Monday, April 29, 2013

Hello.


Been busy playing with this baby...


...and receiving bouquets of flowers from this other one..


...and listening to songs written by this one...


...and eating s'mores made by these guys...


...and enjoying every moment...unplugged...with my little ones.


If you haven't yet, you can still help send Angela to the World Congress of Families.
She only needs $760 more to go.  Let's put her over the top this week!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Send One of Us to The World Congress of Families


If you're like me...you've got lots to do today.  You've got kids to drop off at school, lunches to make, groceries to buy, laundry to fold, homework to maneuver, and dinner to conjure.   

You've got so much going on that you probably don't have time to travel to Sydney to attend the World Congress of Families...to help guide international efforts to help strengthen the family.

But you know who does have time and easy access?  Our friend Angela Fallentine, who you've heard from recently on this blog about her experience testifying about The Family Proclamation in front of the New Zealand Parliament.

You know what she does NOT have?  Enough money to buy entrance into the congress and airfare.

So what do we say:  Women and mothers who read my blog and who care so very much about family, would we like to send one of our very own over to this conference, to represent our love of family, to report back to us what is spoken there, and to help inspire others to strengthen families?

We can do it...and it's going to be so easy.  

Please go DONATE whatever amount you can to Angela's fund at:


CLICK ON THE LINK ABOVE TO DONATE.

It is easy as pie.

IF we can manage to raise the funds for Angela to attend, (which I have no doubt that we will) Angela will act as our "special correspondent in the field."  

She will:

1.  Provide us with guest posts and updates from the conference.  
2.  Send us summaries of each speaker.
3.  TAKE OUR QUESTIONS and concerns to influential leaders at the conference.
4.  Create youtube compilations of the addresses to be shared by us on social media sites.
5.  Work to inspire others to catch the vision of preserving the family.

OK, I REALLY HAVEN'T ASKED YOU GUYS FOR ANYTHING IN A REALLY LONG TIME! So I'm calling in the troops...Service Boot Campers out there, you are being called up.  If every one of my readers donated just ONE DOLLAR...Angela would have the money that she needs TODAY.  I don't mean to be all PBS-y on you this morning...but isn't is worth a dollar to you?

Let's do this!


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thee, Thou, Thy, and Thine: Learning the Language of Prayer




Prayer can come in many forms, and we know that God invites all to come to him.

In the LDS church, we do not use a set of memorized prayers when we communicate with our Heavenly Father personally in prayer, but we are instructed to use worshipful language when addressing our Father in Heaven.  

Today, we are lucky to hear from my friend Alana Lee, who is going to teach us how to use worshipful, respectful language while praying.  

(If thou thinkest that thou needest not this post, thou shouldst think again!  We can all use a refresher course, right?!)  :)

Alana has also created an easy-to-reference bookmark to help us navigate the language of prayer.  (You can download it here or at the end of this post.)

Here's Alana:

Having our language reflect our respect of Diety is part of our quest to become perfect like our Savior, and as part of our mortal progression toward perfection, we need to learn the proper language of prayer.  

When Christ prayed to His Father, he set the example by using Thee, Thou, Thy and Thine.


Elder Oaks explains the why in his Apr 1993 Conference address: “The Language of Prayer." He says:


     "The words we use in speaking to someone can identify the nature of our relationship to that person. They can also remind speaker and listener of the responsibilities they owe one another in that relationship. The form of address can also serve as a mark of respect or affection. 



"So it is with the language of prayer. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches its members to use special language in addressing prayers to our Father in Heaven. 


"When we go to worship in a temple or a church, we put aside our working clothes and dress ourselves in something better. This change of clothing is a mark of respect. Similarly, when we address our Heavenly Father, we should put aside our working words and clothe our prayers in special language of reverence and respect. In offering prayers in the English language, members of our Church do not address our Heavenly Father with the same words we use in speaking to a fellow worker, to an employee or employer, or to a merchant in the marketplace. We use special words that have been sanctified by use in inspired communications, words that have been recommended to us and modeled for us by those we sustain as prophets and inspired teachers. 
     
"Perhaps some who are listening to this sermon in English are already saying, “But this is unfamiliar and difficult. Why should we have to use words that have not been in common use in the English language for hundreds of years? If we require a special language of prayer in English, we will discourage the saying of prayers by little children, by new members, and by others who are just learning to pray.” 
     
"Brothers and sisters, the special language of prayer is much more than an artifact of the translation of the scriptures into English. Its use serves an important, current purpose. We know this because of modern revelations and because of the teachings and examples of modern prophets. The way we pray is important. 
     
"I am sure that our Heavenly Father, who loves all of his children, hears and answers all prayers, however phrased. If he is offended in connection with prayers, it is likely to be by their absence, not their phraseology. [This is particularly true with recent converts and young children.] 
    
"The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “It is a great thing to inquire at the hands of God, or to come into His presence.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 22.) The special language of prayer reminds us of the greatness of that privilege. I pray that all of us will be more sensitive to the importance of using this reverent and loving language as we offer our public and private prayers.


Now that we understand the why, let's go over the how.

3 steps for using Respectful language of prayer



1st, Identify any 2nd Person pronouns: subjective, objective, and possessive. 
Ex 1: I love you (I = subject doing the action, you = object receiving the affection/action of being loved.)
Ex 2: I passed the hymnal to you. (I = subject that actively passes, you = object that receives.)

2nd, replace common pronoun with worshipful pronoun.
You → Thou (subject pronoun), Thee (object pronoun)
Your → Thy (possessive pronoun)
Yours → Thine (possessive pronoun)

3rd, Modify verb ending with –est (usually) when using subjective form “Thou.”
Thou knowest, Thou doest, Thou helpest, Thou gavest, except for these irregulars: Thou art, Thou wilt, Thou hast.
Thou hast given me many blessings.
We give thee praise.
We thank thee for thy goodness and mercy.
We ask thee to bless and sustain thy prophet and apostles.
We seek to emulate thee.
Please help us to understand thy will.
All that is thine can be ours.
  
Other Helps: Doctrine and Covenants Section 109: Dedicatory Prayer of Kirtland Temple.

Using respectful prayer language will come more naturally as you study the scriptures and pay attention to the wording in hymns. Comfortable use will eventually come with practice. Thus, practice in your daily personal and family prayers.

Understanding a seeming contradiction in biblical language:
Exodus 4:15, "THOU shalt speak ... I will be with THY mouth...and will teach YOU what YE shall do." "Thou/Thy" refer to Moses himself, but "You/Ye" refer to the entire nation of Israel. (This example taken from:http://www.ecclesia.org/truth/thou.html)


You can DOWNLOAD this Language of Prayer Bookmark by clicking on the links in this post.  Please feel free to pin and share this resource as there aren't any other resources on this topic readily available online.

You can find more resources by Alana here:  
Family Proclamation Treasure Hunt Game Download
Modesty, Purity, and Tolerance



Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stay in Condition


So, you guys all know what a big fan Middle-aged Mormon Man is of President Packer, right?  Well, he was talking about him again today, and I thought MMM needed his own fan t-shirt.  So I whipped this one up just for fun.  Realizing now that I've told you all about it, there is zero chance that he'll be wearing it in public, however I'd LOVE a shirt like this one...for obvious reasons.

Anyway, we actually discussed President Packer's talk These Things I Know at General Conference Book Club today.  And I just wanted to point out one of the points that I am taking to heart.

Early on in his talk, President Packer encouraged us to teach ourselves and our families about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and about the Holy Ghost.  Near the end of his remarks he said, "Each of us must stay in condition to respond to inspiration and the promptings of the Holy Ghost. The Lord has a way of pouring pure intelligence into our minds to prompt us, to guide us, to teach us, and to warn us. Each son or daughter of God can know the things they need to know instantly. Learn to receive and act on inspiration and revelation."

Each of us must STAY IN CONDITION.  As an athlete, I love that bit of admonishment.  Because as an athlete, I know what it means to fall out of condition.  Everything is harder.  The next practice is painful.  And you will most surely lose to a more disciplined opponent.

We cannot afford to lose.  The outcome of this match-up is too important, but how do we remain in condition?  President Packer gives lots of specific advice to those who would like to remain in tip top shape:  honor covenants, use the priesthood to protect your family, know that faith is power, not merely belief.  

Why don't you take a few minutes to read President Packer's talk!  And please share with me your ideas "for staying in condition", so that the Lord can pour pure intelligence into our minds to prompt, guide, teach, and warn us!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Temple Matron in Our Own Home


A few Saturdays ago, I was able to attend the Palmyra, NY temple with our youth.  Right before that weekend, I started reading Covenant Motherhood by Stephanie Sorensen of Diapers & Divinity.  (Yes, OUR Stephanie!)

Stephanie taught me something very profound right in the beginning of her book that I just had to copy down.  She said:

"We have the opportunity to create homes that are sacred, safe, and sanctified like the temple.  Can you think of anything more divine than that?  A mother is the temple matron in her own home, doing all she can to make it a place filled with the spirit of God.  A home is a temple because important eternal work takes place there.  The mother of the home plays a significant role in creating that environment and in directing the work within" (Sorensen, p. 9)

This is exactly why I do what I do in my home.  This is why I work so hard--because what happens here matters and is of eternal significance.  But it was fortifying to hear someone put it into words like she does in her book.

Sometimes, the work is hard and messy and laborious, but I know WHY I am doing it...to create an atmosphere where my family and I can feel the spirit and learn the teachings of Jesus Christ.  And it is to that end that I do what I do.  Not because I just like crafts or because I love to cook (I don't!)  Those are mainly means to an end...and that end is bringing my children to the Savior.

Because I have served as an ordinance worker in the temple in the past, her analogy instantly drew a lot of scenes from my memory--I recalled the grace with which temple matrons and coordinators performed their work and how their smiles always made me feel like I was being welcomed home.  I also remembered how they conducted themselves when there was a problem to be worked out, and it was with this same reverent, peace-filled demeanor.  I realized that I can conduct myself in my house more graciously if I patterned my attitude by their example.

With this quote in my heart and mind, I entered the temple that Saturday to help our youth perform baptisms for more than 200 individuals.  Normally, I would have volunteered to be out in the font area in order to watch their angelic faces as they performed the work, but on this day, I headed straight for the dressing room.

My love for these beautiful girls increased as I passed out towels and wrung out wet socks.  

Images flashed in my mind of myself at home performing similar tasks...only with a more profound awareness of the true purpose of doing these jobs, and I felt strengthened.  

I thought about the Savior wringing out cloths as he washed the feet of his disciples, and the spirit confirmed to me that I truly could "be the temple matron in my own home," and that he would be very pleased if I would consider myself in this light...and consider all who enter my home as temple patrons to be served, taught, cherished, and loved.

I am convinced now, more than ever, that there are no small jobs in the Kingdom of God.  The things that we do as Mothers, day in and day out, are spiritually significant, for us and for our children and families.  

Anyway, the rest of Stephanie's book is filled with these kinds of insights that will help you to articulate what you feel in your heart is true about Motherhood and others that will shed new light on the role that you play in the lives of your children and that the Savior plays in helping you to fulfill that role.  

You can find Stephanie's book Covenant Motherhood here at Deseret Book.  It would make an awesome Mother's Day gift for others or for yourself!! :)

Thanks, Stephanie for writing such a beautiful, inspired book!  

Friday, April 12, 2013

Baby Bronchitis


My baby has bronchitis...well, the baby version.

You'd never really know she was sick though because she is such a happy little spirit who inspires smiles everywhere we go.

Now, I'm not claiming to be the world's best Mom.  I am not.  I am just a regular Mom, doing the best that I can, just like everybody else.  But it struck me as we sat in the doctor's office how important Moms are.  Mothers are the ones who KNOW their children best.  We are the ones who get the "hunches" that something is not right with a child or that a child needs some special attention.  And we are the ones who normally make sure that children get what they need, whether it be food or clothes or kisses or stories or medical attention.

Now, as I sat holding this mask over Honor's face to help her receive her breathing treatment, I was filled with compassion and concern for this sweet baby...but more than that, I was filled with love for her.  I wanted to help her.  I also thought of my sweet sisters-in-law who have sat holding their newborns as they were covered with these plastic contraptions post-surgery, and I felt love for them and for the work that they did (and are  doing) as mothers of children who require special love and attention.

And I thought about the Savior and got a little bit more of an understanding of why he loves us.  That sudden burst of love and charity that I felt that was a result of her needing healing is probably similar to the emotional reaction that the Lord has for each of us when we come to him in need of treatment.  It is truly the pure love of Christ.  It is pure compassion.  And even though we can often mask the things in us that need healing, the Master, like a Mother, cannot be fooled.  He knows us too well.  And he always has the perfect regimen for relief.

Honor is going to be fine.  Look...she doesn't even look sick!


And I am thankful for all of the precious lessons that my children help me learn every day.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

We Love Mrs. Wetzel


Scarlett has been so blessed this year to have one of the best teachers in the history of ever.

She is loving.  She is wise.  She pays special attention to each child and understands the mind and heart of children.  She stayed home to raise her own children before going back to work as a Kindergarten teacher, so there are a lot of dynamics that she really understands...especially about the development and needs of children.  She never speaks ill of any child.  All children are special and loved by her.

Every day starts with singing.  Every week ends with "fantastic fun Friday."  Every tiny accomplishment is celebrated.  

I was there volunteering the day that one little girl turned to Mrs. Wetzel and announced that she knew what sound "R" made.  Mrs. Wetzel took the girl by the hand and ran her all around the pod having the girl repeat her brilliant observation for other teachers and adults and exclaiming how smart and wonderful this little one was.  That little girl is probably still beaming from the display of affection.  

In fact, hundreds of students are probably still beaming because they had Mrs. Wetzel at some point prove to them their true worth.  I know this is true, because when Scarlett received her teacher assignment last summer, I mentioned to a recently returned-missionary in our ward who Scarlett had, and he exclaimed, "Mrs. Wetzel?!!!  She is the best!  I had her for third grade, and I will never forget her."

Last week, I noticed that Scarlett wrote "I love you, Mrs. Wetzel." across the front of her folder.  Of course, Mrs. Wetzel responded in kind, saying, "I love you too!"


I am so thankful for a good teacher who is also such a good example of how to love everyone in such a Christ-like way.  I only wish that I could be around her more to soak up her beautiful expressions of love, and her unique wisdom.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Apostle Names Worksheet




Still feeling the General Conference buzz.  I hope that you are too.

Try hard not to lose it, ok?

Anyway, during FHE on Monday, we asked the children if they thought they could memorize the names and faces of all of the apostles by the next General Conference.  They thought that was doable.  I also threw in that we'd like them to be able to also "memorize" one teaching of each of those leaders as well...something simple, such as "Elder Perry taught that obedience to God's laws helps us to be free," or "Elder Scott said that children can help their families remember to follow Jesus."

To up the ante, Steve said that if all of us managed to accomplish our goal before the next conference, he would bake a cake that looks like President Monson!  I love being married to a man loving enough to be silly for our children.  I just love him.  I also love cake...and the Prophet.

So, now it's up to us to help teach our children the beautiful truths that we heard this weekend.


The first little learning activity will be here waiting for them when they come home from school.  It's a handwriting worksheet with the names of all of the apostles on it.  If you are interested, you can download the one that I made here or make your own to your own specifications at this same free link.

After they trace the names, they will try to match them to the pictures of each apostle.  We will see how this goes!


On Monday, I was delighted to receive this framed photo of President Monson as a gift.  Autumn was so excited, she squealed, "That's my FAVORITE prophet!!"  

I am excited to help my children get to know all of the prophets/apostles who lead and guide us.  I want them to exclaim with joy when they see and hear each of their names, but even more important, I know that as we write their messages on our hearts, we will increase in happiness together as well!

So, how are you going to help your children learn the lessons of General Conference over the next six months?  I would love to hear your ideas!

(And The Friend would too!)


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

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

All Boys But Nine


Hey guys - This is a Youtube reality series about my stake president and his family.

I like that it's really heartfelt and wholesome, and they are spreading the happiness that they receive by being a part of a family.

Please check it out on youtube, subscribe, and share it with others.

Sharing this is a great way to lead others to the happiness of family.

The series is called All Boys But 9.

So far there are only two "episodes" but I have a feeling that it will do a lot of good and continue to get better as time goes by.

Monday, April 8, 2013

General Conference Answers


I realized on Friday that I really only had ONE question that I wanted answered during General Conference this time around...and boy did that question get answered...OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN--clearly and definitively and authoritatively.

What a blessing it is to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

General Conference Mosaic



First of all, I've just got to say that I guessed correctly (on my Fantasy General Conference bracket) that the choir would be wearing purple yesterday, and I got basically every other guess wrong!  Oh well, at least their brightly colored choir dresses made for a colorful General Conference-inspired mosaic!


In between munching on Conference cake, and lounging in pajamas, this is what we've been creating together this morning.


And it has been so much fun!  We used the left-over contact paper and tissue paper squares from a similar Christmas craft that we did this year (the stained-glass stable craft).  Never before did I notice how much the organ resembles the outline of a temple.  Something to think about as you watch today!


I hung the contact paper, sticky side out on a window.  I drew a very rough outline of the Conference center, and the kids are having fun placing tissue paper squares all over this thing.  We've still got more to do, but what better time than watching General Conference together today.  Enjoy!!




Saturday, April 6, 2013

Understand His Plan


One session into General Conference and things are going swimmingly.

I couldn't hear most of Elder Packer's talk or President Eyring's, but thanks to modern technology, I can go back and review what they said...RIGHT NOW!

Amazingly enough, in what little I did manage to hear...I found MANY ANSWERS to my questions...so much so, that I thought for sure that GC was scripted just for me! :)

Anyway, here is one thing I set up for our budding writer to use as she listens to conference.  She was instructed to write down the words she heard...using her kindergarten "kid writing" which is basically total disregard for spelling and focus on sounds.

I can see the words: Jesus Christ, calvary, king, ordination, priesthood, the Lord, woman and husband.

As her title implies, by listening to General Conference, even a five-year-old can begin to "understand His plan."

Free General Conference Bingo App





It's true.  I've been no friend to the trees the week, as I've printed out General Conference packets times three! (I used "The Ultimate General Conference Packet" found here.)

But this morning, I got an email about a free General Conference Bingo App.  I checked it out.  It's pretty cool.  And doesn't make any noise, so if you haven't gotten your stuff together yet, go here to download this free bingo app to help your children listen to General Conference.  Not as good as, say covering the squares with M&M's...but...the kids'll probably love it still.

Now I have to say, I don't let my kids use iPads and such during church, and probably won't during Conference either, but for those who do I thought you might want this resource.

And, yes, the iPad Mini that I got for Christmas is cracked, and it took me less than 30 days to do so.  Moving on.



Of course, after the first find, I had to see if there were any other neat apps to tell you about.  And I did find two more that I really like.

First, this General Conference Review App...to be updated after this conference.  It's called "Who Said This In Conference?"  You can play games of varying lengths (starting at 1-minute reviews) and you can select the conferences or number of conferences from which you'd like quotes to review.  They give you four speakers to choose from when you answer and give you clues if guess incorrectly.  And after you review the quote you can actually see the whole talk to re-read it.  Very cool.


Now here is one I really liked.  It is this Temple Matching App.  As you uncover the matching temples, you also uncover a "mystery" apostle whose name you must guess!

And last, but not least, there is the FREE LDS Ensign App...Download it and you will receive the Conference editions of the Ensign on your device free to review anytime you'd like!  Sweet!

Have fun watching Conference today!

And for those on Twitter...join the chatter at #LDSConf, #Christian, #GoogleStake.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

When the Prophet Says Jump



I am enjoying preparing myself and my children to hear the words of the prophets in General Conference this weekend.  

I spent the morning yesterday reviewing conference talks given by the first Presidency over the last two years, and writing down quotes in my new perpetual General Conference Study Journal.  

As I did so, the spirit continued to guide my list of questions that I'd like to find answers to during conference.  

Last night, during mutual, I had fun planning out the Personal Progress Project that the girls and I will be doing as we watch General Conference.  Did you know you can do an entire project this weekend...for any value, basically by watching General Conference?  You can read about it here.  I am doing mine on Faith.


Anyway, have you guys noticed that there are like a million resources now online for things to do with your kids during General Conference?  It's pretty neat that this is now the case (thanks to so many Mormon mommy bloggers out there!) but I also find it a tad bit overwhelming.  

That's why I was glad to read Stephanie's post about preparing yourself spiritually for General Conference a year or so ago.  It gives 5-6 really great pointers on preparing and listening to Conference, and has helped me remember to focus on the most important things.

And when we are taking care of the most important things, then we can enjoy the fun aspects of preparing for General Conference too, without stressing!

Yesterday, I roamed the aisles of Walmart looking for fun little treats to surprise my kids with and to get them excited about listening to General Conference.  (But let's face it, after a few years of "celebrating" general conference, they are pretty much already psyched.  Like can't sleep at night/visions of sugarplums excited.)

So, anyway, I found a four-pack of jump ropes in the dollar aisle and thought...Hmmm, what can we do with this?  Then this phrase popped into my head, "When the Prophet says JUMP....we say HOW HIGH?"  I doubt my kids would get it without some explanation, but the thought just made me laugh out loud.

But that is the goal right?  We want to get to the point that we are ready to act immediately and willingly on the counsel given to us.

With that said, I'm going to add a few points to Stephanie's checklist to prepare ourselves to hear and heed God's word:

1.  Take time during the next two days to repent of things that need repenting of.  Get yourself right with people who you might have a disagreement with or have hurt.  Forgive them, if they've hurt you.  This will help clear your conscience and ready you to receive more of the message this weekend.

2.  Pray to God to help soften your heart so that you may hear God's will and do it.  Also pray that you will have an open mind to what is taught and how it applies to your life/situation.

I really do want to be the kind of person who answers the prophet's call with "how high?"  But this doesn't happen automatically.  I found a clue to becoming this kind of disciple of Christ, while reading The Book of Mormon yesterday.  

I read what Nephi said in 1 Nephi 2:16:  "I Nephi...having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father [who was a prophet]; wherefore I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers."

3.  If you are watching General Conference with kids, focus more on experiencing conference with them, from their perspective.  You will only chase the spirit away if you try to catch every word and find yourself "shushing" your little ones.   (Believe me, I know.)  Instead, soak up the spirit that you feel together...play your games or color with them.  And you both will come away with positive feelings associated with the time you've spent together listening to the Prophet.  You will have six months to re-listen to and apply the teachings.

And last, but not least...get your kids a jump rope!!!  And when the choir sings, send them outside to jump out their wiggles...with the joyous reminder ringing in their ears that when the prophet says jump...we say how high!


PS - In photo above, there are other items in my basket that coincide with talks from previous conferences...A candy bar and musical recorders.
Can you guess which talks they go with?

 PPS - There are also a lot of well-organized ideas on Sugardoodle's GC page...not overwhelming at all! :)  Just so you know, her new packet is for adults and teens!