YMCA Prayer Breakfast 2018

It’s always fun for me to photograph the Chandler/Gilbert YMCA Prayer Breakfast! I don’t know the names of the men on each end in this photo, but from left to right, starting with the man wearing a red tie, are as follows: the event’s keynote speaker Dave Munsey, who has worked in the television and radio industry for more than 50 years and started the “Watch Your Kids Around Water” program; Gina Labenz, event co-chair; Kevin Hartke, Chandler mayor-elect; and Christine Ellis, event co-chair.

Being a volunteer in my community for several years, I’m happy to have Gina, Kevin and Christine, all of whom volunteer their time more than I do, as friends. Each of us attends a different church. In fact, Kevin and Christine are pastors at their churches. I absolutely love to talk to people of various religions because we always enlighten each other with our personal testimonies of God. We all have felt and seen His direction in our lives. And hearing those testimonies come from people of so many religions is powerful.

The prayer breakfast brings together numerous people of faith each year. It is a time to get to know and inspire each other, and to pray together in a united front of faith. That does wonders for a community!

I whole-heartedly recommend prayer–in groups and individually. As we humble ourselves before our Father in Heaven and sincerely invite Him to give us guidance, comfort, strength, forgiveness, or whatever we long for, He does.

Have a prayerful day!


The United States Constitution

On September 17, 1787, the Constitution of the United States of America was signed into law. I encourage you to read and discuss with family and friends this remarkable document. I believe, as did the extraordinary men who helped bring it forth, that this work was inspired by God.

Pocket-size copies like these that I’ve photographed can easily be found for only a few dollars online and at some bookstores.

God bless America! The whole world is much better off when she shines as brightly as she can.


Bryce Canyon

First time in the mesmerizing Bryce Canyon!

The rock spires are called hoodoos, and Utah’s Bryce Canyon boasts more of them than anywhere else on Earth. Plenty of information about them can be found at various websites online.

When I saw the middle branch in the above photo, I immediately thought of a vulture head and General Grievous from Star Wars. Someone might first imagine an octopus! The branch beside it (to the viewer’s left) could be a snake, or even a dragon taking flight. What else do you see?

Though it seems that these branches are in a dark cave at the bottom of the canyon, they’re at the top of the rim, near the trail! [I admit to manipulating the lighting & colors of these photos.]

Star Wars..plus a little Jurassic World

Two years ago, Tanner had the idea of creating a round Jurassic World birthday cake with green frosting, chocolate candy rocks, and the kicker… blue jello surrounding it to look like an island (See May 31, 2016 post). I thought it was brilliant! I made one large box of jello in a jelly roll pan. Once it was firm, I traced around one of the empty 9″ cake pans with a knife and scooped out the big circle of jello so the cake fit nicely into it. It helps to frost the cake, then use bakers blades to transfer it into the circle. (I also made a Star Wars cake for him a week or so later. I’m glad he likes my cakes! See April 29, 2016 post.)

This year, Tanner decided to combine two of his favorite movies–Star Wars and Jurassic World–and have the Indominus Rex battling clones on the fiery planet Mustafar. Strawberry lava jello surrounding a rocky chocolate land mass! A tasty place to stage a fight.

Of course, any embellishments, such as Lego characters, must be quickly added, and the cake must then wait in the fridge for guests to arrive. Tanner put the action figures in place.

I scooped lava into bowls for those who dared to eat it! (I dared to, and it was yummy!)

Sydney went full Star Wars for her birthday cake.

Both of my kids helped me make their cakes. (Actually, I helped them.) Sydney even decorated her cake and cupcakes by herself. Fortunately, Star Wars toys, including Legos, are rather easy to clean before and after we exploit them in our cakes.

Notice the fun details Sydney added to welcome her guests: lightsabers in the cupcakes, Kylo Ren in the bowl of packaged muffins. (I put Ahsoka Tano in with the clementines, and Sydney let her stay and lounge.)

A paper Jabba the Hutt (I don’t remember where it came from) hogs the chips!

Obi-Wan Kenobi wishes Sydney a happy birthday with the poster she made.

Have a great day! And if it happens to be your birthday, I wish for it to be your merriest one yet!


“Scrambled Eggs” – an Easter Game

Every two months in The Arizona Beehive Newspaper, I offer activities that families can do together to strengthen relationships and their testimonies of Jesus Christ, whom I believe with all my heart is the Savior of the world.

Here is one that is about to be published in the April/May issue:

“Scrambled Eggs” — a match and learn twist on the traditional Easter egg hunt.


*Write verses of scripture regarding Jesus Christ onto slips of paper. (Perhaps coordinate this lesson with the one below, using verses from your chosen stories.)

*Write questions that are answered in each verse on separate slips of paper.

Examples: How old was Jairus’s daughter when Jesus raised her from the dead? (Mark 5:42) Who came to strengthen Jesus as He atoned for the sins and sorrows of the whole world? (Luke 22:43)  How many chapters tell of Christ visiting the Nephites after His resurrection? (See the paragraph above 3 Nephi 11 in the Book of Mormon.)

*Place each scripture verse in an Easter egg of a different color. Perhaps add an edible treat too!

*Place each question in other eggs, with corresponding questions and answers in the same color.

*Hide all the eggs (enough for each family member–except for the person preparing the game–to find at least one matching pair) around the house or yard.

*Assign each person a color or colors to find.


*Send everyone on the hunt!

*Once all eggs are found, take turns opening one pair of corresponding eggs at a time. Read the question, then read the scripture to discover the answer.

Happy Easter!

Photographic Miscellany

Here are a few of my photos that would like to be seen somewhere. I invited them onto my blog.

Notice the butterfly with the clear wings! Yes, it’s real. While I was on a field trip with Tanner’s class a few years ago at The Butterfly Museum in Scottsdale, one of the employees pointed this out.

I took this shot at the Phoenix Zoo while on another of Tanner’s class field trips.

Have a lovely day!



A Better Way To Help the Homeless

Below is an article I was asked to write to help spread the word about this important topic. Though it was written specifically for people in and near Phoenix, Arizona, it could benefit readers in many locations. (I took the pictures at the Human Services Campus.)

Looking for a better way for your family or friends to help people experiencing homelessness?

The Healthy Giving Council of Phoenix would like to help you help the homeless. The council consists of neighborhood residents; currently and formerly homeless individuals; faith groups; nonprofit agencies; and officials from the City of Phoenix and Maricopa County.

They advise that when good-hearted people give food and other items directly to people who are homeless, they may not realize they are drawing them away from resources best equipped to truly assist them. Many receivers have serious needs not solved by well-intended handouts from passing cars and disconnected relationships.

Elder C. Dale Willis, Jr., Area Seventy whose assignment includes Public Affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Metro Phoenix area, recently offered a statement regarding this challenging situation. He said, “[T]he City of Phoenix and its charitable partners have asked the Church and others to help them spread the word, kindly asking caring people to direct their donations of time and material goods to a charity of their choice, instead of directly to the homeless on the streets…. Last year during the holidays, many generous people drove to downtown Phoenix on their own initiative and passed out food, clothing and gifts to the homeless. You might be surprised to know how much of it was dropped and left behind to spoil and pile up on the streets, creating major health, safety and garbage problems for the police and other responders.”

Did you know that Phoenix and Maricopa County collaborate with many social service agencies to provide quality environments where homeless individuals can meet together, be evaluated by professionals, and be sustainably assisted?

Numerous charitable agencies, including St. Vincent de Paul, Circle the City, and Lodestar Day Resource Center, are represented at The Human Services Campus in downtown Phoenix at 204 S. 12th Avenue.

The Campus welcomes almost 1,000 homeless clients each day for 20 different services, such as job training. St. Joseph the Worker, one onsite agency, helped 3,900 people find employment in 2017.

Assistance is given for substance addiction, mental health issues, and applying for benefits. Physical and dental healthcare are offered. Soon a 50-bed respite center will be added for those at the very end of their lives.

The Campus’s main shelter sleeps about 470 single individuals each night, and an overflow area can house an additional 250.

An onsite urban farm grows fresh fruit and vegetables that are then prepared in the commercial kitchen and served as part of many of the three meals provided every day to approximately 600 individuals.

“Just because you see people who are experiencing homelessness, it doesn’t mean they’re hungry,” says Sheila Harris, Campus Executive Director. “During the holidays, the Campus has an abundance of food and gifts. This past holiday season, the City of Phoenix Sanitation Department collected over 27.5 tons of refuge in the area surrounding the Campus.”

Though Phoenix cannot keep up with the paper, plastic, Styrofoam and unused food left on the streets after handouts are given, particularly on weekends, trash is managed on campus. Dietary restrictions of clients with diabetes and other concerns are also professionally handled.

“We have a goal to end homelessness,” states Marc Landry, Campus Head of Security. “From a client’s standpoint, we have everything they need. It’s a safe environment. The clients are safe; the volunteers are safe. Everybody wins.”

It shouldn’t be surprising that Steve Davis, Campus Director of Development, shares, “We have several states coming to visit us as a national model.” He adds, “We have a great working relationship with the Phoenix Police Department.”

The homeless are among the most vulnerable. They can only be assisted, however, if they choose to be. Meeting with professionals and addressing issues can be uncomfortable, and some will avoid it as long as they can get by on donations.

Any homeless person may receive food at the Campus welcome gate and a place to sleep in the overflow shelter. Across the street from campus, another partnering agency, Foothills Community Services-The Bridge, sets up in a parking lot and provides breakfast each Sunday. Any resulting mess is cleaned up by that group afterward.

The goal is for the homeless to register for a Campus I.D. card that is issued to clients, develop relationships of trust, and receive help that can remarkably change the trajectory of their lives.

The card not only grants them access onto campus, but to help from many social service agencies valley-wide. And they can receive other forms of identification that will allow them to rent an apartment and be hired for a job.

Thanks to the I.D. card, the homeless can even receive mail at the Campus post office. Wayne P., who volunteers there, witnesses the effectiveness of collaboration among all who want to be part of the solution. He says, “Through my volunteering, I see that is the best way to help those on the street.”

I happened to be on the Campus when the mail was delivered.

Volunteerism is common during the holidays, but help is particularly needed in the months that follow, and in the summer.

The best way to find volunteer opportunities and specific item donations presently needed by professional agencies helping the homeless around the valley, including several with representation at the Human Services Campus, is to log onto www.justserve.org. Agencies that post on JustServe are grateful for this website. They work face to face with those in need every day, and JustServe is the most efficient way to engage the public in serving along with them. All individuals and groups are invited to join in this rewarding, far-reaching collaboration.

Have a lovely day… and perhaps log onto www.justserve.org and find a way to help someone in need. I bet it will make your day even lovelier!


Article of Mine in Church News, etc.

The Metro Phoenix Public Affairs Council of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has asked me a few times over the years to write an article about and take pictures of a church-related event in this area. I then submitted them to local newspapers, where they were published.

When the MPPAC asked me early last month if I would cover another story, I wondered if any of the local papers would print it. The Arizona Republic used to print nearly everything I sent them. They published my responses to the editor’s question of the week and several articles, totaling 30 pieces of mine. They aren’t as welcoming of stories and opinions from the public anymore. Perhaps, I thought, another local paper that has published similar news stories I’ve written would be happy to receive it.

I figured that The Arizona Beehive, for which I’ve been writing since 2015, would print it, and they did. (Please see the link below.)

What I did not expect…..

Part of the article was printed in the Church News section of Deseret News (National Edition, Sunday, December 3, 2017) Two of the photos and the same part of the article were posted online at the following websites: lds.org; deseretnews.com; and ldsliving.com. (Please see the links, of course!)

And… My words were even translated into Spanish! (You’ve got to take a look at mormonsud.org!).  🙂

The Arizona Beehive version of my article is longer, but it is missing a bit of info that the shorter version captured. I think it’s definitely worth reading both! (Yep, please see arizonabeehive.com. It’s right there for you!)






Have a marvelous 2018!