Is “phew” even a word? Oh yes, I just looked it up and it’s exactly what I meant… “an exclamation expressing a strong reaction of relief.”

We had our Evening in Excellence with our Young Women at church last night.

Boy howdy, now I think I can breathe.

It’s not that that particular thing was that tricky (although those things are always a lot of work), it’s the fact that it was crammed into the same week with Time Out for Women, a special really detailed week-long thing we did with the girls last week that included feeding 200 people on Sunday, youth conference tomorrow through Saturday and prepping for this retreat next week.

Each of those things are posts in and of themselves for another day but all I can say right now is that I adore these women: (we were supposed to all wear aprons in case you’re wondering, and yes I am TALL…wow)

…and this one (with her cute daughter) who somehow missed that picture above:…and the one who made many of the amazing quilts we had displayed but had to be out of town last night.

I’m sure that each one of these ladies has had their own unique epiphany during the year we have served together about how I am truly a crazy lady flying by the seat of my pants and praying things will turn out while trying to do ten things at once. But they handle everything with grace and love and understanding and they pick up on all the details of things that need to be done and they do them. I love them so much for that.

And I adore these girls I get to work with too.

They always pull through. They are so strong and good and kind and inclusive.

Our theme was “A Pattern for Life” (copied directly from herethank you amazing idea ladies over there).

The girls started out with a skit on how important it is to follow patterns (they were darling).

We talked about how each of the beautiful quilts displayed had their own pattern followed carefully to make it beautiful. And then we talked about how the Personal Progress pattern is an inspired one from Heaven for us. And how our lives will become enlightened and more satisfying if we can learn from that pattern.

Some of the girls shared what they have been working on this year. They were impressive. So many wonderful things being done from learning to bake all sorts of things to playing the piano each week in a retirement home and making dear friends with the people who live there.

Personal Progress ribbons were awarded:

Projects were displayed:

The girls sang a beautiful song:
(Click here to see the words.)

Girls were watched in adoration from their leaders:
We had value-colored cupcakes:
(that was the most important part in Grace & Claire’s book)

Projects were admired:

That lady below in the middle did the decorations:
I could have kissed her feet.

Man alive, I sat there last night reminiscing about this exact event last year. It was right before I was asked to be the go-to girl for Young Women.

I remember vividly sitting in the audience watching this array of magnificence take place in front of me and thinking to myself how incredibly horrible I would be at being a Young Women’s President (I shared my thoughts about that back here). And then of course I was asked to do just that…the thing I had had that sinking feeling about.

But how could I have known clear back then how much these girls and women would change my life for the better. Sure, it’s crazy. Sure, I still get overwhelmed every single day. But I have learned and been stretched beyond what I thought possible and there is something invigorating about that. I have been buoyed up by these women and the girls and my life (and my family’s too) has become better because of them.

How I hope and pray that we leaders can help lead and guide them to make their lives better and more enlightened and happy like they have made ours.

Ok, on to youth conference…

P.S. I’ll announce the winner for the Power of Moms/American Mothers retreat at midnight tonight.

P..S. again…This post took way longer than fifteen minutes, darn it, and so did some of those last week, but I’m working on it!


  1. We just had our evening of excellence as well. Our theme was "you are special" the book by Max Lucedo and we gave all the girls a miniature version of the book. There is nothing better to keep you feeling young than surrounding yourself with this amazing generation of young woman.

  2. Shawni, you are such a doll. I hope I can grow up to be just like you:) So glad to hear your evening of excellence went well. Always a huge relief for sure:) Keep up the good work!

  3. Shawni, we had our's last night too and I couldn't help but sit there thinking how huge it is to be a part of something so "building". How hard teenage hood would be without that support. And amazed at the strength of leaders and great friends who help my girl weather these storms.

    A beautiful thing to be a part of.

  4. We had ours on Tuesday, our theme was "We SEEK after these things". We had all the girls bring items representing them for each value and then made "I SEEK" (I spy) pictures. The night turned out beautifully despite all of our worrying. I am always still amazed every time it all comes together and the spirit is strong. I always feel very blessed to serve in Young Womens!!

  5. What a darling theme for YW in excellence! I LOVED being YW president…it is seriously one of the busiest callings in the church (rivals RS pres in my opinion) but is so wonderful!

  6. My duaghters are doing what our ward calls Young Women in Excellence (similar to this) and we need some ideas on how to display things for it (or ideas for projects to display). Maybe a few of your ward's examples would work. Thanks!

  7. Oh my gosh- I look like I'm about to snuggle up to you in that picture! I thought the night turned out splendidly. Have fun at youth conference 🙂

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