Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
As I was shopping for gifts a few weeks ago, I came across a book that I had seen before and wanted to read. It is called “Armor” and is written by Kim B. Clark, the president of BYU/Idaho. In this book, he shares his insights into the scripture found in Ephesians 6:10-17, about the armor of God. As I started to read this book yesterday, I realized what a valuable topic this would be for my family to study, especially those who are preparing to serve missions (i.e. all of my boys). So, I’ve decided that this would be our subject for the next several Family Home Evening lessons. This is also a good opportunity for me to share insights with my son, Michael, who is currently preparing to submit his mission papers . So, each week, as I study and prepare what I want to share with my family (using this book, Armor, and the scriptures as a guide), I’ll blog about what we’ll be discussing. I’d love to hear from anyone who is reading the blog – any thoughts or understanding that anyone can add.
Dr. Clark starts out by explaining why he entered into a study of the armor of God and why he wrote this book. He explains that there was a time in his life, during the period that he was the Dean of Harvard Business School, that he was under great stress and was very busy. At this time, he was also focusing on living the Gospel more fully and he began to feel strong opposition – feelings of darkness and doubt. I’m sure that everyone experiences these things at some point (or several points) in their own lives. I have. It does seem that the more we strive to become better, more knowledgeable, more spiritual, and closer to our Heavenly Father, the more opposition we will encounter. There are times when I, like Dr. Clark, have felt attacked by the forces of evil. At this time, Dr. Clark had a nightmare and awoke feeling the need to get on his knees and pray for strength and guidance – again, something we can all relate to. A scripture came to his mind: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world…”. You’ll recognize that as part of Paul’s discussion about the Armor of God, found in Ephesians 6:10-17. I love what Dr. Clark says about this passage of scripture: “As so often happens, the message was not only to comfort, enlighten, and inform but also to assign and command.” Have you ever felt like a passage of scripture was written especially for you? I have. This is how Dr. Clark felt when he read the full scripture passage and put the small bit that came to him (about the powers of darkness) into context with the rest of the scripture. He said: “For me the answer was to go even deeper than I had gone, to do even more. It was to put on the whole armor of God.” A worthy pursuit for all of us. He pointed out the importance of this admonition with a quote by President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“I believe and testify that it is the mission of this Church to stand as an ensign to the nations and a light to the world. We have had placed upon us a great, all-encompassing mandate from which we cannot shrink nor turn aside. We accept that mandate and are determined to fulfill it, and with the help of God we shall do it. There are forces all around us that would deter us from that effort. The world is constantly crowding in on us. From all sides we feel the pressure to soften our stance, to give in here a little and there a little. We must never lose sight of our objective. We must ever keep before us the goal which the Lord has set for us.” (He then quotes Ephesians 6:10-12 and then concludes): “We must stand firm. We must hold back the world. If we do so, the Almighty will be our strength and our protector, our guide and our revelator.” President Hinckley has a way of explaining and teaching that I love. This quote helped me see that this scripture that I’ve chosen to study is such an important one, especially on the subjects of missionary work, standing for truth and righteousness, and sharing our light with the world.
I’ll end this blog post with the words of Dr. Clark and a challenge to myself (and anyone who wishes to take on that challenge): “President Hinckley used this scripture [many more times]. And so, in many ways, in many places, and at many times, this message has been made clear to me: Put on the whole armor of God. As I sought to be true to that message, I realized that I needed to SPEND MORE TIME STUDYING AND SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES”. As I sit here and type this blog post, I’m listening to Sacrament Meeting (on my speaker phone) and Sister Susan Savage is talking about studying the scriptures! (That always happens to me – I seem to hear exactly what I need to hear during talks). She spoke of Matthew, who said, “And the care of this world…choke the word” (Matthew 13:22), reminding me that it is far too easy to find excuses to not study the scriptures. She then said, “If we turn our live over to the Father, He will teach us everything we need to know”, which is, of course, why each of us is so blessed. We can get help with understanding and studying anytime we need it – by praying and speaking with God. I, like Dr. Clark, resolve to study and search the scriptures more this coming year and to help my family understand how to put on the whole armor of God.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
In the last few months, I’ve witnessed love and charity in a way I didn’t know existed. The scriptures tell us that charity is the pure love of Christ. Our family has been showered with this pure love of Christ. Our families, friends, neighbors, ward members – all have exhibited this trait of Christ and my testimony has been strengthened. I’ve had rides to every single doctors appointment and offers of help with any chores I have. Just to name a few: my parents, who come and do my laundry every Saturday, my mother-in-law, Carolyn, who helped me clean my house. My cousins, Tina and Wendy, who text and call me constantly to see how I’m doing, my sister, Kris, who doesn’t let a day go by without checking on me. My sister-in-law, Cindy, who is concerned about the food I’m eating and has brought fresh fruits and vegetables, my Relief Society President, Janie Squire, who is a cancer survivor herself – always checking on me, offering suggestions, making sure I’m comfortable. There are so many others – friends who cheer me up and church members who have delivered over 45 dinners in the last 4 months! I could go on and on. It reminds me of a favorite scripture I have: Doctrine & Covenants 84:88 – “And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” I am very well aware that Heavenly Father has surrounded me with His love and concern, sending angels to help hold me up. The sweet thing is that I recognize those angels – all of you! Thank you so much for helping me recognize the blessings among the hard things. Happy Thanksgiving!!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
I work for a company called Cherish Bound. I LOVE this company. Cherish Bound is the reason I decided to start this blog page. I wanted to record my story moments. Everyone has 1000s of story moments and memories they should record. Cherish Bound is a home-based business, with consultants who help you find, capture, and share your precious stories. What sets Cherish Bound apart from any other book-making company is that we have a full line of products to help you tell your stories. We have Story Starters (workbooks with tons of questions, to get those memories flowing), Chat Cards (a fun family activity), Dailies (journaling pages), and Lifeprints (pages that help you gather information from other people). These are just a few of the wonderful and helpful products that Cherish Bound has. Go to www.cherishbound.com and look under products to see everything. Cherish Bound has a very easy online publishing tool (nothing to buy - nothing to "sign up" for). Just super easy to use. We are about 30% cheaper than any other company out there, and 100% better quality. I love how Cherish Bound helps me to make a beautiful, simple, heirloom quality book every time.
So, here's the idea I promised: for Valentine's Day last year, I decided that I'd make a book for each one of my kids called, Mom's Top Ten Favorite Pictures of (kid's name). Cherish Bound offers this really fun, cute little designer book called Top Ten, and I thought it would be perfect for these gifts. So, I went down to my HUGE box of pictures (yep, I'm one of those moms - no scrapbooking for me) and started to go through memories. When I finished gathering pictures, there were way more than just 10 each. There were more like 30-40! So, I decided to just design my own books. The covers were red (the perfect color for Valentine's AND Christmas), with the cutest pictures I could find: Alex's showed a picture of him in his jammies with a Batman cape on, sucking on his beloved binky. Michael's was a picture of him in his Ronald McDonald pjs, with a huge grin on his face. And Matthew's picture showed him helping me decorate a tree with lights - no smile - just that sweet, serious, kissable baby face. Before Grant left on his mission, we took family pictures. I had one taken individually with each of my kids. Those pictures went on the backs of their books, with a "love" note from Mom.
It took me about 1/2 hour to scan all of the pictures in, 1/2 hour to throw them all into the publishing tool and place them where I wanted them, and 1/2 hour to go through and add the stories I could remember. No time at all! It was so easy.
My boss, Carol, told me what would happen when the kids got their books. She said "Don't feel bad if they just say 'Thanks, Mom' and take them to their rooms. If you go peek in on them later, they'll be looking at every page and reading every story." Well, she was kind of right. I put their books out on the table, with balloons and candy, and when they got home from school, I gave them their gifts. They immediately opened their books and spent the next 1/2 hour going through every page. They laughed their heads off at the funny pictures I loved and read every single story. They couldn't put the books down! After reading a story about a surgery he had, Matthew said "Mom, you never told me what that was called!" The questions flew - where, what, who, etc. It was so fun. Just priceless. There is nothing you could give your kids or other loved ones, that is more special than a book that chronicles their lives. It means so much when you realize that your life is as important to other people as it is to you.
Well, the gifts were a hit! Everyone loved them. And the best part was that it didn't take a long time to do! It takes even less time if you have digital pictures - no scanning involved. Christmas is coming up FAST and the publishing deadline for Christmas delivery is coming up soon. If you are interested in doing a special memory book for anyone in your family, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll help you get started immediately. Don't wait - you'll want to see the priceless looks on your families faces when they open their books - trust me. Start preserving your story moments now!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
For about the first 2-3 months, I printed off every email we sent to him and every email he sent to us. I put them in page protectors and into a 3-ring binders, in chronological order. This wasn't really a hard thing to do, but unfortunately I'm now WAY behind. And I've already filled one binder. If you keep up on it, it's a great gift for when your missionary comes home - they'll be able to sit down and read about their mission, in their own words, from beginning to end. I do recommend this, but keep up!
Actually, the main thing I want to tell you about in this post is this great website that I found to make a webpage for Elder Herron. I tried several (including Dear Elder), but none of them worked for me - mostly because of restrictions on uploading pictures. The one I finally decided to use is www.missionsite.net. This is a great site - very easy to use. They'll let you put up to 500 pictures on your website. Grant is a picture taker - big time. I don't load every single picture on his website, but I think I'm up over 300! It's so fun to go back through all the pictures and see how he has changed and see all of the companions and people he has come in contact with over his time there.
The other things you can do on the website are:
1. Upload letters - each letter shows the date, the place he is serving at the time, and his current companion.
2. Show special events - I use this whenever Grant gets transferred, gets a new companion, gets a special assignment, or baptizes someone.
3. There is a message board that anyone can use to leave messages.
4. You can also add links to this website.
5. The home page looks great and includes a picture of your missionary, his/her favorite scripture, a weather report from the place they are serving in, a list of the latest news - the latest 3 events you've posted, the missionary's home address and mission home address, his/her current area, the name of the latest letter and picture you've posted. And it keeps track of when your missionary will be home - Grant comes home in 119 days! Although, sometimes I wonder if it's accurate. The very bottom thing on the homepage is where they keep track of how many visitors you've had to the website, although it counts every single time something changes on the website - whenever anyone, including you, looks at something, or adds something. Currently, Grant has had over 36,000 visitors - something I really doubt!
The very coolest thing about this website, is that they'll burn everything onto a CD for you at the end of the mission! So, check it out. It's not hard, but feel free to email me if you need help - email@example.com. Remember to start at the beginning of the mission. It's much easier that way - update the website every week with a new letter or pics that you have received.
Check out these Elders' websites for ideas (one is Grant's and the other two are his good friends): www.missionsite.net/eldergrantherron, www.missionsite.net/elderskyelarsen, www.missionsite.net/elderspear.
To get to their main webpage and start your website, go to www.missionsite.net. On their homepage, there is a way to look for other missionaries' sites, and they pick one each month to highlight on their homepage.
Good luck! Happy mission memories.