So I was in the room on Wednesday, preparing for our stake religion class (and wearing my annual Halloween outfit) when my niece Noelle and her friend Alecia arrived… with VERN.  VERN BONES.  A very TALL fellow with a very… uh… transparent kind of personality. He spent the lesson at the podium (I walked around the room as I taught, kind of avoiding him). He is now sitting in the living room, getting ready for tomorrow evening. I’ve not yet figured out how to position him so that the little kids can see him when they come to get treats. I know it would tickle him to hear them scream…. HERE I AM WITH VERN AND WITH MY NIECE NOELLE


HERE I AM WITH VERN, LOOKING “NORMAL”  (in my annual Halloween shirt)


AND HERE WE ARE GETTING READY TO DRIVE AWAY. And obviously you will have noticed that Vern is “buckled up.” Don’t want him to get a ticket!













Fish tank


ATLANTA explained

This is for anyone who lives in Atlanta , Georgia, has ever lived in Atlanta, has ever visited Atlanta, ever plans to visit Atlanta, knows anyone who already lives in Atlanta, or knows anyone who has ever heard of Atlanta. And it’s for everyone who has a good sense of humor (especially those who live in Atlanta).  I have family in that part of the country, and I’m thinking they’ll smile at this. And I hope the rest of you do too. Thanks for the fun! (And be sure to catch the last picture, which shows my favorite spot in Atlanta).


Atlanta is composed mostly of one-way streets. The only way to get out of downtown Atlanta is to turnaround and start over when you reach Greenville, South Carolina. All directions start with, “Go down Peachtree” and include the phrase, “When you see the Waffle House.” except that in Cobb County, where all directions begin with, “Go to the Big Chicken.”  Peachtree Street has no beginning and no end and is not to be confused with: Peachtree Circle – Peachtree Place –  Peachtree Lane –  Peachtree Road –   Peachtree Parkway –  Peachtree Run –  Peachtree Terrace –  Peachtree Avenue –  Peachtree Commons –  Peachtree Battle  – Peachtree Corners –  New Peachtree –  Old Peachtree –  West Peachtree –  Peachtree-Dunwoody –  Peachtree-Chamblee –   Peachtree


Industrial Boulevard. Atlantans only know their way to work and their way home. If you ask anyone for directions, they will always send you down Peachtree.  Atlanta is the home of Coca-Cola. Coke’s all they drink there so don’t ask for any other soft drink unless it’s made by Coca-Cola. Even if you want something other than a Coca-Cola, it’s still called Coke. The gates at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport are about 32 miles away from the Main Concourse, so wear sneakers and pack a lunch.


The 8 a.m. rush hour is from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The 5 p.m. rush hour is from 3:00 p.m. to 7:30 pm. (Don’t forget the lunch time rush hour!)  Friday’s rush hour starts Thursday afternoon and lasts through 2 a.m. Saturday. Only a native can pronounce Ponce De Leon Avenue, so do not attempt the Spanish pronunciation. People will simply tilt their heads to the right and stare at you. The Atlanta pronunciation is ” pawntz duh LEE-awn.”  And yes, they have a street named simply, “Boulevard.” The falling of one raindrop causes all drivers to immediately forget all traffic rules. If a single snowflake falls, the city is paralyzed for three days and it’s on all the channels as a news flash every 15 minutes for a week. Overnight, all grocery stores will be sold out of milk, bread, bottled water, and toilet paper.


I-285, the loop that encircles Atlanta which has a posted speed limit of 55 mph but you have to maintain 80 mph just to keep from getting run over and it is known to truckers as “The Watermelon 500.”  Don’t believe the directional markers on highways: I-285 is marked “East” and “West” but you may be going North or South. The locals identify the direction by referring to the “Inner Loop” and the “Outer Loop.”  If you travel on Hwy 92 North, you will actually be going southeast. Never buy a ladder or mattress in Atlanta. Just go to one of the interstates and you will soon find one in the middle of the road.


Possums sleep in the middle of the road with their feet in the air.  There are 5,000 types of snakes and 4,998 live in Georgia. There are 10,000 types of spiders. All 10,000 live in Georgia, plus a couple no one has seen before. If it grows, it sticks. If it crawls, it bites. If you notice a vine trying to wrap itself around your leg, you have about 20 seconds to escape, before you are completely captured and covered with Kudzu.


It’s not a shopping cart, it’s a buggy. “Fixinto” is one word (I’m fixinto go to the store) – also can be pronounced “Fixinta”. Sweet Tea is appropriate for all meals and you start drinking it when you’re 2 years old. “Jeet?” is actually a phrase meaning “Did you eat?” “How’s Momma-nem” means: “How’s Mother and all of the other children and other members of the family doing?” If you understand these jokes, forward them to your friends from Atlanta, Georgia, and those who just wish they were.  I have to say that I LOVE GEORGIA! And my license plate for 9 years was UGA 555. Yes!  Bulldogs arise!  AND NOW FOR MY FAVORITE SPOT/PLACE IN ATLANTA





You have nothing to fear…

At my nephew David’s funeral a couple of weeks ago (16 October), my great nephew, Dayne Joyner, sang a beautiful song as he stood in the small cemetery in Ivins (near St. George).  It touched us all very deeply, and he has a beautiful voice.  He shared the words with me and I’m so happy to be able to share them with you.  Elder M. Russell Ballard used the title: “You Have Nothing To Fear From The Journey” in a Conference talk in April 1997.  The text and music are by Rob Gardner, and Dayne shared a link to listen to Rob singing it.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQt1MaCxMLU  (I hope you can find it if you’d like to listen).  Enjoy the words.


You have nothing to fear from the journey,
Though your way may be burdened by thorns.
For the Lord will be with you each step of the way
As you travel with faith through the storm.
And you’ve nothing to fear from your trials,
Though they may seem too heavy to bear.
Take His hand and He’ll lead you gently along
And you’ll find peace and safety there.
There is nothing to fear from the nights that are lonely,
There’s nothing to fear from the cold!
and there’s nothing to fear from what might be tomorrow,
For heaven is with you, And angels watch over His fold.
You have nothing to fear from the journey,
Though your body is tired and worn.
For the Lord will send angels to lift up your arms
And He’ll carry the burden you’ve born.
And you’ve nothing to fear from your suff’ring,
Nor the grief you’ve been called on to bear,
Take His hand and He’ll lead you gently along
And you’ll find peace and safety there.


Uchtdorf quote






MEE on the Women’s Conference FB

 Some of you are aware that for around 12 years, Sandi Rogers (chair of the BYU Women’s Conference) and I have been making fools of ourselves in what are called “etiquette videos.” Well, we recently did some filming for next year, and it looks like there’s a contest!  WOWEEEE! (Maybe I could finally win something…??).

What do you think Mary Ellen Edmunds is saying to Sandi on the set of the 2016 etiquette video? Tell us in a comment below and you’ll be entered to win a book of talks from the 2013 Women’s Conference! Winner announced on Wednesday.

BYU Women's Conference's photo.

A Sense of Humor

I frequently post something “off the wall” on the blog. The 6 or 7 of you who “check in” already know that. I try not to cross any lines – I don’t want to stray into anything TOO inappropriate (notice I gave myself a little leeway there….). I’ve wanted to post something about a sense of humor for quite a while.  I started out by putting it in the MISCELLANEA category, but I switched to I’M A BELIEVER, and I hope by the time you finish reading (which might be a week or two from now) you’ll know why I switched.  I love to laugh. I love it when something strikes me so funny, so clever, so hilarious. I feel like sometimes I can feel Heavenly Father smiling at things which “crack mee up.”  I’ve always tried to be sensitive to situations and to others’ feelings.

Good humor is a quality in us which makes something funny, amusing, ludicrous – the ability to perceive or appreciate or express what is funny and hilarious.  I surprised myself one day several years ago by thanking Heavenly Father for a cheerful temperament, and I remember exactly where I was and how it startled me to realize that I had never thanked Him for that before.  How did I miss being grateful for being mostly happy and optimistic?  I really am SO thankful. In case you aren’t aware: I’m normal. I’m not laughing all the time. In fact, I think I often say and do silly things just to keep myself from weeping. There is so much in this world which makes me weep. So much hatred and violence and intentional unkindness.  Some of it is called bullying. Most of it in my mind is cruelty. My heart aches for those who feel unloved, unnoticed, unappreciated… I know I’m guilty of much lack of responding to others with charity. I try to rid myself of that. I can’t tell if I make progress or not, but oh how I wish I would never ever ever cause someone to feel ignored or treated unkindly.  I guess we’re all working on “trying a little harder to be a little better.”  That is one of the true, deep desires of my heart.  President James E. Faust said this about humor: Don’t forget to laugh at the silly things that happen.  Humor . . . is a powerful force for good when used with discretion.  Its physical expression, laughter, is highly therapeutic. (Church News, November 22, 1997)

James E. Faust

It’s true!  I’m sure you already knew that good humor and laughter are therapeutic.  When people laugh hard, the heart rate speeds up, the circulatory system is stimulated, and muscles go limp.  The body’s immune system is stimulated, and more endorphins, which are natural pain-relieving substances in the brain, are produced during laughter.  (And after the endorphins finish making you laugh, they go to Sea World to perform!) Another time President Faust shared this:  For many years as I have blessed newborn children, including my own, I have blessed them with a sense of humor. I do this with the hope that it will help guard them against being too rigid, in the hope that they will have balance in their lives, in the hope that situations and problems and difficulties will not be overdrawn. (“The Study and Practice of the Laws of Men in Light of the Laws of God,” Address to Brigham Young University law students, 22 Nov. 1987.)

Maybe I’m sharing all of this about humor so that if I post something which you don’t think is funny you’ll forgive me. I know there are probably many times when I laugh alone. But I do appreciate good humor. I feel that a wholesome sense of humor (and that’s what I strive for) can give us a way of looking at ourselves and life (and all that is around us) in a healthy, positive way.  This attribute of genuine happiness, of cheerfulness, can carry us over and through a whole lot of adversity and trouble.  Often, good humor can help us bend instead of break, smile instead of cry (although there’s nothing wrong and a whole lot right about a good cry), and come to an understanding that we not take ourselves too seriously all the time.  Here’s a quote from President Hugh B. Brown that I like a lot: A sense of relationship and co-partnership with God involves the concept of universal brotherhood, and that will help to develop intelligent tolerance, open-mindedness, and good-natured optimism.  Life is really a battle between fear and faith, pessimism and optimism.  Fear and pessimism paralyze men with skepticism and futility.  One must have a sense of humor to be an optimist in times like these. But your good humor must be real, not simulated.  Let your smiles come from the heart and they will become contagious….  Men [or women] without humor tend to forget their source, lose sight of their goal, and with no lubrication in their mental crankshafts, they must drop out of the race. (The Abundant Life, p. 50)  That’s good, isn’t it.  Another time, President Brown said: Incidentally, we have often urged our young people to carry their laughter over into their mature years.  A wholesome sense of humor will be a safety valve that will enable you to apply the lighter touch to heavy problems and to learn some lessons in problem solving that “sweat and tears” often fail to dissolve. (Conference Report, April 1968, p. 100)

Hugh B. Brown

Abraham Lincoln had a wonderful sense of humor, even with the many tragedies and heavy burdens in his life.  He said that “Good humor is the oxygen of the soul.”  Oh yes!

Abe Lincoln

When the same thing touches us or amuses us it reaches across a lot of artificial walls and even cuts through language or other communication barriers.  I remember being in many places where I couldn’t speak the language, yet I seemed still to be able to communicate, especially with the children, through humor.  I’d pull faces and act silly, and we’d laugh and hug each other and feel very, very close.


I try earnestly (without always succeeding) to laugh WITH people, but never AT them.  As my friend Pete Rawlins put it:  When humor is such a powerful tool in building subtle bonds of brotherhood, in cheering those who suffer, and in teaching profound and memorable lessons, why should it be used to belittle and discourage?  Those who profess belief in Christ should shape their humor in the light of Christ’s teachings.  Being rejected from His kingdom because of a warped sense of humor would not be funny.  (“A Serious Look at Humor,” New Era, Aug. 1974)  He’s right – that would NOT be funny….

To me, humor is one of the tenderest things in life.  Humor is unifying in a unique way, and tears and laughter blend into each other so many times.  The emotions which bring them are so close to each other.  A sense of humor is what I mean when I speak of humor.  There is so much in our time and our society which is senseless – which isn’t funny at all.  There is so much that doesn’t even make me smile, let alone cause me to feel happy. To me, a good sense of humor is a way to keep from being too pretentious, or too isolated or insulated from others.  It’s a kind of honesty in looking at ourselves and all that surrounds us.  I think humor is often 2 parts love and 3 parts courage. There are times when it can keep us from allowing pride to creep into our hearts and behavior.  Humor can beshould begentle and kind, bringing down walls that may separate us, but never used as a “weapon” to hurt or humiliate.

A good sense of humor can help us control our temper, can help us “back off” when a situation is getting too tense, and can help us “hold our tongue” when we might say something which we would later regret, something which might wound another’s heart and cause us to feel ashamed and sorry.  Humor can help us avoid constant murmuring and complaining.  Often my own humor seems to be an acknowledgment of my weaknesses, and thus a way to help me continue striving to do better and be better.  It’s a way for me to be real, to be genuine and honest in sharing my thoughts and feelings with others.  It helps me avoid something I have earnestly sought to stay away from: hypocrisy.  It makes me smile out loud to read this from President Brigham Young:  It does make the Devil mad…that he cannot afflict this people so as to make them have a sad countenance.  (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 236)  Make “what’s-his-no-face” mad! SMILE!

Brigham Young

President Boyd K. Packer shared this about humor:  Someone has said that a sense of humor is oil for the machinery of life. A good sense of humor is a characteristic of a well-balanced person. It has always been apparent that the prophets were men with very alert and pleasing senses of humor. Despite the fact that they are dealing with the most serious and sometimes the most tragic and difficult things in life, the Brethren can always smile….  A sense of humor is a powerfully important attribute of a good teacher. The gospel is a happy and a pleasant gospel. There are times when we may be solemn almost to tears, but a good teacher will develop a sense of humor. (Boyd K. Packer, Teach Ye Diligently [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1975], 249.)


In my life, a sense of humor has helped me in several specific ways.  For example, I’m aware that it helps me cut down on competition and envy.  It adds to my feelings of contentment and has brought me an increase in peace and calm.  It helps me put so many moments in a larger perspective.  It helps me handle stress and make it through my deep waters and fiery trials without succumbing to bitterness or discouragement.  Humor is almost magical!  For me, the opposite of good humor is too often contention.  The opposite of happiness is misery.  The opposite of cheerfulness is gloom and pessimism. I’ve always been thankful that I can make myself laugh – that I can find something funny when I’m all by myself and can laugh heartily.


One of my favorite examples of good humor was President Gordon B. Hinckley.  Oh how I want to discover, develop and share the kind of a sense of humor President Hinckley had!  He never used it to put someone down.  There was no sarcastic edge to that which he shared which brought us so much delight.  Even when he challenged someone to a DUEL right during Conference!  Among those who were watching and listening on that Saturday morning, 04 October, 1997, who can ever forget President Hinckley’s unique and incredible way of deflecting the praise Elder Russell M. Nelson had just given him by challenging him to a duel in the basement of the Tabernacle “right after this meeting!”  And then towards the close of the session he said something like “Brother Nelson, I’ve repented.  Thank you for your kind words.  We’ll postpone the duel.”

Kimball - Hinckley

How could you not love such a prophet with all your heart for his ability and willingness to be so real, so happy, so faithful?  He was like a visual aid for the right kind of humor and laughter.  He had such a tender heart.  He had so much pure love for all of Heavenly Father’s children, and such a desire to help us become good.  “Try a little harder to be a little better” – He helped make it feel possible, and he helped make it pleasant.  He used humor to unify us, as when he said, on a day when it was very warm in the Tabernacle, with almost everyone “fanning” themselves with their Tabernacle Choir programs, that he knew we were hot, but we weren’t as hot as we were going to be if we didn’t repent!  The happy laughter throughout the Tabernacle was evidence of a unique moment of unity and shared understanding.  And I think this is a good place to point out the difference between loud laughter (so inappropriate) and happy laughter (which filled the Tabernacle on that Sunday morning of General Conference). It’s as if there’s a difference in quality and not necessarily volume.  He asked us to Cultivate an attitude of happiness.  Cultivate a spirit of optimism.  Walk with faith, rejoicing in the beauties of nature, in the goodness of those you love, in the testimony which you carry in your heart concerning things divine.  (Ensign, November 1984, p. 92).  He invited us to be happy and then shared ideas of how to help that happen.  To me he was an example of everything he taught, including the way the light of the gospel would shine in his face wherever he went.  And he invited us to follow!  “I’m not pleading for long faces and dour looks or misery.  I’m pleading for smiles and laughter and fun and good times.  Choose the right. (Church News, November 6, 1993)


Can you think of the difference in yours or another’s countenance between “dour looks” and the light of the gospel shining through? A few weeks before he passed away, President Howard W. Hunter shared some invitations, including “laugh a little more.”  (Church News, 10 December 1994)

Of course we do not make fun of or laugh at sacred things.  Honoring the sacred is necessary to ensure a stable, wonderful relationship with our Heavenly Father, and with His Son and the Holy Ghost as well. But it is wholesome and healthy to be cheerful and happy.

Elder Richard L. Evans said that Humor is essential to a full and happy life.  It is a reliever and relaxer of pressure and tension, and the saving element in many situations. (Improvement Era, February 1968, p. 71).

Richard L Evans

Elder Neal A. Maxwell shared this: Humor as a reflection of the incongruities of life can be helpful. The living prophets I have known have ALL had such a sense of humor. (Deposition of a Disciple, p. 52.)  He also said that There is a special gladness that goes with the gospel, and appropriate merriment.  (Things As They Really Are, p. xiv.)  And one more quote from him which is worth pondering (along with many other thoughts): Ultimate hope and daily grumpiness are not reconcilable. It is ungraceful, unjustified, and unbecoming of us as committed Church members to be constantly grumpy or of woeful countenance.  Do we have some moments of misery or some down days?  Yes!  But the promise is that Christ will “lift thee up.” (Moroni 9:25.) (Thanksgiving speech, 26 November, 1980; I added the bold).


I listened to Elder M. Russell Ballard speak to the missionaries years ago at the MTC, and he spoke of lightmindedness.  He said that “Lightmindedness offends.  You can tell!”  Then he added, “If we said you couldn’t have a sense of humor, all the Brethren would be in jeopardy.”  (Personal notes, MTC, September 1985). I will always remember the emphasis he gave to “you can tell.”  You can, can’t you.

Elder Ballard

The Prophet Joseph Smith was said to have a cheery temperament, and it’s recorded that some who first met him felt uncomfortable that he wasn’t more “serious” or “solemn.” But he himself taught this:  Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God. ((Joseph Fielding Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 255-56.)

Joseph Smith

And how about the many times we’re told in the scriptures to “BE OF GOOD CHEER.” And if you think I’m ALWAYS of good cheer, think again. As I said, I’m normal. I have times when I’m really sad.  I “run out of gas” and feel DOWN. But not all the time. No. NO.  I’ve found that one of the best “secrets” to being of good cheer is to trust God, to be obedient, to follow/keep the commandments the best we can, and to try to be more like Jesus.  As we read in John 13:17, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”

President Howard W. Hunter shared that idea so well:  We should ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” Let us follow the Son of God in all ways and in all walks of life. Let us make him our exemplar and our guide. We should at every opportunity ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” and then be more courageous to act upon the answer. We must follow Christ, in the best sense of that word. We must be about his work as he was about his Father’s. We should try to be like him, even as the Primary children sing, “Try, try, try” (Children’s Songbook, p. 55). To the extent that our mortal powers permit, we should make every effort to become like Christ-the one perfect and sinless example this world has ever seen. (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, edited by Clyde J. Williams, p.43).


Ask yourself if you picture your Heavenly Father as being happy.  Do you? I love this quote from Heber C. Kimball about God:  I am perfectly satisfied that my Father and my God is a cheerful, pleasant, lively, good‑natured Being. Why? Because I am cheerful, pleasant, lively, and good‑natured when I have His Spirit. That is one reason why I know; and another is – the Lord said, through Joseph Smith, “I delight in a glad heart and a cheerful countenance.” That arises from the perfection of His attributes; He is a jovial, lively person, and a beautiful man.  (Journal of Discourses 4:22) Isn’t that wonderful!

Heber C

Our God is a happy God! And you know that His plan is often called “the great plan of happiness.”  Alma taught his son Corianton that God is a happy God:  And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness. (Alma 41:11)

Think of someone you enjoy being around.  Think of why you enjoy being around them.  For many of us, it’s because they lift our spirits and cheer us up – they’re genuinely positive and optimistic. This reminds me of Proverbs 17:22 – A merry heart doeth good [like] medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. A good sense of humor, a cheerful spirit and countenance, a happy outlook, and a merry heart can often be as good as medicine!  One of these days I’ll tell you how it helped me as a nurse to be cheerful and even to use humor when it felt appropriate.


I have found a strong reason to do my best to be happy NOW.  This is Moroni speaking, and it’s kind of like one of his “last lectures.”  Mormon 9:14 –  And then cometh the judgment of the Holy One upon them; and then cometh the time that he that is filthy shall be filthy still;  and he that is righteous shall be righteous still; and he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still. Lehi taught about righteousness and happiness in a very similar way. 2 Nephi 2:13 – And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away. Let’s be righteous and happy – it sounds so much better than vanishing….  Lehi shared this too: “men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). Alma called the gospel “the great plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8, 16). King Benjamin assured the obedient that they would “dwell with God in a state of never‑ending happiness” (Mosiah 2:41).  And President Hinckley encouraged us to be happy:  Enjoy your membership in the Church.  Where else in all the world can you find such a society?  Enjoy your activity…be happy in that which you do.  Cultivate a spirit of gladness in your homes….  Let the light of the gospel shine in your faces wherever you go and in whatever you do. (Ensign, Nov, 1984, p. 85) He asks us to cultivate a spirit of gladness in our homes.  That’s a great word and reminds me that we CAN cultivate gladness.  He added this:  He also asked us to Cultivate an attitude of happiness.  Cultivate a spirit of optimism.  Walk with faith, rejoicing in the beauties of nature, in the goodness of those you love, in the testimony which you carry in your heart concerning things divine.  (Ensign, November 1984, p. 92).


I like the way President Lorenzo Snow taught this: Serve faithfully and be cheerful.  Brethren and sisters, the thing you should have in your mind, and which you should make a motto in your life, is this: Serve God faithfully, and be cheerful.  I dislike very much, and I believe people generally do, to see a person with a woe begone countenance, and to see him mourning as though his circumstances were of the most unpleasant character.  There is no pleasure in association with such persons….   …out of cheerfulness may arise many good gifts.  The Lord has not given us the gospel that we may go around mourning all the days of our lives.  He has not introduced this religion for this purpose at all.  We came into the world for certain purposes, and those purposes are not of a nature that require much mourning or complaint.  Where a person is always complaining and feeling to find fault, the Spirit of the Lord is not very abundant in his heart.  If a person wants to enjoy the Spirit of the Lord, let him, when something of a very disagreeable nature comes along, think how [much] worse the circumstance might be, or think of something worse that he has experienced in the past. (3 April 1897, DW 54:481)  And another prophet, President Joseph F. Smith, taught the same principles:  I do not believe the Lord intends and desires that we should pull a long face and look sanctimonious and hypocritical.  I think he expects us to be happy and of a cheerful countenance…. (Conference Report, Oct 1916, p. 70)

Lorenzo Snow

Imagine trying to share the Gospel without being happy.  We’re asked to be examples of the believers.  And there is so much in this world which is happifying, even with the seeming increase of darkness and evil. I want to give everyone a bumper sticker: “GOOD NEWS! SUNSETS ARE FREE!”

May our Heavenly Father help us to find good humor amidst all that is troubling today and all that we’ll all face alone and together as the time steadily approaches when Jesus Christ will come again and we will finally rest from all that isn’t pleasant or good or kind or real.  The word “gospel” connotes “good news!”  Let’s choose to follow the One who promises eternal joy, happiness, peace and rest.  Alma 33:23 –   …And [then] may God grant unto you that your burdens may be light, through the JOY of his Son.  And even all this can ye do if ye will.  Amen.  (I capitalized JOY to make sure you’d notice it).  The whole purpose of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to help us be happy and make it back to our Heavenly Home.  If we had no other reason to be of GOOD CHEER, the fact that we have a Savior and Redeemer, and the Atonement is REAL, is enough for us to be the happiest people in all the world and beyond!  Here’s one of the many “be of good cheer” messages in scripture:  Doctrine and Covenants 68:6 – Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come. And now I close (FINALLY) with this thought: In Alma 41:10, Alma teaches that “wickedness never was happiness.”  I came up with the opposite of this: “Righteousness never was misery.”  I’m using misery in connection with the plan [which lost!] of the one who wants everyone to be as miserable as he is. I’m not saying that righteousness doesn’t ever include adversity, suffering, pain, or trials. I’m saying that righteousness will bring us through ALL of life’s challenges with JOY and HAPPINESS, and GOOD CHEER.  Love, MEE




The topic this morning is about conversations we wish we’d had. Or that we’d paid more attention to. Or that we wish we could have listened in on. Or with those who were hard to talk to. Is there still a chance for some that we wish we’d had?


There was a story in the Los Angeles Times on 27 February, 2002, about a woman who was rescued after being trapped in her own home for nine days.  “No one heard her screams.  No one heard her cries for food and water.  No one knew this wheelchair-dependent diabetic was alone.”  No one except her husband, Agustin.  But she had gone with him to the emergency room a week and a half earlier because he was in great pain.  Before he was rushed into surgery he had told his wife to take a taxi home.  Soon after returning home, Amparo fell and couldn’t get back up.  She yelled over and over again for help, but no one heard her.  When Agustin became conscious enough to speak, he explained that Amparo was home alone, and the hospital staff contacted police.  An officer found her stuck between the bed and the wall, and her first words were to ask about her husband.  They were soon reunited.  When interviewed, her next-door neighbor said “I feel so bad.  We have lived here for years, but never talked.”

That is SO SAD! I’ve found myself hoping that there’s no one whom I could have kept in touch with better and perhaps made a difference in their life. I had a wonderful visit with my “last Aunt,” Rhea, on Saturday as I was delivering Halloween boxes “all over creation” (ha). She’s 88, and once she’s gone, it’s “our turn” to be the “oldest ones left” in our family. And I have to admit that there are MANY conversations I wish I’d had, that I’d paid more attention to, and so on.

There was another article about something similar which happened in a Massachusetts neighborhood in 1993.  It was a working-class neighborhood, full of good people.  They tried to help their reclusive neighbor, mowing her lawn and collecting her mail.  Then, to their horror, they discovered she’d been lying dead in her kitchen for four years!  Some said things like “people have their own lives.  They go their own ways.”  One resident said that neighbors didn’t want to get involved with their neighbors.  He said that “neighbors aren’t like they were 20 years ago.”

Is he right?  Is that true?  The article related that police found the decomposed body lying in a six-foot heap of trash she had let accumulate in her kitchen.  It is believed that she died of natural causes about four years earlier; that’s when her bank transactions ended.  Police found a telephone on the floor nearby, as though the 73 year-old woman had tried to call for help.  Neighbors who never saw much of her anyway inquired about four years ago after they hadn’t seen her in a while.  One of her brothers, who wasn’t close to her, told police she had gone in a nursing home.  Life went on in the neighborhood, with one man mowing her lawn and another taking care of a pile of mail that built up before the post office began returning it to senders.  A utility company was called to tend to broken water pipes.

I’m not trying to be a “downer” this morning, but I just wonder if there are way too many other stories which are similar to these (and much more recent).  Have we lost the meaning of the word and feeling “neighbor?”  I pray about being a better neighbor. I’d give myself maybe a C- or D+. Not too great, is it. Did either story bring anything to your mind?  Not that you have been quite so neglectful of neighbors, but have you remembered a time when you felt some regret at having missed a chance to talk to someone who maybe needed you, or you needed them?  Sometimes we can be so close to someone and yet so separated.  And something may happen which causes us to feel bad about missing a conversation.


Most of us can probably remember an experience where we were “right there,” and yet for some reason a conversation we had hoped for just didn’t happen.  If you’ve thought of someone you wish you had talked to, could you still make it happen?  Is there still time?  Porching doesn’t actually have to happen on a porch (although it’s such a wonderful place for a good, comfortable conversation). See if you can think of someone who needs you to “go-a-porching” to them.  Have a wonderful Monday!  (Even though we poke fun at this day….)



Becoming Perfect in Christ

On this beautiful Sabbath morning I feel like sharing a message from a General Authority whom I have admired for many years (since way before he was called as a General Authority). In the recent General Conference, Elder Gong was named a member of the Presidency of the Seventy.


Before that he’d been serving as president of the Asia Area (a part of the world which I love so much, having spent several years there as a missionary in Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines [twice] and Indonesia). He was a missionary in Taiwan and has been (among other Church callings) a Bishop, stake president, and Area Seventy.  He received a BA degree in Asian and university studies at BYU. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University where he received a master of philosophy degree and then a PhD in international relations.


In 1985 he served as Special Assistant to Under Secretary of State at the U.S. State Department and in 1987 as Special Assistant to the U.S. Ambassador in Beijing China. From 1989 to 2001 he served in several positions at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. He was Assistant to the President for Planning and Assessment at Brigham Young University until April 2010, when he was sustained a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy at the age of 56.  He and his wife Susan are the parents of four children and have two grandchildren.


The message I want to share is “Becoming Perfect in Christ,” from the Ensign, July 2014. It impressed me so much when I first read it that I’ve kept it as one of my favorites. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it today (or whenever you have a chance). Have a beautiful day! Love, MEE



We sing with our children, “I feel my Savior’s love, the love he freely gives me.”1

His atoning love, freely given, is as “milk and honey, without money and without price” (2 Nephi 26:25). Infinite and eternal (see Alma 34:10), the Atonement invites us to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him” (Moroni 10:32).

Understanding the Savior’s freely given atoning love can free us from self-imposed, incorrect, and unrealistic expectations of what perfection is. Such understanding allows us to let go of fears that we are imperfect—fears that we make mistakes, fears that we are not good enough, fears that we are a failure compared to others, fears that we are not doing enough to merit His love.

The Savior’s freely given atoning love helps us become more forgiving and less judgmental of others and of ourselves. This love heals our relationships and gives us opportunities to love, understand, and serve as our Savior would.

His atoning love changes our concept of perfection. We can put our trust in Him, diligently keep His commandments, and continue in the faith (see Mosiah 4:6)—even as we also feel greater humility, gratitude, and dependence on His merits, mercy, and grace (see2 Nephi 2:8).

In a broader sense, coming unto Christ and being perfected in Him places perfection within the eternal journey of our spirit and body—in essence, the eternal journey of our soul (see D&C 88:15). Becoming perfect results from our journey through physical life, death, and resurrection, when all things are restored “to their proper and perfect frame” (Alma 40:23). It includes the process of spiritual birth, which brings “a mighty change” to our hearts and dispositions (Mosiah 5:2). It reflects our lifelong refinement through Christlike service and obedience to the Savior’s commandments and our covenants. And it recognizes the perfecting relationship between the living and the dead (see D&C 128:18).

The word perfection, however, is sometimes misunderstood to mean never making a mistake. Perhaps you or someone you know is trying hard to be perfect in this way. Because such perfection always seems out of reach, even our best efforts can leave us anxious, discouraged, or exhausted. We unsuccessfully try to control our circumstances and the people around us. We fret over weaknesses and mistakes. In fact, the harder we try, the further we may feel from the perfection we seek.

In what follows, I seek to deepen our appreciation for the doctrine of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and for the love and mercy the Savior freely gives us. I invite you to apply your understanding of the doctrine of the Atonement to help yourself and others, including missionaries, students, young single adults, fathers, mothers, single heads of households, and others who may feel pressure to find perfection or to be perfect.


Prepared from the foundation of the world (see Mosiah 4:6–7), our Savior’s Atonement allows us to learn, repent, and grow by our own experiences and choices.

In this mortal probation, both gradual “line upon line” (D&C 98:12) spiritual growth and transformative “mighty change” of heart (Alma 5:12, 13Mosiah 5:2) spiritual experiences help us come unto Christ and be perfected in Him. The familiar term “endure to the end” reminds us that eternal growth often involves both time and process.

In the concluding chapter of the Book of Mormon, the great prophet Moroni teaches us how to come unto and be perfected in Christ. We “deny [our]selves of all ungodliness.” We “love God with all [our] might, mind and strength.” Then His grace is sufficient for us, “that by his grace [we] may be perfect in Christ.”

If we “deny not” the power of God, we can be “sanctified in Christ by the grace of God,” which “is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of [our] sins,” that we can “become holy, without spot” (Moroni 10:32, 33).

Ultimately, it is the Savior’s “great and last sacrifice” that brings about “mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance” (Alma 34:14, 15). Indeed, our “faith unto repentance” is essential for us to come unto Christ, be perfected in Him, and enjoy the blessings of “the great and eternal plan of redemption” (Alma 34:16).

Fully accepting our Savior’s Atonement can increase our faith and give us courage to let go of constraining expectations that we are somehow required to be or to make things perfect. Black-and-white thinking says everything is either absolutely perfect or hopelessly flawed. But we can gratefully accept, as God’s sons and daughters, that we are His greatest handiwork (seePsalm 8:3–6Hebrews 2:7), even though we are still a work in progress.

As we understand our Savior’s freely given atoning love, we cease fearing that He may be a harsh, faultfinding judge. Instead, we feel assurance, “for God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17). And we understand that time and process are needed for growth (see Moses 7:21).


Only our Savior lived a perfect life, and even He learned and grew in mortal experience. Indeed, “he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness” (D&C 93:13). He learned through mortal experience to “take upon him [our] infirmities … that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people” (Alma 7:12). He did not succumb to temptations, sins, or daily pressures, but He descended below all of mortality’s trials and challenges (see D&C 122:8).

In the Sermon on the Mount, the Savior commands us: “Be ye therefore perfect” (Matthew 5:48). The Greek word for perfect can be translated as “complete, finished, fully developed” (in Matthew 5:48, footnote b). Our Savior asks us to become complete, finished, fully developed—to be perfected in the virtues and attributes He and our Father in Heaven exemplify.2

Let us see how applying the doctrine of the Atonement may help those who feel they need to find perfection or to be perfect.


A misunderstanding of what it means to be perfect can result in perfectionism—an attitude or behavior that takes an admirable desire to be good and turns it into an unrealistic expectation to be perfect now. Perfectionism sometimes arises from the feeling that only those who are perfect deserve to be loved or that we do not deserve to be happy unless we are perfect.

Perfectionism can cause sleeplessness, anxiety, procrastination, discouragement, self-justification, and depression. These feelings can crowd out the peace, joy, and assurance our Savior wants us to have.

Missionaries who want to be perfect now may become anxious or discouraged if learning their mission language, seeing people baptized, or receiving mission leadership assignments do not happen fast enough. For capable young people accustomed to accomplishment, a mission may be life’s first great challenge. But missionaries can be exactly obedient without being perfect. They can measure their success primarily by their commitment to help individuals and families “become faithful members of the Church who enjoy the presence of the Holy Ghost.”3

Students beginning a new school year, especially those leaving home for college, face both excitement and concerns. Student scholars, athletes, artists, and so forth go from being a “big fish in a little pond” to feeling like a minnow in an ocean with unfamiliar tides and swift, unpredictable currents. It is easy for students with perfectionist tendencies to feel that, no matter how hard they try, they have failed if they are not first in all things.

Given life’s demands, students can learn that it is sometimes perfectly fine to do all they can and that it is not always possible to be the very best.

We also impose expectations of perfection in our own homes. A father or mother may feel compelled to be the perfect spouse, parent, homemaker, breadwinner, or part of a perfect Latter-day Saint family—now.

What helps those who battle perfectionist tendencies? Open-ended, supportive inquiries communicate acceptance and love. They invite others to focus on the positive. They allow us to define what we feel is going well. Family and friends can avoid competitive comparisons and instead offer sincere encouragement.

Another serious dimension of perfectionism is to hold others to our unrealistic, judgmental, or unforgiving standards. Such behavior may, in fact, deny or limit the blessings of the Savior’s Atonement in our lives and in the lives of others. For example, young single adults may make a list of desired qualities in a potential spouse and yet be unable to marry because of unrealistic expectations for the perfect companion.

Thus, a sister may be unwilling to consider dating a wonderful, worthy brother who falls short on her perfectionist scale—he does not dance well, is not planning to be wealthy, did not serve a mission, or admits to a past problem with pornography since resolved through repentance and counseling.

Similarly, a brother may not consider dating a wonderful, worthy sister who doesn’t fit his unrealistic profile—she is not a sports enthusiast, a Relief Society president, a beauty queen, a sophisticated budgeter, or she admits to an earlier, now-resolved weakness with the Word of Wisdom.

Of course, we should consider qualities we desire in ourselves and in a potential spouse. We should maintain our highest hopes and standards. But if we are humble, we will be surprised by goodness in unexpected places, and we may create opportunities to grow closer to someone who, like us, is not perfect.

Faith acknowledges that, through repentance and the power of the Atonement, weakness can be made strong and repented sins can truly be forgiven.

Happy marriages are not the result of two perfect people saying vows. Rather, devotion and love grow as two imperfect people build, bless, help, encourage, and forgive along the way. The wife of a modern prophet was once asked what it was like being married to a prophet. She wisely replied that she had not married a prophet; she had simply married a man who was completely dedicated to the Church no matter what calling he received.4 In other words, in process of time, husbands and wives grow together—individually and as a couple.

The wait for a perfect spouse, perfect education, perfect job, or perfect house will be long and lonely. We are wise to follow the Spirit in life’s important decisions and not let doubts spawned by perfectionist demands hinder our progress.

For those who may feel chronically burdened or anxious, sincerely ask yourself, “Do I define perfectionand success by the doctrines of the Savior’s atoning love or by the world’s standards? Do I measure success orfailure by the Holy Ghost confirming my righteous desires or by some worldly standard?”

For those who feel physically or emotionally exhausted, start getting regular sleep and rest, and make time to eat and relax. Recognize that being busy is not the same as being worthy, and being worthy does not require perfection.5

For those prone to see their own weaknesses or shortcomings, celebrate with gratitude the things you do well, however large or small.

For those who fear failure and who procrastinate, sometimes by overpreparing, be assured and encouraged that there is no need to withdraw from challenging activities that may bring great growth!

Where needed and appropriate, seek spiritual counsel or competent medical attention to help you relax, develop positive ways to think and structure your life, reduce self-defeating behaviors, and experience and express more gratitude.6

Impatience impedes faith. Faith and patience will help missionaries understand a new language or culture, students to master new subjects, and young single adults to begin building relationships rather than waiting for everything to be perfect. Faith and patience will also help those waiting for temple sealing clearances or restoration of priesthood blessings.

As we act and are not acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:14), we can navigate between complementary virtues and achieve much of life’s growth. These can appear in “an opposition,” being “a compound in one” (2 Nephi 2:11).

For example, we can cease to be idle (see D&C 88:124) without running faster than we have strength (seeMosiah 4:27).

We can be “anxiously engaged in a good cause” (D&C 58:27) while also periodically pausing to “be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10; see also D&C 101:16).

We can find our lives by losing our lives for the Savior’s sake (see Matthew 10:3916:25).

We can be “not weary in well-doing” (D&C 64:33; see also Galatians 6:9) while taking appropriate time to refresh spiritually and physically.

We can be lighthearted without being light-minded.

We can laugh heartily with but not haughtily at.

Our Savior and His Atonement invite us to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.” As we do so, He promises that His grace is “sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ” (Moroni 10:32).

For those burdened by cares to find perfection or to be perfect now, our Savior’s freely given atoning love assures us:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

“… For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28, 30).7


  1. “I Feel My Savior’s Love,” Children’s Songbook,75.
  2. See also Russell M. Nelson, “Perfection Pending,”Ensign,Nov. 1995, 86–88.
  3. Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service(2004), 10.
  4. See Lavina Fielding, “Camilla Kimball: Lady of Constant Learning,”Ensign, Oct. 1975, 62.
  5. See, for example, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Four Titles,”Ensign,May 2013, 58–61. President Uchtdorf also cautions, “Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list” (“Of Things That Matter Most,” Ensign, Nov. 2010, 20).
  6. This insight comes from Carlos F. and Alane Kae Watkins, mental health advisers in the Asia Area, assigned in Hong Kong. Other insights for this article came from Susan Gong, Larry Y. and Lynda Wilson, Randy D. and Andrea Funk, Janet S. Scharman, and missionaries in the Indonesia Jakarta Mission.
  7. See also Cecil O. Samuelson, “What Does It Mean to Be Perfect?”New Era, Jan. 2006, 10–13; Janet S. Scharman, “Seeking Perfection without Being a Perfectionist,” in Virtue and the Abundant Life: Talks from the BYU Religious Education and Wheatley Institution Symposium, ed. Lloyd D. Newell and others (2012), 280–302.



Smiling on Saturday

Some of the artists of the ’60s are revising their hits with new lyrics to accommodate AGING BABY BOOMERS.



  1. Herman’s Hermits – Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Walker.
  2. The Bee Gees – How Can You Mend a Broken Hip.
  3. Bobby Darin – Splish, Splash, I Was Havin’ a Flash.
  4. Ringo Starr – I Get By With a Little Help From Depends.
  5. Roberta Flack – The First Time Ever I Forgot Your Face.


  1. Johnny Nash – I Can’t See Clearly Now.
  2. Paul Simon – Fifty Ways to Lose Your Liver
  3. The Commodores – Once, Twice, Three Times to the Bathroom.
  4. Marvin Gaye – Heard It Through the Grape Nuts.
  5. Procol Harem – A Whiter Shade of Hair.


  1. Leo Sayer – You Make Me Feel Like Napping.
  2. The Temptations – Papa’s Got a Kidney Stone.
  3. Abba – Denture Queen.
  4. Tony Orlando – Knock 3 Times On The Ceiling If You Hear Me Fall.
  5. Helen Reddy – I Am Woman, Hear Me Snore.


  1. Willie Nelson – On the Commode Again
  2. Leslie Gore – It’s My Procedure and I’ll Cry If I Want To.