Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Influence of a Righteous Woman

Hi! Welcome to my blog! Today I am posting a talk I gave on Mother's Day a few years ago. It was based on a talk given by M. Russell Ballard titled, Mother's and Daughter's.  The quote art is inspired by a quote in this talk.

My talk today is based on M. Russell Ballard’s talk from the April Conference – Mother’s and Daughters.  It has been said that when a child is born so is a mother. I grew up on a cattle ranch and had the privilege of witnessing “birth” often – the birth of babies, and birth of mother’s. It was an awesome experience to witness cows nurture their young. Once in a while a calf would be orphaned due to the mother dying, or other circumstances. One orphan that comes to mind is Twinkie. I was so excited to be her surrogate mother. I think I was eight, and completely in mothering mode. I got to bottle feed her. I gave her baths and I did her hair. Needless to say, this poor calf did not grow up to be normal. It is not normal to go out in a field full of cattle and have a cow run up to greet you when you don’t have food. When it came time for Twinkie to be a mother – she did not know what to do. She did not have good mothering instincts. Could it be that the influence of a mother is critical for the daughters future role as a mother? Elder Ballard has said his “dear wife Barbara, has had an eternally significant influence on (their) daughters and granddaughters- and they in turn, on her. Mothers and daughters play a critical role in helping each other explore their infinite possibilities, despite the undermining influences of a world in which womanhood and motherhood are being corrupted and manipulated.” Elder Ballard goes on to say “Sisters, we, your brethren, cannot do what you were divinely designated to do from before the foundation of the world. We may try, but we cannot ever hope to replicate your unique gifts. There is nothing in this world as personal, as nurturing, or as life changing as the influence of a righteous woman.” Of course Elder Ballard points out that not all girls have mothers with whom they can discuss these issues, and many women may not presently have daughters, but, Elder Ballard continues, “all women have within their divine nature both the inherent talent and the stewardship to mother”…and so he addressed his talk to all women who have opportunities to influence the younger generation, be it grandmothers, leaders, aunts, friends and other mentors.  In his talk Elder Ballard reminded us, quote “... I’ve been speaking to parents and their children for three general conferences in a row. Last April I encouraged the youth to “learn the lessons of the past. Quoting from that talk he said, “When you are willing to listen and learn, some of life’s most meaningful teachings come from those who have gone before you…how much better your life will be if you will follow the noble example of the faithful followers of Christ.” Last October, Elder Ballard spoke to fathers and sons, and then his most recent talk, Mothers and daughters. “In each case” Elder Ballard said, “my message has been different but similar. I hope you are listening and see a pattern and hear a steady message that in these last days it is essential – even critical – that parents and children listen to and learn from one another. REPEAT . When I looked up “listening” in the topical guide, it said “see communication, learning and understanding” Listening is a form of communication. Listening is more than just hearing. It is a life skill that we are commanded to learn. The Lord admonished “Those who have ears to hear, let him hear”. Listening is a prerequisite to learning – and essential in gaining a testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel. Harold B. Lee has said that Heavenly Father wants each of us to cultivate ears to listen…Since it is critical that parents and children listen to and learn from each other, we need to teach how to do that. We are unlikely to teach what we have not learned ourselves. Research has indicated the average individual listens for only seventeen seconds before interrupting and interjecting his own ideas. Listening plays an important part in all relationships – Parent –child relationship, sibling relationship, husband and wife relationship, friendship, and so on.
In a book called “The Five Love Languages of Teenagers” it discusses how to have a quality conversation:
  1. maintain eye contact. Refrain from rolling eyes in disgust, closing them etc., even if the conversation is intense.
  2. do not listen and do something else at the same time. If you cannot give your undivided attention, say so in a polite manner, but express that you are interested in what they have to say, but that you want to give them your full attention. Then agree on a time to talk. 
  3. Listen for feelings. What emotions is the other person experiencing? When you think you have the answer confirm it by saying something like – it sounds like your are feeling disappointed because I ……….
  4. Observe body language: tears, clenched fists, etc. Again ask for verification to make sure you know what the other person is feeling.
  5. Refuse to interrupt – your objective is not to defend yourself or set the other person straight; it is to understand thoughts, feelings, desires.
  6. Ask reflective questions. When you think you know what the other person is feeling, check it out by reflecting a statement back as you understand it. Eg. What I hear you saying is …….. Then ask: Is that correct?
  7. Express understanding. Others should know that they have been heard and understood. 
  8. Ask permission to share your perspective. 

In his talk, Elder Ballard urges daughters to “look to your faithful mothers for a pattern to follow. Model yourselves after them not after celebrities whose standards are not the Lords and whose values may not reflect an eternal perspective. Look to your mother. Learn from her strengths, her courage. Her faithfulness. Listen to her.”

To mother’s, Elder Ballard admonished mother’s to 
  1. teach by example
  2. teach your daughters to find joy in nurturing children. A mother-daughter relationship is where a daughter learns how to nurture by being nurtured.
  3. Teach your daughters to avoid the temptation to gossip or judge one another. 
  4. Teach your daughters the importance of making covenants, and then show them how to keep those covenants is such a way they will desire to live worthy to go to the temple.
  5. Teach your daughters about things of the Spirit. Point them to the scriptures. Give them experiences that will help them cherish the blessing of priesthood power in their lives. 

In order to teach these principles, the skill of listening is extremely important to recognize teaching moments and even in creating them. In the book :Preach my Gospel: under the heading  - improving my teaching skills, a quote from Jeffrey R. Holland to missionaries and member missionaries alike can be applied to when parents teach their children : “More important than speaking is listening. These people are not lifeless objects disguised as a baptismal statistic. They are children of God, our brothers and sisters, and they need what we have. Be genuine. Reach out sincerely. Ask these friends what matters most to them. What do they cherish? And what do they hold dear? And then listen. If the setting is right you might ask them what their fears are, what they yearn for, or what they feel is missing in their lives. I promise you that something in what they say will always highlight a truth of the gospel about which you can bear testimony and about which you can then offer more…if we listen with love, we won’t need to wonder what to say. It will be given to us – by the Spirit and by our friends.”

This talk was close to my heart. I am a mother. My daughter is very dear to me. When I gave this talk she was a teenager and our communication seemed to be lacking and so it seemed was our relationship. She is twenty now and things are all good. I still strive to be a good influence in her life. We often discuss the importance of being a caring and nurturing person and an influence for good in the lives of others. I thank all women who strive to make the world a better place by nurturing and loving others. The world needs that tender loving care that we can abundantly offer.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Can We Be Alive and Yet, Not Really Live?

Hello! Welcome to my blog!
 Todays quote art is inspired by Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk, "On Being Genuine". I love a quote that says something like "Don't fill your life with days, fill your days with life." 

Can we be alive and yet not really live? 

We can certainly waste days with useless activities. There is so little time. I consider time a precious resource. What are we doing with this precious resource? A lot of time is squandered in useless pursuits. I guess it depends on individual preference, but for me a lot of what we call "entertainment" is what drains us of life. Gaming, social media, television, internet and movies are things I have seen (and somewhat experienced personally) of life depriving. If it does not lift or breathe life into you, then what good is it?

In John 17:3 the Savior said, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." This day, this moment, right now is part of eternity. Do you know God and His Son, Jesus Christ? If we don't know Them, does that mean we really are not living life? Back to the quote from Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "The God of creation who breathed life into the universe, surely has the power to breathe life into you." God did create us, this earth and the universe.   Everything created is intricate and amazing. Our bodies are just one example of many of the miracles of physical life. From our eyes with "autofocusing lenses, nerves and muscles of two eyes to make a single three-dimensional images, all connected to the brain which records the sights seen" to our bodies defence system that "perceives pain to protect it from harm, and generates antibodies in response to infection, and renews its own outdated cells and regulates the levels of its own vital ingredients". (See Russell M. Nelson, Thanks Be to God) Our physical life is intricate, but so is our spiritual life. Life is meant to be so much more than just to be entertained.

So why did the Savior say that life eternal is to know God and Himself? Maybe this is the answer: "If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves." Joseph Smith

If we do not know who we are, how can we truly live? Lorenzo Snow said, "There is the nature of deity in the composition of our spiritual organization; in our spiritual birth our Father transmitted to us the capabilities, powers and faculties which He Himself possessed, as much so as the child on its mother's bosom possesses, although in an undeveloped state, the faculties, powers and susceptibilities of its parent.

Are we filling our life with days, or filling our days with life? 

I know my life changed when I went to the One Source of truth. I prayed to God. I prayed to know Him and to know what He wanted of me. I had always believed in God, but I didn't really know Him until I started praying, studying scriptures and thinking of the important things in life. Knowing who we are, we can truly live. God, who is our Creator and our Father can breathe life into us by opening our eyes to who we are, opening our understanding as to why we exist, and by doing so our days will be filled with life as we live by that knowledge.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Don't Be Blue, 49 Looks Good on You - Birthday Gift Basket

 Hello! Welcome to my blog! Today I am doing a quick post on a birthday gift I made for my sister-in-law. What do you get for someone that has everything and they are approaching a milestone birthday?? The pressure was on to come up with some kind of unique gift. I decided to go with a blue theme. I bought personal care products that had blue on the packaging, and a blue planter, made up a cute saying and put it in a cellophane bag.

I printed out the saying on card stock, cut it out and glued it to a wooden skewer. You can print this out by right clicking/copy then paste into your favorite program to resize and print. Thanks for stopping by!

Linking up to
Tator Tots and Jello

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

One Cool Peep - Candy Bouquet with Gift Card Slot

Hello and welcome to my blog! I love birthdays and being a creative gift giver. It seems like a lot of family members in my family right now like to ask for gift cards. I don't like just giving a plastic card - I like a little element of surprise so that takes some creativity. Candy bouquets are a great way to add a special feeling to one's special day... With this particular birthday being around Easter I wanted to take advantage of the Easter treats available, and so a peep bouquet was in order.

I made and printed out this saying on card stock with the birthday saying on the back. I taped two wooden skewers to the inside of the saying for the back, then I glued around the saying on the sides and the bottom - leaving the top open to insert a gift card.

This is a great teenage birthday gift and can certainly be made into a masculine version if you of course change the color scheme.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Jesus Christ Came to Enliven Us

Hello! Welcome to my blog and happy Easter!! Today I am sharing a quote from David A. Bednar from a talk he gave at the April 2014 General Conference called, "Bear up Their Burdens with Ease". I had to shorten the quote to fit it in the picture. Here is the whole quote:

 "It is one thing to know that Jesus Christ came to die for us. But we also need to appreciate that the Lord desires THROUGH HIS ATONEMENT AND BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY GHOST, to enliven us - NOT ONLY TO GUIDE BUT TO STRENGTHEN AND HEAL US."

I thought I would add a talk that I gave at church on April 2009. I gave a talk at Easter three years in a row. Here is the one that best goes with this quote...


"Good afternoon. I would like to echo some words Henry B. Eyring said at our recent General Conference. He said the opportunity to give a talk is a great and sacred privilege - and it is my great and sacred privilege to speak to you today. I have been given the assignment to base my remarks on an article in this months Ensign titled, "What does the Atonement Mean to You?" by Cecil O. Samuelson of the Presidency of the Seventy.

What does the atonement mean to you? I encourage you to ponder this question today and every day. Elder Samuelson says that we not only need to appreciate this incomparable gift but we also need to understand it clearly. The Bible dictionary says 'the word 'atonement' describes the setting 'at one' of those who have been estranged and denotes reconciliation of man to God. Sin is the cause of the estrangement, and therefor the purpose of atonement is to correct or overcome the consequences of sin...Jesus Christ, as the Only Begotten Son of God and the only sinless person to live on this earth, was the only one capable of making an atonement for mankind.' So what I understand is that through sin we are estranged from God. Sin, as I understand it, is not living our lives according to the laws of God. When someone does not abide by the law of the land - then justice should be served. We are all under God's law - even though some don't believe in Him - that doesn't make them exempt. Sin estranges us from God and justice needs to follow. Through the atonement - the Savior paid the price for our sins. The atonement however is conditional -
The third article of faith declares, 'We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved' - now here is the condition - 'by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.' This is important because we believe that man shall be punished for their own sins and not for Adam's transgression. So in other words - the atonement of Jesus Christ redeems all mankind from the fall of Adam, but individually we are responsible for how we conduct our lives. And so it is extremely important that we personally get to know the Savior and the gift that is available to us through the atonement.

We learn from the scriptures that the atonement was carried out in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. In the gospel of Luke we read how difficult this was for the Savior, for He prayed, Heavenly Father willing, for the cup to be removed, but He let Heavenly Father know that
He was still willing to carry out His great mission if there was no other way. 'And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly and he sweat as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground' (Luke 22:41-44) . In D&C Section 19, the Lord reminds us how to partake of this great gift of the atonement: 'I command you to repent, and keep the commandments which ye have received. For behold, I God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent'. And then the Lord gives this warning - 'But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit - and would that I might not drink the bitter cup and shrink. Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.' Elder Samuelson remarks, 'That Jesus experienced what He experienced, not because He couldn't avoid it but because He loves us is sobering indeed...If we feel to honor and love the Savior in return, we must never forget that He did what He did for us that we might not suffer to the same degree what justice alone would require of us.'

What does the atonement mean to me personally? First, I want to share my feelings about the conditions of benefiting from the atonement - which are repentance and keeping the commandments. Before I became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which was basically before I studied the gospel of Jesus Christ, I had the wrong ideas about repentance and the commandments. Repentance was this scary word that meant that I would have to admit that I was doing something wrong. Through studying the gospel and learning about the love of the Savior I have learned that repentance is a chance to get things right. We are not perfect. The Savior does not execute final judgement after we make mistakes - like so many others do. He gives us chance after chance to do better. Before I studied the gospel I fell into the trap like so many do with the false belief that the commandments are like crutches that curtail our freedom. Now that I have the light of the gospel, I clearly see the love of God through the commandments and the freedom and safety that living them gives us. Just like the Primary says, there is a right way to live and be happy. When I look at past experiences - when I didn't live according to the commandments - I invited misery into my life and with that I also invited misery into the lives of others. If we honestly look at all the misery in the world - most of it is because someone has broken a commandment. The Lord knows what He is doing - and He knows that when we live the commandments and repent when needed - we will be happy. Nephi called it living after the manner of happiness. (2Nephi 5:27) This doesn't mean that our lives will be free of challenges. Elder Samuelson said that 'Nephi understood that there is a pattern for living that results in happiness, independent of the difficulties, challenges and disappointments that come into all of our lives. He was able to focus on the big picture of God's plan for him and his people and was thus able to avoid being brought down by his frustrations or by the accurate observation that life is not fair. It isn't fair, but he and his people were happy nevertheless. They understood that an Atonement would take place, and they had confidence that it would include them.'

Through the Atonement of Christ, I understand that the Savior knows my challenges. I understand that He understands exactly what I am going through. When others are facing challenging times I try to have compassion by visualizing myself in their shoes. Unfortunately I really do not have a clue what they are going through unless I suffered something similar myself. The Savior willingly put Himself in our shoes to experience the pain that we would experience. In Alma 7:12 it says that the Savior 'took upon him their infirmities, that His bowels would be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succour his people according to their affirmatives.' What a gift that is - the pains that we suffer and would give up willingly, the Savior willingly suffered that same pain so He could understand exactly what we go through. This helps me so much when I struggle or when I see others struggle because I know that the Savior knows exactly what we are going through and that as we turn to Him - He knows how to help us through those challenges.

To better understand the atonement, I liken the Savior's sacrifice of His life to save ours to certain scenarios. I visualize my physical life being in danger - and someone saving me losing their life in the process. If that happened, I would be obligated to live my life so that is was worthy of that sacrifice. On the flip side of that scenario would be if I rescued someone and I lost my life in the process. I would hope that the person would live their life to the full measure of their creation. There are real life examples of people giving their lives for others. One story is of a plane that crashed into an icy river after it failed to take off successfully from Washington National airport in January of 1982. There were many victims of the crash in the ice cold water - desperately waiting to be rescued. Help came in the form of helicopters and life preservers. The helicopter crew would throw out a life line with a life preserver attached. In the water - the victims would frantically reach for that life line. One of the passengers of the plane kept catching that life line and then passed it off to fellow passengers. Time and time again when the life line came to him - he would find someone he could save. Now, that man never made it out. He was those passengers life saver that day. And so I would ask - how did they live their lives? Are they living worthy of that gift? That man gave others his chance to live. He had goals to strive for, he had dreams to dream, he had family to spend time with - but he gave all that up for others so the could strive to achieve their goals, dream their dreams and spend precious time with their families. He knew the value of mortal life - and he gave it to others. The Savior knows perfectly the value of mortal life. He taught us the right way to live it, and He died so that this precious mortal life could help us achieve eternal life. The mocking scribes and the chief priests made an important observation while Jesus was on the cross. Speaking to belittle him - they noted - 'He saved others; himself he cannot save...' Yes the Savior did save others, He proved that power through His miracles - and He had the power to save Himself too - but He would rather save others. He died for us. So I need to ask - how are we living our lives? Is it worthy of His sacrifice? The Savior is stretching forth His hand to save us all. The lifeline is the atonement. Yes, it will take some struggling on our part to be saved - but the way is prepared and the the Savior's hand is stretched out to save us. "While his arm of mercy is extended toward you in the light of day, harden not your hearts. Yea, today, if ye will hear his voice harden not your hearts; for why will ye die?" Jacob 6:5-6
The Savior, through the Atonement suffered all we have suffered. He died so we may live. We are obligated through this precious gift to find out individually, what does the Atonement mean to you?
I pray that we will live to the full measure of our creation and honour the precious gift of the Atonement, and come unto Christ and be saved. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

The Savior did die for us, but He came to enliven us. May we live the best lives we can and make a difference in the world by sharing His love with others.