Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Little Bit of First Things First

Here is the talk I gave in church today.

YSA 18th Ward Sacrament Talk
January 15, 2012
Meg Naisbitt

January is the time when we begin a new year. I rejoice at the beginning of a new year. I love the idea of being able to remodel my life – to tear out and haul away things that didn’t work and to build and beautify the things that worked. For years, I have kept a journal and have always tried to include an entry around the 1st of the year to list the things that I accomplished and then to make my resolutions for the New Year. In preparing this talk, I took some time to review many years of resolutions. I was quite amazed to see how many of the resolutions repeated themselves, but also to see a common thread about being less busy and making time for things that matter most.

I have been asked to speak on gospel oriented goals and Christ centered resolutions. To me, this means putting first things first. As Steven R. Covey states, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

This ward is for young single adults, ages 18 to 30. This time of your life is probably the most critical, crucial time for making good decisions - decisions about jobs, careers, education, friends, dates, marriage, and what you are going to be and do when you grow up.
These factors all present increased demands on your time and abilities. There may be the temptation to devote all of your time and talents to success in school or a job while putting church and other obligations “temporarily” on the back burner. Some may rationalize and say, “Don’t make such a big deal out of this. It’s not like I’m going to leave the church or something. I know it’s true. I just need to focus on my schooling or job for a limited period of time, and if I do, it will be a set up for me and my future family for the rest of our lives.” What is wrong with that?

It entails the idea that there is something unique or unusual about that demands of school or a job that justifies relaxing our covenants with the Lord during that time. You are not seeking permanent inactivity from serving the Lord, but just a brief sabbatical. The fundamental premise is that this is a once-in-a lifetime challenge that you won’t have to face again in the future.

That premise is false.

The temptation to put the church on the back burner to study or work is no different than the temptation to do so when you start a small business, gain a promotion, or try to hold on to your job during a recession. If you give in to these temptations this time, it will only be more difficult to resist the next time around.

When I was 19, I spent a year in Japan living with a Japanese family and teaching English at a private Buddhist University. The very first day I was there, my Japanese mother invited four or five friends over to welcome me and to perform a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. All of them wore beautiful silk kimonos and spent about 20 or 30 minutes performing this cultural tea ceremony where they presented me with a bowl of tea. This was my very first encounter with my Japanese mom and I knew that one of the worst things one could do in the Japanese culture is to embarrass an elderly person in front of her peers. Knowing very little Japanese there was no way I could explain the Word of Wisdom to the women graciously.

I felt this huge amount of pressure trying to figure out what I was going to do. If I just accepted the bowl and pretended to sip a little of the tea, I wouldn’t embarrass anyone and I wouldn’t be breaking the Word of Wisdom, but on the other hand, I wouldn’t be doing myself justice in the future because they wouldn’t know my stance or beliefs.

Upon handing me the bowl and I said, “Domo arigato gosaimasu” or “thank you very much”. I then I shook my head and said, “Watashi wa Morumon desu” (I am a Mormon), and as graciously as I could, I handed the bowl back to them. I knew if I gave in, it would only be more difficult to explain the next time around. The next day, my Japanese professor in charge of the program explained to the mom that I was a Mormon and that Mormons had a code against drinking coffee, tea and alcoholic drinks.

The Lord searches for those who will serve him no matter what the situation. I tell this story to show that in your lives there will be instances where the pressure to make exceptions to your gospel commitments can be very great. Those who establish their response to such pressures will find themselves better able to withstand pressures later. This is a way that we make gospel oriented goals and Christ like resolutions.

A scripture in 2 Nephi 28:30 states, “For behold, thus saith the Lord God; I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom, for unto him that receiveth I will give more; …”

I was so touched Brandon’s testimony last week when he spoke of his experiences in ringing a bell for the Salvation Army at Christmastime. My awareness was increased as I heard him talk about standing in the cold, day after day, and the kindnesses extended to him from true Christians – some who brought meals, hot chocolate, and warm clothing like the pair of gloves on the cold day when he forgot his.

These little kindnesses make a world of difference in people’s lives. I read an article last week that said, “If you want to accomplish great things in this new year, think small! Toss out the grandiose ideas and goals, and think about making improvements on a smaller scale. Thinking small, when it comes to setting goals for ourselves, will quickly replace the feeling of looming failure that often accompanies big goal setting, with the attitude, “I can do this!”

So many things in our lives are determined by small, little decisions that we make each day. Those small decisions actually have the ability to point each of us in a total different direction long term. Jim Rohn, (a successful businessman, author and speaker from Idaho) said, “You don’t have to change that much for it to make a great deal of difference. A few simple disciplines can have a major impact on how your life works out in the next 90 days, let alone in the next 12 months or the next three years.” In Doctine and Covenants, 64:33 it states,
And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.”

The prophet Nephi said in 1 Nephi 16:29, “…And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things.” These little small and simple changes are more affective in producing a lasting transformation in behavior.

When my husband was about nine, he played Little League on his big brother’s team. Everyone was two years older than he was. They would always put him at the very end to bat because he wasn’t very good. One time, it was the ninth inning with two outs, score tied, bases loaded and it was Mark’s turn at bat.
Everyone on the team kind of cringed, thinking that he would lose the game for them. Mark said that his coach came up to him and whispered, “Just hit it a little bit, that’s all you need to do. Just a little bit.” All of a sudden, Mark felt this encouraging surge of power. The pitcher threw the ball. Mark concentrated so hard just to hit a little bit that he felt like the whole ball was in slow motion. He swung and hit the ball, --- just a little bit. It dribbled past the catcher and the short stop fumbled it. It was just enough to get him on base and a runner in. To this day, Mark will tell you that that advise was a tipping point for him. It was so impressionable, that today, his email address is

So as we start this New Year, let’s maybe think small about making some lasting changes in our lives. Whether we want to lose weight, read our scriptures,
daily prayer or service. 100 calories less a day is something doable. “And five minutes of daily scripture study is better than nothing, and allows us to receive of Heavenly Father’s blessings for keeping his commandments to read the scriptures daily.” Make a little difference in someone’s life by smiling at them, or saying a kind word to the grocery store clerk or giving some hot chocolate to the Salvation Army bell ringer can make an impressionable difference.

One time Chase was out mowing the lawn and he ran into a rose bush and broke off a branch.
Soon there were beautiful roses in a little vase of water that he put on the counter. I thought he was so thoughtful and it made my day. I had no idea that he was salvaging the rose bush that he broke. Another time I was out of town. When I came home, my kids had left some dried flowers in a paper wrap like a snow cone cup on my pillow. They wrote on a little piece of paper, “We missed you.” It melted my heart. Those little things make a big difference.

It is my prayer that we all strive to make some gospel centered goals and some Christ like resolutions this year. In closing, I would like to bear my testimony of Jesus Christ. He lives. He knows each of us. He loves us and he is our Savior and Redeemer. He is our advocate with the father and gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. As we renew our covenants and partake of the Sacrament each week, it is my hope that we will seek to put first things first and to always remember Him.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I Love Ogden

I have spent the better part of my life in Ogden. I love Ogden. I love the diversity of Ogden. I love the people in Ogden. I love the beauty of Ogden. And today, especially today, I love the kindness and love shown when one of our own OPD officers was senselessly snuffed out.

I didn't know Officer Francom. I never met him, never saw him and never talked with him. But I went to his funeral. And I cried. In fact, I cried at 8 a.m. this morning as I drove home from my Crossfit class at the Ogden Athletic Club and saw just a portion of the 5000 flags that lined Harrison Boulevard. Yes, 5000 beautiful American flags gently swaying in the breeze. 5000 flags put up by people who care, symbolizing love and solidarity for a fallen officer.

At 10:00 a.m., I had a meeting in the Weber County Commission chambers. I altered my normal driving pattern on the back roads just to follow the flags along Harrison Blvd., down 30th St. and then north on Washington Blvd. What a beautiful sight. Big blue ribbons were tied around the pillars of the Market Star building, around doors, on lampposts, and what not. After my meeting, I walked by the County Attorney's office and observed a green sign stating, "Office closed till 3:00 p.m." It was such an appropriate thing to allow them the opportunity to attend the funeral. And such was the case with Ogden City and its employees.

Being so overwhelmed with gratitude and sorrow, I decided to attend the funeral. These situations are rare and special and I was glad to have some free time. I drove to the Dee Events center and parked next to a Logan police car. My parking spot wasn't unique. I could have parked by any number of police cars for the whole parking lot was filled with police motorcycles and cars from jurisdictions far and wide. Upon entering the building, it was overwhelming to see hundreds and hundreds of uniformed officers filling seats in every section. I have never seen a sight quite like that.

The funeral was lovely. The speakers and beautiful music did Officer Francom justice. We all enjoyed an inside view about Jared, his passions, his family, and his desires. He was a very caring person who wanted to help. That love and desire spilled on to so many people who surrounded him.

Following the funeral, police officers lined the hallways paying their respects to the family and for one of their own. Their cars and motorcycles filled the streets all the way to the Ogden City Cemetery as did the flags and bystanders waving flags in their hands. It made my heart proud to see so much love, care and concern expressed by a community trying to ease the pain for a little family now fatherless and for those officers who put their life on the lines to protect our freedoms.

All I can say is I love you, Ogden. I am so sorry for what happened, but I am proud to be an Ogdenite. I send my love to the Francom family and the other officers involved. Thank you for your service.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Not So Bigness

In my early married years, I was fanatical about the house. Every night after I put our little ones to bed, I spent the next hour or so putting every toy, shoe, sock, book, paper, or whatever back into its "proper" place. The kitchen garbage went out to the dumpster (partially because we lived in New Jersey where cockroaches came out of the woodwork when darkness descended), the dishes were re stacked on the shelves, the floor was swept, and clean laundry was folded and placed in the drawers.

I made up bottles of formula, restocked diapers, and prepared every needful thing to ease the onslaught of surviving a new day. Any remaining time which was very little was spent reading or doing needlework before hitting the sack with total exhaustion. A clean house gave me a sense of control and established some structure over my otherwise hectic, chaotic life with newbie twins, a two year old, and a husband in a stressful, demanding residency program. I longed for the day of having a minute of leisure time to pursue a hobby, to chew the fat, or enjoy some peace and serenity in life.

Those years are long gone and I now have the luxury of deciding what to do with my time. I no longer have the urge or desire to straighten my house each night or run the garbage out except when it overflows. I miss reading stories to my kids and watching them discover the magic ball of a potato bug.

I miss sitting on the steps of the front porch for hours on end while they played outside.

I miss watching them drag their little plastic three wheelers up the hill then racing down as fast as possible, squealing with delight over and over again. But I don't miss the hectic pace that life delivered each day.

As each New Year approaches, I like to evaluate things from the prior year to determine what worked or didn't work and what I would like to change or accomplish. Last year was not a stellar year. I feel it was more a year of existing or rebuilding things to their status quo rather than creating. Much of it was spent on things I really didn't want to do. The non essentials or things that are supposed to enhance and enrich life life overtook the essentials, or those things I feel provide the basic structure and foundation to keep me balanced and centered.

For example, in January, 78,000 gallons of water burst through our second home in Brian Head. We thought all was under control until April when the insurance company sent up some water mitigation folks to make a final inspection before closing the file. That was when all *&%$#* broke loose. Upon measuring a high water content throughout the house, they tore up hardwood floors, sheet rock, insulation, cabinets, toilets, etc. Our house was in shambles. It took months and many weekends to put it back together. Way too many weekends. And way too much worry. This is a place that was meant to provide relaxation and serenity to life.

Last fall, after spending hours and days blowing leaves, mulching, sweeping and cleaning the yard, the hellacious December windstorm struck with 102 mph winds. We lost huge trees, bushes, and electricity. Our yard was strewn with branches and leaves resulting in six truckloads of stuff collected and hauled off to the green station. The newly installed soffit and fascia blew off our home along with shingles on the roof of an apartment building we own. Waaa, waaa, waaa.

If nothing else, it reinforces the fact that we cannot always control external situations. These things happen. But what I realize, is that many of the things I can control such as clubs, boards, concerts, galas, external obligations, subscription series, etc. were so jam packed in my year that I had little flexibility to spend time elsewhere.

With that in mind, I have decided to remodel my life and clean out much of the clutter. I desire to spend more time being present with Mark, to be perhaps a bit more free for spontaneity, and to be available to serve or help where needed. I like the "Not So Big Life" concept to make room for what really matters. Can I really do it?

“There is one thing in this world that you must never forget to do. If you forget everything else and not this, there’s nothing to worry about, but if you remember everything else, and forget this, then you will have done nothing in your life.

It’s as if a king has sent you to some country to do a task, and you perform a hundred other services, but not the one he sent you to do. So human beings come to this world to do particular work. That work is the purpose, and each is specific to the person. If you don’t do it, it’s as though a priceless Indian sword were used to slice rotten meat. It’s a golden bowl being used to cook turnips, when one filing from the bowl could buy a hundred suitable pots. It’s a knife of the finest tempering nailed into a wall to hang things on.

You say, “But look, I’m using the dagger. It’s not lying idle.”

Do you hear how ludicrous that sounds? For a penny, an iron nail could be bought to serve the purpose. You say, “But I spend my energies on lofty enterprises. I study jurisprudence and philosophy and logic and astronomy and medicine and all the rest.” But consider why you do those things. They are all branches of yourself.

Remember the deep root of your being, the presence of your lord. Give your life to the one who already owns your breath and your moments. If you don’t, you will be exactly like the man who takes a precious dagger and hammers it into his kitchen wall for a peg to hold his dipper gourd. You’ll be wasting valuable keenness and foolishly ignoring your dignity and your purpose.”-Rumi

This whole concept of not so big may sound ironic as we prepare to leave in April
for base camp of Mt. Everest, the biggest, most majestic mountain in the world. But in one sense, I have had to clear my life to do something I have always wanted to experience, something that matters to me. I am gently reminded that Mark and I are not getting any younger, so if we don't make arrangements and prepare now, when will we ever do it?

I guess it boils down to taking a look at my life, deciding what I want to do, what I want to accomplish, how I want to do that, and pruning those things that detract. I look forward to a new year and the opportunity of making it meaningful. I have begun my life's remodel. Let's see how it goes!