Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

May the love of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you and your loved ones, during this season, and always.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Power of Truth

I am prone to negative self-talk.  I do it so often that I'm not even aware of it most of the time.  And the things that I say to myself are very painful.  But being aware can bring powerful experiences.  I had one last night with the power of truth.
"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." -John 8:32

I was able to reframe one negative thought by first looking at the truth and then turning the thought into a positive statement.

Lie: I am a sucky husband.
Truth: I am a good man who is the best husband he can be at this time, and is doing all he can to become a better one through therapy, learning, reading, and change.
Positive Statement: I am learning how to be a better husband.

Before any of you get thrown off by the "Positive Statement", let me say that I have always been very skeptical of the positive affirmation stuff that gets thrown around so heavily these days.  But a positive truthful statement has real power to it.  Saying the truth and the positive felt like a ray of light shined on me inside.  I indeed felt free from the negative voice, and the oppression and gloom it brings.  The truth was like a breath of fresh air, even a lungful after holding my breath for a long time.  It was like a bright light shining in the darkness, and allowing me to see clearly again, even if only for a few minutes.

The peace that this experience brought makes me want to try it again, and start weeding through the negative and deceitful thoughts that so often run through my head.  Words and thoughts have real power.

If you also struggle with negative self talk, I encourage you to give it a try.  If you truly feel like you struggle (as do I), don't say, "I am a good husband."  You won't believe it, and it won't work.  Instead, say, "I am learning how to be a better husband."  That is true, even if only by virtue of you being here.  The very fact that you are reading a blog about personal and marital healing means that you are learning how to do better.

The closer we come to the truth, the more clearly we will be able to see things as they are.

Monday, December 17, 2012


The tragic shooting in Connecticut this past week has been on my mind, as I'm sure it has been on many of yours.  As I see these and other challenging situations faced by people across the world, it is sometimes hard.  I wonder if there is anything I can do to help.

 And there is.  There is something all of us can do.  It is as simple as kneeling, folding our arms, bowing our heads, and praying to our Heavenly Father.  There is great power in prayer.  I know that He hears each and every prayer, and He blesses those for whom we pray.

And prayers need not be only for distant situations or unfamiliar people.  Some of those who need our prayers the most live in our own home.  And the example we set will be noticed by our children.

I had a poignant experience with the power of prayer and the way our children follow our example.  Just before dinner last night, my son started having stomach pains.  It was bad enough that he skipped out of dinner and went to lay down on the couch.  As my two daughters came to dinner, my oldest announced that she had been in her room praying for her brother, and that her little sister had been in there with her listening to the prayer.  At this point, my son piped up from the couch that he had also said a prayer for himself.

My heart was filled with deep gratitude and joy for my children.  It is a great comfort for me to know that my children know where to turn when they are facing challenges, or when a family member needs extra help.  This will be a great blessing to them, all of their lives.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Miracles of Technology

We truly live in an amazing day and age.  I recently traded in my old cell phone that I've had for almost three years for a smart phone.  It has been a lot of fun to tinker with it and check out the various apps that are available for it.

One of the first ones that I downloaded was Gospel Library, which was created by the church.  After installing the app, I went in to the program and downloaded the scriptures.  It took about five minutes total.

Think about that.  Five minutes.

Five minutes to get the revealed word of God onto a device the size of the palm of my hand.  A device that wasn't connected to anything, but received the information through the air!

Five minutes to get scriptures that took thousands of years to collect in their current form.

Five minutes to have access to the words of the prophets from all ages and dispensations.

It helped me to realize and remember what a great blessing it is to live in a time when great advances have been made to both technology and truth.  We are the recipients of a precious gift.  We have access to God's word in ways that weren't dreamed of, even when I was a child!

Let us be sure to use these tools wisely.  Technology is a powerful tool, but only if it is used correctly.  Let us use our increased access to the Word to become more familiar with it.

It would help all of us to spend a little less time in Angry Birds and a little more time in the scriptures.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

And God Said "No"

As I have progressed in my healing, I have started actually looking at my own needs and wants, instead of pretending that they don't exist (which doesn't work out too well, by the way).  I have prayed and pondered about many of them, and I have asked Heavenly Father for some of them in prayer.  I have received many good things, and I am taking better care of myself than I have in years.

But that doesn't mean I've received everything that I've asked for.  Sometimes Heavenly Father has a different answer for me.

Sometimes God says "No."

Are those my favorite prayers?  Definitely not.  But they are, perhaps, some of the most valuable ones.

I asked for something particularly difficult a week or so ago, and waited to see the results.  Several things happened during the week which made God's answer very clear to me.  And the answer was "No."

Usually, I pull a toddler act at this point.  You know the deal, cry, throw yourself on the ground, have a temper tantrum, the usual.  And it works about as well for me as it does for the typical toddler.

I've tried to take a different approach this time.  Not for all of the "No" answers, but for this particular one.  I have tried to humble myself before God and accept His will, even though it is not what I wanted.  I've tried to accept His will in prayer.

And it has worked out okay.

In fact, my eyes have been opened in the days since I attempted to pray with humility to accept His will.  I've seen several other things that have shown me why His answer to me is a "No" at this time.  And I'm okay with it.

As hard as it may seem to be, sometimes a "No" is the most loving answer for everyone involved.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

There Is Beauty All Around

Yes, I named this post after the first line of the popular hymn "Love at Home".  I know it's a little bit past Thanksgiving, but we should be looking for the beauty around us all year long, not just at the end of November.  I've been known to be ungrateful in the past, and I felt to post about some of the many sources of beauty that the Lord has placed all around us.

Let's start with some of the easy ones.

There is beauty in our Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.  There is beauty in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  There is beauty in the atonement, which makes it possible for all of us to return to the presence of God.  There is beauty in repentance, which allows us to overcome our mistakes and choose a better way.

There is beauty in the scriptures.  There is beauty in the Holy Bible, both the Old and the New Testament.  There is beauty in the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.  There is beauty in the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.  There is beauty in having a living prophet on the earth.  There is beauty in the Twelve Apostles, the other General Authorities, and our stake and ward/branch leaders.  There is beauty in the Aaronic and Melchezidek Priesthood, authority given to man to do the Lord's work on earth and help provide salvation to His children.

There is beauty in nature.  There is beauty in the grandeur of God's creations.  There is beauty in the mountains, the forests, the deserts, the plains.  There is beauty in the sun, the moon, the stars, and all of the planets that move in their regular motions.  There is beauty when our Creator paints a sunset in the sky each night.  There is beauty in the animals and the plants.

Now let's move on to some of the ones that sometimes feel like blessings, and sometimes feel like something else.  There is beauty in our families.  There is beauty in our parents, most of whom did their best to raise us as honest, upright people.  There is beauty in our spouse, even when we don't always get our way.  There is beauty in our children, each one a unique and precious soul learning their way here on the earth.

There is beauty in good, honest hard work.  There is beauty in being employed and providing for your family.  There is beauty in coming home content in a job well done.  There is beauty in having a roof over your head, no matter how humble it may be.  There is beauty in having enough food on the table and clothes on our backs.  There is beauty in modern conveniences, washers and driers, microwaves, computers, hot and cold running water, and indoor plumbing.

But we can go further still.  Some blessings are harder to see because they are more hidden.  There is beauty in pain, as it helps us to grow.  There is beauty in mistakes, which help us learn.  There is beauty in loneliness, for it helps us to appreciate friendship better.  There is beauty in sorrow, as it can open our heart to even greater joy if we allow it to.

There is beauty in trials, for He that is faithful will be with us every step of the way.  There is beauty in suffering, which helps us to find patience in the Lord's will.  There is beauty in delayed blessings, which teach us to trust His timing (no matter how hard that may be).  There is beauty in the darkness inside each one of us, for it humbles us and helps us to remember how very much we need Him.

Look for the beauty all around you, and you will surely find it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Put On Your Own Mask First

I assume most of you have travelled on an airline at some point in your lives.  At the beginning of every flight, they have a safety briefing.  As part of the briefing, the flight attendant demonstrates how the oxygen mask should be used in the event of cabin pressure failing.  They also indicate that you should put on your own mask before assisting others.

I remember feeling a bit put out about this when I was a child.  Why should I suffer needlessly in the event of an emergency?  Shouldn't my parents help me with my mask first?  It just didn't seem fair!

With age comes wisdom (hopefully).  I now understand why my parents would need to put their own mask on first.  If they failed to do so, they would risk their own safety, and would then be unable to help me or anyone else.

It is the same way in our own lives and in our marriages.  When I am tired and worn out from doing too much for too long with too little help, the last thing I feel like doing is being kind to my wife and children.  When I've been burning the candle at both ends, I am less effective at work, as well as less pleasant to be around.  When I've stayed up late for one too many nights, I don't particularly feel like going to church, or volunteering for the next service project.

I could go on, but I think I have made my point sufficiently clear.  One of my favorite sayings is, you can't draw water from an empty well.  It's also difficult to draw feeling from an empty emotional bank account.

Also, this energy can't come from outside of you.  It is something you need to develop on your own.  The parable of the Ten Virgins comes to mind:
"Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves."  -Matthew 25:1-9
Usually, this parable is used to describe spiritual preparedness, but I feel that it applies equally well to emotional energy and self-care.  The five wise virgins were not being stingy with their oil.  Indeed, the kind of oil can't be shared.  How can you share experiences that renew you and fill you up?  How can you share the benefits of exercise, good nutrition, and adequate sleep?  Each must find this kind of emotional oil for themselves.

If you are like me, and are running low on oil, I challenge you to make some time now to do something about it.  Notice that I said make time, not take time.  If you wait for the time to come on your own, you will never do it.  You must make time for it.  And don't give me the excuse about it being "selfish".  As my wife's therapist says, "Taking care of yourself is not selfish.  It's smart!"

I will provide a few suggestions here.  Obviously, I don't know you, and I can't tell you what will bring renewal and refreshment for you.  But this can hopefully at least get you started thinking:
  • Get into nature.  There's something about God's great outdoors that is refreshing to the soul.
  • Play with a child.  Nothing can help refresh your viewpoint like seeing it through a child's eyes.  If you don't have your own children, borrow someone else's for an hour or two.
  • Spend some time on a favorite hobby, or develop a new one.
  • Listen to inspiring music, or play some if you are musically inclined.
  • Read
  • Go to bed early.  Really, it can be done!
  • Have a "no technology" day.  I did this for a whole week on a vacation earlier this year, and it was wonderfully freeing!
  • Get a massage
And above all, if you can't think of anything else, pray!  Heavenly Father and Jesus are concerned about you, and they want you to take good care of yourself.  The other people that you desire to serve will still be there when you get back from taking care of yourself.  And there will be more of you to give to them because you have taken good care of yourself.  Put your own mask on first, and then help others.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Christmas Season

Over the years, I've noticed a disturbing trend.  As a culture, we've started to drift away from Christmas in the month of December.  Instead of "Merry Christmas", it's "Happy Holidays", "Happy December 25th", or some other politically correct nonsense.  One of the most absurb that I can recall is a fellow who invited a group of his friends over for an "Annual Winter Solstice Celebration".

Listen, I'm all for not offending people.  But it's gone too far, and has gotten ridiculous.  Christmas begins with Christ!  If if were not for our Savior, there wouldn't be a Christmas, nor would there be any reason to celebrate.

I believe that our country is still composed of a majority of God-fearing Christians.  Let's make sure that Christ continues to come first in Christmas.