Friday, June 12, 2015

Rainbow Frosting Cupcakes

I enjoyed making the Camo Cupcakes (found here) for my sons birthday last week I was inspired to try them with different colors. 

Instead of Camo colors I used neon colored frosting (Kroger brand) in lime green, hot pink and teal. 

I made these for Teacher Appreciation Gifts and a gift for the bus driver. He happens to be the same driver for both my kids' schools. 

I used this 3D cupcake box design for my Silhouette. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Gritty Bowmen Birthday Party - Camo Cake and Cupcakes

How to have a Gritty Bowmen Birthday Party.

Step 1: Let them eat cake! Camo Cake.

…and Camo Cupcakes!

First, take a pound of butter out of the fridge and set it on the counter. You'll thank me later when it's time to do the frosting.

I found two tutorials that I used and kind of morphed them into one. The Crafty 
Mama Blog Camo Cupcakes and Saving Dougs Sanity camo cake.

For the cake I used 2 Pillsbury Devils food and 2 Classic white mixes. I followed Crafty Mama Blog instructions for dividing the mixes.

1: White batter.
2: White batter with green food coloring and a dash of chocolate batter.
3: Equal parts chocolate and white batter.
4: Chocolate batter.
I ended up with extra batter that I used for the cupcakes I made next. I followed the Saving Dougs Sanity instructions and just spooned them into the cake pans. I didn't bother with putting them into pastry bags.  I used two 9" round springform pans and one 6" round springform pan. I filled them to 1/2 to 2/3 full. I spooned the remaining batter into cupcake liners. I ended up with 18 cupcakes. Some of them were just plain chocolate. 

Let the cakes cool and then cut the tops off. You can see how great they look inside! 

I used my favorite buttercream frosting recipe.  It's super easy to make and it's real quality ingredients. I made a lot of frosting for this cake. Cut in half as needed. I find that I prefer to have extra frosting versus having to make a second batch. EVERYONE LOVES THIS FROSTING! 

My Favorite Buttercream Frosting 
  2 cups - 4 sticks (room temperature) butter (if I'm in a hurry I nuke it in the microwave for 20 seconds)
12 cups powdered sugar
 1 tsp. salt
 1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract 
3/4 heavy cream (to start with) (If you're in a pinch you can use whole milk too. But start with 1/2 cup instead.)

Whip with wire whisk attachment.  As necessary, add an additional Tablespoon of cream (and another and another) until you get the desired consistency. The trick here is to let it mix for a minute or two and add a little more as necessary. Let the frosting mix for a minute or two more to really get the flavors incorporated and to make it fluffy. You want your frosting to be able to stand firm when piped out, but be spreadable and fluffy too. 

Divide the icing into 3 bowls. 1 white, 1 white with green food coloring and a little bit of cocoa powder and 1 white with cocoa powder. Mix until you get chocolate frosting. I cheated and added 1 tub of Betty Crocker Dark Chocolate Frosting to give it an even darker color. 

You should now have 1 white, 1 army green, 1 chocolate. 

For the cake: I did a chocolate crumb coat. Next, I piped on a blob at a time in random fashion all over the cake. I thought that I would be able to follow the Melvira Method of using a high density foam roller to smooth it out. But I wasn't comfortable doing it straight onto the cake. I attempted to use parchment paper and roll over it, but each time I pulled the paper off it pulled some of the frosting away with it. I decided to just leave it as it was.  If I were to do it over knowing it wouldn't work I would have piped it on a little smoother. 

At this point I had lots of beggars that wanted some frosting. But I told them to scram and wait until the party. 

I ran over to Wilco Farm Store for the Schleich toys. 

For the cupcakes: take the 3 pastry bags and insert all of them into 1 large pastry bag with a star tip. Starting at the outer edge pipe a swirl until you get to the center and you're done! I was THRILLED with how fantastic and delicious these turned out!   

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

It's that time of year again!!! Brody is back!

Brody showed up a little early this year. He usually only comes a week before Christmas but this year he came 10 days before. He brought along a little magic with him. A North Pole! 

The kids found him after school. Brandt and I went out to get the mail at the same time and when we all came around the corner there he was. 

I love how it glows and casts a crackle on the wall. It's really cool!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

How Do I as a Young Mother Teach My Children of the Commandments

I love Fall. I love the Trees and the changing leaves, I love the colors and the crisp air. I love acorns and helicopters. But I love pinecones. I’m not sure what it is about them, but they bring me joy. I can remember being in grade school and we used plaster of paris in a mini foil pie pan and stuck a pinecone in it. Then we got to use glitter to decorate it and make them sparkle. Glitter runs in my veins so perhaps that’s why i love them so much. Pinecones have great potential. They start out small, but can turn into beautiful grand noble trees. Each small pinecone that drops from the Mother Tree has the opportunity to grow into it’s own straight and strong tree.  When you cut down a tree and look at the rings the ones that are closer together are when they really had to work hard to grow and the ones when they are wider and further apart were times when growing was easier. 
When I told the kids what my subject of my talk was McKay said, “Maybe we should write your talk for you Mom.” Then they proceeded to tell me how I teach them about the commandments. 

1. Set a good Example
  1. Remind them to say their personal prayers at bedtime. 
  2. Follow the Laws- like no texting while driving. 
  3. Try to read scriptures and pray before school with the family 
  4. Try to do FHE
  5. Scripture Study Texting Group
  6. Try to sing a song and learn a new article of faith and pray on our way to school.

I TRY. That’s it. I’m trying. Some days I try more than others. When Alaynee overheard me saying this part of my talk she started singing, “I'm trying to be like Jesus; I'm following in his ways. I'm trying to love as he did, in all that I do and say.” and I thought, exactly! That’s exactly it. I’m trying. 

We pay our kids for good grades and this year McKayla asked if she could have an extra $10 because she got all A+’s.  Bryce responded do you want $10 less if you get an A-? But then he surprised her with an extra $10 and he told her that was not because she worked to get all A+’s, it was for her effort. I am trying to put forth more effort. 

At the RS Conference last night Sister Linda K. Burton spoke about the 10 Virgins. As a 12 year old Beehive my Aunt Martha and my Mother were my leaders. I remember Aunt Martha taught us a lesson about the 10 virgins and gave each of us a little picture of them to stick in our scriptures, which I still have 25 years later. It has always been a favorite parable to me. As a young Beehive I don’t think I quite understood why the 5 wise virgins wouldn’t share with the 5 foolish virgins. Sister Burton clarified this point last night she said, “the oil of spiritual preparation cannot be shared. Drop by drop we add to our store of oil.” Sister Neill F. Marriott said “by simple, consistent, acts... such as prayer, scripture study, FHE, great things are brought to pass.”

Elder Uchtdorf spoke last night and said, “God knows each one of us. He LOVES you. He knows of your times you’ve fallen short. He knows when you were helping to reach out to others even as you’re struggling yourself.”

How do I reach out to my children and teach them of the commandments if I am not striving to keep them myself? It begins with me. I’m trying to add oil to my drops of awesome lamp so that I can then share my knowledge with my children. This past year I have not done well as well as I perhaps could have.  I am trying to be kind with myself because I was growing a person and it’s a big job. There is a time and a season for everything they say and I have felt that now is the time for me to do more. 

I am choosing one principle to work on and trying to make it a lasting change so that I can build upon it. How do I teach my children of the commandments? It begins with me. 

I am part of a group of 4 sisters that started a scripture study group. It is unique in that we send each other a text message of what we are pondering that day. This has really helped me to be more consistent. It has been a gentle reminder to do it. On occasion my phone will start buzzing like crazy and I’m so happy that it does because we are trying. Each of us is trying. 

Elder Uchtdorf said, “You are always a Child of God. You are a child of Heavenly Parents. Divine origin alone does not guarantee you a divine inheritance. The promised blessings of God to the faithful are glorious and inspiring. It takes more than a spiritual birth certificate or a Child of God Membership Card to qualify for these incomprehensible blessings. But how do we attain them? The Savior has answered this question in our time. He said, “Except ye abide my law, ye cannot attain this Glory for straight is the gate and narrow the way that leadeth unto exaltation. Receive ye therefore my law.” For this reason we speak on walking the path of discipleship. We speak of obedience to God’s Commandments. We speak of living the gospel joyfully, with all our heart, might, mind and soul. And yet for some of us, obedience to God’s commandments doesn’t always feel very joyful. Let’s face it. There may be some that may seem harder or less appealing, commandments that we approach with the enthusiasm of a child sitting in front of a plate of healthy, but hated vegetables. We grit our teeth and force ourselves to comply so that we can move on to more desirable activities. Perhaps at times we may be asking ourselves, do we really need to obey ALL of God’s commandments? My response to this question is simple, “I think God knows something we don’t.” Things that are beyond our capacity to comprehend. Our Father in Heaven is an Eternal being with a host of experience and knowledge infinitely greater than ours.  He not only knows what is best for you, he also anxiously wants you to choose what is best for you.”

When I heard that, “our Father in Heaven is an Eternal Being with a host of experience and knowledge infinitely greater than ours”. It reminded me of my Grandpa Joe. He’s 85 and He is a Jack-of-all-trades. He has done every job it seems like.He can do electrical and plumbing, he knows how to milk cows and even won a contest for de-boning a goat in under 9 minutes. He worked in a rock quarry and had muscles like Arnold Schwarzenegger. He owned his own Body Shop and a million other jobs. He has a host of experience and knowledge infinitely greater than ours. This past year my parents were falling a tree. Grandpa stood back and watched them as they attempted to do this on their own. Even though he perhaps knew the best way to do it. At some point they came to him and asked him how they should continue. Just like we need to do with our Heavenly Father. 

Parents must bring light and truth into their homes by one family prayer, one scripture study session, one family home evening, one book read aloud, one song, and one family meal at a time. They know that the influence of righteous, conscientious, persistent, daily parenting is among the most powerful and sustaining forces for good in the world. The health of any society, the happiness of its people, their prosperity, and their peace all find common roots in the teaching of children in the home. (L. Tom Perry)
I don’t know about you, but doing everything I am supposed to do feels like a daunting task.  If I try to do it all I have a mental breakdown. But I think about it like Dave Ramsey. Baby Steps. I work on doing better at one thing at a time. 

Plan a day and time. Be flexible. But persistent. 
I can’t tell you the number of times we have had to change family prayer.  We had to work on that for months before we found something that would stick. Family Home Evening with an actual lesson seemed as thought it happened once a quarter, if that. We spend lots of time as a family doing things together, but it was lacking instruction. We are striving to do it weekly and now it’s happening about once or twice a month.  I am trying to keep positive thoughts about this and not get down on myself because I am doing the best that I can. Not the best that someone else can. I try to read scriptures in the morning before school. Even if it’s just 1 verse it’s better than nothing. We are doing it. Another drop of awesome oil in my cruze. 

I drive my children to school in the morning for two very important reasons. The first is that I don’t have to get up earlier than I absolutely have to and the second reason is so that I can have a set time everyday for 5 minutes of instruction. Sister Swertfeger said that she had her seminary students sing each morning and how it invited the spirit into their day. I thought that it was a great idea, but nothing seemed to work until we started to sing in the car on our way to school. We sing a practice song which is an article of Faith song. Then a song of choice. Followed by a quick prayer. It may not be the most reverent place to some, but we’re doing it. Sometimes, I would forget. Then we would drive by the Swertfeger’s house and I would remember. It has been a small act that is a big thing. 
We are trying to be CONSISTENT. If I forget 3 days in a row does that mean I’m a terrible Mom and I should give up? nope. Just keep trying. Sometimes when we have FHE my boys are unruly. I have been known to kick them out of FHE so that we could have a lesson in peace. I’ve also been known to just want to give up in the middle of a lesson. Don’t Give Up! Take a break. Then come back and finish. It’s like exercise, sometimes you’re so happy to do it and it feels great. Other times it’s the LAST thing you want to do, but you force yourself to do it anyway and then you’re glad you did. 

“A little bit steady, makes a lot.” Dave Ramsey

Times are very different today, but while times may change, a parent’s teaching must never be devalued. Many activities link the values of one generation to the next, but perhaps the most central of these activities is parents teaching children in the home. This is especially true when we consider the teaching of values, moral and ethical standards, and faith.
I try to teach our children the commandments in small and simple ways. Often this is on the go and I truly thank heaven for the gospel library apps! 
Elder Uchtdorf said, “If you truly believe God knows best how to exalt and glorify his children does it make sense to embrace and follow his commandments? Even the ones that appear difficult? Should we not cherish the light posts he has given that guide us through the darkness and the trials of mortality. They mark the way back to our heavenly home. by choosing heavenly Father’s path You lay a divine foundation for your personal progress, that will bless you throughout your life. 

Part of our challenge I think that we imagine that God has all of his blessings locked in a huge cloud up in heaven refusing to give them to us unless we comply with some strict paternalistic requirements he has set up. But the commandments aren’t like that at all. In reality heavenly father is constantly raining blessings upon us. It is our fear, doubt and sin that like an umbrella block these blessings from reaching us. His commandments are the loving instructions and the divine help for us to close the umbrella. So we can receive the shower of heavenly blessings. We need to accept that the commandments of God aren’t just a long list of good ideas. They aren’t “life hacks” from an internet blog or motivational quotes from a Pinterest board. They are divine counsel based on eternal truths given to bring peace in this world and Eternal life in the world to come.” 

I know that as I have felt particularly stressed in the past couple of months that when I can’t seem to cope I have felt the desire to reach for my scriptures to help me feel calm and peaceful. 

“So we have a choice. On the one hand there’s the opinion of the world with it’s ever changing theories and questionable motives. On the other hand there’s God’s words to his children his eternal wisdom, his certain promises and his loving instructions for returning to his presence in Glory, Love and majesty. The choice is yours. The Creator of the seas, sands and endless stars is reaching out to you this very day. He is offering the grand recipe for happiness, peace and eternal life. To qualify for these glorious blessings you must humble yourself, exercise faith, take upon you the name of Christ, seek him in word and deed and resolutely stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places. Once you understand the true nature of God and his commandments, you will also better understand yourselves and the divine purpose of your existence. With this, your motivation for following the commandments changes and it becomes your heart’s desire to live the gospel joyfully. 

When we treat god’s commandments and our part in building the kingdom like something to check off on a to do list we miss the heart of true discipleship. We miss the growth that comes from joyfully living the commandments of our Father in Heaven. Walking in the path of discipleship does not need to be a bitter experience. It is sweet above all that is sweet it is not a burden that weighs us down. Discipleship lifts our spirits and lightens our hearts it inspires us with faith, hope and charity. It fills our spirits with light in times of darkness and serenity during times of sorrow. It gives us divine power and lasting joy. Whether you’re 8 or 108 there is one thing that I hope you truly understand and know... you are loved. You are dear to our heavenly parents. He knows you he is mindful of you. He’s not waiting to love you until you over come your bad habits. 

He knows of the times you have held onto the fading light and believed even in the midst of growing darkness. 
He knows of your remorse for the times you have fallen short. 
He knows of your successes. He loves you. 

Brothers and sisters, I am trying to teach my children the commandments one small drop at a time. I have a deep love for my children and I want them to succeed in this life and the pathway to get there is by following the lightposts of the commandments. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Relief Society Activity Night (Enrichment) Lesson that changed my life

A couple years ago as the RS Activity Night Coordinator I gave this lesson. It has had a lasting impact on me and the women I gave it to. It was so wonderful that my sister gave it to her ward as well.  I think you could easily adapt it for a FHE lesson too.

You'll have to excuse my photos. I was in a hurry that night and sent these pictures from my phone to my sister. I wasn't intending to blog about it, so I didn't take better quality pictures. These were just real quick "on the fly" shots.

I gave each sister a cute little white bucket that I found in the wedding section of my local Dollar Tree. 3/$1.

I bought a larger bucket for the object lesson so that all of the sisters could see it.

I also bought real old fashioned lemon drops as their "drops of awesome" to put in it.

Finally I bought honey sticks to pass out as well. I bought red paper grass to line each bucket and I found a pdf picture that I made thumbnail sized and laminated and tied to each honey stick with a ribbon.

Here is a link to the picture that I used. Anxiously Engaged in Doing Good

Here is my talk:

I have been trying to figure out what I wanted share with you tonight and as I prayed for the right words the answer finally came. The answer was to spend more time on Facebook. ;)  Only kidding. I had been on FB the other day and read a post that Jessica Moyes posted. So I guess the answer wasn’t really Facebook it was given to me through another friend and that is often how our prayers are answered isn’t it. This post I’m going to share with you couldn’t have expressed my own thoughts and words in a more perfect way. 
Drops of Awesome  By Kathryn Thompson
This post has been in my heart and on my mind for over a year now. I’ve talked about it. I’ve prayed about it. I’ve taught about it. I was waiting for the right time to post about it and now feels like that time. It’s a post about a tiny little moment that completely changed the way I see myself and others. As I think about it and act on what I learned, I find that I am changed in significant ways every single day.
It was a sunny school morning and I was walking Magoo to the bus stop. I don’t often walk him to the school bus. He’s in second grade and pretty independent and I’m usually busy getting myself and his sisters ready. I’m semi-nocturnal and I sleep later than I should most mornings.
When it’s time for school, he says goodbye and heads up the hill to the bus.
As we got half way to the bus, Magoo reached out and grabbed my hand in an uninhibited way that I knew wouldn’t happen many more times. How many 12-year-old boys do you see swinging hands happily with their mommies?
I squeezed his hand, felt the rare Seattle sun on my face, and told him I loved him. I was nearly perfectly happy.
Just at that moment, the thought came into my mind, That’s awesome that you’re walking him to the bus stop and putting on this “mother of the year” act today. What about yesterday and the day before that? You hardly ever walk him to the bus. He’s probably holding your hand because he’s so desperate for the love and attention you haven’t been showing him.
My bubble had burst. I am a crap mom, I thought, as I looked down into his smiling face.
Then another thought came. Kathryn. What is wrong with you? You are being an awesome mom in this moment. Your child is happy. You are loving him and caring for him. He’s well fed and dressed. You’re walking to the bus stop in the early morning and you’re already wearing a bra for heck’s sake. Do not rob yourself of this moment’s joy because of what you failed to do yesterday or what you fear you might not do tomorrow.
This started me thinking of all the times I do something good while beating myself up for all the times I haven’t been perfect.
You’re worshiping in the temple? Woopty freakin do! How long has it been since you came here last? When are you likely to come again? You’re not good at this. This is a fluke.
Wow. So you cleaned the kitchen today. Want a cookie? That dirty rag has been on the counter for a week and those dishes you so righteously cleaned are from breakfast three days ago. You are embarrassing.
That was really nice of you to offer to watch your friend’s kids while she had surgery. Remember last week when you knew your neighbor was suffering from depression and you drove right by with a wave because you did not want to get sucked into the drama? You don’t really care about people. Not all the time.
How destructive are these kinds of thoughts?
As I said goodbye to Magoo and started to walk back home, my mind started to shift.
Drops of Awesome! I thought. Every time you do something good, something kind, something productive, it’s a drop in your Bucket of Awesome. You don’t lose drops for every misstep. You can only build. You can only fill.
----> Ask a sister to come up and help you fill the bucket with drops of awesome. Each time she hears you say it have her put a drop in. Be sure to tell the Sisters that we are all going to help fill this bucket and promise them it will be full by the time you’re done. 
I walked Magoo to the bus. Drop of Awesome!
I fed him fruit with breakfast. Drop of Awesome!
I told him I loved him. Drop of Awesome!
I wore a bra and brushed my teeth before schlepping it up that hill. Two Fat Drops of Awesome!
All day long I chanted these words in my head. I picked up that tootsie roll wrapper off the front porch instead of stepping over it for the eleventy hundredth time. Drop of Awesome! I unloaded one dish from the dishwasher when I walked through the kitchen on my way to the bathroom. Drop of Awesome! I texted my sad neighbor to say I was thinking about her. Drop of Awesome! I had a critical thought about one of my kids and I brushed it away and replaced it with love. Drop of Awesome!
When I started thinking about my life in terms of adding these little Drops of Awesome for every tiny act of good, I found that I was doing more and more of them because it’s a lot more fun to do good when you’re rewarded with joy, rather than being guilted about every failure in your past.
By the end of the day, I had realized something important. If I was spending time with my kids, really listening to them with attention in the moment, then I was a good listener, regardless of the 50 other times I’d brushed them off or multi-tasked while they were talking over the past week. If I was engaged in sincere prayer with my Heavenly Father, really communing with him and seeking his will, then I was a person who engages in sincere prayer, regardless of how my prayers were (or weren’t) yesterday and the day before that and the day before that.
As I added up these Drops of Awesome, I found that in those moments I actually became the person I had always wanted to be.
Have you ever said any of these things: “Well, I guess I don’t work out anymore,” because you missed one workout? Or, “I always fight with my brother. Our relationship is broken.” What about, “I’m kind of a nag to my spouse.” Or “I gossip and I always end up hurting people I love.” “I can’t stop spending money. We will never get out of debt.” “My house is always a disaster.”
These things are lies, depending on the next decision you make, the next Drop of Awesome you put in your bucket. You may have done these things or have a hard time with them but they don’t define you and you can change this very instant. You may not think you can change permanently but you can change the next choice you make. And as you change that one next tiny choice, you may think, I got this one Drop of Awesome but I may never be able to get another one again.
And that’s okay.
You made the right choice once. And in that moment you were the person you want to be and that is a triumph. For one night, you were a person who went to bed early. One morning you woke up and the first words out of your mouth were positive so you were a morning person in that moment. Bam! Drop of Awesome.
You do not need to wait three months to be who you want to be. Pick up ten things right now and say, “Drops of Awesome! I am someone who takes care of my house. That is who I am. I have proof.”
In the end, it’s really about allowing yourself to feel joy and allowing yourself to be proud of the small victories of life. This builds momentum and you want more drops in your bucket and when you don’t get as many, you pick yourself up and say, “What can I do next?”
--> Ask Sisters to share something they have done today to fill their Bucket of Awesome. Walk around and put “Lemon Drops of Awesome” in their buckets! 
Now, there are a whole lot of religious implications to this because, as a Christian, I believe that you are not the only one adding these Drops of Awesome to your bucket. Christ commanded us to be perfect, but through His atonement, He is with us every step of the way.
As an object lesson when I was teaching this to the teenage girls at church, I gave them each a small dropper and I put a 2-quart bowl on the table. I told them that throughout the lesson they would get the chance to put drops in the bucket for every Drop of Awesome they could think of that they’d done. I promised them that we would fill the bowl to overflowing by the end of the lesson.
With about 5 minutes to go, we had barely begun to fill the bowl and the girls were looking around at each other nervously. The promised overflow did not look likely. Were they not awesome enough?
At that point, I pulled out a large pitcher labeled ATONEMENT and poured water into the glass bowl until it was spilling out all over the table and the towel the bowl was resting on. The class went silent.
When we are in a relationship with Christ, striving as God’s sons and daughters to do His will, He pours more into our buckets than we can ever hope to imagine. He can fill us to overflowing with peace, with joy, with perfection, with Awesome. And then what do we do if our bucket is overflowing like that? Where does the Awesome go then?
I pulled out an identical bowl, twice the size of the original. Our capacity for joy and light increases. And we just keep working, one tiny drop at a time. And we don’t compare today’s drops to yesterday’s or tomorrow’s. And we live and we love and we repent when we do wrong and we allow ourselves to be glorious, beautiful, and dare I say perfect in Christ, children of God.
I believe in a God who loves us and roots for us and cheers for every Drop of Awesome we can manage. Our victories are His victories and He wants us to feel joy. Not later, when we no longer make mistakes, but right now.
I’m gonna close this uber long post out with a scripture from the Book of Mormon. I know many of you do not share my faith but I think you’ll find truth in these words:
“Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.” (Alma 37:6)
Small and simple. Tiny drops. Go forth. Be Awesome.
Kathryn Thompson blogger of

If you remember from our recent Conference Elder M. Russell Ballard talked about some other tiny drops. Drops of honey. 

Honeybees are driven to pollinate, gather nectar, and condense the nectar into honey. It is their magnificent obsession imprinted into their genetic makeup by our Creator. Over its short lifetime of just a few weeks to four months, a single honeybee’s contribution of honey to its hive is a mere one-twelfth of one teaspoon.
Though seemingly insignificant when compared to the total, each bee’s one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey is vital to the life of the hive. The bees depend on each other. Work that would be overwhelming for a few bees to do becomes lighter because all of the bees faithfully do their part.
The beehive has always been an important symbol in our Church history.  The beehive symbol is found in both the interiors and exteriors of many of our temples. This podium where I stand is made from the wood of a walnut tree grown in President Gordon B. Hinckley’s backyard and is adorned with carved beehive images.

All of this symbolism attests to one fact: great things are brought about and burdens are lightened through the efforts of many hands “anxiously engaged in a good cause” (D&C 58:27). Imagine what the millions of Latter-day Saints could accomplish in the world if we functioned like a beehive in our focused, concentrated commitment to the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.
These simple, daily acts of service may not seem like much in and of themselves, but when considered collectively they become just like the one-twelfth teaspoon of honey contributed by a single bee to the hive. There is power in our love for God and for His children, and when that love is tangibly manifest in millions of acts of Christian kindness, it will sweeten and nourish the world with the life-sustaining nectar of faith, hope, and charity.
The symbol of RS is Charity Never Faileth. Charity means “generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering”. 
Sister Marjorie Pay Hinckley was a great example of this. She said, 

“I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails.
I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp.
I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children.
I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone's garden.
I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder.
I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.” 

Which takes us to another type of drop. Drops of Oil. A wise Sister I know said these words. 

The time truly is far spent for us to prepare.  I'm reminded of the parable of the ten virgins.  If the oil of the wise virgins is likened to spiritual strength, there's one huge reason why they could not share with the five foolish.  The wise virgins carried with them the fruit of a full growing season . . . of pruning and fertilizing and weeding and caring for a vineyard.  In their cruses, they carried the sunlight, the rain, the warmth of nature's God and the labor of the harvest.  Bringing the vineyard and the oil press along to the wedding just wasn't an option.  Because of their preparation, they had a smooth ride when the bridegroom came.  We cannot transfer the hours spent in study, the thoughtful and fervent prayers, or the sweet moments when God reaches down and touches our minds and hearts.  We can bear testimony, witness of truth so the Spirit can touch hearts and others can be changed and influenced by the power lent to us because of our faithfulness and preparation . . . but they must pay for their own oil in the end.

Now, it's true that the foolish virgins were able to go and buy additional oil.  It was a costly, time-consuming trip . . . which ended in missing the bridegroom's arrival and wedding feast.  For some, who realize their shortage earlier and go for oil sooner, making the trip and paying the price could result in enough oil to see them through . . . just as experiencing dramatic hardship and trial can soften hearts as well as harden them.  The peril lies in the race condition that exists when preparation goes undone.
~Annalea Eastley 

Sisters, I’d like us to focus on the “Being Anxiously Engaged in Doing Good” this year. I don’t want you to focus on what isn’t being done. Instead of making a “To Do” List I want you to make a list of “What I Accomplished Today”. One of the commenters from the “Drops of Awesome” post said that she and her sisters and mother were all doing this. She said that “Some days I write down lots of things like folding laundry, making phone calls, bringing dinner to a neighbor etc. But some days and I think these are the days I need it most, the most I can manage are things like--I got out of bed. I fed my kids. I made it through another day without selling my kids to the gypsies! I give myself credit if I resist negative thoughts about myself and I keep a tally next to that for every single time I have that negative thought throughout the day. It has helped me see my role as a mother as something important when I write down, “took care of my children by feeding them.” “Made my daughter laugh.” “Took advantage of a teaching moment” or “created a little corner of cleanliness in my bedroom.” I have truly come to believe that this is the way the Lord sees us. At the end of the day, he is not thinking, “I’m really disappointed you didn’t get your dishes washed.” No. He is looking at all the things we DID do! It truly has been a life changing experiment for me because it has helped me see myself the way the Lord sees me. 

Sisters as we go throughout the rest of our year I know that if we focus on “Being Anxiously Engaged in Doing Good” that we really will pollinate the world with the pure love of Christ and it starts with you. Start by putting some more “Drops of Awesome” in your bucket each day. Then once it starts to over flow you can fill your husband’s bucket with love and so on and so on. Let’s help one another by filling our cruses with oil and being prepared so that when that day comes we are like the 5 prepared Virgins.
Let us also remember the honeybees “Though seemingly insignificant when compared to the total, each bee’s one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey is vital to the life of the hive. The bees depend on each other. Work that would be overwhelming for a few bees to do becomes lighter because all of the bees faithfully do their part.”
Simple, daily acts of service collectively considered make a huge impact! 

“As you create a home, don't get distracted with a lot of things that have no meaning for you or your family. Don't dwell on your failures, but think of your successes. Have joy in your home. Have joy in your children. Have joy in your husband. Be grateful for the journey.” 

Monday, June 4, 2012

May Lofts Herald Entry

We had a great little vacation and ran off to the Beach with Shalah, Mom, Lexie, Sheri and all the kiddos. It was a lot of fun and a much needed little get away! The kids all had a blast with their cousins! We played in the water (I use the term “we” very loosely here. ;) and flew the kite, got some squeaky cheese, visited a lighthouse, went letterbox hunting and to the Marine Science Center and even got in a little shopping at the Outlet Mall.  McKayla said her favorite part was the day we went home because we crammed in so much fun stuff. One of the highlights of the weekend was giving Mom her iPad.  I caught a few great pictures to share.  She was very surprised and a little teary-eyed when she read the engraving. It says, "Dear mother, all flowers remind me of you. Happy Mother's Day 2012". The other highlight was getting to meet baby Brayden. What a cutie! 
For my Mom we did our annual Mother’s Day Yard Clean up and Planting day.  We were surprised at how great the turn out was this year. Everyone came!  He got the pond, creek and bathtub fountains all up and running and then we put him on Traeger duty. We had a great day. I got to hold baby Helen and I think she is just sooo cute! It could be that she looks like my sisters and I more than any other one of our kids combined. She is so sweet too. She always smiling and cooing and happy. 
I had to speak in Sacrament Meeting on Mother’s Day. I am not quite sure why I have had to speak twice in the past 12 months and Bryce hasn’t had to speak since we moved into our house about 12 years ago. Hmmmm... I might have to look into that one a little further. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day Talk- Honor Thy Mother and Father

Your Mother and Mine
Well, a mother, a real mother
Is the most wonderful person in the world
She's the angel voice that bids you goodnight
Kisses your cheek, whispers, "Sleep tight."
The helping hand that guides you along
Whether you're right, whether you're wrong
What makes mothers all that they are?
Might as well ask, "What makes a star?"
Ask your heart to tell you her worth
Your heart will say, "Heaven on Earth."
Another word for divine
Your mother and mine
~Wendy Moira Angela Darling
The love of parents for their children and children for their parents is one of the strongest influences for good in the world. Many people have been motivated to live good lives because of their love for their parents. How you live your life may bring honor or shame not only to yourself but to your parents as well. You can choose to commit to honor your parents by living righteously and expressing gratitude to them.
Since today is Mother’s Day I will mainly focus on Mothers, but you could easily insert Father instead.
Our Parents Care About Us
Our parents love us and want what is best for us. Think of how much time and effort it takes to raise a son or daughter. 
My mother taught me how to crawl, how to walk and how to talk. The alphabet and my numbers. She taught me how to use a spoon, and how to use the potty. She taught me how to use my inside voice and encouraged me when I needed to speak up a little. She taught me to look both ways before I crossed and to watch out for strangers. She taught me not to play with sticks because someone could get their eye poked out... and she was right. 
As I got older, she pointed out the girls in the Laurel class that I should look up to and the values and characteristics that I should emulate. She also taught me more practical things like how to sew a button, what I should and shouldn’t wear and how to tweeze my eyebrows (thank goodness). She taught me how to fold a fitted sheet (even if I still can’t fold them as perfectly as she does.) She taught me that even an old red barn looks better with a fresh coat of paint and that glitter has magical powers and it can make everything look sparkly and new. She taught me that choosing the right isn’t always easy, but it is best. 
I distinctly remember a time when I was a Mia Maid when the friends I had were gradually making different choices and I made the choice not to do those things and over time they weren’t my friends anymore and I was very lonely. She told me that friends will come and go but she would always be my friend no matter what. 
She taught me what to look for in a husband and how he should treat me.     She taught me that good things come to those who wait and patience is a virtue. 
Just last month she taught me by example about reaching out of our comfort zone and doing hard things. She teaches me of my ancestors and the rich heritage I am blessed to be apart of. 
When I became a mother myself it was only then that I caught a glimpse of all that she has taught me whether by her words or by her example.
Our parents have made a commitment to help us live a happy, healthy life. When our parents try to guide us, they are trying to help us be our best and be worthy of exaltation with our family.
Heavenly Father Wants Us to Honor Our Parents
Henry B. Eyring taught Now, here is my counsel to children. The Lord gave you a commandment with a promise: it is found in Exodus 20:12. “Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” 5 It is the only one of the Ten Commandments with a promise. You may not have parents that are living. In some cases, you may not feel that your parents are worthy of the honor and respect of their children. You may not even have ever known them. But you owe them life. And in every case, even if your life is not lengthened, its quality will be improved simply by remembering your parents with honor.” (Henry B. Eyring, “Our Perfect Example” Oct. 2009)
•How do you honor someone? By showing them respect, obeying their wishes, listening to them, asking their advice, and following their example.
Throughout my life my Dad has shown me a good example of how to Honor my Mother and my Grandmother. He would do small things like dropping her off at the door on a rainy Sunday morning. Or by opening her car door, rubbing her feet at night, filling up the gas tank in her car. Cooking her dinner. By teaching my brothers how to treat their Mother and Sisters with respect. By taking the day off of work so he could hold her hand at the Dentist office. By encouraging my Mother when she has to do hard things like speak in church. And the countless times he walks into the room and says, “Hey Beautiful”. My Father has taught me how to Honor my mother.
My Grandpa has taught me how to honor my mother and my Grandmother. My Grandpa used to take my Grandma Donna to antique shops and art galleries. He would drive her to thrift store after thrift store. But what I remember as a young child Grandpa would come with Grandma to “Grandparents Day” in Elementary School. Now, I’m sure that this probably bored Grandpa to tears, It was a monumental task because there were about twenty grandchildren at Park Place at one time, so it was an all day excursion. Grandpa went anyway because it was important to Grandma. My Grand father taught me how to Honor my mother and my Grandmother. 
Finally, my mother taught me how to show respect and honor to her.  
My mother taught me how to speak to her in a respectful manner. She didn’t allow us to treat her disrespectfully or backtalk. Even as toddlers we didn’t tell her “no” and get away with it. As a teenager I remember my Mother took my sister, Carrie and I on a rare trip to the mall. As my sister and I got out of the car we hurried in ahead of my Mom and jokingly said that it was “so that we weren’t walking next to our “Mom” because it wasn’t “cool”. She taught me a valuable lesson that day that I haven’t forgotten. She told us to “get back here” and “that we would not disrespect her like that”. We tried to tell her that we were only joking, but she cautioned us that it wasn’t even acceptable to treat her like that in jest, because it could become habit. I didn’t realize at the time that we were probably testing the waters and I’m grateful that she was smart enough to realize it and didn’t allow us to dishonor her.  I also realized that I didn’t care what other people thought, but I cared what my Mom thought and I realized that treating her like that was rude and hurtful. 
As I got older it really bothered me when I would hear my friends or cousins or girls from my ward talk to their Moms disrespectfully. I remember telling my mom I didn’t like that they were speaking to their Mom like that about how I was surprised their mom let them get away with it. She told me I should say something to them the next time I overheard them treating their Mom that way. So I did. Every time I said something, my friend knew they had been rude and they were ashamed for their behavior. I doubt it changed their behavior all the time, but at least while I was around they spoke more respectfully and in a respectful tone of voice to their mother. My Mother taught me how to honor her.  
President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“Be true to your parents and your heritage. Regrettably there are a few parents who act in a way that does serious injustice to their children. But these cases are relatively few. No one has greater interest in your welfare, in your happiness, in your future than do your mothers and fathers. … They were once the age that you are now. Your problems are not substantially different from what theirs were. If they occasionally place restrictions on you, it is because they see danger down the road. Listen to them. What they ask you to do may not be to your liking. But you will be much happier if you do it” (“Stand True and Faithful,” Ensign, May 1996, 92–93).
When I was about 13 years old I witnessed this truth for myself. I asked my brother, Brian if I could share this story with you because although it wasn’t something that happened to me personally, it affected me directly.  When Brian was 16 years old he wanted to hang out with his friends non-stop, as most teenagers do.  He wanted to go to the football games every weekend and there was a girl there that he liked. I don’t remember all of the details at the time, but I do remember that Brian and Mom were fighting a lot and that the atmosphere in the home when Brian was home was contentious because he didn’t want to be there. Now, keep in mind that Brian was still a good kid that wanted to do what was right. He just didn’t see anything wrong with going to do these things with his friends and he didn’t have any intentions of doing anything wrong. But, my mom could see the potential danger and one night they had a big argument and Brian disobeyed my parents and he went to the football game anyway. That night my parents were waiting for him when he got home and they had another argument. My mom stopped in the middle of it and asked him, “Who are you and what happened to the boy I raised? What type of man do you want to grow up to be?” The following evening there was a fireside at Bro. James Bean’s house that Brian attended that changed his life and my entire family. This is what happened in Brian’s own words.
I found myself sitting on the floor of James Beans house listening to him teach the gospel and to teach the law of obedience. That night the spirit pierced my heart. Brother bean explained how much a parent loves their child. He told us that our parents loved us more than anyone else--just like our father in heaven loves us. A parent's love for their children is boundless... they would die for us. Then he said that we could "never go wrong" if we listen and obey our parents. He admitted that we may not have as much fun as we otherwise could have, or that sometimes we might miss out on a fun time with our friends. But he promised us that we would find true joy and peace in abiding by the counsel and direction of our parents. 
I knew this was true. I knew deep in the heart... deep in my soul that my parents adored me (still do). And that if I were to trust in their wisdom and follow their counsel that I would be blessed beyond measure. I resolved at that moment to obey my parents and to follow their counsel. The first step toward obedience was honoring the grounding I got from going to the football game without permission.
I started looking for ways to help out around the house. I began to seek my parent's counsel when I needed help with things. I spent quality time with my siblings. We rented kid movies and popped popcorn while my friends went to the football games and to school parties. I worked hard on being patient with my younger brother and my sisters. I volunteered to help my father when I saw him working. Little by little I began to feel differently about myself. I developed a rich relationship with my parents and learned to trust in their judgement. I learned fist hand that a parent's love for their child exceeds all imaginings. And if a child will but follow the counsel of a wise parent they will be blessed with a rich and full life.
To this day, I still seek the counsel of my wise parents and cherish their love for me. I have been truly blessed.”
My brother, Brian truly showed me how to honor my Mother.  He confided in her and he sought her counsel and he and my Mother developed a special bond. Let me tell you, Boys, if you want to know what a girl is really thinking, ask your Mom. Brian had the best dating coach he could ever have. Brian taught me how to honor my Mother. 
My husband has shown me how to honor my mother and my mother-in-law. For Mother’s Day this year he had the idea of giving his mother an iPad so he arranged for all of the siblings to pitch in. Last weekend we went to the Beach with my MIL and gave it to her.  He showed me how to honor his mother by taking the time to teach her how to use her new iPad.  He also has honored my mother, his mother-in-law by taking the time to serve her. Yesterday, we had a big family yard work party as a gift to my Mom.  Not only did he do it, but the other son-in-law’s took the time out of their busy schedules to help out as well. I don’t know very many son-in-law’s that would do that. My brothers-in-law and my husband show me how to honor my mother and mother-in-law.  
•How can honoring your parents help you enjoy greater blessings and happiness in your life? Our parents can teach us how to succeed at our goals and how to receive the blessings they have received. Because of their experience, our parents can also help us avoid many of the mistakes they have made or seen others make.
We Can Honor Our Parents by Living Righteously
3 John 1:4.   “I have no greater ajoy than to hear that my bchildren cwalk in truth.”
We Can Honor Our Parents by Expressing Appreciation for Them
by President Spencer W. Kimball:
“No gift purchased from a store can begin to match in value to parents some simple, sincere words of appreciation. Nothing we could give them would be more prized than righteous living for each youngster” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 348
I testify of the importance of honoring our parents and of the blessings we can receive by doing so. 
Consider the consequences of your actions and how they will affect your parents. Show appreciation to your parents and also to think, when you consider some action, “Am I doing my best to honor my parents?”