Cover image: “A Thread of Faith” by Howard Lyon.

Note From Carolyn: Our herbal detox is on sale! It’s the perfect fresh start for your healthy New Year to detox from holiday treats and over-indulging. CLICK HERE for 10% off.

I’ll be providing another article soon on how you can help with the woman and babies in Haiti from my last article.

Ring out wild bells! Out with the old and in with the new! Adieu, Father Time and welcome, Baby New Year! Oh, yes! January means weight loss success stories with inspiring before and after photos, glossy magazine articles with amazing photos on how to declutter our homes and take charge of our schedules. These articles and photos from every magazine, newsfeed and radio beg us to change our ways, as if we weren’t thinking about it enough on our own.

Throughout January, but especially this first week, we know well what we’ll see and hear.
And we know why! Whether we can’t wait to get started with the New Year or just sigh with the predictability of it all, most of us do at some level want a healthy body weight, a tidy house (maybe even the luxury of a tidy email inbox) along with a clever system to easily remember every important birthday. Yes! We want, need and deserve a stress-free way to be in the right place at the right time and the peace of financial security. This place of temporal well-being is its own Promised Land –- of peace. Who doesn’t want to be there? And stay there!?!

Not only do we want to be there, we know WHY we want to be there: These are measurable elements and indications of a balanced life and successful temporal well-being… even a self-reliant life. Being on top of our health, homes, finances and time DOES make life easier! The biggest challenge with self-reliance, however, is humbly accepting the fact that we can’t become self-reliant all by ourselves.

And that is why most self-sustained, self-improvement efforts, no matter how enthusiastically they are launched in January, quickly fail.

Maurine Proctor’s beautiful Meridian article for Friday, December 29 entitled, “For Days When You Just Can’t Do It Anymore” expresses this so eloquently! It was published on Meridian’s last publishing day for 2017. How apt that it was presented at the end of a demanding holiday season that is, for most of us, both joyful … and exhausting. (Not to mention fattening.)

She writes, “There is a pang to the heart in thinking of all the things we would be and would do, if we only had the power. As St. Augustine said, “For it is one thing to see the Land of Peace from a wooded ridge, and yet another to walk the road that leads to it.”

Maurine’s article is well worth rereading as we launch 2018.

What are your New Year’s resolutions? Yes, I do want to “up” my health, home, emotional, financial and time management. But more than that, especially after Maurine’s article and inner promptings of my own, I want to walk with the Savior in a richer more meaningful way … every day in 2018! I’ve decided that my sole New Year’s resolution is to make Him my walking partner for not just spiritual peace, but also these temporal matters where peace is often so elusive.

The Savior unfailingly manifests His presence and His willingness to walk the road to Land of Peace with us through the blessed avenues of personal study of the Scriptures, the Sacrament, the words of the living prophets, Temple attendance, fasting and prayers, learning to lean unto His understanding and not our own. How blessed we are to have it all!

With His spiritual companionship, the road is less bumpy, the detours fewer and the distance covered from our rearview mirrors seems a bit more significant compared to the many miles we are oh-so-sure that ahead of us.

However, a daily walk with Him can mean more than the warm inner-glow that daily Scripture study brings. I’m sure you have your own experiences with this, but I’d like to share one of mine:

As a high school student in the early seventies, I was serving as a Primary Teacher. (These were the old days when Primary was on Wednesday afternoon. It was my first Ward calling to serve as a 16-year old Primary teacher.) I dutifully attended the monthly evening In-service meeting. The Primary Presidency had a chart on an easel where each teacher reported how many pages of scriptures they had personally read each month. Even though I was attending early morning Seminary, I was not reading the scriptures on my own each day. I was embarrassed to report “zero” month after month. That chart on the easel haunted me all month long! I finally started reading on my own just to avoid that experience. (I think it was even January!)

There were many challenging things going on at school, but I was amazed that month to find my grades and school work were improving. An audition for the annual High School County Honor Band was held and I was shocked to earn a spot in the flute section. A group of nice, very sharp girls that I had admired for a very long time invited me to one of their slumber parties where I had a wonderful time and secured some new friendships.

When I put the pieces together at the next In-service Meeting (where I reported my pages that had been meaningfully read), I realized that scripture reading had had a direct impact on my temporal life! I had been cutting myself short on ALL the blessings that come with daily scripture study!

Another friend shared that the missionaries found him as a college student. As he was investigating the Church with them, he found that on the days he read the Book of Mormon, his schoolwork went extremely well. When he did not read, his schoolwork suffered. He actually did some test days – of reading and NOT reading the Book of Mormon. The results of those test days helped him to make the decision to both join the Church and to read the Book of Mormon every day.

So why can’t we always be in tune? Spending this essential daily time? Why is it so easy for personal scripture and daily walking time with the Savior to be cut short on a busy day? Or abandoned all together? My patriarchal blessing reminds me to be “diligent in searching the scriptures.” Even with that admonition, I’ve found I often need a little warm-up to set the tone and the time apart to be in tune for successful scripture time.

I know I need a little OOMPH of my own New Year’s plan to cherish and secure my DAILY walk with the Savior through meaningful Scripture study prayer time is to be successful,

This year I’m including a special book I intend to draw on for a few moments BEFORE my Scripture study period.. Its title is absolutely perfect: “Sacred Soul Space” by Melanie K. Tidwell.

 This lovely book is like a Siri app on your phone to gently guide temporal application of spiritual, scriptural, Christ-centered lessons related to 1) time management, 2) dealing with emotional stress and 3) achieving a healthy physical lifestyle. A quick paragraph or page at the beginning of personal study time from this book can pave the way for a much richer scripture study and prayer experience. This year “Sacred Soul Space” will sit with my scriptures and Conference report in my own scripture corner. It will not replace the scriptures themselves or the personal revelation there-in, but it will serve as a simple, delicious appetizer to warm up my heart and spirit for the feast of the actual scriptures and words of the living Prophets. I intend to have a new colored pencil in its own special color to mark the scriptures that have come to me from “Sacred Soul Space.” That way I’ll be able to easily find them again for application and reference.

Most important: Her first section of time management and expansion is going to be my foundation to make sure that I SPEND adequate time each day this year in my daily walk with the Savior.

I did a brief review of this marvelous book back in September of 2016, CLICK HERE but in pondering what I would personally like to achieve this next year, it’s worth sharing with everyone again how she addresses all of the January 1 resolutions for health, weight and life management in her marvelous spiritual, yet actionable way!

The three titles in her “fundamentals” opening section lay a quick foundation for the most unique time management and expansion system I have ever seen: 1) “Have it Your Way … or Try His”, 2) “Small and Simple Saves Souls”, and 3) “The 3 Ps: Principles, Patterns and Personal Revelations.” This time management system is then broken down into seven short chapters that bring frequent “aha!” revelations that are very applicable to busy lives. Even a light summary of these first sections will open your mind to how much more time and how many more opportunities there are within each of our allotted personal 24 hours to become better and to more easily and creatively fulfill the measures of our personal creations.

Her second section on emotional health is equally rich with her personal experiences (from her growing up years, the growth and lessons of infertility and living internationally) are extremely well written and touching. They will provide a loving and positive spiritual direction for your own emotional well-being.

Her third section, entitled “Bodyworks” takes on the importance of the stewardship of our mortal bodies. In a most refreshing way, Sister Tidwell’s emphasis on healthy eating and exercise is not to lose weight at all, but to create and maintain physical health for emotional and spiritual strength! And personal peace. Reading these chapters are renewed inspiration to turn to healthy food in healthy quantities which ultimately play their essential part in establishing and maintaining a healthy weight.

(Sister Tidwell has never been overweight but exercise and smart eating is a critical part of her emotional health.)

She teams these principles with interesting and encouraging scientific health information to make it just the right day-brightener and motivation for healthy choices. A few paragraphs or pages in the health management section are excellent reminders that health is a top priority AND an important daily personal choice! This is especially true when we’re surrounded by others and environments where healthy living is not everyone else’s priority or choice and we feel alone.

Her concluding chapters are just as beautiful. This last section launches both a review of the book and a review of the new scriptures that will have become much more meaningful. These reviews open the door for your own expanded view into the Savior’s ways and provide personal tools for discovering the infinite power of the Atonement to comfort our hearts and direct our actions, thoughts and choices … for Christ-sustained self-improvement that cannot and will not fail when life gets busy and demanding.

I’m not the only Meridian columnist who just loves this book! Our beloved Darla Isaacson says:

Sacred Soul-Space is perfectly crafted for busy people in a busy world. It is composed of short, bite-sized chapters, and each is self-contained. When you have just a few minutes, it is easy to enjoy any one chapter separately, but the messages are so compelling you might find yourself reading on and on, as I did. Catchy chapter titles and pithy beginning quotes summarize each message. I like to compare the book to a patchwork quilt because it is made up of so many interesting pieces, yet as a connected whole it is warm and comforting to the soul—just as a quilt is to the body.

Sacred Soul Space is available at Sister Tidwell’s website: http://www.sacredsoulspace.info and at Amazon.

Happy New Year! The Best of Life Is To Be Seen in 2018 – with the Savior as our walking partner to help us every day.

Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life. She has been providing mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 presenting for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. She and her husband, Bob, are the parents of five children and grandparents of eleven. They are now happy empty nesters in Jackson, Tennessee, close to Memphis, where they center their online business for an amazing herbal detox. CLICK HERE