Friday, November 30, 2012

Alphabet Advent – A is for…

A-11-cap

ngelic emissaries

 

I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.

Doctrine and Covenants 84:88

Christmas is filled with thoughts of presents, decorations, and traditions. We sing the praises of our Savior Jesus Christ and moments later tell stories of red-nosed reindeer that fly. Fantasy and miracles become blended, and we may dismiss the divine as an entertaining myth.

For the record, reindeer do not fly, and angels don’t have wings. However, angels are real and bring comfort in times of need. I have felt the love of ministering angels as my burdens felt oppressive.

During October General Conference in 2008, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught about the Lord’s use of angels. He explained that since the days of Adam and Eve, the Lord has sent angels in special times of need to his children to teach, to prepare, and to comfort. The first Christmas was one of those special times:

When the time for this Savior’s advent was at hand, an angel was sent to announce to Mary that she was to be the mother of the Son of God. Then a host of angels was commissioned to sing on the night the baby Jesus was born. Shortly thereafter an angel would announce to Joseph that the newborn baby was in danger and that this little family must flee to Egypt for safety. When it was safe to return, an angel conveyed that information to the family and the three returned to the land of their heritage.

From the beginning down through the dispensations, God has used angels as His emissaries in conveying love and concern for His children.

Jeffrey R. Holland
The Ministry of Angels

Please note that the angels bringing good tidings of great joy to the shepherds were real and did not have wings:

Fortunately, God is constant and unchanging. The angelic messengers of the past are still a tool that the Lord uses now to communicate love, hope, and good tidings of great joy.

I’d like to echo Elder Holland’s concluding words:

On occasions, global or personal, we may feel we are distanced from God, shut out from heaven, lost, alone in dark and dreary places. Often enough that distress can be of our own making, but even then the Father of us all is watching and assisting. And always there are those angels who come and go all around us, seen and unseen, known and unknown, mortal and immortal.

May we all believe more readily in, and have more gratitude for, the Lord’s promise as contained in one of President Monson’s favorite scriptures: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, … my Spirit shall be in your [heart], and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (D&C 84:88).

In the process of praying for those angels to attend us, may we all try to be a little more angelic ourselves—with a kind word, a strong arm, a declaration of faith and “the covenant wherewith [we] have covenanted,” (D&C 90:24). Perhaps then we can be emissaries sent from God when someone, perhaps a Primary child, is crying.

I really just wanted to cut and paste his entire talk into this post, so here’s the link again: Jeffrey R. Holland The Ministry of Angels. Go read, watch or listen to it.

How does defining angels as emissaries sent from God impact your thought process regarding becoming more angelic?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Turkey Carols

Turkey Tail

Image Citation

T

o help you get in the Thanksgiving mood, here’s a classic turkey carol for you to enjoy. I’ve included a printable Turkey Caroling Songbook for you to treasure with your family this Thanksgiving.

The Turkey Song

Turkeys roasting on an open fire
Sweet smells filling up your nose
Turkey carols being sung by a choir
As our anticipation grows!

Everybody knows some turkey and some pump­kin pie
Help to make the season bright
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight
They know that turkey's on its way
And soon it's yummy, yummy, happy Turkey Day!
And every mother's child will want to spy to see if
Turkeys really know how to fly!

And so I'm offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two –
Although it's been said many times, many ways –
Happy Turkey to you!  

 

Free Printable Turkey Caroling Songbook: Google Doc

 Turkey Carols - page - 2Turkey Carols - page - 1

Friday, November 16, 2012

My First Guest Post {My Bookbloom}

Please hop over to the blog of my lovely friend, Miranda, to see my very first guest post. Her love of language, beauty, and hope ooze out of each of her posts, so I was quite honored to be invited to share a few of my insights with her readers.

I shared tips for interacting with children that you can use with the children you meet at holiday gatherings. Her invitation was just the jolt of energy necessary to revive my blogging energy, so I am very thankful to Miranda for extending me the opportunity.

My Bookbloom
Friday Favorites
{Guest Post by Jocelyn}

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Breaking Free of Negativity: Part 2 – Should Statements

Breaking Free of Negativity Part 2 Should Statements

Image Citation

Pitfall – Should Statements

After the Korean War, Major William E. Mayer conducted a study of survivors from a Northern Korean prisoner of war camp in order to understand the psychological warfare employed. He found that the American prisoners were provided adequate shelter, food, water and clothing. They were not subjected to the physical torture that was reported in nearby camps. Nonetheless, these camps had an astounding death rate of 38%, which was the highest POW death rate in US history. (Rath and Clifton 7-9)

Lynn Johnston, a blogger on Small Steps to Big Change summarized the four-prong psychological warfare tactics implemented in this Northern Korea POW camp that caused many of these soldiers to loose the will to live. One of the demoralizing strategies included promoting self-criticism:

The North Koreans would gather a dozen POWs at a time and require each man to confess to the group a) all the bad things he had ever done and b) all the good things he could have done but failed to do.

Teaching the soldiers to focus on their failure to do good was integral in the psychological warfare’s ability to force the soldiers to completely surrender mentally and physically.

When we bombard ourselves with statements of “I should have done X” or “ I shouldn’t have done Y,” we are using psychological warfare on ourselves. Not cool!

 

Antidote: Reality Check

When you hear should statements in your head and feel your heart sink with guilt and disappointment, it’s time for a reality check. Try rephrasing your should statement with this formula:

1. It would be nice if…

2. But the reality is…

3. Therefore my most effective response could be…

The guilt laden statement, “I should look be thinner; I shouldn’t be so fat,” transforms to an acknowledgement of the current situation and possible options: 

It would be nice if I had a BMI of 21.   

Creative Commons

But the reality is I gained weight over the last few years because I was using food to relieve stress. 

lust

Lust – For Chocolate Covered Strawberry
Anurag Yagnik

Therefore, my most effective response could be practicing healthier stress relieving techniques such as guided imagery, jogging, or playing the piano.

Lake-Meditation

Lake – Meditation
useitinfo
  A Brand New Day
  A Brand New Day
Thomas Hawk
Day 37 - Playing piano
Day 37 – Playing Piano
Mourner

Instead of feeling burdened with tasks, guilt, and procrastination, this strategy allows you to identify realistic choices to help you climb out of the pit of guilt. Should statements corner us, while choices allow us to see options and get out of the corner.

Do you regularly engage in should thinking? How does giving yourself a reality check free you from negativity?

 

 

 

Relaxation Resources:

Relaxation Guided Imagery – kp.org/listen

Relaxation Techniques - https://caps.byu.edu/audio-files

 

 

Works Cited

1. Johnston, Lynn. "Are You Using Psychological Warfare...on Yourself?" Small Steps to Big Change. N.p., 31 May 2011. Web. 13 Nov. 2012. <http://smallstepstobigchange.com/?p=518>.

2. Rath, Tom, and Donald O. Clifton. "Chapter 1 Negativity Kills." How Full Is Your Bucket?: Positive Strategies for Work and Life. New York: Gallup, 2004. 7-9.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Breaking Free of Negativity: Part 1 – All or Nothing Statements

All Off
All Off
.David Chu
2008

Pitfall – All or Nothing

People who experience depression often view the world in absolutes. When you measure your emotions and situations as zeros or ones, the digital world can be quite bleak and flat. Small mistakes along the learning path become absolute failures.

The team at Uncommon Knowledge, LLP describes how this thinking pattern can perpetuate negativity and depression:

The more we polarize our thinking the more likely we are to become depressed because extreme either/or thinking stimulates the emotions much more. Statements like "I'm a terrible person!" or "She's perfect; she's a saint!" or "I'm just a failure!" oversimplify life and cause massive emotional swings. Few marriages, holidays or jobs were 'complete disasters' but had different elements within them.

When you hear words like always, never, perfect, impossible, awful, terrible, ruined, disastrous, and furious, it’s time to take a step back and assess.

Antidote: Dial It In

Dial

Dial
Jeff Van de Walker
2008

Instead of measuring your situations with an on/off switch, consider placing your situation on a scale. Switch from digital to analog.

There is a level between training for a triathlon and becoming one with the couch, between following My Plate perfectly and subsisting on caramels, and between blogging daily and never blogging again.

We are going through a process of becoming. Celebrate the progress you see and avoid viewing setbacks as complete failures or a reason to throw your hands in the air and walk away.

As you place your concerns on the dial, you’ll see that your focus shifts from the results to the process and effort. That’s where you want your focus to be for true success, at least that’s what the learning research is finding. For an example, check out The Psychology of Success via UC, Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center.

 

How has identifying digital thinking and switching to analog thinking helped you move forward and be free of negative thoughts?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Breaking Free of Negativity: Introduction

"Winter Blues 2" by Linda Apple

Winter Blues 2
Copyright © 2010 Linda Apple

With winter and short days ahead, my Relief Society president taught a lesson on strategies to fight negative thoughts that tie us down and prevent us from living up to our divine potential. Winter blues can be painful for those who are prone to negative thoughts, anxiety, and depression.

Jennie shared four pitfalls and provided strategies to counteract them that I’ll be discussing as a four part series:

Part 1: All or Nothing Statements

Part 2: Should Statements

Part 3: Blame Game

Part 4: Mental Filter

Her information came from a session she attended at BYU’s education week this summer: Silencing the Negative Chatterbox Within: Recognizing and Replacing Thoughts that Otherwise Keep Us Stuck and Hopeless taught by Carrie M. Wrigley.

Please remember that if you feel stuck or if you feel the joy has been sucked from your life, it is time to get help. Talk to your doctor, your spouse, your mom, your bishop. Talk to someone. There is help and you are not alone.

What strategies have helped you combat winter blues so you can enjoy the daffodils peaking through the snow in spring? 

 
Jonquilles (Daffodils)
Claude Monet
Painting, Oil on Canvas
Giverny, France: 1885

Friday, November 2, 2012

Spelling with Bunny & Clyde

Spelling with Bunny & Clyde

Halloween 1987 or Why I Avoid Big Hair

Today I tried to wear my hair down. My natural waves were enhanced with my texturizing pomade and a little extra volume was added with a comb in just the right places. I was envisioning a Big Hair Friday post from Hair Romance – Love Your Hair. Mr. Chappell said I was beautiful, but I still didn’t feel it.

While I wanted to look like this:

I kept seeing this:

Hair Romance with her gorgeous curls My Halloween Costume - 1987

Angel

Witch

This is my “before” picture from Halloween in 1987. I don’t have a copy of the “after” picture, but I’m sure you can visualize my picture of perfection mixed with rain, mud, a skinned elbow, and the scowl that would make any mortal think twice before messing with me.

My grandpa loved that picture. He had it printed and displayed in his living room in one of those swivel picture displays with his other flowers. The other pictures were actual blossoms he had grown. He said it was the best witch costume he had ever seen. I made a point when I visited to make sure that the witch picture was all the way in the back.

Big hair on me makes me think of witches, tantrums, and skinned knees. I think I better stick with braids and ponytails.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Adventures of Bunny and Clyde

The adventures of Bunny & Clyde 

Click here for a more easily read version.