watch friends and family members struggle with very real problems. In the last two months, I have seen up close the tragedy of suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, pornography addiction, a mental health crisis, children struggling with adult level things, and serious financial struggles. People close to me are examples that Covid and social distancing can be the least of our worries. In times like these, I remember a quote from Robert D Hales. He said “Light dispels darkness. When light is present, darkness is vanquished and must depart. When the spiritual light of the Holy Ghost is present, the darkness of Satan departs.”

Now more than ever, I have felt the need to seek light. Now when I read my scriptures, I turn on my light therapy and very literally soak up the light. I must soak up literal and spiritual light every day. Elder Hales continues with this analogy: “I became very aware that we cannot store oxygen. We cannot save the air we need to breathe, no matter how hard we try. Moment by moment, breath by breath, our lives are granted to us and are renewed. So it is with spiritual light. It must be renewed in us on a regular basis. We must generate it day by day, thought by thought, and with daily righteous action if we are to keep the darkness of the adversary away.” My scriptures, light therapy, exercise, talking to good friends, and an electric blanket are how I’m surviving. What do you do to soak up light and goodness when days feel heavy?

Ask.

Essential Takeaway: Pray with confidence

It always surprises me that the Lord gives me exactly what I need! A couple of weeks ago, as I did my personal scripture study, I really dove into the concept of praying with confidence. I love this idea and have been adding this concept to my morning meditation. I started to meditate/pray for things as if they have happened before they actually do.

Last week I had surgery.  Fifteen minutes before I was to go back to the OR, I heard the nurse say “Dr P’s first patient has not been approved by her insurance!” (that was me!) For the next few minutes, I could hear nurses scrambling to call insurance and to contact my surgeon. He came into my room and said “We are just working on something and will be ready to go soon!”  A few more minutes pass, and I got a couple of other hospital staff letting me know we were really close to being ready to go back. When I first heard the panicked announcement from the first nurse, I immediately started to put into practice the praying with confidence meditation I had recently discovered.  Breath in…. Dear Heavenly Father…. Breath out….. Thank you for allowing this surgery to proceed…..Breath in…. Thank you, Father for allowing my insurance to cover this procedure…. Breath out…. Thank you Father for continuing to bless me for paying tithing. Breath in… Thank you for your constant blessings and goodness. Breath out… thank you for helping me feel peace in this moment. I knew, as I lay there with the IV and ready to roll, that this surgery WAS going to happen and my insurance WOULD cover it.

Not long after I started this process, the nurse came in and said we were ready to go! The surgery went very well and the recovery is going well, although I am continuing to learn patience in long suffering. I know that Heavenly Father is aware of us and He really does give us what we need. Does this mean prayer is a wish list and if we wish hard enough we get whatever we want? No.

While praying with confidence, I like to remember this quote by Elder Hales in April 2019 conference; “sometimes our prayers are answered quickly with the outcome we hope for. Sometimes our prayers are not answered in the way we hope for, yet with time we learn that God had greater blessings prepared for us than we initially anticipated. And sometimes our righteous petitions to God will not be granted in this life. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “Faith also includes trust in God’s timing.”

Ask and ye shall receive!

Essential takeaway: Be careful what you ask for

Monday I was meditating and praying about a quote I read from President Nelson. He said “Ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, how He feels about you and your mission here on earth. If you ask with real intent, over time the Spirit will whisper the life-changing truth to you. … I promise you that when you begin to catch even a glimpse of how your Heavenly Father sees you and what He is counting on you to do for Him, your life will never be the same!” Monday morning I did what President Nelson suggested. What life changing revelation would I get?!

I don’t have a book to sell (yet). I don’t have a product at all. I am not doing anything the “influencers” are doing. Let’s be honest, I can barley keep my crap together. I get so overwhelmed when I scroll through Instagram. I see all of the things my “friends” are doing and I just can not compare. Wait, what?  I CAN NOT COMPARE…. not because I’m not worthy, but because it doesn’t do me any good. Back to my prayer…. Heavenly Father, what life changing thing do you want me to focus on?

Very clearly and simply I got “Love and teach the three children left in your home. They must be your top priority. Teach your children truth. Focus on those three people. Do not focus on the people you see on Instagram. Do your very best every day for the three spirits that are with you now.  They need you. You will need to know you did your best. Focus on them.”

Sometimes the answer is so simple. I wasn’t told to write a book, or create something, start a business, do “what everyone else is doing” or gain more followers. I was told to keep doing what I’M doing. My messy house is ok if truth is being taught. I do not need to stress about posting/or not posting if my kids are learning the truth about the world around them. I’m still perusing some outside goals and I think that is also good. I was seeking clarity about my mission. Clarity brings peace. Peace is needed in this world.

Have you asked, with an open mind, for clarification about your mission?

Conference Commentary

Essential Take Away: I’ll take the change

This weeks conference commentary comes from Sister Craven’s talk titled Keep the Change. In this talk, she speaks of how when we purchase an item, sometimes the vendor will give us change back. She compares this to our Savior. We are always indebted to Him, and as we change and progress, He continues to bless us… keeping us always in His debt. She says: “As we show our gratitude to Him by diligently living His commandments, He immediately blesses us, leaving us always in His debt. He gives us much, much more than the value of what we can ever return to Him. So, what can we give to Him, who paid the incalculable price for our sins? We can give Him change. We can give Him our change. It may be a change of thought, a change in habit, or a change in the direction we are headed. In return for His priceless payment for each of us, the Lord asks us for a change of heart. The change He requests from us is not for His benefit but for ours.” 

During 2020, I lost almost 75 pounds. This has been quite a learning experience and a change for me. Sister Craven says “Our daily choices will either help or hinder our progress. Small but steady, deliberate changes will help us improve. Do not become discouraged. Change is a lifelong process.” I can testify this concept is true! I can also testify is it difficult to not get discouraged. The trick is remembering this is a life long process. Change takes time. I encourage you to pick just one thing you would like to change and then pray for help and make a plan. Do you want to change eating habits? Do you want to change scripture study habits? Do you want to change a relationship? Change is a hard and slow process, but it is worth it! A small handful of coins may not seem like much, but added up over time, it can grow into something you can really do something remarkable with! Keep the change!

I get to decide

Essential Takeaway: What is my destiny?

I am one of the few people that love Mondays. I love getting back into routine. I love having a schedule and doing something productive. The first Monday in January is one of my very favorite days. Not only is it the beginning of a new week, it is the first productive hard working days of the year. I get excited with the feeling of potential for the year and that first Monday seems to be the first real day to set the plan into action. This is the first day to decide what will be different in a week, or month, or year. Do we make intentional decisions to become something better… to progress? President Thomas Monson said “Decisions Determine Destiny.”  I love that thought. Despite what the world tells us, we are not victims. We can overcome. We can take action and decide how we want our future to look. Each of us has the agency to take control one decision at a time! Heavenly Father loves us and knows that the only way to progress is to make decisions. Sometimes we make horrible decisions. He still loves us! In this process of making decisions one day at a time, we become something! What will you be a year from now? The year will pass away even if you decide nothing…. but what will you be if you are intentional about decisions? I’m excited to test this. I look forward to seeing where my destiny lies in a year because of my intentional decisions today!

Christmas 2020

Sacrament Meeting talk given on 12/20/2020

In March of 1863, 18-year-old Charles Longfellow left his family’s house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Unbeknownst to his family, he boarded a train bound for Washington, D.C., traveling over 400 miles to join President Lincoln’s Union army to fight in the Civil War. Less than two years earlier, Charles’s mother Fannie had tragically died after her dress caught on fire. Her husband, Henry, awakened from a nap, tried to extinguish the flames as best he could, first with a rug and then his own body, but she had already suffered severe burns. She died the next morning, and Henry Longfellow’s own burns were severe enough that he was unable to attend his wife’s funeral. On the first day of that December in 1863, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was dining alone at his home when a telegram arrived with the news that his son had been severely wounded. On November 27, while involved in a skirmish during a battle of the Mine Run Campaign, Charley had been shot through the left shoulder, with the bullet exiting under his right shoulder blade. It had traveled across his back and nicked his spine. On Friday, December 25, Christmas Day, Longfellow—as a 57-year-old widowed father of six children, the oldest of which had been nearly paralyzed as his country fought a war against itself—wrote a poem seeking to capture the feelings in his own heart and the world he observes around him that Christmas Day.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Other dark times continue throughout men’s time on Earth. From it’s beginning in 1914, President Joseph F. Smith watched WWI from afar with concern and sadness. In a Christmas message in December 1914, the First Presidency wrote, “While rejoicing over the birth of the Incomparable One, the light of our gladness is overshadowed with the war clouds that have darkened the skies of Europe, and our songs and salutations of joy and good will are rendered sadly discordant by the thunders of artillery and the groans of the wounded and dying, echoing from afar, but harrowing to our souls as the awful tidings come sounding o’er the sea.”

The first world war, went on for 4 years. Armistice was declared on November 11, 1918 ending the war. Now, the Spanish flu was burning through America as the soldiers were coming home from war. Imagine being at war for the last 4 years, loosing sons, neighbors, and ward members then finding your self in a world wide pandemic. On November 19, just after his 80th birthday, President Joseph F. Smith died. Because of the pandemic, no public funeral services were held. A month later, with the flu still raging, Church leaders designated December 22 as a day of fasting “for the arrest and speedy suppression by Divine Power of the desolating scourge that is passing over the earth.”  Shortly thereafter the pandemic seemed to have passed its crest, and the decision was made to resume church services on January 5. But a further wave of the epidemic in the spring caused the April general conference to be postponed until June.

A vision that opened before President Joseph F. Smith, a week before his death, is now known as section 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Coming at a time of great worldwide and personal suffering, it testifies of Heavenly Father’s love, compassion, and comfort offered by the Atonement for the living and the dead. Such widespread death; such universal and unresolved grief, particularly where loved ones had vanished without a trace because of the war, the pandemic, starvation….all these things give a special resonance to section138, the Vision of the Redemption of the Dead. Section 138 is another sign of how God gives us just what we need in a trial.  138 gives great assurance of divine love and comfort of the Atonement, the blessings of which extend to all mankind, both the living and the dead.

History is filled with times when the world isn’t always feeling it’s most peaceful at Christmas time.  Civil War, Spanish flu of 1918, WWI, the great depression, WWII,  Korean war, Vietnam… the list can continue on and on.

Now, we find ourselves at the end of 2020 deep into another world wide pandemic. We haven’t been at war, but the civil unrest is concerning for all of us. A trying year causes us to reflect on the year. What is most important? What is an essential worker? What is an essential activity for the family? We reflect on what traditions of our fathers are most bringing us to Christ and which were unnecessary. We are finally at Christmas time, and now I reflect about what does Christmas mean to me after a year like this? Christmas means hope and faith in our Heavenly Fathers plan. Elder Uchtdorf said in the last general conference: “this virus did not catch Heavenly Father by surprise. He did not have to muster additional battalions of angels, call emergency meetings, or divert resources from the world-creation division to handle an unexpected need.”

This is all part of the plan. Before Covid, things were put into place so we could function as a church and continue to spiritually progress. It is all part of the plan. Once again, God has shown his love during a very trying time for the entire world. We know Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us, individually. He also has a plan for all of his children on Earth. 

The central focus….the event that this entire plan hangs on, is the Atonement made by our Savior, Jesus Christ. The Atonement couldn’t have happened if the Savior had not been born. Because he was willing to take upon himself a mortal body and suffer as a mortal does, the Atonement can be personal for each one of us. We know the Saviors life was a miracle from His conception to His death and it was all done for each one of us and we feel that this time of year.

Christmas give us hope that things will work out. Because of the Savior, we know the bad things that happen either in our personal lives or more globally will not stay bad forever. The Atonement takes all things into consideration. This week, we found out Tuesday afternoon that our dog was very sick. Her kidneys were shutting down and she had cancer. We had a couple of hours to decide if we were going to put her to sleep or not. After consulting with the vet, it was decided this was the best thing for the dog. Because of the atonement, our Savior felt the deep despair an 8 year old Kate felt as she held her dog while it passed away. Because that baby Jesus came to Bethlehem, those that are grieving over the death of a loved one, will not grieve forever.

Because I have been taught about the plan, I felt peace when my mom was diagnosed with  cancer about 8 months ago. Because of the Atonement, we have the gift of eternal life. We have been given the gift of eternal families, if we accept that gift. My mom has said she has felt incredible peace while going through her treatments. She has felt the peace that only the Savior can bring, the peace that comes from thinking about our Savior at Christmas.

President Hinckley said “Of all things of heaven and earth of which we bear testimony, none is so important as our witness that Jesus, the Christmas child, condescended to come to earth from the realms of His Eternal Father, here to work among men as healer and teacher, our Great Exemplar. …At this time of Christmas, this season when gifts are given, let us not forget that God gave His Son, and His Son gave His life, that each of us might have the gift of eternal life.”

The atonement will make all things right. It compensates for others agency. Sometimes, life can be very bad. Sometimes it is bad because others we love have agency. The atonement makes agency work in our Heavenly Fathers plan. The atonement given to us by Christ softens the heartache of a parent praying for a wayward child. The atonement helps us love those that have hurt us or wronged us and then increased our ability to love. President Monson said this: “Christmas is peace because we have found peace in the Savior’s teachings. It is the time we realize most deeply that the more love is expended, the more there is of it for others.”

Elder Stevenson said “Without Christ, there would be no Christmas. Without Christ, there can be no fullness of joy. Without His birth and His Atonement, we would have no Intercessor, no Advocate with the Father, and no Mediator who makes it possible for us to return to the presence of our loving Heavenly Father and live together as eternal families.”

Christmas means hope. Christmas means having faith in the plan. The plan means nothing that is bad right now will stay bad forever. Christmas is celebrating the baby that came and the miracle He is. Christmas is knowing we will be reunited with loved ones. Christmas is forgiveness. Christmas is faith in the plan.  Christmas IS the plan.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”