It’s time to turn our focus to Christmas.

In honor of Jesus Christ, the LDS Church has prepared a 2016 Christmas initiative, entitled #LIGHTtheWORLD, to celebrate His birth and light. The initiative begins November 25th and ends Christmas day. Local church leaders received information about the initiative that can be used for Christmas activity planning. This information can also be useful for families.

Read more at Mormon Hub.


BYU Couple Maintains Faith in Battle with MS

Axel Boyer is used to taking big hits as a member of BYU’s hockey team. But the most damaging hit he ever took was an emotional one that came far from the ice.

Axel’s wife, Gabby Boyer, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) nearly three years ago. The family is still learning to cope with disease.

Gabby and Axel met while both serving LDS missions in the West Indies. Gabby arrived about three months before Axel left, but her stay was a short one.

She began having facial pains that concerned her. When she got back to the U.S., she discovered she had MS.

MS is an autoimmune disease that attacks the protective coverings of nerves and disrupts the flow of information from the brain to the rest of the body. The cause of MS is still unknown.

Read more at The Daily Universe.

Best Friends Experience BYU Tennis Team Together

Joining a new team can be intimidating for anyone — especially as a true freshman.

But newcomers Kate Cusick and Samantha Smith were able to avoid some of the intimidation when they joined the team BYU women’s tennis team together.

Growing up in Provo, Cusick was never planning on attending BYU until a move across the country changed her mind. Her parents were called to preside over the Tampa Florida Mission and the distance from Cougar Nation helped Cusick gain a greater appreciation for the BYU tennis program.

Read more at The Daily Universe.

Clashing Traditions – Where to go for the Holidays?

Making decisions as a newly married couple is a learning curve. There will be times where couples will disagree with each other.

My husband and I are still learning how to agree with each other, especially when it comes to making decisions around the holidays. Although we feel like we’ve established a plan, we continue to talk over alternate possibilities over and over. If it’s that difficult for us to make holiday decisions, I can’t even imagine how hard it must be for those who recently got married.

Every couple wishes they could somehow divide their time evenly between both sides of the family, but that’s rarely possible — even if both families live in the same town. Newlyweds are often sad about missing their family traditions. They’ve always dreamed about sharing their family festivities with each other. With Thanksgiving this month, it’s time to decide where to go for the holidays. Here are some tips to help you and your spouse finally reach a consensus.

Read more at Mormon Hub.

BYU Women’s Basketball First 3 Stories

BYU Women’s Basketball 2016-17 Season Preview

BYU women’s basketball is returning for the 2016-17 season after a first-round loss in the NCAA tournament last season.

“This team has a lot of depth,” head coach Jeff Judkins said. “We have a lot of kids that hopefully, through many years of learning from their coaches, will understand that their opportunity will come and they will be able to make the most of it.”

The Cougars went 26-7 last season, winning the regular season West Coast Conference championship and making the NCAA tournament as a No. 7 seed. Their 78-69 loss to the No. 10 seed Missouri in the tournament has BYU looking for redemption.

But the team will have to replace its second all-time leading scorer, Lexi Eaton Rydalch. Rydalch led the team in scoring last year, averaging 24.2 points per game.

Judkins said it will be a team effort to replace Rydalch.

Read more at The Daily Universe.

BYU Women’s Basketball Beats Westminster 77-59

The BYU women’s basketball team defeated Westminster 77-59 in the Marriott Center on Wednesday night in its first exhibition game. The Cougars finished with three double-digit scorers in the blowout victory.

Kalani Purcell – last season’s West Coast Conference Newcomer of the Year – finished with 11 points and 1- rebounds. Cassie Broadhead and Kristine Nelson each added 11 points.

“I think Kalani played solid,” head coach Jeff Judkins said. “Cassie played really well tonight. I think you saw some things from her that she could help us with.”

The Cougars came out hot, taking a 23-12 lead in the first quarter and they never looked back. They led 41-24 at the half.

BYU struggled to maintain an offensive rhythm in the second half, going scoreless for a two-minute stretch in the fourth quarter.

Judkins wants the team to focus more on time and score.

Read more at The Daily Universe.

BYU Women’s Basketball Wins Second Exhibition Game

The BYU women’s basketball team defeated Colorado Mesa 81-62 on Friday night in its second exhibition contest. The Cougars had three double-digit scorers in their dominating victory.

Despite the 19-point victory, BYU head coach Jeff Judkins wasn’t completely satisfied with his team’s effort.

“I thought we played well the other night,” Judkins said. “Tonight, I don’t think we played as well as we needed to.”

The Cougars turned the ball over 20 times on the night, which translated to 22 of Mesa’s 62 points.

Senior Makenzi Pulsipher, who was named to the All-West Coast Conference Second Team last season, scored 15 points. Junior Cassie Broadhead added 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting.

“I thought the starting team was fine,” Judkins said. “I thought Cassie played really well. She had one of her best halves.”

Read more at The Daily Universe.

How to Wrap and Send LDS Missionary Gifts Overseas

Check out the article I wrote with Gabriella for tips on how to send and wrap gifts to missionaries overseas:

With Christmas getting close, families are wondering what gifts their missionaries may want or need in the mission field. Once those decisions are made, however, do we think about how we’re going to send the packages to them if they are serving overseas?

If your missionary is serving outside the United States, and you are inside the U.S., here are some tips on how to wrap packages and gifts for shipment to certain countries.

Read more at Mormon Hub.

BYU Hockey Goalie Commemorates Deceased Brother on Helmet

Check out the article I wrote about a BYU hockey goalie who lost his brother while he was serving an LDS mission:

Brandon Ward and his older brother Taylor were unlike most siblings: they never fought.

Instead of arguing, family and friends often saw them laughing and joking around together.

“I’ve heard a lot of families where siblings fight all the time, argue all the time, they’re always at their throats,” the boys’ father, Trevor Ward, said. “But it was the complete opposite for my boys.”

The two were known for never taking family for granted and making the most of the time they had together. Their time together was cut short when Taylor was killed in a car accident while serving a mission in Pocatello, Idaho, during Brandon’s senior year.

“I struggled a lot in my senior year,” Brandon said. “I didn’t really focus too much.”

He wasn’t ready to accept Taylor’s absence. In his mind, Taylor was still on a mission. Even to this day, he still likes to think his brother is in Idaho serving the Lord.

“I just didn’t feel like it was real,” Brandon said. “I didn’t feel like acknowledging it at first.”

Trevor felt it was God’s plan for them to have a close relationship and never argue.

Brandon is a goalie on BYU’s hockey team and said he misses having Taylor on the ice with him. The boys were competitive with one another and pushed each other to become better. However, they never let the competition interfere with their relationship.

“They were constantly challenging each other and always having a great time and a lot of fun,” Trevor said. “They challenged each other, but in a positive way.”

Although Taylor isn’t on the ice with him physically now, Brandon said he knows his brother is always there.

He said he has felt his brother’s spirit during practice and after games. Whenever Brandon does something funny or just needs a laugh, he said he can feel Taylor’s spirit.

“I’ve felt his goofy side lately these past few practices,” Brandon said. “I just do some goofy things for fun and it reminds me of him and it helps me loosen up.”

As a way to remember Taylor, Trevor and Brandon decided to include several symbolic images on his goalie helmet. Brandon has a picture of his brother on the back of his helmet. He said most goalies’ helmets have a memorial on the back. He used the memorial to remember Taylor is always in the back of his mind making sure he’s never forgotten.

“His brother is looking and watching over him,” Trevor said.

Read more at The Daily Universe.