You are Your Book of Life

What is the Book of Life? As a child, I was taught it was a record that angels in heaven kept of every good or bad deed I did. When I died, Heavenly Father would judge me based on the notes in my personal Book of Life.

Since we are such a personal journal, record keeping obsessed people, I didn’t question the concept of a Book of Life. So much about the afterlife was beyond my grasp that I was content to not think too much about heavenly bodies who had the glorious task of keeping track of every stray word or thought I ever had.

That changed for me in my mid-twenties. I was the mother of three chronically ill children who were constantly in the doctor’s office and ER. Trying to figure out how to heal my children led me to enroll in a program to teach me about the human body.

One of my first health courses was taught by a member of the church. One day after class, my instructor casually commented he believed that in church when we talk about “the light of Christ that is given to every man,” what we are really talking about is the electrical spark of life. “What is that?” I asked. He explained that just like when someone has a heart attack and the doctors use a defibrillator to shock the heart back into rhythm, every cell of our bodies has an electrical current. His belief was that the light of Christ spoken of in the scriptures is the electrical current of energy that animates our bodies. Without electricity in us, we are dead.

What a new concept for me. Jesus Christ is the source of the literal spark of life within us. I never thought of it like that. As I continued my studies on human health, I read more things about how the electrical system within our body effects us.

My teacher was right. Every organ in our bodies has its own unique electrical signal. Every cell electrically communicates with other cells.

Not only do the electrical signals within us keep our heart beating, they also play an important part in our ability to fight off illness and maintain good mental health.

Biofeedback is a well-accepted modality for actively controlling body systems once thought of as purely autonomic.

Our thoughts and feelings influence our physical body. When physical or emotional trauma happens, it changes not only the biochemistry of our body, but also the electrical pathways of communication deep in our cells. Techniques to help heal emotional trauma trapped within us have also proven to stabilize physical health.

With technology’s advances, physicians can now physically measure the differing electrical signals of individual emotions. Anger creates one charge, love creates another and both effect the biochemistry of our cells.

Later on in school my instructor pointed out in the bible dictionary under the Book of Life it says,
“In one sense the Book of Life is the sum total of one’s thoughts and actions – the record of his life.
Interesting. Then he took it to to a whole new level for me. He pulled out the book Mormon Doctrine* and pointed out the description under the Book of Life.

“In a real though figurative sense, the book of life is the record of the acts of men as such record is written in their own bodies. It is the record engraven on the very bones, sinews, and flesh of the mortal body. That is, every thought, word, and deed has an affect on the human body: all these leave their marks, marks which can be read by Him who is Eternal as easily as the words in a book can be read.
By obedience to telestial law men have telestial bodies; terrestrial law leads to terrestrial bodies: and conformity to celestial law – because this law includes the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost – results in the creation of a body which is clean, pure, and spotless, a celestial body. When the book of life is opened in the day of judgement, men’s bodies will show what law they have lived. The Great Judge will then read the record of the book of their lives; the account of their obedience or disobedience will be written in their bodies.”

I like the idea that Heavenly Father will be able to tell just from looking at us the personal wars we’ve fought, the tragedies we have suffered and the healing we have created within ourselves. Taking it a step further, I believe in the next life everyone will able to read each other’s bodies. Just like I can spot a bad boob job or botox treatment, I think it will be reasonable to expect we will be transparent to each other in the afterlife. What’s to hide at that point?

Meanwhile, back here on earth, we are made up not only of the food we eat, the chemicals we are exposed to, the injuries and illnesses we endure, we are also the thoughts we think and the deeds we do. All of it is recorded in our bones, our muscles, our skin, our cells and even in our hair.

Every day we are writing a new page in our personal Book of Life. What will yours say?


*I acknowledge that even though there is a good reason Mormon Doctrine isn’t an official reference book of the church, even Bruce R. McKonkie can’t be wrong about everything, especially when he agrees with me.

Dumb Questions

What is the stupidest thing you ever asked your bishop?

Mine has to be the time I asked my bishop/ BYU professor if UFO’s were real. He sighed and said, “Of course not. Is there anything else you want to discuss?”

Thank Heavens This is Behind Us

I just read an article in the online Salt Lake Trib. from one of my favorite columnists, Kirby. He wrote about the crazy doctrine that seminary teachers taught when he was in high school during the early 1970’s. Read more »

First Temple Memories

Rex and Heather after Sealing

What I remember about our family sealing trip to the Oakland, CA temple was that my new adoptive mother, Virginia was super crabby in the car. Read more »

We Lost a Good One


Less than an hour after the announcement of comic Robin Williams passing I read my first post on Facebook from a religious person who was worried about his soul.

Did Robin know Jesus? If not, his eternal life is in jeopardy.


Next came a member of our church saying that Robin took the cowards way out since he is presumed to have taken his own life. That comment just makes my blood boil.

I hate those statements. They don’t bring peace or comfort to a grieving family. They can be a knife to the heart of loved ones who had tried valiantly to help their family member or didn’t even know the depth of their suffering.

I was talking in church about a funeral I attended and how difficult it was since no one in the family had a belief in God or in eternal life. I was sad for their pain. After I finished speaking the enthusiastic Ward Missionary Leader bounded up to me and handed me a new copy of the church VHS tape “Families Are Forever.” He told me I should have showed that to the people at the funeral.

I stood in stunned silence, uncomprehending his statement. Really? I should have what – asked for a VCR and tv and taken them to the front of the funeral home chapel and played the tape for all the mourners instead of the program the family planned? Forcing my religious views on others who darned well knew I was Mormon and chose not to learn more about it, would have been appropriate at that time?

No. It is not appropriate to hand out church pass-a-long cards at a funeral. Or Book of Mormons. Or VHS tapes expounding our views on eternal life. There is a time and place for everything and during the days before/during/immediately after a loved ones passing is not the time for uninvited evangelizing.

In fact, there is never a time for UNINVITED evangelizing. Sometimes the best, most appreciated thing to do is offer a hug, a sincere condolence for their loss and to shut up and sit down.

Especially as members of our church, we are the last group of people who should worry about someone’s standing with Heavenly Father and Jesus. We are the ones who believe in Baptism for the Dead, remember? Everyone who wants to be baptized, will get that opportunity.

As for the second FB comment, JUDGE NOT, you stupid person. I can only hope that idiot gets smacked upside his head by life before I die. I want the pleasure of seeing him repent of his pride and arrogance.

Not that it really matters, I already added him to my list of people I plan on haunting from the other side when it is my time to go. That and I plan on buying a ticket to see Robin Williams perform at the Eternal Comedy Club. I’m sure every show is a sell out.

Dark Night of the Soul

I am at the age/demographic/end of my rope enough that I consented to a medical evaluation that no one should have to endure.
I did an overnight sleep study. Read more »

The Best Lesson From the Old Testament

There is so much about the Old Testament that I dislike, what with all the raping, murdering, and incest by supposedly righteous people, that I have a hard time sitting still during Sunday School lessons about it. To combat my internal conflicts about the OT, I am always on the search for anything positive about the Old Testament.

My mind was wandering during church (I know! *G*A*S*P* in horror at the thought!) and I remembered the most beautiful story/post about the OT and decided I simply must share it with you.

Courtesy of my all-time favorite, now defunct blog, The Apron Stage. Feel free to read more from the site here:

The Tree and the Water

December 14, 2009 in Uncategorized | Tags: Christmas


It is definitely Christmas. I am drinking apple cider. I am eating more cookies, brownies, and chocolate (both hot and solid). I have been to see Christmas lights at the temple and Christmas lights at the zoo. Both my office and my living room have Christmas trees. And when Christmas songs come up on rotation in my iTunes shuffle, I don’t trigger finger next them. I listen all the way through, singing softly in my office. In Dulci Jubilo . . . Oh that we were there! Oh that we were there!

But recently when I have wanted to feel the Christmas spirit during my moments of scripture study and reverie, I have felt drawn not to Luke 2 but to Exodus, and a moment involving the children of Israel, water, and, of course, a miracle.

Exodus 15: 22-26.

22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.

23 ¶ And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.

24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?

25 And he cried unto the Lord; and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,

26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.

With Egypt and the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s men tumbling behind them, the children of Israel faced their future, and it was a desert. They were discouraged. But God in His mercy brought them to water, for which they were grateful, I am sure. Except—when they went to drink, they couldn’t. It was bitter.

So they cried, as I would have cried: “What shall we drink?”

Moses prayed, and God showed him what to do. Take this tree, He said. And cast it in the waters, and the tree will make the waters sweet.

Moses obeyed. Presumably, the Israelites drank and weren’t thirsty and were grateful. The Lord then promised them that if they’d “diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes,” He would not curse them the way He had cursed the Egyptians. In fact, He would heal them.

When the Israelites had heard this covenant (and, we guess, at least preliminarily agreed), God brought them from the waters of Marah to Elim

27 ¶ . . . where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.

This Christmas, I am thirsty for the waters of Christ. And I have been praying that God will build in my heart a wellspring, filled with “water springing up into everlasting life,” so I may drink and never thirst. (John 4:14)

I like that the children of Israel’s first experience with being thirsty in the wilderness ended with a story about a tree, and a promise that God could heal the things that were bitter.

The tree will make the waters sweet. “For I am the Lord that healeth thee.”

A Christmas tree, a mug of wassail, a song of peace and joy: these tell the story God tries to tell us over and over and over again, the very story He acted out with the children of Israel when they were strangers in a desert.

A thrill of hope. The weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Amen, Sarah. Amen. This is hands down, my favorite story from the Old Testament.

1 Comment
Suffer the Children

You gotta love my current home state, Iowa. We have a governor who has been ruling our kingdom on and off since 1983. He is currently working on securing on his 6th term in office. Let’s just say the man is comfortable on his throne. Read more »

Lessons From A Sunburn

Reprinted from the Ezra and Hadassah book site


My brother Rex had more than his share of life’s troubles. He could only read and write on a 3rd grade level and lived his life as an eternal 9 year-old boy. That meant he was thrilled beyond belief when I told him the greatest news ever. Read more »

I’d Rather Be A Divorced Mormon

I have a client who is contemplating divorce. Well, not really. She would love to leave her dysfunctional, abusive marriage but her church says that marriage is “til death do you part.” Read more »

I Have the Attention Span of a Gnat

Sorry guys, but I need a break from the intensity of the past couple of weeks. My body and mind can’t live in a wash of stress day after day. Because I might not be the only one needing a new thought, I offer this as a humble distraction:

Kissing. Read more »

Out of the Best Books

This has been a draining time for me. I hate conflict, whether in my home, my church or my country. I hate election seasons because the months (years!) of mud-slinging campaigning just wears me down. I hate mean-spirited people at church because, well, it’s obvious. Rejoicing in other’s pain just doesn’t feel good to me. Read more »

Imprisoned Trust

It is done.

I’ve kept my emotions, thoughts and feelings close to my chest on this one. I haven’t expressed much but silently supported her. In my own way I’ve prayed. I almost lit a candle last night. I was hoping this time would be different. I hoped the hearts of the MEN would be softened, and I silently wished a woman could be in on the decision making. I think I’ve eaten everything in my cupboards  Read more »

Mormon “News”-room and Deseret “News” — Just Merge Already

Journalism teachers everywhere, rejoice! Utah’s own Deseret “News” continues to provide you with the gold standard for real-world examples of manipulative reporting. Here is the latest specimen, courtesy of Whitney Evans:
Read more »

The Boundaries of Conversation

I don’t particularly care for Ordain Women. I say that not to disparage the organization or Kate Kelly, its founder, but to provide some context for what I am about to present, and I admit I come to this topic prejudiced.
Read more »

This is News to Me, How About You?

I’ve never heard of this before. Or if I did, I forgot. What do you know about the Strengthen Church Members Committee?

After reading this news article, I am a bit worried.



Sigh… Will This EVER Stop? Girls Camp part two

As a break from a week of emotionality about possible excommunications of high-visibility people, I have a true story that should set your hair on fire.

I just heard how things went at my old stake’s girls camp. I am talking about girls camp last week, in the year 2014.

The girl’s camp theme for the week was “Happily Ever After” complete with t-shirts sporting a Disney type crown. The highlight for girls camp was a program given by stake leaders saying that their goals for life should be on finding a returned missionary, getting married in the temple and viola! Happily Ever After, the t-shirt comes true.

Gag me. That is the message I was given 35 years ago when I was a young woman in church. Did these camp leaders completely miss 2001? That was the year President Hinckley gave the game-changing talk

What about telling the girls the truth – There is NO happily ever after? They may not get married. They may get married and regret it every day of their life. They may be happily married and their spouse still has affairs. They may deal with sickness, death and widowhood. Their spouse might develop a mental illness. They might have a car accident that leaves them in a wheelchair. The list of realities goes on and on. The one thing that is guaranteed to not happen is Happily Ever After.

The icing on a week of saccharine-sweet lies, was how all the girls were shamed by an insane dress code.

Before camp, the stake girls camp leaders decided they wanted to emphasis  a dress code. Shorts needed to be to the knee or longer. Fine.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t communicated until after the girls arrived at camp.

The stake leaders went around to all the girls and if their shorts were above their knee, their legs were marked with black Sharpie marker. Then they were presented with a pair sweatpants decorated with beads, bows and writing all over them saying ‘Sweat Pants of Shame’ that they were forced to wear.

Did no one in leadership stop and think about this for one half of a second? Obviously not.

Non-member girls go to camp. Less active girls go to camp.  Girls who out-grow clothes overnight go to camp. Girls who have eating disorders, are freaked out about their appearance, and worry obsessively about being ridiculed, go to camp. Girls like me, who took all the clothes I owned to camp because I only had 3 pairs of shorts, go to camp.

Are we surprised to hear that several of the girls who were marked with Sharpies and forced to wear outlandish Sweat Pants of Shame, vowed they would Never. Go. To. Girls Camp. Ever. Again? You shouldn’t be surprised. That is what happens when you use humiliation as a teaching tool.

I don’t care what a girl is wearing at Girls Camp. It is NEVER ok to use shame with a child of God. Even if a girl shows up dressed as a waitress at Hooters, shame is 100% not ok. Actually, that is the moment a girl needs kind leaders to wrap her in their love, help her get camp appropriate clothes that fit her, and make her feel glad she went to camp.

To say my heart is broken puts it mildly. Like all of you, I am already raw with pain for my sisters and brothers in the gospel who are facing serious challenges in the church. To be told of the mean-spirited behavior that was inflicted upon the sweet girls who just wanted to go to camp and have fun, is pouring salt in my open heart wounds.

I have a message for every parent and adult leader who has dealings with our wonderful youth in the church:

Stop it.
Stop shaming our kids into what you think is appropriate clothes, appropriate behavior, appropriate whatever. If you can’t lead with love and kindness, get the H-E-double hockey sticks away from the children. You don’t deserve to be in a position of authority in Christ’s church.

And quit lying to them. Quit telling girls the only way to happiness is through finding a man. Quit telling them that only returned missionaries are worthy of their time. Quit telling them that once they have a temple marriage, they have arrived at Happily Ever After.

Instead, tell them the truth. The only way to Happily Ever After is through having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Everything and everyone else will let you down, just like these girls camp leaders did last week.

Boy, did they.


Two, Four, Six, Eight, Do Not Excommunicate: An Open Letter to Mark M. Harrison, Scott M. Wheatley, and Bryan C. King

Dear Bishop Harrison, President Wheatley, and President King:

In the next few weeks you might all find yourselves presiding at disciplinary councils for either Kate Kelly or John Dehlin. Here is my advice to you:

You must not excommunicate them. You do not want to be George Wallace.
Read more »

Banned Girls Camp Songs

It’s the beginning of the annual season of Mormon girls camp. I enjoyed camp as a girl and I didn’t mind it too much as an adult leader when I got enough sleep. Read more »

Church Diversity

happy people

The hubby and I have lived a lot of places during our marriage. Before that, we were both raised in nomadic, wandering families who chased jobs, endlessly trying to pull themselves into middle class life. Some years were up, and some were down. Read more »

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