Thursday, August 16, 2018

THE Name of the Church

The church released a statement today reiterating that we are to use the full, revealed name of the Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and not to go by other common nicknames. 

Because I recently had a bit of a testimony-builder about this, this announcement made me really happy.

So here's the quick little story: 

A little while ago I noticed that I was avoiding saying the full name of our church, because it is so long, and honestly, I wasn't comfortable saying it all. It can be a mouthful! And I didn't want to stutter or stumble on my words in front of my friends!  That's lame.

I pondered what I could do to fix my problem, and I feel the Holy Ghost prompted me to do the following.

I challenged myself (and my kids) to practice saying the full name of the church aloud until I/we got to the point where I could say it with confidence...every time.

I find this has really helped me in my missionary work. 

Now when someone asks me "What church do you go to?" I smile-take a deep breath-and say the full name of the church. 

I feel good about making this change in my personal interactions with my friends. 

My next goal is to be able to follow that up with, "You know, the church that is lead by prophets and apostles" or a quick "You know the church that believes families are forever," etc! 

Here is a link to a talk by then-Elder Nelson that I really learned a lot from which dissects each part of the official/revealed name of the church as well as the updated style-guide from the church's website:

And here is the updated style guide:  
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Monday, July 30, 2018

"Mr. Rogers & Me"

I'm losing faith in the movies guys.

And I didn't have much faith to begin with.

I check EVERY movie we see and most books we read against online parent-based reviews on sites like, etc.  I like to know exactly what kind of language will be used and story lines, content, etc, so I can make an informed choice for myself and for my kids.

However, today, I took my children to see the new documentary about Mr. Rogers without even thinking about looking to see what was in it or what it was rated.

I had no idea it was rated PG-13 or that I'd be treated to multiple uses of the word "a**", a picture of a man's naked behind, the word "d***k" in reference to the behavior of a child, and the word "b****" in reference to a woman.  Just so many dark and inappropriate things.

As a Mom, who just wanted to expose my children to the great life of a humble man of God, I fell to the very same traps that Mr. Rogers spent his life trying to fight against...exposing children to inappropriate media.

I am so vigilant about what they see, so when stuff like this happens to pains much. It really makes my heart hurt for me and for them.

So I just needed to share this here, in a safe space with fellow Mom-friends who I think will just let me cry it out with them this evening. (If you saw this and liked it, fine.  I'm guessing you didn't see it with your little, tiny babies by your side.)

(Note to self: Just because the main speakers in sacrament meeting praise a movie and base their talks on said, this does not a good movie make....)

And I share this also to warn you...don't take your little children to see this movie.  Be smarter than I was today...and, instead, go watch the documentary "Mr. Rogers & Me" on Amazon.  It's much more inspiring and in line with what Mr. Rogers really stood for. 

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Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Lord's Youth Battalion

I sure hope you watched President and Sister Nelson's broadcast this evening. If you didn't, stop what you're doing and listen to it right now at

The headline is that President Nelson is asking youth of the church to join "The Lord's Youth Battalion"!

As a Mother, who is trying so hard to steer my three oldest preteens in the right direction I absolutely loved President Nelson's vision for the youth and his advice (because, among other things, they echo what we've been teaching our children for a while now in our home. Yes, I was not-so-secretly doing Mom-was-right cartwheels tonight over what he taught!!  There's nothing like getting back-up from the Prophet himself. I hope there were many, many parents cheering as I was this evening!)

President Nelson so concisely and simply nailed each point, that, if followed, will aid our children as they enlist and serve in the Lord's Youth Battalion...which is God's army to gather His elect in these very latter days.

His marching orders were as follows:

a. Read the Book of Mormon daily (as he has taught previously)

1. Take a 7-day fast from social media to lessen it's influence on you. (I've previously asked my children to stay off social media all-together until they're adults.) He said, much of posts on social media are fake, so "take a break from fake."

2. Take this 7-day fast time to serve others and make a self-assessment. (Make a weekly sacrifice of time to the Lord.)

3.  Keep on the covenant Path.  Repent and get back on the path if needed.

4. Pray daily that all of God's children may receive the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

5. Stand out. Be different. Be a Light.  If people call you weird, wear that distinction as a badge of honor. (I tell my kids all the time: "I expect you to be different. If you look too much like everyone else you might not be doing it right!") 
Study the For the Strength of Youth manual anew (This is our current course of study for FHE as I've mentioned on here a few times in my FHE posts!)  Mark it up, talk about it with friends.  Discuss ways you can live the standards more exactly. *Share a copy of For the Strength of Youth with a friend.* (How massively cool is that?  What a huge impact doing this will have!  We've been suggesting to our own children to share their standards with their friends NOW before their friends start to make wrong choices...and this takes it a whole step further. I love it. So Bold.)

President Nelson closed by saying: "You have the capacity to be smarter, wiser, and to have more impact on the world than any previous generation."

I love it, I love it.  Amen and AMEN!

Then he asked all to stand and sing the closing hymn "Hope of Israel."

I had my girls who were listening and watching with me stand and we MARCHED to the hymn and raised our imaginary swords to the sky.

I hope it was dramatic enough!  I know that I'm energized!! How about you?
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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Sharing Some Scripture Study Pages

May Madness is upon us. This is the month where school is winding down, but first it speeds up to lightening pace with end-of-the-year concerts and art shows, etc.


Good thing we've got our new family scripture study plan to keep us least for a few minutes each morning!

Today, I thought I'd share a few more fruits of our study time together.  As you know, one step in our study plan is to ask questions regarding the principles taught in each scripture.  The photo above shows the creative way that my daughter Autumn (age 9) put together a few of her questions.

I love how keeping individual notebooks for studying allows me to meet each child where they are and help them in their studying.  I read Autumn's questions with her and it gave me an idea. I suggested that she think of three people she knows who are really happy.  She wrote down their names.  Then together we came up with three questions to ask each of them.  (What life decisions and daily choices have brought you joy?  Have you ever found it hard to keep a commandment?  How did you find a way to keep that commandment even though it was difficult for you at first?)

We emailed these questions to the three people she identified as being really happy: Her Primary President, her Activity Days leader, her piano teacher.

The same day, Autumn received the nicest testimonies back from all three women who kindly shared very real and honest personal stories and advice.  It was so wonderful.  I printed off their responses and glued them into her study journal to read the next day.  This was just such a cool outcome from our scripture study that I could not have foreseen.

I have also really enjoyed witnessing the creativity of my five year old's take on interpreting the scriptures and making them come alive.  The picture below is her illustration of 2 Nephi 2:27 which she worked on today.  I summed up the scripture in simple terms that she could understand, and she made up a game that would help us internalize the principle.

In her drawing she is in the middle.  To the right of her are two people who chose liberty (or chose to follow Christ) and on the left are two people choosing to follow Satan by making wrong choices.  In her "game" we came up with scenarios where a choice was to be made.  Depending on how we answered we then decided if that choice was a choice leading the person to liberty or to death/captivity.

It was such a creative and fun way to interpret the verse, which, again, I didn't anticipate.

And here is the page I worked on this week where I ended up listing some of the similarities I saw between President Nelson and Nephi.

Someone asked if we are still doing just one scripture per week.  We change to a new scripture when we feel we've exhausted our study of that verse, and that means we changed scriptures more often than a week.

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Friday, April 20, 2018

Family Scripture Study Plan

As you know, our family has been going through a lot of changes: new job, new house, new city, new baby, new schools.

With all of those changes and with the older half of our children entering tweenhood, we noticed our spiritual needs changing.  We also noticed that despite our ok-efforts our scripture study sessions were leaving something to be desired.

We followed President Monson's counsel to read the Book of Mormon every day, but the results still seemed lack-luster.

It became clear to me that what we were doing was no longer working for us...but I wasn't sure what to do next.

I attended a Relief Society meeting the other night dedicated to personal, couples, and family scripture study.  I arrived late, but heard lots of suggestions and resources.  Some we'd done in the past, others we hadn't.  But I still felt like there were a lot of obstacles in our way, until friend of mine related a personal story of a time when she was having trouble finding time for her own personal scripture study.  She sincerely prayed about her situation and Heavenly Father helped her accomplish her goals for personal study time.  She encouraged me to do the same, to take my problem to the Lord in prayer.

So, I did.  And he quickly answered me by putting into my mind a plan that would resolve a lot of the issues we were having, which included:

1. lack of focus and attention during family scripture study
2. trying to keep the interest and meet the needs of children who are a range of ages
3. encouraging, teaching and creating a habit of individual scripture study
4. learning, internalizing, and applying gospel principles
5. having a lively gospel discussion as a family

I mentioned on social media that we were making changes to our scripture study and received questions from members and friends not of our faith alike asking me to share what we are doing, so I'm sharing that now for anyone looking to change up their regular routine.

First of all, like I said, we've got children in varying age groups ranging from baby to tween (5 months, 2, 5, 9, almost 11, and 12 years of age)

Here's what you'll need for each person:

- a simple composition notebook (or for younger a composition notebook with handwriting lines like the journal on the left in the photo above.)  
- a pen or pencil
- crayons or coloring pencils, etc. (optional)
- scriptures and/or access to the Gospel Library App

Very simple.

Here are the 10 steps that came to my mind that I've written down and glued into the front of each notebook:

(Allot 10-12 minutes each day for this study.)

1. Always start with a prayer.
2. Look up & read the scripture reference.
3. Copy the scripture into your journal. Draw a picture if you'd like. (Especially for a younger child.)
4. Write down the principles being taught. (*Define any terms that you don't understand.)
5. Write two sentences explaining how these principles apply to your life now and/or in the future.
6.  Write down any questions that come to your mind.
7.  Search for answers to your questions using: scriptures, General Conference talks, and prayer.
8.  Write down any answers that you find/thoughts that come to your mind.
9.  Close with a personal prayer.
10.  Be prepared to share your thoughts with the family before bed or during family scripture study.

We are currently taking our scripture references from Seminary's Doctrinal Mastery Lists beginning with the Book of Mormon.

The plan is to study the same scripture or set of verses for the entire week.  A personal using this plan would follow steps 1-10 during the week.  So each day you could potentially be doing different steps, therefore different things with the same scripture, so long as you get through all ten steps at some point during the week.

Additionally, one might choose to also memorize the scripture, listen to talks that are found during the researching steps, ask their questions of others in the family to consider or help with, etc.

So here's a little bit of how this looks broken down by age.  As you can see in the photo above, my two year-old is scribbling in his notebook as we talk, my 5 year-old is drawing a picture, and my almost 11 year-old is writing down principles.

Here is a page that my five year old is working on (with the addition of scribbles from her two year old brother!)  I copied part of the verse for her with lines between that she can now carefully copy in her own hand-writing.  She can also draw what she sees in her minds-eye as we discuss and add her own two-cents of testimony.  Above is a drawing of a Book of Mormon with the words "believe" written on it.

Today as we got on the topic of God creating the entire world, she drew some flowers and told me that this is what God created.  I then wrote her words for her as a "caption" to her artwork.

My 9 year-old took right to this idea as I think it mirrors some writing processes she is doing in school.  When I asked her if she understood what the word comprehend meant, she was quick to look it up on my phone and write the definition with a star at the top of the page before moving on to write down the principles in her own words and thinking of ways that the principles applied to her.  And, of course, she did a little doodling on the side.

Now these are some of my pages of study based on the same scripture. I found that writing really is helping me to focus and to make new connections and to slow down and hear the spirit teaching me as I search more proactively for answers to my questions about what is being taught.

I had only written down two questions: Will we someday comprehend what God comprehends?  And How are we to treat God's creations?

But once I got going, I found so much to enrich my understanding of this scripture.  I searched terms like "man's progression", "perfection", and "wisdom", and although I was only searching for a short period of time, I found so much great stuff!  It was way more effective than just reading has been for me for a while now.

And I was so impressed with the Gospel Library's search function.  I found it hard before but this time, it was so easy and quickly took me from scriptures in various books to quotes in General Conference talks that directly related to my questions, and back again.  

(For my friends of other faiths reading this: You can download the LDS Gospel Library App and use it on your phone.  It's a powerful tool for searching the scriptures and saving notes on, etc.  And I believe you don't have to be a member to utilize this tool. You can sign in as a "guest" and it's totally free. It includes the KJV of the Bible in addition to the talks I mentioned.)

So this is how we are implementing this in our family.  Right now we are working together on this to help us all grow in our ability to search the scriptures.  With the hope that these skills and experiences will become a life-long habit of personal scripture study, and that they will know how to find answers to their questions when they need it most!

I hope this inspires you to customize to your own family or change things up in a way that helps you meet your spiritual goals!  Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions in the comments below!
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Monday, April 2, 2018

Plaster Hand Molds

It's the last day of Spring Break for us, and it's looking more like a Snow Day!  Since the move, I haven't been able to craft with my children like we've been accustomed to doing in the past, so a while back I bought some plaster of paris and today was the day for this keepsake craft!

And it couldn't have come at a better time.  You see my little man Mr. Val is turning two years old on Friday and his hand is the perfect squishy little thing...and the perfect subject for my little project.  

We made impressions in playdough, then poured plaster of paris into the molds.  The plaster becomes hard in 30 minutes from the time you mix it.  I love how much detail the plaster picked up.  When I touch it, it really feels like Val's hand, at least for size and chubbiness! :)

Anyway, here's a link for more demonstrations on how this project works at a blog called Teacher Tom.  Also, I added white glue to the mix to add strength.  You can search for more tips on this.  I didn't remove the project from the playdough for quite a while and now I'm scrubbing playdough off of it.  But it'll work out.

Although the tattooed eggs we did this weekend were awesomely fun, this is probably my favorite craft of all time, because it immortalizes these hands that I love for me to keep for...well, as long as plaster of paris holds up!

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