Monday, January 18, 2016

No time for what doesn't lead us to Christ

From Sheri Dew's book No Doubt About It
"We no longer have the luxury of spending our energy on anything that doesn't lead us and our families to Christ. In the days ahead, a casual commitment to Christ will not carry us through. The time has come for each of us to stand tall, and then, in doing so, to stand together." --From Sheri Dew's book, No Doubt About It.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

15 Action Items and 20+ Quotes from President and Sister Nelson's Worldwide Devotional

Wow. The Worldwide Devotional on January 10, 2016 was awesome! Here are my favorite takeaways, both action items and quotes.

Read or watch them both here. May I recommend you print them so you can mark and ponder as you go along? 

Wendy Watson and Sheri Dew have forever been my favorite two women speakers. I was thrilled when she finally had the opportunity to get married, and to Elder Nelson, no less!  Any talk or book I've studied of hers has been top notch.  Note: this picture is from a different day, but I used it because I wanted a picture of them together.

My Checklist of 6 Action Items from Wendy Nelson's Talk 
  1. Invite the Holy Ghost to teach me individually.
  2. Be desperate to become the person God needs me to be! Then I see things differently -- myself, others, my life, entertainment, temptations -- more clearly as they really are. Then I spend time differently -- less social media and more eternal things like learning eternal truths in the temple. Then I use technology righteously, removing anything impure, then I seek and follow leaders' counsel, and find answers from God instead of Google. 
  3. Pray about paying tithing on what we want to make rather than what we make now, as George Q. Cannon did. Very cool. 
  4. Make sure I repent quickly any time I make a mistake, because "unrepented sin is like a magnet for more sin!" (I'm also going to include forgiving quickly, because unforgiveness pushes away the Spirit and eats people up inside)
  5. Do a 30-day experiment of thanking God for the scriptures, asking Him one question each day before studying, and then watch for an answer as I study that day, pleading to have the Holy Ghost teach me the answer. (Note to self: Use my journal to write the questions and answers each day.) 
  6. Pray to know what gifts God wants me to ask for, make a list of those, and pray with full energy for those gifts, knowing that "each spiritual gift we receive takes us one more step forward into our true selves." 
My Checklist of 9 Action Items from President Nelson's Talk

  1. Stand up and speak up for truth, even when it's not popular. 
  2. Remember who we really are -- it makes such a difference to remember this! My family members and I made covenants premortally about courageous things we would do on earth. God trusted us enough to send us here now -- during "the most compelling dispensation in the history of the world." We were taught premortally to prepare us for "anything and everything [we] would encounter [here] and that teaching endures with [us]." Remember when we are living. We are living in the eleventh hour, the latter part of these latter days. This is the last time God will call laborers to gather the elect from around the earth and we were sent to participate in this gathering!  
  3. Be a devout disciple of Christ who seizes every opportunity to prepare myself and others for the Second Coming and Millennial reign of the Savior. (Is it just me or is this a shift from the brethren just saying preparing for the Second Coming, to preparing for that and the Savior's Millennial reign? I don't remember that emphasis before.) We are "fore-determined by God" to do this. (Hm, I don't recall that word being used before. I just did a quick search on and couldn't find "fore-determined" used any other time. Interesting.)  Gather the elect! Bring truth to others -- it's part of our identity and purpose as Abraham's seed. 
  4. Ask God to teach me how He feels about me and my mission on the earth. "Record those impressions, review them often, and follow through with exactness." 
  5. Expect and prepare to accomplish the impossible!!  I love this!  Bring my best thinking, my most courageous efforts, and most fervent prayers, knowing full well that God will unfold miracle after miracle! Be able to accomplish the impossible by doing whatever it takes to strengthen my faith in Christ by relentlessly seeking and understanding God's truth! Also by keeping my "covenants with increasing precision."  When asked to do impossible things, "step forward with faith and dogged persistence and cheerfully do all that lies in [my] power" to fill God's purposes. Pray for courage not to give up, knowing it will be less and less popular to be LDS or to choose the right. 
  6. Plead for the gift of discernment (a second witness about praying for spiritual gifts and also receiving answers). Learn how to qualify for and access the powers of heaven by asking inspired questions. (Both of them gave this counsel -- repetition means listen up!) Go to the Lord for answers to your most important questions, not Google or social media (a second witness about priorities with social media). Pray to know what to start and stop doing, what to add or remove to my environment so the Spirit can be here more fully. (This is a third witness of asking inspired questions of what the Lord wants us to do next in our journey of becoming who He needs us to be, plus three other witnesses who mentioned this idea during the recent general conference.). Expect to be awakened during the night with promptings and answers to my questions. Just as the prophets and apostles are required to "seek and ponder, fast and pray, and study and wrestle with difficult questions, He requires [me] to do the same as [I] seek answers to [my] own questions."
  7. Spend more time in holy places like temple and churches, and make my home a more holy place, a sanctuary from "dark distractions of the world." Spend much more time where the Spirit is -- more time with friends seeking the Spirit, more time praying on my knees, more time in the scriptures, in family history work, and in the temple. I love, love, love this promise: "I promise you that as you consistently give the Lord a generous portion of your time, He will multiply the remainder."
  8. Ask for our own witness to know the prophet is called of God, and about what God's prophet proclaims. (I have a strong testimony of this and preach it repeatedly in my seminary class. When President Hinckley died I was concerned my great love for him would make it hard for me to gain a testimony of President Monson as our new prophet. So I prayed fervently for my own witness that President Monson was God's true prophet. I received that witness the first time I heard him speak as the new prophet.) Follow the prophets even if it's hard, inconvenient, or looks impossible, and I'll be blessed immensely, knowing that prophets see ahead, both the dangers and the grand blessings lying ahead. 
  9. Be very careful about whose counsel I follow, knowing there are "servants of Satan embedded throughout society." 

Now My Favorite Quotes

Becoming the Person You Were Born to Be by Wendy Watson Nelson (Click here for the whole talk)

My Favorite Quotes from Sister Nelson 

Sister Nelson said desperation is a great motivator
  • Would you like this to be the very best year of your life? The year when you follow through—better than you ever have before—on resolutions that mean the most to you? ...They were desperate! ... They were desperate for Jesus Christ to help them do things they could never do on their own. ... Desperation can actually be a great motivator. 
  • When we’re desperate to be guided by heaven, we work harder than ever to tune in to heaven. When we’re desperate to be physically healthy, we eat and exercise accordingly. No excuses! When we’re desperate to have more money, we eagerly follow the Lord’s law of finances—which is, of course, tithing! 
Paying tithing on the amount you want to make rather than the amount you make 
  • Consider President George Q. Cannon’s approach to tithing when he was an impoverished young man. When his bishop commented on the large amount of tithing poor young George was paying, George said something like: “Oh bishop, I’m not paying tithing on what I make. I’m paying tithing on what I want to make.” And the very next year George earned exactly the amount of money he had paid tithing on the year before!6
Desperation to become what we're born to be changes our vision and view of entertainment
  • When we’re desperate to become the people we were born to be, our vision changes. We wake up from the spiritual amnesia the adversary so cleverly administers, and suddenly we see things about ourselves, others, and our lives we’ve never seen before. The world’s “fun” and “entertainment” start to look almost ridiculous, perhaps even spiritually dangerous. We begin to see the adversary’s tricks and traps for what they really are—temptations to make us forget our true identity and our destination.
  • We begin to spend our time differently. Time on Facebook doesn’t seem half as compelling as time in the temple. ... We become much more interested in eternal truths the Lord will teach us in His holy house than in the latest sensational comments on social media, which can be so glib and brain-numbing.
  • One bright BYU coed told me she discovered a reverse correlation between how confident and happy she felt and the amount of time she spent on social media. 
  • When we’re desperate to be our true selves, we use technology righteously.
  • When we’re desperate to be the true disciples of Jesus Christ we were born to be, we suddenly find the courage and determination to remove anything and everything from our lives that is unholy and impure. ... The scriptures become our “go-to source” for answers and for the comfort we may realize we’ve often been seeking online.
Wendy gives awesome experiment invitations. Here is one.
  • Would you be willing to try an experiment for 30 days? Daily kneel and thank your Heavenly Father for the scriptures. Tell Him the one question you most need to have answered that day. Plead to have the Holy Ghost with you as you read. Then open your scriptures anywhere, and read until you find the answer.8 Try it for 30 days and see what happens.
Pray to know what spiritual gifts to ask for, then ask for them 
  • It’s up to us to prayerfully discover which gifts we need. We may need the gift of self-discipline or of cheerfulness. Perhaps we need the gift of patience, or the gift to be healed, or the gift to forgive. Perhaps we need the gift to have our sexual feelings be in harmony with eternal laws. Perhaps we realize that we cannot live one more minute without the gift of unshakable faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. When we’re desperate for any gift of the Spirit, that is when we will finally pray with all the energy of heart for that gift.12 And the great news is that each spiritual gift we receive takes us one more step forward into our true selves.
Imagine that the Savior has already come -- what would you make time to do now? 
  • What if you learned that the Savior had already returned to this earth—that He, as part of His Second Coming, had already met with some of His true followers in several marvelous, large gatherings13—gatherings about which the world, including CNN and the blogosphere, knew nothing. If you found out that the Savior was already on the earth, what would you desperately want to do today, and what would you be willing and ready to do tomorrow?
  • I pray that this year you will have some moments of anguishing desperation that will propel you further along the path to becoming the man or woman you were born to be. Your true self is spectacular! Never settle for less. 

Becoming True Millennials by President Russell M. Nelson (Click here for the whole talk)

My Favorite Quotes by President Nelson 

President Nelson likes the term "True Millennials" for this generation of choice spirits
  • The term Millennial is perfect for you if that term reminds you of who you really are and what your purpose in life really is. A True Millennial is one who was taught and did teach the gospel of Jesus Christ premortally and who made covenants with our Heavenly Father there about courageous things—even morally courageous things—that you would do while here on earth.
  • A True Millennial is a man or woman whom God trusted enough to send to earth during the most compelling dispensation in the history of this world. A True Millennial is a man or woman who lives now to help prepare the people of this world for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and His millennial reign. Make no mistake about it—you were born to be a True Millennial.
President Nelson's first recommendation for becoming a "True Millennial" is to learn who you really are
  • You were taught in the spirit world to prepare you for anything and everything you would encounter during this latter part of these latter days.1 That teaching endures within you!
  • You are living in the “eleventh hour.” The Lord has declared that this is the last time that He will call laborers into His vineyard to gather the elect from the four quarters of the earth.2 And you were sent to participate in this gathering. Again and again I have seen firsthand the powerful influence of True Millennials as they bring others to a knowledge of the truth. This is part of your identity and your purpose as the seed of Abraham!3
  • True Millennials ... know who they really are. They are devout disciples of Jesus Christ who instinctively seize every opportunity to help themselves and others prepare for the millennial reign of our Savior.
  • Therefore, my first recommendation is to learn for yourselves who you really are. 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. Record those impressions and review them often, and follow through with exactness.  ...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! (Emphasis added.)
His second recommendation is to expect and prepare to accomplish the impossible.
  • God has always asked His covenant children to do difficult things. ...The Lord will ask you to do difficult things. You can count on it—Abrahamic tests did not stop with Abraham.4
  • [President Benson's instructions to President Nelson] included, “Elder Nelson, you are to open the countries of Eastern Europe for the preaching of the gospel.” ... All of Eastern Europe was under the oppressive yoke of communism. Churches were closed, and religious worship was strictly limited. I had no experience that would lead me to believe I could [do it] ... And yet, a prophet had given me an assignment, so I set out to do what seemed utterly impossible. ...The Lord is able to do His own work,5 and I was privileged to watch the unfolding of one miracle after another—always, and only, after I had brought my best thinking, my most courageous efforts, and my most fervent prayers to the task. (Emphasis added.)
  • As a True Millennial whom the Lord can count on, you will make history too! You will be asked to accept challenging assignments and become an instrument in the Lord’s hands. And He will enable you to accomplish the impossible.
President Nelson offers ways you and I will be able to accomplish the impossible
  • How will you accomplish the impossible? By doing whatever it takes to strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ by increasing your understanding of the doctrine taught in His restored Church and by relentlessly seeking truth. As a True Millennial, anchored in pure doctrine, when you are asked to do impossible things, you will be able to step forward with faith and dogged persistence and cheerfully do all that lies in your power to fulfill the purposes of the Lord.6 (Emphasis added.) 
  • You will have days when you will be thoroughly discouraged. So, pray for courage not to give up!
  • ...I promise you that as you follow Jesus Christ, you will find sustained peace and true joy. As you keep your covenants with increasing precision, and as you defend the Church and kingdom of God on the earth today, the Lord will bless you with strength and wisdom to accomplish the impossible.
His second recommendation is to learn how to access the power of heaven 
  • You too will learn best by asking inspired questions. ... Our Heavenly Father and His Son stand ready to respond to your questions through the ministering of the Holy Ghost. But it is up to you to learn how to qualify for an receive those answers.
President Nelson gives us a list of where to start in learning to qualify for and receive answers from heaven. I added the numbers to the list. 
  1. Begin by spending more time in holy places. The temple is a holy place. So is the chapel, where you make new sacramental covenants each Sunday. I invite you also to make your apartment, your dorm, your home, or your room a holy place where you can safely retreat from the dark distractions of the world.
  2. Prayer is a key. Pray to know what to stop doing and what to start doing. Pray to know what to add to your environment and what to remove so the Spirit can be with you in abundance.
  3. Plead with the Lord for the gift of discernment. Then live and work to be worthy to receive that gift so that when confusing events arise in the world, you will know exactly what is true and what is not. 7
  4. Serve with love. Loving service to those who have lost their way or who are wounded in spirit opens your heart to personal revelation.
  5. Spend more time—much more time—in places where the Spirit is present. That means more time with friends who are seeking to have the Spirit with them. 
  6. Spend more time on your knees in prayer, 
  7. more time in the scriptures, 
  8. more time in family history work, 
  9. more time in the temple. 
  10. I promise you that as you consistently give the Lord a generous portion of your time, He will multiply the remainder. (Emphasis added)
  11. ...After fasting, praying, studying, pondering, and counseling with my Brethren about weighty matters, it is not unusual for me to be awakened during the night with further impressions about issues with which we are concerned. And my Brethren have the same experience.
  12. ...Just as the Lord requires us to seek and ponder, fast and pray, and study and wrestle with difficult questions, He requires you to do the same as you seek answers to your own questions.
  13. You can learn to hear the voice of the Lord through the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.8 As helpful as Google, Twitter, and Facebook may seem, they simply do not provide answers to your most important questions!
  14. My dear young friends, you can know the mind and will of the Lord for your own life. You do not have to wonder if you are where the Lord needs you to be or if you are doing what He needs you to do. You can know! 
His fourth recommendation with becoming True Millennials is to follow the prophets
  • Prophets see ahead. They see the harrowing dangers the adversary has placed or will yet place in our path. Prophets also foresee the grand possibilities and privileges awaiting those who listen with the intent to obey.
  • The Lord has promised us that He will never allow the prophet to lead us astray. President Harold B. Lee declared: “You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory’ (D&C 21:6).”10
  • You may not always understand every declaration of a living prophet. But when you know a prophet is a prophet, you can approach the Lord in humility and faith and ask for your own witness about whatever His prophet has proclaimed.
  • The somber reality is that there are “servants of Satan”12 embedded throughout society. So be very careful about whose counsel you follow.13
We were fore-determined to help get the earth ready for the Second Coming
  • ...You were born to be True Millennials! You are a chosen generation,14 fore-determined by God to do a remarkable work—to help prepare the people of this world for the Second Coming of the Lord.
President Nelson left the audience with a beautiful, apostolic blessing. I will add numbers to count the blessings he pronounced. 
  • Now, as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I bless each one of you, as though I had my hands upon your heads, with 
  1. the ability to become the True Millennial you were born to be. 
  2. I bless you to have the desire and ability to learn your true identity and purpose, 
  3. that you will expect and prepare to do “impossible” things, 
  4. that you will be undaunted in your efforts to learn how to access the powers of heaven to help you solve your problems and answer your questions. 
  5. And I bless you to follow the prophets with exactness, 
  6. to feel peace in your heart as you do so.
  7. I bless you to know and feel how much the Lord loves you and how much confidence He has in you.

Click here to see one of my other favorite talks from Sister Nelson, given at BYU Women's Conference in May 2015. 

Feel free to leave a comment below with a favorite quote or something you plan to act on from these amazing talks! 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Winter Homeschool Conference on Jan 30 in Northern Utah

If you're homeschooling or considering it, this is a great conference to attend! 

I have another commitment that weekend, but I wish I could clone myself because there will be great presenters and classes for adults and youth, a family ball put on my my friend Shiloh and vendor booths. I love running into old friends and making new ones. My friend Tammy Ward puts on amazing conferences!

Click here for more information or to register. 


Friday, January 15, 2016

18 Tips to Create your own "Liberation from Laundry" System

I woke up this morning feeling like I should post this again. I hope it blesses your new year with more order and simplicity! 

Here is the "liberation from laundry" system I've taught moms for years. 

I designed our dream home plan with a seriously awesome, dream laundry room. And then instead of building, we purchased a spec home, with a laundry closet instead of a room. So I took a few shelves, bins, and a rod to transform our little laundry closet into a laundry room that works really well!  

Here is our empty laundry closet. If you click on the pictures they will enlarge. 

This is our laundry system in use. This picture includes a couple bins missing in the picture above -- hand-me-downs and clothes that need a special wash cycle.

Parts of a user-friendly laundry closet or room 

  • For clean laundry, each person gets their own labeled bin, plus a bin for for rags and a bin for towels and sheets.  
  • For dirty laundry, there are bins for darks, lights, and whites. 
  • I include a few other bins for clothes to give away, hand-me-down clothes to store in the basement, and clothes that need a special wash cycle like soaking or delicate cycle. 
  • We use wall space to hang wire storage shelving for laundry supplies, and a nail in the wall to hold a sweater bag.  We use a "hang dry" sign with poster putty on the washer to remind us something in that batch needs to hang dry.

18 Tips to find liberation from the overwhelm of massive piles of laundry.  

 1. I do very little folding!  

The mom's job is just to wash, dry, hang, and place in bins.  That's it. I DON'T fold and put all that laundry away every day.  That's the most overwhelming part that makes you walk to everyone's bedrooms each day.  So I hang anything I don't want wrinkled, and toss the rest into bins, like pajamas, underwear, socks, rags and towels. The hanging rod is also an easy place to hang dry clothes. 

2. I almost never put clothes away!  

Once a week each person takes his or her bin and hanging clothes and puts their own clothes away. My oldest two children do the towels and help with preschoolers’ clothes. We do this each Wednesday as part of morning chores. Another good time to do this is between family home evening and treats – you’ll be amazed at the family’s speed and cooperation when a treat is waiting!

3. Even a two- or three-year old can put away clothes if you make it easy enough.

  • Place pictures on their drawers or bins.
  • Teach them how, then do it with them until they’re old enough to do it on their own, around five years old.  Of course it won’t look as good as when you do it, but remember you’re raising responsible children, not perfect drawers of clothing. An older child can be assigned to help a younger child. If your child helps draw, cut, or tape the labels on they’re more likely to put their clothes away.

4. I almost never mate socks!  

I buy a unique package of white socks for each person (one person has a grey heel, another has a pink stripe), toss those into their bin, and the owner puts them away.  They don’t even have to mate their own because all their white socks match the rest. If the socks are hard to tell apart, use a laundry marker to initial the bottom of each sock. Some people use a different mesh zipper bag to wash each person’s socks. 

Others have family members pin each pair together, using clothes pins or safety pins.  If several people wear the same size socks, buy lots of that type and have a shared sock bin in the bathroom or bedroom.  Now only dress socks need to be mated, and each person can mate their own, because your job is to simply toss them in the owner’s bin.

5. I never fold dish towels or rags! 

Just toss them in the drawer – nobody else cares. In our house “spill rags” are stored in a low kitchen drawer and can be used for spilled juice, dusting, or cleaning. This saves nice dish towels from getting stained. If spill rags are stored with the rest they can be a certain color or marked with an “S.”  
6. Liberate yourself from washing towels every day.  

Replace towel rods with a row of hooks, then assign each person a hook and a towel.  Once a week wash the batch of towels together and rehang. If somebody wants theirs washed more often, they can throw their own in the laundry. 

7. Having less clothes means feeling less overwhelmed. 

Help your child choose their ten favorite outfits (or any amount) for summer, and ten for winter. Placing a D.I. box in the laundry room makes it quick and easy to de-clutter clothes that are too small, stained, or torn. 

8. Make laundry less overwhelming by doing it more often.  Laundry never piles up, gets mildewed, or wrinkled!  

It’s no longer overwhelming now that it takes only a few minutes, so it’s easy to do a load or two each morning.  The dreaded mountains of laundry are a thing of the past! You save time and wrinkles by hanging, folding, and tossing right when you take clothes out of the dryer.

Do a batch or two every morning.  Laundry never piles up, gets mildewed, or wrinkled. It’s no longer overwhelming now that it takes only a few minutes, so it’s easy to do a load or two each morning. The dreaded mountains of laundry are a thing of the past! You save time and wrinkles by hanging, folding, and tossing right when you take clothes out of the dryer. 

One mother of nine stays home every Monday and does all the laundry while she works on phone calls and paperwork. Another mom reserves Monday and Friday for laundry and cleaning, leaving the rest of the week open for errands and outings. 

9. Teach family members to empty their own pockets. 

Announce that Mom now gets to keep anything (money, treats) she finds in pockets.

10. Here's a trick not to forget rotating your laundry. 

Do you have a problem remembering to rotate your laundry, and then find smelly clothes days later?  Attach laundry to a daily task, like rotating a load after putting the baby down for naps and bedtime. Or after each meal. Another idea is to set a timer in your main living area, or use a timer on a digital watch if the dryer is too far away to hear the buzzer.  

11. No more tangled hangers. 

If you don’t like hassling with tangled metal hangers replace them with sturdy plastic ones.  

12. I almost never iron!  

Here are three ways to prevent ironing: 
1) remove clothes from of the dryer and hang them right away
2) buy wrinkle-free clothes
3) spray cotton clothes with a squirt bottle and smooth with hands to remove wrinkles
4) use a commercial wrinkle removal spray 

13. A way to find each person's hanging clothes faster. 

If you hang up most of your family’s clothing, make it easy to hang and to find each person’s clothes by dividing the hanging bar into sections using fun foam. Or assign each family member a different color of hangers. 

14. How to get all those hangers back from closets. 

Teach family members to hook hangers onto the hamper so they automatically go to the laundry room. No more searching for hangers when you need them.  Another idea is to have family members bring their empty hangers back the day they put away their clean laundry. 

15. Teach family members to sort their own laundry. 

Have three different colored hampers: white, dark, and light.  Or you may choose to havepeople use a central hamper, and you sort into piles or bins in the laundry room.  Do whatever is easy for you. You might assign a child the job of bringing the hampers from aroundthe house into the laundry room, or you gather them as you pick up the house each morning.  

16. Teach family members to check clothing for spots. 

Store the pre-spot cleaner near the hamper, and spray spots when they’re fresh. Or place a small laundry bin nearby just for items that need pre-spot treatment. 

17. Teach children to do their own laundry starting around age 8-10. 

Do it with your children until they’re skilled. If your kids are too young, you can do one child’s laundry each day. I only wash whites a couple times a week (usually Mondays and Thursdays) and I often offer for the kids to bring me their white church shirts or blouses for those batches, because I don’t want my kids dealing with bleach. 

18. If you can spare a room, consider setting up a whole room as a laundry center and clothes closet for the whole family like my friend AnnMarie uses.

Click here for the Edwards family's five-part housework from a professional organizer. 

Click here for more tips on getting organized. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Healthy Almond Joy... Heavenly!

One of my goals right now is to eat 90% whole, clean foods each day. 

I said 90% to give myself some wiggle room for my sweet tooth. Guess what? Now that I have a batch of these on hand (they freeze great for a daily chocolate fix) I have begun eating 100% whole, clean foods! Yes!

Healthy Almond Joy

This recipe is an adapted version of one from Green Smoothie Girl. Ideally all the ingredients are organic and raw, but it will work either way. All the ingredients can be found at a health food store or on Amazon. 

1 cup coconut oil
1 cup agave or maple syrup
3/4 cup cacao or cocoa powder 
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut (I also added a little to the top for decor)
1 1/2 cups chopped almonds (I used 1 cup almonds and 1/2 cup sunflower seeds)

If the coconut oil is solid, warm it in a sink of hot water enough to melt it. Pour it into a blender and add cocoa powder and sweetener. Blend until smooth, scraping edges as needed. Pour mixture into a bowl and stir in nuts and coconut. Spread into an 8x8 inch glass backing dish. If desired sprinkle extra coconut on the top for prettiness. Chill for an hour or so. Cut into squares. 

These freeze great with a wax or parchment paper between layers for a daily healthy chocolate fix! You can double the recipe for a 9x13 inch pan. 

Leave a comment below to let us know how you like these!  We served them to dinner guests last night who prefer non-sugar treats and they went "nuts" over them! He he...

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

I'm giving a presentation on Jan 12. Feel free to join me!

If you're one who has asked me to let you know when I speak again, I am speaking next Tuesday, January 12 in Davis County, Utah. I'll be speaking on using media wisely and safeguarding our families from the epidemic of pornography. If you'd like to come, email me and I'll send you the time and place. 

Two minutes can do THAT? How your own body language impacts your self-image and invites others to treat you, with an FHE idea.

We had a family home evening about a very simple thing that can bring great results.  

It's based on a Harvard study I heard about at a recent public speaking seminar. The study was done by Amy Cuddy. In the study, participants first had their saliva tested, and then they held a certain pose for two minutes. 

  • One group held a weak pose. What do you imagine a weak pose would look like? Think hunched shoulders, weight on one leg, looking down, frowning, hands clasped together or arms crossed and closed in, or maybe in the pockets. 
  • The other group held a strong pose. Think shoulders back, chin up, looking ahead, smiling, tail bone out, arms to the side or on the hips or reaching out. (Images from Amy's Ted Talk.)

Check out these two amazing results. 

After only two minutes of holding their pose, the participants had their saliva tested again. And then went in for a fake job interview. 
  1. The people who used a strong pose had more confidence hormone and less stress hormone. The people who held a weak pose had less confidence hormone and more stress hormone. 
  2. Which people do you think the job interviewers wanted to hire? The people who used power poses! 
WOW. This is a very simple and very powerful concept that can change people's lives. Changing your body language can impact your brain chemistry, your own self-image, how others see and treat you, and your success in life! 

Most of our communication is non-verbal, and people's subconscious minds treat us differently depending on the body language we use. Also 

Here are three true stories that show how this works in real life. 

The first story is about a teenage boy who came home from school one day and asked his mom why the kids always pick on him. 

This mom had learned about how body language invites people to treat us in certain ways so she invited him to change one thing: change the way he stood at his locker. Rather than standing with his weight all on one leg, she invited him to stand with his legs shoulder width apart and weight on both legs. She didn't even talk about arms, shoulders, eyes, chin, or smile; just the legs. He came home from school and essentially said, "Mom, I hate it when you're right." By the end of the school year he told his mom he didn't want to change schools again because he had the most friends there. Isn't that amazing? One simple change in his body language and people started treating him differently. 

The second story is about Amy Cuddy, the Harvard professor who did this study was in a serious car wreck as a 19-year-old. 

Image from Amy Cuddy's Ted Talk
She had been intelligent and even gifted before, and from the brain injury, suddenly she was told college isn't for her. She worked hard and finally graduated from college, taking longer than her peers but she persevered. Then one graduate professor had faith in her and vouched for her to enter a graduate program at Princeton. The first week she needed to give a 20 minute speech to 20 people. She felt so out of place that she went to the professor and said she was going to quit because she shouldn't be there. The professor said in essence, "No, you're not going to quit. You're going to fake it until you make it. You're going to act like you're strong and you will keep faking it until you are." 

It wasn't until this woman became a new professor herself at Harvard that a new student came in saying the same thing, "I don't belong here. I need to quit." The professor was struck by the fact that she herself didn't feel that way any more, even though that was her experience every day at the beginning of graduate school. Not only did she fake it until she made it, she had faked it until she became it. Wow. So she looked at that young grad student and told her the same kind of thing, "You do belong here. You're going to fake it. You're going to act strong until you make it, and until you become it." (Forgive if I got the details wrong. I watcher her Ted Talk only once and wrote it from the best of my memory. Feel free to watch it here.)

The third story is about my husband Mike, an attorney. 

Picture from Mike's Lawyer Facebook page.
Until I learned about these body language concepts in the past several weeks, he hadn't been consciously aware of it, but we've recently had several conversations about how his body language and confidence impacts a judge, a jury, or other people in his profession. He intuitively knew that if he started his court case with a weak posture and voice, people wouldn't trust him or believe what he had to say. So he holds himself with a strong pose with shoulders back, chin up, looking people in the eye, using large arm gestures. He has had people tell him after watching him in court, "I believe you more." 

My husband asked our kids to imagine Joseph Smith having his experience in the Sacred Grove, seeing God the Father and Jesus Christ. He asked how we imagine those two standing and speaking. Can you imagine them hunched over, acting like they were hiding or embarrassed of their message? No way! I picture them standing tall, confident, being who they truly are, and sharing their message of truth with full confidence.  I asked the kids to picture President Uchtdorf using a weak pose. Can't do it. He also carries himself with strength, confidence and power, inviting others to trust and follow him as a leader. 

We want to listen to a speaker or follow a leader who comes across as confident because our subconscious trusts that they know what they're talking about and where they're going.  

Wanna try it? I invite you to do an interactive family home evening lesson. 

Everyone hold a weak pose for 60 seconds and start saying the thoughts and feelings they're experiencing. Take a moment to write down that list. Then everyone hold a strong pose for 60 seconds and share what thoughts and feelings that brings, and write down that list. 

Here are the words my family listed after doing the weak pose:
  • hopeless 
  • sad 
  • picked on
  • why? 
  • pain
  • crabby
  • weak
  • agitated
  • I can't do it
  • unempowered
  • lonely 
Here are the words my family listed from doing the strong pose:
  • happy
  • content 
  • strong 
  • confident
  • it feels like you're true self 
  • feel more open and loving to others 
  • empowered 
  • I can do this
  • hopeful 
  • I want to be with people 
This was really eye opening for my family that simply the way they stand and smile can affect their thoughts, feelings, and mood in such a dramatic way after such a short time. Didn't the Lord say that "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass" (Alma 37:6)?

Then as a family, do an experiment for one week. 

Picture from  Today's Creative Life
For two minutes every morning -- you could even do this while brushing your teeth -- hold your body in a strong pose. Do your best to smile and hold the non-brushing hand out in a large gesture while holding your chin up, eyes looking ahead, shoulders back, and legs steady. Just two minutes a day. Or double that and do it both times while you brush your teeth each day. And then write down what you feel and think, and jot down any differences you start to notice in your life. 

After a week, meet together as a family and discuss the differences you've noticed. I bet you'll be grateful that you now know about a small but powerful way our bodies and minds work that can bring an improvement in thoughts, feelings, moods, and results. 

FHE Idea: Here's how we did it.
  1. Invite everyone to stand and do what they think a weak pose would look like.  Ask them to make their shoulders, legs, hands, chin, eyes, and mouth look like a weak pose. Time it for 60 seconds, and during it, ask people to start calling out what they think and feel doing the weak pose. Write down that list.
  2. Then do the same thing but with a strong pose. Write down the list of thoughts and feelings. 
  3. Then I told the stories, while standing in strong poses of course :), of the Harvard study, the teenage boy, and the Harvard professor's car wreck and faking it.
  4. We discussed our thoughts and feelings about it. That's when Mike shared about how he pictures Heavenly Father and Jesus using strong poses rather than hiding behind weak poses. 
  5. Then invite everyone to do a seven day experiment by holding a strong pose for two minutes every morning and evening, perhaps as they brush their teeth, and watch for any shifts in their thoughts, feelings, moods, how others treat them, how they feel about themselves, and their results. 
I didn't know much about how our body language impacts us or others before learning from Kirk Duncan

I recommend you attend one of Kirk's 3 Key Elements events or listen to one of his audios. "Building a Mind of Steel" is a great audio to start with.