Monday, May 12, 2014

Welcome Samuel Dean Stephens!

We are happy to announce that Melanie had her sweet baby boy Tuesday, April 29th 2014.

Welcome to the world, Samuel Dean Stephens!

Melanie says, "Sam was born Tuesday morning weighing 8 lb. 5 oz. And was 21 inches long. He has been super sweet and a great sleeper. We love having him in our family!" 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

Today during church we were able to meet together during Relief Society hour and have a "Celebration of Women." The youth covered the primary and nursery classes for that hour to allow all the Primary and Young Women Leaders to join us.
The presidency and committee combined forces to get things set up in the gym. We brought yummy breads of all varieties and grapes and pretty sugar cookies.

It was so neat to see everyone gathering together as sisters on this beautiful Mother's Day!

We filled the gym!
After our prayer and announcements, we brought the spirit to our meeting with a beautiful arrangement of "As Sisters in Zion" sung to us by Gretchen, Melissa, and Hiedi with Amy on the piano.

 Then everyone was let loose to get some food.


After we spent some time visiting and munching, we were pleased to hear another awesome musical number. Melissa sang "A Woman's Heart."

 What a wonderful message and reminder to all of us of what we can be as women.
I suggest you listen to the following recording if you have never heard it before.

Then we got to listen to some inspired words from our wonderful Relief Society President, Gretchen. She talked about her three daughters and how each one is quite different-- one puts her all into being a mother, one who wants to have a career as part of her family life, etc. Gretchen told us about some other women of the church that she had read about. One of which was Elaine Bradley-- a drummer for a rock band. Watch the following video to learn more about this sister and the way she fulfills her dream of being a musician while still maintaining a solid life living as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Gretchen spoke about how we are all different and that we shouldn't judge each other. We also shouldn't judge ourselves too harshly (which we have the tendency to do as women, it seems).

I loved when she said,
 "If you like baking bread at home--  if you think it tastes better, you feel it's healthy for your family, if you enjoy doing it-- then make home made bread. If you don't like baking-- then buy a loaf of bread."

Sometimes we get too caught up in what we think a perfect LDS woman should be-- a sewer, a baker, etc. etc. And we get stressed or feel like we aren't good enough if we can't or don't do those things. But really, those things won't get us into the celestial kingdom.  It is more important that we live the gospel standards. And beyond that, we should do the things that make us happy (as long as they are within the standards of the church of course :) ).

It was a wonderful message and I think we all felt feeling better about ourselves and with a greater resolve to judge less and help more.

It was a wonderful celebration of womanhood and we loved spending time all together.
Thanks to everyone who made it possible!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Rock, Paper, Scriptures!

Despite the storm brewing in the sky that night, we had a GREAT turnout for our May Relief Society meeting!
The theme was "Rock, Paper, Scriptures."
We focused on ways to come closer to the Savior and "hold to the rod."

Carrie opened up the evening with some personal experiences and a wonderful video emphasizing the importance of daily scripture study in our lives.

We then split into three classes and got to take part in some great discussions.


Teryl told us about her grandfather and the house he built one rock at a time. It was a three year process but the results were a house with a strong foundation and walls that would stand through the years. Even after the house was vandalized, it still maintained its structure and has been fixed up and still stands today.
She tied this in with our own lifelong efforts to build upon the rock of our Redeemer.
Helaman 5:12 states:
  And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

Brianne led a great discussion on journaling and how it blesses our lives-- and the lives of our posterity!
We talked about different kinds of journals we can keep:
online journals (someone suggested we all try out !)
good old fashioned pen and paper journals
family journals
scripture journals
gratitude journals
Not only can we benefit from looking back at past journal entries, but our future children and grandchildren may be able to gain something from them as well.
If you think about it, the scriptures themselves are record keeping and "journaling" of ancient prophets. So, in a way, our personal journals we keep can be like our own "scripture" we are writing for our future children and grandchildren to learn and grow from.
SCRIPTURES (Holding to the rod):
Kimberly lassoed us up and took us on a little obstacle course to drive home her point.
Her instructions to us were only this:
"Hold on to the rope and follow me."
So the group was all walking along clumped together in the loop of the rope.
We thought getting up the narrow stairway to the stage was difficult...

...but that seemed like nothing when we realized we hand to climb under a small table!!!

Kimberly just kept repeating "Just hold on to the rope and follow me."
Most groups went through the whole thing trying to stay inside the loop of the rope.
This last group made the realization as they were trying to cram under the table that Kimberly never said they had to stay in the loop. They just had to hold onto the rope! They realized that it would be much easier if they untied the loop and just each held onto it in a straight line.

This was a great object lesson that brought us closer together as sisters (literally). We discussed the point of this exercise and applied it to our own journeys in life.
Sometimes we get too caught up in doing things a certain way or a way we think it should be done or even the way that MOST people do it. But, that isn't always the most effective way. Ultimately, our instruction is to "hold to the rope and follow me"-- or hold to the rod and follow Him. We need to try to get rid of those distractions or unimportant things that sometimes make it so much more difficult than it needs to be!
We shared different things we personally do to bring ourselves closer to Christ and our Heavenly Father-- different ways we have found to do things that work well for US personally. Whether it was methods of scripture study or ways to get rid of distractions in life.
After these awesome messages we joined back together to close our meeting.
Carrie invited each of us to take a rock from the table in the back of the room and write on it something that was a "spiritual rock" in our lives. Either a favorite scripture or quote. We can display these rocks somewhere as a reminder of having that strong foundation in our lives.
And... of course we enjoyed some tasty refreshments together! We had fruits and veggies and dips.
Our new friend Ann even brought some delicious Pilipino dishes for us to try! A tasty sesame noodle dish and some potstickers.

We always have a great time getting together as sisters and visiting together.
And tonight was no different.