17 December 2009

From the General Relief Society Presidency....

The Nativity

As you reflect on the birth of our Savior this Christmas season, join us in remembering Him by serving someone on His behalf (see Matthew 25:40). We invite you to accept an invitation to do one of the following or something of your choice and share your experience with us (reliefsociety@ldschurch.org.):

  • Visit someone in need.
  • Act on your generous thoughts.
  • Do temple work.
  • Register and search for a family name in the new FamilySearch.

07 December 2009


I've been nursing a cold that has given me a horse voice, and although I really wanted to teach my lesson on Sunday, I'm so thankful for Lisle for stepping in for me on a day's notice. I enjoyed finding the information and content of the lesson. A comment by Robert Emmons, the professor whose study I referred to in the lesson, has stood out in my mind. He said, "Far from being a warm, fuzzy sentiment, gratitude is morally and intellectually demanding. It requires contemplation, reflection and discipline. It can be hard and painful work." Why? ...something to think about as you read through the lesson.


President Monson taught, “Through divine intervention, those who were lepers were spared from a cruel, lingering death and given a new lease on life. The expressed gratitude by one merited the Master’s blessing, the ingratitude shown by the nine, His disappointment.
Like the leprosy of yesteryear are the plagues of today. They linger; they debilitate; they destroy... We know them as selfishness, greed, indulgence, cruelty, and crime, to identify but a few. [Consumed] with their poison, we tend to criticize, to complain, to blame, and, slowly but surely, to abandon the positives and adopt the negatives of life.

  • Think about the "plagues of today" President Monson mentioned. Maybe you can think of a few more.
  • How do the plagues of today effect you? What do you do to lift your spirit and make yourself feel better?
“Gratitude is literally one of the few things that can measurably change people's lives [for the better]." - Dr. Robert Emmons

The following are the results of a “gratitude study” by Dr. Robert Emmons at UC Davis.
Experiment: More than a hundred adults were all asked to keep a journal, and were randomly assigned to 3 different groups. Group A had to write about things they felt grateful about. Group B about things they found annoying, irritating. Group C about things that had had a major impact on them. 2 out of the 3 different experiments were relatively intense and short term (keeping a daily journal for 2-3 weeks), while one required a weekly entry during 10 weeks.

Those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events.

Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions.

A daily gratitude exercise resulted in increased positive alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy compared to a focus on hassles or a downward social comparison (ways in which participants thought they were better off than others).

In a sample of adults with neuromuscular disease, a 21-day gratitude intervention resulted in increased high energy positive moods, a greater sense of feeling connected to others, more optimistic ratings of one’s life, and better sleep duration and sleep quality, relative to a control group.

Children who practice grateful thinking have more positive attitudes toward school and their families. (Froh, Sefick, & Emmons, 2008)

Well-Being: Grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress. The disposition toward gratitude enhances pleasant feeling states more than it diminishes unpleasant emotions without denying or ignoring the negative aspects of life.

Socially: People with a strong disposition toward gratitude have the capacity to be understanding and to take the perspective of others. They are rated as more generous and more helpful by people in their social networks.

Spirituality: Those who regularly attend religious services and engage in religious activities such as prayer reading religious material are more likely to be grateful. Grateful people are more likely to acknowledge a belief in the interconnectedness of all life and a commitment to and responsibility to others (McCullough et. al., 2002). Gratitude does not require religious faith, but faith enhances the ability to be grateful.

Materialism: Grateful individuals place less importance on material goods; they are less likely to judge their own and others success in terms of possessions accumulated; they are less envious of others; and are more likely to share their possessions with others relative to less grateful persons.

A conscious focus on gratitude may also remind you of unassuming pluses that get lost in the ups and downs of a busy life. "The most important blessings are the ones that are most consistent," such as family, health and home, says Philip Watkins, an Eastern Washington University psychologist. "And those are the ones we take for granted." Grateful reflection helps you pick out and savor the good in life, even if the good isn't flashy. Gratitude helps bring to focus, highlights, and underscores what you DO have, and frivolous wants are seen for what they really are- fun and lovely, but absolutely optional.

SUMMORIZE: "The benefits from counting blessings are tangible, emotionally and physically," he said. "People are 25 percent happier and more energetic if they keep gratitude journals, have 20 percent less envy and resentment, sleep 10 percent longer each night and wake up 15 percent more refreshed, exercise 33 percent more and show a 10 percent drop in blood pressure compared to persons who are not keeping these journals."

Gratitude is literally one of the few things that can measurably change people's lives," -Dr Emmons

Gratitude unlocks the fulness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. -Melody Beattie

Besides thanking those who bless our lives, as members of the church, we know to Whom we give thanks...

Alma chapter 34 is the heartfelt sermon given by the great missionary, Amulek. He and Alma are preaching to poor among the Zoramites who have been humiliated and cast out of the synagogues because of their poverty. As Amulek teaches them he doesn’t waste much time getting to the heart of the matter...
“And we have beheld that the great question which is in your minds is whether the word be in the Son of God, or whether there shall be no Christ.” Amulek, a fairly new convert himself, bears fervent testimony of Christ, and in conclusion he offers one of my favorite invitations found in scripture....

“Live in thanksgiving daily for the many mercies and blessings which He doth bestow upon you.” -Alma 34:38

We can be thankful for our blessings, but when we acknowledge the source of all goodness not just in our daily prayers, but in our hearts throughout each day, we live in thanksgiving and are filled with the Spirit.

Thankfulness helps you see that you're an object of love and care. When we show gratitude for our Savior we acknowledge that He loves us and blesses us individually. We are worthy of His love.

  • How did the Savior “live in Gratitude daily”?

He expressed gratitude to His Heavenly Father in prayer when performing miracles (see John 11:41)
He expressed thanks for earthly things such as food (see Matthew 15:36)
He gave credit to Heavenly Father for giving us all things (see Matthew 11:27).
Through obedience to all He was commanded to do.

Professor Emmons said, "Far from being a warm, fuzzy sentiment, gratitude is morally and intellectually demanding," he says. "It requires contemplation, reflection and discipline. It can be hard and painful work." In the gospel light, Jesus showed that gratitude is more than a sentiment, rather gratitude is a VERB. We too can show this kind of gratitude to our Heavenly Father and “live in thanksgiving daily.”


some of these are fun for kids

  • Keep a running gratitude list
  • Keep a daily journal recording at least one way the Lord has blessed your life.
  • Create a gratitude paper chain that counts down to a holiday or birthday.
  • Take a conscious look at the beauty of the earth & recognize the Creator.
  • Say a prayer of gratitude; asking for nothing, but simply expressing thanks.
  • Study “gratitude” as it is taught in the scriptures.
  • Make a gratitude collage.
  • Spend time with grateful people.
  • Be cautious about being critical---seek understanding and don’t waste energy on negativity.
  • List gratitude ABC style: A- apples, B- brother, Jim, C- church, etc.
  • Don’t gossip or listen to gossips.
  • Write a gratitude letter to your children.
  • Write a letter of gratitude to someone who has blessed your life in some way, but whom you haven’t thanked (enough).
  • Celebrate other people.
  • Sing and/or listen to hymns or songs of gratitude
  • Collect gratitude stories.
  • Establish a Gratitude Book at Thanksgiving.
  • Play Gratitude ”I Spy.”
  • Contemplate your divine worth; you are worthy of the Lord’s love & blessings.
  • Find gratitude in every situation.
  • Simplify your schedule, possessions and relationships. It’s harder to be grateful if you are overwhelmed in any one of these areas.
  • Don’t deny yourself the basics – sleep, healthy food, exercise, solitude, etc.
  • Practice CONTENTMENT by practicing delayed gratification & honestly identifying needs vs. wants.
  • Simplify possessions- Be content with fewer, but good quality clothes.
  • Say “thank you” OFTEN.
May each of us carry the gratitude we focused on during the Thanksgiving holiday throughout our Christmas celebrations. And beyond that, as Amulek taught, may we “Live in Thanksgiving daily for the many mercies and blessings He doth bestow upon you.”

Post edit: The March 2010 issue of the Ensign has a wonderful article on Gratitude that compliments this lesson very well. Click HERE to read the article.

04 December 2009

Christmas Wreathmaking Party

We had a lovely wreathmaking party last night. We were delighted that quite a few women brought friends. Allison's friend attended last years' program as well and mentioned afterward how nice it was to "meet new friends" and she wanted to know the date of next years' wreathmaking party so she could put it on her calendar.
Charlene's neighbor brought wreath accents to donate and a woman from the Marlborough Ward RS brought fresh holly clippings for all to use. Women made wreaths for those who couldn't attend, but had signed up for wreaths. There was a great spirit of kindness, creativity, and sisterhood. We had a ball.
We sincerely missed those of you who were not able to make it for whatever reason. You were in our thoughts. I promised one sister who had to leave early that I would post the program on our Relief Society blog. Hopefully as you read this you can feel a part of our Wreath making party. (Please forgive my weakness in formatting....)

Wreathmaking Party Program

  • Dora M. read: It is a good thing to observe Christmas day. The mere marking of times and seasons, when men agree to stop work and make merry together, is a wise and wholesome custom. It helps one to feel the supremacy of the common life over the individual life. It reminds a man to set his own little watch, now and then, by the great clock of humanity which runs on sun time.

But there is a better thing than the observance of Christmas day, and that is, keeping Christmas.

Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for you; to ignore what the world owes you, and to think what you owe the world; to put your rights in the background, and your duties in the middle distance, and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground; to see that your fellow-men are just as real as you are, and try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy; to own that probably the only good reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life; to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe, and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness--are you willing to do these things even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas.

Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and the desires of little children; to remember the weakness and loneliness of people who are growing old; to stop asking how much your friends love you, and ask yourself whether you love them enough; to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear on their hearts; to try to understand what those who live in the same house with you really want, without waiting for them to tell you; to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you; to make a grave for your ugly thoughts, and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open--are you willing to do these things even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas.

Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world--stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death--and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love? Then you can keep Christmas.

And if you keep it for a day, why not always? - Henry Van Dyke

  • Macy Robison sang a great solo of "We Need a Little Christmas." She made us all smile!
  • Click HERE for the Christmas Story that Santa read from the pulpit.
  • There was a beautiful rendition of "Born to Wear a Crown" by four women in the Marlborough Ward Relief Society.
  • Max read: The real business of Christmas is to courageously reconcile differences; to heal wounds of the heart; to honestly, fully forgive and forget; to love our enemies after the manner of the Savior on the cross; to generously help those who are truly in need; to think less about what we can buy and more about what we can give that will be most meaningful; to lift up the hands that hang down and strengthen the feeble knees and carry each other's burdens in full purpose of comfort and solution. It is remembering that the birth of Jesus introduced mercy, repentance, hope, and love into the world, and that our part is to find ways to implement these virtues into daily living. It is quietly doing what needs to be done, in the name of Jesus Christ, without looking for credit or praise.
Perhaps we can make Christmas the starting point of more Christ-like behavior all year; we can strive to be more kind and patient, more helpful and forgiving. If we can do it for a season, why not for a whole year and then even for a lifetime! - Henry Van Dyke

  • Kayla N. read: The Savior is our great exemplar. At the Christmas season we contemplate anew who He is and what generosity He extended to us by coming into the world to be our Savior.
As the Son of God, born to Mary, He had the power to resist all temptation to sin. He lived a perfect life so that He could be the infinite sacrifice, the unblemished Lamb promised from the foundation of the world.

He gave us that gift at a price we cannot fathom. It was a gift He did not need for Himself; He was without the need for forgiveness.

The Christmas season gives us encouragement to remember Him and His infinite generosity. Remembering His generosity will help us feel and respond to the inspiration that there is someone who needs our help, and it will let us see the hand of God reaching to us when He sends someone to succor us, as He so often does. There is joy in giving and in receiving the generosity that God inspires, especially at Christmas. - Henry B. Eyring, December 2009 Ensign

If we can feel this divine joy for a season, why not for a whole year and then even for a lifetime!

23 November 2009

Interfaith Thanksgiving Service

Dear Sisters,

I just wanted to share with you a report of the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service (from my perspective). If you attended and want to add anything, please comment below.

The service was lovely. There was a spirit of unity in gratitude and for a good cause....coming together for the Northborough food pantry. Neal Robison has been representing our ward for years on the local interfaith council, and one minister I spoke with, Judith Wright from First Parish Unitarian Church, expressed their love for Neal. He has represented our ward and faith well. Clergy from around our area spoke and we sang hymns together. It was wonderful to see so many families from our ward attend. I think we brought all of the children in attendance:)

After the service there was a mingle/refreshments downstairs. This is where I met Judith Wright as well as an intern clergy for a local parish (her name slips my mind). I told Judith how kind it was for the interfaith council to change the time from 4pm to 4:30 to accommodate our congregation. This led to an explanation of what we do at church for 3 hours. Judith asked if she could come visit and I welcomed her.

I tracked down the woman who coordinated the food for the mingle and thanked her. I told her that since we have quite a few from our congregation interested in attending this annual gathering, we'd love to contribute next time. This led to a conversation of interfaith hot dinners served each Wednesday evening and the possible opportunity for members of our ward to participate on some level.

This morning as I shared this experience with my sister, she said, "Look what gratitude has done." Gratitude brings love into a conversation; it creates a bridge from one unique soul to another. Gratitude is a sturdy building block for collective service for the common good.

I couldn't help but think that because of Neal's efforts, we had the opportunity to participate yesterday and represent our faith. All of these years of fellowship will make coming together in the future, whether for a cause or in time of need, that much easier and effective.

With gratitude,

Rebecca Menzie

19 November 2009

72 Hour food Kits- our menu

The following is the menu for the 72 Hour food kits we assembled this month....

Day 1

Breakfast- granola bar & raisins
Lunch- Jerky & nuts
Dinner- Chef Boyardee meal

Day 2

Breakfast- Trail Mix
Lunch- Mac & Cheese & sunflower seeds
Dinner- Chicken and Dumpling soup

Day 3

Breakfast- Power bar
Lunch- nuts
Dinner- Tuna to Go & fruit cup


candy bar

For our assembly line there were small signs in front of each stack of items that read: "Take 1," for the jerky, nuts, and candy bars: "Take 2," and for the candy: "Take 22."

There is a label on the outside of the mylar bag with the menu, as well as a sticker that reads, "Don't forget water!! FEMA recommends one gallon per person per day"

15 November 2009

The Restoration- lesson notes

Sara gave a very nice lesson in Relief Society today. A couple of points I want to pass on to all of you sisters....

Every lesson of the restoration brings an opportunity to contemplate the blessings the gospel in its fullness brings to our lives. In class we discussed the blessing of the gift of the Holy Ghost to guide us as we teach, in our callings, and in our roles in life. The crowning event of the restoration was the restoration of the sealing power. Just as Joseph Smith felt great urgency in building temples for the progression of the Saints, so too have recent prophets admonished us as members to get a temple recommend, live worth of attending the temple, and attend. At great cost and sacrifice we have been blessed with temples dotting the earth, and our Boston temple within a close drive. We encourage each of you to attend the temple before Thanksgiving in the spirit of gratitude for the restoration of the sealing power and temple ordinances that bring strength, clarity, and light to our souls. We are indebted to our Saviour, to the prophet, Joseph Smith, and those who have sacrificed so much before us to bring a temple in our midst. Our gratitude is best expressed by attending the temple often.

Sara emphasized that we all have a part in the restoration! As the lesson stated, Jesus Christ himself is our co-worker in this great work of building up the Kingdom of God. We shouted for joy at the opportunity to follow our Saviour, Jesus Christ's Plan of Salvation, and now that we are here faced with choices and opportunities to actively participate in the restoration, we can feel strength and purpose because Christ is the author and "co-worker" in this great work. We are not alone. Sara shared that in all of the countless lessons she has taught in church, without fail the Spirit has taught her and guided her in her preparations. The same can be said of our roles in our families and as daughters of God. He will always be there to lead us in righteousness.

“The heavenly Priesthood will unite with the earthly, to bring about those great purposes; and whilst we are thus united in the one common cause, to roll forth the kingdom of God, the heavenly Priesthood are not idle spectators, the Spirit of God will be showered down from above, and it will dwell in our midst. The blessings of the Most High will rest upon our tabernacles, and our name will be handed down to future ages; our children will rise up and call us blessed; and generations yet unborn will dwell with peculiar delight upon the scenes that we have passed through, the privations that we have endured, the untiring zeal that we have manifested, the all but insurmountable difficulties that we have overcome in laying the foundation of a work that brought about the glory and blessing which they will realize; a work that God and angels have contemplated with delight for generations past; that fired the souls of the ancient patriarchs and prophets; a work that is destined to bring about the destruction of the powers of darkness, the renovation of the earth, the glory of God, and the salvation of the human family.” -History of the Church, 4:609–10; punctuation modernized; paragraph divisions altered; from “The Temple,” an editorial published in Times and Seasons, May 2, 1842, p. 776; Joseph Smith was the editor of the periodical.

Thank you, Sara, for your beautiful lesson; for your unique perspective, and how obviously thoughtful you are in your preparations. We are blessed to learn from you each month.

Have a wonderful week, sisters!

With much love,
Sheryl, Jan, Rebecca & Tammy

13 November 2009

72 Hour food Kits

Wow, who knew what an efficient machine we have in our ward's Relief Society?! Sisters started arriving at Charlene's home around 7pm. We had a prayer, listened to Allison's quick run through, and we were off to the races. By 8:30 we had about 120 72 Hour food kits stuffed in mylar bags & sealed. Thank you to our Stake RS for the use of the mylar sealer machine. It worked like a charm.

72 hour kits- sealing mylar bags
72 hour kits- amazing charlene

Some women showed up just to help. When women finished their kits they quickly helped another sister with hers, and we had FUN in the process.
A huge thank you to Allison for purchasing {$10.50 per kit is remarkable!},

72 hour kits- FOOD!

to Charlene for hosting, to Kelly and Stacey for help with set up and accounting, to Sara for all of the emergency preparedness information, for those who contributed to our food storage "buffet," and for each and every one of you, sisters. You are angels on earth.

72 hour kits- RS group

How nice it was to visit with Connie before her big move to Michigan! Connie, we will all miss you dearly.

Our food storage buffet consisted of several dishes made exclusively using food storage ingredients. We all voted for our favorite dish, and the winner was Deb with her apple pie using canned apple filling. Here's her blue ribbon recipe....

Apples for Baking

2-3 pounds of apples per quart

Wash, core and peel apples. Slice 1/4" thick. Make an extra-light syrup or water (I use the syrup- 1 1/4 cups sugar, 5 1/2 cups water, yields 6 cups. Heat until the sugar is dissolved) Keep the syrup hot. Gently boil apples in syrup for 5 minutes. Pack hot apples into hot jars, leaving 1/2" headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two piece caps. Process pints and quarts for 20 minutes in a boiling-water canner.
Note: You can use any variety eating apples. It is best to select a variety.

Apple Pie from Canned Apples

In a medium size bowl add two quarts of the Baking Apples; try to drain off all of the liquid except about 1/2 a cup. Add 2-3 Tablespoons of flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg. If you have lemon you can add 1 Tablespoon. Mix up and pour it into your 9" pie plate that has been lined with pie crust. Top it with pie crust. Make 2-3 vent slits on the top crust. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on the top. Bake at 425 for 40-45 minutes. Let cool for 2-3 hours. Serves 8.

If you brought a food storage dish to our RS meeting, or if you've got a favorite recipe using your food storage ingredients, please email me the recipe and I'll post it on our RS blog. For future reference, I will post the ingredients of our 72 hour kits here as well. Our plan is to encourage everyone to have a 72 hour kit October conference picnic and then we will repeat our 72 hour kit RS meeting each October.

Questions? Feel free to drop me a note.... rebecca@menzie.org

Peace to all,


07 November 2009

Journaling "prompts"

If you ever sit down to write "something" in your journal, but you find yourself struggling to figure out exactly what to write about, refer to this basic list of suggested questions that elicit information appropriate for your journal. This list was compiled by a wonderful couple in my family's ward....

Robert and Carol Jean Coombs
UCLA School of Medicine
October, 1991
Writing a Personal History
A Priceless Legacy

A personal history should not be a professional work of literature. It will be most valuable to those who later see it if it reflects you, your attitudes and memories. Remembering the disappointments and bad times highlights memories of the good times, successes and accomplishments. Use your own language and style. Get your ideas quickly on to tape and edit it later. The following suggestions may be helpful:

Your Family Tree
Who are your grandparents and parents?
What are the dates and places of their birth, marriage, death?
How did they earn their living?
What do you like to remember about them?

Your Youth
When and where you born?
What is your earliest memory?
Who are your brothers and sisters?
Where did you live?
What was your house like?
Where did you sleep?
What were you like as a child? As a teenager?
What did you do for fun?
What were your favorite toys and games?
What happened when you got into mischief?
Did you have pets?
How did you spend your summers?
How did you celebrate holidays?
Where did you go to school?
What do you remember best about school?
What were your family activities and traditions?
What did you like to do? Dislike to do?
What is a favorite memory?

Your Marriage
How did you meet your spouse?
What was he/she like then?
What was your courtship like?
How did you become engaged?
What do you remember about your wedding?

Your Adult Life
What occupations have you had?
What was the most challenging?
Where did you live?
What did you do for fun?
What were you good at?
What skills are you glad you developed?

Your Children
Where and when were your children born?
Why did you name them what you did?
What were their endearing qualities?What are your hopes for the future?
What family activities and traditions did you have?

Your Civic, Religious and Social Affiliations
What involvement did you have with your church? Your community? Your friends?

Where Have You Traveled?

How Has the World Changed During Your Lifetime? What do you like best and least about those changes?

What inventions have changed the way you live?

What newsworthy people and events have impacted your life?

Your Attitudes and Feelings
What is your attitude about money?
What are your religious beliefs?
What advice would you give to your grandchildren?
What would you most like to teach your grandchildren?
What are the most precious things in the world to you?

Reflections on Your Life
What are the highlights of your life?
What was of the greatest influence?
How would you like to be remembered?

02 November 2009

Journaling- A record of your personal journey

Dear Sisters,

It was amazing and wonderful to have so many sisters in Relief Society on Sunday for our lesson on journal keeping. I would have loved another hour together to discuss and share. We all have stories, experiences, and life lessons that when shared are edifying and strengthen our sisterhood. I'm including a recap of the lesson, as well as a few things I wasn't able to share due to time....

First of all, we talked about different systems of journaling....

  • Blogs. These can be printed in book form- see me for more info
  • I shared a binder filled with emails between my family members. We all understood we were commenting for a family journal and my sister would start an email thread off by asking something like, "What are your memories about family vacations?" In the binder there's a tab called "Vacations" and our email notes on family vacations are printed out there. We also discussed holidays, pets, dinnertime, mom & dad, & rough housing. At the back of the binder there are a few letters my parents wrote to college kids and there are some pictures. Here's an excerpt from a letter found at the back of the journal (I shared part of this in the lesson)....

"You should have seen [Adam's] birthday cake (yes, he FINALLY had one). I made a Texas sheet cake, then filled tow huge balloons with confetti by putting the lip of the them over the wide-mouthed canning funnel and scooping in the confetti. then I blew the balloons up and tied a candle wick in the knot, and put the balloons round side down on the cake. We lit the wicks, sang, and waited in a kind of anticipation you've never seen before. Jim was even about to crawl under the table. We really didn't know what was going to happen. Then, BOOM! I mean really BOOM! Confetti went everywhere--even through the kitchen and the entry to the front door! We laughed our brains out. I'm still finding confetti a week later!"
NOTE: Including recipes and how-to's is a great way to make it easy to pass things on to others.

  • Steno Pads--- Priscilla H's daughter Jenny shared, "When we were little mom kept steno pad notebooks by her bedside, and she would take turns journaling about each of us from her perspective. They were consistent, but there are a treasure. Because of the little journal that my mom kept for me, about me, from a loving mother's perspective (she would mention that she was disappointed in me because of decisions I had made, or proud of me, etc. always keeping a gospel perspective) I have don the same thing for each of my children. I started them when they reached 2 years of age (past the major baby book phase) and have sporadically, but at least monthly or so, kept them up even until now. My oldest son's book is filled, but I continue to jot things down in margins. I know that the children have snuck away to a corner with their journal from time to time, and enjoy reading things about their childhood that they didn't know, didn't remember, etc. I love to journal quotes that the kids have said. I thing journaling for self is valuable, but I also think a mother's touch on journaling is worth so much."
I passed around decorated steno pads & would love to give you one if you weren't there. Drop me a note if you didn't get one.... (rebecca@menzie.org).
  • Dora shared how she started keeping her family Christmas letters as journal entries (Great idea!) and that turned into pulling other journal-type things, photos, notes, etc. together in a folder. She said it feels good to do something that can be called "a journal." There's no one system or look for a journal, and if you can find a process that works for you, go with it!!!
  • Jan shared that she considers her letters to her missionary son a journal. Absolutely! I shared a binder my dad put together of letters my parents wrote my grandparents while they were on their mission in Germany. From "Letters to Germany" I shared this note from my mom:
"Last week was a bad week. Nothing went right and I was cross with the children before each day was through. S&J are in the 'quarrel over anything and everything' stage, and I had such a hectic schedule for the week, and it was all too much. Finally, on Thursday I really gave them a good paddling and suggested to the three that they ask Heavenly Father to help them be kinder to one another and talk gently and that I'd do the same. I came downstairs and heard murmuring upstairs and thought they were probably saying their prayers. I felt like a heel. A I listened at the door I heart them making big plans to pack up and run away from home. 'No, we can't go there, it might get dark first,' and "shall we take suitcases?" After a while they came down, suitcases packed and announced they were all leaving. I said OK, I'd fix them a lunch to take, but that I didn't want them crossing any streets. So, they all trooped 2 doors up to Collette's and asked if they could live there. Well, they came back home before dark and are all settled and happy again."

What should we write about in our journals?
  • 2 Nephi 25:23 reads, "For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are save, after all we can do."
Share your testimony in your journal. Whether convert or "life member" we all should have a conversion story--prayers answered, how we know God lives, significant experiences visiting church history sites, knowing our prophet is called of God, experiences with the Holy Ghost as comforter, purifier, testifier of truth, etc.
I referred to Pres. Eyring's talk, "O Remember, Remember" as an illustration of journal writing including testimony. Pres. Eyring said, "Before I would write, I would ponder this question: Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?" As I kept at it something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done. More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew."

I shared a few journal entries from my mom's journal:

"At 4am this morning I was feeding and rocking Ben, pondering over my feelings of frustration and self-defeat which had been so strong and heavy in me for the past few days when I had the distinct, peaceful message given to my mind and heart, 'Be of good cheer, for I the Lord God am with you.'"

Further on in the journal....
"Another rough Sunday. I have trouble with Sundays- they're more work than ever. Things have been creeping in on me for some time now. I keep finding myself wishing I were alone away somewhere for a long time. It's hard for me to actually face up to and admit to the fact that I'm only me & not Deanne, Jeanine, Christ Cottam, Jeri Edwards, etc. It seems all I can do physically, mentally, spiritually, etc. is to take care of my family and home- just the routine chores & daily demands. Pres. Munns described it once as feeling like a rubber band, stretched to capacity, unable to stretch further without breaking; needing to ease up a bit before trudging on....(later that evening)...Read a couple of excellent articles in the August issue of the Ensign. One on dealing with ambiguity and the other on family planning. Just what I've been groping for. The Lord is so helpful to me. He must love me to keep working with me as He does."

  • A scripture journal. When you read the scriptures, write lessons learned, how they apply to your life, and/or use what you have read as a prompt to record past experiences....a great way to record your journey in the light of the gospel.
  • Write about things that bind you with others..... Recently I learned that my grandmother, my mother's mother, who died when I was 1 year old, quilted. I didn't know we had that hobby in common. Like my grandmother, I don't have a lot of time for quilting (& I send the quilt tops I've sewn & "the quilt sandwich" away to be quilted), but looking at my grandma's quilting that my aunt just sent me, I marvel at and appreciate her craft. My aunt told me that when she and my mom would visit grandma, my mom would help my grandma work on quilt blocks. I never knew this! It's fun to find common interests, hobbies, and talents among family.
I shared a note from Charlene H's daughter, Trisha, who wrote how her mom taught her by example how to have an organized home. She wrote, "My parents moved about 19 times in 20 years, so mom got really good at keeping the essentials and organizing her life. Lists have always played a major part in her day-to-day activities and my sisters and I follow suite by making lists as well. My mom also gave us weekly and daily chores that not only taught us how to clean, but also gave her a well deserved break! One of my favorite and most important things that my mom taught me was to "clean as you go" when you're cooking or baking. I learned this lesson early on because I loved to help bake with my mom. Not only have these lessons helped me maintain my house, but they've enhance my life and career. I work in an environment where 50,000 little products need to be organized, clean, and sellable. Have basic organizational skills has effect me and my coworkers in a positive way. My mom is the type of person that you would call if you needed help de-cluttering a closet or packing boxes for a move. It doesn't hurt that she's funny and makes the whole process enjoyable." Trisha will no doubt pass on these skills and her children will know to thank grandma as well their mom!

Blessings of Journaling
  • From all of my reading for this lesson, it was very clear that journaling is therapeutic for the writer. Author, Brad Wilcox wrote, "When my in-laws were moving to Colorado, a tragic moving van fire destroyed all their belongings, including photographs albums and journals. One well-meaning friend lamented, "All that work for nothing!" My wise mother-in-law responded: "The process we went through writing our journals can never be burned. Every hour we spent on those books helped to make us the people we have become." (See, "Why Write It," by Brad Wilcox, Ensign, 9/99)
Sheryl talked about a day long ago when she was particularly angry, and sat down scribbling her frustrations on paper while her girls were at dance class. After venting on paper her anger was lifted from her mind. Sheryl also shared and excerpt from one of her old journals. Hearing her share a frustrating day in her young mothering life and hearing her laugh about it years later was an example of how journaling illustrates our progression. She noted that over the years, as her testimony has grown and she has progressed, her journal has become more spiritual. Sometimes reading how we got through a difficult time can illustrate to us that we have it within ourselves to overcome a present day trial.

As I read through journals preparing my lesson, I found faith promoting experiences about temple service, family, marriage, dealing with depression, service- in general and through church callings, adult education, covenants, personal revelation, losing a baby to leukemia, death of a sibling, financial stresses, and on and on.... What a treasure to read of how the women in my life faithfully learned through tribulation and found ways to celebrate and enjoy their journey.
  • Sometimes children (or loved ones) misinterpret the responses of parents and harbor feelings of hurt or resentment throughout their lives. (See "Hidden Benefits of Keeping a History" by Gawaine & Gayle Wells, Ensign 7/1986) Journals can clarify relationships and leave a clear message of unconditional love. I closed with a letter from my mom that begins a journal she and my dad gave to me the Christmas before she passed away in 1992. I was on my mission at the time. This letter is a treasure because it leaves no room for doubt of my mom's love for me from my birth to the time she passed away. This is what I treasure most from her letter.....
"Daddy & I wanted to give each of you this year something that you could always hold dear as a remembrance of our love for you, and something that would serve to buoy you up on those 'rainy days." So, here is our journal for you--"Special" because it begins with our thoughts and our testimonies, and faith-promoting experiences, and then you make it happen from there.
I shall never forget the feelings I had when I learned you were on your way to be a part of our family. W were really struggling through law school, I was baby-sitting to try and help make ends meet, and I just remember wearying the Lord continually with 'how are we going to manage?' Yet, always through my mind came that reminder that things of real worth seldom come packaged in convenience. I knew that the Lord would teach me and be there to help us.
You were the cutest, sweetest petite little young lady. We felt from the beginning that you were so happy to be in our family, and our hearts rejoiced as we watched Sherrill and Jim cuddle you and take such good care of you--even teaching you their codes of mischief!
...Your testimony grew at a very early age. You loved reading the scriptures. Heavenly Father blessed you continually. You grew to care deeply about people and their feelings and concerns. you were always creative. "Doodling" at this or that, and coming up with some very nice pieces of art and poetry....
High school brought you some of your most important experiences and hardest lessons in your young life. I was so concerned, yet didn't know how to break through the cloud. You were so sad and hurt and angry, yet your clear, bright compassionate spirit always came through, and Dad & I knew the Lord knew this even better than we fumbling parents did. I have thanked the Lord countless times for bring KD (laurel advisor) into your life at that time. For giving you the opportunity to reach out beyond yourself and help others who were having difficult times at home. The hard part in doing this is always the risk of losing perspective and falling into the snares of persuasion of friends who are good people of the earth but not engaged anxiously in seeking the Lord's will and committing to do it.
Through your faith and courage, you repented, submitted yourself to Him, and have never looked back. What a beautiful example for me, Becky. The Lord used you to teach me, and you'll be my friend forever because of this bond.
I don't know what the Lord does have in store for me in these next several months, but this I do know, that he lives, that he loves each one of you, my children, and he in his perfect love and wisdom will bless us all. I may have to wait for you a while in Heaven, but I will always be your mother and never far from you. I will enjoy with you all those things mothers love to share with their daughters--choosing an eternal mate, bringing each of your own children into the world, enjoying their first words, their baptisms, graduations, and on and on and on. I'll be there by you.
I hope I will live a long time, but darling, if it is in the Lord's wisdom that it shouldn't be so, please don't any of you worry. I know where I'm going, I know the gospel is the truth and it is the greatest gift the Lord has given to us all. "Eternal" suddenly means much more to me than ever before.
I love your sharing your testimony. It is the joy of my life. Your work is the joy of my life. Your love of the Lord is the joy of my life. I love knowing that even I am a part of the Lord's atonement. I have made many mistakes, and the peace of repentance is truly the greatest miracle. I love you . Thank you for honoring me, as your mother, and for being my friend.

Love, Mom


Sisters, it's important to take care of relationships while we are living and breathing, but it also important and beneficial to express in the form of a letter or journal, our love for those we hold dear. This gift is bonding and one of peace and comfort beyond the days of our journey.

Our memories fade over time, so to have these expressions of love, testimony, and personal growth on paper is a priceless gift. Know that whatever you can offer in the way of a journal will be of great worth. For me, when I read my mom's journal I feel like I'm reading things she'd share with me today to help me through similar days. In a way I hear her voice as I read, and she teaches me in this beautiful way.

So, pick up a pen and paper and do a little journaling here and there. Follow the Spirit as you record your journey and you will have a beautiful, unique, inspiring story to tell....I promise!

Love, Rebecca

26 October 2009

The Way of the Disciple

Deb M. taught a wonderful lesson in Relief Society based on the April 2009 talk by Elder Uchtdorf, "The Way of the Disciple." The following are key points that we discussed that offer hope, encouragement, and perspective to us all....
  • ..."the world is not bashful in offering numerous new answers to every problem we face. People run from one new idea to the next, hoping to find something that will answer the burning questions of their souls. They attend seminars and buy books, CDs, and other products. They get caught up in the excitement of looking for something new. But inevitably, the flame of each new theory fades, only to be replaced by another “new and improved” solution that promises to do what the others before could not. It’s not that these worldly options don’t contain elements of truth—many of them do. Nevertheless, they all fall short of the lasting change we seek in our lives. After the excitement wears off, the hollowness remains as we look for the next new idea to unlock the secrets of happiness.
In contrast, the gospel of Jesus Christ has the answers to all of our problems. The gospel is not a secret. It is not complicated or hidden. It can unlock the door to true happiness. It is not someone’s theory or proposition. It does not come from man at all. It springs from the pure and everlasting waters of the Creator of the universe, who knows truths we cannot even begin to comprehend. And with that knowledge, He has given us the gospel—a divine gift, the ultimate formula for happiness and success.
  • How do we become a disciple of Christ? Faith, repentance, baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, making covenants, & service. The more we are filled with the Spirit of God, the more we extend ourselves to others. We become peacemakers in our homes and families, we help our fellowmen everywhere, and we reach out in merciful acts of kindness, forgiveness, grace, and long-suffering patience. These are the first steps along the true way of life and fulfillment. This is the peaceable way of the follower of Jesus Christ.
  • The first step on the path of discipleship begins, luckily enough, in the exact place where we stand! We do not have to prequalify to take that first step. It doesn’t matter if we are rich or poor. There is no requirement to be educated, eloquent, or intellectual. We do not have to be perfect or well-spoken or even well-mannered.
  • Discipleship is a journey. We need the refining lessons of the journey to craft our character and purify our hearts. By patiently walking in the path of discipleship, we demonstrate to ourselves the measure of our faith and our willingness to accept God’s will rather than ours.
  • Discipleship is not a spectator sport. We cannot expect to experience the blessings of faith by standing inactive on the sidelines any more than we can experience the benefits of health by sitting on a sofa watching sporting events on television and giving advice to the athletes. And yet for some, “spectator discipleship” is a preferred if not a primary way of worshipping....we need to get off the sidelines and practice what we preach.
  • There are some who believe that because they have made mistakes, they can no longer fully partake of the blessings of the gospel.... One of the great blessings of living the gospel is that it refines us and helps us learn from our mistakes. We “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” yet the Atonement of Jesus Christ has the power to make us whole when we repent.
  • To those who feel inadequate because they have not been members of the Church all their lives, to those who feel that they can never make up for the time they have lost, I testify that the Lord needs your specific abilities, talents, and skills. The Church needs you; we need you. It is always the right time to walk in His way. It is never too late.
Thank you Deb for your preparation and dedication as one of our wonderful Relief Society teachers. We hope that each of you find strength in the words of Pres. Uchtdorf as he invites each of us to greater discipleship beginning right now, wherever we are in our lives.

Sheryl gave a beautiful talk in Sacrament Meeting about Relief Society and her words of commitment, participation, and service tie in with Presidet Uchtdorf's message of discipleship. May we find joy in our sisterhood as we reach out and support one another in our lives, beginning with those we visit teach. As Sheryl expressed, your many acts of service are truly appreciated. Each of you sisters are vital to the worth and strength of our collective Relief Society. Each of you bring talents, life experience, and strength unique to your life, and we are a better Relief Society because of you. May we each press forward from where we stand at this very moment, and see the great blessings (individually & as a sisterhood) of active participation in Relief Society.

The RS Presidency
Sheryl, Jan, Rebecca & Tammy

22 October 2009

General Relief Society Meeting

Did you miss the General Relief Society Meeting that was held earlier in October? You can watch an excerpt from Sister Julie Beck's talk where she explains the change from "Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment" to simply "Relief Society Meetings" by going to the following link...

Here is follow-up information offered by Sister Beck on the change from Enrichment to RS meetings.

Watch the entire General RS meeting here (under the large screen click on General Relief Society Meeting):

The text transcripts for General Conference can be found here:

You can also find a link to our most recent General Conference transcripts on the right sidebar or side of this blog under "Relief Society 411."



17 October 2009

Abby's House


This past month we've collected 2 vans full of clothing, household goods, and items to donate to Abby's House, a local women's shelter for homeless and/or battered women. Thank you for your generous, giving hearts and helping hands.

Today we met at Abby's House for a brief tour. We learned ways that we can help in the future. There is always need for help in the kitchen, filing, and in Abby's Thrift Shop. The thrift shop has Halloween costumes for $5, some retro prom dresses, and more current items as well from Gap, LLBean, Polo, etc. Drop in to bargain hunt. All proceeds go to Abby's House. Women at Abby's House who are going through particularly difficult times are able to shop for free. Donations are always welcome and appreciated. Tax deduction forms for donations are available upon request. No appointment necessary to drop off donations, just double check that they are open. Their normal Thrift Shop hours are M-F 10-4 & Saturday 10-2. For more information, go to the Abby's House website at http://www.abbyshouse.org

If you or your auxiliary would like to volunteer at Abby's House, please see Rebecca Menzie for a volunteer form. Volunteers are always welcome. As a Relief Society, we look forward to serving at Abby's House in the near future.

Thanks again for your thoughtful donations!

All best,


09 October 2009

Bridging the Past

"Learning the lessons of the past allows you to walk boldly in the light without running the risk of stumbling in the darkness." - M. Russell Ballard

We had a nice Relief Society meeting at Sheryl's home a week ago Thursday evening (sorry for being slow with my notes!). Lori Lyn Price, a member of the Arlington Ward Relief Society, and freelance genealogy speaker, shared her findings on several Colonial women whose stories provide us with a better understanding of what life was like for them and women in general back then.

We began with a True/False quiz! Allison and Lisle tied for high scores of 13... How you would have done?

1. Newly married brides had equal say with their husbands about which business should be the family business.

2. A woman was expected to carry on the family business after her husband's death.

3. Women were free to start their own business.

4. A girl's attire was very similar to the clothing her mother wore.

5. There was a distinct division of labor between men and women on farms.

6. Colonial New Englanders married early - in their teens.

7. Divorce was not recognized or legal in colonial New England.

8. Ownership of a woman's property was legally transferred to her husband upon marriage.

9. A husband was expected to consult with his wife when making decisions regarding finances and property.

10. It was legal in colonial New England for a husband to hit his wife.

11. Sex between a married woman and a man (single or married) was considered adultery and was a capital offense.

12. Sex between an unmarried woman and a man (single or married) was considered adultery and was a capital offense.

13. People immigrating to New England tended to arrive in family groups rather than as single men and women.

14. There was a high rate of illiteracy among women.

15. A woman's domain was the family dwelling and yard surrounding it.

16. Single males outnumbered single females 4 to 1.

17. Women bore about 8 children on average.

18. Women were not allowed to speak publicly.

1. F, 2. T, 3. F, 4. T, 5. F, 6. False (early 20's), 7. F, 8. T, 9. F, 10. F, 11. T, 12. F, 13. T, 14. F, 15. T, 16. T, 17. T, 18. T

The answers to the quiz, and text that Lori Lynn referred to can be found in the following books, all of which are suggested reading on the topic of Colonial Women in New England.

Good Wives, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
Fissures in the Rock, by Richard Archer
Daily Life in Colonial New England, by Claudia Durst Johnson
American Jezebel, by Eve La Plante
The Muse of the Revolution, by Nancy Rubin Stuart

Lori Lyn profiled 5 fascinating women from Colonial times. By clicking on each women's name, you can get their brief history offered at Wikipedia...

Writer and poet, Anne Bradstreet. Anne was the first woman in Colonial New England to have her work published.

Upon the Burning of our House, July 10, 1666

And when I could no longer look,

I blest his grace that gave and took,

That laid my goods now in the dust.

Yea, so it was, and so 'twas just.

It was his own; it was not mine.

Far be it that I should repine.


Slave & poet, Phyllis Wheatley. Phyllis Wheatley was the first African American to publish a book.
phyllis Wheatley

"Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,

Taught my benighted soul to understand

That there's a God, that there's a Saviour too:

Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.

Some view our sable race with scornful eye,

'Their colour is a diabolic dye.'

Remember, Christians, Negroes, black as Cain,

May be refin'd, and join th' angelic train."

A statue of Phyllis Wheatley is located on Commonwealth Ave. in Boston.

Heroine, Hannah Duston. After being kidnapped 6 days postpardum by a band of Indians who killed her newborn, Hannah escaped, along with her nurse and a young boy, by scalping the Indian captures in their sleep, and then following the Merrimack River south from Boscawen, New Hampshire back to her home in Haverhill, MA. She was rewarded for her bravery.
statue located in Haverhill, MA

"The muse of the revolution," Mercy Otis Warren. Mercy was America's first female playwright. She also was the first woman to create a Jeffersonian, or anti-Federalist, interpretation of the Revolution, titled, "The History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution." She was the first woman to publish her writings with professional intent, rather than for family, friends, and/or personal hobby. She was a strong advocate for freedom of speech, freedom of press, trial by jury, and checks and balances of the executive and legislative branches of government; all of which would come to be part of our nation's Bill of Rights.

She wrote, "Our situation is truly delicate & critical. On the one hand we are in need of a strong federal government founded on principles that will support the prosperity & union of the colonies. on the other we have struggled for liberty & made costly sacrifices at her shrine and there are still many among us who revere her name to much to relinquish (beyond a certain medium) the rights of man for the dignity of government."

Statue of Mercy Otis Warren at the Barnstable County Courthouse

Midwife & theologian, Anne Hutchinson. In 1638 Anne was tried in civil court for "traducing the ministers," and in her own defense she stated,

"...you have no power over my body, neither can you do me any harme, for I am in the hands of the eternall Jehovah my Saviour, I am at his appointment, the bounds of my habitation are cast in heaven, no further doe I esteeme of any mortal man than creatures in his hand, I feare none but the great Jehovah, which hath foretold me of these things, and I doe verily beleeve that he will deliver me out of our hands, therefore take heed how you proceed against me; for I know that for this you goe about to doe to me, God will ruine you and your posterity, and this whole state."

statue located in front of the Boston State House

After discussing these colonial women, we noted a few points of common ground they all shared...these women were brave, well-educated (their fathers were very involved and supportive), and they were supported by their husbands. We discussed OUR common ground with these women. We noted the importance of partnership in marriage, and how important it is for our children to feel support and guidance in their goals from both parents.

I marvel at how far we have come as women- from having a limited, controlled voice, and a narrow role in life to today; where we can speak freely, vote, govern, compete, debate, and the list goes on...
True, our greatest, most influential work will be as a mother in our home, but the choices we have as to what we do with our lives has never been greater. Our choices for creative outlets have never been greater. Our opportunities have never been greater.

My final thought ties in with the temple. As we go to the temple and notice that we in fact are serving a woman who lived in colonial New England, perhaps we can feel a greater bond after taking the time to learn what their environment and circumstances were like. We can honor them sister-to-sister by the significant act of taking their individual name through the temple and offering eternal, exalting choices.

Thank you, again to Lori Lynn for sharing your knowledge and thoughts with us pertaining to women in Colonial New England. It was an education!

Lori Lynn has started a freelance business offering lectures on genealogy. Her website is http://bridgingthepast.com.