A wolf in sheep’s clothing acts like a sheep

TODAY’S MUSINGS: I was pondering this past week and had an insight. I was thinking about a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” The thing about the wolf is that they act like a sheep!! And many people are fooled and even step forward to defend them and say, “Oh no! They’re really a sheep!” But that does not change the fact that they are indeed a wolf. And all the acting like a sheep does not change that.I find it even more interesting when the wolf actually thinks they are a sheep. However, their message is that of a wolf. And there are some who say, “Oh, you shouldn’t point out the wolf. Who are you to judge?” Sorry, if I see a wolf, I want to warn my fellow sheep. How ridiculous to stand by and just say, “Well, I don’t want to judge or offend . . .” while sheep are falling by the wayside.In this day when so many are and will be deceived, we must be vigilant and have a strong spirit of discernment.By their fruits ye shall know them.

Getting fiesty in my older years

TODAY’S MUSINGS: All my life I’ve been the obedient girl. I had older sisters who had struggled with obedience and watched the horrible cost to that and decided at a very early age that I would be obedient. I kept the rules–I love rules! And I tried very hard to be nice!Well fast forward half a century. I realized I’m not so obedient any more. Now don’t get me wrong–when it comes to commandments from God, I still work very hard to be as obedient as I can be. I’m not suggesting anything different. I have learned that obedience to God’s laws leads to great happiness.But when it comes to stupid rules from the government and those in power or positions promoted by mainstream media, oh then I have a whole different mindset. I’m not buying it any more. I question, I research, I give them a second look. I was raised in a traditional household that thought the government had our best interests at heart and was composed of highly intelligent, altruistically-minded individuals. Boy has that changed!I’m older and I’ve seen the corruption, the self-interest, the greed. I think that most government agencies have rampant corruption. Go ahead and call me a conspiracy theorist or a crazy zealot. Doesn’t phase me at all. I’ve studied and researched and observed for decades.Then there’s the “let’s just go along” mentality. I watch people conform on so many levels because it’s easy, it’s expected, it’s what is being promoted. And it is sad.Then there are the people who hate contention so much they want everyone to “be nice.” To everyone about everything–unless, of course, it is the opposite of what they believe. . .So I’m outing myself. I’m way more rebellious than I ever was. I’m not nice all the time. Being nice has allowed over 60 million unborn babies to be murdered. Being obedient to the government rules and policies has moved us to the brink and into socialism. Being quiet has allowed our young people to be fully indoctrinated by those who have very different motives including control, domination, and profit. Sorry. I’m not quiet. I’m not always nice. I’m not obedient to worldly rules or policies. I do not tolerate evil. I do not accept losing our personal freedoms. I do not accept the erosion of the Bill of Rights that is rampant. I will not stand by quietly while our children are being brainwashed. I will not just “go along.” I am a bold, intelligent, studied woman with a brain and a mouth and I know how to use them. Fair warning.

Peace in heart and home

TODAY’S MUSINGS: I’ve been pondering peace all month. Spiritual peace is my top core value. I’ve been feeling really peaceful for the last couple of months and it has been a great blessing. (see the key below!)First, I eliminated a bunch of stress out of my life. I reduced my work load significantly and that was huge. I’m still working hard and busy but not insane ;)Second, I’ve focused on daily repentance. As the prophet said, it’s important to remove the debris out of our lives. It isn’t that I go around sinning a ton, but repenting allows me to reject any behavior that is less than exemplary and realign myself on the path toward God.Third, I’ve increased my pondering time. Interesting Pres. Nelson encouraged us to “discipline” ourselves to have quiet time alone and with our families. That is important to me — it forces me to stop working and just “be.” To think and to listen.Fourth, I’ve reduced my exposure to the world. I cut back on listening or reading the news. I’ve cut back on the time on social media. I stay informed but I don’t let it intrude into my life nonstop.
But most important of all, I make the choice to be in a “beautiful” state of energy every day. I start the day saying, “Today is going to be a great day! I am in a beautiful state!” Holy cow. I cannot even begin to tell you the power of making that statement every morning. I choose to be at peace. I choose to reject the fear and anxiety that has plagued me. And when those anxious “tickles” of thought come, I immediately reject them and say again, “No, I am staying in a beautiful state!” And they disappear!
I’ve come to realize at a deeper level that we frame our lives. We can, to a large extent, make choices and choose to master our state of being. Bad things come and go. They always will. But we can choose to not wallow in suffering. Oh have I struggled with this for decades! But I’m learning more and more.
We can choose peace! No matter what is swirling in the world around us, we can choose to have peace. And that peace is strongest when anchored in the peace of our Savior. This week my memorization was John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
I am understanding more and more what that peace is. Interesting that I’m learning that more during a time of terrible unrest and fear throughout the world. But I’m grateful.
The prophet has strongly encouraged us to establish homes of safety and security to withstand what is to come. I’m now understanding at a deeper level that that begins with me and my own inner environment. I have to have safety and security within my soul so that I can radiate that to my family and others and create a home where those feelings of safety, security, and serenity abide. My heart and my home are a sanctuary of peace.

A Voice of Warning and of Unity

Last month I posted a question: How are we to warn others of what we see and know and at the same time be a peacemaker and build unity? You’ve all been waiting for the answer!
May I begin by saying I don’t have the answer. I think this is something we have to continually ponder and work through. But I do have some insights.
First, we must never stop warning others. Yes, it is uncomfortable. Yes, people look at you weird. Yes, it is hard. But the alternative–silence–is unacceptable. I do not want to greet a single brother or sister in the Spirit World after death and have them say, “You knew! And you didn’t tell me!” So we must continue to speak out of the truth as we know it.
Second, the day we are quiet is the day evil wins. And I am not willing to let that happen. Funny how those promoting other agendas have no problem speaking out. They don’t seem to worry or care about offending others or making them feel uncomfortable. They are certain and driven. We must be equally certain and driven — in fact, more so.
Third, our warning and our speaking out must be centered in love. It cannot be centered in ego, arrogance, pride, or anything related to “self.” It must truly be centered in love and caring for others. It is only then that it will have power to influence. Honestly, if I didn’t care so strongly about others, I’d just keep my mouth shut! It is because I love others so much that I speak out and try to teach, warn, influence as much as I do.
Fourth, many will reject us. Many will reject truth. That is the nature of man. Just know that is the way it is. It isn’t personal. They will not care that we love them. They will say that the only way to love them is to agree with them and they will not be able to see past their own ideology. Their filter is so strong they cannot feel our love and they will reject our words. Do it anyway.
Fifth, Christ went through the same thing. I take comfort in that.
Sixth, a wise person taught me when speaking out, include a heavy dose of common ground so that those who disagree will listen longer and perhaps be influenced. Starting on common ground is great. Build a bridge first. We all care about our families. We all care about children and babies. We all care about having a beautiful earth to live in. Start there.
Many of us feel “called to the work.” I feel that way strongly. I feel very called to protect the family and especially babies. I have a strong faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ and know that we are living in the last days and many things are happening and will happen. Now more than ever, our brothers and sisters need to feel loved. And they also need to be warned and have truth declared boldly and clearly.
As we continue to speak and teach and influence with the motivation of love and truth, a growing number of our brothers and sisters will unify with us. We must work diligently to build Zion — a group of people of one heart and one mind. We will care for our poor and needy–both temporally and spiritually. We will care for each other. We will center our work on Christ. We will offer love and healing and family to ALL our brothers and sisters throughout the world.
I take as my guide these words–and they apply equally to men and women:”‘We need women with the gift of discernment who can view the trends in the world and detect those that, however popular, are shallow or dangerous.’ Today, let me add that we need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and who are courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world. We need women who are devoted to shepherding God’s children along the covenant path toward exaltation; women who know how to receive personal revelation, who understand the power and peace of the temple endowment; women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families; women who teach fearlessly.” President Russell M. Nelson
I will continue to teach fearlessly. I will do so because I love my brothers and sisters. I will continue to warn and work toward building unity of God’s family. I am called to this work–and I accept that calling.

Warrior Skills

A friend sent me an email with an interesting comment – “You have a great deal more warrior skills than many of us.” I’ve been pondering that statement all month.

The truth is, I have had a long battle with myself to get here. I struggled with paralyzing fear and anxiety and was on tranquilizers by the age of 12. When I realized that, I quit the pills and turned to my Heavenly Father to teach me to cope and be courageous. And for my whole life, He has.

But what are “warrior skills”? What does that look like? I think in my life and for me it involves exhibiting a whole lot of courage. It doesn’t mean you’re not afraid–it means you choose to act in the face of fear. I have a sticker in my office that says, “Courage is contagious.” Now that I’m older, I can see many people leaning on my courage and drawing strength from it just as I draw strength from my Savior.

It also shows up as being willing to speak up and speak out. Y’all know I love to talk:). I try very hard to speak up when I see something wrong–or good for that matter! And interesting things happen . . . people listen, people learn, people debate, and people speak up more themselves. That is huge.

And warriors step forward–they do not shrink. When work is to be done or battles fought, they march forward. This can be a hard one. I was joking with my son, Connor, who does political work for a living, and said, “You know–most people just wake up every day and don’t even think about the things that need fixing in this world. They just go about their day, doing their work, caring for their families. I never have a day like that.” We both laughed because we’re the same kind of people–the kind of people who wake up and see concerns and DO something. Or at least try.

I was talking to a teenage girl the other day who is similar in personality and I warned her. This life is lonely. It is hard. And there are days when you do not want to fight at all.

But when you have the heart of a warrior, you hear the song every morning–calling you to battle. You see the battles clearly. You know that God has called you and that you cannot shrink.

Quoting from a great talk by Pres. Hinckley:

“I believe the challenge to oppose this evil is one from which members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as citizens, cannot shrink.. . . I think the Lord would say to us, ‘Rise, and stand upon thy feet, and speak up for truth and goodness and decency and virtue.'” (“In Opposition to Evil”)

Yes, the Lord has blessed me with warrior skills. I pray that I may use them to oppose evil and spread goodness. Not an easy task, to be sure, but one to which I have been called.

The Lightened Burden of No Fear

Had an interesting insight today.  I was reading this that I wrote during the seminar:

Why MUST you, why WILL you end suffering as it arises?

Why will you live in a BEAUTIFUL state every day no matter what? What would TRANSFORM if fear were no longer a part of your life?

  • Once and for all I will stay in a courageous state and not let fear eat at my gut or my soul.
  • I will radiate love to myself and ALL those around me, and this would transform my relationships and add a depth and connection I long for.
  • I will cease to let Satan and his minions influence my mental and emotional state so that I turn into spiritual Teflon.
  • I will have my own personal ZION and would be able to help all those around me achieve Zion as well – unhampered or impeded by my own concerns and suffering.
  • I will create a constant home for the Spirit and be in tune with my Lord so that I would HEAR HIM all the time.
  • I will have clarity on my mission in life and pursue it unfettered by the shackles of a negative or even just a low state.
  • I will progress toward becoming a Christ-like person – in fact, I realize that Christ stayed in a beautiful state.  Christ stayed in a beautiful state even on the cross when He thought of His love for His mother, His love for all of us, including me, and of His love for His Father and His willingness to do His will no matter what.
  • I will radiate peace and joy and love that will offer a place of safety for all those around me in the midst of the storm of the last days.
  • I will be a child of light.
  • I will fully be a source of love, light and power reflected from Jesus Christ.
  • I will show and teach my children and grandchildren the path toward becoming like Christ and being in tune with Him.
  • I will stay in a CELESTIAL STATE.

That has been so powerful. Each day now I wake up and read that and chose joy.  It’s one of my five core values (spiritual peace, love, joy, health and virtue).  I choose to be happy and joyful and peaceful each day and that is HUGE.

But the insight I had today while reading about Christ staying in a beautiful state was this:  I thought, “Christ wasn’t afraid – ever.”  And I immediately thought of this verses:   Matthew 11:28-30:

28 ¶ Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

I had always looked at this through the lens of love – that Christ is and was so filled with love that it makes his yoke easy and burden light..  That even though He took upon Him all the sins and sufferings of God’s children, He felt it was light and I attributed that to the great love that drives Him and fills Him.

But today, I also realized that part of the reason his yoke is easy and burden light is because He is never, ever afraid.  We live so much of our mortal life grappling with fear – fear that we’re not enough, fear that we won’t be loved, fear of the unknown.  I know I have struggled with this my whole life.  But imagine not being afraid—of anything or anyone.  Not one bit.  Wow.  That makes the yoke of mortal life and the burden so much lighter.  That’s huge.

So if I want to be Christ-like, and I certainly do, I must learn to let go of that fear.  I must enter into a place of incredible peace and trust.  That is a worthy goal.

Faith in others

TODAY’S MUSINGS: I’ve been thinking about faith today. Faith is widely criticized in today’s world and yet we all exhibit faith in something. I might have faith in God. You might have faith that there was a Big Bang at some point that created the universes. Another may have faith in Jesus and yet another have faith in herself.I absolutely have a deep faith in my Heavenly Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ. This faith has been tried and tested over the many years of my life. I realized that sometimes, even though I have faith, I didn’t always have trust. My sister, Andrea, taught me a great deal about trust. Her faith was active — knowing that God was in charge and that she would trust Him with the outcome no matter what. This trust was hard-earned for her through many serious challenges. After going through some serious challenges of my own, I better understand that trust. But as a certified control-freak, it is still a challenge.I cast my burdens on the Lord but then I’m sometimes guilty of taking them right back and worrying–as if to say, “Well, I asked you for help but I’m not really sure you’ll do it.” Dumb. But also the challenge of a controlling person who has been plagued with worry. I have to consciously say, “No, I prayed about it and I trust Him and I will stay there and let the worry go.” Not easy for me.But another aspect of faith has grown (and been challenged) with having adult children. That is faith in other people–particularly my adult kids. It is hard to pivot from running their lives to stepping back and letting them take over. My kids are now in their 30’s (yes, I’m that old!). And they are terrific people. I’m so proud of my kids and their spouses. Each one is trying very hard to be a good person. So as they face challenges in their lives and make their own choices, I have repeatedly and consciously made the choice to have faith in them. I say it out loud – “I have faith in my son.” or “I have faith in my daughter-in-law.” That has been an interesting experience. As I say it out loud, I pause and think, “You know . . . I do have faith in them!” And I step back and watch them manage their own lives. (And try very hard not to be controlling :))Fundamentally, I have faith in people. Not everyone does, I know. But I believe that most people are good, caring, well-intentioned people who are trying to do their best every day of their lives. I have faith in people to make good decisions. I have faith in people to help others. I have faith in people to learn and change and grow. They may do things differently or believe differently than I do–but I still have faith in them.And I have faith in my self. Not always easy, I know. But I say (yes, I talk to myself out loud quite often) “Merrilee, I have faith in you. You can handle this.”Faith is so empowering. Faith in God is central and essential. But faith in others and their inherent worth and goodness is also very strengthening.

Fighting the urge to turtle

FIGHTING THE URGE TO TURTLE: I have to admit, I am feeling the urge–strong urge–to turtle. What do I mean by that? Bear with me as I talk about this. So for most of my adult life I’ve been a community activist. I see a pothole, I make some calls to see that it’s fixed. I see something going wrong at the schools, I speak up. I work to save unborn babies. You name it. I’m a firm believer in my motto from Gandhi, “YOU must be the change you wish to see in the world.”But sometimes it’s really hard. In fact, most of the time it’s really hard. I deal with yucky stuff — horrible things being taught to our children, unborn babies being killed at the rate of 8 per day just in Utah, children being rendered sterile–the list is long. And sometimes it seems hopeless.And I want to “pull a turtle.”When a turtle is threatened, they pull in their head and limbs into the protective shelter of their shell.And my “shell” is so peaceful. My home is beautiful and clean and organized and so peaceful. Spending time with my sweet husband and children and grandchildren is heavenly. Visiting with friends and neighbors is lovely. My shell is a great place to be–quiet, peaceful, supportive, and grounded in my faith. I’d love to spend all my time there. I’d love to just quietly play the piano, learn to quilt, work on my personal history, go out to lunch. I could stay in my shell forever.Honestly, I’ve been largely in my shell for the last few months following my campaign. Getting everything in order. Gathering strength again. Hunkering down during the pandemic. And it’s so nice.And when I see or hear things going on in the world, it’s like getting stabbed. I recoil. I think, “Oh, I don’t want to fight anymore. I just want to stay home.” It’s a whole lot easier in my shell. And the bad things going on in the world intrude on my peace daily.It’s tempting to think, “I’ve been doing this for 40 years, someone else can have a turn fighting it all.” But I just can’t do it. As hard as it is, I have to stick my neck out. The only way a turtle progresses and moves is to stick its head back out and its limbs and start moving, even if it’s slowly.I see so many things going on around me that need courageous turtles to work on them.So I’m sticking my head out again and again now. Time to move more courageously. Time to BE the change again. Time to step forward. And yes, I hate having to do it. And yes, it’s hard. And yes, sometimes the hope is thin. But I must.If I don’t, how can I face my kids and grandkids and say I made the comfortable choice? If I don’t, how can I face God and say, “You blessed me immeasurably but it was easier to just sit and enjoy my blessings”? If I don’t, who will?The pandemic has created a kind of de-energizing phase that will cripple us far more than any other kind of adversity. It is draining our energy to interact, to do good out in the world, to step out of our “shells” (i.e., comfort zones).But we MUST. We all must stretch out our necks and generate that energy to move forward and improve the world around us.So join me, fellow turtles. Today is a great day to stick our necks out.🙂

Lessons learned from COVID

This morning I was pondering what I’m learning from this whole virus experience.  It has been interesting watching the world . . . and the US . . . after a short period of testing and trials.  One thing I see repeatedly is the clamor for the government to solve any discomfort.  Have we become so entrenched in the Nanny-State mentality that we expect someone else (i.e. the government and the OTHER taxpayers) to make it all better?  I fear we have.

So here are my current lessons learned/observations:

  1. Hard things happen.  They’ve always happened.  This is just unusual because it’s on a global scale.  But hard things have been happening since the dawn of time.  It’s part of our experience on earth.
  2. Wonderful things happen.  They always bubble up when hard things are going on.  I need to watch for them and appreciate them.
  3. Our family is where it’s at.  Not the government.  Not the schools.  Not even the neighbors. Our family is and always will be our best and primary source of support. 
  4. It’s important to build those family bonds.  Don’t neglect that.  And draw on everyone’s unique strengths.  Some are peacemakers.  Some are cheerleaders.  Some are mechanics.  Some are cooks.  Some are tender.  Some are realists.  The blend is there for everyone within the family to draw from.
  5. The schools are not responsible for our children.  WE are.  They are not responsible for feeding, educating, babysitting, or influencing our children.  These are our children.  We need to step up and take care of them.
  6. The government is not responsible for making it all go away.  Sorry, things happen.  Deal with it.  Own it.
  7. The taxpayers are not responsible for giving you/me money to make things better.  Does it make sense to go ask your neighbor for $1,000 to make your life easier?  Of course not.  The government’s money is OUR money.  It’s not free.
  8. Taking the time to slow down and calm down is such a good thing.  In our world with a frenzied pace, slowing is a wonderful blessing.  Learn from it.
  9. When God said, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear” He meant it.  Being prepared is our individual responsibility.  We can keep ignoring it – but we will reap the consequences of that choice.  You think toilet paper is important?  Try living without accessible food. . .
  10. Our neighbors want to help us.  The mutual support I’ve seen in the last couple of weeks eclipses anything I’ve seen for years.  What a wonderful web of kindness we have!  We can appreciate it and add to it.
  11. Faith is everything.  In the midst of trials and chaos, the peace that comes from our connection to our Heavenly Father and our Savior is everything.  It centers us, gives us hope, blankets us with love.  They are ALWAYS there for us.  If we have that as our core, we can make it through the hard stuff.
  12. “This too shall pass” is a true saying.  Time is a healing factor.  But we should never forget that something else will also come along.  So digging into this experience and learning from it will add to our strength and ability to weather the next one.  We can grow and learn if we take the time to see and listen and experience it all.

I can afford to be generous

I learned generosity from my father. When he was old, my mom often had to call charities and tell them to quit calling and asking for donations of clothing–because he would empty his closet and donate all his clothes and mom would have to buy him a new wardrobe.

I remember one day I was out to lunch with my older sister. We chatted with the waitress who was having a hard time in life. My sister left a HUGE tip – and said, “I can afford to be generous.”

I can afford to be generous.

That echoed in my soul.

I can afford to be generous with kindness. As you may remember, I’ve been working on that for a couple of years (and being back in running a campaign and being under attack has made that a challenge!).

I can afford to be generous with smiles and compliments and expressing interest in those around me.

I can afford to be generous with compassion and empathy.

I can even afford to be generous with understanding–even for those who violently disagree with me.

I can afford to be generous with just flat out paying attention to others around me and their lives. That is hard for me because I’m ridiculously busy and overwhelmed–but that is SO important because I need that from others as well.

I can afford to be generous with second chances–and thirds, and fourths, and on and on.

I can afford to be generous with my time –even when I don’t have much.

And yes, I can afford to be generous with my money. I can generously send money to those doing humanitarian work in Africa (Mothers Without Borders) and those saving unborn babies (Pro-Life Utah and Save the Storks) and those fighting for my freedoms (Libertas Institute) and those spreading the love of Jesus (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and more . . .

I can even generously sprinkle good – be it money, time, excess clothing, ideas, support, etc.

I can afford to be generous. I pray that I will and that we will all choose to be a little more generous this week.