I entered the chapel Saturday night about 20 minutes early to take my place up on the stand in the stake center. Anthony had come home from high council meeting a couple weeks ago and announced that he had been asked to ask me if I would mind saying the opening prayer at the adult session of Stake Conference.
But I’m always willing to do something scary if it’s truly inspired. Surely this was. Besides, I didn’t really have a choice because Anthony told me, “Don’t worry. I already told them you would do it.” And then he laughed and strutted away.
As I sat up on the stand waiting I started looking at the clock then at the congregation. Fifteen minutes until the conference started and my heart was beating a bit faster than normal. But I thought, no big deal. This chapel seems even smaller than the one in my own ward. I can do this. No sooner had this thought crossed my mind than they opened the curtain past the overflow to the gym. They had tricked me! They were only waiting for the chapel to fill before opening that part so people would sit closer. That’s when my heart started pounding.
What if I said the wrong thing? What if I pray for Heavenly Father to bless the food… when there isn’t any to bless? What if I ask for us all to ‘have a good night’s rest’? The pressure was mounting and I was watching my shirt move to the beat of my heart. It was hard and fast. Not only that but it was loud! I could hear it pounding in my ears. The clock was ticking closer to 7:00 much faster than it should have. The second counselor in the stake presidency came up to take his spot on the stand. As he was about to sit down in front of me he turned, shook my hand, and said, “Thank you for accepting this opportunity.” To which I leaned forward and said, “I don’t think I did. I think my husband did it for me!” He laughed agreeably and sat.
All too soon the first counselor, stake president, and two presiding general authorities took their places on the stand and the meeting started… TWO MINUTES EARLY! At least according to the clock on the wall. Not fair.
The opening song was sung and then it was my turn. I would have rather given a talk in my home ward than give a simple prayer in front of all these people, most of whom I don’t know from Adam. But it was too late to turn back now. My legs carried me to the pulpit without my even realizing it was happening. I tried hard not to look out. I knew if I looked all the way to the back it would be too much for my nerves and I might end up with nothing to say at all. What’s worse… praying for nothing at all or blessing imaginary food?
I don’t remember the words of the prayer that I gave and I know it was simple and very short but I also know that I didn’t end up blessing any food or asking for us all to be patient with each other and get along as I do in many family prayers. Come to think of it, maybe that wouldn’t have been so bad. We could probably all stand to be a little more patient with our fellow men.
All I knew was that it was over. I was relieved. I walked, or scurried rather, down the stairs to head to where Miss K was sitting (all youth 12 and older were invited to this particular adult session… Anthony was busy doing council stuff) I found myself practically running to the seat and tripping all over the feet of the ladies I had to get past in order to get to where Miss K was. Nerves were still unsettled. I leaned over to K and whispered, “I am SO glad that is over with.”
This was only the second time I have ever been to a stake conference in my life. I never grew up going to them. We always counted it as a Sunday off. I thought that was pretty typical so I continued the tradition into my marriage. I hadn’t learned to fully appreciate the gospel until more recently. Now I desire to go but don’t want to deal with the kids. Now that I have kids old enough to stay home with the littles it is becoming a reality.
That session Saturday night was so neat. We had two presiding general authorities there because today (Sunday) they were calling a new stake presidency. Elder Don R. Clarke was the officiating authority and boy was he funny! The spirit in the meeting was strong and many different people were called upon to bear testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. People from all walks of life…. lifelong members, converts, and former inactive members. There was a man that was a minister. He was transferred to Utah as a Baptist minister. He was sure he would get here and convert all the Mormons. And he admitted that he actually had turned many away from the church. He was sad about this. He had asked a simple question of his Mormon dentist one day and that got the seed planted in his mind. Then there was a Mormon gal working at 7-11. He had asked her to come to his church. She agreed under one condition. He had to come with her to HER church. There were neighbors that befriended him and made him feel loved and wanted in the community even though most of his neighbors were Mormon. He once ordered a free King James version of the Bible. Guess who showed up at his door to deliver it? Mormon missionaries. He sent them away but kept the Bible. But eventually, he came around. He was baptized three years ago. His testimony was LOUD. I don’t know much about other churches or religions but he sounded like the ministers you see in the movies. Very passionate! It wasn’t the more reverent, peaceful type of testimony that we are used to within the church but WOW! It was powerful. The spirit was strong. His passion didn’t drive it away like it may have had it been someone like myself yelling into the microphone the way he was. Somehow he was able to pull it off.
There was a sweet woman from another ward that had moved from West Jordan just because. She didn’t really know why. She just felt that she needed a change. She was inactive in the church but quickly became active again after moving into our stake. It had brought her family back together again.
A man that had been in and out of jail and prison for the past 10 years was able to feel the spirit while in his prison cell. His third baby had just been born and he had missed the birth. The mother of his baby wrote and told him that she was in a relationship with his best friend. That was his breaking point. The night he received the letter is the very night he hit the floor. He prayed and received inspiration… in his cell… that he should attend the church session that Sunday, and so he did. He has now read the Book of Mormon 3 times and is reading it again. He is 30 years old and says that he now recognizes when the spirit is speaking to him.
A panel of youth was called up as well to talk about what they can do and have done to help in the Lord’s cause and build the kingdom of God. Elder Clarke mentioned that some sister missionaries had gone to the seminary at the high school and done a little presentation of sorts. From that alone they were able to collect over 400 names of friends and family members of these high school students. Two of the seminary students weren’t even members of the church and took seminary just because. They asked for the missionaries to teach them and now they are getting baptized.
Elder Clarke was adamant that we be missionaries within our own stake. He had us in stitches at times. He also had us in tears. There is so much work to be done within the boundaries of our stake and we are leaving it all up to the full time missionaries. But Elder Clarke warned us that it is absolutely essential that we get involved.
I had two very distinct impressions during that meeting. First of all, I need to be more proactive about sharing the gospel. It is my sure foundation. The one solid thing that is never changing. It is the very rock that I lean on when I feel need, doubt, fear, shame, guilt, broken. The gospel takes all of that away and makes me feel happy, sure, calm, forgiven, whole. Jesus Christ is the reason that I am able to work toward living with my Heavenly Father again. I need to make sure that the people I love know my testimony of this gospel.
Secondly, I need more friends. Elder Clarke let us know that we can’t call anyone our friend until they’ve eaten dinner at our table. That’s when they become a friend. And if they are our true friends, they will be ok with us sharing the very thing that makes us who we are. The gospel makes me whole. Without it I am nothing.
What are you doing to bring others to the gospel of Jesus Christ? Is there something holding you back from embracing the gospel yourself? Maybe someone offended you and you are determined to stay away because of it. As Elder Clarke said, “Are you going to sacrifice your salvation because of something someone else said or did?” Elder David A Bednar said:
“When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected. And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.”
Please remember, we are all human. There was only one perfect being and He is aching to have you back in His presence. And remember that to be offended is a choice. You can choose to be offended or you can choose to rise above that and realize that imperfect people are all that Heavenly Father has to work with. The gospel is true even if the people aren’t.
Why does the title look misspelled? Beginnings… hmm, I guess that’s right. Spell check knows all.
K was invited to New Beginnings at church.
NEW BEGINNINGS!! Do you know what this means? I’m OLD! It also means that K will be 12 this year and entering Young Women’s.
So weird. (I swear I was just entering Young Women’s a year or two ago. :/)
Anthony and I were invited (as were all the other parents). It was so fun to see K be presented with a crown and beads. The theme was ‘royalty’. We are all royalty in God’s eyes. We are his princesses. There were a couple of talks given and they were powerful. Integrity and Virtue…. what are they and how do we apply them to our lives and our character.
The program was short and simple.
K with the other two girls being welcomed this year. One of them is her best friend, on the right.
And this is the other best friend. They can’t wait to join her in YW.
You can’t tell from the picture since they are sitting down but they are both significantly taller than K. She’s not short, just average. They just happen to be super tall!
I’m pretty sure I look amazing in this one. Do you love the bunched up skin on my neck/cheek? Me too.
We were supposed to do a silly one first then we BOTH would kiss her on the cheek in the next one. Anthony totally ruined it! The punk! K is absolutely embarrassed about this picture. Don’t tell her I used it… she’ll be mortified. **Enter evil laugh**
We’re both so stinkin’ proud of the beautiful young woman that K is becoming. She is talented beyond measure and knows how to make anyone feel loved and needed. She’s a shining example of how to be a real friend.
Keep it up, K! We sure love you!!
Our little man received a name and a blessing a couple weeks ago. January 6th to be exact.
For those who may be unfamiliar with my faith, we have our babies blessed in order to give them an official name within the church. They are not only receiving a Father’s blessing along with having a priesthood ordinance performed, but they are also put upon the records of the church. It’s really a neat thing.
The blessing was beautiful, as they all have been. I never remember anything that was said but I remember the feeling I get every time Anthony is able to perform this ordinance. It’s a very special event to watch your husband or other priesthood holder walk up to the front of the chapel along with a whole slew of other invited priesthood holders, stand in a circle around your baby with all of their hands supporting the baby, and listen to the words of the blessing and it’s meaning. One of my favorite things!
I also love when Anthony gets up to bear his testimony. He’s done it with each of the kids as they have always been blessed on Fast Sunday. Always emotional and sentimental. Love that man!
My mother-in-law also bore her testimony which was really neat. She expressed her pride in Anthony and the man that he has become. She also thanked my parents for the way that they raised me. Made me feel good.
It was a great day filled with lots of spirit and lots of food after church. I had my dad snap a few pics of my family. Apparently I forgot to remind him that he could zoom out or take a few steps backwards to make sure more of the kids in the front row would show… you know, more than just their shoulders and head. :/ But whatever. I had a friend fix one of the pics to make it somewhat usable. Some of us are cut off in weird places but it works. I’m just grateful to have pictures at all.
H looks a little silly in this one. She had just lost a tooth and was in the middle of laughing at my uncle.
After everyone left I tried to get a little mini session with Baby in his blessing outfit (my mom made it, she’s so talented!) but he was not cooperating. So I tried again a few days later but no matter how hard I tried to get him to stay asleep after nursing him, he kept waking up every time I laid him down for a shot. This was the best one. We didn’t get any sleepy ones . Hopefully it doesn’t have ‘the alien look’ my friend, Cari, warned me about. Not sure what that looks like…
A while back Anthony was called in for a Stake interview with a counselor in our Stake Presidency. Little did he know what he was in for. Since then, he’s learned so much and I’ve watched his testimony of the gospel grow along with his devotion and loyalty to just about everything. He’s my hero! I love that man and can’t imagine going through this crazy life with anyone else. I aspire to be more like him in so many ways.
The day that Anthony was made a High Priest was a pretty special day for him. Only one thing could have made it better. You see, Anthony’s dad had not been called to the office of High Priest. Therefore, he was unable to ordain Anthony to that higher priesthood. Instead, Anthony asked one his good friends in the ward to do it.
As we sat there in the room and Anthony was being ordained, Mark (Anthony’s dad) was overwhelmed with emotion. I personally have only seen him that emotional one other time. (When Anthony’s sister passed away.) The tears were flowing and we all just knew that he was so happy for Anthony, yet at the same time he wished so badly that he had been able to perform the sacred ordinance himself.
Well, a couple weeks ago Anthony got a phone call from his dad informing him that he had better make plans to go to church with him that coming Sunday. He played it down for a minute and then finally announced that he had been called to the office of High Priest! I think Anthony was just as excited about it as his dad was. And the neatest part for them both was that Anthony was able to ordain Mark!
It became quite the ordeal as all of Anthony’s sisters who could make it were there. One even drove up from Arizona for the occasion. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the ordination being that my kids had already gone to church in our own ward and I knew attempting a second Sacrament Meeting with the boys would turn into a major nightmare! We waited at my in-laws house for everyone to come back and then we partied the best way we know how… lots of Mark’s favorite foods!
It was a day of celebration, indeed! Mark was on cloud nine and everyone else had no choice but to be right there with him. You just have to know the guy. He puts a smile on your face without even trying when he’s in a good mood. So what if he’s a
lot little stubborn and likes to argue about which foods are healthy and which ones are not…. it’s only extremely slightly frustrating!
I totally won that argument, by the way. He just doesn’t realize it.
My all time favorite Primary song has always been I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus. It’s just a song that has really touched me ever since I was very small. Just recently I discovered this video of David Archuletta singing it and I am totally in love!
Any other David fans out there? I love his voice! (And I’m super ecstatic that he is going on a mission!)
But this post really isn’t about David. It’s really about this song that I love and how beautifully it can be portrayed. There’s a little bit of talking in the beginning so if you want to skip that, skip ahead to about 1:05.
Up until this past October, I had never really had a plan for studying my scriptures. Anthony and I decided when the last session of General Conference rolled around that we needed a real plan. Something that we could both stick with and even work on together.
Anthony reads and studies during lunch at work. Yes, he’s had a few snickers and laughs about that from co-workers but unlike in years past, it doesn’t bother him. We’ve been deeply humbled by circumstances in the past few years and while it certainly hasn’t been easy, I can honestly say that it’s been worth it! The ‘world’ has much less of an influence on both of us and we just don’t really care what the ‘world’ thinks. We are a PECULIAR people!
I read just after lunch when the boys go to bed. The girls have quiet time and I am able to sit and read with… minimal interruptions. There are always a few. I mean, c’mon, we’ve got a gazillion kids!
Yes, five is the new gazillion.
As a couple, Anthony and I study together after family scriptures and once the kids are all in bed. In addition to our scriptures themselves, here’s what our ‘study’ looks like.
We’ve started scripture journals! Mine is on the bottom. Anthony even takes his to work and fills it out. He is NOT a journal guy. The only journals he’s ever kept are the two from his mission. Other than that, nothing! I found this fabulous blog (scripture journal tips here) that has really helped in so many ways. She is amazing! I can’t tell you what her blog has done for my study of the scriptures. Remember, I’m a first-timer here. I’ve never made it through the whole BOM… don’t judge.
If you’re interested in starting your own scripture journal, the above links are FABULOUS for ideas on what to include and how to do it but there are some awesome pages (along with more ideas) to print from Latter-Day Homeschooling (which I am a contributor for on the 16th of every month ).
I have to admit that Anthony is actually far more dedicated about scripture journaling than I am. He comes home and tells me about things he wants to ponder and epiphanies he has. They’re all right there in his big ol’ binder full of inspirational thoughts and wisdom. Everything from the Higher Priesthood to temple sessions to parenting to likening the scriptures. I’ve never seen him more excited about studying the scriptures. He loves having somewhere to write his personal thoughts and insights.
Guys, it’s like I have a new husband! One that keeps a journal… of sorts. It’s always bothered me that I am not even mentioned in any journals of his because he hasn’t kept one for the whole time I’ve known him. Guess what… I’m in his scripture journal. He really does think about me! Oh, the kids are there, too. He loves us!!
As for me, I’m working on utilizing my scripture journal more. I guess I’m just not as insightful.
What about you? Do you keep a scripture journal or any journal at all for that matter?
K is my HERO!!
When she turned 8 years old, Anthony and I challenged her to read the Book of Mormon. On December 30, 2011 she finished. It took her just over two years and I am so darn proud of her!
She’s accomplished something that most kids her age have never done. She took Moroni up on his promise (Moroni 10: 3-5), prayed about what she had read and has determined that it is true. She started all over again on January 1st!
I have a confession… Not only has she accomplished something that most KIDS have never done, she’s accomplished something that I have never done. I’m pretty sure that I’ve read the whole thing in pieces and parts many times over but I’ve never sat down and read it from beginning to end. Never in order. It’s a work in progress though and I’m going to be finished soon. How embarrassing to admit that I’ve never read the Book of Mormon myself! However, even without reading it front to back on my own, I have a testimony of it’s truthfulness. I have no doubt that it is Another Testament of Jesus Christ! But I look forward to the day when I am able to pray about it again and gain an even stronger testimony of it’s truth. That day will come soon, you’ll be sure to hear about it when it happens.
K has been such an inspiration to me. Every morning for about the past three months or so, when I thought she was still sound asleep, I’d peek in her room and there she would be. On her bed, scriptures in hand, reading away. Meanwhile, her little sisters were sawing logs!
(A has started reading it now that she is eight. Can’t have that older sister showing her up! A’s goal is to finish before she’s 9.)
**K, I can’t express how lucky I feel to have you as my firstborn. You have been such a great example to me of how the gospel works and how to truly live it. Thank you so much for your quiet example. You truly are my hero! I look up to you in so many ways.
We are so proud of our little A. She was baptized on New Year’s Eve (Saturday) in order to accommodate for family that was in town for the holidays.
There was a slight scare on Friday morning when Anthony received an email from the Stake President informing us that the fire department was on it’s way to the Stake Center after someone called in reporting smoke coming out from the roof. Anthony hadn’t gone to work yet so he hopped in the car to rush over there just after we heard and saw the fire truck whiz by our house.
Luckily, the fire was small and was only in the attic area. There is now an arson investigation because it appears that someone was tampering with the a/c unit.
After the building was cleared, we were told that we would still be able to hold the baptism the next morning.
Later that day, my mother-in-law called to inform me that A’s aunt, who was supposed to give the Baptism talk, wouldn’t be able to do it because she was really sick and had absolutely no voice!
I asked A to hurry and choose someone to replace her. She chose my cousin so I started to dial her on the phone and then…
“WAIT!! Can you do it, Mom?”
Hmm, considering that it’s Friday afternoon, I still have to run to the store for a few things for the party to be held after the baptism, the missionaries are coming over for dinner tonight, and once the kids all go to bed I need to get the house ready for company…
But how do you tell your sweet little girl no?
I had absolutely NO time to prepare anything. I was going to wing it!
Saturday morning was chaotic trying to get all the last minute things done, get everyone dressed, and make sure that WE weren’t late for our own event. It happens sometimes.
I was maybe
severely a little panicked about what I was going to say for my ‘talk’ and then a miracle happened! A MIRACLE, I tell you! My sister-in-law walked in, sick as a dog, and handed me her already prepared talk.
What a relief!
my her talk, A was baptized, Grandpa gave his talk on the Holy Ghost, and A was confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. What a wonderful thing! I can’t even explain the great feeling it gives me as a mom to watch my kids be baptized and know that they’ve made such an important, significant decision.
A, I’m so very proud of you! You’re such a sweet and sassy girl with so many talents. It really is mind boggling! I love you very much. Please remember how you felt on this very important day.
My mom made her dress.
Just before changing into baptism clothing.
All of us on that very special day! (And yes, I have the largest forehead in history.)
I don’t think it’s a bad thing to get excited about Santa Claus and presents, but I think it’s most important to remember our perfect brother, Jesus Christ, for whom we celebrate the glorious holiday in the first place.
I heard this poem several years ago and it has been my favorite ever since. It reminds me of the real reason for the whole Christmas season.
At Christmas time there was a man,
who looked so out of place.
As people rushed about him,
at a hurried sort of pace.
He stared at all the Christmas lights,
the tinsel everywhere.
The shopping center Santa Claus,
with children gathered near.
The mall was packed with shoppers,
who were going to and fro.
Some with smiles, some with frowns,
and some too tired to go.
They rested on benches,
or they hurried on their way.
To fight the crowds for purchases,
to carry home that day.
The music from the stereo,
was playing loud and clear.
Of Santa Claus and snowmen,
and funny nosed reindeer.
He heard the people talk about,
the good times on the way.
Of parties, fun and food galore,
and gifts exchanged that day.
“I’d like to know what’s going on,”
the man was heard to say.
”There seems to be some sort,
of celebration on the way.
“And would you tell me who this is,
all dressed in red and white?
And why are children asking
"him" about a special night?”
The answer came in disbelief,
”I can’t believe my ear.
I can’t believe you do not know,
that Christmas time is here.
“The time when Santa comes around,
with gifts for girls and boys.
When they are asleep on Christmas Eve,
he leaves them books and toys.
“The man you see in red and white,
is Santa Claus so sly.
The children love his joyful laugh,
and twinkle in his eye.
“His gift packed sleigh is pulled along,
by very small reindeer.
As he flies quickly through the air,
while darting here and there.
“The children learn of Santa Claus,
while they are still quite small.
When Christmas comes he is
the most, important one of all!”
The stranger hung His head in shame,
He closed a nail pierced hand.
His body shook in disbelief,
He did not understand.
A shadow crossed His stricken face,
His voice was low but clear.
"After all these years they still don’t know."
And JESUS shed a tear.
In case I don’t get a chance to blog tomorrow…
I hope it’s a great one! And please, remember Him!!
Before I get into the calendar, I need to announce the winner of the Hand Vibes giveaway… (It’s still Friday )
The winner is Briana! Congratulations! I hope you enjoy them. (P.S. I always got Lipsmackers in my stocking, too!)
And now on to the calendar.
This year, we are trying to focus more on the Christ aspect of Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, we are huge fans of Santa Claus around here. I believe Santa is a very Christ-like ‘being’ and we try to focus on those aspects. We just wanted to integrate more of Christ himself into our holiday this year.
That’s why we decided to study the Names of Christ for the days leading up to Christmas. To be honest, I had no idea that Christ actually has so many names. I found the idea on a blog that I absolutely love. Here is the link. She’s got TONS of other great ideas, too. Just look around, you’re bound to find something you love there!
I was able to find some free printable Christmas tags here that I copied and pasted onto Word, printed it out (duh!), then I wrote all the names on each of the 25 tags before cutting them out. On the back, I wrote all the dates. So far (last night and tonight), the girls have really enjoyed it. We’ve learned that Christ, Messiah, and Anointed One all mean the same thing. They just originate from different languages.
As much as I would have loved to have them at a height accessible for all the kids to reach and actually participate in the flipping of each days’ name, I have two little monkeys (C and B) that would have the whole calendar torn apart quicker than I could say… anything, really. **Sigh** Someday we’ll have nice things. Maybe.
But until then, we must keep advent calendars up high.
You really should go check it out.
**P.S. Please forgive me for not posting as often lately. It’s been a crazy few weeks for us and our insane December has just begun but I plan to post every day for the month of December. Stay tuned, I’ve got lots of recipes, gift ideas, and real life stories to share.**