Here’s Chapter 5, Part 2: Kate’s Letter #5, from my new novel Dates With God: How Four Mormon Women Beat Satan With the Book of Mormon. In this part, Kate reels from 3 people asking her in one week if she is pregnant, when she’s not. She determines what she has to do about sugar, learns a strategy from the Nephites about sleeping on swords, records the hand of God in her porn addict brother’s life, and catches satan shaming her for her Facebook gossipping. She also delves into the wisdom of Napoleon Hill as applied to beating the devil and picks out a drill for herself. If you want more background information read, Like Dragons Did They Fight and come take the Mothers Who Know class.
I had another dream. Yep, that makes 5 weeks in a row of having this dream once a week. The same dream of giving birth to a baby girl. In the dream, I feel so happy and relieved to have another baby to hold and love and feel attached to. So, yes God, I soooo get the picture! Thou art calling me to have another baby. Frankly, it seems rather crazy to be thinking about having a baby right now with Dave’s cancer. I know Thou wants me to have another baby but Thou hasn’t told me when. I’m afraid to even pray about it. If I felt like it was for now and asked about it and got a confirmation, then I would be held responsible for not acting on that sure knowledge. Whereas if I avoid praying about it, then I won’t have the sure knowledge and hopefully won’t be held responsible. I don’t think it’s right that we have a baby right now with Dave’s cancer. I like to think that this is a good omen for the long way-off future, that Dave’s going to get better and we will have a baby two or three years after the cancer is in remission. And after I’ve lost weight.
The hardest thing about the past week is not the cancer, it’s people’s unkind remarks to me. Three, count them, three people have asked me in the past week if I am pregnant! I have just looked at them and smiled and said coldly, “No, just fat. And you are being rude to ask me that!” I can’t believe the nerve of some people. I have worked hard for a month now on limiting my calories to 1500 calories a day. I have missed one battle every week, but other than that, I have kept to the limit. I can go for a few days but then I get soooo hungry that I just feel like I have to binge.
I’ve been thinking about what behaviors Thou wants me to eliminate so that I don’t fall asleep prior to satan’s attacks. I always want to be aware of him sneaking up on me, the bully!
So, I hate to say it, but I’ve decided that one activity for me to eliminate for sure is eating sugar. That is something that definitely makes me figuratively fall asleep prior to satan’s attacks. I’ve been fooling myself to think that I can even have any of it as part of my 1500 calories. It just makes me want more and then that is torture to try to stop the desire to have more. So then I start eating more, and that’s when I fall asleep to satan’s attack as he gets to me to justify more and more why I should keep eating more sugar. I am sooo tired of people asking me if I am pregnant and me not being able to fit on rides at the amusement parks with my kids that I’ve got to do something differently. I hate to acknowledge it, but that means kissing sugar good bye out of my house. sugar is not my friend. Instead I view it as a seductive siren, the sleek, seductive, Miss S. Actually, for me, it’s more like a seductive male, a Mr. S! Suave, sneaky, subtle Mr. S.
So God, I commit to Thee to get Mr S. out of my house. That’s just how it has to be with me. It’s sad in a way. Gone are the days of eating a whole half-gallon of ice cream with the girls watching Anne of Green Gables or P and P. Or whipping up 8 dozen chocolate chip cookies with the kids and eating a whole dozen more or so myself in less than 10 minutes before they have even cooled down from the oven. Or giving into that craving after I drop the kids off at piano lessons and I feel so tired and hungry that I just want to pull over to that Cupcake Cuties store and get cupcakes for me and the littles to share.
Another behavior for me to eliminate is sitting at the computer without a checklist and a timer next to me. We talked about this in class when Emma brought up the checklist idea. I added that a timer would be good to use as well. Being at the computer without a plan is another way I fall asleep right before satan’s subtle, sneaky approaching attack. Gone are the old days of mindlessly wandering the Internet. I’ve noticed that it makes me go into my animal brain, if I am there for any amount of time without a plan, written down, in view. I feel embarrassed about it, but here’s a story. I am writing it down not because I am proud but because by writing it down hopefully I will remember the awful feelings I felt that I don’t want to repeat. The other day I was looking at Pinterest. Elizabeth came running and crying into the room. She had fallen out of a tree in the backyard. I held her but I was so in my animal brain that I didn’t even want to get up and wash the big scrape on her knee and bandage it, like I have always done with every scrape or cut. I just let her sit on my lap and keep crying while I kept clicking and gazing. Finally, I heard a voice ask myself, “What are you doing Kate? Be your kids’ mom!” So I finally got up and carried her upstairs to wash and bandage it and comfort her.
The little boys have become fascinated with swords in our homeschooling. I decided it would be fun to read all of the scriptures about swords with them and talk about them as we make swords out of different materials. Lately every day for our homeschool we read one of the verses, mark it, and then talk about it while we make swords out of PVC pipes, foam, and duct tape. So I noticed this scripture in Alma 57:9, “And it came to pass that we did camp round about the city for many nights; but we did sleep upon our swords, and keep guards, that the Lamanites could not come upon us by night and slay us, which they attempted many times; but as many times as they attempted this their blood was spilt.” It teaches us all about how to be a great warrior. The Nephite soldiers were ready to fight even when sleeping. It tells exactly how they were able to always be ready to fight. Their readiness to fight involved two things: 1. have their weapons right under them, even when sleeping, and 2. have guards.
I realize that this scripture is Thee speaking to me, telling me how to win my battles. Because they slept on their swords, the Nephites could immediately grab their swords after waking up to fight back and spill blood in defense, if necessary. This is a great example for us. We can be the same way. We can’t say that we are never going to sleep. Sleep isn’t just physical sleep but it is symbolic of any time when we aren’t completely alert and aware. We can’t just say that we aren’t ever going to sleep because sleep is needful for rest and renewal. But we can have certain things we do to guard our sleep. Any time we are descending into that state, of rest and renewal, when we don’t want to be 100% alert and aware, we can first make sure that we have a figurative sword and guards right by us. I view my checklist of things to do on the Internet as my sword and my timer as my guard so that my relaxing time doesn’t fall into sleeping time which makes me forget my long-term goals.
I’ve also noticed that whenever I engage in physical sleep, I can have some twisted, horribly evil dreams. I have started wondering if satan tries to take advantage of me in my sleep. Maybe he sends his minions to whisper horrible things to me that I end up dreaming about? So I have started acknowledging my vulnerability to Thee God right before I go to sleep. I ask Thee to be my guardian of sleep in my nightly prayer, that I might have good dreams. I’ve also been asking me to give me any answers I need to my problems in my dreams. So far it has worked! I have had good dreams every time I ask for Thy protection. I also got an answer in my dreams for something I had lost.
A phrase keeps coming into my head that we sang in sacrament meeting last week. It’s the phrase from the hymn “Hark All Ye Nations.” It says, “The God of Jacob does not sleep.” I take comfort in that, especially since satan probably doesn’t sleep either. I however have to sleep to maintain my health, so I am feeling blessed that Thou hast provided a way to protect myself when I have to sleep and am not aware of the approaching enemy’s grasp.
In my study with the boys I found another scripture, Ether 15:24. It shows the same idea of sleeping on the swords but in this example it doesn’t work for the soldiers. It’s because they are drunk with anger. Verse 20 says “But behold, the Spirit of the Lord had ceased striving with them, and Satan had full power over the hearts of the people; for they were given up unto the hardness of their hearts, and the blindness of their minds that they might be destroyed; wherefore they went again to battle.” They then go to war, and fight all day, then retire at night to sleep on their swords. They repeat the cycle for several days, losing people every day in battle. First they have 52 men, then 32, then it gets down to the mortal combat that my little boys love to hear about, between the only two guys left. One of them chops off the other guy’s head, while he is headless himself amazingly, and then Coriantumr is left alone. So it doesn’t work to sleep on your swords, or have a checklist, if your heart is not soft, if you haven’t let go of anger or rebellion. These hard-hearted Nephites who went into battle after sleeping with swords lost because they were going through the motions with hard hearts. If I have already lost the Spirit and become hard-hearted, blind-minded and drunk with anger, I will find a way to get around the list and the timer.
I’ve been reading Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill. The basic idea is that this guy, the author, Napoleon Hill, claims to have been allowed to interview the devil. The devil shares all of his secrets for getting people to fail. One of the biggest secrets he shares is that he can get people in his control if he just gets people to drift ever so slightly from their intended goal by distracting them with temporary pleasures or just plain forgetfulness. Then he gets us to drift more and more. I can see how this is true with so many people including myself. This is definitely one of the best self-improvement books I have ever read, next to the Book of Mormon. I can see that for all of my life, the devil has been getting me to drift away from all of my goals! I did graduate from college, but it seems like with everything else good, besides my marriage and having kids and my testimony, I have allowed myself to go off course. I have set all kinds of goals and usually drift away from them by simply forgetting them because of so many shiny distractions. This is especially true for my weight loss goals, and my goals for spending more time with my husband and children, increasing my talent at drawing and playing the piano, and more time reading classic books.
I have let the devil get me to waste more and more time on the computer or my phone. No more I say! From now on I am going to picture the devil sitting on my computer. That gets my mother bear chemistry going, thinking about him attacking my little brother. When I go to my computer with a checklist of tasks it’s like I am saying, “OK, God, I acknowledge that my time is Thy time. I dedicate my time to Thee. This time of my life is sacred. I don’t want to waste it. I am dedicating my life to Thee by making a plan and not wandering from it.” I do have my favorite blogs to read like Lauren’s and Jill’s, but there is a time and place to read them. I can’t read all of my favorite blogs every single day. I’m only going to go there when I’ve planned out my Internet time, and put a timer to get off. I am sad to say this, but I am also going to disable the Internet connection on my phone.
I feel blessed that my mind is getting more clear. I am finding that as I work daily being anxiously engaged in the good causes of my six goals, I don’t slip into sadness and hopelessness like I used to.
My brother won his most recent difficult battle with porn. That so makes me smile while I write this. My brother, Jake, has been fighting a porn addiction. He was home alone two weeks ago and started looking at porn. Then the Internet shut off. He realized that his wife’s threat had gone through. She had been threatening to cut off their Internet if he didn’t go get counseling. So then he we went into his bedroom and lay on his bed, feeling shameful, dark and miserable. He then decided he was going to kill himself. He pulled his gun out of the gun safe and was about to go through with it when he looked up and saw the huge beautiful picture in their bedroom of him and his wife on their wedding day. He saw how gorgeous she is, as she gazed into his eyes in the picture, and he decided he didn’t want to leave her. He saw a Book of Mormon on her dresser and picked it up and flipped to a random page. Then he read these words, in Alma 39:10: “And I command you to take it upon you to counsel with your elder brothers in your undertakings; for behold, thou art in thy youth, and ye stand in need to be nourished by your brothers. And give heed to their counsel.”
He started sobbing. That was the perfect answer for him, straight out of the most correct book on earth. After a while he called up our older brother, Mark, and asked if he could come stay with him and our other brother, Alan, for awhile. Mark has let him stay there for over a week now and has let him work at his business so he can be in a better atmosphere than what he was in with his old job where he was surrounded by porn addicts. He quit his old job and has gone to counseling. Jake’s wife has moved back home; she and Jake Skype each other every day, on Mark’s computer which has tons of filters. Jake has been sober from porn from the day he moved in with Mark. We don’t know when he will move back in with Chelsea, it might be next month, if he stays sober and keeps up with the counseling, or it could be longer. I am so grateful that Thou reached out to Jake through the power of Thy Spirit and Thy Word in the Book of Mormon. It saved my brother’s life. Praise Thee God! This was a miracle. I want Mark’s children to know someday of how Thou saved him, so I have written it down here.
So we had that joyful event in our family, among my brothers, but we also had something not so joyful happen. I’ve been feeling lots of shame this past week that I have let go. Now I simply feel sorrow and regret. Satan almost got me really good. As Thou knows, I have a sister who has left the Church. I have definitely felt a lot of judgment towards her. The other day I wrote a message on Facebook to send to our other sister, who lives in Texas and is a strong member. I am sad to say that I wrote some things that I would not have said to her in her presence, about how awful she was being. I succumbed to gossiping about her, and that was wrong. Then I clicked “send,” and then I realized that I had sent it to my wayward sister, accidentally! Oh I wished I could bring it back and send it to the intended sister! I spent the next 2 days feeling horrible!
Then I finally realized satan was shaming me. He wanted me to feel crappy so he kept reminding me of what I did, and that no loving woman would treat her sister that way, that I was a lowlife. After 2 days I finally realized, duh, do your drill! Run to the flagpole. So I did. My flagpole is my journal and my drill is to write what I am fighting for. It used to be all those other things I wrote about earlier but now I simply write out what I am fighting for, why I am fighting for those things, and why I don’t give up. So I did that. Then I wrote some affirmations about forgiveness. I humbly then called my sister and asked her for forgiveness. I feel soooooooooo much better now, although satan continues to remind me of my sin. I just have to repeat the scripture out loud, “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.” (D&C 58:42) whenever I start feeling the yuckies about the whole thing. Then I get busy with a passion project and the bad feelings go away.
I thank Thee so much God for my Savior, Thy son, and his redemptive power. I rely on his enabling and redemptive grace every day.
copyright 2015 Celestia Shumway
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