Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Beckoning of Sister Beck


My parents taught me not to put anyone on a "pedestal," but in my mind and heart Sister Julie B. Beck keeps making her way up there for me with every word of wisdom that spills forth from her lips!

The Lord couldn't have sent us a more noble example, a more wise and courageous woman to lead us through this particular phase in the history of the world.  I know that I have grown exponentially under her tutelage.

I cannot possibly list all the lessons that I have learned from her, but I will name a few that have set a bright and glorious direction for my life.  And for that, I will be eternally thankful to this great spiritual leader!

Sister Beck taught me to understand The Doctrine of the Family and to teach it powerfully to my children.

She taught me the value of having a Mother Heart and many things that Mothers Who Know do and understand.  Things that many Mothers were afraid to speak aloud today, she courageously spoke.


She taught me that there is "eternal influence and power in motherhood."  And that as women, one of the most important things we can do is understand how and be worthy to receive personal revelation for our lives.


I could go on with this list.  Certainly this wise woman was a handmaid of the Lord in the work that she has done in her role as President of the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


But what did she actually do for us?  How would I sum up her work?


As her name suggests, Sister Beck "beckoned" us to leave the "middle ground," to become fully committed to our roles as women and mothers, to become dedicated to the promises we made before coming to earth and in the temple, and to stand up and be counted as being on the Lord's side.


As a result of her beckoning, I have left that middle ground.  I have inched further and further onto holy ground, to a place where the Lord can use me and teach me about what he expects of me in this life.  As I have done so, I have felt the Lord strengthening me as a person, and as a mother.  


If all women "had been, and were and ever would be like" Sister Beck...the very powers of hell would be shaken forever. 


Good-bye to the amazing Sister Beck! We love you!!!

General Conference: a Paradigm Shift



T-2.0 hours until General Conference begins on this Saturday morning.

My house is still a mess.  I have not printed out the oodles of worksheets I had planned on preparing for the kids, and I have no idea what my General Conference stations will be, although I have plenty of activities prepared, so I know that everything will come together.

It's been quite the week.

And I have experienced a few paradigm shifts in a few different areas of my life this week that I think will be very helpful for me moving forward.

One came last night as I was falling asleep.

I made the comment in my post about General Conference Stations that one of the stations would be a note-taking station where the child gets to sit with Mom and Dad and we help them write down what the speaker is sharing.  I was thinking about how important that would be.  And I realized that my old attitude to "keep the children quiet at all cost so the rest of us can enjoy and hear conference" was not exactly the most helpful approach.

Since I've been holding General Conference Book Club in my home for a full year now, I have truly been enriched by studying the words of the prophet on a weekly and daily basis.  

As I thought about this, it dawned on me that my time during live General Conference viewing could be much more effective if my attitude changed to one of "being hands-on with my children, modeling how to be an active listener, and helping them to record their own thoughts on what they are hearing."  

If I miss hearing something during General Conference the first time around, I've got six whole months to relearn it.  It's not my one and only chance to receive revelation, but I often treat it that way.  And I don't want my kids remembering that "General Conference is a time when Mom wants me to SHUSH!!" (And she gets irritated when I don't!)

I remember doing a lot of "shhhhh-ing" to my kids last fall.  This time around, I want to do a lot of snuggling, hugging, holding and instructing as we partake of the words of the prophet.

Maybe this paradigm shift comes from the comforting knowledge that we now have DVR and can "roll it back" if we miss a line, but I know this is also revelation given to me to help me be a better mother to my kids.  And I am thankful for it.

Last night I decided that I'd use the photos of the General Authorities that my SIL sent as part of her Fantasy General Conference Bracket to help the children create their own General Conference journals.  

I remembered that I had purchased some writing notebooks from "Handwriting Without Tears" that would be perfect for the kids to use as Conference notebooks.  (Especially since these are the same things my kids use in Kindergarten and Preschool.) 

They can either draw a picture of the speaker or find his or her photo and cut and paste it into the top section of their notebooks.  In the lines, they can write down what they think the speaker is trying to communicate to them.



We've also updated our General Conference Wall.  It's growing up with us, you know.  I've added post-it labels with words the children can write down in their journals whenever they hear that word mentioned.  That way they can work more independently.  They will also tally how many times the topics are discussed on the post-its.  (Guy cried when I broke the news to him that there would not be candy handed out every time a topic is mentioned 5 times...but I think he'll get over it.)

Guy already found his notebook this morning and is all gung-ho about recording his thoughts.  On the front page he wrote, "My favorite prophet is Thomas S. Monson....I like prophets because they help us."  And for his first story inside of his notebook, he wrote "his version" of what happened before we came to earth.

Pretty sweet, huh?  I think today is going to be a lot of fun!



PS - Scarlett has decided that stations 3 & 4 are under her jurisdiction and that she is going to make them "the most important stations ever."  She has determined that station #3 she will be helping the other children make "hand turkeys" and station #4 is dry-erase board drawing.  Oh and I did manage to get a few things printed out between the time I started this post and now...And Steve has just made a Subway run, so my work here is done (with 30 minutes to spare...whew!)

Enjoy Conference!

Fantasy General Conference


Find more quick and easy General Conference tips at my


Yesterday, my SIL Emmalee emailed us "brackets" for a Fantasy General Conference game.  She created the game herself and she has given me permission to share her idea with you.

You can download it here:  Fantasy General Conference Bracket

(Be sure to follow Fantasy General Conference on Facebook for updated brackets each General Conference.)

Emmalee has made these for her students in the past and this year, she's sharing the "contest" with her family.  Love her for that!  She going to send the top three winners prizes in the mail!!  Isn't she sweet!  BUT, we have to get our answers to her before the first session of General Conference...so this is also me being lazy, because my house is still a mess and I've got lots to do before Conference starts!!

So, Emmalee:  Here are my guesses!!

Love you very much!


You still have time to print this bad boy out and play along with your older kids!

Enjoy the day my friends!

(You can watch General Conference here!)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Family Proclamation Coloring Pages

Just in time for General Conference, CK of Made by Bedtime Tales has completed her illustrations of The Family Proclamation ABC's which she started last year!


You can download the complete set of brilliant coloring/activity pages for your children to use during General Conference this weekend!




Carrie is also hosting a giveaway on her blog today of these wooden spoon dolls:




To enter, simply leave a comment on HER POST found here.


Please go over there either way and THANK CARRIE for the many hours that she has spent illustrating these wonderful learning tools to help our children understand and love The Family: A Proclamation to the World!


Thank you, Carrie!!!  You're amazing!





PS - There will be more variations on the wooden spoon dolls in her Etsy shop.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

General Conference Quiz

I seriously have way too much to do this week to get ready for General Conference...so.  so.  much.  And that means I'm trying to get my house into a clean enough state where I can sit down and enjoy conference without feeling like I need to get up and clean something...and preparing meals so I'm not cooking or cleaning up a meal while the prophet speaks!  Oy!  It's such a juggling act, being the heart of the home sometimes.  Am I right?


But here is a little survey/quiz that I whipped up for you all to see what we've learned from our leaders by studying their words from last General Conference.  (Get your conference Ensigns out if you're not sure of answers!)


Don't be afraid.  Just take it.  See if it jogs your memory a bit.  And good luck getting ready for this weekend!


Oh yeah...for all of you Utah readers who are within the viewing range of KSL in Salt Lake...be sure to tune in to the Mormon Times on Sunday at 4pm (MST) to see my interview about Christ-centered Easter Traditions!  You can read more about it here.  

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Listening to the Voice of the Prophets FHE

Playing "Ink-a-Bink-a-bottle-of-ink"

We talked about listening and following the living prophets last night at FHE.

The children were asked to identify the sound of three mystery voices.

They were:

President Uchtdorf
President Monson
President Eyring

They correctly guessed them all and were so proud of themselves!
(I saw this idea on Sugardoodle's General Conference page, under "Object Lesson".)

This proved that at their young age, they know and can recognize the voice of living prophets, so we expressed to them the importance of listening to and following their counsel, even if people around them are not...even if their own friends or family members do things that are contrary to the prophet's instruction...they must always follow the prophet (and Jesus Christ/the Holy Ghost.)

Then I mentioned that General Conference is this weekend and asked them, "If the prophet was really coming to our home this weekend, what should we do to get ready?"  They said, "Clean the house, prepare yummy food."  Then I asked them, "If the prophet was here with us now, what would you ask him?"  Scarlett came up with the funniest answer.  She said, "Will you come to my birthday party?  There will be cake and ice cream, and if there is a star under your plate, you get a prize!"

We thought about our questions and wrote a list of questions we hoped would be answered during General Conference this weekend:


Can you guess who wrote which question?

We will be praying that we can find answers to our questions this weekend during General Conference.

All through Family Home Evening, Guy was writing on post-it notes and placing them throughout the house.  Since we had FHE really late last night, we didn't discover what he was doing until the morning.

He had created a little game by writing down 20 things that he loves and hiding them throughout the house.  So we ran around looking for them before breakfast this morning.  It was a sweet journey through the heart and mind of Guy:



I love the universe. I love "dralling picshrs"  I love the book of "moomin".

After a sad and difficult day yesterday, Guy's notes of love were a bright ray of sunshine for me...and an example to focus on loving words, instead of unkind ones.  I am thankful that my Home is Heaven on Earth...a refuge from any storm.


PS - Be sure to check out That Good Part's FHE today...she has put together an 

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Difficult Times

I like my patriarchal blessing. It's pretty neat.

I bet you like yours too.

It's so special.

Wanna know a secret about mine?  It uses the word "difficult" 18 times...at least.  
(I lost track while trying to count them up this evening.)

I'm not gonna sugar-coat it:  Today was a difficult day.

Some days just are, you know.

Some days you'll be misunderstood.  Some days you'll be mislabeled.

Maybe even some years and maybe even by those who are supposed to know and love you best.  I am trying MY best though.  And I never will stop trying.

Never.

 

I love what President Uchtdorf said in his talk during the last conference:

"Please understand that what you see and experience now is not what forever will be. You will not feel loneliness, sorrow, pain, or discouragement forever. We have the faithful promise of God that He will neither forget nor forsake those who incline their hearts to Him.21Have hope and faith in that promise. Learn to love your Heavenly Father and become His disciple in word and in deed."

Tonight, I am holding onto that promise and, as always, working to become His disciple in word and deed.  It's all I can do, especially during the "difficult times."

(Isn't it amazing...and sort of comforting...to know that he has felt this way too?)

Living Prophets & The Book of Mormon Link-up


Yesterday, I was asked to give a report  in my ward about my experience giving away 30 copies of The Book of Mormon in 30 days last October.  We were getting revved up during our review of our ward mission plan.

Earlier last week, I was given the words that I should share while during my regular scripture study.  In Doctrine and Covenants Section 33, we read three important words about missionary work that the Lord repeats three times in the same chapter.

"Open your mouths..."
"Open your mouths..."
"Open your mouths..."

There are promises linked to that command...and the Lord also give us clues about where the power to do this will come from:  studying the Book of Mormon, which will give us "the power of the Spirit" that quickeneth all things.  It is the book that has been brought forth to gather the Lord's elect in from the four corners of the earth.  We are also instructed to "be faithful, praying always, having [the lamps of your testimony] trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom--[who is Jesus Christ]."

I've been thinking about a few things lately, as the voices of the world have gotten louder, annoyingly so, in the ear of my conscious self.  A few weeks ago, I was reading so much negative stuff online about the church that it was starting to wear on me.  I found it fairly paralyzing.  I found that the negative and dark feelings I felt after reading that stuff was causing me to slow down, and I did not like that one bit.

I found myself craving to hear more of the words of our living prophets.  I desperately wanted to hear what they have to say about all of this.  I feel like they have been warning us about this for some time now, so I should have been prepared.  But it still is not exactly easy.

HOWEVER, when we keep our eyes focused on the Savior, our hearts set on our personal mission here on earth, and our ears tuned to the words of his chosen prophets, it is easier to not get tripped up by the sideshows of our modern day.  

My buddy, MMM says it really well in his post "Famacide: It's all the Rage."  I encourage you to read it and let his advice settle into your mind.

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we stand by The Book of Mormon.  We follow the advice of living Prophets.  We rejoice in modern revelation.  And we look forward to the day when the Savior, Jesus Christ, will return to the earth.  At that day, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus is the Christ.  


Until then, we will walk by faith, we will open our mouths, we will follow the living prophets.


 


For anyone reading this who is curious about what our church's leaders teach, you can tune in and listen to our General Conference of the church this Saturday and Sunday either online or on BYU-TV.  You can also see what people are saying during General Conference on Twitter at #LDSConf or #TwitterStake.


Now, enjoy more posts about the Book of Mormon and Living Prophets:


Sunday, March 25, 2012

This Just In...



The co-hosts for this year's Family Proclamation Celebration will be:


(drum-roll please...)


Stephanie of Diapers and Divinity
MMM of Middle-aged Mormon Man
Montserrat of Chocolate on my Cranium
Jocelyn of We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ


I know it's a long way off, but we want you to save the date(s):


September 17-30th.


It's going to be fabulous!


With fresh flavors provided by this year's guest-hosts and bloggers, there'll be lots to come back for each day.


Right now, we are still looking for more video submissions, so if you feel so inclined, please get right on that!  You can review the details of our Family Proclamation video project here.


Have a great Sabbath everyone!



PS - Feel free to share this image on your own blogs/Facebook pages.
Click on the upper left corner of the image above to see how to share this image with links already included!  Easy.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Shhhhh...We're Recording!

 

On my to do list today:

Clean the kitchen
Put away laundry (drop off donations)
Read to my kids
Host playgroup at the park
Take Guy to and from school
Make dinner
Be interviewed by KSL-TV.

Yup, a day in the life of a Mormon Mommy Blogger.

I'm being interviewed by Michelle King of Mormon Times at 5pm (EST) today (via Skype) about our Christ-centered Easter traditions.  If all goes well, you'll be able to watch the interview at 4pm (MST) on April 1st, right after General Conference on KSL.  Crazy, huh?  (If you're not in Salt Lake, you can watch the episode online after it airs.)

Don't you guys think that I need an "on-air" light installed outside of my front door just for the occasion.  But seriously, don't call or message me around 5 o'clock today!!  I'll be busy!

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spiritual Due Diligence


 

Last night, I finally got around to tackling a project that I started a while ago:  creating file boxes for each child to keep their school papers and personal ID certificates safe and organized.  My friend Cammie makes these as gifts for people when they have babies.

I needed 24 hanging file folders for each child, so I sent Steve downstairs to find the hanging file folders that my Mom had given me when she cleaned out my Grandmother's files last year.

Since they had already been used, I would have to replace her file labels with the new ones for each child.  When I picked up the stack, I was immediately impressed by the labels that my Grandmother used, because they indicated what she cared about, what she spent her time learning, what was important to her.  

I wasn't a bit surprised to see labels such as "RS - Homemaking, Personal Preparedness, Temple Info, School of the Prophets, Emma & Joseph Smith, Consecration, Amherst, Nauvoo, Kirtland, Rocky Mountain West, The Restoration."

My mother had already cleaned out the contents of the file folders, so they were mostly empty.  But under the label "Jewish Holidays" I found a sticky note in my Grandma's handwriting that said, "See Sacrament in Ordinances for Paschal Supper."

I thought about file folders today.  Keeping papers on file is a pretty foreign concept to us these days.  But we do "Pin" things in online file folders.  And I wondered...What things do we pin or file in a digital format and what will our online file folders reveal about us someday, about what we spent our time on, about what we cared about?

I have yet to stumble on a pinboard that even remotely resembles the faithfulness and diligent gospel study that was the keystone of my Grandmother's life. I am thankful, once again, for my Grandma's example...and I hope to live up to the legacy that she has left for me.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Appreciating Autumn FHE

 

It was Autumn's turn to be in the spotlight at FHE last night.

She enjoyed every minute of it!

We asked her questions and told her what we like about her:

"that she likes to smile, giggle, tickle, and snuggle."

 

After an extremely healthy dinner of pizza and candy, we played Find the Turtle:

 

The turtle is one of those secret key hiding thingies...usually there's candy inside.

Steve wasn't able to join us.  He had a work dinner to attend.

Next, we played Pictionary on our newly acquired (dumpster-dive!) dry-erase board using the cues in the Family Proclamation Trivial Pursuit game: (since Autumn loves to draw!)

 

Later, we were joined by two neighbor-kids.  I just couldn't turn them away.

 

Hey, check out our little seeds from two weeks ago..

Faith is a powerful thing.  So is sunshine and water...
and consistently holding Family Home Evening...and telling each other "I love you," with our words and our time.


Thanks for reading...now check out That Good Part's FHE experience...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

General Conference Reverence Stations

Pin It
Note: If you like this, you can find 
ALL of our General Conference traditions & activities on my


Last General Conference, I thought, "My kids know the routine by now.  They know how to be reverent during eight hours of broadcasts..."  Eh, wrong!  I was being lazy.  I printed off a General Conference Packet (in triplicate) and tossed it in their direction thinking they'd leave me in peace to bask in the rays of revelation from modern prophets.

Not so.  They scribbled through that 20-page packet in about five minutes, and I spent the rest of Saturday "reminding" them to "be quiet" and "listen!" and tossing snacks in their direction.  By Sunday I knew that I needed a different game-plan.

That's when "General Conference Stations" was born.

I set up three activities in three separate corners of our living room with a different activity at each.  The children were thrilled to have a game or activity to work on quietly all by themselves (a.k.a. no fighting over materials and less distractions for all of us!)  

We rotated stations about every ten minutes or every time there was a new speaker.  The kids rotated through the activities really nicely, and the Sunday sessions were much more enjoyable for all of us.  

Here are some more examples of activities that we'll work into our rotation.  Just run your mouse over the photos for links to the activities.  (I'll also include some lacing cards, cutting, gluing-type stuff that my kids love, a felt-board, dry-erase board, and other GC ideas:)


Some other tips to help foster reverence during General Conference:

We've done the candy for keyword activity in the past, but it got really loud and I quickly had three diligent little toddlers with sugar highs on my hands!  So we keep the candy to a minimum. It works better as a between session treat.

Prepare your meals beforehand if possible.  Or crock-pot it.

We let the kids run around the outside of the house while we have rest hymns...wakes everybody up and gets the wiggles out!

Also, this is a no-brainer, but I normally do not give the kids an entire conference packet at one time.  To avoid interruptions, I have printed off multiple copies of many coloring pages/color-by-number from the Friend Magazine, and I store them in a paper tower, so my kids can go get new coloring pages one at a time at their leisure.  This has worked exceptionally well when we've had LOTS of kids over for a session.

Obviously, it takes a lot of preparation to be one-step-ahead of the children, but it really pays off if it allows all of us to hear more of General Conference...and enjoy it!

Do you have tips for encouraging reverence during General Conference viewing?

Please share them here!



PS - Forgot to mention:  I think we'll have a fourth station this time around...a note-taking station where the child gets to sit with Mom and Dad and practice writing down what they thought the talk was about.  This will help them engage with the speakers and practice their new writing skills.  

It will also help them to understand that GC "stations" is a fun thing, but not a crutch!  The main point of the stations is to keep little hands busy while they soak up the good words of our prophets!  

In the past, Guy has enjoyed pulling out pictures from the LDS Art kit that are mentioned in talks, but by the end of one talk, we'll have 40 different photos strewn across the floor...and then people are slipping on them...so I'm looking for an alternative to this!

Friday, March 16, 2012

It's Art, Mommy!

 

Yesterday, Scarlett was mad at me, because I told her she couldn't hang out in the car by herself flossing her teeth.  She called me "junk" and refused to leave the garage.

After a while I went to check on her.  She had drawn this lovely picture. "I. L. U." = "I love you."  So sweet. If only she hadn't drawn it on the garage wall.

 

(Never mind that I just garbage-picked this huge dry-erase board for them to draw on earlier in the day!)

Oh well, maybe she'll take after my sisters and become a talented artist!  She's already "displaying" great talent, if you ask me. :)

Here is how my sister Marissa recently painted her son's nursery:

 

It's only a matter of time, Scarlett.

Anyway, we've been enjoying a week of sunny days in the upper 70's, so I haven't felt like sitting at my laptop to blog.  Now it's raining, and I'm feeling sickish, but I'll be back on Monday with a General Conference reverence tactic that helped us last year.

Until then, have a great weekend and a Happy St. Patty's Day

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Relief Society Boogie



I've been invited to contribute some sort of humorous skit or reading this Friday night at our ward's Relief Society birthday dinner.  I've been thinking about it since they asked me last Friday, and thought "There's nothing funny about Relief Society..."  

I went online this afternoon to make an effort to find something...and these ladies of the Waipahu Samoan First Ward have definitely proved me wrong.  First good hard laugh I've had all week.  Thanks, ladies!  This reminded me of when some of our Samoan sisters in the Langley Singles Ward organized the RS to do a similar dance at our ward Luau, (although I don't remember anyone getting that funky!)  That was such a fabulous activity.

So, after you guys watch this...let me know if you have any suggestions for me...I need it asap!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Teaching Children About the Atonement

Pin It
 

Last night, we kicked off our Easter celebrations with our Easter carnation experiment.

First, we sang, "Did Jesus Really Live Again?" from the Primary Songbook.

Then, we read "In the Garden" by Caralyn Beuhner.

This book opens with Christ instituting the Sacrament at the Passover meal.

This opened up a discussion with my children about what Easter celebrates, what the Passover commemorated (and why the use of the firstborn of the flock symbolized Christ, the firstborn, unblemished one, who would come to save us all), what Resurrection entails, and what it means for each one of us.

As we read about Christ suffering for all of the sins, pains, sorrows, and weaknesses of mankind while in the Garden of Gethsemane, we discussed how difficult this would be to accomplish...and that Jesus Christ was the only one capable of doing it.  And because he did, we don't have to suffer, if we come to him and ask for his help in our lives.  If we "apply the Atonement."

Since we did this carnation experience last year to illustrate how Christ took our sins upon him, I didn't have to explain too much to the children.  The pure, white, unblemished flower takes on the color of the water, showing in a tangible way, how the Savior experienced and carried our pain and sins while he suffered for us in the Garden.

 

You start with a bunch of plain white carnations.  We picked ours up at the grocery store.

We trimmed the stems to about seven or eight inches, much shorter than last year.

Then let the children add red food coloring to the water.

 

The shortened stems made a huge difference in the time it took to see results.

This is what the flowers look like this morning at breakfast!

Pretty instant gratification!

The idea that someone can take your pain upon himself can be difficult to grasp as a child (and as an adult), but this little "experiment" helps to bring this key concept behind the Atonement of Jesus Christ to life for young children...and it's a lot of fun too!



And be sure to check out That Good Part's FHE here.