Thursday, February 25, 2016

My journal entry today about doing something impossible when I think, "I can't do this."

Me writing my journal entry today. 

I’ve been receiving promptings to do some things that seem impossible to me, and I need to break through the walls of my limiting beliefs causing feelings of “I can’t do this.” 

So for my scripture study today I feel prompted to make a list of scripture people who faced impossible odds where God helped them succeed anyway. This applies to a new calling, mission, baby, move, career, education, trial, prompting, anything that feels bigger than you and seems impossible. 

I know that with God ALL THINGS are possible. NOTHING is impossible to Him. Nothing. Never. Ever. Period. The end. God is more powerful than EVERYTHING else. No matter how huge, intimidating, overwhelming, powerful, or impossible, God has more power than it. 

So I am going to make my own faith-building list of times people were up against impossible odds and God made the impossible possible, God helped them succeed! I know I’ve made lists like this before, but so have I prayed before, gone to church before, and studied scriptures before. Making my own “remember lists” of some of the many times God has done this for others boosts my faith that God will help me do things right now that feel utterly impossible to me. I need that boost right now. 

Since I’m teaching the Old Testament in seminary right now, I’ll start there. Then I’ll go back to myself. 

Adam and Eve. 

Holy cow, talk about impossible! No parents or other examples around to teach you how to live life outside the Garden of Eden, in the fallen world, how to grow your own food, kill and cook your own meat, how to be parents and raise children of your own, nothing. Yikes, that would be intimidating! Yet they turned to God and they succeeded! 


Enoch felt totally overwhelmed and intimidated by his own insecurities and weaknesses when the Lord called him to preach. But he put his faith in the Lord’s power, and the Lord helped him succeed! Wowza, succeed so much that surrounded by great wickedness, Enoch’s city became perfect and was translated! I don’t think I can think of any succeeding that’s better than that. But Enoch didn’t start out that way. He went from telling the Lord when first called to preach something like, “I’m but a lad, all the people hate me, and I’m slow of speech” (see Moses 6:31) to Enoch’s faith being so great that when he spoke the earth trembled, mountains fled, rivers turned, and all nations feared because “so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him” (Moses 7:13). Wow, what a transformation. 

What happened there? The Lord’s power made the impossible possible and helped Enoch succeed magnificently. The Lord’s answer to Enoch’s insecure response when first called to preach was, “No man shall pierce thee. Open thy mouth, and it shall be filled, and I will give thee utterance. All flesh is in my hands” (Moses 6:32). 

I wrote this next to Enoch in my scriptures by Moses 6:31: “Remember that whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies” (Thomas S. Monson, “Duty Calls,” Ensign, May 1996).

Noah. Oh my goodness, Noah. 

Can you imagine a more impossible situation than THAT? Noah was told to build a boat, no a ship, no an ark. And not at the beach either. Not only that, Noah was commanded to gather all these animals – two of EVERY kind of animal. In fact, he wouldn’t be asked to gather them the normal way, by capturing them with cages, but by faith. He would need enough faith for the animals to come to HIM. Wow. And enough faith to endure the years and years of mockers, likely even his own brothers and sisters, cousins and friends as he built this gigantic ark. Then enough faith to walk into the ark and watch the Lord’s power shut the door, and listen while all those loved ones screamed and yelled, begging Noah to let them in so they wouldn’t drown. I can’t imagine how impossible every step of Noah’s journey must have seemed to him. The only way he could have done each step was that he knew God’s power was greater than his own. Greater than his own insecurity and intimidation, embarrassment from the mocking, greater than his own overwhelm and inadequacy from never having built an ark or gathered animals like that EVER. God’s power made the impossible possible, and Noah succeeded magnificently.

Moses. Talk about impossible! 

Moses was another man who felt utterly inadequate at the impossible-looking job God gave him. Just imagine that you’re Moses. You know that hundreds of thousands of Israelites are slaves in Egypt where you used to live, and God tells you to go talk the king into freeing all those slaves who have been doing his manual labor for centuries. Neither group of people knew any different. It’s how it had always been. But God said it was time for a massive change. 


I can only imagine how inadequate, insecure, and way too small Moses must have felt for that job. Moses’ response included the following: “Who am I, that I should go unto Pharoah, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:11)? “They will not believe me nor harken to my voice” (Exodus 4:1). “I am not eloquent... I am slow of speech and of a slow tongue” (Exodus 4:10). Then he basically asked the Lord to please send someone else (see Exodus 4:13). 

Well the Lord, the amazing, perfect Lord that He is, had an answer for every one of Moses’ excuses, insecurities, roadblocks, walls, limiting beliefs that kept Moses thinking, “I can’t do this.”  After each time Moses expressed a limiting belief about himself, the Lord had a perfect response. To Moses’ “Who am I that I should go unto Pharaoh?” the Lord responded with “Certainly I will be with thee” (Moses 3:12). When Moses complained, that the Pharaoh wouldn’t believe or follow him, the Lord’s power turned Moses’ rod into a snake, and then He turned Moses’ hand leprous for a moment. The Lord answered Moses’ complaint about a speech issue by giving him a spokesman. He knows how to overcome every weakness. He’s amazing like that. 

The Lord needed to build Moses’ faith in this central theme that I see all the way through the scriptures, and I think that is on purpose because you and I need to hear it over and over and over again. 

The theme is this. 

God is more powerful than Pharaoh. God is more powerful than the whiny Israelites. God is more powerful than the Red Sea. God is more powerful than the impossible challenge of no food or water in the wilderness for hundreds of thousands of people. (The next time you’re in charge of a Relief Society dinner or even stake pioneer trek, imagine being Moses needing THAT amount of food.) God is more powerful than Adam and Eve’s lack of knowledge of how to do life. God is more powerful than Enoch’s insecurities and limiting beliefs. God is more powerful than Noah’s inexperience with ark building or animal gathering, or his embarrassment from the mocking. 

Why did I spend my scripture study time on this theme today? 

Because I need this theme to be buried deep inside my heart right now. I need to remind myself once again of just a few of the infinite number of times God has made the impossible possible and successful for so many people before, myself included. 

In fact, let me spend a few minutes remembering times when God has made the impossible possible and successful for me. 

When He prompted me to homeschool our children four years ago. Wow, that was utterly terrifying and overwhelming! When He helped me overcome an eating disorder as a young person that I was scared I couldn’t overcome. When He helped us get out of the Army early for my husband to get a scholarship to become an officer, even when the Army kept saying no when the Lord kept saying yes. When When He called me to teach institute several years ago and I felt utterly inadequate. Heck, I had felt scared and inadequate when called to teach gospel doctrine in Sunday School not too long before that. Then again a couple years ago when He called me to teach seminary. Not only did seminary teaching feel like the most scary, intimidating calling I’ve ever had, but my husband was serving as a bishop and in the National Guard, I was homeschooling our children, getting our oldest son ready for a mission, doing some public speaking and blogging, and dealing with food allergy issues for me and a child that were really stressful and the foods affected our thinking and moods. 

My plate was already full, thank you very much. 

Overflowing actually. But here’s the cool thing. I have gained a testimony over the years that Nephi was speaking 100% the truth when he said that when God commands He empowers (see 1 Nephi 3:7). In other words, if God tells us to do something impossible, God will make the impossible become possible, and help us succeed at it. Months ahead of being called as a seminary teacher I had received a series of promptings that I was going to be teaching seminary. When the call came, I felt a deep comfort knowing that God had already told me this was His will. Therefore He will help me. 1 Nephi 3:7 all the way. Same thing when my husband was called as a bishop, and when I was called as a Relief Society president before that. It’s funny because when we were new at receiving those promptings we felt silly believing them. “Who are we to think you’re going to be the next bishop?” Over time, we’ve gained more trust that those feelings aren’t ours, but God’s merciful witness-in-advance from the Spirit that those callings were indeed God’s will. Therefore He will help us. And He absolutely has. Every time. Have they always been easy? No way. Have we been given power to do what He asked? Absolutely.  

Okay, so here is today. 

I’ve been receiving some promptings that God wants me to do some things that seem too big to me. Too overwhelming. Too intimidating. Too much. Too scary. Too impossible. But I know, deep down in the cells of my soul, from my own repeated experiences and from scripture people too, that when God commands, He empowers. 1 Nephi 3:7 agian. 

Then why does it feel so hard again? 

Why don’t I just keep that same faith and courage when each new impossible challenge comes my way? I guess it’s because when a new challenge comes, it comes with walls that must be demolished before I can accomplish the new thing. Walls of self-doubt, walls of fear, walls of inadequacy, intimidation, overwhelm, comparing myself to others. Walls of “I can’t do this.” 

And the cool thing is, even though I’m standing here with all these walls in front of me on my path, because I’ve taken the time to remember what God has done for Bible people and me before, I have planted some seeds of hope and faith that God will indeed make the impossible become possible for me once again. 

I know He has the power to do anything. So why do I doubt? I doubt myself, not Him. 

But so did Moses, Enoch, and so many others, and God’s power overruled their doubts, overcame the impossible challenge, and made them into the person each one needed to become to do what God asked them to do. So that is my prayer today. I am praying for God to change me inside, to make me into the person who can accomplish the impossible things I’m being asked to do. Just like a quote I found recently said, “Set a goal so big that you can’t achieve it until you grow into the person who can.” I am now firmly on that path. 

And guess who my tour guide is? God. 

Thanks for letting me write for a while to boost my own faith and courage. I hope it has built yours as well. We can all use a boost now and then. 

Click here for another post about God making the impossible possible. 

Click here for an awesome list in the Book of Mormon where God made the impossible possible. Thanks to my friend Madi for reminding me of that chapter. :) 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

David vs Goliath, Nephi vs Laban and 50 guards? "No problem, we got this!" How remembering makes the difference.

How was David so brave when all the other Israelites were terrified of Goliath and the Philistines? 

Did you know that Goliath was over nine and a half feet tall?  And that his upper body armor weighed around a whopping 150 pounds? The iron tip of his spear weighed up to 26 pounds! (See Seminary Teacher Manual.) All David had was five stones in a little bag and a sling. No match for such an impossible foe, right?

Would you feel intimidated? I would.

How was Nephi so brave when Laman and Lemuel were terrified of Laban and his fifty men?  

Nephi and his brothers had tried twice to get the brass plates from Laban, and had twice failed, including losing their riches and almost their lives. It looked utterly impossible to get those brass plates with blatant failures and death threats. Then how was Nephi able to respond with this: 
"Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands?" (1 Nephi 4:1). 
Where can you and I get that kind of David-like or Nephi-like faith? One way is through remembering

When you remember that God is infinitely more powerful than your obstacle, your enemy, your new and overwhelming calling, a commandment that's hard to obey, or a prompting that scares you, you feel empowered! 

My favorite technique to boost my faith through remembering that is to simply write down a list of ways God has helped you in the past, helped your family members, your ancestors, people in the scriptures, even historical figures. 

Scripture people wrote these lists too. It's exactly what David and Nephi did. 

David remembered how God had given him power to kill a bear and a lion, which boosted his faith that God would give him power to kill Goliath (see 1 Samuel 17:37). 

Nephi reminded his murmuring brothers that God worked miracles for Moses and others, so certainly God would help them now:
"Therefore let us go up; let us be strong like unto Moses; for he truly spake unto the waters of the Red Sea and they divided hither and thither, and our fathers came through, out of captivity, on dry ground, and the armies of Pharaoh did follow and were drowned in the waters of the Red Sea" (1 Nephi 4:2). 
Nephi rehearsed "remember lists" multiple times to Laman and Lemuel to boost their faith. I marked these with a blue colored pencil (see picture below). You can check some of these out here: 
  • 1 Nephi 315-21
  • 1 Nephi 4:1-2
  • 1 Nephi 5:4-5
  • 1 Nephi 7:8-15
  • 1 Nephi 17:23-37 
In fact, during one of Nephi's "remember spiritual pep talks" he asked those brothers three times how could they have forgotten the great things God has done for them? (See 1 Nephi 7:8-15.) 

I marked Nephi's "remember spiritual pep talks" to his murmuring brothers in blue. 
Do you think remembering is one of the main reasons God asks us to study the scriptures every day? I think it is. 

So what is on your "remember list"? I invite you to start your own "remember list" right now. It's easy! A few minutes of writing for a HUGE BOOST of faith and courage? That's a good investment!

  • Write down a couple times God has helped you before
  • A couple times God has helped someone you know like a family member or friend
  • A couple times God has helped scripture people or people in history
  • Then keep your list handy for the next week or so, and add to it as other experiences come to mind
Remember that when God commands, He empowers. 

Just like Nephi, David, and others, when you feel God calling you to do something, you can count on God giving you His power to do it (see 1 Nephi 3:7). That is empowering.  

This makes a great FHE. We've done it a few times over the years. 

An easy FHE would be to look up and discuss some of the scriptures mentioned in this post, discuss the importance of remembering, and then start your own family's "remember list." I have had many experiences where this list gave me just the boost of faith and courage to do hard things, even impossible things. 

Because when it's me and God against an impossible foe, no problem! WE GOT THIS.  

Here is our family's most recent "remember" list that we created during a family home evening about the power of remembering. 

Click hereherehere and here to see other posts about this powerful principle of remembering and how it has changed my life. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Awesome angel quote from Elder Holland

Today in seminary we discussed Elisha's servant freaking out because the Syrian horses and chariots surrounded the city to capture Elisha. Freaking out was understandable. He couldn't see through the veil yet. Then that changed. Elisha replied, 

"Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them" (2 Kings 6:16). 

Then Elisha asked God to part the veil for his freaking out servant, and what did he see? 

"The mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha" (2 Kings 6:18).

I love how Elder Holland applied this story to you and me. We can pray for angels to help us in our lives. They will come riding at reckless speed to help us! 

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Woman's Influence Today...

I am on a meme-making spree for a project. I couldn't find an existing meme for this fave quote of President Kimball, so I made this one! Inspiring. 

Click here for Russell M. Nelson's recent general conference talk about the power of righteous women. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Healthy Homemade Ranch Dressing or Dip

Can you tell I'm on a kick posting about clean eating? 

I have been eating gluten-free and dairy-free again the past few months. There are certain things you just miss, like ice cream or a creamy ranch dressing. So here you go, a super simple, super clean, health-building version of ranch with ZERO junk. 

Healthy Ranch Dressing or Dip 

2 cups Veganaise mayonnaise*
1/4 cup water (leave water out for a dip)
1 1/2 Tablespoons parsley 
2 Tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar 
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (ideally Himalayan or Real Salt)
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a quart jar. Shut tightly with the lid and shake vigorously until mixed well. Easy! 

*Veganaise is a healthy mayonnaise sold at health food stores in the fridge isle. If you live in northern Utah, I buy mine at Good Earth. The grapeseed oil version is a super healthy oil so that's my favorite kind. If you can't find that, just use another healthy mayonnaise. 

Check out how healthy this Veganaise mayonnaise is. Click on the picture to enlarge. 

Healthy Homemade Ice Cream!

You may think ice cream couldn't possibly taste good without being loaded with dairy and sugar. 

Think again. 

Homemade healthy ice cream is my favorite kind of leftovers to have in the freezer! 
Here are two dairy-free, naturally sweetened ice cream recipes that are yummo AND leave you feeling clean and high energy inside! 

Tutti Fruiti Ice Cream (Makes 4 quarts) 

2 cans (13.5 ounces each) coconut milk
2 cups frozen fruit juice concentrate of your choice 
1-2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon guar gum (optional to make it thicker and creamier)
6 cups rice milk 
2 diced bananas 
3 cups finely diced fruit or berries (I use frozen fruit)

Combine in a blender: coconut milk, fruit juice concentrate, lemon juice, salt, and guar gum. Blend until smooth. Pour that mixture into 4 quart ice cream freezer, adding rice milk and diced fruit. Stir. Freeze according to machine directions. 

These recipes use a 4-quart ice cream freezer, but you can adjust the recipe if yours is a different size. 
Tutti Fruiti Ice Cream. Yum. If I were more patient I would have transferred the soft ice cream to my freezer to thicken more. But I wasn't. And it was great. 

Avocado Ice Cream (Makes 4 quarts) 
This recipe sounded crazy when I first heard it, but it's seriously amazing. I love it.

2 cans (13.5 ounces each) coconut milk
1 cup honey (ideally raw) 
3 medium avocados 
1 teaspoon guar gum (optional to make it thicker and creamier)
dash salt 
2 quarts rice milk  

Combine everything except rice milk in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into 4 quart ice cream freezer, and add rice milk. Stir. Freeze according to machine directions. 

It only takes a few simple ingredients to make a delicious, creamy ice cream! 

Avocado Ice Cream. It sounded crazy when I first heard it, but it's seriously amazing. I love it.

Note: As with anything sweet, including naturally sweet, for most people it's better on blood sugar, energy, and mood if you eat sweet things after a meal that includes some protein and fiber. Eating them on an empty stomach can lead to a sugar high, then low, which can mean feeling irritable, stressed out, overwhelmed, craving more sweets, and tired. This is one food rule of thumb that can make a big difference in the connection between food and mood. 

Here's another note: With ice cream, the softer it is the sweeter it tastes. The harder it is the less you can taste the sweetness. Interesting, huh?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Super Simple Five Ingredient Italian Stew

Soup is my comfort food. Well...that and chocolate. This Italian stew is one of my super easy, quick, healthy, and yummo go-to soups. 

Here are the five ingredients: 
  1. Canned tomatoes
  2. Canned beans
  3. Whole grain pasta
  4. Frozen veggies
  5. Meat 
I don't count water or spices as ingredients. They're bonuses. 

Recipe for Italian Stew 

I'm guessing on amounts. Taste yours and adjust accordingly. 

4 cans petite diced tomatoes with sweet onions 
1 can kidney beans (rinsed well to remove preservative)
2 pounds frozen veggie blend (I used Normandy blend)
8 ounces pasta (I used gluten-free brown rice shell pasta)
1 pound precooked or canned meat (I used pre-cooked homemade Italian turkey sausage - recipe below) 
2 teaspoons garlic powder 
2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning 
salt and pepper to taste 

Bring around 4 cups water to a boil. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer until done. Easy cheesy! This is a pretty big batch so it will feed a large family or be enough for an extra meal. 

Recipe for Homemade Italian Turkey Sausage 

1 pound pure ground turkey, thawed 
2 Tablespoons honey 
1/2 teaspoon each: sage and crushed red pepper 
1 teaspoon each: salt, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder

Combine spices in a small dish. Mix all ingredients together by hand with disposable plastic gloves. Cook in an oil skillet. I like to make four batches at a time and freeze the rest to use in soup, spaghetti, pizza, or quiche. Yummo. 

If you like sprouts, try adding a handful of sprouts to your soup. A yummy and healthy addition! This is a Pro-Vita sprout mixture. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Is it possible to slay the Goliaths of negative thoughts in your mind? Yes, and here are two tools that work.

This would make a great FHE or two.

Today I woke up with a prompting. 

The Spirit told me to teach my seminary students a tool. Our class was about David and Goliath, how uplifting music pushes away darkness, and how to conquer negative thoughts in our minds. Even Goliath-like negative thoughts that seem bigger than life and make us feel smaller:
  • "I'm never good enough."
  • "I can't do this." 
  • "I'm not worthy to pray." 
  • "Nobody likes me."
In our lesson Saul was being influenced by an evil spirit, and David's harp music pushed out the darkness to help Saul feel the light again. (See 1 Samuel 16:14-23 and Quotes about the Power of Holy Music.) 

Guess who else is influenced by the dark side? You and me. Every day. It's part of the test of mortality. 

We've all seen cartoons or Studio C skits about a shoulder angel and shoulder devil. It seems so silly. But there is some truth to it. Remember the war in heaven where the devil and his followers were cast out of God's presence and sent to work on people living on the earth? 

Here's the deal. Not every thought in your mind is your own. 

Nope. You are receiving thoughts from both the light side — the Spirit and holy angels, and the dark side — the devil and his followers. 

I know a wonderful, influential man who was convinced by thoughts from the dark side years ago that his family would be better off if he were gone. Driving home one day, they had even helped him form a plan of how he would end his life when he got home. Sitting in his truck on the driveway ready to carry out the plan, he heard a voice. "Dad! Whatcha doing? Dad, come play with me! Come on Dad, let's go play!" My friend decided to go inside and play Legos with his young son. He sat there stunned, wondering how he had let those voices from the dark side convince him so thoroughly of such a lie. My friend's name is Kirk Duncan, and he gave me permission to post his story. Now he owns a multi-million dollar training and mentoring company dedicated to helping others find purpose and vision in life, achieve their goals, and improve their mind, communication, and relationships. Did Satan know this man had a mission to help God's children in a big way? Yep, and the devil tried to stop him through his thoughts. Let's call those mind bullies.  

You and I have also been sent to earth with missions from God (see more about that here). The devil and his followers know that, and they'll try to shut us down. One of their biggest weapons is through negative, mind bully thoughts. In fact, with bullying being such a problem today, wouldn't it make sense that if the bullies cleared out the mind bullies from their heads, they could be nice? If the devil and his followers can get into our thoughts, and especially our identity, wow, what a victory for them. Then they can ruin our relationships with God and family and friends, our character, our honesty, our life missions, our health, our finances, and every area of life. Thoughts are where things start. You better believe the dark side is trying to influence our thoughts. But the good news is I have two tools you can use to fight back. 

Here is the object lesson I used to show how dark and light thoughts work in the mind.

First I pushed in a few dark thoughts (dark cotton balls) into a "mind" (toilet paper roll), and showed that the only way to get them out is with light thoughts (white cotton balls). We discussed the light and power of uplifting music to push away darkness like temptations, a bad song that keeps playing in your mind, or a bad picture. Anything you do actions that invite in the Spirit like using holy music, praying sincerely, or feasting on the scriptures, the darkness will lessen or leave. 

Light and darkness don't like each other.
Here is how President Packer said it. “If you can control your thoughts, you can overcome habits, even degrading personal habits. If you can learn to master [your thoughts] you will have a happy life. ... Choose ... a favorite hymn. ... Go over it in your mind carefully. Memorize it. ... Now, use this hymn as the place for your thoughts to go. Make it your emergency channel. Whenever you find these shady actors have slipped from the sidelines of your thinking onto the stage of your mind, put on this record, as it were. As the music begins and as the words form in your thoughts, the unworthy ones will slip shamefully away. It will change the whole mood on the stage of your mind. Because it is uplifting and clean, the baser thoughts will disappear. For while virtue, by choice, will not associate with filth, evil cannot tolerate the presence of light" (“Inspiring Music—Worthy Thoughts,” Ensign, Jan. 1974, 28).

So the first tool is to choose a holy song to memorize and use to push away the darkness.

The second tool is the one I felt prompted to share in class today. It's simple and powerful. I've taught it to others and had amazing results with it myself. 

This tool just takes a piece of paper folded in half.  I like to call this "flip-it thoughts." You can do it anytime, anywhere in four simple steps: 

  1. First, write down some of the negative mind bully thoughts that the dark side tries to convince you about yourself. See if you can write ten of them. (See examples in the picture below.)
  2. Now write down an opposite, positive statement for each negative one. A bonus tip here is to add an extra positive statement about yourself each time. In math if you combine a negative one and a positive one you get a zero. But two positives against one negative means the positives are going to win. 
  3. Then you tear or cut off the negative side of the page and destroy it. You could crumple it up and throw it in the trash, or shred it, or even burn it in a safe place like the kitchen sink. (Some members of my family loved the idea of watching their crumpled up paper burn. Maybe you will too.)
  4. Now take your page of positive statements and read it aloud to yourself. If you can find a place where no one will hear you, say them loudly to convince your brain that you mean it. Another way to convince your brain is to smile and stand in a strong pose, not a weak one. (See more about that here.) As you say those positive statements about yourself aloud, you give the Holy Ghost the opportunity to bear witness to your soul that they are true. When the Spirit testifies of truth to you, it shifts you inside. It's a good idea to read aloud the list of positive statements each morning and night for several days, or even longer.  
These are just some ideas to get your mind going. You can click on the image to enlarge and make it easier to read. 

Since those negative thoughts are something you've been gathering for years, it's a good idea to do this exercise every day for a while, maybe a month. In fact, the mind bully thoughts often start in childhood from negative things others say about us, or experiences we have that form a limiting belief about ourselves. I think the dark side knows what negative things we already believe about ourselves and poke at those weak areas, or shoot "fiery darts of the adversary" at us. (See 1 Nephi 15:24.) This flip-it thoughts exercise is like helping us put up specific shields for the specific darts they aim at us, or that our own self-talk aims at our identity and how we see ourselves. 

After you've done this exercise for a while you can review your lists of positive statements and mark a handful of them that seem to jump out at you, then type that up as a list of declarations that you can read every morning and every night as a shield to protect your brain from negative thoughts. This list can change as new negative thoughts come. 

The subconscious part of our brain can take a while to update it's programming, kind of like when your computer software needs to update to a better version. You'll be amazed how much clearer your head is, how much more positive your mood, how much nicer you are to people, and and how much better the results in your life will be. Will it take all your problems away?  Some of them — the problems caused by your negative thinking. But even for the problems that aren't, will this tool help you feel more peaceful, calm, strong, and level-headed to find solutions? Absolutely.

Thank you, David and Goliath for helping us see that with God and positive tools from Him, we can slay the Goliaths of our own minds. 

The battle for our minds is real. Are you using one of these simple and powerful tools to slay those Goliath thoughts and fill your mind with truth?

To my seminary students: Here is the bribe, I mean treat, my daughter is making for you tomorrow if you do this tonight and bring back your "light" page. You want one, don't you?? :) 
P.S. Here is a next step you can take to battle those mind bullies: dial into what God's truth is about you.  
"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!" (President Nelson, Worldwide Devotional, Jan. 10, 2016). 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Do you feel like the only one who avoids the Super Bowl to honor God's Holy Sabbath Day?

Note: Today is the one year anniversary of writing this post, and receiving more intense positive and negative social media comments than any of my other posts. Today I felt prompted to share it again, in hopes of inviting people to consider God's word when deciding whether to watch the Super Bowl on God's holy Sabbath. Considering the LDS Church's current emphasis on the Sabbath, I wanted to share encouragement in that direction. There are also some great reader comments after the post! 

Note from a year ago: 
This blog post has created a bit of a stir!  Around 2,000 people have viewed it since yesterday when I posted it. Many people have agreed and been supportive in social media comments, and some have been defensive and critical. I apologize if I offended anyone. That was not my intent. I love you whether or not you watch a football game on the Sabbath. My intention was to support those who feel alone in choosing to avoid the game, and to invite each of us to consider our own hearts and actions, and invite us to follow the prophet even when it's hard. It seemed that people weren't aware that the prophets had spoken on this issue, so I wanted to share the doctrine. That's all. With love, Becky 


Sometimes I feel like the only family who doesn't watch the Super Bowl each year.  

I'm sure we're not alone, but even if we were, I'm fine with that. 

I just read a Facebook post where the Super Bowl was causing family contention, as the wife didn't think watching sports is an appropriate Sabbath activity, but the husband loves watching sports on Sundays. This post is not about how to handle marital contention where spouses disagree on an issue like this. That is a tricky issue and I would recommend praying to know how God would have you deal with that. Only the Lord knows the best way to reconcile doctrinal differences in marriage, and it might be a different approach for different couples. 

My point is to invite us to ask ourselves a question. Where are we looking for our standard of behavior - the world or God? Opinion or revelation? Culture, traditions of the fathers, and "what everybody is doing," or true doctrine from God's word? 

All of the comments after the Facebook post contained opinion, and most contained justification and moral relativism, "it's right if you think or feel it's right" or "it's right if the ends justify the means" or "It's right if it's family time." Zero comments contained any doctrine. People seemed convinced that there is no right and wrong. It seemed to me that it hadn't occurred to anyone that we should look for and follow what God says about it. It's sad to me that this happens on forums full of LDS people where doctrine and truth should be our standard.

It reminded me of a Sheri Dew talk where she said good women at her workplace were looking to Oprah and other sources for their standard, rather than looking to God's chosen leaders. (If anyone has a link to that talk, please send it to me!) So I commented with some prophetic counsel to the Facebook post on this issue. Here it is, in case you're like me and feel somewhat lonely in wanting to follow the prophet on this. 

Here's what I wrote in response: 

I don't feel that watching football is an appropriate Sabbath activity. There is prophetic counsel on this. For me, when the prophet speaks I do my best to obey, even if we might be the only family in the ward who have an Un-Super Bowl party on Sunday, where we eat treats and play Sabbath-type board games together while the rest of the families watch TV, including sometimes inappropriate and pornographic ads and half-time performers.

Russell M. Nelson said:

President Nelson said, "The question we might ask ourselves is, are we securely tied to God so that our faith shows, or are we actually tied to something else? For example, I have overheard conversations on Monday mornings about professional athletic games that took place on the preceding Sunday. For some of these avid fans, I have wondered if their “religion” would “tie them back” only to some kind of a bouncing ball. We might each ask ourselves, where is our faith? Is it in a team? ... God declared in the first of His Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” ("Let Your Faith Show," Ensign, May 2014).
A year later President Nelson addressed this again: "Not pursuing your 'own pleasure' on the Sabbath requires self-discipline. You may have to deny yourself of something you might like. If you choose to delight yourself in the Lord, you will not permit yourself to treat it as any other day. Routine and recreational activities can be done some other time" ("The Sabbath Is a Delight," Ensign, May 2015). 
Gordon B. Hinckley said, “The Sabbath of the Lord is becoming the play day of the people. It is a day of golf and football on television, of buying and selling in our stores and markets. Are we moving to mainstream America as some observers believe? In this I fear we are. What a telling thing it is to see the parking lots of the markets filled on Sunday in communities that are predominately LDS. Our strength for the future, our resolution to grow the Church across the world, will be weakened if we violate the will of the Lord in this important matter. He has so very clearly spoken anciently and again in modern revelation. We cannot disregard with impunity that which He has said” (Ensign, Nov. 1997).

Here are some more quotes about the holy Sabbath. 

For the Strength of Youth says: "Sunday is not a day for shopping, recreation, or athletic events. Do not seek entertainment or make purchases on this day."

It's interesting to see so many opinions, moral relativism and justifications here, rather than looking for God's counsel and obeying it, even if it's hard. I think it's important to obey the prophet on all things, not just the convenient things. After seeing two prophets say that it's not God's will to watch sports on Sunday, and then saying, "Disobeying God by watching the Super Bowl on the holy Sabbath is right if it's family time" is kind of like saying some of these things: 
  • "I know stealing is wrong, but if we steal as a family that makes it right." 
  • "I know shopping on Sunday is wrong, but if it's family time that makes it right."
  • "I know drinking alcohol is wrong, but as long as we're drinking it as a family then it's right." 
  • My husband thought of this one: "It's okay to commit fornication because I'm obeying the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth." 
Those examples sound so silly, but do you see the parallel? When prophets of God speak, it's the voice of God (see D&C 1:38). And if we justify our actions by saying, "Well it's family time, so it's fine if I disobey God," that does not make the actions right. 

And looking to a bishop to say, "Well, my bishop is doing it so it must be right," is not a good justification. That reminds me of young children justifying their naughty behavior by saying, "But Billy did it too, so it's okay if I do it." My husband is a bishop and we obey the prophets, even if we feel alone.  

Elder Scott said, "Strength comes from making no exceptions to your principles" ("Finding Happiness, BYU Devotional, Aug. 19, 1997). 
This video shares President Monson's counsel on doing the right thing even if we have to stand alone. 

Elder M. Russell Ballard said, “To you I have only one question: are you going to follow the true and living prophet or not?  It really isn’t any more complicated than that” ("When Shall These Things Be,” March 12, 1996, BYU Devotional).

I don't write this to criticize or offend. I write it to encourage others who may feel alone, so they know there are others who obey even on challenging issues like these. I also write to invite others to consider their own hearts and actions. It's easy to obey the prophet when there's no temptation or cultural pressure to disobey. But when everyone else is doing it, it can be really hard! I want to offer support, strength, and encouragement through God's word to help people obey the prophets on the hard things. I am strengthened immensely by learning God's doctrine on an issue (as Elder Packer said that understanding true doctrine changes attitudes and behavior), and by knowing other people are following it, that I'm not alone. 

This reminds me of the cafeteria style approach to obedience. 
Elder Russell M. Nelsen said, "[There are] people who pick which commandments they will keep and ignore others that they choose to break. I call this the cafeteria approach to obedience. This practice of picking and choosing will not work. It will lead to misery. To prepare to meet God, one keeps all of His commandments. It takes faith to obey them, and keeping His commandments will strengthen that faith" (Ensign, May 2011). 

Cafeteria style obedience might look like these examples: 
  • I won't play football on Sunday. I'll just watch other people play football on Sunday.
  • I'll dress modestly...except when it's time for the prom dance. Then it's okay to wear a strapless, tight dress. Or I'll dress modestly by keeping myself covered up, except I'll wear tight jeans, tight leggings, or tight shirts. (Girls, the good young men I talk with, including those in my seminary class, REALLY appreciate when you avoid tight clothes!)
  • I'll keep the Lord's standards of dating only after age 16, I'll date only in groups, and do wholesome activities, but I'll have a steady boyfriend or girlfriend before marriageable age. 
  • I won't kill or commit adultery, but I'll watch other people kill and commit adultery in TV shows and movies. And I'll virtually kill others for hours and hours on a computer game. (Christ said, "or anything like unto it...")
  • I won't do drugs, smoke, or drink alcohol, but it's fine if I have an addiction to health-damaging caffeine drinks, including energy drinks.  
President James E. Faust said, “Some addictions can control us to the point where they take away our God-given agency. One of Satan’s great tools is to find ways to control us. Consequently, we should abstain from anything that would keep us from fulfilling the Lord’s purposes for us, whereby the blessings of eternity may hang in jeopardy. … Any kind of addiction inflicts a terrible price in pain and suffering, and it can even affect us spiritually” (“The Power to Change,” Ensign, Nov. 2007).

Neal A. Maxwell said, "Even if we decide to leave Babylon, some of us endeavor to keep a second residence there, or we commute there on weekends. ... As Church members, we should be part of that sin-resistant counterculture. ... If, in the end, you have not chosen Jesus Christ it will not matter what you have chosen.” (The Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book) 

I know we are all on a path, and it's not realistic to expect any of us to be perfect in all things right now. The plan is to do our best to learn and align ourselves with God's will, pray for strength and guidance to obey it, and repent when we fall short and then try again. We can ask God to help us change our desires (see Mosiah 5:2) and make us into new creatures. We can set goals and work on becoming more and more aligned with God's will. And we can study God's word on a given topic, remembering that understanding true doctrine changes attitudes and behavior. We can pray for and receive our own spiritual witness that something is the Lord's will for us. We can ask for and receive the empowering, enabling power of Christ's Atonement, the grace part that Elder Bednar taught so beautifully. 
Here is what President Harold B. Lee said about it. "Now, if you have made mistakes, make today the beginning of a change of your lives. Turn from the thing that you have been doing that is wrong. The most important of all the commandments of God is that one that you are having the most difficulty keeping today. If it is one of dishonesty, if it is one of unchastity, if it is one of falsifying, not telling the truth, today is the day for you to work on that until you have been able to conquer that weakness. Put that aright and then you start on the next one that is most difficult for you to keep. That’s the way to sanctify yourself by keeping the commandments of God" (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 82).

I'm certainly not perfect, and I'm quite sure I have blind spots in my obedience too. If so, I hope the Lord will help me see them and help me do better. We are all learning and growing line upon line. The good news is, because of Christ's Atonement, each one of us can have a fresh start and start living a higher standard of obedience in any of these areas right now, this very moment. Repentance and change are real, and as Sheri Dew said, 

"The happiest people I know are those who repent regularly and obey" ("You Were Born to Lead, You Were Born for Glory," BYU Devotional, December 9, 2003).

I want to put in a plug here for people who love their family members who love the Super Bowl (or whatever the issue is) AND also love and want to obey God. 

I do not have the answers, but God does. I have been heartened by comments of people who have found alternate ways to maintain a family tradition while still doing their best to obey the Sabbath day commandment. Some have a Super Bowl party on Monday night and invite others over who also avoid the game on Sunday. My seminary teacher colleague loves sports and he wakes up early the next morning to watch the game. My friend attends the party but eats food and chats with the ladies in the kitchen rather than sitting and watching the game. I don't have the answers to this challenge, but God does. 

If you have a desire to protect precious relationships with people who have traditions you don't agree with AND you want to obey God's commandments, I invite you to make it a matter of prayer and scripture study. It is a sweet experience to receive your own answers of what God would have you do. It may take time, but you'll be guided, and God will appreciate your sincere desire to follow Him with hard things. Here's one more quote by Neal A. Maxwell: 
“If we are serious about our discipleship, Jesus will eventually request each of us to do those very things which are most difficult for us to do.” (The Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book). 
P.S. Also, did you know the Super Bowl is the biggest prostitution event in America? Deseret News covered that here.