Wednesday World: What I learned about the Atonement from a gorilla

I know everyone is talking about the Cincinnati Zoo incident. I won’t retell it here or even weigh in on whether the outcome was right or wrong. However, I was thinking about how I would feel if it happened to me. What would I do if it was my kid? What would I do if it was me? 

Then the thought came to me that that kid is going to grow up with this thought: that gorilla died because of me. I’m alive because he died! Holy crap! That gorilla died for ME! Would I not want to honor the life of that gorilla by making the best of mine? 

In that way, the Savior gave His life for me and for you, collectively and individually. I love Him for this, and I owe Him my life. 

We all make decisions we regret. Or, we all suffer and ask why. 

“And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.

“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

“And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:10-12). 

Wednesday Wellness: 10 Ways to Avoid Emotional Eating

  1. Don’t eat when you’re bored.
  2. Don’t eat when you’re thirsty. Drink water. 
  3. Don’t eat when you’re distracted. Don’t munch while mindlessly staring at your phone. While I enjoy my popcorn while I watch a movie, I try to avoid thoughtless eating. Pay attention to what goes into your mouth and savor it. Some activities trigger eating. Pay attention when you get cravings whether you are actually hungry or if you are only eating because it’s what is expected. 
  4. Eat breakfast within an hour of waking up and eat healthy snacks throughout the day so you don’t get over hungry. The more hungry I get the more I think I will only be satisfied by a big juicy burger or chocolate!
  5. Don’t look for treats as your consolation for stress. In Candace Cameron Buré’s “Reshaping It All” she says she finds strength when she looks to God for comfort rather than food. That resonated with me. 
  6. Start each meal by filling half your plate with veggies and/or fruits, then add your whole grains and lean proteins. Add some legumes. These will keep you satisfied even between meals.  
  7. Be deliberate about when you will eat fun food and then have self control not to overeat them. Treats aren’t the enemy when eaten in moderation. 
  8. Recognize the natural flow of your day. In “The Power of Full Engagement” I learned how our day ebbs and flows in a 90-120 minute rhythm. If you catch yourself in a lull and it has been an hour or two since your last activity, it’s time to do something else before diving back into your work. Have a healthy snack, read something uplifting, move your body. Don’t just reach for something to stimulate you and then keep on plugging away. Honor your natural rhythms. Take a break. 
  9. When you find yourself having consistent cravings for treats, cut them out for a week. In the book “Parenting: A House United” Nickoleen Peck talks about exercising self-government when you feel like you are drawn to a luxury that you think you cannot live without. This would apply if you found you are watching too much tv or if you look at social media too often, or whatever your vice is. Quit it for a whole week to purge yourself of the craving so you can better moderate your consumption. 
  10. Substitute a craving for something healthy. Have some veggies, protein, herbal tea, water, exercise, read/listen to something uplifting, pray/call someone for support. 

How do you overcome emotional eating?

Wednesday Wellness: Body Image and the “In Between” Stage


“It looks like dough,” my sweet daughter observed about my belly fat while we snuggled in my bed this morning.  I don’t blame her.  It really does look like dough, especially when I’m kneading it in my hands like dough.  It isn’t the first time a child has paid me such a compliment.  I was once enlightened by my then six year old niece who looked up at me and said from her vantage point while pointing up at my chest in a figure eight motion, “aunt Jodi, you have big breasts.”  I’m sure it was easy to confuse them with mountains from her perspective (thank you, Shakira for that image.).

I was contemplating the weeks of training it will take to lose my dough belly, not really ready to dive in head first.  I feel like it is taking me longer to heal from this pregnancy, and exercising has left me a lot more sore than I remember getting after a workout.  It wouldn’t be so bad if my clothes actually fit, but buying a wardrobe for this stage would be like accepting it.

I have never been thin.  I probably will never be thin.  I honestly didn’t even know what it meant to exercise until I was almost 25.  Not even when I watched myself pack on fifty pounds on my mission.  I thought dieting would be the solution.  I know now that dieting is only half the solution, and 90% the problem if you’re not doing it right.  I have lost faith in diets, especially after studying their effects on self-efficacy and body image, never mind that they don’t work.  Never diet.  Ever.

This post is not about dieting.  It’s not even about exercising.  I plan to lose the weight, just like I did after my last pregnancy, with discipline and perseverance.  It feels good to sweat, and I can’t begin to describe the vigor of having a strong body, with energy and power to do things without straining myself!  That is why I do it.  I know I will never be thin, but being in shape just feels so right.

My body is a temple.  That is what we ought to know.  That is why we should fight for our health and cleanliness!  My body is a temple.  So why do I tell myself how much I hate it?  Why?

Even with all its flaws, my body is a temple.  It is perfect.  I am blessed to have this body with working limbs to lift by children, eyes that see (even if not perfectly), ears that hear (even after years of playing the drums and going to rock concerts), a nose that smells, and a mouth that tastes and chews amazing food (so excited about Thanksgiving tomorrow).

In this past General Conference, October 2013, Elder Nelson gave a stellar talk about how our choices shape our eternity.  He said this:

“My professional years as a medical doctor gave me a profound respect for the human body. Created by God as a gift to you, it is absolutely amazing! Think of your eyes that see, ears that hear, and fingers that feel all the wondrous things around you. Your brain lets you learn, think, and reason. Your heart pumps tirelessly day and night, almost without your awareness.

“Your body protects itself. Pain comes as a warning that something is wrong and needs attention. Infectious illnesses strike from time to time, and when they do, antibodies are formed that increase your resistance to subsequent infection.

“Your body repairs itself. Cuts and bruises heal. Broken bones can become strong once again. I have cited but a tiny sample of the many amazing God-given qualities of your body” (Decisions for Eternity).

I am determined never to hint to my children that I have poor body image.  I want them to never associate their value, their worthiness, their purpose for love, with their appearance.  When I compliment them on their appearance, I tell them they look clean and smart, or strong and healthy!  I want them to value those traits above any message the world may send about how they should look.  They are perfect!  They have a blank slate.  I will never tell them they have to earn my love (period) by how they look.  Not directly, nor indirectly by how I treat them, how I treat myself, what I say about food, or other people who are overweight.  I tell them treats, and even fast food, are “fun foods” to eat in moderation, and that too much candy will rot their teeth and feed the germs that make them sick.  I try to teach them that nutritious foods help make their bodies healthy and strong, but so do exercise and sleep! I am constantly hugging them and telling them I love them, and I’m trying to hold my tongue when I get impatient with them.

I ought to do the same for myself.

Elder Nelson continues:

“With your body being such a vital part of God’s eternal plan, it is little wonder that the Apostle Paul described it as a “temple of God.” Each time you look in the mirror, see your body as your temple. That truth—refreshed gratefully each day—can positively influence your decisions about how you will care for your body and how you will use it. And those decisions will determine your destiny. How could this be? Because your body is the temple for your spirit. And how you use your body affects your spirit. Some of the decisions that will determine your eternal destiny include:

•    How will you choose to care for and use your body?

•    What spiritual attributes will you choose to develop?”

With our bodies being so crucial to God’s eternal plan, it is also little wonder that the adversary wants so badly to diminish its value!  Don’t listen to that voice.  The Spirit of the Lord will never tell you you are ugly or fat, though He may entice you to want to change in positive ways.  The Spirit will never belittle you for how you look, or make you feel insecure because you had an encounter with someone who made you feel self-conscious about your appearance (p.s. no one can make you feel anything).  Allow the Spirit to guide how you should feel about yourself, your talents and skills, and all that you contribute because of who you are.

That’s what I have to keep telling myself.

Wednesday Willpower: Meal Planning for the Semester

My final semester of my undergraduate career is approaching.  I like to be as prepared as possible going in so I’m not scrambling.  I have been blessed to have great friends who have agreed to watch my kids for the day classes I am forced to take.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am for their kindness and generosity.  My heart is overflowing with gratitude.  I am not really sure how I will ever repay everyone, but I plan on hopefully giving back in little ways.

As part of my preparations I have generated a menu for the whole semester: part of January through most of May.  I have tried to include links or details for each of the recipes.  Enjoy!!

Click here to see an excel copy of my dinner menu for Spring 2013 semester.


P.S.  I know I haven’t been posting.  There’s just a lot going on right now with school, and homemaking and all that.  I will post every once in a while, but for now that’s the best I can do.  ❤

Wednesday Wellness: Commitment


I have not done very well over the last few weeks. The good news is, I didn’t gain weight! Still, I’m committed to keep recording my diet and exercise! It is a part of my life now. I’ve got it down to the point where it really is simple to record everything! The smart phone app has a scanner to scan bar codes on foods, which is super easy. I have another app called “MapMyRun” that keeps track of my fitness when I go outside.
I know it’s not for everyone, but for me, I have no excuse but to keep it up. Knowing what I know about health, I would be a fool to do anything less than manage a healthy diet and fitness routine. It’s not easy, but I am going to be accountable to this stewardship over my body and I hope to be faithful in that responsibility.
So, despite my weakness over the last few weeks, I must press on! If I am diligent over the next ten weeks, I will reach my goal weight! Just 10 weeks! That is doable! I will finally know what it feels like to be within a healthy BMI. Crazy!

Wednesday Words of Wisdom: Justice

Justice and mercy are not independent principles. Justice is merciful when you think about it. It would not be just to be tested on a subject you never learned or to be tried for a crime you did not commit. In God’s infinite wisdom and justice, He prepared a perfect plan for our progression and happiness. As part of that plan we experience tests and trials within the sphere of our capabilities that are designed to stretch us and refine us, and prepare us for celestial glory in the mansions of our loving Heavenly Father.


Alma and the sons of Mosiah being rebuked by an angel. Photo courtesy of

Alma was a prophet in the Book of Mormon who understood justice and mercy very well. He felt the saving grace of the great Mediator of all mankind when he was “snatched” from sin (Mosiah 27). But, he also stood by and witnessed the martyrdom at Ammonihah (Alma 14), and declared, “therefore this life became a probationary state, a time to prepare to meet God” (Alma 12:24).
I love in Alma 29 when he is contemplating the justice of God and says, “Oh that I were an angel…that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people! Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth” (Book of Mormon, Alma, Chapter 29). Wouldn’t it be great if we could all know and understand the gospel perfectly and be able to always act according to that knowledge?! Wouldn’t life be so much easier?
But Alma continues: “But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me.
I ought not to harrow up in my desires the firm decree of a just God, for I know that he granteth unto men according to their desire…For behold, the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore we see that the Lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true” (Book of Mormon, Alma, Chapter 29).
Heavenly Father has in His infinite justice and mercy granted that we be free agents in directing the course of our lives and have the freedom to act rather than be acted upon.
I have been thinking about this principle a lot lately. I’ve been noticing a trend and a temptation to place some people above others and ourselves and attribute some hierarchy of righteousness or worthiness. Like a popularity thing where some are inferior to others based on their maturity and knowledge. I find that almost laughable if only I weren’t prone to do it myself. I’ve only recently been learning how to not compare my weaknesses to someone else’s strengths. I still need more practice.
The point is we are all on the same journey here in mortality. We are all treading the same course here together. We are not ahead of nor behind one another, we’re just experiencing different things at different times. That is why no calling in the church is more important than the others and why a Bishop can later be called into the primary. I was once in Relief Society presidencies and chairman of committees. Now I teach the Young Women and it is a great calling! None of us are ever going to be perfect in this life. We all have something to learn from each other. In the end I think we will all need each other to really be saved.
When Alma says we will learn the gospel in our own language, I wonder if it would also include learning it in our own spiritual language as well. Bear with me here. What one person considers a laborious trial, someone else might chuckle at their naïveté. I suggest we are all naive in one way or another. Some people can at least acknowledge it. That’s what humility is, and what becoming like a child means: to acknowledge God’s hand in everything and to never counsel Him but to take counsel from Him. We each receive that counsel differently. Some people need to hear a voice of thunder. Others need only listen to that Still, Small Voice. All of us are one or the other at different times and situations in life. Perhaps we’ll hear it in the temple, or during scripture study, or while listening to a talk, or a favorite uplifting song. Or maybe we’ll hear His voice through the voices of our children telling us what they need, or teaching us by their example. Whatever it is, it will come in a way we will individually understand because the Lord knows us each so well, He will deliver it to us that way.
That’s why the gospel is so perfect. The Atonement is both universal and individual. While the Savior died and lives again for all mankind to be saved, He also did it so that you and I might experience His redeeming love on a personal level. Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions…I go to prepare a place for you…I will…receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3, also Doctrine and Covenants 98:18). I believe our Savior has prepared a place for everyone who heeds God’s counsel one way or another. You and I cannot judge what place that is or at what point in this eternal progression another is on.
It blows my mind when people label others or place other people into neat little categories like that is even possible. I learned in my personality class that we have a tendency to judge other people by attributing a personality characteristic to them rather than judge the situation they are in. For example, you see someone driving recklessly, cutting people off and speeding. What do you think of that person? Most people would have special names to call them, or they would say he is a careless driver. How many of you stop to think that person maybe had a rough day, or maybe they are in a hurry because of an emergency? Why do our behaviors in different situations mean we are always that way? Do you always trust your first impression of someone?
I have been experiencing deep depression for the last couple of years. For a while I thought I was over it but my situation hasn’t changed and I feel it creeping back in on me. I cannot seem to convince the people around me who didn’t know me before my depression that I am not this person. I want to be who I know I am but I cannot rise above the mire. I usually feel like I am wading through it all on my own and no one believes in me.
I don’t know why I have to experience this. I don’t know what the Lord has planned for me. Again, I know we all experience different trials at different times and situations. I don’t consider myself better than anyone if I experience different trials. I recently learned of a friend of mine whose baby perished after she was born. Another friend is suffering from a temporary infection that has her in constant pain. Others suffer with cancer, or the inability to bear children. Are their trials better or worse than mine? I don’t know. I just know that a loving Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us. He knows each of us. He is teaching us and preparing us to meet Him in a way that each of us is sensitive to and will understand in the language that has the greatest impact on us. The answer won’t always be in this lifetime. All we can do is pray for the enabling power of the Atonement to carry us and lift us above our own capacity to manage.

Related posts and websites:

“My New Mantra”
“The Merciful Obtain Mercy”
“Overcoming Adversity – What is the purpose of trials?”