My Message Here is Threefold:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Changes, Changes Everywhere

With the newness of SPRING comes a new change for me as well!

Please keep following my NEW BLOG

Same stuff just different name & different format!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day

How are you celebrating today?  After all, this day only happens once every four years! 

Some things we might be doing:

Playing Leap Frog

Watching the classic Annie ("Leapin' lizards!")

Learning why we have a leap year

Having fun with Fractions (each year is really 365 1/4 days!)

Happy Leap Day!

Friday, February 17, 2012

My Prayers Have Changed

A lot has happened since May 28, 2011.   And, yet, I realized that the #1 lesson learned from that experience was not recorded.   As I lay in the hospital room, my baby in NICU and I being interrupted by a plethora of nurses, I was overcome with tiredness.  I began to pray that I would be able to "not be tired."  As I did so the thought came to me, "You are praying for the wrong thing," and I knew I needed to pray for strength to endure the tiredness that was inevitable in my situation. This mini-lesson has had the most impact on me for the past 8 months (has it been that long already!?), and one that has forever changed the way I pray and the way in which I trust the Lord.

I post this youtube video more for the story she tells before the song than the actual song (though the lyrics and music of this song are beautifully haunting).  Listen to the story.  Listen to the song.  And as you do so, think about what you are really praying for.  Think about who God needs you to be.  And think about putting your trust in Him.   Enjoy!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Embracing Winter

As we have had a couple of days with spring-like weather, I thought I'd never say that I was sad winter was coming to an end.  There was a time when I really hated January and February.  There seemed nothing good in the darkness, the overcast skies, the wet & dreary world of winter.  But I can say this year has been completely different for me.  For the first time I think I have learned to embrace winter.

A friend of mine gave me an essay in which I found this quote:

"Wintering is about creating stillness in our lives.  It is about emptying, letting go of activity, ceasing our striving and just resting in our being."  - - George Such

When I read that I thought, "Yeah!  That's what I've been feeling these past few weeks."  Stillness.  And it's been weird.  Really weird.  I can say I've almost been bored a few times.  This stillness has opened up a new realization for me in how I have completely bought into the myth that busyness is productive, that the busier you are the better you are.

I know these days of stillness may not last forever, but just having these moments of stillness are necessary for our hearts to be filled and our lives to be full of the purpose God intends for us. 

"There is wisdom in having regular rhythms of stillness inour life. We need a pause each day to be renewed, fresh and centered."   - - George Such

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Effects of Downton Abbey

Today I asked A if she wanted to wash her big dishes.  She threw her book down, stomped into the kitchen and said,

"I just can't wait until I marry someone royal so that everyone else can do my chores for me." 

Can you tell what we've been watching?!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Teething and Eternal Perspective

This too shall pass.  Such an oft-heard remark.  I was just telling a friend, "Yes, it will pass, just in time for another thing to come to pass."  Why are we so eager for hard times to pass?  I's not fun to have trials, it's not easy, challenges aren't what we necessarily seek for.  I've been thinking a lot this week about how we have been placed on this earth for that very purpose:  to have experiences that we may learn and grow to become like our Savior.  If we didn't have opposition, we won't have the experiences we need in order to learn the things we need to learn to become who we need to become (did you follow that!?).  :-) 

A baby teething is one of those experiences.  The last two days our baby has been fabulously happy!  Smiley.  Eating well.  Content.  The only reason I notice this with so much appreciation and elation is because the last two weeks have been awful with him.  Demanding.  Whiny.  Fussy.  Sleepless.  The normal signs of teething.  Instead of embracing the moment, I murmured.  And murmured.  And murmured.  Then today it hit me.

The teething is going to happen.  Babies get teeth.  It's going to happen whether I am happy about it or not.  The only thing I have control over in such a situation is my response to the inevitable learning experience. 

Experiences in life are sometimes like teething.  They hurt.  They are inevitable.  They are exhausting.  Sometimes there is no immediate solution.  Their time table is unknown  (sometimes the hardest part of any trial).  Also, they are for our benefit.  Without teeth, babies would never become independent eaters.  Without these seemingly impossible-to-bear experiences we would not become the beings we need to become. 

I know there are people suffering from much more challenging experiences than a baby teething.  The solution is still the same.  Our response is what's important.  What we're learning is vital.  Who we are becoming is critical.  When Nephi was beaten, mocked, and tied up by his brothers, what was his response?  He never ceased from praising the Lord.  During these experiences it is essential that we look up and ask ourselves & the Lord some important questions:

What am I to learn from this experience?
Who does the Lord need me to become?
How can I change my response from murmuring to gratitude?
Where will I be after this trial is over?

Life is good. 
The Lord intends for us to have joy...not only in the end, but throughout the whole journey.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

1 Nephi 12-14

When I first read these chapters in preparation for teaching I thought, "What am I to teach from this?  It's just an overview of history."  Well, I found some exciting stuff!  And since I didn't get to teach this lesson because of illness, I will write some thoughts here instead.  :-)

First, take a moment to create a timeline of your life.  Just something brief with significant dates and moments that have occurred.

Now, we all know this timeline began much sooner than when we were born.  We know there was a war in heaven and that that war continues even today.   In this war there are two sides.
And he said unto me: Behold there are save atwo churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the bother is the church of the cdevil; wherefore, dwhoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the ewhore of all the earth.

In studying different wars throughout the history of this earth, we see that each war is made up of smaller battles.  Some of those battles include the Nephites and the Lamanites (1 Ne. 12:15-18; 15:28-30), the Revolutionary War (1 Ne. 13:17-18), the wrath of God vs. the Spirit of God (see 1 Ne. 13:12), and the battle of the churches (1 Ne. 13:5-9).  The war still continues and we are in the final battle.   What are some smaller battles in your life that have shown you the Lord will help you to overcome?

In Doctrine and Covenants 93:53 we read, "And, verily I say unto you, that it is my will that you should ahasten to btranslate my scriptures, and to cobtain a dknowledge of history, and of countries, and of kingdoms, of elaws of God and man, and all this for the salvation of Zion. Amen."  How is it that obtaining a knowledge of history can help us to build up the kingdom of Zion? 

Weopons of War
We know from studying history that the Lord protects the righteous and those who choose to build up Zion. 
And ablessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my bZion at that day, for they shall have the cgift and the dpower of the Holy Ghost; and if they eendure unto the end they shall be flifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting gkingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall hpublish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be.  (! Ne. 13:37)

We have been given other weapons as well with which we can fight this battle.
1) The Book of Mormon contains plain and precious truths with which we can rely on in bringing forth the kingdom of God upon the earth (see 1 Ne. 13:38-40). 

2)  We have made sacred covenants with the Lord which will sustain us and strengthen us in this great and final battle (see 1 Ne. 14:17).

3) We also have the Lord's own power to protect us as we call on Him.
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were aarmed with brighteousness and with the cpower of God in great glory.

How to Win
What must we do to win this great battle?  
1 Ne. 14:1 - And it shall come to pass, that if the aGentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in bpower, in very deed, unto the ctaking away of their dstumbling blocks— 

1 Ne. 8:33-34 - And great was the multitude that did enter into that strange building. And after they did enter into that building they did point the finger of ascorn at me and those that were partaking of the fruit also; but we heeded them not.

1 Ne. 14:5 - And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me, Nephi, saying: Thou hast beheld that if the Gentiles repent it shall be awell with them; and thou also knowest concerning the covenants of the Lord unto the house of Israel; and thou also hast heard that whoso brepenteth not must perish.

I tell my kids all the time, "The Lord is going to win.  It's just up to you to decide which side you're on."  We are small in number , but if we heed to the counsel of the Lord, repent and obey His words we will be armed with power and righteousness.  As we look at our own lives, let us recognize the Lord's hand in the battles we have won and as we search for ways to continually win the future battles that may arise.

For the time soon cometh that the fulness of the awrath of God shall be poured out upon all the children of men; for he will not suffer that the wicked shall destroy the righteous.  Wherefore, he will apreserve the brighteous by his power, even if it so be that the fulness of his wrath must come, and the righteous be preserved, even unto the destruction of their enemies by fire. Wherefore, the righteous need not fear; for thus saith the prophet, they shall be saved, even if it so be as by fire. . . . And the righteous need not fear, for they are those who shall not be confounded (1 Ne. 22:16-17, 22).

Lehi's Dream: A Different Perspective

In the Oct. 2011 Ensign Elder David A. Bednar said this,

 May we all have eyes to see and ears to hear additional lessons from Lehi’s vision that will help us  to “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).

I took that as a direct challenge and studied chapters 8-15 with new eyes.  In doing so I came up with what I'd like to call A Tale of Three Trees.

The Tree that Grows Within
Now, we will compare the word unto a aseed. Now, if ye give place, that a bseed may be planted in your cheart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your dunbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to eenlighten my funderstanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.

There is a strait and narrow path which leadeth to the tree of life (1 Nephi 8:20).  It is this path we must enter to gain our own testimony of the teachings of our Savior.  There are three steps in this process.

First we must commence along the path.  "And it came to pass that they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree (1 Ne. 8:22)."  How do we do this?  Alma teaches, 
"But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than adesire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words. 

Likewise, Nephi showed by example how we must commence.  
I, Nephi, was ddesirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the eHoly Ghost, which is the fgift of God unto gall those who diligently seek him, as well in times of hold as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men."  (1 Ne. 10:17).

However, if all we do is commence we will be tempted and lost in the mists of darkness (1 Ne. 8:23).

Catch hold & Cling to
Next we must catch hold and cling to the word of God  (see 1 Ne. 8:24).  Elder Bednar explains his thoughts on what it means to cling as to hold on with one hand or to study the scriptures in spurts rather than with consistency.  We are told what will happen to those who only sporadically hold to the rod of iron. 
And after they had atasted of the fruit they were bashamed, because of those that were cscoffing at them; and they dfell away into forbidden paths and were lost. (1 Ne. 8:28)"  

In Alma we learn that this seed, if not nourished will be scorched,
But if ye aneglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out (Alma 32:38)." 

Here I will let Alma and Nephi do all the talking.  :-)

And thus we learn that we must continually nourish the seed which is planted within our hearts.   And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the atree of life.
 41 But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with apatience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree bspringing up unto everlasting life.  (Alma 32:41-42).  

But, to be short in writing, behold, he saw other multitudes pressing forward; and they came and caught hold of the end of the arod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree. (1 Ne. 8:30)

Tree of Life
Once we have planted the seed within, and have continually nourished it, how do we partake of the tree of life?  Alma teaches us we are to repent and be baptized to partake of the fruit of the tree of life.  (see Alma 5:62). 

When talking about the tree of life, the angel shows Nephi the meaning of the condescension of God, first in His birth (1 Ne 11:16-20) and next in His ministry upon the earth (1 Ne. 11:26-34).  

Each week we have the opportunity to experience this love of God as we renew our covenants made in baptism through the sacrament.  

"Yea, he saith: aCome unto me and ye shall partake of the bfruit of the tree of life; yea, ye shall eat and drink of the cbread and the waters of life dfreely; (Alma 5:34).  

The Olive Tree
Why did Lehi leave Jerusalem?  In 1 Nephi chapter 10 we learn that not only is it because it was a commandment of the Lord but because of a fulfilment to prophecy.  

"Wherefore, he said it must needs be that we should be led with one accord into the aland of promise, unto the fulfilling of the word of the Lord, that we should be scattered upon all the face of the earth (v. 13)."  

Israel was to be scattered and Nephi reminds his brothers that they also are a part of the house of Israel (see 1 Ne. 15:12).  

The first thing Lehi did after partaking of the fruit himself was to look about for his family so he could share the joy he had found.  I find it interesting that there is mention of multitudes of people trying to find their way to the path which leads to the tree of life  (1 Ne. 8:21).  Similarly we are told that Israel shall be gathered and grafted in to the olive tree (1 Ne. 10:14; 15:12-16).  People are searching.  Once we have partaken of this fruit, of this love of God, it is our responsibility to share it with others.  

"And it came to pass that I beckoned unto them; and I also did say unto them with a loud voice that they should come unto me, and partake of the fruit, which was desirable above all other fruit (1 Ne. 8:15).  To beckon means "to appear inviting."  We are to invite, so beckon, and to bring others to Christ. How do we do this?  Simply by showing them the same love our Savior has shown us. 

President George Albert Smith has said, "Brethren and sisters, if the gospel of Jesus Christ, as delivered to you, has not planted that feeling of love in your hearts for your fellow men, then I want to say that you have not enjoyed the full fruition of that wonderful gift that came to earth when this Church was organized. ...Our ministry is one of love."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Enough is Enough

When the prophets and apostles tell us to choose that which matters most....they mean it!  Where that scriptures say not to "run faster than is needful"'s something we must listen to.  I am a firm believer in the fact that we, and we alone, have control of our time.  Many people go through their days saying, "I just don't have time" or "Everything I do is a requirment placed upon me."  Well, I'm here to say that I recently experienced those same exact thoughts and feelings. 

For about 6-8 weeks (basically all of November & December) I did not have control of my time or my life.  I ran, rushed, ranted and raved at my children and wanted to run away from it all at the same time.  People would say, "Why don't you say no to something?"  Like what!?!  Was my response.  I simply was not in control.  And I admit it was nobody's fault but mine. 

So, after/during Christmas "break" I knew it was time to make some changes.  I did not choose to live life without enjoying it.  At that point I was ready (and thought I'd been inspired) to say no to some major parts of our lives.  After simmering and then reading a talk from the recent conference entitled, "Time to Prepare," I was ready to discuss what I'd been feeling with my family & prepared a special family night.

We started the activity by playing Minute to Win It.  For those who aren't familiar, this game involves performing & completed acts within 1 minute.  For instance, one daughter had to keep two balloons up in the air for 1 minute, our son had to try stacking 5 apples, and dad needed to put together two puzzles in one minute.  It was great!  When we have one minute to accomplish a task every second counts and if you waste those seconds you don't win.  Life is the same.  Each minute is important and if we waste those minutes we too might find we don't win in the end if we are putting our valuable minutes into events that really don't get us anywhere.  These minutes and how they are used are valuable for each individual.  So A's minutes might be used completely different than JW's minutes. 

This does not mean we need to be "productive" in the world's sense of the word all the time.  There is room for leisure.  Even in the Proclamation to the World on the Family we learn that "wholesome recreational activities" are healthy for successful family life.   I expressed my desire to start pulling back from the activities we were involved in and really evaluating where we were honestly spending our time.  And so we did.  Each child evaluated their activities to see where they were willing to cut back so we could have more family contiuity.

Another aspect of this major change in our family is recognizing that JW and B can ride their bikes to the events they choose.  If they want extra activities, moreso than the other kids, then they now can evaluate if it's worth getting on their bike for or not. 

From this whole experience I realized an important lesson is that Mom needs to be at the center of the home.  If I'm carting kids from one place to another, I am suddently taken out of the home and can't focus on the things I feel are most important.  Yes, there is value in being in the car with the kids...time for conversation and whatnot...but again, there needs to be a balance. 

So...those are the slight changes we've made here recently.  This next week is our last "HOLY COW" week and then the obligations will be completed and we can step back and breathe (even though my husband reminds me that something will come in to fill that empty space....I will fight it and resist it).

Sunday, January 15, 2012

JW's new Challenge

Our lives have been overrun this month with the Future City competition.  It's this weekend in Seattle and I'm ready to have it all over.  But in the midst of this chaos, we've managed to make a few other changes to JW's learning plan.

I've been simmering on this idea for months, just waiting for the right time to present it to my son.  I was so excited when I realized it was finally time. 

So...I took a bunch of learning books:  grammar, spelling, math cirriculums, history books, etc... and laid them in front of my son.  Then I had him choose which ones in each subject he was willing to do or that looked interesting to him.  I then got his book group books for him and told him to go around the house and choose 5 more books from our shelves that he wanted to read.  We set up his desk as his "study station" using all of learning materials he had used. 

Then I told him the plan.  He can choose each morning if it's a study day (Scholar day...whatever you want to call it) or a family day.  If he chooses a family day it just means he chooses to follow the family schedule, join us for family learning time and read aloud, and accomplish his set of study goals (made earlier in the month).  If he chooses a study day he is required to study 3 hours using the materials in his study station plus practice piano (at least 45 minutes each day).  As time goes on these hours will increase, but starting out, this appears to be enough.  He then needs to record what he did during those few hours in his calendar and report to Mom or Dad.  It has been exciting to watch his enthusiasm for learning increase!  When he chooses a study day he actually talks to me with interest in his voice rather than just a, "Yeah, I did it" response. 

One other aspect of the study day is that he chose one major household job and has complete stewardship over that job.  So each day looks something like this:

Family scripture study and breakfast
Go down and study for 1 1/2-2 hours
come up to make lunch for the family & clean up the lunchtime kitchen
Go back down to study for another 1-2 hours and practice piano
Rest of the afternoon is free
Evening activities

If all goes well here, I can see this working for my other kids as well as they get older.  For now, they're all enjoying the family schedule. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Word of the Year

I loved this idea from a couple of years ago and was just reminded of it on my friend's blog (love my friends!).

My word for the year is  

When I look back I want to remember the fun times with my kids.

When I look back I want to say I learned to not take myself too seriously! 

When my kids look back I don't want them to say, "Mom never laughed." 

I don't want to ever hear my kids say (as they did a year or so ago), "Wow, Mom, I've never heard your really laugh like that."  sigh.

When I look back I want to recognize that I laughed in the moment of mishaps, not just after the fact. 

And, most importantly, I want to really laugh with my husband.  :-)  

Did you know, "On average, children laugh 400 times a day, while adults laugh about 15 times (The Power of Laughter)?"  How sad is that.  I want to be the adult that beats out the kids on that one.

Wish me luck!