Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Home Can Be a Place of Peace

A few years ago I had two young children and a husband in graduate school. I was tired, I was impatient, prone to raising my voice when my son and daughter didn't treat each other as well as I thought they were capable of, and it was really affecting my relationships with my children and the overall feeling in our home. I was really struggling with my short temper and feeling very guilty about it, but I really didn't know how to fix it, and I doubted if I could fix it. I prayed to know what to do. I wanted so much to be a better example for my children: how could they learn to treat each other kindly if I couldn't be kind to them? 

During this time I read in the Book of Mormon about a leader named Captain Moroni who stepped down after helping his armies fortify and strengthen their cities successfully after many years of war:

“...and there was once more peace established among the people...And Moroni yielded up the command of his armies into the hands of his son, whose name was Moronihah; and he retired to his own house that he might spend the remainder of his days in peace” (Alma 62:42-43, emphasis added).

When I read that verse I had so many questions come to mind: What kind of home was this, that he could feel peace there despite all he had witnessed in battle? What kind of family did he have? What kind of wife and mother would live in a home where he could feel that kind of peace?  How could I be more like her?  How could I make my home a refuge? How could I teach my children to crave that kind of peace also, and teach them that it could be found in our home? 

Seeking answers to these questions and others through fervent prayer and scripture study helped me to see that I had in me the ability to work harder at controlling my temper. I could be better about doing my part as a wife and mother to make our home a place of peace. And so I worked at it, and our home became more peaceful.

Time continues to march on: we have two more children now, and my husband finished graduate school last year. I am finding that a peaceful home is something I have to keep building – it is never really finished but is something that we can continually be refining and polishing. When I am able to do the things that help me feel true peace, such as reading the scriptures and praying as I mentioned here, I am better equipped to teach my children how to leave peaceably with each other.

Stacey is from Columbus, Ohio, where she lives with her husband Jeff and four children. She enjoys singing, reading on her own and with her family, and learning new things. You can read more about her family at

Feel free to print or share the image above and the message of this post on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter today!  We want to share the great ideas in these posts far and wide!

And please check out the post at Cranial Hiccups today.  There will be a new post about family on both of our blogs each day of the Celebration.

Looking for more ideas to help you change your feelings of anger at home
 into feelings of peace?

Try these suggestions:

1.  Pray for help both with controlling your feelings of frustration/anger and in understanding and fixing situations that cause stress in your home.

2.  Avoid predictable stressful situations (the ones that happen daily) by rearranging your schedule, preparing ahead of time for these moments, or deliberately doing something loving with your children at that time instead.

3.  Give yourself a time out.  If you feel those feelings coming on, take yourself out of the mix.  Pray, read scriptures, call a friend, and then return.

4.  When you are calm, express your feelings to your children/family in a way that helps them understand how you feel and how their actions also contribute (or take away) from a feeling of peace at home.

5.  Think about the words that you use on a daily basis with your family?  Are they loving or not...peaceful or not?  Encouraging or not?

 6.  Be unexpectedly silly with your kids.  Instead of responding to a tantrum with a tantrum, respond with a song or a silly dance or a joke.  Catching children (and yourself) off-guard with silliness helps children react better too.

7.  Find time to exercise and blow off steam.  Both you alone and the family together.

8.  Share the burden of responsibilities, clean-up, etc. with other family members.

9.  If you are having trouble with one child in particular, go out of your way to serve that person.  It will help you to develop charity of that child (or your spouse) and give you a better understanding of what they might go through.

10.  Find ways to fill the empty moments of your family time together with the Holy Spirit.  Listen to uplifting music together and choose good music, books, and media.  Study the gospel together in a fun and engaging way, and as The Family Proclamation says, choose wholesome recreational activities.  As you invite the spirit more and more into your home, there will be less and less opportunities for anger.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Strengthen Your Family by Listening

Listening is so much like loving it’s hard to tell the difference.”
I confess.  I hung this quote on my wall out of spite.  I painted a lovely little plaque and hung it on my wall as a private jab against my own distracted, verbose non-listeners.  I may have quietly shared it on Facebook that day too.  Yup.  No one wants to be unheard.  No one wants to be unloved.  It’s hard to tell the difference.
Lend me your ear…”
Most of us were born with our own working pair but still seem to need regular access to each others’.  Children need it.  Wives need it.  Husbands need it.  It’s an exquisite gift we can give each other, affordable on any budget, entirely replenishable, and really the only way of knowing each other’s hearts and minds.  So…
… how do you say “I love you” with your ears?
1.  Practice “Active Listening:” “Hearing” just happens.  Active listening is a deliberate choice to try to understand someone.  It takes effort, concentration and participation.  Active listeners give both verbal and non-verbal cues to show their interest and regularly paraphrase back what they heard to be sure they understood.  It makes the speaker feel like an important celebrity being interviewed for the cover story of Time Magazine and real, successful communication is the result.  DO listening. Learn more at:

2.    “Unplug” your ears: Turn off the TV.  Turn off the computer.  Put down the smart phone. Turn off the radio (okay, at least turn it down).  Put down the book aaaaaaand close it (ouch). This can be a family affair.  In a worldwide conference, LDS church leader Rosemary Wixom suggested, “Why not choose a time each day to disconnect from technology and reconnect with each other? Simply turn everything off. When you do this, your home may seem quiet at first; you may even feel at a loss as to what to do or say. Then, as you give full attention to your children, a conversation will begin, and you can enjoy listening to each other.” Unplug.

3.    Resist the urge to give advice, form opinions early on, or fix the problem: Years ago, from a speech by a family therapist, I learned the five steps of helping children solve problems.  They were, first: listen.  Second: listen.  Third: listen. Fourth: yup, keep listening.  Let them talk it out, to the very bottom, until they are empty and have nothing left to say.  This may take a while, and may get repetitive. BUT, when they finally stop, almost every time, they will have solved their own problem and all you have to do is Step Five: express your love and confidence in them.  Done.  Most of the time, it is just that easy.  And if they do need a little extra guidance, with all the listening you just did, you’ll know exactly what to say. Try it.

4.    When they come to you, be there:  This doesn’t mean the world must stop every time someone yells “MOM!”  (My 11-year-old accused me of not listening to her while writing just now.  It was deliberate, she knew what I was writing about.) But do make sure “just a minute” hasn’t become a catch phrase.  They won’t suddenly be ready to talk just because we’re ready to listen.  We must be ready to listen when they are ready to talk.  Yes, this is often inconvenient.  But, each day at 3:30pm I drop everything, sit down on the couch, and wait.  I’ve learned.  In a few seconds a microburst of kids, backpacks, and stories about the day will explode through my door IF I’m ready to listen.  If not, this happy storm dissipates and all my later prodding gets from them is, “It was fine” or “Oh, nothing.” Discern where “there” is and be there.
5.    Avoid becoming too emotionally reactive: When my husband describes an especially bad day at work, I get upset!  How dare someone treat him that way?!  Let’s key their car!  Let’s burn down their house!  Let’s… suddenly it’s me venting and him calming me down.  That’s not fair.  He does need to know I stand by him, but he also needs to clear his own head.  I can call a friend later, if I still need to clear mine.  This applies to children being bullied, as well. They desperately need your love and support, and disapproval of how they were treated, but they don’t need your own pain and fury.  Then there are those (rare?) occasions when YOU are the reason they’re upset!  Gah!  Right or wrong (of course wrong…) let them get it out. Use this time to listen, think, pray, and CHOOSE how best to respond, rather than letting an emotional, knee-jerk reaction choose for you.

6.      Listen deep: Not all words can be taken at face value. They may actually mean something entirely different, especially if they are emotionally charged.  For example, “She’s not really THAT good of an artist,” may actually mean, “Will you please say something nice about me too?”  Think what a different response those two sentences would generate. More often than not, even (or especially) in an argument, the underlying sentiment is, “reassure me that I matter to you.” Listen deep.
There’s a reason we have two ears and only one mouth…
        …so we would listen twice as much as we speak.”
With nothing more than a little effort, we all have what it takes to close our lips and let our ears do the talking.

About the author: Jennette Booth is a mother of seven, four girls and three boys, with the eighth (a game tying boy) due in two months.  She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Vocal Performance and as a singer and music lover, may take some superfluous interest in listening and being listened to.  Most of her time is spent running a busy home and family, but she makes time to teach a few piano and vocal students each week (her five oldest kids among them), and tries to compose and arrange music in the little cracks of life.  She currently serves in her little corner of the LDS church as a Young Women’s Advisor, working with the teenage girls, and as the Ward Music Chair, coordinating musical functions within the church.  Her closet is a mess, her sink is full of dishes, and she is really tired, but nothing a bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough can’t fix.

Feel free to print or share the image above and the message of this post on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter today!  We want to share the great ideas in these posts far and wide!

And please check out the post at Cranial Hiccups today.  There will be a new post about family on both of our blogs each day of the Celebration.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Time to Celebrate Family

It's about that time again, my friends.  It's time to Celebrate Family.  Every September, Montserrat and a menagerie of bloggers, and I take a few weeks to think about, talk about, and share ideas about family.

I know what you're thinking (because I'm thinking it too)...who in the world has time to drop everything and celebrate family??  Certainly not me.  That type of thing is for the person with a perfect family and well-behaved, A+ achieving children.  That type of thing is for the woman who gets pregnant at the drop of a hat, who keeps her floors and dishes spotless, who makes incredible meals, has time to work out, and never gets mad at her children.  It's certainly not for someone like me, who feels like I'm winging it most of the time, who struggles with relationships, who can hardly find time to read a verse of scripture before I drop into bed at night, or whose family hardly resembles the ideal gathering of individuals of which fairy tales are made!

I know, I've thought those thoughts. But if you are thinking that, please hear my voice when I say that the next two weeks of Celebrate Family ARE FOR YOU! 

Starting Wednesday, we'll be sharing posts that deal with the basics of family life: How to encourage good sibling relationships, how to really listen to your kids, how to show love to your spouse, how to find time to nourish yourself so that you can be at your best and enjoy your time with your family.

I believe in focusing on the basics.  If there is anything regarding family that you have questions about or would like to see us address in the coming weeks, please ask!  We have a lot of wonderful words of wisdom coming your way, but these posts can be made better by your input.  

So please send your questions my way:

Also, mark your calendars.  We will be hosting link-ups (where you can link your Family Proclamation-related posts) on Monday, September 22 and Sunday the 28th.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Visit to the First LDS Chapel in Cleveland

You might remember that earlier this year, inspired by Elder Walker's talk, we did a series of family home evening lessons highlighting the conversion stories of our righteous ancestors.

We learned about how my grandpa Roger Osborne became converted to the church and eventually helped build the first chapel in the Cleveland area!

While I was home in Cleveland for a visit this summer, we were visiting some relatives in Cleveland when my Mom asked me, "Would you like to see the chapel where I was baptized?"

I said, "Sure!"  And did she mean, the chapel that Grandpa built, with his small branch of about 35 members?  Yes.  The one where these same members learned to cut stone, and do plumbing and electrical to make their dream of having a chapel a reality?  Yes.

When we drove up to it, I instantly recalled seeing it as a child, and I was in awe.  We had the kids hop out and take pictures in front of the church that grandpa (and his friends) built...and the place where my Mom and Grandmother (who would eventually marry Roger!) were baptized.  Most of my children were pretty excited.

The building is no longer owned by the church, but looks pretty well-cared-for.

When we returned home to my mom's house that night, I looked through a "History of the Cleveland Stake" that had been gathered and written by Sandra Stubben in 2000.

The book contained some wonderful stories about the stake that I grew up in, and my grandparents' names were on many pages...Some of the details really made me smile, because they were soooo something my Grandpa would have done, but also because it made me realize what a pioneer and great servant of the Lord my Grandpa really was, and yet he never bragged about these stories.  So much so, that I hardly knew these stories.  What I always do remember is Grandpa talking so fondly about the people he loved, his friends, who he did these things with...his friends from "the old ward."

I loved seeing this picture of members attending the dedication: 

And I loved reading this quote given by David O. McKay, President of the church, who came to Cleveland to dedicate this new chapel.  

He said, "These lines from Ruskin written in his Seven Lamps of Architecture were recalled to my mind as I listened to the report of your labors in erecting this house of worship."  

Quoting Ruskin, he said, "Therefore, when we build let us think that we build forever.  Let it not be for present delight nor for present years alone.  Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for and let us think as we lay stone on stone that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them.  And men will say as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, see this our fathers did for us."

I can say with confidence that the words of this prophet came true that day (and probably other days previously) when the great-grand children of the men and women who carved a chapel out of stone returned to admire and honor that work of their hands.

I am so grateful for the work of many faithful saints in the Cleveland area (and work missionaries from the West) whose efforts allowed me to grow and be nourished by the Good Word of God as a child and youth.

Love you all!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Making Friends

Primary is the best place to make forever friends!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

a Young Woman Who Will Perform Miracles

When I was a Young Woman, my Mom encouraged me and worked with me to earn my Young Womanhood Recognition Award.  With her help, I learned to sew clothes, to quilt, to cook, to pay tithing and manage money, to develop myself spiritually, to be true to my commitments, to make healthy choices about my body, and to make and keep my personal goals.  In short, she helped me gain the tools I would need to be successful in life.

Since becoming an adult leader in the Young Women program a few years ago, I have been working to earn my personal progress award for a second time.  I am now very close to achieving that.  It has taken work and focus, but I have been richly rewarded with a stronger testimony and understanding of the Lord and his gospel, and a greater appreciation for the program that I went through as a kid and the one available to the youth today. 

As I finished up working on the virtue requirements last night I turned the page in the personal progress booklet and read this quote from President Ezra Taft Benson: 

He says, "Give me a young woman who loves home and family, who reads and ponders the scriptures daily, who has a burning testimony of the Book of Mormon.  Give me a young woman who faithfully attends her church meetings, who is a seminary graduate, who has earned her Young Womanhood Recognition Award and wears it with pride!  Give me a young woman who is virtuous and who has maintained her personal purity, who will not settle for less than a temple marriage, and I will give you a young woman who will perform miracles for the Lord now and throughout eternity."

I know that each requirement on this list is worth it and the blessings, oh, so real, because I have lived it.  

Each line I read makes my eyes burn with tears.  The emotions are so strong, because I know what it took to walk that line.  The memories of each decision are very clear.  

It was not easy.  Sometimes it was a rough and treacherous journey--this journey from Young Womanhood to Womanhood, from baptismal covenants to temple covenants--but it was a journey that I made with one hand in the Lord's and with the help of parents and leaders.

And when President Benson says, "I will give you a young woman who will perform miracles for the Lord," I know that this is true.

I am His miracle.  I am His daughter.  Just having this knowledge deep down inside of me is a miracle in and of itself and has allowed me to do amazing things in my brief lifetime and to live a life of virtually no regrets.

I love the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I love Him.  I love His church and the programs of the church which, if utilized, can take an ordinary life and make it extraordinary.

I hope that any Young Woman reading this will take the time to work on her Personal Progress, even if there is little hope of actually achieving the Award before turning 18, please just work on it as much as you can.  It will make a huge difference in your life, as it has in mine!

If you are obedient in this one thing, HE WILL perform miracles in your life...and in turn you will do great things too--you will be a Young Woman who will perform miracles!  I promise!

Click here to read more about or work on your Personal Progress!

Family Proclamation Guest Bloggers Wanted

Hey, it's September 2nd...How did that happen?  We have had such a wonderful summer, and after one last, unexpected trip home to visit family, we are finally just about ready to accept that summer is over and school has really, officially commenced.

This also means that The Family Proclamation Celebration is just around the corner!  I am still looking for a few more people to write guest posts for me for the celebration.

If you have an experience or testimony to share about The Family Proclamation, feel free to contact me soon.  Or if you'd just like to contribute some wisdom/helpful tips that you have about strengthening families, please let me know!  I tend to get some of the best stories from people who just come forward with their own experiences, and I love that!

You can email me at jocelyn (dot) christensen (at) gmail (dot) com.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Happy Birthday, President Monson

While we were in Utah this summer, we saw President Monson in the Days of '47 Parade.

This was a huge, exciting highlight of our trip that really took us by surprise, and passed much too quickly.  Thanks to my mother-in-law for going early to reserve a great spot to view the parade and on President Monson's side of the street even!

When we realized we were looking right at the Prophet, not 20 feet away from us, my kids were all smiles.  Autumn waved serenely and I did the sign for "I love you."  Good thing I did not know that he was coming, or I might have run up to his car...and been tackled by these khaki-wearing guards!

He was so sweet clapping along with the children as he passed by.  He really does love children.

Just remembering that quick, but special moment, one of my favorite from the summer: 

Happy Birthday, President Monson!

What a special man!

PS - This is my favorite story about President Monson:  During the Depression years, the Monson family lived frugally with few if any luxuries. When young Tom learned a family of one of his friends planned to eat cereal moistened with hot water for Christmas dinner, he invited his friend to his backyard. He then took his two pet rabbits out of their hutch, saying with a lump in his throat, “It isn’t turkey, but they will make you a good Christmas dinner.”  He gave them to his friend for Christmas dinner for his family. He later wrote that he shed tears when he put his two rabbits in a bag for his friend, "but there was a warm feeling in my heart (later) ... when my friend told me this was the best Christmas dinner he and his family had ever had." 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

It's a really big deal.

Guy, Scarlett, and Autumn returned to school today, and Autumn started Kindergarten.  She went off all smiles, looking like Nancy Drew, ready to take it all in.

I'm so proud of her and how she's turning out...she's such a light, a true lady, a nature-girl, and a kind and gentle soul.  And I'm proud of myself:  I didn't even least not until I got home. :)  And only a little bit.  I'm not letting myself get too sad.  After all, we've had all summer to get ready for this next step...and we did and said all the things we needed to.  Love that girl.  And I have no regrets.  

Our summer together as a family was remarkable.  And now as they go off to school,  they've got each other.  All for one.  One for all. I've got Honor still here with me...talking up a storm, knowing the names to everything.  All of my children bring me such happiness.

Nine years ago, I left my job at CNN, and I still think I have the best job ever...with the best "co-worker", my husband Steve, whose birthday it is today!!

I just can't wait to hear how it all went.  And just for fun, here is a picture from about 5 years ago...when our days were spent just the four of us playing in the playroom!  Don'tcha love Scarlett's "haircut!?"  This is why she ended up with the cuter than cute pixie cut!!

I hope your return to school is great!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sweep the Earth with the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Well, ya heard it hear first...or maybe you heard it here second...ok, so I was a few hours behind the curve of listening to Elder Bednar's BYU Education Week message in which he has called each and every one of us to "sweep the Earth as with a flood," by sharing the gospel through social media online.

He said what has been shared is a good start, but only the beginning.  I have felt for a while and mentioned to friends that I don't think we can even envision what this gospel will become through the use of online missionary work and by letting our faith show.  The Lord knows though, and apparently, so do his prophets. And from the content of Elder Bednar's talk, the prophets have seen it coming for a while now.

So, we've been given the green light, officially, by Elder Bednar to sweep the earth.  If you've been holding don't have to any longer!  

I know from personal experience through my own Facebook page that sharing your faith gets easier the more that you do it.  The spirit becomes your companion in the work to help you know what to say and to steer you safely through.  I encourage you to watch Elder Bednar's talk and continue your efforts to share the gospel online.

I think sweeping the earth is going to come more naturally for me than sweeping my kitchen.  It's way more fun anyway!