Monday, April 30, 2012

The Long Night is O'er


I was feeling the Spirit pretty strongly in church yesterday...It had a lot to do with the hymns we sang.  Joseph Smith's First Prayer, Jesus, Once of Humble Birth, and Hark, All Ye Nations all touched me especially, when we sang:


"Searching in darkness, nations have wept;
Watching for dawn their vigil they've kept.
All now rejoice; the long night is o'er,
Truth is on earth once more.


Oh, how glorious from the throne above
Shines the gospel light of truth and love!
Bright as the sun this heavenly ray, 
Lights every land today."


In my mind's eye, I could see nations of humble people weeping through the long night, waiting for the light and knowledge that would set them free.  I envisioned myself and others who have waited through what seems like a long night, keeping our vigil and our faith that the Lord will keep his promises.  And as the chorus rang out, the spirit testified to me that the Lord has always kept his promises, that truth is on earth once more (what a reason to rejoice!), and that the light of the gospel is to be the light that we hold up to get us through the dark nights of this life.


I am so thankful to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I am thankful to have a personal relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ, to know personally that he lives and that he cares about and is involved in the affairs of this world and in each chapter of our individual lives.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Best Thing About Being Pregnant


The best thing about being pregnant is telling the people who love you and seeing their happiness at hearing your news.

Yes, blogging friends, I AM PREGNANT.

And this is why I haven't been a very frequent blogger as of late.

All of my creative juices are being pumped to my belly instead of my brain.

And I'm pretty OK with that.

I am three months along, and my kids have known the entire time!

They have done an amazing job at keeping "our family secret," especially Scarlett who is over-the-moon about this and thinks that SHE will get to be the baby's mommy when he or she arrives!

Probably the best reaction came from my friend Vicki who cried when I told her.  It touched my heart that I had a friend who knew me so well, cared about me so much, understood what I had been through, and was tender-hearted enough to shed tears at my news.  

And I want to thank my other friends who have known and helped me through the yucky days (and some worrisome days too) by bringing a meal, watching my kids, and being good and caring friends.  My love to each of you!

Yay!  So now you all know too!

LET'S CELEBRATE! :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I Didn't Vote for Mitt Romney


Guy did.

Happy Voting today to Primary voters in 
Pennsylvania, 
New York, 
Connecticut, 
Delaware, 
and Rhode Island!  

And thank you to NPR for reminding me to vote today!

I would have remembered sooner or later, but since I heard it early in the morning I was able to take my kids before school.  They love being involved the voting process!  (And getting to wear the "I voted today!" sticker!)  

Now go get your own!




PS - For those who still do not get my joke...
Yes, I did vote for Mitt Romney...but my kids cast the ballot.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Manners FHE


What happens at FHE, stays at FHE.

Unless you blog about your FHEs...which I do, so here we go.


I asked Scarlett to lead us in singing "Kindness Begins With Me,"  but instead we got a rip-roaring rendition of John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.  And that's pretty much how our night went:  high-energy all the way.  (We did eventually get to sing the song about kindness as Scarlett loves to lead and sing.)


I asked Guy to read any verse of scripture he wanted to us.  He started at Genesis 1 and just kept going.  Steve and I exchanged very satisfied looks as we watched Guy proudly reading scriptures to us on his own.


I used the lesson to review what constitutes "good manners."  Common courtesies like using an "inside voice," putting others' needs first, sharing, speaking kindly, showing gratitude.  

Since I didn't feel like doing the lesson I had planned, I was glad that I had my "back-up box" of FHE lessons to go to.  Years ago my mom was part of an FHE lesson exchange group.  She has passed on some of those prepared lessons to each of her children.  

The lesson on manners had little bad and good manners "people" on popsicle sticks with a little story to go along with it.  Very simple.  The kids enjoyed holding up each character and deciding if that person ever lives at OUR house.

We did some role playing of good manners in all sorts of situations such as what do you say when a friend knocks on your door and wants to play?  What do you say and do when they leave?  How do you act courteously at church?  What do you do when you finish a meal?  What if you accidentally step on someone else's foot or walk between two people who are having a conversation?  It's good to lay out the manners landscape for the kiddos every now and again, although this is something that we try to teach and model day in and day out.  

I absolutely do not love it when other people correct my children on their manners.  After all, pointing out the bad manners of others...is bad manners.  Don't they know that?  :)

I like manners.  While appropriate behavior varies from situation to situation and from country to country, it's best to remember the reason why we try to use good manners:  to show respect and kindness for others.  If we remember the reason why customary "good manners" exist, we'll always know what to do.

Because


Just because.


That's a real reason, right?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

We Feel It a Pleasure to Serve Thee


Last September, our area was devastated by severe flooding from the Susquehanna and other surrounding waterways.  The historic Bloomsburg Fairgrounds sat under eight feet of water.  The damage was so bad that they had to cancel the fair last year, which has been running for over 150 years.

This weekend, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in central Pennsylvania came together to perform a day of service. Our "Mormon Helping Hands" painted benches and bandstands, cleaned up water-damaged storage facilities, and helped bring the fairgrounds back into working condition.


Honestly, I wasn't super excited about leaving my house at 7am on a Saturday, but I must say that I am glad that I did.  Our group painted and painted and painted. In the end, we could really see the good that we accomplished.  Beautiful green benches and paint all over our clothes.

I especially felt the Spirit confirm to me that God was pleased with our efforts during the remarks made by representatives of the fair.   The service day organizer encouraged us to "remember the special feelings we felt today."

My favorite lines from men who represented the fair and community were:

"Although the sun was hidden behind clouds today, God was smiling down on us.  He was definitely part of the proceedings today.  There is no doubt about that.  Thank you for the good that you have done.  You will never know how much it means to us."

And another man said:

"We will NEVER forget you."

I will never forget you.  This is the effect that service has on others.  I have never forgotten certain people who have reached out to help me at crucial  moments in my life.  The Savior served us, and for his sacrifice, we must "never forget" Him.  And this is why we serve...to honor the service that Jesus Christ performed for each of us.


There was indeed a special spirit there today.  A spirit of love and friendship and appreciation and unity.  I am thankful to our stake president who encourages us to unite in a day of service.  This yearly event has become a beloved tradition in my heart, and I am glad that my children are beginning to be able to participate as well.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Take On Me


I keep having these completely abstract thoughts as I'm falling asleep at night.  I think about blogging about them, but in the light of morning they only make sense to me.

Last night, I was thinking about my real life and my blogging life.  In the last few weeks, I've spent way less time blogging...way less...(You might have noticed?)...which has left way more time for me to spend enjoying my real life.  There was a time when my virtual and real world were very much intertwined, but lately my real life adventures have taken me far away from the computer....which is unexpected and sort of refreshing.

This also leaves me wondering...is this a good move?  Is it temporary?  If I stay away too long, how will I ever find my way back?

As all of this was swimming around in my head last night, I thought of the A-Ha video "Take On Me" and I thought...that's it...that is the perfect description of my two worlds right now (minus the virtual love interest :)  Hey, it's my fantasy...I can be the girl in the video, if I want to! :)

Discuss amongst yourselves.  

Oh and be a friend and tell me which 80's music video best tells your story at the moment...
It'll make me feel like less of a nut!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

We Can Choose FHE



Do you ever check out the Family Home Evening Resource Book?

You should!

It's full of wise and wonderful, gospel-based family home evening lessons.

And you don't have to have an old copy to access them either.  

The FHERB (I say "the ferb") is available online: Right HERE.

When I sketched out a year's worth of FHE lessons, I inserted quite a few lessons from The FHERB, and last night was the first of many to come.  We did lesson 8: We Can Choose.

This was a great lesson for us to start out on, because Guy has been asked to speak in Primary on Sunday about how "Jesus Christ Teaches Me to Choose the Right."  When he received the assignment, he turned to me and whispered, "I know what I am going to talk about!"  What?  "The Pre-existence:  When Jesus chose to follow God's plan.  He taught us how to choose the right."

As Mormons there is one thing that we know that is pretty core to what we believe and how we live our lives and that is that everyone who comes to earth has the power to CHOOSE between right and wrong.  We know that although our options might sometimes be limited in this life, that power to choose can never be taken away from us.  It was a gift given to us by God before we came to earth.  We call it our "agency."

"Unfortunately, many people feel that they cannot make choices, that circumstances or events outside themselves control them. “I can’t help it,” a person may say. “That’s just how I am.”  Most of us do not fully understand the freedom that knowledge of our agency brings. The knowledge that we can choose our responses frees us. It allows us to leave old teachings and habits, to repent, and to truly follow the Savior. "

I love that.  Knowledge is power.  And by teaching our children that they have the ability to choose who they will be, we are empowering them...Just as our Heavenly Father empowered us by giving the gift to us in the first place!

I like how the lesson has different sections that helps adapt the lesson by age.  After the introduction, I stayed primarily in the "adapting for younger children" section.  We talked about and listed one decision that each child had made that day.  We "choose" a color of jelly bean from a bowl of jelly beans.  We listened for good and bad choices while we read about "Brent's Day" and the kids put their thumbs up and down to indicate if Brent had made a good or bad choice.

Then to end it, we made a graph showing how Brent's decisions led him closer or further away from Heavenly Father.  (Guy loved the logic represented in the graph!)

Image

When we make good choices, we become more like our Heavenly Father, we grow closer to Him.  If we make a bad choice, we can change direction and repent through our Savior Jesus Christ.  This process helps us to become even more like Him as we humble ourselves and try harder to make correct choices.

Overall, it was a great lesson that really connected with the kids on their level...and it was something that they know a lot about since we talk about our choices constantly...so they felt like "experts," I think.

Now, if your family isn't ready for full-blown structured lessons, I REALLY like the Friend Tip this week by Hillary Lemon. She says, "If your family isn’t accustomed to talking together, start small. A few minutes at the dinner table or a quick chat in the car can be the beginning of a meaningful habit for your family!"

I would also recommend checking out Hillary's tips in the Friend this month on ways to start get the conversation started!



PS - I have a little romance spotlight over at Friday Night Date Night today...go check it out!
(Hmmmm, my anniversary is commmmmmmming up!)


PPS - AND as always, you can see more FHE lesson reports at That Good Part.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

If I Could Save Time in a Bottle



When I was building our General Conference wall this year, I used this well-known picture from the gospel art kit as our prompt to listen for the words "eternal marriage."  As I taped this familiar photo to the wall, I marveled at the modesty of her wedding dress and thought, "Hmmmm, I wonder what became of this young couple."  

Little did I know that just a week or so later, I would receive my answer.  The woman in this photo stumbled across my blog while preparing for a YW lesson and commented.

She said, "That is my husband and I in the 'Eternal marriage' picture taken almost 16 years ago!  We have been blessed with 4 handsome sons over the years!" 

As Paul Harvey used to say, "And now you know the rest of the story..."  It's not much of her story, but it's the gist of it, and I'm sure she shared the part that was most important to her.

I don't know if you have ever wondered while looking at these old photos about the lives of the people in them, but rest assured, these are real people, with real lives, and real testimonies.  Love it!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Hard Work of Motherhood


Lately, I haven't felt like blogging as much as I normally do.

I guess I've been indulging in the beautiful, secret world that only my kids and I know.

Maybe you and your children also hold the precious key to this happy place.

If you do, I hope that you go there as often as possible.


Today in our heavenly little world, Scarlett served us lunch.  She put the whole thing together: carrots and dip, celery and peanut butter, oranges, grapes, yogurt, and water.  She set the table and poured our drinks with such care.

She made me SO. PROUD.


I have said recently, that I look at Scarlett and I see a girl who will make a great CEO someday...or President of the United States.  She is a natural born leader with an amazing gift of compassion for others.  She is a true gem.

My comment came echoing back to me, as Scarlett looked back at me today and said with her quiet and beautiful actions:  But you know I'll be a Mother someday, Mommy.  And that is the work that I love to do...just like you.


This is what Scarlett looked like yesterday right before we went to Kindergarten registration.  Do you think she's excited?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Are You Staying for Dinner?


Yesterday was our last day of Spring Break, so it was like FHE all day yesterday.

We took off and left town for a change of scenery.  We visited a military museum, painted our own pottery, grabbed lunch, people-watched, movie-watched, then came home.

When we got home, Steve still was not home from work.  He often has to work late on Mondays, BUT I know that he makes a special effort to be here.

Last night, he had a conference to attend, and when the president of the hospital that he works for walked up to him after the conference and asked, "Are you staying for dinner?"
Steve said, "No, I have to get going or I won't get to see my kids today."

When Steve did make it home, he listened to an excited but jarbled up explanation from the kids of what we actually did during the day without him.  I went upstairs for something and when I came down, I found Steve looking out the window.  He was looking on adoringly as his kids bounced gleefully together on the trampoline, inventing silly games and making each other laugh.  (He would have been out there with them, but he didn't have time to change out of his suit.)  Steve looked so happy to be able to spend even just a few moments with his kids before bed.  And seeing him  happy made me happy.

And that's what it's all about, folks!

Not a typical FHE, but just enough to teach a lesson to my kids:  Dad loves you.


Just wanted to share this too.  Scarlett made this picture on Easter morning of Jesus on the cross, and in her signature style, she wrote "I.L.U." (I love you.) at the top.  She handed her paper towel creation to Steve and asked him to hold it for her and he showed it to me.  We were both touched by her wordless testimony.  

We know that he loves us because he showed us.

We know that Steve loves us because he shows us.

How will you show your love for others today?


(Thanks to Meredith for showing me a few photo tricks!)
And be sure to check out That Good Part today!

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Bridge to You


My friend Cherry sent me these lovely stationery photo cards in the mail.  She took the pictures herself of bridges that she sees every day in her home city of Brooklyn, NY.  Each photo is more beautiful than the last.  Cherry wrote that seeing bridges makes her happy.  They make me happy too.

Bridges are magical.  Cherry doesn't know this, but just yesterday I was thinking about the bridge that we crossed every Sunday to get to church while I was growing up.  I was missing that bridge a lot yesterday.

Bridges are quite amazing, if you think about it.  They transport you into a different world.  They help you cross an unpassable challenge.  Bridges are a display of strength and skill and know-how and co-operation.

But bridges are only effective if we use them.  I think about personal bridges that I've been trying to build for a long time now, and I've realized how much more difficult they are to construct than actual physical bridges.  

Through his Atonement, the Savior Jesus Christ provided us with the ultimate bridge that can help us cross the many varied treacherous waters of mortality, but we must act in faith.  We must step out onto his bridge and learn for ourselves if his pathway leads to solid ground...and to safety...and to peace.  And I believe that it does.

Thank you to Cherry for thinking of me and reaching out a bridge of friendship.  I always appreciate it!


PS - Thanks to all who entered to win the temple print giveaway from LDS Temple Art.  I appreciated reading all of your wonderful testimonies.  (You might want to read them too!)

The winner (chosen randomly by Steve) is:  Comment #43

Joliene D.

YW4.jpg

Joliene - Please email me to claim your prize and let me know which print you'd like!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

That Our Sins Might Be Washed Away


Just in case 30 Christ-centered Easter traditions is not enough for you...
Here is one more that we did today:

We are on Spring Break, so the kids invited some friends over to play.


After doing a few Easter worksheets I remembered this object lesson that I hadn't yet shared with my children.

In Isaiah we read, "though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow..."

In the carnation experiment, we teach our children how Christ took our sins upon him in the Garden of Gethsemane, but how can we teach them how he can help us each individually to become clean from our daily sins?

I taught the children that like this glass of water, we come into the world pure, but everyone makes mistakes, everyone sins.


When we sin, we become unclean.  I added a few drops of red food coloring into the water to represent our sins and we talked about actions that might cause us to become unclean...such as being unkind to others.  When we have sinned, it's hard to feel the spirit and the world becomes confusing.  

What can we do to become clean again?


We can ask the Savior to help us to overcome our mistakes.

During the Atonement, Jesus Christ became the great and eternal sacrifice for our sins.

(I referred to a worksheet we had done earlier that referred to Christ as The Lamb of God and why he received that name.)

We can call on Christ to help us and to take away our sins.



We added a cup of bleach - representing Christ's Atonement and our repentance - to our water.




We saw the change happen before our very eyes.




Soon our water was clear and pure once again.





And the Atonement really can change us that quickly, but it does take action on our part.  We must act in faith by repenting of our sins in the name of Jesus Christ.

I explained that although our water had become very dirty, they should remember that there will never be a sin that the Atonement cannot cover.

HAPPY EASTER, everyone!

We Talk of Christ...and so do YOU!


Listen up, friends!

I have an important announcement:

It's "open mic night" at Mormon.org this weekend!

That's right, Mormon.org has created a special new Easter page where YOU can
SHARE YOUR TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST
and interact with people interested in learning more about our faith online.

Step 1:  "Like" the Mormon Facebook Page right now.

Step 2:  Tomorrow, on Good Friday, the official page where this conversation will take place will be announced to the world.  You can check it out now, if you'd like!

Step 3:  Invite your friends to visit this page by sharing it on FB, Twitter, etc.
On this special page of Mormon.org, your friends can download Bible videos, request a free copy of the Bible, and find out more about what Mormons believe.

And You?

You get to help answer their questions by sharing your testimony of Christ 
in a live online conversation.

It's easy.

And you won't be alone.

There will be many of us standing together to talk of Christ, and rejoice in Christ.

Please join us!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Always Want to Be (GIVEAWAY)

Kids new B BG.jpg


For anyone reading this who doesn't know how this line ends, it's from a children's song, and it goes like this, "I always want to be with my own family...and the Lord has shown me how I can."  The Lord has literally shown us how we can live with our families forever in his presence.  Is there anything more important for us to know?

There were so many talks in General Conference about strengthening family.  And like a sponge I tried to soak up every word.  But I am also excited to re-read and study their guidance in-depth over the next while.

We had General Conference Book Club yesterday as we do every week at my house.  I cannot believe we've been doing this for a full year of Tuesdays!

How much I've learned.  How much I've grown.

What an amazing blessing it is to know that God still speaks through living prophets to men on earth.  He is not silent on the issues that matter most to us.  What a blessing it is to be able to study their words together with other faithful LDS women...in my home, every week.  I am truly, truly blessed.

We are blessed to know that the Savior lives and speaks through his prophets, to know that his work did not stop at the tomb, but continues today.

Thanks to all of you for "talking of Christ and rejoicing in Christ" with me this last year.  

If you follow via Google Friend Connect, please leave a comment on this post telling me one thing that you are "rejoicing in" this Easter season.

Everyone who comments on this post will be entered to win a beautiful 8x10 temple print by Janae Bingham.  You can view all of her work by visiting her blog. Thank you, Janae!

(Oh, and stay tuned, because we're just getting warmed up:
Tomorrow I will have a very exciting announcement about a new way that you can "Talk of Christ!")

YM44.jpg  YW4.jpg

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Our Questions Answered

President Uchtdorf by Scarlett
Last night, we pulled out the list of questions that we wrote down last week at FHE that we hoped to have answered during General Conference.  And guess what?  ALL of our questions were answered resoundingly, effectively, and clearly.

Here were our questions and some of the speakers who provided powerful answers to our queries:

1.  How can I have a happy family?  (Answered best by President Uchtdorf's talk, Elder Holland's talk, President Packer's talk, and about 10 others!)

2.  How can I be a better daddy? Husband?  (Steve mentioned Elder Bednar's talk in the Priesthood session on disciplining the Lord's way.)

3.  How many prophets are there?  (Guy's question was answered by Elder Christofferson's talk where he mentioned that the 12 apostles are all called to be "seers, prophets, and revelators," subject only to the Prophet who leads the church.  So by reason of deduction, the answer is 15.)

4.  Will the prophet go to my birthday party? (Scarlett's question was sort of answered when she realized that the Prophet travels around the world a lot to dedicate temples and oversee the work.  He's probably too busy to come to her birthday party...but he's not too busy to bless those who need his love.  He even kept a helium mylar balloon that said "You're the Best" for three years and returned it to the cancer-stricken girl who had given it to him when she had recovered.  He might not be able to go to birthday parties, but President Monson is never too busy to minister to "the one".)

5.  I will give him a hug.  (This was Autumn's contribution to our list of questions and we're sure he'd gladly give a hug back to her!)

Our family definitely enjoyed seeing proof that the Lord truly cares about and answers our questions through his living prophets as we took time to review General Conference last night at family home evening.

What questions did you have answered at General Conference this weekend?

Be sure to check out That Good Part's FHE report today!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Resurrection Rolls Recipe



Welcome to my new readers from KSL!  Watch my interview on Mormon Times right now by following this link:  



This is such an awesome way to talk about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ with young children.  Our family started making Resurrection Rolls a few years ago, and every year this activity continues to be a HUGE HIT with my children, as we celebrate the true meaning of Easter!

To make this activity a success, you will need each ingredient listed below and a little childlike imagination!


Here is how you make 


RESURRECTION ROLLS:


(Each ingredient represents something used to prepare Christ's body for burial.)

refrigerated crescent rolls, separated into triangles (linen)
large marshmallows (Christ's body)
melted butter (anointing oil)
cinnamon & sugar (spices used to prepare the body for burial)
oven (tomb)


As you help your children assemble these rolls, teach them what each item symbolizes.

1.  Dip one marshmallow in the melted butter.  


Teach your children that people who loved Jesus lovingly cared for his body after he died.
They used special anointing oils and expensive spices to prepare his body for burial.  This was customary, but also a way for them to show reverence and love for their friend.


2.  Cover the buttered marshmallow in the spices.


3.  Wrap the marshmallow in the crescent roll (representing the linen used to cover Christ in the tomb.)


4.  Seal all edges, although you might want to allow a small hole (near the top) for marshmallow to evaporate and to create a tomb shape.


5.  Place all of the rolls on a greased pan and cook in a pre-heated oven.


Close "the tomb" tight...and "wait three days"...actually 12-13 minutes!


6.  Cook as instructed on crescent roll package.
(Usually 375 degrees for 13 minutes)

Tip:  I check near the end to make sure all of the marshmallow has evaporated before calling the children to check on "the third day." (You may need to wipe up excess mallow with a paper towel if it hasn't cooked off all the way.)


When the rolls are finished cooking, they should look like this.

The marshmallow has disappeared and the roll resembles an empty tomb.


The first time we did this, my son exclaimed 
"OH!  Jesus is gone!  He raised himself from the tomb!"

This is a fun and tasty way for children to learn more about the good news of Easter:

That "He is Risen!" and because Christ was resurrected, we will be too!


Click here to access a list of 30 more easy-to-do

Happy Palm Sunday and HAPPY EASTER, everyone!


PS - Don't forget to tune into KSL's Mormon Times to watch the segment they did with me about our Christ-centered Easter traditions.  The show airs at 4pm (MST) on KSL today right after General Conference.  So set your DVRs so you don't forget!  


And welcome to my new readers from KSL!!  
Kick back, have a seat, and make yourself at home!