Gaining Ground

I’m on a high speed bullet train traveling from Beijing to Yiwu. Thoughts are zipping through my mind as fast as we are zipping through the countryside. My thought right now as I watch these farmers work their fields and paddle their boats is how different their life must be than mine. They labor with their hands in the dirt all day and rely on the good earth to supply their sustenance. They are very poor. I wonder if they feel poor? And are we not all poor for King Benjamin taught that we are all beggars, and Jesus taught, “Blessed are the poor in Spirit, who come unto me, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven?” (3 Nephi 12:3).

My second thought concerns the principles of non-resistance, non-judgement, and non-permanence. My company was threatened with a lawsuit this week. Of course legal proceedings are never convenient, but me being in China for the next two weeks has made it especially difficult when it comes to complying with the opponents demands and timelines. I am perplexed at the gentleman’s unreasonableness. I have offered, what I consider to be, several very generous and fair settlement proposals–all of which he hastily rejects. His wife is a lawyer so it costs him nothing to file a claim, and I do feel we are being bullied. It is frustrating, but what is really amazing to me is how calm I feel. I attribute this peace to a few things.

First, I trust that everything will work out. I wrote a bit about what I’ve learned concerning this principle here. I’ve had enough experience with God, Kharma and the Universe to know that all things work together for the good of those that love and serve God. I know that nothing can ever permanently go wrong for those who put God first. It all works out, eventually. 🙂

Second, I have come to treasure Ekhart Tolle’s teachings on the principles of non-resistance, non-judgement and non-permanence. These three principles have become morning mantras for me and are no doubt another source of peace and joy for me.

Let’s first take a look at the principle of non-resistance for I love the story Tolle used to illustrate this principle. He told of the wise old sage who was falsely accused by his neighbors as being the father of their daughter’s illegitimate son (the daughter told her parents that he was the father which simply was not true). The parents told everyone in the community about the misdeed, ruining the respected man’s reputation. They even traveled to his home and accused him to which he replied, “Is that so.”

When the daughter birthed the child, the parents took him to the sage old man and gave him the baby saying, “This is your child, you take care of him.” The wise old man replied, “Is that so.” He raised the child and after several years the daughter felt bad for lying to her parents about who the father of the child really was so she confessed that it was not the wise old sage, but her boyfriend. The parents came to the wise old man and demanded the young boy back. The old man said, “Is that so,” and returned the child that he had come to love very much. The community found out the mistake and the wise old sage was once again returned to an honorable standing in the community. The wise old man never became bitter, stressed, frustrated or angry. He simply accepted life as it came and made the best of it.

Non-resistance pairs perfectly with the principle of non-judgement. Once there was this man who won the lottery. His family said, “Wow, you are so lucky!” The man replied, “Maybe.” The man bought a new car with his new money. His family said, “Wow you are really blessed now that you have a new car.” The man replied again, “Maybe.”

The next day the man was driving his new car and crashed. He was injured badly and taken to the hospital. His family came to visit him and said, “If you hadn’t won the lottery you wouldn’t have bought that car and gotten into this accident. You are not so lucky now.” The man once again replied, “Maybe.”

While the man was in the hospital, a mudslide hit his house in the night, completely destroying it.  His family visited him in the hospital and said, “What a blessing you were in the hospital when the mudslide hit your house or else you would have been killed,” to which the man replied, “Maybe.”

I liked this story a lot because it illustrates perfectly the principle of non-judgement and Shakespeare’s truism that nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so. Which means, we are the ones who assign meaning to our every day occurrences. Events are simply events. We are the ones that label them good or bad. Why not just allow life to unfold and embrace it? We came to Earth to live and learn so it seems silly to get all upset when things don’t work out. Remembering the story of the wise old man who learned to accept life as it unfolded and the man who won the lottery and refrained from passing judgement on events as they unfolded. Both understood the importance of embracing life as it arrives.  Finally, non-resistance and non-judgement go beautifully with principle #3–non-permanence.

Non-permanence is best illustrated by the story of the King who calls the wisest man in his kingdom to his court. He asks him to give him wisdom and in exchange the King will give him, the wise, old man whatever he desires. The old man agrees to the exchange and several days later he returns to the court with a box containing a gold ring. The King is perplexed and the old man tells him to read the inscription inside the ring. It says, “This too shall pass.” The old man tells the King to wear the ring always and whenever he has a perplexing problem, or whenever he is fully enjoying life, spin the ring while remembering the inscription, “This too shall pass.” For nothing is permanent. Good times will come and go, as will hard times. Keeping this principle always top of mind is wise for it helps alleviate worry and stress while also inspiring gratitude and mindfulness.

When you combine the three principles of non-resistance, non-judgement, and non-permanence, with a steadfast faith, hope and trust in God, nothing can shake you! Embracing all three of these principles banishes worry, stress, anger, and promotes instead peace, love and joy.

I’m saddened that my attempts to reach an amicable agreement with the gentleman wanting to file a lawsuit have not been successful. I have followed Jesus’s teachings to the best of my abilities by seeking to “agree with mine adversary quickly,” but thus far it has been to no avail. Since I know my heart is pure and my hands are clean, I can lay the matter at the feet of my God and practice the principles discussed above, and all really will be fine. Again, nothing can permanently go wrong for those that walk with meekness before the Lord.

My final thought is this–and must be shared even though this post is already horrendously long. I was studying Doctrine and Covenants section 4 today and I was struck with the attributes listed that are necessary for those desiring to assist the Lord in his work of saving souls. The Lord’s list repeats the characteristics of love and faith multiple times. I can honestly say that I am growing stronger each day in the principles of love and faith. I LOVE people so much. My bowels swell with compassion for them too. I abhor judgement and if I ever catch myself judging, I am quick to stop. I feel keenly the brotherhood of man and even as I sit here in this completely foreign land, my heart swells with fondness for these people that seem so different, and yet so the same.

God has definitely been working this miracle of love in me for I have no other way to explain it. I know that it isn’t natural for man to love his fellowman the way I feel it. It truly is a divine gift. It is what Moroni called charity—the greatest gift of all. I thank God daily for allowing me to feel it. I hope it continues to grow till it completely consumes me.

I think I will quit thinking now. 🙂 This 8 hour train ride has been so fun kids. Matt and I have been playing Yahtzee. I’m looking forward to playing that again with you guys. We watched a funny show called, “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” I did some stretches in the bullet train, and now I’m typing this post about my deep thoughts. We are maybe going to watch Gandhi as we still have 2 more hours till we arrive. Tina is picking us up from the Yiwu Train Station. I’m super excited to meet her!

Well, I hope you are all having fun in Laketown. I love you mucho.

Crazy Sauce

So get this. . . I’m riding the subway with Matt and our epic guide Joe and I can’t help but notice all the advertisements aimed at Chinese women featuring white women. I asked Joe why companies would put a white woman on their product advertisements when they are marketing to Chinese women? He explained that the Chinese women want to have lighter skin like white women, and that they spend lots of money on beauty products that promise to lighten their skin.

I laughed and said, “No way! That’s Crazy Sauce because most white women try very hard to darken their skin!” I told him how American women pay money to go to tanning salons and spend hours in the sun trying to darken their skin. He was dumbfounded.

I marveled at the irony. Dark sinned peeps trying to get white and white skinned peeps trying to get dark.  Why can’t we all just be satisfied with what and who we are? It has inspired me to do a deep inward dive to see if there are any areas in my life where I can stop wasting precious time, energy, and money trying to achieve something so superficial. I challenge you to do the same. Oh and here’s a good poem that just came to mind:

As a rule, man’s a fool

When it’s hot he wants it cold

When it’s cold, he wants it hot

Always wanting what is not

Never wanting what he’s got

May we not be fools (aka Crazy Sauce). May we be wise by learning to love what we are and what we’ve got.

Now for a little daily update. Kids, we had so much fun today! We left our hotel at 8:30 am with our trusty tour guide, Joe. Here is his picture:

He first took us to the Temple of Heaven where I was able to entertain the Chinese people. It was so much fun! We played diabolo with them (wish you guys could’ve been here to show off your diabolo skills), hacky sack (can’t wait to show you the cool game they taught us and show you the video), paddle birdie (I bought us one to play with–it’s so much fun!), and then I did exercises with them and they all gathered around to watch me walk on my hands, do pull ups, climb the wall and do silly yoga poses. I think they just thought it was fun to see a white woman doing all these things. They especially loved when Matt performed the worm. I really LOVE the Chinese people. They are so friendly and peaceful. I kept giving them all hugs today and they were very excited about that.

After the park, we went to the Dali Llama Temple. It is a very sacred Buddhist Temple so I couldn’t take pictures, but we did see the world’s largest Buddha. It was very cool. I love the teachings of the Buddha, but I do not feel it is the true religion. But it does have a lot of good and truth. We bowed to him to show our respect and we burned incense at his holy altar. It was fun to watch the Chinese worship. They are a very spiritual people.

Next we went to Tian amen Square. It is the center of the government buildings for China. Beijing is the capital of China you know. Well Tain amen Square is famous because in 1989 there was a big student protest against communism, and the government sent in tanks and killed over 1,000 student protestors. Thousands of other students “randomly disappeared” after the massacre as well. That is one reason why the Chinese people are so afraid of talking bad about or resisting the government. If they do, they fear they will be killed like these University students were.

We made our way to the Forbidden City after Tian amen Square. The Forbidden City is where many of China’s Emperors lived. It’s huge and the Emperor had over 300 wives. He made them all live within those city walls and they could not leave, ever. They hated it and some even tried to kill the emperor so they could be free. I’m so glad I live in the 21st Century when women have many rights and aren’t treated so much better. We are SO blessed!

After the Forbidden City (it took 2.5 hours to see it all), we ate some yummy Chinese food at a local restaurant. All that food only cost $18. It was really good. I tried sweet potato noodles for the first time and they were yummy. Oh and that cauliflower stir-fry was to die for. Super spicy which Matt didn’t like, but that’s okay cuz he loved the chicken stir fry and rice.

After lunch (we ate at 3 pm), we toured Old Beijing. We met the craziest man name Leui. He is a world champion cricket fighter. He also has a mini zoo. I held all kinds of interesting animals and I took lots of pictures because I knew this is what would most interest you. You are going to love the video of Leui talking. He’s crazy awesome… . and when I say crazy awesome, I mean I literally think he is crazy!

Oh and this picture is us in the part of Old Beijing called “Beijing Venice.” It’s a man made canal that is very beautiful and you can ride around the city in a boat just like you can in Venice, Italy.

We are now home after walking 14.5 miles today. Matt has already crashed out for the night and I’m going to join him. We wake up early to head to Yiwu on a high speed bullet train. It’s an 8 hour ride! Tina, my employee will pick us up at the train station at 5:55 pm. I’m excited to meet her. Almost as excited as going to bed! Hope you all had a wonderful day! LOVE you so much! xoxo

Dreams

I love Elder Richard G. Scott. I miss hearing him at General Conference, and when I read this quote this morning I was reminded of his awesomeness, “One of the most memorable and powerful patterns of communication by the Spirit is through dreams.”

I remember reading Elder Scott’s book “Finding Peace, Happiness and Joy,” wherein he described the early morning hours as sacred time for receiving revelation. In fact, he described how he often received revelation during the early morning hours around 4 am ish.  He said to start paying attention to those times when you wake up out of a dream in time to remember what you were dreaming as it is most likely from the Lord. He counseled us to ask Heavenly Father to help us understand the meaning of our dream and then seek further instruction by asking, “Is there more?” He promised that if we did this, we would be surprised at how much more our Father is willing to reveal.

The minute I read his teachings, I was keen to test it out. And I can attest that I have had this happen on several occasions. I’m not able to say that I’m  100% certain that I’m receiving Divine communications, but I do know that I am having inspired thoughts. Thoughts, that if I do not write them down immediately, I am not able to recall them with the power and clarity with which they were first received.

In fact, I have been amazed at how frequently inspired thoughts come as I emerge from sleep–especially napping (which I don’t have occasion to do very often). Many times when trying to create an ad slogan or craft clever and compelling marketing copy–and after wrestling with the idea for what seems like forever–I deliberately take a power nap because experience has taught me that when I do, I wake up with brilliant ideas. I quickly capture these thoughts and thank the Lord for inspiring my mind. It’s super cool and something I have come to count on–like it’s happened enough times that I feel confident I can create on command. Perhaps this is exactly what Joseph Smith was intimating when he talked about “grow[ing] into the principle of revelation.”

So I have decided that I’m going to once again take Elder Scott at his word and implement his suggestion about learning through my dreams. I’m going to ask Heavenly Father to teach me through my dreams. When I have a specific questions or needs, I’ll pray for him to teach me while I sleep and better yet, to help me know what He’s teaching me if He decides to send instructions while I’m sleeping.  If I feel like I’m being given revelation in the early morning hours or through my dreams, I’ll check in with him to see if I’m getting the interpretation right for I may be like  King Nebuchenezzar and need a little help interpreting my dream. 🙂

I’m not going to force the Lord to communicate with me through my dreams. I’m just going to be open and aware that it’s one of His ways of teaching us here on this earth.

So kids, those are my thoughts for today. What do you think? Do you have any questions or problems you want the Lord to help you with? If so, try asking him to teach you through your dreams as Elder Richard G. Scott suggests.  Moroni came to Joseph Smith in the middle of the night. The Lord spoke to the young boy Samuel in the middle of the night. Lehi had dreams, as did Nephi, Alma, the Pharaoh, and more. So why not us? Can’t wait to hear what you learn!

Now, time for a quick daily update. We had an incredible time on the Great Wall.  We hiked 5.9 miles along the oldest section of the Great Wall. It was very steep and amazing! Here are some highlight pics:

Me Climbing up Onto the Great Wall
Us Getting Ready to Ride the Alpine Slide of the Great Wall. . that guard was really cute. 🙂
You know me. . . had to walk the wall on my hands 🙂
engagement photo 🙂

That’s me walking the wall my way (on my hands of course). Doing some yoga and kissing Matthew. We rode the toboggan down and that was fun. It’s just like the Alpine slide in Park City. We stopped at a little Chinese Restaurant on the way home and it was SO good. Joe, his real name is HongTao, ordered for us. He is the best tour guide ever and I paid him to take us to some more cool places tomorrow. After our late lunch, we went to the Beijing Acrobat Show. That was really, really amazing!  I will have to tell you about it in person. They wouldn’t let us take pictures during the show.

Matt and I rode the subway home. Which was cool because Beijing has a population of over 30 million and at any given point in time, there are 10 million of them underground using the public transportation. It was pretty crowded in the underground city.

Well, I can barely keep my eyes open right now. I am going to sleep so good tonight. We went over 21,000 steps today for a total of 9 miles. I’m pooped. Have a great day! oxo

Beijing or Bust

Well our crossing of the Pacific is almost complete. We are 43 minutes from touching down in Beijing! The flight hasn’t been all that bad. I read my book “Women and the Priesthood” by Sheri L. Dew, and kids here is something she points out that I think we should discuss. Remember how you guys wondered why girls can’t hold the priesthood? Well, I don’t have any additional information than what we already discussed the other night, but Sister Dew reminds us that women in our church get to do a whole lot of things that require ordination in other churches.

For example, women in our church get to teach, lead and serve in almost every auxiliary (e.g. Young Women’s, Primary, Sunday School). We get to participate in ward councils, stake councils, serve missions, speak in church, etc.  I’m not saying it is wrong if you still feel like Heavenly Father favors his sons. I’m just saying that I found Sister Dew’s points about the privileges women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints enjoy without having to be ordained to a priesthood office are interesting and seem like they could be true. I don’t know for sure as I’m not intimately acquainted with other churches and what they do and don’t allow women to do.

I’m only about half way done with the book. Most of the information in it is stuff we’ve already discussed so I’ll only share any new insights I glean. But for now, let’s return to our travels.

It was raining in Seattle when we landed. Seattle is known for being rainy. Have I taken you guys to Seattle yet? If not, I will bring you here one day because everyone needs to see Pike’s Market and Snowqualmie Falls. Plus, we can visit Matt’s sister, Lori.

We had a 4 hour layover in the Seattle Airport. We met a really nice lady from Cache Valley whose husband is the pilot of our flight to Beijing. She is sitting in first class—or actually, I bet she’s lying down asleep right now. Sometimes she flies with him because he has layovers and they can go sightseeing. So after his 12 hour flight today, he gets 3 days off before having to fly back to Utah. Kind of cool, huh? She is a stain glass artist who invented a way to recycle glass. Her website is bottomsupglass.com. You can see what she makes for people because we thought it was pretty neat. Matt and I gave her lots of free marketing advice and she thought we were the bees knees.

We boarded our flight at 4 pm and Matt and I watched a movie called Hands of Stone. It was the true story of a Panamanian boxer who defeated Sugar Ray Leonard. It was an edited version of the movie and it was an okay movie if you like watching people punch each other in the face. Boxing kind of seems like a barbaric sport to me. I really don’t enjoy watching other people beat each other up. I did like learning more about Panama and how people who are willing to work hard can achieve their dreams. It kind of had the same type of story of the next movie I watched and loved which was Queen of Katawe. You guys were right! It was so good! Here is what I think we should remember about this movie:

Don’t be too quick to tip over your King!

Remember when her coach told her that. I liked that message as it reminds us to not give up too early. If we believe in something, we should fight hard for it. Determination and persistence will pay off. I loved how Fiona didn’t give up. Actually, I love how her coach didn’t let her give up. In fact, had she not had her awesome coach, I bet she would have given up.

I love true stories where people overcome hardship. Wasn’t it so awesome when her family got that new home? Watching this movie made me want to go to Uganda and give them all my money. We have been so blessed haven’t we? You know what that means kids? It means:

Where much is given, much is required (D&C 82:3).

Since we have been so blessed, we have a duty to bless others. Let’s remember to thank the Lord always for all our very many blessings. Gratitude is so important. Let’s remember to thank him tonight for our family, our home, our opportunities for education, our food, our clothes, our business, our knowledge of truth. We are so blessed!

Before I sign off, I thought you’d like to see how I read on the plane.

I wish I had taken a picture of how I slept on the floor. I got down and laid on the floor and Matt slept across the seats. We slept for 4 solid hours this way.

When we land it will be 8 pm at night. We will take a taxi to our hotel and go to sleep because if everything goes as planned, we are getting picked up in the morning to go on a special hike along the Great Wall of China. I planned a one-on-one tour to sections of the wall that only people can access through a secret hike. It is a surprise for Matt. He has no idea what I have planned. 🙂 I will take pictures for sure.

Luke how did your drum auditions go? Sorry Tyler didn’t pick you up. I don’t know what happened, but I will find out. Jane, good luck at bagpipes. Page have fun at fencing if you go, Gwen have fun playing with Anna, and all of you remember how much I love you so! xoxo.

To My Fun Little Friends

Today I left for China, and, unfortunately, I had to leave my children at home. While I love traveling, I hate when I have to leave behind my fun little friends. I’ll especially miss not being able to:

  • make them breakfast each morning
  • pack their lunches for school
  • pray with them before sending them off to school
  • be at home to greet them when they return home from school
  • enjoy an after school snack together while they tell me all about their day
  • eat dinner together
  • laugh and learn during family prayer and scripture study
  • kiss and hug them goodnight before retiring to bed

Since I can’t be there to do most of these things, I promised my children I’d daily blog my spiritual thoughts and insights so they could read them each night, thereby enabling us to continue our evening tradition of uplifting study and conversation.

So kids, first off, make sure you read my post from yesterday about having an eye single to the glory of God. Just click here to read it now.

Welcome back! I hope you liked it and that we can always remember to do the right things for the right reasons. Cuz do we really need people to praise us? I mean we already know we are freaking cool, right? We do, however, need other people to feel our love for them and God’s love for them. If we can do that for others, what else do we need? Service truly is it’s own reward,

In fact, I can’t think of one time I ever felt rotten after helping someone else feel better. Service truly is the best medicine for a sad or unhappy heart. Plus, did you know that God delights in honoring those that honor Him? God loves it when we help others. It makes Him as happy as it makes you, and as happy as it makes the person you help. So serving makes every body happy—it’s like a great big happiness triangle:

Finally, let’s remember what we learned about serving with an eye single to the glory of God, meaning let’s help others because we love them and we love God, not because we want others to be like, “Wow, those Westons, Pages and Misbachs are so incredibly awesome!” Let’s not do our good works to be seen of men because the Lord has promised those that serve Him in secret, He will reward openly (Matt 6:4):

I love you guys so much! I totally forgot to put out your secret surprise. In my office there is a bag of candy on my desk. The bag of Cadbury eggs that says “Milk Chocolate” are yours. The dark chocolate ones are mine 🙂

Anyhow, be sure to grab them tomorrow after school and divide them up. Every time you eat one, think of me and how much I love you. And remember, those eggs taste best if you can suck on them till the candy shell succumbs and the milk chocolate goodness melts all over your tongue. Hey that rhymed. 😉

Now sleep well, think of me, and get excited for my return because I’m gonna be looking for some really rad souvenirs for each of you! Can’t wait to surprise you! xoxo

p.s. Luke, thank you so much for your sweet little note in my book. It was such an awesome surprise!

An Eye Single to the Glory of God

I was reading in section 27 of the Doctrine and Covenants about the importance of partaking of the sacrament with an “eye single to the glory of God” and I paused, for I wondered:

What does it mean to have an eye single to the glory of God?

I read various scriptures and I had several thoughts. First, I thought of how our perception and vision is clearer when we are able to use both of our eyes to focus. When I go to the eye doctor, for example, and he asks me to read the letters across the room, I can perceive them better when I am allowed to use both of my eyes versus covering one of them. So when I think of an eye single to the Glory of God, I think of this ability to use both eyes to focus in on whatever it is I’m trying to see. In this case, I’m focusing on God’s glory.

And what exactly is God’s glory? We read in Moses 1:39 that God’s work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. This means that God is professionally invested in saving His children. He’s committed to helping us become like Him and worthy to be with Him. If we have an eye single to His glory, we are intensely focused on assisting Him in His work. We care about His work and His glory more than we care about our own work and our own glory.

This means that when I teach gospel doctrine, or serve in any capacity in the church, I do it with the intent of pointing others to Christ and Heavenly Father. I should prefer for people to say after my gospel doctrine lesson, “Wow, that was so inspiring. I felt the Spirit and God’s love as you taught,” rather than, “Wow, you are the most amazing teacher! I could listen to you teach all day!”

Now it isn’t your fault if people say the latter, but if our motives are such that we want to set ourselves up for a light and example through our service and teachings, instead of pointing others to God and Christ, then we are not rendering our service with an eye single to the glory of God.

The natural man or natural woman desires their good works to be seen of men so that they may gain the praises and accolades of the world. The servant of God, however, desires instead to do their works for their fellowmen so that they result in praises being rendered to God. I love this quote by Marlin K Jensen:

Latter-day Saints whose eyes are single to God’s glory see life from a vastly different perspective than those whose attention is directed elsewhere. Such members, for instance, care little about receiving credit or recognition for their good deeds. They are more interested in feeding the Lord’s sheep than in counting them. In fact, they frequently find their greatest happiness in serving anonymously, thereby leaving the beneficiaries of their kindness with no one to thank or praise except the Lord.

May we always serve and act with an eye single to the glory of God for as we deflect glory from ourselves to God, He in turn fills us with light and that light groweth brighter and brighter till the perfect day where we shall see Him face to face and know that He is God. 

And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.

“Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will.” (D&C 88:67–68.)

The Efficacy of Fail

I know, I probably should have titled it The Efficacy of Failure in order to be grammatically correct, but if you stick around, you’ll find out why I opted for The Efficacy of Fail.

I listened to a brilliant devotional this morning by Cassy Budd. She’s a professor of accounting at BYU who talked about the beneficial role of failure in our lives. She talked about how her personal trainer strategically designs her weightlifting routines so that whatever muscles they are working ultimately achieve failure. Her trainer has taught her that pushing her muscles to the point of failure is what generates the greatest increase in size and strength.

Cassy likened weight training and muscle failure to our own personal shortcomings, weaknesses and failures. She emphasized the beauty in repeated failures for it forces us to realize how inadequate we are on our own and how much we are in need of the Lord’s mercy, assistance, and grace.

Her speech made me think of the following scriptures:

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (1 Phil 4:13).

. . . with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

These thoughts were top of mind during my lesson today, especially as we discussed the Savior’s command to the members of His church to meet together oft to partake of the sacrament (D&C 20:75).

I asked the class why they thought the Lord would command His church to meet together oft to partake of the sacrament?  A wonderful discussion about our need to regularly repent and renew our baptismal covenants ensued.

We discussed the beauty of repentance and how it helps us transform and become better. I shared my insights from Professor Budd’s devotional address on Failing and Finishing and we discussed how failure, like repentance, is a beautiful necessity that facilitates learning and hastens success.

Don Paver–an elementary school teacher–shared an awesome insight. He said that in his classroom he writes the word FAIL across the top of his white board like this:

First

Attempt

In

Learning

I loved that so much! It perfectly captured what I was trying to convey about repentance being a beautiful gift and how failure enhances learning and accelerates success.

I shared how this principle is also true in my professional work. When it comes to pay per click advertising, and really every marketing endeavor, we promise our clients that we will fail fast– for the quickest route to success is for us to figure out what doesn’t work, kill it, and once we figure out what does work, feed it.

I also related the story of Thomas Edison who failed at the light bulb multiple times and simply said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Anyhow, I guess what I hope everyone understood today is that failure is okay. So long as we keep on trying. In fact, Robert Louis Stevenson said it best when he penned, “Saints are sinners who keep on trying.” And Confucius claimed, “Our greatest glory lies not in never falling but in getting up every time we fall.”

Fortunately, for each of us, no matter how many times we fall, we have a God who has promised he will not fail us:

. . . as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee (Joshua 1:5).

May we all realize the beauty of repentance and the efficacy of fail–for failure and repentance helps us learn, progress and ultimately obtain eternal success.

Spring Cleaning Self

This post is inspired by Pastor Rick Warren’s Daily Hope. If you don’t already subscribe, you should do so now by clicking here.

Anyhow, I was looking around the house the other day and noticing how badly it needed some spring cleaning. The light fixtures have accumulated dust, the walls need wiping, the fridge could stand a thorough cleaning, the garage is getting crowded, and our office, well, let’s just say it’s embarrassing.

I always do a deep clean twice a year. It corresponds perfectly with our General Church Conferences. For two days we hunker down and listen to inspiring words from the leaders of our church, and as they talk, I clean.  I plan to do the same in a matter of weeks, but what about doing a personal spring clean? That’s exactly what Rick Warren suggested we do in our individual lives. In fact, he suggested we sit down and write a personal inventory of the areas we can improve.

I might as well do so now. I mean I’ve already been blogging about several things I want to do better, but now’s as good as ever for me to commit to the following:

  • Relationships and Reading People (see my post here about what this means)
  • Meditation (I’m committed to “Being Still as discussed here)
  • Being Present (I wrote more about what this means here)
  • Physical Care (Eat Enough, Exercise Wisely and Sleep Sufficiently)
  • Non-Resistance, Non-Judgement, Non-Permanence (blog post forthcoming about what I’ve learned in this regard)
  • Application of Truth (will write more about this later)
  • Further Education of My Conscience (acquiring and applying additional light–will write more about this later as well)

I’m sure there is more I can come up with, but this is sufficient to keep me busy till our October General Conference. I will give a full accounting then of my efforts, but now I will outline my action plan for achieving the aforementioned:

Relationships and Reading People: I will arrive to church 15 minutes early so I can greet newcomers and welcome them. I will also continue my Sunday routine of visiting new people in the neighborhood and the ward.

Meditation: I just bought three books on how to meditate. I study my scriptures every morning and I think and blog, but I’m interested in learning more about meditation. I’m going to read 2 of the books on mediation while traveling through China this week and find out whether or not I’m already meditating and how I can improve.

Being Present: I’m focusing daily on taking pleasure in whatever I’m doing in the moment. I don’t want to worry about the future or dwell on the past. I want to enjoy the precious, pristine present for the gift that it is. I think Meditation will help with this goal as will my conscience awareness that this is something worth striving for moment to moment. Awareness–as always–is key.

Physical Care: I need to eat at least 2,000 calories per day. Exercise Monday-Saturday and walk on Sunday. I want to sleep a minimum of 6 hours per night. I already eat very healthy so just want to make sure I’m eating sufficient to maintain my weight. I can’t lose any additional weight. 🙂

Non-Resistance, Non-Judgement, and Non-Permanence: I wrote about the importance of replacing versus resistance here, and I feel like I covered the importance of not judging a little bit in my recent Namaste blog post here, but I haven’t written much yet about Non-Permanence. I want to always remember that that which we resist persists, and when we judge others we have no time to love them, and everything will pass (both the good and the bad). When I learn to meditate, I plan to incorporate these concepts into my chanting mantras. Until then, I’ll simply recite these ideas each morning after my scripture study and think upon them as I spiritually create my day.

Application of Truth: This is hard. I am always learning and while I am pretty good at recording what I learn, I feel that my implementation is lacking. Seems like there is much crossover in what I study so I simply need to apply any new truths I learn, and make sure I’m already living up to the light I’ve already received. What I really need to do better at is daily accountability–which segues beautifully into my final objective:

Further Education of My Conscience: Each night I would like to record how well I lived up to my current knowledge and light. I will acknowledge my failings before myself and my maker, determine how I could have handled the situation better, and then resolve to do so next time.

Wow! I’m feeling much cleaner and lighter already. Are you now ready for spring cleaning self?

The Only True and Living Church

This week I’m supposed to teach lesson #9 from the Doctrine and Covenants manual. It’s all about the restoration and organization of the church in these latter days, and is entitled, The Only True and Living Church.

Honestly, I’m having a hard time getting jazzed about teaching this lesson. Mainly because I am not a fan of the whole, “Our church is true and yours is not.” I personally feel all religions are beautiful. If your religion leads you to love and serve your fellowman, inspires morality, and causes you to seek after good, then it’s true enough and you should continue to honor it.

So how am I going to teach this lesson? Well, I guess I will focus on what I can get jazzed about. I find it really cool to contemplate the growth of the Mormon religion. What began with 6 members meeting together in a 20×30 foot log cabin in Fayette, New York, on April 6, 1830, has grown to over 15 million members in only 187 years. That’s pretty amazing to me.

What’s even more remarkable, IMO, is all the good The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints accomplishes. We currently have over 76,000 missionaries serving worldwide. We have solid programs for the youth. We have members who donate their time, money and talents to serve each other and the larger community. We support and pray for our leaders, and work to establish world peace. How can any church or religion seeking to do the same not be acceptable and loved by God?

I can also attest that being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has blessed my life, my children, and my entire extended family. I love the people I worship and serve with, and I love continually seeking after everything virtuous, lovely, and praiseworthy. I love the teachings of Jesus, who our Church worships, and I love listening to inspired men and women who have been ordained of God counsel us in wisdom’s path.

So while I’m still not jazzed about the title of my upcoming lesson, and the possibility of having to discuss which church is true and which is not, I can say I am jazzed to talk about all the good my church has done and continues to do for me, my family and the larger community. God bless all those who labor in love for righteous causes. For there ain’t nothin’ more true than that!

Representation

This week’s lesson in gospel doctrine is about the establishment of, and membership in, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I shared these verses with my children last night:

 68 The duty of the members after they are received by baptism—The elders or priests are to have a sufficient time to expound all things concerning the church of Christ to their understanding, previous to their partaking of the sacrament and being confirmed by the laying on of the hands of the elders, so that all things may be done in order.

 69 And the members shall manifest before the church, and also before the elders, by a godly walk and conversation, that they are worthy of it, that there may be works and faith agreeable to the holy scriptures—walking in holiness before the Lord.

I asked the children what we needed to be worthy of? I believe “it” refers to being confirmed a member of the church and renewing those baptismal covenants each Sunday through partaking of the sacrament.

The Lord is serious about having those who bear His name represent him well. I told my children that as the owner and CEO of KickFire Marketing I know a bit of how the Lord must feel. I count on my employees to represent our company well. Their actions are a reflection of me. If they don’t do their job with integrity and quality, it makes me look bad. And I can’t have people who don’t represent me well, working for me.

We discussed the importance of walking in all holiness before the Lord and making sure we always act in a manner that is pleasing unto Him so that He is proud to have us bear His name.

 77 O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.

When we represent Him well, He rewards us with His Spirit. When we do not represent Him well, we will lose the privilege of bearing His name as these verses indicate:

 80 Any member of the church of Christ transgressing, or being overtaken in a fault, shall be dealt with as the scriptures direct.

 83 And also, if any have been expelled from the church, so that their names may be blotted out of the general church record of names.

Being a member of His church is a privilege. May we strive to always represent Him well.