Saturday, December 27, 2014


Over the past several months, I have been striving to work on one goal at a time until I achieve it before moving on to the next one.  I could really use some suggestions for a scripture study goal for the next few months.  Two years ago, I read the entire Old Testament.  Last year, I read the entire New Testament as well as studying the Institute manual as I went along.  Over the past few months, I have been studying The Book of Mormon more deeply; some parts more deeply than others.  I will accomplish my goal of reading The Book of Mormon in 3 months in 2 days, and I am not sure what goal to make as my next focus.  Do any of you have any suggestions?

Jess Knox

Sunday, November 9, 2014


It's amazing how many voices are in my head at any one time -- it's a very busy place. I never realized how much I talk to myself.

So I've been listening and identifying my voices for a couple of days. Then I've been trying to redirect those voices in a positive direction, if necessary. And you know what? It's not easy. But it's definitely a valuable exercise in self-evaluation.

I've also been doing as President Uchtdorf suggests: slowing down and taking time to get to know myself better. When I notice that I'm in a hurry to get somewhere or move on to the next task at hand, I stop what I'm doing, close my eyes for a minute and breathe deeply. I've been more diligent in my prayers and scripture study. When I go for a walk I try to notice my surroundings instead just walking to get it done.

I wouldn't say I've had a life-changing experience, but it's helping. When I slow down it gives me time to think about what I really want, how I really want my body and spirit to feel. I think about those days when I over-indulge and go to bed feeling uncomfortable -- and then wake up feeling the same way. Those are rough nights and I honestly don't want to experience them anymore.

The past two days have been particularly good days. I've kept my promises and that's worth 1,000 ice cream sundaes -- or at least that's what I tell myself when I'm feeling really strong. I feel more confident when I keep promises and that confidence encourages me to try another day, and then another, and then another... Check the comments for tomorrow's promise(s) and feel free to shout out one of your own.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Sometimes I have way too many voices jabbering away inside my head. Does that ever happen to you? My most common voices seem to be rationalization, judgment, and comparison.

"It may seem odd to think of having a relationship with ourselves, but we do. Some people can’t get along with themselves. They criticize and belittle themselves all day long until they begin to hate themselves. May I suggest that you reduce the rush and take a little extra time to get to know yourself better. Walk in nature, watch a sunrise, enjoy God’s creations, ponder the truths of the restored gospel, and find out what they mean for you personally. Learn to see yourself as Heavenly Father sees you—as His precious daughter or son with divine potential." (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Of Things That Matter Most," Ensign, Nov. 2010)

I. Love. That. I want to hear less of those voices and more of the voices of acceptance, compassion, and forgiveness. So my promise for tomorrow is to recognize and name the negative voices. Next step will be to replace the negative with the positive, but I don't think I can handle both in one day. First recognize -- then replace.

Monday, November 3, 2014

You Are Stronger Than You Seem

One of my favorite Disney characters is Winnie-the-Pooh and here are some of his wise words:

"You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."

All I can say is "amen" to Pooh.

I had to repeat the phrase "Just for Today" many times, but I did it. No sugar, strength training and a walk with Hannah this evening. Anyone else try one today?

Check out my promise for tomorrow in the comments section -- and shout out your own if you have one.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Just For Today

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since I first proposed this challenge. I learned a lot that first time, held on to some of those things and completely fell apart in other areas. How about you? Similar experience or did it lead to life-long changes?

I need to commit myself to my physical well-being, really commit for the long term. But it seems so overwhelming. There are good days followed by one rough day that leads to twenty more. Then I beat myself up and commit to try again. This past week, however, has been a little different and here’s why.

I’ve been part of a group that my sister started about three months ago. The premise was to choose a long-term project to work on and complete over the next 300 days. Once everyone declared their project, my sister divided us into smaller groups: projects ranged from creative to spiritual to health, among others. I was part of the health group, as was my sister. About two months in, she realized that those of us in the health group had special issues that needed to be addressed privately and more frequently so she made a sub-group. It was better, but still no real progress was happening for any of us.

 Last week she introduced a new idea, and I can honestly say that it has made all the difference for me. The idea is nothing new, just simple and effective. Here’s a quote she shared from fitness trainer and author Chris Powell:

“The more you honor your integrity, the more dignity you have. Your promises to yourself must be so important and easily kept that you'll reach out and grab them every single day -- because you want what you've promised yourself!

“Keeping each promise to yourself has to be your focus, because it shows you that you are your own top priority. Each promise made is another step toward valuing and loving yourself and a brick in the foundation of your transformation. Each promise kept – your integrity – is the mortar that holds the bricks together, and the more promises you honor, the stronger the foundation gets. Transformation happens when you honor your promises over your reasons.”

It’s that simple. How many times do you make and keep promises to others? Breaking a promise to others is something I don’t even think about doing and yet how often do I do that to one of the most important people in my life – me?!?”

Making and keeping promises – it’s that simple. But there’s one other important part to it: your promise is “just for today”. For me, the most self-defeating part of getting healthy is the overwhelming thought that once I start I have to do it forever. Will I really never be able to have another Andy’s custard? Is this the end of family pizza night? Will I ever be able to eat a piece of chocolate fudge cake without feeling guilty? It becomes too much and so I either never start or I promise myself that tomorrow will be “the day”.

But this promise is “just for today”. If today I promise not to eat sugar, tomorrow I can promise that I will. If I promise to go on a 30 minute walk, tomorrow I can make it 15 or skip it all together. The key is not what I promise but that I keep my promise. Start simple: make a promise you know you can keep. But make it real. My first promise was not to eat sugar and walk 30 minutes. The sugar one I knew would be a challenge, but exercise wasn’t too much of a stretch because it was already a regular habit. When I got to the end of the day and both promises were kept – WOW! I can’t even begin to describe how I felt. You would have thought I had solved world hunger, traveled to the moon and back, and run a marathon. And all I had done was keep a simple, but real, promise – to. myself.

I have posted the challenge from a year ago so if you want parts of this to be your promise feel free to use it. If keeping track of credits on the daily log is part of your promise, than do it. If you want to throw in a spiritual aspect, it’s your choice. You do whatever you think is most important for you, just for today. I have found that it’s helpful to write it down the night before and hold myself accountable the following night. I will be posting regularly and invite you to do the same – but only if that’s something you want to do. This is about your integrity, your transformation. And we are here to support and encourage each other in whatever way we can. (Look for my “just for today” in the comment section.)

Try it! See what happens. See how you feel. Don’t be afraid to make it a little challenging but always remember to be gentle with yourself. Don’t ever give up! I know that with the Lord’s help ALL things are possible.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Savior's Suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane

A few Sundays ago, Sister Beard gave the most wonderful lesson in Relief Society about the Sacrament!  Her inspired message was just what I needed to hear.  Ever since she gave her lesson, I have been pondering over the Sacrament and the Atonement of the Savior.  I chose to do my scripture study focusing on the Savior’s suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane to help me have a better understanding about these topics.

These are the words and phrases that I found that described the Savior’s suffering in the scriptures and in the Institute manual: 
·       Sorrowful & very heavy
·       “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death.” 
·       “let this cup pass from me”
·       He prayed that, if it were possible, let the hour pass from Him.
·       “take away this cup from me”
·       “remove this cup from me”
·       He shall suffer temptations, pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue.
·       His anguish will be so great that he will bleed from every pore.
·       He shall suffer pains, afflictions, and temptations of every kind.
·       He will take upon Him death.
·       He will take upon Him the infirmities and the sins of everyone. 
·       He suffered both body and spirit.
·       Profound grief
·       Indescribable anguish
·       Overpowering torture
·       “He bore the weight, the responsibility, and the burden of all the sins of men…”
·       “He had struggled against the powers of darkness that had been let loose upon him there, placed below all things, His mind surcharged with agony and pain, lonely and apparently helpless and forsaken, in His agony the blood oozed from His pores.” 
·       “It was not physical pain, nor mental anguish alone, that caused Him to suffer such torture as to produce an extrusion of blood from every pore, but a spiritual agony of soul such as only God was capable of experiencing.” 
·       “In that hour of anguish Christ met and overcame all of the horrors that Satan, ‘the prince of this world’ could inflict.  The frightful struggle incident to the temptations immediately following the Lord’s baptism was surpassed and overshadowed by this supreme contest with the powers of evil.” 
·       “In some manner, actual and terribly real though to man incomprehensible, the Savior took upon Himself the burden of the sins of mankind from Adam to the end of the world.” 

It is an interesting parallel that the name “Gethsemane” means “oil-press.”  Just as olives are squeezed so that oil can be taken from them, the Savior was also mentally, physically, and in every other way squeezed to the point that drops of blood came out of every pore of his body.  If olives were living beings, they would undergo intense suffering and pain when oil was extracted from them, just as Jesus suffered there in the Garden of Gethsemane.
While the Savior was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, His disciples were sleeping.  The Savior then taught His apostles that they need to watch and pray always because the flesh is willing, but the spirit is weak.  This example of the Savior to go to Heavenly Father in prayer teaches me that I also should do what it says in Doctrine and Covenants Section 10 Verse 5: “Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.”
            The Savior was motivated to “drink the bitter cup” because His will was swallowed up in Heavenly Father’s will.  In other words, the Savior was willing to do whatever it was that Heavenly Father wanted Him to.  That is such a good example to me!  Sometimes I have a hard time accepting what it is that Heavenly Father wants me to do. 
            Even though the Savior initially asked for the bitter cup to be taken from Him, He still submits to His suffering by saying that He will do whatever it is that Heavenly Father asks Him to.  In order to submit one’s will to the Father in this way, no matter how painful or difficult the outcome might be, it would take immense faith and trust in Heavenly Father and in the fact that this period of time here on earth is a small moment in comparison to the eternities. 
            A few months ago, I went through a very hard trial that I asked to be taken from me.  I was told that it would not pass from me, because I needed it to help me be the person that Heavenly Father wanted me to become.  While I have had extremely difficult days as I have gone through this trial, especially knowing that it is a trial that will follow me throughout all my life, I have also felt closer to the Lord because of it. 
            When the Savior’s agony became more intense, His prayer became more earnest.  I definitely feel more like praying when I am suffering than when I am not, because that is when I feel that I need my Heavenly Father’s help the most.  Sometimes, unfortunately, that is why we go through trials – so that we are compelled to be humble and to seek God instead of forgetting to pray consistently.  When I turn to the Lord earnestly in prayer, especially when I am suffering, I almost always feel immediate peace; as though a burden has been lifted from off of me.  I am so grateful for the wonderful blessing of prayer! 

            I think the thing that I can learn from my study about Jesus’s suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane is that I need to always submit my will to Heavenly Father’s will and that I need to make sure that I am consistently saying my prayers.  By doing those things, I know that I will feel less burdens upon my back and I will also be living a life that is more pleasing to my Heavenly Father.  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Leadership and Service

As I was studying John Chapter 13, I pondered over service and leadership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  The people of leadership in our church are NOT paid, yet they spend an endless amount of time serving, caring for, and watching over all of us.  They do it not for recognition or for any selfish reason; they serve us because they love us.  While some leaders in the world feel that their only duty is to lead others, the leaders in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints understand that in order to most effectively lead someone, they need to also render service to them.  By doing service to those whom you lead, you show them that you love them.  When someone loves you, it makes it that much easier to love them.
A really good example of this in the scriptures is King Benjamin.  In Mosiah Chapter 2 Verses 10 to 17 (a part of The Book of Mormon), King Benjamin addresses his people by first humbly telling them that he is nothing more than a mortal man.  He then goes on to say that he was chosen to be a ruler over the people so that he may serve them.  He served them not to boast, but because he knew that by serving them, he was also in the service of God. 

I am very grateful to all of the leaders in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints!  As General Conference is right around the corner (which is an event that happens every 6 months when we are blessed to hear from the Lord’s prophet and His apostles., I can’t help but be full of gratitude for these leaders for all of the time, love, and service that they give to each and every one of us.