Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
My favorite Christmas tradition came about by accident. When I was about 7 years old, we began a tradition of making my parents breakfast in bed Christmas morning. It sounds very sweet, but it was really quite self-interested. Mom and Dad had a rule that we had to eat breakfast before we could open our presents! So when the kids woke up at 5 am, we excitedly examined our wrapped gifts, checked out the contents of our stockings, and then trooped off to the kitchen to make breakfast for mom and dad. At first it was just a bowl of cold cereal and a glass of orange juice on a tray, but we got more complicated as the years went on. French toast was the very first thing I learned to cook on my own, all because of our Christmas morning tradition.
Last year we had Christmas morning in our own home (the second time in the seven years we've been married), and my husband helped the kids make me breakfast in bed! So I'm hoping that this is a tradition that will continue for generations.... :)
Another of my favorite Christmas traditions is a classic: the kids acting out the Christmas story on Christmas eve, dressed in old sheets, curtains and towels toga-style. As you can see, last year baby Jesus was a doll with a pink checkered bonnet - you pick your battles, right? We also include Samuel the Lamanite's prophecies -- my little nephew nearly exploded with excitement when he stood tall on Grandma's coffee table and yelled out, "Repent!" And of course, all the other grandsons had a blast pretending to shoot at him with imaginary bows and arrows.
When we're with my parents, we also read "Davey and the First Christmas." It's a sweet old children's story my mom's family read when she was a kid. She had memorized it, so at first she would just recite it to us, because the book has been out of print for years. But a few years ago, she found a copy on ebay! So now we read from an original 1950's edition pop up book with a game on the back. :) It's a classic. I googled it and found the story here if you want to read it.
We also do Christmas Eve pajamas, a silly gift passing game (where you pass the gift to the left or the right every time you hear the word left or right in the story), several years we've done a 12 Days of Christmas Secret Santa, and we always do lots and lots and LOTS of singing around the piano. All told, I think it's the music that makes Christmas Christmas for me. The Christmas music starts after Halloween in my house, decorations go up the Friday after Thanksgiving. My husband rolls his eyes, but helps me anyway. :)
Anyway, there's a few of our traditions I love. Two years ago, in an effort to feel a little less frantic, I used bits and pieces from www.organizedchristmas.com. Some of it is a little over the top for me personally, but it's always nice to start with a ready-made plan, so you're not reinventing the wheel. You might check it out if you're a list person. :)
Ever need a quick lesson that even the little ones can enjoy? Print this out on white cardstock, cut them out, and then laminate them. This small version can be put inside a snack size plastic bag and placed in your scripture case for easy storage. I used to carry a simple version I made with plain paper and crayons in my scriptures as a missionary. I taught Lesson 18 in the Joseph Smith Manual last Sunday. Although that only covers part of the plan - go back to lesson 17 to get the first part of it. I figured it was just the push I needed to finally use Adobe Illustrator to 'draw' these illustrations of our Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness. I made a large version for the chalk board, but this small version is great for use in Family Home Evening, small classroom settings, or Visiting Teaching - used it just the other day with a Sister just getting back into activity. You can even give it as a gift for someone going on an English speaking mission. I will be working on making an Elder to add to the plan. Hopefully you'll see it sometime in the next few weeks.
Feel free to print as many copies as you would like and share it with your friends and family. If you are going to place this someplace online, please give credit where credit is due - Illlustrations by Laura Vanderbeek www.vanderbeekimages.com Thanks!
However, my mind had been focused on the wonderful gift of personal revelation. Today, I wanted to share with you my feelings and testimony of this wonderful blessing.
Yesterday, at the General Relief Society meeting, Sister Beck said, "We can do the Lord's work if we seek, receive and act on personal revelation. We must heed all revelation. We must be still; revelation takes serious mental effort."
As sisters of the Relief Society we all have a responsibility to organize, teach and aspire all. I am thankful for personal revelation to assist me in this effort.
I would like to share a few things that I have learned about personal revelation. Elder Robert D. Hales said, that prayer is the firm foundation for revelation. We should then study it out in our minds. Revelation comes on the Lord's timetable, so we must move forward with faith.
Please note: I am paraphrasing from his talk. When it is a direct quote I will note.
President James E. Faust also taught that the church has flourished because of the divine direction that is given to all individuals. This direction is to help lead us to eternal salvation. I am so thankful for this wonderful blessing to help lead me. I am now working on using it, and listening to it.
How do we use it? Personal Revelation does not extend beyond our own Stewardship. This includes revelation for us, our family, and our calling.
Where does the revelation come from? The Holy Ghost is the revelator.
How do we recieve personal revelation?
I will tell you in your mind and in your heart. (D&C 8:2)
By the Still Small Voice (1 Kings 10:11-12)
A still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul
We really must listen if we expect to hear personal revelation, because most times it is a very quiet voice that whispers what we should know. I have often times had revelation when I am on a walk, in the shower or just quietly minding my own business. I will receive a thought in my mind, and it is often later on in the day that I recognize it as personal revelation.
President Faust gave us a few guidelines to follow when seeking revelation.
1. Keep the commandments
2. Be spiritually attuned
3. Ask in a humble prayer
4. Exercise your faith
Our responsibilities as members is to seek after revelation for ourselves, and listen to the responsibilities given to us. Just the other day I felt prompted to call a friend. I am so glad I did. She was in the hospital, and had just given birth to a new baby. I was able to wish her congratulations, and tell her I care about her. I am thankful I acted on the prompting to serve.
I have also had moments of revelation when I am reminded of the blessing I have been given. Almost as if, the Lord is telling me, "I gave that blessing to you to bless your life for this purpose." I love recognizing those thoughts, and knowing that they are put there to strengthen my faith. It also reminds me that I am loved by our Heavenly Father, that he knows me, and recognizes my needs. I know that it is through the small and simple acts of faith that miracles are wrought.
I want to close with this thought from Elder Robert D. Hales. He said, "Miracles will usually be tender mercies gently bestowed through impressions, ideas, feelings of assurance, solutions to problems, strength to meet challenges, and comfort to bear disappointments and sorrows."
I hope you can recognize the gift of personal revelation in your own life. I also pray that you can remember the blessing of Latter-Day revelation as we listen to our prophet this weekend. As one last reminder, President Wilford Woodruff said, "The church could not live 24 hours without revelation."
Communion with the Holy Ghost by President James E. Faust
Personal Revelation by Elder Robert D. Hales
As it draws near I have been thinking about ways to keep my children focused. My friend Angela sent me a wonderful packet last year. I would love to share it with all of you. It is a 12 page PDF file full of church worksheets to help keep the kids focus during conference.
If you are interested please leave your email or contact me through email. My email is listed in the left column.
I can't wait to listen to the wonderful words that our leaders have to share with us. I hope you are getting as excited as I am.
Friday, September 26, 2008
I am so excited for tomorrow night's Relief Society broadcast! I just realized it will be Pres. Monson's first time to address the women of the Church as our new prophet. Wow, isn't it wonderful to live on the earth at a time when we have the Lord's prophet among us?
Here are some words from our beloved Pres. Hinckley, given at the Relief Society meeting in 2003. They really mean a lot to me, and I want to share them to whet our appetites for tomorrow! :)
He addressed women in many different life situations--single moms, older moms, women without children. Here is what he said to mothers with young families. . . .
To you young women with small children, yours is a tremendous challenge. So often there is not enough money. You must scrimp and save. You must be wise and careful in your expenditures. You must be strong and bold and brave and march forward with gladness in your eye and love in your heart. How blessed you are, my dear young mothers. You have children who will be yours forever. I hope that you have been sealed in the house of the Lord and that your family will be an everlasting family in the kingdom of our Father.
May you be given strength to carry your heavy load, to meet every obligation, to walk side by side with a good and faithful and caring man, and together with him rear and nurture and bring up your children in righteousness and truth. Nothing else you will ever own, no worldly thing you will ever acquire will be worth so much as the love of your children. God bless you, my dear, dear young mothers.
"See you" tomorrow night!
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I've lived in Tacoma, Washington; Enterprise, New Brockton, and Ft. Rucker, Alabama; Fairbanks and Anchorage, Alaska; El Paso, Texas; Albrook AFB and Ft. Amador, Panama; Rexburg, Idaho; Lexington Park, Bowie, New Carrolton, Silver Spring, and Kensington, Maryland; Dugway Proving Grounds, Hyrum, Logan, and Providence, Utah. Yep, I was an Army brat.
I served in the Washington D.C. North Mission from '97-'99 and fell in love with the East Coast. I had 16 companions -several three-ships (my own term for 2 comps instead of 1). The photo of me below is with my last two comps was taken on my last day in the field, at transfers. I'm the short one!
I currently live in a house in the middle of a wheat field - the photo below was taken from my backyard.
I am a work at home mom. My husband is an amazing photographer and even after he stopped working at a studio in town to become a Certified Financial Planner with Keystone Wealth Management, he still got calls. So we started a little side business that has now become my business. We have a studio in our new house, under our garage. I love wedding photojournalism, photographing newborn babies, and pregnant bellies. My husband does all the rest of the portraiture. Needless to say, we keep things pretty calm around here. We never photograph on Sundays or Mondays and we try to only photograph the last hour before the sun goes down. We charge almost double for Saturdays so that helps keep our weekends free. We limit the number of weddings we photograph to 2 a month. I work on retouching photos during nap time and for a few minutes after my kids go to bed if I need to. I have a Photography BlogI love photography, but I love a lot of other things too!
Speaking of other things I love, I love my family. I love my husband. We met because of a photo. He saw my missionary plaque in the hall at church after he returned from the Germany, Dusseldorf mission. He was in the other ward but decided to attend my ward one Sunday to hear mission homecoming talk. He introduced himself to me on the stand right after Sacrament meeting was over. 6 months later we were married in the Bountiful Temple. That was 9 years ago.
I am a mother of two. My daughter is 6 and my son is 2. My daughter really changed the way I felt about children and about hugs. When I got married I thought I would have my first child to fulfill my duty and a second child because I didn't want an 'only' child. I just wasn't sure what to do after that. Well, I fell in love with my children and they have changed my life forever. Now, I will not say it's easy, but I feel it is worth it to dedicate myself to them. I'm learning a lot about children and I believe they will be my greatest investment, hands down. I've come a long way! And I still have a very long way to go. My daughter is in first grade and loves it! My son loves all the 'one on one time' he is getting now. We work on all kinds of little projects together. We love going Jeeping and 4-wheeling up in the Mountains. We especially love going camping as a family. In the winter we love to go tubing across the street in Grandma's backyard. One day I hope to go skiing again and teach my children too - it's been 7 years - and I used to have season passes!
Now, the reason I wanted Krysta to go first was because I know this is a Spotlight - heavy on the light. And well, what I want to talk about for a little bit is maybe a little too heavy. So I hope that you will forgive me but I feel it is worth talking about. When I was pregnant with my second child, I started having some serious problems. I was itching so severely that only ice water and scratching my skin off my legs would help. I spent a lot of time in ice baths. My Dr. induced me 4 weeks early hoping whatever was causing the severe itching would go away. I had a perfect baby boy but things only got worse. I knew something was seriously wrong and the Spirit whispered to me that it would be a difficult road but that I would be okay. 4 weeks later, just a few days after the actual due date I was diagnosed by my dermatologist with Hodgkins Lymphoma, cancer of the lymphnodes.
The problem with being young is that they think cancer is an old person's disease and usually diagnosis comes late in the game. It took 4 doctors and 2 specialists before I was diagnosed. I was stage 2b, meaning that it was in several lymphnodes. But my tumors were 3 inches wide and went from the bottom center of my chest cavity, up around my heart and between my lungs all the way to my collar bone. My heart was being crushed. Needless to say, we are very lucky that my son is here and we are both alive.
We then went on quite the journey - a biopsy between my heart and lungs, a bone marrow biopsy in my hip, 6 months of chemo, and 5 weeks of radiation. I started a personal blog to share my progress with anyone who wanted to know how I was doing. It's been 19 months since I completed treatment and I am still in remission. I can honestly say that more good came from having cancer than bad. It helped me see things in a better perspective. I learned that Heavenly Father loves me personally and that I truly and a daughter of God. It taught me about service. It taught me more about Heavenly Father's Plan. It taught me to give other's the benefit of the doubt (especially while driving)- you just never know what is really going on in someone else's life. It taught me the true value of my family. I could go on and on, but I can do that later. Losing my hair was really hard - here is a funny take on how things have changed.
I have many goals in life, but the two that are the most important to me are to raise my children the best I can with my Heavenly Father's help and to work as hard as I can along side my dear husband so that we can get become full time missionaries again as soon as possible. It's really nice to think long-term again. And after meeting all those missionaries in Nauvoo this summer, I really have the bug! Anyway, thanks for letting me share a little of my life with you. I am really looking forward to getting to know the rest of the girls here and all of those who comment.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
My husband and I have been married a little over two years, so this will be our 3rd Christmas together. Thus far, we have spent Christmas with our families, but one day we will want to wake up in our own beds for Christmas morning and have our children experience being in their own home for the holidays. Combining Family traditions has been fun, and it will be interesting to see what of those traditions we will want to carry into our family. Some are to help us remember the true meaning of Christmas, some are goofy games, but all are cherished memories. We have a few traditions, it's hard to just pick one to share, so I will broaden it a little and tell you about what we eat!
* Christmas Eve we have Fish and Chips (Fish and French Fries) for dinner because that is what the Savior ate. My dad has always been a big fisherman, so we have a good fish fry! It's an easier dinner so we can get to bed earlier.
*For breakfast we have Homemade Cinnamon Rolls that I make the night before from an amazing cookbook I got from one of the Arlington, VA. Ward...here's the recipe:
2 1/4 C. hot water
1/2 C. butter
3/4 C. evaporated milk
1/2 C. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/2 C. dry potato flakes
2 Tbsp. yeast
4 C. flour
4-5 (more) C. flour
~Combine hot water, evaporated milk, and butter. Add to the above the sugar, salt, and dry potatoes. Add one at a time and mix the (4 C.)flour, eggs, and yeast. Mix for about 4 minutes. ~Add remaining flour (4-5 C) until it pulls away from the side of the bowl. Place in bowl and allow to rise until double (about 1 hour).
~Divide dough in half (or thirds, depending on pan sizes). Roll out; spread with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture (1/2 C. sugar and 2 Tbsp. cinnamon). Roll up and cut with a string in 1 inch slices. Place in pan and allow to rise about 1 hour.
~Bake at 350* for 12-15 minutes. Frost while still warm.
6 Tbsp butter
4 1/2- 4 3/4 C. powdered sugar
1/4 C. milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
~In a small mixer bowl, beat butter till light and fluffy. Gradually add about 1/2 of the powdered sugar, beating well. Beat in the milk and vanilla. Gradually beat in remaining powdered sugar, then additional milk, if necessary, to make frosting of spreading consistency.
Cranberry Waffle Mix
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. dried orange peel
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries (coarsely chopped)
Layer ingredients in order listed.
1 recipe Cranberry Waffle Mix
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup milk or orange juice
1 tsp. vanilla
3 TBSP. butter, melted
Preheat waffle iron. Place contents of the waffle mix in a bowl. Stir until well blended. Whisk together buttermilk, milk (or o.j.), egg, and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and stir until just moistened. Stir in melted butter. Add addtional milk (or juice) 1 Tbsp. at a time if batter is too thick. Cook in waffle iron as directed.
They make very yummy waffles!! Enjoy!
Not only is this one of our Traditions, I also think it is a wonderful way to save money and cut down on some of the expectations that our kids have at Christmas.
We give our children 6 gifts from Santa, and 6 gifts from us. We have a short little poem that explains this, here it goes:
This a wonderful option for our family. Our kids know they are only getting two toys, two outfits, two items on their wish list(wants), and two surprises that are up to us. (fun indeeds) It also helps us cross off some of the needs that they may have, like our son got a back pack last year, and our daughter new mittens. They also know that they are getting some new books. Which I think is so important.
I love this idea because it cuts out all the fluff, it makes shopping easy, and my kids know what to expect.
To make it fun... I have made up tags that I recycle from year to year. They say what is inside like... something to read. This saves me so much time. All I have to do is tape the tag on. I found these adorable tags in the $ section at Target, and then some of them I made with rubber stamps. Our kids like to line up all their gifts once they have opened them and see what each gift is;this is my something to wear, something to read, and etc. You could also make them guess which gift it is.
When that is all said and done, then they have two family gifts to open, a game and a movie. Then we always do some treats in the stocking. This has helped my sanity at Christmas time. I am so thankful for this idea.
I guess you could say this is not only a tradition, but also a way to cut out some of the unnecessary of Christmas.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Hope you enjoy!
Saturday, September 20, 2008
We have quite a few traditions in my family. And we are lucky enough to be able to live close enough to both of our families that we can spend time with both families. One of our favorite traditions is so much fun! Every year my mom has a "Grandma" party. She invites all of us over, but it's mostly for the grand kids. We usually eat and then the kids decorate cookies. While we are busy the door will open up and in will walk Santa. The kids love it and I love to see the "awe" in their faces! Santa has ornaments for each of us and everyone has to sit on Santa's lap- even Grandma-Great. The ornaments are always handmade or represent something big that happened to each individual that year. It could be a hobby, a major milestone, or perhaps just a favorite character or activity. It is so fun!
We also try to act out the nativity. We all dress up as the different characters and someone reads the scriptures. This is often a highlight of the season! Sometimes we laugh and sometimes we cry. What a joy this is!
This isn't a tradition, but I have to mention it because it was so good! Last year my husband's mom did "The 12 Days of Christmas" for us. She gave us two big boxes full of presents and we could barely wait to open them. Everyday there was a gift for us to open. They were all based on "Memories" from past Christmases (sp?). Some of them were memories we all had and some were from when my husband was young. They were all fun for us to hear about and remember. Some of the presents cost very little but all came from the heart and were accompanied by a card explaining the gift. This was the highlight of the season, it took the "anxiety" out of "waiting to open presents" and it brought us all closer together.
Above I referred to my "Cut the Crazy Out of Christmas" binder. This is a wonderful tool that my friend Debbie Raymond and her friend Norma created. It is a wonderful system that helps you decide what is really important and keep track of all the important details. After I started using this book Christmas was changed for me! It is so much less stressful and so much easier to "keep it all together". Debbie is teaching a class on this binder. I was able to have a little bit of input into this class (based on my experience using it) and after hearing all their ideas, I truly believe it is going to be a WONDERFUL class! Go check it out, and I would suggest, take the class, if there is anyway you can!
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I am very pro-nursing. If you are able to nurse, and it works for you, I think you should go for it. It has blessed my life, and my children immensely. However, I do know how uncomfortable you can feel when you are trying to do it in public. Heaven knows, that sometimes we have to do it in public. Right after I had my third baby, I had to go to the lactation clinic in our hospital. I needed a few products, and I stumbled upon this beautiful piece of fabric, and I must say... that is what caught my attention. I looked it over, and wondered what it was. I realized that it was a nursing cover. I loved the fabric so much that I just had to have it even if I never did use it. Little did I know how much I would really use it. This was my third child, and I pretty much had to nurse on the run. I nursed him while we were waiting to pick up my son from Preschool, I nursed in the grocery store parking lot, the playground, the mall, and pretty much every where we went. It was so helpful to have this cover, and not feel uncomfortable. I felt at ease to just nurse my baby freely, and I used it at least twice a day. My splurge for something pretty turned out to be the best baby product I ever bought.
What I love about it:
* the fabric is so much fun
* it is practical
* it covers well
* it has some boneing in the top so that I can see down to look at the baby, but no one else can.
* the fabric cleans up well
So when stylish nursing covers contacted me about a giveaway, I was thrilled. This is what they are giving away:
What do you need to do? check out the blog http://www.stylishnursingcovers.blogspot.com and then leave a comment here about what you like about their covers.
The giveaway will close next Tuesday, Sept. 23rd at 12:00 am. Then we will pick a winner, and post it here on Wednesday by noon. If you enter please check back, or leave a way in your comment for us to contact you. If we can click on your name and get to your blog, that is just fine. If your profile is closed, please leave an email. Thank you, and GOOD LUCK!!
Thank you to Stylish Nursing Covers for this great giveaway!!
P.S. Still enter even if you don't have a nursing baby. They make a great gift!!
Monday, September 15, 2008
Well, for those of you who don't know me yet, there are a few hobbies that I love and that take up my spare time:
#1 Digital Scrapbooking since 2002 (see my son's birthday invite and treat bag in the Oct/Nov 08 Digital Scrapbooking Issue)
#2 Family History (since 1985 - thanks Dad!)
#3 Gardening (since 1994 - I studied Landscape Architecture for a few years in college)
#4 Crochet (since 1986 - thanks Grandma!)
It's really nice that the first two go together so well! My dad is a convert to the church and joined in his early twenties. This has left the work of family history up to him. So at the ripe old age of 9, I started helping him (it's never too early to get your kids involved). I had good eyes and tiny fingers and that allowed me to find the right microfiche in the family history center at the church in Enterprise, Alabama in record time.
Over the years, things have kind of evolved and my Dad and I are always corresponding back and forth about family stories and new finds. Together we've collected about 13,000 names on his side of the family alone. We are currently working on getting their temple work done before we research any more. So that means that I have some time on my hands to record stories, edit photos, and compile things in a way that my children will enjoy them!
Last year I got the idea to make Chapter Marker pages for my family, after reading through Becky Higgins Family History Scrapbooking Book. Scroll down to June 5th to see a little more about it.
Here is what I did...
I made a page with a photo and a summary about that person. When they were born, who their parents are, brothers and sisters, where they grew up, their occupations, who they married, their children, where and when they died (if they've passed away).
This first one is of my Dad. I used his high school Senior photo. The rest of the pages are what go in the album after the chapter marker page. You may have seen the Almost Drafted Page in Lisa's 50 Moments Book. And then I added in a page about my Dad and the old helicopter he used to fly in the Army, after his Chapter Marker Page.
Here you can see the one I made of my Grandfather, my Dad's dad. I added his birth and death year to the bottom of his photo as well.
And this is my Dad's Mom's father - I didn't have a formal portrait of him, so I just used one that I thought was very 'him'.
I gave my sister and her husband an 8x8 scrapbook album with all the pages I completed last year, my brother also received an 8x8 album, and my parents received a 12x12 album filled with pages. This is one of the things that makes Digital Scrapbooking so wonderful! I can make instant copies of all my pages in a variety of sizes.
So what did my family think of their family history scrapbook albums? Well, everyone cried a bit, my sister talked about it in church, my mom showed her copy to every friend and neighbor she could find. What are they getting this year, more family history - I received another huge box of photos from out of my Grandmother's storage unit. I've been working to scan and prepare more photos for their pages. They are definitely getting CD so that each person has a copy of this precious work - just in case my computer dies or my house floods, or...anyway, you get the picture!
I waited and waited to hear from you, and when I clicked on your name there was no way to get in touch with you. We had to draw a new name.... So the winner of the Scribbleit Tin Wreath
Yeah Becky!! I will need your info. Please email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will get you your prize. Thanks again to all those who entered, and thank you to Scribbleitonline.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Also, Jennifer's family lives in the Houston area as well. Everyone is safe and sound. I just thought it would be nice if we could pray for these families.
What they need right now is power. They are saying 10 days at least to restore power. I am praying that all will restored to normal as soon as possible. If that can't happen, I am praying that their families can find this to be a bonding time, and that the kids won't get to crazy. Just imagine being stuck inside without power, and 3 small children. What are you going to do all day?;for ten days? AHHH!!!
We are thinking of your family Jennifer. We are also thinking of you Krysta, and we can't wait until that power comes back on so we can read all about it.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
On the show, Alton Brown is traveling around and tasting some of the local flair on these Caribbean islands. Tonight, he was on St. Kitts(an island we visited while living there, and then St. Barths(the island we dreamed of visiting, but never got too)
Anyways, if you would like to see a little taste of where Emily and I spent two years of our life, tune in!! It is on the Food Network 9pm central time, Sunday night. The show is called Feasting on Waves.
For those of you who don’t know me, I work part time as the weekend morning meteorologist for the local CBS affiliate in Salt Lake City. It’s a pretty fun little gig…but that’s not the job I’m talking about. The job I’m talking about is being just a mom. Why do I say “just a mom”? Because most the time, when I’m introduced to someone, something is usually said like, “This is Lindsay Storrs. She does the weather on Channel 2 on the weekends. Pretty cool, huh? And, then during the week, she is just a mom”. I’ve even caught myself saying "I’m just a mom" a time or two.
I think a lot of women who are “stay-at-home moms” (a term I hate by the way…what stay-at-home mom actually stays at home?) find themselves saying they are just moms. Why do we say that? What we should really say is “I’m a maid, chef, nanny, chauffeur, teacher, personal shopper, party planner, homework tutor, hair stylist, therapist, garbage collector, landscaper, computer technician, sports coach, personal assistant, fashion consultant, carpet cleaner, time manager, dry cleaning specialist, first responder & cheerleader…oh, and I specialize in getting gum out of DVD players with only a blow drier & a paperclip!”
We need to stop minimizing our role as mothers. We need to recognize the effect we can have on this world by being good mothers. Heber J. Grant said, “I stand here today as the president of the Church because I have followed the advice and counsel and the burning testimony of the divinity of the work of God, which came to me from my mother.” We need to stop looking at our careers (because that’s really what motherhood is) as just moms and start looking at it as being the CEO of our families, because that’s truly what we are!
Most jobs don’t give a whole lot back…other than a paycheck. I’m sure someday (sooner than I’d probably like), I will get a few wrinkles around my eyes & get a little pudgy around my waistline…and then I’ll be “let go” from my job because the station wants to “go in a new direction”. But, I will NEVER be “let go” from my job as a mother. It may not be the easiest job in the world, but it’s a job that continues to give back to its employee…with slobbery kisses, tight hugs, funny Mothers Day presents & sweet little smiles…and maybe (if we’re lucky) a “thank you” now and again. And, it has an excellent pension plan (a.k.a. grandchildren).
~I decided as a very young girl that I was going to serve a full time mission for the church. I grew up in a home that was dedicated to serving in the church. A home centered around the gospel and especially around Christ. I am thankful for the example of my parents service, and that even if it meant leaving our home by 6:30 am to drive 70 miles to get to church early so my dad could go to meetings, then have 3 hours of church beginning at 9:00..after church waiting around for more meetings then to drive 70 miles home ..stopping for some Home Teaching on the way ..then to get home in time to eat and go to bed because it was a school night, they were willing to do it, gratefully, happily. I am glad that I was able to watch them and experience service for the Lord first hand. I was taught by example, though I may have complained myself occasionally, I am so thankful for those days.
~Both of my parents were blessed to serve a mission for the church and I just knew that was something I wanted to do as well. They didn't push me at all, it was my choice. I had opportunities to date and and marry and such, and did date, but in the back of my head..I just always knew that I was being prepared for a mission. Had I gotten married before, I may have always wondered..where I would have gone had I had the opportunity. I remember praying one night and asking Heavenly Father that whatever happened, just to remember that I would really like to serve a mission. It was an honest, righteous desire of my heart. I am thankful that Heavenly Father listens and answers prayers.
~My note today is not about my mission, though I did serve an 18 month mission to the Washington DC South mission, and it was a wonderful and amazing time. My note today is about the joy of member missionary work.
~Those few years, after high school and before my mission I did date. Growing up in the mid-west where the church isn't as large, there are not as many people to date with good morals. I had high standards and had committed to myself early on that I would marry in the Temple - that was not an option, that I needed to be careful about who I dated and to only date others with high standards as well.
~At this time in my little Single's Ward I was serving as a ward missionary. I had been thinking about missionary work and the mission I would go on some day, and realized that missionary work is not for the missionaries only, but that we as members have even more of a responsibility. I prayed one night for Heavenly Father to give me the opportunity to share my testimony and the gospel with someone. I think I said.. "Heavenly Father I would really like to have an amazing missionary experience, please put someone in my path and help me open my mouth". I wasn't expecting anything big.. just put someone in my path that I can give a pass-along card to and share my testimony, or give away a Book of Mormon or something.
~One night after church with the Single's Ward -only a week and a half later, we had a get-together for dinner at one of my friend's homes. There was a gentleman there..a friend of my friend who was not LDS. I think they were work acquaintances -he was a math teacher at the local college(a little older than me-yes). The small group of us had a great time, eating, chatting, playing games. The night was coming quickly to an end and we all started saying our goodbyes. He and I ended up leaving at the same time and he walked me to my car. In our conversation he had asked me on a date. He wanted to take me to Dinner Tuesday. I said yes..but in the back of my head didn't know what I was saying.. He was not LDS, he was a nice guy, but I didn't know a whole lot about him. He seemed to have good standards, but how was I to know. After getting in my car and thinking about what had just committed to, wondering if I should cancel or not.. I felt the spirit and felt very comfortable and okay about it! I guess I was worried because I was only 19 and he had a few years on me. I was so inexperienced with dating and immature and didn't know if I was making a mistake or something.
~The dinner was nice and we were headed back to my apartment to drop me off. He asked what I was doing that evening and I told him I was going to Institute and asked if he wanted to go with me. He said he had papers to grade, but could probably do that later and that he would go with me. I don't remember what the topic that night was on, but after he dropped me home and I thanked him for the evening, he asked me if he could see me again. I think we went out that Friday or Saturday to the Zoo where he volunteered and he gave me a 'personal tour' -knowing the names of all the animals and such! At sometime during our date I asked if he wanted to go to church on Sunday with me.
~We only dated about 5 weeks, but in that time, he met with the missionaries and had all "6 discussion"-at the time. He guzzled up the gospel. He devoured the Book of Mormon and attended church and institute every week with me. We only dated 5 weeks like I said, and he actually got baptized the week after we broke up.
~A year later he was Executive Secretary of our Single's Ward, and Institute President. That was almost 8 years ago. He has been an amazing convert. A "Golden Contact". We are still good friends and I am blessed to have had this opportunity in my life. The reason this experience is so real for me this week is because he will be married this Friday in the Nauvoo, IL. Temple for Time and all Eternity. I am thankful for this opportunity and it has been so wonderful to see his progression. Now he will be sealed and have his own family, and the gospel will continue to grow through him.
Doctrine and Covenants 4:3
called to the work;
~All it takes is a desire. There are so many people waiting for us to share what we have with them. It is so easy to get caught up in life and the little things, to sit idly by and wait, but I am recommitting myself. This gospel is great, and I would be selfish not to share what I have with others. I feel the fire again, and it is amazing. I hope you too will pray sincerely for a missionary opportunity. I have been, and they are all around me. And I know, if you TRULY have the desire in your heart, Heavenly Father will put someone in your path. I am thankful for this Gospel that brings my life joy and hope, for the Scriptures that are a guide for me to follow, and mostly for Jesus Christ, my Savior and Redeemer. I hope I can be a light unto others and that I can radiate his Image in my countenance.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Thank you to everyone who entered. Watch for our next giveaway coming next week!! So exciting!!
Disclaimer: If I have not heard from you by Monday Sept. 15@ 12:00 pm, we will re-draw.
*If you are looking for a random appliance like; a rice cooker, check the thrift store first. They may have one that works great.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
This contest is open to everyone, so please enter. You don't want to miss out on this.
Thanks again to Scribbleitonline.
1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate anti-depressant.
2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Buy a lock if you have to.
3. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, 'My purpose is to __________ today.'
4. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
5. Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds & walnuts.
6. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
7. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
8. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.
9. Life isn't fair, but it' s still good.
10. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
11. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
12. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
13. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
14. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
15. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
16. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years, will this matter?'
17. Forgive everyone for everything.
18. What other people think of you is none of your business.
19. GOD heals almost everything. . . and He can heal everything if its in His plan. We just need to trust His bigger picture.
20. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
21. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch!!!
22. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
23. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: I am thankful for __________. Today I accomplished _________.
24. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.
25. Please share this with everyone you care about.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Heavenly Father Reveals His Gospel in Every Dispensation
Hello, dear sisters!
This lesson was one of the harder ones to prepare. How can you explain to little ones what big scary words like "DISPENSATIONS" and "APOSTASY" mean?
Well, treats always help, right? In our family, sugar talks! :)
In this lesson you'll get to teach about the prophets before the birth of Jesus Christ. How they are special messengers for Heavenly Father. How sometimes the people listen. Sometimes they don't, and that's when the gospel is taken from the earth again. You'll get to tell one of my most favorite scripture stories: the City of Enoch. And--perhaps best of all--you'll get to eat chocolate.
I'm excited with how it turned out! Hope you enjoy it!
Link to "Heavenly Father Reveals His Gospel in Every Dispensation" FHE lesson -- Google doc
Link to "Heavenly Father Reveals His Gospel in Every Dispensation" FHE lesson -- pdf
Three boys (and one beautiful daughter) later I'm learning all the wonderful mysteries that are a part of the Y chromosome. As my boys get older, I find the quantity for "quality" time depleting.
I'm so grateful for something I'm experiencing with my 8 year old and it is a blessing of being a member of the church. Yesterday he told me he was hungry and I made a few suggestions of healthy snacks he could make himself (I was getting ready for church). When I walked into the kitchen he showed me a few concoctions he created not only for himself but for his younger brother. Then when we arrived home from church, starving of course, he found a child's size apron and went to work creating all kinds of things and even delivered a few to the neighbors. I kept thinking, there has got to be a way I can take this enthusiasm, channel it, and make a real teaching moment out of it. Then, what I know was the Spirit prompting me, I remembered his scouting book and asked him to get it out. To our excitement, there is a "Cooking and Eating" requirement. I was able to sit down and show him the Food Pyramid and teach him about planning healthy meals. Then he and I planned tonight's dinner that he will get to make. He even wrote the shopping list for me! I'm so excited to have his help in the kitchen tonight and we get to pass off something for Cub Scouts.
I'm so grateful to have that program. I'm lucky to get a "Hi, Mom!" when he gets home from school each day before he runs out the door to ride bikes, find friends and do whatever boys do outside. I don't know if he is as excited about tonight's dinner as I am. I know these moments will come and go faster than what I am prepared for. I know the church's support of the Scouting program is inspired and put in place for an important purpose. For our family and for now, it is so we can carve out that time to spend one on one time together, for a mom to teach her child, and for a child to learn independence and gain confidence.
By the way, we are having Crunchy Chicken Toes, sliced oranges and lettuce wedges for dinner tonight.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
I love that it is fairly inexpensive, but it can make such a difference to your wall. I have used it on several big walls. I feel like it adds so much character, and I don't have to fill the wall with other stuff. It also makes a statement,yet it is so simple. I have loved using quotes on the wall that help describe our family. Everyone comments on what a fun addition it is, and it helps them get a better sense of who the Swensons are. I have found they are also a great way to share some of our beliefs... notice the picture of my kids with Lead Me, Guide Me, Walk Beside Me. Many friends have asked me how I came up with that line. I love explaining that is comes from my favorite childrens hymn, "I am a Child of God."
You can also order the vinyl and put it on a piece of wood to adorn a book shelf. You can put it on your front door, walls, bath tubs, just about anywhere you can think of. Then when you are done with it, it is easily removed.
When choosing your vinyl lettering, you need to pick a company. Then you can pick your font, color, and what you want it to say.
I just recently stumbled upon a fabulous vinyl company, called Scribbleitonline.
What do I love about it?
* There prices are very comparable to other sites, but there products are unique
*There site is user friendly
*They have unique vinyl unlike any I have ever seen(not just your average quotes for the wall)Like I said, vinyl has been around for a while, but not vinyl like this. This is so COOL!!!
There website is: http://www.scribbleitonline.com/
There blog is: http://scribbleitonline.blogspot.com/
There Etsy is: http://scribbleit.etsy.com/Here is some of the vinyl on my wish list from Scribble. (Sorry, I had a hard time getting them any bigger) I have a wall that is just waiting for this with our last name. I also love how they have made the silhouettes. The best part about them is they are custom. You send them a picture of your kids profile, and they make it of your child. What a wonderful way to capture what your kids look like.
They have a vintage line that I am completely in love with, complete with a chandelier that would look adorable in a little girls room.
If you are looking to add some words to your wall, you can create your own, or check out the ideas that they have.
And.... I am saving the best for last. Scribbles has offered to host a free giveaway on the angel blog. This is what you will get:It is a tin wreath that will be made custom with your last name, and families date. All you have to do is... check out there website, and then leave us a comment telling us what your favorite product is. We will then randomly select one winner, and post your name here, on the angel blog.
The contest will be open until midnight on Thursday Sept. 11, 2008. We will post the winner Friday by 12:00 noon.
Please check back to see if you are the winner, and then we will work out the details for getting you your prize.
Thank you to Scribbleitonline. I really am so excited about their company, and I hope that you can find something that suits your home, as I have. Vinyl is really a wonderful way to spruce up a wall, door, or something that is staring you in the face. Spruce it up, by adding some character to your home. I can't wait to place my order.
But behold, they have received many wounds; nevertheless they stand fast in that liberty wherewith God has made them free; and they are strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day; yea, they do observe to keep his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments continually; and their faith is strong in the prophecies concerning that which is to come.
Even though they had received many wounds, they stood fast and were strict to remember the Lord and kept his commandments.
I thought of the Armor of God and how my armor must be full of dents and dings. But I have been protected spiritually by trying to follow the Lord. It kind of put things in perspective for me.
Then to really reinforce things on my way home from church as I drove home with my two little ones (Tyler was at home recovering from having his tonsils out) we were struck by the largest and fastest dirt devil I have ever seen. The dirt clumps were the size of a softball and it really rocked the car and scared the kids. But things were okay other than all the hay stuck in every crack. Each night we read a chapter from the Book of Mormon with our little ones. This night we happened to read:
And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the Rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty Storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. - Helaman 5:12
and I couldn't help but think that the Lord had heard my prayer and answered it. I underlined and wrote down the things those scriptures said to do. It's been great to refer back to. This not only brought me peace, but it strengthened my testimony of church attendance and nightly family scripture study. What a wonderful experience!
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
My dad is an old guy. And I can say that because I am his favorite daughter and according to my siblings, I have immunity when making disrespectful comments. But really, he is old enough to be a great-grandfather (although thankfully he isn't yet) and he kind of looks the part. My dad, who was a professor at BYU for over 30 years, always wears dress pants, a button down shirt (possibly a tie) and socks and shoes. ALWAYS. Even on Saturdays, when such dress is totally optional. In fact, I can count on one hand how many times I have seen my dad's feet. WEIRD? Yes. What I'm trying to say here, is I COULD NOT pick out my dad's feet, legs, or chest out of a line up. The only skin I have ever seen on my dad is his arms, head, and neck.
Why does this matter?
When I was a teenager, my dad had expressed concern to his six daughters (okay, it was more like nagging us) that we were dressing immodestly. He didn't feel comfortable seeing us in sleeveless shirts, short skirts, or shorts. Everything he said went in one ear and out the other.
Hey, it was summer. It was hot. We wanted to dress how we wanted to dress.
To help us understand how he felt when we dressed immodestly, he planned a very, very, very, creative Family Home Evening. One that my siblings and I have never forgotten.
My parents gathered all 10 of us in the family room. After the song and opening prayer, my dad disappeared for a few minutes. None of us noticed (because lets face it, we totally weren't paying attention) and we chewed the fat with each other.
Then we heard our dad enter the family room from the kitchen.
AAAHHHHHH! WHAT THE HECK?! He was sporting a huge grin wearing a swimming suit in all of his PASTY WHITE GLORY.
OH MY HECK! OUR DAD IS SO WHITE! IT'S EMBARRASSING! IT SHOULD BE ILLEGAL!
EWE! WE DON'T WANT TO SEE YOUR CHEST, OR YOUR LEGS, OR YOUR FEET FOR THAT MATTER!
As we all took our turns laughing and screaming about his very embarrassing attire, he stopped and said, "How you feel right now is exactly how I feel every time you dress immodestly."
Believe me, it only took one Family Home Evening to drive that message home. Needless to say, my sisters and I didn't have a problem dressing modestly after that. NO ONE wanted a repeat of that FHE.
My dad has told me often throughout my life, "You'll never offend anyone by dressing modestly."
Yeah, point well taken.
Monday, September 1, 2008
The Gospel Blesses Families
Here's an excerpt directly from "Preach My Gospel", the second heading for lesson 1.
"The restored gospel blesses and helps husbands and wives, parents and children as they strive to develop stronger relationships and spiritual strength in their families. These blessings are available now and in eternity. The gospel of Jesus Christ provides help with current concerns and challenges.
"Because families are ordained of God, they are the most important social unit in time and in eternity. God has established families to bring happiness to His children, allow them to learn correct principles in a loving atmosphere, and prepare them for eternal life. The home is the best place to teach, learn, and apply principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
"A home established on gospel principles will be a place of refuge and safety. It will be a place where the Spirit of the Lord can abide, blessing family members with peace, joy, and happiness. Through prophets in every age, including our own, God has revealed His plan of happiness for individuals and families.
Isn't it wonderful to have these truths to strengthen us as we face life in such a confusing society? I am so grateful Heavenly Father has sent prophets again to the earth to ground us in the ways of happiness! It is so comforting to hear their words and know that the importance of the family, as defined by God, is not subject to change with the whims of our crazy world. It is an eternal unit. My family is my greatest source of joy in this life, and my greatest hope for the next.Lesson 1 Heading 2 The Gospel Blesses Families
We were also given a new pass along card. This card was similar to a business card. The front of the card said, "The truth about life's great questions is now restored." The back of the card said, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and underneath that, www.mormon.org." How long has it been since you have taken the time to visit this wonderful site provided by our church?
Once we started to participate in the campaign, I visited the site often. I realized that it had been changed some, and was full of amazing answers. While I was in Kansas, I used every opportunity possible to hand out the card. However, I was never able to use the website as a reference.
My favorite part about this website is the testimonies of just everyday people. These wonderful people are answering questions about life's great mysteries. These sincere people are not paid actors, but just ordinary people like you and me.
This last weekend I was reminded of this wonderful tool. I had a chat with a dear friend. Here were some of her concerns with life; I am searching for something more. Why do people have to die? Why do people have to get sick? Will I see them again? Where do we go when we die? As she voiced her concerns, I knew that this wonderful tool would give her the answers to some of her troubling questions. As she asked me these things, she had tears in her eyes. I knew she was truly searching for something more.
I know with all my heart that the truth about these difficult questions has been restored. I am thankful that our church has designed a tool that can help us answer these questions for the people in our life that we love so dearly. As a person, who has been a member for her whole life; these questions are not hard for me. I know if I didn't know what God wanted me to know, I would feel lost. Take the time to share this site with someone, or go to it for yourself.