Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Come Unto Christ

The Youth theme for 2014 is from Moroni 10:32:  Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness." I love it.  It has really touched my heart, as I hope it touches yours.

Here's the theme song, from the Youth section of

Friday, October 11, 2013

Raising Leaders

The second Wednesday of every month has been designated as our class presidency meeting/Personal Progress night.  We have so few girls in our YW that it makes more sense to gather as a group than as classes.  In conjunction with our meetings, we have a leadership training mini-lesson.

The leadership training was presented by one of my counselors, Joanna.   It was extemporaneous, and yet so organized and definitely led by the Spirit.  The following comes from my notes:

Definition of leadership--someone who takes responsibility for the whole, whether you have a title/calling or not.  Do you take responsibility for the group and its success?

There are three basic rules for good leadership:

1)  Listen/be discerning--when you walk into a room, you should think, "What are the needs of the people in this room?"

                The girls' recognition of the needs of our group were:
                          There are lots of girls who should be here who aren't.
                          Some need help remembering why they came to the Gospel in the first place.
                          Everyone needs a place of refuge and acceptance.
                          The reason why we need to attend our meetings is to get in tune with the Spirit.
                          The girls are in different places in their lives--how can we reach them?

2)  How do I connect these people with the resources they need to answer their needs?

                           For the active girls, are we doing enough to help them?
                           For inactives, there are as many reasons as girls as to why they don't come.
                           Several of the girls on our roster are not even baptized.  They are on our rolls because
                             they have a parent who is a member.

3)  How can I do that in a way that honors people's agency?

                            This can be difficult to remember, as there is such a push in quorums, Relief Societies,
                             ward councils and other groups to go out there and bring back the "lost sheep", often
                             with less concern as to what that sheep's needs are.  We can't know what those needs                                  are until we get to know the people.

                            Unless we ourselves know why we are coming to church and are converted, we can't                                   really expect other people to want to join us, and we can't really love others unless we                                   are following Christ.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Jumpin' Jupiter!

For our activity tonight, we went to Balboa Park to look at the stars.  Every first Wednesday (barring cloud cover), the San Diego Astronomy Association sets up several telescopes by the Fleet Center.  This activity coincided perfectly with this month's topic, The Plan of Salvation.

Andromeda Galaxy was just visible.  

We saw Jupiter, Io, Callista and Ganymede.  Jupiter is only visible  for a short time every twelve years.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Rescue Me!

Our bishop asked each auxiliary to take a Sunday lesson time to teach about the ward rescue plan.  I have to admit that I struggled to find the right way to present that lesson.  I worked on it for at least two weeks and was never happy with my end product.  Fortunately, something  preempted my original lesson date.

The lesson was rescheduled to the first Sunday in November.  As tragic and devastating as it was, Superstorm Sandy gave me a great intro.  I like to make PowerPoints for my lessons.  They seem more visually interesting to me.  Pictures and Pinterest acquisitions make good illustrations, I think.

I started with three pictures:  the first was of a group of people being led out of a flooded area by a relief worker with a boat, the second was a NICU nurse from NYU Langone taking a baby down the hospital stairs by flashlight, and the third was the picture from George Takei of the power strips that someone put outside of their apartment for their neighbors to power up their cell phones.

I asked the girls simple questions:

Who was doing the rescuing?  Who was being rescued?'
Why were they rescuing others?
How were the people rescued?
What was used to rescue people?
What are some of the characteristics of the rescuers?  of the rescuees?

Then I presented the concept of the ward rescue plan, explaining (with input from our bishop who was visiting) about ward council and how we identify members of our ward family who need spiritual rescuing, and how we want to help those people make and keep sacred covenants and return to Heavenly Father. They read  Then I asked the girls the same questions about rescuers and rescuees, using the following scriptures:

John 13: 34, 35
Mosiah 18:8, 9
D&C 18:10, 15, 16
John 21: 15-17
Alma 31:34, 35

The Young Women's auxiliary doesn't have a rescue list per se, but we do have several girls who are, for many different reasons, inactive.  We have the responsibility to reach out to those girls, even if it's difficult.  Elder Robert D. Hales' most recent Conference talk was extremely helpful and yielded many great quotes.

Since then, we've been talking about ways of reaching out and rescuing others.  The ward council is like the National Guard, with an organized rescue plan.  But we can all help rescue others like the person did in providing power to their neighbors.  We can do small things, like genuinely welcome people when we see them at church, talking to them at school, inviting them to activities more than just an offhand way.  Sometimes, it's a small thing that makes someone feel comfortable in coming back to the fold.

As one of my counselors said, "The reasons why people leave are complex, but the solution is simple".  Not that the way back is easy, but it is so much easier than the lives that people live when they're wandering around in the mists of darkness.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Finding Joy in Our Divine Potential

"Invite an exemplary sister (preferably one who has married in the temple and has a family), who has been approved by priesthood advisers, to speak to the young women about the joy of being a woman. Ask her to relate some joys and challenges she has experienced, including some when she was the age of the young women in the class. She might tell about specific experiences and choices that helped her stay close to Heavenly Father and the blessings and joy that resulted. She should emphasize the joy of being a woman at every age."--Lesson 5, Manual 1

This lesson must have been scheduled for a First Sunday, and I must have been in charge of the day, because I was able to invite our speaker.  The person who immediately came to mind was our Stake RS President, who is one of the most remarkable people I know.  We'll call her Marilyn, because that's her name.  And guess what?  She hasn't been married in the temple, and she doesn't "have a family" in the sense intended, which is a husband and children of her own.  This woman is a businesswoman, a wonderful musician, dedicated to caring for her ailing parents, a great friend and a terrific leader.  She has all of the qualities that I would love to see in all of our Young Women.  If anyone is finding joy in their divine potential, it's she.

Marilyn adapted this from a talk she gave in the YSA ward.  It was such a wonderful message that I asked her if I could have her notes to share here on the blog.  With her kind permission, here it is (with some slight editing for clarity):

"I had been shopping with my mother in one of my favorite stores that has everything from furniture to gourmet foods.  Mom said, "Choose whatever you want from the store today.  I'll buy it for you."  But I wasn't really in the mood for shopping that day, and the only thing I could think of getting was a bar of soap.  The whole store was open to me, and that was my choice.  Later, I was very disappointed in myself for not taking advantage of everything that was available to me.  

Fortunately, I have chosen better in life than I did in that store, otherwise, my life would be lame.

Life is all about choices. The choices you’re making now really will affect the rest of your lives!!! You’re forming habits now that will stay with you, so choose well. Life is hard enough…don’t make it harder by making crummy decisions.

I’d like to share with you a few keys that have helped me have a joyful life.

I have a very happy life….I’m very blessed. Some of you may be thinking that that’s impossible….I have no husband, I have no children, so I couldn’t possibly be happy!!!! I’m happy because I’m doing what Heavenly Father wants me to do.

I’m here to tell you that Heavenly Father has a plan for every one of us, and it’s not always the same plan, or the plan we would choose for ourselves. We have different missions to perform, and that requires different plans. The first key to finding joy in life is to make the absolute most of your circumstances.

2nd key:

When I was a teenager, I had a bishop who I didn’t know extremely well, but I had an okay relationship with him. When I was 16, I was at his home picking up his daughter for an activity, and the bishop said some incredibly rude and mean things to me. I was stunned. Bishops are supposed to love and support the youth. Since then, I have known people who have left the church over things like this. I was really hurt. I had a choice to make: I could leave the church, or hold a grudge against that bishop, OR, I could forgive him, and let it go. I knew that I loved the gospel, and I figured out that bishops are human and make mistakes, and I decided not to let his mistake get in the way of my happiness.

It’s easy to hold grudges, but WOW….one rule of joyful living is to forgive and let it go!!!!! Blessings of peace follow.

Seek the guidance of the spirit, and then when you get inspiration, follow it!

Key #3

My motto: Be ye not weary in well-doing.

Another key to joyful living in the Lord’s kingdom: Take advantage of every opportunity you have to serve. Develop your talents so you have more to serve with. Say yes to opportunities. When you do that, the Lord increases your ability, and gives you more wonderful opportunities and more blessings.  Church service has been the joy of my life.  I’ve learned that the greatest joy comes from serving individuals…your friends, family, those you visit teach.

Pres. Kimball said: There is great security in service, and we cannot have spirituality without service.  Right now you’re learning to do that. You have service projects, you serve when you do temple baptisms you do things for your families. Hopefully, you are learning to love that, because it really is at the heart of being happy. The more you do, the more you learn, and the better prepared you are for great service in the church.

You know what has taken away from my happiness? Comparing myself to others!!! If you do that, stop it now. Not good for you, and not the Lord’s way.

The last key: being committed and consistent.

The Lord does not need wishy washy or flaky women. Really!!!! He needs strong, faithful, dependable women. When you’ve said you’ll do something, DO IT! When you’re supposed to show up, SHOW UP! If you’re supposed to be someplace at 9, be there at 9, not 9:20!!! When someone needs help, be the one to HELP THEM!

Sisters, remember that you are a work in progress, even though you are fabulous now, you have the potential to be even more fabulous. See this pile of sugar and flour, stick of butter? Good ingredients, but to make them into something really special….like this (Marilyn's amazing chocolate chip cookies)….takes a some work, some effort. It does not happen magically. Having a joyful, fulfilled, productive life requires work, sacrifice, consistency.

President Kimball said: One of the greatest teachings of the Man of Galilee, the Lord Jesus Christ, was that you and I carry within us immense possibilities. IN urging us to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect, Jesus was not taunting us or teasing us. He was telling us a powerful truth about our possibilities and about our potential. It is a truth almost too stunning to contemplate.

Sisters, President Kimball was talking about YOU! YOU have immense possibilities, and the makings for a joyful life.

Choose a joyful life. Choose to be committed and to forgive and to make your life one of service. Choose to seek inspiration, and to follow it when you receive it. Those things make for a joyful life.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

New Curriculum

I am so excited for the new curriculum.  Getting through the next three months of the old manual is going to be paiiiiiinnnnfulllll, knowing that there is better stuff around the corner.

Today, I realized how the inspiration I've gotten for this calling has been calculated by the Lord to prepare me (and I assume my board and the girls) for these exciting new changes. The people called to the YW board with me really are the perfect women for the job of rolling this new curriculum out.

Can we just switch over now?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I Hope They Call Lots of Them on a Mission!

Why the announcement that young women may serve a mission at 19 is making me cry tears of joy, I can't say.  Maybe it's knowing lots of young women who will jump at that chance.  Maybe it's the confirmation from the Holy Ghost that it was direct revelation to the Prophet from our Heavenly Father.  Maybe it's knowing how many lives will be blessed by these young women.  And maybe it's the knowledge that, as a Young Women's leader, there is now an urgency that we prepare all of our young women, whether they want to serve a mission or not, to be ready to share the gospel throughout all the world, to be leaders, to have strong testimonies, to make and keep sacred covenants.

This is going to make a huge difference in the lives of our Young Women, whether they choose to serve a mission or not.  It's going to change the Church going forward.  It's going to change the world.  I'm so excited!