There are songs and stories featuring shoes. We’ve got to wear them… most times… so why not make them fabulous.

As a child I loved Cinderella and would have died to have glass slippers,.. but I didn’t realize the cost: stepmothers! endless chores! and revealing your true self to the one you love!!! I’d be happy with a ruby slipper, killing a witch seems more bearable than the other options … there is no place like home.

You know the adage… when life gives you lemons… Well, we will expand it… when God me ugly feet… I bought cute shoes…

I know NOW that my body is a temple.. and God doesn’t mess up in its construction…. but as a child… struggling with worth… I hated my feet. To remove my shoes… was torture… they were stinky… and gross and I hated them…

Helen Keller added perspective:

“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet”

Sometimes our problems need perspective. Besides, thinking you have gross feet—–is really a paradigm shift. There are always shoes, pedicures…. and different perspective.

Focusing on what my feet can do helps me realize their beauty. The Lord has always blessed me with not only feet, but ones that walk, run, and DANCE!!! When you realize all the things they do… it makes me start seeing the beauty!

My grandma used to sing a song to me that I hated…

Danielle- aaa Danielle-aaaa How your Feet Smella!!!

As I child I did not appreciate this song… especially because it was true!!! If the shoes weren’t leather, even if they were, I knew they were gonna be a stink bomb in about three days. But foot powder was a life saver.

These thoughts come from a discussion we had at a 17 of March party where they asked me to speak to the sisters about , “Walking a Mile in Her Shoes!”

We played name that tune: first song: Sand in my Shoes…. the Drifters  (even though this song sounds a lot like under the boardwalk… some even said… if you are under the boardwalk its guaranteed sand in your shoes!

When I asked what sand in your shoes meant, most conjured up memories of walking on beaches and hot sunny days.

So I stirred it up a little… apart from the beach have you ever tried walking with sand in your shoes? Or have tried walking with a tiny rock …. A small thing can make a hike very unpleasant… the solution is to remove it… Identify it… and take it out.

EASY!!! But when it comes to spiritual rocks in my spiritual shoes… I don’t always know they are there. Coveting is so tricky… it’s easier to see when you covet something physical like shoes… (then I said… I have never really conveted shoes…. but I stopped and I said… although looking around this room (because the room was displayed with numerous, fantastic original shoes )  I think I will start! But for me, coveting was more in the form ideas and relationships. Believing somewhere, someone was living the life that I wanted… that sand is harder to identify… because for a long time I wouldn’t have even known it was there. The easiest way for me to identify is the negative things I think or say about others is my first clue… It’s like a big magnifying glass on the sand in my shoes. The other way… if I am not truly joyful… each day… I need to stop and be still… pray… and express to my loving Father in Heaven… my true thoughts… sometimes he shows me I need to change something, sometimes its go serve someone else.. sometimes its but look at what I have given you… sometimes He just listens and says… Yeah that is hard… but I am the Potter and I am molding you to how I need you to be. Here is peace and comfort.


I didn’t use this video… but it works at this part… As a seven-year-old boy living in the Arabian Peninsula, he was consistently told by my parents to always wear my shoes. And I understood why. I knew that shoes would protect my feet against the many threats to be found in the desert such as snakes, scorpions, and thorns.


The second song was Adam Ants  “Goodie two Shoes”  This was for my 80 chicks!!!! Only the eighties chicks new this song…

So I held up a sparkly high heel and said… this is a beautiful shoe. But if I asked you to run a marathon it might not be the one you pick. A held up an ugly croc and said… this might not be the one I would choose to wear to church… But last year my cousin broke her ankle. She’s a fashion diva! But the one shoe that was a Godsend… was the crock. We giggled as she would say… I can’t believe how much I love these crocs!

Love your shoes.. whether its… season for heels, runners, work boots, orthotics, ski boots or gumboots… decorate them… celebrate them… Just because its croc season…. doesn’t mean they cant be bedazzled…

But let’s not judge… if its party shoes for you… don’t judge the Moses’ of the world for being in bare feet…. We don’t know what season it is for everyone.  Trust that they know how to select footwear appropriate for the season. Every shoe can fit… but a task always works better when you have the appropriate footwear.

Walk a mile in her shoes…sometimes we’d rather not…

3. Shoes… Shania Twain

I only had the karaoke version… Unfortunately, without the words… this song sounds like every country song… But we had a good laugh at it!!!

I told the sisters that this year in September I felt like I was on the path the Lord wanted me to be. I felt like I should return to teaching. Not in June when there was a plethora of jobs… but in September when the competition was tight.

After failing my first interview on the solar eclipse day… I wasn’t too sad because I bought these shoes. I presented a beautiful pair of faux fur lined boots with blue pleather and roses all over… They are adorable.

After the second interview failure… I rewarded my efforts with these. I should them my runners that had a butterfly on the toe and a “Live Your Life” painted on the other… The hightops didn’t match but they were coordinated and so fun. I thought these will be great teaching shoes!

By the time the third interview came around, I was ready. I had a fantastic portfolio, I had upgraded all the necessary training, I had rehearsed and practiced answers to questions. I interviewed principals and teachers and found all the right lingo. So buying these shoes… ( i held up my adorable Eiffel tower mary janes) was a little of a shock. But Arent they so cute!!! They will be great teaching shoes.

But now I had a problem… I had three beautiful pairs of teaching shoes and no one to teach!


And then my dream posting had come up. ( 0.5 literacy position!!!) Also, there was another job that I applied to at the same time… I variety position of Kindergarten and grade two math… Why not!!!

I couldn’t be more prepared… I knew I was supposed to be a teacher. My dream job was on the line… and there was a backup that I was fully qualified to teach… Wow, all my patience and hardwork would be paying off.

I had too many shoes so for failure four and five I bought a new purse and a dress.

Then i looked at everyone and said sisters… at this time I want you to turn to someone at your table and tell them a time when you thought you were right on track… doing everything the Lord wanted you to do… and you thought the blessing looked like a teaching job… but on looking back you realized the blessing was three pairs of fabulous shoes?

In all honesty, the question I asked first was not well formulated… and very wordy and completely confusing… So I said… How many of you have no idea about the question?

Most hands shot up …. to which I replied… “It’s hard to imagine why I don’t have a teaching contract, with beautiful questions like that!”

Then I reformed the questions and let them chat. I heard people answer right away. I saw others really thinking about the question. I heard one lady say… I am in the middle of it… I can’t see the shoes yet… but I know they will come!


4 . Last Song : Today, I Walked Where Jesus Walked… It was more of an instrumental.


Sometimes just like Moses… it’s time to remove them…

Or like Dorothy… click your heels and go home

Cinderella will always be losing one… but it gets her to her dreams

Whatever season… whatever style… celebrate everyone… if the shoe fits!!!!!

Then I showed them this orange jelly sandal decorated with beads. These are a souvenir from an epic trip that my mom, sister and I went to tour around France to reconnect with friends and family. My aunt had offered the shoes as a souvenir of our shopping trip and time together. I loved them… We went on a little canoe trip. It was so fun and I wore these shoes. Somehow my shoe had fallen into the river. The river was clear you could see the bottom, but there were some plants on the bottom but it wasn’t that deep or dirty. I fully expected to find my sandal. My cousin even brought his canoe over and jumped in and dove to the bottom with me. It was nowhere to be found. I was so sad. But the canoe trip was amazing.

I have prayed and had answers to prayers more miraculous than it would have been if I found that sandal that day…

But two years later when my sister was cleaning out her closet… She threw her sandals on the bed and said…”Do you want these?”

There was the answer to my prayer. Sometimes the Lord answers right away! Somtimes it takes years… and sometimes it takes longer!!! But He hears our prayers and He will answer in His time.

When Jesus does up his laces… and gets ready to go out… He sees the scars left on His feet…… Can a woman forget her sucking child.. She may forget thee… But I will not.. Thou art engraven on the palm of my hands,,, but he could have equally said… and thou art engraven on the soles of my feet…

Sisters… every shoe is important… All types necessary. You wouldn’t run a marathon in these… and you wouldn’t walk to work in this… But as we walk… barefoot or highheels runners or workboots… let’s be kind…

These are the shoes you see on Sunday… my big sparkle shoes…. but these (old house slippers… are my go to) and this is what is really happening in the home.

From the comfy flat ballet to the 6 inch stiletto even to the ones that help us walk better, or get to work, they all tell a story about us, who we are and where we have been. Whether you wear your dancing shoes, blue suede shoes or your cowboy boots made for walkin’…We all wear different shoes and no matter what kind of shoes you are wearing… the shoes you wear never make the woman you are.

And it is not always about the shoes but what direction they carry you. It’s not what shoe you wear… but who you are and who you want to become. 

Forrest Gump said, “Momma always said you can tell an awful lot about a person by the kind of shoes they wear.”





God’s Plan For Me… A Plan of Happiness, A Plan of Salvation

Lately, I have been questioning a phrase that I hear repeated. What does it mean “power of covenants” and what power is it?

I know that a covenant is a promise made between man and God. I made promises to God at my baptism to take His name upon me, always remember Him, and keep his commandments. Then God promises to always allow His Spirit to be with me. I likewise made other covenants to dedicate my time and talents to loving God and loving His children as I entered the temple and God promised me further light and knowledge.

But where is the power? What does that mean? I was reading in the Book of Mormon when after Jesus’s resurrection and ministry to the Jews he appeared to the ancient inhabitants of the Americas. Jesus teaches in 3 Nephi 16:7 “I will remember my covenant unto you…and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fullness of my gospel.” Is the knowledge of the fullness of His gospel power? Is knowledge power? Of course, it is!

I want to tell you about the knowledge of the fullness of His gospel and how it gives me power. Here is a picture of an overview of what I believe.

Image result for plan of salvation images

First, I believe that life did not start with my birth here on earth. I believe that I was created spiritually first. That I am a littoral daughter of a Heavenly Father and Mother who loved me and I loved them. I believe that everyone here on earth shares that birth rite and quite wonderfully we are brothers and sisters. In this pre-earth state, we were taught and we lived peacefully but we were limited in our ability to progress. Our loving parents presented us with a plan to continue to learn with the opportunity to become like them -exalted beautiful parents. We would have to leave their presence and put our spirits in a physical body that would be weak, corruptible, sinful, and sad. But our Father didn’t leave us hopeless. He would devise a plan that would allow our Older Brother, Jesus Christ, to come and live a perfect life and offer himself as a sacrifice so that we could return to live in our Heavenly home once again.

Going to earth, we knew there would be a deep chasm, sin and death, that would prevent us from traveling back to our Father in Heaven. Jesus offered to build the bridge over which we all must cross to return to our Parents presence.

We weren’t all excited about this plan. There were some who rebelled and doubted, in fact they choose not to come to earth and get bodies. I believe that those who choose not to come down became Satan and his spirit followers, doomed forever to never have a physical body and draw on the saving power of Jesus Christ. They became set on trying to destroy all those who choose to follow God’s plan.

The difficulty is that we don’t clearly remember this part of life. As we were born, a veil of forgetfulness was cast over us. Part of this earths test is to see if we will live by faith and learn between good and evil and choose the right. I beg you to quietly reflect on this truth. Sometimes we are trying to understand a play without viewing the beginning act. We are thrown right into the second act of the play and we are left confused, not understanding the full context. The power of this knowledge is it gives us an overview of the play, to see the bigger picture, and not get so caught up in the character and plot developments.

I believe I choose to come to earth to learn how to help my spirit-self and my mortal-self live in harmony. My mortal-self wants to satisfy its cravings, desires, and passions. My spiritual-self wants to love and be enlightened, to sacrifice and serve and reach my full potential. There is a constant war inside myself of choosing to give into this carnal state or to rise above it and learn to master and control my body. This is why I adhere to strict laws about how to treat and take care of the God-given gift of my earthly body.   I exercise it, I rest it, I fill it full of healthy food and learn to appreciate the limitations and weakness it contains. I call upon my Savior to help me care for this gift and to learn how to master my own appetites, desires, and passions. I must learn to choose for myself and discern between truth and error and choose the right. I don’t believe the test is a tally the good and bad choices I make but a summation of the direction I am heading and the person that I want to become. How much I know God and how are my words and actions reflecting that knowledge.

After my life on earth is done. I believe my body and spirit separate again. My body is buried here on earth for a season and my spirit enters into a realm of spirits. Death does not change my personality or my desires. If I lived and desired righteousness here on earth my spirit enters into a place of happiness, peace and rest. In the spirit world, there is a separation of those who chose to obey God and those who didn’t. I believe that the gospel is preached to people who didn’t have the opportunity on earth to hear the fullness of the gospel. (1Peter 4:6 and 1Peter 3:19-20) This is one of the most beautiful and perfect parts of the plan of happiness. If every good person on earth chooses the truth here on earth there wouldn’t be a need for faith and we wouldn’t be tested. But the spirit world is the equalizer, everyone gets a chance to be taught the truth and accept it or reject it. Can you see how the gift of agency, the right to choose for ourselves, is woven throughout this whole plan? It was present in the premortal state, it exists on earth and continues after death. What a beautiful gift our Heavenly Parents offer us. This is why we perform baptismal work in temples for our deceased ancestors. They are not automatically baptized into our church but it’s like we hand them an invitation and they can decide if they want to come to the party or not. The spirit world is among us and sometimes the veil between us and them is thin.

When Jesus Christ comes again we will be resurrected. That means our body and our spirit will be reunited in a perfect and glorified state.  We will become immortal. Thanks to Jesus’s atonement immortality is a gift given to everyone. Eternal life, living eternally with God, is offered to those who have freed themselves from sin and suffering through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Then we will be brought before our Creator to be judged. We will have a perfect recollection of how we lived. According to our deeds and desires, we will be assigned a kingdom of glory. It won’t be that God assigns us to a glory as we know what we have desired and wanted to become. I love how Elder Oaks explained: “The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become.25

During our mortal lives we make choices, according to the knowledge that we had, about good and evil. These choices  influence which kingdom we may obtain. The first kingdom is compared to the glory of the sun and is the highest place where we live in families and forever with God. It is a Celestial glory.

The second kingdom is compared to the glory of the moon and for people who didn’t accept the fullness of the gospel but lived honorable lives. It is called terrestrial.

Those who continued in their sins and did not repent in this life will be rewarded the telestial kingdom.

This great knowledge is scattered throughout the bible but it is found and taught in its completeness with scriptures modern and ancient working together. And modern revelation. I encourage you to ponder this plan. To really think about it. Ask me any questions that you may have… bur maybe sometime tonight quietly kneel down and ask God if this is truth and let Him reveal it to you.


God’s Plan For Me… A Plan of Happiness, A Plan of Salvation

Effectual Struggle

There is a primary song that says, “God gave us families, to help us become who He wants us to be.” The song could have stated, “to live in peace and harmony. ” But it reaffirms that they help us become who He wants us to be. I think the ward family that God gives to us is for a similar reason. Sometimes family life is hard, in both families. But accepting that the Lord is molding your into the sculpture He wants to create takes meekness and humility.

The proclamation states, “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.” God has complete patience, love, and understanding. He was more concerned about being kind than being right.  He focused on peoples strengths and not their weakness.

Our ward and stake boundaries were rearranged this year. I was having a hard time finding my place. It seemed everything was different and I felt on the outside of the group. (I know I was feeding the wrong wolf but that is another blog post) I was asked to oversee the ward Christmas party. Usually organizing large events are my forte. I love the excitement, energy, and planning creative ways to include everyone and celebrate. But this year the task seemed overwhelming and I truly had no creative ideas. When I reflected why the Lord would offer me this opportunity only to have me reject it I had a distinct impression, I did it so you would not complain when you attended the party. It was the first time I told my ward no to on opportunity to serve. But this year I attended the ward Christmas party and it was beautiful to me. I didn’t murmur about anything. It was a fantastic evening.  I think it was a turning point in viewing my ward family.

In October 2015 Conference, Elder Christianson poses a profound question.  If “the Church is the creation of …Jesus Christ, it is worth pausing to consider why He chooses to use a church, … to carry out His and His Father’s work.” Perhaps we could add and what he expects of each one of us. The proclamation states, “Successful … families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.” If I practiced those qualities on my ward family what an experience I would have each Sunday. If i alter my attitude towards the boundary change and focus on the blessings that I and others receive from the love and service of my ward family. I am happier and feel more gratitude.

A few Sundays ago a beautiful sister shared her story so honestly that her message pierced my heart. In her comment, she blessed my life and changed the way I viewed this scripture. The scripture is found in Mosiah 7:18… (but the idea is many places throughout scripture) The people of Limhi, son of wicked King Noah, were in bondage to the Lamanites… King Mosiah, allowed Ammon to lead “sixteen strong men”  left  Zarahemla to inquire about Limhi’s people. They got lost but happened to stumble into the people.

18 And it came to pass that when they had gathered themselves together that he aspake unto them in this wise, saying: O ye, my people, lift up your heads and be comforted; for behold, the time is at hand, or is not far distant, when we shall no longer be in subjection to our enemies, notwithstanding our many strugglings, which have been in vain; yet I trust there bremaineth an effectual struggle to be made.

She brought out this idea of “effectual struggle.” What did it even mean… and when she looked in the dictionary, this is what she found:

Effectual struggle

producing or able to produce a desired effect

producing or capable of producing an intended effect; adequate.

valid or binding, as an agreement or document.

The Lord is in charge. He is in the details of our lives. If I know that He is leading me… He is guiding me … then there are moments in my life where I must face my own “effectual struggles”. Times when the persecution I receive… is able to “produce a desired effect”. I must remember… the ideal man I try to emulate… was despised and rejected of man, a man of sorrows… But He was not sorrowful… He was full of joy. Perhaps because He could see the desired effect of all His suffering.

One of my favorite scriptures about Jesus is found in alma 7:11-12

And he shall go forth, suffering pains and aafflictionsand btemptations of every kind; … he will ctake upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people….he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to csuccor his people according to their infirmities.

He always knew His Father was in charge and anything that happened to him would be “concecrated for his good”
I hope to have faith like my Saviour. He kept the beginning and the end in view. I know that the Lord is acting in my life… I am learning to embrace my effectual struggles with more gratitude and faith… it is hard work… but fulfililng; it is terrifying but healing. I hope that you may be able to see your effectual struggles. To see that they are able to produce the desired effect.
“God gave us families to help us become who He wants us to be”… I am learning the importance of my ward family. They bless my life… trust me… it’s like any family and there are moments where they drive you crazy… but I know I drive them crazy too. If I can learn to see them as My Father does. If I can love them in their knowledge and imperfections…. I will learn from my effectual struggles. And together as we all try to return back home together.




Effectual Struggle

Ice Breaker Speech One


They told me to begin, I did start my speech. But my speech began in silence. I smiled and looked around the room. Comfortably I met peoples gaze, held it and smiled.  Finally, I began.

It is said, you cant judge a book by its cover. But haven’t we all offered some form of judgement? Why is she not saying anything? Is it nerves? stage fright? I like her blouse… judgement. We are constantly trying to make sense of our environment.

I stand here today deciding which chapters, paragraphs, sentences or words I will share from my life’s story. I could share the basic facts, name, age, status, citizenship, and even zodiac sign. But wouldn’t your rather know one of my favourite books is the Little Prince? Because it’s a story of innocence. One that teaches lessons about it’s only with the heart that ones sees clearly.

I would want you to know that I love butterflies. But I’ve realized that butterflies are the last stage of the life cycle and I’m trying to see the beauty in each stage of metamorphesis.

I’d share my love for rainbows. Perhaps because they contain all the colors. And making decisions as simple as  favourite color have always been difficult.

I also love sparkly shiny objects- diamonds, glitter, the way the sunlight reflects on the water or the stars twinkling in the heavens.

I could only focus on the glittery, shiny chapters in my story and tell you that I graduated with great distinction from the University of Lethbridge with my education degree and parade my gold cords proudly. But you would miss out on the day I taught a whole class of grade five students that trees weren’t plants. Yes, unfortunately I taught this lesson the the day my University professor and team teacher were evaluating me. I was beyond humiliated.

Later, when I asked my five year old brother if trees were plants he looked at me strangely, “Duh,” he replied, “you aren’t gonna to ask your kids that are you?” I quickly changed the subject. There is more to that chapter but perhaps another time.

I’d want you to know that dancing is my happy place. And too often I forget the joy that music and movement bring.

I would want you to know about the times where the music was hard to hear and melodies became muted. Times of reflection and growth. Moments when I realized how I could change if I choose to let go of fear. And times of tears and sadness like how I tried to process my parents divorce.

I would include all these chapters, because I truly believe ALL these stories, the good, the bad, the happy and the sad need to be written, read, told and shared! These are the stories that connect us, help us reconnect, feel normal and to put down our guard, and realize we are all the authors, editors and publishers of our own life’s narrative.

My name is Danielle Marie Low, named after my French grandfather. I have lived 38 years. I have been married 12 years to David and am the mother of two beautiful daughters. I am Canadian and French. I am a Libra. As I child I was incredibly shy but I am learning that new beginnings are possible for everyone.

In my book of life, the one I author. Where I choose the words, characters, setting and action.  I’m trying to edit less and allow more people to read the original script. Learning from the past, living in the present and exploring ways to enhance the future chapters.

Thanks you.


Ice Breaker Speech One

How Did You Treat Your Sub?


No one ever graduates from education with the dream of being a substitute teacher. Wandering through schools and classes, teaching everything, establishing meaningful relationships with few students and being woken up early with a surprise junior high placement.

However, this year I have taken a new approach to subbing and found the experience quite delightful… but at the end of the day, I am still a sub. I have created my own meaningful exchanges with children and have been quite happy with the results. But I wanted to share some of my stories.

Often when people hear that I am subbing they comment, “Oh, that’s a pretty good job.”

I look them squarely in the eyes and say, “Honestly, what were you like for the sub?” Even the best pupil can be contaminated by peer pressure to torture the sub. I, myself, who was considered a good student had my moments of switching names or desks, skipping classes and taking advantage of classroom expectations. I often utter the threat half heartily to classes, “Be careful… Karma always comes back to you. ”

I have found being proactive is effective. If I can meet the students as they come in and introduce myself I can usually catch them off guard and discover their real names. However, with the rotation of students and classrooms, especially in the older grades this is not always possible. I get the occasional smart-aleck, inappropriate name but I try never to react because sometimes they are telling the truth!

There are the blatantly rude students, for example, with twenty minutes left in the class the students asked if they could leave.  I told them to take a seat and wait, they just walked out of my class! These are rarer than the norm. But you do feel helpless as they walk out of class and you don’t know their names to call them back. It also makes it awkward for the students who stayed. You can see the panic in their eyes as they know you are going to ask them the names of their peers.

There was an adorable grade one boy who was enjoying the extra attention as I helped him with his work.  I was complimenting his wonderful efforts and he kept finding reasons to have me return. (Six-year-olds are not subtle with their emotions. ) Something happened at the table where he worked, I diffused the problem by saying, “We are all unique. We each have talents and traits that make us special.” I continued, “I have a cracky tongue.” Then I showed him my tongue. I stuck it out of my mouth, and then I pushed down on my tongue with my teeth exposing the fissures. It was quite a reveal!

Instead of being impressed, my new found friend was repulsed. He looked at me with wide eyes and confessed, “My mom and dad said I am not supposed to speak to strangers.” He immediately turned to his work with new intensity. I tried to plead my case. I assured him that you can’t be a substitute teacher without being a safe person. But he was having none of it. As I left his side somewhere between dumbfounded and completely amused, I thought, “This is too adorable to even feel rejected.”

Between the good, the bad, and the ugly moments of subbing… there are moments that I truly cherish. The beautiful hand-drawn notes of love and encouragement, the smile on the students faces when you paid them a compliment, a moment when you felt like the class performed really well on a task, these make my job meaningful. However, I need to tell you about the beautiful moment that happened yesterday. I arrived at my job and as I sat down at the teacher’s desk and looked over her classroom I noticed a present on her desk. Then something wonderful happened. I noticed the package was addressed to me! It read, “To the lovely sub Danielle”


I can’t describe the emotion of seeing that package. At a time when I felt the rejection of being passed up for six teaching jobs this year, it was as if God was telling me, “You are right where I want you to be. Keep going. You make a difference. I will magnify your offerings and you do bless my children.”

So I ask again, how did you treat your sub?




How Did You Treat Your Sub?

Which One Will You Feed?

two choices

There is a little story that I use all the time in teaching…(well technically I am still subbing.) I find a use for it daily.

I begin my tale by asking the child to tell me their favourite animal. I like baby penguins, thus for this example I will select them. I tell them to imagine they have two baby penguins that live on top of their shoulders. I say, “You know what this baby penguin eats?”  In amazement they shake their heads side to side reflecting that they have no idea.

As I respond, I point to the imaginary animal on their shoulder, “This one eats all the bad thoughts that you have in your head. He loves thoughts like, I am no good. No body loves me. You should stop trying, you will never succeed.” (I try to use phrases that the child expressed.)

Then I point to the opposite shoulder where the other imaginary penguin resides. I question, “Do you know what this one eats?” No they shake their heads accordingly. I say, “This one loves to eat thoughts like, “Keep making mistakes, you will get it soon. I am a good person. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says I am beautiful.” Then I often try and get them to create their own statements.

All this work for the big final question. “Do you know who decides which baby penguin gets fed?” Seldom are the children aware of this answer. With a big dramatic reveal I say, “Listen closely, because some adults don’t even know the answer to this question”. I might also add,”When I was your age I didn’t know this either.”

Then I point to the child and I say, “YOU DECIDE! YOU get to decide with every thought which penguin gets fed.  YOU have the power to feed  whichever one you want, whenever you want to.”

It is hard when other people try to feed your penguins. But if you can remember the simple truth of this story I promise you will be happier.  Just because a thought arrives doesn’t mean we have to invite it to tea and serve it snacks. We can recognize it by who it feeds and then gently choose to nourish the proper penguin.

What two animals live on your shoulders? Which one will be fed? It is the Christmas season, so let the feasting begin!




Which One Will You Feed?

Of Pots, Kettles, Motes and Beams

My mom is a beautiful, intelligent French woman. I love her. She speaks many languages and is very proficient in English and French. However, growing up she would constantly mix up her usage of idioms. Sometimes she would tell us, “Stop pulling my arm!” My friend still recalls the time she ate with us and my dad replied to my mom, “Geese Louise,” My mother confused said, “Why are you calling me Louise?”

But one day my sister and I were truly puzzled when my mother threw out this one to us. “It’s like the cat calling the cattle black.” I knew I had never heard this expression and was unclear of its existence. My sister and I exchanged confused glances. The expression my mom tried to use was, “it’s like the pot calling the kettle black.”

The earliest use of this expression was found in a 1620 translation of Don Quixote. “The Spanish text …reads: Dijo la sartén a la caldera, Quítate allá ojinegra (Said the pan to the pot, get out of there black-eyes). It is identified as a proverb…, functioning as a retort to the person who criticises another of the same defect that he plainly has.” (Wikipedia)

“An alternative modern interpretation, … argues that while the pot is sooty (being placed on a fire), the kettle is shiny (being placed on coals only); hence, when the pot accuses the kettle of being black, it is the pot’s own sooty reflection that it sees: the pot accuses the kettle of a fault that only the pot has, rather than one that they share.” (Wikipedia)

“The point is illustrated by a poem that appeared anonymously in an early issue of St. Nicholas Magazine from 1876:

“Oho!” said the pot to the kettle;
“You are dirty and ugly and black!
Sure no one would think you were metal,
Except when you’re given a crack.”

“Not so! not so!” kettle said to the pot;
“‘Tis your own dirty image you see;
For I am so clean – without blemish or blot –
That your blackness is mirrored in me.”


Jesus also gave a similar lesson when he told us “Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? …

“… First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”2  

Susan Arrington Hill designed a poem about this point entitled, On Motes and Beams.
Why do I pounce on your
tiny mote
hidden in back
of the corner drawer
when the biggest front closet
is bulging—
stuffed with my own
huge supply
of giant beams?
I’m getting a corrective lens
in my eternal glasses.

Why is it so easy to recognize the faults and failures of another and hard to decipher our own flaws? Elder Uchtdorf suggests, “Often we try to avoid looking deeply into our souls and confronting our weaknesses, limitations, and fears. Consequently, when we do examine our lives, we look through the filter of biases, excuses, and stories we tell ourselves in order to justify unworthy thoughts and actions.”

I know that I am no exception to this statement. I have to be brutally honest when I  acknowledge my weakness. It requires humility to admit my fears. It takes quiet reflection that I don’t create. The time and self-awareness that it takes to admit that I am afraid are slow in coming.

Elder Uchtdorf continues, “But being able to see ourselves clearly is essential to our spiritual growth and well-being. If our weaknesses and shortcomings remain obscured in the shadows, then the redeeming power of the Savior cannot heal them and make them strengths. Ironically, our blindness toward our human weaknesses will also make us blind to the divine potential that our Father yearns to nurture within each of us.”

I have uncovered a truth in this parable that has helped me become more aware of my motes and to view others with more kindness. Often the very flaws I criticize in others are the very things that I need to change. The moment I hear myself complaining about another I know it’s almost the very thing I need to fix.

As Wikipedia has said, “The one seeking to remove the impediment in the eye of his brother has the larger impediment in his own eye, suggesting metaphorically that the one who attempts to regulate his brother often displays the greater blindness and hypocrisy.”

I am trying to ask myself the hard questions. I am trying even harder to hear the true answers. But I do know as I listen for the ways I can improve I open myself up to reach the potential that my Father in Heaven has in store for me.



If you copy and paste this link into your browser you will see a dramatization of a woman judging her neighbour’s dirty laundry through an unclean window. It’s a good reminder for everyone.


Of Pots, Kettles, Motes and Beams