Thursday, January 31, 2013

New Beginnings...Stand in Holy Places

Our two wards had New Beginnings together last night, and it was so awesome.  I just had to share it with you.  I volunteered to come up with the "theme" for the evening, but I must confess:  It was all Steve's idea.  After coming up with nothing, I consulted my better half, and he suggested that we do "Where in the World are...the Young Women?" (Like "Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?")

Since our goal was to have a less formal and more fun evening for New Beginnings this year, the game that we planned worked out perfectly.  We worked with the young women in the weeks prior to help them identify one "holy place" where they stand either on a daily basis or a place where they have felt their testimony grow.

Then each young woman wrote three clues to help others guess where they were standing (or what they were doing.)

This year's theme is "Stand ye in holy places and be not moved,"  so we focused on the idea that we can make just about any place a holy place as we are worthy of and invite the spirit into our lives.

Here are a few examples of the holy places our girls shared:  early morning seminary, reading scriptures alone in my room, sitting by the creek in my back yard, kneeling in prayer before bedtime, spending time with my friends who are good examples, attending testimony meeting at Girl's Camp, participating in Trek, receiving a patriarchal blessing, being sealed to my family in the temple.

The "holy place" that I described was "writing in my journal."  I said, "I use my hands, my head, and my heart."  When no one got it, I added, "I use a pen."  And they guessed it.

The girls did such a wonderful job with their clues.  There were lots of giggles and shouting out of answers.  It was so perfect and lighthearted, but also tender and a wonderful way for each girl to bear testimony and to showcase her personality.  So fun!

We also invited the parents in attendance to join in with clues of their own if they felt inclined.  One father chimed in at the last minute to say that when he had gone to Girl's Camp the previous summer to chaperone, he felt the spirit so strong when the girls were all out reading their scriptures in a field.  I felt the spirit when he said that, like chills up my arm.  It was cool, I think, for the girls to hear that they had created a holy place by doing something good together...and that someone else--an adult--took notice.

Sister Wilson & Sister Gee - our two YW Presidents
Anyway, the girl's testimonies/game were followed by some speakers...two young women and then our Bishop and a member of the bishopric from the other ward.

Our Bishop talked about how the YW values are like "loadstars" that help us navigate this life.  The brother from the other ward gave many excellent examples of how we can make any place a holy place...including the powerful example of how he worked in a prison after returning home from his mission, but because he kept his standards, he could still feel the spirit and have many wonderful testimony-building experiences.

Temple Treat Boxes --  Set of 12

We gave the girls small compasses (housed inside boxes that looked like temples) and reminded the girls that we know they will go far in life, but wherever they go...they should stand in holy places.

There is a lot about that night that I am leaving out, but I just wanted to record the parts that particularly touched me.  It was really a simple affair...we hung maps on the wall for decorations and had some good food waiting for us to munch on afterward.  But what was needed was there in abundance...the spirit!!!

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Most Correct of Any Book on Earth

I've been studying truth this month.  It seems like every time I turn around I'm being taught yet another important nuance of what it means to tell the truth, how to discern truth, and where to find truth.

Today I realized again that most of the time truth is right in front of you, if you will only open your eyes to see it.  As we know, all things testify that there is a God...He made the earth in such a way, that this is so.

A few weeks ago, I read a popular book (recently released as a movie) that reviewers said would "make you believe in God."  I read it based on that promise and was sorely disappointed.  I got a lot that I hadn't bargain for, but reading the book only left me feeling empty and duped.

The evening after I finished the book, I was giving my baby a bath.  Her eyes sparkled as she wiggled around in the shallow water.  The spirit touched me and taught me a great lesson. 

I knew in that instant that five minutes of watching my baby float around in two inches of water made me believe in God more deeply and love him more completely than an entire week spent reading about Pi Patel floating on a life boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. 

That was truth that I did not need to go to the library to find.  It was right there in front of me.  The book I read was gory, but well-written...beautifully written, in fact.  My baby used no words but taught me a much better lesson.

Today, I was presented with yet another lesson about truth.  It was also truth that was right in front of me, the whole time.

I opened my Book of Mormon to the beginning in order to start a new course of personal study for the new year.  I planned on skipping over the title page, but a highlighted section in the introduction caught my eye.

The question of why it is so hard to find a book that truly enlightens has been rolling around in my head lately...and right here was my answer.

It said, "I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book."

And there was my answer.  No other book can compare with scripture.  No other book is more correct than The Book of Mormon.  No other book will help you get nearer to God.

So, if you are looking for a good, unadulterated, life-improving read.  I'd start there.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

To Tell the Truth

Earlier this month, I read about Heather at Women in the Scriptures' new "Mom's Missionary Training Center" that she is doing with her kids this year.  I read her post about Teaching Kids Honesty that she so generously shared, and I decided to hop on board.  She basically is taking nine attributes of Christ's character as outlined in chapter six of Preach My Gospel and teaching them month by month to her children so that they can better emulate the Savior as they form their character.

I grabbed a bunch of her suggested books from the library and have them around the house for the kids to read or for us to read together and casually discuss.  We just finished reading Shiloh by Phyllis Richards Naylor, which Guy loved.  What a tender and wise story. It really treats the subject of honesty on a mature level that allows kids to explore the implications of being honest (or dishonest) on a life, a family, a community, or a society.  What an excellent read with a lot of heart.

It has struck me over the last 24 hours how much the world suffers now because of a lack of honesty and integrity.  From famed athletes falling from grace for lying or being deceived, to loan officers and business people doing less than their best or outright stealing, to "yellow journalism" or just plain lazy reporting, to the ridiculous scam email I received this week from "Jess" in Manila claiming that she was in a pickle and needed me to rush her $1,980 to get her out of it!

This world needs a generation of children who know how to tell the truth and how to be all times.  I can see that as the years pass this will only get harder and more unpopular. And more complicated.  And perhaps that is why it's such a wise thing to start with teaching our children this now.  Honesty is the first virtue...the one that leads to all others.  Let's instill this in our kids now...any way we can!

Since we are in the middle of a move, I don't really have time to plan out all the fun lessons that I like to do normally with my kids...that's why I am so grateful to Heather for putting together and sharing this lesson plan which is really RICH with resources and easy to tailor to the way you'd like to teach this in your home.  So please go check out her Mommy's MTC.  It's a very valuable thing to invest time in...I promise you! :)

PS - Just by way of explanation...I use the duct tape to color code our moving boxes.  It's a great way to make sure boxes make it into the right room on the right floor...saves lots of time and work, plus it's just fun!
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Monday, January 14, 2013

Here's my write me, baby.

I really appreciate the good teachers that I had when I was growing up.  One of them, my kindergarten teacher, and I recently started exchanging letters.

The funny thing is that, although she was a great teacher, I remember struggling to enjoy Kindergarten.  This was the awesome beginning of my How to Solve a Problem Like-Jocelyn days, which lasted through like 7th grade.  

Anyway, my former Kindergarten teacher is not really online, so letters suit her just fine.  And I find being online can really make me feel disconnected from the real world, so getting a letter in the mail always makes me feel grounded.  

I am hoping that she will, through our correspondence, reveal a little bit more wisdom and perspective for me, about who I was back then and hopefully that will also benefit my children.

I have just one more update for you guys...and then I've got to put my groceries away, pick up Autumn, go to Lowe's, and go see a friend.  

Because of a *little* rivalry between Facebook and Google Plus, FB has started blocking my blog (and other blogger blogs who are so lucky).  That means that I cannot share my posts on FB anymore...until they resolve their differences (as explained here) or until God strikes Facebook with a bolt of lightning.

Don't worry, if you click on my blog and get a weird warning.  Everything is cool.  I'm sad that this means I cannot share my posts with all my FB friends, and it does hinder my desire to blog, because my efforts to remedy the problem really eat up my time...which I have very little of these days as it is!  I will just have to take care of the most important things in life...and let everything else fall into it's proper place.  I hope you guys do the same!  Have a great day!

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

I have always been a Maria fan.

We love "The Sound of Music."

And when I was in fourth grade I was cast as Maria in our school's music program.

What a thrill.

I enjoyed memorizing the wonderful songs, dressing up, and on the day that we performed the musical, all the kids in school wanted to sit by me at lunch time.  (That was a first!!)

When I came home from school that day, my mom had left a red carnation in my bedroom along with a magazine article about the von Trapp family that she had photo copied.

I felt so special.

So, I have always felt a special connection to Maria...I often wondered if I was type-cast in that role, as Maria.  I not only looked like her (at least, like the Julie Andrews portrayal of her, with my short haircut,) but when the nuns sing "How do you solve a problem like Maria," I have often thought they could have easily been singing, "How do you solve a problem like Jocelyn?"

How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?

So, all these years, I have felt a kinship to this woman.  I too had to find my way and my place in life.  I too have gone from being considered by some to be "a problem to be solved" to understanding that I was a person who had potential!

And how did I come to this understanding?

Someone believed in me.

And I believed in Someone.

The "someones" who believed in me were my parents, patient teachers, coaches, and various church leaders and friends.  The Someone who I believed in was God.

A few months ago, one of you readers suggested that I read the books written by the real Maria Von Trapp (since I loved The Hiding Place so much.)

Well, I got an iPad mini for Christmas, so the first book that I decided to read on iBook was The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, the book on which The Sound of Music is based.

OH! How, I loved that book.

And what did I love the most?  Maria's expressions of faith.  I love her wisdom.  I love that the movie really is true to her description of her life in a lot of ways (thank goodness!)

And I wanted to know more.  I felt that my childhood idol was still someone I could emulate!  And thankfully so.

I went online last night looking for Sound of Music-related items to share with Scarlett, my little singer, who I introduced to the movie over Christmas.  I even created a Sound of Music pin board, just to seal my fan status!!

Anyway, I had ordered another one of her books from the library, and it came in today.

I picked it up this morning and was so surprised to open the cover and find that the book I was holding was a SIGNED copy!  Woohoo!  Special!

Then I turned the page again to read her dedication..."to the One who made the name Maria famous for all time."  Again she did not disappoint.

I turned to the first chapter....and what do you know?  She opens her biography talking about her visit to the "Mormon Church University" where she received the first standing ovation since President Kennedy spoke there.

Fun. Fun. Fun.

Now, on my iBook, I can easily share passages of books online with others.  It's such a neat feature, but if you'd like to read more of how her visit to BYU turned out, you'll have to read the text in these photos...or go get the book yourself.

Thanks to the reader who lead me to read more about this delightful lady!

Today, I am having a good time solving problems...
not solving a "problem like Maria," but solving problems in the way that Maria would!

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Friday, January 4, 2013

It takes a heap o' livin' in a house t' make it home.

I received this poem in the mail today.  My mother-in-law made a copy and sent it to us with a sweet note.  I love poetry.  And this poem speaks all the thoughts of my heart as of late.  

My very next post was going to be about what it takes to make a house a home, as that is what I have been thinking about lately.  

I started pinning paint colors for the new house, and then my pins (and thoughts) branched out to what I'd like the spaces of our home to be used for.  Is there room in some corner of the kitchen for a writing station?  Where will we store our scriptures to easily access them in the morning as we study together? And then, what words of wisdom should we place on the walls, and what daily traditions should we start (or leave behind) as we set up our new home?

Anyway, this poem really shares what it is that makes a house a home.  I hope that you enjoy it.  

And if you see any ideas on Pinterest that you think we might want to implement in our new house, give me a shout-out! (You can find me here:


It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home,
A heap o’ sun an’ shadder, an’ ye sometimes have t’ roam
Afore ye really ’preciate the things ye lef’ behind,
An’ hunger fer ’em somehow, with ’em allus on yer mind.
It don’t make any differunce how rich ye get t’ be,
How much yer chairs an’ tables cost, how great yer luxury;
It ain’t home t’ ye, though it be the palace of a king,
Until somehow yer soul is sort o’ wrapped round everything.

Home ain’t a place that gold can buy or get up in a minute;
Afore it’s home there’s got t’ be a heap o’ livin’ in it;
Within the walls there’s got t’ be some babies born, and then
Right there ye’ve got t’ bring ‘em up t’ women good, an’ men;
And gradjerly, as time goes on, ye find ye wouldn’t part
With anything they ever used—they’ve grown into yer heart:
The old high chairs, the playthings, too, the little shoes they wore
Ye hoard; an’ if ye could ye’d keep the thumbmarks on the door.

Ye’ve got t’ weep t’ make it home, ye’ve got t’ sit an’ sigh
An’ watch beside a loved one’s bed, an’ know that Death is nigh;
An’ in the stillness o’ the night t’ see Death’s angel come,
An’ close the eyes o’ her that smiled, an’ leave her sweet voice dumb.
Fer these are scenes that grip the heart, an’ when yer tears are dried,
Ye find the home is dearer than it was, an’ sanctified;
An’ tuggin’ at ye always are the pleasant memories
O’ her that was an’ is no more—ye can’t escape from these.

Ye’ve got t’ sing an’ dance fer years, ye’ve got t’ romp an’ play,
An’ learn t’ love the things ye have by usin’ ’em each day;
Even the roses ’round the porch must blossom year by year
Afore they ’come a part o’ ye, suggestin’ someone dear
Who used t’ love ’em long ago, an’ trained ’em jes’ t’ run
The way they do, so’s they would get the early mornin’ sun;
Ye’ve got t’ love each brick an’ stone from cellar up t’ dome:
It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home.

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Creating Beauty Is Its Own Reward

The last eight weeks has been a bit of a whirlwind for our family.

We had a baby.  Blessed our baby.  Celebrated Christmas.
Built an igloo.
Made arrangements to buy a new house.
Put our house on the market.  Sold our house.

Needless to say, we've also spent a lot of time cleaning and packing this Christmas too.

We've probably spent an equal amount of time thanking the Lord and being so, so amazed at the incredible blessings and changes that have come into our lives in a very short period of time.  The future looks so very different than it did this time last year...and we are all on cloud nine about the whole thing.  

Of course, I had to take a few days to mourn leaving this place that we have spent five years loving into it's current condition...We spent hours and hours of work (and play) loving it from a house into a home--a home that welcomes little children into it with open arms.  Yeah.  We did that!

We painted every wall, planted EVERY tree and/or bush, made every arrangement to make it comfortable for our little people.  Everything beautiful that was said or done in the walls of this home, we did.  Or our friend's did for us through kind acts of service and in sharing of the spirit as they gathered with us here.  

A home is such a special, sacred, personal thing, if we treat it as such, and that is why I was so happy when I found out that the person buying our home is a friend of mine!  (A friend who I really think is special and good, and a wonderful mother!)

This too was a blessing for me from the Lord himself...a tender mercy.  A blessing that made me feel that the Lord was giving our home to someone who would also love it and make beautiful memories here (with her husband and two young children who happen to be the exact same ages as my two youngest!)  I received a very sweet email from her saying as much!

The other night, I was commenting to Steve about all of the work that we've done to create a lovely, peaceful, private backyard (among other improvements.)  I half-way lamented about leaving behind the beautiful stone walkway that I laid the stones for myself just two summers ago...(not to mention with sweat-equity of my sister and brother-in-law who helped to haul all of the landscaping materials when they came to visit!)

And then Steve said something that sums up who we are as a couple.  He said that sometimes making something beautiful is its own reward.  We don't necessarily have to enjoy it ourselves, in order to enjoy it.  The act of creating beauty is its own reward.

So, with that, we will happily and joyfully turn over our house to a new family who will reap the benefits of our labors, and turn our minds and hearts toward creating a new home where our family will learn new lessons and experience brand new adventures together.  Let a new chapter begin!!

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