Sunday, November 28, 2010

He Knows My Name

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am thankful for so many things. I am most thankful for a loving Heavenly Father that is willing to forgive us for our sins and mistakes. He knows my name and always is aware of me and my needs. I'm grateful for his promise to heal us through the atonement and grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

He Knows My Name

I have a Maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in his hands

I have a Father
He calls me His own
He'll never leave me
No matter where I go

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And He hears me when I call

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Lenore-Emerald

I hope everyone had an awesome Thanksgiving Day!
The winner of The Lenore-Emerald from Kelly's The Pink Elephant Shop is
Congrats to you. 

And everyone else can go back and check out some new items that Kelly posted and find great Christmas gifts! Thanks to everyone for participating in both giveaways. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Pioneer Heritage (And a Winner)

During November, we always think so much about what we're grateful for. I am very grateful for my own pioneer heritage. As far as we’ve been able to determine, we don’t have any ancestors who joined the church during the beginning years, but that doesn’t mean there are no pioneers in my family. My parents are both the first members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in their families (and the only ones) and they are our family’s pioneers.
I am so grateful that they accepted the gospel and were baptized. They raised me and my siblings with a knowledge of our Heavenly Father’s plan. I never doubted that my parents had/have a testimony. I am so thankful for this place.
The Los Angeles temple is where my parents were sealed a few years after their wedding, so it is where our eternal family started. It is a blessing to know I am sealed to them.
And despite my divorce, I am so thankful for my sealing in the Provo temple.
Because of my sealing years before we had children, my children are sealed to me and to their father. Attending the temple regularly had been one of my weaknesses, but no more. I love to go feel the peace and to contemplate the eternities I will enjoy with my family.  
While I was growing up and my parents and siblings and I were the only church members in the family, I didn’t get to hear testimonies from aunts and uncles, go to youth conference with cousins, or have my grandparents attend my baptism. But my children have their grandparents and aunts, uncles and cousins who are members because of the legacy of my parents. They have the examples of so many in their family. They get the blessing of having them attend their baptisms, primary programs, ordinations and someday attend their temple sealings.

“Many of our challenges are different from those faced by former pioneers but perhaps just as dangerous and surely as significant to our own salvation and the salvation of those who follow us. For example, as for life-threatening obstacles, the wolves that prowled around pioneer settlements were no more dangerous to their children than the drug dealers or pornographers who threaten our children. Similarly, the early pioneers’ physical hunger posed no greater threat to their well-being than the spiritual hunger experienced by many in our day. The children of earlier pioneers were required to do incredibly hard physical work to survive their environment. That was no greater challenge than many of our young people now face from the absence of hard work, which results in spiritually corrosive challenges to discipline, responsibility, and self-worth. Jesus taught: ‘And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell’ (Matt. 10:28).

“The foremost quality of our pioneers was faith. With faith in God, they did what every pioneer does—they stepped forward into the unknown: a new religion, a new land, a new way of doing things. With faith in their leaders and in one another, they stood fast against formidable opposition. When their leader said, ‘This is the right place,’ they trusted, and they stayed. When other leaders said, ‘Do it this way,’ they followed in faith.

“Two companion qualities evident in the lives of our pioneers, early and modern, are unselfishness and sacrifice. Our Utah pioneers excelled at putting ‘the general welfare and community goals over individual gain and personal ambition.’ That same quality is evident in the conversion stories of modern pioneers. Upon receiving a testimony of the truth of the restored gospel, they have unhesitatingly sacrificed all that was required to assure that its blessings will be available to their children and to generations unborn. Some have sold all their property to travel to a temple. Some have lost employment. Many have lost friends. Some have even lost parents and extended family, as new converts have been disowned for their faith. This must be the greatest sacrifice of all.”
Dallin H. Oaks, “Following the Pioneers,” Ensign, Nov 1997, 72

And onto the winner of the $65 CSN Stores gift certificate…..
Valerie from All the Pieces of Me
        (Go check out her recipes and get to know her and her family)
For everyone else who didn’t win this time, I’m hoping to do another CSN Stores giveaway in the future, so maybe next time! Congrats, Valerie!!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

German Chocolate Brownies

I've had this dilemma for years now. It's a serious one...I love the frosting on Geman Chocolate Cakes, but I don't like the cake. See how serious? Okay, not really, but I looooove the coconut/pecan topping. And now after all this time, I found the solution! And I found it at The Cutting Edge of Ordinary. It's a brownie with the same delish topping. Oh.So.Good!

Lisa actually made it with a brownie mix, so that's a time saver if you wanna do that. I don't buy brownie mixes so I used Chewy Cocoa Brownies that I like. (You gotta scroll down to find the recipe in that post.) I didn't use the chocolate topping with it, but next time I think I will for an extra layer of yummers. The recipe doesn't say to marble it, but Lisa's photos look like she did. I think I'll keep a little of the brownie batter to drop by spoonfuls on top of the coconutty topping and then marble it.
German Chocolate Brownies
1 pkg. (19 – 20 oz. size) brownie mix
¼ c. butter, cut into smaller pieces
4 oz. cream cheese
½ c. packed brown sugar
1 c. flaked coconut
1 c. pecans, coarsely chopped

Oven to 350º. Prepare brownie mix as directed on package for cake like brownies. Pour batter into greased 9x13 inch pan.

Place butter, and cream cheese in small saucepan and cook on medium heat until cream cheese is completely melted. Don’t worry if it looks a bit curdled, it will come together when you add in the remaining ingredients. Stir in the brown sugar and take the mixture off the heat. Add the coconut and pecans and mix well. Mixture will be thick. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture all over the top brownie batter.

Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes clean. Cool before devouring.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Trying to Walk on Water

I checked out the talk on CD "Walking on Water: When the Lord Asks the Impossible" by S. Michael Wilcox recently. This is not the first time I’ve listened to it, but I was so grateful to hear it again at this time in my life. I have listened to it 5 times in the last couple of weeks. There are so many gems in here that seemed just for me, but I know that we all could use them. I don’t want to spoil everything so I will leave a lot out, but want to share some of Brother Wilcox’s words with you (even though I’m sharing it out of order).

The very beginning of the CD talks about Peter walking on water  in Matthew 14  .
Brother Wilcox tells this story and then shows how each of us is given our own walk on water moments with our own unique challenges.

Peter saw Jesus walking on the water and Brother Wilcox says he was probably thinking,
“If my master does this, I want to do it too. If my master can do this and he invites me to do it, if he bids or asks me to do it, I can do it. I can walk on water…I can do even the impossible.”

When the Savior bids Peter to come unto him, Peter immediately leaves the boat and enters the water, apparently without hesitation. But then while he is walking, the winds become stronger and he starts to fear and begins to sink. He cries to the Lord to save him.

And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

I don’t picture the Savior saying this with anger or disappointment, but as encouragement, telling him that he didn’t need to fear because the Lord was there and he has the power to keep him up even when Peter didn’t. In that moment of fear, Peter had cried out. It is the same in my life. I feel like a few months ago, I was walking on water, although not by own power, but doubt started to creep in my mind. I had thought that I will somehow get through these hard classes and get a good job. I will some day have a job good enough to get a good house. I will somehow meet someone worthy to take me to the temple and be my eternal companion. Then I started looking around me and seeing how impossible those things seemed. I started sinking. I cried out, “Father, I cannot do this. Please don’t ask me to walk on water.”

We all have our own trials, and they change from time to time in our lives. Mine isn’t nearly as bad as many others. The beautiful thing for me and for you is that when the Lord bids us to walk on water, we don’t have to do it alone or with our own power. And if he is asking us to do it, he will help us.

Isaiah 40
28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

We do not have to rely on our own strength, our own stamina, our own ability. The Lord will take what we have and add his power if we believe.

“God will increase what we have, making it sufficient for whatever need we have. We see it again and again and again in the scriptures.”

Brother Wilcox gives the examples of the fishes and loaves, how Christ took the amount of food they had, and gave them what they needed and more. Then in the story of the widow in 2 Kings  who needed money to pay her creditors. The woman was given oil to fill all her vessels and those she had borrowed, so more than she needed. Our Heavenly Father will do the same for us. We may not be removed from our situation, but we can be given the strength we need and more.

“Time and time again we read in the scriptures of people who have needs that are not sufficient. Christ asks them to bring what they have. He’ll bless it. Multiply it and make it sufficient for the need and always beyond. God will strengthen us. He’ll give us eagle’s wings so we can fly, not only run, not only walk, but fly, mount up.”

One last topic that Brother Wilcox talked about that I’ll mention is fleeces. Recall how in Judges 6, an angel appears to Gideon to tell him he is to deliver Israel. Gideon asks the Lord to show him a sign so he is sure he is supposed to deliver Israel.

36 And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,
37 Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.
38 And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.
39 And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.
40 And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.

Brother Wilcox says that often Heavenly Father will give us a fleece, a way to see what Heavenly Father really wants us to do—a scripture we read that speaks to us, a General Conference talk that answers a question or maybe words of a local church leader.

“Our human need to find reassurance or validation or courage to face our walking on water challenges is not an invitation to engage in subtle sign seeking, rater a desire to interpret God’s will correctly, to advance in a manner he wishes, to increase confidence not so much in Him nor in his commands but in ourselves… Neither must we be afraid that our request for a fleece will be seen as a lack of faith or a sign of weakness or that the Lord will perceive it as sign-seeking.
"If I say, ‘Father, it is not a matter of seeing with the eyes before I move forward, nor one of comprehending with the mind though understanding would be helpful, but one of feeling with the heart. I’m not trying to do an end run around faith but there is comfort from feeling the water on my hand when I wring the fleece’.”

I am so grateful for words that uplift and encourage me. I’m grateful to know of the infinite love and patience of my Father and of the enabling power of the atonement. If you come across this CD, I hope you take the time to listen to it so it can uplift you also.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Pink Elephant Shop

Okay, I couldn't even wait a single day to post this next giveaway. I'll have both going on at the same time and you can enter both!

Kelly used to be in my ward (church congregation) and is now all grown up and has a husband and kids AND an etsy shop full of the coolest stuff ever--headbands, earrings and necklaces. She is so talented. I love that she loves buttons and uses them lots in her creations because I always think of her as "cute as a button". Stop by her etsy shop The Pink Elephant Shop. Kelly sent me this cute headband called The Anne just for me. Pretty, pretty! I wore it today and received many compliments.   
Kelly said she'd send me a headband for the giveaway and I was anxious to see which style she'd choose. This is called The Lenore. When I saw it, I couldn't believe it. It is so beautiful. AND it goes perfectly, I mean perfectly, with one of my shirts.
(I do wear a Half-Tee under it, just for the record.) But the Lenore is for one of you. So now I have that headband on my wish list, along with several others. Something fun about her items is that several of them are named after a movie character. This one below is The Mrs. Peacock, inspired by Mrs. Peacock from the movie "Clue".

And this one is The Alice-El Mondo Guerra (for those of you who watched Project Runway). Kelly explains that she named it The Alice "because I created it when I needed something sassy to where on a hot date to the opening of Tim Burton's 'Alice in Wonderland'." If you've seen the show, you can tell the fabric choice was inspired by Mondo!
So if you'd like to enter to win The Leonore-Emerald (along with some chocolate I'll throw in), please visit Kelly's etsy shop The Pink Elephant Shop and leave a comment telling me which one other item you'd choose for you or for a gift from all her pretty items. Tell me if you're a follower and you get an extra entry. The comments are welcome until midnight on November 23rd. I'll randomly choose a winner and post it soon after. Yay for fun giveaways!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

CSN Strikes Again

I am so excited! And you should be too. I have two, yep two, awesome giveaways for y'all. I'll do this first one today and the other super one later this week. So it'll pay to come back even if you've given up on me since I can't post often any more.

CSN Stores is letting me give one of you a gift certificate for $65 for whatever treasure you find just for you at their online stores. The hardest part? Deciding on what to get. They have such a variety of products like

        children's backpacks (really cute ones!),

Beautiful throws to snuggle inside.

Or maybe something Christmasy.

So just leave a comment here telling me one of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes. If you're a follower, let me know for another entry. This giveaway closes on November 22nd at midnight. Then I'll try to post the winner on the 23rd.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What Matters Most

Today’s post is about a subject that has been on my mind almost constantly the last few months. My children are my treasure and a special blessing in my life, and it also my responsibility to use my time and energy to teach, guide and learn from them. I have felt how great that responsibility is even before I had children and it scared me.

My freshman year at BYU, right out of high school, I was pre-med. I took two classes from Dr. Bloxham who was the pre-med advisor. In the classes, he taught how important our eternal relationships and callings are no matter what our career or hobbies were. He would tell us how after this life, we will no longer be doctors or dentists or whatever other profession, but we will always be father or mother, wife or husband.

“Brethren, when we stand before the Lord to be judged, will He look upon the positions we have held in the world or even in the Church? Do you suppose that titles we have had other than ‘husband,’ ‘father,’ or ‘priesthood holder’ will mean much to Him? Do you think He will care how packed our schedule was or how many important meetings we attended? Do you suppose that our success in filling our days with appointments will serve as an excuse for failure to spend time with our wife and family?

“The Lord judges so very differently from the way we do. He is pleased with the noble servant, not with the self-serving noble.”
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Ensign, November 2008, 54-55 
I heard something else at a funeral before I had children. A mother died and in the eulogies, they talked about how much time she dedicated to her volunteer work in several organizations. I heard one of her daughters, sitting not far from me, say something about how she had so much time to volunteer and no time for her children. I’m sure that part of that was her intense grief, but I still remember that. I have always tried to give my children lots of time, attention and love so they never feel that anything is more important to me than my family.

It is easy to say, “I love you” and “You are the most important thing in my life”, but it is not as easy to show it day after day by your choices. Can our children tell by what we do what is most important to us?

“As we seek to balance the demands for our time and attention, as we are forced to make hard decisions or sacrifice activities or service that may be important but not imperative we will come to recognize that we have lost nothing essential but rather have gained in terms of rediscovering inner peace.”
Dean L. Larsen, “ The Peaceable Things of the Kingdom,” BYU 1984-1985 Devotional and Fireside Speeches, pp72,74

Some of the quotes I will include here say “mother” and others say “father”, but I know that both are important to children and are a part of Heavenly Father’s plan.

"Children are an heritage of the Lord" (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.
Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.”
The Family: A Proclamation to the World

One of the hardest things about my situation is knowing that I will soon have be out of the house during many of the “crossroads”, which has been so important for me to be at—when my children get home from school, when they go to bed, when they leave for school, and way too soon when they go on dates and come home.
"Mothers in Zion, your God-given roles are so vital to your own exaltation and to the salvation and exaltation of your family. A child needs a mother more than all the things money can buy. Spending time with your children is the greatest gift of all. With love in my heart for the mothers in Zion, I would now like to suggest ten specific ways our mothers may spend effective time with their children.

"Be at the crossroads. Take time to always be at the crossroads when your children are either coming or going.
Be a real friend. Read to your children. Pray with your children. Have weekly home evenings. Be together at mealtimes as often as possible. Read scriptures daily. Do things as a family. Teach your children. Truly love your children."
From an address given by President Ezra Taft Benson at a fireside for parents, Feb. 22, 1987, and reprinted in a Church pamphlet titled "To the Mothers in Zion".
I so admire mothers who work (single or married) and still find ways to do their most important calling and joy well. And I know there are stay-at-home mothers who don’t keep their family as a priority. It’s a challenge for us all. I am just worried about learning new ways to do it now that I have to study full-time and then work. I always want my children to see in my choices that they are eternally important to me.

“What matters most is what lasts longest, and our families are for eternity.”
Elder M. Russell Ballard, Conference Report, October 2005, 46

How can I find that balance? How can I do everything I need to do at school or work and in my callings and still give priority to my family? I obviously won't be called to be a bishop (like one of the quotes below mentions), but I could devote too much of my family time to my calling, whatever it may be, and it would not be pleasing to our Father.

“Even trying to do good and faithfully live gospel principles, especially amidst the challenges and complexities of modern society, can be carried to extremes and upset the delicate balance of our lives, painfully intruding upon our personal peace and family harmony.”

“Striking the proper balance is one of the keenest tests of our agency. Therefore, we need to ask regularly for inspiration in the use of our time and in the making of our daily decisions.”
Neal A. Maxwell, Notwithstanding My Weakness, p. 5

“It is imperative to personal peace and family harmony that we recognize that even our service in the church should never become a means of neglecting our more eternal personal and family responsibilities.”

“Satan doesn’t care whether you are in the bar or the bishop’s office if he can get you to neglect your family.”
J. Ballard Washburn, as quoted in Neal A. Maxwell, Notwithstanding My Weakness

I hope my children will someday see how I give them priority by making time, no matter what, for prayers, scripture study, fun time with them, time to sit and listen or talk, and know what is important to them.

"As parents and adult leaders of youth, we cannot expect our young people to take to heart the things the prophet says to them if we show a complacent attitude toward his counsel in our own lives."
M. Russell Ballard, "His Word Ye Shall Receive," Ensign, May 2001, 66

A large part of our responsibility is teaching our children about our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, their commandments and how we can obey them. Our children see what we do and notice when what we do doesn’t match what we teach. Anyone who has spent time with a child knows how eager they are to point out our shortcomings, even though, luckily, they are also quick to forgive. Will they think the words of our prophet and other leaders are important to us if we do not follow them ourselves? They do notice.

I know that I have to stay close to my Father and listen for the Spirit to guide me to know what I can do and how to do those things most essential, important and eternal with the energy and time I have. I was happy last week to have a teaching moment. I was tired and we were reading scriptures right before bed. After explaining something in one of the verses, Alex said, “Mom, you said you are tired. This would take a lot less time if you would stop commenting on every verse.” So I shared how important it is for us to understand the scriptures, not just quickly read them so we can get to sleep and that we will be blessed for our obedience. I don’t know if they will actually remember this, but I appreciated the opportunity to teach it. Then this morning Sabrina wanted to draw a picture to send to The Friend and was thinking about what to draw and quickly went to work. On the top of the picture she wrote, “Read your scriptures daily with your family”. I am glad that they have learned something from the time I take away from my studies for that which is of more worth, my children and my God. I hope to teach them so many more things in the short time I have them in my home.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Alex and Elisa were so eager for me to try out our new ice cream maker that I got from CSN Stores, but I was a little afraid. I know it's silly, but I've never used one before and wasn't sure how to use it. But it was so easy to use (and you don't have to add all that salt like in the old ones) and the ice cream was ready in less than an hour. I decided to make peanut butter ice cream from Baking and Boys! and throw in some Resee's Peanut Butter Cups. We loved it and I can't wait to make another flavor next.

In case you know that Sabrina is allergic to peanuts and think I'm such a mean mom to make something she can't eat, she doesn't like ice cream. I just got her a Kit Kat bar, her favorite, and she was very happy. But after seeing the ice cream maker work, she decided that next time I make another flavor without peanut butter, she'll try it to see if she likes it more than "regular" ice cream.
Peanut Butter Ice Cream

¾ c. smooth peanut butter
¾ c. plus 2 T. sugar
2 2/3 c. half-and-half
Pinch of salt
1/8 t. vanilla extract

Puree the peanut butter, sugar, half-and-half, salt, and vanilla in a blender or food processor until smooth. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Not So Long Locks Now

Sabrina has had very long hair for quite some time and I've been trying to convince her to cut it shorter. She doesn't like me to brush it or put it up so long hair wasn't fun. She finally decided she wanted it cut short and then it took me forever to take her to get her new do. I love it and I'm glad she does too.
She had a little more than 10 inches so she donated to Locks of Love. 
This is what Sabrina wrote about it.
I’m proud to donate to my hair people with cancer. I like my new hair better then my old hair. People say I look cute and its better to brush.(my parents.) I don’t like to have hair like Dora. I would just hate to have cancer like that so I donated. I didn’t agree at first but then I thought that I wouldn’t like to have my hair fall out. my hair feels kinda weird but I like it its cuuuuuuute.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Triple Chocolate Cookie Bars

I found these bars from Peggy at and followed the directions, but mine are very flat compared to the thick bars in her photo. I had to pat the thick dough into the pan and spread it out. I really think she used all of the batter/dough in a square pan. Either way, they are good. Sabrina said they taste like fudge bars. Simple and chocolatey! 

Triple Chocolate Cookie Bars
2 c. flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (Special Dark recommended)
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
3/4 c.granulated sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 c. butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. white chocolate chips

1 1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips

     Preheat the oven to 350º. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with non-stick foil.
     Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup and level off with the flat backside of a butter knife. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
     In a large bowl, cream together white sugar, brown sugar, and butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix until combined. Add flour mixture and beat until combined. Mixture will be very thick. Stir in white chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared baking pan, smoothing evenly to a uniform depth. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Do not over-bake.
     Spread semisweet chocolate chips evenly on top of hot cookie bars. Cover loosely with foil and let rest 5 minutes to let chocolate chips soften. Remove foil and spread soft chocolate with a spatula to frost cookie bars. Let rest about 4 hours or overnight at room temperature for topping to set.
Using the foil, lift the bar cookies out of the pan. Peel down the foil and cut into bars to serve.

Friday, November 5, 2010

4 Things That Will Wreck Your Life & 4 Truths That Will Save It

I know this blog is public so I have to debate with myself what I should and shouldn’t share here. I’ll just say that last week I was my absolute lowest that I’ve been and it didn’t feel like I could get out of it. I never doubted that my Heavenly Father is there and that He loves me. I just doubt my strength to continue on and my ability to do well enough at school to graduate and get a good job in something that interests me. I fear years and decades of loneliness.

So I “talked” to myself, trying to figure out what I could do to get out of this funk. I had been reading my scriptures, going to church, praying, going to the temple, not doing bad things or going bad places…, but I still felt bad. We know who wants us to feel worthless and alone. Lucifer. So I decided that it was war and I was going to bombard him with missiles. I started listening to church talks and books in the car (like I used to until a few months ago) instead of music. I am watching old conference addresses or devotionals on TV in the morning as I get ready instead of watching a silly show or the news. When my mind starts to wander to things that make me sad, I change my thoughts to what I am grateful for.

It was a combination of things (these changes, talking/emailing with family and friends, and other things, I’m sure), but I woke up one morning and just felt good again. I already know I’m not “all better”. This goes in cycles where I’ll be feeling good and then I’ll be so down again. But I’m glad I didn’t stay down.

One of the talks I listened to that helped me is 4 Things That Will Wreck Your Life & 4 Truths That Will Save It by Sheri Dew. I have listened to it before, but I went to the library determined to get something to listen to, no matter how many times I heard it. It has been a while since I heard it. I love hearing Sister Dew. I put it in and started down the road. I listened for a little while and noticed that she was telling the same stories that I’ve heard her tell in other talks and thought that maybe I wouldn’t get anything new out of it. WRONG! As I listened, I heard things now that touched me in a different way since I am in different circumstances. You can imagine what one of those things was if you know about Sheri Dew. She talked about how very difficult it has been to be single.
She said. “I have come to see the doctrine of the atonement largely as a doctrine of healing. We are healed of our sins when we repent, but we can be healed of our weaknesses. We can be healed of our broken hearts.”

She mentioned this scripture.

Luke 4:18The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised

And continued: “I felt captive in a life I hated, being unmarried. I still hate it. I hate everything about it. I would never have believed at 33 years old that it would have been possible for me to ever feel joy again unless the Lord gave me a husband. That’s a righteous desire. We’re not complete without each other. We just aren’t. Believe me, I’m aware of it, every day that I am not whole.”

Sister Dew talked about how the Lord can heal our broken hearts and the Lord can free us from feeling like our lives are a prison, whatever the circumstance we find ourselves in.

I also appreciated the part of the talk where she asked us to consider:

Who are you influencing and what are you influencing them to do?
Who or what are you allowing to influence you?
From whom do you take your counsel? The Lord or the world?

I love how Sister Dew always talks about how much influence we as women (but men do too, of course) have over their family and friends and that we need to use that influence well. But this time I heard more about the part of being influenced and from whom we are taking counsel. Can we look at the world and say, “So many of them are doing it, so it’s okay if I do. Heavenly Father will understand.” Or even to look at members of the church and say the same thing. “I’m not the only member doing it, so it can’t be that bad.” WRONG! We all know that members are not perfect, but our Father is. He knows what we should do and we need to look to Him for guidance, not to others.

Sister Dew said this about Satan: “What he loves to do is to get us to look to the world to tell us who we are.” You know that if I look to the media and the world (and even some individuals), that the only message I’m going to get is that I’m not pretty enough, skinny enough, young enough, bubbly enough, rich enough… Satan doesn’t want us to be happy. He wants us to feel worthless. He wants me to feel worthless. That would be just the beginning of the road away from the celestial kingdom. How?

“There are certain things you would just never do once you know who you are.”

If I base my worth on how others see me and treat me, if I feel so very alone, I will lower my standards to meet those of others who might give me attention and “love” that I need instead of looking to the Lord.

Sister Dew quoted Elder Holland, speaking to a group of missionaries,

“Why is life so hard? Why is missionary work so hard? Salvation is not a cheap experience and it was never meant to be easy. Let us not worry about why it is so hard. Accept our difficulties. Count it a privilege to suffer and be discomforted, because in some small way you are sharing in our Savior’s experience.”

The final topic I’ll bring up is that nothing in the world that is taking place has taken our Father by surprise. Sister Dew was talking about what is happening in the world in these latter days. But I immediately thought of it on a personal level. Nothing that happens in my life is a surprise to my Father, even when it is a surprise to me. He has helped prepare me to live through it. He is here with me and will not abandon me. He can help me strengthen my many weaknesses. He can help me feel His love and my worth that I struggle to feel at times.

Blueberry Cheesecake Crumb Cake

Bursting blueberries in every bite! I made this coffee cake that I found on  Oh My Goodness Chocolate Desserts  (even though it's not a ...