Thursday, September 28, 2017

General Conference Notebook Download

Everybody's working for the I right?  General Conference weekend, that is!

I've had a few people ask if I'm putting out an updated General Conference doodle/note-taking book, and I wasn't going to, but I decided to make one for my family, so I'm sharing it with you as well.

I worked hard on it, but not too hard...because...I'm just so pregnant: My excuse for everything lately, but it's the truth!

At the top of each page, you'll find a "hand-writing practice" to help little ones spell and write the name of each of the Brethren, as well as a doodle prompt.  At the bottom of each page is a quote from each person from the previous conference.  There are only 9 pages to print total so it shouldn't kill your budget on ink or paper. I always print mine on cardstock, because it makes for a sturdier doodle book.  Cut the pages in half and join them together with rings or whatever you'd like.

You can access the free download right here: LDSConf Notebook

Like I said, it's nothing fancy, but it's free so no complaining!

(*Scroll down and I'll show you a few more of the Conference prep stuff I have going on...)

Here are a few more things I've gathered for the weekend:

1.  Today, I stopped at the Goodwill and picked up this neat map/puzzle made of that foamy stuff.  I meant to save it as something we might do over the weekend, but couldn't wait.  Buying cheap toys/activities at thrift stores and saving them for our General Conference Reverence Stations is something I really like to do.

You can read more about how we do REVERENCE STATIONS at this link:  OUR VERY BEST GENERAL CONFERENCE IDEAS.

2.  While thrifting today, I also picked up a game of Scrabble, because Scrabble tiles have a lot of potential...especially over Conference weekend.  So this will be something I'm using for a new activity and a new way to "take notes" and stay engaged in General Conference this time around. (I will show you that over the weekend!)

3.  You know those cardboard houses that they sell at craft stores and discount stores?  Yeah, I picked up one of those too.  The one I got has a Halloween theme, and it's something that my kids can all color together...and then play with later, or sit in to listen to Conference...or fight over or what-have-you.

I'm keeping things low-key this time around, so besides printing out their doodle notebooks all I have left is food prep...which is normally a big undertaking keeping everyone fed.  Looks like the weekend is going to consist of lots of gummy bears...unless I get some grocery shopping done tomorrow!!  Best of luck to all you General Conference-planning Mamas!

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Thank you, FHE, for Helping us Laugh Again!

In case you're wondering, we don't know the gender of the baby we are having (in six weeks or less now!)  For all but one of our children, we have opted to wait until the birth to find out.

I usual "know" the gender through little experiences here and there, mostly dreams.  This time, however, I've had three dreams of baby girls, none of whom I thought were mine in the dream.  I also had a dream I had twin boys in my posession.  But I also dreamed that I met Michael Jordan and he thought I was I'm just all over the place dreamwise this pregnancy!

Here's another little tidbit, I didn't tell anyone I was pregnant--not even my husband--for 12 weeks.  We were under so much stress as a family with the move, new job, building a house and moving again, that I decided, like Mary, to "keep all these things in my heart!"

As a result, everyone was pretty surprised and perhaps shocked when I announced that I was pregnant, I think because most people in my family and a few friends had decided that I was done...or should be done now...having kids.

So, although I am just six weeks or less away from actually giving birth, I am just now doing things we normally like to do to get the family excited and geared up to welcome a new family member.

During FHE we did something we've done for other babies: I asked the children and Steve to draw a picture of what they think the baby will look like.  It's pretty funny to see what they come up with and we were all laughing by the time that activity was over.  (Do I see a pattern forming?  Holding FHE with the spirit can help us all feel better together?? So glad for that!)

In addition to drawing, we each wrote down our best guesses about the gender, when the baby would arrive, and other statistics such as weight and length.

Since we aren't sure about names yet, my husband promised that whoever guessed closest would get naming rights.  Oh, great!  Good luck, little one!  Maybe the best namer win!

This post shows us doing this five years ago for baby Honor...Click here to see it!  The funny thing is the post says we weren't going to find out the gender...but we DID!  I must've worked my magic on my husband Steve when he was most vulnerable!

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Monday, September 25, 2017

FHE Sibling Spotlight

Spotlighting individual siblings for Family Home Evening is something we've done in the past and wanted to get back to.  So this week, we celebrated Autumn, our soon-to-be nine-year old.

When I do this, I like it to be a total surprise.  This time around, it was pretty casual.  I found this "Autumn" garland at the store and picked up her favorite candy.

When FHE began, we sang a song of her choosing, and then I asked each family member to say three things they love around their sister. We went around and around until we had all said at least three things.

She was already beaming before we got done with that exercise, but to top it off, I had a letter from her former teacher that she had never read before, that absolutely sang her praises. I read that letter for the whole family to enjoy.

It was a simple, but enjoyable FHE that had everyone feeling good about each other (thank goodness!)

The next day, I actually received an email from the mother of one of Autumn's school friends.  She told me that her daughter had gone to school with ringlet curls in her hair and that she felt self-conscious about it.  Upon seeing her, apparently Autumn paid her this sincere compliment: "You look like Belle from Beauty & the Beast!"  Autumn's words completely changed how her friend felt about herself and she came home totally satisfied with her hair-do of the day!

Her Mom was so happy that she just had to share that story with me.  I was pleased by Autumn's good act, although not surprised.  However, the thing that happened next did surprise me.  In the same breath (or same email) this Mom-friend offered to babysit for me so that I could go to my remaining weekly pregnancy appointments, which will be such a help to me.

Now, I'm sure that my friend might have been planning to offer her services to me either way, but in that moment, I felt that her kindness to me was somehow a direct result of the kindness that my daughter showed to hers.  And I was suddenly super grateful and feeling blessed by the goodness of my girl.

It's kind of neat when the goodness your children do, comes back to you.  And maybe that's the joy Heavenly Father feels.

If you'd like to see what we did for our first Sibling Appreciation Night, click here.

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Solitary trees, grow strong

On Monday, I was yearning to see some fall color to brighten my mood and at some point I had the thought, "Oh, how I wish I could see a picture of the tree that grows in our old church parking lot back home! Maybe I could get someone to send me one..." 

Well a few days later, a friend, totally out of the blue, sent me a picture of the very tree in its orange Fall glory! How did she know? 

I believe that God knows our hearts and can communicate to us and others, through the Holy Spirit, what we need. 

As we listen to that small voice inside each of us, we can meet the needs of others as God would want us to. 

I am so grateful to my friend for listening to and acting on a prompting that touched my heart this week. 

Another thing that happened this week is that our neighborhood developer is putting in these large and lovely street trees.

How I miss the trees that used to surround and protect and beautify my home in Lewisburg!  So seeing trees going in by my new home makes me happy.

I was looking up quotes about trees today, and I read this one:  "Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong," --Winston Churchill.

Sometimes, I feel like a "solitary tree" and the quote definitely made me think of this bright, bold, beautiful tree which grows in the middle of my old chapel's parking lot.  Encased in what appears to be an uninviting bed of blacktop, it still grows strong and vibrant--a beacon for us to enjoy each Fall.

The tree and this quote remind me of what it is to be a Latter-day Saint living in Central Pennsylvania--or anywhere in the world where one feels like "the only one".  If "one" grows at all in that location, he or she certainly grows strong.  That has been my experience, and I am again grateful for it.

Happy Fall, everyone!

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Most Important Work You'll Ever Do

It's been a rough week, the kind that involves absolutely no sleep because of pregnancy-related discomforts, but all's well that ends well, and this week ended well.

Let me share with you one sweet moment that occurred Saturday afternoon.

You know I love any opportunity to share the gospel with a friend, and this one popped up in quite the unexpected way.

I was walking around the home store called Kirkland's, and passed by a sign that at quick glance seemed to have a very familiar phrase on it.

Sure enough, as I passed by again I read the words, "The most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home."  I took a closer look to be sure and yes it was attributed to Harold B. Lee, a former President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Now, this just isn't the kind of thing I see every day while shopping, and I thought I'd really like to have that in my house, but I wasn't sure the sign itself was our style (because of the shabby-chic look.)  My husband was apt to pass it by, but I decided in the end to get it.

So he left the store and I proceeded with my son to the checkout, and wouldn't you know, my daughter's good friend's mother was working the register.

I said, "I didn't know you worked here!"  Reading the quote on the sign, she remarked, "This is the PERFECT quote for you!"  I smiled, pleased that someone in my new town knows at least that much about me!

I was tempted to leave it at "Yes, thank you, I love it!" but I took the opportunity to tell her, "And you know what?  This quote is actually from one of the leaders of our church!  I was so surprised to see it in here and just had to get it."  She was intrigued and thought it was a neat coincidence as well and asked some follow-up questions:  "Is he a leader of your church now?  Have you met him?  Or is he from the past?"

It was just a quick interaction, but a completely natural one, and I was so happy to be able to introduce her a little more to what we believe.

This is probably one of my favorite side-effects of missionary work, the certain knowledge that God is aware of each of us and able to orchestrate and conduct this work.

Have a great Sabbath day!

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Sunday, September 3, 2017

Recapturing testimony day by day

Faith and testimony is built day by day.  What are you doing each day to make sure your testimony stays vibrant?  I have been asking myself that a lot lately.

"...once obtained, a testimony needs to be kept vital and alive through continued obedience to the commandments of God and through daily prayer and scripture study."

Hopefully, you all picked up on this quote from President Monson, which I included in my previous post.  It applies to all of us.

Another one I love, from President Lee this time, is as follows (and I take this from the Harold B Lee Manual:

What can we do to strengthen our testimonies?

[The Master said to Peter,] “Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31–32). Now, mind you, He is saying that to the chiefest of the Twelve. I am praying for you; now go out and get converted, and when you get converted, then go strengthen your brother. It means [we can become] unconverted just as well as we can become converted."
(And here comes the quote that I really like...) 
"Testimony is as elusive as a moonbeam; it’s as fragile as an orchid; you have to recapture it every morning of your life. You have to hold on by study, and by faith, and by prayer. If you allow yourself to be angry, if you allow yourself to get into the wrong kind of company, you listen to the wrong kind of stories, you are studying the wrong kind of subjects, you are engaging in sinful practices, there is nothing that will be more deadening as to take away the Spirit of the Lord from you until it will be as though you had walked from a lighted room when you go out of this building, as though you had gone out into a darkness.17
That which you possess today in testimony will not be yours tomorrow unless you do something about it. Your testimony is either going to increase or it is going to diminish, depending on you. Will you remember your responsibility, then? The Lord said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).18
These are just some thoughts I have swirling around in my head today...the importance of always building and not becoming complacent about our testimonies.

I've been taking actions lately, small, baby steps, actually, to be a better builder of my own testimony.

One thing I started doing this week is taking about 10 minutes a day to index in the morning.  I figure it is just one more positive thing I can be doing with my limited time to turn my thoughts to good things, to build my testimony, and to bring more of the spirit into my day.

Since I was trying to find the easiest, quickest indexing projects, I ended up indexing records (muster rolls) of people who served in the American Revolutionary War, which I found really exciting.  Normally, in the past the people I have indexed were really strangers to me, but it seemed different somehow to connect with people who served such an important roll in our country's history.

Anyway, just another idea of ways we can all take an active roll in building our testimonies.  Have a great week!

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Friday, September 1, 2017

The Power of Reading the Book of Mormon Daily

Well, it's September already!  And General Conference is just four short weeks away!  It's one of those years when the Saturday session falls in September, so it's sneaking right up on us!

With President Monson's brief remarks ringing in my ears, we've been working hard as a family to get back on track with family scripture study this summer.  With our move and my husband not being around quite as much as we are used to, it was hard to get back on a good schedule. 

I didn't want to be hit or miss on scripture study anymore, so we decided to set a goal of reading the scriptures together every day without missing for the entire school year...starting September 1st (although we don't go back to school until Sept 5th!)

Here is the scripture reading chart that we made, ready to be filled right up with little stickers each day that we read together.

We made the chart on a large poster board so we wouldn't be tempted to forget the most important part of our day!

Do you remember the promises that President Monson made to us during his talk last General Conference?

Let's refresh:

Speaking of The Power of the Book of Mormon, President Monson said, "It is essential for you to have your own testimony in these difficult times, for the testimonies of others will carry you only so far. However, once obtained, a testimony needs to be kept vital and alive through continued obedience to the commandments of God and through daily prayer and scripture study.

"My dear associates in the work of the Lord, I implore each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives. I so testify with all my heart in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Who of us doesn't need these promised blessings?:
When we study and ponder the scriputures daily, we in a position to:
1. hear the voice of the Spirit
2. resist temptation
3. overcome doubt and fear
4. receive heaven's help in our lives.
We've got 28 days to prove the Prophet by trying out his words.  Are there other principles taught last General Conference that you'd like to employ in your life?  I'd love to hear about it!
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