Saturday, December 27, 2008

Link of the Week: gethuman database from Paul English

gethuman database from Paul English

Bookmark this site. It is a simple list of phone numbers to call and how to react to prompts to get through the automated phone systems of hundreds of US companies and actually talk to a human being. There is no advertising and is absolutely free.

Categories of companies listed include:
















Friday, December 19, 2008

Blog of the Week: Dr. Laura’s Blog » Blessings in Disguise

Dr. Laura’s Blog » Blessings in Disguise

I don't listen to Dr. Laura, but my sister sent me this article posted on the radio host's blog, and I thought it was very cool and you'd enjoy the read. It's good to hear people talk well of Mormons, but it's even better to see that some actually 'get' us as a people, if not our religion. Dr. Laura seems to be one. In speaking of the Welfare system of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, after touring the main facility, she explains the concepts of those in need donating whatever service they can in exchange for the help they receive:

The basic concept is to preserve a sense of dignity and pride in those who have temporary need by giving them an opportunity to use their skills in the service of others. Walking around the premises, I felt the uplifted attitude of all who were there: smiles, waves, and straight backs.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints provides for people all over the world – not only with goods and goodwill, but with the opportunity to not lose a sense of self when “things” are lost.

I probably sound like an advertisement for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I am not a member of their religion, but I am impressed with their charitable philosophy, because I believe it teaches our children their real value, while motivating and uplifting them at the same time.

This article also brings to mind an article in the February 2008 Ensign by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin. In 'A Band of Brothers', he states:

If someone were to ask you who we are as a people, what would you say? Who are we as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

The answer, I believe, is a simple one given to us by the Savior Himself. We are a people who love the Lord with all our hearts, souls, and minds. And we are a people who love our neighbor as ourselves. (See Matthew 22:37–39.)

This answer satisfies many of the questions asked about why we do what we do. Why does the Church ask so much of its members? Because we love the Lord, and we love our neighbor. Why do we do temple work? Missionary work? Welfare work? Because we love the Lord, and we love our neighbor.

These are the roots of all that we do. We do not send our missionaries out into the world to collect statistics. We send them into the world because we love our Heavenly Father, and we love our fellowmen.

That is who we are as a people. That is why we do what we do.

Especially at this Christmas season, when so many of us 'do what we do' in expressing our love for one another with gifts, caroling, parties, and help for the needy, let us remember why we do it. Let us make our love for our neighbors our gift to the Savior in celebration of His birth.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Food for Thought: Invisible Mothers

This one comes from Lucy Stern who thought it should be posted. Some of us have seen it before, but it's always a good reminder when we feel we're starting to fade into obscurity or have become entirely irrelevant.

Thanks for sending this, Lucy.

Invisible Mother.....

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'

Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more! Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this??

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please..'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude -but now, they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!?

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from
England . Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it t o me until I read her inscription: 'To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof, No one will ever see it. And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.

No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become. At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for 3 hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it here.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Great Job, MOM!

Share this with all the Invisible Moms you know... I just did. The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you. This is beautiful and makes a ton of sense. To all the wonderful mothers out there.
I am in much debt to my invisible Mother

Saturday, December 13, 2008

FYI: A Timely Exhibit in this Christmas Season

On KUHF yesterday, I heard about a new exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural History called 'the Birth of Christianity: a Jewish Story'. It features, among other things, a stone tablet newly discovered containing what they're calling 'Gabriel's Prophecy' in which the Angel Gabriel tells of the Messiah who will die and then rise from the dead after three days. The KUHF feature on the stone tablet can be found here.

From the Houston Museum of Natural History site:
Explore the cultural, political and personal events that shaped Jerusalem and the surrounding region more than 2,000 years ago in The Birth of Christianity: A Jewish Story. View the earliest known manuscript containing the story of Christ's birth in the oldest known copy of the New Testament Book of Luke. Examine other ancient manuscripts including the prophetic Old Testament Book of Isaiah - one of the original Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran. Witness history first hand and be among the first to view a host of other authentic artifacts from this fascinating time and place, which to this day remains one of the world's most important and influential cultural intersections.
The exhibit runs from December 13th through April 12th, so there's plenty of time to get down and see it. Museum hours and admission prices can be found at the site. I hope to make a family outing of our visit.

Food for Thought: The Gifts of the Three Wise Men


My mom is a teacher in Relief Society, and she is giving her lesson this next week. She sent us all a copy of her handout which is an interesting read, and I thought I'd share. It in some small way helps us comprehend how the Three Wise Men treasured and reverenced their King of Kings.

One personal observation: we traditionally think of the Three Kings or the Three Magi and envision them as great, powerful, and wealthy men---someone wealthy enough to shower such extravagances upon an obscure child born in a rural village of no consequence to the world at large. But, I like to think that since wisdom doesn't come only to those with wealth, perhaps these three travelers who came so far to kneel at the Christ child's feet were simply scholars well-versed in the scriptures and sure in their faith in God's promises. Perhaps they were as obscure as He. When one considers the costliness of their gifts in such a context, along with the perils of the journey they undertook to bestow them, their conviction of the birth of the Savior must have been powerful indeed.

The Gifts of the Three Wise Men
“Some Blessings can be counted by number naming them one by one! But, there is no way a number could measure our thanks for the gift of His wonderful Son.”

The three Wise men brought unique gifts for the new little King of Israel. Frankincense and Myrrh were treasured by Kings and Sovereigns and were more highly esteemed than gold. Two millennia ago, these precious resins were carried by Wise Men from the East traditionally called the Magi Kings who appeared in Jerusalem led by a shining new star in the heavens. The star went before them until it rested over the place where the young Christ Child lay. There the Magi presented the child with the most precious gifts known to the ancient world: Frankincense, Gold, and Myrrh.

The miracle of Frankincense and Myrrh: Frankincense originates from a legendary tree native to Southern Arabia-one whose scrubby and unpretentious appearance camouflaged the resinous treasure hidden in its bark. Called the “perfume of the gods” by the ancient Egyptians., both the Frankincense gum and essential oil were coveted by successive generations of Greeks, Romans, and Arabians. More than 3000 tons were exported each year for temple rituals, cosmetics, and to treat every conceivable ill.
“Myrrh: a darker, richer, earthier aromatic, was used to perfume the royal mummeries of Egypt and was one of the ingredients in the sacred anointing oil of the Israelites, as both incense and an oil, myrrh was prized by the ancients as medicine.

Gums and resins of these precious products were produced by: making scrapes, incisions or grooves into the trunk of the frankincense tree and the large branches of the myrrh shrub. In response to the wound, the plants produce a thick, protect-ant gum resin called tears. These droplets are collected by hand and allowed to harden into small golden hued beads. Only a few tons of Frankincense and myrrh are produced each year.

The precious metal Gold was used to decorated the temples in Israel and other countries. This gold may have been used to assist Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus as they were forced to journey to Egypt for the babes safety until the wicked King Herod died.

May you and yours have a joyful Christmas,
as you teach of Him and the blessed gift of Christ’s Love!
Love Sister Tarbet

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Link of the Week: 10 Things Science Says Will Make You Happy by Jen Angel

10 Things Science Says Will Make You Happy by Jen Angel

It has taken a team of scientists 'years' of research to discover that which has always been available to us through study of the scriptures and living the gospel, but this article from Yes! Magazine puts it all in a nutshell with non-secular leanings and so may be more easily accepted by others not of our faith.

be happy.jpg

In the last few years, psychologists and researchers have been digging up hard data on a question previously left to philosophers: What makes us happy? Researchers like the father-son team Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener, Stanford psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, and ethicist Stephen Post have studied people all over the world to find out how things like money, attitude, culture, memory, health, altruism, and our day-to-day habits affect our well-being. The emerging field of positive psychology is bursting with new findings that suggest your actions can have a significant effect on your happiness and satisfaction with life. Here are 10 scientifically proven strategies for getting happy:

Savor Everyday Moments

Pause now and then to smell a rose or watch children at play. Study participants who took time to “savor” ordinary events that they normally hurried through, or to think back on pleasant moments from their day, “showed significant increases in happiness and reductions in depression,” says psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky.

Avoid Comparisons

While keeping up with the Joneses is part of American culture, comparing ourselves with others can be damaging to happiness and self-esteem. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, focusing on our own personal achievement leads to greater satisfaction, according to Lyubomirsky.

Put Money Low on the List

People who put money high on their priority list are more at risk for depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, according to researchers Tim Kasser and Richard Ryan. Their findings hold true across nations and cultures. “The more we seek satisfactions in material goods, the less we find them there,” Ryan says. “The satisfaction has a short half-life—it’s very fleeting.” Money-seekers also score lower on tests of vitality and self-actualization.

Have Meaningful Goals

“People who strive for something significant, whether it’s learning a new craft or raising moral children, are far happier than those who don’t have strong dreams or aspirations,” say Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener. “As humans, we actually require a sense of meaning to thrive.” Harvard’s resident happiness professor, Tal Ben-Shahar, agrees, “Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable.”

Take Initiative at Work

How happy you are at work depends in part on how much initiative you take. Researcher Amy Wrzesniewski says that when we express creativity, help others, suggest improvements, or do additional tasks on the job, we make our work more rewarding and feel more in control.

Make Friends, Treasure Family

Happier people tend to have good families, friends, and supportive relationships, say Diener and Biswas-Diener. But it’s not enough to be the life of the party if you’re surrounded by shallow acquaintances. “We don’t just need relationships, we need close ones” that involve understanding and caring.

Smile Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

It sounds simple, but it works. “Happy people…see possibilities, opportunities, and success. When they think of the future, they are optimistic, and when they review the past, they tend to savor the high points,” say Diener and Biswas-Diener. Even if you weren’t born looking at the glass as half-full, with practice, a positive outlook can become a habit.

Say Thank You Like You Mean It

People who keep gratitude journals on a weekly basis are healthier, more optimistic, and more likely to make progress toward achieving personal goals, according to author Robert Emmons. Research by Martin Seligman, founder of positive psychology, revealed that people who write “gratitude letters” to someone who made a difference in their lives score higher on happiness, and lower on depression—and the effect lasts for weeks.

Get Out and Exercise

A Duke University study shows that exercise may be just as effective as drugs in treating depression, without all the side effects and expense. Other research shows that in addition to health benefits, regular exercise offers a sense of accomplishment and opportunity for social interaction, releases feel-good endorphins, and boosts self-esteem.

Give It Away, Give It Away Now!

Make altruism and giving part of your life, and be purposeful about it. Researcher Stephen Post says helping a neighbor, volunteering, or donating goods and services results in a “helper’s high,” and you get more health benefits than you would from exercise or quitting smoking. Listening to a friend, passing on your skills, celebrating others’ successes, and forgiveness also contribute to happiness, he says. Researcher Elizabeth Dunn found that those who spend money on others reported much greater happiness than those who spend it on themselves.

Friday, December 05, 2008

FYI: BYU Broadcasting | Joseph B. Wirthlin

BYU Broadcasting | Joseph B. Wirthlin

Elder Wirthlin's funeral is today, Friday, December 5th, at 12:00 pm Mountain Standard Time, but and BYU radio provide a variety of listening and viewing options. Here's the schedule, with links to the different outlets.

The live funeral will be aired at

Link of the Week: Rejoice and Be Merry

Here's to the Christmas Season! The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has many videos on YouTube to be enjoyed.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Upcoming Events

Dec. 6: Ward Party at the chapel. Dinner and a program will be held. Santa will make a visit.

Dec. 11: Quarterly Relief Society Enrichment 6:30 at the chapel. A pot-luck dinner, dessert and a "Christmas Program" will be held. A service project will also be completed. Child care will be available.

Dec. 18: Wrap and Chat Cookie Exchange 8pm at the chapel. Bring a few dozen cookies to exchange with others to make your gift plates even more desirable. Bring presents that need to be wrapped while you chat with friends.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Link of the Week: LDS Church News - Art missionaries help beautify temple interior

LDS Church News - Art missionaries help beautify temple interior

This article relates to professional artists who donate their time and talents to help beautify the temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are currently working on the Oquirrh Mountain Temple, but will continue with other temples which are being built around the world.

It's inspiring to contemplate the many ways members of the Church give of their time and talents to further the work and strengthen the Stakes of Zion.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Link of the Week: The Divine Institution of Marriage

In the face of the continuing animosity towards the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the victory of California's Proposition 8 which defines marriage as between one man and one woman, the issue has been discussed endlessly both between the members of the Church, as well as among those outside it. In the heat of debate, we Mormons, as individual members of the Church, may have floundered in our attempts to completely and/or clearly explain or define our own motivations, or the motivation of the Church to publicly endorse Proposition 8. We find that the volatile issue has increasingly greater impact on ourselves as we watch our most sacred places of worship vandalized and assaulted, as our members are denied their constitutional right to worship by militant members of the opposition, and the protests grow increasingly violent.

Or, perhaps, as a person sincerely wishing to understand a point of view which has unjustly been painted by the opposition as bigoted, hate-mongering and homophobic, the reader may have found their way here in their quest for answers.

In an attempt to provide the clarity that so many of us lack, I am posting here the official Church position on the divinity of marriage and why we as members feel so strongly about protecting it, which was released on August 13, 2008. The article is rather long but well-worth the read. I highly recommend it to both member and non-member alike.

Following is the introduction to the article:

The California Supreme Court recently ruled that same-sex marriage was legal in California. Recognizing the importance of marriage to society, the Church accepted an invitation to participate in ProtectMarriage, a coalition of churches, organizations, and individuals sponsoring a November ballot measure, Proposition 8, that would amend the California state constitution to ensure that only a marriage between a man and a woman would be legally recognized. (Information about the coalition can be found at

On June 20, 2008, the First Presidency of the Church distributed a letter about “Preserving Traditional Marriage and Strengthening Families,” announcing the Church’s participation with the coalition. The letter, which was read in Latter-day Saints’ church services in California, asked that Church members “do all [they] can to support the proposed constitutional amendment.”

Members of the Church in Arizona and Florida will also be voting on constitutional amendments regarding marriage in their states, where coalitions similar to California’s are now being formed.

The focus of the Church’s involvement is specifically same-sex marriage and its consequences. The Church does not object to rights (already established in California) regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the family or the constitutional rights of churches and their adherents to administer and practice their religion free from government interference.

The Church has a single, undeviating standard of sexual morality: intimate relations are proper only between a husband and a wife united in the bonds of matrimony.

The Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage neither constitutes nor condones any kind of hostility towards homosexual men and women. Protecting marriage between a man and a woman does not affect Church members’ Christian obligations of love, kindness and humanity toward all people.

As Church members decide their own appropriate level of involvement in protecting marriage between a man and a woman, they should approach this issue with respect for others, understanding, honesty, and civility.

Intending to reduce misunderstanding and ill will, the Church has produced the following document, “The Divine Institution of Marriage,” and provided the accompanying links to other materials, to explain its reasons for defending marriage between a man and a woman as an issue of moral imperative.

Again, I encourage all to read it, and thanks to Karen Parker for directing us to it in Relief Society.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Temple Day

This Thursday, the 20th, is our ward and Relief Society Temple Day. We will attend the 10am session. If you need a babysitter contact Kelly Swanson at 214-316-5148.

Hope you will all make plans to attend.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Cooking Club this Wednesday at April Lewis' house! She will be showing all how to make some luscious chocolates.

Please come!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Of Primary Importance: Sacrament Mtg Presentation

Sisters, After many good intentions, I'm finally getting around to using this wonderful communication tool.... Ike disrupted our lives in so many ways, not the least of which by cancelling our Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation in September.
In case you haven't heard, this special program has been re-scheduled for Sunday, October 26.
This coming Sunday, October 19, we'll be doing a straight run-through practice. Please help your child(ren) prepare by reviewing their speaking part and the songs. If they've been assigned a "talk", please make sure it's complete and ready to be presented.
As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns please contact me.
Aletha Bradley

Food for Thought: California Proposition 8

Most of us know that the Church has spoken out about Proposition 8 in California and has promoted active campaigning by the membership there. For those of you who really want to know what it is all about, and if you tend to doubt the 'scare tactics' promoted by its proponents, below is an article from the San Francisco Gate, a publication which caters to the gay/lesbian demographic, which demonstrates the future in California if Prop 8 fails to pass.

To quote from a parent whose child attended this wedding and found no reason for concern: "How many days in school are they going to remember?" asked parent Marc Lipsett. "This is a day they'll definitely remember." What they learn from that experience will affect them their entire lives.

Read article here

To learn more about the issue and how you can help, even if you don't live in California, visit

Protect Marriage

Please, share this with all your family and friends who live in California. Encourage them to educate themselves on the issue and then get out and VOTE!

To learn what Mormons believe about the eternal nature of families, see The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Link of the Week: Flight Aware

Here's an extremely useful link for travelers, and friends and family of travelers, and rather appropriate for me to post as I sit here drumming my fingers waiting for it to be time to go to the airport. Flight Aware, a free service, allows the user to track any flight anywhere in the United States and Canada. It offers up-to-the-second information.

Simply visit, and in the fields provided on the far left column (gray areas), enter in the required information. The site offers two different modes of tracking a flight: by the airplane number and the flight number, or by the airline and the flight number. All of this information is found on your ticket, e-ticket and/or itinerary.

For instance. Elder Freeman is traveling SkyWest on flight 1000A, in jet #DL 4006 from SLC to IAH. He is currently at 35,000 feet flying at 477 knots, has traveled 371 miles, with 827 miles to go. And, his flight is riding the wind and will arrive a few minutes early. Better alert the dad so we can be sure to be there when the son disembarks.

It also offers real-time Doppler satellite imagery so the user can see if the traveler will hit rough weather which may cause a delay, or worse still, a redirection. The bottom left gray field allows the user to review airport information such as weather, delays, alerts, security issues, etc.

This site was especially useful to us last Christmas when Dallas and Lynda got into bad weather, got redirected, and had to spend the night in Phoenix, Arizona. Keeping track of their many difficulties on Flight Aware was a lot easier than hoping that they'd eventually get where their cell phones would work and hopefully remember to call us.

So here it is. I hope it is found of use. Especially if you're pacing for someone in your family to come home after a two-year absence, you'll find this page a great stress reliever.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Preach My Gospel: Go Ye Therefore

Dear Sisters,

In her Conference address on Saturday, October 4, 2008, Sister Sylvia H. Allred, first counselor of the General Relief Society Presidency, spoke on missionary work and the great impact it can have in all of our lives. She offers us all a much needed nudge to improve in our own efforts. As so many of us realize, the dedication of one or two people can affect the futures and even the eternities of hundreds of people.

Sister Allred states:

Missionary work is the lifeblood of the Church. There is no greater work, no more important work. It blesses the lives of all those who participate in it. It will continue blessing future generations.

You might be asking yourself: How can I assist in missionary work? In what ways can I participate? There are two fundamental truths to keep in mind as you embark on the work. First, have a clear understanding that God loves all His children and desires their salvation. In Doctrine and Covenants 18:13 we read, “And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth.” Second, our message of Christ and His restored gospel is the most important gift you have to give.

As outlined in Preach My Gospel, missionary work is a four-fold endeavor: finding investigators, teaching and baptizing, fellowshipping new members, and fellowshipping and teaching less-active members.7 Every member of the Church—children, youth, and adults—can assist in any or all of these efforts.

Begin by being a good neighbor and a good friend. Set a example of righteousness and kindness. Let your smile radiate love, peace, and happiness. Live a gospel-centered life.

Then, be more specific in your missionary efforts. Let me suggest some ideas. You might find two or three that work for you:

  • If you have children at home, help prepare them for missionary service.
  • Prepare yourself for missionary service.
  • Invite family and friends to listen to the missionaries or to attend our Church meetings and activities.
  • Accompany the missionaries to investigators’ homes, or invite the missionaries to teach nonmembers in your home.
  • Invite people to a family home evening in your home.
  • Invite people to a family history center, or help them do family history research.
  • Give referrals to the missionaries. Members can be the greatest and best source of referrals.
  • Share your beliefs and testimony with nonmember friends and family.
  • Seek for opportunities to reach out to others.
  • Extend friendship to investigators and new converts.
  • Give your best efforts to finding those who are seeking the truth.
  • If you have family members or friends on missions, send them letters of love and encouragement, and pray for them.

You will experience joy in the fruits of your labor. A greater enthusiasm for missionary work will strengthen your entire ward or branch. The whole Church will feel the effects of your labor.

Follow the link to read the full article, or visit to watch the Conference broadcast, then consider how you might enlarge upon the opportunities the Lord has given you for more missionary experiences.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Link of the Week:

Once again, General Conference has been edifying, uplifting, and a pleasure in which to participate. On, you can experience it again and again. Simply go to the site, select "LDS Church Broadcasts" in the row of tabs below the view screen, then choose the program you wish to view. offers many programming options, including their live broadcast, the same programming available to those subscribed to Dish Network. The added advantage on the Internet is the ability to choose previous programs to watch at your leisure, not only General Conference.

Music and the Spoken Word is always enjoyable, but the program on Sunday, September 28, 2008, is particularly outstanding. The Orchestra on Temple Square performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, as well as two different excellent soloists. Both the message and the music are uplifting, their performance as professional as any could wish.

Take a half hour to treat yourself to this soul-soothing performance. Your family will be glad you did.

The Olde Oaks Country Fair

From Sister April Lewis:

We are hoping to call all the sisters, but I thought I would email, too. So please pass this info on to any Visiting Teachees, Visiting Teachers, friends, and/or neighbors just in case we don't get to call everyone.

Our postponed Enrichment meeting, "The Olde Oaks Country Fair", is this Thursday at 7 pm @ the Hafer road building (16331 Hafer Rd, HOUSTON,TEXAS ). We will be starting with a lesson in the Relief Society Room attached to the kitchen, then move into the Gym/Cultural hall for Dinner (baked Potatoes, salad, and toppings) and our "talent/stuff about you" tables and karaoke. If you feel so inclined, wear something suitable for an old time Country fair. We will have a lot of fun, and it will be more fun with you! Yes, you!

We will have homemade treats for those of you who make the effort to be on time. We will also have a children's class in the nursery, so please bring them if no one is available to watch them.

PLEASE BRING something that tells your sisters about you. I know you are all extremely talented and interesting women, so let us know some details about who you are and what you like to do by bringing something to show off (e.g. a book you love, your favorite shoes, a DVD/CD favorite, something you have sewn/cut/glued/hammered/scrapbooked/created in any way, and if none of those strike your fancy then -as President Uchtdorf suggested-, come and see how many smiles you can create!)

I apologize for any of you getting this twice as I am sending it to all of you in my address book, as well as the Olde Oaks Group.

Have a great day (and to help you on the way to that here is a quote from Pres. Uchtdorf's talk at Women's Conference last week)!

"Today I would like to speak to those who have ever felt inadequate, discouraged, or weary—in short, I would like to speak to all of us.

I also pray that the Holy Ghost will amplify my words and bestow upon them additional meaning, insight, and inspiration.

We know that sometimes it can be difficult to keep our heads above water. In fact, in our world of change, challenges, and checklists, sometimes it can seem nearly impossible to avoid feeling overwhelmed by emotions of suffering and sorrow.

I am not suggesting that we can simply flip a switch and stop the negative feelings that distress us. This isn’t a pep talk or an attempt to encourage those sinking in quicksand to imagine instead they are relaxing on a beach. I recognize that in all of our lives there are real concerns. I know there are hearts here today that harbor deep sorrows. Others wrestle with fears that trouble the soul. For some, loneliness is their secret trial.

These things are not insignificant.

However, I would like to speak about two principles that may help you find a path to peace, hope, and joy—even during times of trial and distress. I want to speak about God’s happiness and how each one of us can taste of it in spite of the burdens that beset us.

Let me first pose a question: What do you suppose is the greatest kind of happiness possible? For me, the answer to this question is, God’s happiness.

This leads to another question: What is our Heavenly Father’s happiness?

This may be impossible to answer because His ways are not our ways. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are [God’s] ways higher than [our] ways, and [His] thoughts [higher] than [our] thoughts.”1

Though we cannot understand “the meaning of all things,” we do “know that [God] loveth his children”2 because He has said, “Behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”3

Heavenly Father is able to accomplish these two great goals—the immortality and eternal life of man—because He is a God of creation and compassion. Creating and being compassionate are two objectives that contribute to our Heavenly Father’s perfect happiness. Creating and being compassionate are two activities that we as His spirit children can and should emulate."

I love this talk; if you were unfortunate enough to miss it, please watch it or read it online ASAP. Nothing beats Pres. Uchtdorf's delivery of it, but reading it brings new insights and inspiration also.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Link of the Week:

This is a really cool Church site (you'll recognize the look) where you can reference information about the various temples around the world, "featuring news, schedules, photographs, and interesting facts of the temples of the LDS Church."

The funnest page is that for the free downloads, which feature:
  • Mapping files in PDF (Adobe Reader), KML (Google Earth), and GPS coordinates (really cool if you have Garmand or other GPS devices in your vehicle). My favorite is the Google Earth feature which allows you to virtually tour the world and see the temples dot the face of the earth.
  • Temples Around the World slide show and screen saver. This feature includes all the operating temples and offers the options of playing the screen saver, downloading the screen saver software for your computer's offline use, and downloading the screen saver as a video which is suitable for presentations.
  • Individual screen savers featuring the Bountiful and Salt Lake Temples, with 'Inspiring Spires' and 'Temples at Twilight' coming soon.
  • Temple wallpaper galleries and slide show. Each individual temple is featured with anywhere from one to 129 photographs (Salt Lake, of course). The Houston Texas Temple has 20.
What a great resource and fun way to display images of the House of the Lord in our homes!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Preach My Gospel: True Ward Family

Dear Sisters,

I really appreciate all your open hearts and open hands in helping Elder Courtright get outfitted for his mission. Your generosity knows no bounds, and I am especially grateful to you for putting aside your own concerns with the whole Ike experience to help Matt get everything he requires on that endless less. I know how deeply he appreciates it, as he expressed to me on numerous occasions. He was totally stunned that we would consider him worth the effort.

If you would like to further support him, Elder Courtright's address for the next three weeks will be:

Elder Matthew Courtright
Denver Colorado North Mission
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604

Come November, his address will be:

Elder Matthew Courtright
Denver North Colorado Mission
11172 N Huron Ste 21
Northglenn, CO 80234

Again, thanks to all for your love and support.


Food for Thought: Behind the Scenes at the Relief Society Broadcast

Dear Sisters,

The following narrative came to me, as so many things do, forwarded through so many email in-boxes that the it is unattributable. However, that does not lessen the sincerity or testimony borne in its lines. I hope the sister who wrote them does not object to me sharing them more broadly, for "if there is anything virtuous, lovely, of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."


Behind the Scenes at Relief Society Broadcast

I received this email today from my friend whose daughter was in the choir for the Relief Society Broadcast. In light of the day I thought this was very uplifting.

Hello Family and Friends -

Well, I broke down and decided to send a quick email to let you know that the choir for the General Women's Broadcast tomorrow night was selected from my area and I am in it. I just had to share some things I have learned and felt during the last 7 weeks at rehearsals.

First, you will see that we are wearing white blouses. Some people have commented to me their surprise at the color choice (or lack thereof) but I have to tell you the story behind this. Sis. Beck, the General R.S. Pres., stopped into our practice one night as a surprise and she spoke for a few minutes. First, I cannot describe the feeling she brought with her, the power of the Holy Ghost as testified to us of the Lord's hand in this conference and her humble pleading for help in her talk. She said that as she has traveled the world, she has felt such a powerful need to communicate to the women worldwide, regardless or race, economics, etc. that we are sisters and ALL members of the LORD'S church - together. She said that she felt inspired to request that we wear white because everywhere she has gone, the women always show up in a white clean shirt somehow. She said she didn't know how it was possible in some areas to have anything clean let alone white - but they always come somehow in white, even if it is a tee-shirt, cleaned and turned inside out so the writing on it doesn't show. So, she wanted them to see the choir and know that they could be part of it regardless of money or situation. They also asked us to not wear jewelry (or very minimal) so that women who are not sure where the next meal is coming from don't feel such an economic division between Utah and them.

They have worked to prepare us spiritually as much as musically. From the first night, they have said, the music is secondary. The testimony of Jesus Christ is primary. It is only about Him and the sisters out there. From the second we started rehearsing, the Spirit has been tangible and present. Every time, I leave feeling changed inside. At our first rehearsal, they said that there wouldn't be any new or original special songs. They told us that the conference is translated into the various languages, except the music. The music is always in English. There are many versions of Hymnals in the world, but they don't have every song in them. In fact, there are only about 15-20 songs (if I remember correctly) common among them all. So, to unify the sisters again, they chose 4 of the songs that are in every hymnal, so even if they don't understand our language, they will know the song and feel it is their hymns and their Church.

The theme of the music is rejoicing and hope in the Savior. In light of world events of the recent days, I can't tell you the power and peace I feel when I practice these songs. I invite you to listen closely to the words of the songs. They have come to me with force I have rarely felt in music ~ for example: "His kingdom cannot fail. He rules over earth and heaven." When it seems that everyday something else is failing, His kingdom cannot fail. Or, "I would learn the Healer's art", "Find in Thee my strength my beacon", or just the simple phrase "Lift up your hearts! Lift up your voice! Rejoice again I say rejoice." I have felt things during this preparation time that I never dreamed of feeling or learning. So, I felt the spirit say as I was practicing tonight " 'Lift up your voice' and send some thoughts to those you love." So, here are my thoughts and my love for whomever of you needs them.

My testimony has never been stronger of Jesus Christ and his love for us. My favorite name for him is "Savior." I feel it in every fiber of my being. He will not fail us if we cleave to Him. It is a marvelous time to be on the earth and great things are happening in this Church! It is his kingdom we are a part of. It is a privilege to bear His name and to try to be like Him. It is worth fighting for and holding our standards high. When we had our dress rehearsal in the Conference Center, and the organ started playing HUGE, and sound pouring out of the pipes over us, and singing with all the feeling of our souls, my heart felt like it would explode! I never considered how intimately the Savior watches over the preparations of conference, but I testify He is in every detail, every plan, every element of it. It is His conference, His church, His world, His people, His Love, and I am so grateful for the chance to sing my testimony to you tomorrow night! I will have you in my mind and heart!

Blog of the Week: Hungry? A Place to Gather for Food


Here is another great recipe blog lots of great recipes and lots of other information useful in the kitchen. My niece, Kami Allen, is one of a number of participants, so the spectrum of recipes is broad and comprehensive, with an emphasis on eating healthy.

Here is a sample of one of the recipes she has posted:

Grilled Vegetable Salad

Grilled Vegetable Salad

A basic balsamic vinegar and olive oil combination does triple duty here, seasoning grilled vegetables, wilting baby spinach leaves and dressing this colorful warm-weather salad. Feel free to replace the asparagus with zucchini or yellow squash (just slice them in half before grilling) or to add a bell pepper or two to the mix. On the off chance that you have leftovers, they taste great in a veggie sandwich or tofu scramble the next day.

Ingredient List
Serves 4
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
6 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 Tbs.)
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed
2 medium-size portobello mushrooms, stems removed
1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch rings (about 2 cups)
6 cups baby spinach leaves, rinsed and dried

1. Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, parsley, basil and garlic in small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss sauce with asparagus, mushrooms and onion in shallow baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
2. Coat grill or grill pan with oil or nonstick cooking spray. Preheat to medium-high heat.
3. Place spinach in large serving bowl; set aside.
4. Drain asparagus mixture, reserving marinade. Grill vegetables 6 to 8 minutes, turning occasionally, or until tender and lightly charred. Transfer to cutting board. Cool 2 minutes, and cut into bite-size pieces.
5. Add grilled vegetables to spinach. Transfer reserved marinade to small saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat. Pour over salad mixture. Toss salad with hot marinade, using tongs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information
Per SERVING: Calories: 285, Protein: 5g, Total fat: 15g, Carbs: 21g, Cholesterol: mg, Sodium: 203mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugars: 8g

Source: Vegetarian Times

Weekly Update: Passing the Baton

It's been so long since I've done anything with this blog, one would think I've abandoned it, but I haven't. With the new RS presidency and my release from my calling as secretary, we've been trying to see where everything fits, and the transition process is still ongoing. I look forward to the time when others catch the vision of what I would like this blog to be: another means of enriching the lives of the sisters of the Olde Oak Ward, fostering communication and interaction, and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with any and all who may stumble upon it.

However, I am still the owner of the blog and I love the sisters of the Olde Oaks Ward, past and present. This has been my pet project from start, so although the only official content I post will be regarding my particular calling as dry pack specialist, I'm hoping to help keep it interesting enough for you to feel it worth your time.

Again, if you have any contributions to share or ideas on how we can make this site more pertinent to your lives, please let us know. Comment on the posts or email me or any of the Relief Society Presidency specifically. The more diversified our means of communicating, the more sisters we reach, the stronger the ties which bind us, and the greater opportunity for growth both personally and as a Relief Society are available to us.

But most of all, we preach of Christ, we testify of Christ, we rejoice in Christ and hope to share the good news that through Him salvation comes with all those who find their way here.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Food for Thought: A Message from the Houston Texas North Stake Presidency

With Hurricane Ike making a beeline toward us, Pres. Tolman sent this out to our stake. I thought it topical to us all and well worth sharing.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Randy Tolman
Date: Mon, Sep 8, 2008 at 8:34 PM
Subject: Message from Houston Texas North Stake Presidency

Note: Priesthood and Auxilliary leaders, please ensure your members that don't have email receive a copy. Thank you!

September 8, 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

During this hurricane season here on the Gulf Coast, our thoughts and attention are turned to the impending physical danger and potential destruction that seems to come at us in rapid succession. We are reminded of how powerful and unpredictable these threats are, and how powerless mankind is to change their course or stay their influence.

It is altogether appropriate to reflect at times like these, on the gospel principles that apply to the various seasons of our own lives and families. We are all spiritual sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves us and cares for us. He has revealed that we are here on this earth ?that we might have joy.? He created this world, complete with earth quakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, as well as bright sunny days and beautiful spring mornings. For Him, as it should be with us, all things are spiritual in nature. Floods and pestilence, heartache and joyful exhilaration, are all part of life?s great experiences that we looked forward to from our pre-mortal state.

There will always be storms in our lives that should strengthen us and turn our hearts to God.

It is our hope that all of us who are members of the Houston Texas North Stake will be ever vigilant in watching for, preparing for, and then enduring the various challenges in our lives. We want to remind you of the great blessing you have to receive revelation from the source of all truth and light, that of our Heavenly Father. We are each promised and entitled to personal revelation. Most often, that revelation comes to us as we keep our covenants, study, ponder and pray. There can be no substitute for diligent study of the scriptures. It is the key to this light. Our Heavenly Father will reach out to us and guide our paths and extend to us ample spiritual warnings through the gift of the Holy Ghost.

We are fortunate to live in an age of modern technology that can bless and warn us of impending dangers of all types (health, weather, safety, etc.) May we use all of the tools available to us and then look to Him to be the guiding beacon in our lives.

We express our love for each of you. We look forward to seeing you and sharing more about His doctrine at our Stake Conference, October 11 & 12.

Your Brethren,

President Randy Tolman
President Dennis Larsen
President Kent Chamberlain

Re: Matt's Missionary Shower

Web sites:

The table below is best viewed on the OORS Google group site, at Matt's table.  Ladies, if you have not already done so, you must create a password to access this site.  Gentlemen,  take it up with the RS.

I have also posted the table at  However, it doesn't quite translate into the formatting of the site, and I don't know enough HTML to fix it.  However, I'll keep it up so that people not on the mailing list (or on my contact list) can view it.

Again, if you want to contribute and are not yet on the list, contact me via or leave a comment on either one of the Relief Society sites.



On Mon, Sep 8, 2008 at 3:27 PM, Penny Freeman <> wrote:
Dear Friends:
    The following table includes the official list sent to Matt with his mission call (unless otherwise noted), and includes all those items/needs which have been pledged as of Monday, September 8, 2008.  Please review the whole table carefully to ensure I have not omitted your pledge or assigned you something for which you have not volunteered.
    Matt really appreciates your generosity and desire to help him get out on his mission.  Thanks so much for helping him feel he matters to us.  Given the complicated calendar surrounding his departure date, we felt the best day left to us is Saturday, the 20th of September.  That's less than two weeks away.  Matt will be leaving for Utah in just under four weeks.  Also, I have yet to establish a venue, so if you're interested in having it at your place and/or would be willing to help with the refreshments, etc, please contact me.  As always, I can use all the help I can get!
    Finally, once you have made your purchase, please inform me so I can record it and not hassle later.  If you are not planning on attending the shower, just get your gift to me and we'll see Matt gets it.


Penny Freeman

Matt's Missionary Shower Sign-up Sheet

Matt's Measurements

           Neck:            15½"

           Sleeve:         32"

           Chest:           33"

           Waist:          35"

           Inseam:        31"

           General:       M-L


Saturday, Sept. 20th

(time & venue TBA)

Things to remember:

•This is the official list, except where noted. Double-check list to ensure accuracy.

Bookmarks lead to special instructions at the bottom of the chart.

Yellow-shaded rows indicate not further pledges required for that item

Green-shaded rows indicate the item has been purchased

•Contact Penny Freeman via email or by posting a comment on the web pages. The list is absolutely still open for any and all who wish to participate. Pledge and item (or change your choice) and I will update the list.

Shower is less than two weeks away. Please let me know as soon as you have purchased your pledge so I won't hound you needlessly.

Matt will make himself available to anyone who wishes to take him along for fittings, etc.


Ward Family:


2 suits (3 would be better)









8-10 white shirts (5-6 long-sleeved, 3-4 short-sleeved)















5-6 ties



           (a missionary can never have too many ties)




Del Papa





2-4 extra pair of slacks






1-2 belts

Bea Santana





8-10 pair of garments (missionary discount)



           (perhaps divide between regular & thermal)



2 pair shoes






1 shower sandals



1 pair water-resistant boots



8-10 pair of socks



           (perhaps divide between regular & thermal)



overcoat (with zip-out lining)



down jacket



good winter gloves of conservative appearance






ear bands



winter hat



1 pair pajamas



1 set baptismal clothing



Gym clothes: knee length shorts, t-shirts, supportive undergarments, tennis shoes, and socks






1 umbrella



1 package handkerchiefs



2 bath towels, hand towels, and wash clothes



2 twin-size sheets (flat)



2 pillow cases



1 small first aid kit: (may be donated seperately)









           fever reducer



           pain reliever



           antibiotic ointment



           anti-itch cream



           anti-fungal cream



           band aids



           hand sanitizer



           antibiotic cream



2-3 non-aerosol containers of mosquito repellent with 30% or more DEET

Necka Beck


moisturizing lotion for dry & chapped skin



lip balm with at least 30% SPF protection rating



3 tubes of sunscreen with at least 30% SPF






1 small sewing kit



1 shoe shine kit



1 wind up or battery alarm clock



1 laundry bag

Joe & Tena Jones


1 flashlight, batteries



1 inexpensive watch






Books: (unofficial)



True to the Faith



Jesus the Christ



Our heritage: A Brief History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints



Our Search for Happiness



Detailed instructions:

Suits: Tailored suited should be in dark, conservative colors (black, dark brown, dark gray, or dark blue), made of fabric that does not wrinkle easily. Good affordable sources include J&G Men's Store (corner of Stuebner & Veteran's Memorial), (these are guaranteed to last two years), and Mr. Mac (in Utah) who offers discounted prices to missionaries, as well as carry two-pant suits. Visit their website for toll-free number to contact and place an order.

Ties: Ties should be conservative in color, pattern, width, and length. They should not contain pictures or caricatures. String or bow ties are unacceptable.

Slacks: The extra slacks are not specified in the official list. However, anyone with missionaries knows 2 pair for is not enough. They should be purchased at the same time or after the suits have been purchased to best match the suit coat.

Garments: Ideally, a missionary should have enough garments to get him from one P-day to the next. For complete coverage, Matt would need 7-8 pair of summer and 7-8 pair of winter garments.

Shoes: Conservative style, black or dark brown, durable, comfortable, sturdy, good arch support for lots of walking. (Dr. Martens went out and came back with all three of my boys. They are initially more expensive but do not have to be replaced). No sandals.

Boots: Conservative style, black, water-proof, durable, comfortable, sturdy, good arch support for lots of walking (should also look appropriate with Missionary appearance)

Socks: Conservative style, dark color to match the suit. Commentary: A person can get ten pair for $12 or spend $20-30 on a single pair. However, after Elder Freeman's experience last year, we know first hand the difference socks can make. Ideally, Matt should have thick, warm socks of high quality which wick the moisture away from his feet, as well as repel any incoming moisture. Especially if he is tromping out in the snow, he will need to change socks regularly to keep his feet dry and prevent problems with chafing, cracking, or fungus. Toe socks yield the very best results. It sounds trivial, but bad feet can lay up a missionary for days, or weeks, or even send him home. We are eternally grateful to Pres. Tolman and an anonymous family who did the research for Paul and purchased socks for him which allowed him to return to the field and remain trouble-free for over a year. Matt definitely needs quality footwear that will keep him on his feet.