Friday, May 30, 2008

Respect for Missionaries' Time

The young men and women who serve missions sacrifice 18 months-2 years of their lives. While their peers are advancing through college, earning money, and experiencing social activities, these young people are out preaching the gospel. Many have worked and saved their own money to pay for their missions and when they return from their missions, many have very little money left. Many missionaries miss out on weddings, births, and other family celebrations while they are gone.

The families of the missionaries also sacrifice. They miss out on time with their sons and daughters. A definite void is left in a family when a son or daughter leaves. Even though I was excited for my son to serve his mission, I didn’t realize how much I would miss his energy and enthusiasm. It’s been strange that he isn’t here for dinner or for FHE or even tormenting his siblings during church until they cry. Our family dynamics changed when he left and it took some time to become accustomed to his absence.

Families often help financially as well and have to sacrifice temporally to help their missionary serve.

While a missionary is out in the field his time is dedicated to serving the Lord. It is important that he spend his time appropriately so the Spirit can inspire him to find people searching for the truth.

Members of the wards or branches where the missionaries serve have a responsibility to help the missionaries stay on track and use their time wisely. Someone once said to me, “I’ll have the elders come over and weed my garden. After all, that’s why they’re here, to serve us, right?” Well, no. The missionaries are not here to plant gardens, paint members’ homes, watch movies, or hang out. While it can help investigators when missionaries do service for them, it is wrong for members to use missionaries as their own work force. Members must be careful to never infringe on missionaries’ time.

Here is the schedule that missionaries are encouraged to keep:
6:30 am Wake up
7:00 am Companion Study
8:00 am Breakfast
8:30 am Personal Study
9:30 am Proselyting
Noon Lunch
1:00 pm Proselyting
5:00 pm Dinner
6:00 pm Proselyting
9:30 pm End Proselyting; Plan
10:30 pm Go To Sleep

Most of the time is dedicated to proselyting because the whole reason we send missionaries out is to share the gospel. As members, we need to do as much as we can to encourage the missionaries serving in our wards to keep their schedule and to devote their time and efforts to finding and teaching people.

Missionaries are also asked to write to their parents once a week, contact the Mission President each week, stay within their area boundaries, to not be alone with a member of the opposite sex, to not write to people within their mission boundaries, to avoid debt, and to keep their focus solely on their mission.

The more that members living in the area can help missionaries stay focused, the more the Lord can pour out His blessings.

Return to the neighborhood.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Beware of Your Dishwasher

Thursday night my son loaded our dishwasher and started the wash cycle. My husband and I were upstairs when a daughter rushed into our bedroom and shouted, "The dishwasher is on fire."

We thought she was mistaking steam for smoke, but decided to check it out. Sure enough, the dishwasher was in fact on fire. We hurried to disconnect power to the unit and found that the control panel had caught fire and had even melted in places. We have no idea why.

This dishwasher was a Kenmore with a stainless steel tub that we purchased in late 2003 from our local Sears store. If you happen to own a Kenmore, you may want to be careful when you run it, in case it catches fire.

Not too long ago, a house in our area burned to the ground. The cause was a faulty dishwasher. I shudder to think what might have happened had we not been home.

Be careful when running electrical appliances because you never know when something might malfunction and put your home, or worse, your family, at risk.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Missionary Work is Rigorous

“Missionary work is rigorous. It is demanding. It is difficult. It has never been easy and it never will be. It requires strength of body, strength of mind, strength of spirit.” Gordon B. Hinckley

One of the reasons we moved to the country was to allow our kids to learn a work ethic. We wanted to allow them the opportunity to be responsible for animals and the work it takes to care for animals on a daily basis.

My oldest son wanted to raise pigs. Since I’m a city girl, I really had no idea what it meant to raise pigs and my husband’s family had raised cattle. We built a pen and then bought four piglets. A neighbor donated an 800 lb. sow. We were set, or so we thought.

Those pigs were all Houdinis. They could get out of their pen in the blink of an eye. Of course, they only chose to do so when my husband was out of town. And, pigs are not like cows, horses, sheep, or goats—they don’t herd, they don’t come when you call, and you can’t “talk” them into their pen. In fact, when you get close to pigs, they usually scatter in all different directions.

Late one night, while my husband was away on business, I heard a noise out in the side yard. Sure enough, the pigs were out. I dressed and then asked my son (I still say I asked in a very nice way, though my son will argue that point) to come help since, after all, they were his pigs.

We spent the next hour or two chasing pigs up and down our driveway, through our yard, around the sheds, and into the fields. To say we weren’t pleased would be a mild description. Both my son and I were ready to make them all into bacon on the spot. The sow was the worst because anything that weighs 800 lbs. can really do whatever it pleases.

My son stuck it out, though, and we finally succeeded in putting them all back in the pen and then fixing the fence so they couldn’t get out again (or so we told ourselves). I think my son learned a valuable lesson that night—don’t give up, even when something seems impossible.

We worked our son hard during his teenage years with building fences, caring for animals, and working around our property (when you have almost 40 acres there’s always plenty to do). Even when he didn’t want to work, we made him get up and work anyway, all the while telling him it was preparation for his mission. I’m pretty sure there were times he didn’t believe us. I think he figured his mission would be easy compared to what we asked of him.

I think he now believes us. He’s been in the mission field for over 21 months and a constant theme when he writes is how hard it is to be a missionary. He says he’s never worked so hard in his life and never loved it so much.

Return to the neighborhood.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Faith in Jesus Christ

To better serve as a full-time or member missionary it’s important to have a basic understanding of the fundamental principles of the gospel.

The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are often accused of not being Christians even though the name Jesus Christ is included in the title. The reason some claim we are not Christians is because of our belief that Lucifer and Jesus are brothers.

Other religions do not believe in the pre-existence where we all enjoyed relationships as brothers and sisters, and children to heavenly parents before mortality. We believe that we were all created as spirits before we were born. We learned and grew spiritually while in the pre-existence and for a time we lived in harmony and peace.

We believe that before Adam was placed on this earth we had a war in heaven. Lucifer, a spirit brother also known as Satan, presented a plan which included forcing all of mankind to keep the commandments while they sojourned in mortality. He promised not a soul would be lost because everyone would be compelled to live the gospel and in so doing would return to live with God after they left mortality.

Jesus, on the other hand, presented a plan that allowed each of us to make our own choices while on earth and to live the gospel at our own discretion. It would be up to each individual to make his own choices and then to live with the consequences of those choices. We would not be forced nor compelled. Only those who chose of their own free will to keep the commandments would be able to return to live in God’s presence after mortality.

Lucifer’s plan was rejected in favor of Jesus’ plan. Lucifer, or Satan, and his spirit followers were cast out of heaven and will never be allowed the opportunity to receive a mortal body.

Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers just like the rest of us. We all share the same Heavenly Father who created our spirits. It is only through faith on the Lord Jesus Christ that we may return to live with Heavenly Father again some day, “ . . . for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

It is this faith that drives us to live the gospel as we seek to replace our natural tendencies with spiritual ones. It is this faith that motivates us to make righteous choices even when they are difficult. It is this faith that induces us to sacrifice our time and selfish desires to serve God and share the gospel. It is this faith that refines us and perfects us as we live in mortality.

The most important thing we can teach others is to have faith in Jesus Christ. It is our message to invite everyone, everywhere to come unto Christ.

Return to the neighborhood.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


My favorite contestant, David Archuleta, did not become the next American Idol, but that's okay. I was so thrilled for David Cook. He was so sincerely touched. I loved watching him achieve such a fantastic dream. What a wonderful experience for him, and for all of those who participated in the contest this year.

It's important to have dreams and to work toward those dreams. My biggest dream was to marry in the temple and have a family with lots of kids. I'm thankful each and every day that I've been allowed to fulfill that dream. I love being a wife and mother.

It's also important to support others in their dreams, even if the dream seems unrealistic. When we wanted to move out to the country and raise lots of kids and animals we were told that it was just a "pipe dream." My grandfather fought against us every way he could because he thought we were making a mistake to move out of the city. He told me on several occasions as we went through the process of trying to move to the country, that he hoped it would fall through and we wouldn't be able to move. Fortunately, we were able to pursue our dream to raise our kids and animals in a rural setting.

My grandfather never supported my dream of marrying in the temple or having a large family. Time and time again, he would tell me how terrible it was to have so many kids and what a mistake it was (though he deeply loved each of his great-grandchildren after they were born). He once told me that if he'd known I would waste my life raising a bunch of kids, he would never have encouraged me to go to college. I have never regretted going to or graduating from BYU.

I think his non-support only made me stronger and more determined to accomplish my dreams. In a way, he was very good for me. And, he was a good man with a good heart who sacrificed his retirement to raise my sister and me. Grandpa and I just viewed the world in a different way and felt different things were important. Though he didn't support my dreams, in his own way, he loved me and wanted me to be happy.

Dreams are important for each of us and we should support the dreams of others. The world is a better place because of people's dreams.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

American Idol

Wow--what a night. I loved the opening to American Idol. That announcer guy has quite a voice.

David Cook sang his first song and I thought he did a great job. He's amazing. When he teared up after his last song, it made me teary, too. I love how he can make a song his own by rearranging it.

When David Archuleta sang his first song, it gave me goosebumps. I love that kid. His voice is so pure and he sings with such emotion and conviction. I love to listen to him sing. He seems to be such a geniuinely good kid, too.

My teenage daughters can't decide who they like the most and which one they want to marry :).

This has been a great season with so many talented contestants. I am very excited to see who wins tonight. I think it's going to be extremely close because they are both so good.

My vote is for David Archuleta.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Ideas for Mission Prep.

Since the bar has now been raised for young people to serve missions, it is important for parents to realize that preparation for serving a mission starts long before the teenage years. Preparation should begin shortly after birth and continue throughout childhood and adolescence. Here are some ideas to help your son or daughter prepare to serve an honorable mission:

1. Set a pattern of prayer in your home. Have regular family prayer and encourage children to have their own personal prayers. Set the example by allowing your children to see and hear you pray.

2. Have regular Family Home Evenings. FHE was instituted many years ago as a way to combat the growing evil in the world. Today, our families are continually assaulted and the need for regular, consistent FHE is even greater than ever before. The home is the best place for children to learn the gospel.

3. Have regular, consistent family scripture study and encourage your children to have personal scripture time.

4. Set an example for your kids by always attending meetings, bearing your testimony often, magnifying your callings, and living the gospel the best you can. Our kids will remember what we do far longer than what we say.

5. Spend time with your children discussing the gospel. If you make it a habit to eat dinner together, this can be a great opportunity to talk about gospel topics as they relate to everyday happenings. Whether it’s discussing political news, weather catastrophes, or comments made at school, parents can use this time to effectively teach the gospel in a natural way.

6. Encourage your high school age children to attend seminary where they can study the gospel more in-depth on a daily basis. A strong gospel base will provide a missionary serving far from home the stability he or she needs when asked difficult questions by investigators.

7. Show your children by your actions how thankful you are for the gospel. Frequently expressing gratitude for the blessings of the gospel will communicate to your kids the importance of the gospel in your life.

8. Most importantly, provide opportunities for your children to gain and strengthen their own testimonies. Encourage them to pray for their own witnesses. A missionary who has gained his own testimony can rely on it when times are difficult. A mission is hard work and can be discouraging, but a missionary with a strong testimony will weather the difficulties.

Certainly there are no guarantees when it comes to teaching our children or having them serve missions, but heeding the counsel from the prophets and starting early may tip the scales in favor of a mission.

Return to the neighborhood.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Missionary Work By Example

It’s come down to the two Davids. I’m not at all surprised, they’re both so talented. David Cook has such an amazing ability to make a song his own. David Archuleta sings with such conviction and sincerity, he brings tears to my eyes.

I love to watch American Idol and see these kids not only share, but improve, their talents each week. They use their musical talent to share themselves with the world.

David Archuleta now has the world as his audience and has an opportunity to share something else with the world: the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I read that when he returned home shortly after President Hinckley’s death he was uncomfortable with all of the attention. He attended his seminary class and instead of focusing on his newfound fame, he bore a strong testimony of the gospel. He said how much he loved President Hinckley and what an influence President Hinckley had on his life. He didn’t want to talk about his experience on American Idol; he wanted to pay tribute to a prophet of God. What a great example.

Through our examples we have the opportunity every day to teach people about the gospel and about what we believe. The speech we use, the way we dress, and the subjects we discuss show people around us what is important to us. People watch us all the time.

When I was a teenager, an adult asked me why I didn’t drink beer. I responded that I wanted to obey the Word of Wisdom and had determined I wouldn’t drink alcohol even though it was a popular thing to do in high school. The adult told me he knew plenty of Mormons that drank beer and I was missing out by not partying—I needed to loosen up.

That conversation has always stayed with me. I never did drink beer or any other alcohol, but his comments made me realize what an impact others’ choices had made on him. The example set by others made him believe that the Word of Wisdom wasn’t really that important.

For good or bad, our example speaks so much louder than our words. We can say all we want about our beliefs, but the proof is in our actions. When we live what we believe, we are teaching others what is important to us. As we live the gospel the best we can, we are communicating to those around us that the gospel matters to us and we are doing missionary work.

We may never have the platform that David Archuleta has, but in our own sphere of influence we can be missionaries. We can show others the happiness and joy that comes from living the gospel. We can show them how the atonement works in our lives and how Jesus Christ can be our redeemer. We can do missionary work each day just by living our lives the way the Savior would have us live.

Return to the neighborhood.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I've Designed a Fragrance

In my book Heaven Scent my main character's mother wears a certain fragrance. This perfume plays a pivotal role in the story so with the help of Karlene Browning at Urban Botanics I designed this fragrance to tie into my book.

Hope (Heaven's Scent)

Meet Liza, a lovely and talented young woman from the book Heaven Scent by Rebecca Talley. As Liza proves herself a basketball star, everyone—from college basketball recruiters to the gorgeous Kyle Reynolds—seems to take note of her. Everyone, that is, except her own father, who has buried himself in his law practice.

When yet another broken promise finally leads to tragedy, Liza doesn't know if she will ever be able to forgive her father. It will take a miracle straight from heaven to help Liza see that she still has hope.

Hope is the name of the perfume worn by Liza’s mother in Heaven Scent. It’s a soft floral blend of jasmine, freesia and mimosa. This fragrance is pivotal in convincing Liza that despite her new reality, her mother is never far from her. Hope reminds us that families are forever and we are constantly encircled by their love.

Full bath and body package includes pre-mixed Urban Botanic product—an 8 oz. shower gel or bubble bath (select option below), 8 oz. body lotion, 2 oz. parfum spray, lotion pump lid, and puff scrubby (color dependent upon stock at time of order).

If you're interested in learning more you can go here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

HubPages: Writing for Kids

I've started writing for a site called HubPages. My topic is: Writing for Kids. If you'd like to see it you can go here. I'll be adding an article every week and I'll see how it goes.

If you have a topic you'd like to write about, you can check out this site. I don't know how it will all work out, but I'm excited to try it. I love writing for kids and look forward to sharing with others the information I've gleaned through the years.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Spirit of Missionary Work

Mother's Day is always a wonderful day. My children all spoiled me with poems, cards, candy, and hugs. They were so cute. My honey also spoiled me with yummy dark chocolate, red licorice, and a beautiful card.

A very fun part of the day was when my missionary called. He'd said he'd call right after church so we all rushed home. (I'd told my kids that if they didn't go directly to the car after church, they'd be walking home). We all hovered over the phone, anticipating the call.

As soon as it rang I grabbed it, knowing by the caller ID that it was my baby boy. And, it was. It's been over 5 months since we last spoke and the sound of his voice brought tears to my eyes.

We spoke at length about so many things. Each of his siblings had a turn to chat with him, too.

He talked about the work in Italy. His mission doesn't have a high baptism rate. Some missionaries seem to get hung up on numbers, but he's learned that teaching people the gospel cannot be measured by a number. He's found a family that was baptized 10 years ago but slipped into inactivity soon after. He was thrilled to see the father of this family bless the sacrament for the first time in almost 10 years. He was so happy that members of the family stayed for all three meetings yesterday and some of their friends are investigating. My son said he feels like this is why he was sent to Italy, to find this one specific family and bring them back to the gospel. Before his mission, we had talked about how there would be people that only he could touch and that's why it was so important for him to keep himself worthy to serve a mission, so he could find those waiting just for him.

Sometimes, when we talk of missionary work, we concentrate so hard on finding those who aren't members, we miss the members that have slipped into inactivity. When it comes to missionary work, anyone who isn't enjoying the blessings of the gospel, member or nonmember, needs to come unto Christ.

Some missions have huge numbers of baptisms and others have small numbers, if any. Those missionaries who are serving with all of their hearts are doing the work of the Lord whether baptisms occur during their missions or not. Some seeds are planted for others to harvest and, sometimes, seeds planted long ago are harvested.

The true spirit of missionary work is to teach people of Christ. It's wonderful to hear my son share his testimony and his experiences in the mission field. He has the spirit of missionary work and I am so grateful for his dedication and willingness to serve. I'm also thankful I could speak with my baby boy yesterday.

Return to the neighborhood.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Sacrifice Brings Forth Blessings

Several years ago, I heard a knock at my front door. I opened it to two older gentleman who wanted to teach me about their religion. They shared several scriptures, interpreting them much differently than what I was used to. I listened politely. At the conclusion of their remarks, they said, "We go out and preach the gospel regularly because we believe in what we're doing. Do you know of any other religion that sends out missionaries?"

I'm sure they didn't expect my response, "As a matter of fact, I do." I then went on to explain how the LDS Church has a missionary force of tens of thousands. Though I found it hard to believe they weren't aware of our missionaries, I didn't want to assume they were deliberately trying to be deceptive. After all, they believed enough in their religion that they were willing to give up their time to share their message.

Our missionaries serve missions at great sacrifice. Some give up college for 2 years, others sacrifice scholarships, and still others put relationships on hold or miss out on events of their children's and grandchildren's lives simply to serve the Lord.

While I have always been aware that the missionary would make sacrifices, it wasn't until my son left for his mission that I realized how great my own sacrifice would be. I assumed I would miss him, of course, but I didn't know what a hole he'd leave while he was gone. I was so used to seeing him and talking with him and when he entered the MTC that all changed overnight. Suddenly, I could only communicate through letters and then through e-mail. While e-mail is more timely than snail mail, it's certainly not the same as having a live conversation.

After he left, I also realized how much I depended on him. He was a great help with the kids and around the house.

Why do people choose to serve a mission and leave family and friends for up to two years? Why do the families encourage them to do so? Though it is a huge sacrifice, we've learned that sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven. Having my son halfway across the world is definitely a sacrifice, but it is also such a blessing. He has learned so much about himself and about his own testimony. He has struggled and prayed and worked harder than he ever has. And, he's loved it. He's learned to love a foreign culture and the people of that land.

I've had to learn to trust the Lord, that He will take care of my son. I wouldn't have my son doing anything else. I know he is where he should be, doing what he should be doing, and touching the lives of people only he could touch.

Return to the neighborhood.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Time Flies

Today my daughter celebrates her 19th birthday. Wow. How did that happen? How did 19 years pass so quickly?

I made a conscious choice years ago to stay home and raise my children. Since I was orphaned as a little girl, I felt like I was kind of cheated out of the whole family thing and decided I didn't want to miss a single minute with my own children.

When I have a baby, I spend the first six weeks staring at the baby, trying to memorize every little detail. I hardly do anything else but just hold and cuddle my new baby. And yet, that time flies by.

While my kids are growing, I spend my time watching them, playing with them, reading to and with them, helping them develop their talents, and teaching them to work. Yet, I feel as though time slips away so fast. Where does it go? Is there some place where time goes and stacks up and I could borrow some of it back?

When I was a kid it took forever for Christmas to arrive and then it took forever for summer break. Now, I feel like I put the Christmas decorations away only to turn around a month later and get out the kiddie pool and a month later it's back to the Christmas decorations.

Anyone know how to slow time?

Monday, May 5, 2008

The MTC Experience

My son has been serving in the Italy Rome mission. Interestingly enough, his first mission president was our family doctor, which made me feel a little better about sending my first child halfway around the world.

As the day approached for my son to enter the MTC, I had mixed feelings. It was a day I’d looked forward to for 19 years, a culmination of all of my teaching, prodding (he might say harassing), and efforts to help my son prepare to serve his mission. I was thrilled he’d not only made the choice to serve, but was also worthy to do so. I was very proud of him. Yet, I knew that his absence would create a hole in the family and a hole in my heart. He’d been such a part of the family for so many years and none of his younger siblings knew life without him. I knew it wouldn’t be the same without him and though he was serving the Lord, it would be hard without him.

We arrived at the MTC along with a million other families (or so it seemed). We took a ton of photos with him in his missionary suit and recorded all the moments we could on our video camera. We made our way through the crowd and received his nametag. As soon as I saw it, the tears started to flow. I placed it on his suit and, poof, my son was transformed into a real live missionary.

We followed the group of sniffling mothers and family members back to a large room where we watched one Mormon Ad after another. You know, the “Family, isn’t it about time” ads. Like I wasn’t emotional enough, I had to sit through ad after ad that made me bawl.

After everyone was seated, a member of the MTC presidency addressed us. He tried to keep the mood light with several jokes. I appreciated what he was trying to do, but I was too emotional to laugh. He asked that those families who live in the area please not write messages on the sidewalks outside the MTC or on the way to the temple. He also advised parents to not “accidentally” attend the same temple sessions as their missionaries. I was glad we didn’t live near the MTC so I wouldn’t be tempted to see my son “just one more time.” After some other words of encouragement and counsel, he told us to do the “band aid” goodbye—do it quickly and get it over with. How do you say goodbye to your son for the next 24 months?
Through lots of tears and hugs we bid him farewell, trusting that he would be safe and protected as he left us and then left for Italy. It was difficult to say goodbye and, again, such a mixture of emotions. I was so thankful he was there, that he could be there, that he wanted to be there.

I’ve heard people say that serving a mission is one of the hardest and best experiences of their lives. I’d like to add that having a son serve a mission is one of the hardest and best experiences as well. It is truly worth the sacrifice.

Return to the neighborhood.