Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.
- Ralph Marston

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

In Search of the Christmas Spirit - President Thomas S. Monson

“Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only gift is a portion of thyself.” (Essays: The Poet.) -Ralph Waldo Emerson

An unknown author wrote:
I am the Christmas Spirit. I enter the home of poverty, causing pale-faced children to open their eyes wide in pleased wonder. I cause the miser’s clutched hand to relax and thus paint a bright spot on his soul. I cause the aged to renew their youth and to laugh in the glad old way. I keep romance alive in the heart of childhood and brighten sleep with dreams woven of magic. I cause eager feet to climb dark stairways with filled baskets, leaving behind them hearts amazed at the goodness of the world. I cause the prodigal to pause a moment on his wild, wasteful way, and send to anxious love some little token that releases glad tears—tears which wash away the hard lines of sorrow. I enter dark prison cells, reminding scarred manhood of what might have been, and pointing forward to good days yet to come. I come softly into the still, white home of pain; and lips that are too weak to speak just tremble in silent, eloquent gratitude. In a thousand ways I cause the weary world to look up into the face of God, and for a little moment forget the things that are small and wretched. I am the Christmas Spirit.

Marley added: “Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led Wise Men to a poor abode! Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!” (In The Best Short Stories of Charles Dickens, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1947, p. 435.)
We can learn a treasured lesson from the pen of Dickens and from the example of Christ. As we lift our eyes heavenward and then remember to look outward into the lives of others, as we remember that it is more blessed to give than to receive, we, during this Christmas season, will come to see a bright, particular star that will guide us to our precious opportunity.

Such was the experience of a Sunday School class some years ago when a wise teacher placed aside the manual one Sunday morning as Christmas approached. With her class members listening in, she telephoned me. I was serving then as the bishop of a large ward situated in the central part of Salt Lake City. The teacher inquired, “Are there any poor in your ward—people who need a sub for Santa?” She then described her own neighborhood as one of affluence and mentioned that she wanted her class to remember this particular Christmas. I responded that our members had the necessities of life but mentioned a family that would welcome a special experience—one that would also greatly benefit her young class members.
The family I had in mind had recently emigrated from war-torn Germany and had rented a humble, older home in our area. The children were new to America, and, while they were learning to speak our language, they were shy and reluctant to mingle with others. Their personal possessions were few; they had lost so much during the war.
In a private telephone conversation with the teacher, I suggested an appropriate evening when her class could accompany her to our ward meetinghouse and together we would journey to the home where the Mueller family lived. Again the teacher stated that she wanted her choice class to remember the true meaning of Christmas. I responded, “Could I suggest, then, that each child bring with him or her a gift that has a special meaning to the individual; a gift the person treasures and would rather keep for himself.”
Just four days before Christmas, the class journeyed to our ward. Several adults brought them in large, expensive automobiles. Such an array of wealth had never before graced the parking area. We then walked to the Mueller home, singing carols along the way. The laughter of the children and the hurried pace of their steps reflected the anticipation of Christmas.
It was at the Mueller home, however, that the frills of Christmas became the spirit of Christmas. I watched as one girl looked into the eyes of one of the Mueller children, a girl about her age, then tenderly handed her a beautiful doll she had received on her own birthday, a gift she herself loved. She anxiously told her newly found friend how to dress the doll and hold it ever so tenderly in cradled arms. I observed a normally rowdy boy take from his left hand his genuine leather baseball glove, which bore the replica signature of Joe DiMaggio, and place the glove on the left hand of a German-speaking boy who had never seen, far less worn, a baseball glove. He then explained how to catch the baseball in the special pocket of the glove, which he had hand prepared hour after hour with a particular oil. Such was the experience of each child with each gift.
As we left the Mueller home and walked back to the meetinghouse, not a word was spoken. One could hear the crunch of the newly fallen snow as young feet, guided by happy hearts, made the two-block journey. We entered the building, there to have donuts and apple cider. In the blessing that was asked upon the food, a beautiful girl, her voice choked with emotion, described the feelings of all as she prayed, “Heavenly Father, we thank Thee for the best Christmas we have ever had.” That night, as children who had found the real spirit of Christmas filled the automobiles, left the parking lot, and disappeared into the darkness, I recalled the meaningful words from the hymn “O Little Town of Bethlehem”:
How silently, how silently The wondrous gift is given! So God imparts to human hearts The blessings of his heaven. No ear may hear his coming; But in this world of sin, Where meek souls will receive him, still The dear Christ enters in. (Hymns, 1985, no. 208.)

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Best Christmas Ever - Thomas S. Monson

President David O. McKay (1873–1970) declared: “True happiness comes only by making others happy—the practical application of the Savior’s doctrine of losing one’s life to gain it. In short, the Christmas spirit is the Christ spirit, that makes our hearts glow in brotherly love and friendship and prompts us to kind deeds of service."

Giving, not getting, brings to full bloom the Christmas spirit. Enemies are forgiven, friends remembered, and God obeyed. The spirit of Christmas illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than things. To catch the real meaning of the “spirit of Christmas,” we need only drop the last syllable, and it becomes the “Spirit of Christ.”

Times change; years speed by; but Christmas continues sacred. In this marvelous dispensation of the fulness of times, our opportunities to give of ourselves are indeed limitless, but they are also perishable. There are hearts to gladden. There are kind words to say. There are gifts to be given. There are deeds to be done. There are souls to be saved.

A Gift of Christmas
In the early 1930s, Margaret Kisilevich and her sister Nellie gave a Christmas gift to their neighbors, the Kozicki family, which was remembered by them all their lives and which has become an inspiration to their families.
Home to Margaret back then was Two Hills, Alberta, Canada—a farming community populated largely by Ukrainian and Polish immigrants who generally had large families and were very poor. It was the time of the Great Depression.
Margaret’s family consisted of her mother and father and their 15 children. Margaret’s mother was industrious and her father was enterprising—and with all those children, they had a built-in labor force. Consequently, their home was always warm, and despite their humble circumstances, they were never hungry. In the summer they grew an enormous garden, made sauerkraut, cottage cheese, sour cream, and dill pickles for barter. They also raised chickens, pigs, and beef cattle. They had very little cash, but these goods could be exchanged for other commodities they could not produce themselves.
Margaret’s mother had friends with whom she had emigrated from the old country. These friends owned a general store, and the store became a depot for folks in the area to donate or trade surplus hand-me-down clothing, shoes, etc. Many of these used items were passed along to Margaret’s family.
Alberta winters were cold, long, and hard, and one particularly cold and difficult winter, Margaret and her sister Nellie noticed the poverty of their neighbors, the Kozicki family, whose farm was a few miles away. When the Kozicki father would take his children to school on his homemade sleigh, he would always go into the school to warm himself by the potbelly stove before returning home. The family’s footwear consisted of rags and gunny sacks cut into strips and wrapped about the legs and feet, stuffed with straw, and bound with twine.
Margaret and Nellie decided to invite the Kozicki family, by way of the children, for Christmas dinner. They also decided not to tell anyone in their family of the invitation.
Christmas morning dawned, and everyone in Margaret’s family was busy with the preparations for the midday feast. The huge pork roast had been put in the oven the night before. The cabbage rolls, doughnuts, prune buns, and special burnt sugar punch had been prepared earlier. The menu would be rounded out with sauerkraut, dill pickles, and vegetables. Margaret and Nellie were in charge of getting the fresh vegetables ready, and their mother kept asking them why they were peeling so many potatoes, carrots, and beets. But they just kept peeling.
Their father was the first to notice a team of horses and a sleigh packed with 13 people coming down their lane. He, being a horse lover, could recognize a team from a long distance. He asked his wife, “Why are the Kozickis coming here?” Her response to him was, “I don’t know.”
They arrived, and Margaret’s father helped Mr. Kozicki stable the horses. Mrs. Kozicki embraced Margaret’s mother and thanked her for inviting them for Christmas. Then they all piled into the house, and the festivities began.
The adults ate first, and then the plates and cutlery were washed, and the children ate in shifts. It was a glorious feast, made better by the sharing of it. After everyone had eaten, they sang Christmas carols together, and then the adults settled down for another chat.
Charity in Action
Margaret and Nellie took the children into the bedroom and pulled from under the beds several boxes filled with hand-me-downs they had been given by their mother’s merchant friends. It was heavenly chaos, with an instant fashion show and everyone picking whatever clothes and footwear they wanted. They made such a racket that Margaret’s father came in to see what all the noise was about. When he saw their happiness and the joy of the Kozicki children with their “new” clothes, he smiled and said, “Carry on.”
Early in the afternoon, before it got too cold and dark with the setting sun, Margaret’s family bid farewell to their friends, who left well fed, well clothed, and well shod.
Margaret and Nellie never told anyone about their invitation to the Kozickis, and the secret remained until Margaret Kisilevich Wright’s 77th Christmas, in 1998, when she shared it with her family for the first time. She said it was her very best Christmas ever.
If we are to have the very best Christmas ever, we must listen for the sound of sandaled feet. We must reach out for the Carpenter’s hand. With every step we take in His footsteps, we abandon a doubt and gain a truth.
It was said of Jesus of Nazareth that He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”7 Do we have the determination to do likewise? One line of holy writ contains a tribute to our Lord and Savior, of whom it was said, He “went about doing good … ; for God was with him.”8
My prayer is that at this Christmas season and all the Christmastimes to come, we may follow in His footsteps. Then each Christmas will be the best Christmas ever.

THANKSGIVING Gratitude List and recap!

I still can't believe that the holiday season is upon fact Thanksgiving was only yesterday and I still can't believe it has already come and gone! This Thanksgiving has been a wonderful one...except for the fact that I have been working every single day this week with my mornings starting at 4 AM! Yuck...the thing that helps me get through this period of my life where I am getting up this early is the quote that says something along the lines of "where you are now, is not where you are always going to be." Phew, because I am soooo over 4 AM! Anyway, wow, this gratitude list seems to have turned into a slight whining session! Bore City, no one wants to hear about that! So onto why this holiday has been wonderful! My family (mom, dad, and abby) drove down from Moses Lake, WA to good ol' Provo, UT for Thanksgiving this year. They arrived Wednesday night and we had a pre-Thanksgiving dinner at Jon and Emily's house. I brought my current boyfriend? (We really haven't had this discussion yet, but that is what I am going with) Dustin and Mike brought hers. We had a really fun time with great food, good laughs, and tons of pictures. The following morning, which happened to be Thanksgiving, I had to work from 5-9 AM. Luckily I was able to leave work at 7, and I was promptly back in bed and asleep by 730! Let me tell you as I am typing this up at work, the clock reads 7:05 AM and I am ready to crawl back into my bed...except I have a good dose of hot cocoa running through my veins and it is helping to keep me awake! Back to the recap....Abs and I slept til 10:30, we got up, went running, made omelets, got ready for the day, and met up with the parents, and Mike in Provo to drive down to dinner in Spanish Fork! Dinner was held at Debbie and Jims house and they had an awesome spread! The guest list included; the Northcotts - Gretchen, Matt, Allison, Megs, and Ben. the Madsens - Jim, Debbie, and David. the Crawfords - Joe, Karen, and Zane. the Walkers - Clint, Dan, Kristin, Ashley, and Becca. the Stones - Eric, Cindy, Abs, Mike, and I. the original Stones - Grandpa, Grandma, and Nate! It wasn't our usual huge crowd but it was still a lot of fun! A couple of highlights from the night include going around the room expressing to everyone what we were thankful for. Another highlight was sitting on the ground with all the girls listening to Grandma tell stories! I love my family with all my heart and I am so grateful they were able to come to Utah so we could celebrate Thanksgiving with our extended family!

My Thanksgiving Gratitude List

-I am grateful for my family and the wonderful examples they are to me!

-I am grateful that I am an aunt to two beautiful little munchkins who continue to make me laugh and that I love seeing grow up.

-I am grateful for all of the true and great friends that I have made and kept throughout my life. The lord really does have a hand in our lives, and I can see it through the amazing people he puts in my life.

- I am grateful for the home that I live in now, and for being able to live with good friends who share and uphold the same standards.

-I am grateful my brother Seth is serving a mission in Brazil.

-I am grateful for the church and for being raised in the gospel.

-I am very grateful for my Savior and the atonement in my life.

-I am grateful for temples.

-I am grateful for the Book of Mormon and for our BOM challenge from the first presidency.

-I am grateful for my ward and my bishopric.

-I am grateful for the opportunity to live in Utah near so much family.

-I am very grateful for technology which makes our lives a lot easier.

-I am grateful for hot cocoa!

-I am grateful for my job and the wonderful boss that I have.

-I am grateful for my education.

-I am grateful for all the opportunities that I have to become something great in life!

-I am grateful for a mother who sets such a good example for me and is one of my best friends.

-I am grateful for having Dustin in my life, he has shown me what I want to have in my life and makes me feel beautiful, amazing, and priceless every single day.

-I am grateful for laughter, as it seems to be the best medicine for any situation/illness.

-I am grateful for our prophet, Thomas S. Monson.

-I am grateful for Joseph Smith.

-I am grateful for Deseret Book...its my guilty pleasure...I love to browse their book store for hours!

-I am grateful for the chipper morning servers at Starbucks!

-I am grateful for all of those people who have those permanent happy, bubbly, hilarious personalities that I am so very drawn too!

-I am so grateful for a Heavenly Father who loves me unconditionally and will never give up on me!

I think this list can go on and on forever! I have so much in my life to grateful for! Happy Thanksgiving everyone! (pictures will be arriving soon!)

To Learn, To Do, To Be - President Thomas S. Monson

Remember that the Lord will shape the back to bear the burden placed upon it.

President John Taylor warned us, “If you do not magnify your callings, God will hold you responsible for those whom you might have saved had you done your duty.”

The old adage is ever true: “Do your duty, that is best; leave unto the Lord the rest.”

An example of such service was the missionary experience of Juliusz and Dorothy Fussek, who were called to fill a two-year mission in Poland. Brother Fussek was born in Poland. He spoke the language. He loved the people. Sister Fussek was English and knew little of Poland and its people.
Trusting in the Lord, they embarked on their assignment. The living conditions were primitive, the work lonely, their task immense. A mission had not at that time been established in Poland. The assignment given the Fusseks was to prepare the way, that a mission could be established so that other missionaries could be called to serve, people could be taught, converts could be baptized, branches could be established, and chapels could be erected.
Did Elder and Sister Fussek despair because of the enormity of their assignment? Not for a moment. They knew their calling was from God. They prayed for His divine help, and they devoted themselves wholeheartedly to their work. They remained in Poland not two years but five years. All of the foregoing objectives were realized.

Paul counseled his beloved friend and associate Timothy, “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

I would urge all of us to pray concerning our assignments and to seek divine help, that we might be successful in accomplishing that which we are called to do. Someone has said that “the recognition of power higher than man himself does not in any sense debase him.”10 He must seek, believe in, pray, and hope that he will find. No such sincere, prayerful effort will go unanswered: that is the very constitution of the philosophy of faith. Divine favor will attend those who humbly seek it.

I leave with you my testimony that this work in which we are engaged is true. The Lord is at the helm. That we may ever follow Him is my sincere prayer, and I ask it in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How Can I Become the Woman of Whom I Dream?

How Can I Become the Woman of Whom I Dream?
President Gordon B. Hinckley

You are daughters of the Almighty. Limitless is your potential. Magnificent is your future, if you will take control of it.

Thank you for that beautiful hymn. Thank you for your prayers; thank you for your faith; thank you for what you are. Young women of the Church, thank you so much. And thanks to you, Sister Nadauld, Sister Thomas, Sister Larsen, for the wonderful talks that you have given to these young women tonight.
What a wonderful sight you are in this great hall. Hundreds of thousands of others are assembled across the world. They will hear us in more than a score of languages. Our speech will be translated into their native tongues.
It is an overwhelming responsibility to speak to you. And at the same time it is a tremendous opportunity. I pray for the direction of the Spirit, the Holy Ghost, of which we have heard so much this night.
Though of various nationalities, you are all of one great family. You are daughters of God. You are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In your youth you speak of the future, and it is bright with promise. You speak of hope and faith and achievement. You speak of goodness and love and peace. You speak of a better world than we have ever known.
You are creatures of divinity; you are daughters of the Almighty. Limitless is your potential. Magnificent is your future, if you will take control of it. Do not let your lives drift in a fruitless and worthless manner.
Someone gave me a copy of my high school yearbook the other day. It seems that when people get tired of old books, they send them to me. I spent an hour thumbing through it, looking at the pictures of my friends of 73 years ago, my high school class of 1928.
Most of those in that yearbook have now lived their lives and gone beyond. Some seem to have lived almost without purpose, while others lived with great achievements.
I looked at the faces of the boys who were my friends and associates. Once they were youthful and bright and energetic. Now those who are left are wrinkled and slow in their walk. Their lives still have meaning, but they are not as vital as they once were. I looked in that old yearbook at the faces of the girls I knew. Many of them have passed on, and the remainder live in the shadows of life. But they are still beautiful and fascinating.
My thoughts go back to those young men and women of my youth, back to where you are today. By and large, we were a happy lot. We enjoyed life. I think we were ambitious. The dark and terrible Depression which swept over the earth would not come for another year. Nineteen twenty-eight was a season of high hopes and splendid dreams.
In our quieter moments we were all dreamers. The boys dreamed of mountains yet to climb and careers yet to be lived. The girls dreamed of becoming the kind of woman that most of them saw in their mothers.
As I have thought of this, I have concluded to title my talk for tonight “How Can I Become the Woman of Whom I Dream?”
Some months ago I spoke to you and the young men of the Church. I suggested six B’s that you ought to pursue. Do you think we could name them together? Let’s try: Be Grateful. Be Smart. Be Clean. Be True. Be Humble. Be Prayerful.
I have not the slightest doubt that these patterns of behavior will yield success and happiness and peace. I recommend them to you again, with a promise that if you will follow them your lives will be fruitful of great good. I believe you will be successful in your endeavors. As you grow old, I am satisfied that you will look back with appreciation for the manner in which you chose to live.
Tonight, in speaking to you young women, I may touch on some of these same things without repeating the same language. They are worthy of repetition, and I again commend them to you.
In the yearbook of which I have spoken is the picture of a young woman. She was bright and effervescent and beautiful. She was a charmer. Life for her could be summed up in one short word—fun. She dated the boys and danced away the days and nights, studying a little but not too much, just enough to get grades that would take her through graduation. She married a boy of her own kind. Alcohol took possession of her life. She could not leave it alone. She was a slave to it. Her body succumbed to its treacherous grip. Sadly, her life faded without achievement.
There is a picture of another girl in that yearbook. She was not particularly beautiful. But she had a wholesome look about her, a sparkle in her eyes, and a smile on her face. She knew why she was in school. She was there to learn. She dreamed of the kind of woman she wanted to be and patterned her life accordingly.
She also knew how to have fun, but knew when to stop and put her mind on other things.
There was a boy in school at the time. He had come from a small rural town. He had very little money. He brought lunch in a brown paper bag. He looked a little like the farm from which he had come. There was nothing especially handsome or dashing about him. He was a good student. He had set a goal for himself. It was lofty and, at times, appeared almost impossible of attainment.
These two fell in love. People said, “What does he see in her?” Or, “What does she see in him?” They each saw something wonderful which no one else saw.
Upon graduating from the university, they married. They scrimped and worked. Money was hard to come by. He went on to graduate school. She continued to work for a time, and then their children came. She gave her attention to them.
A few years ago, I was riding a plane home from the East. It was late at night. I walked down the aisle in the semidarkness. I saw a woman asleep with her head on the shoulder of her husband. She awakened as I approached. I immediately recognized the girl I had known in high school so long before. I recognized the boy I had also known. They were now approaching old age. As we talked, she explained that their children were grown, that they were grandparents. She proudly told me that they were returning from the East, where he had gone to deliver a paper. There at a great convention he had been honored by his peers from across the nation.
I learned that they had been active in the Church, serving in whatever capacity they were asked to serve. By every measure, they were successful. They had accomplished the goals which they had set for themselves. They had been honored and respected and had made a tremendous contribution to the society of which they were a part. She had become the woman of whom she had dreamed. She had exceeded that dream.
As I returned to my seat on the plane, I thought of those two girls of whom I have spoken to you tonight. The life of the one had been spelled out in a three-letter word: F–U–N. It had been lived aimlessly, without stability, without contribution to society, without ambition. It had ended in misery and pain and early death.
The life of the other had been difficult. It had meant scrimping and saving. It had meant working and struggling to keep going. It had meant simple food and plain clothing and a very modest apartment in the years of her husband’s initial effort to get started in his profession. But out of that seemingly sterile soil there had grown a plant, yes, two plants, side by side, that blossomed and bloomed in a beautiful and wonderful way.
Those beautiful blossoms spoke of service to fellowmen, of unselfishness one to another, of love and respect and faith in one’s companion, of happiness as they met the needs of others in the various activities which they pursued.
As I pondered the conversation with these two, I determined within myself to do a little better, to be a little more dedicated, to set my sights a little higher, to love my wife a little more dearly, to help her and treasure her and look after her.
And so, my dear, dear young friends, I feel so earnest, so sincere, so anxious to say something to you this night which will help you become the woman of whom you dream.
As a starter, there must be cleanliness, for immorality will blight your life and leave a scar that will never entirely leave you. There must be purpose. We are here to accomplish something, to bless society with our talents and our learning. There can be fun, yes. But there must be recognition of the fact that life is serious, that the risks are great, but that you can overcome them if you will discipline yourselves and seek the unfailing strength of the Lord.
Let me first assure you that if you have made a mistake, if you have become involved in any immoral behavior, all is not lost. Memory of that mistake will likely linger, but the deed can be forgiven, and you can rise above the past to live a life fully acceptable unto the Lord where there has been repentance. He has promised that He will forgive your sins and remember them no more against you (see D&C 58:42).
He has set up the machinery with helpful parents and Church leaders to assist you in your difficulty. You can put behind you any evil with which you have been involved. You can go forward with a renewal of hope and acceptability to a far better way of life.
But there will be scars that will remain. The best way, the only way for you, is to avoid any entrapment with evil. President George Albert Smith used to say, “Stay on the Lord’s side of the line” (Sharing the Gospel with Others, sel. Preston Nibley [1948], 42). You have within you instincts, powerful and terribly persuasive, urging you at times to let go and experience a little fling. You must not do it. You cannot do it. You are daughters of God with tremendous potential. He has great expectations concerning you, as do others. You cannot let down for a minute. You cannot give in to an impulse. There must be discipline, strong and unbending. Flee from temptation, as Joseph fled from the wiles of Potiphar’s wife.
There is nothing in all this world as magnificent as virtue. It glows without tarnish. It is precious and beautiful. It is above price. It cannot be bought or sold. It is the fruit of self-mastery.
You young women spend a lot of time thinking of the boys. You can have a good time with them, but never overstep the line of virtue. Any young man who invites or encourages you or demands that you indulge in any kind of sexual behavior is unworthy of your company. Get him out of your life before both yours and his are blighted. If you can thus discipline yourselves, you will be grateful for as long as you live. Most of you will marry, and your marriage will be much the happier for your earlier restraint. You will be worthy to go to the house of the Lord. There is no adequate substitute for this marvelous blessing. The Lord has given a wonderful mandate. He has said, “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly” (D&C 121:45). This becomes a commandment to be observed with diligence and discipline. And there is attached to it the promise of marvelous and wonderful blessings. He has said to those who live with virtue:
“Then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God. …
“The Holy Ghost”—of which we have spoken tonight—“shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever” (D&C 121:45–46).
Could there be a greater or more beautiful promise than this?
Find purpose in your life. Choose the things you would like to do, and educate yourselves to be effective in their pursuit. For most it is very difficult to settle on a vocation. You are hopeful that you will marry and that all will be taken care of. In this day and time, a girl needs an education. She needs the means and skills by which to earn a living should she find herself in a situation where it becomes necessary to do so.
Study your options. Pray to the Lord earnestly for direction. Then pursue your course with resolution.
The whole gamut of human endeavor is now open to women. There is not anything that you cannot do if you will set your mind to it. You can include in the dream of the woman you would like to be a picture of one qualified to serve society and make a significant contribution to the world of which she will be a part.
I was in the hospital the other day for a few hours. I became acquainted with my very cheerful and expert nurse. She is the kind of woman of whom you girls could dream. When she was young she decided she wished to be a nurse. She received the necessary education to qualify for the highest rank in the field. She worked at her vocation and became expert at it. She decided she wanted to serve a mission and did so. She married. She has three children. She works now as little or as much as she wishes. There is such a demand for people with her skills that she can do almost anything she pleases. She serves in the Church. She has a good marriage. She has a good life. She is the kind of woman of whom you might dream as you look to the future.
For you, my dear friends, the sky is the limit. You can be excellent in every way. You can be first class. There is no need for you to be a scrub. Respect yourself. Do not feel sorry for yourself. Do not dwell on unkind things others may say about you. Particularly, pay no attention to what some boy might say to demean you. He is no better than you. In fact, he has already belittled himself by his actions. Polish and refine whatever talents the Lord has given you. Go forward in life with a twinkle in your eye and a smile on your face, but with great and strong purpose in your heart. Love life and look for its opportunities, and forever and always be loyal to the Church.
Never forget that you came to earth as a child of the divine Father, with something of divinity in your very makeup. The Lord did not send you here to fail. He did not give you life to waste it. He bestowed upon you the gift of mortality that you might gain experience—positive, wonderful, purposeful experience—that will lead to life eternal. He has given you this glorious Church, His Church, to guide you and direct you, to give you opportunity for growth and experience, to teach you and lead you and encourage you, to bless you with eternal marriage, to seal upon you a covenant between you and Him that will make of you His chosen daughter, one upon whom He may look with love and with a desire to help. May God bless you richly and abundantly, my dear young friends, His wonderful daughters.
Of course there will be some problems along the way. There will be difficulties to overcome. But they will not last forever. He will not forsake you.
When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings; name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done. …
So amid the conflict, whether great or small, Do not be discouraged; God is over all. Count your many blessings; angels will attend, Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end. (“Count Your Blessings,” Hymns, no. 241)
Look to the positive. Know that He is watching over you, that He hears your prayers and will answer them, that He loves you and will make that love manifest. Let the Holy Spirit guide you in all that you do as you look to become the kind of woman of whom you dream. You can do it. You will have friends and loved ones to help. And God will bless you as you pursue your course. This, girls, is my humble promise and prayer in your behalf, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Profound Power of Gratitude - Thomas S. Monson

Robert W. Woodruff, a prominent business leader of a former time, toured the United States giving a lecture which he entitled “A Capsule Course in Human Relations.” In his message, he said that the two most important words in the English language are these: “Thank you.”

Gracias, danke, merci—whatever language is spoken, “thank you” frequently expressed will cheer your spirit, broaden your friendships, and lift your lives to a higher pathway as you journey toward perfection. There is a simplicity—even a sincerity—when “thank you” is spoken.

The District of Columbia police auctioned off about 100 unclaimed bicycles Friday. “One dollar,” said an 11-year-old boy as the bidding opened on the first bike. The bidding, however, went much higher. “One dollar,” the boy repeated hopefully each time another bike came up.
The auctioneer, who had been auctioning stolen or lost bikes for 43 years, noticed that the boy’s hopes seemed to soar higher whenever a racer-type bicycle was put up.
Then there was just one racer left. The bidding went to eight dollars. “Sold to that boy over there for nine dollars!” said the auctioneer. He took eight dollars from his own pocket and asked the boy for his dollar. The youngster turned it over in pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters—took his bike, and started to leave. But he went only a few feet. Carefully parking his new possession, he went back, gratefully threw his arms around the auctioneer’s neck, and cried.

I would like to mention three instances where I believe a sincere “thank you” could lift a heavy heart, inspire a good deed, and bring heaven’s blessings closer to the challenges of our day.

First, may I ask that we express thanks to our parents for life, for caring, for sacrificing, for laboring to provide a knowledge of our Heavenly Father’s plan for happiness.

Next, have we thought on occasion of a certain teacher at school or at church who seemed to quicken our desire to learn, who instilled in us a commitment to live with honor?

Third, I mention an expression of “thank you” to one’s peers. The teenage years can be difficult for the teens themselves as well as for their parents. These are trying times in the life of a boy or a girl. Each boy wants to make the football team; each girl wants to be the beauty queen. “Many are called, but few are chosen” 12 could have an application here.

“God gave us memories, that we might have June roses in the December of our lives.” - James Barrie

“There is one phrase which should be erased from your thinking and from the words you speak aloud. It is the phrase ‘If only.’ It is counterproductive and is not conducive to the spirit of healing and of peace. Rather, recall the words of Proverbs: ‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.’

Saturday, November 5, 2011

My Sister the Soccer Star!

My little sister, Abby, has had an amazing soccer season for her senior year! The girl is wicked good. In fact I am down right jealous of her athletic abilities. I once went toe to toe with Abby in soccer and she laid me out...HARD! Now I only like to play with her and not against her! Lesson learned. Unfortunately, some poor girls who have played against her this season have had to learn the same lesson!
At the end of the season soccer banquet Abby was voted "First Team all League Defensive Player" by the coaches of the Columbia Basin Big Nine! In case you have no idea what that means, it's a BIG deal! Congrats Abers, you deserve it babe! Today (11/5/11) the girls are playing in a huge game that will determine if they head to State!
I wish them the best of luck and offer a huge congrats to them for already becoming the district champions! Senior girls leaving their prints behind...literally!
The team after winning districts!

I love this picture! I just can't help but smile when I see Abby's smile in this picture (right behind 12)! Below are pictures from her season(Abby is number 16)...I just want to point out that the girl has some awesome leg muscles...The teams saying this year is FPP - Family, Pride, and Passion! Abby and her friend Liza!

I love the shirts for the Seniors this year!

Senior night! Abby is a 4-year starting varsity player!

I love this picture of my parents with Abby!

Congrats Abby! You've had an awesome four years and we are all very proud of you! Not only are you gorgeous, have amazing hair, play like a champ, and have a rockin bod;)...but you are also a great example and friend to everyone around you! You have one of the most genuine and fun personalities that draws others to you! Love you!

Remembrance and Gratitude - Henry B Eyring

“To the Lord Jesus we owe an undying debt of gratitude, for he bought us with a great price. It is impossible for us, weak mortals as we are, to fully comprehend and appreciate the sufferings he endured on the cross that he might gain for us the victory over death.” (Ensign, June 1974, p. 3.)

And so the remembrance King Benjamin urged upon us can be ours. Remembrance is the seed of gratitude which is the seed of generosity. Gratitude for the remission of sins is the seed of charity, the pure love of Christ. And so God has made possible for you and me this blessing, a change in our very natures: “And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.” (Moro. 8:26.)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Gratitude Month


Because it is November, the month of Thanksgiving, I have decided my topic of study is going to be 'Gratitude'! I don't know about everyone else, so I will just speak for myself...but I sometimes get too caught up in the things of the world, the things I don't have. This ultimately leads to me becoming self-absorbed. I think we can all use a little more gratitude in our lives!

"This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now."

“You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays.” - Meredith Wilson

"Stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances. We must deal with them the best we can. But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important—and what is most important almost always involves the people around us. Often we assume that they must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know. Wrote William Shakespeare, “They do not love that do not show their love.”3 We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us."

"Send that note to the friend you’ve been neglecting; give your child a hug; give your parents a hug; say “I love you” more; always express your thanks. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved. Friends move away, children grow up, loved ones pass on. It’s so easy to take others for granted, until that day when they’re gone from our lives and we are left with feelings of “what if” and “if only.” Said author Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.”"

"Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family. One day each of us will run out of tomorrows."

"Our realization of what is most important in life goes hand in hand with gratitude for our blessings."

“Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend … when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present—love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us [happiness]—the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.”

“Whatever hour God has blessed you with, take it with grateful hand, nor postpone your joys from year to year, so that in whatever place you have been, you may say that you have lived happily.” - Horace (Roman Philosopher)

"I pray that all of us will reflect gratitude for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His glorious gospel provides answers to life’s greatest questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where does my spirit go when I die?"