His Grace is Sufficient

Okay, so I don't know if Brad Wilcox had any inkling that the talk he was about to give would become monumental or not, but can I just say...


I was told a week or so ago that this talk would be the topic of our Priesthood and Relief Society combined meeting on Sunday.  At first I was thinking, "That is so great!  Everyone should read that talk."   Then, when I woke up Sunday morning I thought, "Wait!  How can we possibly sum up all that he said in a lesson.  The teacher's words and the comments from the students would not do it justice.  We might as well just give them all a copy and say, 'Read this.'" 

With these thoughts running through my head I was so elated and relieved when I saw that we were just going to watch the talk as the lesson.  It was even BETTER than reading the talk.  If you don't go away from reading or watching this speech with a clear and better understanding of grace in your life, you need to read and watch it again.  I have never heard anyone spell it out more clearly that yes, His Grace is Sufficient! 


Are You Watching?

The Olympics are on.  Constantly at our house. I have a son who has been obsessed with Guinness Books of World Records for a few years now.  He just found a book about Olympic records or something and has been studying it religiously.  Perfect timing for this time of year. I love the Olympics.

So, are you watching?  What  events are you most eager to watch?

Here are some great Olympic Activities you can do with your kids:

Geography:  Print off a world blackline map and have them place dots on the cities wherein the Summer Olympics have been held.  Write the year the games were held by each dot as well.  My kids really enjoyed doing this a couple of years ago.

Physical Education: Set up a mini-Olympics at your home.  Declare events:  fast dash racing, hula hooping, jump roping, throw a baseball, wrestling, etc.   You can even make medals by attaching lids to ribbon. I've even had my children choose a theme song so we could have them stand while we sing it if they win an event. 

Art/History:  Decorate your own flags.  Read about the symbols and history of our current Olympic Flag.  Have the kids choose symbols they would like to use for their Olympic Flag.

History:  For older kids, have them each choose a country that is represented in the Olympic games.  The child can read about their country and share with the rest of the family what they learned.  They can also find their country's flag and make a replica if desired.

For more amazing ideas see Kid Activites

Let the Games Begin!


And the Winner Is...


Please send me your mailing information (juwmama at gmail dot come) and we will get you the free copy of Michelle Withers' new book, Creative Goal Setting and Habit Forming.


Happy Weekend Everyone!


Book of the Week

You know why I hate reading excellent literautre?
Because once the book ends it takes awhile to like anything else I read...nothing is just as good. 

I just finished reading The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.

image from katemorton.com


This is a book that really makes you think about where you came from and why you are the way you are. 

Excellent literature.  Well written.  Gripping.  Worth discussing. 

A must read! 


On the Other Side

We've all been there.

We walk into a room and think, "Now, why was I coming in here?" 

Then we leave only to remember a few minutes later why we had gone in there the first time and have to go back.

Elder Soares in his talk at the most recent general conference said,
"The Savior banished from His life any influence that might take His focus away from His divine mission..."

There are two things I don't want to say when I reach the other side:

1) I wish I would have enjoyed that more

2) Oh, that was what I was supposed to do down there? 

As we go through this journey called life, there must be a reason.  Why is it that I am in this spot today versus another location?  Why is it that I have the children that I have while others struggle. 

There is a plan.  It is called the Plan of Happiness.  And within that grand plan there is an individual plan for each of us. 

You are a part of that wondrous plan that was presented in the premortal realms. Your coming to the earth now has been anticipated since the plan was accepted. Your position in time and place is no accident. Your “exceeding faith and good works” ( Alma 13:3) then has laid the foundation for what you may accomplish now if you are faithful and obedient. You are God’s precious daughters, and you have a great work to do. In order to accomplish your divine mission and live the plan of happiness, you too must be steadfast and immovable “at all times and in all things, and in all places” ( Mosiah 18:9).
Elaine S. Dalton, April 2008

What are you doing to fulfil your mission today?  I am changing diapers, mopping floors, reading to my children, and making dinner for my husband.  I am reading and writing, studying His word and relying on His mercy when I fall short.  I am trying to listen to all He wants me to do.

Fulfilling our mission is just as Sister Dalton said, it is being steadfast and immoveable in all that we do.  Day by day moving forward, eagerly awaiting our time when we can hear, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."  


Joyful Mondays: Pioneer Day

This week members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be celebrating Pioneer Day (July 24th), a commemoration of the Saints who trekked across the US to settle the Salt Lake Valley.  This is a great time to remember your ancestors, to remember the legacy they passed on to you. 

In our family we will be...

Reading Pioneer Stories

From pioneerwomanatheart.blogspot.com

Playing Stick Pull

I think of our pioneer forebears, driven from Nauvoo and crossing the plains, exercising their agency to follow a prophet even as they suffered sickness, privation, and some even death. Why such terrible tribulation? To what end? For what purpose?
As we ask these questions, we realize that the purpose of our life on earth is to grow, develop, and be strengthened through our own experiences. How do we do this? The scriptures give us an answer in one simple phrase: we “wait upon the Lord.”12 Tests and trials are given to all of us. These mortal challenges allow us and our Heavenly Father to see whether we will exercise our agency to follow His Son. He already knows, and we have the opportunity to learn, that no matter how difficult our circumstances, “all these things shall [be for our] experience, and … [our] good.”13
  - - Dalin H. Oakes, October 2011


Guest Author: Meet Michelle + Enter to Win her Book

Once I had the pleasure of working with a group of swimmers and explained to them why we set goals and gave them a goal setting activity. After instructing them to write their goals on one side of the paper then draw them on the other side a student commented, "Everyone tells us to set goals, but no one had ever told me how."  Creative Systems will teach you how! 

- What would it mean to you and your family if family members were more focused on their talents and passions?
- What would it mean to you and your family to be more motivated?
- What would it mean to your family to if each person managed their time a little better?
- How would it feel in your home to have specific goals and plans to achieve them?
If these questions got you thinking, please consider attending our seminar. As I've worked with youth, families, athletes, performers, and small business owners, it's been a joy to see their lives change by making small adjustments. Consistent feedback I receive from clients are:

 "I'm accomplishing more than I ever have.''

 "My child manages their time wiser."

"I'm so much more motivated and stay focused on my goals."
Wouldn't you love to say those same things, or even better, hear them from your children? 

Michelle Withers is a mother of four amazing children.  She has homeschooled for eight years, has a degree from WSU in economics, and has served an LDS mission to Copenhagen, Denmark.  She has been teaching about goal setting and accomplishing ones dreams for over ten years and has managed and owned three successful businesses.  She says, "My true passion is helping others use their talents to their fullest and living a balance full life."

Michelle is from Washington State and will be traveling through Idaho, Utah, Arizona and California promoting her new book, Creative Goal Setting and Habit Forming.   We invite you to come and she what she has written and how it can help manifest miracles in your home. Visit www.creativesuccesssystems.com for details on upcoming conferences and seminars.  

To win a free copy of Michelle's book, please make a comment below.  Followers here or on Google+ will be entered twice (so be sure to tell me if you are).  Pin her book and your name will be entered a third time! 
Deadline:  Friday, July 27th


Book of the Week: Remember These?

Maybe I'm dating myself, but my kids just discovered these books at the library and I was instantly sent into flashbacks of home!  True classics all ages can enjoy.  Hope your summer is going well! 


Celebrate Moon Day

Moon Day is Friday, July 20th
Here are some fun activities you can do to celebrate!

Music Appreciation:
Blue Moon - dare you show the scene from Grease?!?!
Moon River is probably one of my favorite songs out there! 

Mooncake - this is one of my favorite children's books.  I didn't even know real mooncake existed!  So, after you read the book you can serve up a yummy dessert

Moon over Manifest was the Newberry Award winning book for 2011 and would be a great book for older readers.  It's a story about a girl trying to discover her true identity by visiting the town in which her father had lived once upon a time. 

Draw pictures of the moon each night and discuss how it changes.
On Moon Day get out a telescope ('cuz I know you all have one getting dusty in a closet somewhere, right?)...OR just lay out underneathe the stars and watch the moon. 

Read about Neil Armstrong and their first flight to the moon.


Why I Love Being a Mother....

There are days for all of us when motherhood is all but glamorous.  My mom remembers thinking, "This is all I do, messes and diapers."  And some days that is truly all we do. 

It's days like that when I want to remind myself that this has been my dream...to be a mother of many children.  And so, today I share a few things that I love about being a mom:

#1 - A 2nd Childhood.  My daughter just got an American Girl magazine in the mail yesterday.  I think I had just as much fun looking through it as she did (though I will not pay the horendous prices).  Also yesterday, my son pulled out the game Upwords for us to play.  This immediately sent me into nastolgic memories sitting in the front room playing with my sister.  And then there's just the simple first discoveries each child goes through, allowing me to relive it all over again myself!

#2 - Childlike forgiveness and love.  As much as I loathe sibling rivalry (probably my least favorite part of motherhood), the making up is usually so quick and forgiving.  Oh, if only I could be so quick.

#3 - All the different personalities.  Right now we're watching little D's true person start to shine through.  It's amazing when you think you've got every personality you could possibly have, another different little person shows up!  And you can't imagine your family without them!

#4 - The busyness of living.  When my kids aren't around I almost don't know what to do with msyelf.  Of course, while they're here I'm thinking of all the things I could be doing without them in tow, but overall I enjoy the hum in the background as I go about my day. 

#5 - Learning along the way.  I still remember and love when Elder Lynn G. Robbins said this:

 A sweet and obedient child will enroll a father or mother only in Parenting 101. If you are blessed with a child who tests your patience to the nth degree, you will be enrolled in Parenting 505. Rather than wonder what you might have done wrong in the premortal life to be so deserving, you might consider the more challenging child a blessing and opportunity to become more godlike yourself. With which child will your patience, long-suffering, and other Christlike virtues most likely be tested, developed, and refined? Could it be possible that you need this child as much as this child needs you?  (April 2011)

These children who I have been blessed with are truly helping me become who I am meant to be.  That is really what I love BEST about motherhood! 


Camping: Best Wholsome Recreational Activity

I love the mountains.  I love the rolling hills.
I love the valleys. I love the daffodils.
I love the fireside, When all the lights are low.
Boom-dee-ah-dah, Boom-dee-ah-dah
Boom-dee-ah-da, Boom-dee-ah-dah

Our family spent the 4th of July camping up by Mount Rainier.  The kids were all bummed we wouldn't be seeing fireworks this year, but were all amazed when the booms we heard down below sounded just like cannons bringing images of the Revolutionary War (and all wars of freedom that have been fought) closer to home.  It was mesmerizing. 

Yes, he is feral.  But he survived the camping trip!

The temperature was beautiful.  Perfect, really.  It was so great to watch as one by one each person in the family relaxed and "joined" the family again.  You know how it goes, as life gets busy the family tends to just live together rather than enjoy life together.  This camping trip brought back that feeling of unity and love we've been missing the past few weeks.  As we hiked, played, dunked our heads in the frigid water, and sat around the campfire, our hearts were warmed toward one another once again. 

Another one of little D., just 'cuz he's so cute!
I don't think any of us were ready to come home...well, at least until we realized we'd be sleeping in our very own beds again.  :-)  And as we descended into our hometown, the heat added to our desires to be back up in the mountains. 

Can you see the hammock?  This is my husband's interpretation of heaven.

I would have to agree with my father-in-law here that, "Going camping is like going to heaven." 

I think our family experienced a little peace of heaven in the mountains last week. I can't wait to do it again!  :-)


Joyful Mondays!

Trying out a new format.   Instead of the "What to Celebrate" tab, I'm switching to make every Monday a joyful day.  I believe we can celebrate every day and following quirky holidays is one way to do that.  There will be activities you can use throughout the month, a new theme each day! 

National Blueberry Month

Field Trip:  Find a You Pick Blueberry Farm and have at it!

Language Arts  
Book - Blueberries for Sal

Plurals - change blueberry to blueberries
Word Wall - cut out a pie shape.  Fill it with blue circles.  Write on the circles...words that start with B, things that are blue, or words from the book.

Weigh the blueberries you just picked, change the measurements into metric measures.
Estimate how many blueberries will fit in a blueberry pie.  Make the pie.

Study the primary colors: red, yellow and blue. 

Hue Knew?
Candy Land

Blue Hawaii


ArtDeep Space Sparkle is a great website!  I just stumbled upon it.
You could also paint just with the different shades of blue and see how creative you can get!

Emotions:  What does it mean to feel "blue?"  How can we show compassion to those who are feeling blue?  How can we deal with feeling blue?


Books on Freedom

The hymn put to illustrations.  A great children's book.
The novel tells the story of the Venable family, Jonathan, Bertha, and their five children, who in 1780 walk from North Carolina to Kentucky to homestead on 400 acres. There they build a cabin, plant crops, and raise livestock; 13-year-old Stephanie grows an apple tree which she calls her "tree of freedom". They are dismayed to discover that there is a rival claim to their land made by a British sympathizer. As the war comes closer, Indian raids increase, Stephanie's older brother Noel becomes a courier for the Governor of Virginia, and Jonathan joins a expedition against the Indians with George Rogers Clark.

I spent my birthday money on this book and I love it!  It has the actual document, word definitions, and then LDS perspective thoughts and articles to to along with the document.  Great book for famlies!


Spiritual Freedom

From a talk I gave a few years ago:

Tis one thing to be tempted . . . another thing to fall."  So says Lord Angelo in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure wherein we learn the fate of one seeking worldly power and glory. In short, Claudio is arrested by Lord Angelo, temproary leader of Vienna.  Angelo is strict, moralistic and unwavering in his decision-making;  he decides there is too much freedom in Vienna and takes it upon himself to rid the city of [immoral activity]. Laws against such already exist, Angelo is simply enforing them more stricktly.  And so Claudio is tried as an example to the rest of the city.  Now, he was correctly accused, however, the way in which Lord Angelo proceeded was all for the seeking of honors unto himself. 

This sounds all too familiar when we go to Doctrine & Covenants 29:36-39,

And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the devil—for, behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the ghosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency; 
And they were thrust down, and thus came the devil and his angels;
And, behold, there is a place prepared for them from the beginning, which place is hell.
And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet—

The War in Heaven
This battle in heaven gave us the opportunity to make a choice, to be agents unto ourselves.  In Doctine & Covenants 58:27-28 we read, "Verily I say, men should be aanxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;  For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward."

How do we obtain this gift of agency?  Only through Heavenly Father's plan as well as the choice of our Savior, Jesus Christ, "But, behold , my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever (Moses 4:2)." "He died to make men holy, " now it is up to us to "live to make men free" (Battle Hymn of Republic).

How do we do this, how do we "make men free?"  Elder Teixeira stated in General Conference, April 2009, "One gift that will help us navigate our lives is the gift He has given to all, the ability and power to choose.  Our choices have the undeniable power of transforming our lives."  Our choices are the key to making us truly free, spiritually and temporally. 

Liberty vs. Captivity
Recently in Sunday School the teacher asked us, "What would you teach your children as your last sermon before you die?"  There are several accounts thoughout scripture that show us the dying words of a father.  In 2 Nephi 2 we read a beautiful sermon, probably my favorite of all scriptures.  Herein we find Lehi's dying words to his son Jacob.   

We first learn that "Men are instructed to know good and evil (v.5).  Without sorrow we wouldn't know happiness, without pain we wouldn't know true joy.  However, I find it interesting that there are two ultimate choices here.  "And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death and power of the devil . . . (v. 27)."  Two choices:  Liberty and Eternal Life or Captivity and Death. 
Reading this made me wonder what it would feel like to choose one or the other.  What would it be like to experience "captivity"?  Well,  couple of years ago I got two speeding tickets in one year.  One consequence option was to pay the full amount of the ticket to get it off my record.  One gliche.  If I happened to get another ticket in the next year both tickets would go back on my record.  And so for a year, I was on probation of sorts.  Any time I drove by or even saw a police car I would slow WAY down, I'd get all nervous and my heart would start beating really fast!  That's about as close as I could think of getting to "captivity and death."  There are choices we make in life that lead to such consequences. 

However, we learn from the scriptures the opposite feelings as we make choices that lead to eternal life and liberty.  As the people of King Benjamin listened to his words, they were "filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come . . . (Mosiah 4:3)."  And I love the words from John 16:22, "And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you."  No joy taken from you!  Now, that is liberty! 

We must be cautious.  Elder Hales states, "[The Adversary] does lie at our door . . . Every decision we make we are either choosing to move in his direction or in the direction of the Savior."  In other words, closer to captivity or closer to eternal life. And yet, we must also remember what Brigham Young taught us, "The Lord has given us the ability to overcome evil and cleave to the good."  We are agents unto ourselves.  We have all the power to choose.  Going back to Lehi's final words, we have the choice to "act for [ourselves] and not to be acted upon, save it be by the law at the great adn last day (2 Ne. 2:26)."

Act Not be Acted Upon 
What does this mean?  Elder Hales tells us, "We must avoid being acted upon by acting for ourselves to avoid evil."  We give up our freedom to choose and are acted upon when we give in to the temptations of the adversary.  For example, am I choosing to live in misery and captivity because of the demands placed upon me by others (i.e. children, spouse, callings, etc.) or by my own negative thoughts regarding these sacred responsibilities?  OR am I choosing liberty and eternal life by freely choosing to serve and be "anxiously engaged in a good cause" because I want to become more like the Savior in this life so I can live with Him in the next?

Another example:  Am I allowing myself to be acted upon by media, others around me, my boss, and the half truths of the adversary in decided what I think, what I do, how I feel and ultimately who I am?  OR am I choosing freely to esteem God and obedience to His commandments above all others to determine my actions and feelings of self-worth?

In 2 Nephi 2:25 we are told, again from Lehi,  "Men are that they might have joy."  I love what Elder Hales has said regarding this scripture, "Sometimes we forget that our Heavenly Father desires that each of us have this joy."  Sometimes we think,  "Who am I to be happy when I have all these many faults and weaknesses?"  And yet we must remember to whom we look for that true joy and happiness.  It is through the "mercy of the Messiah" (2:8) and God's "matchless power" (Mos. 4:6-7) that we find joy. 
In conclusion, Elder Hales has said, "How we choose to feel, and think, and act every day is the way we get on the path, and stay on it, until we reach our eternal destination."  We must exercise our agency, this amazing and powerful gift, in righteousness.  We must answer as the Savior answered in the first of many wars:  "Thy will be done."  Only then do we experience that peace of conscience, that true freedom, that joy that cannot be taken away.   "Our use of agency determines who we are and what we will be. . . . As we use our agency to follow [the Savior], His light will grow within us brighter and brighter until that perfect day."  "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty( 2 Cor. 3:17)."


Freedom Week

Happy Freedom Week!

How are you celebrating the 4th?

We have no real traditions for Independence Day.  This year we've planned a four day camping trip!  I'm so excited to disappear from regular life and enjoy time with my family. 

For today, simply enjoy some excellent quotes on freedom...

For He that worketh high and wise.
Nor pauses in his plan,
Will take the sun out of the skies
Ere freedom out of man.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON, Ode Sung in the Town Hall

Individual liberty is individual power, and as the power of a community is a mass compounded of individual powers, the nation which enjoys the most freedom must necessarily be in proportion to its numbers the most powerful nation.
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, letter to James Lloyd, Oct. 1, 1822

To be true to one’s own freedom is, in essence, to honor and respect the freedom of all others.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, State of the Union Address, Feb. 2, 1953

Enjoy your day, your week, your celebrations!  
Enjoy your freedom! 

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