Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Christ Calming the Sea, and Me

A while ago, I spent some time studying Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs, which basically states that each individual goes through psychological stages of growth.

Here is the basic run-down:

Maslow_s Hierachy of Needs

The bottom two levels (red and orange) are considered deficiency needs and Maslow has suggested that until those needs are met, the individual cannot strongly desire, or have motivation to truly move up to the higher levels (yellow, green, and purple) known as the growth needs (or in other words, constant betterment). For a more detailed overview you can go to this article .

Why do I care? Because as I was researching it, it occurred to me that over the last decade of my marriage, my husband and I had been literally fighting to survive in the bottom two areas (see ** note below) but the Lord asks, expects, and requires us to be working on the higher levels. It’s a strange dichotomy, and yet I shouldn’t be surprised because growth at all stages of life is vital to our becoming people greater than we are or to put it another way, to be Beings like our Savior (see 1 John 3:2 and The Challenge to Become, Elder Oaks).

An example of this is found when missionaries teach the principle of tithing to impoverished people. Why do they teach it? Because new members are expected to live it, even in their poverty. Why?

  • To become like the Lord
  • To develop trust and faith
  • To see miracles
  • To gain spiritual power

All of those things I have witnessed in my own life and I have seen others witness the same as a direct result of living the law of tithing. I suppose it’s all part of spiritual resistance training! We are to rise above even when it is difficult because we have issues in the bottom two pyramid steps.

I think that we can see that example in the account of the Savior sleeping in the ship as the storm and waves were tossing it about. I’ve always wondered about that account. The disciples are fearing for their lives (not safe – on the bottom of the pyramid) and they wake the Lord saying “Carest thou not that we perish?” or in other words. “Seriously, Lord? You’re going to allow this to happen? I thought that you made promises to me, and this will NOT help fulfill those promises!”

The Savior wakes, calms the storm, and then asks them where their faith is. That account always bothered me before because they were afraid. They were in a perilous condition. But wait – let’s try to look at it from God’s point of view for a moment.

They are on the ship with the Savior. He, and they have been called to do some very specific work. He had been providing for their needs in the very moment. They had been witnessing miracles of healing, physical wonders, doctrine, and spirit that testified to them of His calling and power which (not coincidentally) carried over to their specific callings. Would Father allow that ship to sink? Would the Son of Man have been sent merely to drown in a moment without fulfilling the future work of salvation desperately needed for all of Father’s children?

Perhaps the storm was needed – the rain fall providing much needed water to the desert. Or, perhaps providing a moment in which the men could have sought a blessing from Father in Heaven through prayer, thus deepening their faith.

Whatever the reasons, they were expected to continue in faith, in their present situation, cheerfully doing all in their power to bring about much righteousness.

It almost seems harsh. In practicality it seems impossible. And yet, we have been told that “Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever (Doc. & Cov. 122:9).”  We’ve also been told to “consider the lilies of the field,” that if the Lord clothes the lilies and the grass, how much more will He clothe us if we are not of little faith (Matt. 6:28,30). And he’s asked us to trust, that if the Lord has asked you (or me) to perform a work for Him, that He will provide means, and power, and supply to accomplish it.

We’re also allowed to ask for help and miracles to be able to do the work that we’re called to do. “My Shepherd will supply my needs,” so I can work in the higher parts of the pyramid and bless mankind, even in my lowly, and desperate, and impoverished state. After all, the Savior did that and He asks no less than that we follow Him.


**To understand in detail what I mean, I recommend the article I wrote in the book “I Can Do Hard Things with God, chapter 17 – Spouse’s Mental Illness: You’re Bi-Polar, so Why Am I the One Going Crazy?”

To Nurture and Teach – thoughts on my role as a woman.

To Nurture and Teach – thoughts on my role as a woman.

I’ve been reflecting deeply on my role as a teacher lately, not only as a teacher in a professional or church setting, but as a mother. I watched this “Happy Families” message the other day and it struck me how simply this mother taught her children from a very young age and the fruits that it bore.

After watching it, I began to invite my older daughters again to help me in the kitchen (something I had done before, but not continued) and they were thrilled to help me make smoothies and grilled cheese sandwiches and spaghetti and salads – simple things, but they were so happy to help. Actually, I ask one at a time to help (taking turns helping cook and play with the baby) and that seems to make things go a little more smoothly in my house.

I also have been trying to teach the baby (she’s 16 months old) to help as well. Every time we clean up toys, I show her where the toys go and give SO much praise if she can catch on to the simple task of putting the items in the bin. I’ve also started to have her help with the laundry. I place the wet clothes from the wash into a basket and she puts them in the dryer for me (and of course I praise her for her good work and efforts).

But it doesn’t stop there. I’ve been reviewing my role to be a teacher of the gospel in the home. I was a full-time seminary teacher for seven years and so I’ve always known that I could teach them, but for some reason, I thought that it was my hubby’s role to be the teacher (you know as the “presider”, see the Family Proclamation). I always assumed that we’d share the teaching responsibilities, (and in some ways we do) but I guess I’ve been waiting for him to get up and take charge with family scripture study, etc. Please understand, my husband is a good man, but I’ve been the one to remind the family to pray, read, and have FHE on a consistent basis.

So I’ve been pondering a lot lately if I am usurping a role that will help him to grow as I continue to insist on religious family activities. I’m not sure. But the more I insist on the activities, the more he becomes involved – yay!

Lately, I’ve come to the conclusion that part of my role as a mother as the primary nurturer of our family is that of teacher and that it shouldn’t be one that I can neglect or delegate away or my children won’t learn basic things like laundry or dishes or meal prep or spiritual things like having a personal relationship with the Lord. And, I’ve been wondering if other women in the church are having the same struggle.

Years ago, I wrote my master’s thesis on the Spirituality of women and conducted some primary research to see how confident LDS women felt in giving talks, teaching lessons, and speaking about gospel doctrine (making comments in class, etc). The results were that women who had experience with testifying (i.e. serving a mission) or daily experiences with personal study of the scriptures were much more likely to feel confident discussing the gospel, and I assume feel much more confident teaching the gospel at home. Well, maybe we can’t be a missionary now, but we can have daily experiences in the scriptures!

Right before I had my baby, a dear friend asked me for ideas on how to study the scriptures. I began to compile some ideas, which I will now post as these ideas about teaching and studying are becoming more fresh and clear. To begin the next several posts, I want to quote from a talk by Elder Bednar which discusses the VITAL need for teaching in the home.

Brothers and sisters, think of the total amount of time in a week devoted to doctrinally based, spirit-filled instruction for our young people through the programs of the Church. Let’s assume they go to seminary. That might yield three or four hours of quality instruction during the course of the week. What would they receive in church on Sunday? Thirty minutes in sacrament meeting; thirty minutes in Sunday School; and thirty minutes in Young Men’s, Young Women’s, or Gospel Doctrine. A total of maybe five, six, or seven hours for the entire week, if we are optimistic. Think of the evil influences in the world. Will the Church and its programs alone safeguard you and me and our children in an increasingly wicked world? The answer is no. Please do not misunderstand this statement–I would not trust my children exclusively to the programs of the Church. I love the Church, but the Church operates as a support to you and to me as we create a home that is a house of learning. First and foremost, the responsibility is ours as parents to create a Christ-centered, spirit-filled home environment where the Holy Ghost can teach and testify to our children. If they know the why, they will quickly learn the how.

Take a look a the full talk – Teach them to Understand from a  1998 (then) Rick’s College Education Week address. I have sent it to my husband and we are going to study it together and try to find ways to make our home a better place of gospel learning.mormonad-unlimited-text-messages-1118424-gallery

Finally, I’ll leave with a couple of ideas for daily personal scripture study and a challenge. My sister is an amazing spiritual woman. When she had a lot of young’ins running around the home, she went to the distribution center and picked up a bunch of the cheapy copies of the Book of Mormon and placed one in every room in her house (bathroom included). Then, if she found herself with a moment or two in the bustle of mommy life, she would read a verse or two. She said that just by giving those few minutes of time, she had given a sacrifice to God and was taught from the scriptures.

Another idea is to listen to the scriptures (digital formats can be found here) while you are folding clothes, doing dishes, or being a taxi cab.

The challenge is to study this week. Everyday, study something in the scriptures (not someone’s thoughts of the scriptures) and ask the Lord to teach you. I know He will bless us in this endeavor in our own lives and we will find ways to teach our children as well.

Please feel free to share your thoughts, questions, ideas, experiences or scripture reading tips!

What’s the Difference Between a Saint and a Sinner?

What’s the difference between a saint and a sinner?

It’s really simple. Are you ready?

A saint repents. And then sins, and repents again. And then makes another mistake, and (you guessed it) repents again. I’m not talking about a person who laughs at sin and continues to do it, knowing that they can “just repent later”, but real people, with real addictive behaviors, working each day, hand-in-hand with God, to repent and try to be better.

You may think that I’m being trite, but I’m not.

A sinner either thinks that there is no need for repentance (is in denial that there is such a thing as sin) or thinks that he/she is so bad that they are incapable of God’s love, or is mad at God and doesn’t want anything to do with Him … right now.

All of it is a matter of the heart. Let’s go to the scriptures to see what the Lord has to say  –

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool (Isaiah 1:18).

I love that one. I love that the Lord wants to sit down and “talk shop” with us, “let us reason together“.

Here’s another one I love. This is for when the devil tells me that there is a quota on repentance –

But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven (Moroni 6:8).

Here’s one for when the devil tries to tell me that I’ve gone beyond the point of repentance, that the Lord is so disgusted with me that He doesn’t want to be around me –

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39). 

And if that doesn’t work, I like this one –

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31).

But perhaps, one of my favorite scriptures of all, and the reason that saints go on repenting, and trying to be better –

Behold … I have spoken unto thee because of thy desires; therefore treasure up these words in thy heart. Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love (Doctrine and Covenants 6:20).

A saint has felt the love of God in the most quiet reaches of the heart, in a place where no one else has access, and then desires always to have that love with them. Being a disciple of Christ is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard work.  But the rewards are peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come (Doctrine and Covenants 59:23).

And here is the best part of this whole discussion. You and I and everyone around us can change from a sinner to a saint at any moment. Right now in fact. It is a matter of the heart. Going to God and confessing (telling Him what we did wrong) and forsaking (promising to not do it again), and if we mess up, confessing and forsaking again until we get better and better at making the distance between the sin and the repentance smaller and smaller. Until, eventually, we decide that we love God more than the sin and so we choose to pray through the temptation instead of committing the sin and praying after. Then, we begin to change our lives … to not be where the temptation is so readily available, to replace the bad in our lives with good.

We can do it. The Lord believes in us. I know that is true.

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, …
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand (How Firm a Foundation, Hymn # 85).

Grace and Works – Becoming the Man or Woman of Christ

We just watched the Christian movie, “God is Not Dead” which was really fascinating. (Just as a heads up, there will be some SPOILERS AHEAD so if you want to watch it, don’t read the next few paragraphs). I liked the debates, I LOVED the conclusion that we all need to learn for ourselves, that God wants us to choose, but (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT) the end just left me without any joy or hope. To have the professor hit by a car and then just before he dies, he breathes out a final, “okay, yes, I guess I do believe in Jesus” didn’t really ring true or fair to me.

Perhaps it’s the age old Christian debate about faith and works. I absolutely know that we can be saved through the Grace (or as I call it the atonement) of Jesus Christ. But if we are saved to do nothing more than just keep living a sin-filled life, has the miraculous sacrifice been truly appreciated or used in the way that it was intended?

The Apostle Paul talked frequently about us becoming new creatures in Christ. The heavens watched with “anxious anticipation” to see what these new Heavenly Creatures would be like. Paul constantly tells us to be better. Look at some of his thoughts from Romans 6 –

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members instruments of righteousness unto God.

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? (verses 12-16)

I had a Christian friend who kept telling me that he was saved, so really there was nothing else for him to do. No need to change bad and destructive habits, no need to try to be better or to help others, or to read scriptures, or to pray, or to have a close relationship with God. He was saved, so any sinning that he did didn’t matter, because he was saved.

How sad. How much more in life he could have been, could have done, if he had allowed the Grace – the ennobling power, the Divine means of help and assistance (see BD: Grace) work as a power within himself to become a greater being – the Man (or in my case Woman) of Christ.

That is why the movie frustrated me. (SPOILER, again) for years, the character of the professor worked at ripping down faith, and then to die and say, “sure I’m saved”, well it sure doesn’t seem fair to allow him the same heaven as those Christians who were sacrificed to lions for their testimonies.  A more ennobling ending to that film would have been to see the professor begin to unlock the power within as he came to accept his anger toward God and then try to work it out with God. To help him find the love of God would be so powerful. Yes, there would be a difficult path ahead, but he could use Paul’s life as an example. The Apostle Paul – talk about a man of Christ!

At the beginning, he tore down faith, but then, had an amazing conversion on the Road to Damascus. The Lord testified of Paul to Ananias, “he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9: 15). The Lord knew that Paul could be so much more than he was.

He knows that about you and me as well.

More reading on the subject –

Romans 6, Romans 8

Blog-post that I wrote, Grace the Price has been paid, the opportunity has been opened.

Elder Oaks talk, The Challenge to Become

When Nepotism Meets Callings, Can the Church Still Be True?

When Nepotism Meets Callings, Can the Church Still Be True?

I was just reading my scriptures the other day when I found this passage of the calling of the twelve disciples in the Americas –

And it came to pass that on the morrow, when the multitude was gathered together, behold, Nephi and his brother whom he had raised from the dead, whose name was Timothy, and also his son, whose name was Jonas, and also Mathoni, and Mathonihah, his brother, and Kumen, and Kumenonhi, and Jeremiah, and Shemnon, and Jonas, and Zedekiah, and Isaiah—now these were the names of the disciples whom Jesus had chosen—and it came to pass that they went forth and stood in the midst of the multitude (3 Nephi 19:4).

And it occurred to me that this was the Savior himself choosing brothers and sons into the calling. He wasn’t worried about nepotism or being “fair”. Was I surprised? He did the same thing when He called His twelve at Jerusalem. Peter and Andrew were brothers as were James and John (see Matthew 10: 1-4). He did it with Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. Called Nephi and Lehi (both the father and son and then, years later,  the brothers). David was strengthened by his friendship with Jonathan. Ruth and Naomi. The Savior went often to pray to His Father.

Why might He allow close ties into the apostleship? Might they need to strengthen each other for the difficult days ahead? Might there be some truth to strong righteous familial lines? Do we need good and righteous friends to strengthen us?

I know that there are a lot of people who get upset because of close ties in callings. Some people have left the Church because fathers and sons, or cousins, or friends, or close colleagues have been called to work together. They leave because they think that there couldn’t possibly be inspiration at work. That it’s all a bunch of nepotism and cronyism in the leadership of the Church.

Maybe, instead of thinking there is “something fishy going on” we should take some time to ask Father if the callings were inspired. Then we can ask Him how we can better sustain our leaders. And finally we should look around and find those friends and family members that strengthen us in righteousness and cling to them.

Who has the Lord sent for you? Who is He asking you to uphold?

Don’t be surprised if you are together for a purpose, a mission of righteousness.

Father in Heaven understands that righteous people need righteous people. (See, Friends, in the Strength of Youth Pamphlet.) Please remember, as you see people all around you leaving the strength of the Gospel, their Covenants, and the Savior that there are five wise virgins as well as five foolish. We are looking for the five wise. We will stand with the five wise who take the Spirit to be their guide (see Doc. & Cov. 45: 56-57) and we will say to the five without oil – “go to them that sell … quickly!” But don’t worry, there are still five wise who also think and act as you. There are many who still believe. And if you find yourself alone, ask Father to raise up friends for you, as He has promised.

Yes, men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal life (President Ezra Taft Benson, Jesus Christ – Gifts and Expectations, December 1988). 

Don’t Take My Word For It …

learned for myself

So, my last two posts have been very intense. It is the side of me that is reserved for the disciplinarian at home, the professor that has to give grades to students who haven’t been working, and the teacher that has to establish rules and protocols to have an orderly and just classroom. Though it is a side that is intense, the truth of the matter is that I’d do almost anything to help my students succeed and that goes a million times more for my own children!

The most wonderful thing about the gospel is that, though there are rules and standards, a loving Father in Heaven and his equally loving Son want to help us succeed as well. Take a look:

For if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you;

And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours. (Doctrine and Covenants 78: 7, 17-18)

A while ago, I watched a video about a group of young women leaders who were trying to teach their youth why they should be modest. (I wish I could find the video, but after searching for half a day and coming up unsuccessfully, I couldn’t find it, so I will sum up.) Instead of doing a lecture, they sent the girls to the scriptures. Instead of spending an hour on it,  they spent several weeks allowing the girls plenty of time for thinking, searching, pondering, and praying. At the end of the time, each girl who had participated received direct revelation from Father in Heaven about the reasons that He wanted her (his own precious daughter) to be modest. I can’t think of anything better!

So, though I will teach revealed doctrine on this blog, the best thing that each of us can do is spend some real time asking Father directly about His teachings. The Savior himself said that the doctrine that He preached was not His own and then gave a special promise –

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself (John 7:17). 

I would highly recommend that anyone who is facing difficult doctrinal issues (or as I like to call them, Doctrinal Abrahamic Trails) should spend some time with the Lord, taking His word at face value. Trying out His doctrine in all possible ways, or if we are not able to try it (let’s say the doctrine is about children and we don’t have any) we should carefully ponder with an eye on the eternities why the Lord would command that doctrine. I read in a blog once –  that we need to “approach the issue with an eye to what the Lord would have us learn from the law.” One of the sweetest things that a young boy of 14 said after he went seeking answers from God was, “I have learned for myself.”

Answers will come. All of these issues, questions, and problems are directly provided to help us turn to the Savior. And, just as I would do almost anything to help my students and my children survive and thrive, He would do, and has done, infinitely more for you and for me.

What does a religious person think about Marriage?

Last time, I talked about accommodations and trying to live together in peace with our neighbors. This time, I need to discuss Doctrine. There are many who will disagree, and their voices and opinions can be heard on many blogs, posts, tweets, newspaper articles, etc. This specific article is to try to help those who are honestly looking to understand why a religious person wants to uphold traditional marriage (I’m an English teacher, I have to explain who my audience is ;) ).

I had a conversation with a friend, we’ll call her Sue. We have a mutual friend, we’ll call him Bob, who identifies as homosexual.

“I can’t believe that you hate Bob!” Sue told me.

“I don’t hate Bob,” I countered.

“I can’t believe that you don’t want him to find happiness!” Sue said.

“I think that he is a wonderful person. I hope he gets whatever happiness he can find in life,” I said. (In fact, long after we had this conversation and well before I wrote this article, Bob asked me to be a referral for a job interview. I gave a glowing report because he has always been a hard worker and he got the job.)

“Then WHY don’t you want him to find love?” she asked.

“He can do whatever he wants and find love wherever he wants. But if you’re asking about what I believe marriage is, then that’s a different conversation.”

Then we had a long talk about what marriage is to a religious person (some of which I will recount here.)

Marriage is NOT something that religious people enter into for legal reasons. Laws of man allowing for taxes, healthcare, adoption, etc. were created LONG after marriage was established. Marriage was first established by God. It is His teaching, His law for morality. His definition of what marriage is. His law to bring children into this earth. He gave marriage as a blessing to His children Adam and Eve so that they could obey His commandment to multiply and replenish the earth (see Genesis 2:24, Genesis 1:28  and the revelation on family). You and I can debate and fight over a myriad of grays (of exceptions and accommodations) against such a black and white law, but unless you understand the LAW, it’s history and reason you will never understand why a religious person feels this way about marriage. It is not our law to change.

A religious person enters a marriage because they are entering a covenant relationship with God and their spouse. That means that God sanctions and blesses our relationship and we work to treat each other with love and respect. Anyone who has seen days of fighting and difficulties can understand why the Godly concepts of sacrifice, harmony, turning the other cheek, grace, and prayer are necessary to bring harmony to the home and stability for the children. I chose a spouse who agreed to bring those ideals into our marriage with me.

Laws that favor marriage have been something that civilizations have been creating for centuries in every culture around the globe. Those laws were not created because human beings didn’t want gay people to be married. The concept of “gay marriage” HAS NEVER previously been part of our society (note that I said that concept of gay marriage, not the concept of homosexuality).

We are in a very interesting time regarding marriage. Right now, in the United States the 6th district court upheld the state’s defense of marriage acts which means that as of this writing, gay marriage is legal in some states and not in others by district court law and very likely to go to the Supreme Court for ruling. My previous question of “which amendment is more important?” will come into play in the months and years ahead. I still feel strongly that it is my right to speak up in defense of laws that I believe are moral. It is my right to vote for people who will write, enact, and create laws that are moral. I will talk more about why moral laws are important to society in the coming days. It’s not as if others are going to suddenly going to stop pushing to enact laws that erode moral living in the name of freedom of choice. As they are pushing to force believers to act in ways contrary to their beliefs, I will talk and persuade and ask for laws that may have them act in a way contrary to their desires. It is our right as God-fearing citizens to speak up for Religion in the Common Square.

I am heartened by the fact that the Catholic Church has called for a colloquium on marriage this month. They have invited 14 faith traditions from 23 countries to come together, “Topics range from the beauty of the union between the man and the woman to the loss of confidence in marital permanence to the cultural and economic woes that follow upon the disappearance of marriage” (Vatican to Host Global Meeting, News Release —  3 November 2014).  We need to work together because the fights that are coming concern all of us. I invite all faithful to join together to pray for these religious leaders as they discuss ideas that will strengthen families and marriages.