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The Freckled Canvas

The Freckled Canvas: April 2014

Friday, April 25, 2014

Personal Progress Guide Book | Divine Nature and my Keynote Speech

So that Personal Progress Dinner I was asked to speak at. I was asked to speak for 15 minutes, and honestly I was worried! I had never been asked to speak for 15 minutes before. I know, I'm 23, I should have had chances and I should be okay with it. But I spoke loads of times as a youth for 5 minutes. Then when I was in my students and singles wards I was only asked to speak for 7-10 minutes, and not to go over. Because we had such a high turn over they wanted to have plenty of time for everyone. And somehow in my ward now, I've just flown below the radar despite my dad being in the bishopric.

I got to the dinner and all was well, a little nervous and then bam! They call me a keynote speaker. Now this is not meant to be a humble brag, I am terrified at this point! I've never given a 15 minute talk before and now I'm the highlight of this event! I just thought I was going to be a small part! To make it worse, I had my dad on one side cracking jokes and making me more nervous and my mom on the other. The walk from my table to the front of the room was terrifying. I was prepared, I'd been preparing for weeks. But nothing had prepared me for keynote speaker status.

Want to hear my talk instead of read my summary? Head over to sound cloud to hear it or download it
Disclaimer - it's not the best quality. I know, if I had used a microphone it would have been better but I hate holding them and speaking!

I started by introducing myself and my parents, since they were there. I've lived in this Stake for over half of my life so most of the parents and older young women knew me but the younger ones didn't. When I'm nervous I talk fast and make lots of jokes. So I started out with one. I introduced my mom told how amazing she was and then said "and then there's my dad" and rolled my eyes. To make him feel a little better I shared his exciting news, just a few days before he had gotten about half a million bees. "Pretty excited about that, well he is, I'm staying away!"

Before I really started in on my talk I asked the girls, their parents, and their leaders to pick up a piece of paper and a pencil from the center of the table. I talked about the importance of a firm foundation (pun intended, see LDS hymn 85). When the Saints started to build the Salt Lake temple they laid the first foundation and had to cover it up. Later, when they uncovered it, they found the foundations were cracked. Instead of forging ahead, they started over-repeating about a year's worth of work. Having a firm foundation is that important. When you are listening to the Holy Ghost and the things it has to say to you as someone is speaking you are building that firm foundation. I took a class called Foundations of Learning my first semester at college and that is where I learned these next two things.

These two pieces of wisdom may very well be my favorite in the entire world and since I heard then I have made a considerable effort to make sure I am following it. Elder Richard G. Scott (a member of the 12 Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) has said in visits to missions that when we write down what we hear and feel in meetings that we are showing our Heavenly Father that we are "treasuring it up." When I was told this by Brother Adrian Juchau, a teacher at LDS Business College, he paired it with this piece of wisdom "Your pencil/pen is a revelation or lightening rod to the Spirit"

Then my movie geek came out. Sweet Home Alabama is one of my favorite movies. In the movie Josh Lucas's character, Jake Perry, works with glass. Towards the end of the movie you see Jake out on a beach sticking rods into the beach. When lightening strikes sand it makes beautiful glass abstract sculptures, these rods attract the lightening. That's like the Spirit and the pen. "It's exactly what you're doing, you are building an amazing testimony when you write down what the Holy Ghost is says to you." I invited them to listen to what the Holy Ghost was saying as I talked that night.

Then I tried to paint a picture for them of what life and young women's was like when I was their age. When I turned 12 there was one other beehive (girls 12-13) and we didn't have a lot in common, we tried but we were just very different. The next girl closest to us had just become a laurel (girls 16-17) and we had even less in common with her and the other laurels. When you're that far apart, it's hard to find common ground. I told them about my Aunt Lindsay. Lindsay and I are six years apart. When I was little I followed her around whenever I had the chance and wanted to be just like her. For her 16th birthday she got brown leather scriptures, her name embossed in gold cursive, and a pink and purple scripture case. For my 8th birthday I got brown leather scriptures, my name embossed in gold cursive and a pink and purple scripture case. I think we might have even had the same cake. But I'm digressing,  one of the the things Lindsay liked to do was watch Dawson's creek with her cousin. Dawson's creek wasn't really appropriate for me at my age. So it was hard for Lindsay to find something she could do with her cousin and me, and still have fun. (Since then I've apologized to Lindsay, and now feel her pain when I have little cousins follow me around at reunions when I just want to watch Friday Night Lights or Friends)

That's what it was like for me in young women's at first. It was hard for us to do the same activities and have either one of us get much out of it. I didn't feel like it belonged. But I found a way. Soon after I turned 12 I was given some worksheets to help me with my personal progress. I threw myself into those worksheets! I worked on them whenever I got the chance. I like to write things down, it's the best way for me to organize my thoughts so this was perfect for me.

About six months after I turned 12 we moved into a new ward and I became the only beehive. Every once in awhile we'd have one beehive move in for a couple months and then they would move out. The benefits of being a military ward. (sarcasm intended) That's the way things were until I was about 14, then within a couple of months two girls moved in and stayed in the ward until graduation.

But although we would all go to the same high school we didn't really have much in common. In fact, they were in the popular crowd and I was most definitely not. Those popular kids they were friends with, they were the same ones who teased me all during middle school. I had this dream that I would have friends just like you see in all the movies. A group of a few girls who did everything together and were always at each other's houses. That didn't happen for me. I'd have a a couple girls that I would do a couple things with and then a couple weeks later they weren't talking to me. I wasn't mean, I was actually kind of a push over. I thought I was pretty cool, I thought I was pretty smart. I was nice to everyone and I just didn't get it. I didn't understand why on friday nights I'd be at home playing with my brothers, and when I was 12 it was mostly making them play barbies with me. When you don't have friends you don't realize that barbies aren't cool at 12, okay…

But through out this all, I was working on my Personal Progress. Every Sunday I would update the sheets of the value experiences I had worked on that week and then pick at least one value experience to work on that week. By the time I turned 14 I had done a big chunk of it. I had spent countless hours working on my Personal Progress and working on something important.

I then asked for some audience participation. I asked them what they thought it took to make a great relationship/friendship. I got loads of great answers! Including: respect, caring about them, mutual interest, communication, feeling comfortable around each other, trust, time spent together, work.

Relationships/friendships are a lot like faith. "You can't just let it sit there, you have to work on it and continually grow. And that's what I did with Personal Progress." I had a girl in the audience read an excerpt from the sixth page of the Personal Progress book.

"Personal Progress will help you strengthen your faith in and testimony of Jesus Christ as you learn his teachings and regularly apply them in your life."

"So for three years when I didn't have friends, I build a friendship with my Savior, Jesus Christ." I didn't really realize what I was doing until it was tested." And looking back those three years, were by far the best of my Young Women's experience. "I wish I had realized what I was doing. Do you ever do something and think it's great, and then...later look back and think  'That was super amazing! I wish I would have put more into it!'? Even though it was  great experience?"

Then to illustrate my point, I shared a rather embarrassing story. Which if you want to know it, you'll have to listen to my talk over on Sound Cloud. The reader's digest version was that I was at Disney World, with my family-including aunts, uncles, a cousin, grandparents, and great grandparents. I was miserable for two days because I was sick. When I look back, I remember all of the good stuff and it's almost all happy memories but I'm bummed that I let being sick bring me down. Because that's the only time I ever went on a vacation with my great grandparents and I can't ever have that opportunity again.

"It is never too late to build a relationship with our Savior!" Then I got nervous and rambled for a minute. I did my best to pull myself back together and said "Our Savior loves you more than you will ever know!"

I got nervous again so I segued to talking about my parents. You may not get along with your parents "at all times, in all things, and in all places" (Young Women's theme) but they will always love you. And sooner or later, you'll realize you loved them all along. "Mom and I have never disagreed ever, have we, right Mom?" I asked and being the good sport that she is, she said "Exactly!" with all the sarcasm it deserved. "No, perfect!" Y'all, I might even to venture to say that I was hilarious here! When we become closer to our Savior, we become more Christlike and that starts at home and radiates outward. I became nicer to my parents, although as you've read we never disagreed so I was already amazing! And then I started helping out more, and trying to help others feel good about themselves.

I shared a couple things from The First Presidency letter on the first page of the Personal Progress book. Let me let you in on a couple little secrets. Our brains, no matter how hard we fight it are drawn to the first and last sentence of paragraphs. Text book writers know this! If you are just trying to get the most important facts (besides definitions-which they purposely hide in the middle) just read the first and last sentences of each paragraph. You can thank me later. And even when we write and speak we're doing it. Don't believe me, go read a conference talk. The second piece, the most important information in booklets is put at the front and end for the exact same reason. So when you see that The First Presidency letter is on the very first page, that's a huge blinking sign saying 'IMPORTANT!!!'

"You are a beloved daughter of Heavenly Father, prepared to come to earth at this particular time for a sacred and glorious purpose. You have a noble responsibility to use your strength and influence for good."

"Always use your influence to lift and bless your family, other young women, and the young men with whom you associate"

I then bore a quick testimony about The First Presidency's love. "They love you. They know who you are. They may not know your name, or recognize you when then they see you, but they care about each and every one of you. Our Savior cares about each and every one of you and they know that."

After, I just had to share a personal experience to drive this home. "You may not realize the impact you have on the other young women in your ward, the young men in your ward, or even in your stake." I set up the scene, I was going to school in Utah. A small school. It was 1 building, 10 floors, and only about 4 floors were used for classes at the time. This school was only a two-year school so the turn over rate was high. Most of the friends that I had made the year before were gone. For either a mission, moved to a four-year university, or had graduated. Even though there were a couple girls still there, I felt like I was starting over.  I had done a year, and then a girl came from my stake came out to do a semester. It turned out that her room was right across the hall from me.

One night, during the first week of classes, I sat on the phone crying, talking to my mom. I felt alone and I didn't have any friends. She, being way more in tune with the Spirit than I was at that particular moment, suggested I call those girls and go do something, and get out of my room. She said I would feel better. I wasn't really feeling it. I said something like "Uh huh, sure mom. Thanks! I love you, thanks for listening and trying to solve my problem. I love you!" She saw right through my bull crap answer and said" Just do it!" So I did. I called the girls, we all decided to go. So we picked a movie and a showing for a couple hours later. Then I felt something whisper in my head and my heart to go ask the girl next door. I tried to rationalize not going over. "She's got other friends here. She probably doesn't want to talk to me." And then again I felt the feeling to go over, so I listened.

It turned out that she was talking to her mom on the phone. I told her a few girls were going to go to the movie and asked if she'd like to come along. I let her know that there was no pressure, I was trying to play it cool. Because by then I had realized that I was not cool, not at all and I just fooled lots of people. She told me she was on the phone with her mom but that she would love to go. We went to the movies and I thought that was the end of the story. By the way, my mom was right- I did feel better.

A couple weeks later my mom had the chance to talk to the other girl's mom. She shared this part of the story with my mom. She had been talking to her daughter on the phone. Her daughter said that she was so homesick, was done with school, and that she was ready to come home. Her mom suggested they pray together over the phone. They prayed that someone would help her feel like she belonged, that someone would come along and be an answer to their prayers. They had just finished their prayer when I knocked on the door. The two of us already had a relationship of being kind to one another, and loving one another even though we didn't really know each other. But by using each other's power to influence each other we were able to answer each other's prayers without even knowing.

I challenged the girls to work on Individual Worth experience 3. This one invites girls to build other's self-esteem. For two weeks, look for other's positive qualities and attributes and vocally recognize them. And promised that if they did that, they would feel better about themselves.

I shared one last quote from The First Presidency letter after sharing one more thing about myself. I tend to get overwhelmed and feel like I'm alone. I lose sight of the big picture. I forget that my problems are small. I asked them to please remember this quote.

"As you participate in Personal Progress, you join in thousands of other young women who are striving to Come unto Christ,  'to stand as a Witness of God, at all times, and in all things, and in all places.'" (Mosiah 18:9)

My favorite part is that you are joining with thousands of other young women. You are not doing this by yourself. You are doing this with every other daughter of God that wants a relationship with their Savior. And that is powerful! It is a huge army, that wants to be just like you-working on being closer to their Savior.

That was my favorite part of Personal Progress, coming closer to Christ. I am sad that I didn't realize that it was until my testimony was tested. But it doesn't have to be that way for you!

Below is the link to the Divine Nature value set. Don't forget to pin it!

Click here to download Divine Nature value set

Did you miss last week's?
Introduction and Faith

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Introducing my new Personal Progress guide sheets

Last week I was asked to talk to the Young Women in my stake (a large geographic group of Mormons) about Personal Progress and how it brought me closer to Jesus Christ. I showed them the worksheets I used to work on my personal progress. I wanted to be able to share one with them that I liked but I couldn't find one, there was something big I wanted to change on each one. So I decided to make my own!

I'll be releasing a set of value guide sheets each week on friday. Today I'm releasing the introduction page and the Faith value set. Click on the caption of each picture to view and download!

I've set up these sheets in away that it guides the girls to what they need to learn instead of telling them what they should be learning. Each guide sheet is comprised of a mix of three sections. Ponder and Prove, Teach One Another, and Act make those three sections. This model was influenced by The Learning Model that I was introduced to at LDS Business College. For more information read offer the Introduction sheet.

Click to download Introduction Sheet

Click to download Faith value set

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