Sunday, September 9, 2018

A Glimpse into My Ensign

I love my May 2018 Ensign. I treasure cover2cover club. Although very few people seem to want to be members. I need to work on that and convince others into joining this priceless "club." (Read the General Conference Ensign cover to cover and your automatically in the club!!)

My Ensign is covered in color... multiple colors... and has handwritten thoughts/ notes. Others in my ward seem to always want to look at my Ensign and I have tried to hide it. I thought it would make others feel bad because theirs didn't look like mine. At the same time, I didn't want my ward members to think that I was better than anyone else because of how much I had read it.

Today in Relief Society, our disscussion was on the talk from Elder Neil L. Anderson. I LOVE this talk!! Possibly even one of my favorite quotes in the whole magazine is from his talk. If not absolute favorite quote, it is definitely high up on my list. As we were sharing "Action Plan" ideas, I encouraged others to join cover2cover and to finish it before the next conference... which is in just a few weeks. (I'm soooooo excited and grateful that conference is quickly approaching. I can hardly wait to listen again!)

The action plan that came to me though was I need to be brave and share my Ensign. I need to let my testimony help strengthen others. I decided to take a few pictures (which grew into a lot... trust my I kept cutting out quotes and trying to make this post shorter... just skim it! Lol!) of my favorite quotes and lettering throughout the magazine. Truthfully, I love the entire magazine, cover2cover and I could take a picture of nearly every page and post the entire magazine. I did try to limit it though to my very favorites.

Please see my notes and markings as ONE way to read Conference. This is certainly not the ONLY way!! Each person who reads and marks their own copy, should realize that each marking will reflect ones own personality.

And my honest hope... in the next few weeks, I will find more to underline, draw connections and write in. I hope that before Conference starts that my magazine will be loved even more than it is today!

I didn't realize that my scriptures were in the background when I took the picture.
It makes sense because I read them together.
Instead of cropping them out, I decided I LOVE them together.

Elder Brian K. Taylor, "Am I a Child of God"

This quote is not a part of his actual talk...
But if you read the footnotes, the idea of this quote was mentioned in his talk.

Elder Neil L. Anderson, "The Prophet of God"

This is the quote that might be one of my very favorites in the entire magazine!

Elder Dale G. Renlund, "Family History and Temple Work: Sealing and Healing"

Pres. Russell M. Nelson, "Ministering with the Power and Authority of God"

Elder Larry Y. Wilson, "Take the Holy Spirit as Your Guide"
And I do love this quote too!

Sis. Reyna I. Aburto, "With One Accord"

Elder Claudio D. Zivic, "He That Shall Endure unto the End, the Same Shall Be Saved"

Pres. Henry B. Eyring, "His Spirit to Be with You"

Pres. Dallin H. Oaks, "Small and Simple Things"

Pres. Russell M. Nelson, "Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives"
This is another one of my favorites!!!
It is this simple one sentence thought thrown in the talk.
And it could easily be overlooked.

Umm... taking a picture of the entire page was just easier!

Elder Ulisses Soares, "Prophets Speak by the Power of the Holy Spirit"

Pres. Russell M. Nelson, "Ministering"

Bishop Gerald Causse, "It Is All about the People"

Pres. Russell M. Nelson, "Let Us All Press On"

Blessings from Pres. Nelson to each of us personally.
There is no catch. Or something we have to do to obtain them.
They are just given to each of us freely.

(I promise I really deleted some of the picture quotes I had... I was trying to delete more but all of these are just so good that they had to stay!)


Thursday, September 6, 2018

MINISTERING... Understanding with a Different Lens

I feel like I was trying to see things from a different perspective but I kept looking through the same lens and expected different results. My vision will never change, if I keep doing the exact same thing.

I don't know about the rest of you... but to me, the ministering topic is so done. It has been discussed and re-discussed every fourth Sunday plus multiple other times too. I'm not sure what else there is to learn about it.

Ministering... it replaces home and visiting teaching though it appears to be basically the same thing with a different name. That which we call a rose...
Ministering... it is a holier approach yet we are still expected to have contact, talk to our assigned people and help them if we can. It is still a rose...
Ministering... there are no reports but rather interviews. A different type of rose but still a rose...
Ministering... it is supposed to be more flexible by meeting the needs of the assigned individual but wasn't that the goal before? To help those we were assigned to? Definitely still a rose...

In my ward, we have discussed ministering as trying to become friends and really care instead of just being an assignment. We have made lists of what we can do to better minister to each other. Surprisingly (and sadly), most things on the list were basic requests...
*Say hi to me.
*Sit by me at church.
*Listen to me.
*Don't gossip about me.
*Smile at me.
*Visit me in my home.
*Remember me on my birthday.
*Text me during the week.
None of these things are hard and yet, at least in my ward, the change in ministering feels like we are not even meeting each others basic needs as sisters. Did the freedom from reports really make this much of a difference that we gave up on ministering all together?

As I have studied this past General Conference, there is definitely a ministering theme; as there should be because the change is new and we each need to learn about it. Various quotes throughout conference state how effective ministering will protect us from the adversary, it will prepare us to meet Christ as His coming, we will feel unity, it will help build our friendship, strengthen our testimony, and become true disciples of Christ. These are seriously just a brief example of why the change to ministering.

The basic theme I pulled out from conference is ministering is a holier, more personal, testimony strengthening, opportunity for friendship that will prepare us better to meet Christ. These basic answers though, just seem like the fluff answer and don't really explain it.

Typically, everywhere we drive in the car, we listen to General Conference. I don't know how many multiple times I have heard each of these talks. My May Ensign, is covered with color, hand lettering & scribbles alike, arrows connecting thoughts and is held together by tape. I have studied these messages and they truly are deep inside my heart, not just words on a paper.

Yet, I still don't understand the real reason of why. Why ministering? If I put forth the effort, what blessings will come? For every commandment kept, a blessing is sure to follow. But what comes from ministering? How does ministering effect, bless, and change MY life?

This morning as we were driving to the store the dots finally connected. I had a light bulb moment. And my testimony of ministering itself was increased as I sat in the parking lot pondering and listening to the gentle confirmation from the Holy Ghost.

{I am not saying this is absolute doctrine. It is my opinion. Please remember this is only my opinion as you finish reading this post. It was the thought that came to me. Take it for what it is worth... my own thought!}

Pres. Henry B. Eyring shared a list of "how to receive continual spiritual direction and comfort through the Holy Ghost." These are things probably everyone has heard of before. Humility. Pray. Obey. Serve. But his fourth point of serve is one step towards of my why/ how light bulb experience. He talked about how he has watched "prophets of God pray, ask for inspiration, receive direction, and act on it." Then he said, "I have seen how often their {meaning prophets} prayers are about the people they love and serve. Their concern for others seems to open their hearts to receive inspiration. That can be true for you."

As I learn to better minister to those I am assigned to, I am able to receive more inspiration, my heart will be open to it. Hmmm. Remember that thought.

Sis. Jean B. Bingham shared a long list of what ministering looks like. These are once again basic things like walking together, chatting or texting, sharing a scripture, etc. She reminds us that "simple acts of service can have profound effects on others, as well as on ourselves" and that "true ministering is accomplished one by one with love as the motivation... [and that] miracles will happen." But she also promised the same blessing of increased promptings from the Holy Ghost.

"When we consider how to minister most effectively, we ask, 'What does she [or he] need?' Coupling that question with a sincere desire to serve, we are then led by the Spirit to do what would lift and strengthen the individual."

Hmmm... ministering leads to being led by the Spirit.

Sis. Bingham also said, "As we accept the opportunity to wholeheartedly minister, we are blessed to become more spiritually refined [and] more in tune with the will of God."

Hmmm... more in tune with the will of God and therefore the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

And that is the real reason for ministering. It is a gift for ME personally, not the people I am assigned to. It is MY gift because I need the companionship of the Holy Ghost. 

Yes, it is about learning to serve others and be His hands here on Earth.
Yes, it is so we can take care of others and help lift them when they are weak.
Yes, it is to develop true friendships instead of merely an assignment.
Yes. Yes. Yes. It is all of these things. But these are the surface answers, the one same lens I kept looking through and expecting to see deeper meaning.

The real reason for ministering? It is not about the other people that I am assigned to at all.

Ministering is about ME!
Ministering was given to ME as a way I can learn to better listen to the gentle but subtle promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Ministering was given to ME to strengthen my relationship with Heavenly Father.
Ministering was given to ME as a way to become more pure and in tune.
Ministering is not an assignment but rather an opportunity.
Ministering truly is a gift that will enhance MY life in ways I have not even dreamed about yet.
Ministering is not just about what I can do for others, it really is about what I can do for myself.


Monday, September 3, 2018

A Glimmer of Light

Our trip to Denver was extra special because it was our Little Loves first airplane flight. They were so excited. Heidi constantly asks when are we going to fly on the "hair-pwane" again. Going through security with over stuffed backpacks filled with multiple electronics, food, and liquids WITH two Little Loves was not so fun. Flying was awesome though.

One of my favorite parts of the airplane ride was surprisingly the extremely early time we took off at. It was pitch black outside when we boarded the airplane around 4:30 in the morning. There was a quietness, on the roads driving and even in the airport. I savored that silent, still world feeling.

When we took off, the only lights we saw out the window were the twinkling city lights below us. As we climbed higher into the sky, eventually the entire window was pitch black. I have thought about this darkness and how the pilot and copilot had to rely completely on the instruments they have (really I have no idea what they have... maps... gps... I don't know!) and not on sight. This reminds me how sometimes when the hardest trials come that we have to rely on faith. Sometimes our lives may feel dark. Yet, despite the feeling, I know my life will never be dark. It will be hard. It will be trying. But it won't be dark. It won't be dark because of the Atonement. And because of the Holy Ghost.

As we flew East into the rising sun, it was the most amazing view out our tiny airplane window. We saw just a tiny glimmer at first. The light was so faint that when I tried to take a picture, it is almost unnoticeable. But. It was there. That first, barely visible light gave a light that was not there previously. And the darkness could not hide it.

The light grew. Ever so slowly but also so magically. One interesting thing was we never actually saw the sunrise. We only saw the light coming from the sunrise. When we landed, the sun was completely up and not even close to the time of "the sunrise." Since we never saw the actual sun rise, the mountains we were flying over remained completely dark. There was no light to brighten the them.

This event of flying East into the sunrise should seriously be on everyone's bucket list or maybe even one of the natural wonders of the world. It was that incredible to witness!!

But even more incredible is the Light of Christ. Even the tiniest amount of light shines forth and will conquer the darkness. The smallest amount of faith. The slight amount of hope. The limited amount of testimony. It is there. And it will continue to grow, ever so slowly, just like the airplane sunrise.

One's testimony does not have to be strong today. It is a work in progress. The faith we have for today is sufficient. Tommorrow, hopefully it will be stronger. And bit by bit, the light we each carry will grow.

A glimmer of light, a glimmer of faith, a glimmer of hope, a glimmer of knowledge. It is enough. It will dispel the darkness. The fear. The uncertainty. Hold on to that glimmer. Hold on and let it grow!


Friday, August 31, 2018

Meant to Stand Out

{I know it has been a very long time since I wrote. I keep feeling strongly that I need to start writing again. I need to use this as a way to share my testimony and hopefully help others strengthen theirs! I'm hoping to make this habit become a weekly occurrence going forward.}

While we were staying in Denver recently, one of the highlights at our motel was swimming. The other was breakfast. Both of my Little Loves had gigantic breakfasts. Muffins, waffles, hard boiled eggs, fruit, yogurt, toast, the list goes on. Literally every day we were there, each Little Love enjoyed multiple large plates of food.

(And the reason for eating a gigantic breakfast.... In Denver, you do one thing. You walk. Everywhere. You keep walking. Parking is ridiculous in downtown itself. We saw one place that charged for every TWELVE minutes you were there. The prices would end up way more than we budgeted for. So we parked outside of downtown, still paid for parking, and walked. Both Little Loves were troopers and we all enjoyed the vacation!)

Back to breakfast. One morning in the lobby, we saw a family sharing breakfast. The kids were well behaved. They were talking and eating quietly. The mom was helping to get various items from the breakfast bar. Their food looked exactly like what we were eating.

And yet this family stood out. They stood out in the breakfast lobby. They would stand out in a park, at a store, in a large crowd; no matter where they traveled they would always be noticed.

Out of respect to the family, I decided not to sneak a picture of them eating breakfast. The family was Amish. They were wearing the traditional clothing that is generally associated with an Amish community. To be fair, I honestly don't know much about the Amish community. But watching this family eat breakfast, I kept thinking about how they will always stand out no matter where they are.

That thought of standing out, really caused me to reflect. Do I stand out? Do others look at me and know that I live my religion? Do I act different, look different, choose to be different from others I see around me?

One obvious answer would be yes. While we were in Denver, it seemed that e.v.e.r.y. single person that we saw during our walking expeditions appeared in one of two ways... likely both! Most people we saw had tattoos on their arms (or other visible places but generally arms) and almost everyone wore a tank top and short shorts. Don't get me wrong, it was HOT. And I'm sure walking made it even hotter. But there was a very noticeable difference in my appearance and those we met exploring.

I don't dress modestly because I have to. I don't dress modestly to live up to someone else's expectation. I choose to dress modestly because I love my covenants I made in the temple. I choose to dress modestly because I value my divine identity. I know I am a child of God. I know He loves me. Because I love Him, I choose to respect my body.

Dressing modestly is not the only way I'm trying to stand out as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints. Dressing modestly is just the tip of the iceberg that I'm trying to teach my Little Loves. The scripture in Matthew reminds each of us that we are meant to be different from the world.
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
The stronger my testimony becomes, the more I realize that I am meant to be different. Salt is very different from all other substances on earth. Salt is a substance used to preserve food. In my case though, salt is a substance use to preserve life. My baptismal and temple covenants keep me safe. Those covenants preserve my life. Salt is also something that everyone has and uses on a regular basis. My hope is that as I live worthy of my covenants, others will see something different in me and want to change themselves. I hope I can teach my Little Loves to be the salt where ever they go... at school... in primary... in our family. I want to fill the world with salt. And it starts by filling my own little world, one salt granule at a time.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

dare to stand out

My Dear Little Missy Moo,

I didn't think clothes shopping for a two year old would be this hard! After all, you are TWO! Ruffles and dresses and frills and all things girly. But then summer hit. And it is hot outside. The playgrounds are hot. The air is hot. The sun is bright. And you just want to run and play and explore. You are a toddler and play is what you do best!

Truthfully, I'm in love with summer because I get to spend so much time with you and your best friend. No school. Instead we get to go exploring. And on field trips. And we especially get to play in parks.

All of the shorts you have barely cover your diaper. And not just from you growing. No. That is the design of the toddler shorts/ skirts. This was a problem. I started searching for longer ones. I wasn't concerned about modesty because after all, you are ONLY TWO! But I wanted your legs protected from the slide as you giggle down. I want your legs protected from the sun so you wouldn't have a sunburn and make you so uncomfortable to sit down. I also was hoping for something cooler than long pants while playing outside during summer.

After searching stores, thinking I was going to have to hem some long pants into shorts and finally (FINALLY!!!!) finding some longer shorts for you to wear, I realized this really is all about modesty. Choosing to dress modestly is a blessing and a gift to yourself. It protects you. I wanted your legs protected from the metal (or even plastic) slide. Heavenly Father wants you protected from the temptations of evil. And not that dressing immodestly means you are automatically evil or making poor choices. Wearing short shorts does not mean you are guaranteed a burn. It just means that you have one more layer of protection.

Dare to stand out. Even in a crowd when mini shorts and frilly tutus with nothing underneath are in. Be brave. Be bold. Be strong. Follow Christ. I know it takes time and effort to find clothes that fit. And I already totally get that you have really long legs (and fingers!!) and what might be modest on one may not be modest on another. But I promise you my dear Sweet Pea that the effort to find modest clothes will be returned hundred-fold in blessings. In strength. In protection.

This song sums up my feelings perfectly. I will. And I pray you will too!

I made my choice
You can mark this day  
The day I pledged to take his name  
I will be strong 
I will be brave 
Standing for him as I take my place 
I have felt the spirit burn truth in my heart 
It's in my heart  
I will stand I will not fall in a world that's weak I will be strong 
I'll be true I will chose his way yeah,  
I know what's right and I will not change 
In a world where so many will not, I will 

With love unending,

Monday, September 12, 2016

DIY: Gospel Art Book PUZZLE

The Gospel Art Book is a fabulous resource. I love having church pictures all together that my Little Loves can look at. It is printed, bound and an affordable purchase.

But let's be honest. It takes my four year old maybe 2.5 minutes to look at it and get bored. If I tell him to turn the pages slowly, we can draw out the picture looking for maybe 4 minutes. Maybe. Somehow, I needed this book to engage him more so it could be his entertainment instead of me.

I was inspired by one of the numerous kid books we own. This was a "mix and match" book where the kids could purposefully make silly pictures and stories. Well, if that kept their tiny fingers turning pages and minds thinking, why not try something like that with the Gospel Art Book.

Attempt One: (Please note... learn from my mistake and DO NOT USE THIS METHOD) I took out the spiral binding and measured to exactly the third point and cut each picture myself. Then rather than rebind it, I placed it in a three prong folder. The idea was great but the use was terrible. I swear I cut them exactly on the line which I measured ever so carefully. However, it was not a perfect cut. And turning the pages would rip and brush against the others because it was not exact.

So I bought another book and went to Office Max. I explained what I wanted to have happened and how all the pages had to be cut precisely so they would turn easily. I had no idea if they would be able to cut the pages so exactly but I was hopeful! And it worked! They used a laser cutter to cut the entire book at once. I was charged around a dollar per cut!! Wahoo. I now had a puzzle book that only cost about $2 more than the regular book.

Reccomended Steps to Create a Gospel Art Puzzle
1. Purchase Gospel Art Book and take to office store
2. Carefully take out binding and keep the cover pages (so they are not cut)
3. Discard (optional) all the text at the front describing the pictures in different languages.

4. Do not cut picture one (Jesus). Instead, once I was home I trimmed off the border then glued it to the back of the front cover. This completely hides/ removes all the text.
5. Have the office store cut all the other pages into exactly thirds. Note: It doesn't have to be perfect as in the exact same size for each third (but I wanted it close) but rather precise with the cut.

6. Place the covers back on the book.
7. Insert the coil.

Tah-dah! A puzzle book for your own Little Loves!

Just a caution... the pages are much more fragile. My almost two year old is not allowed to play with this book yet....

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

You Can Do Hard Things

One of the best things we have done as parents was taking a "Love and Logic" class. Serious. Even better, we were able to take it together and it was free. I love free! But this is something I would be willing to pay big bucks for--it is that worthwhile!

Anyway, one of the things we learned was to not get into arguments with a child. Seems obvious. But at least for me it was not. Devin keeps asking questions to bug me or he tries to argue or whine or complain or beg. He knows it will get a reaction out of me and he wants that attention.

Love and Logic taught us to calmly repeat a short phrase in response to the child's grumblings... regardless of what they say. You just keep saying the same phrase (or mix it up with a few phrases), lovingly, back to them. The goal is to neutralize the arguments while remaining calm. It sounds crazy. But it works. And Devin now responds with, "I hate when you say that!" and drops it. Yes! Parenting win!

These are a few of my favorite phrases I use....
* That's so sad
* Ooooohhh (kind of like a sigh)
* Nice try
* I love you too much to argue
* What did I say?
And my very favorite... that was not learned from the class but rather something I say and realized it fit this argument stopper perfectly...
* You can do hard things

Most important! Remember when you speak any of these phrases, you have to do it calmly and lovingly. With a smile helps!

Let me give you a few examples of this in practice and then I will share my favorite phrase.
But I really want to watch Paw Patrol. (After I already told him no once.)
What did I say?
But Mom! Please! I will clean up my toys.
Nice try.
But I really want to watch it.
Nice try.
Please, please.
I love you too much to argue.
If Devin persists, I won't continue at this point. Instead he gets a count towards going to timeout. Honestly though, he normally drops it by the second or third whine. You can use the same phrase over and over. You can change it up. I do some of both.

Now for my *favorite* phrase in my mom toolbox.

Why do I love this phrase? You can do hard things. It builds his self confidence and I still do not engage in a battle. Here are some examples of what Devin would say when I would use this.
I can't do it. (Said as whiny as possible. You know the voice!) 
It's too hard.
I can't wait.
I don't get it.
I don't want to.
My feet hurt.
It's too heavy.
I'm too tired.
I think you get the picture. To all of these and countless others, I simply and sweetly respond with, "You can do hard things." I don't get into a debate about how he really can do it or it is not that heavy. I don't try and argue with him about how two minutes ago he was running around like crazy. No verbal battles on my part. Only confidence building assurance that he really can do it. And then normally he does it. He knows I believe in him and that gives him courage to try.

And you want to know. I use that phrase for myself as well. When I think of something I would rather not do. Or I'm tired and loosing my patience. I just tell myself, "You can do hard things." And set off on the doing rather than the dreading.

P.S. This skill takes forever to master. I still don't have it down. Sometimes Devin will sneakily engage me in a debate. It takes practice. And time. But try it and stick with it!!