26 May 2009

We love Connie!

Connie, a dear sister in our RS who has given so much & meant so much to scores of women who have come through our ward over the years, recently lost her husband to a sudden heart attack. A couple weeks after his passing, the quilt idea was born. I had a stack of 40 Moda's Simplicity 10" quilt squares called a "cake layer" sitting on my sewing shelf waiting for a very special project. Sara M. sent an E-vite out and we spread the word that all of the sisters were invited to take a quilt square and decorate it any which way they wanted to express their love for Connie. Women who have moved out of our ward participated as well, and the response was so great that I raided my fabric stash for coordinating fabric to cut 25 more squares. The response was a testament to the friend Connie has always been. We gave these women 10 DAYS to return the squares so that I could sew the quilt top together during General Conference weekend and then we could start tying the quilt during April's enrichment gathering. Meanwhile this was to be kept secret! Yes, miracles DO happen in this Relief Society! :D

The quilt squares came in from near and far and it was really remarkable to see the thought and love put into each square. There were scripture verses, poems, a birdhouse, handprints, embroidery, genealogy, references to fond shared memories, and on and on. I sewed 1 1/2" strips of white fabric to the right hand side of each square (with the exception of the squares on the far right column of the quilt). Each of those blocks sewn in order made up the horizontal rows of the quilt. Next I sewed a 1 1/2" white strip of fabric in between each horizontal row, followed by the white border. ...and the quilt top was DONE!

At April enrichment we started tying the quilt. We used all different colors of embroidery floss...colors that complimented the color scheme of the quilt fabric, and a white flannel flat sheet for the backing. A week or so after enrichment, we had a girls' night out at Charlene's and made big progress tying Connie's quilt. Next, we handed the quilt over to the Young Women who came oh, so close to finishing it at their activity. I finished up tying the border. On to the binding...

The binding is made up of coordinating Moda Simplicity fabric that was pre-cut into a 5" squares (the "charm pack"). Kathe took care of the binding and did a beautiful job hand-stitching the binding to the backing...100's of stitches.

Miraculously we all kept this beautiful project a secret from Connie. On Mother's Day we even had it on the RS room table for last minute signatures and notes of love...from Connie's former Sunbeams (can you find their "sunny" block?) and her current CTR 7 class. The children adore Connie.
Toward the end of our VTing conference, Jan read a poem about Connie written by Sheryl, and Tammy and I held up the quilt. The future may mean a change of scenery for Connie and we were glad to offer her a constant warm reminder that she has touched so many lives and we each love her right back, and pray for her daily comfort. Connie admired the quilt for the rest of RS. We talked about all of the different quilt blocks and it was fun for her to see the names of women who have moved away, but still contributed. Connie was overwhelmed with gratitude.

Amy had the foresight to bring a camera. These are photos of Connie receiving her quilt. There were a few cameras there. If you have photos you want to add, please let me know.
I'm pointing to a block that Jan machine embroidered with the RS emblem that they used on small bags when Connie was RS president years ago. "Charity Never Faileth."

To get a closer look at the quilt blocks, just click on the photos...

We LOVE you, Connie!

19 May 2009

Books and Binding

The following guest post is from our own Whitney Johnson. She has a wonderful blog, Dare to Dream. Spend some time there and pass along what inspires you. I personally love insights that Whitney shares from all genres of literature. After discussing The Book Thief with Whitney I made time to pick it up again and finish it. I'm so glad I did...the ending scenes of sacrifice and love are still etched in my mind.
Now that summer is knocking at the door, it's time for ENRICHING summer reading. With this in mind, I thought you'd all enjoy Whitney's "Books and Binding" blog post....

Books and Binding by Whitney Johnson
On Friday, May 8, we had our Boston-based Resolutionary Challenge celebration at Henrietta's Table. As we sat in the springtime sunshine, the conversation turned to our love of books, and how during the course of our 12-week challenge, the online discussion of books, more than any other thread, seemed to bind us to one another, many of whom we had never met.

Is it possible that like Liesel in The Book Thief, when we share stories, especially great ones, there is an express fondness for those with whom we share, as well as a seeing of both ourselves and our shared humanity in these stories?

By request, I've compiled the list of books recommended by this year's Resolutionaries. If a book was recommended by more than (1) person, I'll include the total count in parentheses. If I've read and can recommend the book, I'll asterisk.

Happy reading!

A Thousand Splendid Suns -- Khaled Hosseini
Bless Me, Ultima -- Rudolfo Anaya
Gilead -- Marilynne Robinson (3)
Love Marriage - V.S. Ganeshananthan
Peace Like a River -- Leif Enger (2)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society -- Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows
The Kite Runner -- Khaled Hosseini

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency -- Alexander McCall Smith (*)
The Road -- Cormac McCarthy
The Secret Life of Bees -- Sue Monk Kidd (2)
Uncle Fred in the Springtime - P.G. Wodehouse
Water for the Elephants -- Sara Gruen

Historical Fiction
A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
Here Be Dragons -- Sharon Kay Penman Ines of My Soul - Isabel Allende
Moloka'i -- Alan Brennert (2)
Sarah's Key -- Tatiana de Rosnay
The Book Thief -- Marcus Zusak (4) (*)
The Many Lives and Secret Passions of Josephine B -- Sandra Gull (*)
The Game of Kings -- Dorothy Dunnett

Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton (1)
East of Eden - John Steinbeck (*)
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (*)
Wives and Daughters - Elizabeth Gaskell

The Camel Club - David Baldacci

Young Adult Fiction
Amaranth Enchantment -- Julie Berry (3)(*)(Please read prior to July 9th RS Enrichment. We'll be passing around copies. -rebecca)
Book of a Thousand Days -- Shannon Hale (*)
Fablehaven -- Brnadon Mull
Lirael -- Garth Nix
My Antonia -- Willa Cather
The Giver -- Lois Lowry (2)(*)
The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman
The Hundred Dresses--Eleanor Estes (Please read prior to September's RS Enrichment. We'll be passing around copies, but you should be able to find this quick read at your local library -rebecca)
Note: My daughter and I prepared a list of questions re: Amaranth Enchantment for mother-daughter book clubs. Click here to download.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life -- Barbara Kingsolver et al
Blink - Malcolm Gladwell (*)
Outliers -- Malcolm Gladwell (2)(*)
The Peacegiver - James L. Ferrell
The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell (2)(*)

Me Talk Pretty One Day -- David Sedaris
Personal History -- Katharine Graham (*)
West with the Night -- Beryl Markham (*)


Thank you for sharing this list with us, Whitney. If anyone would like to add suggestions to this list, or share comments about any of the books on this list, you can either comment on this post, or email me and I will update this list periodically. rebecca {at} menzie {dot} org.


PS. If you want to share this list on your blog, please credit and refer to Whitney's original post...

All best,

13 May 2009

Visiting Teaching: Instrument of the Lord booklet

The following is the contents of the Visiting Teaching booklet we handed out in Relief Society on Mother's Day. This way, if you lose your book, you can always come here and regroup. On the right hand side of this blog you'll find a category under "Enrichment Files" titled, "visiting teaching." The booklet contents will be filed there for future reference.
FYI- All artwork can by found on lds.org in the online Gospel Art Book.

Visiting Teaching Challenge

"The teacher's duty is to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them (D&C 20:53). This is the mandate of the Lord.

“I hope that…visiting teachers will experience two things: first, the challenge of the responsibility that is in their great calling, and second, the sweetness of results from their work, particularly with those among us who are less active. I hope that these teachers will get on their knees and pray for direction, and then go to work to bring these wandering prodigals back into the fold of the Church.

“If…visiting teachers respond to this challenge, I honestly believe that they will taste the sweet and wonderful feeling which comes of being an instrument in the hands of the Lord in leading someone back into activity in His church and kingdom." -Gordon B. Hinckley

WEEK 1: Pray daily for the sisters you have been called to visit teach. See Moroni 7:48

“My dear sisters, do not pray for tasks equal to your abilities, but pray for abilities equal to your tasks. Then the performance of your tasks will be no miracle, but you will be the miracle.” –Thomas S. Monson

"Christ in Gethsemane" by Harry Anderson

WEEK 2: Shepherd the sisters you visit teach by first knowing who they are. What are your sisters’ names, hobbies, interests? Exchange contact information. See Luke 15:1-7 & John 10:1-18

“We must manifest the same love to others that the Good Shepherd has for all of us. Each soul is precious to Him. His invitation beckons every…daughter of God.” –Ezra Taft Benson

"The Lost Lamb" by Del Parson

WEEK 3: Send a note of love and support to your visiting teaching sisters. See Mosiah 2:17

“The gospel tells us that all women are our eternal sisters. Our challenge is to accept someone who is different, look past a person’s weaknesses, forgive a sister who has wronged us, love someone who is angry with us, or repent and change our attitudes and actions. Such demands purify us and bring us closer to living a Christlike life.” -Ensign, Aug. 1990, pg. 63

“Christ Healing the Sick at Bethesda” by Carl Heinrich Bloch

WEEK 4: Telephone your visiting teaching sisters and personally invite them to the next Relief Society Enrichment activity. See D&C 108:7 & D&C 109:14, 16

“As Relief Society...members catch the vision and the excitement of Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment meeting and act out of the resultant enthusiasm, we will grow in testimony and spiritual strength. We will come closer to our Savior and know how to build homes where He can dwell.” –Virginia U. Jenson

"Christ in the Home of Mary and Martha" by David Lindsley

WEEK 5: Share the visiting teaching message with your sisters in their homes. Bring a thoughtful treat or simple gift for your sisters; a bookmark, cupcake, candle, potted herb, etc. See D&C 84:88

“A call to service should be primarily a matter of the heart. You are called to represent the Savior. Your voice to testify becomes the same as His voice, your hands to lift the same as His hands. … The Father and His Beloved Son will send the Holy Ghost as your companion to guide you. Your efforts will be magnified in the lives of [those you visit teach]. And when you look back on what may now seem trying times of service and sacrifice, the sacrifice will have become a blessing, and you will know that you have seen the arm of God lifting those you served for Him, and lifting you.” –Henry B. Eyring

"Jesus Washing the Apostles Feet" by Del Parson

WEEK 6: Anonymously serve your visiting teaching sisters in an effort to lighten their load and brighten their day. See Matthew 6:1-4

“I wish to declare without reservation that the ultimate judgement of every man will be on the simplest terms and most certainly on what each has done to bless people in a quiet, unassuming way.” –Robert L. Simpson

"The Good Samaratin" by Walter Rane

  • Take a moment to evaluate your Christ-centered visiting teaching experience over the last six weeks.
  • Record your experiences being guided and taught by the Spirit in your “great calling” as a visiting teacher.
  • What did you learn about your visiting teaching sisters?
  • What went well? What didn’t?
  • What is one thing you & your companion can do to improve your service to your visiting teaching sisters next month?
  • Take a moment to offer a prayer of gratitude for specific blessings our Heavenly Father has offered during these 6 weeks of coming closer to Christ through Visiting Teaching.
  • Go back to week 1 and continue on the path of Christ-centered visiting teaching.

Visiting Teaching Ideas
  • If possible, make a standing appointment to visit your visiting teaching sisters (ie. plan to meet 1st Tuesday of each month at 10am).
  • What can you do to help your sisters build up their personal preparedness supplies? Bring one item for food storage or emergency preparedness supplies.
  • Find out what you can do to help your sisters attend the temple one more time per month? Babysit? Carpool? Support progress toward holding a temple recommend?
  • Read from the scriptures during your visits.
  • Share your testimony pertaining to the visiting teaching message during your visits.
  • Bring an Ensign article, activity from The Friend, or something appropriate for your sisters to use for Family Home Evening.
  • Fast for the sisters you visit teach.
  • If the sisters who visit you have difficulty reaching you, take initiative and reach out to them to set the next appointment.

10 May 2009

Visiting Teaching Conference

We hope that each of you sisters are enjoying a relaxing Mother's Day.
We had a lovely, uplifting Visiting Teaching Conference during the second and third hours of church today, and enjoyed having so many sisters in attendance. We missed those of you who were not able to be there.

Our theme was "Instrument of the Lord," and how we have the opportunity to be an instrument of the Lord in extending His love, compassion, and charity to the sisters we've been called to visit.

Thank you, Deb & Sue, and Cheryl for your beautiful musical numbers.

Sheryl gave a beautiful talk including the story of Esther, and examples of women today who, through their efforts in visiting teaching extend the love of the Lord and make a difference, even when their efforts may seem insignificant. Our every effort IS important, noticed or not.

We offered a 6 week "Coming unto Christ through Visiting Teaching" booklet. If you did not get one, there will be extras in Relief Society through May. Please make sure that those you visit teach received their own copy. Our hope is that this little "program" may be a spiritual journey for each sister in our RS; that we, through our divine role as women, will find joy in supporting one another in our responsibilities, roles, and dreams. By following the example of our Savior, will this uplifting relationship of sisterhood come more naturally? How will our relationship with Christ grow? Will there be personal growth? Let's find out... together!

We watched the following video, Reflections of Christ.

Finally..... we gave Connie her quilt. I'll post pictures here just as soon as I get them. Connie cried, and we all got to express our love for her. We are so blessed to have angel Connie in our RS, and now she will be constantly reminded of our compassion for her.

On behalf of the RS Pres'y, I want to add that we love each of you, sisters, and are so very thankful for all that you do!

With Love,

05 May 2009

Some Clutter-busting encouragement....

Getting a grip on the clutter our family of 7 accumulates seems ominous most days. I should start a bonfire each day just before the kids come home from school and have them hand over all of the old paperwork they bring home. Some things would not burn so well, like the rocks Grace "collects," names, and saves. And then there is MY paper trail, and little piles here and there....drives me nuts, but I'm determined to SIMPLIFY this spring & summer for sanity's sake.

Today I came across the Clutter Control Freak blog post, "Prune Away Your Clutter." I love the analogy of pruning a plant and cutting back on clutter. Each gardening season when we cut flowers, new blooms grow, and the plant thrives. For our creativity and productivity to thrive, we need to get a grip on the menacing clutter, just as we do the weeds and wilting blooms in our garden. Take a moment to read the short post, and you'll be de-cluttering right along with me!

Won't it be fun to see the new life that springs forth from our de-cluttering efforts? At the very least, we'll welcome a measure of peace of mind and satisfaction, not to mention the ability to have a solid answer when asked, "Where is a pencil?"

Best Wishes,

Rebecca Menzie