8.30.2013

Mothers, Stay Close to the Spirit!

It's becoming more evident that the one answer to staying strong in these latter days is to stay close to the Spirit, to believe in personal revelation.  The world in which we live is constantly pulling us in many directions, good and bad.

I've noticed that I don't prefer reading parenting and self-help books as much as I used to.  Before, I wanted to know all the answers of HOW to do things...in all aspects of mothering.  These books just don't have what I'm searching for.  It's taken me awhile (and I'm sure I've got a long way to go), but I think I'm starting to learn just how many answers the Lord has given us through scriptures and the living prophets.  It may take a little longer to search them out.  It may take a little more effort on our parts to fine tune that spiritual language so we can know what is right for us to do.  And it may take patience as we wait for the direct answers.  But it will all be worth it.

The following quotes describe peace, direction and joy.  Reading and talking to different people about what methods they use may be helpful, but can also leave us feeling more confused and overwhelmed.  For me, parenting has become something I cannot do without the Spirit, "which was sent forth to teach the truth (D&C 50:14)."  I'd rather be guided by truth than all the philosophies in the world!


"In simple terms, the gift of the Holy Ghost is an enhanced spiritual power permitting those entitled thereto to receive it, to receive a greater knowledge and enjoyment of the influence of Deity." - - Elder Faust, April 1989

If we live close to the spirit we will have disappointments but we won't be disappointed in ourselves. - - Sister Bednar 2010

In the marvelous experience of Brigham Young in February of 1847, when the Prophet Joseph appeared to him in a dream or vision, Brigham pleaded to be reunited with the Prophet. Brigham Young asked the Prophet if he had a message for the Brethren. The Prophet said:
“Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and to be sure to keep the spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the still small voice; it will teach them what to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the Brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it.”
The Prophet further directed Brigham Young as follows: “They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits; it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness and build up the kingdom of God.” (Manuscript History of Brigham Young: 1846–47, Historical Dept., The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, pp. 528–31.) - - Elder Faust

8.29.2013

How'd they Do?

I know some of you may be wondering the kids' responses to the first day of school...

JW:  came home wishing he had homework.  Strange kid!

B:  looked so grown up going to middle school and loved the half day option!

A:  couldn't talk enough about her new friends and all the social life public school brings.

JL:  "Mom, I today was fun, but I don't think I'm going to like 200 days of it!"

So far so good.

This morning JL was playing with E and I said, "Hey, you gotta go get ready for school."  E responded, "They're going again!?!?"  It was too cute.

And mom is doing well, too (just needs to figure out her new morning routine).  :-)

Smiles to all!

8.28.2013

Today's the Day

Okay, so yesterday I wrote up a post to be ready to publish today...one full of positive thoughts and with the attitude of a real champion.

But then I said good-bye....

This REALLTY HURTS!!  I honestly was not expecting this because I know this is right and will be great!  I know for most this is normal and no big deal. Eventually it will get that way for me, but today it really hurts. 

So, I'm going to allow myself one more day of grieving.
Then, I promise I will move on and get busy with other things!! 

And now for yesterday's thoughts....

 
Today I will cry when I feel like crying and rejoice when I feel like rejoicing. 

Today I will embrace the quiet moments and enjoy the three I will have sporadically throughout the day.

Today I will choose to look at the good and the blessings of this change in our lives.

Today I will welcome my kids home into a place of peace and refuge (with mint chocolate chip ice cream, of course!).

Today I will shed a few tears because that is who I am and how I deal with changes and the love of good things  (namely, my children).

Today I am grieving, but I am happy.  Because you can't really be upset when it's the Lord's plan! 


So, Dear John, Brooklynn, Addie, Joel and Ethan....though I will miss you tremendously, I am happy and comfortable with your leaving.  I will always be HERE, waiting and wondering what stories you'll have to share when you arrive once again into my arms!  I am so proud of you and love you each with so much love!  Each day I am in awe of the precious angels with whom I get to associate with, those whom Heavenly Father has entrusted into my care.  Be good and come home soon (and don't worry, I'll cry just as much when you return as I did when you left because of my joy). :-) 

8.22.2013

The Kids Speak...

What we will miss the most about homeschooling:

JW (grade 8) - vacation time (having to do homework over vacation), no homework, "I'm never going to see David!  Or anyone else for that matter." 

B (grade 6) - "My sister!"  Also, vacation (same as JW) and free time.

A (grade 5) - not having as much time to play, Mommy's fun activities

JL (grade 3) - not being home all day, more computer time

E (grade K) - "Nothing!!"  :-)


What we are looking forward to for school:

JW - friends, sports, friends, using my binder, friends, and Spanish

B - making friends, having a new experience, playing the trumpet!

A - new friends, a desk!, using all my school supplies

JL - recess, meeting Miss Whitney (he just got a postcard in the mail from her yesterday)

E - "Going to school!!"  (Can you tell he's really excited?!?)

8.21.2013

What I'm Looking Forward to...

Also with August 28th comes a few perks.  Here's what I'm looking forward to:

Time with a few of the kids.  They will each leave and come back staggered throughout the day, so it will be fun to have that one on one time with each of them  (or 2x2). 

Watching individual relationships flourish between siblings.  JL and A walking to and from school together, B & E being home in the mornings together.

Also...

Writing time.

Quietness  (though this makes me a bit sad as well).

Naptime. 

A clean house.  Having kids home all day makes cleaning an all day process sometimes. 

Welcoming my kids home after a hard day's work out in the world.  :-)

Navigating a whole new world for myself and my children.  This really is an adventure for us.  I love learning new things and having different experiences to broaden our minds and build character.

I'm anticipating how each child will take the experience.  How will they each grow individually?  I think these years we've had together has been a growing time for family relationships as a whole and has been a time for my own personal growth.  Now it's their turn.  Their turn to be on their own and explore more of who they really are.  I'm excited for that!


Tomorrow we'll see what the kids have to say....

8.20.2013

What I'll miss most

The Fall is coming closer (fall as in autumn, not fall like to destruction or something, though I'm feeling that, too).  No, I mean...School is going to start soon. I'm still sad about all that will occur on August 28th.  It's like your kids going to Kindergarten times 5 (+ more because of their ages). One more week!! 

I do have to say the one comment I've been least excited about has been, "Good! So you can get a break."  Break from what?  My kids?  I don't want them to think that's the reason for this change.  It will be nice to think about different things, but it is definitely do not think of it as a break in the sense that those well-meaning people intend that comment.  I am actually going to miss a lot of things about homeschooling....


THEM!  I love hearing them all day long.  Okay, maybe not the quarreling, but being surrounded by my children is my dream day. 

JW getting up to make breakfast & B baking bread.

Slow mornings.

The kids being surrounded by each other.  What better than to be influenced by your older siblings and for older kids to learn how to play with younger kids.  I'll miss their more frequent interaction.

D. having older siblings to be with all day.  Now he's really going to be spoiled!

Free babysitting.  As much as I've tried not to abuse having older kids at home...it will be tough with the little kids in tow everywhere I go.

Learning with my children.

Creating lesson plans (weird I know, but it really was one of my favorite parts about homeschooling).

As little or as much structure as we want.  Flexibility to just go when we want to go. 

Overall, we'll just miss what is comfortable and known to us.  This will be a drastic lifestyle change  and yet, we are excited about many things as well....

...to be continued....

8.15.2013

What is our Message?

I belong to a missionary church.  We are commanded to preach the gospel to all nations, to all people.  We are instructed that it is our responsibility to warn our neighbors.  And yet, how many of us are intimidated whenever we hear the words "missionary work?"  Why is that?  Most often the answers to this question are that we're worried we'll offend our friends or scared we won't have the right answer or say the right thing.  If those are the true answers, then the ultimate reason we are intimidated by missionary work is because we're thinking of ourselves more than the gospel.  In essence we tend focus more on making a convert rather than helping others come to true conversion.  Sometimes we focus more on the how to preach the gospel rather than the why. 

So, what is our message?  If we truly know the answer to that question and focus on that then maybe, just maybe, fears will subside and we can move forward with faith as the Lord intends us to do, especially here and now.

In Luke 22:32 we read that before we can preach the gospel we must be converted ourselves.  In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord promises us that the words will be given to us in the very moment we need them (D&C 100:6)...IF we are prepared (D&C 42:27).  But converted to what?  Prepared with what? 

What is our message? Here it is (according to my study)...

Why did Christ come to the earth?
Yes, He came to bring about our salvation, but what was His motive?  Let's look at
3 Ne. 27:14-15:

And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, ...
And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.


Our message IS  Jesus Christ.  Our message is that He has a plan...for each of us.  Our message is that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, every day can be filled with peace because He already suffered for us (D&C 19:16).  Our message is wrapped up in charity, the true love of Christ.  And so our work is to draw all men unto Christ by being who Christ intends us to be!

When we focus on our own conversion, our own faith in His promises, it actually becomes rather easy to slip in church lingo, to quote scriptures as they come into our minds, to have a conversation about religion with another religious person (of a different faith) without sweating bullets or praying for that person to join the church right there on the spot (you know we've all done it!). Our prayers change from "send me a missionary moment" (i.e.a  pat on the back for myself when I share the gospel) to "lead me, guide me, walk beside me and prepare me for thy service." 

I just read from Moroni about infant baptism with a Catholic friend of mine not to prove anything but to simply discuss beliefs.  Honestly, I was wanting to learn more about her beliefs on the subject and found there were some misconceptions on some points of their doctrine.  It was one of the most enlightening conversations because I felt my focus was more on understanding and sharing commonalities than it was to "convert" her to Mormonism.  I just felt different, less worried about what I said during and after the conversation. I'm eager to continue such conversations with her in the future.  

If we are to assist the Lord in drawing all men to Him, there must be an element of Him in us.  It is so liberating to embrace the message, the WHY of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It's amazing how the Lord fulfills His promise when He says, "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear (D&C 38:30)."  Suddenly it seems as though missionary work isn't any work at all!

8.14.2013

Book of the Week

I am not a cookbook fan.  Whereas my mother and sister devour them as bedtime reading, mine sit on a shelf neglected and unused.  Who needs cookbooks when we're got the internet, right?

Well, I have just found a cookbook that I seriously could take to bed with me.  I just rented it from the library a couple of weeks ago and have been using it a few times each week.  So far everything we've tried has been delicious.  The best part....ICE CREAM!  My favorite treat is back in my life and so, so heavenly! 

The Book:

She also has a blog.  I'm still debating if I'll purchase the cookbook or just use the blog.  Either way I love this woman...or at least, I love her food!  :-)


p.s. be prepared for spending time & money....it's worth it!

8.12.2013

Celebrating Vinyl Records

Remember vinyl records?  My best memory of vinyl records holds my sister and I in the living room reenacting the seven dwarves while singing, "Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's off to work we go!"  Vinyl records is also how I learned to sing Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious.  Whew!  That's tough to type!  

Good times.  Good times.

Well, here's an idea I stumbled upon awhile back....a different way to use vinyl records today.



images from ecoartware.com
Seems how we're trying to get camping this week, I'm not sure I will be making them today...but I think it's a way cool idea, one to file away for the future.  Maybe today I'll just go listen to my favorite Disney songs to bring back those good o'l memories.  :-)

8.09.2013

Depression....Where's Your Focus?

I have to admit, July was a bit of a depressing month for me.

Well, really depressing.

I just felt crummy.  Part of it being my myofascial struggles.  Part of it our lack of structure this summer.  Part of it trying to catch up on sleep from while my hubby was gone the first ten days of the month. Part of it is that I usually fill my mind with the upcoming school year's activities and curriculum planning.  Not this summer.  I haven't really known what to think about.  I mean, I have plans for what to think about in the fall, but thinking about them now just didn't feel right.

Anyway, all of this culminated into depressed thoughts and feelings.

So, finally, last week I had a break through!

My husband actually helped me out on this one.

While moaning about something in my life (for the umpteenth time) he said, "Julia, you need to just realize today is today.  Tomorrow is another day.  It's like you think that because today wasn't so great your whole life is awful.  It could just be a bad day."

For some reason, those words really struck me.  Why not just be happy today?

Granted, I know there are some out there who truly do suffer from chemical imbalance depression, so please take these next few words with your own state in mind.  I think sometimes we cause ourselves to be depressed.  For me there has been a constant battle between "always improving" and "being content with where I am."  However, if I'm focused on "always improving," or finding the answer that will cure me, or why do I feel so crummy...then were am I not focusing my mind?

I want each day to open with the thought, "Today I will place my faith in Christ.  What would He have me do TODAY...not next week, not next year, not when my kids are in school, etc?  TODAY."

TODAY He wants us to be happy.
TODAY He wants us to rely on the enabling power of His atonement.
TODAY He wants us to listen to His spirit.
TODAY He wants us to serve those He loves.
TODAY He wants us to take some time to listen to our body
TODAY He wants us to... (fill in the blank).

I know the feelings that come with depression:  lonliness, lack of excitement, discouragement, apathy, criticism, darkness, fear, doubt.  

I also know the feelings that come with faith:  joy, light, love, happiness, enthusiasm, peace. 

I want to choose FAITH....TODAY.

But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world (TODAY), and eternal life in the world to come.  
- - Doctrine & Covenants 59:23

8.07.2013

Magnify

What was meant to be a lesson on the Priesthood ended up being more a lesson on magnifying our callings.


Magnify:  to amplify or enlarge;  to raise high in description or praise;  to raise in estimation;  to possess the power of giving anything an illusive degree of magnitude.

What does it mean to magnify our callings?  We say this all the time and our pat answer is usually from the above definition, "to amplify or enlarge."  But the latter definitions, to me, add more meaning.  "To raise high in description or praise;  to posses the power to give anything illusive magnitude."  Wow!

We are to hold our callings in high estimation, to esteem our responsibility as great and full of worth.  It's funny, today I changed our chore system.  I had asked the kids earlier what chores they liked the best and which the least.  From those lists I created a new job description for each child and presented them as their stewardships for the next little while (if not forever).  I have not seen such joy and hard work from my children in a long time!  I think they honestly felt not only the responsibility but the need for their jobs to be completed.  It was beautiful (we'll see if it lasts!).

We can take ahold of our callings the same way.

What happens when we don't magnify our callings?

Jacob 1:19 -  And we did amagnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the bresponsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not cteach them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore, by laboring with our might their dblood might not come upon our garments; otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and we would not be found spotless at the last day.


D&C 84:54 - And your aminds in times past have been bdarkened because of cunbelief, and because you have treated dlightly the things you have received— 
 

D&C 107:99-100 - Wherefore, now let every man learn his aduty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all bdiligence.
 100 He that is aslothful shall not be counted bworthy to stand, and he that learns not his duty and shows himself not approved shall not be counted worthy to stand. Even so. Amen.


Pretty powerful statements.  I guess magnifying is pretty important.  

I learned during the lesson, too, that by using a magnifying glass you're bringing light to others (as you would when trying to burn a leaf or something).  Also, when you're looking through the magnifying glass your whole focus is on that one object of study. 

Look at this  beautiful promise for when we do receive our covenants and fulfill our callings: 

D&C 84:33 - For whoso is afaithful unto the obtaining these two bpriesthoods of which I have spoken, and the cmagnifying their calling, are dsanctified by the Spirit unto the erenewing of their bodies.

The renewing of the bodies.  In D&C 136:37 we read that we must be pure in order to abide His presence.  President Eyring explains also that as we magnify our work our natures will be changed through the atonement of Christ and our bodies will be able to be filled with charity. 

We may use "magnify your callings" as a generic, over-used phrase in the Church, but through these scriptures we can see how significant that statement truly is.  By doing our duty, lifting where we stand, we are sanctified, renewed, able to abide in his presence!!  Doesn't that just make you want to go out and serve!?!  


D&C 84:38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s akingdom; therefore ball that my Father hath shall be given unto him.


8.05.2013

Happiness Happens

Happy Happiness Happens Day (August 8th)!!!

Isn't it true?  It's easy to look at the world veiled in darkness (Isaiah 60:2) and become discouraged.  It's important to help our kids recognize the light and happiness in their lives.

This week: 
Start each day with the catchy primary song:

If you chance to meet a frown 
Do not let it stay
Quickly turn it upside down
And smile that frown away. 

No one likes a frowny face
Change it for a smile. 
Make the world a better place
By smiling all the while!

Happiness in Art
Make a Happiness Tree!  Have the kids put leaves on the tree as they recognize things around them that make them happy. 

And/or...

Catch  your kids being happy this week!  Assign each child a leaf color and when you catch them being happy, place their color on the tree!  They could also do this for one another to create sibling closeness and to foster eagle eyes for goodness rather than critical  judgement (needed at our home!). 

Science of Happiness
Did you know it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile?   Is this just a saying to get kids to smile or is there truth in this statement.  Read this and then see if your kids can figure out the true answer!

Act of Random Kindness
Smiley face a neighbor's house.  Dot their home with smiley faces and notes of gratitude and happiness.

Math Happiness
Can math make you happy?  Sure - - it it's tied to family history.  Try using Moses 6 as a math lesson.  Have the kids calculate the ages of the early prophets and their sons (side note:  parents, be sure to remove the answers from the verses).  Then, take some time to do age calculations for your own ancestors.  I guarantee...this will make you happy!

Devotional Topic
2 Ne. 5:27 describes the Nephites as living "after the manner of happiness."  What does this mean?  As you search the verses before this, what can you find that the Nephites did to create a happy environment?
* you may also want to review Elder Marlin K. Jensen's talk on this subject

Above all, just choose to SMILE this week!!

8.01.2013

Seasons

image from craiglockerd.com

You know, I've sometimes cringed when people say, "There's a time and season for everything."  Yes, I know there's a button on my blog that says just that...more because it fit the color scheme of my blog than anything.  But anyway...

The reason I sometimes cringe at that statement is because I think we use it as a cop out, as an excuse to NOT do the things we know we could or should be doing.  How many of us truly in our hearts believe that genealogy is for older people, something we'll do when we don't have kids at home anymore?  And yet, hasn't it been kind of stated a few times that our work as Latter-Day Saints is to redeem the dead?  Yeah.  And Elder Bednar recently gave a whole talk on getting the youth involved in family history work.  I just use this as the easiest example, but we use this phrase to justify a lot of things...

I'll exercise when all the kids are in school...
I'll start eating healthy when I have my last baby...
It's my season to be in the home, so I can't say yes to that calling...

etc...

etc...

Yes, I believe there are seasons.  But I believe that seasons  have the possibility of changing daily.  What "season" does the Lord need me to be in today?  People tend to put themselves in boxes that only limit their potential to make great things happen every day.  If I feel the urging to work on family history today, maybe that is where the Lord needs me.  If I feel the yearning to play a game with the kids rather than mop my kitchen floor, maybe that is the "good part" that must be chosen.  Living our lives daily for Christ changes our perspective on the "time and seasons" principle.  And when we live this way....just imagine the possibilities!

*****

"Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day."
Alma 37:37
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