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Friday, May 19, 2023

Free Budget Worksheet

 I'm a lover of budgeting and finance so I created this excel budget worksheet that can be downloaded and individualized.  It does all the math for you.  A worksheet like this saved our family from losing our home during the crash of 2008. (Wow, I sound old.)  The worksheet helps us determine where we can make cuts during lean times.  I share it with my kids when they start adulting.  Download it HERE

Monday, June 22, 2020

Christ restores, gathers, and contends for us

Here’s a little thought from my study this morning. In Alma 17:29-33 I noticed a different perspective to those verses if I think of myself in the place of the servants and think of Jesus Christ in the place of Ammon and think of sharing the gospel or raising my family.

Servants/Me: wept because of fear (vs. 29)

Ammon/Christ: I will show forth my power restoring ...that I may lead them to believe in my words (vs. 29) be of good cheer and let us go in search ...and we will gather them (vs 31)

Servants/Me: they did follow ...they rushed forth with much swiftness ...and did gather them together again to the place of water (vs 32)

Ammon/Christ: Encircle the flocks round about that they flee not and I go and contend with these men who do scatter. (Vs. 33)

Sunday, January 5, 2020

2020 Daily Family Scripture Study and Weekly FHE Chart

This year I set a goal to have daily family scripture study and weekly FHE.  I like to have a cute reminder of my goals and a visual way to track my progress so I made this chart.  The trick will be to not make this a "check the box" approach to following the commandment to read the scriptures daily.  I hope I can share my love of the Book of Mormon with my family and help them learn to love it too.

Click here to download the chart

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Is The Church of Jesus Chirst of Latter-Day Saints responsible for it's LGBTQ teen's suicide? No.

This week I had an experience that caused me anxiety and heavy heart. On Monday I shared an old conference talk by President Kimball on my Relief Society Facebook page. My post said something like this:  “Brother LeSueur wasn’t kidding yesterday in Stake conference when he said the old conference talks were very direct. Listen to this talk by President Kimball.
I don’t want to debate the talk. I know some church policies have changed.  I just thought you may be interested in reading how direct the talk is.”

Voices of the Past, of the Present, of the Future

Well all was fine and good until Tuesday morning when one of the sisters in our RS Facebook group, who I used to visit teach, but who is now inactive and kind of against the church made this comment:  "We were the little kids listening to that, at least I was.  It's striking as an adult to listen to that talk.  My heart goes out to all LGBTQ.  We were raised to fear, judge, condemn, and despise another person based on their sexual preference. Could you imagine being from that community and raised to loath yourself, by parents who also were taught so much fear and prejudice?  We are paying for it today.  The tragic escalation of suicide it the LDS LGBTQ communities is staggering.  One of the highest suicide rates among teens, and leading causes of death among our youth.  Just heartbreaking."

I was sick to my heart. I had tried to find a safe place to share that talk where I wouldn’t have to debate or defend it. Defending my beliefs takes a lot out of me (it also helps me grow, but ...I wasn’t ready for that) and Facebook debates are a waste of time so I deleted the whole post. Later that morning it was still weighing on my heart that my friend may be offended that I deleted the post.  And I love her and want to know her heart and want her to know mine, so I sent her this personal text message:  “I deleted my post because I really didn’t want to debate that talk. Facebook debates are a huge waste of time and cause me anxiety. I appreciate your thoughts and respect your opinions. If you want to talk about things in person I would love to, but I don’t want to discuss it online or over text.”  I also posted a similar message on the RS Facebook group so people would know I’m willing to talk about sensitive issues with them.

Anyway I pondered a lot about what she said that the church is basically the cause of suicides. That is false. I think the blame needs to go where it is due, to Satan. He gets people to listen to negative self-talk and he’s the one who tells people their life isn’t worth living. The leaders of the church do preach against homosexual sin, not homosexual desire, but they also preach these type of loving truths: “...however late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines” (Elder Holland).

I also pondered and about how the church has changed their style of teaching their view of homosexuality and its causes. I can only imagine how hard it would be to have homosexual desires and to have knowledge of God’s plan of families.  The church is much more caring and understanding to individuals who have homosexual desires than they were in the past.  For which I am grateful.   I know the leaders of the church are called of God and that He leads their church, but I also know that leaders of the church are
striving to do their best, but none of them yet perfect” (Elder Ballard, April 2018).  Sometimes as a parent I warn of punishments instead of parenting with love and teaching the reasons why my children should obey, maybe some of the church leaders did that too?

I have some dear cousins who wish the church would make big changes in their policies regarding homosexuality, bigger than the change the church just made this most conference where children of same sex parents can now be baptized and same sex married couples are not excommunicated. I’m not sure what else my cousins want to change. I haven’t had the courage or strength to ask them. Although with my limited knowledge, I don’t know how the doctrine could be changed. Heavenly Father wants us to have eternal life and to be parents like Him. (Moses 1:39) According to my current knowledge, same sex partners cannot have eternal increase. The choice to marry someone of your same sex stops eternal progression. I feel the church will always preach against something that stops eternal progression.  Eternal perspective is a must.

Anyway, those are some of my thoughts. Please know that I will lend a non-judgmental, loving, listening ear if any of my family and friends want to talk to me in person about any issue. I won’t discuss sensitive matters over text or email though. Too many things get misunderstood that way.  Also know that I will defend the church.  I have covenanted to do so.  I guess I better get stronger and get used to playing defense!


Friday, October 19, 2018

Careful of Dissent

An article I read a few months ago stated that it is a positive thing for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to offer a dissenting opinion about curriculum and rules.  Here’s a quote, It’s difficult for dissenters, but it’s vital that Mormonism has them. The healthiest organizations are not the ones that shut down dissent or pretend that everyone is always in agreement. They’re the ones that allow multiple points of view to inform their decision making process.” (Why we need Mormon Dissenters)  I thought a lot about that article.  Here are a few of my thoughts:   

I agree that members of the church with differing opinions should not be shut down and that we should not pretend that everyone agrees, but sometimes when people disagree about something, it gets blown out of perspective and they forget about the testimony of truths they’ve already gained.  If I have, or if someone I love has questions or if we don’t agree with policies and standards in the church or some of its leaders, I think it is important to remember to look to understand the doctrine and reasons. Look for the good, do not pick apart and criticize. The devil will use contention to harden hearts, and dissent is a close cousin to that. That does not mean that you cannot ask questions, seek to understand, seek to be understood, and help to make positive change, but it does mean that you have to be very careful not to miss out on the blessings that Heavenly Father has in store from following the prophets and living His doctrine.  It is also important to remember that the Lord’s ways are higher than our ways or other man’s ways and sometimes He may have reasons we don’t understand or know about. (Isaiah 55:9)  We should look for the good in those who have questions and concerns.  We should love them and help them find faith, remember the faith they already have, and learn together.

We should not to rest on someone else’s revelation and testimony no matter who it is. God gave us the gift of personal revelation because he expects us to ask questions. He expects us to study, think, and come to come to Him.  But we need to live and continue to live the gospel standards and doctrine, to come to know for ourselves of the validity of them. When something comes along that I don’t understand, first I try to live it to understand it, like Jesus states, “if any man will do His will he will know of the doctrine.” (John 7:17)  I know the Lord’s promises are sure because I’ve tested the Lord’s word from scripture and from past and current prophets and I have received blessings, knowledge, peace, etc. When we have tested God’s words in the past, no future obedience can really be blind obedience because we know His words are sure. 

In the Book of Mormon there were many groups of people who dissented from the Nephites (Zoramites, Amalekites, Amulonites, etc.). They stoned the prophets and cast them out from among them. As a result, they lost the protection that comes from listening to and heeding the prophets' words and they were destroyed. The prophets and apostles are not perfect, but they are called of God.  When they give counsel, we would be wise to try to live by their counsel to gain a testimony of it. We have to use faith to support and sustain each other. Just as the early Book of Mormon saints had to live the Law of Moses even though they knew Jesus Christ would come and the law would be dead, we may have to live temporary laws that lead us closer to perfection.

If we take a cafeteria approach to living the gospel and dissent from certain standards, policy, or doctrine, that puts us on a slippery slope.  We may be able to hang on to part or most of our testimony, but our children and our children’s children may not.  They can see our partial obedience and then they most likely will be partially obedient to the things we live.  Pretty soon they may be out of the church all together.  In the Book of Mormon there are instances recorded where apostasy happened after 1-2 generations.

I want all the blessings that come from having my feet firmly planted on gospel sod (Hymn “I Believe in Christ”) for me and my children.  I also want those blessing for everyone I know, meet, and come in contact with.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Missionary Work with a little skin in the game

April 25, 2018

This morning I was thinking about a story our ward mission leader, Bro. Ellis, told us in RS a little over a week ago.  His wife and her friend teach an exercise class at the gym.  Her friend, who is not a member of the LDS church, greets new people as they come into their exercise class at their gym by asking if they have a church to go to.  This invitation is very natural and normal.  She invites them to check it out.  Her husband is the minister of their church.  It is probably her husband’s livelihood, they have a lot of “skin in the game” so they need to share the news of their church with as many people as possible.  If they want to pay the bills, they have to open their mouths to share about their church. 

What do I need to do to have some skin in the game in sharing about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ?  With our lay membership we don’t have to get people to join our church to earn a living, but we have taken on ourselves the name of Christ and He has given more than just a little “skin in the game”, He has given all. Can I share it for Him?

Most of the time I don’t open my mouth to share the gospel because I don’t know how to do it “naturally and normally” (Monson, Ensign, Oct. 1977, 14).  Almost every time I’ve tried it has been awkward and weird.  But today I was looking at a paper Bro. Ellis gave us that outlines our new, fantastic ward mission plan. (see attachment)  It says, “Discover people’s questions. Rather than telling people what we want them to know, find out what they want to know.” That gave me an idea for sharing the gospel with strangers in line or on a plane. I can ask, Have you ever met a Mormon before? Do you have any questions about our religion?

I am going to try it!!


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Not fitting in

April 19, 2017

I have had a few instances over the last month where I have felt like I just don’t fit in with lots of people.  In conversations with friends I have realized that we have very different views on what is appropriate to watch and read and how to keep the Sabbath Day Holy, etc.  I am not saying I am right and they are wrong, but several times lately I have felt like I don’t fit in with my friends very well.  I am a pretty “PG” type of person when it comes to entertainment choices and I think I come across as living a “letter of the law” type of obedience.  Sometimes some of my friends tease me a little bit in jest and it hurts my feelings.  

Example one, Spencer went to his high school prom dance last Saturday night.  The price of the prom tickets included admission to an after party at Krazy Air.  The after party started at 11:30pm and went until 2:00am in the morning.  Chad and I didn’t want Spencer to go to the after party because it went so late into the morning (he just barely turned 16) and especially because the party went into the Sabbath Day.  The church has been counseling us to do better to keep the Sabbath Day Holy for the last few years and we felt like the party would not be a holy way to start the Sabbath.  We talked to Spencer about it.  He said the rest of his group really wanted to go to the after party.  Chad and I told him our feelings and asked him what he wanted to do.  He said he felt he would be tired after the dance and didn’t really want to go to the after party.  We told him we could come pick him and his date up if the rest of the group was heading to the party.  Spencer decided to talk to his date about missing the after party.  The day he talked to his date I decided to call her mom and explain the situation in case his date was really sad about it.  I realized his date might feel let down or that she was missing out on a major part of their school prom experience if they didn’t go to the after party.  Spencer’s date’s mother didn’t even know there was an after party.  She wasn’t too keen on the idea of them being out so late either and she said she totally supported my decision to have our kids home by midnight and to skip the after party.  (It ended up that all the other kids in the group decided to skip the after party as well and they all came home together.)  Here’s the part where I felt like I didn’t fit in, I was talking to some friends (these friends happened to be members of my faith) the day or two before prom and all their kids were going to the after party.  I mentioned how I didn’t like that the after party went into the Sabbath Day.  They weren’t worried about that.  I’ve wondered why it bothered me and it didn’t bother them.  Is my conscience too over active?  I am not trying to live the letter of the law.  I have received many personal blessings for doing things to set the Sabbath Day apart from the rest of the days of the week and to keep it holy.  I want Spencer to have those same blessings.  I hope he didn’t feel forced in his decision to talk to his date and to skip the party.  Chad and I were very proud of his decision to do so.  When we learned the kids of our church leaders were going to the after party, that didn’t change our decision of wanting Spencer to skip it.  We try not to make excuses for our decisions because of other people’s deisions, even if they are in a leadership position.  We know we are accountable for our own actions; our leaders aren’t accountable for our actions.  (I suppose leaders have a little bit of accountability if they lead those in their stewardship astray, but I think most of the accountability lies with the individual based on what they’ve been taught.  I’m glad it will be Jesus Christ who judges all of us and not me!)     

Example two, I was at lunch with a group of friends celebrating one of their birthdays.  They started talking about a popular book and whether or not they should let their kids read it.  They said it had the F word in it about 300 times and it had a pretty descriptive virtual sex scene.  One mom suggested, oh you should let them read it and make the decision for themselves if it is too much for them.  I suggested they should first warn their child of the inappropriate things in it and encourage them not to read it.  One or two of them had read the book and even with all those things didn’t feel like it was a problem.  I am not saying I am right and they are wrong, I was not judging them, I don’t know what they’ve been taught, I just felt like I didn’t fit in and like I was such a prude or something.

Yesterday I was feeling a little down about not fitting in so much lately.  I started to feel like there was something wrong with me and that people probably make fun of me behind my back all the time.  Then thankfully Heavenly Father directed my thoughts to a better place.  I realized how blessed I am that Chad and I both have the same standards about entertainment choices and how the live the Sabbath day and how to be obedient to other gospel principals and that I always fit in at home with Chad and with our children!  I realized that it is ok to be different and to stand out.  Heavenly Father can use my friends as an instrument to reach people and he can use me as an instrument to reach maybe a different group of people.  I also had the scripture Matthew 5:10 come to my mind when I was worried that people were making fun of me.  “Blessed are they which are persecuted for rightousness’ sake: for there is the kingdom of heaven.”