By Kari Pike
After a crazy, busy, challenging, joyful summer, I sat down at my desk to regroup and put some order back into my life. Determined to make the new school year as stress free as possible, I carefully recorded upcoming events and times in my brand-new 18-month planner/organizer. It was fun to color co-ordinate birthdays, school events, and medical appointments. Just about the time I began to feel rather proud of this accomplishment, I discovered that I had 10 days to plan and prepare for a Relief Society board meeting scheduled to be held in my home, on my birthday, the day after school starts. How did that happen??? How do you forget your own birthday? (Now you know why I bought the planner.)
Since I still had day care children, school shopping, and doctor appointments, not to mention being in charge of a luncheon for a missionary zone conference, I knew I needed strength beyond my own. I prayed for direction and diligently searched for a thought or idea that would help me teach and inspire the women with whom I serve. I love the way the Spirit works. I came across this acronym on the B.Y.U. Women’s Conference website:
“H.U.G.S. -- Heartfelt Unity Grows Sisterhood.”
It was perfect! My counselors liked the theme as well and we had a great time planning handouts and the refreshments for our culturally and age-divers board. But I still had the responsibility of preparing a talk.
Sunday, I continued to struggle with what I wanted to share with the Relief Society Board. I made my concerns the focus of prayer and fasting. During one of the lessons, a teacher made reference to D&C 38. I opened my scriptures and came to the right section very quickly because I had extra notes stuck in the pages. (Did I mention how much I love gifts of the Spirit?) Verse 25 begins to tell the parable of the twelve sons. The commandment is to be one, and my notes pointed out that whenever the spirit of the Lord is present, there will be unity! We could even carry out our garden theme because verse 39 warns us to beware of pride. I couldn't think of a better analogy for that noxious weed Bermuda grass. Another reference took me to Alma 32 and the analogy of planting the seed of faith...and another acronym...Swell, Enlarge, Enlighten, and Delicious.
After I studied those scriptures, I knew the majority of the time we had should be used for group discussion about how to implement the idea of planting our garden of unity and faith. Here is a brief outline of the ideas shared at our meeting:
Plan: Take inventory. Get to know your Sisters. What interests/hobbies/education/talents does she have? What are your own resources/strengths/weaknesses? Schedule time to socialize with the women in your ward. Communicate with the missionaries/ward mission leader.
Prepare: Yourself spiritually/emotionally. Be friendly. Learn something new or dust off an unused or underused talent to share with others. Think ahead.
Plant: Be active. Participate in events/activities…Extend invitations to others to participate. Offer them a ride. Sit by someone you don’t know. Introduce yourself. Smile. When you have a nice thought about someone…tell them! If they have a skill you would like to learn, ask them to teach you. Share a skill you have with someone else….canning, sewing, computer technology, accounting, gardening...etc.
Nurture/Feed: Remember birthdays/ special events. Be sensitive to special needs that may come up. Pay attention and listen to promptings of the Spirit. Then act on them! (Hint: Almost everyone likes chocolate!) A smile and a friendly hello go a long way. Everyone likes to be acknowledged.
Water: with tears of joy and sorrow and laughter.
Weed: Eliminate weeds of pride. Dig out every root. Pride is like Bermuda grass. If you leave one little root, it will soon spread out and take over the garden. There were other weeds mentioned…but you get the idea.
Needless to say, I had a joyful birthday. I felt humbled by the outpouring of love as I was surrounded by family and friends and showered with HUGS. My testimony grew stronger as it was nourished through service, both given and received. I am grateful for all those gifts and more. I am truly blessed.