Archive | November 2013

Thankful Thursday – Happy Thanksgiving!!

On this Thanksgiving Day, I am grateful for . . .

  1. . . . my husband because he treats me well and is patient with me.
  2. . . . my son, N (11) because he is pleasant company.  He’s getting old enough now to have a real conversation with, and he is great to take along to the store.
  3. . . . my daughter, R (10) because she loves to serve people and see them be happy.  She’s been known to sneak around making beds and leave unsigned notes, as well as wash dishes just to be helpful (not all the time, of course, but when she is feeling particularly helpful :)).
  4. . . . my daughter, L (4) because she gives the best hugs.  I said to her today, “You give the best hugs,”  and she responded, “No, you give the best hugs!”  So, I guess while we are still trying to figure out who really does, I’ll just say that she’s super sweet (most of the time) and our family is lots happier with her part of it!

Reflections:

In 2010 our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson gave a talk titled “The Divine Gift of Gratitude.”  In it, he said:

This is a wonderful time to be on earth. While there is much that is wrong in the world today, there are many things that are right and good. There are marriages that make it, parents who love their children and sacrifice for them, friends who care about us and help us, teachers who teach. Our lives are blessed in countless ways.

We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues. Someone has said that “gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” 

My brothers and sisters, to express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!!  What are you thankful today?

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Thankful Thursday – I love to see the Temple!

I had the opportunity to go to the temple this past Saturday.  On the way home a friend was sharing with me that in Relief Society they had a lesson on temples, and the question was asked, “What blessings do you receive by going to the temple?”  Our conversation got me thinking, what blessings do I receive?  These are some of the things that I thought of:

  • A feeling of peace – I always feel so peaceful at the temple.  Even outside on the temple grounds!  I remember the first time I ever visited “Temple Square” in Utah.  I wasn’t able to go inside the temple at that point in my life, so I just walked around the grounds and visited all of the Visitor’s Centers.  I remember being in the stair-well of one Visitor Center and I noticed how peaceful I felt.  I thought it was interesting that I could feel that peaceful in a simple stairwell.  I’ve always felt that same way at every temple I’ve visited, whether inside or out.
  • Answers to prayers – Because of the peace that is always at the temple, it’s a great place to think and pray about challenges I’m having.  I seem to be able to think more clearly and understand what I need to do.
  • The opportunity to be reminded of the covenants I’ve made – In my church, we believe in making and keeping covenants with the Lord.  This is simply a two-way promise. We promise to do certain things (i.e. keep His commandments) and he promises us blessings in return.  Going to the temple reminds me of these covenants.
  • Being sealed to my family for eternity – When I was 12 years old, we had a special Family Home Evening at our house.  Our family was experiencing some challenges and we were meeting for the purpose of discussing solutions.  While explaining the situation to us kids, my dad said that our goal was to strive to be an “eternal family.”  Later that night I wrote about the meeting in my journal.  I felt  good when he said that, and I knew that being and “eternal family” was what I wanted.  On Saturday, I was able to see a family from my branch be sealed together.  It was a happy experience to be a part of!

One thing that my friend told me when she was talking about the Relief Society lesson was that it was a bit difficult for her to describe the blessings of the temple in words.  But, she said, “when you are there experiencing it, you just know”.  I feel the same way!

Here are some other things I’m grateful for from my trip to the temple.  I’m grateful for . . .

  1. . . . good friends.  I rode to and from the temple with friends from my branch, and I really enjoyed my visit with them!  I also saw other friends once I arrived, including the family that was sealed together.  And, I saw some that I haven’t seen in a while.  It was great to catch up with them!
  2. . . . cars and transportation.  I think we are fortunate to live at a time when we have such reliable and comfortable transportation.  We can visit so many places because of cars.  I’m glad that we had them to take us to the temple in a relatively short period of time.
  3. . . . our beautiful earth.  One friend was telling me about her and her husband’s trips to Germany (her husband is originally from there, so they visit when they can).  She described to me sitting outside of a church there on a bench, and looking out over the snow-covered mountains.  She said it was beautiful, and I believe her!  We have many, many beautiful places on our earth, and that makes me happy.

What are some blessings that you receive by going to the temple?

Some of my favorite red, orange, and green vegetables (and how I prepare them!)

One of my goals this month is to eat one serving of red, orange, or green vegetables every day.  So, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite foods in these groups, and a few ways that I like to prepare them.  Usually I choose the quickest option, but when I want variety, I’ll take the time required to prepare them a different way.

Apples (right now our family’s favorite apple is “honey-crisp,” but we eat all the kinds!)

  • whole
  • sliced (plain or dipped in peanut butter)
  • micro-baked (slice and put in microwave for about 1 minute; sprinkle cinnamon-sugar on top)

Pears

  • whole or sliced
  • diced, and cooked with butter, dried sage, and a little salt (then serve warm on a plate, sprinkled with some blue cheese) **this idea came from Sunset Magazine**

Cutie oranges

  • peel and eat.  yum!

Grapefruit

  • I used to simply cut my grapefruit in half, and eat it right out of it’s own “bowl.”  But then I had kids and realized that this was difficult for them to do.  So now I cut the segments out like method #1 shown here.  I do exactly as they show, except I place the fruit on the cutting board instead of in my hand, and I put the leftover membrane in my citrus juicer to squeeze out as much juice as I can.  **This is a little bit of work, but for me it’s worth it, because my kids (and I) love grapefruit!  And it packs well in their lunches this way (minus the juice).**

Sweet potatoes

Spinach

  • in smoothies
  • steamed briefly in the microwave or on stove-top (just enough to wilt it slightly), then with balsamic vinegar and blue cheese sprinkled on top (I learned this from a friend!)
  • raw, in salads
  • as a topping for some soups

Carrots

  • raw, dipped in ranch dressing.  Sometimes I make my own using this recipe.  (She doesn’t include salt, but I do add it to mine).
  • steamed or microwaved with butter, salt & pepper.  (This is my favorite way.  They are so naturally sweet!)

Broccoli

  • steamed or microwaved with butter, salt & pepper, and McCormick’s “Montreal chicken seasoning.”
  • sautéed with garlic and dried cranberries (added at the end)
  • broccoli salad (admittedly, this way of preparing the broccoli is not nearly as healthy as the others, but it is a fun salad to take to potlucks.  Most people really enjoy it!)  **my recipe is similar to this one, except that mine calls for just 1/3 c. sugar, half a red onion, and dried cranberries instead of raisins**
  • raw, dipped in ranch or added to salads

Acorn squash – once I bought one with a sticker on it with printed instructions on how to cook it.  Here they are:

  • micro-baked:  “Cut in half and remove seeds.  Cover with plastic wrap (I use waxed paper).  Cook on high 8 min or till tender.  Let set 5 min.  Flavor with butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, or dark syrup.
  • oven:  “Bake at 350 with cut side down in 1″ of water for 30 min or till tender.”

So, this is what I’m trying to eat every day this month.  Writing all of this out definitely makes me want to get in the kitchen and start preparing some of this yummy food!  How about you?  What are your favorite ways to prepare fresh fruits and vegetables?

My favorite exercises

This month I’ve been working on exercising more.  So, I thought it would be fun today to share what exercises I’m doing.  These are the videos that I own and use.  I can’t say how they compare to others that are on the market, but I like them all.  They add good variety to my workouts.

Exercise dvd's

I also like to go walking, do knee push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, knee bends, lunges, and lifting light weights.

I definitely like low impact, simple, basic exercises.  I used to enjoy running in High School, but after my knees started hurting, and after injuring my calf in an aerobic class in college, I switched over to low-impact.  And I’ve never looked back.  These are super effective without being hard on the joints!

*note: this post was updated on Mar 5, 2014.  The starred DVD’s were added to the list at that time.

Thankful Thursday – Today I’m grateful that I can serve others!

As I mentioned yesterday, today I want to give thanks for small things that I have been able to do this week for others.  Maybe this sounds odd, or like it is bragging.  But as I explained, we all have a need to feel that we contribute in some way, and recognizing the things that we do can actually be way of expressing gratitude for being needed by others.  Hopefully that makes sense, and with that in mind, today I am grateful that this week I was able to . . .

. . . write a letter to my son (as part of a church program) telling him good things I see in him.  When he read it, he really seemed happy about what I wrote and also about what his dad wrote.

. . . make dinner for a friend who just had a baby.

. . . do some laundry for my family.  It’s not glamorous, but it sure is important!

. . . listen to my sister talk out through some challenges on the phone.  She said she was feeling better at the end of our conversation.

And just because I’m feeling extra grateful, here are some things people have done for me this past week that I’m thankful for. . .

. . . the Stake Primary Presidency for planning a great Priesthood Preview meeting for my son.

. . . my friend, who watched my kids so I could go to Parent/Teacher conferences at school.

. . . my children’s teachers, who do such a great job at helping them with their education.

. . . my husband, who called from work on Tuesday to suggest that he go to Walmart and buy a pizza for dinner and a cheap Disney movie (“Gus”) so we could have a family pizza/movie night.  It was really fun for our family to do that on the spur of the moment like that!

So that’s my list.  What are you thankful for today?

There’s surely somewhere a lowly place . . .

Sometimes I am guilty of feeling like there are “important” and “less important” jobs at church.  I have been taught all of my life and believe in my heart that this way of thinking is not true.  Everything we do to serve is important.  However, when I’m actually participating at church, it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like others are more talented, smart, or capable than me, and therefore their contributions have more value than mine.  So, one day I was working on something with a group of people.  We all had our assignments and were doing them.  In the process, I began to feel the negative feelings that I described above.  So I said a silent prayer as to what I should do.  And then I thought of a verse in the hymn “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go:”

There’s surely somewhere a lowly place
In earth’s harvest fields so wide
Where I may labor through life’s short day
For Jesus, the Crucified.

After a moment of pondering these words, I thought of several “lowly” jobs that I had done that day and the good that was accomplished because I had done them.  And then I began to think in my mind, what other simple things could I do that others were not doing?  Who could I smile at or say something kind to?  Or what could I do to support what others were doing?  What errands could I run; what small jobs could I find?  After doing this, I felt happier!

I read a talk once by Howard W. Hunter that I love.  Among many other great things he said:

Not all of us are going to be like [Captain] Moroni, catching the acclaim of our colleagues all day every day. Most of us will be quiet, relatively unknown folks who come and go and do our work without fanfare. To those of you who may find that lonely or frightening or just unspectacular, I say, you are “no less serviceable” than the most spectacular of your associates. You, too, are part of God’s army.

At the end of his talk he quoted this poem:

Father, where shall I work today?”
And my love flowed warm and free.
Then He pointed out a tiny spot
And said, “Tend that for me.”
I answered quickly, “Oh no; not that!
Why, no one would ever see,
No matter how well my work was done;
Not that little place for me.”
And the word He spoke, it was not stern;
He answered me tenderly:
“Ah, little one, search that heart of thine.
Art thou working for them or for me?
Nazareth was a little place,
And so was Galilee.”

And so tomorrow, for “Thankful Thursday” I plan to give thanks for small, but good things that I’ve been able to do.  It’s wonderful to give thanks for the things others (and God) do for us.  But we also all have a need to know that the contributions we are making have value.  Making a list like this can be a great way to tell our own selves “thank you” and also to show gratitude towards God for giving us the ability and opportunity to make a positive difference for others.

So be thinking about the small, but good things that you’ve been able to do so that tomorrow, you can add yours to my list!

If It Ain’t Broke, Then Don’t Fix It

Last week I wrote that I started up a “private blog (you can read about that here).”  I also wrote that I’ve been writing for years (on paper) as a way to handle my stress.  Well, guess what I did?  I CHANGED MY MIND!  I wrote down several “posts” on my private blog.  But remember my details about how I could erase what I wanted and keep what I wanted?  I started trying to do just that, and began to over-analyze my writing.  I thought this would reduce my stress, but it actually caused me more.  I also found a few times when I wanted to write something down, that the computer was not available (just like I predicted!), and this caused me stress too.  So, it only took me a few days of trying this to realize that writing down my feelings on the computer was not going to be helpful to me in the goal of relieving my stress.

So, I did the equivalent of throwing my papers away, which for me always seems to feel good, and I went into the blog and DELETED everything.  Then I went into the “trash” and PERMANENTLY DELETED everything again.  Then I felt much better.

I realized that I was trying to “fix” or at the very least “improve” a system that was working just fine the way it was!  So now, the question is, what will I do with my private blog that I’ve started?  I hate to just let it sit there.  I read on an article from WordPress’s “The Daily Post” that it can be good to use a private blog as a way to try out different settings (i.e. backgrounds, widgets, etc).  So I think I”ll do that.  I may even ask my son if he wants to (and then tell me what he learned), since he enjoys stuff like that.

Now, as a side-note, I am completely aware that I do not have to announce to the world details about my private blog, but I am doing this for a reason.  In an upcoming post, I plan to talk about how I write in private.  I’ve learned a few things in my life about communication and “self-talk” as it relates to our emotions.  How we describe a situation (even to our own selves) makes a big difference in the way we feel, and I want to share what I’ve learned!  So, if your interested, be sure to check back!