Wednesday, June 22, 2016

How Living in NYC Has Taught Me to Serve

About a year ago, my husband, young son, and I packed up our suburban lives and relocated to a tiny apartment in Brooklyn, New York. Indefinitely. It was not our first time in the city, so we had at least an idea of the culture shock that would be involved in our transition. Still, we were up for the challenge and looked forward to this new adventure.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What More Can I Do? — The Unexpected Challenge of Service

Moving to any new community brings with it a new direction and myriad of challenges. Twelve years ago, our family of six found ourselves in that situation moving to the Bryan/College Station area.

It was a challenge but not in the way I expected. Getting the kids settled in new schools, settling into a new job, and establishing new routines made us a part of the college town hustle and bustle, but there was something different about this community the we all felt almost immediately. 

Here in Aggieland, the challenge for me was sensing the strong spirit of service and knowing how to be a part of it. Having three kids of my own still at home and one away at college, I had plenty of opportunities to serve my own family but I just couldn’t get away from a feeling of needing to do more.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Three Favorite Church History Sites and Lessons I Learned There

Eleven years ago this month, you could find me on a bus with more than 100 other recently graduated high schoolers stopping at dozens of LDS Church History sites across the country for three straight weeks. 

Heritage Tours isn't the typical graduation trip the world thinks of. In addition to riding a bus for hours on end, we studied the scriptures and gospel readings to go along with each site. We were challenged to give away pass along cards every chance we got and even a Book of Mormon if the opportunity presented itself. 

It was a great experience, one that I will never forget and one that really helped build and strengthen the foundation of my testimony. It came at a crucial time just a few months before I left on my mission, and it helped me feel of the truthfulness of the gospel first hand. 

Here are three less popular LDS Church history sites, but ones where I had experiences that helped shape my testimony greatly.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

7 Powerful Poems President Thomas S. Monson Has Shared in General Conference

Ordained an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ on October 10, 1963, President Thomas S. Monson, 16th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has been sharing powerful sermons in general conference for more than five decades. The personal stories President Monson frequently shares have endeared him to members of the Church of all ages throughout the world. President Monson also commonly uses literary devices as a part of his messages. In one familiar example of alliteration, President Monson has often reminded us that "decisions determine destiny." ("Decisions Determine Destiny," Fireside Address, November 6, 2005).

President Monson also has a beautiful way of integrating poetry into his sermons. Below are seven examples of powerful poems President Monson has used in his general conference addresses. These poems are great material for a Family Home Evening lesson or can be a source of inspiration during personal study. In each case, we can ponder the message President Monson wanted us to learn from the poem:

1. "Prayer" quoted in "We Never Walk Alone" in October 2013:

I know not by what methods rare,
But this I know, God answers prayer.
I know that He has given His Word,
Which tells me prayer is always heard,
And will be answered, soon or late.
And so I pray and calmly wait.
I know not if the blessing sought
Will come in just the way I thought;
But leave my prayers with Him alone,
Whose will is wiser than my own,
Assured that He will grant my quest,
Or send some answer far more blest. (1)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Works of God are Manifest, Sometimes in Whipped Cream

It was a cold day just before Christmas, a year and a half ago. I sat in my car, on the side of the road. I was panting and sweating from deflecting the blows of my large, mentally disabled preteen son, Jack, and holding him from climbing into the backseat and hurting his younger brothers.

Jack had had a violent outburst as I ordered his fries at a drive-through window, and everything went horribly awry. He attacked me, relentlessly, as I tried to drive us home to safety. When we reached a busy intersection, Jack kicked the gearshift into reverse. The car stalled. I screamed. Cars barreled past. Jack punched and kicked me. He bashed his head against the car window and tried to unlock the door to escape.

“Lord, help me!” I yelled.

It was the first, but not the last time I have shouted a prayer.

Jack suddenly quieted down. He stopped hitting. He began to cry. Miraculously, no cars hit us in the intersection. I put the car in drive and pulled off the road to call my husband, Jeff, to come help us.