Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Mormon Conversion by Kathryn Landis

I'm pretty excited to share the story of how my friend Kathryn Landis came to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I met Katie through her now-husband.  She was well on her way to joining the church at this point.  She shared the following experience during Sacrament meeting last week and it really touched me.  I thought others would be inspired by her story as well!  Here's Katie:


My first contact with the church was about two years ago. Andy and I were dating, and he asked if I would be willing to join him for a meal with some missionaries from his church.

At this point, I didn't truly know anything about Mormons. I knew Andy was a Mormon, but I also knew that he rarely went to church. 

He didn't push his religion on me, but would answer any questions I had about his faith. I was happy to oblige when he asked if we could have the missionaries over, but I knew I didn't want anything to do with what they had to say. Maybe they could sense it in me, my lack of willingness, the wall I had built, because they didn't even bring up the Book of Mormon. They didn't ask me about my faith or religion. They simply asked about Andy and I, how we met, how many children I had, what I liked to do. It was a very nice meal as I recall. And then that was it. 

For another year, nothing. I attended the Presbyterian church where I was a member. I would even drop Andy off here occasionally before heading down the road to my service. 

Then, last November, almost one year ago now, I'm not even sure why, but I decided to come here with Andy. It was a fast and testimony service. I sat and listened to others testimonies, still a skeptic. I felt the Spirit and the love in everyone's words, and Heavenly Father working knots deep in the pit of my stomach...but I knew what I knew...and that was it! I left that day, convinced it was nothing. 

Not until January, when Elder Done and Elder Staple walked through our door did things start to change. They asked me how I felt about hearing the gospel. I made it perfectly clear. I would sit, I would listen, but I’m a Presbyterian. I was born and raised into a very traditional, very active Presbyterian family. I had absolutely NO intentions of changing that. Yet again, they didn't push. Just asked if I was willing to hear what they had to say. It was nice. And I always enjoyed their visits. They would tell me something I didn't know about Mormons, I would tell them something they didn't know about Presbyterians. Some things wouldn't make much sense to me, some things stuck in my mind. One thing in particular...modern-day prophets. That’s all it really took for me. The one inclining that it may all be true. 

One visit in particular made my heart soften, the wall break down. Andy was reading from 2 Nephi 32. As he began to read, the words touched his heart in a way I had never seen, and he couldn’t continue, so he asked if I would finish the scripture for him. I picked up the Book of Mormon for the first time ever and began...

          And now, behold, my beloved brethren, I suppose that ye ponder somewhat in your hearts concerning that which ye should do after which ye have entered in by the way. But, behold, why do you ponder these things in your hearts?...Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye shall do.  

As I finished reading, feeling the same spirit and love that I still do this very moment reading it again, I scrolled to the top of the chapter and read the heading which was as follows:
          Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost-Men must pray and gain knowledge for themselves from the Holy Ghost.

It was the answer that I had been looking for. I had spent my whole life as a Presbyterian because I knew no other way. Satan will use fear to keep us from knowing the truth and he had grabbed hold of every bit of fear I had. 

I was afraid especially of what my friends and more-so my family would say and think about me even looking into the Mormon faith. I had heard it before, and a few extra times since I had met Andy, about how I should watch out for “those Mormons.” 

I remember one time in particular when I was about 12 years old. I saw an advertisement on TV. It was a loving family, they were gathered together around the dinner table reading what looked like a Bible. It showed images of Christ and the Atonement and it said something along the lines of, call this number to receive this book and hear the true word. So I called. Well, bad move on my part. When the book arrived and it was the Book of Mormon, I got a lecture unlike any other. "Mormons are a cult. Mormons aren't Christians. Mormons are idolaters because they worship another man before God."

Over the years I saw movies, I read books, I saw the news, and each presented the same story: Mormons were "bad news." 

How could I have known the truth? 

I was never willing to listen. Like I said, when Satan wants to keep the world away, he does everything in his power to do so. And he had done a good job with me. But not anymore. 

Men must pray and gain knowledge for themselves from the Holy Ghost? Well then, what was I doing??? I hadn't prayed and asked God to show me the truth. 

The missionaries had asked so little of me, to read and to pray, to find for myself if the word was true, and I had been unwilling to do so. 

The next day, after Andy left for work and the kids left for school, I sat down and said a prayer and began to read. We had been coming to church, but only staying for Sacrament meeting, and so we decided, to stay for the entire service. 

I gave up coffee and the iced tea in the fridge has not been made since that time. I found that the questions I had prayed about during the week would be answered at lessons from the missionaries, gospel principals, or relief society. I found myself in awe. Everything they said, everything they had told me the first time they sat at our table, it was all true, and I could finally say it out loud. 

The peace, joy and blessings in my life became even more apparent to me, and to others, and even began to multiply as I followed Heavenly Fathers commandments. 

The day I knew I wanted to be baptized was a wonderful day. I had known for a while, but, that darn fear, it kept creeping up. Andy and I had just been married and I knew it was my time. The three people to know first were Andy, Sister Satteson, and Elder Done. They have all played huge parts in my life and I love them all dearly for that. Although I think Elder Done was probably the most excited. After all, what's better to a missionary than having someone baptized. I remember instant messaging him that I had decided to get baptized into the church which was promptly followed by a “Yeah, that's right!” and “I knew you would even before I left. I could see the change in you.”

How refreshing it felt to know that others could see a difference in me. The day of my baptism seemed to come quickly, mostly at the request of Elder West who wanted to be there before he was transferred. The peace within my soul as Elder Sparrow pulled me out of the water was undeniable. It was a feeling I had never experienced before and had spent my life searching for. D&C 18:16 reads
          And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!
Oh how true that is! I want to bear my testimony that I know that this church is true. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. And I have had nothing but amazing blessings in my life since I was baptized and received the Holy Ghost. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Feast upon the words of Christ


We're just having a little fun over here.  It was Linger Longer after church today, and Steve decided to make a Book of Mormon cake...from scratch.  He did pretty great.  But he's great at pretty much anything he tries.

"Feast upon the words of Christ" is one of the Book of Mormon verses that we memorized for our Book of Mormon ABCs, and lately, we've been hearing it quoted every time we turn around. 

Yesterday, we heard it in Meet the Mormons.  Today, it was quoted in a wonderful talk in church, and of course, Steve wrote it with icing on a plate for the kids to lick up!


Besides that yesterday was Sweetest Day (a Cleveland tradition that my family always celebrates), and last week was also my Birthday!  Yay!

I have to say that this was one of my most special birthdays to date.  Steve and the kids worked for over a week on a "secret project" in the basement...drum roll, please:


They built me my own "little free library" to put outside of our house for people to exchange books in.  We fell in love with the idea about a year or so ago when we stumbled on one of these things in our town.  Now we have our very own!  Now I can add "little librarian" to my resume, but don't worry, there won't be any shushing at MY library!

That is all...just a quick update!  Hope you are having a lovely Sabbath Day, and remembering to feast upon the words of Christ!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Columbus Day Crafts


Columbus Day 2014


Since our children get Columbus Day off of from school each year (because of teacher in-service) we get to spend the day together as a family, crafting and playing with friends.

In the past, we have built ships, painted ocean voyage scenes, baked, and made maps--always with the same set of neighbors from our old neighborhood across the street.  Every October, I also like to read this book with my children: "The Voyage of Christopher Columbus, In His Own Words."  I always like to hear things straight from the horse's (or the explorer's) mouth, and this pop-up book is really interesting for kids to discover.

For this year's craft, we made pumpkin globes, which was so much fun, albeit a little messy!  (We found this idea for pumpkin geography on the NEA website.)


We started with smallish, roundish pumpkins,



and drew outlines of the continents, as best we could, using permanent markers.



Then, we painted the oceans blue.



And after letting the oceans dry (with a little help from my new hair dryer!), we painted the continents different colors.



You can label the continents after the paint dries.  We didn't really get around to it.


It's fun to watch the kids grow through the years as I look at photos from Columbus days past.



And this was a really fun project.  Pair it with Nephi's vision of Columbus and other "gentiles" who came to this Promised land and this activity could make for a very interesting and important family home evening discussion. (You might also want to read: 1 Ne. 13:12 and the Ensign article Columbus and the Hand of God.)



When we were done, we decided to do one more monumental task...we harvested the pumpkin that we grew together this summer!  Guy did the honors!



We're so proud of our pretty pumpkin!!  Hope you have a great day!



Thursday, October 9, 2014

General Conference Teaching Ideas


Just a friendly reminder that you can find all sorts of tips for teaching General Conference to your family right here on my blog and by reading the article that I wrote recently for LDS.org called "Learning from General Conference as a Family".  But now you can also find them on The Friend website where they've found a permanent home among their wonderful collection of General Conference ideas!

Check it out!  Go to General Conference Teaching Tips to read them all and find something that works for you!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Why Memorize scriptures with children?


These are the days. They are good days, but they are busy days.  I'm sure I'll blink and they'll be over, which is why I am just taking it all in...and just hanging on for the ride.

It's neat, though, to see time pass, and to mark that passage of time by not only how much children have grown, but how much they are learning, and more importantly, how much their testimonies are growing.  It's becoming their own.  And that's a beautiful thing.

At the beginning of this year, we started memorizing the Book of Mormon ABCs together as a family.  We write them on a piece of paper that we can all read together (or sing together) each morning.  Steve likes to make up funny rhythms to make each verse more memorable.  Sometimes we sing them to familiar tunes.  And we've gotten surprisingly far.  From time to time, we quiz each other to see who can remember the corresponding scripture and verse for each letter.  It's kind of a fun game.


Another thing we like to do to "reward ourselves" is to listen during General Conference for any references to our memorized quotations (whether it be a scripture verse or the 13 Articles of Faith, or My Gospel Standards,  or quotes from previous General Conferences, etc.)  We keep a large sheet of paper on the wall during Conference and record any mentions of our memorized verses.  (We actually ended up with a few more before the end of the weekend.)

It is always amazing to me how many of our verses are quoted in General Conference.  It is an awesome feeling when our "enduring friends that do not weaken with the passage of time" are quoted.  After each session, we usually hand out a piece of candy for each memorized scripture that was mentioned.

Although the candy is sweet, the reward of putting the work in to make these verses our own is sweeter, and watching my children embrace these truths is priceless.

I encourage you to start memorizing scriptures with your children today.  You can follow along with our Book of Mormon ABCs, shorten them a bit, or make up a list of your own.  It will take work, but can be fun, and will be rewarding!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Lest by any means...


Last week, someone told me that they'd never want to post a picture of their family watching #LDSConf, because the kids always make such a mess.  So I thought I'd ease your worries.  If you're thinking you're the only one with kids who were rowdy, messy, or loud (or crabby or whiny or fighting...) during the 8+ hours of attempted General Conference-watching this weekend, you're not.

And to prove it, here are pictures.  Even at our house where the best laid plans start out like this...


...and devolve into this.  (*Which really is NOT representative of the real mess that we made on Saturday, but cleaned up Sunday...Saturday was mayhem with play dough, toys, and papers everywhere.)


Steve is sporting a fireman's hat which is fitting, since he and I both take turns putting out fires to keep the General Conference watching as "smooth" as possible.  Volume control?  Forget about it!

But for all the shhhhh-ing (Honor learned how to put her finger to her lips and shush this weekend, and she thought it was hilarious.  In fact, she thought everything we did was hilarious!  Everything her siblings did, however, just made her scream!)

But for all the shushing and/or hushing...or other choice methods, there are moments like this:


and this...


...and this.


Oh, and this...


That make me think I can put up with the craziness all over again...in six months.

That should be enough time to recover, don't you think?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Best Free General Conference Packet for Kids

And yes, I'm qualified to make that statement....
now has a sequel!


We've been using the original one for forever and a day, and I finally just realized there's a second version, which you can download here: The Ultimate General Conference Packet 2!

Thank you, Debbie of Food Storage & Beyond!  You rock!

(And here's a little tip for making your packets last through all of Conference!)


For more free activities/printables check out my Best of General Conference Ideas page!

Friday, October 3, 2014

General Conference: Game On



Athletes of various sports have things they do to prepare themselves for big sporting events.

Here are 10 simple things you can do to get your General Conference Zen On:

1.  Be Calm:  Yeah, I've got lots of chores to do still and a basement to clean, but it's easier to receive inspiration when you're not doing more than you should, which, let's face it, on any given day, I'm doing way more than I probably should (or trying to!)  Today, I'm working on not doing too much, not rushing around, not going here and there, not making lists in my head.  Being quiet.  Being peaceful.  Being calm.

2. Stop Watching TV:  Um, you're going to get in 8-10 hours this weekend anyway, so I think you'll get your fix. I'm trying to turn off the world, starting today to prepare myself to be spiritually fed this weekend.

3. Check in on your VT Sisters:  I decided to stop by and check in on my sisters a few days ago and bring them a General Conference message.  It wasn't really a visit, just stopped by and dropped something off and chatted for a few minutes.  I felt the spirit confirming that I was doing something pleasing to God.  And I knew that my sacrifice to drive all over town was going to help me receive the answers that I'm looking for at Conference this weekend.

4.  Read the Ensign:  I like to try to guess what the prophets will be talking about during General Conference weekend.  I'm often wrong.  But whenever I read the church magazines before Conference starts, I often discover that they touch on some of the same topics that they have just written about in the magazines.  And it adds to my understanding of their teachings having "read-ahead."  Even if you don't have time to read cover to cover, just skim!

5. Review Last Conference:  Listen to your favorite talks from last Conference.  I stream the talks through my phone to a speaker in my kitchen while I clean or cook.  I am also writing my favorite quotes in my General Conference Journal.

6. Share your favorite talks online:  Yesterday and today, I started sharing my favorite talks with my friends on FB.  I just share my favorite quote and a link to the talk and a brief testimony about why the talk can help me and my family or can apply to people of all faiths.  I'm sharing using #LDSConf and #ShareGoodness.  I have had a few friends of other faiths make supportive comments online about the talks.

7. Pray about the questions you have:  I have questions that I'd like answered.  I always have questions anyway, and I can receive answers from Heavenly Father any time I pray and ask and work for those answers, but on General Conference weekend we have a unique opportunity to sit and listen to a prophet of God speaking words prepared just for us.  Think about how amazing that is.  Do more than wonder, actively ask God, take time to search the scriptures for answers.  Write them down. 

8. Write in your journal:  Write down how you feel about life right now.  Write down your hopes and dreams.  Write down what you're struggling with.  After Conference is over, go back to that entry and see if you have an observations about how you feel after watching Conference compared to before.  Then record your testimony.

9.  Exercise:  What?  Yes, exercise.  Go for a walk.  Stretch...yawn deeply with your arms open wide, if that's all you can manage!! ;)  Or work up a sweat.  After all, you will be sitting still for many hours this weekend.  Get your wiggles out!  It is fall in most of the country...go outside and look around and observe the beauty that God has created for you.  Think about your blessings.  Ponder and meditate on them.  Thank God for them.  Clear your head of your worries and get ready to fill it up with wonderful things. 

10.  Get a Good Rest:  I plan on going to bed earlier than usual.  I know my husband is going to laugh about that one, but I mean it this time! :)  Rest.  There is still much to do if you're the mama of a household, but you need your sleep, so you can be at your best this weekend!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Don't feed them after midnight. Don't get them wet...


My sister-in-law Emmalee (who makes the Fantasy General Conference brackets every year) said recently that she wished everyone got as excited about General Conference as people do about the Super Bowl.  I'm not even sure if that's one word or two, but I guess it's safe to say that General Conference is our Super Bowl.

We talk about it.  We learn about it.  We craft about it.  We prepare for it.  And we really, really enjoy it.

It wasn't always so, though.  There were lots of sessions of trial and error when it came to watching ALL of the sessions of Conference live with young children, which we do, and have done for many Conferences now.  And we're still a work in progress.  Watching Conference with the kids can sometimes feel like a Marathon (a very messy, loud, Marathon).  When we're done, we're exhausted, but it is so, so worth it.

I try to share what has worked for us as often as I can on my blog and as tips on the Friend website.  Tonight I am sharing our best bits of wisdom for teaching the messages of General Conference to children on LDS.org.  Although it's kind of buried, you can access it right now. 

 It's called "Learning from General Conference as a Family."  And it contains some ideas that you might want to have in the back of your mind while you watch this weekend to help you better prepare to teach your children when Conference is over.

The tips and teaching suggestions are easy...I promise.  Go read it now!

So much more to say, but my bed is calling.  But before I go, here are pictures from our little crafting session that we did after school today.  

Scarlett suggested that we make t-shirts with our favorite teachings from General Conference on them.  Seriously, guys???  This is the kind of stuff that you get when you allow your children to experience General Conference, not just twice a year, but through out the year, and every day.

All children are capable of coming to understand and love and live General Conference.  This is an amazing generation that is so capable and with it and so sensitive to the Spirit. Love them all!!  I'm inspired by them daily!

Anyway, to make these tshirts, we grabbed some of Guy's plain white tees and a bunch of permanent markers to create these babies.  Some day they are going to laugh good and long about these photos, but I hope that they will always have these teachings in their hearts!



Check out Scarlett's representation of "Catch the Wave of Missionary Work..." That Rubber Duckie is sure catching a wave.





What can he say?  He loves Family History, and he's proud of it!

(His favorite teaching from last Conference was from Elder Cook, obviously!)


Beware of Bondage, baby, yes!



Scarlett drew wings on the back of her tshirt with the teachings of President Eyring (Angels watch over us.) and an invitation to come to our house for Conference!  Come on over, guys!


Can you figure out the other General Conference teachings that are represented here?


When I asked Autumn what her favorite Gen Conf teaching was, she said, "Love."






What could be better than a fall leaf-fight?  A fall leaf-fight on a trampoline, wearing General Conference t-shirts.