Monday, October 14, 2013


Little Possum made me a cartoon once.... I don't know where it went to, maybe in one of my journals? It featured a superhero called "Gratidude". Said 'Thank you' a lot..... awesome. Gratitude would be a great superpower. Although....... when I think of 'gratitude' I think of other words like
'humility', 'faith', 'submissive', 'meek'....   not words that seem to fit with the image of a superhero.

A little over a year ago, in preparation for a lesson on Gratitude to the Young Women (12-17 year old girls at church), the YW presidency started keeping gratitude journals. The challenge was to write down at least 3 things each day that we were grateful for, blessings that we had noticed, ways that we had noticed the Lord's hand in our day.

This has been such a blessing to me. I have missed a few days, and there were a couple of days where all I could think of was how grateful the day was at an end.  (I'm sure on those days I could have found something had I looked harder!). There are many times when I have expressed gratitude for the challenge of keeping this journal because it made me sit down and review my day, and it made me more aware during the day because I was looking more actively for things that I could write about in the evening.

When I've read back in the journal I noticed patterns emerging. I noticed that the periods where I had missed days were also days I could recognise as a spiritual trough, a period where I had not studied the scriptures daily or prayed as earnestly (some days, not at all) as I should. Humility and faith bring gratitude which brings humility and faith.

I noticed that the periods where I had been diligent in noticing blessings and had given thanks for them were times where I had been blessed with an increased awareness of the promptings of the Spirit in general. These were also days when I was generally more patient, more kind and contented. (My kids like those days!)

Lastly I noticed that the things I expressed gratitude for ranged widely.... from 'chocolate' to eternal principles and blessings. I figured I should give thanks for all things! But lately I have thought a little more about the phrase "all things".

D&C 59:7 "Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things",
D&C 78:19 "And he who receiveth  all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious"

I have thought about the pioneers. I have thought about the blessings that come from adversity. I have thought about the ability to find things to be grateful for in times of adversity and the importance of being grateful for the adversity itself. It is in our extremities we come to know God. Although my recent injury affects my extremity (har-de-ha), the challenging days I have now can hardly be described as an extremity........ but I am still grateful for the time for reflection it has given me! A blessing indeed.

My goal is to be able to always be grateful in the midst of a trial, and not just after it is over

 "To express gratitude is gracious and honourable,
To enact gratitude is generous and noble,
but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven"
President Thomas S Monson

For our FHE tonight everyone was given 5 minutes to write down a blessing or something they are grateful for.... one for every letter of the alphabet. (Q, X and Z were tricky.....)

Psalms 118:24
"This is the day which the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it"


Thursday, October 10, 2013


We have a wonderful Relief Society presidency in our ward, their love and concern for the sisters is amazing. The latest emphasis is to help us in our Visiting Teaching. The principle is simple - We need to love our sisters more, and we develop that love by getting to know each other. As we come to know each other we will care for each other more. To help us, they will issue us a challenge every month. For October the challenge is to ask our sisters

 "If you had an afternoon to yourself, how would you spend it?"

I love this question. Our sisters are at different stages in their lives, but they are all busy women. I am sure that an afternoon all to themselves would be lovely! But there is a deeper question there which I have pondered myself.
5 weeks ago I injured my ankle, and then developed a blood clot in my calf which set recovery back a little. I have spent a lot of time confined to the sofa which (as per the kids) became "Mummy Command Centre" or "Mummy HQ". I had my phone, iPad, laptop, scriptures, journal, stationery, books, woolbasket and more all around me. I have to admit I spent a lot of time floating aimlessly between email, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and other social media until one day I sat pondering the issue of "time". I had been thinking about adversity and trials, reflecting on Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail and the Lord's admonition to "endure well" (D&C 121:7-8).

Enduring vs enduring well. 

The thought struck me that I was not enduring well. I was certainly cheerful and filled with faith in my recovery, but I was not enduring well. I was passing time. I was not actively seeking to learn from my time of relative adversity.

I realised that trials or tests of faith can come in many forms, and that one of the biggest tests I was facing was simply in how I spend my time during this period where I had no specific demands for it/me. I couldn't do cooking, cleaning, school run, work, shopping or any of the other many tasks that would normally occupy my day. My time was completely unstructured and at my disposal during the day. So, how was I choosing to spend it? The question went right to the core, to my priorities. I saw that there were still lessons for me to learn and truths to ponder. There were things that I could do to serve, to lift, to love even from my sofa. There is nothing inherently wrong with spending time on social media, but if I am reaching out for entertainment before reaching out to the Lord or to others, then my priorities could do with a little tweaking. 

" We are responsible for our own actions and accountable to God for what we choose to do with our lives. Life is God’s gift to us, and what we do with it is our gift to Him". - Elaine Cannon "Agency and Accountability" GC Oct 1983

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Better late than never

As a convert to the church I only had a year and a bit in the YW programme and never finished my "Personal Progress".
When I was called to serve in YW a couple of years ago I decided I wanted to complete it both for my own benefit but also so that I could help the YW with their PP.

The programme had changed since I was a YW and I am so impressed with the current way. It is truly inspired.

Last week I received my medallion having completed 44 value experiences and 8 value projects.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

I'm a Pin-up!

I was very excited to discover that 2 of  my tutorials from years ago have been pinned onto Pinterest. It wasn't even pinned by me :)

The Funky Balls tutorial was a very popular post at the time. Only surpassed by the Fairy Headpiece tutorial which is very popular in Italy - they must be really into dress-up there!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Possum's new shoes

Possum went to work with Sharpies, rubbing alcohol and a dropper....

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Grommet Day

We discovered in the holidays that Turtle wasn't just being selectively hard of hearing, but actually couldn't hear very well at all. We decided to investigate. Having the GP look in his ears and go "hmmm, I haven't actually ever seen anything like that before" was not reassuring and sent us hot-footing it to an ENT surgeon.
Thankfully it seems that having another set of grommets and possibly some adenoid-shaving might solve the problem.

Today was the day.

He was very well looked after by my colleagues - I must say it is useful to be on the receiving end sometimes!

Slightly apprehensive, watching "A Bug's Life" in the pre-op holding area.
Highlight: The blanket from the warming cabinet!

Slightly sleepy in recovery...
Highlight: the lemonade iceblock....

Sleeping it off on the Children's ward
Highlight: cannula removed

Finally some food.....! Although what he really, really wanted was a bacon sandwich.
(The minute we arrived home, Chef went to work on the sandwich)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"Organise yourself..." - an answer to a prayer

I had been wondering, pondering and praying about how I could help foster a certain atmosphere in our home, our MTC. I want to make our home more of a holy ground, a haven. For example, work was and is still needed to make sure our home can be a bicker and sarcasm free zone. As the "Guardian of my hearth" I feel the responsibility keenly to help my children grow in the gospel, to ensure they have spiritual experiences.

In the middle of the night, I woke up and the answer came quietly to my mind. The answer was a scripture from D & C  - 88:119 ..  Organise yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.

I knew then what I needed to focus on, both personally and as a family. I also knew that I would like and need a visual reminder on the wall. Thankfully I know a wonderful artist - Eleanor McComb who takes commissions. In my mind I had a vague image of our house and the temple along with the words from the scripture. Eleanor came up with this wonderful design painted on a canvas and even made the house look exactly like ours :) I love the trees. Our front yard has tall gumtrees, and the temple also has trees around it. Perfect.

(This is an Instagram photo of the canvas on our wall, hence the black frame...)

On that note, I just re-discovered a talk by elder Gary E. Stevenson from the April 2009 titled "Sacred Homes, Sacred Temples"   Here's an excerpt:

"Recently, in a stake conference, all present were invited by the visiting authority, Elder Glen Jenson, an Area Seventy, to take a virtual tour of their homes using their spiritual eyes. I would like to invite each of you to do this also. Wherever your home may be and whatever its configuration, the application of eternal gospel principles within its walls is universal. Let’s begin. Imagine that you are opening your front door and walking inside your home. What do you see, and how do you feel? Is it a place of love, peace, and refuge from the world, as is the temple? Is it clean and orderly? As you walk through the rooms of your home, do you see uplifting images which include appropriate pictures of the temple and the Savior? Is your bedroom or sleeping area a place for personal prayer? Is your gathering area or kitchen a place where food is prepared and enjoyed together, allowing uplifting conversation and family time? Are scriptures found in a room where the family can study, pray, and learn together? Can you find your personal gospel study space? Does the music you hear or the entertainment you see, online or otherwise, offend the Spirit? Is the conversation uplifting and without contention? That concludes our tour. Perhaps you, as I, found a few spots that need some “home improvement”—hopefully not an “extreme home makeover.”
Whether our living space is large or small, humble or extravagant, there is a place for each of these gospel priorities in each of our homes.
In order to keep the temple and those who attend it sacred and worthy, the Lord has established standards through His servants, the prophets. We may be well-advised to consider together, in family council, standards for our homes to keep them sacred and to allow them to be a “house of the Lord.” The admonition to “establish … a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God” 9 provides divine insight into the type of home the Lord would have us build. Doing such begins the construction of a “spiritual mansion” in which we all may reside regardless of our worldly circumstance—a home filled with treasure that “neither moth nor rust doth corrupt.” 10
There exists a righteous unity between the temple and the home. Understanding the eternal nature of the temple will draw you to your family; understanding the eternal nature of the family will draw you to the temple. President Howard W. Hunter stated, “In the ordinances of the temple, the foundations of the eternal family are sealed in place.” 11

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

..... And he's off....

Can't believe Turtle is off to high school already. But today is the day. He has been a little apprehensive, high school is a big step. But I have every confidence that Turtle will be just fine.

I am so very proud of him and the fine young man he is growing into. He has a strong moral compass and he is compassionate. He makes me laugh with his own special brand of humour. Last year at the yr 6 farewell the school chaplain described Turtle as the school's big brother, who with quiet leadership set an example to others. I'm sure those traits will help him in high school.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

do you hear the music?

Imagine learning the jive or the waltz, or the paso doble or even zumba. Imagine learning the steps and performing the dance without music. Envisage how mechanical the movement would be if you were learning to dance by going through the motions without the music in the background to add meaning and richness to your dance. I'm thinking that in addition to being more complicated, it would also be awkward and boring!

Yet, it this what I am teaching my children to do with the gospel? Are they learning the motions but not feeling the Spirit accompanying them, tutoring them, lifting them? Attending Church without feeling engaged?
What about lessons I give to the YW at church?

Some time ago I stumbled across this talk given at BYU Education Week in 2009 by dr A Lynn Scoresby on the "Crisis of Unbelief" among the youth of the church. As a mother and a YW leader this topic is extremely pertinent. The talk covers the importance of belief as a step on the path to faith, testimony and conversion. It covers reasons for loss of belief as well as how to help children and youth nurture belief. You can watch the talk here

Since October Gen Conference in 2011, I have been studying and pondering the importance of teaching by the Spirit. I listen to a lot of talks online and have another whole lot of talks and audiobooks downloaded to my iPhone so that I have access to inspirational and uplifting material any time. It seems that everything I have read or heard since then has brought me even more things to ponder and learn in that area.

I have to say that when they announced the new mission ages and the new youth curriculum in the October 2012 GC I had an overwhelming feeling of "rightness",  it made everything click into my place in my heart. I knew why I had been prompted to focus on this and to understand how vitally important it is to having the Spirit guide us as we prepare lessons, and to ensure we are truly teaching by the Spirit in. Both at church and at home. My children need me to arm them spiritually, to pack their luggage for their missions spiritually speaking, and also to arm them for the times ahead. This means that I need to prepare myself spiritually in order to be receptive, I need to study the scriptures, learn, strengthen my own testimony to put myself on ever higher ground. I have work cut out for me :)

 "Our children are learning to dance without hearing the music"

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

stranded on a desert island

 Turtle completed Primary school last year, and the school held the annual yr 6 dinner. I was on the committee of parents organising the dinner and we decided on a tropical island kind of theme for the evening. 

Planning was fun, putting it into action was laborious at time.... like carrying a dinghy into the function room at the RSL..... don't think they'd ever had a boat in there before.

Every tropical island needs juicy drinks with little umbrellas....

The entrance had lanterns and palms

The table settings had a treasure chest for each person filled with mementos from their school years as well as some chocolate gold coins (couldn't have a chest without treasure!)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Enos and me

The special edition of the Ensign on the Book of Mormon had an article by elder Neil A Anderson on how to use the Book of Mormon in our families. Having read through the Book of Mormon last year for Sunday School (and my Personal Progress!) I have started a study of the Book of Mormon again this year keeping an eye out for the truths that I could learn that are important for me as a parent raising children in the gospel.

This week I have been time studying Enos. This book has long been a favourite of mine. Only 27 verses long, but so much to learn. In the past this book is where I have learned about developing faith, about repentance, forgiveness and conversion to the gospel, and the effect of this on a person's life. This time around, I was reading looking for counsel for me as a parent given from another parent, ultimately my Heavenly Father.
verses 1 and 3 held the truths I needed to find this time:
1 Behold, it came to pass that I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man—for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—and blessed be the name of my God for it—
 3 Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.
We don't have much information about Enos before time in his life. We don't know whether he was rebellious, or whether he had just arrived at a point in his life where he was seeking an independent witness and testimony. But at the time he needed it, what he needed to know came to him in the form of his father's testimony. His father had often taught and (I assume) born testimony - words which had travelled with Enos like a seed waiting to sprout.

It reminded me of the importance of having regular gospel conversations, of teaching diligently and with the Spirit, bearing testimony often. As I do so I hope that the Spirit will carry eternal truths to the hearts of my children. I can't predict when or how the moment of conversion will come to my children, but I know what my role is.

new beginnings

haha... as I started to type the title, typo struck and I typed in "biginnings" - how appropriate now that I contemplate starting up a healthier lifestyle :)

I haven't updated the blog for awhile but will start off with a short cavalcade of snapshots from the past month

dismantling and selling the jungle gym which went to another family with 2 boys and a little girl. We trust that they will love it every bit as much as we did :)

playing in the hammock - this time setting off on a voyage across the ocean. "Life of Pi"? 2 people and a carnivorous ladybird makes for a great adventure.

Turtle and his friend went busking in our local shopping centre to earn themselves some money. I think their hourly rate works out almost as much as mine, so I am considering a change of career :)
(although, I think half their earning capacity is due to them being so very handsome... I don't think I have as much style as them)

Holiday Luxury 1
Stopping for icecream. Why buy little bars of icecream when you can get a great pot of your favourite and just share?

Holiday Luxury 2
French toast made from ciabatta served with fresh strawberries and maple syrup

Holiday Luxury 3
Burgers at the Wholly Cow cafe in Sawtell. Nuff said.

Hanging out with cousins at the blowhole in Sawtell.

Reading and generally relaxing. Beach a bonus.

It was lovely.