Friday, November 30, 2012

Refocusing my Brain

Now that I've got all the Thanksgiving posts finished up, I need to wrap my brain around this Minimalism of Christmas quest of mine.  I had a lovely commentor mention focusing on experiences rather than gifts which is exactly what I was thinking.  Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing with you my ideas, thoughts and experiences on the simplification and refocusing of a Christ filled Christmas.  I will also be participating with a group of bloggers on a Bloggers for Christmas link up.  (See the linky there on the right?)  Why don't you join us?

Have you noticed how the Book of Luke has exactly 24 chapters?  My first item of business in focusing more on Christ during Christmas will be a study of the book of Luke.  I will be reading one chapter a day up until and finishing on Christmas Eve.

What could be a more perfect read for the month of December?
**Tune in tomorrow for a free gift**

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Toaster Teens

I am blogging today at Pear Shaped Thoughts.  
Please join me and leave some comment ♥

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Thanksgiving Miracle Part 3

You can read Part 1 here
You can read Part 2 here

I’m sure we are all familiar with the Great Oprah Winfrey.  We may snicker and giggle about Oprah and her counsel for happy living, but her advice on Gratitude Journals was surely inspired.  As we thank our Heavenly Father verbally for our many gifts, is it not also appropriate to write them down, to journal them for later reflection?  There have been studies done on the effect of keeping gratitude lists or gratitude journals.  Studies have shown that those who keep lists have

  • A significant absence of stress and depression
  • They make better progress toward important goals
  • These people report high levels of energy and determination
  • They feel closer in their relationships and build stronger relationships
  • Feel an increase of happiness of more than 25% over those who do not list their gratitude's
I don’t know about you, but who doesn't want to live happier!  This gratitude thing is like the “Holy Grail” of happiness. 

In Luke Chapter 17 we read about Christ and the Ten Lepers.  We all know the story…Christ healed ten, but only one returned and gave thanks to the Savior.  What I find interesting is the Savior in verse 19 says “arise, go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole.”  Hadn't the Savior already healed the Leper?  I wonder if the Savior was referring to the healing balm of gratitude in this man’s heart.  His heart was healed.  Thomas S. Monson said of this, ”Through divine intervention those who were lepers were spared from a cruel, lingering death and given a new lease on life.  The expressed gratitude by one merited the Master's blessings; the ingratitude shown by the nine, His disappointment." End quote.  I don't know about you, but I don't want to disappoint my Savior.  

 Joseph B. Wirthlin goes on to say in his article Living in Thanksgiving Daily, “Those who live in thanksgiving daily, however, have a way of opening their eyes and seeing the wonders and beauties of this world as though seeing them for the first time.  I encourage you to look around you.  Notice the people you care about.  Notice the fragrance of the flowers and the song of the birds.  Notice and give thanks for the blue sky, the color of the leaves, and the white of the clouds.  Enjoy every sight, every smell, every taste, and every sound.  When we open our eyes and give thanks for the bountiful beauty of this life, we live in thanksgiving daily.” End quote.   

When the Lord went up to teach the people in what has been called the Sermon on the Mount.  After realizing that the multitude was 5,000 strong and that there were only a few loaves and fishes to feed them, the disciples became concerned.  But Christ, blessed the food and gave thanks, and it was enough.  Brothers and sisters, it was enough.  Thanksgiving precedes the miracle, and it will be enough!

I really love Psalms, in Psalms 69:30 & 32 it says “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving…The humble shall see this, and be glad; and your heart shall live that seek God.”  A thankful heart is a heart filled with God.  I’d like to close with the words of President Thomas S. Monson, “Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings but it also unlocks the doors of heaven.”  


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Thanksgiving Miracle Part 2

Read Part 1 here...

"Isaiah 11:6 says, “And a little child shall lead them…”  I am reminded of the prayers of my own children when they were young.  They would often say things like, “Thank you for our matchbox cars, for bugs, milkshakes and butterflies.”  Their young, innocent spirits still could recognize all the God given gifts in the world around them.  As an adult, I have found that my prayers of thanksgiving often become rote, maybe saying things like, “Thank you for our many blessings” but never actually spending the time naming them one by one.  Perhaps a meaningful mother’s prayer could include gratitude for the car noises her young son makes or for butterfly kisses from her daughter.  In the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, Ann reflects on an epiphany she has.  She is a farmers wife and a homeschooling mama.  She works all day long.  Standing before her 3rd sink of dishes of the day she is feeling tired and despondent.  In that moment, the sun reflects on the bubbles in the sink and she sees the rainbows and a display of bright colors.  She realizes that even in the mundane task of washing dishes that the Father blesses us and she gave thanks. 

Elder Wirthlin states that “Our minds have a marvelous capacity to notice the unusual.  However the opposite is true as well:  The more often we see the things around us-even the beautiful and wonderful things – the more they become invisible to us.  Because we see things so often, we see them less and less.”  End of quote.    Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, “The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life.” End of quote.  The opposite of Thanksgiving is ingratitude or apathy.  Apathy to our blessings creates greed, resentment, jealousy, covetous living, dissatisfaction, depression and as some prophets have said is a very serious sin.  Apathy is like a cancer eating away at our soul.  When we can’t open our eyes to our God given blessings, not expressing thanks, then we are living empty lives not filled with the capacity for true joy.  An Author wrote "Both abundance and lack of abundance exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities.  It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend...When we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that's present-love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us happiness-the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth." End of quote.   

Let us not forget to thank the Lord daily.  As a popular hymn tells us, “When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, count your many blessings name them one by one  and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.  Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?  Count your many blessings every doubt will fly, and you will be singing as the days go by.  When you look at others with their lands and gold, Think that Christ has promised you his wealth untold.  Count your many blessing money cannot buy, your reward in heaven nor your home on high.  So amid the conflict, whether great or small do not be discouraged, God is over all.  Count your many blessing, angels will attend, help and comfort gives you to your journey’s end. “ Alma 34:38 says “…Humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessing which he doth bestow upon you. “  The Lord makes us a promise in D&C 78:19 , “And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more.”
Some ways that we can show gratitude to our Heavenly Father besides the obvious Thanksgiving in prayer are.
  • Choosing not to complain
  • Being good stewards of our possisions and people
  • Writing Thank you notes and expressing gratitude to others
  • Enjoying the little moments and not letting them slip by unnoticed
  • And Making lists
To be continued....................

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Thanksgiving Miracle Part 1

I had to speak in church Sunday.  Now that in itself is a miracle, because I despise, no, HATE, public speaking.  The rapid heart bead, sweaty hands, shaky knees....yeah, it's not my thing.  But, I thought I would  share my thought with you that I shared on Sunday.  This will be a several part series, because, it is along, and if you have a little attention problem like me, then long posts are a deterrent.

"Between the Bible and the Book of Mormon, the word Thanks and it’s derivatives are mentioned approximately 340 times.  That would be Thank, Thanks, Thanked, Thanksgiving, Thanksgivings, thankful, thankfulness, thanking and thankworthy.  Clearly the Lord is trying to send a message to us on how important it is to Live in Thanksgiving Daily and surely this is a divine principle.   A little research into the word Thanksgiving revealed some interesting observations.  Thanksgiving comes from the Greek word Eucharisteo.  Eucharisteo is a word often associated with the last supper, communions or the sacrament.  The root word of Eucharisteo is Charis which means “Grace or favor”.  When we are thankful we are grateful for a favor or grace.  And a favor or grace from whom?  All favors or graces or blessings ultimately come from our Heavenly Father.  But, there is more.  The root word for Charis is Chara meaning joy.  When we fully are appreciative and thankful, we can live with more joy.  

We can learn as much as we can about the topic of Gratitude and Thanksgiving.  We can listen to or read talks and a book on it, but Thanksgiving is more than learning, it is acting.  Putting into action Thanksgiving, allows us to feel that gratitude all the way through to our heart.   Gordon B. Hinkley said, "When you walk with gratitude, you do not walk with arrogance and conceit and egotism, you walk with a spirit of thanksgiving that is becoming to you and will bless your lives." end of quote. 

In the last hours of Christ’s life he broke bread with his disciples and gave thanks.  He knew he was going to be crucified, but He still gave thanks.  If our Savior is our brother and mentor, the one we try to emulate in all we do, should we not give thanks continually?  When we partake of the Sacrament we do it in remembrance, and we are thankful.  Just as Christ expressed Thanksgiving that last night, we, too, express gratitude as we partake of the Sacrament.  We remember we thank and we partake of the atonement; the greatest gift ever given. 

The act of Thanksgiving or expressing gratitude is so important that our modern day prophets have reiterated it over and over.  “Be Grateful” was one of President Hinkley’s 6 B’s to the youth.  There is a whole section in For the Strengthof youth devoted to Gratitude.  We often hear of the importance of gratitude during General Conference.  Modern day scripture indicates that this being grateful and expressing Thanksgiving is not merely a suggestion but a commandment.  D&C 59:7 says, “Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things” But do we really do this?  If we are honest, my bet is that more than often we fail to thank the Father yet, expect so much more...."  

To be continued....

Read Part 2 Here
Read Part 3 Here

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Miguel's Missionary Moment

Date wise, I am behind in posting Miguel's letters...
Hence the letter and picture from Halloween. 

"So this week has been pretty fun other than wanting to kill my companion all the time. I just don't know how to deal with him, he is slow at everything and unmotivated and basically the complete opposite of me.  It is super tough to deal with. Sometimes I have to go into another room to pray just so I don't punch him and yell at him...ugh he is super difficult. I'm definitely learning how to deal with all kinds of people.  

I made good friends with Elder Bushaw he is an Elder in my district and he is a stud. Oh also this week I got to go to a haunted house that some members put on in their back yard.  It was super cool! He had all the kids from the word as actors so it was funny because they were like saying a bunch of stuff like "smite me with the word of God, Elders" It was super creepy. I have pictures but Elder Bushaw took them because my new camera isn't working.

This week a less active lady we have been working with was sitting at home and had a prompting that she needed to come to church, and she came! Sister Davis is awesome! We had been praying for her all week! Well that's what happened this week! I'm out of money, but I think I have enough food. Well I read an awesome scripture this morning in Alma 58: 40, 
  • "But Behold they have received many wounds; nevertheless they stand fast in that liberty wherewith God has made them free; and they are strict to remember their Lord their God from day to day; yea, they do observe to keep His statutes, and His judgments,  and His commandments continually; and their faith is strong in the prophecies concerning that which is to come." 
Not all wounds are physical but spiritual also, and I know that I have been wounded spiritually at times. Staying steadfast in the commandments and faith can help you through all things."

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Shout Out

A dear blogging friend, Alene from Positively Alene, recently wrote a book called Graffiti that has just become available this week on Amazon.  While I can't review the book as I have not yet read it, I can tell you that she is an endearing, moving writer.  She currently has her book available for FREE on Amazon for download on your Kindle.  If you don't have a Kindle, then you can download the Kindle app to your computer or phone for reading.  It is my understanding that it is only available for the low price of FREE for one more day.  She only asks that you leave her a review when you are finished.  

**I was not compensated for my review.  Just giving a "shout out" for a friend**

Friday, November 23, 2012

It is Enough

As I sit in the warmth and comfort of my home, I am so grateful, today and everyday, because it is enough.  I am truly blessed.  Watching videos like the one below reminds me of the greed that is so prevalent in our society these days.  I'm not saying that shopping is bad, but look how these people treat each other to save $10, $15, $20 bucks.  No thank you, today is a "White Friday" for me, the opposite of "Black Friday".  Today I will be at home with my family enjoying each other's company and Thanksgiving leftovers.  May you be safe in your Black Friday endeavors.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Get Stuffed!

While you are beginning all your Thanksgiving preparation,
please take a few moment to visit Pear Shaped Thoughts 
where I have some inspiring words on Thanksgiving.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Enjoy Your Life

I came across this video and spiritual thought recently.  It is so important to enjoy the little moments in life, because they are those that make up who we are and what we will become.  They really do make up our life.  So much time is wasted while looking ahead to the future and not appreciating what is right in front of us in this very moment.  Often we waste time staring at a screen whether it is the computer, TV or phones.  Believe me, I do...As we look for ways to live in the moment with the ones we love, we are in turn serving the ones we love.  I believe time and love are some of the greatest acts of service and most definitely what I am truly grateful for.  I plan to unplug today.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Miguel's Missionary Moment

"Hey family and friends,
This week has been different.............  I really cannot relate to my new companion.   It's just weird. I guess I could explain him a little bit. He likes to read,  and that's all he really likes to do. I don't know how long I will be with him.  He is just hard to deal with.  He is a good Elder just really not someone I get a long with. Anyway my new area is pretty fun! It is bike area, so I get to ride my bike a ton. I like it a lot because a bike is a lot more fun then sitting in a car. Well not too much has happened I am going to be cutting it close on money this month..... ugh!  

So, anyway about the work...I hate it when people are all interested in the Gospel, and then will never talk to you again! This is such a big frustration.  But I do love the work it is really the most fun I have ever had.  I'm trying my best to be a great missionary but it is hard work.  I have never had my testimony strengthened so much. I have been really low and really high but I know that I am growing so much while being out here.  One piece of advice to anyone thinking about putting in your papers to become a missionary is be obedient.  It isn't worth it to be disobedient. To be a missionary,  the work is so hard but far more worth it than anything else. I'm so happy that I'm out here, it has been the hardest thing I have ever done and it is hard every day. But there hasn't been anything more worth it."

Alma 17:11 "...yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, 
that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, 
and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands 
unto the salvation of many souls."

Friday, November 16, 2012

Minimalism and Christmas

Last year, I gave a gift to a young girl on Christmas Eve, I was excited to see her open the small gift and the delight it might bring to her eyes.  I was informed by her mother that she would not be opening the gift until Christmas morning as she was trying to teach her daughter the "true" meaning of Christmas.  I was hurt to say the least.  I never saw her open the gift, I never knew if she liked it.  I really struggled with this "true" meaning of Christmas.  Is the true meaning a huge gift orgi on Christmas morning?  I don't think so...For me it is sharing love and happiness and joy with one another as we remember the Savior and the gifts He gave to us...

As Christmas is fast approaching I find my soul longing for a minimalist, more simple approach to the holidays.  This is something I have craved for a long time, but often holiday obligations have me overwhelmed and the desire to simplify just flies right out the window.  I have a new resolve this year as I struggle to truly focus on the Season.  Of course for me and my family our focus is on our Savior, Jesus Christ, and his birth.  Often the commercialism and overabundance of well meaning gifts seem to take away from the true meaning.  But, there are so many things that enhance this time of the year.  For me, family, music, smells, sights, food, movies and traditions all enhance the feeling that we often refer to as the "Spirit of Christmas".

I have been researching the topic of Minimalism and Simplifying Christmas this year.  I read a good article and plan to adopt some of these ideas.  My daughter and I have talked about this at length and she is excited to embark on this new adventure with me.  My dear husband is along for the ride.  (Have you noticed that the "Making" of Christmas tends to fall on the women?  Or is that just me?)

As I am still in the research phase, 
please share with me what things have worked for you 
in the past in order to minimize the commercialism and 
more fully embrace the spirit of our Savior in your celebrations.

Bloggers for Christmas

Amanda’s Books and More

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Taking Pause

More and more often I find myself needing to just take pause and be.  Does that make sense?  Our world is so busy and we are so busy, and often in that business, in the ever continual pursuit, we forget to take pause and just be happy.  Guillaume Apollinaire said:

 "Now and then it is good to pause 
in our pursuit of happiness and 
just be happy."  

Now, in all honesty, I don't know who Guillaume Apollinaire is, but I can totally concur with this observation.  I have found that as I  list and ponder on my many blessings in Thanksgiving I am taking a pause and finding my happy.  I find that this is a "Living Simply" approach to happiness.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Soup and Roll Days

As opposed to Rock and Roll Days, November, for me, is a time of Soup and Rolls.  Two very comforting and satisfying foods.  Enjoy some easy to make and highly delicious ideas for your own Soup and Rolls

Chicken Dump Soup

I had no recipe for this.  Just dumped in what I had, and it was delicious

Leftover Rotisserie Chicken
Egg Noodles
Chicken broth
frozen carrots
fresh rosemary
fresh basil
fresh garlic

Simmered and cooked together.

Cake Mix Dinner Rolls, These are a family favorite.  
Be ye therefore warned

2 1/2 cups warm water
2 pkgs (1/4 ounce/7 g each) yeast
1 package (18 1/4 ounces/517g) yellow or white cake mix
5 cups flour, approximately

1.  Pour the warm water into a large bowl, add the yeast and stir until dissolved.
2.  Blend in the cake mix.  Then mix in the flour until the dough is smooth. (use clean hands to mix and nead the dough.  Add more flour, if needed)
3.  Cover the bowl and put it in a warm place.  Let the dough rise for one hour, then punch it down.
4.  Spread the dough into a greased 10x15x1 " jelly-roll pan, cut the dough into squares, cover, and let rise until double in size.
5.  Bake at 350° F (175° C) for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Toaster Babies and Pear Shaped Thoughts

Today I am blogging over at Pear Shaped Thoughts.  
Please join me and support me as I blog about:

Monday, November 12, 2012

Do you stand out?

"Strength comes when you remember that you have a divine nature, an inheritance of infinite worth. The Lord has reminded you, your children, and your grandchildren that you are lawful heirs, that you have been reserved in heaven for your specific time and place to be born, to grow and become His standard bearers and covenant people. As you walk in the Lord’s path of righteousness, you will be blessed to continue in His goodness and be a light and a savior unto His people."
~Russell M. Nelson~

Do you stand out in a crowd?  
By the light in your eye do people know your are different?    

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thanksgiving Deco...

 I truly love to decorate for the season.  Simply, of course, but I feel it truly invites the spirit of the season.  On my little blogging break, I actually crafted something.  I made a fall banner.  I see a lot of them on pinterest and blogs, it was pretty simple, once I learned out to work my sewing machine.

I found the pattern and simple instructions here.  

I love printables, and I found this one for free here

I made these guys a long time ago at a church activity.  
I just really like their rustic flare.  

Do you enjoy decorating for Thanksgiving?  
What kind of things do you put out?

Thirty Handmade Days

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Living in Thanksgiving

I was recently asked to speak on Living in Thanksgiving Daily during Church services the Sunday after, well, Thanksgiving.  My husband often laughs at me and how far in advance I feel the need to prepare.  On Tuesday after voting, I felt very strongly that I needed to begin the process of writing down my speech.  I was overwhelmed with thoughts and ideas, and things just flowed onto the paper.  I have been re reading a beloved book from my bookshelf, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  It is so poignant to read at Thanksgiving time, and, quite frankly, any time.  Her prose and thoughts are inspirational and the Spirit flowed from my fingertips and onto my computer screen.  I was pleased with what I had accomplished but, not yet finished, I set it aside.

Later, the election results began pouring in over the air waves.  I sat riveted in suspense like a horror movie, and was brought to my knees in tears.  I don't want this to be a political post.  I do not hate Obama.  But, I am worried about the direction our bankrupting nation is going, the debt feels like a burden alone on my back...enslavement.  I am sad at how the morals of our society are falling and crumbling away.  People scream women's rights, but I never felt my rights were threatened.  What right?  The right to murder innocent babies?  The health care idea was a good one, but as it is being implemented, it is not.  My father has now been denied hip replacement surgery because, at 69, he has been deemed too old by the government.  A dear friend a 2 x open heart patient went to the pharmacy to have her heart meds refilled and was told, "sorry under the new Obamacare laws the government needs to approve this."  Three to 14 days without precious medication and depending on their answer...I know he said there are no "death panels", but there is someone deciding who is worth it and who isn't.  Yes, I cried.....I wonder what will be left for our children?  I went to bed with no hope, and "I thought to myself, "it's a good thing I wrote that piece today..."

I awoke with no hope, as well.  This is not me, I am always a glass half full, optimistic, look on the bright side  kind of person.  I didn't want to get out of bed, but my dear husband told me I had to, we still have a daughter.  Slowly, I trudged through the morning with my brain in a fog, not sure of the direction the Lord would want me to go...As I was driving to work, I thought to myself, "What would Ann do?"  Then before I finished that thought, I noticed the most spectacular sunrise...The kind that might take your breath away.  And there was my gift from the Father.  There is always hope through Him.  No one can take away all of my freedoms.  I am free to love and be loved.  I am free to choose happiness and I am free to follow Him.

***I was not compensated for mentioning the book One Thousand Gifts.
I just like the book and wanted to share my thoughts on it.***

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


I have not been able to stay away from my blog as long as I thought I could, because writing, and your comments, bring me joy.  Today I find myself thinking on the Word of the Year I chose back in January.  The word that would kind of frame my life for the last year and bring me purpose:  Simplify.

Although I may not have posted on this in a while, my quest for simplicity is still going strong.  Throughout the year I have genuinely engaged myself in the pursuit of simplicity.  I have gutted closets, garages, kitchen supplies, games, electronics.  eBay has become my good friend.  I have donated bags and bags of clothing and other items that were no longer needed to help the poor.  I've simplified my spending and my activities, as I've learned to quiet my heart and listen in the hush.

This word of the year of mine echoes through  my mind, my heart, my soul...Simplify...simplify....simplify.  As the year is soon drawing to a close, I don't think my pursuit of simplicity will end on December 31st.  It will be ongoing process for me, as I am in nowise perfect.  

Over my months of practicing SIMPLICITY, I have found several resources that have offered help and insight into how to create that simple life and simple home.

I Heart Organizing
Be More With Less - Life on Purpose
Becoming Minimalist
Loving Simple Living

Today I found myself purging my facebook account, simplifying and cutting down on people and pages that bring negativity into my life.   As I write this post, I hear the word of 2013 calling to me..........

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