Sunday, May 25, 2014

Aren't You a Little Young to Be Hastening the Work of Salvation?

Recently, Guy has been showing interest in doing family history and indexing.  And ever since he listened to a young woman in our ward give a talk in sacrament meeting about how indexing is a "whirlpool of righteousness" and can be very "addictive"...Guy has been all in!  Something that is good AND addictive?  Sounds dangerous, let's do it!

This is great news for me, because ever since hearing all of the promises recently given by the apostles on how doing family history can bless and protect our youth, I've been anxious to introduce Guy to family history.

Some of the promises/advisories are as follows:

Elder Bednar:  Many of you may think family history work is to be performed primarily by older people. But I know of no age limit described in the scriptures or guidelines announced by Church leaders restricting this important service to mature adults. You are sons and daughters of God, children of the covenant, and builders of the kingdom. You need not wait until you reach an arbitrary age to fulfill your responsibility to assist in the work of salvation for the human family.

Elder Bednar, "The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn": It is no coincidence that FamilySearch and other tools have come forth at a time when young people are so familiar with a wide range of information and communication technologies. Your fingers have been trained to text and tweet to accelerate and advance the work of the Lord—not just to communicate quickly with your friends. The skills and aptitude evident among many young people today are a preparation to contribute to the work of salvation.

Elder Bednar:  As you respond in faith to this invitation, your hearts shall turn to the fathers. The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be implanted in your hearts. Your patriarchal blessing, with its declaration of lineage, will link you to these fathers and be more meaningful to you. Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives.

Linda S. Reeves, "Protection from Pornography": Remember that living Apostles have also promised that as we search out our ancestors and prepare our own family names for the temple, we will be protected now and throughout our lives as we keep ourselves worthy of a temple recommend.5 What promises!

Elder Walker, "Live True to the Faith":  The more connected we feel to our righteous forefathers, the more likely we are to make wise and righteous choices.

Elder Cook, "Roots and Branches":  If the youth in each ward will not only go to the temple and do baptisms for their dead but also work with their families and other ward members to provide the family names for the ordinance work they perform, both they and the Church will be greatly blessed.

So what are you waiting for?  The Whirlpool of Righteousness awaits...and the water's fine!

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Friday, May 23, 2014

"If you see a gun..."

Time is just flying by over here.  My two older kids (and Steve) are at Field Day today, and Autumn is at her second to last day ever as a Preschooler!

We've had children in preschool for the last four years straight, and it has been a wonderful preschool experience.

I will always remember listening to Guy and Scarlett singing for the first time "Be Careful Little Ears" what you hear.  Precious.

And probably one of the early moments where I started to think seriously about teaching my children how to make good choices about what they see, hear, do, etc.

I was reminded today, as I was being interviewed for an article about teaching children to make wise media choices, of an experience that I had recently with Autumn.

She had come home from a day at preschool where their special visitor, a local police officer, had visited to teach them about gun safety.

There is a national program on gun safety where Eddie the Eagle says, "If you see a gun: Stop! Don't Touch.  Leave the area.  Tell an adult."

When I came to pick the kids up from school, they were reviewing what they'd learned and doing actions to go with each step.  It was the "Stop. Drop. and Roll" of gun safety, and it made me laugh, but I was glad they were learning such important stuff.

Later that week, we were reviewing the "Family Media Checklist" on page 6 of the May 2014 Friend, which asks the question, "What should you do if you see something that makes you uncomfortable" online?

I realized that Autumn's action plan for gun safety would work just as well for safety online or in other venues.  I said that we should treat pornographic material--where ever we might encounter it--in much the same way: "Stop! or turn it off.  Don't touch (or look at it).  Leave the area (or go outside and play something else).  Tell an adult or parent!"

Since my daughter had already learned these principles (with actions even) in regard to a firearm, it was easy for her to apply these principles to material she might see online that could be just as harmful to her spirit!

Another resource on this topic, in case you missed it:

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Conversion Story of Roger A. Osborne

Last night, during FHE, we learned about the conversion story of my Grandfather Roger A. Osborne.  My grandfather married my grandmother the year that I was born.  It was his second marriage as both he and my grandmother had lost their spouses previously to disease.  Many members of our stake were invested in getting these two great people together, and they became quite the beloved couple, doing many good deeds in our family, in the community, in the church, and in my life, since they lived just down the street from us growing up. 

Grandpa kept meticulous notes of many things in his journal, from gifts he received to how much gas mileage he got at fill-ups, he loved to keep lists!  Which is how I discovered his one-page conversion story in a red binder of typed up journal pages.

In 1952, missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints knocked on his door.  Roger and his wife Laverne began meeting with the missionaries that same evening.  The fact that young men would give up two years of their lives to go out and tell people about their church, impressed him that their message must be a special one, so he continued to meet with them.

He writes, "At this particular time, I worked for Cook Coffee Company as an accountant, and I was the one that figured out the blends--from what country each blend was ordered from, figured out the shrinkage (what loss went up the chimney during the roasting) and cost of each blend.  Me, the one the Lord selected to join His church.

"My wife was ready to be baptized long before me, but would not join the church without me.  I think I had a testimony of the truthfulness of the message but didn't want to quit smoking and having a bottle of beer now and then.  Every morning and at every break, I had a cup of coffee at work, because it was the thing that everyone did.

"The missionaries continued to meet with us, and one day I called up my mate and said: 'Who am I kidding?  I know it is true.  I'm ready to be baptized.'  Of course she was delighted and informed the Elders, who were also delighted.  The next morning, I went to work and low and behold, there in the lunch room was a milk machine.  Out of the clear blue.  Heavenly Father was making it easy for me."

He goes on to tell about how they had been attending the large and established Old Stone Church on Public Square in Cleveland, which had two ministers and multiple sessions each Sunday with large congregations in attendance...only to join the small Euclid branch of the church.  The Euclid Branch had no chapel, but met in a store front, where the missionaries were living.  At their first meeting, there were the four members of his family, a woman and her two children, and the two missionaries who blessed and passed the sacrament and gave the talks! 

There was no place in Cleveland to be baptized.  So when the time came, they drove to a town called New Philadelphia, Ohio, where the church had purchased a house to meet in, with a baptismal font in the basement.

Soon, Roger became the President of that small branch and through work and fellowship, their church family grew to 35.  They were close-knit and loved each other.  They held lots of fund raising projects and finally raised enough money to purchase property in Lakewood, Ohio to build a chapel (9509 Lake Road).  At that time, wards had to come up with 30% for a building, and the church furnished the other 70%.

Everyone worked on the chapel.  A work missionary from the west taught them how to cut stone, do plumbing, hammer nails, do electrical work, and what ever else was needed.  The building was made of cut stone: three floors-worth!  In less than a year the building was completed, and President David O. McKay came to dedicate the chapel.  They did this all with just 40 members.

I loved reading this gem in my Grandpa's journal.  It is the tiniest speck of the great body of work that is the testimony and life of a great man, but it's really representative of him as well.  The milk story is so precious.  As I told my children this story, we pointed out that Grandpa did not wait for a sign to decide to be baptized.  He decided first to act on his faith, and then the Lord showed him--with a milk machine--that he approved.

He is a great example of true faith and goodness, and the Lord used this good humble servant throughout his life to build up the church.

Here are some other things we did during our lesson:

As an attention-getter, I printed off a photo of my grandpa and cut it into puzzle pieces.  I wrote something about grandpa on the back of each piece, and as the kids pulled the pieces out of a bag, they read aloud an interesting fact about the person we were going to learn about. (He flew airplanes in WWII.  He always asked for a "big" piece of pie. He gave great hugs.)  They guessed who it was from the clues.

After we learned about Grandpa's milk machine miracle, I asked the children to repeat back to me in their own words, the events of Grandpa's (Bon Papa's) conversion story. 

After they were able to tell me two things that we had learned, I gave them each a penny, and we went to our pretend "milk machine" (the refrigerator) and "bought" a small bottle of milk for each of us...just like Grandpa might have done that day!  (I love milk!)

We then took a few minutes to write what we had learned in our journals, before eating our lemon merengue pie (Grandpa's favorite!)

We have learned that, 'The more connected we feel to our righteous forefathers, the more likely we are to make wise and righteous choices." During General Conference, Elder Walker also said, "It would be a wonderful thing if every Latter-day Saint knew the conversion stories of their forefathers." 

Hopefully, we will all take time to discover and teach these stories to our children, to help strengthen them and provide them with positive examples of faith to look to on the road ahead.

{I am participating in an Easter/Family History Challenge.
Check out the #MyForeverFamily page for ways you too can participate!}

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mormon Helping Hands - Ives Run, PA

Just dropping in to share a few photos from our fun Mormon Helping Hands/Stake service day last Saturday.  Our Stake President has been having us do these things for about four years or more on a yearly basis, and they've really become a highlight.  Guy has helped before, but this year, all of the kids were able to join in the fun, including Honor, who was strapped to Steve's back.

It was a beautiful day, as we raked, trimmed, and cleaned up a park/reserve area.  The kids worked really hard, and we all felt a happy sense of accomplishment, of usefulness, and of teamwork.  

There was a lot of opportunity to appreciate the beauty of God's creations.

...and to make new friends.

Afterward, some of the kids splashed around in the nearby lake to cool off, and we made it out of there just before a rather violent hail storm hit!

It was funny, because a sister from the another ward came over as we were watching the children wading, and she said, rather frantically and urgently, "Hey, there is rain coming in.  You guys should get out of the water."  

For a split second, I was like, hmmmm, she's really intense.  I mean, it was a beautiful, sunny day.  But when I looked in the direction that she indicated, I could see that in the distance there was some heavy rain or something coming.  

So I said, 'Yes, everyone get out now and let's get in the car."  We barely made it into the van before the hail hit, and it was pretty bad.  We were blinded for a few minutes, before we could start our journey home.  We watched shingles being ripped off of the picnic gazebo we had been eating under minutes earlier, and Guy actually left in such a rush that he left his only pair of tennis shoes on the dock (we think~!)

It kind of got me thinking, as I started writing this, about how valiant and quick we are to answer the call of people who have our interests in mind...people like, say, the Prophet and other church leaders.  That woman was really no one to me, but she knew something that I didn't, and she was kind enough to warn me...and her warning helped my children and I to get to safety.  There wasn't time to hem and haw about what she had said, there was just one moment of decision: to follow or not.

I am thankful that we answered the call of our Stake President to serve that day, and for the opportunity that this experience gave me to be reminded of a simple, yet powerful truth.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Connecting Kids with Righteous Ancestors

In the recent General Conference, Elder Walker said, "The more connected we feel to our righteous forefathers, the more likely we are to make wise and righteous choices."

With so many apostolic promises of protection, wisdom, and great blessings if the youth of the church do family history work, we will be focusing on familiarizing our children with the conversion stories of their immediate ancestors during family home evening for the next little while.

Yesterday was my Dad's birthday, we started with him.  

I asked my Dad to share his conversion story with me via email.  He was born in the church, but like everyone who choses to follow Christ, he had to decide for himself what path to take.

I started FHE lesson by displaying this photo of my father Robert Hatch as a boy around age seven:

I told the children that we had a Family History Mystery to solve tonight!  I asked if they knew who the boy was in the picture.  They said that they did not.  I said, this is the mystery that we need to solve.

I told them a few things about the person, and asked them to try to guess from the clues who was pictured.  I also had a brown paper bag containing items that describe the person.

The kids pulled out a packet of seeds and a pruning tool first.  This person likes to garden.
Next, they pulled out a dictionary: This person loves to read and memorize new words every day.  He knows more words that anyone I know.
Then they pulled out chocolate and nuts: His favorite snack.

The kids knew from the clues (especially gardening) that the boy in the picture was the person they know as "Papa," their grandpa Robert Hatch.

I told them about Elder Walker's promise that if we learn about our righteous forefathers, we will be more likely to make wise choices, and I asked them to listen to Papa's story of how he gained a testimony.

In my Dad's words: "I have always had a testimony of the gospel.  I realized recently that this is one of my personal gifts of the spirit, the gift to 'know' that the gospel is true.  I have always known it and never doubted."

"At age 14, I went on 'splits' with the missionaries a lot, because they lived with us on and off.  One time they asked me to bear my testimony at a baptism.  I remember as clear as day the passion and rush of emotion as I gave a testimony of the truth of the Bible and Book of Mormon.  After the baptism, I saw my seminary teacher in the hallway and I told her I loved her.  I think that stunned her...I know it stunned me!"

"During my Senior year, I dated a girl who went to another church.  One day she told me that she did not believe in God.  That really took me back...a church-going person who did not believe in God!  The next day in fast and testimony meeting, I bore my testimony that I knew that God lived.  That was a significant moment for me."

"When Susan and I were dating in college, we were having a 'what if' conversation, and we said, "let's just get married!'  Seeing good and bad examples of how those types of choices panned out, I squashed that idea immediately, and basically bore testimony that the only place I was going to get married was the temple."

"Still after my third semester in college, I came home to either get drafted into the military, drift off into who knows what, or go on a mission.  I had a long tall mirror in my bedroom.  I purposefully, intently, piercingly, prayerfully, gazed into that mirror.  I looked long, hard, and deep into my eyes--into my soul--and asked myself at this pivotal moment in my life, which direction was I going to choose.  Who was I going to follow?  What kind of life was I going to lead?  The decision was made.  The rest is history."

We all know that Papa then served a mission in France, but an added detail that my children loved and will remember is that his fellow Elders nicknamed him "Straight Arrow" for his undeviating and upright obedience and righteous ways.

As I told the last dramatic episode of his story, I held a mirror up and looked into it.  And I asked the children to look into the mirror too, into their own eyes---into their souls--as Papa did.  I told them that although they were also born into the church, each one of us must, as Papa did, make the decision, on our own, to follow the Savior.

The kids loved it!~

Now, seeing as it was my dad's 65th birthday, we had made plans to Skype with him during Family Home Evening, so to buy time, I asked the children to get out their journals and write down what they could remember about Papa's conversion story.  We glued photos of him into their journal entries, and over Skype the children shared what they wrote with their grandpa.

I could be mistaken, but a lifetime of seeing my dad try to hold back tears tells me that I think he was touched.

I can't even begin to put into words what a huge blessing it has been to grow up with a father like the one that I have.  He is a rare gem of a man, steady and true, so loving to everyone, does not demand attention or do anything for show, refined, yet earthy, loves to nurture things and make them grow.  Although he is the father of just one son (and four girls), I have watched him take many a lost boy under his wing and without hardly a thanks, take them in as one of his own for a season and set them off on their course, a better person for it.  He is completely invested as a listener, but when he speaks, he has just the right words and analogies.  Just a beautiful, wonderful man.  We are so blessed.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Letters from a Bad Bad Bad Mommy

Welllll, yesterday was a big day.

Because THIS GIRL joined the Nursery as an 18 month old for the first time!

She did great, as expected.  Didn't cry one bit, but did protest when the Nursery leaders lathered her hands in purple paint to make a Mother's Day gift!  

Besides that, oh yeah, it was Mother's Day, and it was an awesome day!

My husband and kids gave me a rowdy breakfast in bed, and made it a fun, relaxing day that wrapped up a really fun weekend together.

I loved seeing all of the tributes to Mothers and Motherhood all over Facebook over the weekend, something that I just have to attribute to the #ItWasMom campaign that the church did.  Those things are contagious, you know.  Facebook hasn't looked that lovely in a long time!

Also, kudos to our Bishop for giving out chocolates on Sunday to all of the Mothers! (And kudos to his wife for putting a bug in his ear to do so!)  I like flowers....but....chocolate vs. flowers....yeah, I'll take chocolate.

There's been a lot going on around here, and not a ton of time to tell you about it all, lots of projects half-baked and in the works, but maybe I will sneak in a few quick posts this week to share what I've been up to.

Before I go, I'll just share one quick Mother's Day-related item.

This little gem floated down from the loft on Saturday night...the night before Mother's Day.  It says, "I don't like you, Bad Bad Bad Momy."  

When I saw it, I thought, "Oh, great, thanks a lot!"  And then I just had to laugh at the irony of it (being the night before Mother's Day and all) until I was having myself a pretty healthy chuckle...and because the message was so the opposite of how I know this person really feels. 

Five minutes later, after not much fuss from me, the writer of the note was snuggled up next to me wanting to be reassured that I still loved her, despite what she wrote. Children are such delicate, complicated little flowers, which is why my catch phrase is "I love you forever no matter what." Motherhood is pretty nuts sometimes, but I love that because of the connection we share, I knew what she really wanted to say was I'm tired and overwhelmed, and I need someone who loves me to help me right now...everybody needs someone who will do that for them. My Mom did it for me, and I am so thankful for that. #itwasmom

 That last bit was what I wrote on FB that night.  After we sorted it all out, I said to the person who wrote it...Hey, why'd you have to go and waste a perfectly good report card on this note?  I'll tell you what, I'll give you your own notepad to use next time you want to write a mean note to Mama, ok?"...(she smiled at the thought)..."By the way, don't write any more mean notes to Mama!!!"

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Elder Ballard's CES Broadcast

Whew!  May is such a busy month!  I am happy to report, though, that I was able to do my own intensive study of General Conference last week, gleaning the messages that were meant just for me, taking careful notes, and am beginning to formulate a plan for our family moving forward.  I feel the urgency of following the prophets.  I am also starting to sense the hope and the vision that they have for us...if we would all just catch their vision as well, we'd be good to go!

Last night, as I listened to Elder Ballard's CES Devotional, I was deeply touched by one thing that he said, and I recognized the wisdom in everything else that he shared.

The personal account that he shared near the end of his remarks about how when he served a mission in the England, Mormon missionaries were a "hiss and a byword."  He said they were laughed at, spit upon, people threw things at them...yet, like the Savior, they did not shrink from their duties of proclaiming the gospel.  And this was the part that touched me.  He said, "At the time, we could not have imagined the impact of our labors."

I have experienced a feeling of sadness and frustration lately at not seeing fruits of my labors in the field of missionary work and in other areas.  It is a feeling that I know is unwarranted, but undeniable still.  The wickedness in the world in general has also gotten me down.  

When Elder Ballard said that they could not have imagined the impact of their labors, I thought of my own feelings and "lack of vision"!  

I started to sense the vision that the prophets and our Savior Jesus Christ want us to catch.  They want us to increase our faith because faith moves us to act.  And as we act, we will be sowing the seeds of labors that will lead to a future which is incomprehensible to us at the moment.  But they want us to know that it is great.  It takes faith to follow the prophet.  It takes faith to hasten the work.  It takes faith to be obedient and to defend our faith...but we cannot imagine the impact that these things will have on us, our families, friends, and communities, and the glorious outcome that awaits.

Satan would like us to become frustrated, distracted, skeptical, or complacent, but we must not.  We must live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God and be, as Elder Ballard suggests, "modern-day Stripling Warriors."

We are all enlisted till the conflict is over.  Happy are we, happy are we.

Be happy and be on the Lord's side.

Here are the rest of the key points that I picked up from Elder Ballard's remarks last night.

1. We (the Brethren) might be old, but we are not out of touch with your lives.  You can trust that when we come to a united decision about something, it is for your good.

2.  Smart phones are truly smart, but they need to be our servants, not our masters. 

3.  You too can scroll, but do not scroll during the presentation of the sacrament.  Focus on the Atonement of the Savior.   Consider putting your phone in airplane mode during the entire Sunday block (of meetings).  You will still have access to your manuals.

4.  We all need time to ask ourselves questions and to have a regular personal interview with ourselves.  That time came come in the temple or our homes or anywhere that we choose to unplug.

5.  He compared the ban on tobacco use to the ban on pornography viewing.  Church leaders warned against tobacco use way before it's health risks were known to science.  We don't have to wait for 100 or 80 or 10 years to discover the devastating effects of pornography, because current research tells us that it hurts our most important relationships, leads to excessive behaviors, leads to addiction. re-wires the brain, creates unrealistic expectations of intimate relationships, and to see people as objects that you can disregard and disrespect.

6.  Speaking of our stand in support of marriage between a man and a woman.  Same-sex attraction is not a sin, but acting on it is.  The church does NOT teach shunning or any unchristian-like actions.  We can find a way to support our friends and relatives who have SSA while still upholding God's plan of happiness.  No one should ignore or discount the commandments of God.

7.  Through your favorite social media sites, share the gospel and stand as sons or daughters of Helaman in the great battles of the last days.  Be modern-day Stripling Warriors.

8.  I know some one you worry about being accused or harassed.  During my mission, Mormons were a hiss and a byword.  Missionaries were laughed at, ridiculed, spit at, and had things thrown at us.  We did not shrink.  At that time, we could not have imagined the impact of our labors.  There were 14 districts, today 46 stakes of Zion are found in the British Isles.

9.  Do not worry about those in the great and spacious building that Nephi saw.  Don't be like those who after they had tasted of the fruit were ashamed, because of those who were mocking them, who fell away and were lost.

10.  This is a great time to be alive.  Say to yourself, "I am helping the Lord, as I reach out and share the gospel in these last days."  We are in this battle and we must stand together, young and old.

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