Wednesday, December 6, 2017

pre-primary open night

somehow this year is almost over and our little girl is finishing pre-primary, ready to become a big year one next year. the pre-primary open night was tonight and madeline's did not disappoint. the evening began with the class singing wanjoo (a noongar welcome song which you can listen to here)

we were especially pleased to see that madeline had been chosen to read the song to the audience before they sang. we did have a laugh though, as her teacher told us she had been asked to do it alone and she was too shy to do it, so they had to have two people!

maddie and her bestie ella ♥

we then got to watch a little video of each child, where they introduced themselves said a few things about themselves and then told us what they wanted to be when they grow up. it was hysterical! one of the boys wanted to be a butcher, another a dragon... and our maddie wants to be an ice hockey player and an icecream girl (whatever that is!)

we have been so lucky this year to have such wonderful teachers. mrs herbert and mrs pascoe (the education assistant) have pushed maddie to try harder and harder and her reading, sight words and writing are just amazing! they have been so lovely and kind and we think they are incredible. thank you both so much!

my girl! sky is the limit, so keep flying! ♥

Sunday, December 3, 2017

miracles: a christmas relief society lesson

(nativity available from

a big thank you to for the wonderful lesson idea, found here


My lesson today is about miracles, Christmas and otherwise, but with a focus on Christmas to begin with.

There is so much for us to receive from God in the message of the Christmas story, so much truth about His love and reality and plan for us. There are just so many miracles to reflect on. We spend time giving gifts to each other during this season, but there is so much that our Heavenly Father and Savior have given us.

The Christmas story is a testimony that we worship a God of miracles and I’d love to begin by watching the nativity video so we can watch a few of them take place.

In the gospel sense, miracles can be defined as “those occurrences wrought by the power of God which are wholly beyond the power of man to perform.”
The Christmas story itself it comprised of one miracle after another. Let’s discuss a few of them!

1.       It is a miracle that Mary’s cousin, Elisabeth, became pregnant in her old age, after being barren all her life. The angel Gabriel appeared to her husband, Zacharius, and told him his wife would bare a son whom they should name John, and that he would prepare the way for Jesus Christ. Because Zacharius could not believe they would have a child in their old age, he was told he would be unable to speak until his baby was born. Later, when the baby was delivered, relatives questioned him what the child’s name would be. He wrote on a tablet, “His name is John,” and at this point, his tongue was loosed, and he spoke, praising God. All a coincidence? No.

2.        It’s a miracle that Mary was also visited by the angel Gabriel and told that she would conceive a Son, who should be named Jesus, and would be the Son of God. It’s a miracle that Joseph, the man to whom she was espoused, married her, since in Jewish culture at this time, an unmarried woman found to be expecting a child was subject to being stoned to death. When Joseph found out Mary was expecting a child, he chose to be merciful to her and “put her away privily.” It was after he made the decision to be merciful that he was visited in a dream by an angel and told not to be afraid to marry her- that the child she was carrying was conceived of the Holy Ghost, and was the promised Messiah.

I can imagine Mary would have been so frightened at this time. She had gracefully accepted the holy task given her by the Lord, but she was young, unmarried and probably had no idea what would happen to her. Still she trusted in the miracle she was to carry and knew the Lord would provide

3.       It’s a miracle that the sign which Samuel the Lamanite had prophesied (that of a day and a night and a day with no darkness), came to pass when it did. Wicked unbelievers had created a deadline of when the sign had to occur, or they would put to death all the believers of Samuel’s prophesy. The sign occurred the very night before the deadline. Just a coincidence? No.

How much faith did these people have? How frightening this must have been for them, regardless of their faith that these things would come to pass as they had been promised

4.       It was a miracle that humble shepherds were notified of the Savior’s birth in such an amazing way- by an angel of the Lord, announcing that Jesus had been born in Bethlehem, followed by a heavenly host singing praises.

I have always loved watching the shepherds in our church’s version of the nativity video… the fear on their faces as the angel walked towards them, backing away, towards their sheep, wanting to protect them. It’s a beautiful thing. Yet another reminder of Christ “the good shepherd”, who gave everything he had to protect us, even his own life. Their faces change to awe and belief as they approach the manger to worship the Christ child.

5.       It’s a miracle that a very faithful man named Simeon had it revealed to him through the Holy Ghost that he would not die before he had seen the Christ. Simeon was led by the Spirit to the temple, where Mary and Joseph had brought their baby, Jesus, to present and dedicate him to the Lord. Mary and Joseph made no announcement that their child was the Christ; Simeon knew who He was when he saw him. He picked up the child in his arms and praised God saying “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace…For mine eyes have seen thy salvation; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” A mini-miracle granted to Simeon for his faithfulness.

6.       It was a miracle that Wise Men followed a star in the east “to come and worship the King of the Jews.” No doubt, these were probably inspired men of God; perhaps prophets. It was a miracle that after they found & worshiped Jesus, they were warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod (Herod had requested they bring him word of where the child was so he could destroy him). An angel of the Lord also appeared to Joseph in a dream telling him to flee with his family into Egypt in order to protect Jesus from Herod. All of these happenings were truly miraculous.

The wise men amaze me. They knew from watching the heavens that the Christ Child had been born, they journeyed a considerable distance to find him, knowing that he was someone worthy of their time, bringing along gifts fit for a king.

We often see miracles in our own lives and I have asked two dear friends of mine to share miracles that they have had. Small and simple or life changing, we all have miracles in our lives.

(A Christmas miracle) & (An story of adoption)

I have one last miracle that I’d like to share. One of my own. I learned that my Heavenly Father knew me personally when I was seventeen years old. I always knew I had a father in heaven who loved me and never doubted the truth of the gospel, but it was this day that I truly knew that he cared for me and would help me if I would only ask.

A few weeks after my seventeenth birthday, I left for a year overseas in Brazil on student exchange. I struggled. I was homesick, I was angry, I was confused and I was hurting badly. My first few weeks were spent crying often, wishing for home and trying hard to accept that I needed to move ahead with my life.

Then school in a foreign country began. I spoke barely 10 words of Portuguese, understood nothing and needed to somehow make it from my home to the school on a bus. I had been instructed which buses passed the school and how to ask if i was concerned that I would take the wrong one. so whilst waited at the bus stop I carefully asked the driver, "passa cefet?" to which he nodded, so I got on the bus. 

It turned out the bus did not "passa cefet" and as the minutes passed and we hadn't passed the school, I became worried and began to panic. I couldn't ask anyone for help, I had no idea where I was... and no way to get back home. I didn't even know my host family's address or phone number by heart yet. 

So I prayed. I sat on that hot bus surrounded by people I did not know and begged my Heavenly Father to help me find my way. To somehow send someone that could help me. And he did. No sooner had I ended my prayer, tears pouring down my face, a gentleman on the bus, a member of the military police who I had not seen board, touched my arm and asked me a question, which of course I could not understand. I kept repeating the name of my school to which he nodded, clearly understanding where I needed to go. 

This wonderful man tapped the driver on the shoulder, had him stop the bus and motioned for me to follow him. We walked half a dozen blocks in the opposite direction, where he flagged down another bus and spoke quickly to the driver, gesturing at me and then pointed to the seat directly behind the driver. I pulled out my purse which was waved away. I boarded the bus and ten or so minutes later, the driver opened the doors, turned to me and pointed at my school.

Ii knew that day the power of a sincere prayer. I knew that my Heavenly Father had heard me and sent help, sent me someone that could guide me safely to my destination. To this day I have never forgotten that man. To him this may have been just another day, but to me it meant everything. 

The amazing thing here is the fact that the military police are not known for honesty. They are known for being dodgy. For not doing the right thing, accepting bribes, being corrupt. But the right man was there that day for me. My own miracle.

I would like to play another video. It’s a beautiful song often shared at Easter, but I think it’s also a wonderful Christmas song. I pray during this holiday time that we can ponder how God is working in our lives, even through hard times we might be experiencing or that we are seeing others experience. Heavenly Father is there. His miracles are real. The greatest miracle of all is that through His Son, Jesus Christ, we can find peace in this life and know that eternal blessings also await us.

I know we can see miracles in our own lives. I bear testimony of this. As President Monson has often said, there are no coincidences. God sends us hope through people, those extra dollars, miracles large and small, because he loves us. I know that as we light the world this Christmas and “light OUR world” this coming year, we will blessed to see miracles all around us. Of this I am certain. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

christmas party activities

as promised... here are our christmas activities from the relief society party last night!

1. a nativity embroidery. 

this was so easy to do. we went online and found a simple nativity outline and printed it out in a size that would fit a standard 4x6" frame. i made the outline heavier with a permanent marker then traced them on to calico with a washable fabric marker. 

each of the sisters started with embroidery thread and a needle, doing a simple back stitch... and we had ziplock bags on hand so they could finish at home. once done, all you do is spray to get rid of the blue marker, iron flat and whack it in your frame! 


2. cookie decorating

one of our lovely sisters baked 200 cookies, so we could have 4 each (we had worked on 50 sisters attending the evening) to decorate. we had icing ready to go, ziplock bags to use for piping and a stack of fun things to use for decorating (christmas m&m's, peppermint crisp, sprinkles etc)

once done, they were placed on a paper plate to dry (with each persons name written on the side) and collected at the end of the night


3. christmas pass the parcel

this was hilarious. we had a pre-wrapped parcel and a dice for each of the three groups ready to go. when someone rolled a 6, they had to put on a santa hat, coat and oven mitts, then try to remove a piece of the wrapping.  if someone else rolled a 6 in the meantime, they had to grab everything from that person and so on until someone got to the middle. kind of a christmas take on the chocolate game, but with a parcel. 


such a fun night!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

relief society christmas party: australian style

\we had our ward relief society christmas party tonight and it was a hit! i have been so lucky to have so many people who helped out and worked so hard for it to be a success. i wanted something a little different from the ordinary christmas decorations being that we are celebrating christmas in australia and it's hot! so i had my lovely mum bring some gum tree branches from the farm, which we placed up and down our tables. it looked incredible and smelled amazing too!

we were also able to borrow some white chair covers and red sashes from some sisters in the ward, which really allowed us to make things look elegant and festive.

we began the evening with my two councilors and then myself sharing a christmas tradition from our home. mine was that my father used to read the christmas story (luke 2:1-20) to us on christmas eve before we went to bed. i then had our bishop step in and read it to our sisters before sharing his testimony and leaving a christmas wish with us all. it was a lovely moment for us all as he's not been bishop for long and it gave him a chance to address most of our wards sisters at once.

we had three activities (a nativity embroidery, cookie decorating and a christmas version of pass the parcel) for the sisters to do on the evening in a round robin (15-20 minutes per station) and i could hear lots of laughter and fun as i walked around the building. i'll cover them in my next blog post which you can read here

we ended the evening with the introduction of our ward relief society program for 2018 "light our world" (full credit to the lovely heather taylor from the facebook group lds relief society presidencies for generously allowing us and others to use her beautiful handouts) enclosed in sweet journals we purchased for all of the sisters. see here for more details

we finished with the "light the world 2017" video a closing prayer and supper. (we had all of our sisters bring a favourite treat to share and there was plenty to go around!)

drinks were water with frozen strawberries and mint, and a fruit punch.

it was such a wonderful night. i am so lucky to be serving in relief society and for the joy it brings to me and others. 

merry christmas to all... and to all a good night! ♥

Sunday, November 26, 2017

a special sealing

best. day. ever.

yesterday our friends were sealed as a family. it was the most amazing day, with so much love in that room. i felt so blessed to be in there and share that moment with them. we took a lot of beautiful pics, but this watercolour will have to do... as it's a day i don't ever want to forget.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

thanksgiving 2017

there are so many things in life to be thankful for... so people can question all they want why we are celebrating thanksgiving here in australia while it's hot outside and definitely not winter, but each year we have thanksgiving with the pinker family and love every minute.

after dinner, we go around the table and each person tells everyone else what they are thankful for. i was particularly thrilled this year for my very un-gushy husband to say he was thankful for me! i personally am grateful for friends that are family! i also said openly, that no matter how badly i miss my grandfather joseph, i am so grateful that through him passing away, we met the pinker family. i needed someone to play the piano for me when i sang at his funeral, someone suggested i call the stake organist, which was taui... and here we are, 10 years later!

doug and i loving thanksgiving dinner!

my pumpkin pie which i sadly didn't get to eat any of this year... i didn't want to punish everyone by making it gluten and dairy free

and taui's pav, there is a piece missing because he made me a df piece. what a gem. i was into that faster than he could cut the rest. 

and the traditional thanksgiving selfire. aren't we an attractive bunch?

happy thanksgiving everyone! i know i certainly have plenty to be thankful for ♥

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

bloom into beauty

my friend melinda is the young womens president in their ward and last week she called and asked if i had any flowers that they could use to decorate for their young womens in excellence evening. we had a good laugh (i have more than just flowers and she knew it) then made a list of things that we could use to pretty up the place. 

earlier this evening we decorated to make their room look like they were having a garden party... and then as an added bonus, i got to stay and enjoy the evening! all of the young women got up one by one and briefly shared what they had worked on for their personal progress throughout the year. it was so fun to watch them speak of their achievements and i really enjoyed being there.

plus they received a little pot of flowers with this gorgeous handout attached to take home. so cute! (i am totally filing these ideas away for future reference, just in case i ever end up in young womens again one day...)

mel spoke last and amongst her comments directed at the girls she read this beautiful quote from jeffrey r. holland:
 "I want you to be proud you are a woman. I want you to feel the reality of what that means, to know who you truly are. You are literally a spirit daughter of heavenly parents with a divine nature and an eternal destiny. That surpassing truth should be fixed deep in your soul and be fundamental to every decision you make as you grow into mature womanhood. There could never be a greater authentication of your dignity, your worth, your privileges, and your promise. Your Father in Heaven knows your name and knows your circumstance. He hears your prayers. He knows your hopes and dreams, including your fears and frustrations. And He knows what you can become through faith in Him. Because of this divine heritage you, along with all of your spiritual sisters and brothers, have full equality in His sight and are empowered through obedience to become a rightful heir in His eternal kingdom, an “[heir] of God, and joint-[heir] with Christ.” Seek to comprehend the significance of these doctrines. Everything Christ taught He taught to women as well as men. Indeed, in the restored light of the gospel of Jesus Christ, a woman, including a young woman, occupies a majesty all her own in the divine design of the Creator."

it is the most wonderful talk, if you have a chance to read the whole thing, please do! you can find it here