Diamond in the Rough

Picture in your mind all of the beautiful & different shapes a diamond can be cut into. If you had to quickly determine which shape you would choose if you got to be known at the end of your life as one of these shapes, which would you pick? I would like to point out that all of these shaped diamonds are beautiful and priceless and have each had to go through a refining process.


Now some questions to consider, what if all of the diamonds in the world could only be cut one way – like round? Wouldn’t it be boring? I think you can see where I’m going with this. One of the phrases we use in life about potential is “she’s a diamond in the rough” – which would literally mean a piece of coal, but figuratively speaking mean someone who is going to become something amazing. So have you decided shape do you think you would be? How do you express yourself in your own unique way? You may have some things in common with your friends, but I am confident there are also just as many differences. Some of us are small, some of us are tall; some may prefer brown skirts, others of us like black; Some have been blessed with a tender and soft heart, others with bold and unwavering devotion; Some of us are spunky and know how to get to work and get ‘er done. Others have the gift to make things light and fun. Which shape do you like to sparkle in? For each of us there is a unique way that we will feel most capable of “coming unto to Christ and being perfected in Him”. Let’s not fight against those capabilities but magnify them & embrace them.

And on the other hand let us appreciate the other people we admire for their unique examples and then use this understanding as we work together to perfect ourselves. We don’t all have to be the same. Each of us is enough being uniquely who we are inside & out– we don’t all have to be the same “shape”. Isn’t that refreshing? We can each ultimately become the diamonds we are meant to be as we handle the pressures of life, but in the end our shapes will be specific to whom we have always been, even before the world began.

!A word of caution! How many of you know what a cubic Zirconia is? Cubic zirconia—commonly called CZ—is widely used as an inexpensive diamond substitute. I found this quote from Macys.com when researching about diamonds: “There’s no need to shell out the big bucks for a diamond dazzler. Cubic zirconia jewelry offers a unique eye-catching shimmer without having to break the bank.” To the untrained eye, a brand new CZ looks like a real diamond. This is why many people substitute them for the real thing. The two substances may look similar—especially when new and clean—but they’re not! Unlike diamonds, CZ’s scratch and become dull and lifeless over the long term. They don’t sparkle like real diamonds either once you’ve worn them for a bit. The world would have us believe that superficial things are real and that we can sacrifice quality. Please DON’T BELIEVE it. The world is the big and spacious building we read about in Nephi’s account of the tree of life. I think sometimes when we pick up a magazine and see the flawless faces of the models it’s hard not to believe the little lies that Satan places in our thoughts, that we are ugly and not good enough. That we will never be that good. What we don’t see is the unhealthy habits or the air brushing techniques that accomplished the flawless look. It is hard to see the picture for what it truly is. It looks like a diamond, but it’s really only a CZ right? Would could use this example with countless other things.

Let’s put all of these ideas together. A CZ would probably go through the motions of going to church and taking the sacrament, but not ever develop a deep rooted testimony. A flawless and uniquely shaped diamond in the rough, might look like this depending on our strengths. Some may show love to God by reading their scriptures diligently, others will want to do something like go on a hike and feel reverence for the creations that God has given to us to enjoy. A few others of us will find it easy to be a cheerleader with encouraging words when others feel down; some of you will find it easy to reach out and give someone a hug or make them a favorite treat to demonstrate how much you care. As we embrace that we truly are a diamond in the rough, it is easier to stay focused on keeping the two greatest commandments to love God and love one another. Our brother, Jesus Christ’s, perfect example of humble confidence is one for each of us to strive for no matter what cut we are. He had the humility necessary to glory in “His father”, and then through that found the confidence He needed to heal lepers, feed the hungry, give the blind their sight, walk on water, teach forgiveness, and help the homeless. He is there for us, waiting with arms open wide. He will mold our lives and change our willing hearts. He will safely guide us and gently lead us through our “roughness” until we are ready to stand before Heavenly Father at the end our days as a uniquely shaped & sparkling diamond. I know this is true for each of us!

A few thoughts about mortal bodies

bodyThe other day our family was having a dinnertime conversation to which JT posed a question after the topic of birthdays came up. He said, “Mom, what day was I born on?” Finding this question puzzling since I knew that he knew the date of his birthday I reminded him, “February 26th.” He had the happiest most amazed look, and exclaimed with his sparkling eyes and raspy voice, “I was born on my birthday!” Of course this produced a round of laughter. Isn’t child like wonder a magical thing?

When I was a little girl, one of the questions I remember wondering to my parents was, “Why didn’t you name me a cute and more common name like Stephanie?” To which I felt like I was given a few unsatisfactory explanations, until one day my mom finally said; “We had a couple of names in mind, and we just thought you looked more like a Jodi than a Penny”. After that I decided that my parents chose the perfect name for me. My brothers and sister still call me by my nickname, “Jo”. Some of us have often heard the phrase, “just your average Jo” when referring to someone that is typical or common. A few years ago I connected something, I had an ah-hah moment when I realized; this is totally true about me! I let the idea roll around in my head until it stuck to my inner thoughts. I genuinely felt ok about it all because I tend to want to comfortably blend in most of the time. I wonder if any of you have ever felt this way too at times, even if your nickname isn’t Jo? I’ll explain later how this relates to my talk, so be just be patient with me.

But for now, I would love to take time with you to tap into our inner birthday child wonder and rediscover how awesome it is that we were born on our birthdays!

It’s actually amazing isn’t it that we were born and are living here on earth at this time? If we really have a testimony of the Plan of Salvation, in particular that we lived in Heaven as spirits before we came to earth in mortality, this notion is reason to celebrate big time! This is our chance to see how we are going to continue to choose Jesus Christ as our Savior, we know from what we’ve been taught that we did choose to follow him before we came and that is why we were given the privilege to receive an earthly body. We have been waiting a pretty long time to get our turn to see what we can do around here, somewhere roughly around the 6000-year mark. This is one of the reasons I want to believe that birthdays can still be just as magical at 39, 6 or 73 after all it’s the anniversary of the day you and I received these bodies we came to church in today, the bodies that were created in the image of God as we’ve been taught.

In His conference address entitled, “Decisions for Eternity”, Russell M. Nelson gave a beautiful description of these bodies that house our spirits. He said, “My professional years as a medical doctor gave me a profound respect for the human body. Created by God as a gift to you, it is absolutely amazing! Think of your eyes that see, ears that hear, and fingers that feel all the wondrous things around you. Your brain lets you learn, think, and reason. Your heart pumps tirelessly day and night, almost without your awareness. Your body protects itself. Pain comes as a warning that something is wrong and needs attention. Infectious illnesses strike from time to time, and when they do, antibodies are formed that increase your resistance to subsequent infection. Your body repairs itself. Cuts and bruises heal. Broken bones can become strong once again.” End quote. Isn’t this a WONDER?!

Elder David Bednar enlightened us with something very serious to consider during his conference address from April 2013, “As sons and daughters of God, we have inherited divine capacities from Him. But we presently live in a fallen world. The very elements out of which are bodies were created are by nature fallen and ever subject to the pull of sin, corruption, and death. … And yet we are dual beings, for our spirit that is the eternal part of us is tabernacle in a physical body that is subject to the Fall. As Jesus emphasized to the Apostle Peter, The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41).Because a physical body is so central to the Father’s plan of happiness and our spiritual development, Lucifer seeks to frustrate our progression by tempting us to use our bodies improperly. The very tool he does not have is thus the primary target of his attempts to lure us to spiritual destruction.” Close quote.

Unfortunately, this is true, and as I’ve gotten older I’m see that the world’s influences swim upon us in big waves as we are trying to remember this. I want to again accentuate Satan and his followers didn’t get the honor of having an earthy body and they are more than jealous! I’m sure they are delighted to see things like: addictions to food, drugs, gaming, pornography; media influences that mock virtue; infidelity and immorality; and domestic violence and abuse to name just a few. These are all things that Satan and his followers throw at us, whether we are watching, participating, or a victim of somebody else’s choice these are a reality. All of these and more can truly leave us heartbroken, confused, and questioning.

Elder Russell M. Nelson gave us hope when he acknowledged, “Mistakes happen. Errors are made. Sins are committed. What can we do then? We can learn from them. And we can truly repent [and I am going to insert her forgive ourselves and others]. We can change our behavior. Our very desire can change. How? There is only one way. True change, permanent change, can come only through the healing, cleansing, and enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He loves you, each of you! He allows you to access His power as you keep His commandments, eagerly, earnestly, and exactly. It is that simple and certain.” End quote

Our flesh and bones were the first gift we received in mortality. We only get one body. We must be watchful to not believe the lies of negative and destructive behavior or thinking that Satan places before us. In YW each week we recite, “We are daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves us, and we love Him. We will stand (this sometimes means literally with our bodies) as witnesses of Him at all times, in all things, and in all places. It is true for sons and daughters alike and no matter what age we are! As we keep God’s commandments, we prove that we are worthy of our destiny to become like Him. We all matter and we each have a unique purpose, Heavenly Father loves us! IF this is true, and my testimony is that is absolutely is, that means that individually we can do amazing things that will become extraordinary when joined together as followers and disciples of Jesus Christ. We matter! Nobody is just an average Jo- not even me!

Lastly, I would like to say, “happy birth day” to each one of us. It is my testimony that God does have a plan for us. It was presented to us before the world began. We have been waiting for our turn to come here and have this experience to prove our willingness to continue to follow the Savior in these latter days! Our bodies, no matter the current condition, are amazing. Let us not take for granted the gift and opportunity it is to be living the mortal experience. Let us be grateful for the challenges our bodies give us to remind us that at least we have one. Let us have respect for them and other people’s and treat them with dignity and virtue, never to defile the miraculous gift for what it is. It is my hope and prayer that we may each cherish every day of our mortal lives and be found as one ready to become who the Lord needs us to be as we help the rest of our spirit brothers and sisters throughout the world understand this important truth.

You’re gonna hear me RoAr

Dear Satan,

I heard a great quote once from a lady I greatly admire. Julie B. Beck told all of us women at BYU Women’s Conference,  “I have said lately that women are like lionesses at the gate of the home.  Whatever happens in that home and family, happens because she cares about it and it matters to her. She guards that gate, and things matter to that family if they matter to her.” Guess what – I believe her! I even put a picture of a lioness in my room where I see it every day as a reminder.


So Satan, I know you like to make me feel like I am a crappy parent and that what I do isn’t making a difference. I know you like to whisper negative thoughts into my ear about how I don’t contribute to society because all I do is stay home all day and that I should go get a job or go back to school and get a career so I can drive a fancy car. I know you want me to believe that my kids don’t listen to a word I say or care about things that are important to me. I know you are the one that tells me it’s ok to be upset and angry and overwhelmed when things don’t go my way or my house is a complete disaster.  I know you are trying to keep me so busy and tired that I don’t want to stay awake to read my scriptures or pray when I go to bed at night. I know that you are the one that tells me that FHE was a failure when kids fight the whole time, or that when our family only reads one verse in our scriptures for family scripture study because we slept in too long that we aren’t dedicated enough. You are the one who tells my kids that they are a loser or aren’t good enough. You are the genuine author who puts naughty lyrics to a catchy tune. You are the one who makes us all feel worthless and alone and like failures. I really don’t like you, you know that? You really get on my nerves.

I have faith in the idea that Sister Julie B. Beck counseled.  You can count on me to do everything in MY POWER to keep YOU out of my home because I care that all of us acquire and strengthen our own testimonies of Jesus Christ.  I care that we remember that we are children of a Heavenly Father who loves us. I care that we keep our covenants. I care that we are surrounding ourselves with wholesome and uplifting things. I care that we are good friends as well as choose friends with high gospel standards. I care that we learn to love and serve each other.  I care that we follow the prophet. I care that we have a desire to represent Jesus Christ and serve a mission to share the gospel with others. I care that we understand that the Family is of God. I care that we hold fast to the knowledge that marriage is between a man and a women that love, honor, and devote themselves to each other. I care that we are preparing ourselves to go to the temple. I care that we keep the commandments and are honest, hard working, and humble. I care that we know how much power can come through scripture study and prayer. I care that we care about good grades and want to continue learning for the rest of our lives. I care that we participate in activities that will keep our bodies healthy and strong. I care that we acquire talents that will give us confidence now and the ability to serve later. ALL of this matters to ME! So watch out, “You’re gonna hear me Roar…louder than a lion cause I am a champion.”



p.s. Please thank your friend, Katy Perry for the chorus of her new song that I quoted above… It reminds me of being the Lioness at the gate of my home. Actually, while you’re at it, will you let her know that I am NOT a fan of her morals or dress code. Thanks that will be all. 🙂


This morning I found out that my cousin, Mandall Beattie, passed away. My heart is sad as I reflect the years I spent with him and my Uncle Morgan’s family as we grew up. We ate a lot of cake and ice cream together each year as we celebrated birthdays and living well in Burton, Idaho. As he grew up, it seemed that he struggled through life trying to find his way and himself – don’t we all? But I loved him like I love any of my cousins and could recognize his good heart. I think of his children, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends left behind to sort through pieces and try to understand. Hurt and grief is so painfully real and I can’t even begin to imagine how badly it must feel – especially for his five children. Tender feelings of compassion and empathy for them are easy for me to find but difficult to express through my own words or actions. It is humbling and relieving to know that Heavenly Father is in charge and we can be instruments in his hands when our heart is in the right place and it’s the right time. It’s amazing to also know that because of the sacrifices made by our brother, Jesus Christ, our hearts can heal. Because of him we can find the peace we seek. It is miraculous.

I’ve been sitting at my piano. A place I find myself when my feelings get all mixed up and I feel helpless inside. I begin to work out my sadness through each note – it is very therapeutic. Eventually I ended with the song, “Someday He will Come.” This song becomes the words to the testimony my heart wants to speak. I can’t wait for the day when Jesus Christ will come again and there will be continual peace ….

“Someday He will come, sure as we live and breathe. One day every man and woman living on the earth will see His face. Someday. Someday He will come, sure as the seasons change. He will call the children to Him, He will bless the souls of every race. Someday. When He comes the world will melt away, earthly things will slip right through our hands. Leaving just our hearts to stand before Him – just our lives to speak for what we’ve done – what we’ve become. Someday He will come, sure as the end of day. When I humbly bow before Him will He find me worthy of His mercy and His grace? I will speak of Him with every breath. I will seek His sprit all my days. Everything I am I will surrender, just to know Him when this life is done – when He comes. Someday.”

Born to Live…Live to Die

Today I attended a funeral or can I say a celebration of a wonderful earthly life? Hopefully that doesn’t cause anyone to take offense, those words just resonate inside me better. I have come to approach death as a graduation from our earthly body. The funeral for me is a way for loved ones to be able to celebrate the things the earthly body was able to accomplish and to recognize the good deeds done, the ways a person was able to accomplish the mission they were sent to perform while here in their body. The beautiful thing that I am grateful to know is true – is that the person (in spirit) is still alive and continues on being the person they were here on earth…just in a better place.

I have been the observer of death on different levels, the granddaughter, the aunt, the friend, the cousin. While I have felt sadness and loss, disappointment, and grief. I don’t want to pretend to understand how difficult it must feel to be the wife, the daughter, the mother, the sister. Death has not come that close to home yet for me personally. I can’t imagine it nor do I want to. My heart hurts when I think of the aching that must go on. I have watched and heard from my own mother  – she has been the sister, the daughter, the niece, the cousin, the sister-in-law. She has taught me and I have learned from her faith. As I sat at my Grandfather Baldwin’s funeral I noticed her choking up – I leaned over and asked, “Are you thinking about your parents?” And she said, “No, I just know it is all true!” A speaker was talking about the plan of salvation. My own eyes brimmed with tears and my heart knew what she said was right. Through her faith I was blessed with the same knowledge.

As a young girl I attended many funerals and have continued to as the years have progressed. I feel blessed to have witnessed with my two eyes and one heart the effects of death in all of its sweetness. I have seen Christ-like actions: loving neighbors and friends offering to help in anyway, countless food items dropped by, a note expressing condolences.  But even more tender are those of caressing hands on a sweating brow,  the gentle guiding of uneasy steps, the brushing of gray, curly hair, the painting of  toenails, the blanket sewn to cover a chill. These pictures have been painted on my heart as witnesses of genuine Christ – like love in perfect action. I am humbled when I think of the love that can exist and be expressed from one human to another. It is sweet, yes, very sweet.

I happen to thumb through the Bible on Saturday when I found myself open to Ecclesiastes chapter 7. I don’t ever remember reading this chapter before in the 34 years I’ve been alive. It seemed timely as I have been contemplating the meaning of death….

“A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth. IT is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting; for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. Sorrow is better than laughter: for by sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning;…”

After reading this I then remembered the only chapter think I have actually read in Ecclesiastes before Saturday – chapter 3. “To ever thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die, a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

Last thought, today in the closing remarks of “the celebration of a wonderful life” a.k.a. the funeral, the Bishop quoted Elder Russell M. Nelson as saying, “We are born to live and we live to die.” I hung onto this thought and added it to my list of acquired thoughts. It is true we are born to live on this earth – to learn to grow and become who we are meant to be. We live here on earth so that when we die (or turn in our earthly bodies) we will be prepared to qualify for exaltation.

I have faith in my Heavenly Father. I know His plan for us in perfect and we can trust Him in that He knows the right time for all things. We are here to learn of His plan,  to show we can trust Him with it, and strive to become like Him as long as His timing allows.