Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas is Service

Some of the best presents I have ever received have been intangible gifts such as a listening ear, a hug of encouragement, or an act of service such as cleaning my house or running to the grocery store when I was ill. Christ teaches us in the scriptures that when we serve others, we are serving Him. President Eyring reminds us in the December 2012 Ensign how our acts of service are like gifts to Jesus Christ. President Monson also encourages us in the December 2012 Ensign to serve. He says, "there are hearts to gladden, kind words to say, deeds to be done, and souls to be saved."

Right now if you go to Mormon.org/Christmas (click HERE) you will find a bright red banner that says "Christmas is Family, Christmas is Service, Christmas is Love, Christmas is Jesus Christ." This Sunday in Relief Society, we will be focusing on service, as a way to prepare us for the Christmas season. Look around you, what can you do to serve? Organized service projects are a great way to build a sense of community and unity, but the Spirit of Christ can be just as strong when we take our own initiative to serve those around us. Thus, we can be Angels to those in need.

You're Invited...

Monday, November 26, 2012


If you are pondering service opportunities - one very worthwhile and interesting project is Reading and Radio Resource.   I volunteered more than 20 years ago, when it was called "Reading for the Blind", and it soon became one of my of "guilty pleasures".  They have a new name, but essentially it is recording textbooks, nonfiction and fiction, etc. for the sight impaired.  The facility has a state of the art studio to record in, and they are always looking for good readers, with a "little" voice talent, who is a committed volunteer - - although they are very flexible, and will work with your schedule.

It requires  a little training, and may be too involved for the Holidays, but it offers a great volunteer option in the New Year.  The Church recommends we involve ourselves within our communities to let our "Mormon Lights" shine!

Reading and Radio Resources are located at: 2007 Randall Road, Dallas, Texas 75201.  To contact this organization, you can e-mail: betty @readingresource.org. or call (214) 871-7668.

You can help a sight-impaired child get through his textbook, or read the latest novel to a senior citizen, and celebrate the wonderful gift of sight that you enjoy.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

To be thankful...

I was in charge of the games this year at our family Thanksgiving dinner. I decided to do Bingo as it goes across the ages of the children and then I really invested in some great prizes. There were 16 people - young and old - playing Bingo and we would play the same card till everyone won something.  David put all the prizes out for all to see and the first ones who won were in ecstasy and the rest would get more and more concerned about the prizes left as time went on. By the end of the game, everyone had a prize - but - not all were "content" with what they had won. There had been just too many possibilities.
When we were finished, I asked them to look around at who was "thankful".
The room got a little quieter as I talked about how hard it is to see the blessings when there are just SO many blessings to see.
I know we live in difficult times. I know there are many negatives in the way the world is headed. Yet I sometimes think I am like one of my grandchildren who has a hard time seeing all the good because I would like it just a little better or someone might have some blessing I see as more desirable.
I am so thankful this day for all of you. I am thankful for Priesthood leadership in this church and this ward. I enjoy serving with Bishop Monroe and thankful for all the good he brings to his calling. I am thankful for my counselors and all with whom I serve in this Relief Society. I am thankful for temples and covenants and family and friends and food and books and on and on.
I  am most thankful for a wonderful Elder Brother Jesus Christ and His belief in me and my abilities to repent and change.
I think it is so important to not look at someone or something else and wish to have what they have as if life was a Bingo game!
I pray TO BE THANKFUL for what I have...to have what I want that is right before the Lord and more importantly...to want what I HAVE.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Coming to Ourselves: The Sacrament, the Temple, and Sacrifice in Service

Dear Sisters,

In this talk by Elder Robert D. Hales he teaches us about how to become truly converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The strength of our conversion is centered in how we make and keep covenants with our Heavenly Father.  He states "We become converted and spiritually self-reliant as we prayerfully live our covenants-through worthily partaking of the sacrament, being worthy of a temple recommend, and sacrificing to serve others,"  Please spend some time pondering the covenants you have made with your Heavenly Father.  What are some of the promises you have made to Him?  What are the promises He has made to you? " Where do you stand on living your covenants?"  I would also like to discuss how you teach your children about covenants in your homes, so we can learn from each other, and help each other in this important responsibility.  I look forward to meeting with you this Sunday. Happy Thanksgiving!  I am thankful for each of you.

Love, Sister Stoddard

To read this talk, click HERE.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Adopt a Family

As you contemplate what service project to do this Christmas season, please consider adopting a family or woman from Genesis Women's Shelter. Genesis clients are women and children who have experienced domestic violence. Most will receive very little this Christmas. Last year, a family in the community adopted a family with a little boy who had never received any present on Christmas. During years past, his mom would have to tell him that Santa Claus ran out of toys or Santa Claus couldn't get to all of the kids in the world. But last year this little boy woke up Christmas morning to a few toys under the tree. He exclaimed, "Mom! Santa Claus finally came to my house!" His mom told me that she felt so grateful for the love and support from the community.

To adopt someone this year, please email Mrs. Murphey Sears at msears[at]genesisshelter[dot]org. Let her know how big of a family you want to adopt (# of people) and she will send you the info. You can learn more about the Christmas Giving program by clicking HERE.

To learn more about Genesis, click HERE.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


We have a celebration coming.  Our Annual Relief Society Christmas Dinner and Party.   Invitations go out this coming Sunday.  Our theme is "Angels Among Us", which we feel works so well with our R.S direction of choosing a   personal charity that your family supports this Christmas Season with a contribution of either time, money or goods.  We CAN be Angels for local charities, our sisters on our Visiting Teaching lists, or introducing a neighbor or friend to the Gospel, and give them a gift that lasts the eternities.  If you have someone you would like to introduce to the Gospel, invite her to the Christmas Party.

Christ has no hands but our hands to do his work today - He depends on the goodness (angels)  within us to help answer the prayers of those in need. 

Circle Tuesday, December 4th at 7:00 p.m. at the home of Marcia Herzog.  The dress is nice casual, if you haven't had a chance to sign up, please catch Bonnie Muir, who is in charge of dinner, to see what you can sign up for.

Remember, Tuesday, December 4th, before the big rush begins. . .Come and share the Christmas spirit.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Temporal Salvation

Sisters, in the business of daily life, do we take time to plan and prepare for our own temporal salvation and the salvation of others? My guess is that you probably do more than you realize. By paying fast offerings monthly, you are helping others temporally. Do you live within your means and store food, supplies and money for future use? Do you focus on building your spirituality rather than material possessions? Do you actively seek to help those in need?

These wise words from George Albert Smith will help us all know a little more how we can take care of our own temporal salvation with theirs.

Click HERE to read chapter 20 from the manual.

I look forward to meeting with you Sunday!
Angie Alford

Monday, November 12, 2012

Holiday Service: Children's Medical Center

Children's Medical Center has a number of opportunities available for community volunteers to serve during the holidays. There are individual and group projects, some that can be done at home and many more! Here are a few examples of what you can do to help. (Please click on the name of each project to find out more).


Collect change & donate it to Children's. It will add up fast!

Help kids find their inner artist by stocking art closets throughout the hospital with everything the little artists will need.

Assemble a “Busy Book” to help entertain little patients in the waiting room. Use ribbon, yarn or staples to secure several coloring pages, mazes and/or word games into a small packet.

Gather a group of family members and friends to carol at the Dallas Campus.

For the full list of holiday volunteer opportunities, click HERE

The WHOLE Book!

I happened to see Barbara Doerk at the store today. We talked some about books, as always, as she hosts our monthly Book Club Interest Group at her home. I commented that it was great to read select chapters of JESUS the CHRIST for our December meeting. Then she said, "I am going to read the whole book this time." And then came this very clear thought to me - "I am ALSO going to read the whole book this time!"
I needed this contact today. I needed to hear this idea. I need to read the WHOLE book of "Jesus the Christ" by James Talmadge. I am starting this evening as soon as I finish this blog entry.
I have so many details right now and yet I always make time for the books I want to read - my recreational reading. I do not apologize for that. BUT, I have not read this entire book for many years and it is time for me to immerse myself in His life and His ways.
It will be a little Christmas Gift to myself! Thanks Barbara!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Word of Wisdom

When we were kids, our parents taught us some basic guidelines to help keep us safe. Don’t touch a hot stove. Look both ways before crossing the street. Always wear a seat belt. Don’t play with sharp objects. From a child’s perspective these probably seemed to us as restrictive and not very fun, but in reality, our parents just wanted to make sure we were safe and protected.

The Word of Wisdom can be compared to these rules that our parents gave us. President George Albert Smith said, “I look upon the Word of Wisdom as kind advice of our Father in heaven, who desires to see His children become more like Him… I take it as the fatherly counsel of one who, knowing what I needed, said to me: ‘My son, these things are not good for you, and if you will avoid them I will give you the companionship of my Holy Spirit and joy while you live in the world and in the end eternal life.’” (Teachings of George Albert Smith p. 204)

On Sunday we will be learning from Chapter 19 in the George Albert Smith manual on the Word of Wisdom. Read the lesson, think about these questions, and come prepared to discuss! Is the Word of Wisdom only a temporal law? What are the blessings promised to us if we keep the Word of Wisdom? How has obeying the Word of Wisdom blessed your life?

(By Melanie Jarnagin)

To read chapter 19, click HERE.


These are some of our favorite charities.  We accept fabric and garment donations at our store and we welcome your support for infants and children in need.  Your donations and volunteer efforts would be greatly appreciated by these charities. 

Plano Sewing Center provides materials, sewing machines and work space to volunteers on a regular basis to create blankets and clothing for these two very worth causes.   For more information on how you might help us help these fine organizations please click on the links below.   Thank you.

NEW BORNS IN NEED    http://www.newbornsinneed.org/

PROJECT LINUS  http://www.projectlinus.org/

This is the beginning of our Dallas 4th Relief Society Holiday Service Projects! As a Presidency,
we are concentrating our efforts on what each Sister/Family can do for others instead of organizing something FOR you!
Each week until Christmas, we will have a different Charity that we have found in the Dallas/Ft.Worth area that you might consider lending your talents, time, or efforts to bless the lives of others.
We hope you will let us know what you have decided to do and how it has helped you feel the Spirit of Christmas in your lives.
This week, I have found this wonderful, easy, important charity to consider as you decide how best to celebrate our Savior's birth.  And let the HOLIDAYS BEGIN!!!!!!!!

November Sister Spotlights

Kristi Chesnut
What color do you like: Black
Favorite food: Cafe Rio Pork Salad 
Favorite hymn: How Great Thou Art
 Favorite place to visit: Disney World
Favorite thing about living in Dallas: Horse racing and Cowboys and Dallas 4th
Favorite Ice cream flavor: Chocolate
Favorite time of the year: Autumn
Something interesting about yourself: I want to be a secret agent when I grow up

Karen Armstrong
What color do you like: Yellow and peachy
Favorite food: Steak, baked potato with Marie's Ranch dressing
Favorite scripture and why: D&C 78: 17-22 While Chuck and I served a mission we took turns doing the thought for the day when we visited differenct homes. It was around the time of Thanksgiving and so I was trying to find a scripture that had to do with thankfullness. I came upon this one and shared it throughout the day. As so often happens it is the last home of the day that you find out what Heavenly Father had in mind for the cause of finding that scripture to be shared. We were in a very humble home of a later in life couple. They were members and needed uplifting so we visited them. As I read the scripture the man got tears in his eyes and some even fell onto his cheeks. It seemed as if Heavenly Father was in the room and telling the message. His wife was being treated for cancer and was bald and taking medication that made her feel sick. He was suffering with his own health issues and struggles. This moment on our mission once again let me know that Heavenly Father is in the details of our life and loves us and wants to let us know. I am so grateful to have been His instrument for the message that needed to be delivered
Favorite hymn: How Great Thou Art and I Feel My Savor's Love
Favorite place to visit: Provo Canyon
Favorite thing about living in Dallas: The people
Favorite Ice cream flavor: Maple Nut can't be found anymore
Favorite time of the year: Spring

Monday, November 5, 2012

Ward Service Project

(Click on above image to enlarge.)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Darkroom

Last week one of the sister missionaries asked me what it was like to have lived with the influence of Christ versus the Gift of the Holy Ghost. She was baptized at age eight and can't remember what it was like before receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I remarked that it was "amazing" but I don't feel like I really fully answered the question.

A couple of weeks ago I was developing x-rays in the darkroom by myself. It had been a trying week complete with very serious family problems that just seemed to be getting worse. Kneeling in prayer while waiting for the x-rays to develop, I poured out my frustrations to Heavenly Father. Then I listened and was answered with a question. "What is the purpose of life", the Holy Ghost whispered to me. My mind went back to Gospel Principles class and I started rattling off reasons for our mortal existence. The Holy Ghost replied, "To become more like Him." I desperately tried to understand His point and the word "Patience" floated into my mind. Imagine my surprise when in Relief Society meeting the following week, I watched Sister Stoddard write the word "Patience" on the chalkboard.  My jaw actually dropped when she said that our trials cause us to learn patience which helps us to be more like Him.  The darkroom experience was starting to make a little more sense.

Yesterday, I was in a rush to run an errand that I found completely annoying. In my haste and aggravation, I had a fender bender with the car in front of me. Did I mention I just bought a new car less than a month ago? Murphy's Law had to be at play here. After the accident, I asked the Holy Ghost in a kind of annoyed tone what the purpose of that accident could be especially since I already have so much on my plate. He said very quietly and very calmly, "I cannot force you to learn patience." Pardon my Karate Kid reference, but it was quite a Mr. Miyagi moment for me. Wax on.... wax off. Wax on..... wax off. Someday I might learn patience but obviously today was not the day.

So hopefully, this better answers how the Gift of the Holy Spirit has changed my life. Some of these lessons are painful but I do know they are for my own good.

by Rachel Roark

Friday, November 2, 2012


It is early Friday morning and still so dark outside. David has just asked me what I am doing today and my reply was a quick..."What am I NOT doing today!"
I can feel it....the election and the grand babies (two girls to be born within the month!) and the holidays are coming and the pace is quickening and......I sat down to read Isaiah 40 in preparation for Karen's lesson this Sunday.
What a reminder of the grandeur and majesty and greatness of God and His desire to bless all of us! (Isaiah 40: 29-31)
I am so GRATEFUL for the scriptures and this timely reminder to help make Gratitude more of a "spiritual reflex" in my life.
It is so easy to get busy and feel the world will stop if I do not get all things in their correct place and order. The virtue of studying the words of the prophets is the spiritual telescope they give me to view my life with so much more perspective and humility.
I pray I do not become so overwhelmed with all that needs to be done. I truly want this season to be a celebration of people and life and good works that reflect true personal revelation.
This holiday season, I want GRATITUDE to be more present in all I do - more of a SPIRITUAL REFLEX than a noble virtue I am constantly having to dust off to feel!