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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Letter - Blessings usually require some form of work

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Last Sunday evening I didn’t write because we were in Snowflake for the beginning of spring break, Ray and Kya’s reception, and Molly’s mission report.  It was fun to be in Snowflake for Sunday night visiting with my family.  I wish I could be there every week for the Sunday night visiting… but I really do like living in Gilbert.  I would probably like living in Snowflake too.

Monday morning Chad and I took the kids to Flagstaff to begin what I am now calling our “Northern Arizona Tour”.  Our first stop was Walnut Canyon.   We hiked and admired the ruins of the cliff dwellers that lived there. 

Tuesday morning we tried to go hike around the lava river tube caves, but the road was closed because of snow and we didn’t feel like the kids could handle the 3 mile hike to the caves from the road, so instead we headed to the Grand Canyon sooner than we had planned.  When we got to Tusayan, I saw their National Geographic IMAX Theater and remembered how cool that IMAX video was when my parents took me and my siblings to see it.  So we stopped at that building to buy our park pass and watch the IMAX film.  It was as cool as I remembered, it reminds me of the ride Soarin’ over California at Disney California Adventure, but I didn’t remember that it had topless native women for the first part of the movie as it went through the history of the people who lived near the canyon.  I’m sure my boys will encounter more than what the film showed if they serve a mission in a different country.  Hopefully it didn’t damage my kids’ minds too much. 

Wednesday we drove over to Sedona for a jeep tour.  I wasn’t very impressed with the tour.  It was really just like driving on bumpy ranch roads when I was young.  For the money it cost, we would have enjoyed going back to the Flagstaff Extreme ropes course more than the jeep tour.  Now we know.  After the jeep tour the kids and I hiked up Bell Rock in Sedona.  It was a really fun hike.  Chad didn’t hike with us because the parking lot was clear full and there was nowhere for him to park, so he drove over to our hotel and checked in while we hiked.

Thursday we finished our Northern Arizona tour with a stop at the Montezuma Castle ruins on our way home.  They were cool.  

Our vacation was very pleasant and I’m very grateful we were able to go on a trip and spend some time together with no work or duties other than loving each other.

I’m slowly adjusting back out of vacation mode, but luckily we have another week of spring break before we have to go back to school and all our regular activities.  We will have a busy week at home this week though because we are getting our home painted and we have to get everything off the walls and move the furniture into the middle of the rooms.  I’m not looking forward to all that work, but I am looking forward to the clean home I will have as we clean and dejunk each room and the walls that will be freshly painted.  Blessings usually require some form of work.  

My quote for today is from an article a Facebook friend shared.  “There are those who struggle, feeling that they don’t have a home in the Church because they aren’t ‘good enough.’  Wearing our sins on our sleeves could give some comfort that they are not alone in this fight, but finding camaraderie and comfort in our sins is not a great motivator to cast them away from us.  My sins are between me and God, and are hopefully things that will be overcome – not things that should define who I am. So am I a fraud for putting my ‘best-self” forward when you see me on Sunday – or any other day of the week?(I would acknowledge that one important element in addiction support groups is that there is an openness for participants to acknowledge their struggles, and find strength with each other. I am not referring to these private support groups, and I heartily endorse them.)” http://middleagedmormonman.com/home/2014/03/hypocrites/

I like that quote.  I think it is important to do our best to find a balance between sharing our struggles when it could help someone, but also being careful not to find camaraderie and comfort in our sins so much that we don’t repent of them.

Love,
Mindy


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Letter - New Calling, Pinewood Derby

February 5, 2017

It has been a nice week.  Monday I watched my friend Sunny’s daughter.  She slept for three and a half hours during the morning and then I took her went shopping at Costco with Tilly and me after lunch.  She was pretty easy to watch. 

Tuesday morning I went to visit Puring for her birthday.  She seems happy.  Tuesday and Wednesday nights I helped with our ward’s pinewood derby weigh ins.  Sadly I had to miss Spencer’s basketball game in Coolidge. 

Wednesday after school Marlee had her 3rd art lesson.  I hired Miranda Moulton, a laurel in our ward, to teach Marlee art lessons since Marlee does not want to play soccer or any other sports.  She LOVES her lessons and has been working hard to do her chores everyday so she could have them.  Miranda is a great teacher and comes with good projects for Marlee to learn and work on. 

Thursday morning I had Cub Scout round table.  I’ll be honest.  It was boring.  I do not love round table, but my former stake president promised us while referring specifically to round table that if we are where we are supposed to be, when we are supposed to be there, we will receive revelation that we may be seeking in other areas of our life.  So I go to round table when I have a scout calling.  Thursday night Bryant had his first football game.  His team lost, but not by much.  They have improved a great deal since their scrimmage two weeks ago.  Sadly, Bryant didn’t get to play at all.  He might not get much playing time this year since it is a 7th and 8th grade team and there are four 8th graders who are bigger than him who also play tight end.  I told him to keep hustling in practice and show the coaches what he can do.

Friday morning Chad, Tilly and I went to flag ceremony at the girls’ school since Marlee was named student of the month for her class.  I’m so proud of her and I’m happy she received the award.  She is such a sweet girl.  Friday night Spencer had a basketball game at ALA.  I told him if he got 10 rebounds during the game I would take him to get a Blizzard at Dairy Queen.  He got 8 rebounds, which is a big improvement for him.  He has three games this coming week before his season is over to see if he can get 10 rebounds in a game and earn a Blizzard. 

Yesterday my sister-in-law Jen and I went to a free painting class at the Queen Creek Library.  We were taught how to paint flowers.  It was really fun.  I couldn’t believe how great a class it was and it was completely free, including all the supplies.   There were so many spots left open too.  I hope I can go again sometime.  Thank you for going with me Jen!  I have developed a lot for painting and art.  Someday I hope to take lessons.  I guess I could have Miranda teach me too, but I don’t want to take over Marlee’s lessons.



Yesterday evening was our ward pinewood Derby.  Chad was asked to make a slow car to ensure that all the boys would win a race.  He named it Fast Money.  It is pretty cool.  It was the slowest car at the races, so he did what he set out to do!  The bishop was also there with his slow car and he and Chad got to race their cars with the boys and talk trash and stuff.  It was fun for them and the boys.  I enjoyed the evening a lot.  I made little candy race car awards for the boys.  They were fun to make.



Today I got a new calling, I still have my cub scout calling and won’t be released from it, but now I am also the Sunday school teacher for the 12 year olds!!  I’m so excited about it.  I get to teach Bryant.  There are 16 kids in our class.  They are a very good class.  Now that my calling is official, I had each of the kids fill out a “favorite things” questionnaire that I made up for my YW so I could get to know what their favorite treats, snacks, foods, hobbies, etc. are.  That way I get to know them better and I can take them their favorite treats on their birthdays and/or when they may be struggling or something like that.  A Sunday school teacher may be the greatest calling in the church.  You get to work with the youth, but you don’t have to plan mutual so you’re not so busy.

It is pretty cool that Chad got to give me my new church calling.  He also got to set me apart today.   Chad asked me if I would accept the calling on Tuesday or Wednesday morning after he was all dressed up and in a suit ready to go to work.  He walked in the kitchen and said, “Oh by the way will you accept a calling to teach the 12 year old Sunday school class” before he headed out to work.  He knew I would accept because I told him a few times I would love to teach that class if the bishopric didn’t have someone else they thought should teach it.  The bishop told me today that Chad let them know that I wanted to teach the class, but that wasn’t why I got the calling.  He said they felt like I was the person the Lord wanted to teach that class.  It is always very reassuring to know the Lord is behind you in your calling.    

My quotes for today are from lesson three in President Hinckley Relief Society/Priesthood manual. 
“There is also in our society a sad tendency among many of us to belittle ourselves. Other persons may appear to us to be sure of themselves, but the fact is that most of us have some feelings of inferiority. The important thing is not to talk to yourself about it. … The important thing is to make the best of all that we have.”

I love that he counsels us not to talk to ourselves about how we feel inferior to others.  We need to silence our negative self-talk and do the best of what we can do.
Love,

Mindy

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Letter

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The past few weeks have gone well.  I haven’t felt too busy, but thankfully I have had enough or created enough to do to keep from feeling bored, helping me feel like my life is worthwhile.

Thursday the 19th, Chad and I went out to dinner with Demetrious, one of Chad’s loan officers, and his wife Stefania.  Demetrious asked Chad if he and Stefania could take us out to dinner to thank Chad for hiring him a little over a year ago.  He is very grateful for the job, especially since he wasn’t super qualified for it.  He has been a great loan officer.  He works hard and has done very well.  They and their two kids went to church with us on Christmas day.  Demetrious also went to our ward meat fest that we hosted in our yard on the 21st and Stefani went with me to our RS activity on Thursday.  They are so nice and we plan to invite them to take lessons from the missionaries soon.  I’m glad that we have become friends.

Spencer had two basketball games this week.  Chad and I really enjoy watching him play.  He is developing into a quite a good player.  His team hasn’t won very many games, but they are a JV team made up of mostly freshman.  They only have 1 junior, who doesn’t play much, and 2 sophomores, who do play a lot.  They rest of the team is comprised of freshman.  Hopefully next year they will be able to win more games when they are an older team.

I got a Facebook message from my cousin Sterling Skouson--I wrote a little about him two weeks ago in my letter.  He asked if he could meet me and take me out to lunch.  (I know it is sad that as cousins we don’t really know much about each other, but he is 25-30 years older than me and so we don’t know each other well.)  I must have made an impression on him when I bore my testimony to him over Facebook.  I didn’t see his message with the lunch invitation until it was about 10 days old, but I accepted.  He hasn’t responded since then though.  I told Chad that I really feel like I need to have him go to lunch with us too, for a little backup, in case my cousin starts trying to get me to leave the church.  I’ve spoken to my Mom about it and she’s been worried for me too.  She called to warn me that we aren’t on the same side of the line.  I’ll have to set some boundaries in my mind and if he crosses them I’ll have to change the subject or something. 

Friday night Chad and I attended a fireside broadcast for parents of youth in our area.  Elder Ballard and Elder Rasband and a couple other general authorities spoke.  It was great.  There was some counsel given that was so simple, but so profound and made so much sense.  It was cool to see members of the quorum of the twelve in a less formal, very candid setting.  I learned so much about how to be a better parent to my teenagers.  If you’re interested, you can read my notes HERE.

Yesterday morning I got a haircut, just a little trim.  I enjoy getting my hair cut and having it styled.  It is so relaxing.  Yesterday late afternoon Chad and I went out to eat with our friends Jeff and Sunny Moody again.  They are sure fun and are great friends.  Sunny has to have major surgery tomorrow and I’ll be watching her 7 month old daughter for her all day.  She wanted to go out since she will have a long recovery and will be unable to get around for about a month or so.  We are praying for her. 

Last night Chad and the boys had a fireside broadcast for youth and leaders with Elder Ballard and Elder Rasband.  I kind of wish I could have gone.  Chad said it was kind of similar to the broadcast for the parents though.

Today I got to sub Bryant’s Sunday school class today.  I love the Come, Follow Me curriculum.  It fosters great discussions and allows the youth to participate in the lessons really well.  This evening I sang in a quartet for a fireside for the prison branch ministry--those who serve in the prison branch presidency and for the mentors, letter writers, etc.  I was glad to be asked to sing at it.  I really enjoy singing in quartets and/or trios.  We sang a nice arrangement of A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief.  I feel like it went well and sounded beautiful.

My quote for today is from footnote #62 Brian K. Ashton's Oct. 2016 conference talk The Doctrine of Christ.  (His talk has a bazillion footnotes, and there are some really good quotes in those footnotes.)  “One might frequently bring the same sacrifice [to the sacrament table] for weeks at a time until, with the help of the Savior, and as Neal A. Maxwell taught, 'it [is] consumed'"  I love that. We just have to try to be a little better each day! No comparing ourselves to each other, just comparing our current-self to our past-self.  I can work on being a more patient mother every week as I take the sacrament.  It is ok to have the same problem week after week as long as I'm continually trying to improve with the Lord's help.
Love,

Mindy

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Notes from Fireside for parents of youth with Elder Ballard and Elder Rasband - Jan. 27, 2017

Fireside for parents of youth - Jan. 27, 2017

The first part of the fireside the general authorities answered questions that had been submitted ahead of time.  The last part of the fireside the general authorities responded to questions from the congregation.

Opening Remarks

Elder M. Russell Ballard:
A Big challenge of our day is spiritual apathy.

How to overcome apathy:
Basic fundamentals -- prayer, family prayer, scriptures, FHE and family council -- are how we overcome spiritual apathy. Don't get distracted. Remember what our purpose here is. Keep in mind where it is we are trying to go and what we are trying to become.

Technology is a real enemy to family life.

A father is always a father and so it is with a mother. To kids, grandkids and great grandkids. That is the promised blessing.

Answers to submitted questions

Elder Rasband:
How to help youth deal with social media?
Teenagers involvement with social media:
Be familiar with the strength of youth pamphlet. "If you're not sure if something is not appropriate, talk to your parents and leaders." Know the contents of the booklet!!

Don't get them to stop using Facebook and Instagram, be prepared to communicate with them on social media. As members of the church we are at war with Satan--think war chapters in Book of Mormon. Read the ward chapters again. Alma chapter 43:30: stratagem!!! Parents & leaders need to strategize to defeat the enemy use prayer, counseling. Bring up questions in church councils and family councils.  Joseph Smith was a youth asking a question. The Savior is the at the heart of every answer to every question.

There are lots of music downloads available on youth section of LDS.org. The church is trying to meet the youth in the social media they are already at. Be where the youth are. He is avoiding the terminology that social media is the plague of our day.

Find the good uses of internet technology.

He told the story of the youth during King Benjamin’s time that fell away because they didn’t understand the teachings of their parents.  We parents need to be inspired and through strategizing so we can raise our children to understand and believe in the words of us, their parents.

Elder Robbins:
Dedicate - 1 FHE per month to strength of youth pamphlet.

Scriptures are a parenting manual. The councils we have now are War councils since we are at war with Satan.

How do you help children when their self-worth is tied to the internet?
1.when their self-worth is ties to number of likes they get on their posts  2. When they unrealistically compare their bodies to false images that have been airbrushed and edited. 3. When they see that everyone else is posting their "A" material and they have to deal with their lowest points and trials.

Parenting principles -
1. youth are trying to find their identity on the internet. They can find that on family search. Help them spend more time on that. Know our history. Our history is our identity.  This will increase self worth.
2. The more time youth spend on the internet, the lower their self-worth will be. D&C 88:124- cease to be idle. Section 88 was like a New year's resolution to the church, it was given at the end and beginning of a New Year. When we spend too much time on the internet then the excess time of what is needful is considered idleness. Go to bed early rising early. Revelation comes early. We will find greater self-worth as we go to bed earlier and wake up early and spend less time on the internet.
3. Praise kids and find them doing something right. Catch your children doing something right. Reflecting the principle from Heavenly Father --this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. It takes effort to find kids doing something right – but that is a quality of a perfect parent.

Elder Costa:
How do you talk to your child about Pornography without sparking curiosity or interest? How to protect them from porn?
1. Gone are the days where your kids will not be exposed to pornography. Gone are the days where you can assume they haven’t been exposed to it.
2. Personal father interviews are a way to find out what's really going on. There is Power in a father son/ mother daughter interview. Identify the difference between a pattern and an incident-- In the interviews you need to discern that. Incidents can be healed by close monitoring by parents, but for patterns the course of action is different.
3. His family rule for using electronic devices that he adopted from his daughter’s mission rule--Turn on your electronic device, only after your intention is clear. Determine what you will be doing on the internet. These days we turn on our phone right when we wake up and we don't know what we're turning it on for. Turn it on with a purpose then turn it off.
4. Hope!  There is hope. You can get rid of those images you've been exposed too.

Elder Ballard: was chairman on missionary board when preach my gospel was released. 

How to prepare youth to serve missions?

Preparing Youth serving missions-- starts very early. Starts in developing a spirit of missionary service in the ward. Know who the friends of your children are. Encourage seminary and the programs of the church because it puts good people together. Youth need to get a job, to earn some money.
**They need to know how to work. Teach the kids how to take care of things and their territory in their homes. When they leave a mess you can teach, “That's not the way we do things in our family” and teach that they need to know how to take care of things for themselves their whole lives.
**Kids need to Read the Book of Mormon from cover and be able to testify that it is true. Be willing to pay the price necessary to testify of it.
**Sit with your children and ask them to bear their testimony to you about who Jesus Christ is. Help them learn who he is. Help them be able to respond to anyone who he is.
**be able to withstand a secular world.
**these days they have to be the best teachers of the doctrine of Christ in the history of the church because they have to cut through so much.
**go through the whole preach my gospel manual.
**get in their minds and hearts the value of one soul. To do that, help them know the Savior's mission in gethsemane. They will see those they meet on their mission as a son or daughter or God.
**Simple steps but take them and take them early.

Questions from the Congregation Portion

How can we help family members who have fallen away because of learning that Joseph Smith being sealed to so many young women?
Elder Ballard:  We have no idea what relationship Joseph Smith had with those young women he was sealed too. Once people lose sight of their purpose and they start going to google and the blogosphere they can lose their testimony. Ask them how long has it been since they’ve read from the Book of Mormon? Give the Lord equal time!!  When you get in the devils side to find info and start neglecting scriptures you lose your testimony. Stay anchored to the teachings of the gospel in the standard works.  Read the church’s material about polygamy and the subject.
https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gif

What advice would you have for blended families and kids have to go to another home where they aren't not members?
Elder Robbins: teach them to be self-reliant and how to recognize the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. They need to know how to make decisions on their own with reliance on the Holy Ghost. The perfect parent never forces His children. Story from church news—Son says: “Dad I'm not going to church today.”  Dad says: “You don't have to tell me that, it's not my church. Get down on your knees and tell that to Heavenly Father. It's His church.” ** Lead your kids to the crossroads where the Holy Ghost can direct them.

To what extent do we encourage our young women to serve missions?
Elder Costa: Young men have a priesthood duty, but for the sisters it is an invitation. The Holy Ghost will guide that decision. Just let her decide.
Elder Rasband: As a mission president he loved to have the sisters serve missions. They raise things up.

How to explain to a family member why a child with gay parents can't be baptized if they have family support?
Elder Rasband: Church doesn't want to get in the way of families. The gay parents are in the decision making process of those children and they church doesn't want to cause friction.  Read the releases the church put out about that subject.

Closing remarks


Elder Rasband:
Stand in Holy Places and go forward without fear.

Elder Ballard:
Take a few minutes tonight, to think about your own life. If there is anything that is going on that hadn't ought to be, take care of it so the Holy Ghost can be your guide and so you can answer questions of kids and family members. We need to do all we can to be worthy of the Holy Ghost.

Give sacrament meeting the dignity and reverence it deserves.

In your family, be candid and open and honest.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

letter - Stand as a witness of God, Art and Lisa's sealing

Sunday, January 15, 2017

I have had an answer to my prayers this week.  A couple of months ago when I read Elder Anderson’s recent conference talk A Witness of God  this part stood out to me.  “I suggest that you stop feeling guilty about any insufficiency you think you have in sharing the gospel. Rather, pray, like Alma taught, for opportunities “to stand as [a witness] of God…”  So during several of my prayers since then I’ve asked for opportunities to stand as a witness of God.  This week I have had an opportunity to stand as a witness of God during some conversations on Facebook with two of my cousins who are both inactive in the church.  One of which no longer believes in God.  As a PS the end of this journal entry/letter I will share the things I wrote as I did my best to stand as a witness of God.

The kids’ Christmas break ended this week and they had to go back to school on Tuesday.  I was so used to sleeping in that I went back to bed after I got the kids off to school.  I was so tired.  Tilly felt lucky she got to watch a movie on the iPad while I slept for another hour. 

Friday evening Chad and I flew to Salt Lake so we could attend Art (Chad’s Dad) and Lisa’s sealing on Saturday morning.  I rarely fly anywhere, but I’ve flown twice in the last two weeks.  Flying makes me a little bit nervous, so I’m glad that I’ll stay on the ground for a while now, but a little sad that I don’t have a trip to look forward to.  The trip to Salt Lake was very nice but very cold.  I don’t like cold weather, it hurts.  Hot weather doesn’t hurt, unless you get a bad sunburn.  Art and Lisa’s sealing yesterday morning was beautiful and they had a delicious luncheon afterwards.  It was fun to meet Lisa’s kids, our step brothers and sister.  I have more siblings, can you believe it?  Counting all my siblings, Chad’s siblings, our step siblings and all of their spouses and Chad and I now have 45 siblings!  That’s got to be some sort of record or something.   Tyler and Jennifer were very nice to watch all of our kids and get them to and from the school for sports activities while we were gone.  Thank you Tyler and Jen!  The kids had a blast.  

I’ll close with a quote from Elder Ballard that I read today.  "Our precious relationships with families, friends, the Lord, and His restored Church are among the things that matter most in life. Because these relationships are so important, they should be cherished, protected, and nurtured. ...Encourage, accept, understand, and love those who are struggling with their faith. We must never neglect any of our brothers and sisters. We are all at different places on the path, and we need to minister to one another accordingly" (To Whom Shall We Go?).  I love each one of you. I love people who have different opinions and beliefs than me. I love it when they ask me questions about how I feel or believe with civility and without ridicule. I try to do the same for them. As we do so it deepens our understanding and friendship with each other. If anything I write ever offends you, please talk to me about it.

Love,
Mindy

P.S. This first thing I share is a letter to my cousin Carl who asked me to share an example how exercising my faith has helped me determine what is true.

January 9, 2017 

Carl, 

In response to your request that I give you an example from my own life where the exercising of faith has determined what's true, I have written down a few experiences to share with you. I have had several examples of where exercising my faith has helped me to know what is true, but I will share three with you. 

#1 - This past year I have wanted to come closer to Christ and to learn more about him so I decided to exercise my faith by reading a little bit in the book Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage each week along with my normal daily personal scripture study. As I’ve read that book about His life I have gained a stronger knowledge of the truth that He is the Son of God and my Redeemer. 

#2 - Throughout my life, I’ve noticed the truth that Christ’s teachings bring me joy and happiness, when I do not apply Christ’s teachings in my life I’m left with regrets and unhappy feelings. I especially feel joy and happiness as I try more fully to incorporate Christ’s teachings into each of my relationships. I am for sure not perfect at this, but through His help, after I have asked for it in prayer, I can better remember what He taught and when I am tempted to get angry or seek revenge I instead find myself seeking to understand others’ point of view and I feel more love and am able to show more love. I have more peace, less regrets, and deeper more meaningful relationships. 

#3 - When Chad and I were new parents I more fully learned the truth that when we pay tithing the windows of Heaven are opened unto us. Chad and I had a tight budget since I stopped working in order to stay at home with our son Spencer and we sacrificed my source of income to do so. I remember walking the isles of Walmart, looking in my cart, mentally adding up the cost of the items in the cart and deciding which things to put back on the shelf. Around that same time, as I was balancing our check book and paying our bills I wrote out our tithing check. I was not tempted to keep that tithing money, but I said in my mind something like, "this is a lot of money, I sure hope we will receive blessings for this." I acted on my belief that tithing is a correct principle (faith is action) and I mailed it to the bishop. As I reflect over the years since then, I have recognized many blessings, not all of them have been monetary, that have come from mailing that check and paying tithing on every other increase that we have received. I have felt impressions at certain times that some blessings I have been given are a direct result of being a full tithe payer. I acted in faith to pay tithing and received knowledge that the principle of tithing is true. 

Whenever I seek to know if a principle is true, I live it, or “plant the seed” as Alma chapter 32 teaches us. That is the way the Lord works, we have to live a principle in order to receive a witness of its truthfulness. I love you and hope you find the truth that you seek. 

Love your cousin, 
Mindy

These other things I share are the things I wrote in my Facebook conversations with Carl and Sterling, two of my cousins.

·         Well I know from personal witnesses that have come from acting on my faith of things that I believe are true, that there is a God. Personal witness is something that each person needs for themselves. It is the strongest and most sure evidence that no one can take away from you. The eyewitness accounts in the Bible and Book of Mormon add to my personal witnesses. Not the other way around. I hope that each of you continue to find peace and happiness in your life. And I hope that you'll find evidence that God is indeed real. But even if you don't I love you no matter what.
·         In order to find out if God exists, everyone has to follow the doctrine of Christ. Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. Each person has to do this for himself/herself. You have to live what you believe/hope is true to find the answers. No one can prove it for you.
·         I believe in the God that is the Father of my spirit. The God that sent His Son Jesus Christ to earth to atone for my sins and the sins of all mankind. I know He is real, I have felt His love, especially as I have been through some very hard challenges. Faith has worked for me and I believe it will work for everyone who tries with pure intent. Yes several religions say that you must rely on faith, because that is what Jesus Christ taught and that is what God has taught from the beginning. Yes religions have been changed and there are several religions, that is why there was a need for the restoration of Jesus Christ's complete church.  I am not the one searching for truth. I've found it, and I am at peace. I was just sharing the way that everyone can also know what is true. You don't have to believe it or try it... but you won't know unless you do.
·         I'm glad you would really like to know if God is real Sterling. Jesus gave you a way to really know in John 7: 16-17.
16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
Try to follow Gods plan again by exercising your desire to believe and following God's doctrine of acting in Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Holy Ghost and enduring to the end again. Do it with and open heart not trying to disprove it. With real intent. I believe you will find the witness you desire.
·         You can verify both the scriptures and the existence of God by doing the things I invited you to do. The answers are the same for children and adults. Christ's doctrine is simple and basic yet profound with layers and layers of meanings.
I love these questions you're asking, they don't bother me as long as it stays civil like it has been this time around. Questions are how we got the Doctrine and Covenants. That's how Joseph Smith found out God and Christ are real.

Having these conversations has a good experience for me.  I was glad to put down in writing my testimony.  In the past some conversations with my cousin have not been civil, but this time they were kind.  It was nice.  I don’t know if I made any difference in their lives, they have to do the work it takes to gain a witness of the truth, but it has been a good strengthening experience for me.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Letter - Alpha and Omega, Goals

January 8, 2017

It has been a wonderful week.  Monday was Chad’s and my wedding anniversary.  I've been blessed to be married to him for 16 wonderful years! Over the last 16 years we've loved and served each other, laughed, worked, traveled a little bit, and built a family and a relationship that I wouldn't trade for all the riches in the world. I love how anytime we hear something funny from our kids or on TV our eyes automatically meet so we can laugh about it together. We continue to do our best to keep our relationship strong. He made me breakfast on Monday and I did laundry most of the day and cleaned the house to get ready for our trip.  We took the kids to dinner at YC’s Mongollian grill that night to celebrate our family birthday.  We thought they would all love it.  Both of the boys loved it but the girls didn’t like it, except the all you can eat frozen yogurt of course.  I guess next time we’ll have to stick to Chinese food.  That is something all of us love.   

Tuesday Chad and I woke up early at 4:30am to catch our 6:45am flight to San Francisco.  Neither of us had ever been to San Francisco before so we decided to take a two night trip to celebrate our anniversary.  It was a fun trip.  The city has a lot of fun culture and history.  It was fun to focus solely on being a couple and to explore the city without the responsibilities of cooking or cleaning or work or running errands or anything like that for a couple of days. It was also good to come back home and hug the kids and get back to my life of being a wife and a mother.  I love my job!  Thank you Brenda for watching the kids for us. 

If you’re interested, you can see pictures of our trip and read more about it here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154773836927332.1073741858.792032331&type=1&l=0db9f7bbd0

I did not stick to my diet during the trip, I figured since this is probably my one and only chance to visit San Francisco I didn’t want to miss out on their local food.  I didn’t go crazy though and am back on the diet now.  I’ve already lost all the weight I gained plus some.  I have a little over 6 weeks left on the diet.  Next week I get to start adding healthy fats like avocados, nuts and heathy oils to my diet.  I am so excited about the avocados and peanut butter.  Those sound SO good to me.
We got home from our trip late Thursday night.  Our flight home was delayed by almost an hour, but other than that the flights were great and didn’t have anything scary happen in them.

Friday night Bryant and Chad had a deacon’s quorum camp out at Coons bluff.  The other kids and I stayed home.  I made taco salad and fresh salsa and we watched a movie together.

Yesterday we woke up and the kids got their chores done quickly so we could go play with Spencer’s aerobie frisbee at the park. 

Today has been a nice Sabbath Day.  We have late church now so we all (except Chad who had meetings) slept in until about 8:30.  Then I drove Bryant around with another Deacon in the ward to pick up fast offerings at 9:00.  In gospel doctrine I learned a few new things.  We talked about what scripture is.  The church’s definition which I knew is: “Words, both written and spoken, by holy men of God when moved upon by the Holy Ghost” (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/gs/scriptures?lang=eng&letter=s).  But we also learned that in the academic world in order for something to be considered scripture it has to be historic (past), metaphoric (can relate to present life) and prophetic (future).  I thought that was pretty cool.  We also discussed the meaning of the phrase Alpha and Omega which is a title of Christ.  We know it means beginning and end.  Christ created the world and with His second coming it will be the end of the world. But our relief society president said that they were discussing the meaning of that title in their home and her daughter pointed out that in a wolf pack the Alpha is the leader, the Omega is the servant and one who does all the work.  Christ is both our leader and our servant.  I thought that was very cool too.

I’ve set a few goals for this year.  Our family is going to talk about goals in our family council tomorrow night.  Each of us has the assignment to share at least one personal goal and a family goal.  My personal goals are:
·         To read the Ensign each month and read the Sunday school and Relief Society Lessons each week.
·         To attend the temple 52 times this year. (Once a week average.)
·         To learn the piano solo that my Mom gave me at a YW’s activity when I was young.  I’ve got to go find it! 
·         To polish up some of the old piano solos I’ve learned.

For our family goal I would like us to do a family service project at least once a quarter.  We were able to go serve at Feed my Starving Children two weeks ago and Tilly, Marlee and Karalee loved it.  We for sure want to go serve there again.  Tilly especially loved it since she got to be an active participant.  She loved not having to just watch.

My quote for today is from President Hinckley.  “We live in a society that feeds on criticism. … I urge you to see the big picture and cease worrying about the little blemishes. … These are only incidental to the magnitude of [Church leaders’] service and to the greatness of their contributions.”  I hope to criticize less and to praise more with everyone I meet, especially in my home.

Love,
Mindy

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Letter - Seek for things that satisfy, the object of the entire Law is the spirit of obedience to God

January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!!  2016 was very good to our family.  We finished the year off in a fun way last night.  Wynn, Tyler, Kayla and their families all came over for a New Year’s Eve party.  The weather was very nice and the kids were able to play in the backyard without jackets.  They lit sparklers and after a light, warm rain we built a fire in our fire pit and they roasted marshmallows and made s’mores.  The adults kept busy visiting in the family room.  Wynn and Tyler’s families had to leave before midnight came around, but since Kayla and her family stayed overnight with us we all (except Tilly who asked to go to bed around 9:30) stayed up until midnight to watch the recorded footage of the ball drop in Times square.  I hurried next to Chad during the last few seconds of 2016 so we could give each other a kiss as the New Year rolled around.  It is such a blessing to have a sweetheart.  Chad is such a good man and I’m so glad to be his wife.     
     
It has been interesting going through the Christmas season while being on a strict diet.  I have learned to celebrate without food. To find joy in being with loved ones and feeling the spirit of the Christmas season. Most of the time it hasn’t been too hard, but there have been a couple of times when I have wanted to try some of the yummy desserts or foods I’m not allowed to eat on this phase of my diet.  A scripture has come to mind as I’m learning to eat better and reset my metabolism.  It is the first part of verse 51 in 2 Nephi 9.  “Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy ….”  The things that I am eating now are very basic, and they satisfy the needs of my body.  When I eat treats such as chocolates or desserts like cookies or cinnamon rolls one is never enough.  I always want more and more until I eat so much that I feel sick and ashamed of myself.  The foods I eat now do not leave me craving more junk food.  The only problem is my mind remembers how good that junk food tastes.  I’m learning to like healthier foods though.  I have lost 18 pounds now.  I am noticing positive changes in my body and I feel better about myself. 

Today part of our opening hymn in sacrament meeting caught my attention.  “Come, let us anew our journey pursue, Roll round with the year, And never stand still till the Master appear.  His adorable will let us gladly fulfill, And our talents improve By the patience of hope and the labor of love, By the patience of hope and the labor of love.”  I haven’t yet decided what goals I am going to set for myself this year, but the line “And our talents improve by the patience of hope and the labor of love”, has me thinking about what talents I need to improve.  I know that as I fulfill my role as a wife and mother and as I fulfill my church calling by laboring with love my talents will improve.  I’m sure I can also find other specific find ways to improve my talents though.

My quote for today is from Jesus the Christ.  To preface, Elder Talmage was explaining how the Pharisees foolishly tried to pick which commandments were most important. They also tried to trap Jesus by asking which of the commandments is the greatest of all.  "None of them [pharisees] had realized the great principle, that the wilful violation of one commandment is the transgression of all (James 2:10), because the object of the entire Law is the spirit of obedience to God" (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, pg. 524).  It is important to be obedient to all commandments, not just the ones we think are more important than others.

Love,
Mindy