Visiting Teaching Handout

I just found a link to a printable handout.  It features a quote on charity by President Monson.

Click HERE to get it.

The quote:

President Monson teaches: “Charity is having patience with someone who has let us down. It is resisting the impulse to become offended easily. It is accepting weaknesses and shortcomings. It is accepting people as they truly are. It is looking beyond physical appearances to attributes that will not dim through time. It is resisting the impulse to categorize others.”

When we have charity, we are willing to serve and help others when it is inconvenient and with no thought of recognition or reciprocation. We don’t wait to be assigned to help, because it becomes our very nature. As we choose to be kind, caring, generous, patient, accepting, forgiving, inclusive, and selfless, we discover we are abounding in charity.”

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Intensive Care

This Sunday, our Bishop mentioned to the ward that one of our members (our current home teacher, actually) had an interesting story to tell.  In had, in fact, been told in an Ensign article from 1990.

I googled it today, and here it is.

“Intensive Care”, Ensign, September 1990, 45

After the first year of their son’s coma, the Hansens wondered how they could continue to hope.

She couldn’t bring herself to let go of his hand. Sitting in the intensive-care unit beside her unconscious fourteen-year-old son, Marja Hansen gripped his limp hand firmly, as if doing so would keep him in this world.

This was not the first time Jon had slipped into a coma. During the previous seventeen months, he had drifted back and forth through that filmy curtain of consciousness. Yet to Marja, who had hardly left his side throughout the ordeal, this time the coma seemed deeper—somehow final. How many times had she thought back through the traumatic journey? Had they come so far and still progressed so little?

When Jon was in the eighth grade, he complained to his parents of the loss of his peripheral vision. Marja and Tracy, Jon’s dad, took him to Phoenix, Arizona, 220 miles from St. Johns, to see an ophthalmologist, who in turn sent them to a neurologist.

The neurologist told them that Jon had hydrocephalus—commonly referred to as “water on the brain.” Jon’s condition was serious; it required immediate surgery. Apparently, during his teenage growth surge, Jon’s glands had overproduced certain fluids. The fluid had built up and put pressure on Jon’s optic nerve, causing the peripheral blindness.

That was in February 1977. In the operation, a shunt was placed inside Jon’s skull, running to his stomach, to allow the fluid to drain and relieve pressure on the brain. But in the next few months complications followed, and in June a family friend flew Jon to Phoenix for emergency treatment.

Ward members fasted and families prayed, reaching out to express love, concern, and support for the Hansens. Doctors in Phoenix discovered that the shunt had backed up, causing an infection in Jon’s stomach. So severe was the pain and the pressure on his brain that Jon went into a deep coma and was not expected to live.

“My sister’s husband rushed to the hospital and joined Tracy in administering to Jon,” Marja recalls. “I was confused. Our greatest comfort was in that priesthood blessing and the many others that followed.”

Tracy had to return to his work as a teacher at the high school in St. Johns and to care for the Hansens’ two younger children—Dewin, who was four years younger than Jon, and Philis, seven years younger than Dewin. Marja was to remain with Jon, staying nights with her sister’s family in Phoenix. For the next six months, Marja read aloud to Jon and talked about things at home with him, trying to communicate with him. His vacant stare into space didn’t keep her from trying to get through to him in every way possible. And at times it didn’t seem possible. But there were rare moments when his faint squeeze of her hand made the lonely vigil seem worth it.

Then on 7 October, 1977, from out of the gauzy barrier between them, Jon spoke: “Mom?”

It had been the first substantive cause for hope. Tracy arrived the next day to be surprised: Jon could speak again—haltingly—but the words were distinct. The diary Marja kept calls this “a very great day for all of us!” But it was not to last.

The next day Jon plunged back into unconsciousness. The curtain between them now seemed opaque. Marja and Tracy felt their hopes were dashed.

After Tracy returned to work again, the doctors reported to Marja that Jon’s vital signs were perilous and asked if she wanted him on life-support systems. She told them no. “I did not want his life artificially preserved,” recalls Marja. Her brother-in-law gave Jon a blessing and told her that he felt confident Jon was going to be all right. “I had faith in his faith, but to me the little improvement that we saw was not cause for great hope,” she says.

Jon was sent home weeks later—ostensibly because the care he was getting could be done as well there. But Tracy remembers having the thought that Jon had been sent home to die. Jon’s unstable body temperatures would send him in and out of consciousness many times a day.

From January to March 1978, the mysterious curtain opened and closed unpredictably, but the loving care went on. Jon was turned in his bed to prevent bedsores, and the tubes that nourished him were monitored constantly. He was read to, talked to, and cared for in so many ways. Friends came by the house to talk with Jon, expressing feelings, lending support. “Our friends and neighbors were wonderful,” says Tracy. “It went on so long, but it seemed as though each time we got discouraged, someone would be dropping in, bringing encouragement in some form or another.”

Through it all, Marja gave Jon daily physical therapy, lovingly moving his limbs and working his muscles and joints to prevent atrophy.

In March 1978, Jon began to show signs of recovery. This time, his consciousness was steady for nearly six months. He was able to speak, and the tubes that fed him were removed so he could eat regular food. By June he was in a wheelchair, and by August, though his vision was still very limited, he was walking short distances around the house.

When school started in September, Jon attended a few classes with his classmates, though he had missed an entire year. Everyone was encouraged; the Hansens were elated. Jon’s teachers were working hard with him to help him make up the loss. His near-blindness made that even more difficult, but everyone was pulling for him. It seemed prayers had been answered, and hopes were high.

Then, in November 1978, Jon had a sudden setback. Doctors decided that under the circumstances, the only hope of saving Jon’s life would be to move the shunt to the right side of his skull, even though that side is not usually as effective.

Dangerously high fevers and a risky surgery put Jon back in the intensive-care unit. His parents were left to express their faith more intensely than ever. “After all we’d been through,” Tracy remembers feeling, “we didn’t know if there was anything else we could do except turn ourselves and our son over to the Lord and plead once more for Jon’s life, ready to accept His will, whatever it would be.”

Marja adds, “We had somehow endured that far and felt that if the Lord required more of us for our son’s welfare, we would continue.”

And so they continued. The day Marja gripped her son’s limp hand as if to keep him in this world, she didn’t know that within the next several weeks Jon would be home, the infection finally subsiding, his fever gone, and his full recovery begun.

By Christmas, Jon was speaking. By March he was walking and back in school—a recovery that doctors say would not have been so rapid or complete without the physical therapy his mother had unstintingly given to his unused limbs.

It had been two years, and though his health was now stabilized, it would take two more years of Jon’s concentrated efforts, combined with the efforts of dedicated teachers and friends, for him to achieve a full recovery. The long nightmare for Jon’s parents was over. “And the unusual thing to me,” adds Marja, “is that Jon hardly remembers a single thing about those two years.”

Surrounded by caring people, Jon regained confidence quickly. As his bishop interviewed him to be ordained a priest, Jon enjoyed a humorous moment when asked if he was worthy to advance in the priesthood. He replied, “Bishop I’ve been perfect for the last two years; I don’t remember committing a single sin.” With his eyesight still poor and his short-term memory weak, Jon learned to read the sacrament prayers from cards with extra-large print that his mother had prepared for him.

To give some idea of the kind of people Jon Hansen had around him, consider a highlight or two from his years at St. Johns High School. He struggled hard to cram three years of study into two, sang in the choir, and played drum in the concert and marching bands. “Those were great places to feel like I was among my friends again,” Jon says, “and everyone was terrific to me.” They apparently were: they elected Jon student-body president during his senior year, and as he walked across the stage at his graduation in 1981, he received a thunderous standing ovation. But one of the Hansen family’s most singular moments for Jon was still six months away, at the same time he received his mission call.

A summer job and a semester at Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher preceded Jon’s nineteenth birthday and a mission call to the Texas Dallas Mission. It was during his pre-mission physical examination that the revelation came: the shunt was no longer needed and had stopped draining before he entered the mission field in January.

“What a moment that was for us,” Tracy says. “With that wonderful news we felt the Lord’s love for us so distinctly, felt a confirmation that His will had been done in Jon’s and our behalf and that now Jon could go and do His will by serving a mission unencumbered.”

Jon’s father still teaches at the high school, where Philis is now a junior. Jon’s mother teaches music at the middle school and coaches and referees girls’ athletics. And Dewin is married and lives in Chandler, near Phoenix. Jon, now the father of three boys, teaches second grade in Sanders, where he has served in the branch presidency and where his wife, Denise, has served as Primary president. Jon commutes from St. Johns, and he teaches fifteen-year-olds in Sunday School some rather personal faith-promoting stories about a boy who was “not all that concerned with spiritual things, until one day something happened to change his life, and the Lord revealed to that boy just how much He loved him.”

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July 3rd

Church today was much-needed. Honestly, sometimes I go to church and I feel like someone should give me a gold star for just making it through the entire 3 hours. Having two little kids has definitely made church an adventure. On days like that, I feel like all I got out of church was GOING. I went. I did it. Even when I wanted to give up and go home, I stayed. Sometimes that’s enough. It doesn’t happen all of the time -thank goodness.
Sometimes I go to church and come home completely blown away with the messages given. It’s almost as if each speaker, each teacher can see directly into my soul and they speak the simple words I need to hear.

They speak hope.
They speak peace.

Today I’m grateful for

The Atonement
New Babies (and their blessings)
Truth
Hope
Peace

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July 2nd -5 things

Today, we were able to spend a lot of time together as a family. We haven’t been able to just be together in a while, and we were so happy to reconnect. Today I’m grateful for my husband.

#1) I’m grateful that he vacuumed.
#2) I’m grateful that he drove to the store and bought me bottled water because it was so hot at the park.
#3) I’m grateful that we got to watch a movie together in our room with just the two of us.
#4) I’m grateful for the prayer he said during family prayers tonight.
#5) I’m grateful he’s so hot. Because, really? He’s outta my league.

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July 1st -5 Things

This morning in my reading, I read that gratitude bring humility and humility brings joy.  I resolved to write 5 things daily that I’m thankful for.

#1) Healthy kids
#2) Independence
#3) Indoor plumbing
#4) Great friends
#5) SUMMERTIME!

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Christ in My Home

The Sunday before Christmas, the Young Women’s president taught a Christmas lesson in her home.  She asked each of the young women leaders to bring something from their home that they kept to remind them of Christ.  I was gone the week she gave the lesson, but I emailed this story to her and she read it.

When Christmas came in my house, Santa always came. No matter how old I got, Santa always brought me whatever I asked for. As a child, he brought me Barbies and Castles. As a teen, he brought me contacts and cash. Whatever it was, it was always exactly what I wanted. I looked forward to Santa’s gift every year. But that wasn’t all… My parents always gave me a big gift that nearly matched Santa’s in greatness. I knew after I opened my Santa gift, I would always have a gift from my parents equally as wonderful. My sophomore year of high school was no different. I had kept my eye on a gift under the tree.
To: Alicia
From: Mom and Dad

I picked it up and weighed it in my hands. I smelled it. I gently shook it. Nothing I did gave me ANY hints as to what was inside. Anticipation built up inside of me and I dreamt of the day when I might open that mystery gift.

After what felt like decades, Christmas morning finally came. I dumped my stocking, tore into my Santa gifts, and then waited less-than-patiently for my turn to open my gift from my parents. Once it was placed in my hands, I ripped the wrapping off to find a box. I ripped the box open to find newspaper. I ripped the newspaper out to find…

A statuette.

I gently picked it up out of the box. It was a small statuette that my mother had bought and helped make for me. The statuette depicted Christ standing at a door, preparing to knock. It had the look of shining white porcelain, and  I could tell from the gleam in my mother’s  eyes that she was extremely proud. I smiled big and thanked her, but inside I was a little disappointed.
I was a teenager, and I wanted cash-clothes -flavored lip gloss!! I hated myself for the selfishness that had overtaken me, and I tried to focus on the beauty of the gift. I knew it was beautiful. I knew my mother had worked hard to make it for me. Finally, I set it safely aside and went back to my santa gift and stockings.

The statuette became a permanent fixture on the shelf in my bedroom. It looked terrible out of place next to my walls that were absolutely covered in a self-made magazine collage.  I didn’t know quite what to do with it, but I kept it in plain view and made extra sure not to break it.

As my high school years went on, I ran into a bit of trouble. the friends I had surrounded myself with turned out NOT to be friends at all. They stole my CDs, ditched me for boys, and made it plain obvious that having a mormon goody goody around was annoying. I started sleeping longer, smiling less, talking less, and withdrawing more. Going to mutual got harder to do. I had to force myself to read my scriptures, and praying seemed almost ridiculous. Every time I kneeled down to say my very routine prayers, I expected to feel emptiness, and I always got what I expected. I felt like I was talking to myself.

I felt very much alone. I was surrounded by people that loved me, and still I felt alone.

One night, after a particularly hard day with my friends, I went into my room and broke down in tears. I didn’t want to be alone anymore. I didn’t want to desperately cling to friends who didn’t want me around. As tears of despair rolled down my cheeks, I consigned myself to my knees.
With my eyes closed, I opened my heart and poured my desires out to my Father in Heaven. The prayer I uttered was far from routine, but I still felt completely empty. The tears of sadness turned to tears of frustration as I pleaded with my Father in Heaven for comfort. I wanted to know that He was there. I wanted to know that I wasn’t alone, but I didn’t feel a thing.
My room was only dimly lit by a small table lamp, and as I opened my tear-filled eyes, they fell instantly on my Christ statuette.

A sudden overwhelming feeling of love enveloped me. It was so powerful that I could scarcely move. My eyes sat fixed on the Stateuette and I was blessed with the knowledge that I was far from alone, that I never would be alone, and that I was loved beyond anything I could comprehend… all I had to do was open the door Christ was standing in front of.

My mother’s Christmas gift became one of my most-prized possessions. I took it with me to college, and displayed it proudly in my first home as a married woman.

Two kids and ten years later, that statuette still stands as one of my prized possessions. I still keep it in plain sight -a daily reminder that I am never alone and I am unconditionally loved. A constant reminder that just as stauette of Christ is one of my prized possessions, I am one of Christ’s most prized possessions.

That Christmas gift was the best gift I have ever received. My mother has a beautiful soul -she knew I needed Christ more than I needed friends, more than I needed jeans -more than I needed anything else.
Thankfully, I’m reminded of that every single day.

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Mary and Martha

Of all the women in the scriptures, Martha is by far and away my very favorite.

A few months ago, my little sister sent me an email that brought Martha back to my mind. I’ve been meaning to sit and post this for MONTHS and once I even got halfway through it before life got in the way and I had to hold off. I loved reading this email, and I hope you will too. I’m posting it with her permission. (I should point out that she never actually mentions Martha. It just made me think of her.)

Yesterday, a bishop gave our Devotional.  It was outstanding! It’s overlaying message was perspective, while his underlaying messages were repentance and forgiveness.  He talked about all of his travels as a helicopter salesman (I know) and all of his adventures in over 30 different countries.  He told us all of the fun times he had, the paid vacation time, the all expenses free “business” dinners, and the money he made. He let us sink that into our cob-webbed filled bank accounts and let us mull it over in our $100.00 a month minds before he drove his point home.  He said, “Wouldn’t it be so cool to be standing next to the Eiffel Tower and take an awesome picture and then turn around to show…no one?” He was alone; he had to leave his family. He would be home for two weeks, then gone for two.  He was literally gone half the time.  He gave us some perspective by saying that he’s missed half of his children’s growing up years.  Instead of 18 years, he was there for nine.  All of this led up to his main point of repentance and forgiveness and how we need a different perspective on both principles. (His transition was much smoother than mine, mind you) One thing he said hasn’t left my mind since.  Keeping in mind that he is a bishop, he posed this question to a gym full of young single adults, who were all literally hanging on his every word. “What goes through your mind when you casually look up during the sacrament and see someone pass it up?” The gym was silent: dead silent.  He waited a few moments for us to think, and then posed an even sharper question, his voice choked with emotion, “Or does a tear fall down your cheek because you see them journeying down the road back to truth and righteous living?”  See why it hasn’t left my mind?  THAT is the perspective that I need to have continually in my life.  Repentance is something that no one should be ashamed or embarrassed about.  Our sins, like deadly diseases, should be treated at once before they kill us spiritually.  We all have weaknesses and sins; we are human and imperfect.  Repentance is amazing! I know it’s a gift from a loving Heavenly Father who wants to see us again.  He loves us so much, and wants to see us again so much, that he allowed His Son, His Beloved Son, die for our sins so we could repent.  What an extraordinary gift!  Repentance tends to be something negative and scary to talk about; but why?  It’s so great!  We CAN become better; our Heavenly Father knows we’re going to make mistakes and planned accordingly.  Perspective is everything.  Absolutely everything. It can change who we are, how we view ourselves and others, and makes us see things in a new light.
Those are just my rambling thoughts, and I thought that you’d like to hear it. I thought his talk was absolutely stunning.  Take care, I miss you, and I love you!!

And may I close by saying: Mary is to Martha what Julianne is to Alicia. I love you, Julianne!!

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Once Upon a Time, Young Women in Excellence

Our Ward Young Women President is truly inspired!  This past Sunday, we had our Young Women in Excellence.  For the theme, our YW President chose President Uchtdorf’s talk to the Young Women titled, “Your Happily Ever After.”

We started off the evening by watching a video of his talk.  Then the YW leaders gave a presentation of the values.  We had originally planned to have the four of us in the presidency each take two values each and give a short presentation on them.  We wanted to relate the values to dress-up princess clothes.  For example, we used a wand to represent “good works” and a crown to represent “divine nature.”  As I thought about my two assigned values (integrity and good works) I kept feeling like I needed to write a poem.

After talking it over with the other ladies, we decided that making all of the values into a poem would work out great.  I had no idea what I was going to write, so I prayed to know what to write and then I set to writing.  I’d work on the poem at night, after everyone had gone to bed.  After a few nights, I came up with this poem.  It ended up working out well -we invited a member of the Stake Young Women Presidency to sit in front of the group and we put all of the dress up clothes on her as we read the poem.

Once upon a time,

So we’ve heard it told

Lived an ordinary woman

Who longed for jewels and gold.

She cried, “My face is plain!

And my person lacks finesse.

My shoes are old and worn,

To say nothing of my dress.”

“I have not any friends

And who am I to blame?

I’d not cast my lot with me.

I’m simply… a cesspool of shame.”

And so she carried on

Thinking no one could hear her.

She never could have known

There was a man standing near her.

“Rubbish!” He cried aloud.

Causing the maiden to start.

“Who are you?” she asked

Placing a hand atop her heart.

“Who are YOU?” he echoed

Making the air around them shake.

“Are you a blessed Child of God

Or nature’s finest mistake?”

He gave the maiden pause

She couldn’t think to reply.

Instead she settled for a tear

And a desperately long sigh.

The man looked on in awe

Asking, “Woman, don’t you know

You were masterfully created,

Built to learn and built to grown.”

“So I’ve heard,” was her reply.

“But I’ve yet to see the reason.

Nothing great will come of me

As I pass away the seasons.”

“How can you know?” asked he

“If you’ve never kissed a frog?

Sometimes greatness lies beneath

A reptile perched on a log.”

“A frog!” The woman cried

“Now that’s an awful thought!

There’s NO WAY it will help me,

Is that all you’ve got?”

“No it’s not,” the man replied

“But perhaps you don’t want to hear.

I’ve got eight values I can share

I hold them sacred and dear.”

“The first is a frog,

It’s your faith he’ll test.

Do you have the faith

To give up good for best?”

Faith is the ability

To trust, believe, and know

That though they’re very ugly

Certain frogs can make you glow.”

“I like that,” the woman said.

“Maybe you ARE right.

Maybe I should trust in God.

And not judge from first sight.”

The man nodded in head saying

“You’re starting to glow already!

I’ve got seven more to share,

Hold your bearings steady.”

The man reached down into a bag,

And pulled out a crown.

The woman’s eyes lit up,

Chasing away her pouty frown.

“Is that for me?” she gasped,

Her eyes upon the crown’s jewels.

“It can be,” relied the man.

“It’s one of my eight tools.”

“You’ve got one on you,

Or so it appears,

In fact you already had it

For many, many years.”

This crown is a symbol

Of your nature divine,

For you are a crowned daughter

Of the highest King most fine.

Perhaps you can not see it.

But I promise if you try,

You’ll find your divine nature

Is where your royalty lies.”

He placed the crown upon her head

And handed her a mirror.

“Tell me,” he spoke again.

“What you see in here.”

She said, “I see a woman, plain.

I see a crown, most fair.

And I see a warty frog.

And unremarkable hair.”

“Look a little longer,” he said.

“See what you’ve had since birth.

Try to look past your skin

To find individual worth.

“You’re valued most highly

By your father, the King.

Your soul is worth far more

Than anything riches can bring.”

“My soul?” She asked into the mirror

As if waiting for reply.

“I’ve never given it much thought,

But as you wish, I’ll comply.”

“It’s not enough,” he said.

“To simply sit and look.”

With that he reached into his bag

And from it, two gloves took.

“Your future lies in what you do

And in choices you shall make.

You must be held accountable

For every good and all mistakes.

Wear these gloves day in –day out,

They’ll serve to remind you.

To make the best choice offered

And leave the bad behind you.

In leaving bad you shall find

A bright and happy tomorrow.

Your life will lose all lifelessness

And be spared great sorrow.

“And this,” the man held up a wand.

“Can really bring you beauty.

Take it with you everywhere

To do good works beyond duty.

“Magically making good appear

In the lives of all around

Is why you have been sent to earth

And why you have been crowned.

“Love one another,” said thy King.

It’s written in His book.

It’s here for you, young lady fair,

Come hither, take a look.

“There’s much to read and learn

Insides these books and pages

The words are immortal

Standing the test of the ages.

“But it’s not enough,” he said.

“To simply sit and read.

You’ve got to put on your shoes,

To see where the books lead.

Knowledge is what the shoes will bring

A value much higher than gold.

Set your feet to learning

And watch a new world unfold.”

The young woman admitted.

“A new world sounds just fine.

I think it’s time to leave behind

This vain perspective of mine.”

He said, “Now you’ve got it!

And perhaps now can see

Why these eight values

Mean so very much to me.”

“We’ve covered six so far,

Integrity will make for seven.

She who holds integrity

Is a priceless pearl in Heaven.”

As he spoke those words of truth,

He strung her neck with pearls.

She knew then her valued lied

In her heart and not her curls.

“Your King does much,” he continued

“With a woman pure in heart.

Who is as pure in the end

As she was at the very start.

“I speak now of the last value,

A robe of virtue you must wear.

With it fastened ‘round your being,

Your beauty is beyond compare.

“Your purity is evident

It shines out from within.

With these eight values by your side

Every battle you shall win.”

Again the man turned to her

Moving the mirror to her face.

She said, “I see a woman,

A pure vessel of God-like Grace.”

“But who are you?” the woman asked.

“I feel we know each other.”

He replied, “And so we do,

I’m Jesus Christ, your brother.”

I know there’s some typos in there, but I don’t have time to edit them out now.

After the value presentation, the girls each got up and talked about what they’d been doing as far as personal progress goes.  They each had a small display, and their stuff was really great.  I don’t remember being as great as they are when I was doing personal progress as a teenager.

After their presentations, the YW President spoke and gave a really great message.  She also made a DVD that was played, and it floored me! I’m so excited to be part of such an amazing program, and I love all of the young women so much!

The spirit was really strong that night, and I’m so grateful I could be a part of it.

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