• “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Suess

Friday, December 1, 2017


Mini Workshop IV: Strength Identification

What is one way you excel?

I have a strong voice.
Yes, that does mean it is loud.

In fact, when my husband drives with me in the car,
sometimes he covers his ear nearest to me.

Sorry, dear.

Every weakness has an opposite strength.
Those who are stubborn, are also steadfast.

(And my voice can be heard clearly without a mike.)

What are your strengths?

Strengths can open closed paths ...
Strengths identify open doors, show us light, and directions.

Strengths connect our head with our heart.

What are your strengths?

In October 2008, Elder Jeffrey R Holland encouraged listeners:

“Take heart, be filled with faith, and remember the Lord has said He ‘would fight [our] battles, [our] children’s battles, and [the battles of our] children’s children (D&C 98:37).’ And what do we do to merit such a defense? We are to ‘search diligently, pray always, and be believing[. Then] all things shall work together for [our] good, if [we] walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith [we] have covenanted (D&C 90:24).’ The latter days are not a time to fear and tremble. They are a time to be believing and remember our covenants. [sic]

Rescue of the Lost Lamb by Minerva Teichert
“God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face. “[N]or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man [or woman or child] upon the face thereof to be saved (Moroni 7:36).

"On occasions, global or personal, we may feel we are distanced from God, shut out from heaven, lost, alone in dark and dreary places. Often enough that distress can be of our own making, but even then the Father of us all is watching and assisting. And always there are those angels who come and go all around us, seen and unseen, known and unknown, mortal and immortal” (The Ministry of Angels, October 2008).

Friday, November 24, 2017


Mini Workshop III: Patterns and Possibilities

Gratitude and Kindness are key parts of genuine happiness.
Being Mindful of habitual interactions also contributes.

“[T]he positive, outward focus afforded by gratitude and kindness interventions mobilize the existing support that people have in their lives, enabling them to forge new or strengthened connections with others.

"[These findings are] consistent with prior research indicating an association between gratitude, kindness, and elements of improved relational functioning… [to]… predict the acquisition of positive relational resources ...” (Passmore, & Oades, 2016).

Mindful. Kindness. Gratitude.

What do these terms mean?

Let's define them.

Being Mindful is the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.

The concept of mindfulness originates in a term meaning to remember.

It combines remembering with a sense of non-judgmental acceptance, kindness and friendliness.

Kindness: is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.

Kindness changes hearts and lives.

In kindness intervention research, kindness is defined as “behaviors that benefit other people, or make them happy.” Researchers propose that these behaviors “usually involve some effort on our part” (Kerr et al, 2015), and suggest we look for 5 daily acts of kindness that we can do every day, with at least one of those acts being intentional.

What 5 kind acts can you do today—
 making one of those acts intentional?

"Kindness is a choice that can create change today"—now
  (Kerr, S. C.,2015).

“Positive emotion has an 'undoing effect' on damaging negative mood states, and is self-perpetuating, such that the experience of positive emotion can lead to an upward spiral ... [as] the context of ... one’s habitual ways of thinking are expanded and broadened …

 “Cultivat[ing] feelings of loving-kindness (directed toward the self and others)… [gives] purpose in life, social support, … and reduced negative affect and symptoms of illness ...

"Otake et al. (2006) examined the importance of kindness … [and observed] increases in happiness … in participants who had completed the most kind acts, whereas no increase in happiness was observed for the control group” (Kerr, S. C., 2015).

How many synonyms can you think of for the word Kind?

In a literature review of hundreds of studies about positive and negative affects on emotional and physical well-being, Ramsey and Gentzler provide evidence that positive interactions form “an upward spiral” of increasingly beneficial exchanges. 

Their research includes many other specific categories and “indicates that we all are actively influencing each other's positive [attitudes]” and that this is associated with “the quality of our relationships” (Ramsey & Gentzler, 2015).

In other research regarding couple relationships, we learn that this influence is so great that "when there is a discrepancy between individuals' self-views and a spouses' views, both change in ways to become more consistent with the views of the other. [Beware however,] that individuals and spouses are as likely to adopt negative views as they are to adopt positive views" (Cast & Cantwell 2007).

Gratitude: is readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness; the quality of being thankful.

“[G]ratitude is, in essence, a positive emotion beneficial for positive functioning, as well as broadening and building other positive emotions, which, in turn, result in an increase in emotional well-being” (CHIH-CHE, L. 2015, my emphasis).

“ [G]ratitude serves a social function in helping build and maintain relationships between family members and the wider kinship group.

More importantly, gratitude encourages individuals to focus their attention on the positive aspects of their life, in contrast with dwelling on negative issues and events.

Research … has linked gratitude with hope, life satisfaction, and more proactive behaviors towards others.

In conflict situations, reflect on the individual with whom you are in conflict. If a relationship is “less strong, reflect and identify one (or – even better – two or three) characteristics admired or appreciated in the other person. By expressing gratitude for these aspects of the person, and by focusing attention on these aspects, an anchor can be provided which may allow the relationship to develop . . .” (Passmore, & Oades, (2016).

Consistent daily choices change our connectedness and confidence, and begin in our thoughts. 

Elder David A. Bednar, of the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, teaches:

“Ordinary people who faithfully, diligently, and consistently do simple things that are right before God will bring forth extraordinary results" (Bednar, BYU’s 2011 Women’s Conference).


Allemand, M., & Hill, P. L. (2016). Gratitude From Early Adulthood to Old Age. Journal Of Personality84(1), 21-35.
Bednar, D. A. (2011). Small and simple things. BYU Women’s Conference Retrieved from
Benzo, R. P., Abascal-Bolado, B., & Dulohery, M. M. (2016). Quality of life: Self-management and quality of life in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): The mediating effects of positive affect. Patient Education And Counseling99617-623. doi:10.1016/j.pec.2015.10.031
Carr, D., Morgan, B., & Gulliford, L. (2015). Learning and teaching virtuous gratitude. Oxford Review Of Education41(6), 766-781.
CHIH-CHE, L. (2015). IMPACT OF GRATITUDE ON RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT AND EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal43(3), 493-504.
Garland, E., Kiken, L., Faurot, K., Palsson, O., & Gaylord, S. (2017). Upward Spirals of Mindfulness and Reappraisal: Testing the Mindfulness-to-Meaning Theory with Autoregressive Latent Trajectory Modeling. Cognitive Therapy & Research41(3), 381-392.
Holland, J. R. (2007, October). The tongue of angels. LDS General Conference Retrieved from
Holland, J. R. (2013, October). Like a broken vessel. LDS General Conference Retrieved from
Hunt, C. S. (2016). Getting to the heart of the matter: Discursive negotiations of emotions within literacy coaching interactions. Teaching And Teacher Education60331-343. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2016.09.004
Kerr, S., O'Donovan, A., & Pepping, C. (2015). Can Gratitude and Kindness Interventions Enhance Well-Being in a Clinical Sample?. Journal Of Happiness Studies16(1), 17-36.
Korb, A. P., & Siegel, D. J. (2015). The upward spiral : using neuroscience to reverse the course of depression, one small change at a time. Oakland, California : New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2015.
Larsen, D. L. (1976). Thoughts about thoughts. BYU Speeches. Retrieved from
McMaster, C. W. (1969) IRI “Kindness Begins with Me,” Children’s Songbook, 145.
Passmore, J., & Oades, L. G. (2016). Positive psychology techniques – gratitude. Coaching Psychologist12(1), 34-35.
Petrocchi, N., & Couyoumdjian, A. (2016). The impact of gratitude on depression and anxiety: the mediating role of criticizing, attacking, and reassuring the self. Self & Identity15(2), 191-205.
Pohl, C. D. (2012). Recovering kindness: an urgent virtue in a ruthless world. The Christian Century, 129(22), 10-11.
Ramsey, M. A., & Gentzler, A. L. (2015). An upward spiral: Bidirectional associations between positive affect and positive aspects of close relationships across the life span. Developmental Review3658-104. doi:10.1016/j.dr.2015.01.003
Renshaw, T. L., & Olinger Steeves, R. M. (2016). What good is gratitude in youth and schools? A systematic review and meta-analysis of correlates and intervention outcomes. Psychology In The Schools53(3), 286-305.
Rusk, R., Vella-Brodrick, D., & Waters, L. (2016). Gratitude or Gratefulness? A Conceptual Review and Proposal of the System of Appreciative Functioning. Journal Of Happiness Studies17(5), 2191-2212. doi:10.1007/s10902-015-9675-z
Singh, B., Salve, S., & Shejwal, B. R. (2017). Role of gratitude, personality, and psychological well-being in happiness among young adults. Indian Journal Of Health

Friday, November 17, 2017



What are you avoiding?

What if tomorrow that thing, or circumstance,
or person changed - for the better?

And the issue or problem no longer exists?

What is the opposite?

How can you approach1 instead of avoid?
How can you achieve future positive outcomes?

What do you want?

No, not what you don't want.

What DO you want!
What can you do?
Wait a minute, I didn't ask what you can't do.
I asked what you can do!

Approach 1  goals  bypass the pitfalls of avoidance 2 .
Focus on desires orients energy toward outcomes.

Could Peter walk on water?
Absolutely -
even if it he only did it for a few steps!

And, Peter walked during the height of the storm.
"[H]e saw the wind boisterous ...."
From then on, Peter could say, "Yes, I can!"
And note, Jesus told him how to do it again.
Matthew 14:22-33

Saint PeterAttempting to Walk on Water
François Boucher Cathédrale Saint-Louis (1766) Versailles

In October 2012, President Henry B Eyring, taught:
“The pavilion that seems to intercept divine aid does not cover God but occasionally covers us. God is never hidden, yet sometimes we are, covered by a pavilion of motivations that draw us away from God and make Him seem distant and inaccessible.  . . . but we may be unwilling to listen or submit to His will and His time. . . . God is close to us and aware of us and never hides from His faithful children."

“We remove the pavilion when we feel and pray, ‘Thy will be done’ and ‘in Thine own time.’ His time should be soon enough for us since we know that He wants only what is best.”

"The Lord’s delays often seem long; some last a lifetime. But they are always calculated to bless. They need never be times of loneliness or sorrow or impatience. Although His time is not always our time, we can be sure that the Lord keeps His promises." (Where Is The Pavilion?, 2012)

1. Conoley, C. W., Plumb, E. W., Hawley, K. J., Spaventa-Vancil, K. Z., & Hernández, R. J. (2015). Integrating Positive Psychology Into Family Therapy: Positive Family TherapyΨ. Counseling Psychologist, 43(5), 703. doi:10.1177/0011000015575392 

2. More reading , resources, and other possibilities 

Friday, November 10, 2017



1. Who is in your household now?
(Define your “family”.)

 2. What specific desirable outcome for your family can you identify?

3. What are some ways you can track that outcome?
     I keep a journal where I write notes to myself.
     What are 5 ways to accomplish your outcome?
 (These options can be fact, or fiction).

4. Which option – only one – can you apply?
If none of the 5 can be applied, what else might you try?
Who else can provide new insights?

5. What strategy can help you apply an option?
      One helpful method is SMART Goals:
  •        Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  •       Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  •       Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  •        Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
  •        Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited,    
         timely, time-sensitive).
See also the MIT version or Abbey Rike's t.his blog.

** Another workable pattern is the ADKAR change model.

Do you have another preference?

Please share it in “Comments” below

Elder Robert D. Hales, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught, “Use your agency to develop yourself personally. . . [by letting] the Spirit guide you. ...

 "Choose and act for yourself. Be motivated from within. Make a plan for your life. . . . Explore interests and skills. Work and become self-reliant. Set goals, overcome mistakes, gain experience, and finish what you begin. . . . Be sure to participate . . . enjoy wholesome fun.  . . .

"Above all, have faith in the Savior! Fear not! As we diligently live the gospel, we become strong in the Lord. . . . In the strength of the Lord we are able to stand against any philosophy or creed that denies the Savior and contradicts the great, eternal plan of happiness for all of God’s children.”  Robert D Hales,  “Stand Strong in Holy Places,” April 2013

Friday, October 27, 2017


 A Family Life Coach provides:
  •  reassurance
  • encouragement 
  • a future focus.
Again, If you can walk on water,
               Why sink or swim?
             (Matthew 14: 25-30)

When the Lord commands, and we focus on Him,
the seemingly impossible becomes possible.

Walking on Water by Brian Jekel

Thursday, September 28, 2017


HEY COACH, What next ...

If you are thinking of a sports coach, think again.

This semester, learning Family Life Coaching skills that strengthen individuals and family relationships is an adventure. Volunteer clients will be clarifying objectives and exploring new options as we learn to make firm decisions, move past obstacles, and become accountable to act on choices.

Family Coaching, like all coaching professions, promotes confidence in the application of existing and acquired skills. The process is about developing goals you choose, defining your measures of success, and having coaching support to provide encouragement, focus and accountability.

Coaching is about you taking action to get where you want to be through personal exploration, goal setting, and consistent effort. A family coach provides reassurance and courage for today, with the impetus for you to focus forward on future aspirations and objectives.

Services offered by student coaches have no fees (even though typical fees, for professional family and life coaching services, vary in the range of $50 to $150+ per hour.

A pilot coach-training class, beginning September 2017, is accepting volunteers willing to receive short term services from mentored coaches-in-training. The services are provided on-line or face-to-face as available.

If you are willing to volunteer to help train new family coaches by receiving services without characteristic coaching fees, please text
Linda Ames at 509-760-8719
(or e-mail

Please contact me if you have questions, or need more information.

Friday, August 25, 2017


Monday, 21 August 2017

The day was warmish and sunny with clear skies here in central Washington.

In the early afternoon we saw part of the much talked about eclipse of the sun, and indeed, as explained on the internet, we did see crescent shaped shadows.

Shadow of a hanging plant showing crescents on concrete step.

David pointed out the lacy shadows on the porch from our hanging pots, and we snapped a few photos. Then, remembering I had heard to look under trees, I moved an outdoor table under a tree and to show the same crescents in the dappled shade.

Crescents in shade of a tree on an outdoor table.

All that was fun, but not what I remember most.

As the sky dimmed, quite a bit, surprisingly,
   a sudden chill permeated the air.

My husband said, "I almost want my jacket."

Of course it didn't last long, and in a few minutes the sun seemed hotter than before the eclipse, and for the rest of the day the air seemed generally much hotter, although by temperature measurements it really wasn't significantly different. (Strangely, to me it has seemed oddly 'hotter' all week.)

The thing I will always remember is the chill.

We know the sun provides light, heat, and energy, yet day in and day out we largely ignore it and take it for granted. It is simply there and we expect it to be there, and continue to be there, providing for our needs.

I pondered this attitude of entitlement.
I wondered, what else do I take for granted?
And I thought of all the people in my life.

I thought of strangers, and acquaintances,
   and especially of family.

I thought of my siblings, my parents,
   and my children — all my posterity.

Too often I neglect to be grateful for their presence on the planet.

Too often I neglect to be grateful and interested in the world and things around me, all the people, all the animals, all the plants, and all the ecosystems. What wonders I ignore — perhaps even,  far too often — the creators of Heaven and Earth.

God is real, and he loves his children — you and I!
It is as simple and sure as the sun rising and setting.
And as the seasons passing.

What else do I take for granted?

I particularly considered my spouse.
I think I take him for granted every day.

That is my eclipse take away.

I am grateful for all the things my spouse does.

The more I considered what he does the more I realized how much I take him for granted.  Yet I am very grateful for my spouse, for who he is, and what he is. . . for what he does, and even for what he doesn't do.

I'll climb down off my soap box now, but just think ...

What do you take for granted — like the sun?

Friday, July 14, 2017


“Family rules are maintained and transmitted across generations on three levels: explicit, implicit, and intuitive” teaches Dr. Bernard E. Poduska, associate professor of family life at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, (p.27). 


A large poster, of a great variety of fresh vegetable and wholesome foods and grains, graced the wall behind our dining room table for many years. It was an EXPLICIT message impossible to ignore: this family loves vegetables.

It was a family rule; we mostly eat healthy foods. 

Similar posters may be purchased at All Posters on-line. 

It was discussed openly, and everyone knew the symbolism of that poster. EXPLICIT rules are the most obvious kinds. They are often written out, and placed prominently for all to see and remember: by the microwave or on the refrigerator, in a hallway, beside a light switch, or on a door. 

Such messages also may carry implicit and/or intuitive messages.

We have other EXPLICIT messages written on sticky notes, or dry erase marker on the large mirror in our main bathroom. We call it our personal ‘Liahona” (see 1Nephi 16).

The writing “change[s] from time to time” as prompts and quotes remind us to align our actions with our knowledge: 

  “Look Ahead, and Believe”
    (October 2013Edward Dube
      of the Seventy)

  “Work Will Win,
     When Wishy Washy
     Wishing Won’t”
        (Thomas S. Monson, 
        BYU Speeches, 11Jan 2009)

  “Replace Fear With Faith”
    (April 2017, Deiter F. Uchtdorf).


When we were newlyweds, my husband David, arrived home from work early in the evening. I was prepared. A carefully planned supper simmered on the stove, with fresh bread just coming out of the oven. The table was set, the house tidy, and I had changed to a fresh blouse.

His key in the lock, and step on the landing alerted me that he was home. I finished turning the bread out of the baking pans, buttered the tops of the loaves, and placed the food in serving dishes. 

From the doorway of our split level home, David called out his arrival, but never came down to the main floor. I knew how much he loved fresh-from-the-oven bread; how could he resist the aroma? I went up to tell him supper was getting cold. 

I found him just getting into a steaming bath. When he arrived home from a tense, sweaty day at work he expected a leisurely soak, and an uninterrupted period of relaxation; “Could you scrub my back,” he asked hopefully. 

I was astonished. Wasn’t he hungry?

Marriage blends rules and expectations from two cultures – two different family systems, and none of us “enter marriage empty handed; we carry a lot of ‘baggage’ with us” (Poduska, 2000, p.25). 

Each of us were acting according to IMPLICIT, unspoken rules “taught through non-verbal communication” and learned “below conscious awareness,” about “every day kinds of issues” (Poduska, 2000, pp.27-28).

These lessons are “repeated throughout childhood” (p. 27).  We all know where our father sits, and what to do (or avoid) if our mother cries.

David grew up in town, and his father worked in an office. He also served in Stake [i] and Ward (or Branch) [ii] leadership roles [iii].  In the evening, he might work around the house or yard, attend scheduled meetings, relax visiting friends, or play with the children. 

When David got home from work  he wanted to immediately ‘clean-up,’ to be refreshed and ready for evening activities with friends and family. He was willing to delay supper enough to be refreshed, set aside the stresses of the day, and able to engage socially.

When my father got home from work he was often pressured for time, and needed to eat immediately. We lived on a small farm with animals and crops to care for before night fell.

The dirtiest and hardest part of his day began after supper, in the fields and barnyard. He did not need to clean up or rest. He needed food for impeding rigor. I understood this need and the unspoken sacrifices and rules effected by that need.

David and I had to discuss and negotiate our own 'family rules' and expectations.

“It is important that couples understand the rules that bias their perceptions” (Poduska, 2000. p. 30) because misunderstandings and hurt feelings may impose unexpected penalties. 

 Differences between husband and wife, “their irreverence toward or compliance with family rules … helps explain why some … in-law[s] are accepted … and others are not. The degree of harmony between a husband’s family rules and the wife’s family rules also greatly determines the degree of difficulty in adjusting to marriage” (p.31).

When expectations aren’t met, “the most frequent consequences” are “distancing by other family members” (p.30).


The poster of fruits and vegetables in our dining room, represented not only an explicit rule, but also significant INTUITIVE family rules. As multi-generational members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we adhere to The Word of Wisdom, a health code revealed to Joseph Smith in 1833 [iv].

We abstain from using tobacco and alcohol, and hot drinks—specifically coffee and tea.

We believe
 “… strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of [our] bodies.

And again, tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill.

And again, hot drinks [coffee and tea] are not for the body or belly.

And …all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used.with prudence and thanksgiving.

Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, … [are] ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; …

All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life…. (Doctrine and Covenants 89:7-14). 

INTUITIVE RULES, usually unspoken, are more far reaching than.either explicit or implicit rules. They are “associated with … ethnic, religious, or vocational backgrounds” and are often “based on family heritage” with inherited “instinctive obligations” incorporating traditions and beliefs that one is expected to “pass on” to posterity (Poduska, p.28).

Although the poster in our dining room explicitly signified good health fostered by eating well, it also carried many other implications of physical health, religious teachings, and the habits and expectations of four and five generations of progenitors.

Both David and I brought these same INTUITIVE rules to our relationship, so we did not experience conflict.

 “Most families have hundreds of spoken and unspoken rules” (Poduska, p.29).

Dr. Poduska gives an example to illustrate:

A woman raised in a small Japanese village [develops qualities which can be directly] attributed to being Japanese. Similarly, a man raised in a small Swedish village would acquire rules that make him Swedish.
If both were to immigrate to the United States, they would take a great deal of their heritage with them and would need to adapt … in their new communities. (p.29)
Marriage entails similar adjustments. Rules from the past can play a significant role in how well marital identity is formed and adjustments to in-laws happen. 

Elder Marvin J. Ashton, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1971-1994) taught, “Couples do well to immediately find their own home, separate and apart from that of the in-laws on either side … an independent domicile … governed by your decision, by your own prayerful consideration” (1974, as quoted by Harper and Olsen, 2005, p.328).

Spencer W. Kimball, twelfth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1973-1985), gave couples similar counsel to “establish their own household, separate from their parents,” and added that married couples “should confide in and counsel with their spouses, … [and] any counsel from outside sources should be considered prayerfully by both spouses together” (as quoted by Harper and Olsen, 2005, p.328).

“One of the great gifts parents-in-law can give to their married children is to recognize early that they must help define and protect the boundary of [a] new couple” (p.328).

As a husband and wife separate “from families of origin,” it may help them ‘establish’ their own traditions and rules if they imagine “existing together inside an invisible fence,” where they have privacy to “share information and behavior with each other …[that] is not meant to be shared with others outside the fence—not with future children and certainly not with parents or parents-in-law” (p.328).


 “The more a person can learn and talk about the unspoken rules in the … spouse’s family, the easier it will be to [assimilate]. … The clearer family rules are the better, because new sons—or daughters-in-law can’t follow rules if they don’t understand them.” (Harper and Olsen, 2005, p.332).

 Each couple must learn about the other’s family rules, examine what “to perpetuate or discard” (Poduska, p.33), and use “knowledge of [their] spouse’s rules … to express love and consideration in ways that can be more fully understood and appreciated by both” (p.32).

Inclusion, accepting and valuing differences, fosters fond family interactions. When  fresh viewpoints are expected to enrich everyone, and “bring new perspectives” that enhance, balance, and even complete understanding (Harper and Olsen, 2005, p.330), family members look forward to building and perfecting relationships—relationships to last forever.


All Posters:

Harper, J. M. & Olsen, S. F. (2005). "Creating Healthy Ties With In-Laws and Extended Families." In C. H. Hart, L.D. Newell, E. Walton, & D.C. Dollahite (Eds.), Helping and healing our families: Principles and practices inspired by "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" (pp. 327-334). Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company.

Poduska, B. (2000). Till Debt do us Part, (Chapter 2). Salt Lake City, Utah: Shadow Mountain.

Poduska, B. (2000). Till Debt do us Part, (Chapter 11). Salt Lake City, Utah: Shadow Mountain.

[i] Stake: An organizational unit, often geographically based, in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is usually composed of 5 -10 congregations. (see Isaiah 54:2 "enlarge the place of thy tent; stretch forth the curtains of thine habitation; spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes").

[ii] Ward: “Large congregations (approximately 300 or more members) are called wards, in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Smaller congregations are called branches. A ward is led by a bishop and two counselors, who constitute a bishopric. Branches are led by a branch president and two counselors.” 

[iii] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has lay leadership, unpaid members of the congregations who volunteer their time.

[iv] This health code is found in Doctrine and Covenants Section 89 of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Saturday, July 8, 2017


D&C 121:41-46“[P]ower or influence can or ought to be maintained… only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge … [and] also be full of charity towards all … [yet] let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; … [so] The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion…”


Two grandchildren, age 9 and 5, visited over July 4th. I’ll call them Sister Sue and Brother Bob. Sue was baptized and confirmed[i] recently, and is learning many new lessons about following the spirit—using her newly confirmed “Gift of the Holy Ghost.’ Bob has a knack for eliciting a ‘darling-baby’ response in many interactions.

Big-sister Sue, often rushes to ‘save’ little Bob—from everything exciting or traumatic—especially exciting things she wants to do. Bob gets very frustrated at constant interference—after all, he is a ‘big boy.’ Sue know exactly how to (though appearing innocent), frustrate Brother Bob until he cries and complains.

Bob, on the other hand, takes advantage of sympathies to push until Sister Sue lashes out, or plots revenge. He seems adept at creating a climate of ‘poor-me-bullied-by-her.’

Power struggles common to childhood, may linger in some adults as acquired habits which lock them into constant angst and conflict. Attempting to describe lead-up and fallout of such events is lengthy, but they usually occur in microseconds.

I observed such an incident develop and diffuse,
  almost before I realized it was occurring.  

While visiting an Aunt and cousins, Sister Sue was trying very hard to be a ‘model-perfect-good girl.’ As Suzy sat on a stool eating, Bob repeatedly walked past and around, just close enough to bump her, as he ‘innocently’ got drinks and snacks.


In my experience, the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” discloses great truth.  We’ve tried to teach our children (and now grandchildren) to ‘boss’ themselves, not others. Sister Sue was soon steaming, and plotting. I could see it in her face and ready-to-swing fists should he again came too close. As I began to wonder about how to prevent a blow-out, I saw him coming again—and so did she.

I watched in the helpless fascination of time slowed to freeze-frame-jerks, and saw something unexpected. I saw her flinch as if to strike, but she didn’t. 

I’d overheard loving parents teaching kindness, and listening to promptings. I realized that discussion was influencing her—Bob walked away completely oblivious to what occurred.


In his 2008 article, “Who Is The Boss?” Richard B. Miller, PhD, Director of the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University, taught the power of parents working together to teach true principles. 

Quoting several prominent authorities he reinforced that “setting limits to what a child can do means …you love him and respect him.” When we “in our affection … dare not check [children] in a wayward course, [or] in wrong-doing … for fear of offending them” we do them a disservice. He clarified that parents should “not be afraid to set clear moral standards and guidelines. Be sure to say no when it is needed.”

I called Sister Sue’s name, and motioned her to come for a hug. She did, and cried a little. The effort had been huge. I told her she is an amazing big sister to kindly ignore Bob when he is trying to bug her.

I asked how she felt. “Good,” she replied, reinforcing that she can feel and heed spiritual promptings.

Without knowing it, she felt powerful.

Self-control is one of the greatest powers we can develop. 

Later I made sure to tell her parents (in her hearing), about her inherent goodness and desire to do what is right. Telling others what they do right, and thanking them for it validates their strengths and increases their inner motivation to continue.

Nevertheless, later the same evening, Sue tormented Bob while they brushed teeth at the same time. I failed to realize she was blocking him from the sink, and his mouth was full of toothpaste foam. He was whining without words, and I wondered why he was walking back and forth, back and forth, first on one side and then the other. 

When I caught on, I asked her to make sure he could use the sink, and she appeared to stand to one side, but straddled her feet so he still had difficulty getting to the sink. 


Rather than making a bigger issue of her efforts to be ‘innocently inconsiderate,’ I complimented his cooperation, and willingness to try to get along by using either side. Seeming to give in (to Sue) by adjusting his own actions, gave Bob greater choices than fighting her.

These dynamics of power can be seen in marriage and family relationships of all types. Dr. Miller’s research reveals that “power is made up of two major components …
  • the process of power, where one [person]… tends to dominate [interactions, or fail to] listen
  •  [and] power outcome, which is determined by which [person] tends to get their way….”
When I complimented Brother Bob's willingness to get along in peace, she put her feet together, both finished their teeth, and we had lots of time to read stories.

If we notice good, others are motivated to align actions and behaviors toward more good. 

In 1998, while serving in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Henry B Eyring taught that God “placed in His children a desire to live at peace with all those around them.”


Eyring reminded listeners that “Satan, [our] enemy … plants the seeds of discord in human hearts” because he knows the plan of happiness for God’s children and “knows that only in eternal life can those sacred, joyful associations of families endure.” 

Satan's intent is to cause misery by damaging family relationships.

When we fail to follow Jesus Christ’s example, we give Satan power 
“to reign over us,” cautioned Ezra Taft Benson [ii] (thirteenth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; 1985-1994), in his April 1986 Conference address, and again in 1989 

Can we thwart the adversary’s power and make peace?


Elder Eyring teaches that peace and unity come as we “see the good in each other and speak well of each other whenever we can.”   He reminds us:

There are some commandments which, when broken, destroy unity. Some have to do with what we say and some with how we react to what others say. … 
[For] unity, there are commandments we must keep concerning how we feel. We must forgive and bear no malice toward those who offend us. The Savior set the example from the cross: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
We do not know the hearts of those who offend us. Nor do we know all the sources of our own anger and hurt. 
The Apostle Paul was telling us how to love in a world of imperfect people, including ourselves, when he said, 'Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil' (1 Cor. 13:4–5).
And then he gave solemn warning against reacting to the fault of others and forgetting our own …” (1 Cor. 13:12).
Elder Eyring explains further that the power of unity and peace come to us through the spirit.

The Holy Ghost is a sanctifier. We can have it as our companion because the Lord restored the Melchizedek Priesthood through the Prophet Joseph Smith. The keys of that priesthood are on the earth today. By its power we can make covenants which allow us to have the Holy Ghost constantly.
Where people have that Spirit with them, we may expect harmony. The Spirit … never generates contention (see 3 Ne. 11:29). It never generates the feelings of distinctions between people which lead to strife (see Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 13th ed. [1963], 131).
It leads to personal peace and a feeling of union with others. It unifies souls. A unified family, a unified Church, and a world at peace depend on unified souls.

Elder Eyring reminds us that accessing the Holy Ghost as a companion is so simple that “a child can understand what to do.” We make and keep baptismal covenants to remember Jesus Christ and be obedient to God’s commandments, to “always have his Spirit to be with [us]” 
(D&C 20:77).

Sister Sue tells me it’s sometimes hard to hear the spirit, that it is very quiet, and that she is practicing listening still. I am humbled.

I am practicing, too.


Ballard, M. R. (1997). Counseling with our councils: learning to minister together in the church and in the family. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book.

Eyring, Henry B. "That we may be one" Ensign May 1998, 66. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, May 1998. Retrieved from 06 July 2017.

Miller, Richard B. “Who is the boss? Power relationships in families.” BYU Conference on Family Life, Brigham Young University, March 28, 2009.

[i] Baptism followed by confirmation as a member of the Church also confers The Gift of the Holy Ghost.

[ii] President Ezra Taft Benson delivered "Cleansing the Inner VesselApril 1986. And then reiterated and expanded his teachings April 1989 when he requested Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to read “Beware of Pride in his behalf.