Monday, November 25, 2013

A Simple Act of Gratitude: how learning to say THANK YOU changed my life by John Kralik

Holy Cow this book is fantastic. I found out about it from one of my favorite bloggers/singers/TOFW Presenters Mrs. Hillary Weeks. She recommended it on facebook so I downloaded it immediately to my kindle, started reading it later that afternoon, and couldn't put it down.

One recent December, at age 53, John Kralik found his life at a terrible, frightening low: his small law firm was failing; he was struggling through a painful second divorce; he had grown distant from his two older children and was afraid he might lose contact with his young daughter; he was living in a tiny apartment where he froze in the winter and baked in the summer; he was 40 pounds overweight; his girlfriend had just broken up with him; and overall, his dearest life dreams--including hopes of upholding idealistic legal principles and of becoming a judge--seemed to have slipped beyond his reach.
Then, during a desperate walk in the hills on New Year's Day, John was struck by the belief that his life might become at least tolerable if, instead of focusing on what he didn't have, he could find some way to be grateful for what he had.

Inspired by a beautiful, simple note his ex-girlfriend had sent to thank him for his Christmas gift, John imagined that he might find a way to feel grateful by writing thank-you notes. To keep himself going, he set himself a goal--come what may--of writing 365 thank-you notes in the coming year.
One by one, day after day, he began to hand write thank yous--for gifts or kindnesses he'd received from loved ones and coworkers, from past business associates and current foes, from college friends and doctors and store clerks and handymen and neighbors, and anyone, really, absolutely anyone, who'd done him a good turn, however large or small. Immediately after he'd sent his very first notes, significant and surprising benefits began to come John's way--from financial gain to true friendship, from weight loss to inner peace. While John wrote his notes, the economy collapsed, the bank across the street from his office failed, but thank-you note by thank-you note, John's whole life turned around.

I've always loved the quote, "Gratitude turns what we have into enough."

I think this book, and a box of thank you notes will be my  school teacher/visiting teacher/home teacher gift this holiday season.   

Monday, November 18, 2013

On Being Refined

If I am being completely honest, my most recent church assignment has been the most frustrating one I've ever experienced.  There have been times I wanted to throw my hands in the air and quit.  I have never felt that way about any other calling in my 24 adult years.  I started the day off resentful and bitter about it.  Many times I spend 20 plus hours a week planning trek.  I feel like the things I love to do and the people I desire to serve most are paying the price. Its been an exercise in futility in more ways than I care to detail here. 

That is how I started the day.

Then I went to institute.  As I drove there, I prayed that Heavenly Father would soften my heart and help me learn what it was I was supposed to be learning and be able to work productively with some of the individuals I have to work with.  I prayed that He would help me carry out His work for his youth and that I might be able to feel His approval, which is all that REALLY matters.

Then when I sat in class, it came to me.  A quiet prompting that I am being refined.  My being called to plan trek has less to do with talents and skills I have now and more to do with talents and skills he needs me to learn so that I can be more like Him.

I am being refined.
Whether I like it or not.

Brother Shumway shared this last week in the Frisco Institute and it was very helpful when I came home and re- read it.

 Some time ago, a few ladies met to study the scriptures. While reading the third chapter of Malachi, they came upon a remarkable expression in the third verse: ‘And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.’

“One lady proposed to visit a silversmith and report to them on what the smith said about the subject. She went accordingly, and without telling the object of her errand, asked the silversmith to tell her about the process of refining silver. After he had fully described it to her, she asked, ‘But sir, do you sit while the work of refining is going on?’ ‘Oh, yes, madam’ replied the silversmith. 
‘I must sit with my eye steadily fixed on the furnace, for if the time necessary for refining be exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured.’

“The lady at once saw the beauty of the expression, ‘He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.’ God sees it needful to put His children into a furnace. His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for us. Our trials do not come at random and He will not lead us to be tested beyond what we can endure.

“Before she left, the lady asked one final question, 
‘When do you know the process is complete?’ 
‘Why that is quite simple,’ replied the silversmith. 

‘When I can see my own image in the silver, the refining process is finished.’

- CES Inservice, John Beck, Area Administrator

I know as I turn the other cheek, honor priesthood keys, exercise long suffering, put my head down and go to work I am being refined.  And I am becoming more like Him.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Surprise McKinley!

A week ago, McKinley's best friend, Caty, texted me and asked if she could throw McKinley a surprise birthday party on her birthday.  The girls had been challenged by their Young Women leaders to do a 10 hour project for Individual Worth and she thought it would make a great project to plan a fun party for her!

She invited 14 fun friends to join in on the surprise.
I wish I would have taken the time to take a picture of the cute chocolate fountain and home made cupcakes she made.  She had blown up about 20 balloons and when McKinley walked in to the house they jumped out and showered her with shredded paper.

Then they went swimming.  Yes, in November and NO, they had not heated the pool.

kiki and  Lexie 
 with Emily
 and Molly
 and Mallory
 and Kylie H.
 and Kaly 
 the Lloyd twins and Abbey

 Kaylie W.

 and Kylie P who had celebrated her birthday with a party the night before.
What a lucky young lady to be surrounded by so many sweet girls and to have one especially thoughtful friend.

Friday, November 8, 2013

An Argument for Fathers

This man gave another amazing talk at General Conference and I spent some time studying it today.  I loved everything he had to say.  Here is a link if you want to read it for yourself.

There was a part that caught my attention and made me do a little more research.  Elder Oaks said, 

"In many countries and cultures (1) the traditional family of a married mother and father and children is coming to be the exception rather than the rule, (2) the pursuit of a career instead of marriage and the bearing of children is an increasing choice of many young women, and 
(3) the role and perceived necessity of fathers is diminishing."

I googled "Statistics on children of single parent households" and a web site popped up called "FATHERHOOD. ORG." that had some really interesting statistics about children who live in single parent homes.

If you want to see for yourself, here is a link.

And before you think I am being judgmental, please know that part of my curiosity is aroused as a child that was raised in a single parent home.  

Did you know that...

24 million children in America (1 out of every 3) live in a a home where the biological father is absent?

Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor.  In 2011, 12 percent of children in married-couple families were living in poverty, compared to 44 percent of children in mother-only families. -

Even after controlling for income, youths in father-absent households still had significantly higher odds of incarceration than those in mother-father families. Youths who never had a father in the household experienced the highest odds. - 

Infant mortality rates are 1.8 times higher for infants of unmarried mothers than for married mothers. -

Being raised by a single mother raises the risk of teen pregnancy, marrying with less than a high school degree, and forming a marriage where both partners have less than a high school degree. - 

The absence of a biological father contributes to increased risk of child maltreatment. TheI results suggest that Child Protective Services (CPS) agencies have some justification in viewing the presence of a social father as increasing children’s risk of abuse and neglect. It is believed that in families with a non-biological (social) father figure, there is a higher risk of abuse and neglect to children, despite the social father living in the household or only dating the mother. -

Even after controlling for community context, there is significantly more drug use among children who do not live with their mother and father. -

Father involvement in schools is associated with the higher likelihood of a student getting mostly A's. This was true for fathers in biological parent families, for stepfathers, and for fathers heading single-parent families. -

In summary:

Children who live absent their biological fathers are, on average, at least two to three times more than their peers who live with their married, biological (or adoptive) parents to: 
Be poor 
Use drugs 
Experience educational problems 
Experience health problems 
Experience emotional problems 
Experience behavioral problems 
Be victims of child abuse 
Engage in criminal behavior - 

See more at:

So grateful for a father who worked hard to be a part of my life, even though he was not living in my home for most of my formative years.  He made visits with me and his weekends with me a priority over anything else and continues to be a positive influence in my life.  

And I am grateful for the father of my children who reminds me everyday through his interactions with our five children how important a father in the home is.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Stronger than you realize

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf

When I was young, falling and getting up seemed to be one and the same motion. Over the years, however, I have come to the unsettling conclusion that the laws of physics have changed—and not to my advantage.

Not long ago I was skiing with my 12-year-old grandson. We were enjoying our time together when I hit an icy spot and ended up making a glorious crash landing on a steep slope.

I tried every trick to stand up, but I couldn’t—I had fallen, and I couldn’t get up.

I felt fine physically, but my ego was a bit bruised. So I made sure that my helmet and goggles were in place, since I much preferred that other skiers not recognize me. I could imagine myself sitting there helplessly as they skied by elegantly, shouting a cheery, “Hello, Brother Uchtdorf!”

I began to wonder what it would take to rescue me. That was when my grandson came to my side. I told him what had happened, but he didn’t seem very interested in my explanations of why I couldn’t get up. He looked me in the eyes, reached out, took my hand, and in a firm tone said, “Opa, you can do it now!”

Instantly, I stood.

I am still shaking my head over this. What had seemed impossible only a moment before immediately became a reality because a 12-year-old boy reached out to me and said, “You can do it now!” To me, it was an infusion of confidence, enthusiasm, and strength.

Brethren, there may be times in our lives when rising up and continuing on may seem beyond our own ability. That day on a snow-covered slope, I learned something. Even when we think we cannot rise up, there is still hope. And sometimes we just need someone to look us in the eyes, take our hand, and say, “You can do it now!”

The Delusion of Toughness

We may think that women are more likely than men to have feelings of inadequacy and disappointment—that these feelings affect them more than us. I’m not sure that this is true. Men experience feelings of guilt, depression, and failure. We might pretend these feelings don’t bother us, but they do. We can feel so burdened by our failures and shortcomings that we begin to think we will never be able to succeed. We might even assume that because we have fallen before, falling is our destiny. As one writer put it, “We beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”1

I have watched men filled with potential and grace disengage from the challenging work of building the kingdom of God because they had failed a time or two. These were men of promise who could have been exceptional priesthood holders and servants of God. But because they stumbled and became discouraged, they withdrew from their priesthood commitments and pursued other but less worthy endeavors.

And thus, they go on, living only a shadow of the life they could have led, never rising to the potential that is their birthright. As the poet lamented, these are among those unfortunate souls who “die with [most of] their music [still] in them.”2

No one likes to fail. And we particularly don’t like it when others—especially those we love—see us fail. We all want to be respected and esteemed. We want to be champions. But we mortals do not become champions without effort and discipline or without making mistakes.

Brethren, our destiny is not determined by the number of times we stumble but by the number of times we rise up, dust ourselves off, and move forward.

Godly Sorrow

We know this mortal life is a test. But because our Heavenly Father loves us with a perfect love, He shows us where to find the answers. He has given us the map that allows us to navigate the uncertain terrain and unexpected trials that each of us encounters. The words of the prophets are part of this map.

When we stray—when we fall or depart from the way of our Heavenly Father—the words of the prophets tell us how to rise up and get back on track.

Of all the principles taught by prophets over the centuries, one that has been emphasized over and over again is the hopeful and heartwarming message that mankind can repent, change course, and get back on the true path of discipleship.

That does not mean that we should be comfortable with our weaknesses, mistakes, or sins. But there is an important difference between the sorrow for sin that leads to repentance and the sorrow that leads to despair.

The Apostle Paul taught that “godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation … but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”3 Godly sorrowinspires change and hope through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Worldly sorrow pulls us down, extinguishes hope, and persuades us to give in to further temptation.

Godly sorrow leads to conversion4 and a change of heart.5 It causes us to hate sin and love goodness.6 It encourages us to stand up and walk in the light of Christ’s love. True repentance is about transformation, not torture or torment. Yes, heartfelt regret and true remorse for disobedience are often painful and very important steps in the sacred process of repentance. But when guilt leads to self-loathing or prevents us from rising up again, it is impeding rather than promoting our repentance.

Brethren, there is a better way. Let us rise up and become men of God. We have a champion, a Savior, who walked through the valley of the shadow of death on our behalf. He gave Himself as a ransom for our sins. No one has ever had greater love than this—Jesus Christ, the Lamb without blemish, willingly laid Himself on the altar of sacrifice and paid the price for our sins to “the uttermost farthing.”7 He took upon Himself our suffering. He took our burdens, our guilt upon His shoulders. My dear friends, when we decide to come to Him, when we take upon ourselves His name and boldly walk in the path of discipleship, then through the Atonement we are promised not only happiness and “peace in this world” but also “eternal life in the world to come.”8

When we make mistakes, when we sin and fall, let us think of what it means to truly repent. It means turning our heart and will to God and giving up sin. True heartfelt repentance brings with it the heavenly assurance that “we can do it now.”

Who Are You?

One of the adversary’s methods to prevent us from progressing is to confuse us about who we really are and what we really desire.

We want to spend time with our children, but we also want to engage in our favorite manly hobbies. We want to lose weight, but we also want to enjoy the foods we crave. We want to become Christlike, but we also want to give the guy who cuts us off in traffic a piece of our mind.

Satan’s purpose is to tempt us to exchange the priceless pearls of true happiness and eternal values for a fake plastic trinket that is merely an illusion and counterfeit of happiness and joy.

Another method the adversary uses to discourage us from rising up is to make us see the commandments as things that have been forced upon us. I suppose it is human nature to resist anything that does not appear to be our own idea in the first place.

If we see healthy eating and exercise as something only our doctor expects of us, we will likely fail. If we see these choices as who we are and who we want to become, we have a greater chance of staying the course and succeeding.

If we see home teaching as only the stake president’s goal, we may place a lower value on doing it. If we see it as our goal—something we desire to do in order to become more Christlike and minister to others—we will not only fulfill our commitment but also accomplish it in a way that blesses the families we visit and our own as well.

Often enough, we are the ones who are being helped up by friends or family. But if we look around with observant eyes and the motive of a caring heart, we will recognize the opportunities the Lord places in front of us to help others rise up and move toward their true potential. The scriptures suggest, “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”9

It is a great source of spiritual power to live lives of integrity and righteousness and to keep our eyes on where we want to be in the eternities. Even if we can see this divine destination only with the eye of faith, it will help us to stay the course.

When our attention is mainly focused on our daily successes or failures, we may lose our way, wander, and fall. Keeping our sights on higher goals will help us become better sons and brothers, kinder fathers, and more loving husbands.

Even those who set their hearts upon divine goals may still occasionally stumble, but they will not be defeated. They trust and rely upon the promises of God. They will rise up again with a bright hope in a righteous God and the inspiring vision of a great future. They know they can do it now.

You Can Do It Now

Every person, young and old, has had his own personal experience with falling. Falling is what we mortals do. But as long as we are willing to rise up again and continue on the path toward the spiritual goals God has given us, we can learn something from failure and become better and happier as a result.

My dear brethren, my dear friends, there will be times when you think you cannot continue on. Trust the Savior and His love. With faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the power and hope of the restored gospel, you will be able to walk tall and continue on.

Brethren, we love you. We pray for you. I wish you could hear President Monson pray for you. Whether you are a young father, an elderly priesthood bearer, or a newly ordained deacon, we are mindful of you. The Lord is mindful of you!

We acknowledge that your path will at times be difficult. But I give you this promise in the name of the Lord: rise up and follow in the footsteps of our Redeemer and Savior, and one day you will look back and be filled with eternal gratitude that you chose to trust the Atonement and its power to lift you up and give you strength.
My dear friends and brethren, no matter how many times you have slipped or fallen, rise up! Your destiny is a glorious one! Stand tall and walk in the light of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ! 
You are stronger than you realize. You are more capable than you can imagine. 
You can do it now! Of this I testify in the sacred name of our Master and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, amen.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

October according to my iphone

 Sunday afternoon treat making.eating is a favorite thing around here. 
 They really enjoyed these oreo mini cheesecakes.
 Brady was proud to say he eats boogers.  I'm such a weird mom that I got these for him.

 General Conference was fantastic. 
 Totally filled my bucket and got some great talks and quotes to ponder/study for the next few months.
 Tanner said goodbye to a dear friend for two years.  Elder Austin Jetton will be serving a fulltime two year mission for our church in Reno, NV.  That means Tanner is next.....
 Yes, it's true.  one day we had to break out sweaters and hot chocolate.  But only one day. Then we were back to the 70s.  Fall in Texas is Heavenly.  
Winding up the football/ cheer season.  Saw this on facebook and laughed.  a few of our parents might need to see this.

 Spent a day at the Big Orange Pumpkin Patch in Celina with Lindsey, G and Hank.
 Spent a fabulous weekend with these great ladies at Time Out for Women.
 Bleh....yearly mum making.  We survived another year of it.

 And it was much appreciated.
Homecoming Parade was a blast.

 Cheerfest 2013 almost killed me but we survived that too.  This was my last year to coach cheer.  
 Reagan with one of her besties, Taylor who cheers for another 6th grade team.
 Reagan and cute little Kylie.
 Reagan and Alexa.  This is their fourth year to cheer together.
 McKinley and her squad at their last football game of the season.
 Brady was the Incredible Hulk for Halloween.  Here he is with Superman, aka Corbi Lloyd.
 Cute little nephew, Grant as Buzz.
 Always gotta grab a pic with Sheri any chance I get.  I was super tired in this photo.  October was a whirwind.  I remember feeling it on this night.
 Kylie and Reagan as babies at trunk or treat.