Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Beings of Divine Joy

Check out this tree that we encountered on our latest trip to Phipps Conservatory.  Isn't it amazing?  The neat part is that it is a bonsai tree, so it's actually really small, but doesn't it look mighty?  And like it can tell some stories!

The knots and the deep root systems remind me that we all have to go through things to deepen our roots and help us learn our own strength.

I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who allows us to grow through trials.  It cannot be easy to watch your children suffer, but he allows it to help us grow.

Sometimes, I think that I am starting to look like that tree.  It's not a pretty process, but with each moment of challenge and suffering, I know He is helping me to grow.

"As you allow Him to do so, you will discover that your suffering was not in vain. Speaking of many of the Bible’s greatest heroes and their griefs, the Apostle Paul said that “God … provided some better things for them through their sufferings, for without sufferings they could not be made perfect.”19 You see, the very nature of God and aim of our earthly existence is happiness,20 but we cannot become perfect beings of divine joy without experiences that test us, sometimes to our very core. Paul says even the Savior Himself was made eternally “perfect [or complete] through sufferings.” - Matthew S. Holland The Exquisite Gift of the Son

Here are some exquisitely beautiful creations that we got to admire on our latest trip to Phipps Conservatory last week. Enjoy!


Continue reading... »

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Temple Blessings During a Pandemic


One way that the power of the temple has impacted me over the last year is through the example of my 11, now 12-year old daughter. She became eligible to attend the temple for the first time in January 2020. I have never seen one so young prepare so diligently to answer the soul-searching questions she would be asked in her temple recommend interview--questions such as "Do have faith in God and in his son Jesus Christ," and "Do you strive to be honest in all that you do?" Shortly after she attained a temple recommend, temples around the world closed to help stop the spread of COVID-19. A year has passed now, and she is still patiently waiting to enter the temple for the first time. Although this blessing has been slightly delayed for her, I know that choosing each day to live a Godly life and to follow Christ in anticipation of entering the temple has been an even greater blessing for her at this time. I am so grateful for her example, and I am grateful for the power of purity and peace that comes as we grow closer to Christ through temple attendance. "Although our access to the temple right now is limited, it doesn’t change the impact that the temple can have on us in our lives. Through our covenants and ordinances, we have access to the power of godliness in our lives—no matter our circumstances." - Dale G. Renlund

Continue reading... »

Monday, March 1, 2021

Grateful for the laying on of hands

I got set apart for my new/second calling today.  I was called to the Primary months ago, but because of the pandemic, I was never set apart.  And our Primary doesn't meet in-person, so there wasn't a rush.

Anyway, my husband and I finally got set apart as Primary teachers and the blessing my Bishop gave me was so comforting and just wonderful. I felt that he was truly receiving revelation just for me. And it was really nice.

When the blessing was finished I thought a normal reaction would be to shake hands, but of course due to the pandemic, that wasn't going to happen.  And then I was suddenly really grateful that he could still place his hands on my head and use the priesthood power to bless me.  At least the pandemic hasn't paused the priesthood and the laying on of hands.

It's funny the things that we suddenly hold dearer when we almost lose them.

The photo below is my 3-year old boy Coy Boone. He is growing so fast.  He was so proud to wear this little suit to church today.  My boys love me and want to be connected to me at all times, physically and in basically all other ways.  They swear that they never want to grow up.  Something tells me that they will...but for now I'm soaking up their love.  And I'm soaking up the words of my blessing today and the help that I know God will continue to give me in raising these little ones...and in doing His work.

Continue reading... »

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Easy Temple Embroidery Pattern


We're still excited about the upcoming Pittsburgh Temple over here.  

I posted last week about making an embroidery of the temple design, but I needed to make a new one that was a wee bit easier for our Activity Day girls to attempt.

As it turned out, I am not going to be doing the mid-week activities, because my husband is doing the boys' activities and we can't both be at church at the same time, so as a result, I won't be doing this particular craft with the girls, but maybe someone reading this will want to!

I followed the same process as I mentioned in this previous post.  

1. Print out a photo of the temple in the size of your choice.
2. Tape to a window and trace the outline (using a pencil) onto muslin.  (For this one, instead of doing a complete sketch of the details, I just did the outline of the temple.)
3. Back the muslin with thin quilt batting and place in an embroidery frame.
4. Stitch in colors of your choice.

Continue reading... »

Friday, February 26, 2021

New #PittsburghTemple FB Page


This is the place where the future Pittsburgh Temple will be built.

And this Facebook page is the place where updates will be posted on construction and open house happenings:

Follow along!

Continue reading... »

Thursday, February 25, 2021

My Favorite Things Right Now


The season is on the verge of changing.  Can you feel it?  Here in Pennsylvania, we have been in a month-long (or more) cycle of 3-4 inches of snow followed by a deep freeze about every few days, but this week it's warming up, finally, and energizing everyone.

My children (the older ones at least) have returned to in-person learning four days a week now.  And I feel this season of being T-O-G-E-T-H-E-R 24/7 slipping away as quickly and quietly as it arrived.  In some ways it is a relief.  My son definitely needed to go back to school.  In other ways, it feels a bit wistful. 

Who just comes in to your life, turns everything upside-down, sits on your couch day and night with the presence of an elephant and then just leaves without saying a word?

Oh, the Pandemic will be with us for a while yet, I'm sure, but still something tells me the winds are changing.  The children are leaving again and going back to their semi-normal routines.  They need to go, but I will miss them.

This was supposed to be a "my favorite things" post, but I guess my children are my favorite things.  And my favorite things about the quarantine time we've had together are that time stopped for a while.  We had endless hours to play games together, do puzzles, listen to music together, watch movies, tickle each other, snuggle the little ones, eat all the food with no accountability whatsoever, go for walks together, laugh about life together, give talks and take the sacrament together.  Of all of the things we supposedly missed during the last year, very little of what matters was missed.

And for that I am grateful.

It's funny how I could have written a very different post about the year that has passed, but while my heart filled up while looking at the good, my mind had no space left to dwell on the bad.  What interesting lessons we learn...and God is the perfect teacher.
Continue reading... »

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Temple Experience FHE

As I've mentioned, we're working our way through the Family Proclamation this month, and this week we are focusing on temples.  

The Family Proclamation says, "Sacred covenants and ordinances available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally."

As I planned out our study of the Family Proclamation, I felt inspired to create a "temple experience" for my kids in our home.  I hoped this would be more of a sacred learning experience for them, and I'm so pleased that it worked out well.

I unfortunately didn't stop to take very many pictures of it, so I'll just try to describe it.

Using dining room chairs, we set our living room up sort of like an endowment room--with chairs in rows for us to sit in, facing our  wall-mounted TV screen.

As each child went into Dad's office for a "temple recommend" interview, the others sat in the rows of chairs and watched a slideshow that I made of pictures of our family visiting various temples There was soft hymns playing during the slideshow, and it created a nice, calm mood.

Each family member (who participated) came out of Dad's office holding an index card that both Steve and the child had signed.  The little kids, Honor in particular, seemed really pleased to get their faux-recommend.

We then had each child present their recommend to me, and I welcomed them to the "temple".

We then watched the video of Elders Bednar and Rasband giving us a virtual tour of the Rome, Italy temple.  In this video, they do a wonderful job talking about the role of Christ in all aspects of temple worships and explaining the process and purpose of each area of the temple.

The Rome temple is so beautiful!  I can tell that it touched my 4-year old Vall, and it brought a wonderful spirit to our home.  At one point, Val turned to me and asked if Jesus ever went there, and he kept referring to the magnificent chandeliers as "icicles"!

When the video ended, we discussed what we saw, how we felt, what we learned, and fielded questions.  We talked about how everyone dresses the same in the temple and how that promotes unity.  I thought it was neat that they point out that every bride gets to dress in the same beautiful bride's room.  No matter your worldly status, all are equal in the temple.

We then showed one more video.  This one explains and shows the temple ceremonial clothing and the temple garments worn by adult members of the church who have made sacred covenants in the temple.  

I like how at the beginning of the video they mention the sacred clothing worn by religions the world over.  Our sacred clothing is simply worn privately, under our clothing, but serves a similar purpose, to remind us of the promises we've made with God.

Recently, we've been taught (see Elder Bednar's talk here) that we need to teach our children more about the temple in our home.  These videos really make it easier for us to know how to appropriately share what we know and love about the temple and about making and keeping sacred covenants.  In the home and in the family is a beautiful setting for these discussions.

One question that was asked was what happens if someone is upset that they can't enter the temple (except during the open house)?  We talked about how the Lord allows each of us to learn and grow at our own pace.  We are expected to keep God's commandments before we enter his holy places and make sacred covenants.  If we enter before we're ready it really wouldn't help us at all, because we wouldn't appreciate it or hold it sacred.

To end the night, we answered a few more questions about the ceremonial clothing.  Scarlett said that our discussion made her more excited to go to the temple.  

We talked with Autumn about her relationship with the temple. Autumn became eligible to attend the temple over a year ago, but because of the pandemic, still hasn't gone!  What is neat about her story is that when it was time for her temple recommend interview back in January 2020, she showed great seriousness in preparing herself for the interview by studying President Nelson's General Conference talk where he shares just what those interview questions are.  We know that more than going to the temple, our willingness to be worthy to attend the temple is what matters most to the Lord.  The change in who we are is the goal, not just the act of attending His temples.  I expect that when Autumn finally is able to attend the temple herself, it will be a very special experience.

To end our special night together, I reminded our family that Jesus Christ is the center of everything we do and learn in the temple.  

In the temple, we learn that Christ's Atonement is the central act of all earth life and all eternity. It is the purpose of everything and brings purpose to all that we do.  It brings light and hope to our lives.  I also reminded then that if they ever find themselves in a position where they can't enter the temple, because of their own choices or if life just starts to get really hard, Jesus Christ is the way back to the temple.  He is the way to overcome sin.  He is the way to overcome every problem.  Jesus Christ is the way back to our heavenly home.

It was just a wonderful experience to help our children understand the temple more.  And in a time when we cannot enter the temple, for one evening, the temple entered our home.

For anyone who might not have a father in the home full-time, I encourage Mothers to conduct the temple recommend interviews.  To my friend who was worried that her rowdy boys couldn't sit still, I encouraged her to take each boy aside starting with the oldest to do this activity one on one. There is definitely room to adjust this to our different family dynamics and make it work for us!

Continue reading... »

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Friend to Friend Drawing Time

 I can't say enough good stuff about the Church's Friend to Friend event that was broadcast on Saturday!

They did such a nice job of making it something they could participate in and feel a part of.

I blogged the other day about the rock creations that we made after being shown how in the broadcast.

Here are the drawings that my kids did during the show of a child praying:

As I mentioned before, now that my children have had a taste of Primary again, they realize how much they've missed it and they want more!

This week we had to stay home from church, and after doing the rock creations they wanted to do Primary all morning!  So, we drew to keep the party going.  

Our Primary Pictionary looked like this: There's a clown in every bunch (especially a bunch of 3-4 year olds who have never really attended Primary in their lives!)  Good times.

Continue reading... »

Monday, February 22, 2021

Rock-illustrated Scripture Stories

We all enjoyed the first Friend to Friend broadcast event yesterday! If you haven't seen it yet, you can watch it at this link:

One of the things that really sparked my children's interest was when they showed us how to make their favorite scripture stories using rocks!

This Sunday, my kids wanted to give it a try.  We didn't have many rocks and it's like 2 degrees outside, so they pulled out the shells that they collected in Cape Cod this fall...and they worked great!

Here are their creations. They thought of these stories by themselves.

 The photo above is Val's creation. He said that it's "Jesus healing me."

Honor (age 8) made this one of Heavenly Father with children around him in the pre-existence.

This is Val (age 4) and his rendition of Nephi in his boat.

Coy (age 3) made this angel.

Honor made the creation above. It's the Brother of Jared and Christ touching the stones to make them glow.

Honor's Noah's ark.

Honor's depiction of Eve partaking of the fruit.  The snake is in Honor's hand.

Now that the pump has been primed my kids was Primary back...and they want it with a vengeance!  Ha!  I love how the church empowers our kids to seek after their spiritual growth, even in a pandemic!  And it touched my heart that they came up with this method...using rocks...something that basically any child around the world can find and use.

Continue reading... »