Happy February! As thoughts turn to Valentine’s Day, love for family and friends and all the sweet things that this holiday brings and means, I have some special experiences and gifts to share that just might become very special for you too.

In 2001, right after 9-11, our family of six travelled from Virginia to Honolulu to spend the Christmas holiday with family who were living in Laie, Hawaii while working at BYU-Hawaii.  They had been there for years and were nearing their time to return to the BYU-Provo campus and their home Utah. We had wanted to take our family to Hawaii while all our children were old enough to appreciate and remember this trip, so we waited until our youngest daughter had turned eight.  She was bright, adorable and a very active little girl.  Sitting quietly for long periods of time, however, was not her favorite or best activity. The flight from Dulles Airport in Virginia to California, the layover, and then the long flight from Los Angeles to Hawaii would mean a very, very long day for her.  

A dear friend, who had traveled internationally for years with young children, came the day before we left with a beautiful and well-stocked “busy bag” filled with activities, snacks and little gifts to keep our daughter busy for the long day of travel.  Among the goodies was a set of bracelets, individually wrapped, that she was to be opened and put on one at a time over the long day. 

What a homerun!  On stretchy elastic, over the day, out came the brightly colored alphabet bead bracelets that spelled out the words of the “Gifts of the Spirit” from Galations 5:22:  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith …”

They were so cute and she loved them!  They calmed and soothed her as we travelled.  They were among her favorite things from that wonderful Christmas.  The big surprise came, however, when we returned home and school started again.  She often came down dressed for the day wearing one or two of the bracelets. When I mentioned that she didn’t need to wear them as they were primarily for that special trip, she replied, “Oh, I just feel so much better when I wear them!  They make my day at school better.”  

How nice!” I thought, and, as with many things with children, it faded into the blur of busy family life and I forgot all about them.

Hidden Messages in Water

Several years later, my sister introduced me to a remarkable book.  Published in 2001, by the time I read “Hidden Messages In Water” by Masaru Emoto in 2006, it was a well-established New York Times Best Seller. I will never forget the thrill of opening the book, reading the text and seeing the marvelous photos for the first time.

In a nutshell, this internationally renowned genius Japanese scientist and photographer shows how the influence of environment, thoughts, words and music  on molecules of water actually changes the appearance of the water molecules.  He found that water from clear, Mountain springs and water that has been exposed to loving words shows brilliant, complex, and colorful snowflake patterns. In contrast, polluted water or water exposed to negative words or a negative environment (such as dirty water from a city curb or gutter) forms incomplete, asymmetrical patterns with dull colors. 

For example, a bottle of water that had the word “gratitude” written on a label and taped to the bottle produced the most marvelous, breathtaking diamond-like designs, while words like “You’re stupid!” created photos that were dull and incomplete. After many years of studying the crystals extracted from water that was sourced from different locales, environments and conditions, he believes the water has a spirit that can be influenced by word and even music.

The photos he uses to prove this are quite something to see, but the real “a-ha” moment comes when the author presents the fact that the human body is 45-75% water.  He believes that the messages communicated in the living water of our own bodies may have a profound effect on our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. 

While he is not a member of the Church, there is a Latter-day Saint doctrinal foundation to support the principle that the elements do have their own, living spirits. This is a separate subject, but D&C 29:31-35; D&C 131: 7; and 2:Nephi 2:14 are good places to begin.

Briefly stated, communication for others and from our own self-talk that is loving and kind brings health and peace.  Hateful or unkind words yield the opposite.

I’ll never forget the first time reading the book and seeing the photos.  I was awed and quickly recalled our experience with the little bracelets, the peace and happiness they had brought our daughter.

At the same time, I was launching my first website and my own book that became my path to writing here at Meridian Magazine.  I was looking at some products to sell at the website. Within a short time we were selling bead “empowerment” bracelets for adults that were very similar to the ones our daughter had enjoyed so much on our trip to Hawaii.  They were fun to make and fun to sell.

Soon the stories started to roll in.  Women who wanted to lose weight found they were able to make wiser food choices and stick with their eating plans when they wore the bracelets that said “Peace,” “Faith,” “Love,” and “Believe.”  

One woman wrote that her aging, ill mother was having a very difficult time making the adjustment to living in a nursing home.  One day she took her Mom her own bracelets that said “Peace,” Hope” and  “Patience,” and slipped them on her wrists.  “From that hour on,” the woman wrote”, “my mother was able to calm down and graciously accept this new and difficult chapter in her life.”

My own mother had had many health and physical challenges throughout her life. She went through an extremely long and slow decline from age 85 to her passing at nearly 95, spending the last five years in bed.  During those last five years, she came to realize how extremely well her body had actually served her for her entire life, despite many physical challenges.  She felt she’d been ungrateful and wanted to change that feeling of remorse about her physical body into one of gratitude to our Heavenly Father. She asked me to make a bracelet that said “Thank You.” She wore it constantly and considered it to be a wonderful path of joy and even repentance for the negative, resentful feelings she’d always had about her physical body, its appearance and limitations.Perhaps the most remarkable story happened with my friend. When she heard about the bracelets, she immediately thought of a friend in their ward who very much wanted to have a baby.  This friend and her husband had some big infertility challenges and were not in a financial position for the treatments that would increase their chances of becoming pregnant.  My friend went to work and made bracelets that said “Healthy Baby” for not only her friend, but all their friends and Young Women in their ward to wear!  Well, believe it or not, Baby Wesley was born about a year later!  The doctors were stunned!  

More years passed, our business changed from selling books and bracelets to the remarkable herbal detox we share here at Meridian Magazine.  

Our own family grew up and my husband and I are now empty-nesters, savoring the last third of our lives and having a great deal of fun!

For me, with that process comes increased awareness of the inevitable physical aging, passing, the judgment bar experience and what comes next in the after-life.  Of course, with our wonderful gospel knowledge, we know what comes next! But at this time, I’m especially intrigued and have spent a lot of time both wondering and reading about the the next life in both scriptures and from the near-death experiences of others. 

This summer, I stumbled upon another remarkable book. 

We needed a bookcase for our home and looked on the online KSL website. Just the right bookcase was available at a home here in Salt Lake City that was being sold as the owner, now a widower well into his 90s, had moved into a nursing home. His devoted son who was taking care of everything was an instant friend. We had a great time with not only purchasing the bookcase, but all the books and other things that were also for sale!

The lofty title of this paperback compelled me– Heavenly Answers to Earthly Challenges – How to Make Certain You Enjoy the Other Side When You Get There by Joyce H. Brown. It’s not a Latter-day Saint book from any of the publishers we recognize, but many of the testimonials were from people I know and admire, including Janice Kapp Perry and Joy Saunders Lundberg, who both have written for Meridian Magazine.

It was a very quick read and I was spellbound, quickly turning the pages of the first third of the book, which was the story of the author’s very, very difficult mortal life. Plagued like Job with many problems of every kind, she’d always thought if life got too bad, she’d just take her own life and get to that beautiful Other Side where she’d been told all would be peaceful, beautiful, loving and filled with joy. In her mid-fifties, completely bed-ridden and living in constant pain from neck and back injuries from a car accident along with huge financial and family issues, one day she decided she had had enough.  She decided to pray that she could be taken.  She managed to get to the bathroom where she thought she could lean against the bathtub to kneel and pray.

Whether it was a dream, a trance or some kind of spiritual passing to the “Other Side,” she felt her spirit leave her body. From above, she looked down on her body, slumped there against the bathtub. There was indeed the beautiful light and, as she refers to it, “The Being of Love and Light” that surpassed her earthly understanding of true love and joy.  But instead of being warmly welcomed, the Loving Presence, was able to show her in many ways how she had wasted her earth life and its many opportunities.  She was indeed, shown her entire life, but this time instead of seeing just herself and remembering events and people, she was able to see as the Savior does. In this “review”, she was able to experience not only her own feelings, but those of her family and all those involved in her life. Surrounded by His love, instead of joy, she experienced regret and remorse as she realized how myopic her life had been.

When asked the all-encompassing question, “What did you do with what you had?” she realized how beautiful and rich her earth life had actually been … and that she had forfeited her rich reward on the “other side” in many, many ways by focusing on only her problems and challenges during her “school” on earth.

The middle section of the book is very different than most near-death experience books I have read where the individuals have a time in heaven that is beautiful and exciting, and then quickly return to their physical bodies. In this book, however, she has many visions and lessons, just for her, that take her back (almost as in “A Christmas Carol”) where she can see her mistakes and poor choices.  Many are of her own doing, but many are the result of culture and family traditions that have not served anyone well.  She is shown what she could have done differently, what matters, and what does not. Each vision/lesson is summarized very succinctly in a well-crafted paragraph or two, with a life-changing principle or perspective that could individually fill a whole book.

I was spellbound with these chapters and the lessons they hold for each of us for happier, more peaceful hours, days and lives while we are in mortality.  

Each chapter in this section ends with a sentence or two of the regret she feels for having squandered her earth life and that it is too late to fix anything, most especially to communicate love and ask forgiveness from family members.

When her opportunity to return to her body comes, she is overjoyed! The physical pain that was gone as soon as she had left her crippled body was back again in an instant. However, with joy, she realized, much like Ebeneezer Scrooge, that her life was not over!  She embraced her pain-wracked, disabled body as her greatest treasure, her vehicle for making amends and changing her story for her actual judgment day at some future, unknown time.  

The last third of the book is an autobiography.  Much changed with her new tools and perspective, but much did not.  With a little inquiry, I have learned that at this time she is still alive and well, living a good life and has become a strong advocate for supporting those with suicide tendencies. 

I am personally so thrilled with this “window into heaven,” for the tools and knowledge it has brought to me. And this brings me to the last, and most important part of this rather long story, and YOU!

I’m sure you’ve seen the lovely little “Beloved Daughter of God” necklaces that are being sold here at Meridian Magazine.  In late October, shortly after I finished reading this book, I received one of the necklaces from Michaela Proctor Hutchins, who designed and now shares them through Meridian and other online sources.   You may have read some of her exceptional stories here at Meridian and had a glimpse into her talents and nature.  Though only in her mid-20s, she is one of the precious age-less souls where age doesn’t mean a thing. What a special friend she has become as we work together on the ads for our product here at Meridian.

To me it’s no surprise that she was inspired to create these lovely little necklaces.

I was tickled when she gave one to me and I quickly put it on. It is gold, dainty and so sweet!  The words “Beloved Daughter of Heavenly Parents” are subtly engraved on the gold disc.  Like the little bead bracelets from long ago, I immediately felt a sense of peace throughout my body and spirit. 

Though the ads say it’s a “reminder of who we really are” … for me, it was more of a re-identifying and, as I would come to realize soon, almost a remembering!  

The first Sunday after receiving it, I wore the necklace while we had our home church and sacrament meeting.  While I often think of judgment day as I take the sacrament with a “making a list” mentality of the week, this Sunday was different.  

As I sat in our own beautiful living room after my husband blessed the bread, into my mind came the stunning vision of returning home, to my Dad.  My Heavenly Dad. My Dad that just adored me and was so excited and interested in absolutely everything I did! My own dear Dad that had known me for eons and couldn’t wait to hear about my earth life adventures, experiences, feelings, friends and family, because he knew me so well and had loved me for so long. 

He was as excited as I was to talk about “what I’d done with what I’d had” during mortalityThough He already knew everything, it was so exciting to review it together!  He was so happy and delighted for us to be together … and so was I!

Instead of a “judgment” I now pictured an exciting and long-awaited reunion in a beautiful place to actually sit and talk in person about all that had happened in mortality. Just as you would after a long trip away from a parent who is dear in every way and knows you so well from so much time together in the past.  We couldn’t talk fast enough as we rejoiced in being reunited to talk about absolutely everything! We would sit close together on a beautiful and cozy couch (much like the ones in the Celestial Rooms of our temples, and laugh and cry as we turned the pages of a fabulous scrapbook for all my years on earth.  

I would tell him of the things and chapters of my life that were so fun and rewarding! I would be able to express, at last in person, about the sadnesses, disappointing and difficult things that I couldn’t fix or change in any way.  With profound love, He would assure me that He had been there all along, that He knew I had done my best, which was all that He had ever required!  I would tell Him of weaknesses that I had such a hard time with, and how understanding the Atonement had made such a difference! I would cry with things I could have done differently, but He would let me know again in every way possible, both tangible and intangible, that I was indeed His beloved Daughter, His special little girl, that He couldn’t wait to welcome home.    

This was such a sweet and memorable sacrament meeting.  I never want to forget it.  Within a short time, while I was sitting there, and when the sacrament portion of our meeting was over, I realized that this lovely experience had happened while I was wearing Michaela’s necklace!  I had had the “Hidden Messages in Water” experience from the book in a very powerful way.

With joy, I write this story in the hopes that the two books, my thoughts and experiences, and especially the necklace might be a Valentine’s Day gift and/or a path of gratitude for you or someone dear to you! What a perfect, sweet and dear gift it would be, as a lovely necklace alone, of course, but worth far more for the message it contains.

At this time, the little bracelets with the empowering words can be ordered from a number of sellers at Etsy or easily made with alphabet beads and elastic cording purchased at a craft store.

Here are some links to get you started:

Hidden Messages In Water” Book by Masaru Emoto

“Heavenly Answers For Earthly Challenges” Book by Joyce H. Brown

“Beloved Daughter of Heavenly Parents” Necklace Designed by Michaela Proctor Hutchins

“Empowerment Word Bracelets” 
Or just do a search at Etsy for custom name bracelets

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 a columnist for Meridian Magazine since 2007. She provided mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success and happy living both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 through 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 a growing number of darling little ones. They are now happy empty nesters in Sandy, Utah where they center their online business for an amazing herbal detox