Monthly Archives: October 2014

A Deeper Surrender 2 – Flexibility

This week turned out to be the polar opposite of the last two and appeared to make my conclusions of my last post, A Deeper Surrender, appear at least partially wrong. The high I was on from surrendering my will to God’s will was real, but now I realized it may have been unsustainable, at least with my physical limits.

What I learned this week as my energy crashed was that the answers that were so right yesterday may not be right for today. Inspiration, like ancient Israel’s manna in the wilderness, doesn’t keep and can’t be recycled. Time to regroup and shift gears is also part of an unselfish and productive life. I seem to have to learn this lesson over and over. I guess it’s why I start my day with both prayer and a little yoga – to loosen up both my mind and my body – and open up a window to that higher guidance.

So this week, my writing, family history work and real estate prospecting were all pulling on my mind, but I decided to regroup instead. I went to bed between 8:00 and 9:00 pm. I finished preserving the 40 lbs of apples my granddaughter and I picked a couple of weeks ago. My grandson and I had rearranged my bedroom to accommodate a gift bed, but the overflow still clogged my office. It took four days but my office is now free of clutter, and I put up pictures I forgot I had. I feel at peace about what I did accomplish. Next week, I’ll tackle those neglected projects and will probably buzz through them, surrounded by order and serenity.

As I puttered through these tasks I remembered other guidance about similar times:

  • Years ago, I read an article by a busy mom also trying to find time for creative projects. She made a point I’ve never forgotten: within the limits of your schedule, operate from enthusiasm, not a grim list of have-to’s. Her advice: The energy generated by your enjoyment will power you through a long day much better than a whip at your back, and those have-to’s will get done on the coat-tails of your passions.
  • Back when I was teaching high school, I approached the last week of school in a very right-brained, zig zag way. Similar to the above, I just followed my nose in what I tackled – gauging my energy level, which students were around to help, and available time. Many jobs didn’t get done in the time available, but I always got back to them. The very last day, I always had a firm deadline, 10:30 am, when I had to leave for graduation, and I didn’t want to come back. The last half-done jobs somehow all fell into place that morning. The last box went out to my car. The last forms were delivered to the office, the counseling center, and the custodians. The board was cleaned, my desk cleared, and I could go off and enjoy my seniors’ moment of triumph. Somehow I always made that deadline.
  • Finally, I remember a book from my hippie days, Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, a charming little allegory about a baby seagull obsessed with flight who’s surrounded by peers happy to live a pedestrian life on the ground. In claiming his own nature and dreams, he had to overcome many preconceptions about his limits and abilities. Each breakthrough transcended some previous truths or habits, to take him higher and higher, until he broke free and truly became a bird of flight. It’s short and a lovely read.

I hope you all find the answers God has for you in your quest to take flight!




A Deeper Surrender

40 years ago I had a profound spiritual experience with God’s spirit and became a Christian. As I studied the promises contained in scripture, I found a totally different way of life: serve God first, work hard, and then we may “stand still and watch the salvation of the Lord” operating to bless us.

Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power;
and then may we 
stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God,
and for his arm to be revealed.      
(LDS Doctrine and Covenants 123:17)

I’ve seen this principle work many, many times and expressed in many different ways:

        • What goes around, comes around. 
        • Virtue is its own reward.
  • What you send out comes back multiplied.
  • What you focus on increases (good or bad).

Recently, however, I found myself in a spiritual “log jam” and struggling to muster the faith to break out of it. I hit a wall with my health and energy levels, my prospecting efforts in real estate weren’t bearing fruit so my bank balance was operating on fumes, and I was finding very little time for other writing. After some deep thought and hearing about how people near me were getting great breakthroughs of energy through serving God and other people, I decided I needed to give more, trust more, and ask for more divine help.

Immediately I ran up against human resistance: laziness, procrastination, the “I’m too tired” syndrome, and just plain lack of faith that the Lord would keep His promises. However, I knew I was really stuck at a set level of contribution, happiness and success. I knew there was more to be had, and that I had extra reserves of dedication and effort within. Remembering another scripture, I decided to “experiment upon the word”:

But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words. (Book of Mormon, Alma 32:27)

Moreover, I knew that experiment needed to include actually stepping out and living my faith before I could see results, and frankly I found this scary. I already felt stretched thin, tired and overwhelmed, so this required a pretty big leap of faith. But I was determined. I pictured the figurehead of a ship and set my face into the wind to forge ahead.

 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (New Testament, John 7:17)

Ship's Figurehead Courtesy Andrea Malz,

Ship’s Figurehead
Courtesy Andrea Malz,

So how did my experiment turn out?

I actively sought opportunities to serve my friends, neighbors and fellow church members, I dug into some daunting family history challenges, and I worked “harder and smarter” each day. This still seemed like only a token effort – sincere but minimal. However, the results were amazing!

I was thrust into a new level of energy, connection with the universe, and success. I felt currents of love around me and through me. A For Sale By Owner property turned into a listing. Another agent paid me in advance for marketing work. Happy interactions just sprang up seemingly out of nowhere. And a spiritual healer brought welcome release from energy stuck in the past, as well as advising me to increase my salt intake for my adrenals, which worked dramatically. It was a stunning validation of the principles of faith and sacrifice. “The laborer is worthy of his hire” was utterly fulfilled, far beyond my puny efforts. (LDS Doctrine and Covenants 106:3)

I hope I can maintain this vision and level of effort – please keep me accountable. Try it, you’ll like it, as the song goes, and let us know what you learn.

Picking Up the Pace

I have to confess that I’m a closet drag racer.  If I’m the first car in line next to some guy at an intersection and can safely beat him through when the light turns green, I go for it. Friday afternoon, I drove four friends to see the new movie, Meet the Mormons (now in theaters). On the way home, a fellow from our congregation pulled up alongside me in a minivan. He did a great bobble head, nodding toward the light. Like red to a bull, I took the bait. I pulled ahead of him a little smugly until I realized he let me win. Who knew? A bobble head gentleman!

Sitting in church this morning, listening to both a departing and a returning missionary, I realized we are in a different kind of race – the race between those in God’s army and those promoting a life based on selfish pleasure and gain.

I thought about how the many amazing people around me are increasing their contributions to the human family: ministering to prison populations, serving the homeless, or taking their kids to do service in the Third World (see Two Roatans). I thought about how the spread of Christianity is accelerating worldwide, especially in third world countries, and how those converts beam as they describe finding God. Click HERE for numbers and HERE for some stories.

Many Christian churches are sending missionaries and humanitarian aid workers all over the world to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and help those in dire need. My own church has over 83,000 missionaries in 409 missions worldwide, plus 12,000 humanitarian aid workers in 182 countries, most paying their own way. There’s been an urgent call from our leaders to hasten both the missionary and family history work, helping our ancestors also receive saving ordinances.

But here in America, the opposite is too often true. Church attendance is declining and the numbers of nonbelievers is increasing, according to the Pew Research Institute. For a nation whose founding fathers were solidly Christian, we’ve departed far from their vision (see my post, Covenant America). Selfless idealism has yielded to the entitlement mentality. Morality has degenerated into Animal House. Church attendance, prayer in many public places, and a belief in a higher power are decidedly unpopular and even illegal. And the trend seems to be picking up speed.

Perhaps there’s a race that’s intensifying between the secular and the Christian world to see who can win the most converts. Scriptures have long foretold our day when the forces of evil and the forces of good would collide in the largest battle ever seen. This could be really scary except they also tell us the ending, and that the good guys win!

But it’ll be easier to ride out those struggles if we know what we believe and which race we’re running. Where do you stand, and how fast are you running?

Check out a great personal story:

The WWII Candy Bomber

The Candy Bomber in Germany, 1948 Courtesy Blog.Chron.Com/Mormon Voice

The Candy Bomber in Germany, 1948
Courtesy Blog.Chron.Com/Mormon Voice


The Still Small Voice

Growing up in the heart of a Midwestern university town, I acquired early the habit of sitting at the feet of “experts.” I was drawn to teachers who humbly acknowledged a vast pool of knowledge not yet fully understood by academics. They were childlike in their enthusiasm for discovering new truths. A small minority were arrogant, cramming their own pedagogy down our throats. Most of us avoided them like the plague. Sadly, the “politically correct” more and more dominate our society, with their strident voices. When I found God at age 31, I discovered a whole new avenue to truth. He spoke directly to my heart and spirit, so I know God exists and answers prayers. First I was a Christian. Then I was introduced to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and studied its history and doctrine, eventually receiving a clear witness from God that “this was His work.” He speaks today through His prophet just as He spoke to men in ancient times through prophets, not just to us individually in prayer. This weekend, we have the opportunity to hear inspired messages from the Lord’s prophet and apostles during our semi-annual worldwide General Conference. Locally, it’s broadcast on Channel 7.2 (listed as 24/7 on cable rosters), Saturday and Sunday 10-12 and 2-4 both days. The normal Tabernacle Choir broadcast airs at 9:30 Sunday morning. I invite all to listen and feel God’s Spirit speaking personally to each of us. The most fundamental religious experience is the one we have on our knees in prayer and spiritual communion with the Holy Spirit. Only then can these messages convey their full impact. As a society, we have lost the basic understanding that there actually is a God. He formed Christ’s church anciently and He’s restored it in our day, with the same organization of prophets and apostles, priesthood, and the ordinances necessary for us to progress in the next life. The Ten Commandments were in force then, and they still are today. People can ignore them, but no one can ignore the consequences of disobeying them, nor can they change those consequences, any more than we can ignore gravity or change how it works. Since that time, the Lord has guided my footsteps many times, blessed me with opportunities and comfort, then corrected me when I needed it. I don’t experience Him to be harsh, arbitrary or controlling, as the media is sometimes inclined to portray Deity. God is a gentleman, not forcing His presence into our unwilling minds and hearts, speaking to us only in a “still, small voice,” as we let him.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

In the midst of the many voices around us, let’s still the noise of the world and tune into that quiet voice. In a darkening world, this voice will become increasingly important to our personal peace. Test out this promise in the Book of Revelation on your knees in private, sincere prayer and see where it takes you!

Angel Moroni atop Reno, Nevada Temple Courtesy Wikipedia Commons

Angel Moroni atop Reno, Nevada Temple
Courtesy Wikipedia Commons