Friday, February 18, 2011

From the Queen to the Princesses #3

My Darling Princesses,

I really hope I have not passed on to you my lack of being a party mom, but if I have, I am sorry!! My advice has nothing to do with planning a party cause I know nothing about that. I am not good at it, and I really have no desire to be good at it. I love that you kids choose the take a friend to do something option almost every year, even on your friend party option years. My advice has to do for preparing for your house to be invaded with friends when your kids do choose the party option on their odd years. Don't worry too much about how clean the house is!! As I was thinking about doing Aidan's party today, I kind of got into a "Let's get the house totally clean" mode. You kids did an awesome job helping get the house all picked up and Aidan even got the downstairs all vacuumed. But after you went to bed, I had plans to stay up late making sure everything was spic and span. And then it hit me, "Are you crazy? 12 kids in the house will only undo everything that has been done and they won't even notice if it wasn't done in the first place!" So, to save yourself the frustration I used to face, don't worry about scrubbing the kitchen floor. It is only going to get cake dropped on it, ice cream spilled, wet shoes run across it, and water spilled. All of those are not bad things; they are good things cause it means lots of happiness is happening in your house. But if you wait until the happy party is over to clean the floors, you will save yourself a lot of anxiety!! A quick sweep works just fine. Making sure the bathrooms are wiped down but not cloroxed is just fine. Yes, the house should be picked up, but don't stress yourself out. I find the time I put in to the cake is much more enjoyable to me than the time I would have spent cleaning. And, yes, the cake is gobbled up in minutes, but you kids seem to remember the fun cakes more than if the house was spotless before guests arrived.

I really hope all this advice is not needed. I hope you are faster at learning these things than me, but just in case you inherited too much of your mother (and I am sorry), maybe this will cut a few years off your learning curve.

I love you, my darling princesses!!

Love, the Queen,

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Last One!!!

My last child is potty training!! HURRAY!! If all continues to go well, I will never buy a box of diapers again...well at least for one of my children. I am sure there will be many baby gifts to come. Yesterday, Ashlee decided all on her own it was time. She has been going off and on, mostly #2 (yes, she is an odd child. Most struggle with that). But, I have to say that it is going pretty good so far. I have a feeling she will be my hardest when it comes to naps and bedtime potty training, but what's an occassional diaper here and there for that. I had forgotten how totally time consuming it is. Not much has been accomplished these last few days, but this is temporary. Plus, I have had a good excuse to browse the internet. What else is there to do when sitting in the bathroom forever as she pees a little, wipes, flushes, panties back on, just to say "I need to go potty more" and then repeat the process, sometimes 3 or 4 times. How in the world she can just shut things off and be done and seconds later turn it back on I will never figure out? But, I don't want her to change her mind, so I sit here...and sit here....and sit here. (Yes, we are on flush number 2 and time number 3 sitting as I type.) I really hope she continues to do well. Only 2 small accidents today. (Yes, I put a diaper on her to run to the store and at nap time and will at bedtime too. I really don't enjoy laundry that much!) It is crazy how many "lasts" we are experiencing, but it is a wonderful new step in our little family's life. With many "lasts" also comes many "firsts!"

(And yes, the older kids' friends are just having to get used to a naked, panty-wearing little girl following them around. That's just how it goes when you are running to the bathroom a lot during the day. Why deal with clothes?!)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

From the Queen to the Princesses #2

My darling princesses,

As I was getting ready this morning and it was 11:00 am, I was thinking about how the morning went nothing like I had planned. I am a planner, and I don't like to have my routine broken, but with 5 angels in the house I have had to adjust to non-routine type days. Today, Princess #3, was Princess Crabby Pants. Hence, my workout took way longer than planned. Bath time and getting ready took way longer and no laundry got started. But, I also thought back to how I used to react in years past on days like this and I used to get completely frustrated and became a crab which in turn affected how everyone else felt. No, I am not perfect and I still get crabby, but I am beginning to learn to take the advice my very wise mother gave me almost 11 years ago and I want to pass on to you. "THIS TOO SHALL PASS!"
She told me this when Aaron was a baby and was a pill at night. She told me this when Aidan would do anything to get attention as a little toddler and make mess after mess. She told me this when I was too weak to care for my own children. And guess what, she was RIGHT!! All those things have passed and I look back wondering where time has gone. So this morning, I reminded myself that this too shall pass and it will pass faster than I want. There will be a day when I know longer have anyone to interrupt my workouts or be here when I eat breakfast. There will be a day when Ashlee no longer empties all the pans from under the stove or scatters hair rubberbands down the hallway. In fact, I am already seeing so many "this too shall pass" things with Ashlee having gone away and she is only 2.

So, my darling princesses, please remember Grandma Linda's wise counsel of "this too shall pass" when you are completely frustrated, wonder if you will ever have a clean house again, wonder if you will ever sleep through the night again. are frustrated cause you don't have any "me" time, etc. Cause it will all end or happen way too fast. Sit back and enjoy the ride!! I am not perfect at it, but I am better than I was almost 11 years ago. Life is too short to not enjoy it! I love you!!

Love, the Queen,

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

From the Queen to the Princesses

My darling princesses,

I am not a perfect queen, but I am trying and learning so many things each day. Some day you will be the queen of your home and you will be trying and learning each day. They say we can learn a lot from history. I just want to leave a few things I have learned along the way that may help you as you strive to become the queen of your home. After over 12 years of marriage, I am beginning to figure a few things out and I have so many more things to learn. Maybe it will not take you so long to figure some of these out.

Dinner: Yes, it can be the dreaded time, but it can also be a very enjoyable time of the day. I am learning that if dinner is prepared before school is out, that our evenings go so much better. Life is crazy with five kiddos going different directions each night or needing me in different ways. If dinner is done before school is out (or at least to the point of just requiring a few last minute things), we have a lot less stressful of an afternoon and evening and we all get to enjoy a wonderful meal. If we do not get to eat as a family, at least I know everyone is getting a healthy meal and I try to do something to let each person know I am thinking about them even if I am not there to eat with them. Little things can make a huge difference. For instance, using basic white paper plates and leaving a short note for each person on their plate letting them know I am thinking about them. "Good luck at practice tonight!" "Thanks for making your sister's bed for her." "I love you a lot!"

Morning time: (FYI: I am writing this and I totally didn't follow this advice tonight!!) Take 10 minutes out of your evening to make sure the house is straigtened up before crawling into bed. It makes the morning routine go so much smoother if you aren't tripping over toys or books or trying to eat breakfast around last night's dinner dishes. Having school backpacks, coats, gloves, shoes, etc. all laid out in an assigned place, with a purse or diaper bag or whatever you need for your stage of life basically prepared in case you need to run out the door unexpectedly really makes for a less chaotic morning, especially when the out of the norm arises (which happens frequently like spilled milk or someone waking up sick or the unexpected phone call that takes attention away from getting kids ready).

You will probably read these and say "Duh, Mother Queen! We already know that and do that." And to you I will say, "Good!! Maybe I did make a little bit of a difference in your life." I love you, my darling princesses! I only hope you will be a better queen than I am. I will leave you little tips a long the way that I hope will help you become the perfect queen of your home.


Perfect Love

In following with our ideas on scripture study, I remembered reading something about a 14 day walk with Christ. I wanted to do something for my visiting teaching sisters for January, so I decided to look for this. I thought, what a better way to lead up to Valentine's Day, then to come to know better the one that showed perfect love. So, I thought this would be a perfect gift for January and they could begin it February 1st and do it up until Valentine's Day. I, too, wanted to do it and it has been a nice variation to my scripture study. I found in just these 2 days that as I study and ponder the scriptures and questions provided, I have followed scripture chains I have already marked in my scriptures and they only add to the study and understanding for the topic of the day.

Want to join me on my 14 day walk with Christ?

A Fourteen Day Walk with Christ

The only way that we can really know another person is to walk in their shoes: think what they think, learn what they know, and what they would say, do what they would do.

Each morning, leave enough time to read the scriptures and other items for that day. Read and PONDER what is written. Try to keep what you read in mind throughout the day and make a conscious effort to improve in that particular area.

At the end of the day, evaluate how you did by writing your thoughts and feelings in your journal. The questions presented can help. Every day has a set of questions followed by scriptures to help you walk with Christ.

Day 1 - Am I seeking Christ’s help?

READ: Proverbs 3:5-6
Jacob 4:7
Ether 12:27

PONDER: Am I seeking the Lord’s help in all I think and do? How can He help me overcome my weaknesses?

Dear Friend,

I just had to send you a note to tell you how much I love you and care about you. I say you yesterday as you were walking with your friends. I waited all day hoping you would want to talk with me also. It hurt me, but I still love you because I am your friend.

I saw you fall asleep last night, and longed to touch your brow. So I spilled moonlight on your pillow and your face. Again I waited, wanting to rush down so that we could talk. I have so many gifts for you, but you awakened late the next day and rushed off to school. My tears were in the rain.

Today you look sad, so alone. It makes my heart ache because I understand. My friends let me down and hurt me so many times too. But I love you. Oh, if you would only listen to me. I really love you. I try to tell you in the blue sky and green grass. I whisper in the leaves on the trees, and breathe it in the color of the flowers. I shout it to you in the mountain streams and give the birds love songs to sing, clothe you in warm sunshine and perfume the air with nature scents. My love for you is deeper than the oceans and bigger than the biggest want or need in your heart.

If you only knew how much I want to help you. I want you to meet my Father. He wants to help you too. My Father is that way, you k now. Just call me, ask me, talk with me. Please, please don’t forget me. I have so much to share with you. But I won’t hassle you any further. You are free to call me. It’s up to you. I’ll wait because I love you.

Your brother,


Day 2 – Am I abiding in Christ?

READ: John 15

PONDER: From whom do I get my strength? Am I abiding in Christ? How can I bring forth much fruit Lord? Can He call me a friend?

As a Saint you say, ‘I think I understand my duty, and I am doing very will.’ That may be so. You see the little twig: it is green; it flourishes and it is the very picture of life. It bears its part and proportion in the tree, and is connected with the stem, branches, and root. But could the tree live without it? Yes it could. It need not boast itself and get uplifted and say, ‘How green I am! and how I flourish! and what a healthy position I am in! How well I am doing! and I am in my proper place and am doing right.’ But could you do without the root! No: you bear your proper part and position in the tree. Just so with this people. When they are doing their part-when they are magnifying their calling, living their religion, and walking in obedience to the Spirit of the Lord, they have a portion of his Spirit given them to profit withal. And while they are humble, faithful, diligent, and observe the laws and commandments of God, they stand in their proper position on the tree: they are flourishing; the buds blossoms, leaves, and everything about them are all right, and they form a part and parcel of the tree. . . . “ (John Taylor, in Journal of Discourses, 6:108.)

Day 3 – Do I Really Understand Repentance?

READ: D&C 58:41-43
Mosiah 4:9-12
Mosiah 2:38

PONDER: Have I truly sought forgiveness from the Lord? Do I really believe He will forgive me?

I learned about the great plan of happiness, that we are on earth to be tested. We will all make mistakes. The Apostle John taught, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." Fortunately he added, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." I paid particular attention to that word cleanse.
I thought that repentance, like soap, should be used frequently. I found that when I apologized for mistakes, things were better. But for serious mistakes, an apology was not enough--sometimes not even possible. While these mistakes were, for the most part, not major ones, the spiritual pain called guilt invariably set in. Sooner or later they must be resolved, but I didn't know what to do. That happens when you break something that you alone can't fix.
Among you young people are those who are "vexed," as Peter said, "with the filthy conversation of the wicked." Some of you joke about standards and see no need to change behavior. You tell yourselves it doesn't matter because "everybody's doing it."
But that doesn't work because you, by nature, are good. How many times have you heard someone say, after doing some generous or heroic deed or simply helping others, how good it made them feel? Like any natural feeling or emotion, that reaction is inborn in you. Surely you have experienced that yourself! Happiness is inseparably connected with decent, clean behavior.
The prophet Alma bluntly told his wayward son that because he transgressed he was "in a state contrary to the nature of happiness" and that "wickedness never was happiness." Those who don't know how to erase mistakes often feel cornered and rebellious and lose themselves in unworthy living. If you travel with transgressors, you will suffer much more than I did in that restaurant.
. . .
It was through reading the scriptures, and listening, that I could understand, at least in part, the power of the Atonement. Can you imagine how I felt when finally I could see that if I followed whatever conditions the Redeemer had set, I need never endure the agony of being spiritually unclean? Imagine the consoling, liberating, exalting feeling that will come to you when you see the reality of the Atonement and the practical everyday value of it to you individually.
You need not know everything before the power of the Atonement will work for you. Have faith in Christ; it begins to work the day you ask! The scripture speaks of "obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel." We all pretty well know what it means to obey laws. But how are we to obey ordinances?
Generally we understand that, conditioned upon repentance, the ordinance of baptism washes our sins away. Some wonder if they were baptized too soon. If only they could be baptized now and have a clean start. But that is not necessary! Through the ordinance of the sacrament you renew the covenants made at baptism. When you meet all of the conditions of repentance, however difficult, you may be forgiven and your transgressions will trouble your mind no more.

From “Washed Clean”
President Boyd K. Packer
Saturday Morning Session, 5 April 1997

Day 4 – Am I a daughter of Christ?

READ: D&C 19:15-24
Mosiah 4:2-3
Mosiah 5:7-9

PONDER: How can I get rid of guilt? How can I put myself in a position to have the power of the atonement cover my sins? Do I understand what Christ did for me? Do I comprehend the great love He has for me?

To those who may feel they have somehow forfeited their place at the table of the Lord, we say again with the Prophet Joseph Smith that God has "a forgiving disposition," (Joseph Smith, Com., Lecture on Faith (1985, 42) that Christ is "merciful and gracious, slow to anger, [is] long-suffering and full of goodness." (Lectures on Faith, 42) I have always loved that when Matthew records Jesus' great injunction, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect," (Matt. 5:48) Luke adds the Savior's additional commentary: "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful" (Luke 6:36) --as if to suggest that mercy is at least a beginning synonym for the perfection God has and for which all of us must strive. Mercy, with its sister virtue forgiveness, is at the very heart of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the eternal plan of salvation. Everything in the gospel teaches us that we can change if we need to, that we can be helped if we truly want it, that we can be made whole, whatever the problems of the past.
Now, if you feel too spiritually maimed to come to the feast, please realize that the Church is not a monastery for perfect people, though all of us ought to be striving on the road to godliness. No, at least one aspect of the Church is more like a hospital or an aid station, provided for those who are ill and want to get well, where one can get an infusion of spiritual nutrition and a supply of sustaining water in order to keep on climbing.
. . .
Those who will receive the Lord Jesus Christ as the source of their salvation will always lie down in green pastures, no matter how barren and bleak the winter has been. And the waters of their refreshment will always be still waters, no matter how turbulent the storms of life. In walking His path of righteousness, our souls will be forever restored; and though that path may for us, as it did for Him, lead through the very valley of the shadow of death, yet we will fear no evil. The rod of His priesthood and the staff of His Spirit will always comfort us. And when we hunger and thirst in the effort, He will prepare a veritable feast before us, a table spread even in the presence of our enemies--contemporary enemies--which might include fear or family worries, sickness or personal sorrow of a hundred different kinds. In a crowning act of compassion at such a supper He anoints our head with oil and administers a blessing of strength to our soul. Our cup runneth over with His kindness, and our tears runneth over with joy. We weep to know that such goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our life, and that we will, if we desire it, dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (See Ps. 23.)

From “He Hath Filled the Hungry with Good Things”
Jeffry R. Holland
Sunday Morning Session, 5 October 1997

Day 5 – Am I a light to the world?

READ: Matthew 5

PONDER: Am I setting a righteous example for others? How can I let my light shine? Do my actions glorify God?

Have you ever stopped to think that perhaps you are the light sent by Heavenly Father to lead another safely home or to be a beacon from a distance to show the way back to the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life? Your light is a beacon and should never stop burning or lead those who are looking for a way home. Let the lower light keep burning—you may save a struggling seaman in the turbulent sea of life.

. . .

It isn’t just nice to be a light for others; it is essential for their exaltation as well as for our own. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

We are children of light. As children of light, we walk in the light and choose the right and stand for the right.

Choosing the right s a decision-making process. Choose to learn what is the right way to live your life, learning principles and keeping the commandments and covenants that guide and protect you as you exercise your agency in daily choices.

. . .

Choose to do what is right because your greatest desire it to love the Lord and to be obedient to his laws, ordinances and commandments so that you can return back into his presence eternally. Choose to do what is right because you love yourself and because you honor those who love you.

Help others to do what is right. Choose to be of service and be an example of what is right by lifting and strengthening others to do what is right because you care.

Choose to turn around and repent immediately if you ever depart from the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life. Repentance is a merciful result of our Savior’s atoning sacrifice because of the love our Father in Heaven and his Son Jesus Christ have for each of us.

From “That Ye May Be the Children of Light”
Robert D. Hales
Fireside address delivered on 3 Nov 1996 in the Marriott Center, BYU, Provo, Utah

Day 6 – How can I improve my thoughts?

READ: D&C 6:16
Alma 37:36-37
D&C 121:45-46

PONDER: Do I keep all idle, unclean, or negative thought out of my mind? What would Jesus think about? How can I improve my thoughts? Do my thought affect my attitude? What do I think about when I have nothing to think about?


I have to live with myself, and so—
I want to be fit for myself to know.
I want to be able as the days go by
Always to look myself straight in the eye.
I don’t want to stand with the setting sun
And hate myself for the things I’ve done.

I don’t want to keep on a closet shelf
A lot of secrets about myself—
And fool myself as I come and go
Into thinking that nobody else will know,
The kind of man (or woman) I really am.
I don’t want to dress myself in shame.

I want to gout with my head erect;
I want to deserve all men’s respect.
And, here in the struggle for fame and peif
I want to be able to like myself.
I don’t want to think, as I come and go
That I am bluster and bluff and empty show.

I can never hide myself from me
I see what others may never see;
I know what others may never know
I can never fool myself!
And so—whatever happens I want to be
Self respecting and conscience free!!!

--EA Guest

Day 7 – How do I guard my speech?

READ: D&C 88:121
3 Nephi 12:33-37
Matthew 5:11

PONDER: Do I speak only kind, uplifting thoughts to everyone?


A peasant with a troubled conscience went to a monk for advice. He said he had circulated a vile story about a friend, only to find that the story was not true.

“If you would make peace with your conscience,” said the monk, “you must first fill a bag with goose downs, go to every door in the village, and drop on each one of them a feather.”

The peasant did as he was told. Then he came back to the monk and said he had done penance for his folly.

“Not yet,” replied the monk. “Take a bag, go two rounds again, and gather up every down that you have dropped.”

“But the wind must have blown them all away,” said the peasant.

“Yes, my son” said the monk. “And so it is with your vile words. Words and goose downs are quickly dropped, but try as hard as you will, you can never get them back.”

Day 8 – How do I guard against pride?

READ: Proverbs 6:16-17
Proverbs 8:13
Alma 5:14-28
D&C 38:39

PONDER: Am I being truly honest with others? Do I guard against pride? Do I do the right things for the right reasons?

The proud depend upon the world to tell them whether they have value or not. Their self-esteem is determined by where they are judged to be on the ladders of worldly success. They fell worthwhile as individuals if the numbers beneath them in achievement, talent, beauty, or intellect are large enough. Pride is ugly. It says, “If you succeed, I am a failure.” If we love God, do His will, and fear His judgment more than men’s we will have self-esteem.…
The antidote for pride is humility-meekness, submissiveness. (See Alma 7:23.) it is the broken heart and contrite spirit. (See Ne. 9:20, 12:19; D&C 20:37, 59:8; Ps. 24:18; Isa. 57, 66:2.) ... God will have a humble people. Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled to be humble. Alma said, “Blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble.” (Alma 32:16.) Let us choose to be humble.
We can choose to humble ourselves by conquering enmity toward our brothers and sisters, esteeming them as ourselves, and lifting them as high or higher than we are. (see D&C 38:24; 81:5; 84:106.)
We can choose to humble ourselves by receiving counsel and chastisement. (See Jacob 4:10; Hel. 15:3; D&C 63:55; 101:4-5; 108:1; 124:61, 84; 136:31; Prov. 9:8.)
We can choose to humble ourselves by forgiving those who have offended us. (see 2 Ne. 13:11, 14; D&C 64:10.)
We can choose to humble ourselves by rendering selfless service. (See Mosiah 2:16-17.)
We can choose to humble ourselves by going on missions and preaching the word that can humble others. (See Alma 4:19; 31:5; 48:20.)
We can choose to humble ourselves by getting to the temple more frequently.
We can choose to humble ourselves by confessing and forsaking our sins and being born of God. (See D&C 58:43; Mosiah 27:25-27; Alma 5:7-14, 49.)
We can choose to humble ourselves by loving God, submitting our will to His, and putting Him first in our lives. (See 3 Ne. 11:11; 13:33; Moro. 10:32.)
Let us choose to be humble. We can do it. I know we can.

From “Beware of Pride”
President Ezra Taft Benson
Saturday Morning Session, 1 April, 1989

Day 9 – Is the Lord my Light?

READ: Helaman 5:12
1 Peter 2:21
D&C 84:43-47

PONDER: In the past nine days, have I tried to make decisions based on the question “What would Jesus do if He were here? What have I improved on? What is my specific role?

Read your patriarchal blessing.

Day 10 – How does the Lord want me to serve?

Moroni 7:5-8

PONDER: Is the Lord first in my life? What am I doing to build the Lord’s kingdom? How do I really feel about the service that I give others? Does serving the Lord make me happy?

Our highest priority as the Relief Society general presidency is to strengthen our sisters spiritually, both individually and collectively. . . . [W]e must prepare for our time because our time has come. We must possess the spiritual strength to overcome our challenges, laying our faults on the altar and giving our lives to the Lord. We must focus our priorities on contributing, as we are able, to the building of the kingdom of God through service in the Relief Society.
. . .
As the Relief Society general presidency and board, we have established the guiding objectives for the Relief Society. They are:
1. Build faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and teach the doctrines of the kingdom of God.
2. Emphasize the divine worth of the individual.
3. Serve, support, and build every sister.
4. Exercise charity, and nurture those in need.
5. Strengthen and protect families, and honor our heritage.
6. Become full participants in the blessings of the priesthood.

From “For Such a Time as This”
Mary Ellen Smoot
General Relief Society Meeting, 27 September 1997

I feel to invite women everywhere to rise to the great potential within you. I do not ask that you reach beyond your capacity. I hope you will not nag yourselves with thoughts of failure. I hope you will not try to set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve. I hope you will simply do what you can do in the best way you know. If you do so, you will witness miracles come to pass.

President Gordon B. Hinckley

Day 11 – How can the Holy Ghost help me to be more like Christ?

READ: 3 Nephi 27:20
D&C 11:12
D&D 46:11-26
Moroni 10:4
D&C 121:45-46
John 14:16-17
John 14:26

PONDER: What are my gifts of the spirit? Why is it important to know the truth? Do I really desire the Holy Ghost to be my constant companion?

In one of those difficult times that the faithful and dedicated young Nephi had with his rebellious brothers, he reminded them of the following guide to obtaining a testimony. The Lord declared, "If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you" (1 Ne. 15:11). Now, we can review the steps Nephi described.
First, don't harden your heart. Seek to know. In other words, have an intense, consuming desire to know. Give place for a seed to be planted in your heart. And if you do this, do you know what the promise is? Alma tells us, "He that will not harden his heart, to him is given . . . to know the mysteries of God" (Alma 12:10).
Second, ask in faith. In your study of the scriptures, have you noted how many times the phrase "believing that ye shall receive" accompanies the commandment of praying and asking? In the process of asking for knowledge, we have to exercise faith--believing before receiving. To illustrate this part of our conversation, Alma gives us a good example when he explained how he obtained his testimony:
"Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me" (Alma 5:46).
Third, keep the commandments. I think that the words of the Book of Mormon point out the blessings that we can obtain if we abound in good works. King Benjamin declared to his people, "If you believe all these things see that ye do them" (Mosiah 4:10). And the great missionary Ammon said, "Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing--unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God" (Alma 26:22).
. . .[W] e have analyzed the different steps we should follow in our search for a testimony. But there is yet the most important help available that can give us confirmation and absolute assurance, and it is your right when you live worthy to receive the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Remember the promise in Moroni: "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things" (Moro. 10:5). Pay attention that I said to receive the companionship of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost has the power to bring light and understanding to our lives, but we must pay the price to seek and win His companionship.
Elder Marion G. Romney once wrote: "It is the mission of the Holy Ghost to reveal the truth of heaven to those who qualify to receive it. Every one of us, if we will, may so qualify. We must ever keep in mind, however, that he will not dwell in an unholy environment. He is used to the society of God, for he is an associate of the Father and the Son. When we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, we are commanded to receive him; he is not commanded to come to us. But if, with all our hearts, we truly seek him, he will come to us and guide us in the making of decisions at every crisis of our lives" ("Revelation in Our Personal Affairs," Relief Society Magazine, Oct. 1955, 647). The Holy Ghost is given to us to witness of the Father and the Son; that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer; that there is a prophet upon the earth who presides over the true Church that carries the Savior's name, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and that all the works and promises of God will be fulfilled in His time and in His own way.

From “Your Own Personal Testimony”
Angel Abrea
Priesthood Session, 1 April 2000

Day 12 – Do I love Christ?

READ: John 13:34-35
John 14:15
3 Nephi 13:20-21, 24, 33

PONDER: Do I love as Christ loves? Do I keep all of the commandment? Have I put another God before Christ?

How then do we, as women of God, fill the full measure of our creation? The Lord rewards "them that diligently seek him" (Heb. 11:6). We seek Him not only by studying and searching, by pleading and praying and watching always lest we enter into temptation, but by giving up worldly indulgences that straddle the line between God and mammon. Otherwise we risk being called but not chosen because our "hearts are set so much upon the things of this world" (D&C 121:35).

Consider the principle taught in the sequence of this scriptural injunction: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength" (D&C 59:5; emphasis added). What the Lord requires first is our hearts. Imagine how our choices would be affected if we loved the Savior above all else. How we would spend our time and money, or dress on a hot summer day, or respond to the call to visit teach and take care of one another, or react to media that offend the Spirit.

It is by letting the world go and coming unto Christ that we increasingly live as women of God. We were born for eternal glory. Just as faithful men were foreordained to hold the priesthood, we were foreordained to be women of God. We are women of faith, virtue, vision, and charity who rejoice in motherhood and in womanhood and in the family. We are not panicked about perfection, but we are working to become more pure. And we know that in the strength of the Lord we can do all righteous things because we have immersed ourselves in His gospel (see Alma 26:12). I repeat, we cannot be women of the world, for we are latter-day women of God. As President Kimball taught, "No greater recognition can come to [us] in this world than to be known as [women] of God" ("The Role of Righteous Women," ENSIGN, Nov. 1979, 102).

From “We are Women of God”
Sheri L. Dew
General Relief Society Meeting, 25 September 1999

Day 13 – What is the pure love of Christ?

READ: Moroni 7:40-48

PONDER: Have I felt these past 13 days a greater love for my Savior? Have I felt His love? Can I commit my self to live each day as Christ would live?

We show that we serve the Lord by the way in which we live the commandments received from Him, by the work we do to help establish the kingdom of God on earth, and by the way we act towards our neighbor.
. . .
For some, putting away worldly gods may mean giving up a small habit. For others, it may mean giving up serious sins they are committing. For others still, it may mean forgetting sad events which happened earlier in their lives. Whatever the situation, in each one of us there is the power to change our life, the power to transform the bad feelings we have in our hearts. The Lord Jesus Christ will give us this power and will help us. All He asks from us is that we have faith in Him, follow His example, and obey His commandments.
. . .
Neither prosperity nor poverty indicates whether a person is living a Christian life. Physical suffering is not evidence of wickedness, nor is it punishment for sin. What then are the rewards of serving the Lord?
The gospel of Jesus Christ does not promise that we will be free from tribulation. But it does strengthen our spirit so that we can accept adversity and face it when it comes. The house founded upon a rock does not fall with strong winds or rain.
The person whose life is founded upon the gospel of Jesus Christ is able to: Face adversity with hope; Withstand offense with forgiveness; and Face death with serenity. The person who chooses to follow the Lord and who keeps His commandments: In his weaknesses, he knows where the source of his strength is; In his strength, he remains humble; In his poverty, he knows what his riches are; In his prosperity, he remembers his brethren with tenderness. A person who can live this way, without fear or hate but with love, is a happy person.
The fruits obtained from serving the Lord are essentially spiritual. Jesus taught that every tree brings forth fruit according to its species: "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit."
Jesus promised eternal life to His followers: "Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting."
In this life, we are building our eternal dwelling. Are we building upon the rock which is the gospel of Jesus Christ, or are we building upon the sand which lies in the falsehoods of this world?
Each moment we must choose whom we will serve, for we have been placed upon this earth to be proven and tested. We cannot choose to serve God and the world at the same time. If we want to follow the Lord, we should keep His commandments and follow our prophet and his teachings: "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

From “Serving the Lord”
Adhemar Damiani
Saturday Afternoon Session, 2 October 1999

Day 14 - How can I follow in His steps?

READ: Abraham 1:2
Moroni 7:48
1 Peter 2:21

PONDER: How can I follow in Christ’s steps today and the rest of my life? In all my decisions I will ask: “What would Christ do?” I will hearken to promptings received. I will think of myself as a disciple and sister of Jesus.

. . . I believe our problems, almost every one, arise out of the homes of the people. If there is to be reformation, if there is to be a change, if there is to be a return to old and sacred values, it must begin in the home. It is here that truth is learned, that integrity is cultivated, that self-discipline is instilled, and that love is nurtured.
The home is under siege. So many families are being destroyed. Where are the fathers who should be presiding in love in those homes? Fortunate indeed is the woman who is married to a good man, who is loved by him, and who in turn loves him; a man who loves his children, provides for them, teaches them, guides them, rears and protects them as they walk the stormy course from babyhood to adulthood.
It is in the home that we learn the values by which we guide our lives. That home may be ever so simple. It may be in a poor neighborhood, but with a good father and a good mother, it can become a place of wondrous upbringing. My wife likes to tell of Sam Levenson. He speaks of growing up in a crowded New York tenement where the environment was anything but good. Here in this slum, his mother reared her eight precocious children. He said, "The moral standard of the home had to be higher than that of the street." His mother would say to them when they acted the way they acted on the street, "You are not on the street; you are in our home. This is not a cellar nor a poolroom. Here we act like human beings."
If anyone can change the dismal situation into which we are sliding, it is you. Rise up, O women of Zion, rise to the great challenge which faces you. Stand above the sleaze and the filth and the temptation which is all about you.
You women who are single, and some of you who are married, who are out in the workplace, may I give you a word of caution. You work alongside men. More and more, there are invitations to go to lunch, ostensibly to talk about business. You travel together. You stay in the same hotel. You work together.
Perhaps you cannot avoid some of this, but you can avoid getting into compromising situations. Do your job, but keep your distance. Don't become a factor in the breakup of another woman's home. You are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You know what is expected of you. Stay away from that which is tempting. Avoid evil--its very appearance.
You who are wives and mothers are the anchors of the family. You bear the children. What an enormous and sacred responsibility that is. I am told that between 1972 and 1990 there were 27 million abortions in the United States alone. What is happening to our appreciation of the sanctity of human life? Abortion is an evil, stark and real and repugnant, which is sweeping over the earth. I plead with the women of this Church to shun it, to stand above it, to stay away from those compromising situations which make it appear desirable. There may be some few circumstances under which it can occur, but they are extremely limited and for the most part improbable. You are the mothers of the sons and daughters of God, whose lives are sacred. Safeguarding them is a divinely given responsibility which cannot be lightly brushed aside.
Nurture and cultivate your marriage. Guard it and work to keep it solid and beautiful. Divorce is becoming so common, even rampant, that studies show in a few years half of those now married will be divorced. It is happening, I regret to say, even among some who are sealed in the house of the Lord. Marriage is a contract, it is a compact, it is a union between a man and a woman under the plan of the Almighty. It can be fragile. It requires nurture and very much effort. I regret to acknowledge that some husbands are abusive, some are unkind, some are thoughtless, some are evil. They indulge in pornography and bring about situations which destroy them, destroy their families, and destroy the most sacred of all relationships.
I pity the man who at one time looked into the eyes of a beautiful young woman and held her hand across the altar in the house of the Lord as they made sacred and everlasting promises one to another, but who, lacking in self-discipline, fails to cultivate his better nature, sinks to coarseness and evil, and destroys the relationship which the Lord has provided for him.
Sisters, guard your children. They live in a world of evil. The forces are all about them. I am proud of so many of your sons and daughters who are living good lives. But I am deeply concerned about many others who are gradually taking on the ways of the world. Nothing is more precious to you as mothers, absolutely nothing. Your children are the most valuable thing you will have in time or all eternity. You will be fortunate indeed if, as you grow old and look at those you brought into the world, you find in them uprightness of life, virtue in living, and integrity in their behavior.
I think the nurture and upbringing of children is more than a part-time responsibility. I recognize that some women must work, but I fear that there are far too many who do so only to get the means for a little more luxury and a few fancier toys.
If you must work, you have an increased load to bear. You cannot afford to neglect your children. They need your supervision in studying, in working inside and outside the home, in the nurturing that only you can adequately give--the love, the blessing, the encouragement, and the closeness of a mother.
Families are being torn asunder everywhere. Family relationships are strained as women try to keep up with the rigors of two full-time jobs.
I have many opportunities to speak with leaders who decry what is going on--gangs on the streets of our cities, children killing children, spending their time in practices that can lead only to prison or to death. We face a great overwhelming tide of children born to mothers without husbands. The futures of such children are almost inevitably blighted from the day they are born. Every home needs a good father and a good mother.
We cannot build prisons fast enough in this country to accommodate the need.
I do not hesitate to say that you who are mothers can do more than any other group to change this situation. All of these problems find their root in the homes of the people. It is broken homes that lead to a breakup in society.
And so tonight, my beloved sisters, my message to you, my challenge to you, my prayer is that you will rededicate yourselves to the strengthening of your homes.
Three years ago, in this same meeting, I read for the first time in public the proclamation on the family given by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles. I hope every one of you has a copy and that you occasionally read it carefully and prayerfully. It sets forth our great concepts of marriage and family, of a man and a woman in a sacred bond under the eternal plan of the Almighty.
Now, in closing, I wish to reemphasize my deep gratitude, my profound appreciation for the women of this Church and the tremendous sons and daughters you are teaching, training, helping to take their places in the world. But the task will never be finished. It will never be complete. May the light of the Lord shine upon you. May the Lord bless you in your great and sacred work.
I leave my blessing, my testimony, and my love with you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.

From “Walking in the Light of the Lord”
President Gordon B. Hinckley
General Relief Society Meeting, 26 September 1998