Sunday, November 1, 2009

Lessons from Liberty Jail

Hello Sisters!

Happy November!!! We are so thankful for all of YOU! You are some of the most wonderful blessings in our lives.

Today's Relief Society lesson was given to us by Kerinda. She taught from an Ensign Article by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland entitled, "Lessons from Liberty Jail." The article was taken from a CES fireside he gave. Here is a link to the fireside.

It is a great article with some wonderful pictures. There is so much in it that we did not have time to cover in class today. Print it out and keep it in your purse so that you can pull it out and read it when you are waiting for kids to get out of school, or at the doctors/dentists office, or stuck in traffic, or waiting for the kids to finish their piano lessons, etc. We have so many little moments in our lives that we can fill with something good. This is a great way to start.

As Kerinda taught us, Elder Holland states that there are four lessons that he would like us to learn from Liberty Jail. They are:

1. Everyone faces trying times.

Elder Holland says, "When that happens we can sometimes fear God has abandoned us, and we might be left, at least for a time, to wonder when our troubles will ever end. As individuals, as families, as communities, and as nations, probably everyone has had or will have an occasion to feel as Joseph Smith felt when he asked why such sorrow had to come and how long its darkness and damage would remain. We identify with him when he cries from the depth and discouragement of his confinement: “O God, where art thou? . . . How long shall thy hand be stayed . . . ? Yea, O Lord, how long shall [thy people] suffer . . . before . . . thy bowels be moved with compassion toward them?” (D&C 121:1–3). That is a painful, personal cry—a cry from the heart, a spiritual loneliness we may all have occasion to feel at some time in our lives. Perhaps you have had such moments already in your young lives. If so, I hope you have not had too many. But whenever these moments of our extremity come, we must not succumb to the fear that God has abandoned us or that He does not hear our prayers. He does hear us. He does see us. He does love us. When we are in dire circumstances and want to cry “Where art Thou?” it is imperative that we remember He is right there with us—where He has always been! We must continue to believe, continue to have faith, continue to pray and plead with heaven, even if we feel for a time our prayers are not heard and that God has somehow gone away. He is there. Our prayers are heard. And when we weep He and the angels of heaven weep with us."

2. Even the Worthy will suffer.

"And when we promise to follow the Savior, to walk in His footsteps and be His disciples, we are promising to go where that divine path leads us. And the path of salvation has always led one way or another through Gethsemane. So if the Savior faced such injustices and discouragements, such persecutions, unrighteousness, and suffering, we cannot expect that we are not going to face some of that if we still intend to call ourselves His true disciples and faithful followers. And it certainly underscores the fact that the righteous—in the Savior’s case, the personification of righteousness— can be totally worthy before God and still suffer."

3. Remain Calm, Patient, Charitable, and Forgiving

"Remaining true to our Christian principles is the only way divine influence can help us. The Spirit has a nearimpossible task to get through to a heart that is filled with hate or anger or vengeance or self-pity. Those are all antithetical to the Spirit of the Lord. On the other hand, the Spirit finds instant access to a heart striving to be charitable and forgiving, long-suffering and kind—principles of true discipleship. What a testimony that gospel principles are to apply at all times and in all situations and that if we strive to remain faithful, the triumph of a Christian life can never be vanquished, no matter how grim the circumstance might be. How I love the majesty of these elegant, celestial teachings taught, ironically, in such a despicable setting and time."

4. Do All Things Cheerfully

"In this final canonized statement of the Liberty Jail experience, the Lord says to us through His prophet, Joseph Smith, “Therefore, dearly beloved brethren [and sisters, when we are in even the most troubling of times], let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed” (D&C 123:17; italics added).

What a tremendously optimistic and faithful concluding declaration to be issued from a prisontemple! When he wrote those lines, Joseph did not know when he would be released or if he would ever be released. There was every indication that his enemies were still planning to take his life. Furthermore, his wife and children were alone, frightened, often hungry, wondering how they would fend for themselves without their husband and father. The Saints, too, were without homes and without their prophet. They were leaving Missouri, heading for Illinois, but who knew what tragedies were awaiting them there? Surely, to say it again, it was the bleakest and darkest of times. Yet in these cold, lonely hours, Joseph says let us do all we can and do it cheerfully. And then we can justifiably turn to the Lord, wait upon His mercy, and see His arm revealed in our behalf. What a magnificent attitude to maintain in good times or bad, in sorrow or in joy!"

In the CES Fireside, Elder Holland closed with a blessing to the sisters. He said, "I bless the sisters within this audience and within the sound of my voice. I would have you know how much we cherish you, how much God cherishes you, and how much the flag of faith has been flown by the sisters of this Church from the beginning. In every generation, it would seem, from the beginning of time down to the present hour and beyond, so often it has been the women in our lives—our grandmothers, our mothers, our wives, our daughters, our sisters, our granddaughters—who have taken that torch of faith and that banner of beautiful living and have carried gospel principles wherever it would take them, against whatever hardship, into their own little equivalent of Liberty Jails and difficult times. Sisters, we love you and honor you and bless you. We ask that every righteous desire of your heart, tonight and forever, be answered upon your head and that you will walk away from this devotional with the understanding and the knowledge firmly in your heart as to how much God and heaven and the presiding Brethren of this Church love you and honor you. "

Sisters, we hope that you also realize how much your Relief Society Presidency loves you. Please know that we want to be available to you whenever and however we can. Have a wonderful week! Let's spend this week counting our blessings and watching for moments that we can be a blessing to those around us, our families, our neighbors, our friends, our sisters.

Love, Your Relief Society Presidency

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Notes from Stake Conference -Sat Night

Wow! What a weekend. I hope that all of you were able to attend both sessions of Stake Conference, they were amazing. I took some notes and as I was thinking about typing them into my computer, it occurred to me that it might be fun to share them with you. So, here are a just a few of the things that stuck out in my mind from Stake Conference:

Saturday night:

President Holladay is a walking miracle. We all knew it, but he confirmed it. He spoke of Alma the Younger and how , as he was racked with torment because of his guilt about his sins, he cried out, “Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me….and [after he cried out] my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain.” Alma 36:18,20

He then spoke of Peter, walking on the water. He said that as Peter lost sight of Christ and began to sink into the waves, he cried out, “Lord, save me. And immediately, Jesus stretched forth his hand and caught him.” Matt 14:30-31

President Holladay used these two examples to teach us that when we are in despair, if we will cry, “Jesus, have mercy on me”, He will come and catch us and we will be filled with joy. Christ will “succor” us (Alma 7:11-12) and the literal meaning of succor is “to run to” meaning that Christ will run to our aid.

President Holladay then pointed out something I have NEVER before noticed in the scriptures. In Exodus 20:3-5, the Lord says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me….for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.” President Holladay pointed out that the footnote to vs 5 states that the Hebrew word translated as “jealous” can also mean “possessing sensitive and deep feelings.” In all the times I have read and/or taught the ten commandments, I had NEVER read that footnote. President Holladay then expanded on that thought. He discussed the Lord’s sensitive and deep feelings. A lovely example he used was when Mary Magdalene saw Christ after his resurrection and he told her to “Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my father.” (Jn 20:17) President Holladay suggested that Christ was saving his first physical embrace after his resurrection for his Heavenly Father because of the sensitive and deep feelings that they share. That is a scripture I have always wondered about and I loved President Holladay’s idea.

Sister Brady

Sister Brady is the Mission President’s wife. She told a very short story about walking through a spider web. (Ew!) She then compared a spider’s web which is hidden except in a certain light to the wiles of the devil. She said that we much look at our lives in the correct light so that we can see Satan’s spiderwebs and avoid them. In order to do that, we must have the Holy Ghost as a constant companion. She quoted a scripture which should be pretty familiar to all of us in the 8th ward. D&C 121:46

“The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth….”

President Brady

He continued where Sister Brady left off and reminded us that we must feed ourselves daily with the good word of Christ. He asked us to have a love for and a reliance on the Book of Mormon. He stated that as we do that, we will be motivated to share the Book of Mormon with our friends and neighbors. One of the things he said that really stood out for me was that the Book of Mormon has answers to our problems. It brings us peace and comfort. In today’s uncertain times, why would we not want all of our friends to have the same peace and comfort that we derive from the Book of Mormon.

Elder Cordova

What a treat!!! If you were there, you know what I mean. What a great, tender, funny, love-filled, godly man.

He was all over the board, but here are a few highlights:

James 1:22-25 – “Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only….” Elder Cordova spoke of being a “forgetful hearer”. He cautioned us not to go home and forget the spiritual promptings that we feel in conference as we listen to the Lord’s servants. (That is one of the reasons I’m doing this. I want to remember the things I took notes about.)

Matthew 22:36 – “Which is the greatest commandment …? Thou shalt love the Lord they God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Elder Cordova then reminded us that we cannot love the Lord unless we love our neighbor. He tied that into missionary work and temple work. He spoke of rescuing those who have passed on by doing their work in the temple. He spoke of rescuing those around us by doing missionary work.

He said that President Monson asked the 70 to come and teach us the importance of reaching out to save those who have left activity in the church. He told a story of a person who left the church who said that the gospel had never left his heart. He said, “I know where the church is, but sometimes I need someone else to show me the way.” That story really touched my heart. I want to be available if ever the Lord needs me to show someone the way back.

Elder Cordova spoke of a letter from the First Presidency dated February 11, 1999 which was read in Sacrament meetings and taught by home teachers. It called on parents to teach their children the principles of the Gospel. It asked us to do four things:

1. Have family prayer.

2. Have Family Home Evening.

3. Have Family Gospel Study.

4. Have Family activities

Elder Cordova promised us that as we do these things, we will be blessed with family unity and our families will not fail.

He then reminded us of the four responsibilities that we all have (as stated by President Hinckley)

1. Responsibility to family

2. Responsibility to employer

3. Responsibility to Lord’s work

4. Responsibility to ourselves

He stated that they are prioritized, but they are all important. We cannot neglect one. They must be balanced.

He finished with D&C 104:13-16.

“For it is expedient that I, the Lord, should make every man accountable….I, the Lord …built the earth…and all things therein are mine….And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine. But it must needs be done in mine own way….”

Elder Cordova explained:

We are the Lord’s. His purpose is to provide for us in His own and holy way. Be faithful to Him.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Things As They Really Are

Dear Sisters:

Well, summer is over and it is time for me to get back to being responsible. I apologize for not keeping up with these Sunday messages over the summer. I have missed talking to all of you each Sunday.

Today the High Priests Quorum joined Relief Society and Patrick Ord taught all of us from a talk given by Elder David Bednar called "Things As They Really Are." If you have not already done it, print the talk and read it. It is excellent.

Elder Bednar took his title from a scripture in Jacob, “The Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls” (Jacob 4:13)

Brother Ord first pointed out that in the talk Elder Bednar gives an "apostolic warning." He says,

"Today I raise an apostolic voice of warning about the potentially stifling, suffocating, suppressing, and constraining impact of some kinds of cyberspace interactions and experiences upon our souls. The concerns I raise are not new; they apply equally to other types of media, such as television, movies, and music. But in a cyber world, these challenges are more pervasive and intense. I plead with you to beware of the sense-dulling and spiritually destructive influence of cyberspace technologies that are used to produce high fidelity and that promote degrading and evil purposes.

If the adversary cannot entice us to misuse our physical bodies, then one of his most potent tactics is to beguile you and me as embodied spirits to disconnect gradually and physically from things as they really are. In essence, he encourages us to think and act as if we were in our premortal, unembodied state. And, if we let him, he can cunningly employ some aspects of modern technology to accomplish his purposes. Please be careful of becoming so immersed and engrossed in pixels, texting, ear buds, twittering, online social networking, and potentially addictive uses of media and the Internet that you fail to recognize the importance of your physical body and miss the richness of person-to-person communication. Beware of digital displays and data in many forms of computer-mediated interaction that can displace the full range of physical capacity and experience."

Brother Ord pointed out that we sustain the Prophet, First Presidency, and apostles as prophets, seers and revelators and because of that, an apostolic warning ought to be something that we pay very close attention to.

Elder Bednar asks two specific questions in his talk:

1. Does the use of various technologies and media invite or impede the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost in your life?

2. Does the time you spend using various technologies and media enlarge or restrict your capacity to live, to love, and to serve in meaningful ways?

There are so many good things that we can do with technology. This blog and emails to each of you are some of them. However, as usual, Satan is ready to twist the good things about technology into something that draws us away from the spirit.

Elder Bednar closed his talk by referring to the "greater capacity for obedience" that we who live in this dispensation have been blessed with. He quoted Mormon 9:27-28:

“Hearken unto the words of the Lord, and ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever ye shall stand in need. Doubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him.

“Be wise in the days of your probation; strip yourselves of all uncleanness; ask not, that ye may consume it on your lusts, but ask with a firmness unshaken, that ye will yield to no temptation, but that ye will serve the true and living God” (Mormon 9:27–28)."

His final paragraph says:

"I testify that God lives and is our Heavenly Father. He is the Author of the plan of salvation. Jesus is the Christ, the Redeemer, whose body was bruised, broken, and torn for us as He offered the atoning sacrifice. He is resurrected; He lives; and He stands at the head of His Church in these latter days. To be “encircled about eternally in the arms of his love” (2 Nephi 1:15) will be a real and not a virtual experience.

I testify we can and will be blessed with the courage and determination to face the world and all the powers of the evil one. Righteousness will prevail. No unhallowed hand can stop this work from progressing. I bear witness and testify of these things as they really are and as they really will be in the sacred name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen."

Have a wonderful, obedient week, Sisters.

We love you,

Your RS Presidency

Monday, June 22, 2009

Redemption for the Dead

This week, our lesson (Chapter 35 in the JS manual) was taught by Sister Diane Smith. She did a GREAT job! She made the words of Joseph Smith come alive and created a desire in all of us to read our lessons to learn more of his teachings.

Diane started by telling the story of the prophet's older brother Alvin. Alvin was about 8 years older than Joseph. When Joseph was almost 18, Alvin got very sick. When he realized that he was not going to get better, he called his family together to tell them all goodbye. I love that he told Joseph to "be a good boy." In those days, age 17 was a man, but Alvin loved Joseph as his little brother.

13 years later, Joseph had a vision in which he saw his mother and father and Alvin in the celestial kingdom and he "marveled how it was that [Alvin] had obtained an inheritance in that kingdom, seeing that he had departed this life before the Lord had set his hand to gather Israel the second time, and had not been baptized for the remission of sins."

It was at this point that the Lord revealed great truths previously not known about redemption for the dead.

It is not hard to imagine the great joy that filled Joseph's heart to know that his dear brother was not lost and to begin to understand that all men would have an opportunity to learn and live the Gospel whether in this life or in the life to come. A few years later, after the ordinance of baptism for the dead was introduced to the church, Hyrum was baptized for Alvin.

Diane taught us that God loves all his children, not just those who find the Gospel while they are here on this earth. She reminded us that Jesus offers forgiveness to both the living and the dead. She quoted Joseph Smith,

"The situation of the Christian nations after death, is a subject that has called forth all the wisdom and talent of the philosopher and the divine, and it is an opinion which is generally received, that the destiny of man is irretrievably fixed at his death, and that he is made either eternally happy, or eternally miserable; that if a man dies without a knowledge of God, he must be eternally damned, without any mitigation of his punishment, alleviation of his pain, or the most latent hope of a deliverance while endless ages shall roll along. However orthodox this principle may be, we shall find that it is at variance with the testimony of Holy Writ, for our Savior says, that all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men wherewith they shall blaspheme; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, nor in the world to come, evidently showing that there are sins which may be forgiven in the world to come, although the sin of blasphemy [against the Holy Ghost] cannot be forgiven [see Matthew 12:31–32; Mark 3:28–29]." (emphasis added)

We then talked about the fact that God is merciful to all people, living and dead. And we were reminded that we have the duty and privilege to be baptized and confirmed for those who have died without the Gospel.

Diane closed with this scripture, D&C 18:15-16

"15 And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one asoul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
16 And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the akingdom of my Father, how great will be your bjoy if you should bring many csouls unto me!"

Sister Smith reminded us that doing temple work, like missionary work, brings souls into the Kingdom of God. We are promised that we will have great joy with the souls we do temple work for.

Sisters, how blessed we are to know that the Lord loves all of his children. In the Prophet Joseph's words, "...While one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard."

What a fitting thought to end with on Father's Day. Let us strive to honor our Heavenly Father this Father's Day by looking upon the whole of the human family with His eyes. Let us love one another and serve one another as He does.

We love you sisters! Thanks for everything you do for each other and for all of those around you. Keep it up!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ

This week's lesson was taught by our fearless leader, Kerinda. She took many of her thoughts from a conference talk by Elder Kevin W. Pearson entitled, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. You can find the talk here. Kerinda began by reminding us that we all need faith in Christ. She spoke of the trials we all face and talked about the fact that sometimes it is hard to stay as faithful as we would like to be. Even Elder Pearson said, "I acknowledge my own need and desire for greater faith as a disciple and witness of Christ. There has never been a greater need for faith in my own life than now."

Kerinda then had us open to our Bible Dictionaries and read the definition of faith found here. That was amazing. It is something that we all should read over and over and over. Click the link and read it now. Kerinda reminded me that sometimes I forget to use the Bible Dictionary as I should.

We then focused on the fact that, "strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ; in other words, faith comes by righteousness...." Elder Pearson said, "As patterns of obedience develop, the specific blessings associated with obedience are realized and belief emerges. Desire, hope, and belief are forms of faith, but faith as a principle of power comes from a consistent pattern of obedient behavior and attitudes. Personal righteousness is a choice. Faith is a gift from God, and one possessed of it can receive enormous spiritual power."

We spoke of how fear and faith cannot coexist.

Elder Pearson said, "We do have a choice. We get what we focus on consistently. Because there is an opposition in all things, there are forces that erode our faith. Some are the result of Satan’s direct influence. But for others, we have no one but ourselves to blame. These stem from personal tendencies, attitudes, and habits we can learn to change. I will refer to these influences as the “Six Destructive Ds.”"

The Six Destructive Ds are:

Doubt which leads to
Discouragement which leads to
Distraction or lack of focus and reduced commitment which can lead to a lack of
Diligence which leads to
Disobedience which ultimately can lead to

The good news is that it does NOT have to happen that way. We have the power to choose differently.

We ended with the words to Hymn #128, When Faith Endures

I will not doubt, I will not fear.
God's love and strength are always near.
His promised gift helps me to find
An inner strength and peace of mind.
I give the Father willingly
My trust, my prayers, humility.
That fear departs when faith endures.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Easy Affordable Meals

Up to this point, this blog has only contained copies of the messages emailed out to each sister every Sunday. That is about to change. We would like to see the blog used to get all kinds of (hopefully) useful information out to the ward sisters.

Since we are living in exciting economic times, we have discussed in Relief Society many times the need for all of us to live more frugally. Here is one of my family's favorite VERY economical, so easy it's embarrassing, recipes. We fondly refer to them as "White Trash Burritos."


Canned Chili (We use whatever was on sale the weeks before and is in our food storage. Right now, it is Dennison's turkey chili.)

Shredded Cheese (We like medium cheddar, but I think that jack would be really good in this recipe.)

Flour tortillas

For 8 burritos (enough to fill a 9x13 pan) use 3 cans of chili (or 2 cans of chili and one can of refried beans.)

Warm the chili. Spoon chili into a tortilla. Sprinkle with cheese. Roll the tortilla and place seam side down in a 9x13 pan sprayed with Pam. Repeat until pan is full. Pour any remaining chili over the top of the tortillas and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 until warm all through (only about 20 minutes since the chili was warm when you put it into the tortillas.)

Serve with salsa and sour cream. Today we ate this with Caesar salad (Huge heads of Romaine lettuce are on sale at Henry's for 77 cents) and corn.

I buy my Chili when it is on sale for $1.00 or less per can. My last big purchase was when Ralphs had it on sale for 50 cents a can a few months ago. I bought 3 dozen cans and used the end of them today.

This is really frugal if you make chili from scratch (dry beans) and use the left overs to make burritos the day after. I have a great recipe that makes in the crockpot if you want it.

Okay! Time for you guys to share your frugal recipes. Just press the comment button and type!

Visiting Teaching Conference

What a great day in Relief Society! It was wonderful to see most of you there with us for the Visiting Teaching Conference. Here's a re-cap.

We took our theme from a talk by Elder Joseph Wirthlin.

"Jesus Christ is our greatest example. He was surrounded by multitudes and spoke to thousands, yet He always had concern for the one."

Our first speaker was Becky Cox Henderson. She started us off with a couple of beautiful stories of times that her Visiting Teachers (Kathy Aliaga and Deanna Andrews) have blessed her life by being there when she needed them. She spoke of how important it is that no-one is forgotten and that every sister is contacted every month. She read a short story/poem about how important our sisters are to each of us. She explained that sisters are ALL the women we surround ourselves with, not just our biological sisters.

Michele Carnohan then spoke. She took many of her comments from Elder Wirthlin's talk. You can find it here. Elder Wirthlin first taught "For the Son of Man is come to save that which was lost. He said, 'What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?"

"This instruction applies to all who follow Him. We are commanded to seek out those who are lost. We are to be our brother's keeper. We cannot neglect this commission given by our Savior. We must be concerned for the one."

As Visiting Teachers, this is our role. We are given responsibility for a few of our Heavenly Father's daughters. We are to be concerned for each of them. We are to pray for them daily, to watch for opportunities to serve them, to be their friends, to LOVE them.

Elder Wirthlin gave 3 examples of reasons people get lost: "Some because they are different, some because they are weary, and some because they have strayed."

Some are lost because they are different - Elder Wirthlin states, "They feel as if they do not belong....Tied to this misconception is the erroneous belief that all members of the church should look, talk, and be alike. The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world." I LOVE that quote. Many years ago when I was a young(er) woman, I read an article by Louise Plummer called, "Thoughts of a Grasshopper." It spoke to my heart because I am a grasshopper in a church full of ants. Take the link and enjoy a visit into my heart.

Some are lost because they are weary - Elder Wirthlin said, "It's easy to feel overwhelmed. With all the pressures and demands on our time and the stress we face each day. it's little wonder we get tired. Many feel discouraged because they have not measured up to their potential. Others simply feel too weak to contribute. And so, as the flock moves on, gradually, almost imperceptibly, some fall behind.

Some are lost because they have strayed - Elder Wirthlin states, "Except for the Lord, we have all made mistakes. The question is not whether we will trip and fall but, rather, how will we respond? Some, after making mistakes, stray from the fold. This is unfortunate. Do you not know that the Church is a place for imperfect people to gather together - even with their mortal frailties - and become better?....I know that each of you bears a concern for a loved one. Give encouragement, service, and support to them. Love them. Be kind to them. In some cases, they will return. In others, they will not. But in all cases, let us ever be worthy of the name we take upon ourselves, even that of Jesus Christ.

The Bishop then taught us some principles. The first was:

"The busier we are, the more we can do." Although that sounds illogical, it is true. As he said, "When you need something done, who do you call - the busiest people."

Another principle was "The spirit will never fail us." The Bishop quoted from D&C 84:85, "Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man."

If we keep our Visiting Teaching sisters in our minds by praying for them every day, the Lord will give us to know what we can do for them.

Finally, Kerinda Van Wagoner closed the meeting with her testimony of Visiting Teaching. She quoted Sister Julie Beck,

"Visiting teachers minister in behalf of the Savior. Our hands are His hands, our love is His love, and our service is His service. Good visiting teachers know the sisters they visit. They love them, serve them, and help them learn the gospel by the Spirit. They focus on fortifying homes and lives. There is no greater privilege than to watch over and strengthen another person—it is truly the business of salvation."

There is a wonderful song in the animated video of The Good Samaritan. I tried to find it on Youtube, but had no luck. Here are the words,

My hands are the Lord's hands.
Without me, how can his work be done?
I will reach where He would reach, Lovingkindness in my touch.
I'll be His healing hands to everyone.

My feet are the Lord's feet.
Without me, how can He walk with the poor?
I will go where he would go blessing others as I do
For Him, I'll walk where I've never walked before.

Help me Lord, Let me give to my neighbor what You would give if You were here.
Help me Lord, Let me live so my neighbor knows that You are always near.

My mouth is the Lord's mouth.
Without me, how can His voice be heard?
I will say what He would say, speaking love and life each day
And every one who's near will hear His word.

We love you sisters. Keep on doing good. With your willingness to serve, you bless the lives of everyone around you.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Becoming Provident Providers

Happy Sunday, Sisters!

I'm sorry it has taken so long for me to get back to writing this email/blog each week. I promise that I will stop letting life interfere and I will write regularly each Sunday. When I don't write, I miss the feeling that we are in touch with each one of you at least once a week.

Today I taught a lesson taken from Elder Robert D. Hales conference talk, "Becoming Provident Providers Temporally and Spiritually". A link is Here.

This is a GREAT talk. It is one of those talks that can speak to all of us where ever we happen to be in our progress toward becoming a Provident Provider for our family.

Elder Hales began by speaking of President Monson and reminding us that he grew up during the depression and because of that, he learned how to serve others. He stated that President Monson's "service to members and neighbors throughout the world has become the hallmark of his ministry."

Then Elder Hales said, "....our children are growing up in times of economic uncertainty. Just as our grandparents and great-grandparents learned vital lessons through economic adversity, what we learn now, in our present circumstances, can bless us and our posterity for generations to come." (emphasis added.)

Elder Hales goes on to speak of excessive debt and the desire to live beyond our means as an addiction. He compared it to addictions to food, drugs, or pornography. He explained that "additional debt is incurred when we cannot control our wants and addictive impulses." He then explains, "...the hopeful solution is...we must turn to the Lord and follow His commandments. We must want more than anything else to change our lives so that we can break the cycle of debt and our uncontrolled wants."

In class, we then talked about how we can begin to break habits that lead us to spend more than we make. We discussed how the Lord can take our struggles during this difficult economic time and make them for our good.

In his talk, Elder Hales told two stories from his life that taught two great principles he lived by financially. If you have not read the talk, you need to read it just to read the stories. They are great.

Elder Hales finished with this quote:

We must want, more than anything else, to do our Heavenly Father’s will and providently provide for ourselves and others. We must say, as did King Lamoni’s father, “I will give away all my sins to know thee” (Alma 22:18). Then we can go to Him with steadfast determination and promise Him, “I will do whatever it takes.” Through prayer, fasting, obedience to the commandments, priesthood blessings, and His atoning sacrifice, we will feel His love and power in our lives. We will receive His spiritual guidance and strength through the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Only through our Lord’s Atonement can we obtain a mighty change of heart (see Mosiah 5:2; Alma 5:14) and experience a mighty change in our addictive behavior.

With all the love I have in me and with the Savior’s love through me, I invite you to come unto Him and hear His words: “Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted” (2 Nephi 9:51).

I testify that the appetite to possess worldly things can only be overcome by turning to the Lord. The hunger of addiction can only be replaced by our love for Him. He stands ready to help each one of us. “Fear not,” He said, “for you are mine, and I have overcome the world” (D&C 50:41).

Words of Mormon 1:18 reads:

18 Wherefore, with the help of these, king aBenjamin, by laboring with all the might of his body and the bfaculty of his whole soul, and also the prophets, did once more establish peace in the land.

Sisters, we must labor with all the might of our bodies and faculty of our souls to establish peace in our families and homes by teaching our families to live within our means and pay off our debt. When we are not in the servitude created by our debt and financial obligations, we will have much more time to serve others and serve the Lord.


Your RS Presidency

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter, Sisters!

I hope that all of you had a wonderful Easter today. I hope it was filled with thoughts of Christ. Today, Sister Sue Bean taught us lesson #30 from the Joseph Smith manual, Valiant in the Cause of Christ. It was a very appropriate lesson for Easter Sunday.

Sue started by reminding us of the prophet, Joseph Smith's sufferings in Far West and Richmond MO before he was taken to Liberty Jail. She reminded us that he and his companions were valiant in their testimonies of Christ. She quoted from a letter written by Joseph to Emma from Richmond jail,

"We are prisoners in chains and under strong guards, for Christ's sake and for no other cause....Brother Robinson is chained next to me; he has a true heart and a firm mind. Brother Wight is next, Brother Rigdon next, Hyrum next, Parley next, Amasa next, and thus we are bound together in chains as well as the cords of everlasting love. We are in good spirits and rejoice that we are counted worthy to be persecuted for Christ's sake."

Sue then taught the following points:

1. The valiant cheerfully do all they can, even during times of trouble.
2. The valiant love the cause of Christ and strive to develop Christlike qualities.
3. The valiant strive to improve themselves while in this life.
4. The valiant endure faithfully to the end and will receive a crown of celestial glory.

Sue also referenced two conference talks. The first talk, entitled "Have we not Reason to Rejoice?" was given by Elder Uchtdorf in October 2007. The second, "Valiant in the Testimony of Jesus" was given by President Ezra Taft Benson in April 1982.

Click each talk title to read the talk. They are both wonderful.

Sue finished with this scripture from 2 Nephi 31:19-20

19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.

20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

The church has created a beautiful video using excerpts from Elder Holland's wonderful conference talk. If you have not yet had a chance to see it, go to . It is on the homepage. It is beautiful. Enjoy it.

We love you sisters. We are blessed by the unity and love that we feel for each other. Easter is a time of new beginnings. Let's each make one new goal today. One small thing that we can each do to become more valiant in the cause of Christ. If we each make one small change for good, we will bless the lives of all of those around us.

Your RS Presidency

PS Here is an update on Sister Debbie Hollingsworth. She had surgery today on her palate and they believe it was very successful. Her jaw is completely wired shut. They anticipate that she will be in the hospital for a couple more weeks. You can email her at . Mike will pick up the messages at some point and read them to her. Thanks for all your love and prayers for the Hollingsworth family.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pray Always

Dear Sisters:

Today our lesson was taught by Sister Terri Johanson. She taught from the talk Elder David Bednar gave in October conference. It is titled Pray Always. Here is a link.

Elder Bednar defined prayer as "communication to Heavenly Father from His sons and daughters on earth. Revelation is communication from Heavenly Father to His children on earth."

Elder Bednar discussed three principles that can help our prayers become more meaningful.

They are:

1. Prayer becomes more meaningful as we counsel with the Lord in all our doings (See Alma 37:37.)

He taught, "Just as the temporal creation was linked to and a continuation of the spiritual creation, so meaningful morning and evening prayers are linked to and are a continuation of each other.

Consider this example. There may be things in our character, in our behavior, or concerning our spiritual growth about which we need to counsel with Heavenly Father in morning prayer. After expressing appropriate thanks for blessings received, we plead for understanding, direction, and help to do the things we cannot do in our own strength alone. For example, as we pray, we might:

  • Reflect on those occasions when we have spoken harshly or inappropriately to those we love the most.
  • Recognize that we know better than this, but we do not always act in accordance with what we know.
  • Express remorse for our weaknesses and for not putting off the natural man more earnestly.
  • Determine to pattern our life after the Savior more completely.
  • Plead for greater strength to do and to become better.

Such a prayer is a key part of the spiritual preparation for our day.

During the course of the day, we keep a prayer in our heart for continued assistance and guidance—even as Alma suggested: “Let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord” (Alma 37:36).

We notice during this particular day that there are occasions where normally we would have a tendency to speak harshly, and we do not; or we might be inclined to anger, but we are not. We discern heavenly help and strength and humbly recognize answers to our prayer. Even in that moment of recognition, we offer a silent prayer of gratitude.

At the end of our day, we kneel again and report back to our Father. We review the events of the day and express heartfelt thanks for the blessings and the help we received. We repent and, with the assistance of the Spirit of the Lord, identify ways we can do and become better tomorrow. Thus our evening prayer builds upon and is a continuation of our morning prayer. And our evening prayer also is a preparation for meaningful morning prayer.

Morning and evening prayers—and all of the prayers in between—are not unrelated, discrete events; rather, they are linked together each day and across days, weeks, months, and even years. This is in part how we fulfill the scriptural admonition to “pray always” (Luke 21:36; 3 Nephi 18:15, 18; D&C 31:12). Such meaningful prayers are instrumental in obtaining the highest blessings God holds in store for His faithful children"

2. Prayer becomes more meaningful as we express heartfelt gratitude.

He taught, "The most meaningful and spiritual prayers I have experienced contained many expressions of thanks and few, if any, requests. As I am blessed now to pray with apostles and prophets, I find among these modern-day leaders of the Savior’s Church the same characteristic that describes Captain Moroni in the Book of Mormon: these are men whose hearts swell with thanksgiving to God for the many privileges and blessings which He bestows upon His people (see Alma 48:12). Also, they do not multiply many words, for it is given unto them what they should pray, and they are filled with desire (see 3 Nephi 19:24). The prayers of prophets are childlike in their simplicity and powerful because of their sincerity."

3. Prayer becomes more meaningful as we pray for others with real intent and a sincere heart.

Sister Johansen pointed out this beautiful quote from Elder Bednar,

"During the Savior’s ministry on the American continent, He directed the people to ponder His teachings and to pray for understanding. He healed the sick, and He prayed for the people using language that could not be written (see 3 Nephi 17:1–16). The impact of His prayer was profound: “No one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father” (3 Nephi 17:17). Imagine what it might have been like to hear the Savior of the world praying for us.

Do our spouses, children, and other family members likewise feel the power of our prayers offered unto the Father for their specific needs and desires? Do those we serve hear us pray for them with faith and sincerity? If those we love and serve have not heard and felt the influence of our earnest prayers in their behalf, then the time to repent is now. As we emulate the example of the Savior, our prayers truly will become more meaningful."

We also discussed how united we have become as a ward and a sisterhood since we have chosen to pray together for particular members of our ward. There is great power in united prayer, sisters and we have seen it in action.

Sister Johansen challenged us to make sure that our family members and those we serve hear us pray for them.

We love you sisters. We pray for you, and we know that you pray for each other. Let us all strive to have our prayers be more meaningful by exercising the steps outlined by Elder Bednar.

Your RS Presidency

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Come What May, And Love It

Hello Sisters:

Today Chelsea Steffieri taught our lesson. She taught from a talk by Elder Wirthlin at our last General Conference. His talk was called, Come What May and Love It. Here is a link to the talk. Chelsea pointed out that this was the final talk given by Elder Wirthlin in a General Conference as he died a few weeks later at the age of 91.

Elder Wirthlin began his talk by telling the story of coming home as a young man very discouraged because his football team had lost a game. His mother's response to him was, "Joseph, come what may, and love it." He said, "I think she may have meant that every life has peaks and shadows and times when it seems that the birds don't sing and bells don't ring. Yet in spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wiser, and happier as a result."

Elder Wirthlin said that "whenever my steps led through seasons of sadness and sorrow, my mother's words often came back to me."

Chelsea then shared four things that have helped Elder Wirthlin through times of testing and trial.

1. Learn to Laugh - Elder Wirthlin taught us to laugh at ourselves. He told a very funny story about one of his daughters that could have been horrible embarrassing if she had not learned to laugh at herself. (Click the link above and enjoy the story.)

2. Seek for the Eternal - Look at the big picture. Elder Wirthlin says, "Learning to endure times of disappointment, suffering, and sorrow is part of our on the job training. These experiences, while often difficult to bear at the time, are precisely the kinds of experiences that stretch our understanding, build our character, and increase our compassion for others." Chelsea talked about the parable of the Olive Tree in Jacob 5. She reminded us that the Olive Trees had to be pruned and dug and grafted and that all of those things are painful processes. This subject reminded me of a story by Hugh B. Brown called "The Currant Bush." The link is here. This story reminds us that "God is the Gardener."

3. The Principle of Compensation - "The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude." Kerinda pointed out that this talk represented the principle of compensation to Elder Wirthlin's family as it was the last one he gave before he died. During those sad days after his death, imagine the peace and joy it gave all of them to know that he would want them to "Come what may, and love it."

4. Trust in the Father and the Son - Elder Wirthlin says, "The 4th thing we can do is put our trust in our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. The Lord Jesus Christ is our partner, helper, and advocate. He wants us to be happy. he wants us to be successful. If we do our part, He will step in. He who descended below all things will come to our aid. He will comfort us and uphold us. He will strengthen us in our weakness and fortify us in our distress. He will make weak things become strong."

Chelsea ended with this scripture.

"Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed." D&C 123:17

We love you, Sisters. We wish for all of you joy and peace in your lives during these sometimes confusing and frightening times. Life is good. We have many blessings. As Sister Stange said during the lesson, "We have more than we don't have." May we all strive to cheerfully do all that we can so that we will be able to stand still with the utmost assurance to see the salvation of God.


Your Relief Society Presidency

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Beware the Bitter Fruits of Apostasy


This week, Diane Smith taught a great lesson from Chapter 27 of the Joseph Smith manual. It is entitled, Beware the Bitter Fruits of Apostasy. As usual, this is a great lesson sisters. If you have not had a chance to read the lesson, please take time to read it this week.

The subject of this weeks lesson was how we can avoid apostasy. Sister Smith defined apostasy as a turning away from our beliefs.

The lesson manual describes the apostasy of many members of the church during the Kirtland period of church history. Describing those who left the church, Sister Eliza Snow said, "As the Saints drank in the love and spirit of the world, the Spirit of the Lord withdrew from their hearts."

Of course, most of the Saints during that period stayed close to the spirit and loyal to the gospel. Brigham Young described a meeting in which some Church members were discussing how to depose the Prophet Joseph: "I rose up, and in a plain and forcible manner told them that Joseph was a Prophet and I knew it, and that they might rail and slander him as much as they pleased, but they could not destroy the appointment of the Prophet of God; they could only destroy their own authority, cut the thread that bound them to the Prophet and to God, and sink themselves to hell." I was amused to read his next sentence, "Many were highly enraged at my decided opposition to their measures...." Hmmmm? I guess no one likes being told they might be on the wrong road. Brigham continued, "This was a crisis when earth and hell seemed leagued to overthrow the Prophet and Church of God. The knees of many of the strongest men in the Church faltered."

Sister Smith began a discussion of how we can keep our "knees from faltering."

She pointed out that when we lose confidence in or criticize our church leaders we run the risk of apostasy. We discussed that our church leaders are just people like us, doing their best to live the Gospel. It is our job to support and sustain them as they do their best to serve us the way the Lord requires.

Sister Smith spoke to us about how we must guard against apostasy. She used this quote from Joseph, "Before you joined this Church you stood on neutral ground. When the gospel was preached, good and evil were set before you. You could choose either or neither. There were two opposite masters inviting you to serve them. When you joined this Church, you enlisted to serve God. When you did that you left the neutral ground, and you never can get back on to it. should you forsake the Master you enlisted to serve, it will be by the instigation of the evil one and you will follow his dictation and be his servant."

There is the answer Sisters. As we do our best to follow the Master, Jesus Christ and to listen to His voice through the Holy Ghost, we will be protected from apostasy. We must work to obtain our own rock solid testimony of the Savior and the Gospel. As our testimonies become stronger, we become instruments in the hands of the Lord to be used to strengthen his kingdom.

Sister Smith ended her lesson with this quote from the manual, "Ezra T. Clark remembered: 'I heard the Prophet Joseph say that he would give the Saints a key whereby they would never be led away or deceived, and that was: The Lord would never suffer a majority of this people to be led away or deceived by imposters, nor would he allow the records of this Chruch to fall into the hands of the enemy.'"

Sisters, we love how you support each other. We are astounded by the service you give to each other. We see evidence of your testimonies constantly in the day to day service you render to your families, friends, and each other. We are amazed by you.

Your Relief Society Presidency


Hi Sisters:

I'm sorry I missed sending out this message last week. My Sunday got away from me. So, there will be two messages this week. This first message is regarding the lesson given last week (February 8, 2009) by Sue Bean. It is lesson 27 in your Joseph Smith manual and is called Elijah and the Restoration of the Sealing Keys.

Sue started out by describing the dedication of the Kirtland temple. Eliza Snow said, "The ceremonies of that dedication may be rehearsed, but no mortal language can describe the heavenly manifestations of that memorable day. Angels appeared to some, while a sense of divine presence was realized by all present, and each heart was filled with joy inexpressible and full of glory."

On the following Sunday, April 3, 1836, the prophet Joseph and Oliver Cowdery retired to the pulpit behind lowered curtains and knelt in solemn prayer. As they rose from prayer, the Savior Himself appeared tot hem and proclaimed His approval of the temple.

D&C 110:7 says, "Behold, I have accepted this hous, and my name shall be here; and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house. "

After Christ appeared, Joseph and Oliver had more visions in which they saw Moses who gave them the "keys of the gathering of Israel", Elias who gave them the "dispensation of the gospel of Abraham", and then Elijah, who gave Joseph and Oliveer the "keys of sealing - the power to bind and validate in the heavens all ordinances performed on the earth."

Sue then facilitated a discussion by the sisters of why the sealing keys are so important. There were many great points discussed and the concensus of the sisters seemed to be that as we do our geneology and attend the temple, we are sealing everyone who has ever lived on the earth to each other. When the end of the millenium arrives, all will have received this ordinance and will have the opportunity to accept their place in the family of God. The work we do today in our families and in the temple is vital to the plan of salvation.

We also discussed that there are great blessings here on earth from the sealing keys. Being sealed as a family fosters feelings of love and acceptance and joy in our families. Knowing that we will be together eternally helps us to treat each other with tenderness and understanding. It also helps us to work out our difficulties and draw closer together in times of trial.

We love you sisters. Let us all strive together to be more dedicated to our temple work.

Your Relief Society Presidency

Monday, February 2, 2009

For God Hath Not Given Us The Spirit Of Fear

Dear Sisters:

Today in Relief Society, we talked about fear. Sister Michele Carnohan taught the lesson. She started with a scripture found in Philippians 4:6-8.

6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

We then supplemented that by reading the NIV version of the same verses.

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

We talked about how sometimes it is nice to supplement your scripture reading with another translation to help understand difficult phrases or to add to the depth of a scripture you already love. This scripture is definitely in the latter category.

After we read and marked the scripture, we talked about some of the things in our world today that are frightening. There are many things that make us anxious and fearful. Finances, a wayward child, having to go back to work, illness, family issues, and evil are only a few of the fears that beset us.

So we again focused on how the Lord asks us to overcome those fears. In vs 6, he says, "in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." So, we are to bring our problems to him in prayer. Give him our anxiety and our fears. And in return, he promises us that "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." I also love the NIV version which says that the peace of God will "guard" your hearts and minds. I like the idea of my heart and my mind being kept and guarded by the peace of God through Christ Jesus.

We then talked about how we can help others overcome their fears. We read D&C 81:15 together.

"Wherefore, be faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees. "

We listed the ways that we can help others:

1. Be faithful in our callings and have faith in Jesus Christ.

2. Succor (Run to or give nourishment to) the weak.

3. Lift up (Provide encouragement to those with) hands which hang down (the depressed or exhausted.)

4. Strengthen (Give courage to) those with feeble knees (knees that knock in fear and anxiety).

We discussed that sometimes, when we are overwhelmed with the difficulty of the way, we forget to give thanks for our blessings and we forget to look outside ourselves and help others. In our discussion, we decided that there are ways to help the Lord give us the "peace of God which passeth all understanding."

We can love and support one another. We can forgive ourselves and others. We can remember that we all have fears and anxieties and issues. We may not show them outwardly, but we have them. And as we strive to help each other overcome those problems and find the peace of God, we also find that peace ourselves. We also discussed that as we have needs that can be filled by our RS sisters, we must be willing to ask for help and allow others to help us so that they can find the peace of God through service.

We ended with Ephesians 4:31-32

31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Years ago, Sally Wimmer introduced me to the Mitford Series by Jan Karon. The main character in these books is an Episcopilian Priest, Father Tim Kavanaugh. I have just read through the series again and loved them just as much as I did the first time. One of the things I am reminded to do when I read about Father Tim is to pray "the prayer that never fails, 'thy will be done.'" Once I pray the prayer that never fails, I must have faith that the Lord has his hand in our lives and that He has a plan for me that I may not be able to see. When I am able to let His will be done, I am able to feel His peace.

Have a fantastic February, sisters. Get out and do your visiting teaching early this month so you can "succor the weak, lift up the hands that hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees." We love you.

Your Relief Society Presidency

Sunday, January 25, 2009

RS Message 1-25-2009

Dear Sisters:

Today we had an excellent Relief Society lesson given by Sister Tammie Reber. The lesson was based on a talk by Elder Robert D. Hales in October conference called "Christian Courage: the Price of Discipleship." Here is a link to the talk. (I don't know why links won't work in this blog, so just cut and paste it in your browser.),5232,23-1-947-22,00.html

Elder Hales talk was focused on how we can correctly respond to those who accuse or antagonize us. He said, " of mortality's great tests comes when our beliefs are questioned or criticized. In such moments, we may want to respond aggressively - to 'put up our dukes.' But these are important opportunities to step back, pray, and follow the Savior's example."

Tammie had six specific points from the talk that we discussed. They were:

1. True disciples of Christ see opportunity in the midst of opposition.

2. As true disciples seek guidance from the spirit, they receive inspiration tailored to each encounter.

3. True disciples respond in ways that invite the spirit of the Lord.

4. As true disciples, our primary concern must be others' welfare, not personal vindication.

5. True disciples avoid being unduly judgmental of others' views.

6. Sometimes true disciples must show Christian Courage by saying nothing at all.

Sister Reber counseled us to take these principles and use them in our daily interactions with our family and friends. She reminded us that sometimes with those we love, we forget to respond in ways that invite the spirit or we become concerned with our own personal vindication instead of being concerned with the welfare of our family members.

We also talked about the need for all of us to become very educated about the principles of the Gospel so that we can share them without fear. The more we learn, the easier it is to answer those who are critical of the Gospel with love. We do not become defensive. Instead, we desire to teach the truth.

I frequent a website that is designed to help Latter Day Saints find answers to the criticisms we hear from day to day. I discovered this site when I taught Seminary and needed answers for students who would bring me questions that their friends were asking them. The website is

Over the past few years, I have gone to this website to get answers to many questions I have been asked by friends about church history or church doctrine. It does not replace our responsibility to search things out in the scriptures and in church publications, but it augments our search.

Have a wonderful week, sisters. This week, let's all work together to learn more about the Gospel and to seek opportunities to invite the spirit of the Lord into our homes, our families, and our lives. Let us show "Christian Courage" in all of our interactions this coming week.

We love you!

Your Relief Society Presidency

Sunday, January 18, 2009

RS Message 1-18-2009

Dear Sisters:

Our lesson today was lesson 25 from the Joseph Smith manual, Truths from the Savior's Parables in Matthew 13. If you don't have a manual at home, here is a link.

(This link wouldn't work in my last blog post, so if it doesn't work, just cut and paste it into your browser window.)

Sister Diane Smith was our teacher. Diane always keeps us interested. Today she broke us up into groups and had each group discuss one of the parables in Matthew 13 and then read the Prophet Joseph Smith's commentary on the parable.

One of the things that stood out to me as I read this lesson was this description of J0seph Smith,

"The Prophet's writings and sermons are filled with scriptural quotations and interpretations, for he had studied the scriptures so extensively that they became an integral part of his thinking. In his teachings, he quoted scriptures directly, he alluded to them, he paraphrased them, and he used them as the foundation for his sermons."

Sister Smith mentioned that when she read that paragraph, it made her think about Bruce R. McConkie and Neal A. Maxwell. They were apostles who loved the scriptures so much and spent so much time in them, that their regular everyday conversation was peppered with scriptural phrases and word combinations. Many times, their conference talks were almost like listening to someone read the scriptures.

In the lesson, there was also a quote from Wandle Mace, "I have listened to the Prophet Joseph Smith in public and in private, in sunshine and in shower, as many others have done as he taught them from the stand. And in my own, and in his house, I have been familiar with him...and do know that no man could explain the scriptures, throw them wide open to view so plainly that none could misunderstand their meaning, except he had been taught of God."

"I have sometimes felt ashamed of myself because, having studied the scriptures so much, even from a child, I had not seen that which was so plain when he touched them."

Sisters, let's work to become so familiar with the scriptures that they become a part of us; That their language slips, almost unknowingly, into our own; That when we have "free" time, we are drawn to the scriptures because they have become such an essential piece of our lives.

A great place to start would be to spend this week studying and pondering the parables in Matthew 13. As part of your study, read this lesson and learn from the Prophet's words about Matthew 13.

Sisters, there is great power to change in the scriptures. Most of us have things in our lives that we would like to change. We want to stop doing something we should not do. We want to start doing something we know we should do. We want to be better mothers and wives. We want to be better teachers and friends. We want to be more effective in our callings. We want to be more like Jesus Christ. The scriptures are one of the tools the Lord has given us to help us make those changes in our lives.

Here is a link to a wonderful BYU Fireside talk that was given by Elder Neal A. Maxwell in 1994. Although it has been a few years, it is a wonderful talk, filled with ideas of how we can make those changes in our lives and become better disciples of Christ.

We love you sisters. Continue forward with all the good things that you do.

Your Relief Society Presidency