27 December 2009



I was asked recently to speak on Courage. More specifically, I was asked to speak on the 2010 Young Women Young Men Mutual Theme:

“Be strong and of a good courage. Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:9)

It is ironic that I would be asked to speak on courage given my speaking history. When I was 14, I attended a youth conference. The following Sunday, my bishop called me out of the audience to comment on my youth conference experience. I went up to the stand and stood at the pulpit and looked out at the ward. I kept standing there, not saying a word, for long enough that my friend got up out of her chair, walked up to the stand and gave a glowing report of youth conference. After she spoke, she looked at me and said, “do you have anything to add?” I shook my head no and went back to my seat.

So courage and speaking have not always gone hand-in-hand for me.

Although, because of my fears and history, speaking on courage was a perfect opportunity for me. In fact, being in a situation that required me to lean on the Lord as Joshua did, was another opportunity for the Lord to show He was “with [me] withersoever [I went].”

I love this scripture! I love to think about Joshua. Moses was the leader and Joshua was the helper for 40 years all the way from escaping Egypt to the Jordan River. I love to be the helper; I find it way more fun to help all you can rather than to lead, to hear complaints and to be responsible.

So at this point in Joshua's story, Moses has died and the Lord spoke to Joshua and told him to “go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give them.” This was the promised land that they had been awaiting for 40 years. This was everything Moses had worked for and that Joshua had helped him work toward.

Can you imagine the intimidation and fear Joshua must have had at this time as he stood there looking out over the river Jordan? Joshua was the new leader. His mentor was gone. And the Lord wanted him to start his new job by taking on this monstrous task.

There were so many unknowns. Joshua didn't know for sure what awaited him and the Children of Israel in the promised land. Would there be a war? Would his people die? Would his people revolt against him? Would he die? And if the children of Israel were anything like my family, maybe just getting them gathered together and ready to march was daunting enough.

The Lord's words to Joshua are beautiful, comforting and one of the best locker-room pep talks one could have:

“There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage...”

He promised Joshua that if he meditated on the word of the Lord and observed to do all therein, that Joshua's way would be propserous and that he would have success. Then the Lord reiterated:

“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

I think I could do just about anything after a pep-rally like that. We too have been promised that the Lord will be with us, if we keep His commandments and if we exercise faith in Him.

continues in PART TWO

13 December 2009


Great idea for the upcoming holiday break: most Young Women are going to have a two-week break from school starting this Friday. These two weeks present an excellent opportunity to embark on Good Works Value Experience number 2:

Service is an essential principle of family living. Help plan your family’s menus, obtain the food, and prepare part of the meals for two weeks. During that time help your family gather to share mealtimes. Report to your class what you have learned.

Perfect timing to have a little more flex-time to spend on a two-week project. Plus, wonderful opportunity for the Young Women to learn traditional family holiday favorites as part of their service experience.

10 November 2009


A friend of mine is a brand-new gung-ho Laurel advisor. Last week, a young woman in her Laurel class had a big end-of-season playoff game. It would be, quite possibly, the last game this Laurel would play in uniform and the culmination of four years of hard work and perserverance for this Young Woman. She was the team captain and had been an integral part in leading her team to an unexpected playoff berth.

My friend had committed to go to the game and bring a cheering section made up of other young women in the ward. The day before the game, right after she finished texting the young women to coordinate the details, she felt the chills and fever of the flu. She immediately dropped to her knees to plead with Heavenly Father, asking Him to please not let her be sick and to have to cancel on this wonderful Laurel. She reminded the Lord that the support of the other young women plus their leader would be of great worth to the Laurel. She pleaded that if it were possible, could she be well enough to attend the game, to shuttle the other young women and to cheer on their athlete. The Laurel advisor's flu symptoms quickly got worse. She took some tylenol and went to bed. She had fever, chills, aches, runny nose; the works. But for only four hours. The next day, my friend was well and was at that playoff game with her young women cheering section.

I learned a lot from my friend's experience–like why do I sometimes forget to ask for the Lord's help in my efforts to serve Him. Maybe I think He will answer, "no". But there's a good chance He'll say, "yes." He knows our needs. He knows the needs of the young women we serve. He has promised that all things work together for good to them that love God. We love Him and we love our young women. We should take Him up on His promises and trust in Him as we serve in our callings.

29 October 2009

A Virtuous Life—Step by Step

Have you accepted the challenge from the Young Women general presidency? Has your Young Women's group taken it on?

I love this. And I am in.

"Daily habits of righteous behavior will also help you to continually hold fast to the rod. As a Young Women general presidency we have invited all of the young women in the world to develop three daily habits:

First, pray to your Father in Heaven, morning and night, every day.

Second, read the Book of Mormon for at least five minutes every day.

And third, smile! Why? We have the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, which brings us true happiness." Mary N. Cook, First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency.

There's even an independent facebook group and a blog with encouragement for The Challenge. (They've expanded on the original invitation.)

24 October 2009


One way to accomplish big things is to divide the large goal into small daily tasks. Like eating an elephant; in tiny bite-sized pieces.
I could do better at this. I prefer to eat my elephants all in one sitting, resulting in massive distress, illness, and neglect of other areas in my life. Shortly after finishing the first elephant, I turn to one of those neglected areas and eat that elephant (all @ once.) Again, at the expense of all else. It's a terrible cycle. And results in a messy house, car, schedule and attitude.

So I'm trying to work on cutting the job into smaller portions and eating only a few pieces at a time. Like scripture study. Better to pour tiny drops of oil into my lamp every day than to try to drown the lamp with six cups of oil on a Sunday afternoon. And better to work two hours a week on an upcoming Leadership Training Meeting than to cram ten hours into the day before the ladies arrive.

I think it's a divine principle to work day by day to accomplish something big. Look @ gardening. And parenting. It will take me a while to get used to it. But I think I'm going to enjoy eating lots of small meals.

23 October 2009


This week in my ward they had class activities. They have a joint Young Men / Young Women activity on the first week of the month. Then an activity for all the Young Women on the second week. Then separate class activities on the third week. The fourth week is also a combined activity for all Young Women classes, specifically focused on Personal Progress.

Class activities are great because they can be catered specifically to the needs of one or two Young Women. And they can plan them. This week I think the Beehives jogged to get a treat. (Yeah, remember that? It's still a fave.)

How do you divide up your activities each month? And what did you do this past week?

22 October 2009


So I'm working on my Personal Progress, again. It's wonderful. I'm working on Faith value experience number one. So I'm praying every morning and evening. And I'm thinking about faith. I found myself thinking, and then asking, that if the Lord could move mountains, tame lions and part seas would He be able to hold back the water leaking from the roof in my bedroom. He did. Though hardly comparable to a biblical miracle, it was a much-needed answer to prayer. It was humbling to realize He does answer prayers and He does know my needs. And for me on that day, stopping a flood was just as big and important as keeping the lions at bay.

Why is it that I know He can and will do these things, yet sometimes I don't think He will do them for me or for this time? Why did Mahonri Moriancumer receive custom-lit rocks? I think MM made better requests. He talked to the Lord more than I do. He didn't think to himself, 'oh, that's a dumb idea, don't ask the Lord to light those rocks.' He didn't tell himself not to ask the Lord at this time because he should read his scriptures better for three weeks before being worthy. Sometimes I stop my own blessings. When I don't ask in faith, I have denied my own request, before I've even proposed the idea. Doing so negates the power of the Lord. Not having faith cuts the Lord from our life by refusing to let Him bless us.

So for this week (and the next, because it's a three-week journey of praying am/pm and thinking about faith / writing in my journal, etc.) I'm going to be more faithful. I'm going to think, 'hey, I'm going to ask the Lord for that,' and I'm going to expect that He will answer. I think Moses was pretty certain that the Lord would provide a way to get through that sea and escape the Egyptians. I need to work to become more like Moses. I need to kneel and ask and get up and go to work. And expect the miracle. Because the miracle will happen. I've seen it before and I'll see it again.

21 October 2009


So I used to think hygiene kits were sort of lame. I mean who would want a bar of soap and a ziplock bag? Then I read this from LDS Philanthropies. Now I am a huge fan of hygiene kits. Let's make more.

photo © 2008 Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

20 October 2009


Necking. You know that game where you pass oranges from one person to the next by putting the orange under your chin and giving it to the next person's neck? Yep, when I was a beehive, that's what I thought necking was. Only without the oranges.

When I talk to the Young Women about standards, I try to be specific. I try to use their words. I ask them if they know was petting is. They tell me. In their words. Perfect. "What's necking," I demand. (Just to make sure.) They know. They tell me in their words. Good for them. I use their tv shows too. In one lesson about moral purity I used Gossip Girl as an example–of what NOT to do. They knew exactly what I was talking about. So that was convenient. Using Satan's tools against him. Nice.

Our Young Women are being barraged by tons of garbage slung by Satan and his followers. How can we combat the onslaught? Especially when we skirt the issue (literally) and focus on specific skirt lengths or swimsuit yardages...instead of upon the gospel principles behind the standards. It's great to know the rules, but enlightening to know why the rules exist. When we understand correct principles, we are better able to govern ourselves.

We were recently counseled by the Young Women's general presidency to explain the WHY behind the standards. To teach the gospel principles that cause us to develop and maintain certain standards. Hallelujah! When I was 12, 13 and 14 through 18, I constantly wanted to know WHY my parents told me to do things. Once I understood the WHY, I usually decided to go along with the WHAT. (And Dad, 'because I said so' doesn't count as a WHY.)

So we planned our upcoming Standards Night tonight. It's going to be fantastic. It will be in the chapel and will include parents and leaders and stake presidents. It will include specifics. It will be direct and it will be upfront. And it will use the vocabulary of the Youth. It will explain the reasons WHY we believe and act the way we do as Latter Day Saints. It will include refreshments.

However, if it is successful, Standards Night will include more than all of the above. It will include an outpouring of the Spirit. Anything less than the Spirit will be an epic fail. All my talk about being upfront and specific and direct in my language / examples on moral cleanliness will be out the window without the Spirit. Refreshments: who cares? Unless the Spirit has been there to testify to the Youth. The Lord knows each of these Young Women and Young Men. He wants them to understand these principles and to live righteously. He knows what their battles are. He, through His Spirit, is able to convey to each of them in an individually tailored manner, exactly what they need to know. Pretty much as Young Women leaders we have the opportunity to create an environment for the Spirit. Then we sit back, let it do it's magic and serve refreshments.

Good luck to you in your Standards Night. Will you be direct? Will you teach the principles of WHY? Will you spiritually invest for weeks ahead so you may speak and teach with the Spirit? Please don't try this alone. Please don't think that merely referencing Gossip Girl or being specific will convey everything that the Youth need to hear. Please don't teach unless you teach with the Spirit. Especially on this topic. And please remember to define the words. Otherwise there could be some beehives out there afraid to play that orange-passing game....

19 October 2009


Who'd have thought there'd be a reference to "Mean Girls" in a blog about LDS Young Women? Here it is.

Girls as bullies. Sad! What about Divine Nature and Individual Worth? And Integrity (saying we follow Christ and then doing it)?
How is it possible that "Daughters of our Heavenly Father' who pledge to 'stand as witnesses of God' have come to accept and act upon the 'value' of Bullying?

My cousin recently asked for suggestions to help her group of Young Women. They've got a vicious bullying virus. (Some of their mothers have it too!) Perhaps you've seen Young Women not treating each other in a loving Christ-like manner. Perhaps you've heard some unkind words. This is opposite of what should be happening. Young Women should feel lovingkindness and the gentle peace of the Spirit while they are at church. They should feel the fellowship of the Saints rather than despair, depression and isolation. What can be done?

Here are some suggestions:

Don't gossip amongst yourselves (leaders) about any young woman. Focus and talk about each young woman's uplifting qualities, her divine nature, her good choices, her integrity, her virtue, her wonderfulness. If these qualities are not easily apparent, pray for the pure love of Christ and the Holy Ghost will give you a full download on how the Lord sees her.

Pray for charity within your Young Women's group. Discuss ways Christ combatted bullying. Have the Young Women make lists of two or three divine qualities possessed by the other Young Women in their classes / group. Find ways to point out that all children of God have value of the greatest worth. And that our Father has no favorites. Have the Young Women have a group fast for charity, understanding and unity.

When there is bullying, stop the actions immediately. (Remember reproving betimes with sharpness : reproving in a timely manner, in a serious way. And involve the parents.) All bullying, even teasing, should be taken seriously. Parents should be immediately contacted and the issues should be discussed in a formal, loving yet upfront setting.

Here are some resources I found:

1. Check out last month's Friend magazine (September 2009) for excellent basic principles that you can apply in age-appropriate situations for Young Women:

2. In our ward we asked a licensed therapist to discuss ways to combat bullying. The therapist spent an evening with our Young Women discussing bullies and bullying. She taught us assertiveness techniques. We roll-played various ways we could assertively deal with bullying. (Where was this skill-building opportunity when I was a beehive in middle school?! )

3. Some links / books to check out:

a. link with some good books and good suggestions on bullying and on beating "Relational Aggression":

b. this book: (Odd Girl Out)

c. site by/from the US Department of Health and Human Services. wow.

This is just a small overview. Am sure some of you have been working with bullying for quite some time. Please share your experiences. What have you talked about? How did you talk about it? What worked with your Young Women? How have you implemented the teachings of the gospel into talking about bullying? (I loved the Friend's suggestion to use the Good Samaritan parable as an antidote to bullying by being a good neighbor...)

Can't wait to read your suggestions.

16 October 2009


This past week each of you were involved with some sort of activity / event for the YW in your lives. mia maids rock is a great place to share ideas and will sponsor a regular feature of activities / events. So chime in! Tell us what you did this week. And tell us what was good / what worked about the idea as well as maybe what could have gone better.

To get you started, here's a list of two fabulous activities we did that were v. v. popular with the Young Women:

1. Study Hall : we supplied snacks and the Young Women brought their homework. They loved it
2. Walking activity : we supplied research findings showing walking's health benefits. Then we all walked 1.5 miles, got a treat and walked back. (Maybe the treat was questionable when couched with health / exercise. But it was the most-popular segment of the evening...)

What did you do this week?


When I served in the Primary, we had a visit from a member of the Primary general board. She suggested a great way to foster harmonious relationships with priesthood leaders. When you need to tell them / ask them something (here's a list of callings we need filled in YW, here's a list of YW who need interviews, or whatever), make an appointment rather than catching them in the hall. Fantastic suggestion. So simple, yet so effective. Send an email. Or call. That way the request is couched in a formal setting. They're going to remember it. And it'll make everyone look better, do better and feel better in their callings.

Think about it, when people come up and blurt out a quick, 'hey, can you do the thing @ that thing for me on the tenth?' we smile and nod and say, oh yeah, can't wait. Then we never think of it again. We had every intent to help them but were overwhelmed with our own agenda (kids yanking us away, RS ladies telling stories, etc.) right then and didn't really comprehend (i.e. write down) what we talked about. And then it was gone.

I'd be willing to bet that a good chunk of those bishoprics who never got back to us or those YM presidents who dropped the ball merely forgot or were preoccupied when we 'discussed the matter.' Just a quick email would alleviate that and help everyone look with-it.

I love having an email trail to 'remember' what things I committed to do. Am guessing the priesthood leaders love it too.

What advice do you have for working more effectively / more lovingly with others?

15 October 2009


Hot on our new agenda is a stake leadership training meeting. We have hardly grasped our own stake yw presidency responsibilities and feel overwhelmed with the prospect of TRAINING anyone. How on earth will we train any leaders? I think the 'on earth' is the key. We will not train any leaders. We will only be effective if we pray and study and prepare and then get out of the way of the Spirit, which will train the leaders. I served in a stake primary calling a few years back and found that every time I tried to get in and train or teach or do anything, I merely got in the way. The best training meetings, the best activities, the best anythings happened when I prayed and fasted and studied and prepared, then showed up and let the Spirit take charge. The Lord loves the YW and the YW leaders more than I do. He knows what they need. He knows what they have been seeking. He knows what to say to them. I am merely the messenger, who sends out invitations, shows up and brings refreshments.

Once I figured that out, leadership training meetings were cake.

14 October 2009


How do you do it?
I am amazed at the ability to cook great food for the masses. When I was a kid, Sister E worked for the local school district as the cafeteria lady. She was way more than average. She made cinnamon rolls every morning for a 'snack.' She also insisted on using real butter in all of her cooking. The kids used to eat all their green beans—probably because of the yummy butter she'd cook them in. She should have won an award.

If I could find her, I'd pay her a million dollars to come cook for our girls camp.

I'm going to try to channel her by preparing some food-snob pizza-on-the grill, caramelized fruit tarts, and any chocolate wonderfulness. What great food experiences have you had @ girls camp?

My dad took the Scouts on a 50-miler and nearly had a brawl over the last grain of salt. Once, we ran out of bread @ girls camp. It caused a bit of stress! Another time, each ward cooked separately for themselves. In general, the food was terrible. One ward in the stake had a visitor who showed up late @ night with an entire car loaded with chips, salsa, candy, soda, and other yummies. The rest of us nearly cried.

So next year I'm trying to take all the good things about food @ camp and eliminate the bad.
What worked for you?
What would you do differently?
Do you hire a camp cook? If so, how do you integrate the YW in the food preparation?
Should I leave my 'foodie' sensibilities @ home? Or is there a way to gourmet-ize camp food?

Would love to hear your suggestions.

13 October 2009


OK. So, the fabulous Boy Scout Camp built in 1939 has a shower dilemma. Evidently in 1939 it was quite fine to have seven showers all in a row with no shower dividers, walls, curtains or even a hint of privacy. This is not going to fly with girls of 2009. Not to mention with their leaders. What to do?

Our stake YW Secretary is determined to procure PVC piping and create free-standing shower stalls complete with a cute shower curtain from Target. Did I mention how much I love our secretary? I think I'll buy her a year's worth of cookies @ the auction.

If you have any other shower dilemma solutions, I'd LOVE to hear them. Perhaps something that won't cost ten million dollars
and is installable by relief society sisters...

12 October 2009


In our stake we've had three years of The Best Fundraiser Ever. We have a service auction. We stole the idea from the Young Adult ward who raised a cool $12,000 for needy families one Christmas. The concept is simple: get people in the stake to donate their cool stuff / services. Then get other people in the stake to buy the stuff / services. We've had professional basketball game tix, financial planning hours, motor-home use for a week, eyelash extensions, private pilot lessons and homemade cookies. Anything you can imagine, you can sell. And most anything you can imagine, you can buy. Plus, we've got this great auctioneer (a real one) who whips the crowd into a buying frenzy. Last year, during a recession, we made more than ever.

There's both a silent auction for the smaller stuff: cookies, cakes, babysitting services, tennis lessons, artwork, yu-gi-oh! card collections, etc. And a big, fast, loud bonifide auction for the big-ticket items.

My favorite part is seeing loving stake members feign battling-it-out over an item, say, a monthly cookie delivery, and end up spending $300 bucks. It's beautiful. And those cookies were definitely worth it.

What fundraising has worked well for you?

11 October 2009


securing a location. where do you camp?

So, about Girls Camp. My friend, from Arizona, camped @ Camp Lo Mia outside of Payson Arizona. A beehive today could go to the same girls camp where her mother and her grandmother also camped as Young Women (and maybe even read her grandmother's name graffiti'd into the cabin wall—not that I'm advocating graffiti.) Pretty deep history. Can you imagine their traditions?!

In my growing-up-stake, it wasn't so much the place that was traditional, it was our SONGS. And stolen bras being hoisted up the flagpole each morning. Poor Sister B and her 40-triple-E. Although it did make a nice crisp popping sound in the breeze.

So two questions for today:

1. Where did you camp?

2. What were some of your treasured traditions?

3. Fave camp song: ___________________________________

10 October 2009


I thought the long succession of weekly activities-to-coordinate was bad. Now I am in charge of the whole stake girls camp. At least until we get a camp director. Our last camp director was FAN-tastic. I am anxious that I am less-than stellar in her footsteps and eager to get a new Post-Sister-Fantastic Camp Director. Last summer the YW in our stake requested Surf Camp. So, Sister Fantastic orchestrated an amazing and exciting girls camp right near the beach in Surftown USA. I can't imagine a more anticipated girls camp. Relatives of stake members trekked across stake boundaries to join our girls camp. Sister Fantastic admitted that she had never received such support from the ward YW leaders. Suddenly, everyone wanted to come to camp and 'help'. Surf Camp was fabulous. Long days lounging @ the beach, tide-pool exploration and hikes with ocean views. It was nearly Heaven. Except, that the living conditions were sub-Telestial. Well, maybe not even that good. Public campground. Gross bathrooms with gross coin-op showers. Tents. Dirt. I know, It was camp; but this was used, dirty dirt. Surf and Skater boys in nearby campsites who had the priesthood leaders on constant vigil. Drunken altercations one campsite over @ 3am.

Yes, we had the fabulous beach and ocean, but gone was the privacy of being able to shout at the tops of your Beehive lungs all the verses of 'I Wear My Pink Pajamas.' Gone was the security of nothing bad out there except for bears trying to get away from all the singing. Gone were the campfire services that alternated between screaming "the Lord told Noah there's gonna be a floody-floody..." and tearful testimonies of daughters of our Heavenly Father. Gone were the mountaintops where we could commune with Heaven.

Is it no coincidence that despite Nephi's proximity to the sea, the Lord asked him to retreat to the mountain to receive instructions on ship-building?

So, next year, it's back to the mountains for us. We've booked a Boy Scout Camp* with a gorgeous lodge built in 1939. Complete seclusion. Just us, racoons, rattlesnakes and, if we're lucky, a bear. I'm told that we can get to the Ocean in 45 minutes for sun, surfing and beachcombing, yet be back home for the best parts of Girls Camp; camp dinners, camp fires, camp songs, camp cabins, camp stories, camp friendships and camp testimonies. I can feel my spirit starting to relax. I can hardly wait.

*Because we're LDS, the local BSA council is giving us rock-bottom pricing on the camp. Hurray for 96 years of BSA-backing!

30 September 2009


I just spent three and a half years as a Young Womens president. That's eighteen-hundred-and-twenty Sunday YW meetings, eighteen-hundred-and-twenty mutual activities plus countless stake activities, temple baptisms, standards nights, Young Women in Excellence nights, Young Womanhood Recognition nights, leadership meetings, lessons, rides to-and-from etc. Oh yeah, and eighteen-hundred-and-twenty ward council meetings. I'm pooped. So I thought I'd get a little break by getting a cushy stake YW presidency calling.

Uh, what was I thinking?

The first week we had a two-hour presidency meeting. Plus another meeting with the stake presidency. And then Sunday meetings from ten to five. Yowzah.

Not that I'm complaining. Heaven knows I need all the blessings I can get. And going to meetings has got to have some sort of 'forgive all your sins' bonus. Right?

I'll be back with my take on young womens. But I've got to go lie down for a bit...