Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Daily Universe

My first story is in BYU's student-run newspaper, The Daily Universe, today. I am the reporter for the business, employment and non-profit beats. Loving it!

See my story here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Importuning Woman part II

I read 1 Nephi 17:51 where it talks about Nephi building the ship. His brothers are, of course, making fun of him and mocking him for thinking he can build a boat. If we think about it, Nephi probably didn't know anything about building boats. He may have never seen a boat before. Below are the verses and some thoughts:

50 And I said unto them: aIf God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done.
51 And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot ainstruct me, that I should build a ship?

I know we have all read this scripture before and probably have thought about the truthfulness that God can help us in anything we do. One thought on verse 51 -- if Heavenly Father can help Nephi "build a ship," can't He help Brandon (my brother) "find a job," or help Kelsey and I "do well in school." Can't He instruct us in how we should be "living our lives?" Yes. He absolutely can. He has wrought so many miracles and will continue to do it with us.

So, I continued to read in 1 Nephi 18 verses 1-3. As I read this, I went back and also read Brandon's discourse on the Importuning Woman. If you need to, go back and read that then read these three verses. Pretty interesting.

1 And it came to pass that they did aworship the Lord, and did go forth with me; and we did work timbers of curious bworkmanship. And the Lord did show me from time to time after what manner I should work the timbers of the cship.
2 Now I, Nephi, did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men, neither did I build the ship after the manner of men; but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me; wherefore, it was not after the manner of men.
3 And I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did apray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord bshowed unto me cgreat things.

In verse 1, it says that as Nephi and his family worshipped the Lord, they were able to start to create this boat. "Timbers of curious workmanship" or art, as the footnote says. And the LORD, showed Nephi FROM TIME TO TIME how he should do those things. Okay, so the Lord is telling him how to do these things. Nephi wasn't building the ship (vs 2) according to man's assumption of how it should be built, rather he built it the way the Lord wanted it to be built and how the Lord showed him. The manner of the Lord was different from the manner of men. (vs 3) Nephi went into the mountains OFTEN where he prayed and there, the Lord showed him great things.

It makes sense in my head how this can connect to the importuning woman. I hope you can see it as well. Simply the fact that Nephi didn't quite know what he was doing, but he trusted the Lord and the Lord's purpose. He followed the Lord's instructions and timing and went to Him often in prayer to continue to learn and grow and change -- as do the "widows" when we go to the Lord over and over. We aren't changing His will, He is changing ours. We are changed as we trust the Lord and are willing to follow Him. That's why we have challenges and struggles -- to help us grow and change. Ether 12:27 states the same idea. He has given us weakness so that we will go to Him in those times of struggle and let ourselves be purified, fine-tuned, changed by the healing power of the Atonement. When we need something, WE are the ones that must align ourselves in order to obtain what He has in store for us.

The Importuning Woman

This is a little bit of a different blog post for me. My family recently started a "Family Scripture Insight" e-mail. Each week, one of the family members studies a topic or scripture of choice and writes a small blurb on it and then sends it to the rest of the family. I was up this week and decided to share it with you. I refer to the Parable of the Unjust Judge in the Luke 18:1-5 which is also found in D&C 101:81-89. My brother wrote a small discourse on this parable which I will also include here for you to read because it ties a lot into what I wrote this week. This will be a two part entry so as to not wear you out with one long entry. I hope you enjoy.

The Parable of the Unjust Judge (The Importuning Woman)
This judge “feareth not man nor God,” yet a woman comes and begs him to avenge her of her adversary. He doesn’t oblige her at first, but then, over time, he “gives in” and gives her what she wants. I’ve always interpreted this parable to mean that the Lord wants us call on His name repeatedly because somehow it unlocks the powers of heaven and helps Him help us. Or, as Joseph Smith said, “Weary the Lord until He blesses you.” In other words, we weary Him with prayer for his benefit. But Elder Lund in his book “Hearing the Voice of the Lord” points out something different.

First, we know God doesn’t ask us to pray to Him in order for Him to know what we want. He already knows everything. So clearly our pleadings don’t benefit Him that way.

Second, we know God wouldn’t ask us to pray to Him in order to satisfy some petty whim of His. He doesn’t need or want to see us grovel. And He doesn’t want us to jump through theological hoops in order to prove our submissiveness. That is completely counter to His nature. So what, then, is the purpose of this parable?

Well, this parable has another name, which is the “Parable of the Importunate Woman.” (The Savior doesn’t use the word “importunate” here, but He uses it three times in D&C 101:81-89”.) Importunate is the opposite of faint. It means “to press or beset with solicitations; demand with urgency or persistence.” Jesus is telling us in this parable that we should importune Him the Lord when we need something. But if importuning isn’t for His benefit, then it must be for ours.

What is it about importuning that’s so significant? When we ask for something we don’t get right away, it causes us to either blame God or blame ourselves. Assuming we don’t blame God, we look within ourselves and start doing a spiritual inventory, right? We check to make sure we’re being righteous enough to deserve the blessing. We pray harder and longer. We serve more. We are kinder to those around us. We hit the temple more frequently. In a word, we further the process of sanctification. In other words, importuning initiates a tremendous process of spiritual growth. The very process of praying, exercising greater faith, humbling ourselves, and finally submitting our will to His becomes spiritually empowering.

We don’t persist in prayer in order to change God’s mind or convince Him of anything. We persist in prayer to change our hearts. We don’t “weary the Lord” with prayer in order to change God’s mind. We weary Him in prayer hard enough and long enough that our own hearts change. We may think we are unlocking the powers of heaven (and perhaps we are to some degree), but it may be that more significant in effectuating blessings is that we have unlocked our own hearts.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Go ahead... gorge yourself on salad!

In response to a dear friends question on eating healthily, I would like to make a few comments on nutrition. First off, I'm not the best example, nor am I an expert. I have however, been slowly making changes over the past couple months. Have I seen changes? Yes. Let me tell you what I am doing.

First off, my dad is a nutrition guru so I ask him questions a lot. I have learned that there is a lot of garbage in the media today telling us what foods are good for us. The world's opinion of "healthy for you" is really, really skewed. Be careful what you listen to. Your favorite Crunchy Frosty Chocolate Marshmallow Matey O's is not part of a balanced breakfast. Sorry.

Here is where I want to start: you know when you don't eat anything and are starving so when you get the chance you go straight to your cupboard or the store and you purchase the first sweet, sugary thing you see? Sounds familiar doesn't it? Yep. That is what your body is telling you to do. Your blood sugar is low so you need something to boost you or else you will drag and have no energy. If you're like me, I get shaky and weak if I don't have something to eat. You may get a headache or get super tired. Your body needs something. But, before you run and get a snickers or a bag of non-ruffled potato chips (I have "heard" they are healthier for you because there is less of the chip... they aren't ruffled. I don't know if I buy that. They're still p-chips) stop and think.

I know you're hungry, but you have to stop and take hold of your mind for just a second -- it's a war between your mind and stomach. Make your mind win. Stop and consider your options. You could go for the potato chips but how are you going to be feeling in an hour? Hungry and weak again. The potatoe chips have no nutritional value to them. All they are are carbs. (Carbs meaning sugar. Sugar=bad=fat. Remember that equation.) Again, you are going to be hungry and weak again. All those chips did for you was raise your blood sugar, but as we learned in 7th grade science, what happens when something comes up? It always has to come down and in most cases it is going to fall lower than it was because it now has been even longer since you had something nutritious to eat.

So! What should you have done? The trick is, balance. For every carb you eat, you have to eat more protein. Let me explain: if you eat carbs, sugar, when you are hungry, your blood sugar is going to go up. Okay. But how do you keep your blood sugar up? Eat a protein with the carb. For example: Piece of bread=carb + peanut butter = protein. Wa la! You are balanced. PB&J sandwich - a little less balanced because you have more carbs than protein. Jam and bread being the carbs and only peanut butter as your protein. But, at least you are getting a protein in there. Let's analyze a few of my eating habits. Breakfast: I got some Whey Protein powder (healthiest kind out there -- not fatty)that I mix with water (I don't drink milk anymore)usually consumed with some type of fruit and a piece of bread with peanut butter on it. I also enjoy applesauce and cottage cheese mixed together. Are you seeing the balance? Apple sauce being the sugary carb and cottage cheese the balancing protein. If you really like yogurt (sugary carb) throw in a handfull of almonds or walnuts. Those are the best nuts you can eat. Peanuts=worst. Cashews are better than peanuts. Carry a bag of nuts around in your bag with you during the day and munch on those instead of potato chips. Man -- what a difference it makes! Also, for breakfast I sometimes do a quick protein shake: water, protein powder, frozen fruit, tiny bit of favorite flavored yogurt, 2 TBS of Olive Oil (yes, olive oil. SOOO good for you. Great protein. Great source of good fat. Don't get the cheap veggie oil -- yuck. Bad veggie oil.)Throw in some spinach leaves and maybe even a handful of almonds and hit blend. YUMMY!! And oh my goodness it is soo good for you! (By the way, you can't even taste the spinach. It is just an amazing source of nutrients. You could even throw a raw egg or cottage cheese in there for extra protein. No the raw egg is not going to make you sick. I grew up on shakes with raw eggs in them and I'm here writing to you.)

Okay, now think about those breakfast foods compared to a bowl of your favorite Crunchy Frosty Chocolate Marshmallow Matey O's. (I won't use any specific names...) BAH! Could you be putting anything worse in your body? Especially for the most important meal of the day? NO! Yuck, all that is is pure sugar that you are putting into your pour body. Protect your body! All that sugar is going to do is lower your immune system and make you tired, sick, fat and more susceptible to getting sick. If you keep that habit of cereal up, you're going to notice it later on. Some of you may be super skinny right now and thinking that you can eat anything you want. Wrong. It is going to catch up with you. I promise. The readers digest version of why that happens is that your body (your high metabolism) gets so tired and burnt out on fighting all of that sugar that it slowly just stops. Then what happens to you? Your hips, thighs and the belly area start to pooch. Your face starts to look a little rounder, your arms don't quite fit your shirts and your stomach hangs out over your jeans. Ugh. That is no fun. No one wants that. It just doesn't feel good to feel like that. It doesn't make one happy.

So, there it is my friends. My two cents. I could go on and on about this but I'm going to stop. Start with that. Start just taking a second before you eat something and consider whether or not it is balanced. Is your blood sugar going to come up and down again? If so, throw in some protein. But don't think you can eat whatever sugar you want and just throw some protein in there with it to make it balanced. Ha! No. That cancels the whole thing out. You have to be willing to throw candy, pop, fast food and all the other junk out -- or at least minimize your intake of it. In this case it is quality vs quanitity. Go ahead, gorge yourself on a salad! Yum!

One last thing... when you combine this eating method to a good cardio and muscular workout... you are going to see changes.

If you have questions shoot me a comment. If you would like to hear more... let me know. I would love to write more on what you want to hear.

O'Reilly and Obama

Does Mr. President have to cry about it? I have to laugh a little at this clip. I saw an interview between O'Reilly and a few other Fox correspondents and they were talking about the fact that Fox (Hannity and O'Reilly) could kind of take Obama's obsession with Fox as a compliment. (Also, Hannity should take Obama's almost-man crush as a compliment. Ha.) The President talks about Fox or "some stations" more than any other because we aren't portraying him in the light he likes. Like O'Reilly says, he (O'Reilly) is watching out for us -- the people. He is going to share his opinion and say when something is wrong or right in his opinion. Thank you O'Reilly. I couldn't appreciate that more. I'm not going to say I'm left or right -- I watch CNN and enjoy it. I also watch Fox and enjoy it. I may agree with one or the other a little more on certain issues. I'm just grateful that there are honest people out there still that aren't falling under the feet of our new President.

Watch O'Reilly's commentary.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Hi all -- I have lived the past five days without the internet. Wow. I'm impressed with myself that I made it. I didn't really miss it. I was nervous to get back and see how many e-mails I had to catch up on and what I had missed over the last week. Wasn't too bad though. I was thinking about how the things I was doing during my vacation were going to make for great blog posts. ie: I learned how to shoot a rifle and a shotgun! Heck yes I did! I have pictures to prove it. More to come on that, don't worry. I met the one niece I hadn't met yet since being home from the mission. I saw the rest of my siblings that I hadn't seen yet since being home. It was an amazing week. I love my family so much. So, more to come, especially when I get pictures. I will give more descriptions! Can't wait!

Monday, June 8, 2009

I'm in the Deseret News!

So I wrote a press release about myself and was included on page A9 "People on the Move" of the Deseret News. "Ashley Jones has joined the Walton Group Inc. as an account executive. Jones has experience with technology firm marketing work and health firm media research and promotion."

Sunday, June 7, 2009

O Remember, Remember

So I found this awesome YouTube video on the church website. First of all, I love that the church is so good about using social media to further the work of the Lord. I think that is awesome. Second, this video is short and awesome. They used clips from The Testaments as well as a DVD the church uses in Europe called "Finding Happiness." It is a special DVD they made for Europeans and some Asian cultures. It is so amazing. We got in a lot of doors with that DVD. They show a family at the dinner table in this YouTube clip -- that is actually the stake president in the Frankfurt stake in Germany. He is an amazing man. The basic jist of the Finding Happiness DVD is based on three questions: Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? It is a powerful DVD focused on the fact that we can find true, sincere happiness while in this life, even when things are hard. I firmly believe that. To learn more about the answers to these questions check out this website:www.mormon.org. Also, here is the link to the YouTube video. President Eyring is so amazing.

Watch Elder Eyring's YouTube video.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Family Reunions? Good or bad?

Okay, so I've spoken with a few people about family reunions. There are some mixed feelings out there as far as whether or not people like to go. I can understand not wanting to go because all it is going to be is you sitting at the picnic table watching Uncle Buck pick his corn-filled teeth with a toothpick and all the rest of the clan asking "Why aren't you married yet?" Baaahhh. Personally, I haven't attended a family reunion in about two years. However... in 6 days and counting, I will be in the beautiful land of Arizona surrounded by 8 nieces and nephews and 7 siblings! I haven't seen 6 of my nieces and nephews and 3 of my siblings since returning home from my mission. (I hope we recognize each other. That sure would be awkward if we didn't.)It is high time dag namit. (Ooops, Uncle Buck has had a little too much of an influence on me.)Basically, my time will be spent being the goofy Aunt Ash to my adorable nieces and nephews and the little sister to all but one of my siblings. I am still older than you Kelsey! So, to answer my initial question: family reunions: good or bad? I will give a huge resounding GREAT! You would too if you had my family! I will post pics and a review of how it went after the reunion. Stay tuned...

Monday, June 1, 2009

When pigs fly... oh but swine flu!

AHH! Hilarious. *Insert non-laughing, bored expression here.* Ya, I'm sure you've all heard that joke. There are a few variations of it. "Well, Obama has accomplished a lot in the first 100 days of office. But most impressive... swine flu!" Do you see my face? (No, but just go with me on this...) I'm not laughing. It is a little overdone now. Enough with the joke people. I'm having a hard time taking the whole swine flu thing seriously. The regular flu has killed more people than swine flu has. Personally, swine flu is just the flu with a silly blown-out-of-proportion name. I did get a text from my boss this weekend saying that there are 14 confirmed cases of swine flu at the MTC. (I teach German there.) He told us if we feel even mildly sick to stay home and get a sub. (Poor sub... he/she will get their turn feeling sick in a couple days.) If our missionaries are feeling sick, we are to send them to the doctor and then back to their rooms. Great. The MTC is like a petrie dish. One person gets sick, we all get sick. So, my friends, I would ask that you pray for me - even if you don't pray, meditate for me or something. I need all the help I can get. I've already contracted a cold and flu from my missionaries once this year, let's hope it doesn't happen again. But for now, I'm making friends with the other farm animals so when I join them as a pig, I won't be totally left out. Oink oink.

Mondays = sticking tongue out

Ugh. Another Monday. My friend Zack posted on his facebook wall the following: "Dear Monday, Hope you weren't planning on being sucky--because i'm in a good mood. Thanks. Zack." Well said Zack. Why are Mondays always so lame? Even if you have good stuff going on or it is going to be a good week... Mondays still seem to stink. How can I change this? Can it be changed? I even try and look my cutest on Mondays and wear a cute outfit... do my hair nicely... does it work? Meh. Sometimes.

Not to mention my boss came into the office today and said it smelled like a dead skunk had made its way into the office over the weekend. Thanks. That made my Monday that much better. Mondays really do stink.