Thank you, Mrs. Peale

Thank you, Mrs. Norman Vincent Peale. Because of your faith in your husband’s message, you took his manuscript to a publisher who saw its merit. Because you didn’t give up when your husband was ready to throw in the towel, millions have read and benefitted from The Power of Positive Thinking.


Thank you, Mrs. Norman Vincent Peale. Because of your faith in your husband’s message, you took his manuscript to a publisher who saw its merit. Because you didn’t give up when your husband was ready to throw in the towel, millions have read and benefitted from The Power of Positive Thinking.

Getting this manuscript to a publisher was no simple feat. After having it rejected several times, Dr. Peale tossed it in the trashcan and forbade his wife to remove it. She was in a dilemma. Not wanting to disrespect her husband’s wishes and yet knowing the power of his message, she decided to take the trashcan containing the discarded manuscript to another publisher. That one said YES, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The Power of Positive Thinking was first published in 1952 and continues to be a best seller. I’m fortunate enough to have a 1st edition on my bookshelf, and I refer to it quite often. When discussing the merits of cognitive psychology in my introductory class, I often quote Peale’s famous quote to, “Change your thoughts and you change your world.” That’s a lot easier said than done sometimes, but I’d rather try it than wallow in miserable thoughts.

While I have been encouraged and uplifted by Dr. Peale’s words many ties, I’m just as impressed with his wife Ruth’s strength and personality. Without her determination, tenacity, and faith, this magnificent book might have never come to fruition. So often we hear, “You can’t,” or, “It’s already been done.” When we push through despite the naysayers and stumble a bit, there are always those who say, “The handwriting’s on the wall. It’s not happening for you!”

Don’t these people realize that people need encouragement? Everyone needs someone in his corner who will give hope and confidence, someone who will infuse him with courage. In Dr. Peale’s case, I think his wife had more faith in his work than he did. In an interview towards the end of her 101-year-old life, she said that she didn’t have as much doubt as he did. I loved reading that. It told me that even one of the positive thinkers of the 20th century sometimes faltered but with the support of someone who believed in him, Dr. Peale ultimately succeeded.

Perseverance and persistence are important. So are encouragement and support. Is there someone in your life whom you can infuse with courage (encourage) to JUST DO IT?

Yes and No

I’ve been pondering about why some people seem to delight in making disparaging remarks about other people’s religion, including mine, and wondering why in the name of heaven they do that. As my sweet mama would have said, it’s uncalled for. Does it bother me? Yes and no

There’s nothing like a brisk walk in the chilly, invigorating fall air to stimulate some deep thinking. For sure, not all of my thoughts were deep (Where did she get that cool jacket? What size turkey should I buy for Thanksgiving? I need to vacuum my car.), but some were.

I was thinking of how some people seem to delight in making disparaging remarks about other people’s religion, including mine, and wondering why in the name of heaven they do that. As my sweet mama would have said, it’s uncalled for. Does it bother me? Yes and no.

Yes because no one wants to be insulted, and when one’s religious views are mocked, it’s hurtful. I’m not sure whether it’s because the person (me) identifies with the religion so much that attacking it seems like a personal affront or what.  But here’s the real reason for yes. It’s upsetting because “sweet is the peace the gospel brings,” and I’d like for everyone to feel that same sense of serenity and calm. So yes.

But no too. No because whether people join me in my belief that God is our Eternal Father and that Christ is His Son and the Savior of the world doesn’t change the truthfulness of it. I LOVE the writings of C.S. Lewis, and I’m copying something right out of Mere Christianity. “Perhaps we feel inclined to disagree with Him. But there is a difficulty about disagreeing with God. He is the source from which all of your reasoning power comes….When you are arguing against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on.” Gotta love that!

So yes and no. I was thinking yesterday of a verse in John that I recently discovered. Christ has just asked the twelve if they will go away, and Simon Peter answers, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” Exactly. Where else is there? Who else? What else?

Insight on the Beach

I’m teaching a lesson on prayer in a little while, and preparing for it has reminded me of the power and necessity of prayer. In the words of Marianne Williamson, prayer “gives inner peace in ways that neither intellectual understanding, credentials, money, sex, drugs, houses, clothes, nor any other gifts of the world can.”

We can pray about any and everything. If we have something to say, God is ready to listen. If we’re awake, then He’s awake. We are His children, and He’s always standing at the door (in a manner of speaking) ready to let us in. In fact, sometimes I think our desire to pray is the result of His call to prayer because there’s something He wants us to know. Our responsibility is to ask for guidance, inspiration, help, strength, or enlightenment and THEN LISTEN to what He has to say.

Recently, I was “laid low” by some remarks of one of my children. My heart was broken, and I was besieged by deep sadness and a literal aching in my chest. How could this have happened between us? How could she have said these things to and about me? For the first time, I realized how easy it is to take good relationships for granted. I went for a walk on the beach and had another talk with God. I didn’t have to get on my knees or use any fancy language. All I had to do is walk and talk silently. “Thank you. Help me, please. What am I not seeing? I need Thy wisdom and enlightenment, and I need it now.” Here’s what happened. Even as I was having this inner conversation, I thought, “She thinks ….” Yes, I could have thought it on my own, but I’m convinced that those words were sent right from God.

After my walk, I wrote my daughter and told her that if that’s what she thought, it was surely not the case. Soon, she replied and affirmed my suspicions. There’s more to the story than this, but we’re working our way back to each other. I’ve asked that Heavenly Father infuse this and all other situations in my life with His light and understanding. I’m listening, and I know He’ll make it clear.

One of the many blessings in my life is that my children also understand the power of prayer. I love being able to remind them to “pray about it,” regardless of what “it” might be. There’s nothing too little or too big that we can’t take it to our Maker in prayer. “Have you inquired of the Lord?” is another one of my favorite questions, and I love being able to ask it without any of them looking at me as if I’d flipped my lid.

 This post could go on and on, but I’m going to bring it to a close with part of a prayer that comes from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous: “Send me the right thought, word, or action. Show me what my next step should be. In times of doubt and indecision, please send Your inspiration and guidance.” Beautiful, huh? I’m just wondering why we don’t do it more often. But then, that’s a topic for another day.

Nourishment in Myrtle Beach

 

When I was a younger mother and had to miss church for some reason or another (sick child, traveling, etc.), I’d often lament aloud that I hated not going. My mother often said, “The church is not going to fall down without you if you miss today, Darling.” I knew that. What I was afraid of is that I would fall down without it. I still feel that way. I need spiritual nourishment just like I need physical sustenance.

 I spent part of the weekend in Myrtle Beach, and this morning was just as busy as the rest of the weekend. When I looked at the clock and realized that I only had 50 minutes to shower, dress, and drive to the chapel, I thought, “Hmmm. Maybe Elizabeth and I can just stay here and watch church on television. Or maybe there’s a local church that I can visit today.” But no, I decided to hustle so that I could be edified and uplifted among some of the people I love.

 I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, the experience was a virtual feast. From the time I walked through the side door and passed the Primary room, memories of a bygone era washed over me. In that very room, my three children had learned stories and songs about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I had served as a counselor in the organization. With a lump in my throat, I continued towards the chapel itself and found it full to capacity. While I was wondering where to sit, Sam, a friend from that earlier era, jumped up and pointed me to an empty seat by Teresa, another old friend.

 Everything about the meeting was memorable, and I especially enjoyed mingling with old friends and talking with some of them afterwards. Carol and Greg are expecting another granddaughter any day, Elder Servin is enjoying working in Myrtle Beach (he was recently in Camden), Eric is looking chipper, Patty is embarking on a new career, and Cora Lee’s little red haired granddaughter is adorable. Tiffany, my daughter-in-law’s sister, gave the opening prayer, and her husband offered the closing one. Afterwards, he joked that it was the only time he’d ever had the last word.

 After talking with Teresa about her college-aged sons, I scooted out the same way I had come in.  By then Primary had begun, and while the “cast of characters” has changed, the message is the same. I’m so thankful for the teachings and guidance that the LDS church gave to me and my children. And I’m also grateful for my fellow and sister saints. No matter where I go or what ward I visit, I know I can count on love and acceptance and unity within the church.  

 In the words of President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Unity is the hallmark of the true church of Christ. It is felt among our people throughout the world. As we are one, we are his.”

Do It Anyway

If you read the blog entitled “Guiding Word,” you know that some friends and I choose a word at the beginning of each year to serve as a guide for our thinking, feeling, and acting. If you haven’t read it, you should. Ha Ha. I’m feeling pretty upbeat this morning, perhaps because of the gift of extra morning time. Church begins at 12:30 for those of us in the Camden Ward this year, and generally speaking, my mind works better during the first part of the day.

But I digress. The purpose of this post is to talk about Christy’s word a few minutes: Courage. It’s something we all need a double dose of from time to time, and her post about it is so inspiring that I can’t stop thinking about it. Check it out at http://christypeake.blogspot.com.

Her post reminded me of a book entitled Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. Dr. Jeffers says that people see fear in the wrong way, and that it’s actually a green light to keep going. Trepidation is undeniably real, but we just need to push forward, to feel the fear and do it anyway. Sure, security and routine are safe, but can’t they be a little risky?

Jeffers believes that the killer fear is that you won’t be able to handle something, and she suggests practical ways to help you get to the point where you know you can handle anything that comes your way. You must practice positive thinking every single day until sooner or later the positivity you create will begin to seem more real.  

We all know this already, but there’s just something about Jeffers’ writing that makes you really take heed to what she’s saying. She says we need energizing everyday, and that just like eating breakfast energizes and fuels our body, reading inspirational quotes and books fuels our psyches. Take control of your mental inputs, Jeffers advises. Say things like, “I am a confident person in every situation.” Never be fearful of mistakes. Lighten up and be happy that you had the experience…that you tried.

Wouldn’t be awful to come to the end of your life and still be thinking coulda, shoulda, woulda.  From teaching Human Growth and Development, I’ve learned that the #1 regret of elderly people is that they DIDN’T give things a try, that they let their fears hold them back. By that time, it’s too late to make that call, start that business, write that article, or fly around the world. I don’t know about you, but I will not be one of those people who says on her death bed, “Sure wish I’d taken more chances.”

Jeffers offers a perfect example of how she worked through humans’ #1 fear, rejection.  These are her words lifted right from her website:  “It took many, many rejections before my first book, FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY, was finally accepted by a publisher. The worst rejection letter I ever got was that “Lady Di could be bicycling nude down the street giving this book away and nobody would read it.” Can you imagine being told that? I bet that publisher has regretted that snide comment hundreds of times. What if Jeffers had listened? What if she had given up? What if she had felt the fear and stopped?

I want to be more like Susan Jeffers and Christy Peake. I’m going to feel the fear and be courageous enough to do it anyway. What about you? As they say, life expands or contracts according to one’s courage.

Beach Day

  

Confession. Katherine, Elizabeth, and I didn’t go to church last Sunday, at least not in the traditional sense. Together at the beach on the day before school officially began for all of us on Monday, we decided to visit the strand itself. We told ourselves that we were going worship the Creator in one of His most beautiful and soul stirring “cathedrals,” the beach.

That’s what we did too. To assuage my conscience, I stuck two church magazines in my bag and read one of them cover to cover. As we traipsed along the boardwalk, Katherine suggested that we talk about how grateful we were for all of our many blessings, and right away we began enumerating them: the ocean, the sea birds, the sun, the pretty flowers along the sandy path, family, friends, sisterhood, jobs that we enjoy, energy to do our jobs, the laughter of children, health, the sound of music, their granny (my mother), laughter, and a long list of other things that we thought of. We also discussed how memory itself can be a blessing (depending on what you’re remembering), and we decided to store up the memories of our time together to take out and savor at a later time…when we were feeling stressed or sad.

After about an hour, I decided to go for a walk, and along the way I saw a couple of interesting sights that are still strong images in my mind. First, I spied a young pregnant woman wearing a white bikini. Yes, it was a bikini. What attracted my attention was her calm demeanor and the way she was sitting, almost in what I’d call a yoga position. Then she did the unthinkable. She lifted a cigarette to her lips and inhaled! Gee whiz. What was she thinking??? Doesn’t she realize that when she takes a little puff her baby does too? Feeling perturbed, I looked towards the ocean and saw another mother, this one middle aged. She was standing a few inches in the ocean holding the hand of her teenage son. As I got closer, I could see that he had some challenges, and her obvious love for him touched my heart.

Soon I turned back towards our chairs, and as I glanced to my right, I saw my niece Katherine. Walking briskly, she seemed so determined and intense that I almost hesitated to interrupt her. When I called her name, she turned to me with a relieved, grateful look and said, “Oh Aunt Jayne, I’ve been looking for you. I went walking to clear my mind, and I have no idea where I am.” She had asked two lifeguards and the cute Lemon Quench guy for help but was still “lost.” Finally, she’d prayed that she’d see me, and almost right away, she heard me call her name. Okay, I know some of you skeptics out there might say it was a lucky coincidence. Katherine and I know different.

Walking together, we spied Elizabeth calmly reading, unaware of the drama that had taken place. The three of us munched on Red Delicious apples and drank some cool, clear water as we chatted about the new beginnings all of us had in store the next day. Then reluctantly we packed up our stuff and left for home.  It’s not the way we usually spend our Sundays, but the three of us feel fine about it. More keenly aware of our blessings and of the power of prayer, we’re glad we spent our day at the beach cathedral.

A Different Sunday

Elizabeth and I had a neat experience yesterday, one that we’d have surely missed had we not been open to the universe and all that it offers. Or maybe we were just more in tune to the Spirit. After all, it was Sunday, and our hearts and minds were ready to soak up some spirituality. Our physical selves were ready too. Dressed up in our Sunday garb, including pearls and high heels, we headed out to church.

Elizabeth has to drive 20-something miles to church, and as pulled off the four lane road onto the secondary one, we were stopped in our tracks. Literally. The road was closed, and as we looked past the sign and down the road, we saw another roadblock. Since this is an unknown area for both of us, we didn’t know another way to get to the church so we decided to drive into Marion, park, and then confer about what to do next. She jumped out of the car and laughingly said, “Is this a sign?”

After considering this query for about half a second, I said, “Yes, I think it must be. Of  what, I’m not sure. But yes.”

She got in the car with me, and I drove into historic downtown Marion, a lovely little Southern town with lots of charm. Driving down Main Street, I spied the local Baptist church and felt drawn there. I’d been thinking about my mother a good bit lately, and somehow I felt like worshipping there would have pleased her.  “Are you game for a unique experience?” I asked Elizabeth. She was. I parked across the street beneath some of the prettiest green trees I’ve seen in a long time. Or maybe it just seemed that way because of the way the breeze was  gently moving the leaves.

As soon as we got into the education building, I looked through a huge glass window into a Sunday school class composed of older ladies. My heart stopped. They appeared to be about the age my mother would be if she were still on Earth, 80. They had their heads bowed as one of the circle said the closing prayer. One of them was wearing a pretty pink hat. Loved it!  As we walked towards the front of the sanctuary, I heard the organ playing the National Anthem, and I KNEW Elizabeth and I had come to the right place.

The service lasted an hour and a  half, and during that time, we heard several prayers, watched presentations to 2009 high school graduates, sang some hymns from my youth (including “Holy, Holy, Holy”), and listened to a thought provoking sermon based on the fourth chapter of James. We were treated to a special hymn, patriotic in nature, by the choir, and I recalled countless Sunday mornings when my sweet mama sang in her church choir.  I can’t speak for Elizabeth, but I loved it because I felt my mother’s presence.

A couple of weeks ago on the way home from New York, my friend Nancy shared many of the events leading up to and following her mother’s death a year ago, and she told me that another friend had told her that now she (Nancy) was an orphan. “I don’t feel like one. Do you?” No, I don’t. My mother still lives, just in another place.

Coincidentally (?), I’ve been re-reading Marianne Williamson’s A Return to Love, and one of the things she discusses is that death is not an end but a continuation. “Life goes on forever. It always was and always will be.” More on this later. For today, I just wanted to post something about yesterday’s experience at church with Elizabeth and Mama.

Following Brooke’s Example

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I just got in from church a few minutes ago, and I’m feeling high after getting my spiritual batteries recharged. From those of you who aren’t regular attendees of any church, you just don’t know what you’re missing. Where else can you go where most people are on their best behavior, kind and loving and imbued with the spirit? If you are a regular attendee and you don’t have that kind of experience, maybe you should investigate another church.  Or maybe you should look within yourself to see if therein lies the problem. But that’s a story for another day.

 Today I want to talk about my sweet, brave, beautiful little granddaughter whose courage affected her grandmother so deeply that today she (I) bore my testimony in church. It’s not as though I never do it, but it’s not something I do on a regular basis. Why? Because it’s a long walk to the front, because I figure everyone already knows what I have to say, because I’m not as deep or spiritual as others….the list goes on and on. All excuses, none very good.

 I LOVE Fast and Testimony Sunday because I get to hear about how others feel about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, the scriptures, Joseph Smith, prayer, and a host of other wonderful topics. I get to hear faith promoting stories and anecdotes from other people’s lives that boost my spirits and renew my resolve to be a better person. Hearing from fellow church members helps me feel closer to them and fosters a feeling of unity and fellowship. However, I know I should do more than listen. I should speak. It’s not right to always be a taker; one should be a sharer too.

 So today with memories of Brooke’s recent testimony in my heart, I followed her brave example and walked to the front. I won’t go into a lot of detail. Instead, I’m going to copy and paste some of what her mother Carrie wrote about this little 4 year old who bore her testimony last week for the first time. Although this is usually done on the first Sunday, their ward’s schedule was changed because of Ward Conference this week.

 Last week, Brooke looked up at her mother and told her that she wanted to go to the front to bear her testimony and asked her mother if she’d help her.  “I explained that if I helped her, it would be my testimony and not hers. We then talked about how a testimony consists of things we know and believe, and I then asked her what some of the things were that she believed. We discussed things like: Jesus dying for us, following the Prophet, loving our family, and loving Jesus. I helped her practice what she wanted to say, and then she made the long walk up to the front. Rich quickly looked down at me from the stand when he noticed her approaching; I mouthed to him that she wanted to do it, and that she was going to do it all by herself. Once it was her turn, Rich helped her get the stool out and get the microphone ready; he then sat down, leaving my courageous four year old to share her heartfelt testimony. From my vantage point, all I could see were her sweet curls, so unable to see her angelic face, I focused on her words. Brooke talked about things like keeping the commandments, following the Prophet, loving our family, and loving Jesus. As I intently listened, I thought about how proud I was of her, how proud I was of her bravery, her courage, and her strong, incredible spirit! My pride in her grew even more when she returned to her seat, looked up at me, and said, “Mama, that felt really good!”

 “I, at a loss of words, just looked down at my precious angel and smiled. Oh, how I hope and pray her love for Heavenly Father and Jesus continues! As a mother, I am determined to do all I can to help them truly love Heavenly Father and Jesus; I want them to do what is right throughout their life, not out of fear, but out of love! I want them to have the desire to do what is right as a way to show Heavenly Father and Jesus how much they love them! I work so hard to try to teach them all I can, but today Brooke taught me; she taught me about being courageous, and she taught me how important it is to be brave and stand up and tell everyone what you believe.”

 With thoughts of my valiant little granddaughter in mind, I bore my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and to the peace that comes from a sure knowledge of His redeeming sacrifice. Yes, I know things aren’t always “sweetness and light.” I know there is much suffering and that things sometimes happen that are unbelievably painful, things that leave you questioning, “WHY?” I also know that a strong testimony and prayer can  bring a peace not of this world.

 Thanks Brooke…for your courageous example. I’m hoping others will follow your lead and BE BRAVE.

One Brave Decision

I’m pretty psyched up about the Bible study of Esther that I’ve been attending, and although I’ve blogged about it on my other blog (http://evessisters.blogspot.com), I decided to put some thoughts on this site too. I’m still trying to figure out exactly how to use and manage my blogs because although I’m interested in seeing and applying Biblical principles in day-do-day life, I also want to include secular, regular thoughts about health, family, flowers, work, stress, exercise, travel, and so forth. Hence, two blogs, this one about family and friends and fudge and the other about spiritual applications. It’s likely there’ll be some overlap because of my interests, but still….

 

As I mentioned a week or so ago, I’ve been attending a Bible study on Esther, and for the last several days, I’ve been thinking about how her decision to go before the king changed not only her destiny but the destiny of her people. In verses 11-16 of the 4th chapter, a major transition takes place in a woman’s life that changes her life and those of others. Although she was afraid, Esther considered the words of Mordecai and realized that indeed perhaps she had “come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” Think about this: A major transition could come into your life too!!!

I like to picture Esther as she walks out of the women’s area into the king’s presence. At some point, she must have turned a corner and realized, perhaps trembling, that there was no turning back. She’s dressed in her royal robe, her queenly attire, and when Ahasuerus sees her standing in the court, he addresses her as Queen Esther. Queen Esther, not just plain old Esther. She’s put thought into her appearance, and her attention to detail does not go unnoticed by the king. He seems pleased to see her, extends his scepter, and asks for her request.

Esther faced the fear. Have you? Will you? Just think about it. You could very well be one brave decision away from the most important turn in your entire life path. Sometimes we have to square our shoulders, hold our heads high and march forward to see the king…or his equivalent. As the class was watching Beth Moore on DVD, I thought of my daughter Carrie and how courageous she has been at certain points in her life.

After graduating from college, she lived at home for only a short time and then moved to Georgetown BY HERSELF. She was teaching at an elementary school there, and while it made perfect sense to live in the town where she worked, it was hard for me to accept. Fear of what could happen to this young 23 year old stalked me day and night. I shuddered to think of her going home there alone after work. She didn’t even have any friends there at first, but as the weeks passed, she made friends and adjusted to her job.

After tasting independence for a season, Carrie decided it was time to find that special someone. What did she do? She moved farther away, this time to Charleston. With this move, she had a roommate, and that alleviated some of my anxiety. Still, it was a bigger area, more traffic, more crime…you get the picture. I was a nervous Nellie. I was the one who needed to take lessons from Esther, not Carrie.

I’m not sure of the timeline, but I think she’d been there less than two weeks when she met Rich, her future husband. Recently graduated from the University of Utah, he was now an officer in the Navy who had just reported to the Charleston Naval Base. They both found the Singles Ward in North Charleston and met at church. That was ten years ago. They’re now the busy parents of four active preschoolers, one a precious newborn, and it all happened because Carrie faced the fear and made one of the most important decisions in her life, one that will affect her and her progeny forever.

In the DVD portion of the Bible study, Beth Moore reminded us that no one in our lives is a greater deterrent to our destiny more than we are to ourselves. Like Esther and Carrie, you may be one important decision away from your destiny. It could be a life and death situation like Esther’s, a relocation decision like Carrie’s, or something as seemingly small as making a phone call, enrolling in a course, or starting a blog.

YOU are in charge of your destiny. What are some choices that you’ve already made that required courage? How did you do it? What were/are some of the ramifications of that decision? Off the top of my head, I can think of Anita’s decision to move to Oklahoma, Hayden’s to say YES to her dream, and Connie’s to start a blog. And you???