Thursday, August 30, 2012


True. Constant. Undeviating. Dependable. Persistent.

What does it mean to be consistent? What do the scriptures teach us about consistency? What can we do to be more consistent in our lives? Elder Bednar said, "Consistency is a key principle as we lay the foundation of a great work in our individual lives..." This Sunday in Relief Society the Presidency message will focus on being consistent in our actions. Please come ready to discuss how the principle of consistency has blessed your life.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Loganberry jam is the kind we got to taste, and feel for texture at our Freezer Jam class at Karen Armstrong's home.  About 12 sisters got to enjoy jam on Homemade bread, and crackers.   Karen used Sure-Jell  pectin and "exact meaurments" to produce the  wonderful tasting jam product.

We also had a discussion that the brand of sugar you use, immensely adds to the taste and texture of the jam.  i.e. Imperial sugar has smaller grains and blends more easily than a larger grained sugar like Great Value, and helps avoid jams that go sugary and  much lighter in color.

Karen's jam  turned out perfect the first time last night, but she shared a deviation she has used before when she tried  Great Value sugar, and the jam turned too sugary.  That was to empty all the jars back into a pan and simply reheat, until you feel no grains of sugar.  Ball Brand which makes glass bottling jars, also make a one cup plastic jar, with colorful lids that do not break, and are perfect for making freezer jam.. Each sister got to take home a jar of freezer jam, to share with their families.  Any fresh or frozen berry fruit will work - and when you see those completed bottles of jam lined up on your counter - you feel like a today kind of pioneer woman!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Come, Come Ye Saints

Nervous doesn't even begin to describe it. The line of bikes waiting to start at the 2012 Wichita Falls Century Ride stretched as far as the eye could see. Why in the world was I going to ride 100k on a bike? I didn't need to prove anything to anybody. I could just turn around, load up the bike, head back home and be done with it. Surely this many people simultaneously biking on the same street was sure to be a recipe for disaster. I'd almost gotten creamed three times just crossing the street to get into the starting position. In the end though, I didn't want to miss the journey. What if something magical happened during those 100 kilometers I was about to embark upon? What if I was taught lessons I could never have learned while sitting on the couch? Maybe this is how we felt in the premortal existence. Or maybe this is how we felt just before our baptism. Or maybe this was to be my experience before entering the Holy Temple of God for the first time. Each level of progression within the church carries with it its own sense of apprehension and concern for the unknown. For the faint of heart, that sense of apprehension can be enough to stop people dead in their tracks. But I realized in this moment that I am not one to shrink from any difficult task. And this 100K bike race was absolutely no different. During the two hour drive to Wichita Falls, I had listened to a CD of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Repeatedly, I was drawn to the song, "Come, Come Ye Saints" to the point that I probably listened to it fifteen times before getting to the bike race. If persecuted pioneers could walk thousands of miles to worship God in peace, I could certainly ride 100K on a bike. The comparison of the pioneers with the bike ride made my task seem so small and so able to be accomplished. Several bike wrecks happened throughout the morning. The worst one I witnessed left a woman who was my age flat on her back, motionless. The ambulance was in earshot and I pleaded with Heavenly Father for her welfare. The Holy Ghost's quiet response to my prayer was, "My Spirit will be with her." My thoughts then turned again to those pioneers who lost loved ones along the trail. One terrible story that came to the top of my mind was when a family member of pioneers who had died and was not able to be buried immediately was left on the trail. Later, the family members returned to find that she had been eaten by wolves. How difficult it must have been for those around her to keep on going, not even having the time to properly grieve the loss. My shoulders ached and it became harder and harder to stay in position on the bike. Just when I felt like giving up, I would think of pioneers with blisters on their hands and feet from pushing handcarts. It made my blisters not hurt as much and gave me the strength to press onward. The finish line was glorious! What it joy it was to complete what I had started out to accomplish. And I wouldn't have learned any of this had I stayed on the couch.

Rachel Roark

Monday, August 20, 2012

Are You Suffering From Terminal Busy-ness?

Dear Sisters,
I have missed you! This Sunday we get to discuss the teachings of our beloved prophet Thomas S. Monson.
In his talk "The Race of Life", he teaches us about how focusing on TRUTH helps us as we make our way in a world that is increasingly complex and stressful. I found it interesting that our RS president had also chosen to discuss the importance of TRUTH earlier this month.  How do the TRUTHs found in the Plan of Happiness save us from becoming terminally busy? I look forward to sharing what you have discovered.
See you on Sunday!
Love, Sister Stoddard

To read the talk, click HERE.

Salvation NOT Entertainment

I have been going over some training for my calling on the church website. I often feel the need to gauge how and what I are doing against all the instruction available.  I just listened/watched a video of training done by our former General Relief Society President, Julie Beck. She said something that struck me and makes me want to do more - do better. She stated that "Relief Society is not in the ENTERTAINMENT business but the SALVATION business."
That was obvious, again, yesterday as Angelina Athian taught part of a lesson. She was so nervous and did not feel she had a sufficient command of English to teach our group. She was concerned about how to engage interest - or some might say, entertain - the class.
Yet once she began to share her testimony, the Spirit in the room became very strong. Several women noticed this and commented on it. Her words were SAVING in nature and affect.
It was also humbling to watch Ruth assist her in this lesson and the rest of the women jump in to add their own testimonies.
I want this Dallas 4th Relief Society to have energy, compassion, verve, and most of all - a way to see and understand our way to SALVATION.
I have to admit I do like to be entertained but I will take SALVATION over momentary diversion anytime. And I have so many of you to thank for being part of what makes this happen in our D4 Relief Society - week after week.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Great Talk! Great Video!

Thanks for everyone's participation in the lesson today. It was a pleasure to team teach with Angelina and feel of her strong spirit and testimony. Here is the link for a great talk I read in conjunction to our topic today of advancing the work of the Lord. Click HERE to read it.

Also, if you missed President Monson's birthday celebration broadcast last night, you can watch it online:
Click HERE.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Oh, I have loved the rain..and there may be more tonight.  Rain, when you have no sprinkler system, is a widow's delight.  I received a lot of comments from sisters regarding my favorite quotes a while back, so I have spent a delicious hour reading more thoughts from my big black book.  I thought I would share a few more:

"Feelings are like waves, we can't keep them from coming, but we can decide which ones we will surf. "  (unknown)

"Your day will go the way the corners of your mouth do."  (unknown)

"The things you take for granted, someone else is praying for." (unknown)(one of my very favorites)

"Holding onto anger is like taking poison, and expecting the other person to die."   (Buddha)

"People inspire you, - or they drain you, pick them wisely."  (Hans Hansen)

"Be as quick to kneel as we are to text."  (Elder Ian S. Ardern - gen. conference)

"If you are feeling blue, try painting yourself a different color" (Hannah, age 9)

"Comparison is the thief of joy."  (Theodore Roosevelt) (so true - so true)

"Today you are you, that is truer than true, there is no one alive, who is youer than you!"   (Dr. Suess)

"You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, and you can go any direction you choose."  (Dr. Suess)

"My soul has had enough Chicken Soup...I want chocolate!" (unknown)

"Some see a hopeless end, while others see endless hope."  (unknown)

"Is fat really the worst thing a human being can be? Is fat worse than vain, shallow, vindictive, jealous, boring, evil or cruel?  I don't think so." (J.K Rowling)

"Today I am happier than a  bird with a french  fry!" (etsy.com)

Please keep praying for rain sisters - "The grass is greener - where you water it." (Neil Barrington)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Great video from LDS.org!

Click HERE.

Advancing the Work of the Lord

This Sunday in Relief Society we will be discussing chapter 15 from the George Albert Smith manual. President Smith taught about how the Work of the Lord is spread throughout the world and how we can be a part of it.

Some thoughts for us to consider this week as we prepare for the lesson this Sunday:
What technologies have helped further the Work of the Lord?
How can you participate in spreading the gospel?
How has the Church overcome opposition to its growth?
And what evidence do you see that the Lord prepares the way for His gospel to be preached?

Sister Karen Bateman found this great article that talks about why the LDS church continues to grow today. Click HERE to read it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Free Classes!

LDS Family Services is offering two FREE courses for Church members. Both courses will be taught by Melissa Cluff, a counselor at LDSFS. Courses will be held at the Bishops' Storehouse in Carrollton.

Course: Strengthening the Marriage
Time: Saturdays, 9:00AM -- 10:30AM
Starting September 8, 2012

Course: Strengthening the Family
Time: Saturdays, 11:00AM -- 12:30PM
Starting September 8, 2012

For more information and to attend one or both courses, please call Julie Bateman at 972-242-2182 to register. Course manuals will be ordered for participants.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Nope. I'm a Mormon.

So, I have hired a personal trainer because it is a goal of mine to finish a Half Ironman race next year.  Every fall semester of veterinary school that I attended seemed to finish the day before the big Ironman triathlon in Kona, Hawaii.  Inevitably, I would go out and party the night after my last final exam, stay out really late, and wind up in a semi-hungover stupor. The next day was spent on the couch while drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. The thought of a day-long race fascinated me and captured my imagination but it just seemed like something that happened to other people. Last week during my first visit for personal training, the trainer asked me if I smoked cigarettes.  My response was, "Nope. I'm a Mormon." He had a puzzled look on his face, checked the question off my chart and proceeded down his list. "Do you drink alcohol?", he asked. Again, my response was, "Nope. I'm a Mormon." The trainer had the same confused look but managed to compliment me on my good habits. Question number three was whether I drank coffee and if so, how many cups per day. I just shrugged my shoulders and shook my head no. He smiled and asked, "The Mormon thing again... right? When did you get into that?"  My response was that I had become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints about a year ago. When I got home, I reflected on exactly how far I've come since sitting on a couch surrounded by pizza boxes, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes while watching Ironman on TV. Imagining that moment, I can still feel the utter sense of physical exhaustion, the dull headache, the trouble catching my breath, coughing up some nasty phlegm, the stink of my clothes, and the queasy stomach which was brewing an ulcer. After awhile, people who don't obey the Word of Wisdom start to consider this sad physical state to be a normal way of life.  So for those of you who have never violated the Word of Wisdom and wonder what it's like on the other side, you're not really missing out on much of anything. The Word of Wisdom is a privilege to follow. It frees us up to work on spiritual problems instead of physical problems. Currently, I'm enjoying health to my navel and marrow to my bones and the Destroying Angel is nowhere in sight. And I am trusting that God will make good on his promise that I will walk and not grow weary, run and not faint.... at least until I make it to the finish line of my first Half Ironman.

by Rachel Roark

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How to Share the Gospel Effectively

President George Albert Smith reminds us that sharing the gospel with others is about sharing the love our Father in Heaven has for all of his children. President Smith says that the most effective way to share the gospel is by loving our neighbors and having the companionship of the Holy Ghost. He also tells us to not be ashamed when sharing the truth and to remember that we are adding to the happiness and goodness that God's children already have. And when we teach with the Holy Ghost, He will confirm that what we say is true.

Let's all read chapter 14 in the manual so we can be prepared to fully participate in the lesson this Sunday. Shirlee Chaillet is teaching and told me that she remembered the Angel Food this time. Shirlee said, "Let's get out of our comfort zone and love our neighbor as ourselves."

Dare to Stand Alone

Here is the link to the video I showed on Sunday. My hope is that it inspires everyone to follow our Prophet and have the courage to stand for Truth and Righteousness - which might mean - STANDING ALONE!

Click HERE to watch the video.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


I have been gone for 10 days and have missed you all - and that is THE TRUTH! Coincidentally, I will be teaching the RS President's Lesson tomorrow and understanding the importance of TRUTH and its reflection in our life.
I cannot wait to share this time with you - that is absolutely the truth!