Kudos to ME!

August marks my 2nd anniversary with PartyLite!! Yeah, ME!!
PartyLite in August is terrific for Hostesses AND Guests, too!
  • First, of course, is the NEW Fall/Holiday catalog!
  • All votives on sale for $10/dozen!
  • Hostesses can buy 6 dozen votives for only $9.95!
  • Plus Hostesses earn a Fast $50 for only $9.95 when you hold a show in 30 days and another Fast $50 for only $9.95 for EVERY show booked and held from yours!
  • Guests can purchase a Bestburn Barrel jar for only $9.95 (with a $40 purchase)

Let me know if you'd like to see a catalog or host a show!!

Book Review

I was inspired to read this book after watching the movie, My Dog Skip. The movie was a sad story about a boy and his dog. Willie was a lonely boys with no friends, so his Mom bought him a puppy for his 9th birthday, in the hopes that he would become his best friend. It worked, of course, and Willie and Skip became inseparable!
The book, however, tells quite a different story! The book, by the way, is a true story while the movie is merely based on the book.
In actuality, the Willie in the book, was quite a popular kid. True, Skip became his best friend, but certainly not his only friend.
Once you get past the completely different portrayal of Willie Morris, this book was actually quite good.
It primarily takes place in a small town in Mississippi during WWII. The description of the adventures that Willie and Skip embarked on is quite vivid. I really felt that I was a part of this quiet little town.
It also was very interesting to read about this particular period of time. A time before video games and the Internet. A time when boys and dogs were free to roam around town. A time when everyone knew everyone in town. It was a very reminiscent account of a time that I am so removed from and that I will never experience.


Working in the IDS Center

I've spent the past few weeks working on the 39th floor of the IDS Center in Minneapolis. Some of you may not know this, but IDS is the tallest building in Minneapolis. The view out of the conference center is spectacular! You can see for miles! You can see 394 and Lake Calhoun and lots of downtown buildings. Gorgeous!

Today there is a storm brewing. It's incredible to watch the storm slowly making its way into downtown. Less than 5 minutes ago, we could clearly see Lake Calhoun off in the distance. Now it is completely gone...lost in the rain...

The rain hasn't hit downtown yet, but it will very, very soon...

I've never watched a storm come in from up so high.


Torchlight 5K--July 18, 2007

This is one of my favorite races of all time! It is always the first Wednesday evening of the Minneapolis Aquatennial--the 10 Best Days of Summer--and kicks off the Torchlight Parade.

This is the third time I've run this race, and it has always been a different route. I really enjoyed the route this year.

It always starts at the Basilica in downtown Minneapolis. The first year, it ended on Boom Island; the second year, it ended at Loring Park; this year, it ended on Nicollet Island.

The race started off bit a rocky.
  • I hadn't been able to get a hold of Marla all day, and we were supposed to run this together.
  • Around 4:30 or so, the sky opened up and the rains came pouring down. The rain was much, much worse out in Eagan, so Jeff and I decided that he didn't need to come down and cheer me on. He would just pick me up at the train station when I was finished.
  • After loafing around the library until a little before 6, I changed into my running clothes. It was then that I realized how much I needed Jeff--to hold my purse and my bag. I certainly didn't want to run a 5K carrying all of that.
  • I remember that Jeff mentioned Dave was going to be running the race, so I gave him a call.
  • I finally got a hold of Marla! She had just arrived from Denver and was driving into downtown.
  • The rains started to fall once again!!
  • I registered, got my t-shirt, and finally met up with Dave, John, and Lindsay Christianson.
  • Yeah! I got to put all my stuff in their car.
  • We met up with Emily Kucera!!
  • Brian Hogan and Andy Howard (I think) joined our pre-race crowd.
  • Marla finally found the Basilica, parking, and joined our group! Yeah!

As we made our way to the starting line, I set my Garmin to run the 5K in 32:00. Marla and I paced together pretty well...we only missed my goal by 39 seconds!! Also the race turned out to be 3.2 miles (.1 miles longer than a 5K).

I had to stop a walk twice during the race--once during the water stop and once a little further on in the race.

My shins hurt a little during the race, but it was okay. Marla was concerned that I didn't push myself too much.

But you just can't help yourself but to run a little faster and harder during a race!

The race was exhilarating!

The post-race party was fun, too! There was a cheese scupture of Mt Rushmore. Cheez-It(R) was one of the sponsors. Plus, there was a lot of fun food. I had to convince Dave to walk through the food tent, but one he saw the free food, I think it was worth it to him.

I also won tickets for two to the Acme Comedy Club, so I'm excited for Jeff and I to go to a comedy show.


This is a talk I gave in Sacrament on July 15, 2007.

I love to see the temple.
I’m going there someday to feel the Holy Spirit, to listen and to pray.
For the temple is a house of God, a place of love and beauty.
I’ll prepare myself while I am young; this is my sacred duty.[1]

I love this Primary song! Last Sunday when the bishop asked me to speak on temples, the words to this song immediately began running through my mind. As I have reflected on these words this past week, I have realized how much they resonate truth to me now—even after having been through the temple for myself. Today I would like to share some of my own personal experiences of the temple as well as some words from a few General Authorities to illustrate the principles found in the first verse of this song.

I love to see the temple.[2]

I have had the opportunity to travel around the country a little. At nearly every destination, I try to squeeze in a visit to the temple—if only to walk the grounds—because I love to see the temple. I love knowing that they are in many cities around the world.

Jeff and I recently moved back to MN from the Portland, Oregon area. It wasn’t that frequent, but on occasion, we would find ourselves driving along I-5. I loved it when we would crest the hill and could see the majestic spires of the temple. It was such a wonderful sight to behold; it always brought me a sense of comfort.

We are taught that the Lord’s people are a temple-building people. Many temples have been erected throughout time, and I would imagine that they have always been a sight to behold. I imagine that many have marveled at their beauty—whether they be the temples of ancient times, the smaller temples of today or the larger temples that were built at the beginning of the Restoration.

One such temple was the Nauvoo temple. In an Ensign article in 1994, President Hinckley had the following to say about the Nauvoo temple.

The temple which rose [in Nauvoo] was to be the crowning jewel of [the] city. When it was completed in 1846, a year and a half after the Martyrdom, it was looked upon as perhaps the finest building then in the state of Illinois. … Its tower reached 165 feet in the air, and it could be seen for many miles up and down the river, from the far interior of Illinois, and from far into Iowa. It was the last thing that our people saw as they began their long journey west."[3]

The Nauvoo temple was glorious. I remember when I was little we would often visit Nauvoo. Back then there was only the footprint of the temple, as it had not been rebuilt. Even though I could not actually see the temple on those visits, I could still feel of its presence and imagine what it must have been like to see it up on the hill overlooking the city.

Seeing temples in my daily life, whether in person or in photographs, has helped to instill in me a desire to attend the temple and do the Lord’s work.

I’m going there someday to feel the Holy Spirit, to listen and to pray.[4]

When the children in Primary sing this song, they are making plans to someday enter the temple. Many of us, as adults, have already had the privilege of attending the temple, but it doesn’t stop there. Whether or not we have been through the temple for ourselves, we should always sing this song with the resolution of “I’m going there someday,” because we should continually be desirous to return to the temple to feel of the Spirit, to listen to the counsel of the Lord and to pray to our Heavenly Father. Going to the temple is not a one-time deal. Every time we attend, we can receive these blessings.

Joseph B Wirthlin, in a conference talk, in 1998, said,

The ideals of faith, hope, and charity are most evident in the holy temples. There we learn the purpose of life, strengthen our commitment as disciples of Christ by entering into sacred covenants with Him, and seal our families together for eternity across generations. Receiving our own endowment in a temple and returning frequently to perform sacred ordinances for our kindred dead increases our faith, strengthens our hope, and deepens our charity. We receive our own endowment with faith and hope that we will understand the Lord's plan for His children, will recognize the divine potential within each of us as children of our Heavenly Father, and will be faithful to the end in keeping the covenants we make. Performing temple ordinances for the dead is a manifestation of charity, offering essential blessings to those who have preceded us, blessings that were not available to them during their mortal lives. We have the privilege of doing for them what they are unable to do for themselves."[5]

Faith, hope and charity are wonderful blessings that we can receive through frequent temple attendance. I think these attributes are developed when we feel the Holy Spirit, when we listen and when we pray.

In Psalms 27:4, David says, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.[6]

There is no place on earth where we can do this more fully than in the temples. I believe that it was for this purpose that the Lord gave us temples—as a place for us to go and be edified in Him.

The temple is a house of God, a place of love and beauty.[7]

In October 2003, my sister, step-mom and I went on a trip to Las Vegas. One of the sights that I definitely wanted to see was the Las Vegas temple. It took a bit of determination and a lot of map consulting, but we finally found it! It was beautiful! As my sister and I walked around the grounds that day, I could feel the spirit so strongly; it was overwhelming. I could feel the love of my Heavenly Father envelope me, and I knew that I was his daughter—a daughter of God.

The beauty of the temples is striking. Even those who are not of our faith recognize the beauty of the temples. Back in February of 2006, I read an article in the Ensign that really left an impression on me. I’d like to read an excerpt to you now.

“Picturing Myself in the Temple” by John Cox, as told to Janine Simons Craeger

Never did I think that by putting myself in a picture of the temple, I would also put myself in the temple.

I grew up in Godstone, England, and was 17 years old when the London England Temple was dedicated in 1958. As a member of another church, I went through the temple open house with my parents. Although this left a great impression on me, I went back to my life as it had been before.

A year later, I joined a photographic club and chose the London temple as a suitable subject for a photograph to enter in a competition. As I set up the camera that day, I thought, “This needs something else. I need to put somebody in there looking at the temple.” So I used a timer and took the shot across the reflecting pool with me sitting in the foreground. That photograph took first place.

My father informed the temple president, Selvoy J. Boyer, of my award. He wanted to see the picture, so I made a print and presented it to him. He gave me a copy of the Book of Mormon. I read it and obtained a conviction that it was scripture.

On April 1, 1960, President Boyer baptized me. Throughout my life, I’ve had a special feeling about the temple, and it all started with a photograph. The temple was there from the beginning and has been with me ever since. Indeed, it continues to be the central focus of my life.[8]

I love this story because this brother was attracted to the beauty of the temple and was able to feel of the love that abides there and came to know that it was a house of God. No one can deny the beauty of the temple.

I’ll prepare myself while I am young; this is my sacred duty.[9]

You might hear these words and think that they do not apply to you because you are no longer in Primary; however, aren’t we taught that when we have humility before the Lord, we become as little children? We are also taught that this life is a probationary period where we can prepare to return to our Heavenly Father. Preparation is never-ending; no matter our age, we still should always be in a state of preparation to enter the temple.

Elaine S Dalton, in a conference talk in 2006, said

Personal worthiness is essential to enter His holy temples and to ultimately become heirs to 'all [the] Father hath' (D&C 84:38). The Lord has said, 'Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God' (D&C 121:45). When we do this, we can confidently enter the holy temples of God with a knowledge that we are worthy to go where the Lord Himself goes. When we are worthy, we cannot only enter the temple, the temple can enter us. The Lord's promises of salvation and happiness become ours—and our earthly mission becomes His. . . .

To the youth of the noble birthright, look into the windows of eternity! See yourselves in the Lord's holy temples. See yourselves living worthy and pure lives. Generations are depending on you! I testify that worthiness is possible because of the redeeming and enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.[10]

I love it when she says, “When we are worthy, we cannot only enter the temple, the temple can enter us. The Lord’s promises of salvation and happiness become ours—and our earthly mission becomes His.”[11]

The temple and the work we do there become intermingled with our daily lives. As we do the Lord’s work, He will bless us with salvation and happiness.

Sister Dalton directs this statement to the youth of the noble birthright. I would like to extend that to everyone here today because, again no matter our age, we are all youth of a noble birthright and generations are depending upon each of us! Are we doing all that we can to live worthily, to enter the temple of the Lord, to abide with Him?

I would like to read a story that Jeffrey R Holland shared in a conference talk in 2004.

The Punta Arenas Chile Stake is the Church's southernmost stake anywhere on this planet, its outermost borders stretching toward Antarctica. Any stake farther south would have to be staffed by penguins. For the Punta Arenas Saints it is a 4,200-mile round-trip bus ride to the Santiago temple. For a husband and wife it can take up to 20 percent of an annual local income just for the transportation alone. Only 50 people can be accommodated on the bus, but for every excursion 250 others come out to hold a brief service with them the morning of their departure.

Pause for a minute and ask yourself when was the last time you stood on a cold, windswept parking lot adjacent to the Strait of Magellan just to sing with, pray for, and cheer on their way those who were going to the temple, hoping your savings would allow you to go next time? One hundred ten hours, 70 of those on dusty, bumpy, unfinished roads looping out through Argentina's wild Patagonia. What does 110 hours on a bus feel like? I honestly don't know, but I do know that some of us get nervous if we live more than 110 miles from a temple or if the services there take more than 110 minutes. While we are teaching the principle of tithing to, praying with, and building ever more temples for just such distant Latter-day Saints, perhaps the rest of us can do more to enjoy the blessings and wonder of the temple regularly when so many temples are increasingly within our reach.[12]

Two things strike me about this story: 1) The faith and diligence of those saints who are able to make the long trip is incredible, and 2) The faith and diligence of those saints who gather to cheer them on is equally as incredible.

What a sacrifice it would be to make this trip—110 hours, that’s more than 4 ½ days, and more than 20% of your annual income! Do we take our minimal sacrifice of less than an hour travel time and just the price of gas in our cars as seriously as these saints? Do we attend the temple as often as we are able? No matter the sacrifice, attending the temple takes faith.

I would like to touch briefly on those saints that came out to a brief service on the morning of the departure of the temple-goers. Imagine the love these saints had for their brothers and sisters. Think for a minute about our brothers and sisters in this ward, in our families, and in our circle of friends. Are we doing all we can to encourage them to attend the temple? Are we helping to ease their sacrifice of going to the temple? It is not only personal worthiness that can keep someone from attending the temple. There are many ways in which we can help our brothers and sisters attend the temple in addition to sharing our testimonies. We can personally extend an invitation. We can offer our time and our service so that they might attend.

We need to not only encourage ourselves to prepare to enter the temple and to keep our covenants with the Lord, but we also need to do as these saints in Chile did, and sing with, pray for, and cheer on their way those around us who are able to attend the temple; we need to encourage everyone to receive of the blessings of the temple.

I would like to close with the following words from Russell M Nelson:

The temple is the house of the Lord. The basis for every temple ordinance and covenant—the heart of the plan of salvation—is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Every activity, every lesson, all we do in the Church, point to the Lord and His holy house. Our efforts to proclaim the gospel, perfect the Saints, and redeem the dead all lead to the temple. Each holy temple stands as a symbol of our membership in the Church, as a sign of our faith in life after death, and as a sacred step toward eternal glory for us and our families.[13]

I love this quotation because it is so very true. The temple is at the heart of the gospel. Everything we do, everything we learn, points to the temple, and it is all because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for all the many temples that dot the earth today. It is my prayer that we will all be more desirous to attend the temple more frequently and to feel of the love of our Savior more fully that as we enter the temple, we may allow the temple to enter us as well.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

[1] Children’s Songbook #95
[2] Children’s Songbook #95
[3] Gordon B. Hinckley, "Nauvoo's Holy Temple," Ensign, Sept. 1994, 60
[4] Children’s Songbook #95
[5] Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Cultivating Divine Attributes," Ensign, Nov. 1998, 27
[6] Psalms 27:4
[7] Children’s Songbook #95
[8] John Cox and Janine Simons Creager, “Picturing Myself in the Temple,” Ensign, Feb 2006, 11
[9] Children’s Songbook #95
[10] Elaine S. Dalton, "Look toward Eternity!" Ensign, Nov. 2006, 32
[11] Elaine S. Dalton, "Look toward Eternity!" Ensign, Nov. 2006, 32
[12] Jeffrey R. Holland, "Abide in Me," Ensign, May 2004, 31
[13] Russell M. Nelson, “Personal Preparation for Temple Blessings,” Ensign, May 2001, 32

Valleyfair for Emillio's birthday

It is a tradition with my family for us to go to Valleyfair for my nephew's birthday. It used to be the entire family, but as the years have gone by, it has dwindled to only those who truly enjoy going on all the rides.

This year it was Treva, Emillio, AJ, Selena, and I who went. Dan and Jessica came out for a little while as well. It was so much fun! We went on all the scary rides!

The new ride this year was Renegade: Outlaw Coaster. It was phenomenal! It was exhilarating! We rode it twice. We went on a Saturday, so the lines were really long. Renegade was the only ride we were able to go on twice. :-(

While standing in line for Steel Venom, I played around with my camera phone. I discovered some really cool features. My favorite was the sketch feature.

Watch the slideshow below for a few shots from our day at Valleyfair--including some that I took as sketches.


The Peña kids spent the night after Selena's birthday.

When AJ woke up, the two of us went out and picked some raspberries and rhubarb. When I asked AJ what he thought we should make with the raspberries we'd picked. Without hesitation, he said, "Pie!" By this time, Selena was awake, and the three of us made one raspberry and one raspberry-rhubarb pie.

The pies were tasty! And it was a lot of fun to spend quality time baking with my niece and nephew. :-)

Here is a pic of the pies we made.



A Challenge...

I had an epiphany today. And not a good epiphany.

I realized that I am not doing all that I can to nourish myself spiritually. I have become bogged down by the stresses of daily life and have neglected my prayers and scripture study.

It all ends today.

I am challenging myself to read the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Christ in 3 months, beginning today.

"And the first came and stood before my father, and gave unto him a book, and bade him that he should read.

And it came to pass that as he read, he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord."
1 Nephi 1: 11-12

As I began my challenge, this scriptural passage really struck me. I know that as I read and study the scriptures, I too, will be filled with the Spirit of the Lord. I know that I am a daughter of God and that He loves me very much. I know that true happiness comes when we strive to keep His commandments.

I invite all who read this post to join me in this challenge to read the Book of Mormon, to be edified, and to feel of our Savior's love.


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