Thursday, February 27, 2020

Woman in Embryo

I was walking through the front entryway of the middle school this evening and I spotted this display of what the fifth-graders want to be when they grow up.

You bet I was proud when I saw my daughter Autumn's photo. She was holding a sign that read "Mom" on it.

In a sea of aspiring actors, video game designers, and sports figures, she's not afraid to declare that she wants to be a Mom.

This made this former TV Producer, double-major degree-holding, stay-at-home Mother and Homemaker's heart take flight!

Move in the direction of your dreams, little Woman in embryo (as your Grandmother says!) As you follow His plan for you, God will help make those dreams come true and use you in ways you never imagined!

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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Come Follow Me: motivation

I feel like my kids need some incentive to really engage in Come Follow Me lately. And sometimes I'm ok with tying rewards to positive actions, especially if it gets us over a hump or out of a slump or ultimately leads to a habit that could some day save their spiritual lives 

So today, I'm trying a little reward system that is tied to lunch treats (which they rarely get but really want) or snacks for movie nights and such.

I figure if they write in their journal identifying principles, and reading on their own, that would be worth a reward. So for every two days they do this in a week, they can choose a snack from my snack box to pack in their lunches. If they manage to do it 7 days out of the week they can choose a special outing with Mom or Dad. (Or they can get more snacks. :)

Maybe that doesn't sound like much or maybe it's too much, but it is the strong desire of my kids to have both of these things/opportunities. I figure it will motivate all of us to be more diligent and serve another purpose... Rationing of school lunch snacks which seem to disappear at lightening speed in our family of eight!

What's in my snack box? Individual portions of Lucky Charms, Oreos, Cheezits, Fruit snacks, microwave popcorn packets, and other items I don't buy on a regular basis which they consider a fun treat.

Here's the seen from after school today. Challenge accepted, I guess:

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Monday, February 24, 2020

talent show FHE

To encourage the development of our talents tonight we had a talent show for FHE.
We were treated to sword fighting by Captain Hook and Peter Pan...
...magic tricks...

...trumpet pieces...


...the highest and lowest note on a saxophone...

...and the recorder. Oh and I showed a blanket that I crocheted.

After each brief performance, each family member had a chance to ask questions of the performer.

This last-minute FHE was fun and cultivated a spirit of appreciation for the talents of others. The questions helped us see the work involved in reaching these goals in our talents.
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Monday, February 17, 2020

the Lord's Hand to Revealed

This is me reaching out longingly toward this blanket that I started crocheting back in January. Lately I've been so busy with my calling that I haven't had time for this little creative hobby.

But I'm an so grateful for this calling of Stake Director of Communication. This weekend was an "emergency" Stake Conference, in which we had a new Stake Presidency called because our other recently called Stake President is moving away.

In preparation for this Stake Conference we invited lots of local government leaders to attend. We met with them and invited in person or over the phone. And basically they all said yes!!

I mean, that's to be expected when the person doing the asking is a former Pittsburgh Steeler with two Super Bowl rings, however, I am still amazed.

Perhaps the persecuted Joseph Smith might have been amazed. I think possibly the visiting Elder Montoya (whose great grandfather was killed by soldiers in Mexico 105 years ago for being "Mormon") was slightly amazed.

But it was indeed a remarkable show of support, one we haven't seen in this area previously, and I could see the Lord's hand in it.

I was worried when they called me to this position. Being a SAHM, fairly new to this area, and not having government connections, I wondered how it was to be done?

Wouldn't you know, the Lord already had set a plan in motion?  As it turned out my daughter's homeroom/health teacher is one of the Township Supervisors for our local government.  A way was already provided before I was even called.

Other things to note: the person who held this calling before me only held it for three months. He didn't know me, but my name came to him as the person to call to the committee. After I had been called, I asked him if he knew anything of my background. He said that he didn't. He had no idea that I had worked at CNN, was a journalist and did some PR in my career.

And Chris Hoke, that Pittsburgh Steeler, and member of the Stake Presidency who has been my "missionary companion" as we have gone out visiting government officials for the last month or so has been instrumental, using his name and connections to open doors that would not have opened to me. Now, he is our new Stake President, an excellent choice for a leader. But he was 2nd counselor long enough to guide our Committee and jumpstart these community relationships again.

I told Pres. Hoke yesterday in a text how much I respect him, however not because of his worldly fame. After all, unlike most other Yinzers, I have never seen him play a minute of football in my life!

But I have seen him take the field for the Lord, and I have been most impressed with his willingness to repay the Lord for his success by using his name, fame, time, and all of his amazing talents to Serve the Lord and Build His kingdom. I have all the respect in the world for that.

So if Chris Hoke can do it, I guess I can put down my crochet hook and cast in my sickle for the Lord.

It's much more exciting than crocheting anyway!

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Some People are Just Magic

I know I'm a little late with this post, but I just have to give a shout-out to the Santa at the Pittsburgh's Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens this year.  

He was warm and sincere and did an amazing job of sparking joy and a sense of wonder in my children when we visited with him.

I absolutely adore people who are so much like children themselves that children accept them as an ally pretty readily.  This is how this Santa was for us.

Just so amazingly sweet and kind.

For this Mom who spent much of the entire holiday season tending a sick household, watching him interact with my babies was a treat in and of itself.

Thank you, Santa!


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Monday, February 10, 2020

A Thought for This Week

Just thought I'd share this to get you psyched up for the week ahead.  No matter what you face, remember this:

"You were taught in the spirit world to prepare you for anything and everything you would encounter during this later part of these latter says. That teaching endures within you!" - President Russell M. Nelson

Make choices today that will allow the Holy Ghost to remind you of those teachings when you need them most!  

You can do this!

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Sunday, February 9, 2020

My Mom Turned 71

My Mom turned 71 on Saturday, so we bopped on over to Cleveland to spend the day with her and my Dad (and also got to see my sister.)

Because, we can do that now that we only live two hours away.  We couldn't run over and back in a day when we lived nearly five hours away.

I count that as one of the major blessings of our move, the move that was so hard to make three years ago.

But God truly works in mysterious ways to bring about what is best for us, and what is best for me now is being able to live closer to my family.

My Mom is a truly remarkable lady.  She is always learning new things.  Like currently she apprentices for a local balloon shop learning to become a balloon artist.  She is so creative and fun like that.

Another thing about my Mom is that she will always tell it to ya straight.  She doesn't mince words.  I always know if I ask her opinion, I'll get an honest answer. I trust her because of that.

My Mom and my Dad are straight about the gospel.  They try their best. They point me to Christ and to his prophet.  I love them for the excellent examples they are to me.

And I'm grateful I get to share more of my time with them now that we live a lot closer.

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Thursday, February 6, 2020

What Come Follow Me Looked Like One Day

Lately, I cannot get my kids to sit down and listen to scriptures unless food is literally going into their mouths at the very same time.  I guess this shouldn't surprise me that much, since we've used this as a strategy since they were little.

On Saturday, after a day of relaxing past-times (such as water-coloring, puzzle-solving, raclette cooking, and trash-collecting in the neighborhood, I sat down while dishes were being cleared from dinner and just started reading and interpreting the scriptures aloud.

I had a semi-captive audience.  I was really just doing my own personal studying amid the chaos, and as I'd discover one truth after another that I'd somehow missed the other 40 times I'd read the passages, I'd exclaim with excitement at what I had learned.  The kids would draw nearer and want to engage.

Soon, four of my kids were working on water color paints and passively listening while I read, jotted down notes, and pointed out what I thought was so amazing about what I had just learned.

Every day, it seems I approach Come Follow Me a little differently.  But this was one of those good days that I'll always remember.


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Wednesday, February 5, 2020

A Book of Mormon Timeline (Printable)

Last week I stumbled on a post on Facebook somewhere about a Book of Mormon Timeline that you can color and cut out and put on the wall.

This kind of hands-on activity sounded like a good fit for our family, so that's what 3-year old Val is working on in the picture above.

The kids (young and older) had fun coloring the characters in and it gave us a chance to recap what has happened in the book so far.

If you're interested in ordering one to help your family keep the events of The Book of Mormon in order and top of mind, you can find the download (for a fee) here: Timeline Travelers.

You can also find it on FB:

If you use it, let me know what you think. I am NOT paid to share this product. I just thought it was a good help in teaching about the events of The Book of Mormon.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Nephi's Example

I learned so much from the Book of Mormon this last week, but I thought I'd pop in here to share just one funny little occurance that happened in the grocery store parking lot.

Earlier in the week, while having a family discussion about the Book of Mormon, I told my family that Nephi is a great example who we can look to for how to act in all areas of our lives.  I pointed out that even though his brothers were terrible to him, he did not retaliate.  He did not "yell back". He is just such a great example to us.

A few days later, I found myself in the parking lot of the grocery store.  After putting my purchased bags of groceries in my trunk, I realized there were two items hiding in my cart that did not get scanned.  It was snowing, the kids were in the car.  I did not have any desire to go back in to the store.  So, I approached a stranger who was entering the grocery store and I asked him to take the unpaid-for items back inside for me.

It took me a minute to convince him this wasn't a set-up, but he agreed to help me out.  When I turned around, I was met by a man in a car who was waving his arms at me in an attempt to show me how annoying I was for being in his way (in the cross-walk mind you) for a few seconds longer than he thought needful.

Of course, what was a girl to do?  I returned his ridiculous arm-waving right back to him!

However, when I returned to my car and my kids, I heard my own words returning to me: "Nephi is such a great example.  Despite being yelled at and hit by his brothers, he did not retaliate."

I immediately felt that I could have done better.  

And later, I told my older kids about this moment.  

More than an instruction manual for how to respond during traffic tensions, the incident reminded and testified to me that The Book of Mormon truly can affect and improve every aspect of our lives, if we let it.

How lucky and blessed we are to have The Book of Mormon in our lives!
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Monday, February 3, 2020

Nephi's Reminds Us that The Lord Remembers Covenants

I slowed down a bit this week and studied the Book of Mormon more for myself than for my kids, and boy, I learned a lot.

One of the things I've been increasingly impressed by is the idea that when we make covenants the Lord can bless and uphold us in a very powerful way.

As I was reading and studying for myself last Saturday, I came to 1 Nephi Ch 17:22-55, in which Nephi is preaching to his brothers Laman and Lemuel.  He is recounting for them the flight of Ancient Israel as they escape from bondage in Egypt.

Since I was in a pondering mode, I asked myself, "Why is Nephi bringing this up right now?"  What is the correlation?

I always just thought, well, the Israelites are their ancestors.  The miracles of this story means a lot to them.  And the promises as well.  

As I started to write down the details in the story, I started to compare Moses and the Israelites' journey to Lehi and his family....and things started to look really similar.

I wrote down three columns across the top of my paper:

The first column is for Moses, the second is for Lehi's family, the third is the Lord's covenant people today (the Church).

I started to see many comparisons:

Who: The Ancient Israelites - Lehi's Family - God's People Today

Their Leader/God's Prophet: Moses - Lehi - God's Prophet on the Earth Today (Pres. Russell M. Nelson)

The Wicked City/Place of Bondage:  Egypt - Jerusalem - The World/Babylon

Miracles God Provided on their Journey: Manna for food - The Lord made their food sweet so they didn't have to cook it - We are spiritually fed today probably more than ever.

Miracles in Travel: The parting of the Red Sea - The Crossing of the Wilderness without fire and the Crossing of the Ocean in a boat made in the wilderness - The Crossing of the Plains by the pioneers and more miracles ahead!

How the groups responded to God:  Led by the Lord, but hardened their hearts and had to be chastened - Same for Lehi's family from time to time - The same for us.

How the Lord handled their enemies: The armies of Pharoah were drowned in the Red Sea when they pursued Ancient Israel after setting them free - Laban was killed when he tried to stand in the way of Nephi obtaining the plates. - The Great & Abominable Church (Satan's church) will eventually be destroyed as well.

Another similarity in all three: The Lord brought each group of people eventually to their promised land, however there were casualties along the way.  Spiritually speaking, we don't want to physically go with the flow and then be "lost" spiritually in the end because we weren't learning and growing closer to God along our journey.

There are other comparisons to be drawn.  But it wasn't until I slowed down that I could really inspect them, and then it became clear why Nephi is telling his brothers about the freeing of Israel by Moses.

That story is the story of how Christ will always deliver his people if they choose to follow him.  It is how he is currently delivering his people today.

Here are two quotes that stood out to me as clear, strong, reliable truths:

1. He leadeth away the righteous into precious lands.  (As someone whose family was recently moved from one precious land to another, this truth brought me hope in God's ability to lead me along and helps me trust Him more!)

2. The wicked he (eventually) destroyeth. (Both from 1 Ne. 17:38.

And 3. He LOVETH those who will have him to be their God.

And how do we show the Lord that we "will have him to be our God?"  I think this is answered in 1 Ne. 17:40:

"And he loveth those who will have him to be their God.  Behold, he loved our fathers, and he covenanted with them, yea, even Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and he remembered the covenants which he had made; wherefore, he did bring them out of the land of Egypt."

I believe in the power of making promises with God in holy Temples. These promises are what we call Covenants.  It is a powerful bond between God and his people, between groups of people and more recently between individuals.

I'm sure I learned this comparison in Seminary or something years ago, but I'm glad that I took the time to slow down and let the Spirit reteach these truths to me again last week.
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Sunday, February 2, 2020

Joseph Smith Quotes to Memorize for General Conference

In preparation for the upcoming historic session of General Conference celebrating the 200th anniversary of Joseph Smith's First Vision, I decided that I wanted to memorize teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.  

I also opened this challenge up to my family. 

Autumn, Scarlett, and I started memorizing two weeks ago, and we're doing about one per week from here on out. (*The picture above is Autumn trying to recite a quote for me amidst lots of noisy play from her little brothers!)

Memorizing things is a simple way for me to train my mind to ponder something.  

And as Elder Scott taught in 2011:  “To memorize a scripture is to forge a new friendship... “Pondering a passage of scripture can be a key to unlock revelation and the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Ghost."

I thought I'd share the quotes that we've chosen to memorize in case you'd like to try and memorize a few as well.  I made these quotes into a 2-page PDF that is easy to download and print by clicking here.

Quote to Memorize by/about Joseph Smith

“Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer, of the Lord, has done more save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.” – D&C 135:3

“I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air.  One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other – This is My Beloved Son, Hear Him.” – Joseph Smith

“…I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me, and though I was hated and persecuted for saying I had seen a vision, yet it was true…For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it.” – Joseph Smith

“I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” – Joseph Smith

“It is the privilege of the children of God to come to God and get revelation…God is not a respecter of persons; we all have the same privilege.” – Joseph Smith

“Salvation could not come into the world without the mediation of Jesus Christ.” – Joseph Smith

“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of Him, this is the testimony, Last of all which we give of him, That he lives!  For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father – that by him and through him, and of him, the world are and were created – and the in habitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.” D&C 76: 12-14, 20-24

“The veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened.  We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of purse gold, color like pure amber.  His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his hear was white like pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying: “I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father.” D&C 110: 1-4

 “You know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and Kingdom than a babe upon its mother’s lap.  You do not comprehend it…This Church will fill North and South America – it will fill the world.” – Joseph Smith

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