How Firm Our Foundation – Russell M. Nelson

Today, I’m studying How Firm Our Foundation, by Russell M. Nelson. He gave this talk in the April 2002 General Conference.

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April 2002. By then, I had been a mom for about nine months. As I’ve said about many of these talks, I don’t really remember them, specifically at this point. But I know that I watched General Conference. I know that this was a part of my life.

Even though we may not always remember the specific words we hear or read, I do think that they become a part of us. I know that my testimony is a cumulative of daily experiences, rather than a sampling of a few singular ones.

***

Onto the talk…

Foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Obviously, based on the title of this talk, this is a talk about our foundation.

foundation
Foundation of our home when we lived in Arkansas.

Interestingly enough, I had a discussion with someone around this time in my life. I was working as a manager of an apartment complex. There was a maintenance man who came often, named “Art.” He was a nice guy. Humble. Funny.

If you can, recall what life was like immediately after 9/11. The world was both somber and resolute. Somber because of the tragedy that had happened on our own soil to so many innocent people. Resolute because we had decided to pray, to stand up against terrorism in any form, UNITED. I remember that the streets were lined with American flags. It was an interesting time.

One day, I was having a chat with Art. He was not a member of my faith. But we ended up having a discussion about faith – within the context of why God lets bad things happen to good people. I explained my position (which I won’t really get into here). He seemed receptive to what I had to say.

I was living in Utah, so there was a large population of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I admitted to Him that I was a member of this church. He hadn’t had very positive experiences with the Church, sadly. And I tried to make amends, shaking my head, and understanding his concerns. (Again, not really time to get into here)…

I can’t remember why, but at some point, he asked me, “Who was the first member of your church.” I thought for a moment. Prayed for help, then said, “I believe it was Adam.” He said, “That’s what I wanted to hear.” He asked me more about what I believed, and by the end of the conversation, he requested a Book of Mormon. I’m so grateful that the Spirit attended me at that moment. I don’t know what happened to Art (he ended up getting a job elsewhere, and I ended up moving. Our paths never again crossed. But I’ve thought about that experience a few times. The gospel is eternal. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the restored Gospel. It didn’t start in 1820. And Joseph Smith wasn’t the “first Mormon.”

President Nelson taught:

“This Church stands on a unique foundation, anchored to a bedrock of timeless truth. Brothers and sisters, the holy cause in which we are engaged did not begin in 1820 in the state of New York. It did not begin in Bethlehem. It did not begin in the Garden of Eden. The underpinnings of the everlasting gospel were in place even before the world was.” – Russel M. Nelson

Notice – The gospel began even before Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. The gospel, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ, was not some scrappy solution to a big “oops” made by Adam and Eve. The Gospel was the plan, the Atonement was in place even before the Earth was created. Heavenly Father really is “in charge!”

So – the foundation of this church are structured by “pre-mortal pillars.” These pillars existed before the creation of the earth, and help to form the foundation of the gospel.

They are:

  • The Plan of Redemption and Possibility of Inheritance in the Kingdom of God
  • The Atonement of Jesus Christ
  • Opposition from the Adversary
  • Foreordination for and Conferral of the Priesthood
  • Sisters Empowered to Glorify God
  • Children of the Covenant
  • Blessings Predicated upon Obedience to the Law
  • Sacred Things to Be Revealed in the Latter Days
  • Redemption of the Dead

The Church’s foundation is sure. It is eternal. It has been carefully prepared and strengthened by eternal “pillars.” Because the foundation of the church is sure, it is the ideal foundation for each of us.

Foundation of Individual Members of the Church

President Nelson states:

“Just as buildings and institutions have foundations, so do we as individuals have foundations that support our faith. Some are weak; some are strong. We can waffle “like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed,” or we can stand on a firm foundation and anchor ourselves with straps of spiritual steel, rooted and grounded to the timeless pillars of the gospel.” – Russell M. Nelson

We need to have a foundation that supports our faith! Even while writing this blog post, I’m amazed at how much the world around us has changed since the times after 9/11. There is so much information, yet so little knowledge. We have so many experts, but so much confusion.

I’ll share another personal example.

A few weeks ago, I started having shortness of breath.

Then, I started having dizziness.

This all culminated with some pain in my chest. Was I having a heart attack???!!! I didn’t know. The pain in my chest came at 3:30 AM. I didn’t really know what to do. What did I know??? That I had been warned in my Patriarchal Blessing* that I should keep the Word of Wisdom. I also knew that – though I wasn’t drinking alcohol, hot drinks, or using drugs, I also wasn’t doing the things I should do.

About 4-5 months ago, in fact, I started counting macros. Everything you find online suggests that when counting macros to lose fat, you need to have plenty of protein. I was consuming 135g protein in a 1500 calorie daily allotment.

Personally, I was struggling with getting plenty of protein. I had to eat a lot of meat. Lots of chicken, cans of tuna, ground beef, etc. You name it – I needed to have about 150g of chicken breast, for example, with at least three meals a day, and still I wouldn’t get enough protein to hit my macros.

Now, just so you understand. I was hitting my macros. So I was eating lots of egg whites, chicken, tuna, etc. Lots and lots of protein. And because my calories are reduced, I had to be pretty picky about what carbs and fat I consumed.

Anyway – those were my physical conditions. Yes I was losing weight. But there I was, wondering if my days were numbered. And I couldn’t help but think of the word of wisdom – which I have studied in depth. I, personally, couldn’t really make any peace with the advice of the word of wisdom and how I had been eating. I knew that I needed to keep the Word of Wisdom, as it is stated in the Doctrine and Covenants, and I was praying that I still had enough time on earth to change my ways.

I made a change that night. The next day, I changed my macro balance (I know that I need to lose weight still), and I decided that I would eat meat – in times of cold or famine.

Oh – by the way, I’m in Phoenix right now. It is not cold. Not even close. In fact, it has been super hot (over 110° for a while now…which is also when I started feeling worse).

Even while I was lying awake that night, I wondered – there are so many conflicting opinions. Are carbs bad or good? Should we be worried about saturated fat or not? Am I going to lose weight if I reduce my protein to 65g a day??? You can find a doctor or a study that can support any argument – so what should I listen to???

Thankfully, the Lord is merciful and patient with me. His Spirit whispered to my soul (as an impression), “Just do what I have said to do.”

DUH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I don’t need to worry about scientific evidence supporting this or that. (There were doctors and scientists who used to say smoking was good!!!!!) I just need to listen to God, the creator of my body. I want knowledge. I want endurance. Instead of basing my actions on the flavor of the day, I can instead listen to the words that the Lord gave to Joseph Smith. Even when it is so hard to know who we can trust, we can always trust God!

All of this is to say. Even in these times, we don’t need to be confused. We can build on the sure foundation of the gospel.

***

There is so much more in this talk that could be pondered or discussed, but I need to wrap it up for now. I’ll finish with this quote:

“How firm our foundation? The foundation of this Church was forged long before the world was. It is strong. It is true. It is eternal. The foundation of one’s individual faith, if anchored firmly to eternal truth, allows each of us to reach upward with an eternal perspective. That faith will give hope when there is no hope. It will give us joy here and eternal life hereafter. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” – Russell M. Nelson

I love this. I want joy here and eternal life in the future. I know that if I build on His foundation, I will be able to weather whatever storm comes my way (and they will come!). I’m so grateful to know that the gospel wasn’t some kind of quickly cobbled solution to a big “oops” when Eve was beguiled by the serpent. I’m grateful to know that the gospel has an eternal foundation – long before the world was created.

I’m also grateful to know that our prophet understands this. I’m grateful for the principles and foundational truths that he has taught. I’m grateful for his example, service, and testimony.

***
P.S. I didn’t have time to proofread. Please be kind and ignore any glaring mistakes!!!

Addiction or Freedom – Russell M. Nelson

Today I’m studying the talk, Addiction or Freedom, by Russell M. Nelson. He gave this talk in the October 1988 General Conference.

This talk was a good reminder on the blessing of the Word of Wisdom – and how violating the Word of Wisdom will ultimately result in a loss of freedom…addiction.

Throughout the first portion of the talk, President Nelson taught about the cycle of addiction and various addictive substances. That part of the talk is very helpful, but it isn’t what I’d like to focus on today for this blog post.

After a short treatment of addictive substances, President Nelson offered a “Prescription” for overcoming addiction. This prescription is relevant to all of us – no matter the type of addition we may be suffering from.

Spiritual Prescription for Overcoming Addiction

Before I continue with the Spiritual Prescription, I want to quickly say that now, 20 years after this talk was given, we know that drugs, tobacco, and alcohol are not the only addictive substances destroying lives. We also know that there are other substances that are incredibly addictive will some ill long-term effects. I’m thinking mainly of the overconsumption of sugar and other processed foods.

I don’t advocate a complete avoidance of sugar. I think that it is okay in small doses. But many people are addicted to sugar and certain foods, and it has led them down a path of disease and obesity. I think that we can apply these same principles to any kind of physical addiction we might have.

One: Choose to Be Alive

I love this! Choose to be alive. This life is a gift. When we are in the throes of addiction, we forget this!

President Nelson stated:

“The choice for life brings an outlook of optimism. It breathes hope. It rekindles self-esteem—regarding one’s body as a timeless trust.” – Russell M. Nelson

I know that I’ve probably stated this before, but I heard Chad Lewis speak at a fireside once. He talked about his experiences in the NFL and after – including climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. He has lived an exciting and full life, and told the audience that a major inspiration for him to do so was his father. About his father, Chad Lewis said, “He loved life enough to get after it.”

I love that. It has become a kind of motto for me – love life enough to get after it. This kind of love for life will help us to weigh various choices and sacrifices.

Yes, cookies and ice cream are good, but I do not want to eat them all the time. I don’t want to sacrifice future choices because of a current appetite. Choosing to be alive is fundamental for breaking any addiction.

Two: Choose to Believe

President Nelson states:

“Choose to Believe. Believe in God. Accept yourself as His child, created in His image. He loves you and wants you to be happy.” – Russell M. Nelson

I love this! Love it so much! Believe in God! and we need to accept ourselves. This is such a fundamentally easy mistake to make – not to accept ourselves as beloved children of God.

When we accept ourselves as His children, beloved and created in His image, then something changes within us. We gain confidence. I’m not talking about self esteem. I’m talking about the real confidence that will remain a part of us no matter what others say and do to us.

Accept yourself as His child. By doing so, we will begin to trust Him and His word – including His Word of Wisdom.

Three: Choose to Change

The change is only preceded by a choice to change. How do we choose to change? Probably education. Maybe also bad experiences. Not sure I have a single answer for this. But I know that if we want to change, we have to choose to change, and we have to believe that we can actually make this choice.

I think that there are a lot of people who want to change, but don’t think that they can. Don’t worry so much if you can or not (hint: you can). Just make the decision to do it.

Put another way, I was in a conversation with someone recently, and they said, “I don’t know how to do it.”

I realized that we don’t have to know how. Instead, we should focus on why. The how is really easy to figure out later on. Instead, focus on what to change and why. When we know what we want to change and why, when we really have these answers clear in our minds, we will figure out how to do it!

Unfortunately, we often get stopped on “how.” Let’s take weight-loss, for example. We might read diet book after diet book. A lot of people who are trying to lose weight know at least a dozen different diets, but none of them ever seem to work. Then, the next diet book comes out, they read that, hoping that it will finally answer how for them.

Instead, if they focused on why they wanted to lose weight – because they wanted to live longer, because they want to see their children have grandchildren, because they want their knees to stop hurting, because they don’t want to have to give themselves insulin shots, because they want to be more attractive for their spouse…etc. – then they would have enough of an answer to find out “how” in a jiffy.

So – make a choice to change. Don’t get fixated on how to change, just make a choice to do it – while remembering that you are alive, and that you are a beloved child of God. The universe (God’s universe) will point the way on how to change if you will just make the choice to do it.

Four: Choose to Be Different

This is an interesting point that I wouldn’t have thought of on my own, but I believe that it is critical. President Nelson explained:

“Choose to Be Different. Distinguish yourself from worldly crowds. Defenders do not resemble offenders. Among them are clever merchandisers who plot to link beer with sports, tobacco with charm, and drugs with fun. Scripture warns of those who so deceive:

“Thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation.” (D&C 89:4.)

His Word of Wisdom includes sound nutritional guidance and simple instructions.” – Russell M. Nelson

Choosing to keep the Word of Wisdom does make us different! I know that many Mormons all over the globe have experienced this. As I think about this, I remember how L. Tom Perry would drink milk at corporate dinners. MILK! He was different. And it is a choice that we must make – we need to be okay with being different.

It can be hard to be different. This is true.

Recently, I started Intermittent Fasting. I’m sure that I’ll share more about my experiences at a future point on the blog, but I’ll quickly say that it is one of the most positive things I’ve ever done for my body, spirit, and the health of both. Through intermittent fasting I’ve finally found a way to address and wrangle in my own problems with certain foods (sugar-y ones!). I’ve finally found a way to feel like I’m a master over my body and appetites, rather than a slave to it.

But you know what? When you choose to do intermittent fasting, you are different. I don’t eat breakfast or lunch most days. I remember thinking, why can’t I just be like everyone else? Why can’t I just eat all day long?

Intermittent fasting has been a very spiritual decision for me, and when I asked myself these questions, I felt a spiritual response: You can if you want. But remember that every choice is a sacrifice. You can sacrifice breakfast and lunch now and eat whatever you like during your eating window. Or you can eat all day long and sacrifice future health.

I know what my future holds. I can look at my parents and my grandparents and I see type two diabetes, stroke, dementia, heart disease, and obesity. I can choose to be like everyone else.

But I want to be different!

Five: Choose to Exercise

Isn’t this prescription great!

President Nelson explained:

“Exercising the body and the spirit will aid in the climb toward recovery. Appropriate physical activity helps to combat depression, which so often accompanies addiction.” – Russell M. Nelson

I feel very fortunate because for some reason I really love to exercise. Though it can be hard to get up and go for a run or do a workout,  I have been able to see the way that exercise can reward our lives. It keeps my head clear. I like being able to move my body. I love feeling strong.

The same goes for my spirit. I love having knowledge, faith, and strength. These only come with spiritual exercise. When we sacrifice the time to exercise – spiritually or physically – we gain so much more than the initial sacrifice. We are blessed with peace and confidence.

These blessings reinforce the other choices – to be alive, to believe, to choose, and to be different. As we exercise – spiritually and physically – we come to know who we are – spiritually and physically. We see the blessing our bodies and spirits are. We want to take care of them.

This is such good advice!

Six: Choose to Be Free

I love this final choice so much, I don’t even know what to say about it.

One thing that strikes me as interesting is how freedom is often misinterpreted.

When I was younger, there were people who thought my religion and its Word of Wisdom sounded confining and restrictive. They confused “freedom to” and “freedom from.”

All of us are free to choose. This is the agency that God grants us and that we fought for in our premortal life. But this freedom to choose is not the same as being free.

President Nelson taught:

“Often, however, agency is misunderstood. While we are free to choose, once we have made those choices, we are tied to the consequences of those choices.” – Russell M. Nelson

We are all free to choose. However, we must understand that the consequences of our choices may result in either liberty or captivity. This is the essence of choosing to be free – we want to choose liberty. We don’t want to be held captive by the consequences of the choices that we were free to make.

Freedom to = agency. The freedom to make a choice.

Freedom from = liberty. The freedom from captivity.

When President Nelson urges us to be free – he is talking about being free from captivity. Having liberty. Choosing to keep the Word of Wisdom does ensure a measure of liberty in our lives. We will not form addictions when we keep the Word of Wisdom. We might also be kept safe from some of the other enslaving consequences and diseases that come through dietary choices.

Of course there are exceptions. I knew a man that had never smoked a day in his life. He was fit and healthy. But because of a genetic mutation that he did know he had and that he could not alter, he ended up dying from lung cancer. This was a result of immortality – not a choice he made. And though he had to suffer this adversity, he was still free.

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I’m grateful to know that we are led by a prophet who understands and lives the Word of Wisdom. He has a very intimate understanding of it as a medical doctor. I’m grateful for his sound advice – that not only is helpful if we are addicted to drugs, but it is also helpful if we have more “minor” yet just as difficult addictions. I’m grateful to know that our prophet leads and guides us to have happier lives – both spiritually and physically. I’m also impressed because not only does President Nelson understand these principles, but he lives them. He’s 93! He has chosen to be alive, believe, choose, be different and be free.

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President Nelson on a Swing click for source

 

My Name is Catania, and I am a Sugar Addict

I usually try to keep this a rather spiritual blog. And it still will be, but I have a goal this year – to get back into my pre-preganancy clothes (yes…it’s been two years, so it depresses me). This is not a particularly spiritual goal. At least, not on the outset.

For me, this goal is actually extremely spiritual. You see, for some reason, my dissatisfaction with the way that I have treated my physical body, my temple, has kind of taken over my life and brain. It isn’t good. So…simple – lose weight, right? I wish it was that simple.

Last week, I fasted and prayed that I would be able to reach my goal this year. Losing weight is my only goal. And maybe that isn’t a great goal. Maybe i should state it in another way. I don’t know. I’m searching. But I do know one thing – in the past, I have been happy with myself physically. Right now I’m not. As I fasted, I felt hopeful – like, with the help of the Lord, that this goal is something that I would be able to accomplish – even though it will take self control and time.

Before I go on, you should know that in my patriarchal blessing, I have been counseled to keep the word of wisdom. It is funny, when I received my patriarchal blessing, I didn’t understand why this warning would have been given to me. I never had any kid of proclivity towards alcohol, caffeine, or drugs. As a youth, I kind of shrugged this counsel off. Of course, as I’ve gotten older, and have studied the Word of Wisdom, I realize that keeping the Word of Wisdom is way more than not smoking or drinking. It is a general health code, and a real blessing for our time.

So…why am I blogging about this? I think that it is so I can keep it in the forefront of my mind. I also think that I’m not the only one who struggles with health and weight issues. In fact, as I fasted last week, I also felt the reminder that the problem I struggle with – truly keeping the word of wisdom and being overweight – is not something I’m dealing with alone. It is, in fact, of epidemic proportions – and maybe even more. Interesting. So, hopefully, if I blog about this, I can be of help to someone else. Additionally, if you read this, maybe you can help me.

Last Monday (I think), I heard an interview with Doctor Robert Lustig about his new book Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease. I have read plenty of books about diet and exercise. I’ve read everything from books by Jillian Michaels and other famous “personal trainers” to books by Medical Doctors (like Lustig’s book, or other authors like Dr. David Kessler). I have also read books by Michael Pollan. They have been helpful. But this book by Dr. Lustig was just what I needed.

Two of the most profound thoughts I had while reading the book were:
Sugar is a poison – I don’t think that this means we can never have sugar. But the way we – I – eat sugar is harmful – to my liver, my hormonal system, my body. Sugar is truly addictive – in that it fits the criteria for addiction. Sugar raises insulin, causes Leptin resistance, numbs dopamine receptors, and raises seratonin. Our bodies love it even though it really isn’t that good for us.

Now, the thing is – we need energy, and sugar is a good source for that. Naturally occurring sugars (like that found in fruit) is nearly always found with fiber. When we eat natural sugars, we also eat a lot of fiber – causing less sugar to be absorbed, and more of the healthy signals (like fullness) to be sent to our brains – as fiber is very filling. Fiber keeps us regular. And less sugar keeps our other organs and hormones in check.

I need to eat less sugar. I am a sugar addict! I always choose sugary, processed foods over healthy foods. Too much sugar has interrupted my body’s ability to feel full and satisfied. And, I have no idea what it has done to me on a mitochondrial level. The effects of sugar can cause liver disease, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, and cancer. I really don’t want any of those.

Yet…sugar beckons, and my desire for sugar often outweighs the desire I have to be healthy.

The Food Industry Knows that Sugar is Addictive The idea that kept going through my head was from the Doctrine and Covenants:

” In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—” – Doctrine and Covenants 89:4

I really think this is true. We have seen this before – with the tobacco industry. They knew that tobacco was bad, but didn’t want to hurt profits. They were in bed with our government, and kept pushing a product they knew to be both addictive and lethal.

I imagine it is pretty much the same with the food industry. Why would I trust them? I’m not sure that they are worried about my health, but their own bottom line.

***
I don’t want to sound all alarmist or conspiracy theorist, but those were the two thoughts that ran through my mind as I read the book. I need to trust God, and He has given us the best advice on health. I need to do better at eating plants and fruits in their seasons. That is the real place to start.

What are you doing to live a healthier life? Do you have similar New years goals???

The Word of Wisdom: Promises and Blessings – 2/2 (Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-21)

“And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;

And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;

And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.

And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.” – Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-21

See part one here.

So – we continue to learn about the blessings of the Word of Wisdom. I really love these blessings. They motivate me to be better at really keeping the Word of Wisdom.

Strength to Endure
Often, when thinking of the phrase, “run and not be weary, and…walk and not faint,” I think of what this means, physically. I think of running a marathon.

I ran a marathon several years ago. It was a really interesting experience. It required discipline. It was humbling. It was difficult. In running and training for the marathon, I loved the idea of having discipline. For once in my life, I felt like I had discipline! I could say no to bad foods. I woke up at 5:30 in the morning to run. While none of this was easy, I felt like having discipline was like wearing a badge of honor.

I’m not as physically disciplined these days. And I miss that feeling of confidence. Not only that, but I can see how physical discipline effects me spiritually.

I know that the blessing for keeping the Word of Wisdom is more than physical. Keeping the word of wisdom helps us to endure both physically and emotionally/spiritually. I love this promise! We have been told that in order to receive eternal life, we need to endure. And in the word of wisdom, we are blessed with being able to endure! It’s pretty awesome when you think about it.

And one last scripture while we’re on this topic –

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

There are many ways to wait upon the Lord, and I guess I get the feeling that we shouldn’t underestimate the connection between our bodies and Spirits. When we keep the word of wisdom, when we keep our personal temples holy and pure, then we are blessed with renewed strength, we will run and not be weary and walk and not faint. We will be given the ability to endure.

Protection and Life
The Lord has always preserved His people. In this verse, there is a reference to when the Angel of Death passed over the homes of those who were covenant Israel (See Exodus 12:23, 29). The Lord preserves His people through commandments and covenants. Of course, the Lord loves us. But the children of Israel weren’t automatically saved from the plague of death brought on by the Destroying Angel. They had to do as the Lord had instructed, and apply the blood of a lamb to their doorframe. When the Destroying Angel saw this token, he “passed over” the home. The children of Israel were literally saved from Destruction.

Keeping the word of wisdom can also keep us from being physically destroyed before our time. This is kind of obvious. When we keep the word of wisdom, we avoid contracting preventable diseases or other problems. The Word of Wisdom keeps us healthy.

But I kind of wonder if there is more to this promise than avoiding life-threatening disease – especially when you consider we will all die anyway.

The Lord’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt was not only physical, but symbolic of the deliverance that Christ can offer to all of us. We can all, through keeping the commandments and making covenants with God, be blessed with the ability to overcome the world. This blessing results in our inheritance of an eternal “promised land” – heaven.

Keeping the Word of Wisdom will also help us to receive this blessing. When we keep the Word of wisdom, we’re blessed with physical health and strength, we’re blessed with knowledge, we’re blessed with the ability to endure. These are the ingredients we need in order to inherit eternal life. Truly, if we keep the word of wisdom, the destroying angel will pass over us.

Even though I’m not always the best at keeping the word of wisdom – I don’t always eat the most healthy things. Sometimes, I don’t treat my body like the temple that it is. I can see how the word of wisdom helps us to develop discipline. It helps us to understand our physical relationship with the Lord. I am grateful for the word of wisdom.

What are some of the blessings and promises of the Word of Wisdom you are grateful for? What have you learned as you’ve studied and pondered the Word of Wisdom?

The Word of Wisdom: Promises and Blessings Part One (D&C 89:18-21)

“And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;

And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;

And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.

And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.” – Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-21

I have to admit, this is my favorite part of the Word of Wisdom.

When the Lord introduced this new principle, he explained that it was a principle with a promise. In these last few verses, we learn of the promised blessing that will come when we follow the principle of good health.

Health in the Navel, Marrow in the Bones
The first blessing is actual health. Now, this doesn’t mean that we will never get sick. But that we will have healthier lives because of living the word of wisdom. This seems like the most obvious consequence of keeping the Word of Wisdom. Just because it is obvious, though, doesn’t mean we should overlook its importance! Good health is an amazing blessing. When we have good health, we are better able to enjoy life.

I have always experienced fairly good health. I’ve never had a life threatening disease. Of course, there have been times that I’ve been sick, and when I’ve gone through that, I think, “This is the worst thing EVER!” And, afterwards, I am always amazed at how great it feels to be normal – not to have a runny nose, or fever, or some worse symptom.

Recently, though, I have had a problem with endometriosis. I have known about this problem for about five years, but hadn’t done anything to treat it because I wasn’t done having children. Then, this summer, it was acting up again, and I decided to see a doctor to do something about it. Since I knew that we were done having children, I prayerfully considered her advice: hysterectomy.

I elected to have the surgery – seven weeks ago. I’m already feeling so much better! I have more energy. I feel like I’m better able to enjoy life again. Even though I still have to get back to normal (my abdomen will need a bit of strengthening after that surgery), I’m noticing the quality of my life increase. I’m so grateful for health.

In the Doctrine and Covenants, there is a scripture that reads:

” Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;

Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.” – Doctrine and Covenants 59:18-19

I love this! When we keep the Word of Wisdom, and use the food that Heavenly Father has given us as He has directed, then it will strengthen our bodies and enliven our souls. The physical blessing of the Word of Wisdom is pretty cool.

Wisdom
Another blessing of the Word of Wisdom is wisdom! (Imagine that).

One of the best examples of this blessing is found in the example of Daniel, Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abed-nego). They had been brought to the court of Nebuchadnezzar to be trained by his people. They would be added to his large counsel. They were young and first would go through various exercises. The first thing to do was to get healthy and strong. They were told to eat the “Kings Meat” and drink the “King’s Wine.” However, this diet was against the dietary code of Daniel and his Israelite brethren. They asked if they could be exempt from this part of the King’s training.

Of course, the eunuchs who were in charge of preparing Daniel and his brethren were worried about the results of their lack of participation. Daniel offered a challenge – they would keep their own Dietary code for ten days, and if they didn’t appear and perform well, then they would submit to the King’s diet.

After ten days, the boys appeared healthier than all of the other boys who had eaten the king’s meat. We also learn of another blessing:

“As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” – Daniel 1:17

In addition to their good health, these boys had received knowledge in all learning and wisdom.

I think that this makes sense. When we are following the Word of Wisdom (not necessarily the diet fad of the day), our brains work better. We receive the nutrients we need in order to have maximum function. We may not have six pack abs, but we won’t be “meat-heads” either. The Lord knows our bodies, He designed them. While we may not have an understanding of the benefits for various foods and our body, the Lord does. Our diet does more for us than our appearance -it also helps us have wisdom.

I, personally, am interested in this promise. I am always looking to improve my wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. If I want to do this, then I will stay closer to His Spirit through keeping the Word of Wisdom. Elder Richard G. Scott has taught us how to enhance the power of the Spirit in our lives:

“On the other hand, spiritual communication can be enhanced by good health practices. Exercise, reasonable amounts of sleep, and good eating habits increase our capacity to receive and understand revelation.” – Richard G. Scott

It makes sense that if we don’t cloud our minds with the negative effects of drugs, then we will be blessed with greater wisdom. I find it interesting to also note that good eating habits help to enhance our ability to receive revelation and gain wisdom. Good food = Brain food.

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I’m grateful for these blessings of the Word of Wisdom. I’m grateful to enjoy good health. I love being able to learn, think, and grow. I’m grateful that Heavenly Father has given us insight on how our bodies effect us physically and mentally. Have you experienced these blessings as a result of keeping the Word of Wisdom? How have the blessings of health and wisdom effected your life?

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Click here to read part two of The Word of Wisdom: Promises and Blessings.

FHE – The Word of Wisdom

Tiger drew the subject of the Word of Wisdom for Monday’s FHE lesson. She did a good job researching the Word of Wisdom and thinking of a lesson plan.

During her preparation, she read the Word of Wisdom as it is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 89. The Word of Wisdom is the dietary code that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints follow.

For her lesson, she created a few pictures.

On each card, she drew an object or type of food. Then she wrote good or bad. She also left a blank space so we could fill in the objects she talked about.

We learned about wine and strong drinks, plants and fruits, meat, grains, and the promise of the Word of Wisdom.

We discussed how science has changed its minds on a lot of things since the Word of Wisdom was given to Joseph Smith (1833). People have thought smoking to be good in the past, they have thought that we should eat no meat, a lot of meat, mostly grains, no grains, raw foods, grilled foods. You name it. There is a study that can “prove” any viewpoint.

Thankfully, we have a dietary code given to us from the creator of our bodies. We don’t have to worry about scientific theories or fads. We have a simple directive that teaches us how to take care of the amazing blessing of our body.

My favorite part of the Word of Wisdom is the promise:

” And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;

And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;

And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.

And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.” – Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-21

It was a nice Family Home Evening and opportunity to talk about our bodies – that they are sacred and there is a way that we can take care of them. In a few weeks, I’ll be giving a FHE lesson on morality/virtue. I’m glad that we talked about how to take care of our bodies, physically. It will fit into the subject of being virtuous nicely.

I’m grateful for FHE. As I write this, I’m realizing that my oldest daughter is in sixth grade. She will begin to face new temptations. Soon she’ll face many temptations regarding the Word of Wisdom. I’m grateful for a good, safe forum for discussing gospel principles – such as the Word of Wisdom. It is my hope that through these traditions in our home, she and the rest of my children will gain enough confidence to know that they don’t need to look to outsides sources for supposed happiness. I hope that they will learn that short-term pleasure may not result in long-term joy. I hope that they will see the wisdom in The Word of Wisdom and other gospel principles.

What did you do for FHE? Check out Jocelyn’s blog for another fun FHE.

The Word of Wisdom – It’s not Just about Flat Abs (D&C 89:14-17)

Please remember, this is my opinion, my study. I’m learning.

“All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;

And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.

All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground—

Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.” – Doctrine and Covenants 89:14-17

As I studied this group of scriptures, I was led to the account of Daniel 1:6-20 and his brethren, when they were in the King’s Court. They didn’t want to break their dietary code by eating the “king’s meat.” Instead, they wanted to eat their own foods – which consisted mainly of grains.

As a test, they ate their diet for 10 days, and after this time, they had the following results:

“And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.
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As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” – Daniel 1:15

This result really intrigues me. I get the feeling that maybe Daniel and his brethren weren’t ripped. They appeared “fairer and fatter in flesh.” I’m not exactly sure what this means. I doubt that it means that they were fat or obese. I also don’t think that they were underweight or “ripped” like we see so many people who are “fit” today.

I can’t help but wonder how skewed my perception of what healthiness or fitness looks like. I wonder how healthy a six-pack (especially on a woman) is. Of course, that is what we consider completely fit right now. But is it really best for our body – overall? Is it best for our organs, bones, or brains? We are more than our muscular system. I wonder if the obsession with health is actually contrary to the word of wisdom. In fact, I watched this talk Weighty Matters: Current Approaches to Evaluating Body Weight and Weight Loss, by Susan Fullmer about healthy weight, BMI, and other body weight issues. It was really interesting – we don’t know much. Many of the things that we think we know may be wrong! For example, people with a BMI that classifies them as “overweight” are actually usually healthier than those with an “underweight” BMI. You would never get this idea from looking at current media (or pinterest) trends.

I’m realizing that I’m a little confused and maybe brainwashed by the idea that I should be super-thin or fit. Usually, in order to obtain a six-pack body, you have to abandon carbs and eat mostly meats. (Think Paleo). I don’t know that I’m sure how the low-carb high protein diet fits into the Word of Wisdom!

So, when I see this story of Daniel, He denied the King’s Meats and instead ate his own diet of pulse and healthy plants. I know that this diet probably didn’t result with super-duper muscles. I’m sure he looked healthy, in a more balanced, moderate way. I am beginning to realize that I may have an incorrect expectation on what “health” or “fitness” looks like. The Word of Wisdom, keeping our Bodies temples, is much more than being tiny or skinny. It is about having a working body. Additionally, the Lord wants to bless us with spiritual, emotional, and mental health.

As I write this, I don’t want to sound like I’m supporting obesity. Instead, I think that we should not be so focused on our body. Rather, we need to focus on keeping the word of wisdom. If we are keeping the word of wisdom, then we ought to be confident in the results – our bodies, our minds, etc. If we are keeping the word of wisdom, then we ought to also accept the results – that they may not look like what is popular. They may not be as heavy as a Renoir Woman, as skinny as a runway model, or as fit as an olympic gymnast. If we keep the word of wisdom, our bodies will probably vary by each person (tall, short, big frame, small frame, etc), but we will be able to run and not be weary. We will also be blessed with knowledge and understanding. When we keep the word of wisdom, we aren’t blessed with a shredded body, but we’re blessed with an able and fit body – capable of handling the stresses that are placed on us – capable of enduring. We’re blessed with mental and spiritual capability. When we keep the Word of Wisdom, instead of washboard abs, we are a temple.

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Another note. As I have been studying the word of wisdom, I’ve noticed a connection between agriculture and civilization. This probably sounds obvious, but here’s an example of exactly what I mean:

“And we began to build buildings, and to repair the walls of the city, yea, even the walls of the city of Lehi-Nephi, and the city of Shilom.

And we began to till the ground, yea, even with all manner of seeds, with seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of barley, and with neas, and with sheum, and with seeds of all manner of fruits; and we did begin to multiply and prosper in the land.” – Mosiah 9:8-9

The righteous, civilized people always till the ground. They always harvest and eat grains, seeds, and other fruits and vegetables. They do raise flocks, and one would assume that they are eating cheeses, milks, and some animal products. They may fish or forage for other wild foods, but they don’t have to worry about availability of wild foods because they are self-sufficient based on their cultivated crops.

On the other hand, we see what happens with those who stop being industrious and growing crops. They begin to lose their culture and are completely dependent on wild animals or wild plants.

“And I bear record that the people of Nephi did seek diligently to restore the Lamanites unto the true faith in God. But our labors were vain; their hatred was fixed, and they were led by their evil nature that they became wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, full of idolatry and filthiness; feeding upon beasts of prey; dwelling in tents, and wandering about in the wilderness with a short skin girdle about their loins and their heads shaven; and their skill was in the bow, and in the cimeter, and the ax. And many of them did eat nothing save it was raw meat; and they were continually seeking to destroy us.” – Enos 1:20

The Lamanites, who had given up agriculture also gave up civilization. I bet they were ripped, but I doubt that they lived as long. I doubt that their lives were abundant with understanding and happiness. They might have looked good in a loincloth, but they didn’t understand their bodies were temples. They didn’t have the Spirit striving with them. Most likely, they didn’t enjoy good, overall health.

There is more to healthy living than looking good.

In this modern age, we don’t have to live with the connection between growing food ourselves and mealtime. We just get our food from the store. Some of the popular diets (high protein/meat) may not seem as uncivilized because we get our meat nicely packaged in the supermarket. But it seems like the Lamanites were living a high protein diet; where the Nephites and other righteous civilizations were eating diets that were more plant-based. I bet after eating such a protein-rich diet, the Lamanites noticed their abs, then decided they would look good in a loincloth!

Our modern “diets” may make us look good in a loincloth, but they may not be best for our health or society. I suppose that this is why the Word of Wisdom is so helpful. Even when we get conflicting dietary advice, we can look to the scriptures and know what we should eat in order to be our best selves.

Have you made the connection between the Word of Wisdom and body image? What do you do to keep a healthy body image? How do you wade through fad diets verses the prophetic counsel we’ve been given?