Thursday, December 29, 2011
Living the Abundant Life
President Thomas S. Monson
At the advent of a new year, I challenge Latter-day Saints everywhere to undertake a personal, diligent, significant quest for what I call the abundant life—a life filled with an abundance of success, goodness, and blessings. Just as we learned the ABCs in school, I offer my own ABCs to help us all gain the abundant life.
Have a Positive Attitude
A in my ABCs refers to attitude. William James, a pioneering American psychologist and philosopher, wrote, “The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”
So much in life depends on our attitude. The way we choose to see things and respond to others makes all the difference. To do the best we can and then to choose to be happy about our circumstances, whatever they may be, can bring peace and contentment.
Charles Swindoll—author, educator, and Christian pastor—said: “Attitude, to me, is more important than … the past, … than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.”
We can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. For maximum happiness, peace, and contentment, may we choose a positive attitude.
Believe in Yourself
B is for believe—in yourself, in those around you, and in eternal principles.
Be honest with yourself, with others, and with your Heavenly Father. One who was not honest with God until it was too late was Cardinal Wolsey who, according to Shakespeare, spent a long life in service to three sovereigns and enjoyed wealth and power. Finally, he was shorn of his power and possessions by an impatient king. Cardinal Wolsey cried:
Had I but served my God with half the zeal
I served my king, He would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies.
Thomas Fuller, an English churchman and historian who lived in the 17th century, penned this truth: “He does not believe that does not live according to his belief.”
Don’t limit yourself and don’t let others convince you that you are limited in what you can do. Believe in yourself and then live so as to reach your possibilities.
You can achieve what you believe you can. Trust and believe and have faith.
Face Challenges with Courage
C is for courage. Courage becomes a worthwhile and meaningful virtue when it is regarded not so much as a willingness to die manfully but as a determination to live decently.
Said the American essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide on, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.”
There will be times when you will be frightened and discouraged. You may feel that you are defeated. The odds of obtaining victory may appear overwhelming. At times you may feel like David trying to fight Goliath. But remember—David did win!
Courage is required to make an initial thrust toward one’s coveted goal, but even greater courage is called for when one stumbles and must make a second effort to achieve.
Have the determination to make the effort, the single-mindedness to work toward a worthy goal, and the courage not only to face the challenges that inevitably come but also to make a second effort, should such be required. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, “I’ll try again tomorrow.”
May we remember these ABCs as we begin our journey into the new year, cultivating a positive attitude, a belief that we can achieve our goals and resolutions, and the courage to face whatever challenges may come our way. Then the abundant life will be ours.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Winter is here and the snow has fallen. Are you and your car ready for the hazards that come with driving in the snow? There are a few items that you should have in your car during the winter that will make life much easier if an accident should happen to you or to the people around you this winter. Your needs may be different for around town trips vs. longer distances or for the type of vehicle you have or the number of people in your family. Below are some suggestions to get you thinking, but you should add or remove those things that will help you and your family. Make sure that you not only have these items in your car, but that you know how to use each of them.
- Ice scraper
- Jumper cable
- Flashlight (that works)
- Tow rope
- Tire chains
- First-aid kit
- Hand/foot warmers
- Sand/cat litter for traction
Have you gotten your vehicle winter-ready?
- Has your antifreeze and other fluids been checked?
- Do you need snow tires? Are your tires at the right pressure for winter?
- Do you keep your gas tank at least half full at all times in case you get stuck?
- Is your phone fully charged before you leave home and do you have all of the emergency numbers that you need?
Have you reviewed the rules of driving specific to winter?
- Four-wheel drive does not mean four-wheel stop. Your four-wheel drive vehicle will not stop quickly in icy conditions.
- Know your route. Don't go exploring, especially when a storm is brewing.
- Slow down in low visibility or whiteout conditions.
- Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
- Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface (wet, ice, sand).
- If you become snow-bound, stay with your vehicle. It provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Don't try to walk in a severe storm. It's easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.
- Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
- Make sure the exhaust pipe isn't clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment with the engine running.
- If possible run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill and to conserve gasoline.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
One way our influence for good can be felt is through Visiting Teaching. As we visit, teach, and pray over our sisters we learn to love them and their families. We can be a source of help, comfort, and friendship to them. Their lives and our lives are blessed and enlarged because of the assignment to "be their visiting teacher".
This month especially, we need to check on each other. Do any of your sister's have special needs? Are there sidewalks to be shoveled? Sisters feeling lonely or overwhelmed? Special concerns that the Relief Society President would like to know about?
The visiting teaching message reminds us that "our efforts as individuals and as Relief Societies need not be large and overwhelming, but they should be deliberate and consistent".
Don't worry if you don't have that cute little something to share with your visiting teaching sisters. But do make the time to visit and share a message and your friendship.
Make Room for the Lord
Before we can take Jesus as our companion, before we can follow Him as our guide, we must find Him. You ask, "How can we find Jesus?" I would like to suggest that, first of all, we need to make room for Him...
As I drive through the many parts of this land, as I see the homes of America, I note that most homes have a room for Mary, a room for John--bedrooms, eating rooms, play rooms, sewing rooms-- but I ask the fundamental question, "Is there room for the Son of Almighty God, our Savior, and our Redeemer?"
The invitation of the Lord is directed to each of us: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him" (Revelation 3:20).
...Make room for the Lord in your homes and in your hearts, and He will be a welcome companion. He will be by your side. He will teach you the way of truth".
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
One of my favorite pioneer stories is a story I heard in Martin's Cove several years ago. It is the story of the Mellor family, who crossed the Plains with the ill-fated Martin Handcart Company.
Sixteen-year-old Louisa Mellor Clark, oldest child of the family, recorded this incident in her journal:
“The first snowstorm left about two feet of snow on the ground, and we began to feel very nervous. We had to wade through more streams, and sometimes up to our waists, and when we got through our clothes would freeze on us until a great many gave up and many died, mostly old people. At last the snow got to be four and five feet deep and often we had to shovel a road before we could move. Thus our traveling was very slow and our provisions nearly gave out.
“Many times after that mother felt like giving up and quitting, but then she would remember how wonderful the Lord had been to spare her so many times, and offered a prayer of gratitude instead. So she went on her way rejoicing while walking the blood-stained path of snow.”
There are two things I love about this story: 1. The wonderful, kind way Heavenly Father answer the sincere prayer of a worried daughter and 2. The deep gratitude for blessings expressed by the family in the most difficult of times.
May your heart be full of gladness for your blessings this Thanksgiving season!
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011
As usual, your ward or branch Relief Society presidency will be distributing the new manual in 2012. In the meantime, the manual can be view online at lds.org here. You can even listen to the manual by clicking on the appropriate icon on the page.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
"Gratitude is a positive experience that comes from recognizing gifts or blessings and feeling thankful. It is also an attitude, a way of perceiving life, in which individuals are willing to acknowledge and receive the beneficial actions of others on their behalf. Gratitude is also a habit that can be cultivated, causing one to focus on the blessings of life."
Brother Worthen also points out that those who cultivate and practice gratitude feel less depressed or anxious, and more happiness, with a greater sense of well-being. They are also healthier, more forgiving, less envious, more generous, and more able to cope with adversity.
(Mar 2010 Ensign, "The Value of Experiencing and Expressing Gratitude")
See here and here and here for ideas we have shared in the past for cultivating and experiencing gratitude. It doesn't take a lot of effort, your plan may include quiet reflection or some activity or daily reminder to pause and count your blessings. You and your family can do something as simple as:
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Mix one package Pillsbury yellow cake mix according to package directions. Bake using the guidelines for your pan size (Lasagna pan size is best, measuring 10-1/2 X 14-3/4 inches.
One pint whipping cream, very chilled
One 8 oz package cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
Just whip this all together and chill. I promise, it will work!
Mix one package Danish Dessert - strawberry flavored - according to directions on box for pudding.
Rinse, hull and slice 1 pint fresh strawberries.
Assembling it all:
Spread cream topping on cooled cake. Arrange sliced strawberries over top of cream filling. Carefully spoon, then spread cooled Danish Dessert over the top. Chill until serving time.
1 quart chicken broth (no salt added)
1/4 cup butter
5 Tblsp flour
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
4 oz cream cheese
Melt butter in large skillet over medium high heat. Add flour, salt, garlic powder and thyme. Whisk until flour is lightly browned. Pour in the stock and whisk until thickened. A general rule of thumb is that when the gravy comes to a boil it has thickened as much as it's going to. Reduce heat to low. Add the cream cheese and let it soften, still gently whisking the gravy. When cream cheese is fully melted, whisk more vigorously to combine well. Serve hot.
Sweet and Sour Sauce - mild
I used Emeril Lagasse's recipe for Sweet and Sour Sauce. You can find the recipe here. It's a little over halfway down the page. The only modification is I left out the chili-garlic sauce so it would be mild. If you like it hot, do add that. :)
Thai Spicy Sweet and Sour Sauce
1 cup rice (or white) vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp chili-garlic sauce
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
Heat the vinegar and sugar in a saucepan on high heat for 3-4 minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Add soy sauce and salt and stir. Continue cooking at moderately high heat for 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens somewhat. Remove from the heat*. Add chili-garlic sauce and the garlic. Stir to blend and let cool. Serve.
*I actually cooked my sauce for a minute or two after I added the chili-garlic sauce and the garlic. This tempered that hot, raw garlic taste a bit.
Thai Peanut Sauce
5 oz roasted unsalted peanuts
4 cups unsweetened coconut milk
2 Tblsp red curry paste
2 Tblsp sugar
3 Tblsp lemon juice
3 tsp fish sauce
Blend or process the peanuts until they are fine meal. Reserve.
Heat half the coconut milk in a saucepan at high heat and add the red curry paste. Stir to dissolve and continue cooking at high heat for 10-12 minutes, until the oil from the coconut has risen to the surface.
Lower the heat to medium-high and add processed peanuts. Stir and add the rest of the coconut milk. Bring to bubbling boil. Lower heat to medium and add sugar, lemon juice, and fish sauce. Cook stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened somewhat and the oil has returned to the surface.
Take off the heat and let rest for a half hour. Stir to blend oil that has risen to the surface. It should be the consistency of thick cream. If thicker than that, add a cuople of tablespoons of water or coconut milk and blend.
The sauce can be served lukewarm or reheated to piping hot. Leftover sauce can be refrigerated (where it will solidify) and then reheated on a low heat, thinned down with some water or coconut milk. It can also be frozen and reheated another day the same way.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Soak your yarn or fabric in a solution of vinegar and water - 1/2 cup vinegar to 1 gallon of water - for about 30 minutes, pushing it down into the water to thoroughly saturate the fiber. Allow most of the water to drain off the yarn and pack it in one layer in the bottom of a rubber or plastic tub.
Place wrapped yarn in one layer in a steamer and steam for 30 minutes.
Rinse the yarn and hang it up to dry.
When your yarn is dry (1-2 days), you can twist it back into a skein for storage or wind it into a ball for immediate use. The skeins on the left were originally teal, and the ones on the right were a rather drab yellow.
Now as the weather is turning to fall, go find yourself something to love about the cold months ahead!
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
The General Relief Society Broadcast is September 24, 2011, at 6 p.m. You can watch it on the BYU channel or come to the church and watch the satelite broadcast with your sisters. If you come to the Billings East Stake Center (1640 Broadmoor Dr.), we will have a delicious dinner at 5 p.m. and the broadcast at 6. Hope to see you there!
See complete information about the broadcast here.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup citric acid*
Mix together and store in an air-tight container. It may clump up due to the citric acid, but no worries! Just scoop it out and use it anyway.
Use 1-2 tablespoons per load.
*Double the citric acid if you have really hard water (you'll notice a white film on your dishes if you need to do this). You can find this in the canning section of your grocery store or hardware store. You can substitute LemiShine or 10-15 packets of lemonade Koolaid (make sure it's regular and not presweetened). DO use lemonade and not other flavors, as they will stain your dishes.
Interesting facts about the ingredients
Washing soda - also called soda ash and sodium carbonate. You can find soda ash at swimming pool cleaning supply stores. It is also used as a mordant in tie dye (the mordant is what sets the color in the fiber so it won't bleed out). I found mine (washing soda) in the cleaning supplies section of a local hardware store.
Borax - also called sodium tetraborate.
Kosher salt - also called pickling salt. This is basically salt with no iodine.
I find it interesting that three of the four ingredients here are sodium. Anybody out there who studied chemistry and can tell me why?
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
My niece also recently posted a recipe on facebook that she uses to can pork. She calls it Chili Verde. She just opens a bottle and uses it as enchilada filling. How cool is that?!? Homemade taste, health benefits, and economy with store bought convenience!
3 lbs boneless pork – cubed
1 Tbsp oil
1 onion – chopped
6 cloves garlic –chopped
1 Tbsp fresh oregano
2 jalapeños – chopped
8 oz whole green chilies – chopped (I have used up to 4 whole chilies per batch)
3 c beef stock
Sautee onion, garlic, and jalapeños in the oil till onion melts. In a stock pot brown the pork with a splash of oil. Once it is browned on all sides add sautéed mixture. Add green chilies and beef stock. Bring to boil. Reduce to lowest setting and simmer, partially covered for 2 ½ hours. Add water if needed as it evaporates. Simmer till it reduces and pork easily breaks apart.
Process jars in small pints at 15 pounds of pressure for 1 hour and 15 min or 1 hour 30 min for quarts. When ready, open the jar and use as filling for tamales, enchiladas, tacos, salad, quesadillas or serve with beans and rice on the side. Amazing!
WHEN TO PRESSURE CAN
You should use a pressure canner whenever what you're preserving is low in acid. Fruit and tomatoes are high in acid and so can be done in a water bath canner. Always be sure to add all acid (lemon juice or vinegar) your recipe calls for. You can do vegetables in a water bath canner if they are pickled.
Things you can do in a pressuer canner:
You should take your pressure canner lid (they only need the lid) down to the County Extension Office once a year to have the pressure guage tested. You can also pick up charts of processing times for your elevation. They're phone number is 256-2828.
Here's a link to the chart on their website: (scroll down to pages 3 & 4 for processing times and elevation by county seat for Montana)
Here's a good one on canning meat, fish, and poultry:
Here's their page that has tons of useful home canning links:
Sunday, August 28, 2011
You might want to try these conversation starters taken from the game"Lets Chat".
* What is the nicest thing someone has done for you?
* What superhero would you be? What would your name be? Your super power?
* What was your most memorable toy?
* If you found $1000 on the street, what would you do with it?
* If you could have dinner with someone famous, who would it be?
* Are you a city or a country person?
* Do you remember your dreams? Any recently?
*What do you think was the best thing ever invented?
* What is your favorite holiday?
* What is your favorite school subject? Your least favorite?
* Do you have a lucky charm?
* What is the hardest thing you've ever had to do?
The list of dinner conversations can go on and on - and the conversations should go on and on.