When love is left out of the equation…

I listened quietly.  That’s what I do.  I am a quiet observer.

His complaint was valid, I’ll give him that.

I listened to a home teacher talk about his assigned single sister to minister to.  She owned her own home but was “needy” in that she always asked him to help with fix-it chores.  Perhaps he was just venting because he was talking to a family friend.  The problem though is that I also was there.  And I related to the single sister’s situation. Continue reading

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Clear, Dry Roads Prayer II

I live in Wyoming and a true Wyomingite lives by certain truths.  One, you don’t plan trips during winter.  If there happens to be a nice day and the roads are open then go somewhere.  You should take advantage of those moments in winter because more than likely, the weather may not be conducive to driving and the roads may be closed.  It’s a truth or merely a fact of life here in Wyoming.  But life doesn’t stop just when the snow comes.  Sometimes you have to make plans even in Wyoming. Continue reading

A small act of kindness

It was a simple act. I wonder how many people even noticed? Surely if I saw it others must have too.

Brother So-and-so was saying the Sacrament prayer for the bread. Apparently, it was that kind of day for him. The words just couldn’t make their way out of his mouth correctly. He started several times. This is one of those instances that have the potential to embarrass someone. For some people, it could even drive them to obscurity. Slip away, slip away into safe, comfortable surroundings. Why bother trying?

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The trouble with stuffed animals

I think I’ve gone to one garage sale in my life. I was on my mission and my companion wanted to go. Personally, I’m too cheap to spend money on other people’s toss outs. So, I don’t go. Plus there’s that whole early weekend morning thing the sales tend to land on. I maintain anything earlier than 9:00am does not and should not exist on a Saturday. How in the world did I end up helping out at one last Saturday?

The youth in our church decided they wanted to do a service project. Fine. Something to help the community. Great. But what?

Somebody came up with the idea to do a garage/bake sale with goods donated by members of the stake (the whole church in town).   Whatever money was raised would be donated to local charities. Great idea!

Another member of our presidency served on the committee and worked hard to get the details right. We didn’t know what kind of a response we would get in everything from donations to buyers. The response was very overwhelming.  More goods were donated than we could ever hope to sell in our 3 hour window. The community willingly donated and we reached our goal… x2.

We were also able to donate a sizable portion to a local thrift shop that will give things away if a person can’t pay. But what to do with the stuffed animals?

Someone suggested we give them to the fire department. “The fire department,” she said, “gives the stuffed toys to children involved in accidents.”

Sounds good!

So we separated the stuffed animals from the rest of the goods being donated. “Load them in my car,” I uncharacteristically volunteered. “I will drop them by the fire department.”

“If no one is there, just leave them by the door,” someone suggested.

We finished cleaning our mess and took our trailer full of donations to the thrift store.

I had been on my feet all day and didn’t feel like taking the stuffed animals to the fire department that day. Instead, I waited until Monday. While at work on Monday I thought I had better call to make sure it was okay.

“Hello,” I said to the person who answered the phone. “I have five garbage sacks and one tote full of stuffed animals we’d like to donate.”

“No, thank you.” To be honest, she sounded a little curt.

Hmmm. Maybe I called the wrong building. I dialed the other number.

“I don’t know anything about that,” said a cheery fireman. “But here’s the number you need to call to ask….” he gave me the first number I called.  “Thanks,” I said with no intention of calling again.

“Maybe try the police department?” a co-worker who overheard my plight suggested.

“Somebody just donated a whole bunch of brand new teddy bears for that,” came the policewoman’s response. “We have no storage space.”

I had a car full of stuffed animals I really wanted to get rid of. This was turning into a project. This is the exact reason I don’t volunteer for things like this.

Finally, I found someone to take them. I’m not exactly sure what she is going to do with them. I think I may have just shifted my problem to her – which I do feel kind of bad about. Although I do feel a tinge of guilt for feeling relieved that they are out of my car.

Here’s the big lesson from this folks: stuffed animals are not sanitary. Most people do not touch them at garage sales (as EVERYONE told me AFTER they were loaded in my car). However, if you do have some to sell, mark them as “pet toys.” You might have better luck. In fact, the kind lady that took them off my hands said she may try the humane society with the left over ones from her project.

That’s how it is with anything though, right? It’s all in the phrasing. The phrasing and knowing when not to volunteer.

Road Trippin’ and Bondin’

Someday, I plan on writing a ‘how-to’ book for serving in the Young Women organization. I served in the ward Young Women presidency just over 4.5 years. That’s a drop in the bucket really. There are some women who have served in the Young Women organization for over 20 years.   Compared with them, I’d still be considered a rookie. A newbie. So what advice could I possibly have to offer?

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Becoming confident daughters of God – the invitation

When you look in the mirror, who do you see? Perhaps you see someone who could stand to lose a few pounds. Someone with imperfections that drive you crazy. Someone shorter than you’d prefer. Let me tell you a secret I have learned recently – mirrors lie. And they are kind of mean.

I could tell you not to trust a mirror. But really, is it not the eyes looking into the mirror that need the adjustment? Why are we so hard on ourselves? Why are we so quick to compare our flaws with other people’s strengths? Not only is it not fair, it is dangerous. I do not think anyone will argue that point. The question is then, what do we do about it?

We can start by pointing out the positive in other people. If we are all struggling to find the beauty within – and we know mirrors are of little use for this – then helping someone see her own strength may provide assistance. It certainly cannot hurt, right? If you are like me at all, you really do not need any help in finding weaknesses. But assets? Well, that is a different story.

While I agree this first step will not hurt I also concede it will do little in the long run. It will be like trying to draw water from a well after first dumping water into it. How effective is that? Flatteries of man are fleeting if we do not have something inside ourselves ready to receive and believe them.

Is it possible to quiet the inner-critic and bolster the confidence level in us? I am not referring to sinful pride but rather a healthy pride in ourselves. To be able to say: I know I am not perfect. I know I have weaknesses. I know I will fail a lot in the things I attempt to do in this life. But that is okay. Really. I know I am here for a reason. I know I have strengths. I know I can achieve good things. I know I have potential.

This is what I have found out. An answer like that cannot and will not ever come from outside influences. Outside voices tend to be critical and delve into comparison. We look at an air-brushed model on a magazine and think, “I need to look like that. If I looked like that then I would be happy.” We may not mean to. It just happens when we are bombarded with so many images all the time. There is never any rest from the world’s ideal images.

With the deluge of outside influences we look in the mirror and think, “I do not look like so and so. I do not have so and so’s talent for doing such and such. Why am I not like so and so? How can I possibly succeed without being as good as so and so?” Ugh! What a vicious train of thought we sometimes ride. Instead, we should interrupt the looming locomotive and say, “Wait, I am not so and so. I am me. So, there must be something pretty important I need to accomplish otherwise I would be so and so.” Then maybe we could jump the tracks and head somewhere pleasant.

That brings us back to the original question – how do we go about elevating our self-esteem? Outside voices will fall flat. They just do. It never works. The voice has to come from inside. And it has to be a voice we can trust. A voice we know will always speak the truth.

I am referring to the Spirit of the Lord, the Holy Ghost. Imagine what kind of confidence well we could draw from if we allowed the Holy Ghost to speak truth to us. The truth of who we are. The truth of what we can accomplish. The truth of our potential.

This is so important that I have extended an invitation to some of the young women in my stake. But I did not stop there. I also extended it to some of the women in my life.

Here is the invitation – and feel free to join in if you would like to. I invite you to say at least one prayer a day asking to see yourself as Heavenly Father sees you. For thirty days.

I warn you it is not easy. You may not want to know. You may be scared to find out. There are forces that prefer you not to accept this invitation and will try to make you forget or will convince you it will not work. Do not listen.

Heavenly Father wants you to see yourself as He does. I truly believe He wants you to find this out. He wants His daughters to be confident daughters of God who rise above temptation, fulfill their potential, and make choices to return home to Him.

I believe the only way to fill our wells is to gain this knowledge – Spirit to spirit. Once we have learned this, felt this, and been shown this, it will not matter how loud the outside voices yell. We will know who we are and why we are here.

You might ask, “But why thirty days? Why not just one prayer?”

For some of us, it will take that long to listen. For others, it will take that long to believe.

That is my invitation and it is open to all. As I always say, what happens if you choose not to accept an invitation? Absolutely nothing.

But what will happen if you choose to accept?