Monday, October 26, 2009

Young Women - and Relief Society

I have been busy this weekend and have not finished my posts on the great meeting we had on the 17th. But I was at a Stake Council meeting this a.m., and Celia Reed shared some of her impressions from their session with Sister Dalton, Young Women General President.

New Beginnings - January 1997 - The Grahams!

She talked about how Personal Progress was supposed to be just that, personal, and as a consequence, many girls were not achieving it. Apparently if the items don't get done at YW meetings, they just don't get done for some girls.

Celia said that she thought of the many young women she knew who do not have supportive home lives, or whose families deal with so many difficult issues that Personal Progress just goes under the radar. Sister Dalton had suggested that Relief Society sisters might be recruited to mentor some of these young women.

I was struck by what a great suggestion that is - and want to work out the details to see about implementing such a plan. Of course it would require prayer and direction - but I believe that carefully structured, such a plan could benefit the lives of young women - and the Relief Society sisters who could help them.

There are exciting times ahead for all of us!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I am my sister's keeper!

I might seem to be jumping around, but I'm just sort of browsing through my notes, trying to categorize thoughts and ideas. Since Sister Staples took questions, the topics did move around some, although she was very effective at pulling back to the core principles regarding the "job" of Relief Society, which is to "prepare the sisters for eternal life and strengthen their connection to Jesus Christ."

Annika, Eve and Esme - August 2009

She emphasized that it was the responsibility of the Stake Relief Society President to "minister, teach, and empower" the Ward Relief Society Presidents.

The way we do this is by (1) Learning our duty: "Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence." D&C 107:99

(2) Being a light: "Verily I say unto you all: Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations;" D&C 115:5

(3) Keeping our covenants: "And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver thee out of bondage." Mosiah 24:16 (Her emphasis was on the entire chapter, noting that Alma and his people were true to their covenants, even when persecuted for their beliefs.)

She also noted that it was very important to respect the authority of the individual ward Relief Society Presidents, especially in our stake meetings and stake events.

She drew upon the story of Mary and Martha, stating that it was Relief Society in a microcosm. Relief Society is, she said, an organization of "Salvation, service, and becoming a holy people." It is important she said, not to get caught up in the unimportant details, but to always "Organize, teach, and inspire."

She suggested that the way to do this was to (1) Visit with the Bishop often. (Obviously she is here speaking about ward R.S. Presidents) (2) Help sisters serve. (She emphasized that we need to always ask, as we plan activities and Relief Society meetings, "Does this help strengthen the sisters' connection with Christ?) (3) Prepare ourselves, as leaders, to receive revelation: "But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God." Alma 17:3

She had us read about Joseph Smith's first prayer, and what he learned there in the Sacred Grove. She stated that this sacred experience shows us the pattern for receiving revelation. Certainly this is not a new concept, but one that we need reminding about. She noted that the steps Joseph took were (1) serious reflection, (2) making the need for knowledge a priority, (3) studying his options, (4) keeping an open mind, (5) studying the scriptures, (6) pondering, (7) seeking a private place to receive answers, (8) praying vocally, (9) praying with a purpose, and (10) kneeling as he prayed.

The light Joseph experienced that day came gradually - and our inspiration will come the same way.

At the conclusion of this portion of our discussion, someone in the group mentioned that Joseph was always grateful for the Lord's guidance, and we should follow this pattern by expressing our gratitude to the Lord specifically for the guidance we have received. Sister Staples seconded that idea!

I love Relief Society. My Grandpa Clayton always called me "the little Relief Society President," and I wasn't always sure exactly what he meant. Most everyone concluded that he was talking about my propensity to chat, to visit, to take charge, and to keep track of everyone!

I prefer to think that he could see a time when I would be prepared and open to the value of a loving sisterhood - and the role I could play in helping that work go forth.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"If you build it, they will come!"

After we were seated in the Relief Society room at the Torrance Stake Center, everyone got out their notebooks and pens!! We were ready to record whatever Sister Staples had to say!

She told us, "Write down what the Spirit directs. You will hear what you need to hear."

Let me add here, somewhat parenthetically, that I have been disturbed over the last few years to hear some women complain about visiting teaching. I almost cringed when I heard a young woman say, "I wonder when the church is going to get rid of visiting teaching?" (Answer to that question - from Sister Staples herself - "Never!")

Since many of those complaining were younger women, I wondered why, when I have always been so impressed by the great spirituality of the younger generation, they were so "down" on this particular assignment from the Lord.

This question was answered for me as I read the verse in Moroni 6:4 that Sister Staples asked me to read:

"And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith."

As I read it aloud, I felt that this was the instruction about visiting teaching that I needed to share with the women of our stake. These valiant young mothers are faithful, studious, devoted mothers and wives. They need to know that visiting teaching is not a chore or a task or a another thing to do. It is how we "remember and nourish by the good word of God" those we are asked to look after.

Over the years, I have had a large number of women assigned to be my visiting teacher. Some have been great, some have come often, some have never come, some have truly "nourished me with the good word of God." Others have been "continually watchful unto prayer" in my behalf.
Most have truly blessed my life.

I hope they didn't think that visiting me was a burden. I hope they knew that every time they came or called or sent me a card , that I felt loved and cared for.

Right now, my visiting teacher hasn't come in a few months. She had twins in May. I actually feel like I should be taking care of her. But last week, she invited us over to dinner - so we could all visit and be nourished by good food - and the "good word of God." (Her husband is our home teacher!) I was so touched that she felt that kind of concern for me. I didn't question at all that she hadn't had time to come - I knew she loved and cared about our family and was probably praying for us! That was certainly good enough for me. (And she often commented on our blog!!)

When I shared this with Sister Staples, she commented, "We all go through seasons of life. Sometimes we are more on track than other times. But we don't keep score. We just take turns caring for one another."

I certainly applaud her approach - and recommend it to you all!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Work of Relief Society

Sister Staples had us read Alma 48: 7-9. In verse 7, we read, "And now it came to pass that while Amalikiah had thus been obtaining power by fraud and deceit, Moroni, on the other hand, had been preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God."

Arcadia Stake Relief Society Women's Conference Luncheon, January 2007.

She explained that as leaders - and as members of the church leading our families - we need to first prepare our minds for the tasks at hand. We don't just go into a new calling or an important event in our lives without giving it some significant prayer and preparation.

The preparation is specified in verse 8, "Yea, he had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land."

Our homes and our wards are the "small forts and places of resort," and temple attendance, scripture study, prayer, keeping the commandments - these are the "walls of stone" that can encircle us.

What especially impressed me was her interpretation of verse 9, "And in their weakest fortifications he did place the greater number of men; and thus he did fortify and strengthen the land which was possessed by the Nephites."

Our energy, she said, should be directed towards strengthening the weakest among us. Those who struggle with the commandments, those who struggle with life's daily challenges, those who are less active, those who feel overwhelmed by adversity and trials. Strengthening these members of our families and of our wards can fortify and strengthen our families and wards.

It was certainly a new way of looking at things for me. I have spent years being assigned to visit teach less-active sisters. Only one of them has ever returned to church with any regularity. But as I have struggled to overcome my hesitancy, my sense of feeling that I don't make any difference, my reluctance to open myself to rejection, I have found a greater understanding of what being a disciple of Christ means. I think I'm a better woman because of these experiences.

And I'm certain I couldn't have learned these lessons any other way.

Monday, October 19, 2009

"A friend loveth at all times"

Sister Staples shared a sweet story about her 16 year old daughter. As the school year ended, her daughter's friend India was preparing to move to Japan with her family. India (Sister Staples interjected - "Isn't that a wonderful name?" I'm wondering if she's a GWTW fan too - just saying!) and her daughter had been friends for 10 years. That's a significant time for a friendship to last - especially in the teen years.

A photo from 1964, outside Horne Hall at BYU - with some of my dearest friends!

She knew her daughter was feeling sad about it, and she drove her over to say her last goodbyes before the family left. She was sitting in her car in the driveway waiting for her daughter to return, and the thought came to her that perhaps she should be prepared with some words of comfort for her. She was certain she would be feeling some strong emotions.

She felt impressed to open her scriptures and found this scripture:

"And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy."
D&C 130:2

She read it to her daughter when she got back in the car but was not sure how it had been received. Later that summer, she was at Girl's Camp when her daughter got up to bear her testimony. She testified how grateful she was to know that the Lord knew and understood her feelings, and then she shared the above scripture. This scripture had not only comforted her in the loss of her close association with her dear friend, but it had enabled her to strengthen her testimony that the Lord knows and loves each one of us.

Sister Staples shared with us that we needed to look for ways to testify and demonstrate to the women we work with in Relief Society, and especially the women we are asked to visit teach. As we seek the help of the Lord, study the scriptures daily, and then look for ways to serve, we will be blessed with the right words to say and the right scriptures to share.

Her mantra to us as leaders was "Organize, teach, inspire."

Certainly food for thought - yea verily, a banquet for thought!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

An October Treat!!

Today I attended a Regional Training Meeting for the stake auxiliary leaders of 17 stakes in our area. We met in Torrance, at the Stake Center there. The grounds were lovely - and there was a large park in back with picnic tables and barbecues - certainly would make life easy for the Ward Activities Committee to plan picnics!

Relief Society Presidencies were taught by Jana P. Staples - who happens to be the daughter of H. Burke Peterson. When I told Dad about this, he remembered a time many years ago when we were ushers at the Tabernacle. There was a church performance one night - at least one that General Authorities got in on a pass - and we were manning the door that the General Authorities used. Elder Peterson was there with Elder Featherstone - and they had been sustained just a few days earlier. So Dad remembers that Elder Peterson showed him his badge and said, "We are really green at this. Is this the door we use?"

Just a little human interest there for you readers!

It was indeed an inspiring and spiritually fulfilling experience. Sister Staples taught us for about 2 hours - no breaks either - and I wasn't eager for her to stop!! She taught with the Spirit, sharing scriptures and experiences. She modeled techniques and behaviors for us. She had us practice in groups. She involved us all - asking us to read and enlarge upon the scriptures she had us read. She took questions. She covered everything!

I was impressed when she told us that after her call - when she and the other newly called board members met with Sister Beck - she was told, "You are good enough as you are. The Lord knows you and knows you can do the job." Would that we could all remember that when we are asked to serve in any capacity.

She focused on the responsibility we have as Relief Society leaders to guide women to Christ, to teach them to live by the Spirit. She emphasized that every thing we do must meet this criteria - or we shouldn't be doing it. She concluded by telling us that the Lord does not leave us alone. She said, "If you do His work, the sisters you teach will know His voice."

At the brief general session before we broke up into auxiliaries, Elder Tenney of the Seventy spoke to us. I was impressed with his closing remark: "If we listen, we will learn more than we hear."

I have pages of notes - and may share more in the days ahead, mostly for my own benefit, because I want to remember and incorporate the many ideas and concepts I felt were taught to us.

One important note, which you may already know, the woman formerly known as the Enrichment leader is now Relief Society Meeting Co-ordinator. And the counselors are just 1st and 2nd counselors - and each presidency can divide up the various responsibilities as they see fit. And there is a new sidebar on with lots of info for sisters to peruse. And, Sister Beck's talk in print has more in it than she actually said at the broadcast.

And the definition of a Relief Society Meeting is a meeting that can be opened with a prayer and a brief devotional!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blast From the Past

The best thing about this shot is not Harry's long locks.

It has to be Karan's Afro-style do!!

The 80's - the age of excess.

But it's been enough years that it's looking good!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Looking forward to Hannah's visit

October will just not have birthdays to celebrate this year, but we are also looking forward to a visit from Hannah and Robbie next weekend (not the one coming up, but the one after that.)

I am thinking that I haven't seen her since Christmas. We text and Twitter and email and blog and G-chat - and even talk on the phone. But that's a long time to go without a face to face visit! So it will be great to see her - and Robbie - in the flesh as they say!!

And we will take photos and blog about the event. So stay tuned.

Monday, October 12, 2009

So, maybe I should start focusing on Calvin!!

The next October birthday is Calvin's!!

He is one sweet big brother.

And a charming grandson.

The apple of his mother's eye.

And Daddy's boy.

We love you Calvo - hang on for the big 5!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Late Night Thoughts

Anna May posted this thought last week with the daily "Need to Know" memo:

"Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin."

Barbara Kingsolver

I was recounting the story about Bernie to some colleagues. I am often dismayed after telling the story when the listener equates me with Mother Teresa or something - because the way I remember it, I didn't really do a good job with this whole situation.

But when I see where Bernie ended up - I think, well, maybe we were just a step on the path, and someone had to start where it was pretty hard and not liable to be an easy way.

The truth is somewhere in-between.

And I tell the story to emphasize how important it is to intervene.

And the photo of Bernie and his bride seems to be a good "rest of the story."

Birthday Buddies!!

Happy day to a man who knows his noodles - fits right in with all the Noodle Queens and Princesses running around in our family.

And birthday wishes to my girl Phoebe - she of the year-round bronze glow - did she use up all the beautiful skin genes or something? Is that why my skin is dry and flaky??

Have a great day - and a great year ahead!!

Friday, October 09, 2009

"Hannah and Her Sisters"

So here are two pictures that include the Terrill Sisters - Bonny with Eliza - in the trunk of the never-to-be-forgotten Peugeot - circa 1985.

And Phoebe with Hannah the same year.

Ah, the blessing of sisters!!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Heritage of the Women of October!

I've posted this shot before, but it was taken at Mom and Dad's 50th anniversary party. The older woman in the picture was Sister Lieshman (I may have the spelling wrong) - and she was a Laurel advisor of mine. She always sent me notes about my accomplishments at school, or talks I'd given, or things she'd observed about me. I even have them stashed away somewhere.

She's the reason I write notes!

And I look at Bonny and Phoebe - and Eliza for that matter - and think about what they have added not only to my life, but to our family and to the lives of those with whom they interact.

The best gift of all is a life well-lived.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

There are lots of October birthdays to celebrate!

There is nothing quite like looking at old photos to make you realize how much someone has grown!! This is Porter as a 15 month old?? Christmas time at the Arboretum. His b-day is coming up - watch for future posts!!

This was at the park in Provo where we had a graduation party for Hannah - an all-time fave photo of Porter!!

And here he is now - loving the Army look!

Miss Ida as a babe - and now she's walking and making sounds and folding her arms and posing as Hannah's child!!

Looks like she's mastered hand clapping too!! She and Christopher Columbus will be sharing a holiday!!

And there are countless photos of Joan - and this was all I could find of Fred - at either Joey's wedding or Clarissa's wedding - it was in Utah anyway - 2 or 3 years ago?? Fred is 67 on Wednesday - which is when most of you will read this!! Have a great day Fred!!

The Bontober/Octphober Babes at the world-renowned Cook Apartments in Centerville.

Maybe if she'd gone as Miss Bontober, the neighbors would have recognized her costume!! (instead she was Miss America - but nobody got it - she'd come back from each house and say, "They all think I'm a princess!")

Phoebe - still the leader, still the president!!

Some lazy summer days - pre-marriage for Phoebe.

Dad and I used to cut Bonny's hair - can you tell? Good thing she's so cute, so it doesn't matter that the lines aren't exactly professional looking!! Actually I thought it was a cute hair cut too - just doesn't work by today's standards does it?

Octphoeber meets the progeny of Bontober!!

And you'd think I'd have more shots of Erika too - probably do - just don't know where they are!! But this does capture the Erika we know and love - a la the 80's touch! Her big day is Thursday - hope it's a great day Erika!

I just like to post this shot every so often - because I love it so much!!

And today, October 6th, is Aunt Elsie's birthday - she was our Grandmother Agnes' sister. I don't have a picture of her, except the Busath family photo - and I'm not sure which one is Agnes and which one is Elsie. She's one of the two girls on the last row - I think she's the shorter one.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Happy Birthday Bonny!

I don't think I've made Bonny a birthday cake in a long while. So it was fun, in between conference sessions, to bake and decorate a cake for her!!

These aren't exactly the china Hallmark Birthday Girls, but they are pretty cute!

I made a cake for Ella too, and we had a dual celebration. Bonny said that we were celebrating her last day of being 38!!

Here's a long ago shot - as in 32 years ago - that's how old Phoebe is this year!!

It's Bonny and Bruce - when Bonny turned 30 and celebrated with a Prom of her own.

Bonny the Mom - and a great mom she is - here with Ara - sometime last year I think.

The October Birthday Girls - minus Ida - we need to do a group shot - will Ida call her birthday month Idtober??

Have a wonderful year Bonny - you deserve it!!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Mom and Dad and Bonny and Phoebe

Bontober /Octphoeber is marching right along. Here are a couple of random photos. Don't know the date on this one - college years for Phoebe?

I do know that this one is 1971 - and that's Grandpa Terrill in his cast - he had a knee injury. I believe this was when I was visiting while Dad was in South America.

I made the dress I was wearing right after we got married - it was the first dress I ever made - and for awhile after Bonny was born it was the only dress that fit! I do believe I literally wore it out.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Bontober, Octphoeber - it's here!

And I wanted to note that with the start of October, it is our good friend Connie's birthday - October 1st to be exact, so I am tardy. But the good wishes are nonetheless sincere.

This was the year - maybe 1997 - when we rented a place in Oxnard with the Watsons - here's Noah helping Connie - we did a beach trash clean-up for FHE the Monday night we were there.

Here's a summer action shot of Bonny - date unknown to me - I'm sure Bonny knows.

And here's Phoebe's summer action shot - lol!!

That's what the the lazy, hazy days of summer are for though!!

Enjoy your month ladies!!