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