Archives for 2007

Learning to Surrender

surrender.jpgIn terms of Spiritual Growth, surrendering our will to God can be challenging at times. As imperfect beings, not all of our desires are in alignment with God’s plan. Sometimes we wish for things that are not in the Highest Good for ourselves nor others who may be affected by our desire. Even Jesus Christ, himself, once asked the Father, “If it be thy Will, please let this cup pass from me.” But yet, He gave up his will, for something that was better for all involved. Abraham, also, was willing to sacrifice his son, the love and joy of his life, to follow God’s will.

How many times do we have situations where we want something so much and something different happens. We have certain expectations and when those expectations are not fulfilled, we feel let down, discouraged, unhappy, angry, frustrated, etc. But then time passes and somehow we get through the situation and as we look back at it months or even years down the road, it becomes very clear that the things that DID happen were part of the plan that you were meant to go through. For example, you realize that the “other” job you took rather than the one you really wanted was, in fact, the best way for you to go. Or you realize that the suffering you experienced from the death of a loved one really taught you things you couldn’t have learned any other way. Or perhaps, the person that offended you and hurt you so badly was really the catalyst for you to develop more forgiveness in your life.

In each of these challenges, God provides a way for something better to come of it as long as we turn to Him. But how many times do we allow ourselves to wallow in the mire of self-pity and despair? We blame God or even deny His existence as we say, “Surely, if there was a God, He wouldn’t have allowed for this thing to happen”. Well, that’s frankly not true because God has given each of us the gift of free agency, the freedom to make choices and sometimes the bad choices we make have negative consequences. The other important point here is that not all bad things that happen are a result of making bad choices. There are many innocent people who are affected by circumstances beyond their earthly control. For example, the child who was born with a disability, people who die from famines or earthly catastrophes. When we came to this life, there was a plan in place for us to go through certain experiences. I personally believe that we actually took part in creating our own unique plan for this life that is based on the kinds of things we wanted to experience. And perhaps you are thinking “Well, yes, but I never would have wanted to experience that.” What we need to understand is that our perspective often changes and perhaps we did realize it would be difficult, but we saw the greater good that would come out of it. For example, in order to appreciate happiness, we must experience unhappiness. In order to fully appreciate the light, we must experience the darkness and so it goes, “There must needs be opposition in all things”. Another example are the times we struggle and struggle for the things we desire and then finally, we accomplish it. If you were to compare your feelings of how you felt after the intense struggle with having that thing given to you with no effort on your part, in which situation would you feel greater bliss and happiness? Obviously, the one where you had previously experienced the struggle. God knows this and as we helped to plan our Earth lives, I believe that we understood this as well.

Once we understand that everything happens for a reason, that there are no coincidences in life and that there is always a silver lining in all experiences IF we turn back to God, then we can handle the challenging experiences a lot easier because we see things from a Higher perspective. Surrendering our will to God doesn’t mean we give up our goals and desires. In contrast, we need to have a clear picture of what we truly want. That’s how we are guided in our life. We follow our true desires and what resonates with us deep down. But how do we know when to go for it and when we need to surrender? Thats a question I have often pondered. For me, I think about in this way. We are the creators of our reality. We decide the ultimate goal of what we want and then we take that and give it to God. We say, “This is our desire” and then we let God handle “the how”. Sometimes we have expectations as to how it is supposed to happen. But when we understand that is our job to form the vision and it is God’s job to figure out the details so to speak. Sometimes we get so caught up in “how” it is supposed to happen that we end up worrying and then we are defeating the purpose of even having the goal. We need to completely release the expectations of “how” and realize that God knows the best way to handle it in a way that is for the Highest Good of all involved.

The idea of surrender also applies to the ultimate goal or vision that we have because there are many times that we don’t get that ultimate goal even though we have done everything we can think of. But again, we must remember that God’s perspective is different. For example, perhaps we desire a particular job because we think that job will give us a feeling of empowerment and bring greater happiness. But God sees it a bit differently. He sees that we desire a feeling of greater empowerment and happiness in our work and He knows that that the specific job we think we want actually would not provide the deeper feeling that we desire. So, something completely different and unexpected happens. Perhaps you get laid off or you have to move suddenly. Then, something else comes up that is so much better for you in the long run. And then we realize that God really did know what He was doing.

The key here is how we approach these challenging situations. Instead of asking the question, “Why Me?”, perhaps we can ask a better question, such as “What would Thou have me learn from this experience?” or What is the best thing for me to do about this?” The latter will always lead to greater growth whereas the former will only attract more of the same negative experiences.

Realizing Our Full Potential

me.jpgBecoming all that we can be is a subject I have thought a lot about throughout my life. How many times do we limit ourselves by telling ourselves that we can’t do something because we don’t have the talent, money, time or whatever? Yet, deep inside us, there is this feeling that we can’t let go of. It tugs at our heart strings saying, “You know you want it… wouldn’t it be nice to experience that? It could be a major undertaking such as trying out for the Olympics or  it could be something as simple as learning a new skill. Why do people limit themselves and tell themselves that they can’t do something? I’ve heard the quote, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right”… It’s like we have the little devil and the little angel on each of our shoulders battling it out and we have to choose which one we are going to follow.

Our society is very left brained (or logically) oriented. The left brain is important, however, it can be detrimental if we only rely on that part of us to make decisions. Decisions need to also include our heart… or gut feeling… and perhaps to your logical mind, it doesn’t make sense. Perhaps you don’t have the money right now to do that thing. Perhaps there is no possible way (to your logical mind), but you know… there is always a way, if your desire is strong enough and you believe. Yes, it is true that you might have to take a few steps in the dark, but that is what faith is all about. How can we really grow unless we have those experiences and opportunities that teach us how to trust completely in God that he will show us the way.

I have had one of those feelings for a long time to sing with an A Cappella Group. But I kept putting it off year after year because I was too busy with work and everything else going on in my life. Then finally in Feb 2006, I had enough and I told that little devil where to go 🙂 … and I started my own group. Its been a lot of work and there have been a lot of changes, but I’m still doing the group today and it has brought me so much joy in my life. This picture was taken of me right at the BYU A Cappella Jam in April.

If Jesus Came to Your Home

JesusKnocking1.jpgI love this poem. The author is unknown, but it has a wonderful message. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be the kind of person at all times that we would be if Jesus was with us?

If Jesus came to your home
to spend a day or two —
If He came unexpectedly,
I wonder what you’d do.

Oh, I know you’d give your nicest room
to such an honored Guest,
And all the food you’d serve Him
would be the very best,
And you would keep assuring Him
you’re glad to have Him there —
That serving Him in your home
is joy beyond compare.

But when you see Him coming
would you meet Him at the door
With arms outstretched in welcome
to your Heavenly Visitor?

Or would you have to change your clothes
before you let Him in,
Or hide some magazines,
and put the Bible where they’d been?

Would you turn off the radio
and hope He hadn’t heard,
And wish you hadn’t uttered
that last, loud, hasty word?

Would you hide your worldly music
and put some hymn books out?
Could you let Jesus walk right in,
or would you rush about?

And I wonder — if the Savior
spent a day or two with you,
Would you go right on doing
the things you always do?

Would you go right on saying
the things you always say?
Would life for you continue
as it does from day to day?

Would your family conversation
keep its usual pace,
And would you find it hard each meal
to say table grace?

Would you sing the songs you always sing,
and read the books you read,
And let Him know the things
on which your mind and spirit feed?

Would you take Jesus with you
everywhere you planned to go,
Or would you, maybe, change your plans
for just a day or so?

Would you be glad to have Him
meet your very closest friends,
Or would you hope they stay away
until His visit ends?

Would you be glad to have Him
stay forever on and on,
Or would you sigh with great relief
when He at last was gone?

It might be interesting to know the things
that you would do,
If Jesus came in person to spend some time with you.

~Author Unknown~

A Visit From My Mother & Father


During the evening of August 27, I had a very special dream. Both of my parents had passed away previously within the past couple years. My dad passed away in August of ’05. He had Alzheimers and was in a rest home for about 5 years prior to that. His death was hard on my mom and about 6 months later, my mom got pneumonia, then got better, then got a stomach infection and passed away as well.

While I was sleeping my parents came to me in my dream. I need to clarify here that it was not a dream about my parents, it was a dream with my parents. For me, it was so real and first my dad appeared and if you were to know my dad, you’d know that he liked to joke around a lot. I had heard at one time that when people die, their hair and nails continue to grow. I don’t know how true this is, I had just heard
it. Anyway, when I saw my Dad, he had really long hair, probably down to his
waist. This was the craziest thing I had seen, especially since he was still
mostly bald on top. He looked like he had just stepped off the set of Pirates
of the
Caribbean… so the first words out of my mouth were “Dad, you
need to get a haircut”… I still don’t know for sure whether it was just my
imagination or whether my Dad thought he’d play a joke on me… I kind of suspect
the latter.

So, I was able to visit with him and then my mother came and I
visited with both of them together. We just talked. We hugged and although I
don’t remember all that was said, I do specifically remember them telling me
how much they loved me and how proud they were of me. They commented on aspects
of my life and how I had been progressing. But more than anything they said to
me, was the love that I felt when I was them in that dream. I woke up crying.
I knew that they had been watching over me and I know that they still are… The
feelings that I had were so real that it wouldn’t have been any more real if
they had been there in person. I was emotional that whole day. It was simply
amazing because afterwards, I kept telling myself “I didn’t know that Love
could feel so wonderful” Of course I knew I loved my parents, but the feeling I
felt was so overwhelmingly powerful that it made me wonder if this is how it
feels when we return home to our Heavenly Father. I feel so grateful to my
Heavenly Father that I was given this gift and it will always be something
special I remember the rest of my life. I feel like it helped me to understand
what love is all about…. and I know it was real. I know my parents visited me that night!

The Meaning of Dreams

dreams2.jpgWhile everyone dreams at night, some dreams are definitely more
meaningful than others. I have had a number of dreams that were
significant in some way, whether as dreams of comfort or even glimpses
into future events. While everyone’s dreams are different, I do believe that they are real in a way that perhaps we do not understand in our current reality. Sometimes dreams represent potential possibilities and sometimes they represent our fears and desires. Dreams are wonderful. They can reveal things about ourselves that perhaps we do not know. I’ll be sharing some dreams here in this blog and feel free to post your comments about what you think!

Overcoming Fear (Part 2 – The Ants)

Ants1.gifAs I mentioned before, I believe that fear
limits our spiritual progress. In the early part of July, I had gone to
Mt. Shasta (in Northern California) for a conference that was being
held there. I’ll post more info about Mt. Shasta later, but let me just
say that it is a very special place. Many people believe that this is
one of the most sacred mountains of the world. There are people that
visit this place from all over and there are many people who have had
encounters there with people from other dimensions and places from
within the earth. There is a city, called Telos, which exists about a
mile below the mountain and this city is inhabited by people who
originally came from the continent of Lemuria (thousands of years ago),
which existed in the Pacific ocean before it sank. According to the
stories, there were about 25,000 at the time who were able to escape
and many of them were able to relocate to below Mt Shasta and establish
the city, known as Telos. (Ok, I guess I’m getting off topic a bit, but
it’s really fascinating stuff).

Anyway, I was with a group of people (perhaps 50-60) and we were
doing a group meditation off one of the trails (Bunny Flats, I think)
and during that meditation, we were told to go within and connect with
our heart, etc. One of the other things that is important to learn is
to listen to the promptings, intuition, feelings, etc that come to us
from within. Too many times, we think that our answers have to come
from external sources (and many times they do), but we should also
confirm those with what we feel inside.

So, after the group meditation, everyone was told that the next
experience was a more personal one. Everyone was to separate and go to
wherever they were told to go. So, it was quite interesting to see 50+
people just spread out going off the paths to wherever they were told
to go. Many people had some neat experiences and I was one of those who
did, although I was not anticipating the kind of experience I was to
have. I really wanted to have a special experience there and I kept
asking, “Where should I go now?” and I would get answers to go this
rock, or to that tree or over that hill. I finally came to a place
where I felt I should stop and meditate and pray.

As I was sitting there praying, I noticed that there were some large
black ants crawling on me, and it was kind of bugging me because they
were interrupting my train of thought. It was at that moment that the
thought came to me, “Let the ants crawl on you”… I was shocked to get
an impression like that. Never, in my wildest dreams would I just let
ants crawl on me, if I could help it. But, I thought I should go with
that and follow that prompting. So, I just sat there and the ants
started to crawl on my legs, arms and hands. I thought that I would get
bit for sure, but they weren’t biting me. It was still hard to just let
them crawl on me. I had some ants crawl into my shirt sleeve and each
new area of unexplored territory they found seemed to get my heart
racing a little more. Then, I would relax and as the minutes passed, I
became more used to it. I’m not saying that I enjoyed it, just that the
fear would subside for a while and the fear would be replaced with
peace. For about 20-30 minutes, I allowed these ants to crawl all over
my body, simply trusting in God that I would not get bit. My fear
turned to peace and tears started to flow from my eyes as I gained a
greater appreciation and love for these little creatures. There were
probably 25 of them crawling all over my skin for that time period, and
yet, I did not get bit once. It is hard to describe, but the experience
was a transforming one for me and perhaps in some small way, reduced my
dependency on fear, replacing it with love.

Overcoming Fear


I recently read about an initiation
ceremony that was used anciently in Egypt to help people
reduce/eliminate fear. These Egyptians understood that Fear was a
barrier that prevented people from ascending into a higher
consciousness. So they spent many years training their students until
finally they came to one particular challenge to assess where there
students were at. This is what they did:

There was a small hole, just large enough to fit one person. Within
that hole was water and it was pitch black. The student was instructed
to swim down into the hole that was filled with water and find another
way out. That was all they were told. As the student swam straight
down, there were ledges that jutted into the column of water, so the
student had to carefully navigate himself/herself downwards. At about
20 feet, the wall on one side opened up and the student was able to
swim underneath it to a section that was lighted. So, as the student
enters this area, he/she starts to swim upward and that is when it
becomes apparent that there are many alligators within the pool of
water. However, because the student is about to run out of air at this
point, he/she has to go up in between the alligators in order to get
air. What the student doesn’t know is that all of the alligators were
already fed, so it is unlikely that the alligators would attack the
student. Regardless, it would be quite the “Fear Factor” adventure.
Then to top it off, the student is told that he/she failed because
there was a different exit point than the one they used. So, after more
training, the student enters the dark abyss again (knowing that there
are alligators) and find the opening at the bottom of the wall on the
other side, which is also pitch black and go up through that.

Although I doubt I’ll ever go through that kind of “overcoming fear”
adventure, I think the topic of overcoming fear is interesting and
important in our spiritual development. There are so many fears that we
have that can stifle our growth. They say the #1 fear of all people is
speaking in public, followed by death. But there are so many other
fears, such as fear of germs/diseases, fear of failure, fear of
rejection, fear of opening yourself up to someone and communicating
your true feelings, etc.

But rather than list all of the various kinds of fear, I would like
to point out an example that I like to think about. Remember when
Christ walked on the water? He wasn’t the only one who did. Peter also
walked on the water (at least for a little while) and then he sunk in
the water. And then Jesus asked Peter the question, “Why do you
fear?”…. So, it is apparent that it was the fear within Peter that
caused an abrupt halt to Peter’s miraculous feat. Although we would
expect Jesus, to be able to perform a miracles such as that, the fact
that Peter was able to do it is amazing because it helps me to
understand that I, too, have the capacity to perform miracles and fear
is the number one enemy that gets in the way of our spiritual
advancement. The Egyptians understood this and that is why I believe
they were so focused on helping people face their fears and then
overcome them. Christ was not fearful, even in the face of death… and
if we can even come a little closer to overcoming more of our own
fears, we will become more like Christ and only accelerate our
spiritual growth. In the next blog post, I’m going to share an
experience I had that deal with facing my own fears.

Knowing Truth


I often wonder about how people come to a
knowledge as to what is true and what isn’t. It seems like much of what
is considered true is simply based on the general (or perceived)
consensus as to what is true. For example, if the majority of any group
of people believe a certain way, it becomes an accepted belief held by
the majority of people. But, history has proven, time and time again,
that an accepted belief system held by the majority of people does not
guarantee truth. In Christopher Columbus’ time, the accepted theory was
that the Earth was flat. We look back and think, “yeah, that obviously
wasn’t true”, but the fact was at the time, the majority of the people
did believe that. So, here you have someone who comes and challenges an
accepted belief, and says, “No, the Earth really is round”… and to me I
am in awe of people who seek and find truth, despite the fact that the
majority are holding onto a different (and incorrect) belief system.

It takes guts to stand up for truth when you are in the minority.
Oftentimes, that one person is ridiculed as a fanatic, whacko,
conspiracy theorist, nut job, etc. There are many names given to people
who question the accepted belief systems of society. But it seems to me
that you would also have to apply those names to any inventor, any
person who instituted positive change, in other words, people who have
made a real difference in this world. Are they all lunatics too because
they didn’t “jump on the bandwagon”? These kinds of people say… “Hey,
there is a better way to how things are being done, and I am going to
find the way”… Then they search and with their searching, they discover
a better way than how things were being done before. These are true
seekers of truth.

But the question that I find myself asking is whether people are
accepting a certain belief system based on what the majority of people
believe to be true or do they accept truth based on what they know to
be true from within. I believe that we can all know the truth, if we
ask and we have a strong desire to find out. However, I think it is
important to not let our ability to “know truth” be dictated by the
likes of mainstream media or other people who may not be inspired. In
the Bible, it says, “Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be
opened unto you”. Is that really true? Do you really believe that you
can know truth simply by asking a question.

Perhaps you are a hard core “left brain” person who has to have
proof in order to believe. What I have found is that many times the
proof that you think you are seeking is actually a barrier to being
able to accept a truth that is not supported by the majority of the
people. The issue isn’t the proof because you can always find something
that seems to support the incorrect belief that you are holding on to.
The issue is the openness of your heart because if you open your heart
to God, then you allow truth to flow to you from within… You get to a
point where you just know. And that is the greatest proof you can have.

Try letting go of your left brain focus and allow your heart to open
up to what is really true. I believe that within the last 10-15 years,
people all over the world are “waking up” to the truth around them. The
lies that have been told to us for decades & even centuries are
starting to become unraveled. Truth is shining forth in a major way.
Accept and believe it because you have asked and you have that
“knowingness” from within.

Being vs. Doing


Perhaps its just me, but it seems like
modern society places an emphasis on doing too many things ….. and by
doing all these things, we are somehow better because we were able to
accomplish more. We are bombarded with things we need to do. But no
matter how much stuff we do, we always have some stuff that doesn’t get
done. So, we give ourselves a guilt treatment and then we start the
next day, doing the same things over and over again. Some days we get a
lot done, so we give ourselves a pat on the back. But despite having
all the latest gadgets, such as palmpilots, Franklin planners, Priority
lists, etc., we somehow end up feeling stressed, overwhelmed,
overworked and unhappy. Is that what our life has become? I, for one,
believe that the emphasis on doing so many things is overrated. We’ve
got to have balance in our lives and we can’t get caught up in the
misconception that “doing” a large number of tasks is equal to success
or happiness. What I would like to propose is that in all of our doing
that we consider what we are becoming… Of course, I am not suggesting
that we stop doing things. We have to do things, but based on my
experience, I have found myself many times trying to do “too many”
things and thereby creating imbalance in my life. There is a time and
place for everything… But one thing that helped me to realize this is
what is commonly referred to as the “BeAttitudes” in the Bible…. Notice
here that they are not referred to as the “DoAttitudes”… The “Be” is
there for a reason. I will say it again, “In all of our doing, we must
consider what we are becoming”… Is it possible to do good things but
not become a better person from it?… Of course, it is…. for example,
how many times do we go help someone, but we do it out of obligation
and inside our heads, we are really wishing we weren’t there… as
opposed to having a sincere desire to help that person.

If our focus is on becoming a person who would help someone out of
pure Christ-like love, then the “doing” is automatic… and how much you
“got done” is irrelevant because your actions stemmed from the
Christ-like person you have become… So, when Christ talks about
“Blessed are the poor in Spirit, blessed are the meek, blessed are the
merciful,” He is talking about the type of people we can become, if we
choose. Perhaps this can help to ease our minds as we go through the
struggles of trying to get our long list of tasks completed.