Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Uplifting Weekend

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend Time Out for Women. It's put on by Deseret Book and includes speakers (many or all of whom are authors) and musical groups.

Each year, they have a theme that each of the speakers put an emphasis on. "Living Proof" was this year's theme, so we were invited to focus on how we are "living proof" of God's love.

I try to jot down notes so I can remember some of what was said, though I'm not super successful all the time. Here's some of my notables (some are quotes, though they might not be exactly accurate):

Me, Jenny Oaks Baker--super talented
musician with crazy-talented children
"True faith is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, not that something specific will happen." ~ Jenny Oaks Baker

Tim Ballard,
Operation Underground Railroad,
OUR Rescue

Allow Heavenly Father to put you in circumstances to grow. ~ Mary Ellen Edmunds

God will compensate for everything that happens in this life. (something awesome like that.) ~ Soni Muller, Mercy River

"Look at Christlike lives and find inspiration, not competition." ~ Lisa Valentine Clark

"When we take the sacrament, are we thinking about what He did in the Garden?" ~ Eric Huntsman

Mercy River's Christmas album that has
the song "Real." 

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a REAL person, not just a story, memory, or myth. Mercy River sang this beautiful song called "Real" that makes you think differently about the Nativity story. (Get their newest's SOOO GOOD.)

"Jesus Christ knows who you are, what has happened to you, and what will happen to you." ~ Meg Johnson

Those are just a few of the highlights. I really love having these opportunities to be spiritually fed. There is so much going on in the world, so taking time to slow down and feed my spirit is vital. We each need to take time to refocus and spend time working on ourselves and our testimonies.

© Wendy 2015

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Thinking Through Our Fingers: 10 Things to Do During that Horrible Space Between...

Read my thoughts on the waiting game writers endure after they finish their book....and wait for publication.

Thinking Through Our Fingers: 10 Things to Do During that Horrible Space Between...: There's this awful period of time between finally having your book finished (YAY!) and waiting to get it published (AAAHHHH!!)... ...Q...

Monday, October 5, 2015

Talk to Your Kids About Pornography

Pornography has many dangers that are not limited to adults. And, unfortunately, it seems that kids are being targeted at younger ages by the media.

Look at shows geared toward children, tweens, and teenagers. Pornography isn't always full nudity; it is immodesty or revealing clothing that is intended to awaken and tamper with sexual desire. If it's not in the shows, it's in commercials, music, and some literature.

Our children become desensitized to what is appropriate and what is not. The lines become blurred. Sadly, some children view more intense versions of pornography and, what starts out perhaps as innocent curiosity, becomes an addiction to pornography.

Pornography is highly addicting, ruins relationships, destroys love, and can alter lives negatively. Some may argue that it's OK for adults and that it improves their sex lives, but it will end up destroying it by leading to sexual dysfunction at the very least. Pornography is not "just sex." It is degrading. It is taking something sacred--our bodies and procreation--and making it casual, common place, or insignificant. Personally, I also believe it can lead to child pornography, sexual abuse, rape, affairs and divorce. Not to mention, as with other addictions, a loss of self-control or the ability to stop without professional help.

Linda S. Reeves, 2nd counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, recently said,
"Many children, youth, and adults are innocently exposed to pornography, but a growing number of both men and women are choosing to view it and are drawn back repeatedly until it becomes an addiction. These individuals may desire with all of their hearts to get out of this trap but often cannot overcome it on their own. How grateful we are when these loved ones choose to confide in us as parents or a Church leader. We would be wise not to react with shock, anger, or rejection, which may cause them to be silent again.
"We as parents and leaders need to counsel with our children and youth on an ongoing basis, listening with love and understanding. They need to know the dangers of pornography and how it overtakes lives, causing loss of the Spirit, distorted feelings, deceit, damaged relationships, loss of self-control, and nearly total consumption of time, thought, and energy.
"Pornography is more vile, evil, and graphic than ever before. As we counsel with our children, together we can create a family plan with standards and boundaries, being proactive to protect our homes with filters on electronic devices. Parents, are we aware that mobile devices with Internet capacity, not computers, are the biggest culprit?"
It is vital to teach your children about pornography and the dangers of it at a young age. Children need to know what to do if they see it (come tell you!) and how to be safe on the Internet, smart phones, and even with text/picture messages.

As we told our children during a recent Family Home Evening, it's not a matter of "if" they'll see pornography, but "when." We also expressed that whether they've seen it once or a hundred times, we still want them to talk to us and we won't get mad. We are their parents and are here to help them avoid and/or overcome hardships in their lives.

This is a fantastic video to get your discussion started:

Vitally important is the need for your children, no matter their age, to understand the power and necessity of the Atonement. No matter what they have done, they can be forgiven and made clean through the Atonement. Sin and mistakes are not the end of hope. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ loves each of us and the Atonement is evidence of that pure love. If you or one of your children are caught in the snares of pornography or any other sin, use the help of a loving bishop to know which necessary steps are needed to overcome and heal from it. 

Do not allow your family to be deceived by the adversary. Talk about these important topics often and openly. Use the Spirit to help guide your discussions, as the Spirit will testify to your hearts the truthfulness of the teachings and help us each know what we need to do as individuals. 

© Wendy 2015 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Family Proclamation

Twenty years ago today, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" during the General Relief Society meeting.

At the time, it seemed pretty rudimentary, simple, and obvious. And yet, twenty years later,we can see why this prophetic message was released, how contradictory the world's view of the family is from the Lord's design for the family.

This proclamation is meant for us to use as a pattern, as direction in this ever-changing world.

Some of you reading this might feel disheartened because circumstances of life may have prevented you from living this to the full extent. Take heart in what was said during the March 2015 General Women's Meeting:
"May I point out something obvious? Life rarely goes exactly according to plan for anyone, and we are very aware that not all women are experiencing what the proclamation describes. It is still important to understand and teach the Lord’s pattern and strive for the realization of that pattern the best we can.
"Each of us has a part to play in the plan, and each of us is equally valued in the eyes of the Lord. We should remember that a loving Heavenly Father is aware of our righteous desires and will honor His promises that nothing will be withheld from those who faithfully keep their covenants. Heavenly Father has a mission and plan for each of us, but He also has His own timetable. One of the hardest challenges in this life is to have faith in the Lord’s timing. It’s a good idea to have an alternative plan in mind, which helps us to be covenant-keeping, charitable, and righteous women who build the kingdom of God no matter which way our lives go. We need to teach our daughters to aim for the ideal but plan for contingencies."
 ~Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President

On this twenty-year anniversary, I hope we can each resolve to live this as well as our circumstances allow and to teach our children the same. There is always hope, safety, and peace when we follow the Lord.

© Wendy 2015

Friday, September 11, 2015

When you want to give up...

I hesitate to write about this topic because it's scary. But, it's Suicide Prevention week and it's something that needs to be talked about.

I know people who have attempted suicide as well as those who have succeeded in taking their own life. Though I have not attempted to end my own life, I've had thoughts about it more than I would like to admit including as recently as this week.

Painting by Greg Olsen, "Lost and Found"
I'm not always sure what triggers the thoughts and feelings that send me down that path, but it never feels good. It doesn't make sense and it's hard to get your heart and mind back to "normal." It starts with some sort of hurt and turns into...

  • I'm not good enough.
  • I'm failing at being a wife and mother.
  • Everyone would be better off without me. 
  • I don't deserve the life I have. 
  • No one would really notice if I was gone anyway. 
  • I'm ugly, stupid, fat, undesirable...etc.... 
  • My family deserves better.
  • I can't do anything right. 
Ugh... I hate that list. It hurts. It's painful. It's embarrassing. Even though I knowledgeably "know" none of that is true, sometimes feelings are stronger than any other force. I'm sure there are many factors that lead me to this spot--damaging life experiences, heredity, hormones....but the biggest contributor to these thoughts, the one who adds and digs up more negative things to heap on top, is Satan.

This all sounds so depressing...probably because it is. But, I keep fighting and trying to overcome. It's not easy and it always helps to talk to someone. For me, it's my husband who I somehow got to marry me. Figure out what helps you pull out of and put it in you "emotional first aid kit." For me, I:

  • Write.
  • Listen to good music.
  • Talk to someone.
  • Drink Dr. Pepper.
  • Eat chocolate.
  • Read.
  • Cry it out. 

What helps you?

Don't give up. Talk to a friend or loved one who can help. Seek professional help when necessary. Trust in God's mission for you and do not allow Satan to permeate your thoughts and actions. Satan wants you to believe you're alone and you are worthless. He's crafty in making you believe it, but, it is all LIES. You are not Satan's puppet.

You are a child of God. He loves you and knows you better than you know yourself. You are an eternal being with eternal potential. Your are so valuable that Jesus Christ gave His life for you. You are strong and with His help and guidance, you can make it through the storms of life. Choose to fight the battle and rise victorious!

I love this video from the Mormon Channel on suicide prevention.

© Wendy 2015

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Thinking Through Our Fingers: Perseverance + hard work = SUCCESS!

Read my post about persevering when you want to quit.

Thinking Through Our Fingers: Perseverance + hard work = SUCCESS!: The writing process can be super difficult. It can make us feel inadequate or like we're better off pursuing something else. Even if we ...

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Cedar City, UT LDS Temple Groundbreaking

Last weekend was a special time for my community. Ground was broken for the Cedar City, UT LDS Temple. I was able to watch the ceremony from our stake center with my family. We have been so excited for this beautiful event to take place and to have a temple so close where we can go often to feel the peace, love, and blessings of heaven.

The temple was announced during the April 2013 LDS General Conference by President Thomas S. Monson--at which point I shrieked in excitement!

During the ceremony, speakers including Elder Dane Leavitt, Elder Kent F. Richards, Elder L. Whitney Clayton, and their respective wives addressed those within the Cedar City, UT Temple district. There were a few things that stuck out to me in particular:

Sister Ruth Leavitt spoke about the youth who will be able to go to the temple early in the mornings before school. I can't think of a better way for my children and their friends to start the day.

Elder Dane Leavitt talked about the wintry times in our lives and how we seek places of warmth from the cold. The temple is a place of warmth. This quote really struck me, and I love it: "This building of the temple is a reverent act of rebellion against evil."

Sister Marsha Richards - "We come to the temple to receive Heavenly Father's greatest blessings."

Elder L. Whitney Clayton talked about the stillness present at the temple grounds even though the temple has not yet been built. He said that temples are a "symbol of the Atonement of Jesus Christ." Interestingly, he likened the construction of a temple to us. Before building a temple, you have to clear away what needs to be (such as shrubs, rocks, and weeds) and then prepare the ground by leveling it and making it a strong foundation. For us, that means we need to clear away our sins and become humble. We build ourselves on that sure foundation and become who Heavenly Father knows we can.

You can listen for yourself and see the groundbreaking here:

I am so excited for the opportunity we will have as a family to attend the temple together or visit the holy grounds often. It will be a great blessing to us and everyone in our community. I am so grateful for the blessings of the temple.

© Wendy 2015