“Change Your Thoughts, Change Your World” Summer Challenge 2015 – The Power of Prayer

Today we are talking about the power of prayer. This is probably one of my most favorite topics to talk about! Prayer is one of the most important tools to help you lift your thoughts, achieve your goals & love your life. One of my favorite quotes is by Jeffrey R. Holland. He said…

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I think sometimes we have this idea that God’s main job is to punish us rather than bless us, so we often blame Him when things go wrong & then tend to forget about Him when things are going right. But, in reality, He can’t wait to pour down blessings upon us. The problem is, we don’t give Him the chance. Mathew 7:7-11 says…

 7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

 9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

 10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Basically, Matthew is trying to help us understand that if we, as imperfect human beings, enjoy giving gifts to our children, then imagine how much more our Heavenly Father desires to give good things to us…if only we will ask Him.

I love this story given in a talk by J. Devn Cornish called “The Privilege of Prayer”. He quoted Mathhew 7:9-11 & then said…

Perhaps a personal experience will help to illustrate the point. When I was a young resident physician at Boston Children’s Hospital, I worked long hours and traveled between the hospital and our home in Watertown, Massachusetts, mostly by bicycle since my wife and young family needed our car. One evening I was riding home after a long period in the hospital, feeling tired and hungry and at least a bit discouraged. I knew I needed to give my wife and four small children not only my time and energy when I got home but also a cheery attitude. I was, frankly, finding it hard to just keep pedaling.

My route would take me past a fried chicken shop, and I felt like I would be a lot less hungry and tired if I could pause for a piece of chicken on my way home. I knew they were running a sale on thighs or drumsticks for 29 cents each, but when I checked my wallet, all I had was one nickel. As I rode along, I told the Lord my situation and asked if, in His mercy, He could let me find a quarter on the side of the road. I told Him that I didn’t need this as a sign but that I would be really grateful if He felt to grant me this kind blessing.

I began watching the ground more intently but saw nothing. Trying to maintain a faith-filled but submissive attitude as I rode, I approached the store. Then, almost exactly across the street from the chicken place, I saw a quarter on the ground. With gratitude and relief, I picked it up, bought the chicken, savored every morsel, and rode happily home.

In His mercy, the God of heaven, the Creator and Ruler of all things everywhere, had heard a prayer about a very minor thing. One might well ask why He would concern Himself with something so small. I am led to believe that our Heavenly Father loves us so much that the things that are important to us become important to Him, just because He loves us. How much more would He want to help us with the big things that we ask, which are right?

Little children, young people, and adults alike, please believe how very much your loving Heavenly Father wants to bless you. But because He will not infringe upon our agency, we must ask for His help. This is generally done through prayer. Prayer is one of the most precious gifts of God to man.

I, too, have had many experiences with Heavenly Father answering my prayers, big & small. I’ll share more of those stories later on in this challenge, but I’ll share a quick one right now. We like to call it the “Trashcan Miracle”…

One day I was in a big hurry with a to-do list that was far too long. As I was backing out of my driveway, I noticed that our trashcan was missing. I quickly looked around the neighborhood & didn’t see it anywhere. I know this may not sound like a big deal, but trashcans are pretty important & are expensive to replace. I also knew that I didn’t have the time to go looking for it…if it could even be found. So I said these words in my mind as I was driving away from my house: “Dear Heavenly Father, I am really late right now & am extremely overwhelmed with all I have to do. I don’t have time to go looking for our trashcan & I don’t have the money to replace it. Could you PLEASE have it sitting in front of my house, right where I left it, when I get home in a few hours? Thank you SO much!!” And then I ended my prayer. My kids & I have had many experiences losing things, only to find them AFTER we pray for help. So I had faith that Heavenly Father could help me out. I knew that because it was important to me, it was also important to Him. I didn’t give the trashcan another thought & had actually forgotten about it by the time we were driving home. As I rounded the corner, my kids & I saw the trashcan sitting in the exact location I had asked Heavenly Father to return it to. Say what you will, but I know that Heavenly Father heard my prayer that day & returned my trashcan to me. It was our own little miracle!

Both of these stories illustrate a few things that I hope you’ll remember when you pray…

  1. You can pray anytime, anywhere, about anything.
  2. If it’s important to you, it’s important to Him.
  3. Don’t ask for a sign, but rather a blessing.
  4. Be specific about what you need.
  5. Talk to Him like you would talk to a friend (in other words: you don’t need “flowery” language).
  6. Have faith that He will answer your prayer….BELIEVE!!!
  7. Express gratitude before you even receive the answer.
  8. If He cares about the little things, He cares that much more about the big things.

Of course, there are times when we will pray & our prayers won’t be answered immediately or how we thought they should be answered. If my trashcan had still been missing, it would not have shaken my faith. Heavenly Father knows best & would have blessed me in another way. The point here is that we can either let Heavenly Father bless us on a daily basis by including Him, or we can struggle through life without Him…it’s our choice.

Your challenge for today is to get all of those worrisome thoughts out of your head & onto paper. Once your write them down, pray about them, one by one.  Remember to use the 8 tips I included in today’s post. Your Heavenly Father is waiting to hear from you & can’t wait to help you with whatever is going on in your life!

“Change Your Thoughts, Change Your World” Summer Challenge 2015 – Humor helps…a lot!

Today’s topic is all about humor! I think sometimes we get so caught up in the ins & outs of life…or so caught up in trying to improve ourselves that we forget to have a sense of humor. When that happens, life in general & self-improvement can feel heavy, hard, & tedious…but that’s the exact opposite of what we’re trying to achieve! It’s good to take a step back & find the humor in ourselves & in every day life.  I love today’s quote because it shows how a sense of humor is not just “nice to have”, but it is also extremely powerful! A little bit of humor can go a long way in helping us enjoy life more, both mentally & physically.

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One of the beautiful things about life is that we get to choose how we react to any situation. The exact same situation could happen to two different people & one person will laugh about it & another will experience an entire range of negative emotions. One of my favorite talks on this subject was given by Joseph B. Wirthlin called, “Come What May & Love It”. I wanted to share a part of that talk with you today…

Learn to Laugh

The first thing we can do is learn to laugh. Have you ever seen an angry driver who, when someone else makes a mistake, reacts as though that person has insulted his honor, his family, his dog, and his ancestors all the way back to Adam? Or have you had an encounter with an overhanging cupboard door left open at the wrong place and the wrong time which has been cursed, condemned, and avenged by a sore-headed victim?

There is an antidote for times such as these: learn to laugh.

I remember loading up our children in a station wagon and driving to Los Angeles. There were at least nine of us in the car, and we would invariably get lost. Instead of getting angry, we laughed. Every time we made a wrong turn, we laughed harder.

Getting lost was not an unusual occurrence for us. Once while heading south to Cedar City, Utah, we took a wrong turn and didn’t realize it until two hours later when we saw the “Welcome to Nevada” signs. We didn’t get angry. We laughed, and as a result, anger and resentment rarely resulted. Our laughter created cherished memories for us.

I remember when one of our daughters went on a blind date. She was all dressed up and waiting for her date to arrive when the doorbell rang. In walked a man who seemed a little old, but she tried to be polite. She introduced him to me and my wife and the other children; then she put on her coat and went out the door. We watched as she got into the car, but the car didn’t move. Eventually our daughter got out of the car and, red faced, ran back into the house. The man that she thought was her blind date had actually come to pick up another of our daughters who had agreed to be a babysitter for him and his wife.

We all had a good laugh over that. In fact, we couldn’t stop laughing. Later, when our daughter’s real blind date showed up, I couldn’t come out to meet him because I was still in the kitchen laughing. Now, I realize that our daughter could have felt humiliated and embarrassed. But she laughed with us, and as a result, we still laugh about it today.

The next time you’re tempted to groan, you might try to laugh instead. It will extend your life and make the lives of all those around you more enjoyable.

So how does humor help your thoughts? There’s actually quite a bit of research on this topic. The following info is from HelpGuide.org. This is a wonderful non-profit site dedicated to the topic of mental health & well-being. They have a ton more info on the benefits of humor & laughter. If you’d like to learn even more, I encourage you to check them out!

The link between laughter and mental health…

  • Laughter dissolves distressing emotions. You can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing.
  • Laughter helps you relax and recharge. It reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more.
  • Humor shifts perspective, allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light. A humorous perspective creates psychological distance, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Laughter is also good for your health…

  • Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
  • Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
  • Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

“Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.”  ~ Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D.

We’ll talk more about humor later on in this challenge, but for now I’ll leave you with a couple of videos that I hope will bring some humor into your life today…

Best Lip Sync to Frozen’s “Love Is An Open Door” Ever 

The Evolution of Dance

Why Moms Get Nothing Done

“Salesman” Written & Spoken by Kids, Performed by Adults

“Change Your Thoughts, Change Your World” Summer Challenge 2015 – Gratitude

I’m so excited to be talking about gratitude today! Having an “attitude of gratitude” is one of the most powerful things you can do to lift your thoughts. The more I study gratitude, the more I realize it is the key to a happy life. When we have trouble feeling gratitude, it is because we misunderstand this basic fundamental…Instead of being thankful for things, we should focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be.

This comes directly from a talk by Dieter F. Uchtdorf called “Grateful In Any Circumstances”. He says…

Everyone’s situation is different, and the details of each life are unique. Nevertheless, I have learned that there is something that would take away the bitterness that may come into our lives. There is one thing we can do to make life sweeter, more joyful, even glorious.

We can be grateful!

It might sound contrary to the wisdom of the world to suggest that one who is burdened with sorrow should give thanks to God. But those who set aside the bottle of bitterness and lift instead the goblet of gratitude can find a purifying drink of healing, peace, and understanding….

But some might say, “What do I have to be grateful for when my world is falling apart?”

Perhaps focusing on what we are grateful for is the wrong approach. It is difficult to develop a spirit of gratitude if our thankfulness is only proportional to the number of blessings we can count. True, it is important to frequently “count our blessings”—and anyone who has tried this knows there are many—but I don’t believe the Lord expects us to be less thankful in times of trial than in times of abundance and ease. In fact, most of the scriptural references do not speak of gratitude for things but rather suggest an overall spirit or attitude of gratitude.

It is easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going our way. But what then of those times when what we wish for seems to be far out of reach?

Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be.”

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When I read this quote for the first time, I had one of those “ah-ha” moments. I could finally see how it’s truly possible to be grateful in any circumstance….because it is an “act of faith”. So even when times are rough & you can’t see the end from the beginning, you can have gratitude that a loving Heavenly Father is watching over you & will see you through the darkness into the light. And, if you’ll let Him, He will open your eyes to things you can be grateful for in the midst of your trials.

For our tool today, I’ve created a printable gratitude journal. You’ll notice that this journal has a space for each day with either past, present, or future written on the top line. The reason for this is to get you into the habit of finding gratitude in all three phases of your life.

1. GRATITUDE FOR THE PAST.  We can all look into our past & find things to be grateful for. We may even be able to see how a past trial has ultimately turned into a blessing. This can help you get through current or future trials. It can also help you see how much your Heavenly Father has already blessed you.

2. GRATITUDE FOR THE PRESENT. We are always living in the present, so it is so important to be able to feel gratitude now, in our current circumstances.  As you look for things each day to be grateful for, you will find them. We always find what we are looking for. If you are not actively seeking things to be grateful for then, by default, you will find the opposite…things you are ungrateful for.

3. GRATITUDE FOR THE FUTURE. This is where your faith comes in. When you express gratitude for something before it even happens, you are exercising faith. A powerful example of this is from the book “Led by Faith” by Immaculée Ilibagiza, a Tutsi survivor of the Rwandan Holocaust. She had such a close relationship with God that any time a situation arose where she needed help, she would pray & thank Him for providing her a solution to her problems. She didn’t have an immediate solution, but she had faith that God would provide a way, and He always did.

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My challenge to you is to take a few moments each day to write in your gratitude journal throughout the remainder of this challenge. I promise that, as you do this daily, your life will be blessed in more ways than you can even imagine!

“Change Your Thoughts, Change Your World” Summer Challenge 2015 – Thoughts & Habits

Hopefully by now you’ve had a chance to think a little more about your thought processes & whether or not you are producing the results you want in your life. Most people can look at their lives & see both good and bad results. Today’s quote is a powerful reminder that it all begins with our thoughts…

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That jump from our “thoughts” to our “destiny” is pretty small when you think about it. And in-between that is the “habits” that we form. One of the most powerful sermons on this topic is found in Og Mandino’s Ten Scrolls from his book “The Greatest Salesman in the World”.  I want to challenge you to find some time over the weekend to sit down & read Og’s first scroll & ponder its message (I found a link where you can download the ten scrolls for free HERE). You’ll want to have a pen & paper next to you as you do this. He is a very eloquent writer & I find that it helps to take notes & journal my thoughts as I read his words.

Og encourages the reader to start with the first scroll & read it three times a day, for thirty days. After you’ve done that, he says to move onto the next scroll & read it every day for thirty days, and so on, until you’ve read all ten scrolls. His reason for this is because he knows the power that comes from putting something into your mind on a daily basis for thirty days. After the thirtieth day, it becomes a habit. This is an excerpt from his first scroll on the power that habits have over our lives…

In truth, the only difference between those who have failed and those who have succeeded lies in the differences of their habits. Good habits are the key to all success. Bad habits are the unlocked door to failure. Thus, the first law I will obey, which precedeth all others is – I will form good habits and become their slave……

And how will I accomplish this difficult feat? Through these scrolls, it will be done, for each scroll contains a principle which will drive a bad habit from my life and replace it with one which will bring me closer to success. For it is another of nature’s laws that only a habit can subdue another habit….

And what will be accomplished with this habit? Herein lies the hidden secret of all man’s accomplishments. As I repeat the words daily they will soon become a part of my active mind, but more important, they will also seep into my other mind, that mysterious source which never sleeps, which creates my dreams, and often makes me act in ways I do not comprehend.

As the words of these scrolls are consumed by my mysterious mind I will begin to awake, each morning, with a vitality I have never known before. My vigor will increase, my enthusiasm will rise, my desire to meet the world will overcome every fear I once knew at sunrise, and I will be happier than I ever believed it possible to be in this world of strife and sorrow.

Eventually, I will find myself reacting to all situations which confront me as I was commanded in the scrolls to react, and soon these actions and reactions will become easy to perform, for any act with practice becomes easy.

I hope you’ll take advantage of today’s tool & start reading it daily for the next 30 days. The whole purpose of Og’s first scroll is to get you into the “habit” of creating good habits by working on your thoughts….which is the reason we’re doing this challenge in the first place!