Monday, October 28, 2013

Shall I Falter or Finish by Tracie Carter

I believe God speaks to us personally and also through his servants, prophets and apostles. I love General Conference and I greatly anticipated this one with a handful of questions and concerns. 

I’ve been inspired by the bloggers listed at the end of this post because of the ways they prepare their families for General Conference. They really study and use the messages to teach their young families. I want the kids to feel like the messages are relevant, to understand these leaders' role to instruct us by revelation as they study and live the gospel, but also to be able to recognize our leaders by face and voice. And not just from this funny video we have really enjoyed - have you seen it?! 

As I absorbed sessions as they came available last week, I decided on a plan. For Family Home Evening each Monday, we will discuss a talk going in order of their calling beginning with the Prophet, President Monson. I’m still trying to decide how to visually display this in our home as an ongoing learning effort. German walls are just tricky!

To start, I listened to President Monson’s talk “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” I loved this message! Then I read it and the scriptures he referenced which were very illuminating. I then prayerfully made all if it into a lesson plan. It is a very simple lesson but it went well I think.

The key, in my opinion, is that this lesson would be utilized in teaching moments throughout the week so I can apply and reinforce the principles "in real life." 

Lesson Plan:

When you run a race, you’re excited right? 
What do you do if you fall while running during the race? 
Do you give up and throw a tantrum or do you pick yourself up and finish the race?

Kids said, “Finish the race!”

Tonight we’ll talk about President Monson’s talk from General Conference. He asked, “Shall I falter (fall and quit), or shall I finish?” Did you know that President Monson’s wife passed away a few months ago? They had been married almost 65 years! Do you think he misses his best friend, his wife a lot? Do you think it is hard for him to face each day without her there? President Monson knows that we all have to face hard things each day – but that with God, we can finish and not falter.

President Monson spoke about Job in the Old Testament. Let’s watch his story and see how he finished without faltering. Watched OldTestament Scripture Stories – Chapter 46: Job.
  • Did Job falter or finish?
  • How did he find strength to finish when faced with losing so much? And suffering with sickness? And having his friends judge him instead of help him?
  • How can we be like Job when trials come? Let’s listen to what President Monson wants us to know.
Watch last three paragraphs of talk starting at 15:25-18:00 “Only the Master knows . . .” Direct them to listen for two things President Monson says will help us be close to our Heavenly Father like Job was.

After the video, reiterate the promise we've been given that the Lord will not fail us, nor forsake us. We, in turn, should try our hardest to not fail Him, or forsake Him. We must ever strive to be close to our Heavenly Father by praying to Him and listening to Him every day. We talked about when we can pray, how we can pray, how we can listen. 

This week has already provided a couple teaching moments.

Easton has a job. He walks our friend’s dogs twice a week. His accumulated earnings combined with McKay and Morgan’s helped them buy a used ipad mini this weekend which Ryan found listed on the local yardsale site for a steal.

On Tuesday, Easton was quickly overwhelmed by everything we chatted about on his to do list as we drove home from school. It was raining hard and he usually walks the dogs right when he gets home to have it done with. Then guitar practice, homework, prepare his student council election speech, and even Scouts at the church. He pleaded to skip out on the dogs. When I reminded him of the commitment he made and asked if he was faltering or finishing strong, he growled that that lesson only applied to homework! Sorry kiddo. He grumbled a bit, but then I was very proud as he humbled himself and headed out into the downpour to walk the dogs. Sitting Easton down later and thanking him for being good example of this principle was one of those perks of parenthood and I loved seeing him beam from my praise.

We actually skipped Scouts so he could work with Ryan on his speech after we celebrated Morgan’s birthday with dinner, cake, and presents. It was so fun to hear Ryan and Easton brainstorming on the speech, practicing it, and then sharing it with the rest of us! I’m sure that qualifies for a merit badge qualification!

Easton faced Wednesday’s election feeling confident. McKay had won his class’s seat on the student council last week. There was no way to know how many students would run in Easton’s class and I was nervous for him. He’s the one I had to talk into running because while he wanted to be a part of the council, he wasn’t thrilled at first with the idea of doing a poster and speech asking for his classmates to vote for him. I wish I would have faced that fear as a youth and run for student councils. I know I would have enjoyed it. Easton was cool as a cucumber on Wednesday morning. He liked his poster and was happy with his speech. As long as he feels prepared, Easton is confident.

When I picked the kids up yesterday, Easton was happy. He hadn’t won but was the alternate. He was pleased with how his speech had gone and wondered what was for lunch. I let him know I’d prayed for him that morning that he’d be happy with his performance no matter the outcome. I loved getting to love on him and praise him for his effort! I recently attended a lecture where the speaker told parents how we need to help our children learn to "fail well" and be resilient, engaged learners and workers. I really liked that concept.

I love being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! I'm so grateful for the guidance it has provided me all my life so that I had the self confidence to avoid things that would not help me become who I want to be. I am so grateful for the resources the church provides as I raise my family and for the opportunities to serve others and be a part of a worldwide community of people striving for eternal attributes and relationships.

Here's the blog roll I seem to frequent the most for ideas:
Allison Kimball – Simple Inspiration
Stephanie Dibb Sorensen - Diapers and Divinity
Shannon - Red Headed Hostess

Follow Tracie and her family's quest to study and learn the teachings of General Conference at Carter Chronicle.  And access more General Conference Lessons for families of all ages here.

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Halloween Books for Children

Halloween is finally here!  Over the years, my children and I have really come to love all of the books on this list.  They contain just the right amount of scariness and silliness and quirkiness and mystery and rhyme, and they are just the right length for a bedtime story.

So, check them out of your local library and enjoy our list of

The Best Halloween Books for Young Children

1.  Who Said Boo? Halloween Poems for the Very Young by Nancy White Carlstrom

2.  Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson

3.  In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz

4.  Best Witches: Poems for Halloween by Jane Yolen

5.  Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell

6.  The Runaway Pumpkin by Kevin Lewis

7.  Goodnight Goon: a Petrifying Parody by Michael Rex

8.  The Littlest Pumpkin by R.A. Herman

9.  Skeleton Hiccups by Margery Cuyler

10. Spooky Tricks by Rose Wyler and Gerald Ames

By the way, if you are looking for some easy ways to start teaching your children the messages of General Conference, then don't miss the tips on the Friend's website this week.  
Click here to see them all!

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Happy Birthday, Autumn Frost!

Five years ago today, we welcomed this beautiful child into our lives.

We will be forever blessed by the graceful, fun-loving, imaginative spirit of our "Little Hostess" Autumn Frost!

Happy Birthday, to my special girl.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

General Conference Jeopardy

My sister-in-law Emmalee Christensen has kindly agreed to kick off this round of General Conference Review Lessons, by sharing the online General Conference Jeopardy game that she created.  It's interactive, very fun to use, adaptable to various ages, and can help kids learn to identify the prophets.  To tell you more about it and to share her testimony of General Conference, here's Emmalee!

I think President Monson summed it up best when he said the following, "In my journal tonight, I shall write, “This has been one of the most inspiring sessions of any general conference I’ve attended. Everything has been of the greatest and most spiritual nature.”

Elder Robert D. Hales really set the tone as the first speaker following the Prophet for General Conference Saturday morning.  He gave a hallmark talk as to not only the "why" of general conference but what to do with all these great talks.  Here are some of excepts from his talk.

"We make a serious mistake if we assume that the conference is above their intellect and spiritual sensitivity. To the young members of the Church, I promise that if you will listen, you will feel the Spirit well up within you. The Lord will tell you what He wants you to do with your life."

"The greatest blessings of general conference come to us after the conference is over.  

"This is His general conference. I promise you in His name that if you pray with a sincere desire to hear your Heavenly Father’s voice in the messages of this conference, you will discover that He has spoken to you to help you, to strengthen you, and to lead you home into His presence."

I want my children to know and feel the voice of the Lord when his servants speak to us. 
As a deaf parent, I know that one does not need to be a "hearer of the word" to get the very most from General Conference.  

Learning to feel the voice of the Lord as it speaks to us has more power to change us than simply being "hearers of the word."  Think back to some of the most cherished experiences you had when the spirit spoke to you.  Perhaps you can remember certain details, but almost always we reflect on how we felt.  So it is with general conference.

Alma said it best, "if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?"

Such an opportunity needs to come into our home more than two times a year, and Elder Hales has urged us to make these talks a part of our family home evening lessons.  

I created a Jeopardy game for my family to review all the talks from general conference. 

This could be a great game to begin and conclude your round of teaching them the talks from general conference.  

May you all hear, feel, and be changed by the voice of the Lord's servants as you teach your family.  

Emmalee Christensen
Wife, Mother, Primary Chorister for the Salt Lake City ASL Ward, Part Time Seminary & Institute Teacher for the Deaf, Pregnant with #3 on the Way, and I'm Deaf :)


Some tips for General Conference Jeopardy Game:
Here are some adjustments to the game so it can easily be adapted to all levels. 
  • Youngsters: Have a copy of the General Authorities of the Church.  Help them find their picture and name.
  • Teens: See how well they do at guessing who gave the quote.  There is also picture prompt if needed.  
Some other tips to help you navigate through the game:
Once you've started the game in PP (powerpoint) mode.
Click on the box.
Click the right arrow button on your key board.
First click will show a picture of the general authority to give a hint.
Second Click shows their name.
To Go Back to the Main screen click the light blue arrow button on bottom left of the screen. 

PS - Yes, I am still looking for people to help by sharing their General Conference lessons here on my blog during the next six months.  Shoot me an email if you are interested:  And thanks to those who have already, enthusiastically responded!
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Sunday, October 20, 2013

General Conference is for YOU

During his General Conference talk, Elder Hales gave us every reason to put our whole hearts into teaching the doctrines taught in General Conference to our families!  

He promised that if we add "applying what we learn in General Conference" to our regular routine of family prayer and scripture study, and weekly family home evening, we will gain strength to bless our families for generations!

With his wise counsel ringing in my ears, we are going to continue our General Conference Review Lessons over the next six months.  And we are going to share our adventures here on this blog.  But to do so, I NEED YOUR HELP!

I am currently gathering families and friends from near and far who are willing to teach one of the talks from General Conference to their families, in FHE or another home setting, and return and report to us how it went.

As I started inviting people to participate, I was touched by how different each family situation and make-up was from one another.  I felt the spirit saying, "General Conference is for everyone.  General Conference can bless and strengthen each one of us."

Hopefully, as we hear from families who participate, we will:

1.  discover new ways to teach young children the lessons of Conference (or to teach older children, or no children, or our spouses, or ourselves, etc.)
2.  realize that General Conference is for everyone in every situation, at every point in the road leading us home
3. and understand that studying and teaching these lessons can be an easy, every day part of life.

My sister-in-law Emmalee has agreed to kick off this round of General Conference Review Lessons by sharing what she put together to use with her family, which I will share with you tomorrow!

Are you interested in sharing how your family studies the lessons of General Conference in the coming months??  

Please email me at

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

36 Reasons to Jump for Joy

Yesterday, as I played with my children who were all home from school for a teacher in-service day, I really loved my life.  I loved being home.  I loved not having to drive anywhere.  I loved having children come over to play with my kids.  I loved that this caused them not to argue very much.  I loved the weather.  I loved the leaves.  I loved my hair.  I loved wearing workout pants all day and not thinking about fitting into my (mildly) "skinny" jeans.  I loved watching my baby take her very first steps.  I loved being the only one who knew that she would be taking those steps.  And I loved her falling into my arms when she did.  It was a peaceful, beautiful way to watch the clock wind down on my 35th year.

Too often in life it is easy to overlook the beauty and blessings that frankly overflow our days.  Well on this day, my 36th birthday, I'm going to take a moment to document 36 reasons I have to rejoice in the beautiful life God has given me.  

I don't often do that, especially on my blog, because there are enough mirages of perfection out there, but today is my day, I'm going to recognize the happiness that is mine.

36 of My Reasons to Rejoice
(in no particular order)

1.  My baby took her first steps like an old pro on the eve of my birthday.

2.  I have a father who is sweet and tender and who once found a quiet afternoon to take me out to Dairy Queen for a banana split and who often let me hold the flashlight for him on cold, cold, cold, dark winter evenings while he tried to get our cars running so that he could go to work the next day.

3.  I have a little flower girl named Autumn who brings me bouquets of colored, fallen leaves and who says she loves me most.

4.  I get to stay home with my children as my chosen profession.

5.  I cut my own hair sometimes, and I generally like the outcome. (phew!)

6.  I love all of my in-laws.  They make me feel loved.

7.  I wake up in the morning (and in the middle of most nights) to the sound of someone either crying out for me or snuggling with me or both.

8.  My son gives me great big hugs and leaves me love notes...and pinecones.

9.  Because of the gospel I have become a better, happier person.

10.  Life-long friends who know what I was like way back when, who remember my birthday, who buy me virgin daiquiris when I turn 21, who listen to me cry, who remind me who I am, and who give me sound advice. Oh, and people who call me J-Bird.

11.  My Mom, the super strong woman who taught me how to be tender and tough...who wasn't afraid to tell me the truth about everything, all the time, who cooked for me and sewed clothes for me, and brought dinner to me in brown paper bags when I stayed late at school, and who I like to tell my dreams to.

12.  Breakfast in bed.  Parades.  Marching bands.  Jacks and marbles tournaments.  Santa Claus at midnight. Conference cake. Getting the red plate.  Gardening.  And other family traditions instituted by my parents.

13.  A husband who loves me, just the way that I am, and understands me, and doesn't ever hurt me, who makes me laugh and tells me he loves me every night before he falls asleep.

14.  My little girl who is like a carbon copy of me...which is both amazing and scary.

15.  I can take long baths all by myself.

16.  Make-up.  (I don't need to explain that, do I?)

17.  P.M.A. and pompoms.

18.  Working in the Nursery.  I like it, and I wasn't sure that I would.

19.  I know God is real.

20.  I have a pen pal who sends me the sweetest letters and makes me feel like a million bucks.

21.  My kids forgive me when I'm not a perfect parent.

22.  The memory of the mud fight my siblings and I had that we kept a secret from my parents for decades.  A secret that finally came out at Thanksgiving dinner a few years ago.

23.  Dogs.  All of the dogs we had growing up, their jingly chains, wet noses, and soft bellies.

24.  My son who has a testimony and is going to be baptized next month.

25.  All of the beautiful trees that I can see outside of my windows, all of the time.

26.  How when I read my grandma's journals and letters I feel her very near, and I am reminded that she still exists and that I will see her and my grandpa again some day!!

27.  I have siblings who set a good example for me and listen to my troubles when I call them.

28.  My brother who served a mission.

29.  I have been allowed to taste bitter and sweet.

30.  My grandpa taught me how to parallel park, and I'm still impressively good at it.

31.  I love to write.  And it is a part of who I am.

32.  I walked to school every day as a kid and had untold adventures with my friends of West and East Drive.  And when I think of them, it's like coming home.

33.  The fuzzy slippers that my husband made for me a few Christmases ago.

34.  Knowing that nothing lasts forever, this too shall pass.  This thought has helped me through a lot of potentially painful the removal of splinters and watching my babies get shots.

35.  Dreams.  Every kind of dream.

36.  Knowing that the Savior lives.

Now, you tell me.  What reasons do you have to rejoice today?

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Columbus Day Maps

Over the years, I have really come to love Columbus Day!  Because our children get the day off of school, I've had the opportunity to do crafts with them on this day that help us learn about the voyage and mission of Christopher Columbus...and play with friends, and besides that, get absolutely nothing done.

Last year we made our handprint boats that later were used in our Book of Mormon Party.

We've also made boats that really rock, shown here (although these were supposed to be Mayflowers, but could work for Columbus Day too!)

Even though we've moved, we're still hanging on to our old neighborhood pals.  We had these ones over again today.  My how they are all growing up!

Today, we made these primitive-looking maps depicting Columbus' voyage from Spain to "The New World."  The idea came from here.  

The book that we always read on Columbus Day is "The Voyage of Christopher Columbus, In His Own Words."  It's a cool pop-up book that I got for free from someone years ago. 

The kids all fell in love with it immediately, but I had to keep it out of their reach for so long, because they were so little and the pages were breakable.  Every page pops-up and you can interact with it.  Pretty neat.  Ours needs a little TLC now though.

So, why "celebrate" Columbus Day in an age when doing so has become sort of politically incorrect?  I don't know.  I didn't set out to do so, but I guess for me personally, knowing that the Lord foresaw Columbus' voyage and showed it to Nephi in the Book of Mormon many hundreds of years before his birth was a first step in my curiosity about the man. 

Plus, I grew up learning what I'm afraid our children are not taught, that this explorer was amazing, stubborn, gifted, brave, tenacious, and above all things faithful and believing and gave the Lord credit for the many spiritual and educational gifts that made his discovery possible.

So, how do we sort out what is fact and fiction about this man whose reputation has become larger than life?  I like what is said in this Ensign article called "Columbus and the Hand of God" by De Lamar Jensen...It debunks myths both good and bad and is definitely worth a look!

Happy Columbus Day!

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Nothing Short of a Miracle

Two years ago, I had the pleasure of listening to a young prospective missionary from our ward give a most excellent farewell talk in sacrament meeting.  I blogged about it HERE.

This boy, who had struggled with a learning disability, but who put his trust in the Lord and set off to serve a mission with Joseph Smith as his inspiration (Joseph Smith, the boy-prophet, who received very little formal education, but who the Lord made great!)...This boy, this brave Elder from our flock returned home this week, and gave the most amazing talk in Sacrament meeting today.

When I noticed that he was speaking first, I thought, "Oh he's speaking first because he'll probably just speak for like five minutes, and then his Dad will fill in the rest of the time."  Because that's what I remember from his farewell.  He was only able to speak briefly, powerfully because of the spirit, but not at all eloquently.  Not as to public speaking standards anyway.

But today.  Today, I do believe that I witnessed a great miracle.

This boy, who left apprehensive and unsure of himself, but hopeful, returned a great man of God.  A great servant of the Lord.

He bore such a flawless, live, personal, flowing specific testimony--that lasted nearly the entire length of Sacrament meeting.  Not a stutter, not an "um", never a forgotten turn of phrase or scripture reference and without any notes!  What????  I was blown away and at the edge of my seat!

If I didn't know better, I would have seriously called into question whether this was the same person who left our ward two years ago!

He told of the big turn of events about three months into his mission when he questioned whether or not he should even be on a mission, because he felt he was living on the borrowed light of his parents.  

Now, I have to assume that the stress of the challenges that faced him personally out in the mission field, which were probably ten fold what most missionaries face, were also playing a role in this story.  

So, thinking that it would be best for him to leave his mission to find a testimony of his own, this greenish Elder was about to return home when the Spirit told him, "Just stay out a little longer."  

Not, "stay and finish".  Not "do as you're told."  In fact, his mission president was willing to buy him a ticket so he could get home as he wished, but the Holy Ghost simply said, "Elder, just stay out a little longer..."

And that was enough for him.  He was obedient and trusted in his Heavenly Father, enough to "stay a little longer".  And I believe that this small act of obedience and faith on his part to step into the darkness is what allowed the Lord to bring about this great miracle.

The person who stood at the pulpit today was magnificent, stellar, sincere, smart, and a shining example to us of how our lives, put into the hands of the Lord, can be made great.  That weak things can be made strong, and that by small and simple acts of obedience, the Lord can bring about true miracles.

We will be telling the story of Elder Pinchak to our kids for years to come, I'm sure!

And for the record, it was his Dad who spoke for five minutes this time! :)


And if you're wondering this is what his father Trace Pinchak said...He read the following poem that he wrote for and about his son Evan:

As I look back on the past few years
You've shown us all, how to conquer fears

Not long ago we watched, as doctors prepared
young parents we were frightened and scared

The powers of heaven allowed you to stay
A miracle has happened,that's all they could say

trials you faced began to cause great concern
What if he gives up or does not want to learn?

The questions we had you quickly erased
The Gospel you grabbed loved and embraced

Fears of failing never entered your soul
The opportunity  to try, was your only goal

The calling came to serve your Father And his son
A part of your life you would not leave undone

The vineyard you entered with vigor and might
The deceiver arrived with his own plan in sight

Again your trials and all your fears
You had to face for the next two years

With honor and respect the call was served
Clarifying to all why you where preserved

I stand in honor as I have watched you grow
God has his hand on you, this I know

An example of courage and faith you have set
Not allowing there to be one ounce of regret.

The words that fill my heart for you my son
Are full of Love and say: WELL DONE!! WELL DONE!

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