Smaller dams – upstream: Dealing with temptation

There was a great effort to build a giant dam just above a powerful waterfall.   However, the efforts had been in vain so far and two people had died and several had been injured.  Everyone was frustrated—and scared.

The chief engineer and the construction contractor stood on the shores of the raging river below the waterfall talking animatedly.

“You’ve got to make this work!” screamed the engineer.

“We’ve been trying!” replied the construction boss.  “I’ve got guys dying here.  Your plan isn’t working.”

Off by the shore of the river stood a very old Native American slowly shaking his head.  The engineer noticed him.

“So you think you’re so smart!” he yelled at the Native American.  “What would you do?”

The old Native American turned his head to face the men and said simply,  “Smaller dams, upstream.”

The engineer threw up his arms in disgust.  “What does he know?” he sputtered.

“Wait a minute,” said the construction man.  “I get it.  What if we constructed a bunch of smaller temporary dams all up and down the river upstream.  That would slow the flow of the water considerably and we’d be able to manage building the big dam here.  He’s right.”

Understanding dawned on the engineer.  “Good idea . . .” he muttered to the old Native American.  The man simply smiled and gazed back at the river.

Sometimes we exert tremendous effort to fight sexual temptation—or any kind of temptation–when it hits full force.  Sometimes we fail and then beat ourselves up over our failure.

The key is to build small dams UPSTREAM.

So BEFORE we are in the grasp of that temptation, stop it earlier.  When we first feel lonely or sad or stressed or depressed, build a DAM.  Stop and realize that those feelings can lead to temptation to sin.  STOP the thought process right there and substitute in a positive one.

And BEFORE we find ourselves in a compromising situation, build a DAM.  Stop and realize that you’re not in a good place.  MOVE, leave, turn off the computer, walk away, turn on the lights, whatever you need to do to change the environment.

And BEFORE we feel feelings of sin starting to enter our minds, build a DAM.  Take control of your thoughts.  STOP and insert good thoughts – read something good, sing something, look at beautiful art, just think clean, virtuous thoughts.

If we would pay attention to building dams upstream, that torrent of temptation would be much easier to tame.

Smaller dams, upstream.

My hands

Today I was looking at my hands.  These hands have been many places and done many things in my life:

*They trustingly held my Mommy and Daddy’s hands growing up in Detroit and getting into a canoe on the lake.

*They clapped with joy in receiving FOUR mice from Santa Claus (because Mr. and Mrs. Claus each got 2 . . . which turned into about 16 in a week . . .)

*They wrote a sentence when I was seven, “When I grow up, I want to be a lawyer and a senator.”  Say what?!?

*They wiped lots of tears through my teenage years when I so desperately wanted to be pretty and loved.

*They held my first diploma from Stevenson High School—and then my second diploma from BYU—and then my last diploma from Santa Clara University.

*They held my sweet husband’s hands over the altar in the Salt Lake LDS temple where we were married and sealed together for eternity.

*They held my first baby – as I stroked his cheeks with my fingers and wondered at the incredible miracle that had been given to me.

*Then they held my second and my third and my fourth sons – and the miracle and wonder never changed.

*They were held to the square when I was sworn in as city councilwoman and took an oath to defend the Constitution.

*They worked hard to change diapers, wipe noses, drive to and fro and to and fro some more, turned page after page in book after book, and clapped and celebrated every step of our sons’ lives.

*They wiped lots and lots of tears –- my own, my family’s, my friends’.

*They held signs and knocked on doors in the defense of marriage between a man and a woman and waved at more than one motorist giving them the finger.

*They packed and packed and unpacked and unpacked as we moved to Utah and built a home.

*They typed and typed – 13 books so far.

*They shook hands and hugged – spoken to over half a million people so far.

*And this week they held another sign, “We will not stand by while unborn babies are killed by abortion.”

But then the next day, they’re digging in the dirt to plant a flower; holding my husband’s hand as we celebrate 40 years of life together this year; hugging my son as he was hurting; waving to a neighbor.

These hands are an incredible creation of God.  And I have spent my life using these hands to show love and caring, to work hard, and to do His work.  And as they grow more wrinkled and aged, I will wear them out in doing good.

Today I was looking at my hands.  These hands have been many places and done many things in my life:

*They trustingly held my Mommy and Daddy’s hands growing up in Detroit and getting into a canoe on the lake.

*They clapped with joy in receiving FOUR mice from Santa Claus (because Mr. and Mrs. Claus each got 2 . . . which turned into about 16 in a week . . .)

*They wrote a sentence when I was seven, “When I grow up, I want to be a lawyer and a senator.”  Say what?!?

*They wiped lots of tears through my teenage years when I so desperately wanted to be pretty and loved.

*They held my first diploma from Stevenson High School—and then my second diploma from BYU—and then my last diploma from Santa Clara University.

*They held my sweet husband’s hands over the altar in the Salt Lake LDS temple where we were married and sealed together for eternity.

*They held my first baby – as I stroked his cheeks with my fingers and wondered at the incredible miracle that had been given to me.

*Then they held my second and my third and my fourth sons – and the miracle and wonder never changed.

*They were held to the square when I was sworn in as city councilwoman and took an oath to defend the Constitution.

*They worked hard to change diapers, wipe noses, drive to and fro and to and fro some more, turned page after page in book after book, and clapped and celebrated every step of our sons’ lives.

*They wiped lots and lots of tears –- my own, my family’s, my friends’.

*They held signs and knocked on doors in the defense of marriage between a man and a woman and waved at more than one motorist giving them the finger.

*They packed and packed and unpacked and unpacked as we moved to Utah and built a home.

*They typed and typed – 13 books so far.

*They shook hands and hugged – spoken to over half a million people so far.

*And this week they held another sign, “We will not stand by while unborn babies are killed by abortion.”

But then the next day, they’re digging in the dirt to plant a flower; holding my husband’s hand as we celebrate 40 years of life together this year; hugging my son as he was hurting; waving to a neighbor.

These hands are an incredible creation of God.  And I have spent my life using these hands to show love and caring, to work hard, and to do His work.  And as they grow more wrinkled and aged, I will wear them out in doing good.

The Path to God

TODAY’S MUSINGS:  Recently a woman posted on Facebook how she once thought that there were certain ordinances and obedience required to return to God but that she no longer believed that.  She then said, “There are many paths to God and they are all good.”  Many people responded by saying, “God is love!!”

This has caused me to think again about the Plan of Salvation and the path to God.  Let me explain by beginning with a parable:

There once was a father who had many children.  He got them together and announced, “Great news kids!  We now have a huge mansion at the top of this mountain behind me.  Everyone can come!”  The children were thrilled!  What great news!  He continued, “Now there are no rules on how you get there but there is a time limit.  So feel free to go any way you want.  See you at the top!”

The kids thought this was terrific. “We can all get there – how easy is this?” “Man, I’m glad there’s no rules—I hate rules.”  “Dad sure loves me!”  And off they went.  Some followed the really easy path to the right and ended up just going in circles.  Some were attracted by the pretty waterfall and ran toward it, only to fall off a cliff and be drowned.  Some saw darkness down a path and thought that looked cool but ended up hopelessly lost in a string of caves.  Some sat on the side of the path and ran out of time.  Some fell into quicksand.  Some got tangled in horrible briar patches.  Some didn’t want a hard climb so ended up on a path leading downward—away from the mansion at the top.  And oh they complained!  “Doesn’t Dad love me?”  “Why didn’t he tell me a better way?”  “This is too hard, why bother?”  “I don’t think there’s a mansion—this is just a trick.”  And you can imagine, very, very few made it to the mansion at the top.

Now once there was another father who truly loved all of his children.  He announced there was a mansion and that everyone could come.  But then he said, “Because I love you, I’m going to guide you on the best path to reach the top.  Your older brother has already hiked the path perfectly so he can help you see the right path.  And because he walked it perfectly, he’s made it possible for you to not be penalized for your mistakes along the way.  That use of time will not count against you.  Follow the signs marked “Home” very carefully.  If you don’t follow them, bad things will happen.  And don’t sit on the side of the path for long because you’ll lose precious time.  This is going to be hard but it will be worth it.  See you at the top!”

Some of the children complained, “Why all the rules??”  Some thought, “I can go faster if I go my way and not his way.”  Some said, “If Dad loved us, he really won’t care which way we go.”  And off they went – and ended up just like the children in the first story.

But many paid attention.  They carefully looked for the signs and followed them.  They tried hard to obey the rules.  Sometimes they were tempted and hiked off toward the pretty waterfall but then they heard the voice of their brother faintly calling to them from the top of the mountain, “Whatever you do, don’t go toward the waterfall.  It’s dangerous!” and they returned to the path, confident that that detour was forgiven and that they were back in the right direction.  Other times they saw a large group of kids heading toward the caves, but they saw a sign pointing toward Home in the opposite direction.  Many areas of the path were steep, rocky, and hard to climb.  They had to work hard.  It wasn’t easy.  Sometimes they would get knocked off the path but they would hear their brother’s encouraging voice, “It’s OK—just get back on the path!”

But those who carefully followed the signs and listened to their brother made it.  Every single one.  And as they enjoyed the beautiful mansion, they knew it was worth it.

In today’s world, some people say, “It doesn’t really matter which path you follow.”  But God is not a God of confusion!  He wants us all to return and become like Him and He knows there is a best path.  Some say, “Ordinances don’t matter, religion doesn’t matter, whatever church you want to follow doesn’t matter.”  But it does matter.  When Christ came to the earth, He didn’t say, “Eh, whatever religion you want is fine—go ahead and follow the Pharisees and their doctrine or follow the Sadducees and their doctrine.  It’s all good.”  Nope.  He established HIS church and true doctrine from God.  Very clearly.  God is not a God of confusion.

Some people will say, “God is love!” which is true.  But they say it as if He doesn’t care—that whatever we do is fine.  That’s like me as a mother saying to my kids, “Go ahead!  Eat all the candy you want!!  No problem!”  But I know that for my kids to be healthy, they need to eat fruits and vegetables.  A parent is not loving when they just let their kids eat whatever they want, do whatever they want, sleep in to whenever they want.  That is not love.  A loving parent sets rules, teaches the consequences to breaking then, and enforces them to help their children become healthy and mature.

We know that there are consequences to our choices—so does God.  Those consequences are not magically removed.  They are there to teach us and guide us to becoming like Him.

For example, God tell us not to have sex outside of marriage—to be morally clean.  Why?  Because He knows that is the best path to be like Him.  Think about it—what are the consequences of that choice:  no unintended pregnancy outside of marriage, no venereal disease, much more stable marriage and less likelihood of divorce, better health, deeper character developed from delaying gratification, more self-respect, more self-esteem, more respect for the opposite sex—I could go on and on.  Just from one choice.  As I said, God looks at the big picture and says, “I know where this would lead so don’t do it.”  But many will whine and complain and say, “But why?  We’re not hurting anyone!” and on and on.  He knows better.

It is because God is loving that He wants the best for us and knows the best way to help us become like Him.  He has established commandments for us to obey because He loves us and because that is the best way to become like Him.  He calls us to repent (turn back to Him) and provides forgiveness for when we mess up.  He has established His true church—the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—to show the best path to return to Him and to become like Him. 

God is love.  And His love is shown by helping us to become like Him and to live His life.  That is His work—“to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of Man.”

Christ’s “Strong” Side

In much of my work, I have been called to be a voice of warning. Repeatedly, people whine and complain and say I should be more Christlike. That used to wound me deeply. But now I am very clear and very centered on this. Many people perceive Christ as “take the children in His lap” or the “neither do I condemn thee.” In other words, they look to the loving aspects of Christ’s character — His ability to connect with the ones who didn’t fit the norm, Hs loving outreach of healing, His compassion and love that flows freely from His arms. That is a wonderful, amazing, and critical part of His nature.
But Christ also has what I will call a “strong side” to His nature. His first act in arriving in Jerusalem for His ministry was to boldly throw the moneychangers out of the temple — physically! “And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple . . .” That was also His last act in the temple at the end of His ministry. He was bold and clear in His constant calling out of the Pharisees and Sadducees. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” Remember – those were the Church leaders of His day! He did NOT mince words! And he chews them out (and the lawyers:) a LOT.
And even though He told the woman taken in sin that He did not condemn her, He then said clearly, “Go and sin no more.” 
So this is also Christlike. How do we reconcile this? I believe everything Christ did and does is motivated by love. Everything. So when He’s being compassionate and healing people, that seems very clear. What seems less clear is how his “strong side” was also motivated by love.
Christ protects His Father and His Father’s house. So out of love for Him, He cleansed the temple. Out of love for the humble followers who were being led astray by the Church leaders of the day, He called out those who were leading them falsely. And also out of love for the Pharisees, He spoke out as well calling them to repentance.
Is it truly loving to let someone continue to go down a wrong path or to sin? Is it loving to stand by and say, “Well, I support their right to choose.” “Well, to each his own path.” or all the other platitudes we say today? Christ wants us all to become like Him–and to live with Him. He knows that the path to doing so involves lots of repentance and obedience. So He is very clear in calling all of us to repentance and urging us to abandon sin. BECAUSE HE LOVES US.
It’s like when I was raising my kids. They would have loved to eat candy all day every day. Would I have been a loving mom to let them choose that? NO. Because we have to look at “Where will this lead?”
So in the work that I do to protect and promote the family, to protect the sanctity of life, and to protect the health and innocence of children, I am also a voice of warning. I speak out–clearly and boldly. I flat out speak truth: Unborn babies are precious and have dignity and the RIGHT TO LIVE. Women do NOT have the right to choose death of another human being – no matter how small. Marriage is ordained of God and is only between a man and a woman. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
I make no excuses for speaking truth.
There are many who disagree (sometimes quite violently and with personal attacks and foul language!). But there are those who agree, but want to tiptoe around and not offend anyone. They urge me to “be more Christlike.”
And I smile and say, “Yes, that is EXACTLY what I’m trying to do.”
And others wonder why I do what I do and how I can be so bold and blunt (I like to use the word “clear” )
And I will tell you — it is because I love people. I love babies. I love mommies and daddies. I love families. And I KNOW that these truths will lead them to happiness now and in the long run. And I want that for everyone.
Some may say I have to agree with them to love them. I disagree. Christ loved and loves everyone–even if He disagrees with their behavior. I strive for the same.
So I shall continue to try to be like Christ — loving, compassionate, kind to those who are different–AND bold, clear in declaring truth, urging to repentance and encouraging obedience to God’s laws.
So continue to encourage me to “be more Christlike.” And I will continue to try:)

Make things happen

In my morning devotional today, I was studying the prophet’s talk, “A Plea to My Sisters.” LOVE this part: (quoting Pres. Packer) “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.” Then Pres. Nelson continued: “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.” AMEN AND AMEN AND AMEN. I work with so many incredible women (and men!) who are courageous and MAKE THINGS HAPPEN. Bravo to all of you!!!!

“Spin”

“Spin” – today’s musings are on “spin” or “hype.” Lately I keep encountering this. So our cruiseline just sent us a message, “To enhance our customer’s experience” they announced the cruise will be shorter and one day-trip shorter. How does that “enhance” my experience exactly? They haven’t responded. Yesterday my publisher was telling me my book will not be published until NEXT Christmas and that was to “maximize sales .” Baloney. It was because the illustrator didn’t get his work done fast enough. One of our contractors reported they had “strategized on XXX” – actually, no . . . they only answered one question I asked them. With the word “no.” 
Now I am a plain-spoken, sometimes blunt, usually clear-speaking person. I really dislike “spin.” Just OWN it. Just say, “Yeah, we had problems with scheduling that we have to fix.” Just TELL TRUTH – “the illustrator didn’t complete his work in time for a Christmas release schedule.” 
Whenever I read spin or hype, I think, “Do you think I’m stupid? Do you think I don’t understand exactly what’s going on? Don’t patronize me or try to pretend it’s for MY benefit when in fact, you’re just covering your backside.”
My BS-o-meter has been going off WAY too much lately . And I haven’t even talked about mass media or politics. Don’t even get me started on THAT one.
Just speak truth. Just own your mistakes or problems. Just lay it out there.
Much appreciated!

What did you DO about it?

Only read this if you dare  . Today I was thinking about the profound shift in our society that has occurred. I give a lecture where I talk about the impact of apathy and fear on people and how it silences them. I have been astounded in watching this in action in society.
When I was a girl, life was valued–ALL life. Fast forward to today – and this change is breathtakingly painful. Bit by bit our society has moved to the point now where not only are the unborn considered disposable, but women celebrate and defend vigorously the killing of babies. Laws are passed allowing us to kill babies right up until birth. As if taking a breath is the only thing that makes you human. . . 
And it doesn’t stop there. The sick and elderly are considered inconvenient as well. So we hear now of the terminally ill not being treated because they’re going to die anyway.
And it reaches our youth where suicide is rampant. Social media is being used to encourage our youth to kill themselves.
And then we look to war . . . our military presence is global. Wars continue throughout the world unabated.
Bottom line – we as a world society no longer value life to the degree we once did.
And what about us? What about all the people out there who believe in life, who believe in peace, who believe in caring for the vulnerable. What about us?
Oh there’s a lot of hand-wringing and complaining to be sure. . . a whole lot of that.
But what are we DOING about it all?? 
Make no mistake — this culture of death that is covering our planet like the black plague is growing and flourishing because GOOD PEOPLE ARE STAYING SILENT.
GOOD PEOPLE have decided that they’re busy.
GOOD PEOPLE have decided they don’t want to offend anyone.
GOOD PEOPE have decided that it’s too scary to say or do anything about it.
GOOD PEOPLE have decided they don’t know what to do so they do nothing.
GOOD PEOPLE have decided to just focus on their family or their church and turn a blind eye to everything outside of that.
GOOD PEOPLE have decided they don’t have enough time, enough money, or enough skills to make a difference.
GOOD PEOPLE have decided that it’s too hard, it’s too late, it’s just too much.
GOOD PEOPLE HAVE DECIDED TO LET DEATH TAKE OVER OUR PLANET.
But there are a few glimmers of light. A few champions out there who refuse to give up or give in.
God bless the champions for life.
Who do you choose to be? What do you choose to do?
Future generations will look to each of us and ask, “What did you DO about it?”

The Impact of Words

I believe words are powerful. In fact, I believe that all of Creation was done by the Word of God and by the power of the words He used. So one day I was pondering on the power of good words in our lives – words like “I love you”, “I respect you”, “I’m grateful”, “Sorry”, “I forgive you” and simple words like beauty, joy, kindness, peace. 
Then I thought, “If GOOD words have such power, what about bad words?” I realized that I had three words in my life that were crude. I would use one and say, “Well, I’m from Detroit so I’m a bit edgy in my vocabulary.” What a cop-out. I was choosing to allow these bad words to have a negative power and influence in my life. I was spewing this negative power to others. I no longer wanted to use words with negative power in my life.
So I tried to stop. Words #2 and #3 were pretty easy. I think I’ve only slipped once this year. But Word #1 (starts with “cr–” and rhymes with “trap”) was a persistent thing. I’d do a few days and slip. Then I’d go a week and slip again. I was shocked at how hard it was to STOP. I’m a very disciplined person and this threw me. I finally just decided that no matter how many times I would slip up, I’d start again.
It’s working!! I’ve stopped thinking of it. I RARELY slip up. And a strange thing has happened. That word no longer has POWER over me. And it no longer has power in my life.
So now I focus on the GOOD words. Adding them in liberally to my life. Adding POWER FOR GOOD into my life.
It’s a powerful experience on the impact of simple WORDS.
So for today, I choose to use those words and declare to the world–“You are beautiful!” “I love each and every one of you with all my heart.” “I’m SO grateful you are in my life!” And the most powerful words I know–“Jesus Christ lives and He is the Son of God and I love Him dearly and He loves you and me. You are my brother or sister and Heavenly Father is our Father. He created this earth for us and put us in families to learn love and truth and to return to Him.”
May these words reach your heart and fill your heart with light and love and power.

The Power of Women

Today I’ve been thinking about women. One day I was teaching Seminary (religious instruction for youth) and a visiting teenaged girl said, “I could never be a part of your church–they oppress and subjugate women.” Her friend next to her burst out laughing and said, “Wow, you know nothing about Sister Boyack!” (that’s me) I told her the following – “I’m serving on the City Council, I’m an attorney and I’ve published many books and speak all over the country. And I have created and lead several organizations. People ask where I learned how to do to all this — and I always say Church!” I explained that I learned how to lead an organization –at Church! I learned how to speak publicly (they started us as 3 year olds!) at Church! I learned how to express my opinions, learned how to make an argument and back it up with fact, learned how to analyze, learned how to work with a team, learned how to deal with people who disagreed with me, learned how to organize events and initiatives and on and on–all at CHURCH.
I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where we are taught that women are powerful — they are destined to become Heavenly Mothers (we believe God is married), and to create worlds without number. We are taught that we have a powerful gift to be co-creators with God, that our work matters, that we have a voice. We are given opportunities to lead organizations and people. We are taught that we are part of a worldwide effort to improve mankind. We are taught that our work as mothers and grandmothers and sisters is of immense worth.
Compare that to what the world/society teaches — they would teach me that I came from a monkey! They teach me to avoid motherhood through abortion. They teach me that my work is of no value unless I’m getting paid for it. They teach me that the men in my life are worthless. They teach me that being feminine is bad and weak.

You tell me . . . which message is EMPOWERING. Are you kidding me? My faith teaches me that I am eternal, of immense worth, have an incredible work to do, and that I am destined to be a God.
Oppressed? Subjugated? Downright laughable.

Empty Nester Limmerick

There once was a mother of four

All her children she did adore

The kids grew and moved out

And now without doubt

She’s happier than ever before!!!

(Love ya kids!)