Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Women's Conference

My dear friend called me on Saturday and said someone gave her 5 tickets to the General Women's Meeting at the Conference Center.  She couldn't go and asked if I would like to go with my girls.  So we got tickets to go!  Since there were 5 tickets, we invited our friend Kate to go with us.  The meeting was wonderful.  We were a little bit late...it took forever (almost 30 minutes!) to find parking and then we had to wait in line to get in.  But it was worth it.  The meeting was wonderful.  A talk about service and centering our lives on Christ.  A talk on holiness.  A talk on being certain women:  definite, convinced, positive, assured, confident, dependable and firm.   Then a talk by Elder Eyring about unity and using the Holy Ghost to guide us and help us change.  Such a beautiful conference. We have such amazing leaders!   It's such a tremendous blessing to be a member of this church...there really aren't even words to adequately express my gratitude for the blessings I enjoy.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Heart is Full

Tonight my heart is full.  It's been a busy month but I feel like so many blessings have come during this month...small blessings, nothing huge, but little reminders that I am known and loved by my Heavenly Father.

Today my dear friend Sara called and told me that someone had given her tickets to the General Women's Meeting but she was unable to go and asked if I would like the tickets.  I gratefully accepted and was able to take my girls plus our friend/neighbor, Kate.  Traffic was terrible and we were a few minutes late getting into the Conference Center, but oh how I loved the spirit that was there.  I love being a woman in this church!  I love knowing who I am and that I have a purpose.  I love feeling the love that my Father has for me.  I love helping my children know that their Savior lives and loves them.  I'm so glad we could share that time together.  I loved the beautiful talks.  Sister Bonnie Cordon spoke about the blessings that come from service.  Oh, how I have a testimony of that!  Sister McConkie spoke about holiness and Sister Burton spoke about "certain women" who are convinced, positive, confident, firm, definite, assured, and dependable...I want to be counted among those certain women who can confidently testify of Christ and live as one of his disciples. Then President Eyring spoke about peace and the Holy Ghost.   Such an amazing meeting!!

On Thursday, the ward council was meeting to make some visits in preparation for a special missionary sacrament meeting that our ward is holding tomorrow. I  went with Somer, our newly called Relief Society President.  We were able to visit a couple of sisters and then we were able to visit with each other for awhile.  I came home feeling so happy!  I really loved talking with Somer, and I really, really loved doing visits.  That evening had me reflecting on having served as our ward Relief Society President...both because Somer asked me some questions about how I did visiting teaching and because I was able to do visits.  I truly love visiting the members of my ward in their home.

I reflect often on the privilege I had to serve as RS President (this is a post about what I learned from serving as RS President) and what I learned from that opportunity.  It's been a little more than 2 years since I was released and I give thanks on a regular basis that I had that chance.   It stretched me in so many ways.  I learned so much about the enabling power of the Atonement of our Savior...how when we put the Savior and His work first in our lives, "all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives." (President Ezra Taft Benson said this...but I can testify it is true!)  When I am consistently reading the scriptures, praying, serving, and striving to keep the commandments, I am better able to handle my other responsibilities...better able to complete them in a timely manner.  The Savior literally makes me able to accomplish more than I can on my own.  It doesn't make sense to my mortal mind that if I am spending time on scripture study, prayer, service, callings, etc., I will have MORE time for my family and my job...but that is exactly what I have found to be true.

It's not an exaggeration to say that I was changed by serving as RS President.  I see myself differently...and much more importantly, I see others differently.  I often felt lonely or a bit isolated from ward members before my call.  I was (and still am) working full time and had a family.  So I didn't feel like I got to socialize much and I would sometimes feel like I was almost friendless.  Now I almost never feel that way and on the rare occasions when I do, I know to find someone else to serve and those feelings dissipate pretty rapidly.  I feel blessed to know and love so many amazing people!!  Truly I am so blessed.  And while I have friends from outside of my ward, friends that I love dearly, there is something special and deeper about relationships within the church built upon shared service and shared love for and dedication to the Savior.  I can't really explain it but I can feel it.

For the past 2 years since my release, I have been serving as the 2nd counselor in the Young Women's Presidency.   I really, really love the YW and I love serving with all of the great leaders...we really have a great time together and with the YW.   I love the YW  and see such great potential in them.  It is such a blessing to serve in the church.  While this calling hasn't stretched me as much as being RS President did, I have learned invaluable lessons from this opportunity to serve as well.  Most importantly, I have developed a deep love for those I serve and those I serve alongside.  I have developed study habits during this period that have been a blessing to me...I've loved studying Come, Follow Me...and I also joined a group on Facebook that studies the Conference talks for 40 days following conference and I've really been blessed by my participation in that group.  My testimony of our divine nature and individual worth has been strengthened as I have taught and testified of these principles to the young women.  I'm learning better and better how to recognize the promptings of the Holy Ghost and to respond to them.  I have loved being in YW as my oldest daughter has been a Beehive and being able to teach her and attend activities with her and go to girls camp and so on.  In a few weeks, Ella will turn 12 and I will be able to teach her and attend camp with her.  It has strengthened my relationship with Michelle to be involved in this way and I hope it will with Ella as well.

A few other things I've learned from serving in YW:
*Heavenly Father knows ME and loves ME.  He sees me differently than I sometimes see myself and He has a plan and purpose for my life.
*A series of events last summer caused me to really search the scriptures and study the ministering of angels.  While I haven't had any miraculous events occur, I do believe in the the ministry of angels  and believe that we are ministered to by angels, seen and unseen, as Elder Holland describes.
*Our youth are strong and good and incredible and capable of great things.  From time to time, I hear people bemoan the state of the children/youth today.  I don't believe it.  In fact, I believe it is false, false, false.  Sure there are many temptations and the youth face daunting challenges.  Sometimes they falter, struggle or fall away (as do adults!)  But I see their goodness, their strength and their courage.  They are inspiring!
*How inspired our leaders are!  The Come Follow Me curriculum is inspired.  The personal progress program is inspired and inspiring!  Seminary. Having midweek activities...at a period in their life when they are busy and could be filling their time with so many other activities, good and bad, we gather them together   to have fun but uplifting activities that strengthen their faith, increase unity, and help remind them of who they are and who they are meant to become.
*Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven.
*Each of us has something to contribute.

I know I have learned other lessons that aren't coming to mind at the moment.  And I know I will continue to learn additional lessons as I study, pray and do my best to serve.  How thankful I am for this glorious gospel!

Sunday, March 19, 2017


Michelle had a violin concert two weeks ago and federation on Saturday.  Her concerts/Federation always make her nervous.  She finds it challenging to memorize the songs (memorization has never been easy for her) and having to perform alone is nerve wracking, especially for Federation when she is being judged and receiving feedback.  She works really hard and even though I know she sometimes gets frustrated when she feels like she didn't do her best, I am proud of her for continuing to work hard and to try.

I've been thinking a lot lately about effort and goals and determination.  It seems like many things came easily for me as a child.  I learned to read early and I did well in school and I really loved to learn.  I still do.  (Today in church they started calling me Sister Dictionary in young women's because my friend Sara, our YW president, said I usually know the meaning of almost any word.)  The ability to read well, remember things, and learn easily has blessed my life in countless ways.  But because so many things came so easily to me, I think I often gave up too easily on things that didn't come so easily.  For example, in college I really wanted to learn to play guitar. My wonderful parents bought me a guitar for Christmas and I took a class.  I did practice and try but it was hard and it hurt...and I didn't get very good during that semester long class and while I still have the guitar, it doesn't get played.  Some day I really should pick it up and try harder to learn.  I can think of several other examples of times I either tried something and gave up too easily...or times when I was afraid to even try because I didn't want to fail.   I've also been thinking about the times when I felt the greatest accomplishment. One of these was when I finished a half marathon.  That was a huge accomplishment for me...I really don't enjoy running and I'm not very good at it.  I have to work really hard to exercise because I really don't enjoy exercising...I like the way I feel when I am completely done and I like the results when I exercise regularly...but I don't enjoy the process and so it is easy to put it off or neglect doing it.  I'm not sure if this is totally true, but in a sense I feel like it is a bigger deal when I run a half marathon because it is truly hard for me than it is for someone who loves running.  Just like it would be a big deal for someone to read 25 books this year if they only read 5 last year...but it will be no big deal if I finish 300 books this year (including picture books and chapter books and novels) because I typically read about that many books a year and I LOVE reading.  Sorry, I know I am rambling.

Back to violin. I  think Michelle has natural talent, but I also watch and know that she has to work hard at it and it doesn't always come easily to her.  I see her struggles and I think that in the long run she will be better and stronger for experiencing them.  It makes me both hurt to watch her struggle and sometimes doubt herself and also feel pleased that despite the struggles, she continues on.

I hope that she will continue to put in an effort on her school work and violin and so many other things.  I hope she remembers that "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."  She has great potential and I hope she sees and remembers that each day!

Alfredo is the best cook!

While I do the vast majority of the cooking in our home, everyone loves when Alfredo cooks.  He typically cooks breakfast on Saturday mornings (and sometimes Sunday mornings) and he often cooks when we have company over.  A couple of weeks ago, we had his cousins over for dinner.  He made empanadas and I made flan (although he flipped it over and adorned it with the raspberries).  Dinner was absolutely delicious...as always!

 The girls enjoyed talking to their cousins and holding the babies.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Seeing Green

Forget green eggs and ham (or corned beef and cabbage)!  We found much tastier foods to celebrate St. Patrick's Day!

For breakfast, I made cinnamon rolls...and put a little bit of green frosting on them.  Then after work that evening, I made sugar cookies which I decorated with green clovers.  I was surprised/impressed that they actually looked like clovers.

For a lunch meeting at work, I made pesto ravioli. It's one of our favorite recipes. 

 For dinner we ate chicken pesto sandwiches with cilantro (and tomatoes and mozzarella cheese).  We drank green fruit and vegetable juice.  And Alfredo and I have been having green smoothies almost every night, so we had a green smoothie that evening.  Fun evening!

And even better than all of that?   Michelle and her friends Teya, Liv and Keaton have been working most of the year on a website about Fred Korematsu and the Japanese Internment Camps. for the National History Day.  They went to the regional competition on St. Patrick's Day and their group took third place for websites so they will continue on to the state competition on April 29.
Michelle ready to head to the regional competition

Monday, March 13, 2017

Trip to Las Vegas

Over President's Day weekend, we headed to Las Vegas to visit Alfredo's cousin Sandra and her family.  It rained most of the time we were there.  We spent a couple of hours at Circus Circus where the kids enjoyed playing arcade games and we watched some of the free circus shows.  

 It was our first trip in Alfredo's new car.  Such silly girls.  My favorite part of the trip was having time to talk, laugh and be silly together.

 The girls really enjoyed seeing their cousins.  And Sandra and Noel are always such gracious hosts.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Be My Valentine!

On Valentine's morning, we ate heart shaped pancakes.

 For the two weeks before Valentine's Day, we wrote love notes to each other on hearts and put them on each person's bedroom door.  We missed a couple of days but it was fun to read the things that we love and appreciate about each other.  The girls still have their hearts on their door.  I think it helped increase love and unity in our home.

 On Valentine's Day, the 6th grade at Hunter had their annual Valentine's Dance.  The teachers teach the students how to dance, how to act, and each student is required to dance with 3-4 people (they fill out a dance card in advance to reserve specific dances for each person).  Ella wasn't super excited about it but she ended up enjoying it.  A dear friend, Christie, was nice enough to send me a photo of Ella dancing with one of her partners.  Ella is growing up so quickly and is becoming quite a beauty.

Gabby wrote this sweet letter at school.