Thursday, January 31, 2019

What you do in the morning could shape your whole year.

I'm still really enjoying singing primary songs with my little ones in the morning. If you're not sure what to do with them for #ComeFollowMe, start with a song and see what doctrine is taught that can be explored together. 

(Today, we sang, "Can a little child like me, thank the Father fittingly"...and we talked about how Joseph received revelation from God on how to protect Jesus as a child and that parents still can do this today.) I also love how the songs we sing have followed us throughout the day. I'll sit down mid-day and try to play it on the piano or an older child will come home singing it as soon as they enter the house. This makes me happy.

Also, do you have a spot to keep important references such as church magazines, the manuals, etc? I was using this organizer (pictured at the top of this post) for our scripture journals before the new year but for now it's housing those little Personal Progress, Faith in God and For the Strength of Youth booklets a nursery manual, song book, True to the Faith etc, that I want to be able to pull out exactly when needed.

One last thing, I keep one dedicated journal where we write down our goals each year, personal and as a family. We chart our progress there too. 

Lately, I've been reading and reviewing our goals with the kids each day and checking in with how they/we are doing. I think it's becoming a useful practice as it lead me to print out worksheets to help Autumn meet her goal of memorizing the Articles of Faith. I keep my planner handy also, so I can quickly jot down important things to do that day to help us with our goals. In this way scripture study really truly shapes our day.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Teach Whoever Is Around to Be Taught

So one of the first mornings of teaching #ComeFollowMe lessons did not "take root" shall we say? 

My oldest stayed up too late and despite repeated (kind of me) helps waking up, he only got out of bed five minutes before he had to leave for the bus. So all he had time for was me showing him the white board (with notes on the parable of the shower, continuing on yesterday's comparisons of seeds and faith) and urging him to prepare himself to be "good ground" by going to bed early and get up on time so he can eat and study and nourish his testimony. 

So what do you do when things don't work out with one child? You teach whoever is around and ready to learn. And today that person was my two year old, potty training son Val who has been up since 4am. I made him some oatmeal (it was 6:15 am at that point) and he asked me to light a candle, because he knows that's something I normally do. So I lit the candle and Val asked to blow out the match. So I lit five more matches and he enthusiastically blew them each out. I told Val that the little light of a match is like a little testimony. We have to feed it so it can become a strong 🔥 that can't be extinguished. Then I turned on the gas flame on my stove top and asked Val to blow it out. Of course he couldn't. I said this is how strong we want our faith to be and it gets this way by supplying our testimonies with enough fuel to burn bright each day and over a lifetime. That fuel for our faith is scripture reading, serving others, keeping commandments, and having experiences where we rely on and trust in God and in His promises, etc.

I'm pretty sure Val finally fell back asleep poor little fella...and it's time for the next round of "students" to arise...
Update: I'm adding this as it goes with my experience today. From E. Bangerter: "Every parent faces moments of frustration and varying levels of determination and strength while raising children. However, when parents exercise faith by teaching children candidly, lovingly and doing all they can to help them along the way, they receive greater hope that the seeds being sown will take root within the hearts and minds of their children."

I have to remember not to get disheartened when one child is not ready to learn.  My job is to nourish and to love.  Their job is to learn.  The Holy Ghost's job is to teach.
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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Let Them Teach

One of my favorite principles that helps me teach my family is "Let them Teach".

My children get so excited when I asked them to teach a lesson.

Scarlett taught our #ComeFollowMe lesson today. She chose to use a storybook we have called "Oskar and the Eight Blessings" to help us think of ways we can make our scripture study more meaningful. The child in the book, a recent immigrant, has a goal to get to his family before the first candle is lit on Hanukkah. Along the way he experiences 8 blessings that help him meet that goal. Scarlett drew the parallel that if we have a goal to make our scripture study more meaningful, and we work diligently towards that, the Lord will bless us in unexpected ways like the boy in the story.

Scarlett had us each draw a picture of a menorah in our journals and write things we each will do to help our scripture study be more meaningful.

It was a really unique idea and opened up a discussion about Christ being Jewish, about ancient Israel, about the Law of Moses pointing people to the Messiah, about covenants and the way Christ has dealt with man through each dispensation, about how Jesus Christ is "Jehovah" of the Old Testament, and how one of the main purposes of the Book of Mormon is to convince both Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the whole world.
Autumn especially enjoyed and seemed to want to know more about this, which helped me to know that I need to give my kids a reference point and some more historical and religious background as we move forward so that the scriptures we read can be better understood and put in context for them.
But for now, we'll focus on doing the things we listed to help our study be more meaningful moving forward. And those things will take dedication and practice.
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Monday, January 28, 2019

Early to bed, Early to Rise

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man (or Mom) healthy, wealthy, and wise. 

I have always known this is true but in recent years have struggled to get up early enough to be really at my best in the early morning. 

Today I planned to wake up at 5am but the Spirit woke me up at 4:45, so I got up, got dressed, studied, journaled and was ready and alert for scripture study with my husband and son at 6am, then scripture study with the three girls at 7:30am with breakfast, packing lunches, and getting clothes laid out/kids dressed in between. 

We had a very nice time together talking about and drawing our testimonies as plants (inspired by the Friend this month!), and as I watched the girls dance their way to the bus stop taking their lovely lights with them I might have cried a little. 

What a blessing they are and how much work it is to maintain a family, and yet that hard work and sacrifice is what makes them precious to us. 

I'm grateful for this "new" plan which, if we let it will transform both how our days look and how we are. #ComeFollowMe.

I normally have a few different Come Follow Me Lessons each day depending on who is awake and which ages are around to teach. I love that it's so easy to adapt lessons to all ages.  This is the way I adapted our lesson on testimony for my 2 and 1 year olds.  I started with singing a Primary song and I was amazed at how excited they both got at hearing me sing to them.  They were wide awake and attentive and smiling at me to see what I would do next!  I grabbed a poinsettia and Val and I talked about what it takes for us to help the plant grow.  I invited him to water the plant while we talked.

At one point, he said, "Jesus will come back one day?" Following his lead, I said yes, "would you like to see a picture of Jesus?"  We looked at this picture of the Savior in Come Follow Me manual and he immediately started pointing out Christ's facial features (eyes, nose, ears, lips, etc.) and point to his own.  This was so sweet and made it easy to talk about and help my son relate to His Savior.

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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Being Prepared to Teach at Home #ComeFollowMe

I have loved the Come Follow Me way of teaching for a very long time now...ever since the Church came out with it for the Youth.  It has truly blessed our family.  The children have grown up with this style of teaching in our home, so you'd think I'd be off to the races!  However when the new at-home curriculum was announced, I was definitely worried.  Why?  Because I know how much of a commitment it is to teach and to teach in the right way.  

Teaching in the home is such a living and breathing thing, at least for me.  For instance, bringing teaching in to the home really brings my actions at all times of the day under a microscope.  It's a lot harder for me to watch an inappropriate show, to respond with harshness to the kids, or laugh at an off-color joke, when I know I'm going to have to turn around and teach the children the next morning about the Gospel.  Conversely, it's much easier for me to do those things if I am not currently doing a lot of gospel teaching at home.  There is a real cause and effect relationship there.  And although that means more work on my part, I have a testimony that this truly is a good thing.  It is a relationship that I work at every day...and I'm not perfect at it, but I'm getting better over time.

During the month of December, I spent a LOT of time thinking about this new curriculum, praying about it, reading up on it, thinking about how I could center my time and my home on this effort to make it go more smoothly.  I wrote a lot of things down.

Here is one page that I wrote down to remind myself of my thoughts...sort of to be used as a guide for me in Teaching in the Home:

1.  Personal Worthiness:  Your teaching of any principle is more powerful when you are living that principle.  Children can usually sense when we are not, even if we aren't doing it out in the open, there is more weight to our words when we are actually living that principle.

I remember this was a bit of a sticking point when I was teaching my children "My Gospel Standards" (it's like For the Strength of Youth for Primary children!)  We were memorizing it.  And we got to the part that says, "I will only listen to music that is pleasing to Heavenly Father."  I felt myself flinch inside when saying those words to my kids, and I felt the spirit telling me I could do better.  I did do better.  I committed to living this principle more exactly.  So in the process of teaching my children, we both grew.

As an important side-note, don't put off teaching because you feel unworthy, either.  Start now.  Act in faith.  We can acknowledge our own short-comings and grow in the gospel right along with our children.  

2.  Personal Preparation:  Go the extra mile to prepare yourself.  I loved Pres. Eyring's talk "Women and Gospel Learning" from the Women's session of General Conference.  He gives a very extensive tutorial for what we will need to do to be prepared.  I found this talk to be intimidating and inspiring at the same time!  But when I went back and read it, I still feel it holds a lot of keys to unlocking gospel teaching in the home.  Read it.  Listen to it.  Again and again and do what he says.

Just as a reminder to myself, I'm including the notes I took on ten things pointers he gives to help us implement the "new" home-centered gospel learning:
 a. Jesus Christ is our perfect example.  Look to him and his life
b. Bring charity to the for yourself and those you are teaching.
c. Seek spiritual gifts of love for others.  Ask for it in prayer.
d. Prepare yourself by reading, praying, and seeking the spirit first.
e. Plan
f. Put forth the effort and the time. (take more time to ponder on spiritual matters)
g. Your contribution will be unique.
h. Pray, study, and ponder to know what your contribution will be.
i. NEVER STOP LOVING those you teach even if they aren't interested in listening
j. Obey in order to grow as a nurturer....because this is what we are really talking about...BEING A NURTURER.

3.  What you DO to SUPPORT gospel learning in the home really matters:
at least it does for me.  Many of us make special meals over General Conference weekend.  We clean the house extra-well in order to facilitate feeling the spirit together and gospel learning without distractions that disorder brings.  In order to teach the gospel more in my home I knew that probably MOST of my work at the front-end at least would be work that seemed unrelated to gospel study.  Meals need to be planned, groceries need to be bought, brought home, and put away, laundry needs to be done, people need to be getting good rest to be able to get up and study well together.  All of those household tasks take on new importance when we realize that they are there to support gospel-learning in the home.  For me, this is probably one of the biggest changes the new curriculum has brought me...taking my housekeeping duties more seriously, doing it in more of an orderly and prompt way and seeing these duties as a means to a very good end.

4.  The Gospel needs no ketchup: In the words of Millie from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, the gospel can stand on its own two feet.  We don't need to over-complicate it, but teaching in the home does make limits of teaching in a church building obsolete.  Whatever activities we think will reach our children and help us to teach, we are free to do them.  The sky is the limit, EVERY moment can be a teaching opportunity, and that is exciting.  With that said, simple is usually best...and for me at least speaking aloud the words of living prophets brings the spirit quicker than any gimmick!

5.  Ponder, Immerse Ourselves, Ponder, Write, Go!:  This is my process.  I think a lot about whatever lesson I want to teach my kids.  I listen to talks about the topic while I'm doing my regular work at home.  I think about it more.  I pray.  I write things down. And somewhere in the middle of writing things down...something comes to me that is the "just right" thing to share with them.  I often keep a calendar just for my lessons with my kids.  And I save crafts and things on Pinterest that are totally not related to my lesson and at the right moment those things I saved might come in to play...or not.  But I am always planning!

6.  Let the Holy Ghost Bring It to Life:  I didn't originally have this point written down, but I know that it is true.  There are lots of times when I am not as prepared as I'd like to be, but I know that as I try my best the Holy Ghost is there for me.  Sometimes I crack the books open in the morning and I think, "I'm not really sure where I'm supposed to take this" and the spirit comes in and says, "I'll lead!"  Let the spirit lead and each lesson will have something magical about it.  As with the loaves and the fishes...we, the disciples of Christ, His army of Mothers and gospel teachers bring our small contribution.  He accepts our offering as imperfect as it might be...and then He brings the rest and makes our offering enough.

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Friday, January 25, 2019

A Holy Ghost High-Five

I have a sign in my house that I walk by multiple times each day. 

It says, "The most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home." 

Some days I walk by it and pitifully think "boy, if that's really true I'm in trouble," because I mess up a lot, every day. I'm loud when I should listen, I get irritated when I should show love. It's a constant struggle to be the Mom and the person I know I can be. 

But then there are times that I walk by and I smile and think, "Yes! This is the most important work and I'm doing a bang up job of it!" 

I've been keeping this family running while my husband was away for ten days now. I started this new scripture study curriculum while getting up earlier, starting a new routine on very little sleep. We've eaten all home cooked meals (including this morning's cookie breakfast!), and I didn't order pizza once which I'm often tempted to do when we're busy and he's gone! 

I've attended their church things, seen my daughter get her temple recommend, attempted to potty train my son, let the kids have their friends over for a game night. I played with my kids out in the woods and chased them in the house, and looked into their eyes, and hugged them whenever they wanted me to. 

I cleaned and decluttered, and tackled the laundry, been a friend, and followed promptings, and tonight we did something together we haven't been able to do in a long time. We painted together... something we love to do but haven't really been able to do since our move. 

So yeah, I'm sure I'll beat myself up for mistakes I make another day, but tonight, I am feeling a big high-five from the Spirit...and you know what? I'll take it! And I'll try to remember it during the hard moments. 

I hope you'll take a minute to see the good you've accomplished in the last week as well. This is the greatest work, and while there were some days recently where I questioned that truth, deep down I know it will all be worth it in the end! 

(PS, Thanks to my sisters for calling me this week and giving me pep talks and saying encouraging words! It really built me up when I needed it!)

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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Trouble In a Bubble

Ok, so I know I have not been the most diligent of bloggers (and rarely do I admit that! ha!), however, since clearing my volunteer schedule at school earlier this school year, I have been more diligent as a Mother at home.  And it's been wonderful.  I know now more than ever that this was the right choice.

I've also been working hard to implement the Come Follow Me Curriculum.  That too has been wonderful and as with everything is a work in progress.

Because of all of the demands on my time, I turned to doing mini-blog posts on my Facebook page instead of full-blown posts here (so if you're not linked up to me on Facebook, please do!) 

With that said, I am going to try to catch up over here and share some of the Come Follow Me lessons we've had and some thoughts too as well as the process I went through to really center my home and life around these family scripture study times.

Today, I'm just going to say that I'm grateful (for once!) for media...for good media and the help is can be for parents and families if we seek it out.

During this season in life, I'm grateful for Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.  A while ago, I purchased a collection of DVDs of the show, and I've been giving my kids the treat of watching his DVDs in the car while the little ones have to go with me for the big kids' various pick-ups and drop-offs.

At first my 2 year old didn't like it, (I think he had gotten used to the fast-pace of an animated movie), but now that he's used to the slower pace of Mr. Rogers' talking, and he loves it and tries to sing along which is very sweet.

And I've seeing other "side-effects".  This note from Honor was one of them.  She was having a hard time being jealous of things her sister had, and we talked about how she would need to work hard and save up her money if she wants the same doll that her sister has. She didn't like this idea at first, but out of the blue, she wrote me this note saying, "Dear Mom, I know it is hard to wait, but I will try."  Later, I realized the topic in the car that day on Mr. Rogers' was "learning to wait" for things.

Other good things have happened for me as I have realized that Mr. Rogers isn't only talking to children, but he is talking to parents.  In one episode he has a story-teller on who tells the story of "Trouble in a Bubble." I had heard this story while driving many times, but only recently really listened to it.  The moral of the story is that if you treat something like trouble it acts like trouble.  If you treat it like a bubble is acts like a bubble.  This is certainly a good reminder for us all!  I love that Mr Rogers spoke in parables much of the time making his lessons accessible to all who have an ear to hear.

Well, anyway, in a world where it seems media is working against me as a parent, I just like to point out when it is working for me!  And I'm grateful for that.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

She's Growing Up Unto the Lord

With the recent policy changes, my oldest daughter was able to enter the Young Women's program about five months early.  She was also able to enter the temple.

I was so excited for her when I heard the news, and I was also excited to share the news with her.  Since she was home sick from school that day, it was fun to bring home lunch and talk about it.

She is so ready.

She has been growing her testimony and been growing in all the different ways. And it has been a beautiful time for us together as mother and daughter to share the exciting and wonderful experiences of growing together.

The picture at the top of this post was taken on the Wednesday night when she came home with her new temple recommend.  She was so pleased and wanted to talk all about it.

Scarlett is a girl who by and large makes good choices...and because she makes good choices, she feels good about herself, and this is a cycle that has really been quite an advantage for her.  She is confident in the Lord, He blesses her, she acts in faith, and she just grows and GLOWS!

It was really a special and happy day in the temple last Saturday when I took her for the first time to do baptisms.  Guy was there too and so were my parents. 

Scarlett was asked to be baptized for one of my friend's close relatives, so that was neat to see the connection that we all had in the temple.

But the thing I will remember most is the feeling of total JOY I felt as soon as Scarlett entered the font.

And it actually taught me something I had not previously considered.

Scarlett is joy personified.  Before she was even born, I got a glimpse into her personality and she is just a spritely, happy, playful, energetic spirit.  And those were the feelings I felt from the Holy Ghost while I watched her do baptisms in the temple.  It was a different type of spiritual joy than I felt when I watched Guy do baptisms in the temple for the first time exactly a year ago.  This spirit really matched Scarlett's spirit.  And I thought that was so very interesting!  I will definitely be thinking more about that.

Anyway, I am happy about and excited for all of these changes that the Lord through President Nelson is instituting...and I'm grateful for the many ways that they will surely bless our children!

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