Friday, December 23, 2016

Create Your Own Custom Day Planner

Create Your Own Custom Day Planner

I've bought dozens of different types of Day Planners. I've found a few that I like (In the Leafy Treetops has been one of my fav's). But I really struggle finding one that doesn't have loads of stuff I don't use, is the wrong size, or is too expensive.

For 2017 I googled "how to make your own day planner" and found several articles that aided me in my attempt to try something new and design my own, with pages that fit my specific work and home needs. It's nowhere near as cute as the ILT planners, or as professional looking as a Franklin, but it's functional and it's specific without a bunch of stuff I'll never use and it only cost me about $20. Not to mention it could be a lot cuter if I wanted to take the time to design it that way, I'm just not that patient.

What I need from a planner:

I'm a mom, a writer, and a Sunday School teacher. I have meals to plan, activities to chauffeur, book events to attend, writing targets/deadlines to make, and lessons to prepare. I have marketing to do, bills and budgets to balance, and scriptures to study. I have a house to clean and a husband to date:). I need a way to see my week (and month at a glance) to make sure I hit my goals and keep my priorities in order.

Since this is my first attempt, I'm sure I'll be keeping notes on things I want to include/not include when I design next year's planner. Here's the basic rundown of what I made for this year.

For the cover (top left), I bought an image off Shutterstock for an event I spoke at. It made me think of reaching for higher things so I used it here as well. I then topped it with a quote from one of my favorite movies, We Bought a Zoo, "If you do something for the right reasons, nothing can stop you." (I have an amazing friend who is talented with lettering and asked her to write this along with a few other favorite quotes for me.)

On the first page I have this quote:
Since my goals for this year are going to require a lot of courage I thought this was a good way to start.

My next page is a picture of my family, my number one priority, followed by a page containing my personal mission statement.

Each month starts with a quote on the left and a place to write inspiration or notes on the right (bottom right), followed by a goals page and a calendar (bottom left). I needed a place that showed me important events for the month and my marketing schedule, along with a full calendar to see at a glance.

My weekly pages (bottom middle) are specific to my day-to-day.
On the left is a column listing weekly tasks and goals, along with a spot for me to write how many hours to work on writing, marketing, research, and study, all with check boxes.
At the bottom of each day is a check-list for daily tasks. At the bottom right of the week is a space to write events or things to remember for that week.

At the back of the planner I included pages to write in birthdays and important notes.

I created everything in Microsoft Publisher and saved each page as a JPEG image.

Then I went to a photo book site that you can find 40% off coupons for all the time online, and created my planner with their online tool called BookWright.

What I liked about this is you can choose what size you want to make it, either a "trade magazine" which is about 8 1/2 by 11, or a 6x9 "paperback" photo book.

In BookWright you'll upload your pages and organize how you want. Create a cover and be as creative as you want. When designing your pages prior to upload you can add as much background or photos as you want, it won't affect the price. Just a word of caution, look at the size requirements for the book you are creating so when you make your pages you can create them that size, otherwise when you upload the images may be fuzzy.

The final cost will be dependent on how many pages you make your planner.

Once your pages are all uploaded, and your cover how you want it, you can save and purchase. It takes about a week to get it.

I wanted the functionality of a spiral binding so once I got my planner in the mail I went to our local print shop and had them do the spiral binding. It cost me $2.50.

It's definitely not the easy route to go this way. It took a few hours to design and upload. So this is probably not the way to go if you want something quick.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Courage Equation: Part Two

Part two in The Courage Equation:

The second invariable-1CY or Confidence in Yourself

Confidence in Yourself

Confidence: belief in oneself and 
ones powers and abilities.
Capable: having power and ability, 
efficient, competent

“A constructive critic truly cares for that which he criticizes, 
including himself…” --Neal A. Maxwell

I tell you that with confidence in God we move naturally toward confidence in ourselves and here’s why: With confidence in God, you believe you were created perfectly for your path, this stops the lie of “you’re not good enough” and gives us courage to try. 

With confidence in God, you believe no matter how hard the path may be at times, it was perfectly designed to make you the strongest and most beautiful version of yourself, which stops the lie of “you’ll never succeed” giving you the courage to get back up when you fall. 

With confidence in God, you know you are not alone, which stops the lie that because of your mistakes “the light will never be yours again”, and gives you the courage to reach out and grasp the Savior’s hand.


The 3 truths in 1CY or Confidence in Yourself are reinforcement truths. 
They are the steal beams that rise up from the strong foundation of confidence in God. 

These truth’s are: 
The truth of God’s mirror
The truth of pursuing your dreams
The truth of loving the journey

God's Mirror

“Satan does not care about those who are content with mediocrity. 
He works hardest on those who are close to a breakthrough.”

“If you do something for the right reasons, 

nothing can stop you.” —We Bought a Zoo

Truth #1: God’s mirror is very different than the world’s mirror. 

When you look in a mirror, you may be looking at what you perceive as image flaws. Maybe you don’t like your hair, your skin, your weight, etc. I want you to think about where you got the idea of who decided what perfect hair, skin, and weight is supposed to look like. It came from the world and it isn’t truth. If you could look in God’s mirror, the mirror that let’s you see yourself as He does, the image you see would be exactly the same as the one you see in your mirror right now, but the way you felt about it would be very different. You would see how unique you are. You would see someone who is loved for exactly who she is. You would see how your individuality brings light to the world. You would embrace your true beauty. God wants you to take care of the gift of your body yes, he wants you to be physically healthy so you can feel good, but he doesn’t want you to decide how you should look based on a picture in a magazine or a woman on the big screen. The next time you look in the mirror, try to ignore the mold of the world that makes you think you should look a certain way and try to see yourself as God does, as His beautiful daughter with tremendous power and potential. You have every right to love the woman God created, in fact you are meant to.
Confidence is a good thing. It is not arrogance. It’s not arrogant to be confident in ourselves and the fact that God created us perfectly, he created everyone perfectly for their plan. It’s not arrogant to find joy in expressing your talents and bringing beauty into the world. It is not arrogant to feel good when you do good, or bring light into the world for others to be uplifted by. Arrogance is jealous of others successes. It is seeking to think yourself better than someone else. In truth, it is far more arrogant to look in mirror and care more about fitting into what the world thinks looks good, than to care about what you bring to the world by just being you.
It won’t always be easy to see yourself as God see’s you, but as you continue to trust Him, and that He made you perfectly for your plan, true confidence will come and be reinforced day by day.


Pursue Your Dreams

Every person wields an influence. 
“It is what we are and what we radiate that affects the people around us…”

The world needs your light. 

“No good deed, no kind word can be spoken without its effect 

being felt for good upon all…”

"What you do by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”—Zig Ziglar

Truth #2 Pursue Your Dreams

When we trust that God made us, that He has given us talents and abilities to discover and use, we begin to find ourselves drawn to things we may not have been brave enough to try before. I promise you that as you begin to go after your dreams and goals, your confidence will grow. Especially when you fail and get back up.
Go after your dreams! What you do will have a profound effect on those around you. President David O. McKay said that “as a rock that has been thrown into a pool starts a wave from the center which continues to enlarge until every part of the shore is touched, so your deeds…continue to radiate and touch many hearts.” The world needs your light, it needs your unique beauty. Somewhere in the world is someone you are meant to touch. You may never know their name, or what it was about you that affected them for good, but when you share your gifts, talents, and beauty with the world, the ripple effect will be far greater than you can possibly imagine.

With every achievement, with every goal met, the joy and confidence you receive will be sustaining and motivating.

"Love" the Journey

“Come what may and love it!”—Joseph B. Wirthlin

All that we endure purifies our hearts, makes us more charitable, 

and ultimately brings us closer to Jesus Christ.

“Discouragement is not the absence of adequacy, 
but the absence of courage.” —Neal A. Maxwell

Truth #3 “Love” the Journey

Truth #3: It is possible to love the journey even though it will be littered with road blocks, detours, potholes, and miles of construction, because it will also be filled with bright and beautiful views of paradise, true friendships, light, lessons, growth, love, and hope. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You will fall down once in awhile. Sometimes others will push you down, but you don’t have to stay there. You can choose to get back up and dust yourself off. Pres. Uchtdorf said that we all “experience feelings of guilt, depression, and failure… We can feel so burdened by our failures and shortcomings that we begin to think we will never be able to succeed. We might even assume that because we have fallen before, falling is our destiny…but, our destiny is not determined by the number of times we stumble but by the number of times we stand up, dust ourselves off, and stride forward.” It is paced progress, not a race to the finish.

Orson F. Whitney said  “All that we suffer and all that we endure…purifies our hearts…and makes us more tender and charitable.” I believe it also brings us closer to Jesus Christ, because once you accept the gift of the Atonement and all it’s implications, how can you not love him more deeply? He has suffered everything you have ever suffered times billions, just so He can understand your needs and take away your pain. 

To love the journey does not mean we will never feel afraid. Courage is not the absence of fear, and discouragement is not the absence of adequacy. Courage is the acceptance that something is more important than what scares us and remembering that God makes us adequate for any challenge. can love the journey even when we don’t always like it. We can love it for what the hard times teach us, for the goodness we see in those around us, for the potential.

"Repeatedly I have been impressed to learn 

that to reach a goal never before attained 

one must do things never before done." 

-Richard G. Scott

How do I gain more confidence in myself and my path?

Remind yourself daily that God made you perfectly for your plan.

Replace negative thoughts with a positive thought and action.

Make a two column list: on one side list goals, talents, ideas that awaken you. On the other side list your “motive”.

Direction first, and then velocity.” (Neal A. Maxwell) Ask for help from God first, then family, friends, and mentors. Take the first step.

Daily reminders: It will take practice to get better at ignoring the negative shouts of Satan and listening to the quieter truths of God. Remind yourself daily of the truths you learned today and repeat the truths that God whispers to you consistently. Write them down and say them aloud often. God made you and he doesn’t make mistakes. 

Every negative thought that comes in that can be replaced with a positive action do it. Replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts is necessary and when you can add action to it, it becomes tangible. In short you find a way to prove the negative thought wrong. Grab hold of your courage and keep trying. 

I’ve heard the phrase: “I don’t have any talents.” so many times. This is just another lie. Everyone has talents. Not all talents are easy to spot but it does not mean they’re not there. I’m willing to bet that every woman in this room at some point in her life, even if it was way back when she was ten years old, has had moments when she felt something inside her awaken when faced with a new idea. A spark of desire to try something. How do you know that little spark, before you doused it with doubt, wasn’t a hidden talent waiting to be discovered? God prompts, he doesn’t force. Your talents are for you to use or lose. It’s your choice and you’ll never know until you try, fail, and keep trying. Make a list of everything you can think of that excites you or has excited you in the past that you wish you had tried or want to try to achieve. 
Not sure if your goal or dream is right or worth pursuing? This is where the other half of the list comes in. List your motive behind the dream. Your motive will help you know if it’s right. Are you doing it so you can feel more confident about the woman God made you to be, or to put yourself above someone else? Are you searching for a way to be an influence for good in the world, or just to achieve wealth and stature? List your motives. A strong motive will move you forward in ways you never before imagined and bring opportunities that help everything fall into place.

Narrow the list. Don’t try to tackle every goal on the list at once! Pray for guidance and then start with the one goal/dream you are most drawn too—in my case it was the one that scared me the most—and flesh out the motive and what is needed to achieve it. Take it back to God. Ask if it’s really right for you and listen to Him, not Satan’s doubts, for confirmation. As the feeling of rightness inside grows, nurture it by seeking advice and encouragement from trusted friends, teachers, mentors. Get a priesthood blessing—or several—take classes if necessary. It will require you to try things you haven’t done before. It will require you to get up when you fall, and take the hands that offer to help you up. But do it, for your sake and for the sake of the world that needs your ripple effect.

The Courage Equation

1CG (Confidence in God) + 1CY (Confidence in Yourself) = Courage

Courage based on true principles, on the truths discussed, is sustainable. Courage based on worldly opinions and lies of the mold are not. Does it require constant effort to maintain true courage? Of course it does, remember “Satan works hardest on those closest to a breakthrough.” But never forget, no matter how loud he shouts, you have God on your side and He will help you succeed gloriously!

True Courage gives you power:

Power to know you were created perfectly for your plan and need not fear the path ahead.
Power to know that with God’s help and wisdom you can succeed in any righteous desire at the right time.
Power to know that you are never alone. 
Power to love and be confident in the woman God made you to be.
Power to know when your motives are good, God will help you achieve your dreams.
Power to “love” the journey, all it’s ups and downs, highs and lows, and the beauty you bring into it just by being you.

These truths helped me and I hope they can help you too. It can be a day to day thing, especially if you are like me and struggle with anxiety or depression. For the first while your goals may be as simple, yet challenging as get out of bed, and that’s okay. I had many goals like that in the beginning. Life is real, it’s raw, and it’s hard, but it’s also beautiful

I still race against anxiety and depression. I still sweat buckets when I have to stand in front of a crowd and talk. (Disposable nursing pads and electrical tape work wonders under the arms—just so you know). 

I do not fit “the mold” of perfect mom, wife, friend, or writer. I’m me, Kelly Parkinson, She Who Sweats Rivers, and I’m good with that. 

“Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: 
for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” —Joshua 1:9

*If you would like to download the PowerPoint slide show you can do that here (scroll to bottom of post. It's available in both PowerPoint and KeyNote for Mac users).
*If you would like to watch a YouTube video containing snippets from the So You Don't Fit the Mold conference you can do that here.
*If you would like to learn about the next event for women coming March 2017 entitled, Women Are That They Might Have Joy, you can do that here. *As of 12/2/16 it only lists the speakers from So You Don't Fit the Mold. The speakers for the March conference have not been set in stone yet.*

*Reference list used in presentation:

“You Matter to Him” —President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, General Conference Oct 2011
“Not Withstanding My Weakness” —Neal A. Maxwell, General Conference Oct 1976
“In Praise of Those Who Serve”—President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, General Conference April 2016
“You Can Do It Now!”—President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, General Conference Oct 2013
“A Plea to My Sisters” —Russel M. Nelson, General Conference Oct 2015
“Beware of Pride”—President Ezra Taft Benson, May 1989 Ensign
“Developing Talents”—Gospel Principles Manual (chapter 34)

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Courage Equation: Part One

In August 2016 I participated in an event for women called "So You Don't Fit the Mold". The purpose of this event was to help women embrace the fact that we were not created to fit into a specific mold, we were not made to be just like someone else, we were made unique--beautiful and perfect for our specific creation--to bring something only we can bring into the world. As President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, "Rather than attempting to force everyone into a mold...we can choose to celebrate...differences and appreciate them for adding richness and constant surprises to our lives."

At the event I elected to speak on finding courage to pursue our dreams. I chose this topic because I think so many of us are inspired to do something great, but as we compare ourselves to others--their accomplishments, talents, successes--we start to believe that we aren't good enough to go after the dream in our heart.

Using a formula derived from my own personal experiences, called The Courage Equation, I laid out basic (in)variables to find and hold onto true courage. Because courage based on true principles can be lasting and sustaining through the sometimes difficult road of dream achievement. Whereas courage based on the fleeting acceptance of the world will not last and will not be enough to motivate you to get back up when life knocks you down.

I wanted to share this formula with my blog followers in the hopes that it may help you discover true courage and help you on the road to your dreams.

The Courage Equation: Part One


Out of the many reasons why I don’t fit the “mold”, three stand out the most. 

The first, I was an extremely shy child. I struggled with anxiety even after I started to poke my head out of my shell. I never looked for opportunities to stand in front of a crowd. But there were benefits to being shy. I was very observant. I people watched. These ended up being two traits that came in handy in the writing world. 

The second reason, I grew up in a predominantly mormon neighborhood as the daughter of a less-active convert with some unhealthy habits, so I never really felt like I fit in with my friends. For the most part they were accepting, but my mother, brothers, and I, still felt the sting of judgement on more than one occasion. But there were benefits to this as well. My mother took us to church and through her testimony, the influence of good leaders and friends, I was able to nurture a love for God and His Son because I wanted it, and I gained a personal testimony of the gospel based on my own experiences. 

The third reason, as a wife and a mother I still struggle with anxiety. I hate to cook. I don’t know how to bottle or can. I’d rather watch the Bourne movies than chick flicks, I drive a lifted jeep, and I love getting my hands dirty. If it’s a car, I’ll help fix it, or paint it, the faster it goes and the louder it sounds the better, but if it’s a recipe, the most I can promise is I’ll probably eat it—unless it’s loaded with vegetables. But I’m here to tell you, the things that have kept me from fitting into a mold are now some of the very things I like the most about myself. I’m no longer ashamed of being different, now I love not being different, I love being me. Because as you’ve already heard today and will continue to hear—there is no such thing as a mold.

It hasn’t been an easy road to get to this place, and it’s consistent effort to keep moving forward with this mindset, the world still wants me to fit into a mold of it’s creation, but I’ve learned a few things that help me keep my head on the right side of the road. One of the most important things I’ve learned is that true courage is a powerful tool that helps me see myself for who I truly am and my real purpose and place in this world. This is what I want to share with you today. The Courage Equation was born from years of personal experiences, but it really solidified during what I call my dark period that began in 2008 and lasted for about 2 years.

I had just begun taking some classes and sharing my writing a tiny bit before this point. To set this up I have to tell you that having babies was never easy for me. My oldest was 6 weeks early, and I spent 4 months on bed rest with my second. And I had postpartum depression after all three of my pregnancies. I found this journal entry I wrote about 5 weeks after I miscarried our third child. Prior health issues and complications from the miscarriage resulted in the need for an emergency hysterectomy 5 months later.

“I’m hanging on but I’m not moving forward. It’s like I’m sitting in the middle of a dark crossroads with my engine idling unsure of which road to take. Should we try again? Should I continue writing, even though I feel so inadequate at it? Should I give up my ridiculous dreams and focus more fully on my family? Should I give up this part of myself I’ve only begun to explore? Is it really that important or is it a ridiculous self-indulgence? Is it selfish? Will the day ever come when I can believe in myself?”

It was 2 years before I wrote again in my journal. During those two years I experienced my literal hell on earth. I had three surgeries, was diagnosed with General Anxiety and Depression, and struggled sometimes daily just to get out of bed. It seemed everywhere around me people were having babies and more than once I heard the insensitive comment, “How come you only have two kids, or when you gonna have another one?” I understood that they didn’t know my circumstances, but it still hurt. I struggled with the question so many of us pose: “What is my purpose”? Was it okay, or even right to pursue a dream alongside motherhood?

I didn’t realize it at the time but God was already showing me I needed to share this side of myself. When we lost the baby and my physical and emotional health set off on a downward spiral, I learned a lot about the way God helps us discover the complex creatures we were designed to become, just how vital it is to do things for our own personal growth, and how when we do, we ultimately end up touching lives around us for good in the process.

By December 2010 things had begun to level out. Panic attacks were down to a minimum, medications were balanced, hormones were becoming manageable, and my physical health was slowly improving. But more importantly I was beginning to see the purpose behind my experience, nourish a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, and recognize the importance of facing my fears and insecurities in order to pursue my goals and develop my talents.

As I continued taking writing classes and attending conferences, I began to find myself in the darkness. I discovered that writing was great therapy. I started writing for church events, and published my first short story in a Methodist weekly pamphlet, a short fictional piece relating to the emotions I experienced after my miscarriage and hysterectomy. The editor thanked me for writing it, saying she knew it would help many of their hurting members. I was beginning to accept that my writing could not only help me, but someone else as well.

Writing was helping me, but anxiety continued to be a big part of my life. When I made the decision to publish my first book in 2014, this happened.


Telogen Effluvium. Yes, stress related hair loss is a real thing. I couldn’t bring myself to take a picture until it started to grow back, but as you can see I lost about 20% of my hair. I had overall thinning, and one big bald spot. When it reached about 3 inches long I cut it all off the way you see in my old bio pictures. But despite hair loss, reoccurrences with depression and anxiety, and the adversary’s shouts to just quit, I knew this was where I was supposed to be. If we ask the Lord to make our weaknesses into strengths, we’ve got to be willing to get out and exercise, right?

Onto the happy stuff. What is the Courage Equation? It is two basic (I call them invariables) that lead to true courage. Courage that is sustainable and real, based on true principles, not the fleeting acceptance of the world.

The Courage Equation

The First Invariable—1CG or Confidence in God

Each invariable is made up of a formula containing 3 truths that need to be understood, accepted, and applied.

The truths in 1CG are: 
The Caterpillar truth
The Truth of The Individual Plan (your Butterfly Purpose)
And The oxymoron—The Truth of the Lie

The Caterpillar Truth

Just as the caterpillar was created with all she needs to become a beautiful butterfly. You were perfectly created to fulfill your beautiful purpose.

“We do not need to become more of anything to start to become the person God intended us to become. God will help you become something greater than you ever thought possible.”—President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I’m sure everyone agrees that within this ugly little caterpillar is everything it needs to become a beautiful butterfly, right? She won’t be borrowing wings from her neighbor, or antennae from her sister to become what she was created to become. She has to go through a process yes, a metamorphosis, but everything she needs to shed this skin and become a butterfly is already a part of her genetic makeup. A part of her creation. 

Truth #1: All of you, just like the caterpillar, were created to be beautiful in the truest sense of the word. In the pre-mortal realm you were given talents, gifts, and abilities unique to your spirit—to your creation. You were “created perfectly” with the power and potential to fulfill your butterfly purpose. God does not make mistakes and he did not screw up when he created you.

God loves you with a perfect love. You don’t need to “become” anything more than you already are. It’s already within you. You just have to trust God and allow him to show you the beauty he’s created just waiting to be discovered, taught, strengthened, and revealed.

The Truth of Your Individual Plan/Your Butterfly Purpose
Your path was created to bring out your unique beauty. Agency brings hurdles, potholes, roadblocks, and rough detours. But it also brings added beauty in the form of, compassion, growth, opportunity and a love and appreciation for the Savior and His Atonement.
Four gifts of navigation: Prayer, Holy Ghost, Angels (both in the flesh and beyond the veil), the Atonement
“Following Celestial roadsigns in Telestial traffic jams is not easy…[but] our Lord can lift us from deep despair and cradle us midst any care…” —Neal A. Maxwell 

Truth #2: Your Individual Plan. This is where it gets hard for some. I know many of your stories. I know some of the heartache you carry. Many of you have shared with me the abuse, self-doubt, health issues, and fears that have plagued you. I know that for some of you, the pain you have faced causes slight resentment when you hear that God created a plan just for you. You may be thinking: 2 seconds ago you insisted that God loves me, that he created me for a beautiful purpose. How can all this heartache and pain be a part of His “beautiful” plan for me? 

I want you to know I will not disrespect or downplay the weight and breadth of anyone’s pain. Heartache is real, pain is real, and so is resentment and fear. We have no right to judge how each person deals with pain. I only know from my own experiences that it is when we find the path beneath our feet, through the mists of pain, that forward movement is possible. So, I will try to bring to light a truth that may not answer this question as completely as some would like it to, but hopefully will bring hope as you face heartache and pain.

Finding the path through the pain is understanding an element of agency that is often misunderstood. Physical ailments and disease are not always a result of agency. These can be a part of our path for other reasons. Reasons that can be uncovered in your personal conversations with God. The element of Agency I want to discuss is the one that causes the other kinds of hurts, hurts of the heart. In the caterpillar truth I told you God created you perfectly, and He did. I said He loves you perfectly, and He does. When I say He has a perfect plan for you, I promise you, He does. The great gift of Agency brings imperfection into our perfect path, but these imperfections are vital for growth. Let me explain. 

Our choices, the use of our personal agency, can sometimes cause a roadblock, a pot hole, or a hurdle in our path. Sometimes it is our own choices that lead us to heartache and despair. But our path is not only affected by our choices, but also the choices of others. With the permission of a good friend (whose name I’ll not share) I’ll use a piece of her story to illustrate. 

This friend admits to making choices that brought her into a marriage that became dangerous and unhealthy. Her choice brought her to the hurdle, but his choices created the potholes of abuse and pain that she had to maneuver over, around, and through.  God in His infinite wisdom when He was creating her, knew what she could one day face—and though he could not take away her agency to choose her spouse, or her ex-husband’s agency to abuse and mistreat—He could and did bless her with abilities, talents, strengths, and people in her life, that she would need to get past the hurdles and potholes. He gave her His Son, to pay the price of her sins and the sins committed against her. 

So how do we recognize our perfect path beneath the distractions, hurdles, and potholes? By utilizing the four gifts of navigation.

Prayer-Talk to God. Ask Him to help you see the path and the direction you need to go. 
The Holy Ghost—the precious gift who sees past the fog we’re stuck in and helps guide us through. Angels—We are never alone, Family, friends, mentors, and sometimes perfect strangers, both in the flesh and beyond the veil will show up in our path when we need them most. 
The fourth and most vital, the Atonement—Jesus Christ has chosen to walk with us every step of the way, hold our hand, lift us up, and carry us when we need Him to. The Atonement tears down the guilt roadblocks brought on by our own sins, and rescues and carries us over the painful potholes gouged into our path by the sins of others. 

My friend mistakenly believed that she needed to feel guilty and punish herself for her ex-husband’s abuse because she chose him. She chose him, but she did not force him to abuse her, that was his choice. Once she could separate the two, she could utilize the Atonement for her sins, forgive herself for the choices that led her to the situation, then let the Atonement take away the pain from the sins her ex-husband placed in her path. The Atonement both heals and strengthens us. And I can tell you right now, my friend is amazing!! She is one of the most incredible people I’ve ever known. Her experiences have increased her faith, and brought out immense beauty and strength. She is a force for good, a force to be reckoned with.

As we try to follow the right road signs, as we struggle with fear, doubt, anxiety and pain, know that God has given us everything we need to navigate the path, and Jesus Christ understands exactly what we are going through.

The Truth of the Lie

God prompts. Satan pesters. To which voice are you listening?

“When you follow Satan you give him power. When you follow God He gives you power.”

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”—Eleanor Roosevelt

Truth#3 The oxymoron, The Truth of Satan’s Lies

God prompts. Satan pesters. Because God gave us agency He cannot intercede in our lives unless we ask Him to. Our families and friends can pray for us, but ultimately the decision to move forward with God in our lives is our decision. Which brings to light the truth that it is also our choice to listen to Satan’s lies.

I want you to remember something from this day forward. The woman who trusts God and His plan for her is a threat to Satan. She makes him weak. Every single thought you have that resembles: “You’re too stupid to succeed” “You’re not good enough, you’ll never be good enough” IS A LIE! These are not from God. These lies are the adversary fighting to keep you down, to keep you from becoming who you were born to become. When you listen to these lies you subconsciously allow Satan to build a roadblock in your path. You give him power.

An amazing sister missionary sent this truth home after hearing it at a zone conference,“When you follow Satan you give him power. When you follow God He gives you power.” Unfortunately we often find it easier to believe the lie in this mold making world. We use “molds” as a judge of our unique capability and beauty. But easier to believe, does not make it truth. It is NOT TRUTH. Satan’s lies fester and rot in our minds and hearts and they feel awful. They engender self-loathing and thoughts like: “You’re a bad person. You’ll never be free. It’s your fault bad things happen to you. The world would be better off without you.” But these are all lies. 

The truth is God created you perfectly for your plan. Everything good comes from Him, and that includes you. It also includes Godly sorrow, something completely different than Satan’s lies. Godly sorrow for sin prompts a need and desire to repent and be free, with whispering comfort that God loves you no matter what. Guilt may be there yes, but it is seasoned with hope, not despair. God tells you that it doesn’t matter what you’ve done, you are His child and He wants to be in your life. He reminds you that he knew what you would face so created you with perfect potential and power. He tells you, you can be clean and free. He tells you to never give up. He is behind every quiet gentle thought such as: “I made you, so I know you can do hard things” “You are enough” “You are beautiful in every sense of the word” “Just try again, it’s not over yet”. Truth is often harder to hear over Satan’s shouts, but it is always accompanied with power, light and a spark of joy. When these thoughts come, grab on like your life depends on it and act, eventually the more you listen to God and act on His truths, the more power He gives you to overcome the lies.

How do I begin to put more trust in God?

Evaluate: Do you doubt God wants what is best for you?

Can your prayers use a metamorphosis? Do you need to focus more on talking to God as your loving father in order to more fully trust Him? I’ve heard that we sometimes give God tendencies of earthly fathers, or earthly men. Are you passing learned attributes to a perfect God? Have you expected help, but not asked for it, or asked for it but were unwilling to accept the answer? 

Would you benefit from a deeper understanding of the Atonement? The benefits are yours for the taking, the price has already been paid, but we must ask for it to be a part of our lives.

Do you see God and Jesus Christ for who they truly are, or is your image of them tainted by pain, worldly views, or resentment? Do you want to believe good things about yourself, but you’ve listened to Satan’s lies for so long the truth seems too quiet to hear? I have one suggestion for this. Service. In order to truly love our neighbor we must first love ourselves as God created us. We do that very often by serving others. Join a support group, help a neighbor. I can’t tell you how often my own pain was healed more deeply when I was helping another.

List steps your journal or a notebook that you can take to better understand these truths: Try and experiment in trust. Pray to know God’s will concerning you, trust that he knows you, do what you are prompted to do before Satan has a chance to cause you to doubt, and see what happens. If you cannot fully trust at first, start with a desire to trust and let that work within you. Study the scriptures and words of the prophets.

Confidence in God (1CG)
Confidence: full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of [God]

Confidence in God is the first and most vital invariable in the Courage Equation. It is the solid foundation of courage.

With confidence in God and His plan for you, you have solid truth to fight the lies of Satan and the molds of the world. With Confidence in God we move naturally to the second invariable....


I feel like it would be best to divide the Equation into two parts to allow you a couple weeks to ponder the "truths" introduced before moving on to the second invariable. The reason being that until you can say you have confidence in God, or you are beginning to recognize when you doubt Him and are truly working to trust more fully, the second invariable will not stick.

It took me awhile to recognize my own lack of trust in God. I was unintentionally giving Him some attributes of my earthly father. Don't get me wrong, my dad is a great man and I love him dearly. But as a Vietnam Veteran he suffered from PTSD (something not understood in those days) and to deal he self-medicated with drugs and alcohol. These coping mechanisms left him "unavailable" in the fathering department much of the time. In short, I never learned to depend on a father figure, or how to talk to one. It wasn't until my adult years that I started to realize much of my self confidence issues go back to a lack of trust in God, trust that He made me and doesn't make mistakes. Trust that He would never leave me alone and had given me all I would need to maneuver my path of life.

So I ask you to take some time to really evaluate this invariable. Do you honestly trust God? Do you trust the promptings He gives you? Do you really believe He loves you unconditionally? If these questions are troubling to you, I encourage you to get down on your knees and talk to Him, really talk to Him as His child. Follow the steps listed above. Deepen your relationship with Him, and I promise when it's time for you to understand the second invariable, it will speak to your heart in a pure and plain way making it so much easier to believe.

God bless,

Friday, September 30, 2016

Men and women are that they might have joy...

We have heard this phrase a million times, so many times that it has become easily ignored and definitely doubted.


Life is hard.

Life can be unfair.

Life can be heartbreaking, painful, frustrating.

Where is JOY in all of that?

Being a writer, words, and how to play on words, is a big part of my life. So the meaning of individual words, and their order, become points of focus whenever I read or hear a statement like, “Men [and women] are that they might have joy.”

There are some key words in this sentence that deserve specific attention.

To exist or live
To take place or happen, occur
To occupy a place or position
To continue or remain as before
To belong, attend, befall

That as an adverb:
To a great extent or degree
As a conjunction:
Expressing cause or reason, purpose or aim, result or consequence.

Ability or power
Synonyms of might:

To possess, own, hold for use, contain.
To get, receive
To experience
To cause to, by command or invitation
To permit or allow
To know, understand, or be skilled in

The emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying
A state of happiness or felicity 
Synonyms of joy:
1. Bliss
2. Cheer
3. Comfort
4. Delight

If we take these definitions and really look at this sentence some amazing things should begin to stand out.

First, Men and Women are.  In the bible it says that God created man and men are that they might have joy. The word are indicates that we exist, and belong to joy. It means that we were specifically created to experience joy.

Second, Men and Women are that. Men and women exist for the purpose of experiencing joy.

You might be thinking, well that’s all fine and dandy, so we were created for the purpose of joy, but I still struggle finding joy.

Enter the clause. Might. We were created for the purpose of joy, but we were also given agency. I often find myself, when I’m struggling to find joy, thinking of the quote by Abraham Lincoln, “Happiness is a choice, not an obligation.” 

Look at the definitions for the word might. We are capable, able, have the capacity for, are qualified for, and hold the power within us to have joy, but joy (happiness) is a choice, not an obligation.

This is further explained when we look at the definition for have. To possess, own, hold for use, to get or receive, to experience, to permit by invitation, to know or understand. To have something is not an absolute. You can have something and then lose it, or stuff it out of sight and never use it. We have to take joy for our own, invite it, accept it as a gift, and value and appreciate it once we have it. 

Then how do we find joy and keep it for our own? By first making the choice to have joy in our lives. Then do all it takes to find it, even if it means you have to fight for it. As someone who battles with General Anxiety and depression I’m not just blowing hot air when I say fight for it. At certain points in my life I’ve had to decide that happiness was worth fighting for, no matter what it took.

A key way to have and keep joy in your life comes from some advice an amazing young woman once passed along to me.

We find joy when our lives follow a certain priority order:

Jesus Christ. When we seek first to try to pattern our lives after the Savior of the world we more naturally see the good around us, we have a greater desire to do good, and invite good into our lives.

Others. When we seek to lift others we ultimately lift ourselves. I read a phrase once, “The only time you should be looking down at someone is when you’re reaching down to lift them up.” How often do we forget our own struggles and shortcomings when we are in the service of someone else, whether that be a family member, friend, or perfect stranger. I love the advice of President Gordon B. Hinckley’s father when he wanted to give up, “Gordon, forget yourself and get to work.” Sometimes the easiest way to bring joy into our lives is to bring it to the life of someone else. Joy given is reflective. It will always reflect back on the giver.

Yourself. Take the time to do those things that bring you joy. Focus harder on the positive things. Choose joy. Fight for happiness. Choose things of light over darkness. Look in the mirror and accept the incredible person God created and that he or she was created to exist in a state of joy. Accept that there will be dark days, hard times, frustration, pain, and fear. But you were not created to look down, you were created to look up. 

Jesus Christ. Others. Yourself. JOY

Life is beautiful.

Life is exhilarating.

Life is precious.

There is joy to be found in everything and it is yours to have. You are that you might have joy.