Thursday, March 31, 2011

You've Got Options

Did you know that you can now read my blog in a lot of cool new formats?


Try them out (by clicking on the images below):  
And please let me know what you think.


If a lot of you like one of these styles, 
I might make it the default format for my blog!














PS - I should have said way more about the Family Proclamation ABCs Coloring Pages posted earlier today....they are WAY MORE THAN WORKSHEETS.  They are super interactive and so creative...so if you haven't downloaded letters A-G yet....you REALLY should! :)  Thanks again, Carrie from Made by Bedtime Tales!

Family Proclamation ABC's Worksheet Download

The Family Proclamation_ABCs



CK over at Made By Bedtime Tales has really gone the extra mile recently
...both as a mother and a friend!

She has created worksheets to accompany the Family Proclamation ABCs that I have been doing with my kids this year!  Her creations are a perfect way to teach your children the truths found in the Family Proclamation!

And, better yet, Carrie has made them available for YOU to download for free!!

Just click on the Scribd link/image above to download letters A-G!

(These would be great to have for the kiddos during General Conference this weekend!)

Thank you, Carrie, for using your creative powers for good!
You are a hero in my book!


(Carrie is working hard to bring you the rest of the ABC coloring pages...so stay tuned!)


Now I will let Carrie talk to you...
She's sharing her testimony with us today for our

Here's Carrie!

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"Building a Relationship With our Heavenly Father"

January 28 I had a stroke of inspiration - to write out my “Game Plan” for 2011. So what, if my new year’s resolutions were almost a month late?  At the top of my game plan I wrote as my number one priority:  “Build my relationship with Heavenly Father”.

Now, a couple of months into this game plan, I realize that the wording for my first priority was truly inspired.  To build a relationship with God is so much more meaningful than to simply accomplish “daily scripture study and prayer.”

Here are a few things I've considered this month that we do to build our relationships with friends and family that we can also apply to our relationship with our  Heavenly Father.

Special Dates:  Isn’t it nice when a friend remembers your birthday, anniversary, or another important date in your life?  God wants us to remember the Sabbath.  The Sabbath is a very important day to Him and it commemorates the day He finished building our earth.  We demonstrate our love and commitment to our relationship with Him, when we remember to keep this day holy, as He asks.

Quality Time:  Just like we try to make quality time a priority with our children and significant others, we also need to make some room for quality time with God.  Turn off the TV (or computer) and spend some quality time pondering the scriptures or listening to the Spirit.   Just as my relationship with a friend grows as I learn more about her life (how she grew up and what her ambitions are) we can learn about God and His character in the scriptures.

Journals:  I have a special journal that is exclusively dedicated to recording special experiences I share with my husband (memories from our first date, engagement, random adventures).  We can build our relationship with Heavenly Father by writing down special experiences, miracles or divine impressions we see in our lives.  These special and
sacred memories can carry us through future trials so that we move closer to God (rather than further away from Him) when our faith is tested.

Talking:  Doesn’t it feel good to get off the phone with an old friend after you have just reconnected and reminisced about good times?  Doesn’t it feel good when a friend is willing to truly listen, understand and support you during a difficult time?  Praying to God can also provide us a two-way conversation with the One who is willing to be our best friend and confidant.  God will always listen to us and, if we are quiet and open up to Him, He will give us impressions of love and guidance for our own lives.

Letter Writing:  I had a wise teacher once tell me that if I ever needed to vent some hard feelings, I could always write a letter to God.  Our Heavenly Father is a very safe friend to trust, even with our most difficult feelings.  We can also recount our blessings and write thank you notes (Thank you Jocelyn for all our lessons in letter writing!) addressed to our Heavenly Father.

Service:  All day long I serve my kids!  I change their diapers, I listen to them when they’re sad, I read them stories, etc., etc., etc.!  I serve them because I love them and my love grows when I serve them; it’s a beautiful cycle.  Service is the key to deep love for another person.  The Lord tells us that when we are in the service of a fellow person (a friend or enemy), we are in he service of Him (Mosiah 2:17).  Also, serving others will help us get to know what Christ was like in life and subsequently bring us closer to God.

Apologies:  I have learned that just as I should pay attention to ways in which I build my relationship with God, I should also be aware of ways that I might damage that relationship as well.  There have been plenty of times in my life where I have noticed strain or tension enter into my relationship with my husband.  One of the best ways to remedy that tension is to re-examine my own actions and see if there is anything I’ve done to offend him.  We should do the same in our relationship with God.  If we ever feel distant from God, it’s always a good idea to humble ourselves and re-examine our actions to see if we have offended a spirit brother or sister (or ourselves) with our actions/words.  Thank goodness for the Atonement of Christ which allows us all to receive mercy and forgiveness for our offenses!

One more thing, Respect:  Treating God with respect is certainly one of the most important ways you can build your relationship with Him.  Think about this:  Which approach is most effective for your son getting what he wants?
Option 1) Your son comes up to you and asks, “Mom, will you help me
get my bike out of the garage?”
Option 2) Whine, whine, whine “Mommmmmmmmm, I’m
Borrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrred!!!!”  whine, whine, whine.
Can you guess the answer?  God has given us specific language in which to address Him and talk about Him.  Showing respect will help you build a relationship with Him.

Oh!  And another thing!
Expressions of Gratitude and Love: Just as we like to hear “thank you” for our efforts to help others and “I love you” from those we care about, God wants to hear these words, too.  Count your many blessings, sing a hymn and let the Lord know you love Him.  Humility and
gratitude will bring you closer to Him as a child of a loving Heavenly Father.

These things make sense to me and I am super glad I wrote “Build a relationship with God” at the top of my 2011 game plan.  Building a relationship with God will ultimately help us develop positive relationships with our families and bring us closer to Christ, our most loving spirit brother.  


In what ways do you employ relationship-building tactics to come closer to your family and our Heavenly Father?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Creating a Jesus Culture at Home by Misha


“Our children are our first ministry”.  Words that have been ringing in my mental ears for quite some time.

Being a stay-at-home-mom has done something to me.  My speech, my mannerisms, my countenance, all in check for I know little eyes see me and little ears hear me when times are good or bad, their little minds so ready to sponge up any and all information. With all of this in the forefront of my thoughts, my mission is to create a culture, a Jesus culture, in my home.  One of my childhood mentors recently admonished me, "start now, start with Cylas.  He'll be five and in five years he'll be ten.  Our children are our first ministry." 

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Prov 22:6

HU.ge responsibility.  But I accept this.  It's an honor.  My husband and I have the very serious job of putting wonderful, beautiful principles into our children that will carry them on into their adulthood.  We are building a foundation for them to work off of.  yipes! 

I remember my year in Europe as a foreign exchange student.

I held strong to my roots and my convictions.

It was a very revealing time for me and I thank God for the people He placed in my life at such a young age.

D and I have read books on how to raise children.  They have been goldmines.  I honestly believe that some of the stuff that should just be "common sense" is some of the hardest to come by unless it's written out for you.  Invaluable material.  From these books, past experiences, the bible and trial and error we have diligently raised our children to the best of our ability.  You know your work is paying off when random strangers come up and compliment not only your family, but your children!  Tears come to my eyes as I think about this.  Our children are our heart and soul manifested.  They magnify your idiosyncrasies exposing what you wish no one knew existed behind your "calm", "gentle", seemingly "patient", loving demeanor.  Yes, your kids are the billboard of what you do behind closed doors.  Can someone say, "Jumbo-tron"?  So, what am I doing as their mommy to make sure that the fruit they bear is good?  What kind of culture am I creating for them to flourish in? 

We, as parents, are their first taste of structure and nourishment.  Make it healthy, a God-centric experience and atmosphere...lay open God’s word in the home so your children can see it, and become familiar with its pages.  It doesn’t matter if they can’t read, they will learn to love His word through you.

What’s your culture?


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Misha is a dear friend of mine who in addition to raising two beautiful children, runs, creates, photographs, and blogs at Of Food and Love.


Thanks, Mish!
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Remember to comment in order to be automatically entered in this week's Giveaways:


My Mix Tape from LDS Music Now 
and
An Easter Scripture Countdown from Activity Banners


Check out the recent posts you might have missed:


Egg Birdies:  Showing Kindness to Others


Little Bunny's Easter Surprise:  Bunny T-shirts


Telling the Story of Easter with Jelly Beans


My Life Was an Inspirational Movie for 12 Seconds

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

MIX TAPE!


  
I was so excited that you wanted to join in on my Easter Blog Party this month, that I made the sweetest little mix tape for each and every one of you and drew little hearts on it and wrote BFF all over the tape label!  Then, I realized that that's sort of illegal these days, and that I am the last person on earth who still uses a tape deck.....(proud of it too.)


So, instead, I have teamed up with LDS Music Now to bring you, my fine readers, 
my very own
We Talk of Christ Easter Playlist
ONE of you lucky readers will receive my entire 

Easter playlist FOR FREE.

and

ALL OF YOU GET ONE FREE SONG
DOWNLOAD at LDS Music Now
just for coming to my Easter Blog Party!!!!


What'd I tell ya?

great party.
great. FREE. Music.



All you need to do to receive your free music
is go to LDS Music Now.  Find a song that you like 
(It does not have to be from my playlist!)
Click "Buy MP3 Song" to place the song in your cart.
Then click "Add a coupon" and enter
"TALKOFCHRIST"
at checkout!

Your total due will say zero and then you will receive a link via email
to download your free song!


TO BE ENTERED TO WIN MY EASTER PLAYLIST
do any of the following:

1.  Share this post on Facebook.  Put it in your status update, 
LIKE it, or link to it on your blog.  
(Basically, tell all your friends where the party's at!)

2.  Comment on THIS POST and/or ANY OF THE POSTS
that go up between now and Monday.

3.  Listen to the songs on my playlist and tell me your favorite selection.

Party on, my friends…(I'll announce a winner on Monday!)




More about LDS Music Now:

LDS Music Now is an awesome music download site that brings LDS artists, MP3s, sheet musicchoir scoresgospel doctrine lessons, and the scriptures right to your computer.  They also have a free online radio service that allows you to get your LDS music fix, anytime, any place, for as long as you can stream it!  How cool is that?

The Birds' Gift: Showing Kindness to Others

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I enjoyed the Ukrainian Easter tale "The Birds' Gift" by Eric A. Kimmel, so much that I decided to bring the story to life for my little ones.





The story tells of how a family and then an entire village provides shelter for hundreds of birds who have been caught off-guard by an unexpectedly harsh and early winter.


The villagers open their homes and even their church to these birds who in turn make the long winter seem more bearable.

I love the line by Father Roman who, when opening his church to the little birds says,
"There is no better deed than showing kindness to others."


Winter is not quite over when the birds begin acting funny, gathering near doors, and flying into glass windows.

The villagers consult with Father Roman who advises the villagers to let the birds go free.

The people are sad to see their little friends go...


But in the spring, Easter returns, and so do the little birds who leave beautifully decorated eggs as their gift for the kindness that the village people have shown.


The villagers make pysanky Easter eggs every year to remember the eggs left by the birds.

This is really a nice book.  I especially enjoyed the sermon given by Father Roman where he talks about "a time to come, when lions would lie down with lambs and all creatures would live in peace."  Of course, that time is the time when Christ will return again to the earth.  


His sermon brings the Easter narrative full-circle.


At Easter, we celebrate what Christ has done for us.
We follow his example of kindness to others, and we look forward to his return.









The birds are really quite easy to make.  I found the directions at Family Fun.  That was the first time I'd ever blown out an egg, so that was neat, and our dining area is so magical now with our special friends flying around reminding us the importance of serving and caring for all of God's creatures, at Easter and always!



I just had to include this video of my daughters blowing out an egg...
so easy, a two-year-old can do it! :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Jesus Christ: Our Standard (Easter Advent Giveaway)

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I'm so happy to introduce you to my friend Jen, a military wife and mother of three boys who are roughly the same ages as my three children.  Jen and I share a common faith in Jesus Christ and a strong desire to teach our children to follow him. 
I hope you enjoy her testimony as much as I do!

Here's Jen!

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When I reflect on my childhood celebrations of Easter, one thing stands out to me: 
a distinct lack of Jesus.  As humbling as it is to admit, I did not know the real reason we celebrate Easter or Christmas until I was 18 and began attending church regularly for the first time since I was 5. 

It makes me sad to think about all the things I missed out on and the time I could have spent getting closer to God but, more than that, it strengthens my resolve to teach our children the things I didn't know. 


I get a little overwhelmed when I think about all this includes, there's so much I want them to know. But because my God knows me and loves me, he speaks directly to my heart and calms my fears. He has let me know that, first of all, I'm not alone. He's provided me with a husband so that we can do the job together but, more importantly, He has given me Himself. His Spirit lives inside me and His word is so easily accessible. My prayers for help and wisdom never stop at the ceiling as I sometimes think they do. 


One of my favorite verses is: "For the word of God is alive and active..." (Heb. 4:12) The Word is living! It's not just some book, it's the true Word of God so it is powerful and effective. It produces results! Teaching our children the Word and trusting God that it does what He says it will do is so important. 


Secondly, God has reminded me that children learn better through example. If I live out the faith that I claim to have then I am teaching our children the best way I can. Living obedient to God's will, with joy and hope, because he has overcome the world (1 John 4:4, John 16:33), has such a lasting impact. 


Being a Christ follower in all the day to day decisions as well as the big ones is living out your faith. We want our kids to know Christ, not just on Easter and Christmas, but to know that He is with them everyday. His interactions with people on a daily basis led people to God. What he deemed important is what we should deem important. The fact that he made prayer and communion with the Father a priority should make it a priority for us. Not only is He our Savior but, He is our every day standard.


+++

To make the "stained glass" cross craft that you see above, all you need is wax paper, different colors of tissue paper and an iron. Tear off a sheet of wax paper and arrange small pieces of the tissue paper in whatever way you want. Then put another sheet of wax paper on top, cover it with a paper towel and iron it until the wax paper binds together. Then cut off the extra wax paper. It only takes about 10 minutes! Which is a good thing for my kids =)


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Thank you, Jen! That was awesome!  Now time for a giveaway that I'm sure many of you could use to help your families focus on Christ this Easter season!



Pink Easter Basket

Check this out...Activity Banners has an Easter Advent poster with scripture eggs that you read and place in your "basket" every day until Easter.

Pink Easter Basket

Want to win a personalized banner for your family?

Do any of the following:

1.  Comment on this post regarding what Jen has shared above.

2.  Blog about, link to, or "like" your favorite posts in our Easter Blog Party so far.

3.  Comment on any of the posts this week to be entered to win!

4.  Visit Activity Banners on Etsy.

Please leave separate comments for each thing you do on this post.
And please leave your blog address so I can pay you a lil visit!

Thanks for joining the party!

Winner will be announced on Saturday.





We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice In Christ


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