Crafting My Testimony

Crafting My Testimony

 

Illustrated Scripture Journal - Moroni 10:2-5

Illustrating your scripture notes can help you gain deeper insight into even the most familiar scripture.

Sometimes despite all we do, it can feel like our testmonies are hanging on by a unraveling thread.  It’s so easy for us as mere mortals, to get sucked into the humdrum of life.  We feel out of control.  We percieve ourselves as victims of either circumstances outside our control or at the mercy of other peole’s harmful decisions.  How easly we forget or even give up our agency, our ability to act for ourselves, to make our own decisions, and to reep either the rewards or consequesces of our actions because we forget who we are.  We forget we are children of a dvine being.  We forget that Heavenly Father’s greatest power is also His greatest gift to us.  We forget that just like our Father in Heaven, we too are creators.

As creators we aren’t just bystanders in the game of life.  We are the players.  But when it feels like we are just watching everything happen around us, we do better to remember that we have the same creative spark in us as Heavenly Father does.  Whether it is exercising our ability to create human llife or singing a hymn, creativity brings us closer to the the unvierse’s preeminent creator, God.

As I said, sometimes my testimony feels like it is just hanging on.  I”ve come to realize that this is a result of me ceasing to be a creator in my own life.  I get caught up in fear and worry and anger, and forget to use creativity in all asepcts of my life.

I’ve decided to counteract this tendency by using creativity to enhance my testimony.

I hadn’t been able to go to the Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in a very long time due to one prologued hospitalization after another.  To bring my focus back to the Temple, a friend and I made custom Temple Recommend Holders  We used scrap paper and the We R Memory Keepesrs Photo Sleeve Fuse tool.  I added sequins and a mini key inside to shake areound.  I got to go to the Temple two weeks ago and it was fun to use my new holder.

Handmade Temple Reccomend Holder

Handmade Temple Reccomend Holder

I’ve had a hard time with Scripture Study lately.  With all the time in the hosptial, it’s hard to stay with a good habbit.  I decided I need to study and ponder the scriptures more than just read them to really have a desire to read every single day.

I decided to start an illustrated scripture journal.  I’ll make an entry for my favorite scriptures I encounter each day and week. Here’s what you need to know to make your own:

  1. Illustrating the Book of Mormon

    Affix the scripture onto the journal page

    Search The Scriptures

  2. Find a scripture you want to journal while doing your daily scripture study.  Look for somethign that jumps out to you and speaks to your heart.  Listen to the Holy Ghost. He will guide you to the right scripture.  I chose Moroni 10:2-5.

  3. Trim It
  4. Cut out the sripture you’d like to use  out of an inexpenive extra missionary copy of the Book of Mromon.  (Actually to do this properly you’ll need two Books of scripture – one for the front sides of the pages and one for the back side of the pages.)

  5. Affix Your Verses
  6. Glue the scripture to a page in an art journal.  I used a journal with watercolor paper so I could use water-colors and other mediums in it.

  7. Take Colorful Notes

    Take notes on the scripture in vivid colors of words and images.

    Mark It Up

  8. Mark the scriptures with the words and phrases you want to highlight or that are especially meaningful to you.  For this I use Staedtler Triplus Finelliner Pens because they have an exceptionally small felt tip point and don’t bleed easily.

  9. Illsutrate with Inspiration
  10. Using watercolor colored pencils, draw your thoughts on the scripture in words and images.  This really made me think about the deeper meanings contained within the versus I chose.

  11. Continue to Illustrate

    When using watercolor colored-pencils, started painting water over parts of the illustration.

    Make it Vivid

  12. If you are using water colored color-pencils, next go over all your drawings with a paintbursh and clear water.  This will make all the colors blend and appear more vivbrant.

  13. In The Details
  14. Finally, go back over the words and other key drawings with felt tip, metallic, and other kinds of pens.  Make sure you title the journal page with the scripture reference and date.  Add a page number in the lower left corner, so that Iyou can make a table of contents of all the scriptures in the front of the journal.

Not only am I pleased with what I created, but I learned a lot more from this intense and creative study session than I had during many attempts to sit down and read scriptures.

Illustrated Scripture Journal - Moroni 10:2-5

Add details with metallic or other pens.

Maintaining a testimony can be difficult when life doesn’t go the way we want, but I have a testimony that as we engage in our divine creative abilities we will realize our potential, purpose, and a relationship that’s closer to Heavenly Father and Christ than we ever realized.

Be Mine: Valentine’s Day

Be Mine: Valentine’s Day

Today was Valentine’s Day.  That means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  So whether you thought today was  a day to eat lots of chocolate or a day to send lots of love notes or even a day made up by a card company, I think today was a good reminder to appreciate the love we have in our lives.  Sometimes it’s overwhelming to think about how much I’m blessed with love in my life.  It’s  funny, even though I occasionally have feelings of loneliness or not being cared for, when I start really thinking about the blessing of love in my life, I realize my cup is overflowing.

 

Valentine's Day Love Card Front

Valentine’s Day Love Card Front

One main source of love in my life is my friends and family.  Their love and support through even the darkest of times strengthen me.  And I have some much love for them in return.  One of the main ways I show my love is through crafting.  So I made some Valentine’s to give to some of my closest loved one.

Valentine's Jar Flowers Card Front

Valentine’s Jar Flowers Card Front

Best Friends Love Heart Valentine's Day Card Front

Best Friends Love Heart Valentine’s Day Card Front

Valentine's Jar Flowers Card Inside

Valentine’s Jar Flowers Card Inside

Best Friends Love Heart Valentine's Day Card Inside

Best Friends Love Heart Valentine’s Day Card Inside

Unfortunately Valentine’s Day only lasts one day, and now it’s already come to a close… until next year. But all the grand Valentine’s gestures don’t have to be a once a year thing. Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t wait to shower each other with tons of extra signs of affection until there was a designated day? I for one want to strive to spread a little bit more Valentine’s Day love during the other 364 days of the year.

So what can you do to keep the Valentine’s Day spirit year round?

  1. Love Connection

    Text, Email, or Call your loved ones to let them know you care and are thinking of them.

  2. As You Wish

    Tell the people in your life, “I love you” often and sincerely.

  3. Sweet Gifts

    Little token gifts now and then make loved ones feel remembered.  Remember it’s not about how much you spend, but about how much thought you put into it.  It can even be something handmade like a card.

  4. Heart to Heart

    The most profound way to show your love is simply by being there for your loved one as they experience the ups and downs of life.  Be a listening and compassionate ear!

What other ideas do you have to create an atmosphere of Valentine’s Day love all year round? Please leave your suggestions in the comments!

Fancy Valentine - John 3:16

VALENTINE
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16

Letter From My 15 Year Old Self

Letter From My 15 Year Old Self

It was well past the stroke of midnight.  My room had been turned upside down, and I was ready to cry in frustration. How could I have lost a letter I’ve been waiting for 15 years to open?  A letter from one person who would never forgive me if I never read it – a letter from 15 year old self.  It was 2:30am on October 23, 2013, and my 30th Birthday was already turning into a disaster.

Letter From My 15 Year Old Self

Letter From My 15 Year Old Self

Fifteen years prior, I had watched an episode of Northern Exposure in which one of the main characters, Maggie, receives a letter from her 15 year old self on her 30th birthday.  She is then haunted by her 15 year old self while she comes to terms with who she is, who she was, and who she is becoming.  I watched that episode on the last day of my 15th year.  I was inspired!  And I had little time to lose.  That night after my family had gone to sleep I got back up out of bed and spent a few hours composing this letter to myself.  I poured out my soul, instilling every ounce of my being in that letter, intuitively knowing that it would be so needed in 15 years. Flash back to the wee early hours of my 30th Birthday.  The letter was nowhere to be found.  But sitting around feeling devastated would get me no where.  There was only one course left to take.  Fervent prayers were answered.  Inspiration struck.  I remembered a 15 year old external hard drive that might contain a digital copy of the letter – the next best thing to the physical signed copy.  And there it was.  Right where I left it untouched by time for 15 years.  I printed it out and started to read as the tears flowed down…

To: Lauren Drew Soffer

(This letter is not to be opened until October 23, 2013.)

Lauren 15 Years Old

Lauren 15 Years Old

Dear Lauren,

It has probably been quite some time since you have heard from me, at least fifteen years to be exact.  I just thought that you might want to hear from your fifteen-year-old self now that you are twice as old.

I try to imagine what you will be doing in your life right now.  If we are anything alike then you are most likely taking a break from your incredibly busy life and something really important that you are suppose to be doing in order to read this letter.  So where are you?  Did you become a famous actress?  Did you write a brilliant screenplay?   Are you directing great movies?  Or did you do something completely different?

Have you changed a lot in fifteen years?  Are you closer to that idea person I am now working so hard to become?  Do you still dream all of the time?  I hope so.  I love to dream.  You remember that, don’t you?  I love to occupy my hours with imaginary alternate realities of my life, present in future.  Did you ever go on the Rosie O’Donnell Show like you so often dreamed?  Did you ever meet Gillian Anderson?  Well, it doesn’t really matter.  My dreamtime is only a few steps above childish fantasies.

Well, enough with the questions I can’t get answers to.  I will remind you a little bit of a little bit about me.  Aside from school where, in my junior year, I am taking one honors and two AP classes, I am involved with a few (ha ha) extracurricular activities.  I am the first alternate for Varsity Tennis, I really wanted to be one of the nine players on Varsity, but my serve isn’t ready yet.  Next year.  I hope that by the time you read this letter, you can really serve the pants off people, or at least have a good serve.  Right now I am working on a Comedy Scene for the Drama Festival with Johanna Fair, Jeff Newman, Jeremy Nation, and George something or other.  Jackie Luttrel is directing.  We are doing the last scene from Play It Again, Sam by Woody Allen.  Now that will be an old movie when you read this.  Which reminds me, do they still have videotapes, audiotapes, and CD’s?  Probably not.  Anyway, I just tried out for our Senior Produced Winter Drama that is Love, Sex, and the IRS.  I don’t think that I did that well.  Only you know if I will get a part.  I am also going to do Psychodrama for Advanced Peer Counseling, which is another thing I am doing.  I love it.  We went on out retreat together up to JCA Shalom, and it was one of the best experiences I had in a long time.  I am on the grant writing committee for PC as well.  Let’s see, there is also Comedy Sportz.  It is one of the best things in my schedule.  It is just so much fun, and I always look forward to it.  I also am training Beginning Peer Councilors, going to Film Club (when it doesn’t interfere with writing the PC grant), and going to drama club.  I believe that brings me to the last but not least thing on my plate, my job at temple as an assistant teacher.  I have a second grade class this year, and I enjoy everything about it but getting up early on Sunday mornings.  I’m pretty busy for a fifteen year old, huh?  I am a little stressed over it all right now, but I enjoy doing everything so much I can’t give anything up.

So, that’s what I’m doing.  Now, onto what I am like.  I believe in believing.  I like to think that there is still a lot in this world worth believing in.  And, if the whole world keeps on believing, there will always be hope for the future.  That’s another thing.  I know that the young people are our future.  That is why I love my job where I get to be a part of making the future.  I believe that there is no greater gift you can bestow than your love.  I try to give my love everyday.  I’m not perfect yet, but I’m working on it.  My goal is to be a person who never runs out of love to give and who is a strength and a model for those trying to be better people.  And, I don’t think that my progress is going so badly.  My best friend, Leslie, tells me that I am her strength.  Basically all of my beliefs can be summed up in my goal for life:  Before I die, I want to leave a lasting and positive impact, I want to make a difference to at least one person,  I want to leave the world a little bit better than when I entered it, and I want to be a living example of love and kindness.  That brings me to what I want to do with the rest of my life.  I think that I am best suited to fully that goal by doing something in the entertainment industry.  I think that I can really make a difference to a large number of people though work in that field.  I want to act, I want to write screenplays, I want to direct, and I might want to produce (funny how my I-Search that I am working on for English is on this very topic).

Here are my other interests.  In the area of television, these I the shows I watch:  I watch X-Files religiously and consider myself a devoted X-Phile, I am addicted to the Simpsons (a highly intelligent and brilliant satire of society which also happens to be a hysterical cartoon), I am almost completely hooked on Ally McBeal,  and I enjoy watching Inside Actor’s Studio.  I must also make a note to a show I always love to see and without I wouldn’t be righting this letter right now:  Northern Exposure.  There was this one episode where in a flashback to 15 years earlier Maggie writes a letter to herself in thirty years.  In the present, Maggie gets a hold of the letter and a whole thing plays out, but that isn’t the important part.  The important thing is that I got the idea for writing this letter from the show.  There are also an endless number of movies I love.  One of my very favorites is The Princess Bride.  But there are so many others I adore that I couldn’t name them all or I’d be here forever, however, for a dramatic piece, I liked the Piano, for a comical piece I like Forget Paris, and for one that just sticks out in my mind as being really good, I enjoyed Fried Green Tomatoes.  Some of my favorite books include The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver, The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx, Exodus by Leon Uris, and The Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert.

My social life is as follows:  My two best friends are Leslie Klein and Jackie Luttrel.  I am closer with Leslie, but we also go through more rough spots, like the one right now, for example.  I should also mention that we went to Spain together this past summer, I’m sure you didn’t forget that.  I love them both to death though.  I don’t know how I would possibly get through my high school life without them constantly being there for me, mostly to just let me vent.  We understand each other in a very special way.  They are what real friends are, or at least are the closest things to it that I have ever experienced.  I also hand out with a lot of more casual, mostly drama friends.  There is Johanna Fair, Blair Anderson, Jessica Yuda, Lauren Hubert, Tarren Polack, Shelby Schulman, Miriam Krikorian, and Brittany Stabile.  I have especially been getting closer to Johanna lately because of Peer Counseling and the Drama Festival Scene.

Well, I guess that just about wraps it up for now.  But I do want you to remember a few things.  Lauren, you are an amazingly strong person.  You have the power to change things in your life.  Never feel like you have to settle.  Remember the wisdom of the car commercial:  “If everything were just good enough, would anything ever really be good enough?”  Never loose hope, never stop dreaming, and never loose sight of those dreams.  Don’t be afraid to make your dreams a reality.  You are an incredibly talented person.  You can do anything.  “If you think it, want it, dream it, then it’s real.  You are what you feel.”  Never forget that Matt Kaplan always believed you could make it as an actress.  Remember to remember what is really important in life, what makes life worth living, and place that thing above all else.  Remember to spread light and to give and receive love openly.  If you have forgotten any of this in the past fifteen years, then remember that it is never to late to change.  Don’t forget the road less traveled by, it can make all the difference.  Remember that, as Abraham Lincoln said, “People are just about as happy as they make up their mind to be.”  And finally remember the great Dr. Seuss’s words from Oh, The Places You’ll Go,

“So be sure when you step
Step with care and great tact
And remember that life’s
A Great Balancing Act
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed)
Kid, you’ll move mountains.”

 

Lots of love,

Lauren Soffer

 (Fifteen Years Old)
October 22, 1999

When I finished reading the letter, I went right back to the beginning and read it again.  Crying all the way though.  It was so full of hope.  So full of love.  So full of excitement.  So full of confidence.  So full of wisdom, especially for a 15 year old.

Lots of things stood out to me.  For instance, I did meet Gillian Anderson and I did get the part in Love, Sex, and the IRS.  But what stood out to me the most was the last paragraph containing advice.  It was wise beyond years and exactly what I’ve been needing to hear.  In fact the one line that  most stood out to me was, “If you have forgotten any of this in the past fifteen years, then remember that it is never to late to change.”  That hit me really hard.  And I have forgotten some of the qualities I had at 15.  Namely that level of confidence I once had.  I want that back.  And as I said, It’ s never too late to change.

The only thing I have left to do is write another letter to my 45 year old self, but this time I need to find a way to hide somewhere more obvious.  No need to go through all that stress on my 45th birthday again.  Until then, I have mountains to move!

Lauren At Her 30th Birthday

Lauren At Her 30th Birthday

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A Perfect Brightness of Hope

A Perfect Brightness of Hope

 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

2 Nephi 31:20, Book of Mormon

Yesterday my friend gave a talk in church, quoting this scripture.  It’s one of my all time favorites, and it inspired me to make this poster to hang on my wall to remind me of the importance of having a “perfect brightness of hope.”

Hope is what keeps me going most days.  It keeps me positive.  It helps me endure to the end.  Without hope I couldn’t have faith, which is hope in action.  Taking action increases my faith and that gives me more hope.  It builds upon each other wonderfully.

I am so grateful to have hope both in this life and hope in the next through my Savior Jesus Christ.  Through Him all things are possible.  Through His atoning sacrifice I can return to live with Him and my Heavenly Father again.  And that gives me eternal hope!

Feel free to download my poster. Or download the poster in black & white for easy printing.  I only ask that you please provide attribution and link back to this page when reposting the image!  Thanks and enjoy!

Crafting Handmade Greeting Cards

Crafting Handmade Greeting Cards

All Wrapped Up With A Bow Birthday Card

All Wrapped Up With A Bow Birthday Card

Most people feel that snail mail is dead.  When they want to communicate favor email, cell phones, text messages, Facebook, and Twitter over sending a letter through the United States Postal Service.  But most people I know still love receiving heartfelt cards and other physical mail.  I know that I always feel warm and fuzzy when I get a card from someone I love in the mail.  In fact, a well timed letter in my mailbox most likely saved my life as a teen.  That’s why I make it a point to devote a large portion of my crafting time to card making.  I enjoy making them and I know that people get a kick out of receiving them.  At the very least, it’s certainly better to get one of my cards in the mail than a bill. Over the years of card making I’ve picked up a few useful tips for making beautiful handmade greeting cards more effectively.

  1. Save Your Scraps:

    I keep a large file organizer or all of my scrap papers, organized by color.  This is so useful for making cards which don’t require large pieces of paper for purposes of decorating.

  2. Plan Before You Plant:

    I always cut and lay everything out (including stickers which I explain next) before I glue down anything.  Following a measure twice, cut once philosophy results in much more efficient card making and more professional looking cards.

  3. Pre-Sample Stickers:

    Sometimes it’s hard to plan out where to put stickers without actually placing them, so I cut out the stickers still on their backing so I can place them on my layout without sticking them down.

Here are some examples of cards I’ve made:

Floral Gem Birthday Handmade Greeting Card

Floral Gem Birthday Handmade Greeting Card

Floral Moving To A New Home Handmade Greeting Card

Floral Moving To A New Home Handmade Greeting Card

Floral Bird Collage Handmade Greeting Card

Floral Bird Collage Handmade Greeting Card

Mother's Day Flower Handmade Greeting Card

Mother’s Day Flower Handmade Greeting Card

Dear Friend Handmade Greeting Card

Dear Friend Handmade Greeting Card

Beautiful Daisy Handmade Greeting Card

Beautiful Daisy Handmade Greeting Card

Vintage Butterfly Handmade Greeting Card

Vintage Butterfly Handmade Greeting Card

Without Any Pain – a terznelle poem

Without Any Pain – a terznelle poem

Without Any Pain

by Lauren Soffer

Jesus Praying in Gethsemane

Jesus Praying in Gethsemane

Who would I be without any pain?

Trapped potential hidden, unclean

Who would I be without any pain?

 

Crippling imperfections so easily seen

As yet untouched by Refiner’s flame

Trapped potential hidden, unclean

 

Molten transformation won’t leave me the same

Crack under pressure or become something more?

As yet untouched by Refiner’s flame

 

Flame creates bounty, blessings restore

Shimmering radiance, brilliant as the Son

Flame creates bounty, blessings restore

 

Not my will but Thy will be done

On bended knee my heart rises in song

Shimmering radiance, brilliant as the Son

 

Faithful contrite glorified strong

On bended knee my heart rises in song

Who would I be without any pain?

Who would I be without any pain?

Crafting A Particularly Perfect Excerpt

Crafting A Particularly Perfect Excerpt

The Particulars Cover

The Particulars Cover

Writing a novel from start to finish is an extremely challenging feat, but I discovered that creating the novel itself is a synch compared to crafting an engaging and well-written pitch.  How could I distill over 100k words into just under 250 words while still maintaining the essence of the plot, characters, and style of the book?

It is no easy task.  I struggled and wrestled my way through over fifteen drafts each seemingly worse than the last.  False starts and failed endings.  It took me a long time to get to what I finally settled upon, but I’m not convinced it’s ready.

I need your help!  Please read my pitch, and lend me your constuctive critique.   What’s working?  What isn’t working?  Does it pull you in?  Do you relate to the characters?  Does it make you want to read the book?  What can I do to make it stronger?

The Particulars Pitch
by Lauren Soffer

Please excuse Professor Veril Maloit as he passes out cold.  He’s just standing up to accept the biggest honor of his writing career only to fall flat on his face.  To Veril’s astonishment, his girlfriend, Samantha Elderhopper, is selected to become an apprentice to the elite group of writers known as The Particulars, and his lifelong dream of joining the enigmatic organization is in shambles.

While recovering, Veril overhears a conversation between the group’s Grand Master, Cameron Johanson, and another Particular about making unsuspecting people disappear.

Is something sinister afoot?  Tracy, the opinionated incorporeal voice that’s following Veril around certainly thinks so.  Chances are he’s finally going out of his mind, but as Veril investigates, he stumbles upon a Particular conspiracy, witnessing the society’s crimes for himself.  The famous authors are secretly vampires sucking juicy details out of people to infuse their writing with vivid realism, erasing their victims from memory to all but Veril.

Terrified, he dreads forever losing Sam to the humanity devouring Particulars, but what can Veril do?  He knows nothing about hunting vampires.  Or so he thinks, until the delivery of a cryptic letter illuminates the murky details of his mysterious lineage.  Armed with a magic pen and inkwell, his creative writing skills, and a grab bag team of would-be heroes, Veril discovers that he’s the inspired author of his own destiny.

Thanks so much for your time and help!  It’s much appreciated.  You can leave your feed back right here in the comments, or you can email me at lauren@writerfly.com.

Cross-posted from The Particulars Blog.
Arms of His Love

Arms of His Love

Sometimes it’s hard to remember how loved each of us are by our Father in Heaven.  But we are each loved so profoundly that it is truly impossible for us to comprehend.  The more we open our hearts to feeling this love, the closer to Him we become.

This morning I woke up with a nasty eye and very contagious eye infection.  I opted to stay home from church rather than risk infecting everyone in my Ward.

So I spent the day reading through scripture while listening to awesome and free Especially For Youth music downloaded from lds.org.  While reading through the Book of Mormon this afternoon, I came across this scripture:

But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.

2 Nephi 1:15

We are each literally “encircled about eternally in the arms of His love.”  I felt the Spirit of Christ burning inside me when I read this scripture.  I knew how loved I am.  I wanted to create some art with those words, so I created the following image in Illustrator to remind me of how I felt when I read it.  Enjoy!

Encircled About Eternally in the Arms of His Love

But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.
2 Nephi 1:15

(Feel free to use the image as long as you attribute it to me with a link back to this post. Thanks!)

Planting Seeds of Faith with Visiting Teaching

Planting Seeds of Faith with Visiting Teaching

Visiting Teaching Flower Garden

Visiting Teaching Flower Garden

Christ charged us to love one another as He loves us.  He wouldn’t want anyone to be forgotten about or anyone to fall through the cracks.  I can’t think of a more organized way to make sure that all of God’s daughters are being taken care of than through Visiting Teaching.  Visiting Teaching is a crucial part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  It is a program that assigns Teachers in teams of two to minister to other women in the church.

LDS.org explains that The Purpose of Visiting Teaching Is to Minister:

How do we minister?

  • Pray daily for [the sister you visit] and her family.
  • Seek inspiration to know her and her family.
  • Visit her regularly to learn how she is doing and to comfort and strengthen her.
  • Stay in frequent contact through visits, phone calls, letters, e-mail, text messages, and simple acts of kindness.
  • Greet her at Church meetings.
  • Help her when she has an emergency, illness, or other urgent need.
  • Teach her the gospel from the scriptures and the visiting teaching messages.
  • Inspire her by setting a good example.
    (See “How Visiting Teachers Love, Watch Over, and Strengthen a Sister,” in Daughters in My Kingdom,page 123.)

“The purpose of ministering ​is to help others become true followers of Jesus Christ. Ministering to others includes:

  • Remembering their names and becoming acquainted with them (see Moroni 6:4).
  • Loving them without judging them (see John 13:34–35).
  • Watching over them and strengthening their faith ‘one by one,’ as the Savior did (3 Nephi 11:15; 17:21).
  • Establishing sincere friendship with them and visiting them in their homes and elsewhere (see D&C 20:47)” (Handbook 2,3.2.3).

When I was asked to serve in my Young Single Adult Ward of the Church as the Visiting Teaching Coordinator, I tried to think of ways I could inspire and remind the girls in the Ward to do their Visiting Teaching each month.  So, I decided to get crafty.  I (with the help of my friend Raquel) created a Visiting Teaching Flower Garden Box to provide a visual aide for the program.

The theme was planting seeds of faith with Visiting Teaching.  Through Visiting Teaching we can help build and strengthen each other’s faith and testimonies.  The idea was that each girl, each being a unique individual with special needs and talents, would each have her own flower with her name in it.  When each teacher Visit Taught her girl, she would turn her name around so that the flower was facing forward instead of the girl’s name, showing that she had planted a seed of faith in that girl.

  1. We used scrabooking flower pieces (from a craft store) in two layers with a small jewel to make the center of each flower.
  2. We then glued the flower to one side of a popsicle stick and the girl’s name to a small plaque on the other side.
  3. We then covered a large, fairly flat cardboard box with pretty scrapbooking paper.  I attached a sign I designed on the computer that read, “When you plant seeds of faith, flowers will grow – Visiting Teaching.”  We covered the corners of the box with ribbon to protect them and make them look more finished.
  4. We filled the box with bricks of green dry foam used to do flower arrangements (you can purchase this at any craft store as well).
  5. Taking a popsicle stick, we pushed rows of holes into the foam to hold each flower.  We made the rows at the front of the box deeper than the ones towards the back.  We also staggered the holes.  This made it easier to see allthe names and flowers once they were all in their slots.

The finished product was even more colorful and beautiful than I expected.  Putting it out at each meeting, seems to remind everyone to do their Visiting Teaching which is the most important part.

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National Novel Writing Month 2011

National Novel Writing Month 2011

The Particulars Cover

The Particulars Cover

This November, I’m going to be participating in National Novel Writing Month where I will try to write 50,000 words in one month.  I’m going to be picking up where I left off on The Particulars, my NaNo Novel from last November.  Here’s a short synopsis:

The Particulars is Lauren Soffer’s 2011 National Novel Writing Month Novel about Veril Maloit who knows he’s a pretty good writer, but not as amazing as The Particulars – an elite society of published authors who’s work outshines everyone else’s. He sets out to discover what makes them so fabulous by getting into their secret society writing group with the help of his prized graduate student and lover Samantha Elderhopper.  Veril is shocked to discover that the group of authors have a dark secret – they are vampires who suck the details out of actual people and things to make their stories so vivid. Now he is faced with a dilemma… beat them or join them.

To learn more about it, check out my latest update on my Particulars Blog.  You can also signup to read along as I write!

Back in the (Alternate Reality) Game

Back in the (Alternate Reality) Game

Tonks Costume

Geek Exhibit A: My handmade Tonks costume for Harry Potter.

There’s no denying that I am a bona fide geek.  If you want evidence, you need look no farther than my Nymphadora Tonks from Harry Potter costume that I made from scratch and then wore to every movie and book party.  Or perhaps the role playing game campaign online I run every week.  Or the fact that I like to learn new software for fun in my free time.  The list just goes on and on.

So yes, I’m a geek, and I love that I can call myself one.  Geeks are some of the coolest people I know.  They are uber intelligent, interesting, adaptable, creative, resilient, fun, and talented.  In fact, geeks are in high demand in today’s culture.  We have certain skills that others don’t.  For example, many of us love games, codes, and puzzle solving.

One of my geekiest (and most favorite) activities utilizes all of these skills – participating in the world of Alternate Reality Games or ARGs.  So what is an ARG you might ask?

An Alternate Reality Game is a unique storytelling format that uses the whole world as it’s platform (but mainly things like internet sites and blogs, tv, print, email, chat, phone, and live events).  Often involving clues, hidden evidence, codes, and puzzles, the story is initially broken up and hidden in these various mediums, and it’s up to the players to collaboratively piece it together to progress the story as it plays out in real time.

An interesting puzzle.

So how does it work?  It all starts with a trailhead or rabbit hole – the initial piece of information that leads you to the rest of the game.  This for example might be an email you receive from one of the characters in the game asking for you help in locating his missing sister.  The email might have a cryptic message at the end of it that leads you to his sister’s blog which in turn might talk about a sketchy company she got involved with before she disappeared.  This takes you to the company website.   Eventually the pieces start to come together and the story begins to unfold.  And what the players do matters to how it all turns out.

I got involved with ARGs back in April of 2008 when I started getting more seriously ill with multiple autoimmune diseases.  ARGs gave me something fun, creative, and intellectually stimulating to do from home in bed all through the magic of the internet.  It also gave me an amazing community of fellow geeks who were just generally really smart, kind, wonderful people in my life.

Under the pseudonym IneffaBelle (or Belle), I played lots of ARGs and made lots of friends, both real and fictional.  I also attended ARGFest the last two years in Portland in 2009 and Atlanta in 2010.  I hope to attend this year’s ARGFest in Bloomington, Indiana.

Eventually I started working behind the scenes developing ARGs for others to play, and I’ve been working at that rather intensely over the last few years.  I have several projects in development now, and I’ve found the development side even more fun and rewarding than the player side.

Sadly, I haven’t had (or made) the time to actually play an ARG in quite some time.  But the other day I received this to my ARG email:

Villain Training Invitation

Geek Exhibit B: A trailhead for the Villain Training ARG

My curiosity was peaked by this cute sort of whimsical concept.  The email led to http://sotanaht.com/ (how is detailed in this forum post on the ARG community site Unfiction).  The first mission opened up today asking us to “mask ourselves” with masks provided on the site.  Here’s mine:

IneffaBelle Villain

Geek Exhibit C: IneffaBelle (aka writerfly) as a masked villain for the Villain Traing ARG

How this particular ARG will unfold remains to be seen, but it’s certainly good to be back in the Alternate Reality Game!

Further Reading on ARGs:

Alternate Reality Gaming – A Definition – Brooke Thompson’s excellent and comprehensive definition of an ARG.

Alternate Reality Gaming – A Quickstart Guide – Brooke Thompson’s funny and informative guide to getting started with ARGs.

ARGNet – The best source of ARG news.

Unfiction Forums– Excellent forum for finding and playing ARGs.

IneffaBelle.com – My ARG website and resume.

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