Sunday, October 23, 2016

All Things New

Last year for Advent, my family and I prepared our hearts for Christmas with a study from She Reads Truth titled "Born is the King." (You can find it here.) The entire study is beautiful, but one Bible verse in particular settled itself in my heart.

I'd read, even studied Revelation 21:5 before, but this time it meant something more — and ten months later, it continues to fill me with all the hope and joy and peace that I find in Jesus. It seems to embody all of the Yeses that matter most.

I especially like the way the verse is worded in the HCSB:

"Look! I am making everything new."

© Alison Walker 2016

Saturday, October 22, 2016

I'm Not Sugar or Salt

When my kids were little, my mom had a phrase she'd repeat to them whenever they were out together on a rainy day.

It's a good thing we aren't sugar or salt.

I don't remember her saying this when I was a child, and I don't know the phrase's origin. But the idea, I think, is that a little rain never hurt anyone — unless he or she is made of sugar or salt, which will dissolve away if it gets wet.

I thought of this phrase recently as I read in a young adult novel about two teenage boys joyfully playing in the rain on a summer afternoon.

In October 2014, religious leader Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, "Heavenly Father is constantly raining blessings upon us. It is our fear, doubt, and sin that, like an umbrella, block these blessings from reaching us."

When we not willing or able to close our umbrellas, we miss the daily evidences of God's love.

Saying Yes means recognizing the hand of God in my life and expressing gratitude for it.

I want to walk in the rain!

© Alison Walker 2016

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Commission

Last Saturday I visited the Brigham Young University Museum of Art
to see an exhibition entitled A Visual Testimony: Minerva Teichert’s Book of Mormon Paintings.

Minerva Teichert (1888–1976) was an American painter notable for depicting Western and Mormon subjects, including a collection of murals depicting scenes from the Book of Mormon. These forty-two murals are part of the BYU museum's permanent collection, and they are the subject of this exhibition.

The following photographs show some of my favorite snippets from the murals, depicting Teichart's emphasis on the significance of women in the Book of Mormon history:

From Alma Baptizing at the Water of Mormon.

From Helaman's Striplings.

From Morianton's Maidservant.

From The Sacrament.

I love Teichart's art and enjoyed this exhibition immensely, simply as an opportunity to see her work.

Because of The Year of Yes, however, something else about the exhibition impressed me. I'll attempt to illustrate that impression with two excerpts from the narrative of the exhibit and a sentence from her biography on Wikipedia:
    At age four, Minerva's mother presented her with a set of watercolor paints. From that time on, she knew that she was meant to be an artist.
    Teichert studied under Robert Henri, and she recounts this exchange with him: "One day he said to me: 'Has anyone ever painted that great Mormon story of yours?' 'Not to suit me.' 'Well, good heavens, girl, what a chance! You have the greatest things on earth to paint. You do it. That's your birthright.' "I felt I had been commissioned!'"
    Teichart once explained "I must paint", when asked about how she persisted in painting despite being in near-complete artistic isolation, without a dedicated studio or even much free time to create.
Minerva Teichart had a vision of what she was to do with her life and said Yes to accomplishing it!

Minerva Teichert, Wikipedia.
A Visual Testimony: Minerva Teichart's Book of Mormon Paintings. "Current Exhibitions," Brigham Young University Museum of Art.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Promises of God

© Alison Walker 2016

Aren't these beautiful words from the Apostle Paul?!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


The prophet Isaiah called the Sabbath "a delight" (Isaiah 58:13). Modern revelation indicates that the Sabbath Day was given to us "that [our] joy may be full" (D&C 59:13).

Learning to make the Sabbath more of a delight for me and my family is one of the things I've wanted to do during my Year of Yes.

God told Moses that the children of Israel were to keep the Sabbath as "a sign" between them and Him, so that they would know that sanctification comes from Him, in other words, that they — and we — are literally "set apart" for a special use or purpose. Sabbath observance was to be "a perpetual covenant" between God and His people. (See Exodus 31:13, 16.)

Jesus said that He is Lord of the Sabbath. (See Luke 6:5.) It is His day!

How can I say Yes to a Sabbath of joy and rejoicing? What kind of "sign" do I want to give God of my commitment to this eternal covenant?

Here are a few thoughts:
    Rest. The word Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word shabat, meaning "cessation" or "time of rest." When I finally do my experiment in Loving My Actual Life, one of my priorities will be on rest.
    Worship. I need to be in the proper frame of mind when I attend church services so that I can have a heart to know and eyes to see and ears to hear. (See Deuteronomy 29:4.)
    Music. "Is any [among you] merry? let him sing psalms (James 5:13). Music can be such a great way for me to be filled with the spirit of the Lord — both listening and singing.
    The Word. I love God's Word! I want to be more intentional about being in the Word, and I want to experience the Word in new ways.
    Connection. Building and maintaining relationships takes time and effort. I want to improve familial relationships and friendships. I also want to make connections to my ancestors.

What ideas do you have for keeping and hallowing #HisDay?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Saying No

I read an interesting scripture this morning in my daily devotional.

This year I'm reading from Shauna Niequist's Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are every morning as part of my efforts in saying Yes to more time in God's Word. (The subtitle of the book also just seemed appropriate for The Year of Yes.)

By the way, when I decided that I wanted to do that, I told my husband about my intention. His response was skepticism that I could actually do something every day for a whole year — and being the rebel1 that I am, he was probably right. But, being the rebel that I am, because he said I couldn't do it, I've been very successful in this endeavor!

Anyway, I read an interesting scripture this morning in my daily devotional.
"I have the right to do anything," you say — but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything" — but not everything is constructive.
          — 1 Corinthians 10:23 (NIV)
Shauna talked about cooking and recipes — about moving "outside of established rules and expectations" [page 315]. But, being the rebel that I am, that wasn't the lesson I needed.

What I heard in this verse of scripture was my rebellious nature asserting that I can do whatever I want — with God's gentle reminder that my Yeses ought to be mindful, that they need to be intentional, and that I have to set priorities. Sometimes, maybe frequently, saying Yes means saying No.

1This year I've embraced the rebel label of Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendencies Framework. As she describes that tendency, "Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike. They act from a sense of choice, from freedom. Rebels wake up and think, 'What do I want to do today?' They resist control, even self-control, and enjoy flouting rules and expectations. They sometimes frustrate others — and even themselves — because they resist any expectation, even one that’s self-imposed."

Monday, October 17, 2016

168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam
A Book Review

This time management book, filled with statistics, is actually quite a compelling read. Subtitled You Have More Time Than You Think, its basic premise is that how one fills one's time is a choice and that there is time to do the things one really wants to do.

I think I've always believed that — and I already do several of the things that Vanderkam suggests, such as listening to audio books during my commute, using the DVR to record the few television shows I watch so I can do so on my own schedule, keeping a Bible with me all the time (via an app on my iPhone) so I can read a few verses whenever I have a few minutes, and focusing on gratitude, and I've been a planner all of my adult life.

We all have 168 hours a week.
Time spent doing one thing is
time not spent doing another.
              — Laura Vanderkam
I need to remember that I'm the one in charge of my 168 hours a week. As Vanderkam says, "Sometimes when we get really busy, it’s easy to feel absent from our own lives." I need to be more mindful about living my full life.

I would like to make two lists that Vanderkam recommends — a "List of 100 Dreams" and a list of things that make me happy or that I find meaningful that take 30 minutes or less, or even less than 10 minutes.

When we analyze what we are actually doing with our 168 hours each week, Vanderkam asserts, except for sleeping and eating, we probably don’t have to do any of the things we're doing.

Everything else is a choice.

I choose to say "Yes" to the things that matter!