Thursday, August 21, 2014

Happy Birthday, President Monson

While we were in Utah this summer, we saw President Monson in the Days of '47 Parade.

This was a huge, exciting highlight of our trip that really took us by surprise, and passed much too quickly.  Thanks to my mother-in-law for going early to reserve a great spot to view the parade and on President Monson's side of the street even!

When we realized we were looking right at the Prophet, not 20 feet away from us, my kids were all smiles.  Autumn waved serenely and I did the sign for "I love you."  Good thing I did not know that he was coming, or I might have run up to his car...and been tackled by these khaki-wearing guards!

He was so sweet clapping along with the children as he passed by.  He really does love children.

Just remembering that quick, but special moment, one of my favorite from the summer: 

Happy Birthday, President Monson!

What a special man!

PS - This is my favorite story about President Monson:  During the Depression years, the Monson family lived frugally with few if any luxuries. When young Tom learned a family of one of his friends planned to eat cereal moistened with hot water for Christmas dinner, he invited his friend to his backyard. He then took his two pet rabbits out of their hutch, saying with a lump in his throat, “It isn’t turkey, but they will make you a good Christmas dinner.”  He gave them to his friend for Christmas dinner for his family. He later wrote that he shed tears when he put his two rabbits in a bag for his friend, "but there was a warm feeling in my heart (later) ... when my friend told me this was the best Christmas dinner he and his family had ever had." 
Continue reading... »

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

It's a really big deal.

Guy, Scarlett, and Autumn returned to school today, and Autumn started Kindergarten.  She went off all smiles, looking like Nancy Drew, ready to take it all in.

I'm so proud of her and how she's turning out...she's such a light, a true lady, a nature-girl, and a kind and gentle soul.  And I'm proud of myself:  I didn't even least not until I got home. :)  And only a little bit.  I'm not letting myself get too sad.  After all, we've had all summer to get ready for this next step...and we did and said all the things we needed to.  Love that girl.  And I have no regrets.  

Our summer together as a family was remarkable.  And now as they go off to school,  they've got each other.  All for one.  One for all. I've got Honor still here with me...talking up a storm, knowing the names to everything.  All of my children bring me such happiness.

Nine years ago, I left my job at CNN, and I still think I have the best job ever...with the best "co-worker", my husband Steve, whose birthday it is today!!

I just can't wait to hear how it all went.  And just for fun, here is a picture from about 5 years ago...when our days were spent just the four of us playing in the playroom!  Don'tcha love Scarlett's "haircut!?"  This is why she ended up with the cuter than cute pixie cut!!

I hope your return to school is great!

Continue reading... »

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sweep the Earth with the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Well, ya heard it hear first...or maybe you heard it here second...ok, so I was a few hours behind the curve of listening to Elder Bednar's BYU Education Week message in which he has called each and every one of us to "sweep the Earth as with a flood," by sharing the gospel through social media online.

He said what has been shared is a good start, but only the beginning.  I have felt for a while and mentioned to friends that I don't think we can even envision what this gospel will become through the use of online missionary work and by letting our faith show.  The Lord knows though, and apparently, so do his prophets. And from the content of Elder Bednar's talk, the prophets have seen it coming for a while now.

So, we've been given the green light, officially, by Elder Bednar to sweep the earth.  If you've been holding don't have to any longer!  

I know from personal experience through my own Facebook page that sharing your faith gets easier the more that you do it.  The spirit becomes your companion in the work to help you know what to say and to steer you safely through.  I encourage you to watch Elder Bednar's talk and continue your efforts to share the gospel online.

I think sweeping the earth is going to come more naturally for me than sweeping my kitchen.  It's way more fun anyway!

Continue reading... »

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Taming the Media

With school starting again, it's time to get our homes in order, which for many of us means shopping for school supplies, getting back-to-school haircuts, and bringing our kids' bedtimes back to a reasonable hour!

In all of that reordering of our lives, we'd be wise to take a fresh look at another important area of our lives, and that is how we use media in our homes.

I was interviewed recently and used as a source for the August 2014 Ensign article called "Taming the Media."

The author Starla Butler was awesome to work with, and she did a great job of really packing the article full of real, applicable, useful advice that is easy to tailor to every home and every family situation.

I encourage you to read the article yourself and then do as it suggests: sit down together as a family and create an outline for how media should be used in your home and review/revise it regularly as needed.  

Since the article covers family media planning from many angles, I thought I'd share a few simple suggestions for how you could analyze your family media usage in the home.

---Look at how each member of the family is spending their time online/using media throughout the day.  To track this information, you might want to print out this free timeline template and write down your observations throughout the day.  Write down all of the media usage that occurs during a 12 hour period (including time parents spend online, on their phones, etc).  Include the entire family in this effort.  This should give you a good jumping off point for figuring out what patterns of behavior you like and which ones your family needs to curb.

---As a family, search the words of modern prophets and apostles to discover what guidelines they suggest when it comes to media consumption. (There are lots of great resources within the article itself.)  You can also read the church's guidelines in the media section of For the Strength of Youth.

---Based on what church leaders have said on this topic, choose a family media motto that is easy to remember and which expresses your own goals for the role that media should play in your home.  We did this recently as a family and chose for our motto: "Tune in to the Spirit."  In addition to this, write down specific guidelines for media usage (of cell phones, texting, TV viewing, gaming, and internet time) and post them where all members of the family can be reminded of them often.

The suggestions in this article will help you to tame the media and harness its power for the good of your family.  If you haven't already done so, go read it now!

The thing I like best about the article is that it focuses on teaching correct principles and acknowledges that all families are different and need to set their own rules based on their needs, desires, and individual situations.  With that said, I will be sharing more specific helps on this topic again soon...Hopefully you will find something that speaks to you!

Continue reading... »

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Fun with Cardboard Boxes

Meet the staff of Christensen General, where, one afternoon in August, 23 babies were born in just under an hour. Our team of skilled professionals are trained in the magic of pretend and are qualified to perform life-saving procedures such as cuddling-on-demand. Every baby receives a complimentary shoe box crib.

School starts in about a week, and I'm too busy to blog, but I've got time to spend with these precious little ones.  And the other day, we did something so fun, I'd thought I'd share it with you. 

Autumn is starting Kindergarten--I will miss her sooooooo much!  My Mom sent her a Mr. Roger's video on starting school.  She watched it and then another in which he taught her how to make a baby doll or stuffed animal crib out of a shoe box.

Of course, we got right to work making baby cribs with boxes of all kinds with my girls and then their friends.  We used hot glue to attach scraps of fabric and to make pillows for their babies.  Soon, the girls were playing maternity ward and lots of babies were welcomed into the world by these sweet little mamas.  It was a fun, free, family-friendly activity.

Did you know that the August Friend has a lot of suggestions for thing you can do with a cardboard box?  Click on BOREDOM BUSTERS for some more ideas.

I also have a tip up on the Friend website about Sibling Appreciation Night.  While you're over there, check it out!
Continue reading... »

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Defend the Faith

Elder Holland's talk "The Cost--and Blessings--of Discipleship" demonstrated how and why we and the youth of today will be required to defend the faith with courage, courtesy, and compassion, and that in doing so, we can show true Christ-like love for a world that so desperately needs it.

Since my children are little, we focus on the most basic principles contained in each talk.  And because we go over these talks many times before the next Conference and refer to them in everyday conversation, we are able to tease out more and more of the gospel goodness and feed our faith together more each day.

Whether you are a "little" or a "big" kid all of God's children learn line upon line and precept upon precept.  

And that has been my personal experience with this talk.  I loved it right away, but after studying and listening to it for a while, I started to wonder about the title.  I wondered why it was called "The Cost--and Blessings--of Discipleship," when all I kept hearing was the cost--which included being unpopular, sometimes standing alone, and possibly having food thrown at you!

So I looked again for these supposed blessings, and boy did I find them.  The promises in the final paragraph are brief and concise, but powerful.

Elder Holland says that taking a courageous moral stand IS WORTH IT.

He encourages us to "Be strong.  Live the gospel faithfully even if others around you don't live it at all.  Defend your beliefs with courtesy and with compassion, but defend them."

And here come the amazing blessings:

"In courageously pursuing such a course, you will forge unshakable faith, you will find safety against ill winds that blow...and you will feel the rocklike strength of our Redeemer, upon whom if you build your unflagging discipleship, you cannot fall."

Just let that rest on your soul for a minute.  Those words only take up a brief paragraph in his talk, but the blessings are eternal and profound.

If you decide to defend the faith, you are deciding to stand with the Savior.  And in doing so you will:

1. forge unshakable faith
2. find safety
3. feel rock-like strength of our Redeemer
4. in whom if you build your unflagging discipleship you cannot fall

These are the blessings and promises that I think we all want, but the cost is hefty.  It's going to be harrowing at times to be kind and courteous while saying the unpopular thing.  It will require facing public and personal scorn and condemnation--as did the Savior.

I love that Elder Holland acknowledged that we are to "live the gospel faithfully even if others around you don't live it at all."

A friend of mine recently found himself in a situation that that took courage and composure to know what to say and do in the exact moment, but my friend said of the experience, "The best way to defend truth is simply to state it."

The truth, simply stated, needs no defense.  It defends itself.  It is power all by itself.

This is one reason, we need to be in the scriptures and learning the words of the prophets every day.  We need to acquire the words of truth, so that we can, when appropriate, defend it.
We can also check ourselves against the words of the living prophets to make sure that we are living in a way that pleases God.


Oh, this is a heavy talk, and I encourage you to read and contemplate what it means for your life.  My friend Michaela wrote a great post with 15 Ways to Study a General Conference Talk to Teach a Lesson, you might want to check out.

As for us, we made these "Defend the Faith" shields together as we discussed Elder Holland's words.  We role-played how to respond with courtesy and compassion to others as we defend the faith in various situations.  This was a good conversation to have as I prepare to send my little ones back for another year of school.

Continue reading... »