Monday, December 23, 2013

[face the future with optimism and faith]

Loved this article by Elder M. Russell Ballard in the January 2014 Ensign. The world can be a crazy place nowadays as prophecies about the latter days are coming true. It would be easy to let fear enter our hearts. But even in times of trouble, we can have peace in our hearts when we rely on the Lord. It also helps when you know that what is happening in the world is all part of the Big Plan. Knowing that the Church leaders remind us not to fear, but to be optimistic, helps too.

Here are some quotes from the article.

About the conditions in the world today:
 The conditions in the world are uncertain and dangerous, and the economies of the world are unstable and unpredictable. The cherished values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are under attack by those who want to restrict agency and make us dependent rather than encourage us to use our skills and talents to create new and exciting ways of doing things.
Standards of morality are failing. The family is under attack and is crumbling. Love in the hearts of men and women has waxed cold and is unnatural (see Matthew 24:12Romans 1:31). There is a continuing breakdown in the integrity, honesty, and righteousness of political, business, and other leaders. Wars and rumors of wars among nations and creeds abound. And even more destructive than any armed conflict is the war raging between good and evil... for the very souls of the children of God.
President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) described the world that today’s young people are about to enter when he said: “We live in a season when fierce men do terrible and despicable things. We live in a season of war. We live in a season of arrogance. We live in a season of wickedness,pornography, immorality. All of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah haunt our society. Our young people have never faced a greater challenge. We have never seen more clearly the lecherous face of evil.”1
About replacing fear with faith:
As we think about the future, we should be filled with faith and hope. Always remember that Jesus Christ... is in control. He will not permit His work to fail. He will be victorious over all darkness and evil. And He invites us all, members of His Church and others who are the honest in heart, to join in the battle for the souls of God’s children. Along with all else we will do in life, we must also dedicate and consecrate our heart, might, mind, and strength to His cause, walking in faith and working with conviction.
Face the future with optimism. I believe we are standing on the threshold of a new era of growth, prosperity, and abundance. Barring a calamity or unexpected international crisis, I think the next few years will bring a resurgence in the world economy as new discoveries are made in communication, medicine, energy, transportation, physics, computer technology, and other fields of endeavor.
One of the challenges we will be facing:
The trial of your faith in the next few years will likely not be that you lack the material things of this world. Rather it will be in choosing what to do with the temporal blessings you receive.

A quote by President Thomas S. Monson:
“Though the storm clouds may gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of the gospel and our love of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts as we walk uprightly and keep the commandments. There will be nothing in this world that can defeat us.
“My beloved brothers and sisters, fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.”
To read the full talk, click here.

[Christmas lights at the temple]

Some of our Church's temple squares are magical at Christmas time. Especially in Salt Lake City and Washington, DC.

[images via Google image search and from here]

Thursday, December 12, 2013

[refining silver scripture]

This story has been going around for a while now. I love it. 
There was a group of women in a Bible study on the book of Malachi. As they were studying chapter three, they came across verse three which says: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." (Malachi 3:3) This verse puzzled the women and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.
One of the women offered to find out about the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study. That week this woman called up a silver smith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest in silver beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silver smith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot--then she thought again about the verse, that he sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.
She asked the silver smith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silver smith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?"
He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy--when I see my image in it."
If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has His eye on you.
Author unknown

Saturday, December 7, 2013

[hope for a better world]

"Every one of us has times when we need to know things will get better. Moroni spoke of it in the Book of Mormon as “hope for a better world.” (Ether 12:4) For emotional health and spiritual stamina, everyone needs to be able to look forward to some respite, to something pleasant and renewing and hopeful, whether that blessing be near at hand or
 still some distance ahead. It is enough just to know we can get there, that however measured or far away, there is the promise of “good things to come.”

. . . This is precisely what the gospel of Jesus Christ offers us . . . There is help. There is happiness. There really is light at the end of the tunnel. It is the Light of the World, the Bright and Morning Star, the “light that is endless, that can never be darkened.” (see John 8:12; Rev 22:16; Mosiah 16:9) It is the very Son of God Himself. . . . To any who may be struggling to see that light and find that hope, I say: Hold on. Keep trying. God loves you. Things will improve. Christ comes to you in His “more excellent ministry” with a future of “better promises.”"

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

(1999, October) “An High Priest of Good Things to Come,” General
Conference. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

[ the temple square at Christmas ]

The temple square in Salt Lake City, Utah, is a magical place at Christmas. Thousands of lights in the trees, etc.

[ the Nativity ]

Story of Christmas - an infographic
Click to learn more about the story of Christmas.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

[October 2013 World Report]

The Church publishes these World Reports bi-annually. Sometimes it's depressing to watch the news. It seems that most of the news are about crime and negative things that happen in the world. I love watching these reports because they remind me that much good is done in the world too. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

[depression and other mental illnesses]

I LOVE Elder Holland! Love, love, love him! His talks have given me so much comfort throughout the years. Even before he was an Apostle, I read his book "However Long and Hard the Road", and it helped me so much to put life's struggles into perspective. If you, or anyone you know, are affected by depression or any other mental illness, this talk is "balm of Gilead to a wounded soul".

We as a society, have to stop placing negative stigmas on mental illness. Just like any other part of your body can get ill, so can your brain. So often people with mental illness suffer in silence. It has to stop. We need to offer our love and compassion to anyone who suffers mentally. Not judge them. It is a lonely illness.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

[You might be a good mother after all...]

LOVED this book!
This is what it says about the book:
"How are you doing as a mom? If you're like most of us, you base your assessment on appearances: how the children are behaving, the progress they're making, the evidences you see that they're moving forward. After all, as Matthew 7:17 tells us, "By their fruits ye shall know them."
But appearances can be deceiving, and they don't always tell us the whole story. As Emily Watts points out, most fruit isn't really very good until it's ripe - and "children are the slowest-ripening fruit there is." Using examples from the scriptures and her own life experiences, Emily will help you find the patience with yourself - and with your children - that you need to stay afloat on difficult mothering days. You'll laugh, you'll recognize your own challenges, and you'll feel the peace that comes from knowing that Heavenly Father is in charge and stands willing to help all along the way."

Couple of quotes from the book:

[consecrate all plus then some :)]

Loved this talk by President Uchtdorf at the last General Conference. So funny to think about all the things we do in the church. Voluntarily! Not a church for someone who just wants to hear a sermon and leave it at that. 

Once there was a man who dreamed that he was in a great hall where all the religions of the world were gathered. He realized that each religion had much that seemed desirable and worthy.
He met a nice couple who represented The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and asked, “What do you require of your members?”
We do not require anything,” they replied. “But the Lord asks that we consecrate all.”
The couple went on to explain about Church callings, home and visiting teaching, full-time missions, weekly family home evenings, temple work, welfare and humanitarian service, and assignments to teach.
“Do you pay your people for all the work they do?” the man asked.
“Oh, no,” the couple explained. “They offer their time freely.”
“Also,” the couple continued, “every six months our Church members spend a weekend attending or watching 10 hours of general conference.”
“Ten hours of people giving talks?” the man wondered.
“What about your weekly church services? How long are they?”
“Three hours, every Sunday!”
“Oh, my,” the man said. “Do members of your church actually do what you have said?”
“That and more. We haven’t even mentioned family history, youth camps, devotionals, scripture study, leadership training, youth activities, early-morning seminary, maintaining Church buildings, and of course there is the Lord’s law of health, the monthly fast to help the poor, and tithing.”
The man said, “Now I’m confused. Why would anyone want to join such a church?”
The couple smiled and said, “We thought you would never ask.”

Why Would Anyone Join Such a Church?

At a time when many churches throughout the world are experiencing significant decreases in numbers, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—though small in comparison with many others—is one of the fastest growing churches in the world. As of September 2013 the Church has more than 15 million members around the world.
There are many reasons for this, but may I offer a few?

The Savior’s Church

First, this Church was restored in our day by Jesus Christ Himself. Here you will find the authority to act in His name—to baptize for the remission of sins, to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost, and to seal on earth and in heaven.1
Those who join this Church love the Savior Jesus Christ and they wish to follow Him. They rejoice in the knowledge that God speaks to mankind again. When they receive sacred priesthood ordinances and make covenants with God, they can feel His power in their lives.2 When they enter the holy temple, they sense they are in His presence. When they read the holy scriptures3 and live the teachings of His prophets, they grow closer to the Savior they love so much.

An Active Faith

Another reason is because the Church provides opportunities for doing good.
Believing in God is commendable, but most people want to do more than listen to inspirational sermons or dream of their mansions above.4 They want to put their faith into practice. They want to roll up their sleeves and become engaged in this great cause.
And that is what happens when they join with us—they have many opportunities to transform their talents, compassion, and time into good works. Because we have no paid local clergy in our worldwide congregations, our members perform the work of ministry themselves. They are called by inspiration. Sometimes we volunteer; sometimes we are “volunteered.” We see assignments not as burdens but as opportunities to fulfill covenants we gladly make to serve God and His children.

Treasured Blessings

A third reason why people join the Church is because walking the path of discipleship leads to precious blessings.
We see baptism as the starting point in our journey of discipleship. Our daily walk with Jesus Christ leads to peace and purpose in this life and profound joy and eternal salvation in the world to come.
Those who follow this path faithfully avoid many of the pitfalls, sorrows, and regrets of life.
The poor in spirit and honest of heart find great treasures of knowledge here.
Those who suffer or grieve find healing here.
Those burdened with sin find forgiveness, liberty, and rest.

(This is only part of the talk. To read the full talk, click here)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

[What if all our prayers were answered?]

What would happen if all your prayers were answered? The whole plan of God would be annulled, that's what!

"Now, we find many people critical when a righteous person is killed, a young father or mother is taken from a family, or when violent deaths occur. Some people become bitter when oft-repeated prayers seem unanswered. Some lose faith and turn sour when solemn administrations by holy men seem to be ignored and no restoration seems to come from repeated prayer circles. But if all the sick were healed, if all the righteous were protected and the wicked destroyed, the whole program of the Father would be annulled and the basic principle of the gospel, free agency, would be ended.
If pain and sorrow and total punishment immediately followed the doing of evil, no soul would repeat a misdeed. If joy and peace and rewards were instantaneously given the doer of good, there could be no evil - all would do good and not because of the rightness of doing good. 
There would be no test of strength, no development of character, no growth of powers, no free agency, no Satanic controls.
Should all prayers be immediately answered according to our selfish desires and our limited understanding, then there would be little or no suffering, sorrow, disappointment, or even death; and if these were not, there would also be an absence of joy, success, resurrection, eternal life, and godhood."

Spencer W. Kimball, Improvement Era, March 1966

Once we understand God's plan for us, we will understand why there must be trials in this life and why He can't give us everything we want.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

[David & Goliath]

This is great! Makes you see the Biblical story of David & Goliath from a brand new perspective.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

[Yes, we are!]

Some people don't think that us Mormons (a nick name given to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) are Christians. To me that is so weird as being a Latter-Day Saint totally means following Christ, trying to live His gospel. They obviously don't understand what the Church is all about. Even the name of the church is The Church of JESUS CHRIST... Shouldn't that alone tell them that we are Christians?

I loved Elder Oaks' talk in last General Conference as it points out many ways we try to follow Christ. 
You can read the talk by clicking here.

(I don't know why but Blogger puts a blue tint to all my photos I download here. If I'll figure out how to prevent that, I will come and change these printables so they look right.)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

[such a great book!]

I can't praise this book enough! Love it! The chapter "Building Long-Term Relationships" blew my mind! Kind of what my soul has tried to tell me but there it was, black & white, explained so clearly!

Being a parent is the most joyful thing but it's also the hardest thing you'll ever do. I used to joke that babies should come with instruction manuals. Well, they sort of do! We don't have to listen to the world's experts and their changing views on the topic. We can turn to the scriptures to guide us in this great responsibility. Sure we can learn some great tips and techniques on raising a child from so called experts. But the scriptures point a higher, a better way. A more exalted way. 

My eyes have been opened to this better way. I just wish that I can remember all the lessons I learned from this book and put those lessons into practice in my own parenting. After reading this book, I will open my scriptures when I have a challenging question about parenting.

Here are just a couple of quotes from this book:

Monday, September 9, 2013

[get to know you page]

I made this for our Activity Days girls as we are starting a new season and there are new girls to get to know. I'm having the girls fill these out, then I'm taking a photo of them and attaching it to their page (see the space under the bird, that's for their photo). I will then copy everyone's page for each girl to keep. 

This is a JPG file. To use it, just click on the photo to enlarge it, then right click the photo and save it as a JPG file into your computer. You can then import the photo into Microsoft Word and print it out. Or you can right click it, click "copy" and then "paste" it into Microsoft Word and print it. 

Can be used for any Primary class.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

[worlds without number]

I just read an article in our church magazine, Ensign, that blew my mind! Whenever I look at nature or learn more about it, I am certain that God is real and that He created it all. Everything is so organized and perfect. There is no way that it all happened by accident and that there is no Lawgiver in the universe. This article was about the universe out there and how vast it is. I'll share quotes from it here but you can read the entire article by clicking here.

“… If there be bounds set to the heavens or to the seas, or to the dry land, or to the sun, moon, or stars—
“All the times of their revolutions, all the appointed days, months, and years, and … all their glories, laws, and set times, shall be revealed in the days of the dispensation of the fulness of times” (D&C 121:28, 30–31).
That promised knowledge is being revealed to us by faith, foremost in the revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith. It is also coming to us by study. (See D&C 88:118.) Astronomers, with the aid of powerful instruments, are helping us glimpse the extent of God’s dominions. While astrophysics in the future will surely be modified as more is learned of the universe, what we have learned so far is mind-boggling. And if anything is true of the research done over the past several decades, it is that the more we learn, the more incredible our view of God’s creations becomes.

Light travels at 186,282 miles (299,792 km) per second. As far as we can tell, nothing in the physical universe can go faster. Because light travels so fast, and because its speed is constant, we can use it to measure the incredible distances in the universe. Light from the sun takes only eight minutes to reach earth, which revolves around the sun at an average of 93 million miles (149.7 million km). A number of other planets and objects revolve around the sun. Circling the sun at the edge of this solar system is a cloud of small, icy objects. They are so far away that it takes seven hours for light from the sun to reach them. That is nothing compared with the distance to our nearest stellar neighbor. Light from Proxima Centauri travels more than four years to reach us. Light from the nearest galaxy, Andromeda, travels to us in about two million years. Because of the sheer size of the universe, astronomers commonly measure distances in light-years, so Andromeda is said to be two million light-years away.

Most stars are grouped into communities called galaxies. Our own, the Milky Way, is a medium-sized spiral galaxy more than 100 thousand light-years in diameter. It has between 200 and 400 billion stars. Yet it is only one of billions of galaxies—estimates range from 100 billion to 500 billion. The largest galaxy discovered so far has 100 trillion stars. All those stars come in a dazzling array of colors and sizes, some more than a thousand times larger than our own.
Together, all the galaxies in the visible universe contain an estimated 30 billion trillion stars. Yet that number may be a small fraction of all there are. Evidence suggests that we can see only about 5 percent of all there is (the rest is “dark matter” and “dark energy,” so called because it can’t be seen or detected directly by the instruments we have). The universe, in fact, may be infinite in size.
And God controls it all.

In recent years, with advanced telescopes and other instruments, scientists have begun to search not just for stars but also for planets around those stars. The number of planets discovered is growing rapidly. As of March 2013, the number surpassed 900, and some appeared to lie in the same habitable zone as our earth. The number of planets in our galaxy alone could easily be in the hundreds of billions. Considering that there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the visible universe, the number of planets is so large as to be incomprehensible—truly worlds without number (see Moses 1:33–35).

Friday, August 2, 2013

[Salt Lake City - temple square]

Some photos I took while we toured the temple square in Salt Lake City, Utah.

A miniature version of the Salt Lake temple shows you what it looks like inside.

If anyone wants to use some of these temple photos, feel free to do so. For personal use only!

Monday, July 29, 2013

[FHE handout - the great apostasy]

Here's the next handout to go with the Preach My Gospel manual. This goes with the topic "The Great Apostasy" on page 35. You can talk about the church Jesus organized while he was on earth. To find out what the foundation of the church was, you play "Hangman" (I prefer to draw a flower instead) to find the two words: priesthood and revelation. You can then talk about how Jesus called 12 apostles to lead his church. Jesus gave them authority (priesthood) to teach his gospel and to administer the ordinances correctly. Jesus gave them revelation how to lead the church the way he wanted it to be lead. Then you can talk about how the apostles were killed. There were no more priesthood on earth = no more revelation. People started to disagree about doctrine and teach the gospel in their own way. Etc. 

To use the handout, just right click on the first picture, save it as a JPG file into your computer, then insert the picture into a Microsoft Word document and print it out.