Sunday, November 30, 2008

Say Hello to Those You Know, and Everyone You Meet...

A few weeks back, James and I were asked to speak in church this Sunday. We said yes and went on our way. When I went to write it on the calendar, I realized that I was supposed to be in Great Falls this weekend. So, last Sunday I told them I couldn't speak. The entire time during Sacrament meeting, I felt horrible. My stomach was in knots and I was just not happy. I decided I would make sure I was back in time for church so I could speak and immediately, I felt 100% better. This topic is one I feel so stongly about. As you may or may not know, the majority of my immediate family as well as many members of my extended family is not active and every single person stopped going to church because they felt unwanted or unwelcomed. So, I knew it was important to speak on this topic. Here is a copy of the talk I gave. Of course, its not word for word, but pretty close to what I said! Its kind of long, so if you don't read the whole thing, I understand!
Fellowshipping Others
The topic James and I were given to speak on is Fellowshipping. When we think of fellowshipping, we typically think of reaching out to non members and new converts. While this is important, I have chosen to speak on a type of fellowshipping that is often overlooked. I believe that far too often, we are so busy fellowshipping the new converts and non members that we forget to be there for the active members of our ward.
George Elliot, a nineteenth century English novelist, said “What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each other?”
Elder Erstus Snow, and apostle and early pioneer said: “What man, however good be his desires, can control himself and his family in their habits and manners of life and fashions, without the aid of the surrounding community? What sensible man can hold me or my brethren responsible, in all respects, either for ourselves or our households, unaided by the community, and while the community are all working against us? But when the community learn to work together, and are agreed in a common purpose, what is it that they cannot accomplish? Union is strength.”
In the First Presidency Message in the January 2000 Ensign, President Gordon B Hinckley said “We speak of the fellowship of the Saints. This is and must be a very real thing. We must never permit this spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood to weaken. We must constantly cultivate it.”
Bishop McMullin addresses us as his “ward family”. That is, in fact, what we are: a family. David Brown, a member of the Meridian 13th Ward in Idaho, said in an article for the Dec 2005 Ensign, “ Fellowship permeates from member to member no matter where we are. Why? Because we know we are literally brothers and sisters…”
We have been commanded to strengthen the bonds of our ward family. When a ward family really feels like a family, strong and united, they can offer so much more support to new and less active members. Not only that, but the active members feel more security, helping to prevent falling away.
So, the question then becomes how do we build this strong ward family. The key work is family. What attributes characterize a strong family? What things do happy families do and share? First and foremost, I think that a successful family is more than just relatives who live under the same roof. They are people who are best friends, who love and care for each other. They will be there for each other no matter what, and never judge one another. And, of course, they know how to have fun together.
These things all follow a natural progression. A friendship that is nurtured will turn into a sincere concern and love for a person. From there, trust and a sense of security are formed. And the more comfortable people are with each other, the more they can relax and have fun together.
The first step, then, is to build a friendship. As humans, we are naturally social beings. We crave friendship and interaction. While we don’t go to church solely for the social aspect, attending is much easier when we feel comfortable, accepted, and surrounded by friends.
In the same first presidency message I quoted earlier, President Hinckley said “We belong to what may be regarded as the greatest community of friends on the face of the earth…. We must be friends. We must love, honour and respect and assist one another.”
John Withrop, a puritan pilgrim, said “We must be knit together in this work as one… We must delight in each other, make others’ conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labour and suffer together … as members of the same body.”
This is where things get tricky for some of us, myself included. As James will attest to, meeting new people sends me into a panic. Literally, I have heart palpitations, my hands get sweaty, the room starts to spin, I can’t breathe, well… you get the idea. However, things that are the most challenging usually end up being the most rewarding. We all have a responsibility in befriending each other. We need to not only reach out to others, but we need to be open to those who are reaching out to us.
Once we have begun a friendship, we can then work on developing a deeper, more loving friendship.
The article by David Brown, quoted earlier, also says “Christ commanded us to love one another.
Simply showing up for church at the appointed time doesn’t suffice. Love of others is not a gift bestowed upon us without effort - it is something we learn a little at a time through consecration and sacrifice. No matter what our circumstances might be, we all have an inherent duty to reach out to fellow members and include them in our circle, making each ward and branch a family. That is why we call each other brother and sisters. After all, there is no such thing as an only child in the kingdom of God.” We must learn to love one another with true charity.
1 Cor 13:4-8 "Charity sufferth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her won, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all thing, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth..."
That scripture details the many things that true charity entails. It can take a lifetime to really understand charity, but as long as we’re working on it, we’re on the right path. One of the best ways to learn to love one another is to serve each other. Service drives out selfishness.
In a the May 2003 Liahona, Susan Tanner said “Love is the foundational virtue in building a strong home.” Home can equal family. Just as in our individual families, members of our ward families go through difficult times, times that challenge our testimony. When we are surrounded by those we love, these challenges, while still difficult, somehow seem easier to handle. And, it stands to reason, the more people who care for us that we are surrounded by, the lighter our load. Love endures through all the hardships of life.
Friendship and love are the foundation of a strong family. But, just as with our individual families, our ward family needs more than a foundation.
D&C 109:8 "Organize yourselve; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a hourse of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a hourse of order, a house of God; That your incomings may be in the name of the Lord, that your outgoing may be in the name of the Lord, that all your salutations may be in the name of the Lord, with uplifted hands unto the Most High" This scripture lists the formula for a strong home.

The Proclamation on the Family says “Successful families are established on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgivness, respect, love, compassion, work and wholesome activities.”
To build a strong family, we need to talk to one another, show affection, encourage active participation and laugh together.

In her talk Ward and Branch Families: Part of heavenly Father’s plan for us, Sister Virginia H Pearce outlined several things a ward family should provide for its members. They are as follows:
1. A sense of belonging
It is such a blessing to be part of a worldwide community. How great to know that almost anywhere you go in the world, you can find people who you have something in common with.
2. The reassurance of listening ears.
“The surest way to increase our love for someone is to listen with patience and respect. … How can we “mourn with those that mourn” and ‘bear one another’s burdens” (Mosiah 18:8-9) if we don’t listen to know what those burdens are?”
3. Provide encouragement.
D &C 121 41-43 "No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virture of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy and without guile Reproving betimes with sharpness when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved lest he esteem thee to be his enemy." The scripture explains to us how to bring someone back. We can't nag or use harsh words. We need be be kind and patient and loving, while still being honest. Being kind doesn't mean we accept the behaviour that is wrong, but it does mean that we still love them.

When friends express confidnece in us, we get and extra boost and the light at the end of the tunnel seems brighter. A steady belief in ward members can often be of far more value than casseroles or loaves of bread.
4. Are a Refuge
A ward needs to be a safe haven for its members, a place where its members and those who visit feel welcome and secure.
David Brown said, “A strong ward family is easy to recognize. The members are warm and friendly, testimonies are borne with conviction, charity abounds, activities are well attended, and dedicated home teachers rarely miss a visit. The chapel is not just a place of worship; it is a safe harbour from worldly cares, a place of belonging, of friendship and compassion. It’s a place where people who are different can come together to be as one.”
A ward provides a sort of “safety net” family for each of us when our families cannot or do not provide all of the teaching and growing experiences we need to return to Heavenly Father.
FHE Resource Book says in intro, “Everyone faces challenges and choices. We … have many voices calling us away from gospel principles and the counsel of the Brethren. But when we make our homes places of safety for us (…) we can more easily grow and develop in righteousness.”
5. Provide ways for us to contribute.
Just like kids have chores at home, so do we at church.
One thing we must do is let those whom we supervise do their job. Too often, someone (like me!) can’t let go of control and must do everything themselves. In the case of a ward family, the saying “if you want something done right do it yourself” doesn’t apply. By not allowing someone to do their calling, we can make them feel useless and not needed.
6. Provide a laboratory to learn and practice the gospel.
Both our individual and ward families provide us a learning ground where we can “experiment upon the word.” We are often given callings or assignments that stretch us beyond what we would normally try. If we are a truly strong ward family, we can try these challenges without fear of failure. We will, instead, support one another as we grow together. Not only do we have the opportunity to accept callings, we also have the opportunity to put gospel principles into practice. We can teach our children to serve by serving those in our ward. We can have a family fast for a sick or inactive member or neighbour. We can step out of our comfort zone and try to say hi to someone new without passing out!!
We can’t expect to get results if we don’t put in the effort. At the end of Sister Pearce’s Article, she said the following:
“Heavenly Father expects us to participate in our wards. It is part of the plan. But, Sister Pearce, you may be saying, you have such an idealistic picture of a ward - that’s not like my ward! You mean, your ward has real people in it - ones who are sometimes selfish or self-righteous, unskilled or undependable? I’m so glad! How could it be a real laboratory for practicing gospel principles like patience, long-suffering, charity, and forgiveness if there were no people or situations that would require the use of these principles? The miracle of it all is that we are real people put into an ingenious structure, designed by God to help us become like him.”
This is a VERY achievable goal. Small things make a happy home. We don’t have to make any huge, drastic changes. Start by saying hello to everyone you see in the hall. Pick one person you don’t know well or usually talk to and make a point of talking to them in the hall. Invite your neighbour over for dinner. If you already know your neighbour, invite me over for dinner!
Reach out to everyone. You never know when your friendship will be what brings someone to church. We all need to rely on others at some point in time. Our job is to be there before we are needed, so we can be trusted when we are needed.
Whether or not our friendship is accepted is not up to us. All we can do is continue to offer love an support for everyone. Don’t be afraid of offering your friendship to someone.
D&C 6:33 “Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap.”

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

So Blessed

Life has been crazy for the past few weeks. I don't have time to go in to all the details tonight, but I will soon, probably tomorrow night. However, here is a very brief overview of some of the highlights of the past few weeks.

1. Just after halloween, I came down with viral pnemonia. It knocked me off my feet for more than a week and after that, I could still barely get through a day. Finally, after two weeks and some serious meds, I was somewhat human again, only to be slammed by down by "one of the nastiest cases of strep throat" Dr. Smith has ever seen. Yee haw. Again, a few weeks of serious meds and accomplishing pretty much nothing, and now here I am. Still feeling not quite human, but almost there!

2. The second Sunday in November, we did a tradeshow in Calgary. Got really positive responses and 7 stores that want to carry the GoBelt! Woo Hoo! Our website will be up and running (sans pictures) by the end of the week (thanks to Keshia!!) and the pictures will be there soon! Speaking of pictures, had a photo shoot on the 14th and I'm so excited to see the product shots Rebecca came up with!

3. The 16th of November was our primary presentation. The kids did AMAZING!! They actually sang! Whoo hoo!! Such an answer to prayers! My kiddos don't usually sing all that loudly. Another prayer was answered that day too!! As you read before, I have been sick sick sick. Well, being sick and singing are two things that don't go very well together! My kids sing SO much better when I sing, so I knew I had to sing for them. I said a prayer that morning that I would be able to sing for them. Sure enough, I was able to make it through the presentation singing as good as ever. Of course, Heavenly Father has a sense of humor. During "We Thank Thee O God For A Prophet" we had the congregation sing the 2nd and 3rd verses. As soon as I turned around to lead them, no voice. Seriously, nothing at all. I just mouthed the words. By the next song, I was just fine.

4. As any of you who have known me well for a while can attest to, James has had a bit of a difficult time deciding what he wants to be when he grows up! Literally, before he went up north, he worked at well over 20 jobs in a year and a half. So, he took some time and went up north while he figured things out. Then he came home and started his plumbing job at DMT. He just handed in his apprenticeship papers last week. Woo Hoo right? Um, no. Friday morning, James goes to work, I get up, get going with my day and just before I'm about to head in to town for work, in walks James. Work was too slow and he got laid off. Talk about crappy. Seriously, flashes of the first year and a half of our marriage and the job hopping came crashing down on me. Not a happy thing. But, I held it together and said, "Well, go print off some resumes and you can drop me off at work then take some around." Not too long after that, I called James to ask him to pick me up some lunch and he told me he got a job at K & B. They're going to transfer his apprenticeship. It was the first place he took a resume. Talk about blessings.

Anywho, my quick overview has ended being not so quick. Oh well, now its done!! Off to work on my homework!!

I Jumped On A Fireman Because I'm Sexy and I Do What I Want!

Pick the month you were born:

January-------I kicked
February------I loved
March--------I karate chopped
April----------I licked
May----------I jumped on
June----------I smelled
July-----------I did the Macarena With
August--------I had lunch with
September----I danced with
October-------I sang to
November-----I yelled at
December-----I ran over

Pick the day (number) you were born on:
1-------a birdbath
2----- --a monster
3-------a phone
4-------a fork
5-------a snowman
6-------a gangster
7---- ---my mobile phone
8-------my dog
9-------my best friends' boyfriend
10-------my neighbor
11-------my science teacher
12-------a banana
13-------a fireman
14-------a stuffed animal
15-------a goat
16-------a pickle
17-------your mom
18-------a spoon
19------ - a smurf
20-------a baseball bat
21-------a ninja
22-------Chuck Norris
23-------a noodle
24-------a squirrel
25-------a football player
26-------my sister
27-------my brother
28-------an iPod
29-------a surfer
30-------a homeless guy
31-------a llama

Pick the color of shirt you are wearing:

White----because I'm cool like that
Black-----because that's how I roll.
Pink-----because I'm NOT crazy.
Red------because the voices told me to.
Blue-----because I'm sexy and I do what I want.
Green----because I think I need some serious help.
Purple----because I'm AWESOME!
Gray-----because Big Bird said to and he's my leader.
Yellow---because someone offered me 1,000,000 dollars
Orange---because my family thinks I'm stupid anyway.
Brown----because I can.
Other-----because I'm a Ninja!
None------because I can't control myself!

Now make sure to leave your sentence of the day in the comment section!!ENJOY!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Check out Stephanie's blog for this great quilt she is giving away to help Baby Mia. To read about Mia, click here. I dare you not to be touched by the story and pictures. Makes you grateful for the healthy kids we have! Make a donation! A few dollars won't make any difference in your budget, but it can make a HUGE difference in the life of this sweet little girl and her family!