Monday, December 31, 2012

Your family is in good hands

By Emily Freeman
Yesterday we took the youth in our ward up to Temple Square to see the lights.
(I think everyone took the youth in their wards to see the lights yesterday!)
There was a girl with us who is a member of another faith
who had lots and lots of questions as we walked through the sparkly streets.
One of my favorite questions she asked as we walked by the Conference Center was about President Monson.
After I explained a little about General Conference to her, she asked:
“If Conference is only twice a year, what does President Monson do the rest of the year?”
I chuckled a little and then realized that for most of my life I just assumed the president of the church was busy but didn’t know what he was actually doing day by day.
What does he do every day?
I have spent the day today asking everyone in my seminary classes how they would have answered.
I had answers all over the board.  Answers you would imagine.
I want to share my two favorite. The first one:
He is helping the one.
The first one I had considered before.  Anyone who has heard any of his twice a year conference talks couldn’t miss it.  He ministers to the one.  God’s servants always have.
“Behold, and lo, I have much people in this place, in the regions round about…Therefore, I, the Lord, have suffered you to come unto this place; for thus it was expedient in me for the salvation of souls.”
Those were the Lord’s instructions to Joseph and Sidney when He sent them out east.
To find people.  To minister to one here and another there.
Joseph had scripture to translate, a church to run, a business to attend to, property to manage, and buildings to construct.  But this work was and is and will always be about people.
My other favorite answer I hadn’t thought of myself.
When I asked what President Monson did all day someone simply responded:
He has a family. Yes he does, I thought. Yes, he sure does.
Of all titles and responsibilities that rest on the shoulders of the Lord’s servants, the role of father, mother, grandfather and grandmother will always be at the top.
That is the highest calling.
Everyone who has been called to the work feels that.
But there is still ministering to be done, and sometimes that means sharing for a season.
Balancing those two great responsibilities.
I took this picture this summer–
I call it: “The Bishop’s Mower.”
It is a modern remake of a painting I love by President Packer called “The Bishop’s Team.”
It represents work set aside because there was someone in need.
Today my thanks goes out to families who have shared their loved ones with me.  To people who have sat alone at church, or eaten dinner alone.  To those who have traded vacation days for camp or had an empty chair at a baptism or wedding so their father, mother, brother, sister, grandma or grandpa could minister to me.
God bless you for your sharing.  It has not gone unnoticed.
And to you who are ministering–
“Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, my friends…your families are well; they are in mine hands, and I will do with them as seemeth me good;” (D&C 100:1)
To you who are being shared—
Your family is in good hands…

It takes trust and faith

Thank Heaven. No really – I mean it.

by Hilary Weeks

This is the text message I read from my daughter this morning.
Excited to hear about the miracle, I texted her immediately, albeit too early.  (9:30 am…much to early for a college student to be awake.)  I wondered what the miracle could be?  Heavenly help on a test?  Cereal in the bottom of the box when she thought there was none?
I found out tonight, the miracle was far more significant.
Her life was spared.
She and two of her roommates went to the store just before midnight last night.  On the way home, a car drove straight at them, 50 miles an hour in the wrong lane.  The car was heading directly towards them.  With only seconds to make a decision, she saw the only parting of construction cones along the whole rode, and she turned out of her lane in the opening.  She brought her car to a swift stop as the driver of the other car zoomed past and then swerved, crossing three lanes, back into their own lane.
The three roommates, once stopped on the side of the road, prayed.
I will continue that prayer of gratitude for many days to come.  There are not words to express my gratitude that she and her roommates and the other driver were not injured.
“Let us never forget to pray.  God lives.  He is near.  He is real.  He is not only aware of us but cares for us.  He is our Father.  He is accessible to all who will seek Him.”
~Gordon B. Hinckley~
It is so frightening to let your child leave the walls of your home to spread their wings.  It takes trust and faith – in the child – and in God.  I pray every day for her well-being and safety. 
Tonight, I thank the Lord that it was not her time to go.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Away in a manger

Away In A Manger

Away in a manger our Savior once lay, and that is the reason we have Christmas day;

He came down from Heaven to live here below to suffer and die because He loves us so.
The shepherds first found Him on that starry night; An angel spoke to them and they saw His light.
They knelt in the hay there so fragrant and warm and worshipped our Savior that first Christmas morn.
Three kings came to praise Him and gifts to Him gave,
and to all His children He then showed the way to serve
Him and others by day and by night, and love God, the Father, with heart, mind, and might.
He taught us to know what is wrong and what's right...
to pray without ceasing and seek further light; To love everybody,
the weak and the strong; and ever remember to Him we belong.
Let us then be worthy in spirit and truth, to guide others to Him,
our lives be the proof; To bring souls to Jesus that they might be free,
and praise, ever praise Him, where e'er we may be!
Away in a manger, asleep in the hay,
our Savior’s the reason for Christmas today.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Glory to the newborn King

"At the focal point of all human history, a point illuminated by a new star in the heavens revealed for just such a purpose, probably no other mortal watched--none but a poor young carpenter, a beautiful virgin mother, and silent stabled animals who had not the power to utter the sacredness they had seen. Shepherds would soon arrive and later, wise men from the East. Later yet the memory of that night would bring Santa Claus and Frosty and Rudolph--and all would be welcome. But first and forever there was just a little family, without toys or trees or tinsel. With a baby that's how Christmas began. It is for this baby that we shout in chorus: 'Hark! the herald angels sing Glory to the newborn King! . . . Mild he lays his glory by, Born that man no more may die; Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth' ."

Jeffrey R. Holland

Saturday, December 22, 2012

They deserve your attention and care

Most Important Question

During my second month of nursing school, our professor gave us a pop
quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the
questions, until I read the last one: 'What is the first name of
the woman who cleans the school?" Surely this was some kind of joke.
I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired
and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper,
leaving the last question blank. Before class ended, one student
asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.
Absolutely, said the professor. "In your careers you will meet many
people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if
all you do is smile and say hello". I've never forgotten that lesson. I
also learned her name was Dorothy.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

There is no more precious possession anyone could hold

Once upon a time, a man punished his five-year-old daughter
for using up the family’s only roll of expensive gold wrapping paper before Christmas.

Money was tight, so he became even more upset when on Christmas Eve, he saw that the child had used the expensive gold paper to decorate a large shoebox she had put under the Christmas tree.

Nevertheless, the next morning the little girl, filled with excitement, brought the gift box to her father and said, "This is for you, Daddy!"

As he opened the box, the father was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction,
now regretting how he had punished her.

But when he opened the shoebox, he found it was empty and again his anger flared. "Don't you know, young lady,” he said harshly, “when you give someone a present there's supposed to be something inside the package!"

The little girl looked up at him with sad tears rolling from her eyes and whispered:
"Daddy, it's not empty. I blew kisses into it until it was all full."

The father was crushed. He fell on his knees and put his arms around his precious little girl.
 He begged her to forgive him for his unnecessary anger.

An accident took the life of the child only a short time later. It is told that the father kept this little gold box by his bed for all the years of his life. Whenever he was discouraged or faced difficult problems, he would open the box, take out an imaginary kiss, and remember the love of this beautiful child who had put it there.

In a very real sense, each of us as human beings have been given an invisible golden box filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children, family, friends and God.

There is no more precious possession anyone could hold.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Looked with joy

A Legend
There’s a beautiful legend
That’s never been told
It may have been known
To the Wise Men of old
How three little children
Came early at dawn,
With hearts that were sad,
To where Jesus was born.
But how could the Christ Child,
So lovely and fair,
Not waken and smile
When He heard their glad prayer
Of hope at His coming,
Of faith in His birth,
Of praise at His bringing
God’s peace to the earth?
And, then, as the light
Softly came through the door,
The lad that was lame
Stood upright once more.
The boy that was mute
Started sweetly to sing,
While the child that was blind
Looked with joy on the King!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Visitor

The Visitor

When I was 18, as I was preparing to serve a mission, my bishop called me to teach the Sunbeams. I had never before learned to love others more than myself until I had served those children in such a simple assignment. With time and patience I learned how to keep those seven children in their seats and listening to a simple lesson.
One day I invited Mike to come to church and sit in my class. Mike was my age but had stopped attending church completely by the time he was 12. We had remained friends over the years as I had served as the deacons quorum president, the teachers quorum president, and the first assistant to the bishop in the priests quorum. He had been the topic of many fellowshipping discussions and was often part of my prayers as the years passed.
Once in a while Mike would accept my invitations to come to an activity. It always surprised me when he did, so I kept inviting him. At the time, Mike had long black hair and a beard. His complexion was dark and pleasant. I don’t remember when I invited him to my primary class, but one day he showed up.
“Class, I would like to introduce you to my friend Mike,” is how I began my lesson. “He is visiting us today.” Mike sat next to me in front. The children sat in a semicircle with their eyes fixed on him. They were much quieter than usual. I was about five or six minutes into the lesson when one little boy got up from his chair and walked across the room and stood directly in front of my friend.
The boy paused for a moment and then climbed onto his lap. I continued with the lesson as I watched the two of them from the corner of my eye. The boy sat looking into Mike’s face. Mike was quite uncomfortable but did not interrupt the lesson or turn the boy away.
The other children watched the two of them for a few minutes. Then one of the girls climbed off her seat and approached Mike. I was intently interested in seeing how Mike would react and did not want to instruct the two children back to their seats. The girl stood with her hand on Mike’s knee looking into his face.
Then it happened. The boy on Mike’s lap reached up with both hands and turned Mike’s face directly to his. I stopped my lesson to see what was about to unfold. With the innocence of a child, he said to Mike, “Are you Jesus?”
The look on Mike’s face was total surprise. It seemed, as I glanced at the children’s faces, they all had the same question on their minds. Mike looked at me as if to say, Help, What do I say? I stepped in. “No, this is not Jesus. This is his brother.” Mike looked at me as if in shock. Then without hesitation the boy in Mike’s lap reached up and wrapped his arms around Mike’s neck. “I can tell,” the boy said as he hugged Mike. The rest of the children smiled and nodded in agreement as their simple question was answered. Mike blinked back the tears in response to the love he felt from this small Sunbeam.
The lesson went on, but that day the teacher who taught the most was a three-year-old child. Mike spent more than a year getting ready to serve a mission. It thrilled me to learn that he left for the mission field a few months before I returned. I still think of the scripture in Matthew 18:5:
“And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.”
… Author unknown

Monday, December 17, 2012

Our Little Gift

Our Little Gift

It was our first Christmas away from home. Elders Heemeyer, Bright, Kehoe, Schulze, Westover, and I had all gathered in one apartment to share Christmas Eve. We hoped that spending the evening together as a missionary district might make it easier to be away from home.
It was about 5:30 in the afternoon, and we were all a little discouraged. Setting up appointments with investigators and finding new people to teach had been difficult recently. “Come back after Christmas,” everyone said.
After talking for a few minutes, Elder Schulze suggested we go caroling to the homes of our investigators and some of the members. We all thought it was a great idea, and we planned a short program. We would start with two hymns and a spiritual thought. Then we would conclude with another hymn and a prayer. The whole program would be only 20 minutes long, but we all felt pleased with it.
Before we left, we knelt to pray. Then we set out into the cold night on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, in the United States.
Our first stop was the apartment of a member whose daughter and two grandchildren were investigating the Church. We certainly weren’t the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but for six elders we sounded pretty good. After we shared our program, the family told us our “gift” was the best they had ever received.
Soon we were at a different apartment presenting our program to another family. At every stop, our enthusiasm and joy grew. We kept hearing the same response:
This is the best gift ever. You really brought the Christmas spirit.”
That night I came to better understand the true meaning of Christmas that sharing and serving others are what Jesus Christ’s ministry is all about. And while we were busy in the service of others and of the Savior, home didn’t really seem so far away.

Pumpkin Soup with Bacon and Blue Cheese

Pumpkin Soup with Bacon and Blue Cheese
2 15 ounce cans pumpkin
1 quart chicken stock
1 cup half-and-half
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 slices bacon
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
1. Stir together the pumpkin, chicken stock, half-and-half, shallot, molasses, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and cayenne pepper in a large stockpot over low heat; simmer 10 minutes.
2. While soup is cooking, cook bacon until crispy and crumble into pieces.
3. Ladle soup into bowls. Top with bacon and blue cheese. Sigh with happiness.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Carolling To The Prophet

Carolling To The Prophet
On a bitter, cold night in December, 1958, the MIA (youth group) was scheduled to go caroling in Salt Lake City. Our Ward was the "old" 11th Ward, and our northern border was South Temple. It was the kind of weather that made your nose pinch, and your cheeks feel frostbitten, but our spirits were high and we were enjoying ourselves as we sang up and down the Ward streets.
The thought came to me that we could just cross the street and go to the Prophet's home, if we dared. President and Sister McKay lived just across the dividing street from our Ward. I was the Young Women's president. What a thrill it would be to sing for the Prophet and his beloved wife--a thrill that would stay with us for a lifetime. He might not be home, but then again, he might be!
So we approached the old McKay home, and climbed the untracked stairs where the snow lay about two inches deep. With some slipping and sliding we walked across the wide front porch and knocked on the door. When President McKay and his wife opened the door and stood there, with their wonderful smiles, we burst into song.
They exclaimed at how beautifully we sang, how thrilled they were to have carolers. Sister McKay hurried back into the house and came out with a jacket, which she tenderly put over his shoulders (reaching up quite a bit!) . He was a tall and handsome man, and looked every inch a prophet. We sang several more songs for them, and then regretfully turned to go.
I wanted so much to ask if we could shake his hand, but the temperature was so low, and the chill factor was too great. We all knew he was beginning to have health problems. As we turned, he said gently, "Wouldn't you all like to shake my hand?"
The line formed so quickly, from the bottom of the stairs some had already descended to the young person closest to the Prophet. Then he shook each hand. His hair was white and gleaming, and was like a halo. I took my place at the end of the line and felt his warm, sincere handshake. A good Mormon grip, not a quick squeeze, or a limp excuse. I heard his sincere "Thank you for coming."
I know he was the Prophet of God, and this is one of my favorite Christmas memories--a heart petal

~Author Unknown

Lasagna Soup

Lasagna Soup
Recipe Courtesy of Paula Deen
Servings: 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 40 min
Difficulty: Easy


1 lb ground chuck
1   onion, chopped
1   green bell pepper, chopped
3   cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
1   (32 ounce) box chicken broth
2   (14.5 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1   (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cup broken lasagna noodles
1   (5 ounce) package grated parmesan cheese
2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
garlic crostini, recipe follows
Garlic Crostini:
1 thin French baguette
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves smashed garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a large Dutch oven, combine ground chuck, onion, bell pepper and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until beef is browned and crumbles. Drain well. 
Stir in thyme, brown sugar, broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Add noodles, and simmer until noodles are tender. Stir in Parmesan cheese.
Preheat broiler. Ladle soup into 8 to 10 ovenproof bowls. Evenly sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Broil soups, 6-inches from heat, 3 to 4 minutes, until cheese is browned and bubbly. Add a garlic crostini slice on top. Serve immediately. 
For the garlic crostini: 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
Cut bread into 1/4-inch round slices. Place on baking sheet and brush each slice with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper; place in oven and bake until golden and crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Rub each side with smashed garlic cloves. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

For I .....will hold thy right hand

Images are heart wrenching, unimaginable, devastating..
The image we must keep in our Hearts is that of the Love of The Savoir,
He is the only one who could help us (who will help us) through such heartache as this.
For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.
Isaiah 41:13

Driven By Christmas Spirit

Cabbie’s Driven By Christmas Spirit
By Barbara Medlen Tylie

My friend Renee and her three children grew more depressed as Christmas loomed closer. Renee was newly widowed, and medical expenses had taken nearly all their savings. She decided, though, at least to treat the children to dinner and a taxi ride through Manhattan to see the Christmas decorations. On the big night they ate steak on 42nd Street, and tried to hail a taxi. It was theater time and available cabs were scarce, but at last one pulled up to the curb. Renee checked her purse. She had only $4. "Excuse me," she said to the driver. "I promised my children a ride to see the decorations. What kind of ride could you give us for $4?" The driver looked incredulous. "Lady, this is my busiest day. I’m not a tour guide. I can get another six fares before curtain time." He turned away from Renee’s pleading eyes. Finally he groaned. "I gotta be crazy to do this, but get in." Excitedly the children piled into the back seat and the ride began.

They drove up Broadway, then cut across the town to Rockefeller Plaza to see the tree.

There the children got out and watched the ice skaters on the pond below.

 By this time they were all chattering like old friends.

On Fifth Avenue the driver pointed out the decorations with an air of proud possession.

At 59th Street when the meter clicked over at $4, the driver pulled down the flag.

But when Renee leaned forward to pay him he waved her back.

"Heck Lady," he grumbled, "that four bucks didn’t show them nothing.

You sit tight. This ride ain’t over yet." Too startled to protest, Renee nodded and sat back.

For an hour and a half they drove around Manhattan. They went through Central Park,
saw the decorations at Macy’s, and had hot chocolate in a Greenwich Village coffee house.

 At 10:30 the taxi pulled up to their 82nd Street apartment house. In grateful confusion, Renee reached into her purse. But the driver waved her out of the taxi impatiently. "Lady, I’ve been driving a cab for 12 years and tonight’s the first time I’ve had fun doin’ it. You ain’t gonna cheat me out of it now."

Then he grinned. "Merry Christmas."

Cookie Truffles

Cookie Truffles
1 16 oz package Nutterbutters or Oreos
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 14 ounce package candy melts
1. Place all but 6 cookies in food processor and process until ground to fine crumbs.
2. Put crumbs and cream cheese in bowl and mix until completely combined.
3. Form dough into one inch balls
4. Melt candy in microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between each heating, until melted.
5. Coat each ball in candy and place on cookie sheet covered in wax paper.
6. Chill in refrigerator until candy is hardened.
7. Do what you will with those 6 extra cookies.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Did not the angels sing that night

We celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ at this season of the year. Some years ago, Sister Kimball and I were in the Holy Land with Elder and Sister Howard W. Hunter, and on Christmas Eve we were mingling with thousands of religionists and curious from around the world. We bent over to get through the small aperture into the Church of the Nativity and inched our way in turn to the crypt where some churches claim are the sacred spots of the manger and the birth of the Savior.
As we stood looking at the metal star in the concrete floor, it seemed to fade and we seemed to see a crude manger in a cave and sitting by it a lovely lady with a beautiful face and sweet spirit watching a little infant wrapped like other Hebrew babes in swaddling clothes. He had likely already been washed and rubbed with salt and laid on a square cloth, his little head on one corner and his tiny feet on the corner diagonally opposite. The cloth had been folded over his sides and up over his feet and the swaddling bands tied around the precious little bundle. His hands would be fastened to his sides, but he would be loosened occasionally and rubbed with olive oil and possibly dusted with powdered myrtle leaves. If still in swaddling bands, he could be handled easily on the trip to Egypt, and he could even be strapped to his mother’s back.
My wife and our party move about with the surging crowds, we are jostled and pushed. We are nearly drowned in the ocean of innumerable bodies and faces. It is hard to concentrate upon the sacred object of our coming. There is little on the hill which can stir our reverence or satisfy our longing to be alone with our thoughts.
We have our taxi take us to the hill overlooking the shepherds’ field. Below us in the little valley is the field of Boaz and Ruth. Before us is the undulating area where shepherds once watched their sheep. On the brow of the hill is a cave opening out over the little valley. There, tradition says, the shepherds slept and watched on that eventful night. An open cave could protect them from the night’s coolness, yet still they could watch their flocks. There, gazing into the valley, the only place near Bethlehem where we could find privacy, we stood in the dark, looking out into the starry sky as did the shepherds, and with the shepherds contemplating the angel dressed in exquisite whiteness in the center of infinite glory,
and the words he had said to the humble shepherds:
“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
“For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger”
Did not the angels sing that night? We, too, seemed to hear faint music, not loud, but in symphonic harmony it penetrated deeply our hearts. We seemed to hear singing in unison, the never-to-be-forgotten melody, the cry of the ages: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men”.
As the strains of the heavenly words merged with our hearts, we four sang. After singing “Far, far away on Judea’s plains, shepherds of old heard the joyous strains,” we stood close together in the star-lighted night with our wraps pulled tight about us physically close, mentally close, spiritually close, emotionally close; and we communed. No lights but the twinkling lanterns in the heavens, no sound but the whispering of our subdued voices. Our Father seemed to be very near. His Son seemed close. We prayed. More in unison than a single voice, our four hearts poured out love and gratitude
that rose to mingle with the prayers of all mankind that night.
We prayed our gratitude. We prayed our love. Like the raising of the flood gate releasing the long impounded and pent up waters behind a dam, our voices almost inaudible, mellowed with reverence, softened by the intangible forces of the heavenly world, we poured out our prayer of thanksgiving: grateful, Father, that we know so positively that thou dost live; that we know the babe born here was in reality thy Son; grateful that thy program is real, workable and exalting. We told him we knew him, we loved him, we would follow him.
We repledged to his cause our lives, our all.
The years have come and gone since then, but always at this beautiful season, we repledge ourselves to his work and invite all people everywhere to join us in our prayers of joy and love and gratitude for the life and teachings of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Spencer W. Kimball