April 2012 Visiting Teaching Message

This month is a little different for me. I’ve just moved, and I’m not a visiting teacher! Nor do I have a visiting teacher. Maybe I will receive an assignment before the end of the month, but for now, I thought I’d read through the visiting teaching message since I have no idea if I’ll be able to discuss it other sisters or not.

This month, the visiting teaching message is on visiting teaching.

I love how it starts:

“We know we are successful in our ministering as visiting teachers when our sisters can say: (1) my visiting teacher helps me grow spiritually; (2) I know my visiting teacher cares deeply about me and my family; and (3) if I have problems, I know my visiting teacher will take action without waiting to be asked.” – Visiting Teaching Message, April 2012

I have to admit that I’m not sure if the women I’ve visit taught in the past would say that about me. I know that I need to commit to being a better visiting teacher.

I’ve been reading the Biography of Thomas S. Monson – To the Rescue. I’m inspired by his love and service. He truly has a charitable heart. I’ve also been reading in Mosiah 4 where we are exhorted to love and serve one another. I want to be a better woman. I want to serve others. I want to serve the Lord. I want to be a helper, a builder.

Right now, I have two young kids in the home. It is hard to get out and do much. However, I realize that I’ve forgotten that I don’t have to do anything complicated. I have the opportunity to serve God through visiting teaching.

This is a part of the story of Mary and Martha that I don’t usually pay attention to, but we can learn about visiting teaching from it.

“Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.

And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.” – Luke 10:38-39

Christ entered into a village, and Martha received him into her house. What a good example for visiting teaching? Do I show this kind of love and care for my sisters? Even though I’m the one visiting the women in their houses, really, I need to be like Martha – open, loving, and receptive. If I will really reach out to those I visit teach and receive them into my heart, I think that it will go better. I will find ways to serve. They will know I love them, and, above all, they will know that God loves them.

Not only does Martha give a good example, but so does Mary. She sat and heard His word. As a visiting teacher, I need to be sure that I’m listening.

Mary and Martha are also great examples on how to be visit taught. Not only do we need to serve others, but we need to be willing to receive those who are willing to serve us. We need to listen to them – their words can strengthen and teach us. Visiting teaching works both ways.

Finally, we get the best example about visiting teaching from Christ. He went into the home of another, and He brought the Spirit. He was aware of the needs of these women – what was needful, and he taught them accordingly. It is good to remember His example as I go into the houses of other women.

So…what do we do?
How can I know what my sisters need?
This is a great question. I often find myself asking this. And the answer, I guess, is simple. I can pray for them – that the Spirit will guide me to be perceptive to the needs of the women I visit teach. I can also listen to them and be their friend – phone calls, play-dates, etc. I think that if they feel like they have a friend in me – that they can trust me – then there is a better likelihood that they will ask me for help – or, at the very least, admit to me that they have a need when I ask.

How will my sisters know that I care deeply about them?
I hope that they will know I care for them by the way that I know them and serve them. Otherwise, it won’t be very obvious, I suppose.

This is such an inspirational message. It makes me excited for the chance to visit teach. I hope I get an assignment soon!

March 2012 Visiting Teaching Message

I loved the visiting teaching message for this March. Obviously, I haven’t given it yet, but I hope to be able to meet with my visiting teaching sisters soon.

This month, the message is Daughters in my Kingdom.

It begins,

“We are daughters of our Father in Heaven. He knows us, loves us, and has a plan for us.”

Don’t you love that?

Currently, I’m serving in the Young Women’s in my ward. The beginning of the Young Women’s theme is “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us, and we love Him.” And, as I serve, I’ve often thought that if there is one thing that the young women can learn I hope that it is a knowledge that they are daughters of God.

It’s funny because even though I know that the Young Women need to know and be mindful of this fact, I find that I often forget it. Many women forget that we are beloved daughters of God. It is so powerful. Even though I’m an adult, I still yearn for the love of my parents – I yearn for the love of my father. I’m grateful to have a father, a biological father, and even a step-father who all have shown so much love to me. And it humbles me even more to know that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me perfectly.

Because I know and have felt this love, I want to serve Him. I know that as one of His daughters – and especially as one who is a mother – I have a strict responsibility to my husband, my family, and, above all, my Heavenly Father.

I love the quote given by Elder Uchtdorf:

“By patiently walking in the path of discipleship, we demonstrate to ourselves the measure of our faith and our willingness to accept God’s will rather than ours.”

This totally goes with my theme for this year. I love it. Yet, this quote may cause us to ask, why accept God’s will? The answer is in the Doctrine and Covenants.

“And verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better.” – Doctrine and Covenants 25:10

God’s will is not always easy to do, but we will find that it can take us to a better world.

I’m reminded that what we look forward to may not always be experienced here. Of course, we can be happy now. Our lives are meant to be happy. Yet there will be times when we must give up our natural wills to do something for the Lord. And the awesome thing is: His way is always better.

February 2012 Visiting Teaching Message

This month, the visiting teaching message is Guardians of the Hearth.

I am not the kind of woman to remember to make cute little visiting teaching handouts. I used to do that. Maybe I will again. I feel excited when I go out to do it, let alone make a hand-out! However, I do try to prayerfully consider the message before going into the homes of the sisters I visit teach.

When I read the visiting teaching message, I was touched by the quote by President Hinckley:

“You are the guardians of the hearth,… You are the bearers of the children. You are they who nurture them and establish within them the habits of their lives. No other work reaches so close to divinity as does the nurturing of the sons and daughters of God.” – Gordon B. Hinckley

I love getting these reminders.

I am a mother of four. Two are in school. The other two are still at home and are very young. Between the two sets of kids, I was divorced and remarried. While I was divorced, I worked and juggled the role of mother. It was hard.

I remember that a woman I worked with (a superior) was kind of trying to help “mentor” me. I was very flattered. It gave me confidence. In a life where everything seemed to be going wrong, there was something I was doing right. She kept pushing me to be more ambitious, and I wanted to accept, but I couldn’t. She finally said to me, “I have to admit, I thought you were more ambitious. If you were, you’d really go places.” I’m not sure what that was supposed to do for me, I just felt defeated.

That declaration she made to me has haunted me for years. It hasn’t stopped me from doing what I know is right, but it has made me question myself as I’ve proceeded, especially when I got married and chose to stay at home with my children.

Finally, I came to realize that I’m not a lazy woman. I’m not hopeless without ambition. I am not “wasting” my college education. In fact, I’m a dreamer – big time. I have ambitions: eternal ambitions. I believe that what I’m doing now, including what I’m giving up now is helping Heavenly Father in His work. I believe President Hinkcley when he says that, “No other work reaches so close to divinity as does the nurturing of the sons and daughters of God.”

So – I loved this message. It is a good reminder.

I also noticed something – in the history of the church – how a part of the function of Relief Society is to help teach and strengthen women in the ways that they are weak. I don’t know that I’ve ever thought of that before. It kind of gives new meaning to Relief Society activities. I am currently serving in the Young Women, so I don’t have much of a say in what the Relief Society does. We meet monthly for activities. And it is interesting to note that we should be feeling educated in ways that we are lacking. I love that idea.

I’m also aware of the fact that I should probably do more to help educate and seek education from my sisters in the Relief Society. We are the guardians of the hearth. This is important work. Especially now, as we raise our children in “enemy-occupied territory,” (Russell M. Nelson) we need to be educated and strong.

What did you like about this month’s message? What are you doing to strengthen your family? How are you helping to strengthen your sisters?

October 2010 Visiting Teaching Message

“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

“In the house of the Lord, we feel the influence of the Holy Ghost and draw nearer to God, our Eternal Father, and to His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.”

This month, there is not a specific Visiting Teaching message. Instead, this issue of the Ensign is about the temple. As a visiting teacher, you can select which talk you would like to discuss with those whom you visit. The issue is full of good quotes, articles, and beautiful pictures of the temple.

Of course, you should prayerfully consider the needs of those whom you visit teach. I decided to share the message given by the Prophet – President Monson.

President Monson’s Talk – Blessings of the Temple

  • In the temple we can feel close to the Lord.
    • The temple is a sacred place. I have felt the Lord’s peace, guidance, correction, and revelation in the temple.
    • I don’t think that the temple has been a “singular” experience. There have only been a few occasions in which I have received a specific revelation or insight.

      Instead, for me, temple attendance has been a series of small feelings and experiences. I can see how regularly attending the temple for the last 10+ years of my life have changed me over time. Temple worship is a cumulative experience. The more I go, the more I understand. The more I feel His love. The more I know that the temple is the House of the Lord.

    • How has going to the temple brought you closer to the Lord?
  • The temple lifts and exalts us.
    • I have a personal testimony that the temple has lifted me in my life. When I was married to my first husband, I was unaware of some of the issues in our marriage. Yet, I made the committment to attend the temple often. When I discovered the truth of my marriage and my life, it was the strength of the temple, that had been instilled through routine attendance, that helped me to get through one of the toughest times in my life.
    • Think of a way that the temple has exalted and/or lifted you – you may want to consider sharing this experience with those you teach.
  • The temple brings peace to our souls.
    • As a mother, I have been riddled with the overwhelming thought of raising children in these times. I feel like it is almost impossible to navigate this life correctly – and happily. However, it was in the temple, that I was filled with the realization that the Lord set aside this time, specifically, for temples to dot the earth. Even when people call good evil and evil good, even when so many sins seem so rampant, we have temples available to us. We have a great deal of work to do. The responsibility to our ancestors – to perform their ordinances – will not only bless them, but will bless us with the strength we need to overcome the trials in our lives. The peace that we feel in the temples can be brought into our own homes to save and uplift our families. The peace we bring home, the blessing of temple attendance, is the way that the hearts of our fathers are turned to us. The Spirit of Elijah can bless our families now.
    • Think of ways that the temple has brought you peace. Again – share this thought. Even the temple grounds can be places of peace. And what a blessing -to find real peace in this noisy and busy world.
  • A miracle occured.
    • I know that miracles accompany consistent temple work. I have seen it in my life. Time and time again. Most of these miracles seem to have to do with either my testimony or my family. It was through temple work that I experienced the miracle of understanding my identity – and why I was adopted. I know that, even though I’m not blood-related to much of my family, I’m a part of them and their family – a crucial part. I know that I needed to do their work. There was research and work I performed that couldn’t have been done by anyone else.

      In all of this, I was blessed with an understanding of my identity, the love I have for my kindred dead, and the love they have for me. Also – I’ve experienced more miralces (finding my birth father), and I expect many miracles to follow. Heavenly Father loves his children. This church is all about family. The temple really drives that home to us – and often, the miracles we experience – in relationship to the temple – bless our families – past, present, and future.

    • You may want to consider the example of the miracle related by President Monson in this article. It is really good. You can also share your own experiences or ask your sisters if they would like to share theirs. I just love the idea that temple miracles are usually family oriented…
  • “We’ll see you in the temple!”
    • President Monson tells a story of a family in the temple. It is really beautiful. I’m thinking of my own experience, and I suppose I’ll relate a part of it.

      About a month after my separation from my first husband, I went to the temple. It was an incredibly difficult temple trip. It was my first time to the temple since I had been separated. I was filled with so many emotions. The strongest being the feeling that I had come alone.

      Yet, I felt the overwhelming comfort of God as I attended the temple that day. I saw many of my friends. I knew that Heavenly Father recognized my “sacrifice” in coming to the temple afraid and alone. I had emptiness in my heart, but the spirit was still gently comforting me.

      There was no denying that this was a sad point in my life. I’m grateful that I wasn’t given a false sense of hope. I knew that for the time being, my life would be difficult and challenging, but as I scanned my eyes across the endowment room, I was also filled with a sense of hope. One day, I’d look across, and I’d see a man – my husband – who would be true, faithful, worthy, and able to go to the temple with me. I didn’t know when that day would be. I didn’t know who would fill that seat. But the Spirit comforted my heart by reassuring me that my efforts – to go to the temple – would be blessed with what I desired.

      After years of trials and loneliness, I have received this blessing. I have been able to see my spouse in the temple! And I look forward to the time when I see my children there. What a blessing to go to such a holy place with those we love.

    • You may want to emphasize going to the temple – here…attendance…seeing one’s self at the temple.

Good luck with visiting teaching this month! Share this exciting issue. You may even consider purchasing a copy for those you teach. I hope this post helps.

September 2010 Visiting Teaching Message

Our Responsibility to Nurture the Rising Generation
Click above link to see full text of the Visiting Teaching Message

I love this message. I think that it’s because I’m a mom. That’s part of it, I’m sure. I always love any message that speaks to my role and duty as a mother. It is good to be reminded how important this is.

I like this also because it isn’t inclusive to mothers. There are many of us who help to nurture the rising generation in many ways – whether or not we have children in our homes. Many of us serve in primaries or serve in Young Women’s organizations. Many of us are aunts, sisters, or grandparents. We all have a duty to the rising generation.

What Can I Do?
1 – I can help my sisters use, The Family: A Proclamation to the World by discussing it with them – we can talk about some of the passages in the proclamation and discuss the principles outlined. We can ask how this proclamation has already affected their families. We can also challenge them to read the proclamation on their own, and see how they can integrate it into their families.

I also think that it is important to actually use this proclamation in our own families before we are preaching to other people about it. I have an especially strong testimony of the following passage:

“Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities”

A while ago, I typed this section up, printed it, and hung it up on our refrigerator. It was a good reminder for me – as to what I needed to do in my family in order to be “successful.”

In this passage, there is no mention of toys, money, or “accomplishments” as measuring the success of a family. Instead, we need to focus on faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome activities. I love the balance given in this list. And there is nothing I could think of adding. I can see that if I implement all of these qualities into what I’m doing as a mother, then I will have a better family and marriage.

When we read of the Stripling warriors, we learn that they were true in all things that they were entrusted, and that they, “were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before Him.” Even though their parents didn’t have the family proclamation, I have a feeling that they were taught the principles of faith, prayer, and repentance.

Helaman also tells the following about the stripling warriors:

“Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.” Alma 56:47

Obviously, they were taught of respect, love and compassion. I cannot imagine any young person being so courageous against death and so focused on the liberty of their fathers without having a compassionate, respectful, and loving heart. Our hearts don’t get that way through magic. And we see that the warriors’ hearts weren’t magically made this way. This verse mentions that they had been taught by their mothers. This makes me reflect on what kind of mother I’m being…

We can use the principles listed in the family proclamation to strengthen our home and marriage. It’s really simple, and has great results. 🙂

2I can nurture the rising generation by looking outward. I have a family. I have children. I need to spend more time listening to them and loving them. I need to strengthen my own resolve and testimony so that I have something I can actually teach them!

I can also do more to magnify my own callings. I’m currently serving in the Young Women’s. I have a great opportunity to do what I can to strengthen them. I feel like I can apply some of the principles given in the family proclamation. I can help serve them by being faithful and encouraging them to develop faith. I can pray for them. I can utilize repentance and forgiveness in my own life, as I try to overcome the weakness and mistakes I have – even as I do my calling. I can also be an example of this by being forgiving. It is impossible to teach love if my heart is full of guilt or anger. I can be a better youth leader by respecting the young women, the YW president, bishop, etc. Obviously, love and compassion will play a part in my ability to nurture the young women. I can work hard to be organized and useful. And finally, we have the opportunity to have weekly activities. I can participate. I can help make sure they are wholesome. I can apply the principles taught in the family proclamation to my service as a Young Women’s leader.

***
I do really care about the rising generation. I don’t know when Christ will come, but I know that the world seems to be getting to be a more difficult place to raise little kids. There are many distractions. There are many temptations. But I don’t want to forget the great blessing it is to live now. We have more operating temples now than at any other time. This is such a strength to our families – and not just our families that have passed on! The promise of Elijah is that the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers. (See Malachi 4:6.) When we attend the temple, our hearts are all turned to one another – both looking back at our ancestry, and forward to our posterity. We are then armed with the Spirit and a better ability to nurture and provide for our children.

I’m grateful to live in these latter-days. And I’m grateful to have the opportunity to raise children now.

August 2010 Visiting Teaching Message

Our Responsibility to Be Worthy of Temple Worship
(click above link to see full text of the Visiting Teaching Message)

This month’s message really hit home to me. I want to start, actually, by bearing my testimony of the Temple.

I know that the Temple is the House of the Lord. I’ve felt his power there. I first received my endowment when I was 19 – 12 years ago. I didn’t understand as much about the gospel, but I was about to be married in the temple, so I was as ready as possible to make this covenant.

Of course, there was much I didn’t understand during that specific temple trip. But I remember being overwhelmed by the niceness of the little ladies helping me. I felt peace. I knew I was doing the right thing.

While I was married, I lived in Utah. I had many opportunities to go to the temple. I sincerely tried to make temple attendance a priority in my life. I found that if I was attending the temple often, I was 1. Remembering my covenant 2. Filled with His Spirit. Even though there was still so much I didn’t understand about the temple, I still felt peace and I knew I was doing the right thing.

Throughout that time, I also had many opportunities to do the work for my kindred dead. It was a wonderful experience. I was adopted by my father when I was four. Even though I’ve always felt a part of the family, and I know my dad loves me, there was still a disconnect I felt – with my ancestry and roots. It wasn’t until I began to do temple work that I knew I was a part of this family. I knew that I was the only one able to do the work for them. I knew that many of my family members accepted the gospel, and that someday I’d come to know them.

After moving away from Utah, I was divorced. This was a hard trial for me; however, the peace and strength that comes from the temple helped me to navigate the turbulent times in my life.

Mesa, Arizona Temple – Painted by me!

I have to admit – going to the temple by myself was hard! It is hard to go – when you’ve been married and then you find yourself alone. But that feeling was fleeting. The first time I went to the temple after separating from my husband, I felt assured that at some point, I’d be able to look across the room and see a husband that would be true to me and true to our covenant. I just needed to be faithful and wait.

Because of consistent temple attendance, I had the peace of mind necessary for my life as a single, working mother. I remember talking to someone about dating. They were trying to match me up with someone who was not a member. I said, “You know, I only want to date Mormons. I have no intention of marrying someone who is not a member. And I don’t have the patience or time to do the converting. I need to date someone who is already a member and strong.”
To this, my friend said, and I believe she said this honestly, “You were married in the temple before. What good did it do you that time?” It was an interesting question, but I answered her honestly: “It wasn’t the temple that failed me. My (ex)husband did. In fact, it’s the temple that saved me. My covenants are still good. I will not give that up. If I marry again, it will be in the temple.”

I have been blessed enough to see this happen. I have been married again – in the temple. And for a while, my husband and I lived in close proximity to a temple. We went as a couple at least once a month. We were able to go separately more often. It has been a strength to us as a couple and as individuals.

And now…here I am…4 hours away from the temple. Last year, we had a discussion with our bishop – where he encouraged us to attend the temple once a quarter. My husband and I agreed – that’s doable.

Then, we got a message from our Stake Presidency – which included a challenge to go Once a Month…! I feel ashamed to admit, I wasn’t quick to follow this advice. I murmured. I stuck to my old resolution of once a quarter.

Things in life got hard. I realized I missed the peace of the temple. I missed the effect it had on my soul. I began to realize that my refusal to go monthly was not acting in faith. I spoke to my husband, and we repented, and have started going once a month instead. I feel bad that it took me 6 months to get on board – especially when I really knew better.

Sister Allred, in the Visiting Teaching message said, “Let us enjoy the spiritual strength and the revelation we receive as we attend the temple regularly.” (Sylvia H. Allred). We must exercise faith, but the blessing we receive in return far outweighs any sacrifice.

What We Can Do
1. As sisters, we can support one another. We can help our sisters prepare for the temple. This is done as we live righteous and faithful lives. We can serve one another. We can lift one another up. We can teach one another. If we want to help our sisters, then probably the best thing to do is pray, and have faith that Heavenly Father will direct our paths.

Perhaps we will be prompted to serve someone. Maybe we’ll be prompted to give someone a call and be their friend. We can talk about the temple. We might be prompted to offer babysitting – to make it possible for our sisters to attend the temple. The Lord will direct our paths if we let him. And we can be a blessing to our sisters if we go to Him for guidance.

2. We can exemplify the heritage of the early sisters who sacrificed so much for the temple by doing the same. Our sacrifices, of course, will be of a different nature, but we are still required to give sacrifice – this is an expression of our faith. Perhaps we must sacrifice money and time (and wear and tear on our cars) to get to a temple that is far away. We should make the sacrifice of doing the work for our own kindred dead – so that we can perform work in the temple. We can also make sacrifices by paying our tithing and doing that which helps to have new temples built. Finally, I think that we can be like the early sisters of the church by expressing faith through our prayers. We can express gratitude and pray for more temples to be built. These women are examples of faith, and there are many ways we can follow suit.

3. We can claim the blessings of the temple by going. You know – I feel like temple attendance is rarely a “singular” experience. There have been a few times in my life where I’ve had specific temple experiences. However, I’ve noticed that the blessings of the temple are cumulative in nature. I need to go often – as often as possible. Then, I feel the peace of the temple: I’m reminded of the covenants; I expose myself to a higher standard of spiritual learning.

In addition to going to the temple, I feel very strongly that our temple worship should be coupled with sincere scripture study. The scriptures will help us understand our temple covenants better. They will give everything meaning. I find that there are times when I’m in the temple, and a scripture comes to mind – Illuminating something either about the ordinance or a general revelation I need in my life. There are also times when I’m at home, studying the scriptures, and I think, “This is just like the temple…” Making my future temple attendance more meaningful as I’ve gained more insight and knowledge.

***
I hope that you can experience the wonderful blessing of the temple. I hope you get excited about visiting teaching. I have a new assignment. I’m excited to get out and meet my new sisters! So – yeah…That’s all…

July 2010 Visiting Teaching Message

Strengthening Families and Homes

So, when I read the title to this month’s message, I instantly thought of the portion of the Young Women’s theme: “…we will be prepared to strengthen home and family, …” I love how the principles of the gospel are the same. We need to have strong homes and families.

In the message is a quote given by Sister Thompson. Here is a part of it:

“Each of us is in a different family situation. Some families have a mother and father with children at home. Some couples no longer have children at home. Many members of the Church are single, and some are single parents. Others are widows or widowers living alone.

“No matter what our family looks like, each of us can work to strengthen our own families or help in strengthening others.” – Barbara A Thompson

As women in the relief society, we seem to have a special committment to doing strengthening homes and families. Of course, many women in the relief society are mothers – directly. In a moment, I will give an example of something that we do in our family that seem to help me be a better mother.

But before I continue in that, I want to express how important every woman can be in the life of children and how we help each other to strengthen families and homes.

I have a good friend that has been single for some time. She is dedicated to the gospel. She served a mission. She has always been a support to me. We both lived in Utah for some time. While there, I was married and then began to have children. This didn’t change our relationship. We continued to be good friends.

After having my first child, I was having a difficult time with the transition to motherhood. Even though I thought I was prepared for it (ha!), I found that I felt overwhelmed by everything that was expected of me. I was surprised by some of my emotions. I expected to have this instant bond with my child. That didn’t happen. I realized that I didn’t know her yet, and I didn’t know how to be a mother, and that all of it was kind of hard. Add to that the insane hormones, and I had some kind of horrible, emotional post-partum/culture shock stew. (Plus, it was winter…)

Anyway, I had this good friend. She was off of school for a few weeks because of the winter olympics. She was also learning how to snowboard. She called me up to see if I wanted to go. I made arrangements and we went. Then we went again. That season, we probably went 2 times a week! Not only did we spend time sweating on the slopes, but we were able to talk and enjoy one another’s company. We laughed, shared spiritual insights, and I know she helped me bear my burdens (I hope that I was of some help in some way…).

In all of this, I’m not sure if she’s aware, but she helped strengthen MY home and family. I was able to become a better mother because of her friendship and support.

We truly need one another. We can strengthen our homes and families through positive relationships.

***
On another note, I believe that there is a significant way we can strengthen our homes and families, and it is through taking the time to be a little organized and take an hour or so once a week to Spiritually prepare.

I was taught this principle a few years ago by a member of my stake presidency. He advised that we hold a parental counsel. He reminded the adults attending the session, “Heavenly Father Spiritually prepared his week before executing it. We would do well to learn from His example and do the same.”

At the time, I was a single parent. It felt funny having “parental counsel” by myself. But I did it. I made it a formal meeting with me. I had an agenda. (Opening prayer: catania, Scripture: Catania, Items of concern: Catania, Budget: Catania, Closing Prayer: Catania) – It was kind of funny, but effective.

Now, that I’m married, my husband and I hold parental counsel weekly. We discuss our calendar, budget, Items of concern, goals, and we report on past goals/events. We also end each meeting with a “Happy moment from the week.” This is the perfect time for my husband and I to discuss concerns we have – with our family and/or our relationship. And the best part of all, it is in a safe enviornment. We aren’t fighting. Our words aren’t loaded with emotion. We open and close with a prayer. It is a very effective way to communicate, plan, report, and share. It has been such a great thing for both our marriage and our family.

See an example agenda hereTry it out!

***
I’m grateful for this month’s message. I hope we can all strengthen our own homes and families, and also be open enough to help our sisters strengthen their homes and families, too.

March 2010 Visiting Teaching Message

Strengthening Faith in God the Father and Jesus Christ through Personal Scripture Study

Do you know what I like about this month’s message – it’s all about feasting. For example, one of the scriptures listed in this month’s message reads:

Come, my brethren, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come buy and eat; yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness.” – 2 Nephi 9:50-51

So…we are told to be “spiritual fatties!” Isn’t this exciting? We don’t want to be spiritual waifs. Woo hoo! Okay, kidding aside, I want to say how much I love this month’s message.

I especially love the quote given by President Kimball:

We want our sisters to be scholars of the scriptures. … You need an acquaintanceship with his eternal truths for your own well being, and for the purposes of teaching your own children and all others who come within your influence.

We want our homes to be blessed with sister scriptorians — whether you are single or married, young or old, widowed or living in a family. . . .Become scholars of the scriptures – – not to put others down, but to lift them up!” (emphasis added)

I love the notion of being a sister scriptorian. This is a desire that I’ve had for a long time. I want to know the scriptures. I want the scriptures to become a part of me. Elder Eyring gave an interview in the Ensign a few years ago – about reading the scriptures. He gave the following promise “We all can have the dream of someday having the word of God be so much a part of us that the Lord can draw upon it and we can learn to think as He does. And in the process we can come unto Him.” – (July, 2005).

Isn’t this also what the Lord teaches us to do? – “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.” – (D&C 11:21). This scripture is given to Hyrum Smith – when he wanted to serve a mission, and it is applicable to us – women. Mothers, can you think of a better parenting tool? I have felt prompted time and again that if I will make scripture study paramount in my life, then I will be empowered with the Spirit of God. … Then I will know what to say to my children in various circumstances. The mentioned blessing is also helpful in marriages, at the workplace, amongst friends, when overcoming trials, in the dating world, and at times when we are lonely. Having the Spirit with us – that He will loose our tongues and guide our words is a wonderful promise. It is powerful, and it applies to all of us, uniquely, but we must first have the word in our souls – the Spirit cannot draw from an empty well.

We have an important duties as Relief Society Sisters. Many of us are mothers, wives, employees, aunts, grandmothers, or sisters. We can better fulfill our duties when draw upon the power of the scriptures.

All of us are daughters of our Heavenly Father. The best way to be a good daughter is to build a relationship with Him by going to Him in prayer and then feasting on His word. As we do so, we grow…

We can be excited about getting (spiritually) fat!

February 2010 Visiting Teaching Message

Managing Resources Wisely and Staying Out of Debt

So…last month I could have taught this message perfectly. Today, not so much. I just bought a house and a car. (We were planning on the house. The car thing, well, that happened when our CR-V broke down with the same problem for the 8th time in the last 15 months…)

Because of my recently acquired debt, I feel extremely unqualified to teach this message, but I suppose I’ll still do what I can to ponder this message and think of a way to share with the sisters I visit teach.

Managing Resources

Well, I guess I’ll start off with the first quote:

“‘Provident living’ . . . implies the [conserving] of our resources, the wise planning of financial matters, full provision for personal health, and adequate preparation for education and career development, giving appropriate attention to home production and storage as well as the development of emotional resiliency. . . . If we live wisely and providently, we will be as safe as in the palm of His hand.” – Spencer W. Kimball

For the most part, I have lived my life where I’ve done what I can to plan my financial matters. This has meant giving up luxuries and comforts in order to save for future purchases. This means doing a budget and keeping to it!

I like that President Kimball also included keeping track of our health. It is such a huge expense! This may mean procuring Health Insurance – even if it costs a lot. A few years ago, I found myself in a situation where I needed to get a surgery. If I hadn’t had medical insurance, the surgery would have cost me $30,000. I’m grateful for insurance. Even with insurance, the medical bills cost me about $5,000. This required planning and sacrifice.

We need to be prepared with an education – especially for times where we may need to be in a career. This has been stop and go for me. Before I had children, I obtained a Bachelor’s degree. I’m grateful that I was able to do so as it has served me well during my adult life. A few years ago, I was divorced, and I found that I needed to get a job. Now, I’m blessed to be married and at home again, but I do feel that I need to keep doing things that will help me professionally in case I find myself in a situation where I need to go back to work.

W e need to give appropriate attention to our homes. This makes sense. If we are taking care of our homes, then we should be able to reduce home-improvement costs. We can also save money by eating at home rather than going out.

I love the promise that President Kimball gives here – “If we live wisely and providently, we will be as safe as in the palm of His hand.” I have felt this safety in my life. It is so comforting to know that you have money in the bank – in case something happens. It is comforting to know that you are doing all you can to prepare, and because of such sacrifice, you can go to the Lord for help.

Avoiding Debt

This is a good one. Man. I’ve been out of debt for a long time – until last month. I have to say, I hate the feeling of debt. We needed to take it on. We needed a home and a car. However, the burden of debt weighs heavily on my mind – especially when it has been so long since I’ve had any debt.
I especially like the quote given by Elder Hales:

“To pay our debts now and to avoid future debt require us to exercise faith in the Savior—not just to do better but to be better. It takes great faith to utter those simple words, ‘We can’t afford it.’ It takes faith to trust that life will be better as we sacrifice our wants in order to meet our own and others’ needs.” – Robert D. Hales

I guess that this is really the way to do it. Some of us will find comfort when reading the Visiting Teaching message this month. Some of us will read it, like I would have last month, and think, “I’m so glad that I have listened to the counsel of the prophets. I’m glad that I’m not in debt. It is so comforting and satisfying to know that I don’t owe anyone any money.

Some of us will read this visiting teaching message, like I have this month and feel overwhelmed and burdened by the weight of debt – whether or not it is necessary debt. We will read this and feel a poignant dependence on the Lord for mercy – that our financial situations will not be stretched any further than they already are.

There is comfort in Elder Hales’ comment – even as we are in debt – we can choose to do better and be better. We can choose to sacrifice further luxuries and comforts so that we can get ourselves out of debt. We can choose to spend our time and money serving the Lord and serving others. We can exercise the faith needed that the Lord will continue to support us.

I am so grateful for the counsel and wisdom of our Church leaders. Managing our resources wisely and avoiding debt truly help us to live happier lives with WAY less stress.

January 2010 Visiting Teaching Message

Becoming Self-Reliant

What Is Self-Reliance?

Sister Beck answers this question – it is quoted in the message. I think that her comment is wonderful, and I would like to break it up into parts, as I think that each of her points are very good.

” ‘Self-reliance means using all of our blessings from Heavenly Father to care for ourselves and our families and to find solutions to our own problems.’ “

  • We have been given blessings from Heavenly Father that will help us to live successful lives. It makes me think of the scripture, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” – 1 Nephi 3:7
  • We need to find solutions to our own problems. We can’t expect to be “bailed out” every time we get into trouble. Of course, the Lord does help us, but only if we work hard. Nephi’s example is wonderful. When he went to get the plates, he used all of his faculties to obtain them. He tried to ask for the plates. He tried to trade for the plates. He finally, went into the city of Jerusalem armed only with “the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do,” (See 1 Nephi 4:6). Nephi understood the balance between receiving blessings from Heavenly Father and finding his own solution to his problem.
  • Sometimes, I’m overly dependent. I’ll think, O, Lord, Please just get me out of this situation. I erroneously expect to be miraculously saved from every difficulty in my life. But that is not how the Lord works. He does help us along, he does bless us, but we also have to be willing to do our own work. He wants to teach us how strong we are. This is why we need to learn to be self-reliant – depending on the Lord’s grace only after we have given sufficient work to qualify for it.

“Each of us has a responsibility to try to avoid problems before they happen and learn to overcome challenges when they occur. . . .”

  • Self-Reliance is such a practical principle. If we are obeying the commandments, working hard, and making good choices, then we will avoid many problems. So many people face trials that are consequences of bad decisions.
  • Of course, we’re human. We are bound to make mistakes and then suffer the consequence. Sometimes we must deal with the difficulties caused by the mistakes of others. Either way, we will face problems in our lives, so we should get prepared.

“How do we become self reliant? We become self-reliant through obtaining sufficient knowledge, education, and literacy;”

  • I have had the unthinkable happen in my life. I found myself in a situation where I no longer had an income or a companion. I’m grateful that I had spent time obtaining a Bachelor’s degree. It gave me both the skills and the confidence I needed to proceed in my time of trial.
  • Go to the Lord so you can receive direction on the way to prepare and obtain practical knowledge. It is sometimes good to have a plan. I feel like the Lord will help us on this if we ask Him.

by managing money and resources wisely,”

  • Given the current economic situation of the entire WORLD, this one is easy to see now.
  • We can be self-reliant by making a budget and sticking to it!
  • Determine what our wants and needs are.
  • Prioritize and plan the budget.
  • Be grateful for the blessings you have – rather than the things you lack.

“being spiritually strong,”

  • Many of the trials we face will also try our faith. Some cool symbols to think about:
    • Hold fast to the Iron Rod – if we are doing this before hand, we will be prepared when the mists of darkness surround us.
    • Fill our spiritual lamps. We will need enough “oil” to make it through the long night.

“preparing for emergencies and eventualities;”

  • Eventualities I have an apt example. My mom has a Volkswagen van that she bought in 1985. When it was purchased, my parents paid for it with cash. Over the years, it has driven many thousands of miles. The engine has been rebuilt; the transmission has been replaced; every part of it has been repaired. The van is now old, and my mom’s trusty car mechanic has informed her that he will no longer work on it. She needs to buy a new car. When she told me this, I said, “I told you that you should have done this years ago.” She replied, “Yes, Catania, but then I’ll have to have a car payment.” I was shocked. The van is 25 years old. I said to my mom, “Yeah, but you knew this day would be coming. Why did you wait this long?”
  • Sometimes we’ll face emergencies that require our attention. But there are also things that will happen eventually (retirement, sickness, marriages, emergencies). Prepare for them!

and by having physical health and social and emotional well-being.” – Julie B. Beck

  • We may avoid some trials if we take good care of our bodies.
  • Staying physically active provides a good relief from daily stress that takes a toll on our minds, bodies, and spirits.
  • Our friends can often be a support to us, so we should nurture those relationships.
  • Emotional strength may be the last asset we have when we face certain trials. Gain this by remaining grateful and positive.
  • We can also strengthen ourselves emotionally as we go to the Lord, and learn to trust in His plan and perspective.

This is a long blog post, I know. But I’m grateful to have taken the time to read the message and post a few of the things I’ve learned. I hope that they are a help to you, too.

I know that it is important to learn to be self-reliant. When we prepare and learn to live in such a way that we learn to be reliant on ourselves – rather than other people, then the Lord blesses us with confidence and a sense of empowerment. This kind of confidence is often what will help us to endure the many trials of life. I hope that throughout this month and year, I will learn to be more self-reliant – in every area of my life.

How have you become more self reliant? Do you have a testimony in this principle? If so, please feel free to comment.

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