Finding Peace

“Angels, shepherds, and Wise Men sought and found peace from their faith in Jesus Christ. So will you. The Savior’s birth is the gift that makes it possible for the Father to give us ‘peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.'”
—President Henry B. Eyring, First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional

A friend recently sent to me a copy of a talk entitled “Peace in this Life”, by Henry B. Eyring.  What a timely message this is.  Our world is in turmoil; oftentimes our personal lives are extremely challenging for many reasons, both within our control and not so much.  But amidst whatever trials, challenges, another’s choice that affects our lives, or influences that can impact us on a global level, we can find peace.  That one word means so much.  Where can we turn for peace?  We turn to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate this month.  The following quote from this talk was very meaningful to me, as I had just prayed that improving my relationship with my Savior would strengthen me on those days that are especially trying.  I hope it helps you and gives you some direction during a difficult time.

“It is only through following the Savior that any of us can find peace and serenity in the trials that will come to all of us.”

And it just now occurred to me that we should remember that our relationship with Jesus Christ, as well as our Heavenly Father, can make the good days even sweeter.  They aren’t just there for us on the rough days.

Image from LDS.org.

Inspiration from an Unexpected Source

 

We have been serving as Church Service Missionaries in the Welfare Services Department of our church. Our area of focus is in a regional Home Storage Center where members of our church, as well as those who are not members, can come and purchase pre-pack and bulk items of foods such as flour, wheat, sugar, beans, etc. for everyday use or for food storage.  Ask me about the Hot Cocoa Mix.  We have been doing this for a few months now and have really enjoyed our service.  

This past week things were a little slow, until a young mom came in to buy a couple of items while she was in the area. She does not live locally, but sometimes stops by when she is in town on business and picks up a few things.  She was probably in her 30’s, and was just a delight to talk to.  She radiated the spirit of the Gospel: her light was warm and beautiful.  As I sat there chatting with her about her current assignment in church–she is Primary President in her congregation–I was struck by how strong her testimony was of the Savior and living the Gospel–she has only been a member of the church for 4 years!  

I am 58 and was baptized at 8 years old, and she is more spiritually mature than I am.  I was honored and blessed to be talking to her and I kept thinking that it was so cool to be having this conversation with a perfect stranger, and yet, because of our beliefs we were really sisters.

She set an example for me that day of a loving mother, a beautiful daughter of God, a strong warrior for our Savior Jesus Christ.

It was a good day.

#LIGHTtheWORLD

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Amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it can be hard to lose sight of what’s truly important.

God.  People.  Relationships.  Love.

Isn’t it interesting that a holiday season technically focused on gratitude and peace on earth could be so cluttered up with things that, while fun, are not what’s most important?

Would you like to reconnect with what’s really important?

Would you like to find a way to reach out to others?

Would you like to reconnect with God?

Then, “LIGHT THE WORLD!!!!  In 25 Ways.  Over 25 Days”.

From mormon.org:
During Christmas, we are reminded that Jesus Christ is the light of the world. This year, we have an amazing opportunity to share that light by resolving to do the things Jesus Christ did. Every day leading up to Christmas, we will focus on a different Christ-like behavior and provide suggestions for ways we can emulate His example. You’re encouraged to participate using the outline below as you plan your Christmas activities.

 

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It’s so easy.  Print off the calendar (from here or from mormon.org). Just take a little time each day and choose an activity (either one listed on the chart or do your own thing!) that celebrates and demonstrates the Christ-like character focus of the day. 

Will you?  Will you take a few moments and make this spiritual connection to feel more love, gratitude, peace, and joy this holiday season as we celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world?

 

The Miracle of Us

A week in bed, basically.  Another week of limited mobility.  Two more weeks of restriction from exercise.  Another two weeks of restriction from anything but low-impact exercise.

Yep.  That’s what surgery will do to you.

I recently had surgery on my left ankle to repair a partially torn tendon.  All went well.  Hardly any pain.  But I did have a fair amount of frustration with my limited mobility. 

What do they say?  You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

I thought I would enjoy a reason, an excuse, to lay in bed and be waited on.  And while the first few days of pain meds, napping, and Netflix were easy, what came after was a growing impatience for my freedom of movement.  

And I became very aware of how much I take the ability to walk normally for granted.  To bend, stoop, hop, even wear normal shoes.

Please don’t think I’m trying to garner sympathy.  My recovery has been pretty easy and basically pain-free.  And relatively short!  It just gave me a renewed appreciation for my body and the abilities that I have.

So I thought I would share this wonderful video about what miraculous, divine beings we are.  We truly are His greatest creations.

 

Traditions & Popcorn Balls

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Traditions have meant a lot to me for as long as I can remember, but I haven’t always been that great at starting continuing them.  I can sure start one, but it’s the hardest thing for me to continue.  I remember a few from my childhood–oyster stew for Christmas Eve (for years we did this in our family until one day we realized that only one or two of us even liked it that much), opening gifts on Christmas Eve (still do that one!)—Trick or Treating at Halloween in the neighborhood with costumes from Mom’s Costume Box, etc.   This time of year really gets my mind spinning on what traditions my family expects on Christmas Eve–full from scratch Mexican meal, opening gifts. doing stockings, EVEN FOR THE ADULTS–and other things like decorating for Fall (my favorite season).  Hmmm….that’s not very many traditions.  I need some more.  

So a couple of days ago I was at the store picking up some things for dinner and I realized that my grandsons would be at the house that day and I needed to give them their Halloween treats!  I am trying to start that tradition with them, since I am not with them for the Trick or Treating.  So I grabbed a couple of different small bags of candy and I was trying to think of something else I could do that would be slightly healthy and I remembered something my Mom did for us when we were younger–homemade popcorn balls!  I loved those and did them a few times when my girls were little.  I knew it was time for me to start that tradition with my grandkids, so I picked up some microwave popcorn, some orange and green Jell-O and some tiny marshmallows, some Halloween goodie bags and pencils.

It was so much fun to share those popcorn balls with my boys!

Traditions are fun and bonding and build great relationships in your family.  So today, think about some traditions that you are already doing and some new ones that you can add.  And they don’t have to be built around holidays.  Some of the best are things you do together randomly that the kids consider as traditions, because they will certainly remind you to do them again!

I know it’s Mormon Morsel Sunday, but how about I share my Marshmallow Popcorn Ball recipe with you today?  Maybe you can make some for your Trick or Treaters…

Marshmallow Popcorn Balls
Yields 12
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Ingredients
  1. 6 T. butter
  2. 3 cups tiny marshmallows
  3. 1/2 of a 3-oz. pkg of Jell-O, in flavor of choice (3 T.)
  4. 3 quarts unsalted popped corn
Instructions
  1. Place popped corn in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. In medium pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add marshmallow, stirring until melted.
  3. Blend in Jell-O, and pour over popcorn, mixing well.
  4. With buttered hands, form popcorn into balls.
Notes
  1. Have fun with different colors of Jell-O, depending on the occasion. Hey, let the kids help make the popcorn balls--you shouldn't have ALL the fun!
Mormon Mavens http://www.mormonmavens.com/

Thoughts on General Conference

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Our Church holds two conferences annually to our worldwide membership and this year I was actually able to attend the Saturday afternoon session in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.   While in Salt Lake I was able to take a really cool picture of the spires of the Salt Lake LDS Temple.  As I was preparing a spiritual thought for today, I just really wanted to share the photo I took and also a few thoughts from other conferences that I have watched and taken notes from.  Hope you gain something from what I share today:

  • It is not the work of the Lord that is frustrated, but the work of man.
  • In spite of conditions in the world today, we live in a consecrated time.
  • Your calling isn’t about what you’ve done, but what the Lord can do through you.
  • Simplify your approach to discipleship–start where you are.
  • No matter where we are, we are the Lord’s agents.  We are always on His errand.
  • We are not aware of what the Savior’s sacrifice has done for us.
  • It’s not the trial, it’s the load.  Bearing it is necessary on our path to eternal life.  Don’t expect to carry it alone.
  • Keeping covenants empowers us–stay firmly on the path.
  • We were tutored in the pre-existence and were given trials and challenges unique to us.
  • Learn to recognize the power of the Atonement in your life.  
  • The Lord sees weaknesses differently than he does rebellion.

 

Okay, that’s it for now.  Time to get ready for church.  Happy Sunday!

The Vital Need for Daily Protection

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Can you agree with me that the world is a crazier, darker place right now than it has ever been before?  Daily reminders abound to freak me out.  Stress over the presidential election, terrorism rising at a deadly rate,  wars and rumors of wars, natural and not-so-natural disasters everywhere you turn.  Maybe I need to stay away from Facebook, or watch the national news a little less–though that is hard to do.  And then there is the busyness of everyday life!  My goodness.  So much going on, and not enough time to sift through it and choose over Good, Better, Best.

Today, as I pondered what to share with you, an image came to mind that I did see on Facebook.  A friend had shared this and when I saw it, it immediately gave me a sense of peace.  

 

I was reminded that if we will take the time to do our personal spiritual preparation–study, meditation, scripture reading, praying, whatever you do to connect to a higher power–we will be protected and will be putting on a spiritual armor that will help to protect and shield us, as much as possible, from those things that would attempt to destroy us and pull us down to a level where we just do NOT want to be.

Do this for yourself, do this with your families.  Strengthen your soul.  Prepare for your everyday battles.

 

Image Source: I do not know where this image originated.  If you do, please let me know and I will give appropriate attribution.  Thanks.

What’s In Your “Wallet?”

This Mormon Morsel was posted on November 27, 2011.  This same story was mentioned in a Relief Society lesson this past week and I thought it would be appropriate to share again.  I love the message here!
 
I was looking up information on http://www.lds.org/ for my upcoming lesson in Young Women and I saw this video for youth called “The Lost Purse.”  Oh my goodness.  It really makes you think about what your “stuff” says about who you are.  Take a look at this video.  I, for one, am going to check my “purse” and see what I am putting out there about who I am.
 
 
 

 
“The Lost Purse”
 
 

Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful

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These little “MormonAds” would come out in every issue of The New Era, the LDS magazine for youth and as a teen, looking for the new ad each month was a ritual for me as I leafed through each shiny, new issue.

This particular ad was my favorite.  For a couple of reasons.

One, I absolutely love daisies!  And to see a daisy in comparison with all those roses….yeah, I got that, because I’d rather get a bouquet of daisies than roses.  (Not that I don’t also love roses!)

But the main reason I loved it is because I never really “fit in” and needed reassurance that it was okay that I didn’t.  I don’t know that I always internalized the message from this ad as well as I should’ve (and still don’t).  I still spent countless hours wishing I was something I wasn’t (and still do).  

But I have always remembered the image of the daisy among the roses.

And I thought of this ad recently when I watched a documentary about body acceptance.  The film addressed the pressure that women are under to look a certain way in order to be acceptable.  Basically, to all be roses.  But not just any roses.  We must all have perfect petals with no flaws.  Our stems must all be long and straight.  Leaves in just the right places.  If not, then we just don’t belong in the bouquet!  

It was very eye-opening to see just how much we have let the media influence who we should be and that we have reduced the definition of ourselves to the appearance of our outer shells.

How sad that must make our Father in Heaven!

Here we are.  A diverse garden of unique and beautiful flowers.  And all we want to do is look like one kind of flower.  What a boring garden that would be!

How much more beautiful for each flower to be the best flower it can be, “flaws” and all.  To bloom where we are planted.  To face the sun, grow up strong, and be proud of who we are.

Supermodels?

Beauty Queens?

No.

Daughters of our Heavenly Father.

That alone makes us exquisite.  That alone makes us beautiful.

And we enhance our beauty with the lives we lead.  By being kind.  By loving fully.  By serving others.

That kind of beauty is the highest form of beauty.  

And while I’m not gonna stop wearing makeup, I am going to try to look for and embrace my own kind of beautiful.  I am going to try harder to love this imperfect body that has grown and birthed five amazing humans.  And I am going to work on believing in the beauty that is already there, deep down in side.

It’s time to embrace being a unique part of a beautiful, diverse garden of womanhood.

It’s time to be your own kind of beautiful!

With Every Decision

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Have you ever seen that movie, The Paper?  I saw it once on TV.  It was edited, obviously. It’s a rated R movie so I wanted to make that clear from the get-go.  

Anyway, there is a scene in this movie that I will never forget because it made an impression on me.

The main character (played by Michael Keaton) is working on a huge story for his newspaper, The Sun.  I mean, this story is ginormous if he can get it verified and to press before the paper “goes to bed”.  He’s supposed to be meeting his very pregnant wife (played by Marissa Tomei) and her parents for dinner.  But he’s late.  Again.

He calls her to explain why he’s late.  She’s heard these excuses way too many times and is fed up.  She feels that he cares more for the paper than he does for anything else.

During this phone call, she surprises him with this:

Wife:  You know that. – Let me give you a hypothetical.

Husband (annoyed):  Really?

Wife:  A guy breaks into the apartment. – Breaks into the apartment.  He’s got a gun, holds it to my head.  He says, “I blow your wife’s brains out or I blow up the “Sun” building.”  Choose. Now. What do you say?

Husband:  What do you think I say?  It’s ridiculous. It’s not gonna happen.

Wife:  That is exactly my point. It is never one big dramatic choice.  It is little, vague situations every day…and you’re either there or you’re not.  If you keep waiting for the guy with the gun to show up, it will be too late.

That stuck with me.  Because our lives our mostly about all the little decisions that we make every day.  Those are what really define us, right?  I mean, sure, there are big decisions like marriage.  But we don’t have ginormous, dramatic decisions to make every day.  Our days are crammed with little decisions.

Which, when you think about it, makes each of those decisions a lot more meaningful.   (And obviously, I’m not talking about decisions such as “should I have Frosted Flakes or Cheerios?”)  The mundane (or what we think of as mundane) acts of service each day, such as making a meal for your family or smiling at the cashier.  Decisions on what kind of media we decide to watch or not watch.  The thoughts that we allow to take hold in our minds.  Whether we will read the scriptures.  All these “little, vague situations every day” give us ample opportunities to show what we’re made of. 

And we’re either there or we’re not, to paraphrase Marissa Tomei’s character.

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from lds.org

All these decisions, like the ones mentioned in Elder Bednar’s quote above, are little brushstrokes “on the canvas of our souls”.  Up close each brushstroke may not seem important, valuable, or beautiful.  But stand back and these decisions and actions are part of a beautiful picture that we paint.  

Every day.  

With every decision.

Let us paint something beautiful with each brushstroke.