Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Obedience to Law is Liberty

Just dropping in to say "hi!"

And I hope your summer is going great!  We had General Conference Book Club today, and this summer, as our kids are learning the teachings of the prophets and apostles, we've been posting their words in a place where they can easily read them.  And I've been giving "pop quizzes" to Guy to see if he can name and identify the Brethren.  Soon, those "quizzes" will include one-liners from their most recent talks.

Today's quote was from L. Tom Perry, "Obedience to law is liberty."

I like that.  It pretty much sums up General Conference for me.

And although it has seemed fairly lawless around this house this summer (haha), it is certainly a place of happiness and liberty.

My friend Anita sent me a link to this blog post that appeared on Deseret News recently, and it really touched me.  So for all of you Mothers out there trying to survive in the wild-wild-West, also known as having kids home for the summer...this blog post is for you:

PS - My baby started standing...she's only 7 months!  Stand-down, baby! :)
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Monday, June 10, 2013

Precious Little Time.

You know what guys?  Just one week into our summer vacation, and we are already having a most wonderful time together.  And many of our summer wishes are coming true.

I love being with my kids.  It is a blessing for sure, and I don't want to miss a moment of snuggling, and laughing, and playing.  So, as you might have guessed, I probably won't be around these parts very often for the next little while.  As it is, I've got things I'd like to get done for Me, ya know?

But before I go, I promised to tell you guys about this little book from Deseret Book called "One Drop at a Time."  It is pretty much all taken from M. Russell Ballard's talk given at the October 2012 General Conference called, "Be Anxiously Engaged."  ("Bee" Anxiously Engaged would have fit too!)

My first thoughts were that this would be a neat gift to give to an actual Beehive...you know, a young woman, because I like the explanation of the significance and symbolism of the beehive.  I also really liked pp. 28-29 which says,

"When our hearts are no longer set upon the things of this world, we will no longer aspire to the honors of men or seek only to gratify our pride.  Rather, we take on the Christlike qualities that Jesus taught..." such as being gentle, meek, and long-suffering, being kind without hypocrisy or guile, feeling charity towards all men, and always having virtuous thoughts.  We no longer have a desire to do evil and the Holy Ghost is our constant companion.

These are definitely the wishes of my heart.  And I hope that as I spend time with my children this summer, they can further help me to develop these qualities.

***This giveaway is now closed.  The winner is Kristin!***
Thank you for your entries!

I also have a copy of "One Drop at a Time" to share with one of you.  If you'd like to be entered to win, please leave a comment on this post and please include your email address so that I can contact you when you win!  Carry on!

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Media Usage Coupons

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We decided to try out Montserrat's idea for teaching children how to use media wisely.

Our twist on it is that instead of giving them their coupons at the beginning of the week for free, they have to earn the coupons by doing chores the week before. 

One chore = One coupon.  

Each child has the opportunity to perform one chore every AM & PM, Monday through Friday. 

What are their chores?  Stuff we really need done daily such as setting the table, cleaning bathrooms and sweeping off the deck (our trees drop lots of stuff!)  They are also required to get dressed, make their beds, and brush their teeth and hair each morning by themselves...no reward.

Each coupon has a cash value attached to it, and if they don't use their coupons by the end of the week, they can turn them in for an actual allowance, which Montse also does. 

It's interesting to see their little brains doing backflips trying to decide if they want to spend their coupons or not.

And wouldn't you know it, all three kids were up at the crack of dawn today completing their morning chores:  cleaning all the bathrooms, sweeping off the front and back decks and trampoline, and putting away the silverware.

(I, on the other hand, am still in my pjs! Tsk, tsk!) :)

So far, they've decided to blow their coupons all on the first day of the week.  

The rest of the week is going to be either very quiet...or extremely loud.  :)

I'll let you know how our experiment goes.  You can go here to print off your own.

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Summer Wishes

At 11:40am on Friday, Summer officially began for us...and we brought summer in in style.

Autumn helped me pick out these balloons and make and hang this welcome home sign.

Which the kids were happy to bust through when they arrived home.

Later, we wrote our "summer wishes" on our balloons and set them free...I remember sending balloons off into the sky one field day as a kid with notes of some kind asking for return letters and also for a young women's activity with balloons the colors of the values.  The eco-friendly movement has put the kibosh on that magical moment for many kids, but we did it, and it was just as magical for my kids as I remember it being for me.  (Way better  than the devastating experience of accidentally losing a balloon...we launched ours!)

I wasn't actually sure if the balloons would take flight, because the intense heat of the day had zapped them of their potency.

But float and then fly, they did, almost in slow-motion, into the unlimited and the unknown...

 to have adventures we could only wonder and dream about...

...never to return to this one moment in time when we held them in our hands and vested them with our secret wishes to be carried far and wide by the wind.

And of course, the unforeseen outcome of this activity was that the swiftness of the passing of childhood was demonstrated so clearly...reminding me to enjoy every moment of every summer day that I have to spend with my children.  My wish for you is that you will do the same.
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"He is There...Even When I Am Not Perfect" by Stephanie Campbell

Today, we have a testimony from my good friend Stephanie Campbell.  I feel like I've known Stephanie for a very long time, because I knew someone who knew her in the last place where we lived.  Anyway, she is a great example to me of quiet service, of loving others, and of being true to who you are.  She also has such a fun personality and sense of humor that is very refreshing.  Here's Stephanie:

I grew up the only girl with one older and one younger brother. My parents divorced when I was about 15.  I chose to live with my father. I was very active in the Methodist church I grew up in. I was a youth leader there and also in charge of the sound system for the church. 

For many years I kept praying for something more in my life in the church area. I knew that there was something more out there?

One day I saw an advertisement in the TV Guide for the Book of Mormon. So I sent away for it. It came, but I never really did anything with it! 

Every day after it arrived, maybe weekly, the Church would call at supper time and ask if I was interested in having the missionaries stop by and give me a lesson.  I kept telling them no.

Growing up I didn't really know my dad's side of the family. We never did anything with them. I didn't know that any people in my dad's family were members.  It turns out my aunt Kay was a member. 

So one day there was an open house at the church- with missionaries and members. I went there, and I knew almost instantly that this was what I had been looking for!!  I don't remember all the details of the open house, but after attending the open house at church, I started having the discussions in my home.

It was good!  The missionaries challenged me to read the Book of Mormon, and to start following the Word of Wisdom.  So I did! 

I read the BofM that weekend--in just three days!  I couldn't stop reading once I started.  I had been a big tea drinker, but I stopped that right away which was hard.  I didn't realize I was so addicted!

Things at my house were a little awkward.  My dad wasn't nice to the missionaries. I felt embarassed at how he acted, so we had the discussions in a member's house. 

We met every week for some time. I knew the discussions backwards and forward. Each time a new Elder would come, we would start the discussions over--giving the newbie practice. 

I grew to love the Gospel and wanted to be baptized. 

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to, because I had to have parental permission, and my father didn't agree with the church. 

So I had to wait almost a year until an aunt who lived with us and was my guardian while my father was away as a truck driver. Eventually she gave me permission.  I was baptized on December 1, 1991.  

I remember the day very well.  One of the missionaries baptized me.  He dunked me in the water and immediately I felt like a new person!  

I was in the dressing room when someone came in and said I had to go back in the font. I thought they were joking!  It turns out that the Elder forgot to say one of the words, so he had to do it again. 

After the baptism I was given the gift of the Holy Ghost.  I remember crying, and I remember feeling the spirit so strongly.   

During the baptism I remember the bishop saying that he had never seen so many people at a baptism. There was only standing room in the Primary room (which is quite large)!

After being baptized, I continued to grow in the Gospel and continued my Seminary studies.  I started attending seminary when I wasn't even a member.  I continued with my progress in the Young Women's program.  Because I came into the program late, I didn't have to do all the YW requirements, but I did all that was required!

The people that were instrumental in my progression in the church were:

Debbie Trump (Boyer) - When she was married to her first husband, we held the discussions there every week. 

Kelvin and Sara Christensen- They gave me a ride each week and welcomed me to their home many times during the week.

Judy Smith- She encouraged me to attend Young Women's activities and came from Lewisburg to pick me up each week. She helped me to be an example.

Sister Scott-(Sunbury Ward) - She was my home-study seminary teacher. Her class was not easy.  It required studying the scriptures and doing the work each and every day!

Throughout the years I have traveled the world while in the Navy. I was able to go to church in many different countries.  I witnessed that the Church was the same no matter where I was.  The Gospel was true!  I did struggle for a few years, but continued to go to church. After 5 years I got out of the navy and returned to Pennsylvania.

My faith and testimony of the Church have continued to grow. I know that the Church is true. I am thankful for a Heavenly Father who understands me and is there even though I am not perfect. He continues to strengthen me each and every day. I love the scriptures and try to read them regularly even when I struggle. 

Thank you, Stephanie!

CLICK HERE to read more testimonies on my site or click on the button above to reach the official home of "Hug-a-Convert Day!"

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Saturday, June 1, 2013

"They Loved Me for Me" by Nici Baer

Today, my friend Nici Baer is here to share her conversion story with us.  I am so glad to call Nici my friend.  When I met her at a movie night at a friend's house a few years ago, I knew that she would add some color to my little life and to our Mormon community...and she has.  I appreciate the perspective that Nici brings, and her example reminds me that there is room for everyone in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Here's Nici:

So my family is actually descended from Mormons.   

My mother was baptized as a child.  Both of my parents grew up in Utah, but moved after they got married.  They lived in California, where I was born, and my mother attended church when I was little.  But my dad’s job transferred us to Peru, then Australia, and finally to Oman (a small country in the Middle East).  

While we lived outside of the U.S., my sister and I attended a non-denominational Sunday school that was held after our regular school (Sunday was just a regular work/school day over there, our weekends were on Thursday and Friday, due to the Muslim holy day).   

By the time we moved back to the States (Oklahoma), we just didn’t go to church.  

We moved to Bogota, Colombia after that, and then it was time for college.  My parents (still claiming Utah as their home, even though my sister and I had never lived there) decided that I could pick from any school in Utah to attend, about which I was NOT pleased.  But since they were paying, I really couldn’t argue.  

So I went off to Salt Lake City for college, you can’t live in Utah and not know a Mormon.  

Pretty soon, the majority of my friends were all Mormon (some more active than others).  

I had met Mormons in the past, and they always invited me to church with them, or to go to some other activity.  And I hardly knew these people!  Yet, they were always trying to get me to go somewhere with them.  I found it quite annoying.

But my close friends were different.  We were just friends.  It didn’t matter that I didn’t go to church on Sunday.  It didn’t matter that I drank latte's.  We were just friends. Period.

Then one summer, one of my more active Mormon friends introduced me to some of her other friends--guys who had just returned from serving missions.  We all started hanging out during summer, and more of their friends started coming home from their missions.  

I attended a LOT of homecomings that summer, which had me wanting to know more about this church.  

I had become good friends with one of those return missionaries (Rocky) and started asking him a lot of questions.  At one point, he suggested I read The Book of Mormon, because it might help answer some questions.  So I started to read.  And it led to more questions.  

I am pretty sure I wore him out with my questions, so he suggested that I start to meet with the missionaries.  

Of course, the first thing they asked me to do was to get baptized.  And I said no.  I needed to do more research.  

I continued to read the BoM while we continued to meet.  I then remember reading (or maybe the missionaries told me) that I just had to pray and ask to know if their teachings are true.  So I did that, and I had this feeling that I knew all along that it was true.  

So then I thought, “What next?”  And again, I was reading in the BoM, and I can’t remember where it was, but it basically said that once you know that it is true, then you get baptized.  So I figured it was time to get baptized. 

Rocky was the one who baptized me, and confirmed me.  Since this is just the story of my conversion, I will stop there, although truthfully, this was just the beginning. 

That was 13 years ago, and I can’t imagine where my life would be if I had taken a different 

Heavenly Father knew me (and all my weaknesses) and presented me with people at a time when I would be receptive.  He knew that 2 years, or even 1 year earlier and I would have rejected it.  He also knew the people to send to me.  

Even though many of my friends weren’t active members of church at the time, that was EXACTLY who I needed.  They showed me that you don’t have to be perfect to be a Mormon.  And they loved me for ME; not as a potential convert, not as someone to save.  That is what got through to me.  

And I have to give a lot of credit to my husband, Rocky (yes, I married that good friend/return missionary who also baptized me).  He took a chance on me, nose ring and all (even though his family was pretty shocked when he brought me home).  And even when I didn’t want to get baptized, he still loved me.  

All of the love that I felt from all these people is what had the biggest impact on my conversion.  I am glad that Heavenly Father was able to reach me through them.  

Thanks, Nici!

CLICK HERE to read more testimonies on my site for Hug a Convert Day and click the button above to read the testimonies on the official home of Hug-a-Convert Day!

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