Behold the handmaid of the Lord.

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When I read the story of the birth of Christ, that is the one line that speaks to me more than any other. When the angel Gabriel told Mary that she was to bear the son of God, she accepted that her Father in heaven had chosen this role for her. She was a young woman, probably nervous about her upcoming marriage, and suddenly told that she would carry a child. She would probably face severe prejudice for not holding on to her chastity and had to face the fact that things would be extremely difficult. And yet she still said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord”.

I have faced a difficult past year. I had a miscarriage, had extremely stressful times in my marriage, have dealt with severe periods of depression and am now realizing that this may be my dad’s last Christmas. Even with all this going on, being a handmaid to the Lord has been a struggle for me. I know that following the principles laid out for me in the Scriptures are the way to happiness and contentment. Yet for some reason, I can’t even do the bare minimum. I do nothing blatantly wrong but I don’t strive to fulfill the covenants I have made with Heavenly Father. I know that I’m not living up to my potential as a child of God.

In the coming year, I will try to overcome my weaknesses and dedicate myself to continuing on the path with eternity in mind. I know the biggest obstacle I have to overcome is letting my depression keep me from doing things that are pleasing to Heavenly Father. I will attend church regularly, pay a full tithe, serve others and keep in mind always that blessings abound for those who are obedient. I will remember that, even though those blessings may be few on earth, they will be showered upon me after my mortal existence.

I need to remember to be a handmaid.

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How My Weekend Went

I have to admit it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

Except the part where I was sick. Friday night I could not stop throwing up. It continued through the morning until about 11:00. It was horrible. I even peed my pants because I was vomiting so hard. Thank goodness I had a near empty bladder. I was still feeling queasy when I left but after drinking a Coke I felt much better.

I arrived at my dad’s bar at two on Saturday to meet up with everyone. It was supposed to be a birthday/Mother’s Day dinner for my mom with all her daughters and granddaughters. My older sister TJ and her daughter Tabby couldn’t make it because they are always busy. Dako, Dee, H and Bug arrived shortly after I did. H said my sister Jae would meet us at the OG because she had to go to a birthday party in town. I thought it was strange because she was at her house when I drove past a few minutes beforehand.

So we arrived and were seated shortly. My mom had a watermelon martini and complained about not being able to taste the vodka. Jae sent H a text message saying she was leaving in a minute. Then ten minutes later sent one that said she wasn’t coming. I think we were all kind of relieved that she wasn’t going to be there. My sister likes to cause drama and is a bit two-faced.

We laughed a lot, ate plenty and just had a good time. I’m so glad we did this. I know my mom really enjoyed herself too, which was the whole point of the day.

On Sunday, I got up and headed to church. Even though I knew it would be a rough day, I still went anyway. A few teenagers got up and gave talks. I find it amusing that when kids give talks, they read in this monotone voice straight from the article. After the first two talks and a introduction from the new elder, the Primary children sang a few songs about mothers and families. I started tearing up. I couldn’t help it. I just sat there thinking about how I don’t have anyone to call me Mom.

Another monotone talk was given by one of the Young Women, then a man got up to talk about the sacred role of motherhood. I broke down and had to leave before I started bawling. It didn’t take me long to calm down and was able to catch the closing hymn and prayer.

The children handed out a gift and a paper flower to all the women.

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That little purse thing is adorable. It holds a bottle of hand sanitizer.

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Some of the ladies who know about our problems came over after sacrament meeting to give me hugs and words of encouragement. They are some of the loveliest people I know. Since I was an emotional wreck, I left right after sacrament meeting. I let myself bawl in the car for a few minutes before heading home.

K got home about 1/2 hour after I did (he was at his annual opening of fishing boys only weekend up north). He came up to me and gave me a big hug and asked if I had gone to church. He just hugged me tight when I said yes and started crying again.

He’s a wonderful man. He came home early just because he knew I would be having a hard time with it being Mother’s Day. What a gem I have for a husband.

Keeping the Faith through Infertility

Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed by my feelings of loss over the fact that I haven’t been able to have a child, I forget that Heavenly Father has a great plan for me. Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the first presidency, gave such an inspiring talk during the October 2008 General Relief Society Meeting. It gives me hope and reminds me that if I remain faithful and righteous, great things will one day be mine. It brings me out of this bubble that infertility encases me in and reminds me that others need comfort. Serving others will increase my happiness in this life and the next.

I thought about summarizing the talk, but President Uchtdorf is such an amazing speaker that I just pasted most of the talk here.


Today I would like to speak to those who have ever felt inadequate, discouraged, or weary—in short, I would like to speak to all of us.

I also pray that the Holy Ghost will amplify my words and bestow upon them additional meaning, insight, and inspiration.

We know that sometimes it can be difficult to keep our heads above water. In fact, in our world of change, challenges, and checklists, sometimes it can seem nearly impossible to avoid feeling overwhelmed by emotions of suffering and sorrow.

I am not suggesting that we can simply flip a switch and stop the negative feelings that distress us. This isn’t a pep talk or an attempt to encourage those sinking in quicksand to imagine instead they are relaxing on a beach. I recognize that in all of our lives there are real concerns. I know there are hearts here today that harbor deep sorrows. Others wrestle with fears that trouble the soul. For some, loneliness is their secret trial.

These things are not insignificant.

However, I would like to speak about two principles that may help you find a path to peace, hope, and joy—even during times of trial and distress. I want to speak about God’s happiness and how each one of us can taste of it in spite of the burdens that beset us.

Let me first pose a question: What do you suppose is the greatest kind of happiness possible? For me, the answer to this question is, God’s happiness.

This leads to another question: What is our Heavenly Father’s happiness?

This may be impossible to answer because His ways are not our ways. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are [God’s] ways higher than [our] ways, and [His] thoughts [higher] than [our] thoughts.”

Though we cannot understand “the meaning of all things,” we do “know that [God] loveth his children” because He has said, “Behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

Heavenly Father is able to accomplish these two great goals—the immortality and eternal life of man—because He is a God of creation and compassion. Creating and being compassionate are two objectives that contribute to our Heavenly Father’s perfect happiness. Creating and being compassionate are two activities that we as His spirit children can and should emulate.

The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.

Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.

Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty—and I am not talking about the process of cleaning the rooms of your teenage children.

You might say, “I’m not the creative type. When I sing, I’m always half a tone above or below the note. I cannot draw a line without a ruler. And the only practical use for my homemade bread is as a paperweight or as a doorstop.”

If that is how you feel, think again, and remember that you are spirit daughters of the most creative Being in the universe. Isn’t it remarkable to think that your very spirits are fashioned by an endlessly creative and eternally compassionate God? Think about it—your spirit body is a masterpiece, created with a beauty, function, and capacity beyond imagination.

But to what end were we created? We were created with the express purpose and potential of experiencing a fulness of joy. Our birthright—and the purpose of our great voyage on this earth—is to seek and experience eternal happiness. One of the ways we find this is by creating things.

If you are a mother, you participate with God in His work of creation—not only by providing physical bodies for your children but also by teaching and nurturing them. If you are not a mother now, the creative talents you develop will prepare you for that day, in this life or the next.

You may think you don’t have talents, but that is a false assumption, for we all have talents and gifts, every one of us. The bounds of creativity extend far beyond the limits of a canvas or a sheet of paper and do not require a brush, a pen, or the keys of a piano. Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before—colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter.

What you create doesn’t have to be perfect. So what if the eggs are greasy or the toast is burned? Don’t let fear of failure discourage you. Don’t let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside.

If you still feel incapable of creating, start small. Try to see how many smiles you can create, write a letter of appreciation, learn a new skill, identify a space and beautify it.

Nearly a century and a half ago, President Brigham Young spoke to the Saints of his day. “There is a great work for the Saints to do,” he said. “Progress, and improve upon and make beautiful everything around you. Cultivate the earth, and cultivate your minds. Build cities, adorn your habitations, make gardens, orchards, and vineyards, and render the earth so pleasant that when you look upon your labors you may do so with pleasure, and that angels may delight to come and visit your beautiful locations. In the mean time continually seek to adorn your minds with all the graces of the Spirit of Christ.” 6

The more you trust and rely upon the Spirit, the greater your capacity to create. That is your opportunity in this life and your destiny in the life to come. Sisters, trust and rely on the Spirit. As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you.

Being compassionate is another great work of our Heavenly Father and a fundamental characteristic of who we are as a people. We are commanded to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.” Disciples of Christ throughout all ages of the world have been distinguished by their compassion. Those who follow the Savior “mourn with those that mourn … and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.”

When we reach out to bless the lives of others, our lives are blessed as well. Service and sacrifice open the windows of heaven, allowing choice blessings to descend upon us. Surely our beloved Heavenly Father smiles upon those who care for the least of His children.

As we lift others, we rise a little higher ourselves. President Spencer W. Kimball taught, “The more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our souls.”

President Gordon B. Hinckley believed in the healing power of service. After the death of his wife, he provided a great example to the Church in the way he immersed himself in work and in serving others. It is told that President Hinckley remarked to one woman who had recently lost her husband, “Work will cure your grief. Serve others.”

These are profound words. As we lose ourselves in the service of others, we discover our own lives and our own happiness.

President Lorenzo Snow expressed a similar thought: “When you find yourselves a little gloomy, look around you and find somebody that is in a worse plight than yourself; go to him and find out what the trouble is, then try to remove it with the wisdom which the Lord bestows upon you; and the first thing you know, your gloom is gone, you feel light, the Spirit of the Lord is upon you, and everything seems illuminated.”

In today’s world of pop psychology, junk TV, and feel-good self-help manuals, this advice may seem counterintuitive. We are sometimes told that the answer to our ills is to look inward, to indulge ourselves, to spend first and pay later, and to satisfy our own desires even at the expense of those around us. While there are times when it is prudent to look first to our own needs, in the long run it doesn’t lead to lasting happiness.

I believe that the women of the Church, regardless of age or family status, understand and apply best the words of James Barrie, the author of Peter Pan: “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” Often I have witnessed quiet acts of kindness and compassion by noble women who extended themselves in unselfish charity. My heart swells when I hear stories of the sisters of the Church and how they rush to the aid of those in need.

There are those in the Church—both men and women—who wonder how they can contribute to the kingdom. Sometimes women who are single, divorced, or widowed wonder if there is a place for them. Every sister in the Church is of critical importance—not only to our Heavenly Father but also to the building of the kingdom of God as well. There is a great work to do.

One year ago in this meeting, President Monson taught that “you are … surrounded by opportunities for service. … Often small acts of service are all that is required to lift and bless another.” Look around you. There at sacrament meeting is a young mother with several children—offer to sit with her and help. There in your neighborhood is a young man who seems discouraged—tell him you enjoy being in his presence, that you feel his goodness. True words of encouragement require only a loving and caring heart but may have an eternal impact on the life of those around you.

You wonderful sisters render compassionate service to others for reasons that supersede desires for personal benefits. In this you emulate the Savior, who, though a king, did not seek position, nor was He concerned about whether others noticed Him. He did not bother to compete with others. His thoughts were always tuned to help others. He taught, healed, conversed, and listened to others. He knew that greatness had little to do with outward signs of prosperity or position. He taught and lived by this doctrine: “He that is greatest among you shall be your servant.”

In the end, the number of prayers we say may contribute to our happiness, but the number of prayers we answer may be of even greater importance. Let us open our eyes and see the heavy hearts, notice the loneliness and despair; let us feel the silent prayers of others around us, and let us be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to answer those prayers.

My dear sisters, I have a simple faith. I believe that as you are faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, as you draw closer to Him in faith, hope, and charity, things will work together for your good. I believe that as you immerse yourselves in the work of our Father—as you create beauty and as you are compassionate to others—God will encircle you in the arms of His love. Discouragement, inadequacy, and weariness will give way to a life of meaning, grace, and fulfillment.

As spirit daughters of our Heavenly Father, happiness is your heritage.

You are choice daughters of our Heavenly Father, and through the things you create and by your compassionate service, you are a great power for good. You will make the world a better place. Lift up your chin; walk tall. God loves you. We love and admire you. “