Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tidbit Tuesday - Self Absorption

Self-absorption is poison to the spirit.

- C. Terry Warner
Bonds That Make Us Free

Monday, August 30, 2010

Family Home Evening – Gaining a Strong Testimony

April 2010 General Conference Talk: Sister Mary N. Cook

Objective: Help each family member identify an area in which he/she can gain a strong testimony

Lesson: We had our children retell the story about Alma the Younger – assessing understanding by asking these types of questions:

1. Who was Alma the Younger?
2. Who was his father?
3. Who were Alma the Younger’s friends?
4. Who was the sons of Mosiah’s father?
5. What were they doing that was so bad?
6. What do you think were some of the things Alma the Elder and King Mosiah did for their sons?
7. Who appeared to these boys and what happened to Alma the Younger?

After this we talked about what would happen to us if we saw and angel. Would we tell others? Would that be our basis of our testimony?  Would seeing an angel keep us faithful to the end?  Would it be enough?

Then, we talked about HOW Alma’s knowing that the gospel was true – that Jesus was the Christ. We read from Alma 5:45-46.

 And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?

Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.

And moreover, I say unto you that it has thus been revealed unto me, that the words which have been spoken by our fathers are true, even so according to the spirit of prophecy which is in me, which is also by the manifestation of the Spirit of God.
Then we asked questions like these:
1. What did Alma say was the reason he knew for himself?
2. Why didn't Alma say anything about seeing an angel?
3. What is the importance of knowing by the Holy Ghost?
Now, (drum roll), here is how we incorporated General Conference . . .We asked our reading children to get out their scripture journals and gave our non-reading children a paper and crayons. We had them listen to a 55 second sound bite from Sis. Cook’ talk. We asked them to listen to it the first time through. Then, we asked them to write down something the Spirit wanted them to do that would help them gain a strong testimony.

Here is what we used from her talk:

Of the importance of gaining a strong testimony, President Thomas S. Monson promised the young women, “Your testimony, when constantly nourished, will keep you safe”

Your testimony is strengthened “gradually through your experiences. No one receives a complete testimony all at once”. You’ll recall that in order to climb the steepest part of the mountain, we approached it one step at a time. To gain a testimony, you must nourish it step by step. “[Your testimony] will increase as you make decisions to keep the commandments. As you lift and strengthen others, you will see your testimony continue to develop.” As you establish personal habits of prayer, scripture study, obedience to the commandments, and service to others, “you will be blessed with moments of inspiration that will [strengthen] your testimony."

At first, our children wanted to write down Sis. Cook’s words verbatim, but we impressed upon them that they needed to listen to what the Spirit wanted them to do.

We ended up listening to the sound bite five times, which enabled our children to think about what they needed to do individually. We didn’t have them share their thoughts tonight. Maybe we’ll address it in the weeks to come.

It was also good for me to reevaluate what I can do to gain a stronger testimony!

Let me know how you apply General Conference talks in your Family Home Evening or any other ideas we could use for Monday Nights to come!!!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lost and Found

Sometime ago I found myself in the ward library on a regular basis. And during my visits, I observed a number of scriptures left in “Lost and Found.”

Due to curiosity, I found myself sifting through the large pile - checking the names to see if I knew the owners of any of them.

Sadly, as the months went on I noticed that none of the scriptures were claimed. Instead, more scriptures were being added to the “Lost, Not Found” pile.

At first I was shocked to think that there would be members of the Church who would NOT miss their scriptures. After all, if they read their scriptures on a regular, daily basis, wouldn’t they be looking frantically for them?

But as the pile continued to grow, my shock turned to sadness and I began to understand why Nephi shed tears when he wrote, “There are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit, that it hath no place in them; wherefore, they cast many things away which are written and esteem them as naught”(2 Nephi 33:2).

There, in that little ward library, the word of God had literally been left behind. Forgotten. Unread.

Personally, the scriptures have provided me with more inspiration and guidance than from any other source. Personal revelation has come whether I have chosen to study by topic, by lesson or in sequential order. Through my daily study, I have been taught, comforted, chastised, converted, healed, and forgiven.

I am a witness that the daily study of scriptures will define who we are. For the careful study of it will strengthen marriages, build moral character, give understanding to trials, protect us from the power of the destroyer, expound truth and clarify error, increase faith, and humble hearts to repentance.

As I completed reading the Book of Mormon a few weeks ago, these words of absolute certainty written by Moroni served as reminder for me to remain ever diligent in my study of the gospel. Moroni warns: “Behold I speak to you as though I spake from the dead; for I know that ye shall have my words” (Mormon 9:30). “For ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man? . . . And God shall show unto you, that that which I have written is true” (Moroni 10:27; 29).

I am a witness that the promises the Lord and his prophets have made in regard to daily study of the scriptures – individually and as a family – are true! They have blessed me one hundred fold.

I also know that feasting upon the word of God will prevent our scriptures, and our testimony for that matter, from ending up in a pile marked “Lost and Found.”

I believe we will not be lost as we find ourselves in the scriptures.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Funeral Directions

This morning I went to a funeral.

To clarify, I went to play the piano for a friend who was singing at her aunt’s funeral.

The church was in a different town - which meant I needed to Mapquest it for driving instructions.

Which was just fine - - - until I exited the freeway.

That's I where I ran into some trouble.

For because two cities were so close together that I couldn’t tell where the dividing line was for one or the other.

And in my inability – okay, my complete incapability - to figure out my directions when I get turned around, East now ran North and North now ran West.

Really. It did.

So after a silent prayer I decided to read again (this time out loud) the directions I had printed out on Mapquest.

And what happened was this conversation with the backseat driver – MY FOUR YEAR OLD SON!!!!!!

Me (mumbling out loud): Okay, now I need to turn right on 800 East

But what I did was turn left because really, left was would have been the RIGHT way to get to the coordinate I needed!

Son (gasping in disbelief): Mom! You turned left! You need to turn right! You turned the WRONG way.

But even so, I drive for a mile or more because what does a four year old know, anyway when it comes to street addresses – in a place we’ve both never been before?? But at about 1.2 miles I quickly notice that the coordinates are getting smaller rather than bigger which definitely meant I had turned the WRONG way.

Me (giggling with embarassment): Whoops, looks like I turned the wrong way.

Son (so stinkin’ matter-of-fact): I told you, Mom! I told you that you needed to turn RIGHT. (And then, under his little four year-old breath I heard him mutter, “Boy, she is such a bad driver!)

Me: What?! You think I’m a bad driver?

Son: Yes, because the Church is over there! (He says, pointing to what is supposed to be East but is really labeled as North)

And sure enough, after one more wrong turn and a back track, there was the Church. RIGHT. WHERE. MY. FOUR. YEAR. OLD. TOLD. ME. IT. WOULD. BE.

Which goes to show that even my little children are given words that confound this (un)wise mother of our family!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Here are some of the things that happened which made my husband’s SURPRISE appendicitis-turned-appendectomy into a series of God’ tender mercies for our family for the past 24 hours . . .

1. The hospital was just 12 minutes away from home, so I could stay the night with my husband at the hospital and still get up to drive the boys to school.

2. My awesome parents came - at a drop of a hat (well, really a phone call) - to substitute parent for a night. That means they saw to it that my children were fed dinner, got bathed, went to bed on time, arose early enough for scriptures, ate breakfast, and were ready for school by the time I whizzed in to pick them up!

3. Our home teacher who also fronts as the Ward YM’s President, called my husband to let him know the logistics of Mutual, only to be informed by our oldest about his Dad being in the hospital.

4. Which, in turn, led to a call at the hospital from our wonderful Bishop, checking on our family who has somehow managed to make some surprise visits to the hospital since we moved here ten months ago!

5. An intern, who walked into our room to assess the condition of my post-op husband, turned out to be the husband of a sister missionary I shared a room with in the MTC decades ago. Today was their 20th happy wedding anniversary!

6. In calling a dear friend of mine, she willingly to sent a message to her husband to visit mine before we left the hospital. (Whose husband, btw, is a dear friend of my husband – although it sounds odd saying that about men, but since I don’t know what men say about “dear friends” that’s just the way I’m gonna put it).

7. Great doctors and great nurses who did everything possible to try to make my husband try to get over his splitting headache, stabbing abdominal pain and out-of-control nausea.

8. And finally - but not finally, because I really believe that God’s tender mercies will continue on - A priesthood blessing before our hospital journey (given in the what would be “noisy hours of the day”), quieted my children for just a few moments as we united our faith for a man whom we all love. Who came home a little bent over and a lot slower in stride, but come home he did!

Thank you Heavenly Father
for all the tender mercies I was able to see,
and forgive me for not seeing all the others
that you sent just for me.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Spiritual Heart Surgery

I’d like to think I have a Christ-like heart.



Without guile.

However, in reality, my heart is a sinner’s heart, and truly, it needs to purged more than every once in a while.

For because I am not always long-suffering.

Or diligent.

Or forgiving.

Or kind-hearted.

Which I why I am so grateful the Atonement extends long and far enough to prod and filter and cleanse my heart from the sticky thickness of my wickedness.

So today, as I partook of the sacrament, listening carefully to the sacramental prayers being offered, I was pricked enough in my heart to be grateful for the spiritual surgery repentance has to offer.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Never Let An Earthly Circumstance Disable You Spiritually

Last night, my husband and I read together Elder Hallstrom’s April 2010 General Conference talk.

It took all I had to control the tender feelings that were stirring in my heart as he told the story of motherhood and death and the blessings that come as we rely upon the Atonement.

Which brought myself to ponder: What makes some of us turn bitter in the face of adversity? And what makes others of us humble and teachable and soft?

Mormon illustrates his observations by saying,
“Because of the exceedingly great length of [adversity] . . . MANY had become hardened . . . ; [however, on the other hand], MANY were softened because of their afflictions, insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depth of humility” (Alma 62:41).
None of us are exempt from life.

All of us have trials and hard times.

But those that I know who use their trials as a stepping stone to get closer to the Savior, teach me and influence my in ways and words I cannot rightfully express!

Click here to read about a woman who has been joyful because of her trial.  Her attitude has such a positive influence on my life. Click here for another sweet story about their family as they consider their trial - their MIRACLE!

After I read these posts I had to ask myself, what is really to gain when bitterness, anger, or contention is added to an already hard tribulation?

Elder Hallstrom offers this direct invitation:
"If you feel you have been wronged—by anyone (a family member, a friend, another member of the Church, a Church leader, a business associate) or by anything (the death of a loved one, health problems, a financial reversal, abuse, addictions)—deal with the matter directly and with all the strength you have. “Hold on thy way” (D&C 122:9); giving up is not an option. And, without delay, turn to the Lord. Exercise all of the faith you have in Him. Let Him share your burden. Allow His grace to lighten your load. We are promised that we will “suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ” (Alma 31:38). Never let an earthly circumstance disable you spiritually."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I Know Your Voice

Yesterday we did something we have never done as a family!

We spent one full, summer day at an amusement park.

And yesterday was a day filled with utter surprise, new adventures, thrill rides, train rides.

And by ten o'clock at night, my head and face were aching bitterly because I hadn't laughed so hard and smiled so much at seeing eight children have the time of their lives!

But being at an amusement park means LOTS and LOTS of people.

And with younger children who love to sprint to an attraction with no thought in mind, we were blessed no one got lost!

At one point of the day, I beckoned -again - for my five year old daughter to come take my hand.

But she refused.

"Honey, " I cautioned, "I don't want you to get lost."

"Mom!" she answered empathically. "I WON'T get lost!"

"But you're not holding my hand!"

"But I know your voice, Mom.  I will just follow your voice!"

And follow my voice she did.  As she gazed upward and sideward and all around at the sights and sounds that were so new and very fun for her.

And as we walked and played for ten hours yesterday, I realized our agency takes us from holding someone's hand to listening to someone's voice.

And if we listen to God's voice . . .

And if we follow . . .

We'll find our way back Home.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Family Home Evening - Scripture Chase

Okay, so sometimes Monday comes around and because of this and that and the other, it becomes necessary to go off the cuff.

So tonight, because this mother had a full day and my husband got home a little later than usual, we opted to do one of our fall-back favorites – Scripture Chase!

So between my husband and I, we tested the memory and the knowledge of our children, which invited gospel discussion and family conversation.

When all was said and done, we had a LOT of fun!

Here are some of the scripture chase questions. Some they had to answer prior to finding the reference. We also had to give clues on some.

1. “I Nephi, having been born of goodly parents.”
2. In the Book of Mormon: Where can you find the tree of life?
     a. What does the tree represent?
     b. What does the fruit represent?
     c. What does the Iron Rod represent?
     d. What does the building represent?
     e. What does the path represent?
     f. What do the mists of darkness represent?
3. In the New Testament: What in what areas did the Savior progress as a young man?
4. “They put to death every Nephite who will deny the Christ. . . And I, Moroni, will not deny the Christ.”
5. “Teach them to love one another and serve one another.”
6. “Stand as witnesses of God at all times, in all things and in all places.”
7. Where in the Doctrine and Covenants can you find the responsibilities of the priesthood outlined?

This is what I learned during our Scripture Chase Family Home Evening - the more our children take time to participate in family scriptures and their daily personal scripture study, they are becoming very good about knowing where in the scriptures to find the things we are learning together!

I am reminded that there are promises attached to reading scriptures as a family! One of my favorites is from President Marion G. Romney:
“I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness” (Ensign, May 1980, p. 67).
I’d love to hear how you share the scriptures in your family!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Wise Man, the Foolish Man and the Ten Virgins

Three times in the course of the resurrected Savior’s teachings while visiting the Nephites, he uses the story of the wise man and the foolish man. The Wise Man builds his house upon the rock. The Foolish Man builds his house upon the sand.

The first reference is found in 3 Nephi 11: 37-40, just the beginning of Christ’s teachings after his appearance near the temple in the land Bountiful.

37 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.

38 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.

39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of @#!*% shall not prevail against them.

40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of @#!*% stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.
The second reference is found in 3 Nephi 14: 24-27, a little later in his teachings at the same time.

24 Therefore, whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a arock—

25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.

26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand—

27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (Think the Great and Spacious Building!)
The third reference is in 3 Nephi 18: 1-13. This takes place after he prays with the children and heals them and as He institutes the sacrament among the Nephites.

1 And it came to pass that Jesus commanded his Disciples that they should bring forth some bread and wine unto him.

2 And while they were gone for bread and wine, he commanded the multitude that they should sit themselves down upon the earth.

3 And when the Disciples had come with abread and wine, he took of the bread and brake and blessed it; and he gave unto the Disciples and commanded that they should eat.

4 And when they had eaten and were filled, he commanded that they should give unto the multitude.

5 And when the multitude had eaten and were filled, he said unto the Disciples: Behold there shall one be ordained among you, and to him will I give power that he shall break bread and bless it and give it unto the people of my church, unto all those who shall believe and be baptized in my name.

6 And this shall ye always observe to ado, even as I have done, even as I have broken bread and blessed it and given it unto you.

7 And this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you. And it shall be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you.

8 And it came to pass that when he said these words, he commanded his Disciples that they should take of the wine of the cup and drink of it, and that they should also give unto the multitude that they might drink of it.

9 And it came to pass that they did so, and did drink of it and were filled; and they gave unto the multitude, and they did drink, and they were filled.

10 And when the Disciples had done this, Jesus said unto them: Blessed are ye for this thing which ye have done, for this is fulfilling my commandments, and this doth witness unto the Father that ye are willing to do that which I have commanded you.

11 And this shall ye always do to those who repent and are baptized in my name; and ye shall do it in remembrance of my blood, which I have shed for you, that ye may witness unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you.

12 And I give unto you a commandment that ye shall do these things. And if ye shall always do these things blessed are ye, for ye are built upon my arock.

13 But whoso among you shall do more or less than these are not built upon my rock, but are built upon a sandy foundation; and when the rain descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow, and beat upon them, they shall fall, and the cgates of @#!*% are ready open to receive them.
So here’s the list I made of things that I found in regard to thees three references:

Building Upon the Rock = Wise Men (you could also think Wise Virgins)
Becomes as a little child
Is baptized
Hears and Does the sayings of Christ
Remembers Christ
Is a witness of Christ
Keeps the commandments
Has the Lord’s Spirit with him/her

Building Upon the Sand = Foolish Men (you could also think Foolish Virgins)
Embraces the Natural Man
Is not baptized
Does not repent
Hears but DOES NOT the sayings of Christ
Forgets God
Denies God’s power
Keeps not the commandments
Does not have the Lord’s Spirit with him/her

I am amazed at how the commitments to follow Christ increases. Thus, following the steps of the Wise Man brings strength and surety, while following the steps of the Foolish Man brings weakness and pacification.

Notice in the first reference. The Savior first teaches the necessity for us to become like a child. It is a reminder of the teachings of King Benjamin wherein he taught that the natural man is an enemy to God and can only overcome that by becoming childlike to the Father.

The Savior then teaches the first principles (faith and repentance) and first ordinance (baptism)of the gospel. For this is the way - the gate - the first steps back to Him and His Father’s kingdom.

The second allusion to the wise man/foolish man is when the Savior compares those who “Hear and Do: to those who “Hear and Do Not.” No more is He speaking to those outside the covenant people. He is speaking to me! I’ve been baptized. I’ve been confirmed. I’ve made baptismal covenants. I know April and October are the months for General Conference. I know when Church starts on Sunday. I know who the prophet is. Do I hear and do? (wise virgin) Or do I hear and do not (foolish virgin)?

Finally, the third reference to the story of the rock and sand is given when the Savior is instituting the Sacrament among the Nephites. Here he solidifies his previous teachings with the saving ordinance of the Sacrament. For because, having His Spirit to be with us is K-E-Y if we want to make it through this life being a wise man/wise virgin.

So the connection I made, of course, is with the parable of the Ten Virgins. And how one, who HAS rightfully acquired the necessary supplies as listed above, cannot give oil in reserve to one who HAS NOT acquired them for whatever reason.

That oil - that rock foundation - that ability to make, keep and live daily our sacred covenants comes slowly but surely as we build up and follow the words of the Savior.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

6 x 6 Saturday

6 sentences of 6 words on these past 6 days.

1. Ear tubes = no more selective hearing!

2. School shopping ranks with folding socks!!

3. Oh, the comfort of priesthood blessings!!!

4. Was Sunday really six days ago?

5. Where did all the chocolate disappear??

6. What can we do about bedtime???

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Crazed Lunatic

Today, I single-handedly took EIGHT children - all squished between the ages of 4 through 13 - shopping for school stuff.

Yes, I am a crazed lunatic.

No doubt.

I was brutally tortured. 

I repeated over and over "Please stop that!" that I should've just recorded it on my phone and kept pushing play.

Furthermore, I was made keenly aware that LIFE HAPPENS when eight things are running in and out of focus and my brain can only focus on what size the five year old is.


But McDonald's $1 Menu TOTALLY paid off!

I mean, 2 fruit pies + a water = definitely a square meal on a day like today!

And boy, they ALL love their NEW socks. (For because there's nothing like the feeling of putting your feet in a pair of new, plushy socks, is there?!)

And just for a teensy, weensy moment, all those warmy, fuzzy "Thank you's" made me think that maybe going shopping today with EIGHT kids wasn't so bad . . .

Yes, I am a crazed lunatic!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Big Problems Bring Solutions

After following the Lord’s blueprint in constructing eight barges, having built them “exceedingly tight,” even like unto a dish, the brother of Jared was left with two BIG problems.

The first problem was that of AIR.

They didn’t have any!

No access to oxygen in those fixed barges of theirs.

And because of the necessity to have these barges tight as to withstand the storms of the sea, no windows were allowed either because they would “be dashed to pieces.”

And no windows meant no air.

And well, last I checked, breathing air is necessary if one wants to live!!

So figuring out HOW to get oxygen in these eight barges was that was a BIG problem that needed to be solved.

The second problem was that of having no LIGHT.

Since windows were not allowed, outside light could not come in.

And fire was prohibited as well.

And without an infrared camera, the brother of Jared was in a pickle of dish in trying to figure out how they would maneuver in the darkness.

So, as we know, he takes these two BIG problems to the Lord and asks these two BIG questions:

1. How shall we steer when there is no light? (We need some guidance because we’re in the dark!)

2. How will we live if we cannot breathe? (Umm, this is important if you want us to steer).

And the Lord addresses both questions! (He answers prayers)!

To the second question he gives the brother of Jared a clear-cut answer: “Make a hole in the top, and also in the bottom of your barges, and when you need air, unstop a hole. And if water comes in, you can stop it up again.”

However, to the first question the Lord responded with a question made-for-action: “Brother of Jared (a.k.a. Mahonri Moriancumr), what will YOU have ME do? I will send the winds and the floods and the storms to send you forth. I will prepare you against these the things, because if not, surely you would die. But what is it that YOU want ME to do when it comes to light when you are swallowed (not if you are swallowed) up in the depths of the sea?”

Of course we know the story.

The Brother of Jared goes and moltens out of rock, sixteen stones.

Then, with unshakable faith, he presents his offering to the Lord.

And with this offering, coupled with his faith, he sees the finger of the Lord!

The Brother of Jared see the Lord's finger touch those sixteen stones, making them illuminate by His power!, and thus giving he and his family LIGHT!

And even after that he is able to see so much more!

And this is what I learned about how the Lord works in my life:

The Lord provides the necessities.

For the Brother of Jared he provided the AIR in which to breathe.

He provides air for me.

(Consider the lilies, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. . . if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, even so will he clothe you, if ye are not of little faith.)

It’s no different what he provides me, really, from what he provided for the Brother of Jared.

Furthermore, He has prepared a way for me.

From winds. . .

Mountain waves. . .

Rains. . .

Floods. . .

The Great Deep.

But if I want light, if I want guidance, the Lord will NOT give that to me outright.

No, it’s not as easy as getting air.

Because light and direction come only when I want bad enough.

Bad enough to exercise faith I never thought possible.

And bad enough to pray will all the diligence and humility of heart.

Bad enough, so that when the answer does come, I know - with FULL surety - it is from God.

Because when I do my part – exercise my faith – He WILL prepare for me the LIGHT, when I am swallowed up in the depths of the sea.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tidbit Tuesday - Spirit of Hope

"Do not allow darkness and gloom to enter into your heart. I want to give you a rule by which you may know that the Spirit which you have is the right Spirit. The Spirit of God produces cheerfulness, joy, light and good feelings. Whenever you feel gloomy and despondent and are downcast - unless it be for your sins - you may know it is not the Spirit of God which you have. Fight against it and drive it out of your heart. The Spirit of God is a spirit of hope, it is not a spirit of gloom."

-George Q. Cannon

Monday, August 9, 2010

Family Home Evening – Service to Others

Object: Help our family put into practice the Savior’s example of serving others with love.

Lesson: Taken from For the Strength of Youth and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s April 2010 General Conference Talk, “You Are My Hands.”

Here’s What We Did: For our lesson we read and discussed the topic “Service to Others” found on p. 38 in For the Strength of Youth. We then read this from President Uchtdorf’s talk:

     "True love requires action. We can speak of love all day long—we can write notes or poems that proclaim it, sing songs that praise it, and preach sermons that encourage it—but until we manifest that love in action, our words are nothing but 'sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.'
     "Christ did not just speak about love; He showed it each day of His life. He did not remove Himself from the crowd. Being amidst the people, Jesus reached out to the one. He rescued the lost. He didn’t just teach a class about reaching out in love and then delegate the actual work to others. He not only taught but also showed us how to 'succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.'
     "Christ knows how to minister to others perfectly. When the Savior stretches out His hands, those He touches are uplifted and become greater, stronger, and better people as a result.
     "If we are His hands, should we not do the same?"

After our lesson we chose four families in our ward we thought needed to be remembered.

One was a widower, one was a widow, one was a couple who our children have noticed have not been to church for the summer months, and one was a sweet older couple.

We put our children to work signing cards and drawing pictures. Since their homes were within walking distance, we enjoyed the evening delivering our homemade muffins (recipe below) and our handmade cards.

My husband was inspired to take the route that he did! When we arrived at the last home to a wonderful widow in our ward, she was having trouble with her sprinkler system. So my good husband jumped in.  And while he was outside getting wet, my boys were inside helping her connect her Wii system!!

Truly, the Lord blessed us to apply the words spoken by President Uchtdorf!

Orange-Cranberries Muffins
Makes 2 dozen

3½ cup flour
½ cup sugar
1½ teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons baking powder
1½ cup warm milk
2 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup oil
Zest and juice of one orange
¾ cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Grease or place baking cups into 24 regular-sized muffin tins.
In large bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Make well in middle and add milk, eggs, oil and orange juice. Mix only until dry ingredients are mixed together. Batter should be lumpy. Stir in orange zest and dried cranberries.
Spoon batter into muffin tins, about 2/3 full.
If desired, sprinkle tops with granulated sugar or sweetened orange juice mix (like Tang).
Bake in oven for 10 minutes.
Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 10-15 more minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from tins and place on cooking rack to cool.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Do Not Covet

Covet: to want ardently (especially something that another person has).

A few weeks ago I picked me up a copy of a 1982 Family Home Evening Manual.

It was on the ward library “Give-Away” cart!

I figured it wouldn’t hurt to take some manuals home and have more ideas for Monday nights.

As I went through the manual I realized how the fashion certainly has changed, but the doctrines of the gospel remain the same.

One picture caught my eye.

The lesson was entitled, “Do Not Covet.”

As I looked at the picture I thought to myself, “WHOA! That is SO not a car I would covet.”

So I showed my husband, thinking he would react the same way.

“But honey," he said, "it’s a Cadillac!” (Like I know anything about cars). “Look at the man in his old jalopy. Don’t you think he’s thinking how nice it would be to drive a Caddy?”

“So what if it’s a Cadillac. It’s 30 years old!”

“Yes, but it wasn’t then.”

“But it is NOW!”

“I know honey,” he smiled, “but it is all relative, isn’t it? Isn’t that the point?”

And that WAS my point!

What we covet right NOW will soon be obsolete.

Once the fashion trend moves on, once the car design changes, or once entrophy sets in, we “move on” to covet something else that is better or faster or bigger or of a different color.

What I found remarkable is that combating this evil today is no different than what it was 28 years ago when published in this Family Home Evening Magazine:

Count your blessings,
Name them one by one.
Count your blessings;
See what God hath done.
Count your blessings!
Name them ONE by ONE.
Count your MANY blessings,
SEE what God hath done.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tidbit Tuesday - Word Nerd

I love words! And I happen to find this book at the library that is filled with interesting info about the meaning of words, the origin of words and other cool facts. I thought I would share 26 of them. Enjoy!

Anger comes from an Old Norse word meaning “grief”

Buculets are the little bumpers on the underside of a toilet seat. (Important info for when you are toilet training).

Late-night refrigerator raiding is called cleptobiosis. (Personally, I like cleptobiosis of chocolate cheese cake).

To doattee is to nod the head when sleep comes on while one is sitting. (Hmmm.  A good word to know as a tired student to impress an annoyed teacher?!)

Exorbitant was originally a legal term for a case outside the scope of a law and since it implies going :out of orbit,” also first meant “deviating from the true path.”

A flick with the finger and the thumb is a fyerk.

A gump is a large umbrella. (Put that on your patio!)

The third eyelid of dogs or cats is the haw. (Haw, haw, haw)

The sparks and embers rising from a fire are izles.

Originally, a journal was a book listing the times of daily prayer (from Latin diurnalis, “belonging to the day”).

Kew-kaw is another way of saying upside down.

A child that cries or screams all the time is a lolaby.

Mutual applies to reciprocal relationships between two or more things. (WOW! Think about youth night!)

Minute or meticulous handwriting is niggle.

O is the oldest letter of our alphabet!

An apple seed or lemon seed is a pip.

A quidnunc is a gossip or inquisitive person who always wants to know what is going on – and the only word that ends in “unc.”

Render comes from Latin reddere, “give back,” and then rendere. (Think of what King Benjamin said, “ye are eternally indebted to your Heavenly Father, to render to Him all that you have and are). (Mosiah 2:34).

Sialagogue is anything that makes the mouth water; sialogogic is causing one to salivate.

A tittynope is a small quantity of anything left over. (Maybe I can use that as the title for my next dinner menu item!)

Umbra is the darkest part of a shadow.

Vaseline gets its name from the German word for water, the Greek word for oil, plus the suffix –ine.

WD-40 stands for “Water Displacement-40th attempt.”

Xanthodontous is having yellow teeth.

Yeepsen is anything that can be held in two hands, a double handful. ("I want yeepsen!  I want yeepsen!" are the cries of my children).

A zizz is a nap.

You can find over 17,000 over interesting words in the book Word Nerd by Barbara Ann Kipfer!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Family Home Evening - Tell Me the Stories of Jesus

Lesson: Learning about Jesus Christ through the stories written of His life and mission.

Objective: Have family members share their favorite stories of Jesus

General Conference Talk: April 2010 Elder Neil L. Anderson

This morning we directed our five older children’s attention to a few paragraphs in Elder Anderson’s talk that referred to different stories about Jesus. Their assignment for Family Home Evening was to choose one of their favorites, read about it in the scriptures and then be ready to share it this evening. (The Ensign/Liahona has the scriptural references listed for each story briefly mentioned by Elder Anderson at the end of his talk.)

WOW! What a wonderful night!

We started with our eight year old and went up to the oldest. Then, we invited our three younger children to share their favorite stories of Jesus. We had a copy of Gospel Art pictures for our children to use.

I was impressed with the stories that were picked: the feeding of the 5,000; the healing of a leper; the First Vision; the calming of the sea; Peter walking on water; the parable of the Lost Sheep; Jesus’ crucifixion.

During the course of our sharing, we recognized and discussed the peaceful feeling that came into our Family Home Evening as we shared the stories of Jesus. Why??  Because most of the time “peace” is NOT a word that would best describe our Monday nights! But tonight we felt it for a few minutes, thanks to the wonderful, inspiring stories of Jesus!

After each family member shared their stories and their thoughts we ended with this invitation from Elder Anderson:

"To the youth and children: Live up to your important responsibilities and great spiritual capacities. Seek to know more about Jesus; open the scriptures. One idea would be to read again the book of John and then discuss it with your parents, teachers, and each other.

"To fathers and mothers: . . . . my counsel is to speak more frequently about Jesus Christ. In His holy name is great spiritual power. “There [is] no other name given nor any other way … whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ.”

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Single Mothers

My husband (and oldest son) went to Scout Camp this week.

For five days and five nights I was a single mom.

Friday night found me tired, exhausted, and pooped out!

I was emotionally drained, socially disabled, mentally impaired, physically beat.

Gratefully, my nightly scripture study gave me promised spiritual power.

It was this spiritual power that made all the difference for me and my “surviving” seven children (ha ha), who live to tell the tale of the week Dad went to Scout Camp.

Even more amazing than that . . .

This week my sequential scripture study found me in 3 Nephi 11-18!!

Back up to however many weeks ago I started reading the Book of Mormon, and who would have known that when I began my study of the Book of Mormon that I would find myself SMACK DAB in the middle of
the Savior words this week?!

He knew!

I know He knew!

Because the words of the Savior literally comforted me while I was a “single-mother.”

And it also taught me a lot about women who mother alone. Single Mothers.
And not just physically-single mothers due to divorce or death.

Although the physically-single mother has a difficult time enough!

For after all the laundry and dishes and cleaning and mowing, there is the added duty of loving and teaching and nurturing and disciplining the children only to be added upon with the temporal responsibilities of earning and budgeting the money, paying the monthly bills and meeting the necessities of each day.



A bit overwhelming when you’re alone.

Without someone to share the load or ease your physical burden or communicate your feelings.

But my single-mother experience also gave me some very limited (but eye-opening) insight on mothers who are single when there is a husband in the home.

And during this week my heart filled with a better understanding as to why the Lord (and President Monson for that matter) implores us to watch out for the “widows.”

For because I found a rare definition of widow in my dictionary:

widow n. “To deprive of something important.”

Well, in my book, a husband is important.

In fact, the only other person, other than God, to whom we are commanded to “cleave unto” is our spouses. A husband, specifically, is commanded to cleave unto his wife.

So I believe a husband is VERY important.

So important that when he abandons his duty in any area of fatherhood, a woman could be considered a “single mother” - a “widow” - even with a husband in the home.

Because she is deprived of something important!

I thought of the spiritually-single mother. . .

She who readies her children each Sabbath and take them to Church while her husband works or plays or stays home.

She who fulfills her Church-calling with all diligence and attends the temple faithfully, hoping and praying and doing, so that someday her husband will change his employment, his attitude, his heart and yoke with her spiritually so she isn’t single anymore.

I am in awe of those women.

I know so many of them.

My respect for them is beyond words.

Because deep in their hearts they have a resolved, unwavering commitment to God and His Son.

And in spite of their spiritual-singleness, they stand firm.


With the conviction that the Atonement of Jesus Christ will someday make it right.

And they will live unto Him to see promised blessings fulfilled.

Even when it means waiting on His time.

I also thought of the mentally-single mother. . .

She who shoulders the responsibilities that come with motherhood and fatherhood.

Not because she wants to, but because she has to!

I know a woman who has a husband who suffers from mental illness.

Because her husband is unable to provide financially and help make crucial, temporal decisions, she undertakes the responsibility - out of love for him and their children - and also out of human necessity to sustain her family.

“Where Can I Turn For Peace?” is her plea. “Where is my solace? When other sources cease to make me whole?”

How heavy and lonely her burden especially when loved ones, friends and/or family members don’t understand, fully, the affects of mental illness and the toll of living with it day in and day out.

How imperative, it is for her to find her mental strength in the One who gives her power to go on –

For one more moment.

For one more day.

“Gentle the peace He finds for her beseeching,

“Constant He is, and kind –

“Love without end.”

I thought of the socially-single mother. . .

She who supports her children at ball games and school plays without her husband because of his work commitments or his social phobias.

She who knows the importance her children place on play-dates and prom-dates.

And she finds it importance to attend wedding receptions, baby blessing, baptisms and funerals.

All she wants is her husband’s hand to hold.

For him to be there.

Beside her.

And for her, just knowing that God knows her name, is the only thing that inspires her to go out again and represent the family and the man she loves.

Finally, I thought of the emotionally-single mother. . .

A mother burdened with deep emotions that afflict her relationships and even her mental health.

A woman who journeys the path of emotion alone because of a husband unwilling to acknowledge her fears or concerns.

Or implies that it’s all in her head.

An emotionally-single mother who is left to suppress even the smallest of righteous desires in her heart, marking it “Unattainable” or “Not Important” perhaps because of her husband’s reluctance to acknowledge the worth of his wife, the mother of his children.

Or perhaps because of her yearning to make her spouse and her children happy, and therefore putting their  emotional needs before hers.
And while appearing happy and healthy on the outside, her spirit and her soul are broken on the inside.

Frightened and alone.

In need and in wanting.

Which brought me to the words of President Monson:

"In the world of today there is at times a tendency to feel detached—even isolated—from the Giver of every good gift. We worry that we walk alone and ask, 'How can we cope?' What brings ultimate comfort to us is the gospel.

"From the bed of pain, from the pillow wet with tears, we are lifted heavenward by that divine assurance and precious promise: 'I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.'
"Such comfort is priceless as we journey along the pathway of mortality, with its many forks and turnings. Rarely is the assurance communicated by a flashing sign or a loud voice. Rather, the language of the Spirit is gentle, quiet, uplifting to the heart, and soothing to the soul.
"Lest we question the Lord concerning our troubles, let us remember that the wisdom of God may not be easily understandable by mortals, but the greatest single lesson we can learn is that when God speaks and a man obeys, that man will always be right."
To the single mothers - wherever you are - YOU ARE AMAZING!  Thank you for the example you set for me this week!