Wednesday, April 18, 2018

RESULT: HAPPINESS OR MISERY?

Charles Dickens has a way of making his characters come to life.  He was often paid for his books by the word count (hence the reason why most of them are very long).   But he had a knack of putting so much of the timeless every-day-ness of human character into his books, that everyone who reads or watches a Dickens work seems to relate to something or someone and is changed as a result!  One of these "human moments" is when Mr. Micawber gives a young David Copperfield his famous, and oft-quoted, recipe for happiness: "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."

In a few more words than Mr. Micawber,  Marvin J. Ashton explains the need for a budget in section 4 of One for the Money.  I encourage you to read section 4 and have a Family Home Evening, sharing your budget with the whole family.    

Making a budget is an important step to financial independence.  Knowing where each dollar is spent and tracking these expenditures gives each family member appreciation to what things cost and how they can help the family to stay in monetary well-being.  The second part to budgeting is a little harder, but even more important: Keeping in the budget.  Every family member should be honest with each other and commit to spend only what is allotted each month.  Arrange time to review your budget with your spouse regularly and make changes as needed.  As we follow this recipe, we can expect the same result Mr. Micawber promises: happiness.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

ANSWER TO MY QUESTION

Two weeks ago, we were urged to come to General Conference with a question.  I made my list of questions, and one of them was, "How do I help my family and my ward be more prepared?"

I am not sure anyone was prepared for the amazing prophetic changes made, but I listened to conference with my ears and my heart open for any phrases like, "preparedness" or "self-reliant."  Well, my friends, I was not disappointed.  Sunday morning, Elder Larry Y. Wilson was the first speaker.  He addressed my question head-on when he said, "Being spiritually self-reliant is hearing the Lord's voice through His Spirt for one's own life."  Wow.  He then went on to say, "...being familiar with the voice of the Holy Ghost is a matter of spiritual life and death."

And, if that wasn't enough, just over an hour later, President Nelson also spoke on the importance of personal revelation, and he told us how to receive it:  "Follow the example of the Prophet Joseph. Find a quiet place where you can regularly go. Humble yourself before God. Pour out your heart to your Heavenly Father. Turn to Him for answers and for comfort.  Pray in the name of Jesus Christ about your concerns, your fears, your weaknesses—yes, the very longings of your heart. And then listen! Write the thoughts that come to your mind. Record your feelings and follow through with actions that you are prompted to take. As you repeat this process day after day, month after month, year after year, you will “grow into the principle of revelation.”  


Spiritual self-reliance is a principle that is true, important, and life-saving.  I echo President Nelson, "I urge you to stretch beyond your current spiritual ability to receive personal revelation..."  I also expect to receive our prophet's promise that "...as you continue to be obedient, expressing gratitude for every blessing the Lord give you, and as you patiently honor the Lord's timetable, you will be given the knowledge and understanding you seek.  Every blessing the Lord has for you--even miracles--will follow.  That is what personal revelation will do for you."  President Nelson ended his talk with a clear self-reliance statement, "...in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost."  
I challenge you to make the decision today and do what President Nelson said, "Do the spiritual work required to enjoy the git of the Holy Ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly."  Read, ponder, and pray about what our living prophet has told us and work to be spiritually self-reliant.  Meanwhile, I also will be working to receive guidance about how to help you be more prepared.

Monday, April 2, 2018

3 MONTHS PREPARED--DONE?

Forgetting your toothbrush is the worst.  I remember so many occasions when that small little thing just did not make it into our "bathroom bag."  When this happens, I can hardly wait to get to the closest store to buy one!  I am sure you can relate!

Over the last few months I hope you have been working to get your 3 month supply.   Here is what we have done so far:

This month:  Supplement

There are many other items that would help make life easier if we truly could not get to a store for 3 months.  Consider adding these (or other) items to your 3-month supply:  Water, medications, vitamins, TOOTHBRUSHES, Toilet Paper, Paper towels, laundry soap, hygiene supplies, feminine needs, shampoo, soap, etc.  

I challenge you to make a list and purchase (as your budget allows) the 5 most important non-food items to you.  

If you are still on step one, two or three, that's fine.  The important thing is to get started and to keep going until over time, you have a 3-month supply for you and your family.


Remember the church states, “We encourage [you] to prepare for adversity in life by having a basic supply of food and water and some money in savings. We ask that you be wise… [and] do not go to extremes... With careful planning, you can, over time, establish a home storage supply and a financial reserve.” (See All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Home Storage).

Monday, March 26, 2018

COME WITH A QUESTION


While attending BYU, I had an opportunity to take 2 religion classes from Reed Benson, son of Ezra Taft Benson.  I think he was one of my favorite professors, his classes were always fantastic.  When General Conference time rolled around, he encouraged his students to think of 5 questions, write them down, and listen for the answers.  I always felt like this helped me prepare and be ready to listen a little bit better.  President Ballif issued almost the same challenge.  Last Sunday he asked us to think of a question and see if we can hear the answer to it during Conference.  

This last October, Elder Neil L. Anderson gave this instruction concerning Conference,  "As you listen, the messages you receive may be very literal or they may be customized just for you....  I promise that as you hear the voice of the Lord to you in the teachings of this general conference, and then act on those promptings, you will feel heaven’s hand upon you, and your life and the lives of those around you will be blessed."

I challenge you to really take time this Saturday and Sunday to be spiritually recharged by watching or listening to General Conference.  Pray about your questions and ask Heavenly Father to bless those speaking.  Also ask Him to help you listen and act upon your promptings.

Conference time is also a good reminder to change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.  Plan to take a few minutes to check your 72-hour kits to make sure the food is still good and the clothing still fits.  If you do not have 72-hour kits, never fear!  We will be making some on Wednesday, June 20!  (Save the date!  More details to follow).

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

BUILDING AND USING FOOD STORAGE, SAVING MONEY

This food storage thing has been a passion of mine for awhile now.  Over the years, many friends have asked  my advice on things from what to store to how to use it.  All of it is important.  One day, I got a frantic email from my best friend from college looking for a homemade bread recipe.  She and her husband had just decided to get out of debt and had set their budget accordingly.  She was out of grocery money for the month with several days to go...and no more bread.  I typed up my bread recipe and emailed it off.  A day or two later, she wrote back expressing her many thanks, she made the bread with ingredients she had already and it saved their budget!

This same friend a few months earlier had also asked me how to stretch her grocery budget.  I told her to get her basic food storage.  She was very trusting and bought what I told her to:  flour, wheat, rice, oatmeal, dry beans, powdered milk, pasta, cooking oil, and salt.  She started out buying a little of each item and made sure she always had some on hand.  I then told her to use these items on a regular basis.   A month or two later, she called me in awe.  Just by having these items on hand she spent significantly less every month on her groceries.

The list of basic long-term storage items is not long or expensive, and I didn't make it up.  We have been told by the church to "Consider first, what are the basics?—wheat (or grain...), sugar or honey, dried milk, salt, and water. Most of us can afford such basics"  (Vaughn J. Featherstone).  These simple items store well and sustain life.  Having them is good, learning to use them is even better.

I challenge you to have these basic storage items in your home and learn to use them on a regular basis.  If you also find yourself saving money on groceries, use the extra funds to buy more of these basics.  (WinCo and Costco are the best local resource for these items).

USING BASIC FOOD STORAGE

  •  Powdered Milk:  If a recipe calls for milk, use powdered milk instead.  1/3 c. powdered milk + 1 c. water =1 c. milk.
  • Dried Beans:  soak beans overnight, cook beans in crock pot and they are ready by dinnertime.  1 1/3 c. beans=one can...and they freeze well too!
  • Oatmeal:  Eat it for Breakfast, or see below for yummy oatmeal pancakes!
  • Wheat:  Grind it into flour.  If you don't have a grinder, find a friend who does and grind a couple months' supply.  Use in bread, muffins, waffles, etc.  or see below for my favorite Blender Wheat Pancakes.
Oatmeal Pancakes
Makes 8-10 pancakes

1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. powdered milk
1 c. water
1 c. rolled oats
2 tsp. baking powder
2 T. sugar
2 eggs, divided
3 T Vegetable oil

In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and powdered milk; stir until well blended.  In small bowl, beat egg whites until stiff; set aside.  In large mixing bowl, combine egg yolks, water, oil, and oats; beat slightly and allow to stand 5 minutes, then beat until blended.  Mix in dry ingredients, then fold in beaten egg whites.  For small pancakes, drop 2 tablespoons batter onto griddle, or pour 1/4 measuring cup full, if larger pancakes are desired.

Bake until cakes are full of bubbles on top and undersides are lightly browned.  turn with spatula and brown other side.  Serve with applesauce or jam, or butter and maple syrup.


Blender Wheat Pancakes
Makes 6-8 pancakes

1 c. milk (or 1/3 c. powdered milk and 1 c. water)
2 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. uncooked whole wheat
2 T. oil
2 T. honey or sugar.

Put milk and wheat in blender.  Blend on highest speed for four or five minutes, or until batteries smooth.  Add and blend on low, eggs, oil, baking, powder, honey, and salt.  Bake on a hot griddle.  (These are especially yummy with honey on top!)

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

WHAT WILL IT TAKE?

I recently had an interesting conversation with a friend.  This friend has been passionate about preparedness for a very long time.  I think she has had the calling of ward provident living specialist longer than I have been married!  I asked her if she found something that seemed to help those in her ward want to be more prepared and seek out her help.  She told me in all the years that she has been trying to help with preparedness, only two events stood out where people really took action and wanted to be prepared--1999, with the expected Y2K computer glitches, and 2012, the end of the Mayan calendar.

I have pondered this much.  When the world sees a threat and broadcasts it widely people tend to listen and they take steps to be prepared.  Yet, we have living prophets who have told us over and over to be prepared and they have told us exactly how to do it!  Are we listening?  This preparedness includes so much--food storage, home production, financial security, education, emergency preparedness, employment, and physical heath can be an overwhelming list, but we have been promised that blessings come as we follow the prophets!

The more I think about preparedness, one word keeps coming to my mind:  Freedom.  The Lord has always wanted his people to be free!  As we focus our efforts to be self-reliant, we will also become more free--now and in the future.

President Kimball gave a powerful talk in the April 1976 Conference entitled Family Preparedness.  In it he quotes two scriptures:  “Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which say?”(Luke 6:46.).  and “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21).  He goes on to liken these scriptures to preparedness--specifically food storage.   He states, "Develop your skills in your home preservation and storage. We reaffirm the previous counsel the Church has always given, to acquire and maintain year’s supply—a year’s supply of the basic commodities for us."  This council has not changed.  

My dear ward members, I plead with you to heed the Lord's--and the prophets' council--to please be prepared.  Get your food storage, grow some of your own food, pay off debt, continue learning new skills, be healthy, and be ready for a disaster!  

It is my calling to help you achieve this, but it takes all of us.  My goal is to help you every step of the way because the Lord has promised us, "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear" (D&C 38:30).

--RaeLyn Stoddard
   Relief Society Provident Living Supervisor

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

MONEY MATTERS

October of 2000 found our young family preparing for a life-changing move.  We packed all we had into a 24-foot Ryder Truck, complete with car trailer; and my husband, 6-month old daughter, and I made the 4-day journey from Provo, Utah to Manassas, Virginia.  It was our first job out of school and we were excited for the adventure.

After we arrived and got settled, we sat down together to devise a new budget and determine how to pay off our debt.  We had credit card debt from our move, a car payment, and student loans.  Even before we were married, we had determined that debt was not something we wanted to live with.  We had read One for the Money before, but this seemed like a good time for a review.  The debt-elimination calendar seemed so simple!  It jumped out at us, a so we put into reality.   Paying off the first item felt like it took forever, but once we made financial decisions to really get rid of this debt, we were able to pay it off faster than we anticipated.  Years later I heard about Dave Ramsey and his "snowball effect" with paying off debt.  I was sure he had read Elder Ashton's pamphlet!  This one decision to use the debt-elimination calculator has been one of the best decisions of my life...seriously!

I challenge you to take time this week to read section 3 of One for the money and study the debt elimination calculator.  Think about how to reduce your level of debt and how to meet your financial goals.  Remember to talk it over with your husband and the rest of the family so everyone knows how to help (and not to hurt) this endeavor.

Being out of debt propagates freedom.  J. Reuben Clark has been oft quoted, “Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies; it never goes to the hospital; it works on Sundays and holidays; it never takes a vacation; it never visits nor travels; it takes no pleasure; it is never laid off work nor discharged from employment; it never works on reduced hours; it never has short crops nor droughts; it never pays taxes; it buys no food; it wears no clothes; it is unhoused and without home and so has no repairs, no replacements, no shingling, plumbing, painting, or whitewashing; it has neither wife, children, father, mother, nor kinfolk to watch over and care for; it has no expense of living; it has neither weddings nor births nor deaths; it has no love, no sympathy; it is as hard and soulless as a granite cliff. Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you.” (in Conference Report, Apr., 1938, p. 103.)

Over the course of paying off our debts, I heard a few bits of wisdom that we put into practice:  (1) use a bonus, raise, tax return, or other un-budgeted-for financial addition to help pay off your debt.  Use half to pay down the debt and put the other half back into the budget to help the family.  Doing this small thing really helped to propel us out of debt.  We even used this advice to pay down our mortgage.  (2) Reward yourself!  When you have paid off  one of your debts, plan to purchase something fun.  When we paid off our car, we bought our first DVD player.  It helped me to look forward to wiping out that debt.  It also taught me self-control to wait for an anticipated item instead of making an impulse purchase.

Resolve today to lesson debt and to prevent from entering into it.  I end with wise words from  President Heber J. Grant "If there is any one thing that will bring peace and contentment into the human heart, and into the family, it is to live within our means, and if there is any one thing that is grinding, and discouraging and disheartening it is to have debts and obligations that one cannot meet"(Relief Society Magazine, May 1932, p. 302).” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1979, p. 56; or Ensign, May 1979, p. 39.)