Sunday, March 1, 2015

Power vs. Control

I think I write a lot about how my life feels out of control.

And I'm always looking for the next "gimmick" that will help me get control of things.

It could be new chore charts for the kids, a new diet, a new cleaning schedule, etc.

It's my way of trying to insert some control into my life.

These gimmicks usually don't last a long time.

The desire for control can cause frustration because there are actually very few things that I have control over.

I can't control the weather, the bad stuff in the world, or even the choices my children make.

This can then lead me to look for an escape that gives me a kind of counterfeit control.

Computer games, watching movies all day, social media.

I can control what I watch or I can control my time as I choose.

But, what I really need is not control - it is power.

The purpose of life is not to control all things.

It is to learn to be obedient.
"And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them."  Abraham 3:25
When I am obedient, God blesses and prospers meMosiah 2:22

He gives me power to accomplish what He wants me to do. 1 Nephi 3:7

Power comes when I choose the right.

 It is a gift from God.
 "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Tim. 1:5
He wants to give me power.

His power.

And through that power I can accomplish amazing things.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Without Sin

The visiting teaching message this month was on Christ's attribute: without sin.

I loved Elder Christofferson's quote that Christ not only knows and feels everything that we're going through - but that He overcame them.
"We can turn to Him...because He understands. He understands the struggle, and He also understands how to win the struggle."
 I also loved the question at the end - What is the difference between perfect and pure?

When I thought of that question I immediately pictured a glass of water.

That water may look perfect and clean, but most likely there are some impurities in it.

But I can add things to that water to purify it.

By using the Atonement in my life each day I can purify my life until I become perfect like the Savior sees me.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Good Part

My life is crazy.

It has been for a long time.

Recently, it got more crazy when I started working outside of my home.

I am a focused person and I do great when I have one thing that I can focus on completely.

For the last 18 years or so, my main focus has been on my family.

But, throw a new job in there and all of a sudden I have to focus on that, too.

So, I did what I always do when I'm feeling overwhelmed.

I made a list.

I listed all of the things that I need, or want, or have to do.

Things like: make dinner, family prayer, visit neighbors, read scriptures, church calling, work, volunteer, read books, clean the house, work in the yard, etc.

I filled an entire page with tasks.

Then, I numbered them according to importance in my life.

I came up with about 7 different levels of priorities.

It has been life changing in helping me focus on what is important.

I found that my natural instinct, when I'm overwhelmed, is to start focusing on things that are lower on my priority list - like decorating my house, or landscaping my yard.

And that even though my job is a high time commitment, it's not in my top levels of priorities.

Then there are those times when I'm having a good day and feel like I have a handle on things. I can go to my list to know what I need to focus on next.

My number one priority category has only  3 tasks in it:

Listen to the Spirit
Read/Study my scriptures
Personal prayers

That's it.

When I start to feel overwhelmed with all that I need to be doing, I stop and focus on that top priority. 

Have I prayed today? Have I studied my scriptures? Am I trying to feel the Spirit?

If I can answer yes to those three questions, then I'm good.

This scripture (Luke 10:42) has always stood out to me:
 41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Those three things are the good part that I choose. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Scripture Study

Since the first of the year, I have been following along a reading program for the Book of Mormon.

It gives reading assignments each day, a question to ponder, and a talk to go with the reading.

I have really enjoyed studying my scriptures this way.

I even bought a special notebook to write down my thoughts and keep notes in.

If a particular thought stands out to me then I've been hanging it on the wall next to my bed.

It's fun to watch my kids notice when I've put up something new.

And sometimes they'll even ask me what it means and we can have a good discussion about it.

A quote I've read recently from Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Our motives and thoughts ultimately influence our actions." Oct 2006

I have noticed that as I focus on my daily study, I am beginning to spend a lot less time on my phone scrolling through various social media sites.

It really is true that if you fill your life with the important stuff first then the unimportant stuff begins to fall away.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Teaching Sunday School

Teaching Sunday School has been one of my favorite callings in church.

Here is the approach that I take:

I start by reading over the lesson entirely and somewhat quickly.

Then I read the scriptures covered in the lesson throughout the week.

Saturday night is when I usually sit down and make an outline of the lesson and scriptures I want to share.

I pray a lot that the Lord will guide me in what I need to focus on.

In my prayers, I share with the Lord all that I have learned during my study that week and ask Him to help me be able to know what is needed for the class members.

And I pray for those who I will be teaching; that the Spirit will recognize their needs and use me to help them.

A few months ago I got a new calling in church.

And I've really missed the whole process that went with teaching.

Then I had an idea.

What if I lived my life the way I taught Sunday School?

I can study my scriptures each week with a focus in mind.

I can ask the Lord to use me to help those around me.

I can spend at least one day a week in earnest prayer pleading for those that I might be able to influence and hoping they feel the Lord's love for them through my words.

I don't have a regular class at church anymore, but I have a family that I am with even more.

They could use the same help and teachings from the Lord.

And I can have the feelings that I had while teaching Sunday School: knowing that I am being an instrument in the Lord's hands.

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Tetris. Solitaire. Candy Crush. Temple Run. Dots. Sudoku.

Computer games. (Not just for computers anymore.)

I can't have them on my computer or phone.

I'm one of those people with an addictive personality.

I talk to my kids about it, because I'm pretty sure I've passed the gene down to them.

Because of this personality, it's just better to not even get started on some things.

When I do start something, it's hard to stop.

Although this is embarrassing and overly dramatic, I've been feeling that I need to share some of my thought process:

It's not that big of a deal.
Everyone else can do this and they don't seem to have a problem controlling it.
This is great.
I feel like I'm doing good this time.
It's not a problem.

I should probably stop.
I've got a lot of things I should take care of.

It progresses to:
Why can't I stop.
Everything is in a daze.
I just want to go back to doing that.
When I'm doing that I don't have to worry about anything else.
My family is keeping me from doing what I want and what makes me happy.
Could everyone just leave me alone for a while.

And then:
Why does my life seem to be falling apart.
I just need my own space.
But, I don't want to stop.
Then I have to face all of this other stress in my life.

Until finally:
Why can't I stop this.
I know it is hurting me and my family.
I need help.

The image in my mind is falling down a well.

For me, cold turkey is the only way to go.

I have to hit the uninstall button.

And that's when:

Life is so much brighter.
I love my family.
I can do hard things.

But, why am I able to stop, ever?

Faith saves me.

Not just believing.

I can't stop myself from falling.

I hit a hard brick floor and it hurts.

Bricks of personal prayer, scripture study, etc.

It is the bricks that stop me from falling forever.

Jesus Christ is my stonemason.

HE is the light at the bottom of my well.

And the light at the top that I seek.

HE helps me build the bricks into what I need.

Sometimes that is a floor to stop me.

Or a wall to protect me.

And eventually, if I keep adding to the bricks, I know that HE will build for me a mansion in heaven.

Friday, November 28, 2014


These are my thankful posts that I did on Facebook. I'm re-posting it here on my blog to help me remember.

November 1 at 9:15pm ·
I'm going to try and post something I'm thankful for every day until Thanksgiving. Because, I need to have more gratitude in my life.

First, I am most thankful for my Savior, Jesus Christ and the Atonement.

November 2 at 6:56pm ·
I am so thankful to be married to someone who believes in me more than I believe in myself. Who loves me the most and helps me be a better person. It doesn't hurt that he's super hot!

November 3 at 9:40pm ·
I am so thankful for my kids who drive me crazy, make me laugh, bring me to tears and my knees, and fill my life with so much love and joy.

November 4 at 9:17pm ·
I am thankful for a living prophet who speaks God's word to the world today, just as in ancient times. And for apostles who direct Christ's church on the earth. 

November 5 at 6:47pm · 

I am so thankful for my home. That I have a roof over my head, and heat for cold nights. And indoor plumbing and a refrigerator, stove, oven, sink. It is a true blessing.

November 6 at 8:33pm ·
I am so thankful for my body. I never want to take for granted the fact that I'm able to walk, run, exercise. And that having this particular body of mine allowed me to birth 7 children!

November 7 at 7:26pm ·

I am so thankful for my parents who raised me with love and taught me correct principles. They are perfect examples of focusing their lives on doing good and serving others. — with Sandra Banks and Douglas Banks.

November 8 at 7:54pm ·
I am so thankful for friends. The neighborhood where I grew up and learned to play and high school where I was a teenager (enough said). College roommates who helped me define myself and mission friends who taught me to serve. And no matter how many times I have moved or the numerous places I have lived there have always been amazing friends who have walked with me on this difficult/joyful path of life. Thank you!

November 9 at 5:23pm · 
In the same theme as yesterday, I am so thankful for my first friends - my siblings. Even though we had our moments growing up, and we now all live pretty far away from each other, and we aren't the best at keeping in touch, I know that my family would do anything for me. Feeling the love from and for Jeff, Pam, Jared, Christie, Katrina.

November 10 at 6:39pm · 

I am thankful for my husband's family which is also now mine. My in-laws raised an amazing son! (as well as 6 more sons and a daughter) I love that I get to carry their name and teach my children what it means to be a Cluff.

November 11 at 7:35pm ·
I am so thankful to live in the United States of America. I am thankful for the many freedoms that I enjoy. And I am thankful for all of those who have served to help protect these freedoms. 

November 12 at 8:59pm ·
I am so thankful for this small, quirky, awesome town that I live in. Even though it is below freezing most of the winter, and winter lasts until May, it is home. I love the mix of college students, young families, senior citizens, college professors, and farmers. I love the schools my kids go to and how I can drive the whole town (in traffic) in less than 20 min.

November 13 at 8:50pm · 
I am so thankful that my husband has a job that supports our family. This hasn't always been the case and I do not want to take for granted the fact that he works so hard for our not so little family in a job that is not always the easiest.

November 14 at 8:59pm · 
I am so thankful for weather. The different seasons; thunderstorms; blizzards; big puffy clouds; humidity; below freezing; radars; cold fronts, warm fronts, occluded fronts; the color of the sky before a big storm; the slight warm-up before the snow. Everything about it!

November 15 at 11:32pm · 
I am thankful for curry. The end.

November 16 at 8:11pm · 
I am so thankful that I can read the words of God in the scriptures. I am thankful for the Old Testament with the many stories and warnings of faith. I am thankful for the New Testament and the words and life of Jesus Christ and his apostles. I am thankful for the Book of Mormon which also testifies of Christ. I am thankful for the Doctrine & Covenants which has latter-day revelation from God. Reading the scriptures is when God talks to me.

November 17 at 9:38pm · 
I am thankful for teachers. They sacrifice so much to do something that they love for people that they learn to love. My kids have had such fabulous school teachers. And I love that I still remember my teachers and lessons taught to me in elementary school on up. And I'm thankful when church teachers prepare in such a way that I can continue to ponder their words during an entire week.

November 18 at 7:19pm · 
I am thankful that I have a car to drive around. And that it works more often than not. And that it fits my large family. I would love to be a public transportation person, but my town is not built that way. And grocery shopping would have to be completely different without a car.

November 19 at 7:11pm · 
I am thankful for the temple and the covenants that I have made there. I am thankful that 20 years ago today, my husband and I were married and sealed together in the Washington D.C. temple. And not just for time, but also for eternity. And I'm thankful that as I do my best to keep those covenants and through Jesus Christ, the family that we have created together will also be together forever.

November 20 at 5:06pm · 
I am so thankful for music. It has a way of reaching my soul like almost nothing else. I love all kinds. It sometimes (always) makes for a very loud house with a cello, trumpet, piano, synthesizer, pandora, etc. playing. But I'm thankful for the joyful noise that music is.

November 21 at 3:24pm ·
I am thankful for time. Two scriptures come to mind when I think of this. Ecclesiates 3:1-8 "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven...";

Alma 34:32 "For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors."
Even though it seems like I don't have enough some days and other times I want it to speed up, I am thankful that I have time.

November 22 at 10:15pm ·
I am thankful for my ward/congregation family. I am thankful for the mix of personalities that come together for a common cause. And even end up getting along and loving each other. I'm surrounded by fabulous people.

November 23 at 1:47pm · 
I am thankful for answered prayers. Even when they are not answered the way I expect or want. I am thankful that God hears me and knows what I need.

November 24 at 8:34pm · 

I am thankful for our chickens. I love being able to walk past the egg section of the grocery store and not have to fill it with cartons and cartons. I was a little skeptical at first (being the city girl that I am) but I love gathering eggs every day and feeding them to my family.

November 25 at 6:47am · 

I am thankful for my education. I was never a serious student and I never got a "career" from going to college. But, I'm thankful I had the opportunity to learn and get wide experiences that have expanded who I am.

November 26 at 7:29pm · 
I am thankful to live close enough to my oldest's university that she can be home for Thanksgiving and help me make pies! — with Kensington Cluff.

November 27 at 7:44am · 
Happy Thanksgiving!