Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Celebrate Your Life!!!

We are so conditioned to find what's wrong with our life so we can fix it.  We forget to CELEBRATE all the amazing things we are already doing!  No wonder we forget how amazing we are!

Let's imagine your brain gives you a point for each completed task!  This means you get 1 point for walking to the mailbox and back; you also get 1 point for running a marathon.  Same 1 point.

When you finish the marathon, you celebrate -- because you've worked really, really hard to reach that goal.  You've posted pictures on Facebook and everyone is telling you what an amazing thing you have accomplished!  With all this celebrating, your brain acknowledges that you have completed your goal and gives you your point!

When you returned from your mailbox, there wasn't a group of people at your front door celebrating your trip to the mailbox.  You didn't post a picture of your mailbox on Facebook sharing your trip with the world.  No one is telling you how amazing that trip to the mailbox was.  As a result, your brain is left in limbo, not knowing that you completed a task and not knowing that you earned a point.  So your completed task goes unnoticed, uncelebrated, and seemingly unworthy of notice.

While this is an exaggerated example, the truth is that every day you are doing great things!  And you aren't celebrating them and you are not realizing how amazing these accomplishments are... because you do them every day!  Ask a newborn (good luck with that;) how easy it is to walk anywhere -- much less to the mailbox and back -- if they could, they would tell you what a great accomplishment it was!

A couple of years ago I started writing 3 things every day in my Planner -- it may be something as mundane as "Make dinner for the family" (which I do every day) or it may be a one-time thing like "Cancel the cable service" or it may be something fulfilling like "Write a thank-you note to _____"; the three things you choose are not as significant as the process of just choosing three things.  I would mark them off as I completed them and celebrate the completion of each one!  Go ahead and try this simple exercise... You deserve to be acknowledged!  I would love to hear feedback from you as you try this!

1. Choose three simple things to complete each day
2. Write them down somewhere you will see them (like in a Planner)
3. Mark them off as you complete them
4. Celebrate with some movement!  Do a happy dance; do a cheer -- whatever you do make the celebration a physical experience!
5. Enjoy a greater sense of self-worth!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Connect With Others...

          I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy.
          I woke and I saw that life is all serve.
          I served and I saw that service is joy.
          ~Khalil Gibran

In this age and world of technology, we are losing the art of connecting with other people.  And yet, we feel the greatest joy when we connect with others.  We feel more positive emotions when we are with other people, and we are ultimately happier.  So how do we connect with others?

          "You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested 
          in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people 
          interested in you." ~Dale Carnegie

As we reach out to others, we increase our own happiness!  How do we do that?  Here are some ideas that have worked for me; I would love for you to comment below and share some of your own ideas!

~I know of no better way to overcome loneliness and connect with others than through kindness and service.  I have found in my life that I could always find someone who was lonelier than me, and when I reached out to them my own loneliness magically vanished!  It can even be something as small as giving up the parking space to another person or sharing a smile with a stranger!
          "Life is like a game of tennis. The player who serves well seldom loses." 
          ~Author Unknown

~Learn people's names, and call them by their name.  Acknowledge others and greet them by name.  Did you know that people are most influenced by those they trust, admire and believe care for them?  Acknowledging and greeting people by name is one way that we show people that we care for them.

~Make eye contact with people when you are talking with them, and show interest in what they are saying. I'm sure we've all experienced the person who is looking at their watch while they are talking to us -- or they are looking around the room for someone "better" to talk to.  When you are talking to someone, be present and take an interest in them!

~Choose the right friends... Sometimes friendships break down because they aren't built on a firm foundation.  When you find friends who like you and help you become better when you are at your worst, you have found a treasure greater than gold!  Seek friendships built on common interests and values.  True friendship is when two people mutually care about each other and serve each other and give to each other.
          "Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want 
          is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down." 
          ~Oprah Winfrey

~Be a light, not a judge.  I read that in a Stephen Covey book years ago and it has always stuck with me!  We are too quick to judge others.  Think of who has influenced you the most -- the person who lives the life you want to live and always talks to you in a positive way and helps you believe you can achieve anything OR the person who is constantly judging you and making you feel bad for your faults and shortcomings...  Be that person who sees the best in others and lifts them up!  This may take some practicing, but with time you can become that person!

When we moved to Houston 8 months ago, I was really nervous about leaving my friends behind.  I was afraid of what others would think of me.  I decided that what others think of me was out of my control, but that I could control what I thought about every person I met.  So I decided that I was going to like everyone I met!  This is a journal entry I wrote shortly before moving:
          "I'm going to like you and I hope you like me because I would really like to 
          be friends -- but if you don't want to like me, I will honor that AND I will 
          still like you!"

When I decided that liking other people was not going to be dependent on what they thought of me (which I have no control over), magic started happening! I quickly and easily made some amazing friends in my new city!

What are some things that have worked for you when making new friends -- or strengthening the friendships you already have?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Write! Write! Write!


Next to breathing, I cannot think of any self development tool I have used that has been as simple and powerful as keeping a journal!!!  If you are a regular reader of my blog, or if you know me personally, you have probably heard me say this numerous times!

There are different journals that I keep (for you, it may work to keep one journal and include all of these in the same journal; I personally prefer to keep them separate):

~Personal Journal -- I keep this journal in a nice hardbound Journal.  I use this journal to record how God's hand has blessed my life.  Since I started keeping this journal 4 years ago, my gratitude has expanded more than I would have ever thought possible!  I constantly see God's hand in my life, and I now focus more on my blessings!  This journal has changed my life!  Not only am I more aware of the blessings that surround me, but I believe that I am now creating more blessings in my life because I am so focused on them!  This is the quote that inspired me to start keeping my personal journal this way:

          "You could ask yourself, 'How did God bless me today?' If you do that long 
          enough and with faith, you will find yourself remembering blessings. And 
          sometimes you will have gifts brought to your mind which you failed to notice 
          during the day, but which you will then know were a touch of God's hand in 
          your life." ~Henry Eyring

~Feelings Journal -- I use an inexpensive spiral notebook that I keep in a drawer by my bed.  Whenever I get stuck, I start writing my feelings.  When you write, you bypass the part of your brain that is trying to keep things the same, and you are able to get to the bottom of what you're really thinking!  90% of the time I am surprised at what I write!  On a piece of paper write, "I am feeling ______ because..." and start writing whatever comes to mind.  For example, If I am feeling confused I write, "I am feeling confused because..." and then I just start writing.

~Notes Journal -- I use an inexpensive spiral notebook for this, also.  I write down notes from church meetings, coaching calls, books that I read, teleseminars, etc.  I love to go back and read these notes periodically - they are a great refresher for the things I have already learned.

~Scripture Journal -- I use an inexpensive spiral notebook for this, also.  As I read and study the scriptures I write down my thoughts and feelings in this journal.  Sometimes I will pick a topic and study the scriptures to find more on that one topic, and I record what I find in this journal.

~Ideas Journal -- I don't actually keep an ideas journal, but I can see the benefits of keeping one.  Ideas are fleeting, and the sooner you write them down the more likely you are to remember them!

          "When you write down your ideas you automatically focus your full attention on 
          them. Few if any of us can write one thought and think another at the same time.  
          Thus a pencil and paper make excellent concentration tools." ~Michael Leboeuf

It doesn't matter how you decide to keep a journal -- the important thing is to start writing!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Breathe, breathe, breathe!

Just Breathe!

Breathing is the most important thing we do!  When we stop breathing, we stop living -- literally!

While all of us who are living know how to breathe, very few of us remember to breathe deeply on a consistent basis!  Why is this so important?

Our nervous system has two main divisions:  sympathetic and parasympathetic.  The sympathetic part mobilizes our fight-or-flight response.  Whenever we perceive a threat (it doesn't matter if we are in real danger or not) our body becomes primed to fight or flee -- our heart rate and breathing speed up and stress hormones are released through our bloodstream to prepare for the threat facing us.  Because we live in a stressful world, we are constantly activating the fight-or-flight response!  When this happens, there is decreased blood flow to the thinking part of our brain and we are not able to respond logically to the perceived threat.  When we stay in this state of stress for too long, we begin to suffer physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

We can counteract the effects of fight-or-flight by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.  The parasympathetic is also referred to as "rest-and-digest" or "relax-and-renew." When we are frightened or stressed, we hold our breath or start taking shallow breaths.  To get from the stressful state of the sympathetic back into the relaxed and renewing (and healing) state of the parasympathetic, we need to take long, deep breaths!

Be sure that you breathe out for a longer count than you breathe in!  I've been so many different variations of the count, but here is a simple one to get started:  Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds; hold for 4-8 seconds; breathe out through your mouth for 6-8 counts.  Do this several times a day and notice what happens with your mood!  You will be able to think more clearly, and solve problems more easily!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

30 Day Course on Faith - Day 30

Faith: Write Your Own Story

We are at Day 30!  Writing this course has been a leap of faith for me!  When I started writing this course I had some of the days outlined, but not all.  I didn't have all the pieces in place to write this course, but I knew I needed to just get started and trust that God would provide everything (and everyone) I needed along the way.  Thanks for sharing this journey with me!  I have had my own struggles -- and as I have searched, studied, and practiced this course my faith has definitely increased and my life has been greatly blessed and enriched!

Some days I feel like my faith is so strong, so sure, so fixed -- I feel like if Goliath showed up at my door I could defeat him as easily as David did.  Most days, though, my faith is weak and wobbly, and I feel extremely vulnerable.

One of my favorite quotes that has helped me get through those wobbly days:

          "Don't you quit. You keep walking, you keep trying, there is help and 
          happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon. Some come late. Some don't 
          come until heaven. But for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, 
          they come. It will be alright in the end. Trust God and believe in Good 
          Things to Come." ~Jeffrey R. Holland

I know in whom I have trusted.  I know that God has always come through for me in the past, and that gives me the assurance that He will always be there for me.

As we complete this course I encourage you to write your own story of faith.  Don't worry if it's not an amazing story that will impress others.  Your goal is much greater than to impress others... your goal is to increase your faith and as a result draw closer to God. Start recording these small instances of faith in your life.  When David defeated the lion and the bear, he probably had no idea that he would one day face a 9 foot Philistine. These smaller examples of faith are preparing you to have greater experiences with faith. Record them and express gratitude for them!

Like I described above, some days my faith is so great that I don't see how I could ever have another doubt again!  But then I do doubt again.  Sometimes we feel like we're not progressing because we are still having these lows.  I want you to look on the chart below... Notice that every time you have a new high it gets higher than the previous high. I want you to especially notice that the third "Low" is higher than the original "High."  Yes, you will still have lows, but as you progress your lows will be higher than they have been. We can't be perfect every day (trust me on this one... I've tried it!), but we can trust God and He will continue lifting us higher and higher!

Write your own story of faith, no matter how small or big it may seem to you.  You are equal to the task!  As you write your own story your own faith will increase, and your capacity to inspire and bless others will also increase!  There are no extra people walking on the planet -- you are here for a reason and you owe it to yourself and to others to discover what that is!

God bless you in your journey!

Daily Challenge: Every day for 30 days in a row, 

I want you to say the following out loud at least 10 times each day!!!  
Be sure to say it cheerfully and enthusiastically!  
This scripture is found in Philippians 4:13:

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” 

You've now completed this challenge 30 days in a row!
Be sure to congratulate yourself for a job well done!

Friday, March 1, 2013

30 Day Course on Faith - Day 29

Faith and Courage

One thing you may have noticed these past four weeks that we've been talking about faith:  Faith takes a lot of courage.

One of the best stories of courage in the Bible is the story of David and Goliath.

The Philistines came against Israel to battle.  One of the Philistines, a giant of a man called Goliath of Gath, came forward and challenged the Israelites, saying:

          "Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and  
          ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let hime come down to me. 
          If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but 
          if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us."
          ~1 Samuel 17:8-9

At almost 9 feet tall and covered in armor, Goliath was a formidable opponent.  For 40 days he issued this challenge, met only by fear and trembling from the Israelites.

About this same time, Jesse was concerned for his three eldest sons who were in the battle.  So he called his youngest son, David, from tending the sheep and gave him the assignment to deliver food to the battle.  When David arrived at the battle and heard Goliath issue his challenge, and went to Saul and said:

          "Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this
         Philistine." ~1 Samuel 17:32

David is able to convince Saul to let him go against Goliath. David rejects the armor he is offered and instead picks up five smooth stones and takes his sling to face the Philistine. Goliath was offended that such a young, unseasoned warrior came against him.  David answered Goliath by saying:

          "Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I  
          come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, 
          whom thou has defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand... 
          that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel." ~1 Samuel 17:45-46

Then David takes a stone from his bag and puts it in his sling and smites Goliath in his forehead, and Goliath falls to the earth defeated.

We all will face Goliaths in our life - addictions, envy, greed, fear, doubt, pride, selfishness, depression, temptation, etc.  Remember that every Goliath can be defeated.

What gave David the assurance that he could defeat Goliath?  Faith in God!

How did he develop that faith in God?

1. David was right with God

          "And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him."
          ~1 Samuel 18:14

2. David knew God was with him.

          "...for the battle is the Lord's and he will give you into our hands." ~1 Samuel 17:47

3. Small victories preceded David's big victory.  Those small victories gave him the confidence that he would be successful against the giant Philistine. When he arrived at the battle and Saul felt like he was too inexperienced to face Goliath, David told Saul that while tending his father's sheep a bear and a lion came and took one of the lambs.  God helped David slay the bear and the lion, and David was confident that God would help him slay the "uncircumcised Philistine," too:

          "David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, 
          and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine."
          ~1 Samuel 17:37

4. David knew he had a weapon that could defeat the giant, and he chose the five best stones he could find to help him.  When facing our Goliaths we must choose which stones we will use to assure our victory!

          "What polished stones will you select to defeat the Goliath that is robbing 
          you of your happiness by smothering your opportunities? May I suggest  
          the stones of Courage,Effort, Humility, Prayer, and Duty... For the stone 
          of courage will melt the Goliath of fear. The stone of effort will bring 
          down the Goliath of indecision and procrastination. And the Goliaths 
          of pride, of envy, of lack of self-respect will not stand before the power 
          of the stones of humility, prayer, and duty." ~Thomas S. Monson

Daily Challenge: Every day for 30 days in a row, 

I want you to say the following out loud at least 10 times each day!!!  
Be sure to say it cheerfully and enthusiastically!  
This scripture is found in Philippians 4:13:

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” 

You've now completed this challenge 29 days in a row!
Be sure to congratulate yourself for a job well done!
You are almost at the end -- Keep going strong!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

30 Day Course on Faith - Day 28

Strengthening Each Others' Faith

          "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted,
          strengthen thy brethren." ~Luke 22:32

I know there have been times in my life when I have felt like I could barely hold on to hope.  I am grateful to all those who have kept the faith for me at times when my faith has been weak.  My hope is that as my faith strengthens, I can help others the same way that I have been helped.

Several years ago I went on a weekend trip with a really good friend of mine, Sigrid.  We had made the 10 hour drive between Utah and California several times and we had a routine down.  We would start with a full tank of gas, drive 4-5 hours to St. George, gas up and switch drivers.  Then we would drive a couple hours to Las Vegas and gas up, and then we would drive into Los Angeles.

One weekend I wasn't feeling well so Sigrid took the first driving shift.  Because I hadn't been feeling well, I decided not to top off the tank of gas (we had plenty of gas to make it to St. George).  As we were getting close to St. George, Sigrid woke me up.  She told me we were making great timing and asked me if my car could make it to Las Vegas.  I still wasn't feeling well so it didn't register with me that we hadn't started with a full tank of gas and I assured her that my car could make it to Las Vegas on one tank of gas and went back to sleep.

About 20 miles north of Las Vegas Sigrid woke me up, concerned that we were not going to make it to a gas station in time.  About 14 miles north of Las Vegas the inevitable happened and we ran out of gas.  Two single girls.  On a Friday night.  With hundreds of gas stations lighting up the sky, but barely out of our reach.

We prayed.  The car started back up.  We felt so blessed.  We made it a few more miles and the car stopped again.  It wouldn't start again.  So we started pushing.  We pushed for as long and hard as we could and then we would pray again.  The car would start up and take us part of the way, and then we would need to get out again.  We continued this all the way until we got to an exit -- an hour later.  We had come as far as we could.  Just when we couldn't go any further, a couple stopped and helped us get gas for our car.

What I learned:
~Always start with a full tank of gas!  Don't ever think things are going so well that you don't need to pray today, or read your scriptures today, or go to church... You never know when you are going to need that FULL tank of gas!

~Life is a lot more fun with a friend!  Sigrid and I were able to keep faith and perspective throughout the entire ordeal.  It would have been pretty miserable to go through that with a complainer or someone who wasn't willing to push their share of the load.

~When we first ran out of gas and could see all the Las Vegas lights, we thought there couldn't be anything worse than running out of gas with so many gas stations in sight, but out of our reach!  After an hour of pushing and praying, we realized how blessed we were that we only had to go 14 miles to reach a gas station.  Sometimes when things aren't going well for us we think there isn't anything worse than being surrounded by happy, cheerful people with their full tanks.  In truth, it is a blessing to be surrounded by these people who can help refill our tank and help us regain a positive perspective!

~The Lord helped us when we couldn't help ourselves. But when we could do a little more, he expected us to push.  Then when we couldn't push anymore, he let us drive a few miles -- like a reprieve in the middle of our trial.

~The Lord increased our capacity. The man who helped us didn't believe that two young girls such as ourselves had pushed that car without help.  When God is our partner, any of us can do the impossible.

This journey isn't easy for any of us!  We all run out of gas at some point!  Let's all try to be the kind of person who is constantly refueling those around us.  Let's find the good in every person we meet, and help them see that good for themselves.  Let's be a light, not a judge.  It's not enough to love another person, we need to make sure that we are showing our love in a way that they feel it.

Extra Challenge:  Compliment at least three people today, and notice how you feel when you help lift another person up!

Daily Challenge: Every day for 30 days in a row, 

I want you to say the following out loud at least 10 times each day!!!  
Be sure to say it cheerfully and enthusiastically!  
This scripture is found in Philippians 4:13:

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” 

You've now completed this challenge 28 days in a row!
Be sure to congratulate yourself for a job well done!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

30 Day Course on Faith - Day 27

Nurturing the Seed - Part 2

Yesterday we made sure we had a good seed and that we got it planted in good soil.  But plants need more than a seed and good soil to grow... they also need air, sunshine, and water!

Just like plants, we grow best in a clean environment.  Faith is as essential to our goals and dreams as air is to breathing!  Now that you have a good seed growing in good ground, you must nourish it with faith for it to grow and bear fruit!

The sunlight is our passion and enthusiasm.  It gives light to our dream and keeps it growing in a healthy, positive way.  We need to beware of clouds that eclipse the sunshine. These clouds are most often recognized as doubt, fear, worry, frustration, stress and anxiety.  And while there will always be clouds, if the clouds stay too long they will keep the much-needed sunshine from getting through!

We need to water our seed daily so it will continue growing.  The water is the consistent, daily, empowering actions we take that will keep our dreams growing.
          "The person who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones."
          ~Chinese Proverb

The best way to water a plant is consistent watering... a little at a time.  If you are leaving to go on a vacation, you wouldn't feed your plant extra water and then expect it to survive for a few weeks without water.  Just like a plant needs to be consistently fed water or it will die, you need to be constantly taking consistent action towards your dream, or your dream will die.  Massive actions followed by periods of inactivity will not sustain your dream.

Daily Challenge: Every day for 30 days in a row, 

I want you to say the following out loud at least 10 times each day!!!  
Be sure to say it cheerfully and enthusiastically!  
This scripture is found in Philippians 4:13:

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” 

You've now completed this challenge 27 days in a row!
Be sure to congratulate yourself for a job well done!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

30 Day Course on Faith - Day 26

Nurturing the Seed - Part 1

I am going to  talk about the Parable of the Sower (found in Matthew 13) in reference to how we can accomplish great things using faith to nurture our dreams or our goals.

          3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold a sower
          went forth to sow;
          4 And when he sowed, some feeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came
          and devoured them up;
          5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith
          they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
          6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no
          root, they withered away.
          7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
          8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold,
          some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

Plant a Good Seed.
Because we reap what we sow, we need to make sure we are planting a good seed.  On Day 5 we talked about what makes a worthy goal.  Make sure you are coming from a place of faith and love, and not ego (wanting more than another person, wanting to become something, wanting to have something... wanting, wanting, wanting).  Try to pick a dream or goal that will really make a difference in your quality of your life over the next year, five years, or twenty years.

Remember that a seed that is not planted cannot grow (so go ahead and dream!), and a seed that is not nourished will wither and die.  A seed needs to stay in the ground for a period of time while it gather all the nutrients it needs to become a healthy, fruit-bearing plant.  So be patient while the unseen is happening - if you try to dig up your seed to see if it's growing it won't be able to put down its roots.

Plant in Good Soil.
We also want to plant in good soil.  There are four types of soil talked about here: the way side, stony places, thorns, and good ground.  We are going to talk about the differences of each one:

1.  The way side and the fowls devoured them -- these are the people who were sidetracked before they even started!  They never had a worthy dream to begin with, and their dreams were easily devoured by the dream-stealers (fowls).

2.  Stony places where they had not much earth and because they had no root, they withered away - these are the people who are living in the past and allowing their past failures to prevent them from believing success is even possible! Because they harbor negative emotions about past failure, their subconscious mind equates that dream with negative emotions and pain.  Our brains are wired to move us away from pain and so we move away from that dream and the pain we associate with that dream.

3.  Thorny places where the thorns spring up and choke them - these are the people who are caught up in the cares of the world instead of looking toward God with faith!  Doubt, fear, worry, frustration, stress and anxiety are common thorns that will cut off our supply of faith and choke our dream!
          "When there is stress, it is usually a sign that the ego has returned, and you are
          cutting yourself off from the creative power of the universe."
          ~Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth

4.  Good ground and brought forth fruit, some hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold - these are the people who have an open and curious mind and look to God in faith!  When we are open to new ways of thinking, we maintain positive, empowering feelings about our dream and we move toward our dream. We ask empowering questions ("How can I...?") and we get empowering answers. We have faith and believe we can succeed! We recognize that all the help and resources we need to achieve our worthy goal will be give to us in the exact moment we are prepared and ready to receive them. We are positive and filled with passion, excitement, and enthusiasm so there is no confusion in our brain (we are not leaving any room for doubt, fear, worry, or ego to take over). Then we take the necessary and CONSISTENT action to product the results we are seeking!

Daily Challenge: Every day for 30 days in a row, 

I want you to say the following out loud at least 10 times each day!!!  
Be sure to say it cheerfully and enthusiastically!  
This scripture is found in Philippians 4:13:

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” 

You've now completed this challenge 26 days in a row!
Be sure to congratulate yourself for a job well done!

Monday, February 25, 2013

30 Day Course on Faith - Day 25

Faith is a Principle of Action and Power 

“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” ~James 2:17-18

Faith is more than a theoretical belief in God; faith is a principle of action.  To have faith in God means changing your life for the better.  It means taking a step into the darkness, with confidence that God will show His light.  It means holding onto hope when you are in a dark tunnel with no light in sight -- knowing that He is guiding you to a greater light.

Would a farmer plant seeds if he didn’t believe he would reap a harvest?  Likewise, you are not going to take those actions that will produce the results you are seeking unless you first have a belief – or at least a hope – that you can achieve your desired outcome.

Beyond a principle of action, faith is also a principle of power.  

          "There is a level of faith that not only governs our behavior but also 
          empowers us to change what is and to make things happen that otherwise 
          would not happen."  ~D. Todd Christofferson

In Hebrews 11 we learn some of the things that have been accomplished through the power of faith:

Abel (v.4) - offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, and obtained witness that he was righteous.

Enoch (v. 5) - was translated [And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. ~Genesis 5:24] that he should not see death and had a testimony that he pleased God.

Noah (v. 7) - was warned of God of things not seen as yet, prepared an ark to the saving of his house, and became heir of the righteousness.

Sarah (v. 11) - received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age.

Abraham (v. 17) - offered up Isaac

Moses (v. 23-29) - was hid by his parents as a baby; when he was older refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; forsook Egypt; kept the passover; passed through the Red Sea as by dry land.

We also read in the Bible of many people who were healed of disease and their sins because of their faith:

          "But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of 
          good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made 
          whole from that hour." ~Matthew 9:22 - the woman with the issue of blood

          "And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And
          immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way."
          ~Mark 10:52 - the blind man

          "And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace."
          ~Luke 7:50 - the woman who anointed Christ's feet

          "And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the 
          nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. 
          And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole."
          ~Luke 17:17-19 - the healed leper

While these are remarkable things which have been accomplished by faith, they are no greater than overcoming an addiction or any obstacle that prevents us from seeking and/or following God's will for us.  Have faith.  Have the level of faith that will empower you to daily seek God's will and to steadily move forward (baby steps are great; we don't have to constantly take huge leaps of faith) on the path that He has laid out for us.

Daily Challenge: Every day for 30 days in a row, 

I want you to say the following out loud at least 10 times each day!!!  
Be sure to say it cheerfully and enthusiastically!  
This scripture is found in Philippians 4:13:

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” 

You've now completed this challenge 25 days in a row!
Be sure to congratulate yourself for a job well done!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

30 Day Course on Faith - Day 24

Faith in God

We have been talking about faith in general, and today I want to specifically talk about Faith in God. The faith that leads to salvation must be centered in Jesus Christ.  If man did not believe God to be so great, then doubt would replace faith and we would be constantly doubting our salvation.  To have this kind of faith in Jesus Christ these three things are necessary:

1. An assurance that He exists
When man was created he stood in the presence of God and had perfect knowledge of his existence.
          "And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool
          of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the
          Lord amongst the trees of the garden." ~Genesis 3:8

2. A correct idea of His character
Here are some Bible verses that teach us about God's character:
          Exodus 34:6 - God is merciful, gracious, longsuffering, abundant in goodness and truth
          Psalm 103:8 - God is merciful, gracious, slow to anger, plenteous in mercy
          Numbers 23:19 - God of truth and cannot lie
          1 John 4:8 - God is love
          Acts 10:34 - God is no respecter of persons

          "If we believe that God knows all things, is loving, and is merciful, we will be
          able to put our trust in Him for our salvation without wavering. Faith in Christ
          will change our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that are not in harmony with
          God's will."  ~Dieter F. Uchtdorf

3. A knowledge that you are striving to do His will 
We need to know that the course which we pursue is according to His mind and will.

          "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" ~Paul, Acts 9:6

One of my husband’s favorite sayings is: “God can’t steer a parked car!”  The best way to know we are pursuing the course God wants us to, is to just start pursuing!  If the intentions of your heart are to do God’s will, then God can -- and will -- correct you if you are on the wrong course.  

A remarkable example of this is Saul in the New Testament.  Saul's reputation as a persecutor of Christians was so great that many of the Christians fled Jerusalem in the hope of escaping his anger. On his way to Damascus, to persecute the Christians there, a bright light shone about him and he fell to the earth and heard a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?"

Saul asked, "Who art thou, Lord?" And the Lord said, "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." 

And Saul, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?"  The Lord answered him, "Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do."

Throughout his life, Saul showed complete dedication to his convictions; he was just on the wrong path. And Saul the feared persecutor become Paul the fearless proselytizer and defender of the truth.  

Like Saul/Paul, we need to ask, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" and then follow the inspiration we receive.  Our course correction won't be nearly as dramatic as Saul's, but it will strengthen our faith just as surely as his experience strengthened his.

Daily Challenge: Every day for 30 days in a row, 

I want you to say the following out loud at least 10 times each day!!!  
Be sure to say it cheerfully and enthusiastically!  
This scripture is found in Philippians 4:13:

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” 

You've now completed this challenge 24 days in a row!
Be sure to congratulate yourself for a job well done!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

30 Day Course on Faith - Day 23

Faith to Receive

"Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you." ~Matthew 9:29

According to our faith, we can receive spiritual healing, physical healing, temporal blessings... it all depends on our asking and then having the faith to receive. 

I had an interesting experience happen to me a couple of years ago that helped me understand this better:

Fred (name has been changed) is a friend of my husband's from high school who has several disabilities. He lives on a very limited income.  He called my husband a couple of years ago and said that he had been diagnosed with diabetes and needed an exercise bike so he could get some exercise to help with the diabetes.  Because of his limited income, he couldn't afford the bike.  So he was calling all of his friends and asking them if they would pitch in some money (he said $5-20, but he would also be grateful for $1). He said some people were mad at him for asking so he wanted to be sure my husband wasn't mad at him.  My husband assured him that he was not mad and that we would be happy to help him buy the bike.

When my husband told me about the call, I felt impressed and excited to help Fred buy the bike! I told my husband that we should offer to buy the bike outright for Fred.  I felt like Fred really needed the bike and he needed it right away, and we had been blessed with the means to provide it for him.  (Plus it was "seed" money so I knew that whatever we paid for the bike would come back to us tenfold).

So my husband called Fred back, but Fred told us just to send the amount that we were comfortable sending.  So we sent him a check (we would have been willing to double the amount on the check if he just would have asked us). 

A few weeks later Fred called us to let us know that he had purchased the bike and was excited about it, and that he had started using it!  He said the money we had sent him had really helped and that he was really grateful for it.  But then he told me that we had sent him too much money and that he was going to return some of it.

I assured him that we sent him the money for his birthday and we really wanted him to have it!  It took quite a bit of convincing to persuade him that we still wanted him to keep the money (even though there was money left over after buying the bike) and that he could go out to dinner or something to celebrate his birthday!

It was interesting to be on the other side of the "ask" equation - to be the generous giver. When we ask, we need to be specific about what we are asking for.  Because we are not specific enough we may get a smaller gift than the one God wanted to give us. (Remember we would have sent more than twice what we sent Fred) ...OR... sometimes we feel like God has given us too much and we need to give some of it back!  When really what God wants is for us to receive His gift and ask for MORE! 

Daily Challenge: Every day for 30 days in a row, 

I want you to say the following out loud at least 10 times each day!!!  
Be sure to say it cheerfully and enthusiastically!  
This scripture is found in Philippians 4:13:

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” 

You've now completed this challenge 23 days in a row!
Be sure to congratulate yourself for a job well done!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Mountains to Climb

Finding faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will help us have 
the power to endure and overcome challenges in life 

I just watched this video and was really touched by it.  So I wanted to share it!

"Acting on even a twig of faith allows God to grow it."

30 Day Course on Faith - Day 22

Faith to Ask

          "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be 
          opened unto you;" ~Matthew 7:7

Ask - Petition God in prayer.  Ask in faith; you need to have a level of belief that you can attain what you are asking for.
          "Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe
          that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." ~Mark 11:24

Seek - Be sure you are asking for the right things, and above all that you are seeking for those things that will invite God to be with you.  To me, seeking good means that I am seeking what God wants for me.  It also means that I am staying focused on what I am asking for, and I'm going to stay focused until I receive what I am seeking.
          "Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the Lord, the God of hosts, shall 
          be with you, as ye have spoken." ~Amos 5:14

Knock - To me, knock denotes that there is some physical action taking place.
          "The answer to your prayer is not according to your faith while you are talking,
          but according to your faith while you are working." ~Wallace D. Wattles

So you are going to ask in faith for that which is God's Will, and then you are going to go to work to accomplish it!

We are told over and over again in the scriptures to ask!  I believe that God has so many blessings in store for us that he is waiting for us to request.  He is waiting to open the windows of heaven and pour blessings down on us!  Why aren't we asking?

~We don't understand the true nature of God.  God is generous and has so many blessings for us!  When we understand this about God, we will not be afraid to ask, ask, ask!  Sometimes we are afraid to ask because we've asked for something before and someone has become angry at us, and so we assume that God will be angry at us, also.  His answer may be no or not yet, but he will never be angry with us for asking!  Our view is so limited that it is hard for us to imagine a Being who has so much to give and is so generous with it!

~We believe that we will be spoiled if we have too much.  You can't be spoiled and grateful at the same time! As we become more grateful and recognize God's hand in our lives, we will in turn look for ways to bless other people more!  EVERYTHING that comes from God is GOOD!!!

~We believe that money is the root of all evil!  In truth, money is not good or evil; it is an accelerator, meaning it accelerates the direction we are already going.  If greed is our general nature, then more money will in fact make us more greedy (or will show our greed to the world).  On the other hand, if generosity is our general nature then money will show our generosity to the world! When we try to take money that doesn't belong to us from someone else, then that is evil and wrong.  But when we receive the blessings that God is giving to us, then we are blessed! Nothing that comes from God can ever be evil!

~We don't believe we will receive what we are asking for anyway!  Or we don't feel worthy to receive it so we don't ask for it.  We can choose to believe that God is generous and has great blessings waiting for us.  This will prompt us to ASK, believing that we will receive! And because we know these blessings come from God, we will automatically seek to know what he wants us to do with these blessings!  God loves us and wants to bless us, even when we make mistakes!  We are NEVER undeserving of God's love -- it's a gift He freely gives and there is nothing we can do to turn His love away from us!

~We don't know what to ask for -- ask for anything that is good and that you stand in need of!  Ask for physical blessings, emotional blessings, mental blessings, and spiritual blessings.  Ask for knowledge, understanding, discernment... anything you need!  BUT, ask in faith!
          "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally,
          and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing
          wavering." ~James 1:5-6

My Story

When we bought our last house we knew it was a fixer-upper, but we loved the neighborhood, the yard, and the floor plan so we bought it!  What we didn't know was that replacing the carpet, air conditioning, and roof would be so expensive that we would have to wait a while to make some of the other changes!

Gradually we started making the cosmetic changes, and it was time to get granite countertops.  I had a budget I was working with and so I was trying to keep it as cheap as possible.  I had someone come and give me a quote.  He loved doing granite and marble work, and had over 20 years of experience so he was able to help me expand my vision a little!  On his way out the door to bring samples to my house (and measure my countertops) he grabbed a piece of brown/black granite that matched my floor perfectly! He suggested a travertine tile backsplash with granite accents in it!  I hadn't even thought to ask for that because of my budget.  The amazing part -- it was all within my budget!

I was amazed and humbled and reminded that God is a very, very, very generous supplier!  He expands our vision in small things like countertops, and in big things like what we can do with our lives!

What are some things that you could ask for that you aren't asking for?  What can you do to increase your faith so that you can ask, seek, and knock -- and have heaven's blessings opened up to you!

Daily Challenge: Every day for 30 days in a row, 

I want you to say the following out loud at least 10 times each day!!!  
Be sure to say it cheerfully and enthusiastically!  
This scripture is found in Philippians 4:13:

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” 

You've now completed this challenge 22 days in a row!
Be sure to congratulate yourself for a job well done!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

30 Day Course on Faith - Day 21

Faith vs. Doubt

We have been talking a lot about how doubts kill faith.  Obviously, faith trumps doubt every time.

But you need to increase your faith so it can trump your doubts...
But you can't increase your faith until you get rid of your doubts...
But you can't get rid of your doubts until your faith increases...

Have you ever been caught in this vicious cycle? I know I have!  Lots of times!

Doubt, fear, and worry (and really any negative emotion) get their power from us.  When we resist them -- or feed them -- we are giving them the very power they need to exist.  So to get rid of the doubts, we need to starve them and transform them into faith, love, and gratitude!

Here are a few ideas to get started:

~Journal!  I am pretty convinced that journaling is the answer to almost everything!  Learn what your doubts are trying to teach you.  Write "I am doubting because..." or "I am worrying about ____ because..." If you are having a hard time knowing what to write about then write "I am having a hard time knowing what to write about because..." or "If I had any doubts then they might be..."  The important thing is to open the flow and start writing!

~Ask great questions!  We often get in a cycle of beating ourselves up which is not helpful to us.  Instead of judging yourself - or anyone else - try getting into a place of curiosity.  Ask yourself:
          Isn't it interesting that I'm feeling all this doubt (or fear or worry) about _______?  I wonder why...
          How can I transform this doubt, fear and worry into faith, love and gratitude?

~Be positive!  Find what works for you -- meditations, walks in nature, affirmations, deep breathing, happy dances, doing the daily challenge outlined below, etc.  and do it over and over and over and over (you get the idea...)!

~EFT is a great resource to get rid of doubts (and cravings and sadness and anything you would ever want to get rid of)!  EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Technique and is essentially an emotional version of acupuncture (don't worry -- no needles are involved)!  It is easy (and free!) to learn, and anyone can do this!  You can learn more about EFT here.

In fact, there is a whole training course you can take here.

I have had great success using a method called Faster EFT, and you can learn more about it by visiting here or you can watch this video where Robert Smith teaches you how to do the Faster EFT method (he also teaches you how you can do it in a discreet way while in public;).

Tips for having success with EFT:
1) TRY IT!!!  Even if it seems a little wacky to you (it only seems wacky because it's new... once you start experiencing it you will realize how brilliant it is), try it out!  Do it privately at first -- you don't even have to tell anyone you are doing it!  Experiment with it to see if it really works!

2) Do it CONSISTENTLY!!!  Sometimes you can do one round of EFT and a problem will go away, but I find that for those persistent problems it helps me to do it for 30 days in a row to change a habit or belief!

Be brave... try out EFT and let me know how it goes!  I'd love to hear your story!

Daily Challenge: Every day for 30 days in a row, 

I want you to say the following out loud at least 10 times each day!!!  
Be sure to say it cheerfully and enthusiastically!  
This scripture is found in Philippians 4:13:

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” 

You've now completed this challenge 21 days in a row!
Be sure to congratulate yourself for a job well done!
You've now been doing this for three whole weeks!  Woo! Hoo!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

30 Day Course on Faith - Day 20

Faith and Money - Part 3

It's easy to have faith and gratitude when money is coming in, but what happens when there is a decrease of money coming in at the same time there is a rise in costs of living?

In June 2008, when scary talk about a recession was all the rage, I received a postcard in the mail from Vic & Lisa Johnson that said, "Because we're making so much money, we've decided not to participate in the current recession."  I loved getting that in the mail - it totally changed the way I saw the recession!  I showed the postcard to my husband and we decided not to participate in the recession either!

When we get so focused on everything that is wrong, and when we allow fear to guide our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and actions, then we are missing out on so many opportunities and blessings!

You don't believe me?  Go here to watch a video that shows how we can miss something really obvious when we are focusing on something else:

We may be so focused on rising prices and dropping incomes that we have taken our focus off of God and how generous and giving He is. Several years ago when gas prices first went up to $4/gallon, everyone was talking about it -- and not in a positive way!  I decided that I was going to feel gratitude that God is such a perfect and generous supplier.  I fully believed that no matter how high gas prices went (or grocery prices or any other prices), God would always provide me with more than enough money to meet the rising costs.

In fact, God's rate of increase is way higher than the rate of inflation!  It is such a powerful feeling to know that no government, no economy, no person can stop the blessings of the Lord! The Lord can ease burdens, and can ultimately liberate us from financial stress!

I have noticed a pattern for being free from debt (or any type of bondage)
~We are in bondage
~We call on God
~God eases our burdens
~We completely submit to God's Will
~God delivers us from bondage
~We give thanks
~We are free from bondage

What if instead of responding with fear we responded with faith and gratitude?  Feeling gratitude and acting in faith will elevate us to a place where we can see the solutions to our problems!

Daily Challenge: Every day for 30 days in a row, 

I want you to say the following out loud at least 10 times each day!!!  
Be sure to say it cheerfully and enthusiastically!  
This scripture is found in Philippians 4:13:

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” 

You've now completed this challenge 20 days in a row!
Be sure to congratulate yourself for a job well done!