Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes



I BELIEVE IN DREAMS.

Not everyone does, you know.  Some people ignore their dreams.  Others can't recall their dreams and so claim not to have them at all.  Still others are embarrassed by these secret wishes that their heart makes while they are fast asleep.  But I have always put a lot of stock in dreams, and as a result I've gleaned a lot of wisdom from them.

Just this week, I had a recurring dream that I've had at least 5-6 times before.  In the dream, I am returning to my high school to clean out my locker.  I am either my current age or have just graduated.  I feel an urgent need to remove the contents of my locker, to clean it out before I have to leave school behind, BUT I can never remember the combination.  

During the dream, I struggle to unlock my locker as time speeds away from me.  The interesting thing is that the combination is always the same, but in my dream state I struggle to recall the correct numbers to unlock my locker every time.

On Monday morning, I was working out while pondering this particular dream, as I had just awoken from it.  And as I pondered, I finally realized the meaning that the dream held for me.

The act of unlocking the locker to clean it out and remove its contents is symbolic of unlocking the past, forgiving, and letting go of tiny remnants of feelings that I no longer need to hold onto or store within myself.

I had recently expressed to Steve that this was something that I really wanted to make a concerted effort to do.  He suggested that I just make a list and privately, with the Lord, go through each item and let it go...one by one.

Now describing how to let go of the past or how to forgive is very personal.  (I'm guessing for most of us it is easier to push unpleasant feelings to the back of our minds than to do the heavy-lifting required to actually fully forgive.)  It's just about as difficult as describing a dream to another person.  You just almost have to experience it for yourself to know truly how it feels, to identify the spiritual muscles that must be activated, in order to bring it about.

As I thought about this, I thought about how in the dream the combination for the lock is ALWAYS the same...nevertheless, I always struggle to recall the numbers that will set the contents of my locker free.

As I type this I know that the tried and true combination is simple and accessible to everyone, and at its center is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Now to see if I will have the discipline to flex the appropriate spiritual and emotional muscles to fulfill the wish that my heart has made! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book of Mormon Forum Coming in October



The Book of Mormon Forum




Did you know that three years ago I became a blogger, because I wanted to share my faith with my friends online?  


Since then, I have blogged extensively about my daily pursuit to follow Christ and to teach my children about The Family Proclamation.  As a result, my understanding of His Atonement and of this vital piece of revelation has grown exponentially.  And my ability to testify of them both has grown in ways that I did not anticipate.


Now I am ready to turn my attention to testifying to my friends about the importance of The Book of Mormon in my life, and I hope that the results will be the same.


That is why I was so excited to learn that the upcoming October 2011 Ensign will be a special edition dedicated entirely to  The Book of Mormon:  where it came from, what it teaches, why it is a sacred book of scripture and the keystone of our religion.


This special Ensign is packed with such wonderful testimony, study tools, and easy-to understand explanations of why we study the Book of Mormon hand-in-hand with the Holy Bible.


In honor of the release of this amazing resource, I am asking all of you to join me for a
"Book of Mormon Forum".  


During the month of October, I will:


 - study and blog about The Book of Mormon extensively
 - answer questions about The Book of Mormon that I have received from my friends
 - feature interviews/guest posts and your testimonies.


I want as many of YOU to join me in this effort by blogging about the Book of Mormon as much as possible during the month of October and linking to the new Ensign, which will become available online on September 20th.




The Book of Mormon Forum

If you are interested in participating in this event IN ANY WAY, please email me at jocelyn dot christensen at gmail dot com. Please put "Book of Mormon Forum" in the subject line, and please include your blog address if you have one.  

This invitation is open to anyone who reads my blog, anyone who blogs anywhere on the planet...and anyone who just wants to learn more about The Book of Mormon.

During the week following our Family Proclamation extravaganza, I will begin putting up links to every blog who participates, and asking you to help spread the word...more details about that to come. So stay tuned...Just something to start thinking about as we are Celebrating Family next month...The Book of Mormon Forum is coming!




PS - Special THANKS to Lorene of I Am Just Lu for creating this beautiful button!
Didn't she do a fabulous job??  She just had a baby you know...MacGyver has nothing on her!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Family Proclamation "Go Fish!"

As I mentioned yesterday, we are gearing up for our second annual Family Proclamation event called CELEBRATE FAMILY, which will run from September 9-23rd.  This blog party will feature ideas, testimonies, giveaways, and insights galore on all things FAMILY!  And it will be hosted by these four blogs (plus you!)




Please spread the word and join us by blogging about the Family Proclamation during the celebration in September.  (I have posted the link-up schedule at the bottom of this post.)




In honor of this upcoming event, I thought I'd share a little Family Proclamation-inspired activity that the kids and I are doing at home today.  I loved the idea in the current issue of Family Fun that encourages children to create their own original mini-works of art to use as trading cards.  I adapted that idea by directing my children to use their own depictions of familiar things in our family to be used as our own personalized game of "Go Fish!"

Since they are so young, I wrote the names of the items on each card.  I gave them four pre-trimmed index cards at a time and asked them to draw the following items on each card:  home, temple, Mom & Dad, baby, FHE, Family dinner, love...Then I added a few items that were specific to our family and that the kids would easily recognize:  Daddy's car, doggie (although we don't actually have one), Blankie, and so on.


(You might choose to make cards representing faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, wholesome recreational activities, or anything that illustrates those principles from the Family Proclamation.  Don't worry if your drawing doesn't meet your expectations...just try to make all four cards look alike as best you can!)

Scarlett did a pretty descent job for being only 4 years old.  I will have Guy draw a few when he gets home from school, and we'll plan on playing it tonight during Family Home Evening.  I think the kids are going to enjoy playing with a game that they created, and it will make learning about the Family Proclamation that much more personal and memorable.












Now here is the blog hop schedule for "CELEBRATE FAMILY"!
Please grab a button and play along!


Participate in our Monday and Thursday blog hops. Write a post about that day's topic and link to it on the official blog hop page. Here are the topics:
Monday, Sept. 12th – Family Mission Statements – Do you have a family mission statement? Not yet?  Well, write one and feel free to share it with us!
Thursday, Sept. 15th - Photo Essay:  Photos that "say" something about the Family Proclamation.
Monday, Sept. 19th – Family Home Evening (FHE) Lessons pertaining to some part of the Proclamation.
Thursday, Sept. 22nd – How the Proclamation has impacted your family personally. 


UPDATE:  My kids LOVED playing this game at FHE and want to play it every night!!
What a blast!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Celebrate Family in September








It's that time again...time to celebrate The Family Proclamation through our annual series "Celebrate Family".  Last year, I was honored to team up with Montserrat of Chocolate On My Cranium to co-host this month-long celebration of family.  


This year, we are back at it, but we're being joined by two more bloggers:  Jaime of Welcome to the Madness, and Shannon of The Red Headed Hostess for a celebration that will take place from September 9-23 on all four blogs simultaneously.


Please join us for another amazing and uplifting conversation about the family.  We will feature guest posts, giveaways, and four link-up opportunities during the two-week celebration.  So please join us!


Here is an index of all of the posts in our "Celebrate Family" series from last year.  (Click on the post titles below to read each one.)  Catch up on the posts that you might have missed or reread your favorites...and get ready for more tips, free downloads, insights, and testimony about the Family coming in September.




We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice In Christ

Guest Posts at We Talk of Christ


Promoting Measures that Strengthen the Family






Guest posts at:  Chocolate On My Cranium

How We Celebrate Family  by Deirdre and James
Family Proclamation Download  by Heather
What is Real  by Misty
My Savior Loves Me by Jaime
Families are Forever by Momza
Family Proclamation Photo Essay Blog Hop
Eternal Families by Allison
I'm a Big Fat Chicken by Steph
Hold My Hand by This Girl Loves to Talk
Rearing God's Heritage by Deanna
That's What Fathers Do by Braden
Music and the Family by Marilyn
Family Proclamation Craft or Activity Blog Hop
Cottage Cheese, Ketchup, and the Family Proclamation by America Jane
The Miracle of Adoption by Allison
Growing by Ryan
I Do Not Ask for the Easy Path, I Ask for the Necessary One byCharlotte
Parking Lots of Kids by Paul
Forgiveness by Esther
Sharing the Family Proclamation Blog Hop
Teaching Our Children to Love by Hannah
Hard Work and Independence by Shawni
Family Councils by Andalucy
Presiding in Love by Ken
Being a Mother by Sarah
You Are a Lioness at the Gate by Meg
Family Proclamation FHE Blog Hop
The Ties That Bind by Amber
8 Ways to Be the World's Greatest In-Laws by Michelle
Cher*ish by Sonja

Friday, August 26, 2011

to everything there is a season


I've had a fun few days...just me and my girls...doing girl-stuff.

Like painting our nails, shopping for clothes, and watching girly movies.

I think both girls have been nourished by the attention, and I've been enriched by a brief respite from my normal routine of shepherding three kids all over town.  I actually watched 20 minutes of national news yesterday morning!

Woah.

And today...I worked out...in the middle of the day and painted my nails. 

Double woah.


Soon, we'll get busy again, but for now, I'm feeling good and I think the girls are too.

I received an email from Guy's teacher today in which she described him as a "very sweet, polite, and helpful little boy."  You bet I'm proud!  And guess who went to school with Guy today?  Blankie!!  Guy's teacher lets the kids have one special item from home with them for nap time.  I thought it was just a special thing for the first day only, but apparently they can do it as long as they like.

Guy has long days at school, and soon it'll catch up with him.  So I am glad that he'll have Blankie to snuggle and help him rest in the afternoon.  I have a feeling that he's been blessed with a very special teacher this year.  And I'm so happy for him.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

I Saw the Sign


Someone in our General Conference Book Club asked the rest of us what we think is the main message of President Monson's time as prophet of the church.  My first thought was service to others, rescuing the one, and an emphasis on goodness.  Then I remembered the wonderful themes found in his "inaugural" talk "Looking Back and Moving Forward" from the April 2008 General Conference.

The road signs above are visual aids that I used when I taught Relief Society one Sunday about this talk.  I didn't see all of the allusions to road signs that President Monson used in his address until I reread it in preparation for the lesson.  Then the imagery became very clear.  He was laying out a road map, specific to the conditions of our world today.

I enjoyed rereading the talk and thinking about why President Monson would be emphasizing these points to us, at this time. I thought perhaps you'd enjoy reading it again too.  If so, here's the link to his talk.  See if you can see which parts of the talk fit with which road sign...then maybe as you pass similar signs during your daily commute around town, you'll recall President Monson's words.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

the Homecoming


Guy's first day of school went very well.

I had this rainbow-themed fruit tray waiting for him as an after-school snack, and I'm so glad that I did.  The bus was an hour late bringing the kids home, so our snack turned into our dinner.


Steve and I knew the bus would be late, so we camped out at the bus stop and chatted while we waited for our boy.  We sat there for a full hour, eagerly watching for the bus.  The girls joined us when they woke up from their nap, so Guy had quite the homecoming.  

Ah yes, I'm nerdy for my kids, and I don't care.

To Kindergarten...And Beyond!


The first day of Kindergarten is finally here!  And the morning went very well!


Scarlett has been very sweet in helping Guy get ready to embark on his new adventure.  Yesterday, she took the initiative to decorate a napkin to put in Guy's lunch.  Last night, she inspected the clothes we'd laid out for Guy to wear and she told him that thought he'd look very good in them.  Then this morning, she handed Guy a handful of change and told him, "I want you to buy whatever you want with this."  At first blush, I'd say that she is definitely taking her new role as eldest child in the house very seriously!  But in reality, taking care of others is simply part of Scarlett's nature.


I had a little surprise for Guy too, this Lego-man key chain that's also an LED light.  He was thrilled, and got kudos from his buddies at the bus stop.

You'll notice that Care Cub came along for the adventure.  Guy's teacher asked all of her students to bring their favorite stuffed animal on the first day of school, so she must have big plans for them.  Care Cub is wearing his own little dog tag that I sewed on last night, in case he needs help finding his way home again.


Regarding our action-packed day yesterday:  My husband is home on vacation with us, so we are able to do all kinds of things together that I might not normally attempt to squeeze in to one 24-hour time slot.  So don't feel bad if your day didn't look like ours...I've got help!

In fact, Steve is home for one more day so he can be there to experience the beginning of school for our family...and to hold my hand as we do so.  What a good man I have.  He really blesses us with his goodness, thoughtfulness, and kindness.


Thanks, everyone for your kind and thoughtful comments, and for seeing me through a time of transition as a mother.  I have really benefited from your words of wisdom, your understanding comments, and your friendship this summer!  Happy First Day, everybody!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Just the Right Amount of Stories


Today was quite possibly the perfect day.

Morning snuggle.

Dentist appointment for Guy.

Family portrait session at Sear's.

Back-to-school lunch at Denny's.

Roller-skating in the house.

Fort-building with pillows and blankets on the back deck.

Let the kids clobber me with pillows.

Stared up at the blue, blue sky.

Read books to my children.

Played Uno.

Played straight through an earthquake, in fact.

Went for a nice--long--family bike ride on the new bike path.

Played on some pretty ancient teeter-totters at the park.

Laughed together.

Ate ice cream at the Freez.

Attempted to catch frogs.

Grilled burgers.

Had an impromptu bike rally with sidewalk chalk drawing.

Baths for the kids.

Tucked them in bed.

Then I gathered some of our favorite books to read to Guy one last time before he goes to school tomorrow.  I thought about how precious these books have become to me.  They hold, by association, such sacred and special moments that I have shared with my children over the years.  By the time I returned to his room to read Guy the books, he had fallen asleep.

Darn.  I was afraid that would happen.

So I hugged my snoozing Guy, and told him that I loved him...and as I did so, the soft, yet steady beat of his heart filled my ear, and I remembered how I listened to his heartbeat on the monitor in the hospital while in labor with him, and how that sound was so comforting to me...and found comfort once more in that lovely sound.

Then he stirred and was upset, because he thought that he'd missed the bedtime stories.  So I laid down next to him and Autumn and read book after book after book--until Steve yelled up to me and said, "You've got to let him go to BED!"

Knowing he was right, I hurried and finished the story I was reading.  Guy noticed that I had skipped some parts of the story, so I explained that he needed to sleep.

Then he said, "It's ok, Mommy.  You've read me just the right amount of stories."

Now, anyone who's ever read a child a bedtime story knows that "you've read me enough stories" is just not a phrase that is part of a child's vocabulary!  But hearing those words tonight was a sweet and tender mercy that I had not expected.  

"You've read me just the right amount of stories."  Mothers don't often get that kind of direct and specific assessment of their work.  But tonight, it was the nod that I needed from one of my most important clients.

For now--for tonight--my efforts as a Mother have been "just enough".


It's Only a Day Away



The day that we left for vacation, we visited Guy's new school for orientation.





It really put my mind at ease being able to see where he will spend his time away from me.
Now I can envision him here....spending many happy moments...





...practicing writing letters at his desk...





...listening to stories through these head phones...and...


...exchanging goofy smiles with this boy who will sit across from him.


Let the adventure begin!

H.O.H.


Let's be clear about one thing: 

This "Little Mama" rocks my world!

Tonight, we all received our father's blessings from Steve, which is where the priesthood holder blesses the members of his family with strength and other advice or blessings as he is directed to by the spirit.  The recipient of the blessing then draws comfort, strength, and wisdom from the words of the blessing.

After each of us received a blessing, we held a brief "passing of the torch" ceremony for Scarlett.  Cocoa had suggested that I do this to help Guy symbolically pass the mantel of "oldest child at home" to Scarlett.

I began by explaining to the children that Guy would be at school during the day and would need to pass the responsibilities of being a good example, helping out extra at home, and protecting the younger sibling--down to Scarlett.  As we talked, I had Guy light a jar candle and pass "the torch" to Scarlett.  

She was trying not to show how pleased she was, but the expression on her face said it all.  She was absolutely tickled!  It was awesome.

Then she followed up with a few questions, "Does this mean I am going to be an adult tomorrow?"  No.  "Does this mean I get to drive the car?"  Uh-no.  It doesn't hurt to ask, right?

Carpe diem, my Scarlett!  Carpe diem.

Monday, August 22, 2011

If You Like Pina Coladas



The kids and I made a trip to Walmart today, just like we've done a thousand times before. But today, I realized that this would be our last one before Guy goes to school, so I snapped another picture as we left the store.  (I can't get enough of those grocery cart photos! ;)  

Who would have thought that I'd make such wonderful memories while grocery-shopping with my kids?  Or that I'd enjoy that time with them so much that I'd forever hate going alone!  These are my three amigos...my entourage.  I rarely go anywhere without them.  

Even my husband asked me last night what I was crying about.  I told him that I am just mourning the end of an era.  Some of these tears are sad, but mostly they are happy.  They pay tribute to the 6 years that I have had alone with my babies...time that we have had to learn and grow and play together without very many interruptions from the world.  That is a blessing that few women are able to experience.  And I cry happy, thankful tears that I have.

I am not sad that Guy is going to school, although I will miss him!  I do not fear what awaits him, although I know from experience that life in general can be treacherous.  I do not fear because, Guy has been prepared to make good decisions and to explore and learn and care for others.  I can send him off with confidence, because I have, long ago, received my own personal answers about these next steps in our life together.  The answers were clear and undeniable and I recorded them clearly so that I could reference them as school approached.  

I love that the Lord cares enough about his children to answer even our most menial questions...but something tells me that questions of a mother about her child actually take high priority with God.  And I am thankful for that too.

It's back-to-school blessing time tonight at FHE...(Oh, and if you are wondering about the blog title on this post, we got caught in the rain last week, and I've had that song stuck in my head ever since.  I am convinced that there needs to be a mommy-version of that song to describe our every day moments!)



Oh yeah, I almost forgot.  I had these wallet-sized copies of our most recent family snapshot printed up at Walmart today...It only cost 68 cents for two of them, and I added the word "Always" to the bottom using their printing kiosk.  I plan to laminate them and attach them to the kids' backpacks where only they can see them...just as a little reminder that we love each other and that we are a forever family.

Hello.


Hello.

I'm back.

Vacation was awesome.

I learned a couple things over the last week.

First, I love my SIL Renae.  She is a an amazing woman (but I already knew that).

Second, someone in Texas is trying to change the expression "Hello" to "Heaven-o" which really cracks me up.  I mean what are people thinking?  I'm going to feel all sneaky saying the word HELL-o now.

Third, I don't like blogging from my phone, so I'll continue to reserve that for complete emergencies, like to live-blog the Second Coming or something.

Fourth, if you are a Mother preparing to send your kids off to school, then
I DO NOT RECOMMEND READING THIS BOOK ...


unless you have a whole box of tissues at your side and no mascara on.

Fifth, if you have a sense of humor or are taking your kids on a road trip,
I DO RECOMMEND LISTENING TO THIS SONG:

Keller Williams "Mama Tooted"


Kids


Better yet buy the whole CD...we did.


Two days until KINDERGARTEN.  


I may or may not have cried myself to sleep last night just thinking about it.


Goodbye.