Talked About Beliefs

Well, I just talked about beliefs and it went really well. I was pleased with where spirit directed my thoughts and with how well it was received. The audience was all nodding along and giving me out loud comments like “Amen” and “oh yes.” The real-time feedback was super fun.

I LOVE old people. First, they have so much wisdom–gleaned from time and experience. Second, they are just like little children in that they blurt out whatever they are thinking, and they talk super loudly. When I held up the picture of the old/young lady, some of the audience saw the old lady and some saw the young lady. I asked them who was right and who was wrong and it couldn’t have been

When I held up the picture of the old/young lady, some of the audience saw the old lady, and some saw the young lady. I asked them who was right, and who was wrong? It couldn’t have been more perfect because this adorable, old lady in the front row said, “There isn’t any old lady!” I said, “Well half of the audience insists there is.  Are you saying they are wrong?” She didn’t answer the question, but simply said, “I just don’t see it!”  I held up the picture higher and asked her if it would help if I bore my testimony that I knew there was an old lady in there? I said, “I testify that there is an old lady in this picture for I know this to be true.” I was being dramatic of course to make a point and the point was well made and well received.

I held up the picture higher and asked her if it would help if I bore my testimony that I knew there was an old lady in there? I said, “I testify that there is an old lady in this picture for I know this to be true.” I was being dramatic of course to make a point and the point was well made and well received.

I immediately shared Bertrand Russell’s quote about “I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.” And then we discussed that it is our behavior, not our beliefs that make us great. I shared the part in my blog post from yesterday about Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa and Jesus. It was their love that changed the world. The spirit zinged through my soul, and as I shook every single person’s hand after the sacrament meeting, many told me that was a most wonderful message and how much they loved and appreciated and agreed with it. They thanked me for helping them see something in a totally new way. It meant a lot to me to know that what has enlightened me, also enlightened them.

I closed my message by sharing my love for them and thanking them for sharing their love with me.  I enjoyed sitting up front and looking at them through the remainder of the meeting. I could see all their light. And after the meeting, I shook each and every one of their hands and asked their name and had some sort of lovely exchange. It fed my soul, and as I type this, I realize that my behavior of staying, shaking hands, and sharing compliments was what made me great today–not my words. I confessed my love in my talk, that is true, but those words were indelibly impressed upon their hearts by my actions thereafter. I did not premeditate any of the after meeting actions, and it is only now–as I write–that my heart warms with delight for I realize that I did not speak today in vain. My actions matched my message.

Talking About Beliefs

Looks like I’d better start talking about beliefs because tomorrow I’ve been asked to give a 10 min talk on honoring and staying true to your beliefs. That’s kind of an interesting topic for me to consider because personally, I believe that beliefs are fluid. They are always evolving and changing with time and experience. What I believe today is different than what I believed yesterday, and what I believe tomorrow will be different than what I believe today.

Some of my favorite thoughts on beliefs include:

I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.

~Bertrand Russell (British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, social critic, political activist and Nobel laureate)

Confidence is silent. Insecurities are loud.

And of course, Morpheus is always profound:

In response to captain who said, “Not everyone believes what you believe”, Morpheus replies: “My beliefs do not require them to”

Your beliefs don’t make you a free thinker. Your ability to change your mind based on new information does.

Beliefs are interesting things. I can tell you what I believe and some of it may ring true to you and some of it may not. I may believe that BYU is the finest university with the finest collegiate teams. You, however, may believe that the U of U is.  Who is right? Who is wrong?

Here’s the reality. I grew up a die hard Cougar fan. My father bled blue, and so did my entire family, until my dad became a professor at the U of U, my brother attended graduate school there, and the Huntsman U of U Hospital saved 3 of my family members from cancer. With time and experience, our die hard belief that that the Cougars are the best has changed.  We now love the Utes just the same. Who changed?

So when it comes to beliefs, I don’t know that giving a talk telling you to “honor” or be “true” to your beliefs is really the most important message that can be given about beliefs because how do you know your belief is more valid than someone else’s? I think any worthy discussion on beliefs must begin at the beginning. One must ask, “How are beliefs born?” “What determines an individuals’ beliefs? Have you ever asked yourself that question?

Beliefs are products of our nature, nurture, culture (societal, religious, familial), life experiences, geography, etc.). Have you ever wondered how your beliefs would differ from what you hold to be true today had you been born in a remote village in Nepal, India? Would you be sitting in a Mormon Sacrament Meeting today? What if you had been born an Eskimo in Eastern Siberia? Would you believe seal blubber to be the finest delicacy on the planet and prefer the freezing cold to the infernal heat? Check out this image:

What do you see? Who is right? Who is wrong? Those who first saw the old lady, were you right? Now that you see the young lady are you wrong? Or are both of you now just “enlightened” because you all now see more. Beliefs really are lame to talk about since we don’t really see things as they are, we see them as we really are.

You see, I don’t see a whole lot of merit in discussing the importance of standing for and honoring your beliefs because frankly, I don’t think beliefs are what make people great. No, I believe that it is our behavior, not our beliefs, that make us great. And the greatest way to behave is in LOVE. Love is the sine qua non (sahy-nee kwey non) or essential ingredient in greatness. Was it Martin Luther King’s belief in racial equality that made him great or was it the way he led the civil rights movement in love that inspired a nation to change? Would his “Dream” to “Let Freedom Ring” have inspired hearts had he bombed and blasted his way to greatness? No, Martin Luther King’s legacy lives on because he led in love. Gandhi was no different. His belief in a united, free India is not what made him great? No, it was his love for his fellow man. And what of Mother Teresa? Was it her belief in the Roman Catholic faith that made her great? And the way she defended those beliefs? Or was it her loving service that made her a literal saint?

Again I ask, what makes a man or woman great? Their beliefs or their behavior? Their religion or their love? Jesus, teaching on the shores of Galilee, said, “As I have loved you, love one another.” In the Sermon on the Mount, he proclaimed, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” And again, he spoke, “The first great commandment is to Love God with all thy heart, might, mind, and strength, and the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself (on these hang all the laws and the prophets)”. To which a lawyer responded, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered by sharing the story of the Good Samaritan. He concluded by asking, “Who of these three was neighbor unto him who fell among thieves?” To which the lawyer responded, “He that shewed mercy on him.” Jesus responded, “Go and do thou likewise.” Isn’t it interesting that it was the Pharisees, lawyers and scribes beliefs that kept them from seeing God when he came in the flesh as their savior?” Brothers and Sisters, if we are not careful, our beliefs can likewise prevent us from seeing God in the flesh. Our brothers and sisters are all divine beings, offspring of the Most High. It isn’t our beliefs that matter. It is our love, for God is love, and are we not all god’s in training?

May our beliefs lead us to greater love and I am now done talking about beliefs!

Seattle Sites

WOW! Today was remarkable! We saw so many Seattle sites. I woke up early and went walking all over Beacon Hill. It is such a beautiful area. I read my new numerology book and found out that my Name Number is 7 and my life number is 4.  Some of the stuff was fascinating, but some of it felt pretty far fetched. It was fun nonetheless and I agreed with much of my life number, mostly because it pinned me as a mystic and spiritualist. Spot on.

When Matt woke up we called Uber and had a driver take us out to Snoqualmie Falls. It was so gorgeous. We hiked to the lower falls after viewing the upper. The funnest part was hopping the fence to climb down to the falls. It was Cinque Terra all over again. Look how great our pics turned out.

After exploring the falls, we hitch-hiked a ride to Little Mt. Si with a couple from Costa Rica and Maryland. We offered to pay them, but they wouldn’t allow it, so we shared our handmade chocolates from Mercer Island and Matt helped her restore her iphone. It was fun to get to know them.

Mt. Si was a gorgeous hike that came highly recommended. I found a cool tree with a hole in it:

and we made it to the summit where you could see Tiger Mountain and barely the top of Mt. Ranier. We were hoping to get grand views of Mt. Ranier, but Tiger Mtn was blocking it. That’s okay though, because we had some incredible views of Mt Ranier on our bike ride out to Alki Beach.

After our 4 mile hike, we asked two ladies in the parking lot that were headed to Seattle if we could grab a ride with them. They were from the Czech Republic and we insisted on paying them $20. Which was a $30 savings from our Uber driver. They told us all about their country and lives and we had the most pleasant ride. It was so fun to hitch hike around like hippies and really get to know our fellow life travelers. 

We next rode to downtown and did the Seattle Underground Tour. It was so awesome to see how this city has been built on top of itself. The first Seattle had many problems (esp with their sewage) and thank goodness it burnt to the ground (which is a great story btw). They rebuilt on top of the old city and now there is an entire city under the city and we got to walk all over it. Who knew! I learned some awesome things about Seattle that I can’t wait to share.

After the Underground Tour, we grabbed some grub at Subway and ate with the homeless. A lady needed some food so we shared and then AC came and sat with us. I tried to buy him some food, but he was just interested in some friendly conversation. It was tender. We had another opportunity to help someone at the gas station by filling up their fuel can and it made me smile to know how much we had all relied on each other today. Some people helped us by giving us rides and we in turn helped others by sharing our money and our food. The interconnectedness and brotherhood/sisterhood is endearing.

We decided to catch an uber ride home from Alki Beach as we were pretty beat. And man the beach at Alki was SO awesome! We saw people playing volleyball, sitting around bonfires visiting, dancing, walking, biking, roller blading, longboarding and more. Such a fun night life. Oh and the city skyline at dusk was divine! Seattle, I love you!

Loyalty

Today I want to write briefly about loyalty. Stephen Covey shared this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt:

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

He went on to say that what we say about others when they are not around reveals our character, integrity, and loyalty. We should never say anything about anyone that we wouldn’t want them to hear, or that we would be too ashamed or embarrassed to say in their presence. When we talk about others we should do so with the understanding that whatever we say they will eventually end up hearing–because most of the time they will. Not only does backbiting and gossip often get back to the individual, but it convinces those witnessing it that we would be just as quick to criticize them if they were not around.

I love the food for thought Covey dishes out when he queries:

When have you participated in talking about people behind their backs? What is the consequence of this behavior to your own character? to other people’s view of you? When you defend the integrity of a person who is absent, what does that say to those who are present?

The next time people within your hearing are criticizing or discussing a person who is absent , decline to participate. See what happens as a result.

I agree with Eleanor and Mr. Covey. What we say about others when they are not around says a whole lot about us. We should be loyal to other human beings and only say what we wouldn’t be ashamed to have them hear. I try valiantly to always live by this rule, but I do know I’m not perfect and therefore there is room to improve. I want to be impeccable with my word.

Still In Awe

You know those moments when your kids just blow you away? Well, that happened today! I’m still in awe. Hey, I like that statement. My original intent was to convey that I was even at this very moment in awe from what occurred earlier this evening, but I’m also sitting here very still on the couch in complete awe as I reminisce about tonight’s performances.

We’ve been in Idaho all week at the renowned Rise Up and Sing Music CampIt’s our 5th year coming here and every year my kids get better. BUT, I was not prepared for this:

Page Singing I Don’t Know My Name (click link to play)

Luke Singing Count on Me (click link to play)

Gwen Singing Tomorrow (click link to play)

I was one proud mama! It is so fun to watch your kids try something new and really exciting when they excel. I don’t know that I would have been brave enough to sing to an auditorium full of people at that age. I’m still in awe.

Apostasy and Revelation

We had an interesting lesson in Gospel Doctrine on Sunday. It was all about apostasy and revelation. I found the comments to the teacher’s question quite amusing despite the amazing ignorance.

The teacher queried:

Why do people apostacize from the church? Or what causes people to leave the church.

The answers included:

  • They’ve been offended
  • They were never fully in the church to begin with
  • They can’t live the commandments–basically, they have some secret sin(s)
  • They stop doing what they should be doing
  • It’s a sign of the times–even the very elect will be led astray
  • They’ve been deceived
  • They are proud
  • They refuse to repent
  • They can’t forgive
  • They are lazy–being a member of the church requires a lot of hard work

There were more answers, and while surely some of them may be true, I felt it was a judgmental, hypocritical, and shallow list at best. I refrained from sharing my thoughts till the very end. I guess I was secretly hoping someone else would speak up so I wouldn’t have to. Actually, I was wondering if anyone else was feeling what I was–which was embarrassment. I felt sad that no one else realized–or at least felt courageous enough to give voice to–what I think may be the number one reason people leave the church (or any native faith culture for that matter) and that is simply “they found something else that suits them better.”

Why do we have to make up sad stories about why people leave their original faith culture? Why does it have to be about sin, deception, pride, or prophecy? Why can’t it be about individuals seeking for answers and greater understanding? Why can’t it be about individuals awakening to a new spiritual path?

Why don’t we tell the story about children who inherited their parents’ beliefs and who as they grow begin to discover additional truths that serve them better? Many don’t want to leave their faith culture (it’s their culture, hello!), but their feelings of separateness intensify as they sit through lessons where they are reminded that they don’t believe as their fellow members do. And to borrow Elder Holland’s parable of the choir, perhaps after trying to sing the songs of redeeming love when the words on the sheet music supplied no longer ring true, they realize it’s time to find another choir in which to sing as they still desire to raise their voice in praises to their King.

And so raise my hand and voice did I –and boldly did I cry (haha I’m just being a dork with all my rhyming):

I think some people leave simply because they find something else that’s a better fit.

And it is–and was–just that simple. Wouldn’t it truly be wonderful if we all could love a little more and be a whole lot less judgmental? Indeed, sticking to your beliefs takes gumption, and courage, ’tis noble and commendable–but condemning and judging others for following theirs is annoyingly hypocritical.

Cuddling With My Cat

Today I learned a lot while cuddling with my cat. Actually, it was my cat that started cuddling with me. Don’t believe me? I have proof. Check out his paws.

He’s got them totally wrapped around me. I was typing my blog post when Sox hopped onto my lap. I was busy, and considered ignoring him so I could get my work done, but I found it difficult to resist his overtures.

I set aside the laptop and began to pet him. In fact, I found him so adorable, that I grabbed him tight and began to give him a big ‘ole squeeze. The moment I tightened my grip he prepared to spring away and escape. Being restrained is something that Sox hates. And that wasn’t what he was looking for when he decided to join me. Quickly, I loosened my grip and decided to give him love the way he wanted it.

The minute I relinquished my hold and instead started stroking his head–just like he loves–Sox relaxed and settled down onto my lap. He began his roaring purr. And that’s when my epiphany occurred. In that moment, I realized the importance of loving others the way they want to be loved–not the way I want to love them. You see, I want to hold and squeeze Sox. I want to hold him tight and rock him back and forth like he’s my little baby. Sox, however, doesn’t want to feel restrained. He wants to have me stroke his head, his back, and under his chin. When I gave up on what I wanted to give and instead gave him what he wanted to receive, we connected in a more powerful and meaningful way.

I’m grateful for the lessons I learned today from cuddling with my cat. First, I learned that I need to be willing to set aside whatever I may be trying to accomplish when someone comes calling for love. Second, I need to resist the urge to give others what I think they need, or what I want to give, and instead, I will look for the ways in which they would like for me to meet their needs. I will give them love in the manner they desire to receive.  And we will both be blessed.

Alan Watts

I have been listening to the Essential Collection of Alan Watts. The dude has a brilliant mind in that he can condense Eastern Mysticism into bite size, consumable content well suited for any Western mind. And while I don’t agree with everything he has to say, or some of his personal behavior, I do love hearing him preach on our universal connection. Alan is passionate about helping humans realize how we are all interconnected. In fact, Mr. Watts believes that the ultimate purpose of duality is unity.  The Ying and the Yang, the man and the woman, the front and the back side of a coin . . . are all opposites, yet connected. We, like them, cannot separate ourselves from each other.

Again, I agree that we are all interconnected and one. Which makes me wonder why so many religious conservatives–who also claim to believe in the universal oneness of mankind–typically abhor environmentalists, feminists, gay rights activists, anti-war proponents, animal rights supporters, and more? Do not these causes all stem from a knowing that we are all interconnected and one?

I’m only asking because as someone who was raised as a conservative Christian, I’ve absorbed the prevailing notion that all of the aforementioned are less than desirable positions and causes. But truth be told, I am a fan of protecting the Earth. I believe we must be good stewards, and I believe we should love all people no matter their sex or sexual preferences. I certainly abhor the idea of anyone harming animals, just as I abhor the practice of harming anything or anyone. Could it be that the more interconnected we realize we are, the more we embrace peace, tolerance and love? If this truly is the case, then isn’t this the message we should most be sharing? Or will it lead us to the proverbial Sodom and Gomorrah, Woodstock, free love, social decay, and drugs?

Honestly, I don’t feel like exploring this train of thought any further today. I’m really just thinking out loud. Which is what I do on this blog of mine.

I do, however, want to close with this second incredible thought by Mr. Alan Watts.

Anybody who tells you that he has some way of leading you to spiritual enlightenment is like somebody who picks your pocket and sells you your own watch. 

I love the idea that we are all our own best leaders to enlightenment, and that as possessors of the Divine seed, we have truth planted within. Looking without will not generate the answers we seek for they truly lie inside. God gave us all the gift of enlightenment. Some call it the Light of Christ, others the Holy Spirit. Call it what you will, but to think someone else can lead you to salvation. . . well that is just the silliest sort of thinking. Why wouldn’t God want you to experience Him and truth directly? Why would he want you to drink downstream when you can come to Him– the source of living water to quench your thirst?

Why oh why do we so lemming-like run headlong with the herd off illusory cliffs of certitude?

I’m grateful God gave me my own watch so that I wouldn’t need to rely on anyone else to tell me the time.

And I’m grateful divine synchronicity led me to the teachings of Mr. Alan Watts! I’m only 3 lectures in to his Essential Collection and he’s already reinforced some incredible beliefs.

Michelle and Dave

Dear Michelle and Dave, thank you for being at the McDonalds right before Wendover. Thank you for reminding me and my family how blessed we are. Thank you for allowing us to serve you.

May the Lord continue to provide for you and may you both find help along the way until you are both able to once again provide for yourselves. Sharing our dinner and some of our time with you was truly sacred.

p.s. Dave and Michelle were a homeless couple we met. Michelle was sitting outside McDonalds on the curb. I felt impressed to ask if she had already eaten. She said, “no.” I asked if she were hungry, to which she replied, “yes.”

I invited her to join us and place her order. She walked hesitantly up to the register, I asked her if there were anyone else she was with that might need a meal too. She replied that her husband had walked to the gas station and would love something to eat as well. She simply ordered a burger. I told her to get more than that and when I could sense her reluctance, I told the cashier to make both her and her husband’s burgers into value meals. She was grateful and my joy was super sized as well.

While we waited for the order, my children and I were able to visit with Michelle and hear somewhat of her story. She was permanently disabled. She has suffered over 6 mini strokes, leaving her left hand and speech slightly impaired. Her family life as a child was rotten. She met Dave (her husband/partner) and they live on the streets together. She told me how wonderful he treats her. She had the most wretched shoes that hurt her feet abominably and he scrounged up enough money and went without food to buy her some new tennis shoes. She lit up as she showed me her new shoes. They were beautiful. But what was more beautiful was the story of his love and her love for him.

I LOVED Dave before even meeting him. I loved him for loving her. She hasn’t known much of love and I was grateful she had Dave. And then Dave walked in. He was grinning from ear to ear. Beaming is a better word. I hope I never forget what he looked like. Frizzy hair under a red ball cap. Mustache and beard with nothing but these pearly whites revealed in his massive grin. And his teeth really weren’t that white, but only appeared so against his dusty, sunburnt skin. His left arm was mangled. An accident that happened as a child that he is not sure what really happened, but was some kind of child abuse. He didn’t let his handicap get him down. His happiness was contagious. I LOVED him!

He works hard to support himself and his wife and his in-laws who all live on the streets in their broken down car. He paints fences, repairs houses, begs and bums money and does whatever it takes to keep everyone together. They are trying to make it back to Missouri. Buying them a meal felt like such a small thing in their ocean of needs. As I write this now I’m thinking of how much more I could do. No matter, I met a need that night and we were all blessed.

Thank you Lord for the giving me eyes to see. Meeting others’ needs is one of the most fulfilling things I ever get to do. In fact, there are two things where I feel the most like God or the most near to him and that is whenever I’m creating and whenever I’m meeting others’ needs. Thank you God for sending Michelle and Dave.

Wonder Woman

Last night I took my girls to see Wonder Woman with a bunch of wonder women. The movie was fantastic! Not just because Wonder Woman was a powerful babe, or Steve was equally dreamy, or because the special effects, acting and storyline were captivating, but also because there were some ponderous themes.

Chief among the themes was the age old question of whether man is good or evil? I love that Wonder Woman also believes in the inherent goodness of man.

Second, I loved that Wonder Woman also believed in the power of love. She knew that only love could defeat the warmongering Ares–and she was right.

Third, I love that Diane (aka Wonder Woman) had no idea who she truly was. The awareness that she was a great daughter of Zeus with power to defeat Ares dawned on her slowly as she ventured forth to serve her fellowman. It’s a typical tale of the hero’s journey that we see from Jesus Christ to Luke Skywalker. We see it, in fact, in ourselves. Each of us are divine beings with a plan and purpose. Our awareness and life mission unfolds only as we go forth to serve.

We are powerful beyond belief. God has already given us everything we need to succeed. The seeds are planted in our spiritual DNA. Our power is proportional to our belief. Like Wonder Woman, may we all awake to our inherent goodness and divine greatness. We are here to redeem the world through love. Oh and one last thing about Wonder Woman.  I loved her integrity. She could not lie and therefore did not understand the duplicities of man. Her heart was pure. That is another reason she was so powerful.

I love Wonder Woman. I want to be more like her! And I want my girls to be like her too!