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.