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I went through a store with my son the other day and he saw all the Christmas decoration stuff for sale and he said “I hate it when they skip holidays”

Meaning we had just put away our Halloween décor and we should be looking forward to Thanksgiving.  (being a kid, I’m sure he didn’t realize that I’ve been decorating for Thanksgiving ever since I put up the fall décor back in August.)

I personally can’t wait for Thanksgiving.

I look forward to traveling, spending time with family, cooking those favorites that I only eat this time of year. To me Thanksgiving is a time to show your family how much you love them.

I’ve discovered recently that my favorite way to show love is by cooking.  With only 2 of us in the house now, it became really easy to ignore meal time.  We would eat out, or just have leftovers or sandwiches.

Only when I got my cooking magazine in the mail, and decided to make some real recipes did I begin to feel like myself again. This is part of who I am. I may not always make the best meals, but cooking each night brings us closer together, and helps me to feel like I still have something to contribute in the life of my very independent child.  In fact I finally feel like I am in a position to start getting to know the neighbors and have people over for dinner.

The last 2 Thanksgivings, I felt kind of homeless.  Because my life was in transition, I didn’t cook Thanksgiving dinner, or celebrate it with family.  (Other than my 2 kids that were at home at the time.) However we were blessed to have friends who saw our loneliness and invited us to share in Thanksgiving with them. These two Thanksgiving dinners were very special because I felt loved even though we were not with immediately family.

This year I am lucky enough to be joining many members of my family, and especially to be with people that I don’t get to see very often.  I’m looking forward to this almost more than Christmas.

I think that I big part of Thanksgiving is the “giving” part.  Reminding ourselves of the things in life that we are so blessed to have, then finding a way to share that with others that may be in need.  Like the families that took us in on a holiday that they could have just kept their families.  This year, I may not be able to take in another family, but I found a way to be a part of a larger project that ensured that several Veteran families that are in need, will have a Thanksgiving dinner for themselves.

Maybe this Thanksgiving we can all show our thanks by giving a little to others.

If you are grateful that you have enough food to eat, you can donate to a food pantry.

If you are grateful that you have family close by to share your love, you can watch for people that are lonely and share some little bit of joy.

If you’re grateful that you have a good job and can support your family, maybe you can think about hiring a local teen to help with yard work, or buying chocolate from the cute little cub scouts outside the grocery store, or signing up to help with job training in your local refugee center.

If I can be grateful that “today I am happy,” I can choose to smile and be especially cheerful and helpful to everyone that I meet.

Preparing for Christmas is important, but before we start the crazy rush towards Christmas, let’s all take this week before Thanksgiving to show our gratitude to others by sharing a little of what we have been blessed with.  Showing this “true love of Christ” is the best way to start getting ready for Christmas anyway.

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p.s.  If you want to give in some way this season, but don’t know where to start, you can go to and sign up and look for opportunities that will fit your families ability and desire to serve.


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Hope through the atonement can lead to happinessHope and Happiness can be elusive.  We want to be happy, and positive, and upbeat; but there are definitely times when it is challenging.

Life can get hard. It gets discouraging. And it can happen rather easily.

Neal A Maxwell said

“Doubt and despair, like dandelions, need little encouragement in order to sprout and spread.”

This month I’ve been discussing ways to bring more happiness into our lives. But sometimes it takes more than just trying to be happy.  Sometimes learning to use the atonement of Christ in our lives is what it takes to bring back hope and happiness.

What is hope and why is it so important to have a happy life?

Neal A Maxwell also taught that

“Hope is serene, not giddy, eager without being naive, and pleasantly steady without being smug.  Hope is retained through the gift of the Holy Ghost and faith in Christ

Hope in a bright future helps us to be brave enough to keep going when times seem dark.

Hope in the atonement can lead us to repentance, leaving the past behind and working to become better people every day.

Hope in God’s love helps us to be patient, while we wait for God’s timing to bring us answers we seek.

Hope requires faith, and can bring us to a place of peace and happiness.

When we learn to exercise hope through the atonement in our lives, it becomes much easier to bounce back from the discouragements and difficulties that will inevitably pop up in our lives.

Everyone experiences difficulties. But we don’t have to let them be the whole story in our lives. Turn to the Lord. Learn about Him and the plans that He has for your life.

Enjoy this little video and remember that God’s blessings are all around us to bring up happiness, if we will exercise faith and hope in Him, and allow the atonement to work its magic in our lives.


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How can faith make you happy

Many years ago I had a therapist tell me to make “Faith Cards” to carry with me at all times, to help me through my rough spots.

I was in the middle of some dark and difficult times, and experiencing related depression, and I didn’t see how “faith” had anything to do with helping me survive this trial I was going through.

I no longer had faith in the people, because some important people had let me down.  I certainly didn’t have faith that everything would turn out the way I expected it should, because it didn’t.

I just didn’t have any idea how having faith would help me to handle my current situation any better.

Well, after several therapy sessions, I began to learn more of what she was talking about.  The most important faith that we can have is faith in God.

Faith that He knows each of us individually.

Faith that He knows about the bad things that happen to us, before they happen, and He has a plan for our lives.

Faith that He can send us messages to help along the way, through scriptures, earnest prayer, and good people sent into our lives to help.

So back to “Faith Cards.”  Faith cards are small cards (I created mine on printable business cards) that fit into a purse or wallet, so that the can be pulled out and used to lift the spirits any time it is needed.  The words on the faith cards could be scriptures, quotes, words to a hymn or inspirational song.  Anything that helps to remind me in a hard moment that God is watching over and He is in charge.

Here are a few examples of quotes that I used.

Doctrine and Covenants 6:23  Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?

Ether 12:27 … if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

2 Nephi 32:3 … feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.

From the Hymn “Be Still My Soul”   Thy God doth undertake to guide the future as he has the past.

If you decide to make faith cards, they will be very personal to you, and have quotes that speak to your own soul.

2 Nephi 2:25 teaches us that “men are, that they might have joy.”

Do we believe that men are created to have joy?  The scripture says that men are that they “might” have joy.  It is still a choice, and it doesn’t say that we will live in a constant state of joy, but we might have some beautiful moments of joy throughout our lives.

Life really is meant to be enjoyed.  Happiness can be found and is even sweeter after the enduring of trials. Having faith that God is at the helm can be just what is needed to carry on and find the sweet happy moments that God has placed in our lives for us to discover.

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Can I choose to be happy

According to Mister Groundhog, it is going to be an early spring.  I don’t know about where you live, but the amount of sunshine I have seen in the past several weeks has left me feeling very “springy.”

There is just something about spending time in the warm sun that is naturally energizing.  In fact, I’m pretty sure there is scientific proof that spending time in the sun increases our overall happiness.

I think it is safe to say that it is a universal goal of most people to be happy, but it’s probably not something that we write down and concentrate on as a goal.

I think it’s more likely that our goals are…

“When I lose 10 pounds, then I’ll be happy”

“When I get a new job, then I’ll be happy”

“When we buy a new house, then I’ll be happy”

You get the picture.  We all want to be happy, but it is easy to get caught up in the belief that happiness will come when our circumstances change.  But once they do change, how long does the new happiness last? Not long on its own.  Research done at the University of California Riverside found these statistics around happiness.

What determines happiness

Our circumstances can be a good excuse for not experiencing happiness, but the stats show otherwise.  If only 10 percent of our happiness is determined by our circumstances, then it can be really dangerous to put our happiness on hold, while waiting for our circumstances to change.

Of course, a loss in life, such as death, divorce, or loss of a job or any important relationship can cause a definite degree of sadness.  However, that sadness does not have to be a permanent state.  It can be hard to see happiness during a time of loss, and it is crucial to be honest with those sad feelings as they come. However, it is just as important to realize that although we have to recognize our own negative feelings, we don’t have to set up camp and live in that state.

Facing a loss with the support of understanding friends and family can be healing and help bring stability and an overall sense of well-being during hard times, allowing happiness to find a pathway back into daily life.

After my divorce there were some difficult, frustrating and, yes, some sad times.  And even though life had thrown me in an unanticipated position, I chose to work hard for a chance to maintain a healthy happy life.  I accepted the sad times as they came and indulged myself in a couple of cry fests, but overall I would say that I was mostly happy.

Then a few years later when I got engaged to a new man, a good friend said “Oh, I’m so glad to see that you’re happy.”

I almost got a little defensive.  My instant thought was “Who says I wasn’t happy on my own.  Why do I have to have a fiancé or husband to be happy?  I can be perfectly happy all by myself, thank you very much!!”

Of course, I didn’t actually say those things.  I know she didn’t mean any harm.  She was being genuine and sweet.  In fact I might have said the same thing to someone else in similar circumstances.

I suppose I was just a little surprised by my own knee-jerk reaction to her expression of joy for me.

Do I need someone else’s approval before I can be happy?  Do I need to have all of my “ducks in a row” at all times to be content with my life?

I guess I have proven to myself over some difficult years, that “no, I don’t” have to have perfect circumstances in order to be happy.

There have certainly been times when I have been stressed or excited about some upcoming event. I recognize that sense of anxiety in my body as a sign that the stress is building up. There is always something around the corner that demands my attention. Sometimes it’s something fun. Sometimes it’s something busy but necessary. But wherever it comes from, it can cause stress and anxiety. What I have learned to do as those stressors begin to take a toll on my mind and body, is to stop… analyze how I am at that exact moment, and say to myself.

Right now, in this moment, I am happy”

And just as I say it, I begin to feel it.

Being afraid for the future doesn’t have to affect my ability to be happy right now.

Preparing for something fun that will happen in the future doesn’t mean I can’t also be happy right now.

Working hard and anticipating something stressful that I need to give attention to doesn’t mean I can’t stop for a moment, take a breath, and be happy in just this one quiet moment.

For me the time that I most often remind myself that “Right now, I am happy” is as I’m pulling into my garage.  It is a routine moment.  At that moment I don’t have to be figuring anything out, or calculating my budget, or planning out dinner.  For that one moment I recognize that I can choose to be happy.

I smile to myself as I’m climbing out of my car.

I know that life is good.

I can choose to be happy in this moment and let that carry over into the rest of my life.

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Do you ever wonder how to best show love for the ones who truly love you?  It’s one of those things I ponder over and struggle with. Am I giving in a way they are understanding?  Do they understand the deep emotions I feel in my heart?

I read the book 5 Love Languages many years ago and had all of my children and husband take the quiz. It was interesting to notice how completely different all 8 of us are in regards to receiving and giving love. From great hugs to a well thought out gift, it means something different to each of us.

If you have not read it I highly recommend it. As a quick overview the 5 different love languages are

  1. Acts of service
  2. Gifts
  3. Quality time
  4. Words of affirmations
  5. Physical touch

This adorable video is a sweet sum up of the Love Languages.

I thrive on words of affirmation and quality time.  For someone to take the time to be with me and then also express some sort of heart-felt emotion through words that lets me know they care in huge abundance. When I want a person to know how much they mean to me, I tend to tell them so. That comes naturally. I try to always tell people when I appreciate something they are doing. It’s my way of letting them know they are awesome.

As I was studying an old talk from Neal L Maxwell this morning I got to wondering, how do I show love for my Heavenly Father and my Savior?  Can love languages play a part here as well?

My conclusion…absolutely. But am I taking the time every single day to show my God, who has given me everything, how much I love Him?

The one who chooses to love will find appropriate ways to express that decision every day” Gary Chapman

Then I got to wondering, what am I currently doing to show that love?

When I take time to kneel in prayer and pour out my soul in gratitude, I am expressing my love and thanksgiving through time and words.

When I immerse myself in the words of God, I’m letting His love fill my heart and soul. And I’m also showing Him that I understand that He is worth my time.

Studying for and then delivering a lesson at church on Sunday shows my willingness to serve Him even though it might take away from things I would rather be doing.

But I know that’s not enough and I can give more.

When ye are in the service of your fellow being ye are only in the service of your God.” Mosiah 2:17

I can be aware of those around me who need something I can offer. Either time or service or a little note that says I care. I can lend a listening ear, take a friend to lunch or just offer a much-needed embrace.

Never will I be able to show Him the same kind of love He offers to me. The beauty of a perfect God is that He does know and understand what we feel in our hearts, and He sees our efforts. When we wonder if we are giving enough, we can always pray to know “what lack I yet?” What can I do more to show my love and devotion today?

The next question that came to my mind was, how do I feel God’s love for me?  It would seem to make sense that I would feel it through His words and time. But He is not going to hang out with me on my rough days, siting by my side telling me all I need to hear. Or does He?

I can recall a time when I was really struggling. I just felt so down and hopeless. The things I was dealing with felt too heavy for me to bear. I wanted to feel enveloped by my Savior’s love, but I just didn’t know what to do.

And then I heard a knock on my door. It was an older woman from church. She sat on my sofa and let me cry. She listened and understood in a way that was unique to her, because she had been through what I was currently going through. She offered wisdom that can only come with time, and when she left I went in prayer with thanksgiving. I knew God had sent her to me in my hour of need. He did not send her to give me service or a gift, because that isn’t how I feel love. But He sent her there to offer me her time and give me comfort through her words.

That was a rare occasion that I will always cherish. I believe more often I feel my Savior’s love when I read His words and they speak to my heart. Or when I take the time to really listen in prayer. Sometimes it will come through the love of another, as in my example above.

I do wonder how someone with a different love language hears and feels God’s love. If gifts is your love language, do you feel His love as you see the many gifts He has given you?

If acts of service are how you see His love for you, do you feel an abundance of love when He sends someone to your home to help with something you are struggling with?

What I do know is this, He loves us each more than we will ever be able to understand in this life. And He knows us each individually and is able to show that love in a way we will be able to understand, but we need to look for it and express gratitude when we see it. It is all around us.

Today maybe you will feel impressed to send a note or a thoughtful gift to someone you love. And maybe, just maybe, God is using you as a means to show His love for them as well. Susan

If you are interested in the book you can buy it here.

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I slept in Saturday. Longer than normal. You see my kids are finally old enough to take care of themselves, and they were content to let me be. When I finally did wake up, all I wanted was to go on a hike with my people. But instead I continued to be lazy and laid in bed even longer. I started to feel really sluggish and just kind of grumpy. It’s weird how too much sleep can have the same effect as not enough sleep.

Then the thoughts of “I’m not a good mom” crept in, and all I wanted to do was eat candy while laying in bed watching a movie.

Sound familiar to anyone?

It’s a battle I fight, wondering if I am failing or not doing enough or becoming enough. I win some days. And I lose others. But I do keep fighting. I am determined to figure this out that I may teach my daughters and one day my granddaughters how to love who they are, in any situation.

So what is a person supposed to do when inadequacies seem to be staring her in the face? How do we overcome such intense negative emotions?

Here are 5 tips that can help you begin to love yourself.

1st-I have found it to be helpful to delay thinking about the negative. When I’m in a funk is the worst time to analyze what I’m doing right and wrong and how I need to change. It’s never productive or actually helpful. I seem to dig a deeper hole that takes longer to get out of. So instead, I try to involve myself in something else. Change the room I’m in, leaving the house if I have to. Read a book. Talk with a friend. Saturday I went on a bike ride by myself. When I came home the negative emotions were gone and the delay tactic seemed to work.

But then it came back Sunday afternoon, and I had no idea why. The voices came back, and I started to really believe I wasn’t enough. Now what you ask?

2nd- Here is the best tactic I have. The one I sometimes forget about and wait too long to do, pray and study my scriptures and other worthy and uplifting material. Asking my Heavenly Father to show me either His love for me or to show me my worth in His eyes.

When I am sincerely asking for His help, He guides me to the words I need to hear, right when I need to hear them. This morning it came quickly. Other times I have to search a little longer, but I have come to trust that He wants to help me but He can’t until I put my faith in Him.

“To lack confidence is to have feelings of low self-worth. We are preoccupied with our weaknesses, and we lack faith in the Lord’s ability to use those weaknesses for our good. We do not understand our inestimable worth in the eyes of God, nor do we appreciate our divine potential. Ironically, both pride and a lack of self-confidence cause us to focus excessively on ourselves and to deny the power of God in our lives.” Glenn L. Pace

I self-righteously can let myself think that I’m not good enough because I’m not trying hard enough. I profess to have faith in God but I forget Him when I am holding a pity party for one. In those moments I’m not trusting that He will teach me how to use my weaknesses. I’m simply feeling sorry for myself that I have weaknesses. I’m not seeing a daughter of God who is full of potential. I am parked in a spot of stubbornness feeling like I’ll never be able to change.

The problem with that line of thinking is that I take God out of the equation. I forget that I am His daughter, capable of more than my finite imagination can comprehend.

We are the children of God, and as His children there is no attribute we ascribe to Him that we do not possess, though they may be dormant or in embryo.” George Q Cannon

3rd- Trust the people who love you. My children are so loving. I have asked them in the past,”What do you think I do well?” Their answers can be funny and often bring me to tears. They remember the things I have forgotten. My husband seems to have blinders to my weaknesses, and if I ask him he is more than willing to tell me why I really am doing not just ok but fantastic.

When I am in a good place emotionally and spiritually I have taken the time to write down the things I believe I am good at. I made a voice memo on my phone where I recorded those statements. That was actually very difficult for me since I don’t love hearing my voice, but it has been more powerful than I even hoped. I made sure I only made statements I truly believed. So when I am feeling down, I can listen to and trust my own voice telling me why I really am doing ok.

4th- Another action I will try at times is to just let it be a bad day. I’ll tell myself, “I am having a bad moment” and then I will let that moment simply be. I won’t try to do anything with it. Just recognize that this one moment stinks and that I won’t always feel this way. The very hardest times for me are when I worry I will feel the way I do forever.

“Most people never fulfill their human promise and potential because they remain perpetually helpless children overwhelmed by a sense of inferiority. The feeling of being okay does not imply that the person has risen above all his faults and emotional problems. It merely implies that he refuses to be paralyzed by them.” Dr. Thomas Harris

What a fantastic statement. Refuse to be paralyzed by your faults. I will be writing that on my mirror later today.

5th- Utilizing my journal is one I am not very good at yet but am determined to get better. Writing down the good experiences so that when I can no longer feel the intensity of those powerful moments I can look back and be reminded that times can be good, so very, very good.

“With the help of the scriptures, words of the prophets, and personal revelation, we gradually come to an awareness of our true nature and destiny. Once we grasp this reality, we can obtain the faith to move forward and overcome any obstacle standing in our way of fulfilling our foreordained destiny–including the obstacle of feelings of low self-worth.” Glen L Pace

I feel the gradual awareness coming into my life of who I am and who I can eventually become. It hasn’t come as quickly as I would hope, but it has come line upon line, teaching me greater empathy for others along the way. Susan

If you loved the quotes as much as I did you can find the full article I took them from here.

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 I have to admit, in our earlier years of marriage I allowed myself to be disappointed with Valentine’s Day. Maybe I read one too many romance novels but my expectations and understanding of a happy marriage had more to do with the world’s ideas of romance. Flowers, chocolates and fancy jewelry. Expensive well thought out gifts. But that is not who my husband is. He is so much more. And I can only hope my boys take note and strive to be like him. I pray my girls observe the man he is and look for someone just like him.

He wants to give me everything I need and want. And when he can’t I see the disappointment on his face. My needs are often put above his own. He listens to me as I talk about all kinds of topics I’m sure are not interesting to him. He truly cares about me and shows that in word and deed.

Somewhere along our journey I realized romance was so much more than a perfectly thought out gift. Gordon B Hinckley worded it perfectly

“I am satisfied that happiness in marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion. Any man who will make his wife’s comfort his first concern will stay in love with her throughout their lives and through the eternity yet to come.”

Because of the love and concern my husband shows towards me I want to be a better person. I want to be who he already thinks I am. I fall short all too often but he doesn’t seem to notice or even care. And to me that brings about more loving feelings on a daily basis than expensive jewelry once a year. SUSAN

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Trying to get an over-tired-fussy baby to sleep used to feel hard, overwhelmingly hard. I might have shed a few tears as I prayed for peace and guidance and rest for both them and me.  But those days are gone, only to be remembered with fondness and an aching longing for the sweet smells of baby skin.

Back then I had trouble imagining the teenage years, and I was very afraid of what that would look like. Would they yell and scream at me. Would we fight all the time?  Would they disobey and rebel in ways I wouldn’t understand? Would they began to hate us as parents and wish they could just move out?

What no one told me was how lovely and desirable this phase really would be. We get to cheer them on in sporting events while we observe them trying harder than they ever have before. We watch as they learn how to become self motivated and then excel because of it. We participate in late night conversations where we start to see them as so much better than the person we are, and we cannot help but feel in awe that we get to be their parents.

And yet there are still moments that I cry out in pleading to my Heavenly Father for them. I see their suffering, and I pray that it will one day be turned into triumph. I know I can’t fix all their woes anymore. I can’t just rock them a little longer waiting for them to finally fall asleep. It’s time for them to find solutions and all I can do is offer gentle guidance and then they do whatever they feel is best. Most of all I want them to know how much they mean to me and I want them to feel deep inside their hearts.

I hope and pray that when they look back at their childhood they will know I was there whenever they needed me. But I know I let myself get distracted by technology more often than I would like, and it takes away from what’s really important to me. My little and not so little people.  It doesn’t matter if I’m talking to a friend, looking something up, or scanning through blogs or social media. They deserve all of me.

Since I am already treating Valentines untraditionally with my husband, I thought  I could give to my children something that would mean a little more.

“Your children need your presence more than your presents.” – Jesse Jackson

For the rest of this month I am going to stay off of my phone and computer while my children are home. They may not even notice my phone is tucked away or that I’m more present, but I do hope they feel more love from me. They might not even recognize why. This gift is one of time, for I want them to know they are worth all that I have to give. Susan

The best thing to spend on your children is time.” – Louise Hart

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As a young girl I dreamed about being a wife and mother.  Never was a cat as cute as mine dressed in strawberry shortcake dresses while being driven in my strawberry shortcake stroller.  I was going to have 10 kids and have cookies for them every day and have a beautiful meal on the table every night when my honey came home.  I never thought things would be perfect but I don’t think I thought they would be hard either. If we were in love, then nothing else would matter and we would live happily ever after.

Isn’t that how marriage works?

Yes and no.  I absolutely adore my husband, and I feel that same adoration from him.  However, life comes at us at times, and it can feel rather heavy and burdensome.  Even more than we know how to handle.  Kids or work or church duties or any number of things can pile up all at once and just feel like too much.  I have seen the look of concern on my Husband’s face and wished I could just hold him and take it all away.  We have cried together and been there for each other and sometimes I am just too prideful to allow him to be what I need. I am striving to be a better wife and letting him be the husband I need.


A good marriage requires time. It requires effort. You have to work at it. You have to cultivate it.” Gordon B Hinckley


Valentines day this year I wanted to do something more than flowers, candy, or dinner out. While I am not above any of those things (who doesn’t love sweets and love notes and a fancy meal?)   I want to give my husband something he really wants or needs.  Not in a material way but emotionally, spiritually.

Last night we watched the movie “The War Room.” If you haven’t seen it, here is a little clip describing the movie. 

Our Father knew exactly what He was doing when He created us. He made us enough alike to love each other but enough different that we would need to unite our strengths and stewardships to create a whole. Neither man nor woman is perfect or complete without the other. Thus, no marriage … is likely to reach its full potential until husbands and wives … work together in unity of purpose, respecting and relying upon each other’s strengths.” Sheri Dew

While my husband and I have a happy marriage, I couldn’t help but admire the way the main character pours her heart out in prayer for her husband. That really got me thinking. Do I plead with the Lord with that kind of intensity for the man I love most?  Yes sometimes. When we “need” it. But what would happen if I prayed that way when he is already doing good?

I can plead with the Lord to give him what he needs, to help him to see it and feel it.  I can pray to know what is in my power to do to help him, to serve him and how to love him more fully.

This year I am going to give him something he will never see but hopefully will feel.  I asked him “If there was just one thing I could pray for you, what would it be?”  After much thought he let me know and then he asked the same of me.  For me that was simple, more peace and a greater sense of joy.

For the 14 days leading up to Valentines my true love and I will give to each other 14 days of pleading in deep and sincere prayer for our specific needs.  Really, I don’t think I could give him anything more powerful than God on his side.  And when he offered to pray for me the same way, I felt an extra measure of love and warm fuzzies for this man.  A heightened level of emotion I felt grateful for.

Are you up for the 14-day challenge of praying for your loved one?  If you do I would love to hear about it in the comments.- Susan



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The best gifts are time & loveIt’s the week before Christmas and all through the town, it seems like there isn’t a soul in their home.  People and cars and traffic and stores, rushing and hustling in one big frantic blur…

We’re down to the wire. Just a few more days to make sure that we spend as much money as necessary to make sure that Christmas is memorable to our family.  But is it really getting that perfect “toy” that makes Christmas special?

I saw this commercial for Ikea, and was truly touched by the sentiment, and honesty of the people in this experiment.

I’m grateful for the fact that we don’t have to go without and we can give gifts to others to let them know we are thinking of them, but what is the most meaningful thing we can give?  It is the thing that is often most precious.  Our time. Time spent together is something we just don’t get enough of in a world filled with so much technology and busyness.

As I’m rushing to finish my Christmas preparations, I have chosen to make time together a bigger priority than shopping.

What are the brightest Christmas memories that you have from your childhood?  Mine were not necessarily the gifts (unless they were unexpected and I knew that a sacrifice was made for them.)  My most memorable Christmases were the things that we did together as a family. Reading the Christmas story and acting it out on Christmas eve. (Susan was Mary and put her cabbage patch doll in her shirt that fell out as she walked) We talked and laughed and enjoyed each other.  There were many Christmases where we included other members of the family, traveling to Grandmas, or having cousins over to celebrate together. There were times we went to sing at a nursing care facility to people who didn’t get to have family with them for Christmas.

My presents to my kids this year were plane tickets to come home for Christmas, and other adventures to do together while they are here.  The best part of Christmas for them is the ability to spend time with each other.

The most meaningful Christmas activity we can all do is attending Church together and take time to have family discussions about Christ, the atonement, and the gift of the Father sending His only begotten son to earth. As the angels sang at the first Noel, celebrating “Now, all is well”, we can welcome the spirit of Christmas into our homes by reading and singing and sharing our feelings and testimony of the greatest gift ever given, our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Our time on this earth is a gift from God, and we don’t know how much of it we will get.  Giving that time to family and friends at this season truly can be the best gift of all.

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