Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving Photos

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving.
 The gratitude wall
 Hannah and Sarah
Sarah and Gregory hosted
It was a complete success
Gregory made a fabulous turkey
 Good job Gregory
One of Elisa's pies
Good job Elisa
Getting ready
I still like him
And I love being a Grandma
 Jim's parents
 Elisa and my Mom
Me and Elisa
Hannah and Emma
Wade and Nathan
Emma and Wade
Emma and her grandparents
Gregory and his tin whistle
Gregory and his sister Jocelyn
 Jocelyn and her husband Trevor
At Temple Square (Friday)
Girl's day out (Friday) (with Jessa too!)
We've been doing this since my girls were very little
It's just so much fun
We get pretty silly as we go along
Movie night with Ian and Jessa (Friday)

We had a fabulous couple of days!!!!

Yeah for Thanksgiving!!!

We missed Seth.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My Gratitude List

Being grateful to God for my blessings is very important to me. It's a private thing but today I want to write a little bit about it publicly.

For as long as I can remember, I have had a grateful heart. I believe strongly that my blessings come from God. I know He is not only my God but He is also my Father in Heaven. I believe I am literally His Spirit daughter. I believe I lived with Him before I was born and I believe that I will return to live with Him after I die. I know I have to qualify for that eternal blessing by keeping His commandments and staying true to the covenants I made with Him when I received the Holy ordinances He has offered me, such as baptism and temple ordinances. It's important to me to pray every day, and not just once. In my prayers, I express gratitude for my blessings.

In reality then, I express gratitude everyday. Sometimes I express gratitude more than once. Some of the sweetest prayers I have ever had have been during quiet times when I simply enumerate countless blessings I know God has given me. Those kinds of prayers humble me because it is impossible to name everything. The list is endless. Those prayers are long and when sincere gratitude is expressed, tears always flow.

I went to the temple yesterday. I wanted some quiet time to thank God for my blessings. I like that we set aside one day each year to remember to thank Him. Although I express gratitude daily, I like that we have a season of thanks and a day of thanks and remembrance. Instead of wanting anything, Thanksgiving is a day to stop and remember God and to thank Him for His multitude of kindnesses and tender mercies.

If someone wants to know who God is, a great way to start is by closing their eyes, bowing their head, and saying thank you to Him for His blessings. If someone doesn't know where to start, they simply need to keep their eyes closed for a minute or two until an idea comes to their mind. A joy in their life such as a spouse or a child or a sunset or a job or a day in nature are all things to be grateful for. Expressing thanks to God for them is a way to know that He exists. A peace will come to that person's heart that God, their Heavenly Father, heard their prayer and acknowledges it. Joy always follows expressions of gratitude.

In our family we have a Thanksgiving tradition of expressing gratitude. One is our gratitude wall. The other is our expressions of thanks as we circle through the guests at the Thanksgiving table seven times expressing thanks for our blessings. We set out seven pop corn kernels on each plate as tally markers.

Here is today's list. The problem is I have many, many more than seven but at least I will enumerate seven as a start.

  1. I am thankful for my new hip which allows me to function.
  2. I am thankful for my missionary son who willingly serves God.
  3. I am thankful for the love of my life, Jim.
  4. I am thankful for Elisa, Sarah, Emma, Ian, and Seth. They are eternal joys.
  5. I am thankful for two beautiful grandchildren!!!!!!!!
  6. I am thankful beyond words for the scriptures...the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. They are God's word and they fill my heart with joy.
  7. I am thankful for God's love and mercy manifest in so many ways in my life, most particularly, the gift of His Son Jesus Christ, my Savior.
Happy Thanksgiving. 


Monday, November 25, 2013

First Transfer

After six months in the same area, it appears Seth will be transferred this week. I loved his email home today. This is only part because I don't write the names or places of investigators or companions.

"Dear Mom,

It was an amazing week in our ward...I feel like I finally got to see the fruits of my labors here.The most touching thing was one of our investigators... We had been trying to get her to pray for a long time. She finally did it and she really felt the Spirit. It was such a blessing.

Transfers are on Wednesday. We got the phone call today though to let us know where we are going...I am going to miss [the ward I have been in. ] This will be my first time being transferred so it will take some time to adjust. 

We do have a Thanksgiving dinner [invitation]. I am going to be in the zone where my trainer is a zone leader... [The] ward has a car so I will be in a car again. Being on bike was good though....I lost about 10 pounds. 
I came down with some type of sickness yesterday, and I feel pretty sick, but hopefully that will go away pretty soon. I had the chills and all of that. I feel pretty bad. I really hope it doesn't last long.

It looks like we probably can Skype for Christmas, but I will let you know. 

(I asked Seth to send me his list of the seven things he is grateful for so we can include them in our Thanksgiving tradition when we eat dinner. Here is his list:)

Things I am grateful for:
1. The gospel of Jesus Christ and the times when I can really feel His love.
2. My family. I miss all of you.
3. The miracles that happened in [our area], particularly this week.
4. A Prophet on the Earth, who is the mouthpiece of God.
5. The Book of Mormon and the Bible. I have come to know both of them much better.
6. Good, inspiring, uplifting music
7. The opportunity to serve the Lord for 2 years on a mission.

Love, Elder Freeman"

It's a tender time when missionaries get transferred. They spend so much time laboring with all their heart and soul only to say goodbye leaving the people they labored amongst in the Lord's hands, as it should be, because they are His and the missionaries are simply His servants doing His will. 

God's speed Son. My prayers are ever with you.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Faces To Love

Sarah and Hannah
Sarah and Gregory and the kids
 Very nice.

All from a recent photo shoot. :)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How We Love Our Missionaries

One of Seth's good friends from our ward is serving a mission in Chile. They graduated high school together and they have been good friends for a long time. Her family sends me her emails home each week. I wanted to quote something from her email that is just so wonderful. A church leader visited their mission last week and paraphrasing what he said,  she said, "He talked about how the mission needs to change our whole life, and there is no turning back from this point. I´ve made the decision to serve a mission, and that means I made the decision to serve God for not only the rest of my life, but the rest of eternity. That´s a huge commitment for someone with only 19 years, but I know that I´m absolutely supposed to be here...I love this work, and I know I'm supposed to be here on the mission. Change is the biggest miracle this gospel has to offer, and being able to help other people receive this joy and peace in their lives makes me so happy. Christ lives and loves us more than we can comprehend, and that's what makes all the struggles of this life worth it."

Missions are wonderful opportunities for service and personal growth. I love watching how our missionaries grow. I feel the same way about my mission. There really was no turning back. I made a commitment to serve God then and I have had the opportunity and blessing of serving Him ever since.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

We Do Remember Mr. President

As many of us stop and contemplate the significance of remembering the Gettysburg Address given 150 years ago today, gratitude wells up in our hearts that our country was richly blessed with Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president. In this speech he said, "The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here..." Happily we can refute that as many honor him today by thinking about, reading, or reciting this important speech about the principles of our democracy, our fight for freedom, and the blessing of living in this land.

The Gettysburg Address

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal . Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Today I will contemplate these important words: "It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work." I will think about what President Lincoln had in mind for us when he admonished us to remember "this nation, under God" and the sacrifices of those who died that we might be a free, unified nation.

 Abraham Lincoln

Thank you Mr. President,
we do remember. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

An Unlikely Criminal

"It was good week here in [our] ward. We had a really inspiring zone meeting. I really felt the Spirit and wanted to have more obedience, diligence and reverence... The rest of the week also went well. We were able to do a service project with a less active man; he says he is really close to coming back to church... Tracting two hours a day has brought a lot of blessings. We were able to get many more contacts and new investigators and we were actually able to teach more this week. It is funny how that works. 

We were in a lesson last night with a very sweet family. I was sharing a gospel thought for the evening. All throughout church I was praying to feel the love of the Savior and sweetness of the gospel. As I was sharing the thought, seemingly for no reason, I started to have this wonderful feeling of love come over me. I was thankful to that family for having a wonderful spirit in their home and I was grateful to Heavenly Father for answering my prayer. I know that He is always mindful of us and loves us so much. I read a quote today from the prophet which talked about how His love is constant: That love never changes. … It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve [it]. It is simply always there.” ("We Never Walk Alone" Pres. Thomas S. Monson

Love, Elder Freeman

P.S. Funny story. Did I ever write about the cop that was called on us. Well we went into a different neighborhood and went into the home of an investigator and started teaching him. Half way through meeting with him, the same cop came to the door. :) The neighbors called the cops on us again! I have had them called on me twice out here." 
Seriously...does this look like the face of someone you would call the cops on? He's the kindest, most sweetest, gentlest person you would want to know. Maybe the cop just smiled and said, "You again?"

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Week Of Learning

I have learned a lot this week preparing my lesson. Preparation is important. It helps the teacher be able to adapt the lesson to the needs of the students and be able to adjust the order of the lesson as needed and add or delete concepts as the lesson moves along. I've been a teacher many years. It is something I love to do and I am grateful when I am blessed with the privilege of doing so. 

Sarah was in my lesson today. She snapped this picture of me from the corner of the room. As you can see, I wore purple. :) Several other sisters did as well adding to my gratitude for all the things I learned this week. I guess the teacher always learns the most, as they say.

Below is a copy of the handout I gave to the women in Relief Society of what I learned this week about Lydia. I think I will long remember her good example of Christian service and try to emulate it. I hope the women in my relief Society will remember it as well.
Teaching Relief Society

Seller of Purple
Acts 16: 13-15, 40 (AD 50) Paul was called to preach to Macedonia by vision. He went to Philippi. There was no synagogue there and no Christians. On the Sabbath, he located a place where people went to pray. It was by the river. There he found a group of women praying. Read the scripture.

Lydia was from Thyatira (Turkey) where purple was made. Purple was a symbol of political power. It was the color of the Roman elite. The emperor wore purple as a status symbol. Purple was associated with high social rank and wealth. The dye to make purple was made from the juice found in minute quantities of shellfish (mollusks). It took thousands of crustaceans to make a yard or two of purple cloth. Purple for the cloth was very expensive. 

Although Lydia was from Thyatira, she moved to Philippi. She was a business women. She was very wealthy. She routinely dealt with worldly things such as providing purple for the elite. She had a household…servants, etc. She was also a woman of God. God “opened her heart.” When she heard Paul and Silas preach, she accepted Christ and she and her household were baptized. So she was also a missionary. 

Lydia intreated Paul and Silas, servants of God, to stay in her home. She convinced them. After they had been beaten with many stripes, had their feet in stocks and imprisoned and then set free, they returned to her home and found comfort there. It was a place prepared by God for their comfort. She urged them to stay with her. In essence she said, “I want to serve, I want to give, I want to help, I want to ease your burden.” She dealt with the world, yet she served God.

The Philippians were good people who heard of Paul being in prison in Rome 10 years after he taught them the gospel. For many years they had sent him gifts and provisions when no one else would. They also sent him things in the prison in Rome to sustain him. He loved them. His letter to the Philippians written from the prison in Rome was a letter of love, counsel, and gratitude to them. He taught them the principles of Zion and told them that some had their names written in the book of life. Lydia was a Philippian.

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.” Phil 1:3,5

“…those women which laboured with me in the gospel…whose names are in the book of life.” Phil 4:3

For those of you who feel you have no gifts, nothing much to give to others and don’t know how to serve God and others sometimes…have “an open heart” like Lydia and let the Lord show you what you do have to give.  Lydia used what God gave her to be a blessing to others and to do good to/for them. She used her time and talents to help others. What DO YOU have to give to others? Lydia opened her heart and her home to serve Christ. How can your heart and your home be used to serve Christ? 

When you see purple…think of “the spirit of charity. Ask: What has God given me today that I can use to be a blessing in someone else’s life and do good to/for them?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Best Laid Plans

I've often said that my motto in life is "Go to Plan B." I learned a long time ago that if I am not flexible in my plans I experience unneeded stress. I've taught my children this concept and I know it has been helpful for them, for all of us really.

This morning I wondered what I could do to help someone today. I reviewed my lesson for Relief Society again thinking about the concepts I want to share related to the topic of doing good to others. One of the things I want to talk about is making sure we don't overlook those in our own homes. Sometimes people are willing to help strangers but don't consider the importance of always being kind at home. I am aware that sometimes spouses do not treat each other properly in their home yet are willing to put on a smile for others when they leave their home as if all is OK. It's always been important to me to treat my husband as well as I can. He does the same for me. We truly have a peaceful home and a happy marriage.

This morning I thought that I should do something for Jim. I usually try to do things for him but I rarely make his favorite dinner, hamburger gravy. It's his grandmother's recipe. I'm not very fond of it, that's why I don't make it often. It's basically cooked hamburger crumbles in a milky gravy poured over mashed potatoes. I decided first thing this morning that hamburger gravy for my husband would be my "purple" kindness for the day.

So much for Plan A.

At 4:00 I got a migraine. Ugh. It took me out for an hour. After an hour I decided I could function but I still did not feel great.

On to Plan B.

I figured I could at least boil up some red potatoes. Jim loves potatoes and we don't have them often. I thought baked breaded fish from the freezer would be much easier than hamburger gravy. So that's what I did. At least I told Jim what I meant to do for him.

That is a man who loves potatoes. I think he appreciated those at least. :)

So here's what I've learned this week as I get ready to teach this lesson tomorrow. This experiment of wearing purple everyday has worked. (Tomorrow I will write about Lydia). I've consider many, many possibilities of ways to help people on a daily basis. Really, there are so many things to choose from. There are opportunities to do good all around us. We just need conscience reminders sometimes, like my wearing purple. It doesn't matter if we do something FOR someone, or TO someone. The idea is to consciously think of others more than we think of ourselves.

I receieved a nice thank you note from the woman I brought soup to on Tuesday. She had called me from her doctors office that afternoon because she wanted clarification about the type of cream I suggested she use for her pain. I was glad she called because I dropped the soup and bread off at her door an hour before but there was no answer and no one answered the phone. I wanted to make sure she got it. She said in her thank you note that she called from the doctors office as she and her husband were getting ready to pay, leave, and go get take out because she couldn't face cooking. She said she was grateful for the soup and the thoughtfulness. I only write this because it solidifies in my mind the importance of acting on the thoughts that come to our minds to do something nice for someone else. I remember when she talked to me on Tuesday morning about her pain, I just thought to myself, "I bet she'd like some soup." I didn't know it would affect her the way it did. I'm glad it did. It's nice to know I helped a little.

I guess the lesson in all of this is that we are capable of helping others everyday thereby bringing happiness to them and us. It's a win-win all the way around.
Purple anyone?

Friday, November 15, 2013

What, No Soup?

I have more articles of purple clothing than I thought I had. I think I already said that. Yesterday I matched purple with gold. Today I matched it with a salmon/peach color just in case you're wondering. I even have different shades of purple.

Wearing purple this week has been making me think. I look at it and it makes me think of other people. I suppose that's a good thing. That's the idea I wanted to try out in my Relief Society class on Sunday.

I'll write that story about Lydia soon.

Today I worked for over an hour on Christmas gifts for two missionaries. It is something that took my time but it is something that fulfills my goal to do something good for others even if they won't get it for a month.

Wearing purple this week and thinking about it conscientiously has made me less selfish. That's a good thing. I'm not a selfish person by nature. I guess what I really mean is my thinking and actions are less self-centered... also good. :)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Gets Me Thinking

This has really been an interesting experience for me. It has me thinking more than I usually would about trying to do something thoughtful for someone else. I wondered today what I could do. I thought about Emma. She's a half hour drive from my house. I made her some soup and brought her a pineapple. I only stayed 15 minutes because I was busy getting ready for something I needed to attend this evening. I don't know if she liked the soup or not but it doesn't really matter. The thought came to me as I was going out the door, " I bet she'll like the visit more than she wants soup." It was an enjoyable visit no matter how short it was.

Tomorrow I need to do something that doesn't involve bringing soup to someone. And I need to find another something purple to wear. :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Today I Wore Purple...


My sister-in-law's 50th birthday was today. I thought it might be nice to surprise her with a cake in case her husband didn't make her one. Jim and I went to her work and lo and behold, not only did she have one, but her coworkers went all out to decorate her office as well. She seemed pleased and I  thought it was a way to spread a little sunshine. :)

What shall I do tomorrow?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Doing Good To Others

I teach Relief Society once a month. I am teaching this coming Sunday. I've been working on the lesson which is about doing good to others. It's been very interesting to prepare it. I've felt in my heart to share the New Testament story about Lydia, seller of purple. I've been learning a lot. I've decided to wear purple everyday this week to remind myself to think about others and see if there is anything I can do to help them as I think about and prepare my lesson. I have come to realize that I have a lot of purple things. :)
 Today I made some homemade soup for a woman I talked to this morning that told me she has chronic pain. She said it's hard to cook dinner sometimes. I looked at my purple shirt while I was sitting in the sun this afternoon on my deck and thought I should make her some soup. It will be an interesting experience this week as I wear purple everyday to see if I can remind myself to do something good for somebody else. Maybe as the week goes on, I will share what I have been learning about Lydia, seller of purple and how she fits in with my lesson.

Seth is sure working hard on his mission. Here's the end of yesterday's email:

"Along with all the good things that have been happening I realize that I can still do better. I feel a determination to work harder this week and do my best to achieve my goals. I can do more to give my best. I love the Lord and I am coming closer to Him. I am learning so much. We are doing our best to overcome opposition. I know that Christ lives, and that this is His church. I know that He loves us so much."
What a great son. :)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sound Advice

I got my haircut today. I've been going to the same person for the last 24 years. That's a lot of years of talking. :) She told me today something very simple she's always taught her children. She says they always repeat it back to her. She told me she's taught them, "If you want good things as an outcome, make good choices. If you want bad things as an outcome, make bad choices." Simple, yet profound. :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Once There Was A Snowman!

sort of. :)
First snow of the season!
Gone by tomorrow for sure. :)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Think To Thank

We had a lesson yesterday in Relief Society about remembering to thank God for our blessings. They called it "Think to Thank." It was a good lesson to ponder.

Seth sounds just fine. By the end of this month he will be out 6 months and Ian and Jessa have been married 6 months today. Where did that time go?

From Seth's email:

"It was a good week in our ward. We were very blessed to have more lessons with members present this week. The members are always willing to help; the hard part was getting investigators to set lessons with us...We were pretty sick for part of the week and my companion had a bike crash that really hurt his knee (he is fine now though, so don't worry) so we weren't able to get as much tracting in as we wanted to. Zone Conference is tomorrow, and we are super excited. It is going to be really good. We are also really excited for the holidays; we know that will be a good time in the south. I have been out for 5 months now. That is really weird...[The weather] has been looking gorgeous here. This morning we went for a walk, I can't believe how nice it was! It was cool, the leaves were changing colors, the birds were chirping. It was great. :)

I know that Christ Lives, and that He loves us perfectly. His is perfectly patient, and His grace is sufficient for however long the perfection process takes. I know that we can experience His love through doing the little things like praying sincerely, studying the scriptures, and worshiping at church. I am so grateful for all that He has given me. I have felt closer to Him than ever before out here and I am glad I have 19 more months to come even closer to Him."

We just need to seriously pray for Seth and his companion to stay upright on their bikes!