Joy Cometh in the Morning

I am not a morning person.  I admit it.  I love my warm, cozy covers and dozing in and out of dreamland. When I do arise,  I need quiet, pensive, grounding time before I can be active.  My husband on the other hand, wakes up with vigor and can be quite chatty!  It's been a balancing act for both of us (probably more give on his part than on mine) for the past seventeen years!

Recently I read this title of a talk by Elder Russel M. Nelson, "Joy Cometh in the Morning."  Though this talk is really on the aspects of repentance and forgiveness, just the title struck me in a new light.  "Joy Cometh in the Morning."  Huh.  That is a beautiful phrase!

In stake conference last weekend our stake president said, "Every morning I wake up and I have a choice.  What kind of day will it be today?  Will I do what is expected of me?"

I wondered about my own mornings and reflected on a similar post I'd written awhile back  (guess I'm not a very quick learner).  Pondering on this talk title, I asked myself, " Do I find joy in the morning?"

I love bedtime!  I sink down into my bed at night, exhausted from the day's activities, so grateful for the opportunity to finally rest!  When I wake up am I already thinking about going back to bed?  Why would I hang on to the exhaustion rather than allow myself to be rejuvenated by the rest I was so grateful to receive?

The Lord gives us days to live.  Days.  24 hours.  Each morning we have the opportunity to find joy.  Each morning is a fresh start to become whoever we want and need to become.  Do I find joy in the morning?  Do you?

It's just a question I'm pondering today.


What We're Drinking at our House this Winter

image from http://www.caputosdeli.com/brands/Crio-Bru.html

Oh. My. Goodness.

I'm addicted!

My husband's been drinking this for awhile.  I've been a bit less eager. But with the cold coming upon us I have been all about keeping warm.  Hot chocolate is just a little too rich and sugary anymore for me.  So, I figured out how to make this stuff work for me.

First of all, you need a way to brew it.  A lot of people use a French Press. My husband found a cheap coffee maker for brewing and it works great!

If I were to be honest, I must say brewed cocoa by itself tastes a lot like dirty water.  Warm, dirty water.  There's a lot you can add to the cocoa to make it taste just a little bit better.

My husband adds a packet of stevia and some almond milk.   I prefer honey and almond milk in mine.

A friend of ours simply adds flavored creamer.

We've also tried adding Torani's flavorings with cream.   Most of these flavors are still  a little too sweet for me...and some flavors make the cocoa taste like medicine.  Blech! So, you just need to choose flavors carefully  (i.e. hazelnut is really yummy!).

So, have a different, healthier treat this year to warm up your body this winter!


Sweet Sixteen!!

See that handsome face?!

My little boy, John, is 16 years old!

Which means...I'm getting old!  (But that's a whole different topic for some other date).

This is my very favorite picture of him as a little boy.  He was only 4 years old in this shot. It's hard to imagine that when he was born his tiny, 4-pound body could fit in my husband's hand.  Being two months early we were a bit concerned about his health.  Yet, there was also so much peace surrounding this little boy, we knew he would be just fine...even better than fine.

I have to say, raising John has been more of a Parenting 101 course  (Heavenly Father saved the Parenting 505 course for last).  As I said, John has just had a peace about him that is both endearing and contagious.  As the oldest he has been a great example for his younger siblings, a tough load to carry.  He is kind and courteous of others.  He's not a man of many words, but most of the time he onl speaks kindness.  His heart is just inherently good.

I'm trying to imagine three years from now with him blessing our home with his presence no longer.  I'm hoping that the days will be long so that we can enjoy every last moment (though, at sixteen, I think we're all  a little ready for his independence!).

My prayer for him is that he will continue to be kind and to know who he is.  I pray he will do great things that uplift him as well as others.  I pray he will always have a prayer in his heart, to be guided by the only one who knows where he needs to go and be.  I pray that my heart will be strong as he grows into adulthood and strives for success.  But ultimately, I pray he can be strong - -  in body, mind and spirit - - to withstand the greater pressures that inevitably come with aging and life.

Here's to Sweet Sixteen!! 


'Tis the Season

Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh.
O'er the hills we go
Laughing all the way.

I've been listening to a lot of this song lately as two of my children are practicing for their upcoming piano recital.

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle all the way!
Oh what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh

Usually this song is just one of those silly Christmas songs we need to sing while caroling or something.  But as I've listened to it over and over this season, and think more about the words, I can't help but feel happy!  Of all the hustle and bustle that comes upon us this time of year, are we truly joyful?  We talk about celebrating, but do we honestly celebrate in our hearts the joys of this season?

I have such fond memories of Christmas growing up.  Our home just felt extra warm while Mom baked yummy goodies in the kitchen and Dad kept a fire going in the wood stove.  There was music constantly playing in the background.  I'm sure my parents felt a little bit of the pressure - - getting just the right gifts and not spending too much money - - but all I remember was feeling safe, happy and warm.

My parents never divulged the secret of Santa Clause.  I'm sure they just imagined we'd find out on our own  (which I did in a very starkly). Mom, especially, seemed to want the magic of Christmas to dwell in our hearts as long as it possibly could.

The anticipation of Christmas morning on Christmas Eve was a magical time.  My siblings and I would all crowd into one bedroom, singing and laughing and fighting until we each slowly drifted off to sleep;  though just for a few hours as Christmas morning came oh so early!  We'd then commence giggling again as we waiting for Mom and Dad to wake up.  Dad would go into the living room to "make sure Santa came" and then we'd all run in to see what wonderful gifts awaited us under the tree!

There is nothing like that week leading up to Christmas morning.  Now, looking on as a parent, I wonder when I grew up!  These days it seems we want to make sure our children know the reason for the season so much that we sometimes dash the childlike dreams of our children all too soon.  I think we can hyper focus on purpose so much that we forget the pleasure of just being.  I think the joy of believing in something magical is just as much part of the season as remembering the spiritual side of the holiday.

We are children for only a short time,  not even a quarter of our lives.  Childhood is a time of innocence, complete trust, dependency, and simplicity.  This is why I love Christmas.  My mind reflects on being a child yet again, not being so harrowed up by adult worries and stresses.  I can be young again through the eyes of my own children.  Several times my husband and I have stayed up to set up (a.k.a. play with) the gifts our children will receive the next morning.  It's one of my favorite moments!  For that brief minute we are kids again, believing in something magical!

Yes, it is so important for our youth to understand the precious Gift that was born so many years ago, giving light to the world.  But we adults can also learn from our little ones and  remember what it's like to be young again, filled with pure light!

Bells on bobtail ring,
Making spirits bright.
What fun it is to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight:

Jingle Bells! Jingle Bells! 
Jingle all the way!
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh!


Thanksgiving, Games and Puzzles

Thanksgiving is upon us.  I love this holiday.  It's a time to just be together as a family, large or small.  I am hoping to have my parents come up from Utah (we're praying for good weather!).  We'll also be having J's mom and one of his brother's up for dinner that day.  I just love the warmth, the laughter, the food, and the togetherness of this week.  I also appreciate taking a moment to discover (or rediscover) the things we have to be grateful for!

I found this great Thanksgiving Game we will be using to start off this week of family time and gratitude.

It is also National Games and Puzzles week.  I've shared some of our favorite games here and here before.  Here are some new ones we love and will be spending some time on this week!

Lords of Waterdeep

image from www.opinionatedgames.com
We played this one with some friends in Richland just before we moved.  I knew I had to get it, so it became J's Father's Day gift this year.  We're still not tired of it!

Bubble Talk
image from amazon.com
I think we found this at a yard sale, I can't remember.  It's a fun family game.  We like to use our own family pictures.  Great for stirring up  memories and making laughs!


image from http://gametracker.trilobyt3.com
J heard about this one from a friend at work.  It's a great mix between fun party game and strategy.  Great one for the whole family.


image from gamesbyjohnny.wordpress.com
I know we all remember this one from childhood.  I have been waiting and waiting (not too patiently) for my kids to be old enough to play this game with me.  We have had some fun nights with this one! It's a classic!

Those are my game highlights for this season.

Enjoy your family time this week!  Travel safely if you are traveling.  Love that yummy food!  And be grateful for all the blessings you have been given!

Happy Thanksgiving! 


Meeting the Challenges of Today

In our recent General Conference, a talk was given by Elder Robert D. Hales entitled, "Meeting the Challenges of Today's World."  My mind flashed to another talk of the same title by Elder Neal A. Maxwell.  I decided to read it in hopes I would find many parallels between the two talks.  Unfortunately, I only found one direct similarity, but the messages together were a very poignant testimony of truth.

37 years ago (just one month after my birth), Elder Maxwell stated, "...we shall see in our time a maximum if indirect effort made to establish irreligion as the state religion.  It is actually a new form of paganism that uses the carefully preserved and cultivated freedoms of Western civilization to shrink freedom even as it rejects the value essence of our rich Judeo-Christian heritage." He called this state religion, "the secular church."

He continues, "This new irreligious imperialism seeks to disallow certain of people's opinions simply because those opinions grow out of religious convictions.  Resistance to abortion will soon be seen as primitive.  Concern over the institution of the family will be viewed as untrendy and unenlightened...the secular church will do what it can to reduce the influence of those who still worry over standards such as those in the Ten Commandments."

It's not shocking to see this very thing happening nearly 40 years later.  And from hundreds of years ago we read, "Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness;  that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter (Isaiah 5:20)."  This "secular church" is beginning to replace real religion, religion based on faith in God.

In our modern day and from Elder Hales we learn, "...that many resist organized religion."  The mocking fingers of the Great and Spacious building are becoming ever more pointed and much less discreet than in days gone by.  The counsel we receive from both our past leader and our current leader is thus:

"...not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ 
includes not being ashamed of the prophets of Christ."   
- Elder Maxwell - 

"We need to tighten our grip on the rod that leads us back to Him.  
Now is the 'day of choosing' for all of us."   
- Elder Hales - 

Whereas Elder Maxwell counseled the young adult disciples of 1978 to study and grasp the doctrine of foreordination, Elder Hales counseled those disciples of today to stay out of debt, study the scriptures, have eyes set on marriage,  and to reach upward with faith.  Both items of counsel suggest having an eternal perspective.  Understanding foreordination requires us to think of our premortal life and the covenants made then, while the suggestions of Elder Hales move us forward into the eternities.

Ultimately, the Plan of Salvation as taught to us in the pre-existence remains in affect!  "The Lord will lead you along," reminds Elder Hales. "I testify that if you are there for the Lord,  He will be there for you."  As the enduring disciples of Christ struggle to remain strong in a darkening world, these words bring hope and light to our souls.  There is no need to fear nor to be ashamed.

The rough road of discipleship will never be easy.  Elder Maxwell states, "The disciple will be puzzled at times...But he persists.  Later he rejoices over how wonderfully things fit together, realizing only then that, with God, things never were apart." And as we go through this final battle, with no knowledge of how long it will last, we can know that with God all things are possible and with God we will win the fight.

 - - - - - - 

"Fear Not, thou the enemy deride. 
Courage for the Lord is on our side. 
We will heed not what the wicked may say, 
But the Lord alone we will obey." 
 - - Let us All Press On, Hymns #243 - - 


Have a Bad Day

image from amazon.com

I think many would agree that Alexander and theTerrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst is one of the greatest classics of all time.  Who has ever NOT had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?  We've all lived in a family where we felt misunderstood or ignored at one time or another.  Living in a family, there will be those days when you feel you are cursed, while everyone else is blessed.  There are some great valuable lessons to be had from this excellent book, as well as some fun educational activities!

Language Arts:  
Alexander's not the only one to have a bad day.  Check these other stories out about other characters who feel equally as horrible.

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Use a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast these four stories.  What were the similarities and differences between each character's bad day?  Which character do you think had the worst day and why?  Maybe write a story of your own horrible, very bad day.

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Time-  What does a busy day look like in your life?   See this website for a good worksheet

Here's also a great lapbook on telling time: Iman's Home-School

Probability and Chance - Read this Math Matters book and do the activities in back of the book.

Play these probability games.  So fun!

Alexander takes a  trip to the dentist who discovers a cavity.  I LOVE this idea of making a mouth with mini-marshmallows!  Such a cute idea and great way to teach kids how to properly brush.

Take a field trip to the dentist's office if you can and have the dentist talk about what he does to help keep our mouths healthy.

from teachingmama.org


In this video, how did the boy change the bad day into a good day?
What can we do to turn bad days around?

Draw a picture of your family.  Next to each family member, write one thing you love about them.

Draw a picture of yourself.  Around your picture, write all of the good that happened in your day.

On November 19th 
Have a Bad Day!!

Note:  Here's another good resource for additional activities to deepen your study. 


What was I Afraid of?

I did a back bend in my yoga class today!

It was so exhilarating!  I had support from my instructor and another gal who was in the class, but I did it!

I was so scared!  I was scared my back would go out.  I was scared my arms wouldn't be strong enough to support me.  I was scared the instructor wouldn't have the strength to support me.  I was scared I would fall.  I did not have any idea how I was going to do such a thing.

But afterwards I felt so good!  I felt strong and capable of doing hard things.  I felt almost invincible!
And then I got to thinking of all the many things I'm afraid of in life (no,I don't mean spiders).  I began to ponder the little fears that hold me back from living as I truly desire or as I feel I am meant to do.  I love this quote from President Uchtdorf (and would like to apply it to more than just church meetings):

Too often we attend meetings and nod our heads; we might even smile knowingly and agree. We jot down some action points, and we may say to ourselves, “That is something I will do.” But somewhere between the hearing, the writing of a reminder on our smartphone, and the actual doing, our “do it” switch gets rotated to the “later” position. ...let’s make sure to set our “do it” switch always to the “now” position!...Think of what a glorious thing it is to reach beyond our earthly limitations, to have the eyes of our understanding opened and receive light and knowledge from celestial sources! (CR April 2011)

I've been making up excuses for the last two years (since I started my yoga practice) as to why I would not do a back bend.  I've even tried headstands, but just could not get myself to do this! Now that I've done it I think, "What was I afraid of?"  There are so many things on my "list" I would love to accomplish before I die.  Some of those things are on hold for obvious reasons (six kids to raise!).  But there are even little things I think about that I just don't do...mostly out of fear or lack of knowledge.  I have always admired women around me who simply take action, especially those who build things and aren't afraid of the tools and procedure necessary for such projects!

This is going to sound strange, but sometimes I like to imagine myself in heaven looking back at the earth life I experienced; I wonder what I might be feeling or thinking when that day comes.  I've said for a long time that I hope I don't get up there and say, "Man!  I wish I had enjoyed that more."  Now, I'm thinking of a new phrase:  "What was I so afraid of?"  There are missed opportunities all around us simply because we are afraid - - afraid of what people will think or how we look, afraid we will fail, afraid it won't work out just like we'd planned.  Life is FULL of moments that allow fear to be in control.  Heck, I wouldn't have gotten married if  I'd let fear take over, that's one of the scariest choices to make!

This is NOT an "eat drink and be merry" post, I promise.  This refers to the GOOD things in life we could be doing but are too afraid to make the jump.  So go do it!  Introduce yourself to the gal you see at the park every day.  Invite your  neighbor to church.  Make a new meal.  Take up jogging.  Better yet - run that marathon!  Cut your hair.  Color your hair.  Write that novel that's been sitting in the back of your mind for ages. Play legos all day with your four-year-old. Go visit the elderly widow down the street.  Read a good book.  Play in the sprinklers.  Have that difficult conversation with your spouse. Write that note. Learn something new.  Be present!

Oh, I have so many fears that keep me from reaching and doing.  I get too comfortable where I'm comfortable.  ;-)  But I do believe the Lord blesses us with our righteous desires.  "...wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God (Moroni 7:13)."  Likewise, "...God didn't design us to be sad.  He created us to have joy."

So what's stopping me?  What's stopping you?  What am I afraid of?

 - - - - - - 

Fear not, Dear Friend, But Freely Live Your Days
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Fear not, dear friend, but freely live your days
Though lesser lives should suffer. Such am I,
A lesser life, that what is his of sky
Gladly would give for you, and what of praise.
Step, without trouble, down the sunlit ways.
We that have touched your raiment, are made whole
From all the selfish cankers of man's soul,
And we would see you happy, dear, or die.
Therefore be brave, and therefore, dear, be free;
Try all things resolutely, till the best,
Out of all lesser betters, you shall find;
And we, who have learned greatness from you, we,
Your lovers, with a still, contented mind,
See you well anchored in some port of rest. 


Living with an Eternal Perspective

Again we had a Relief Society lesson that really made me think about my life, who I am and who I want to become.

Lately, I have been struggling with indecision.  Moving has left me with a bit of a void and probably too much time to myself.  Others have said, "That sounds so wonderful to me!"  Yes, it is nice.  But you know how it goes - - when we're busy we want to bored and when we're bored we want to be busy.

Elder David A. Bednar has said "Sometimes we mistakenly may believe that happiness is the absence of a load.  But bearing a load is a  necessary and essential part of the plan of happiness." I haven't really had a "load" to move me forward.  In the past I had homeschooling, book groups, and time consuming church callings to give me direction, to move me forward.  The break from all of these things was nice for awhile, but eventually there just seemed to be too much time on my hands with no direction to follow.

You'd think with all this time on my hands my house would be cleaner, my gospel study would be deeper, meals would be amazing, laundry would be done, exercise would be consistent, and all my family's needs would be met.  But...that's just not the case.  None of these things are much different than when I'm busier.  Rather, I find these things to be worse because there is no momentum behind the action.  There are no external forces pushing me, no normal routine to follow.

In Relief Society last Sunday, we mostly discussed this one quote: "The eternal perspective of the gospel leads us to understand the place that we occupy in God's plan, to accept difficulties and progress through them, to make decisions, and to center our lives on our divine potential (emphasis added.)"

These words struck me pretty forcefully. My thoughts turned to my indecision when I realized,"Wait!  If I know my place in God's plan and center my life on my divine potential, then decision-making shouldn't be so difficult, progression will naturally occur."  I've had indecision because I've been waiting to be told what to do.  I know we all want our deadlines to vanish and burdens to be released, but in reality those burdens are what drive us to accomplish things in life.  Yes, we have to beware of making sure the right burdens are upon our shoulders and we're not just filling our time with meaningless activities.  But again, Elder Bednar has said, "Two guiding questions can be helpful as we periodically and prayerfully assess our load: 'Is the load I am carrying producing the spiritual traction that will enable me to press forward with faith in Christ on the strait and narrow path and avoid getting stuck? Is the load I am carrying creating sufficient spiritual traction so I ultimately can return home to Heavenly Father?'"

These loads we carry are not just mortal burdens placed upon us.  They are driving forces and oftentimes gifts from God that keep us moving forward.  So next time I'm "too busy" I will evaluate what load I am carrying to be sure I am in line with my eternal goals and then move forward with that burden upon my back.

 - - - - - 

"Faith in Father's plan gives us endurance...Hope keeps us 'anxiously engaged' in good causes..."   - - Elder Rafael E. Pino - - 


Evaluate Your Life Day


So. Where are you?  How do we even begin to start this process of evaluating where we stand emotionally, physically, socially, and spiritually?

Brene Brown has said, "Great mothers know that they are worthy of love and belonging, and as a result they raise children who know they are worthy of the same things (Rising Strong, p. 113)."

Motherhood brings up all sorts of emotions that sometimes are hard to deal with.  We have the pressure on our shoulders of not only ourselves being emotionally stable but also tend to carry the emotions of our children on our backs as well.  Right or wrong, good or bad, this is a reality in the life of a mother.

When we are emotionally exhausted it is that much harder to carry their weights.  What do you do to strengthen your emotional bucket?  I, personally, do yoga, read, take a nap or write (writing is amazingly therapeutic!).  So, do something to recharge your battery and tell yourself you are worthy!  You are strong, raising strong kids!

This one's a little easier to examine.  We know how healthy we are or are not in the physical department.  We know we don't exercise enough and that we eat too much junk food.  Rather than feeling shamed by this, make a change.  I'm going to commit to drinking more water.  :-)

Women need women.  Dr. Leonard Sax writes about this in a couple of his books.  He tells us that the quilting bees were an integral part in a woman's life in colonial times.  He says we've gotten away from the "back fence" neighbor feel, borrowing baking ingredients and advice across the fence.  That footpath between houses is no longer as prevalent in this day and age.  When's the last time you borrowed sugar from a neighbor?  Or had lunch with a friend?  It's too easy to be too busy for friends, but friendship will keep you strong as a mom.  I am eternally grateful for the friendships that have developed in my life and excited to gain more as time goes on.  ;-)

The scriptures give us great guidelines for this category through the words of Alma.  We know these questions well:

And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts? Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body? I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?  Or do ye imagine to yourselves that ye can lie unto the Lord in that day, and say—Lord, our works have been righteous works upon the face of the earth—and that he will save you?  Or otherwise, can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God with your souls filled with guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness, yea, a remembrance that ye have set at defiance the commandments of God?  I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances? - - Alma 5:14-19 - -
During our most recent General Conference, Elder Larry R. Lawrence invited us to ask the quesiton, "What lack I yet?"  What am I doing to increase my relationship with God?  What am I doing to keep myself progressing toward Him?  Tough but important questions when it comes to evaluating ourselves!

Some Final Thoughts
Our bodies are gifts from God, yet complex in their make up.  Each of these components - - emotional, physical, social, and spiritual - - rely on and affect the others.  To be imbalanced in one is to be imbalanced in all.  Yet, sometimes when we are socially strong, that can compensate for when we are emotionally weak.  Let us take a moment "examine [ourselves]" and see where we are in all areas of our lives, make changes, and watch for results!

 - - - - - 

"With His love and the love of His Son in my heart, I challenge each of us to 
follow our spiritual desires and come to ourselves. Let’s have a talk with 
ourselves in the mirror and ask, “Where do I stand on living my covenants?”


Unanswered Prayers

Have you ever thought that unanswered prayers may be more about the love God has for us rather than the love He doesn't have?  Our home teacher presented that thought to  us a couple of weeks ago and I've really pondered on this idea.  I know we frequently discuss how an unanswered prayer doesn't mean the Lord doesn't care about us or that maybe He has something better in store for us.  But I have never thought of it as an actual expression of His love for us when blessings are withheld.

The instant thought I had when our home teacher spoke was, "What restraint!"  In the scriptures we read, "...what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone. Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?  If ye then, being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him (Matt. 7:9-11)?"

As a parent, when I see my children with a need, even a want sometimes, I desire to help them as much as I possibly can so that they can feel blessed and loved by me.  But, also as a parent, I know that if I gave them everything they wanted they wouldn't truly be happy.  Sometimes that is really, really hard!  When they come home having had a hard day, I want to take make it all better.  When they fall and scrape their knees, I want to take the pain away.  When they are hungry I want to feed them.  When they don't have clothes to wear, I want to buy them covering.  The list goes on and on.

Our loving Father in Heaven must desire the same thing.  I can just imagine Him looking down on us thinking, "Oh, I wish I could step in and help you right now." Or "I really want to give you what you're asking for, but I just can't."  It takes a lot of love to withhold some things.  It takes a lot of love to set boundaries on what can or cannot be done.  It takes a lot of love to sacrifice our own desires for the larger picture in raising our children.

In a similar vain, President Ezra Taft Benson has said, "Jesus aimed to make of every man a king ,to build him in leadership unto eternity. ... Jesus desired to lift, rather than suppress, the individual."   Our Heavenly Father wants us to grow! In order for us to grow, we must sometimes struggle and even fail.  It's not easy watching our own children falter.  Sometimes I think it would just be easier to do things myself or to step in and carry their burden for them.  The Lord will use this rescuing tool every once in awhile, but more often than not, He knows the greater blessing will come after the trial of our faith.  And so He holds back. with great restraint, and waits for us to learn and grow.

These thoughts are so comforting as I ponder on my own unanswered prayers.  Knowing that my Father loves me enough to allow me space and time to become who He needs me to be, I can hold on.  Knowing He has a grander view of the potential I have in me, I can rise to the occasion (as my mother who day) and endure with greater joy and understanding.  The wait may be longer than I would like, but the unknown no longer needs to be unbearable because I know that my Savior loves me that much.

 _ _ _ _ _ 

"There is nothing about us He does not know. He is conscious of our every need and could provide all of the answers.  Yet...His purpose is our eternal happiness..." 
- Elder Richard G. Scott -  


My Body is a Temple & Our Family Health Challenge

A couple of weeks ago I was flat on my back.  My muscle pain and fatigue had taken over and I was functioning at my minimum capacity for 4 days.  Part of this I know was due to climate change and my body adjusting to our new location, but I also know there are things I have not done to take care of my body.  In order for me to be the mother I desire to be I have to take better care of that which I've been allotted.

Nobody has been given a perfect body!  A friend and I were chatting and she started talking about physical features she'd like to change.  I commented, "I just wish I could fix my insides."  And it's true!  I hate that some mornings I wake up with pain and need to lessen my workload.  I wish I could sit on the floor and play with my kids without feeling like an old woman when I stand up.  I love ice cream and want to eat it every day....but I can't.

We each have a challenge that comes with having a mortal body. We each need to discover what the Lord is trying to teach us with that particular challenge.  I have to partner with Him when I struggle, because I physically cannot manage on my own.  I am learning to be humble, to slow down and to need help (none of which come easily for me at all!).

Saturday was Family Health and Fitness Day!  My hubby and I took this opportunity to create a family challenge (I need help in getting back on track, and I could see my kids struggle with similar weaknesses as J and I, so I am dragging my whole family along!).  We started, actually, on Monday night.

Family Night at our house was focused on the Word of Wisdom.  We basically each took three verses to read silently and then summarize for the family.  We watched a snippet from a talk by Elder Jorg Klebingot  who said, "Feeding the spirit while neglecting the body, which is a temple, usually leads to spiritual dissonance and lowered self-esteem."  Rather than telling my kids to stop eating junk and nagging them to "get out and do something" I wanted them to see the principle behind the action.  Approaching them with these ideas first and then telling them about the challenge was so great!  They fully participated in helping to create the plan and were eager to get started as a family (of course, the whole week they ate plenty candy knowing this might be their last week of it).

Saturday we took a family bike ride to kick off our challenge. We stopped and played at the river, wading in and skipping rocks.  And then TODAY begins The Challenge!

How does our challenge work? It's quite simple:

Each week we are to keep track of our sugar (treats) intake and our physical activity. 

We each get 10 points a day for food.  Each time we eat sugar we get -3 points.  

We expect to have 20 minutes of physical activity, three times each week.  20 pts will be awarded for each 20 minute period.  

At the end of the week we tally the points.  Whoever gets over 100 points gets a dollar.  Whoever gets the most points or the full 130 possible points will get $2 extra.  

That's it!

The main idea for me is that I want our family to work together to be healthier.  Elder Russell M. Nelson has taught that we should "regard our body as a temple of our very own." The wording of that phrase hit me so much harder than any other on the subject.  This is my very own temple!  What am I doing to take care of it?  I used to think if you take care of the spiritual your body will just take care of itself. I  know now this is not true.  The body and the spirit make up the soul.  It is my soul I want to eventually be reunited with my God.  So, here's to a healthier and happier body!  ;-)

 - - - 

Spiritual confidence increases when your spirit, with the help of the Savior, is truly in charge of your natural man or woman.   
- - Elder Jorg Klebingot


Hope is the Function of Struggle

E & JL at the BYU-Idaho Ropes Course - - Meant for Struggle!
Last week was exhausting!  In the transition period with the kids and school (and my own) tensions were high and I felt like I was putting out one fire after the next.  With everything new I wanted to be sure all of my kids were happy.  If they had a complaint, I decided to fight their battles with for them.  I complained about the things that were making my kids sad, emailed a few teachers, and went to bed every night wondering what stress the next day would bring! 

And then my husband made this comment: "It's like everyone expects life to be easy all the time or something."  Well, at first I was offended by this.  I was just helping my kids be successful, wasn't I? No!  I was only enabling them to need me for every little thing.  That is not what I signed up for as a mother.  I told J. I needed to reread I Don't Have to Make Everything All Better so I could remember my vision of raising self-reliant children. 

"We are hard-wired to struggle," says Brene Brown, renowned author and research-storyteller.  "Hope is the function of struggle.  If we want our children to develop high levels of hopefulness, we have to let them struggle (italics added)."


Okay.  So, putting out my children's fires for them leads to a lack of hopefulness on their part?  I'd never thought of it that way!  As our kids learn to speak up for themselves and solve their own problems, they learn to have HOPE!

In a presentation on cognitive brain development of college students we learn, "Desire exists on one hand to learn and on the other to escape from struggle.  Struggle with ambiguous challenges for a time seems  necessary before further development is possible...Moving from one phase to the next is not painless."  So, in order to grow and become better we must have the struggle.  As we persevere through the struggle, we gain hopefulness.  

Here's how the scriptures describe it: 

Mosiah 23:21Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith (emphasis added).

Mosiah 24:15And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord. 

The Lord tests our patience and our faith.  As we struggle through the challenges and look to Him, the Lord will lighten our loads giving us hope that we can "do all things through Christ, which strengthens [us]."

With these thoughts in mind, I will no longer enable my children when they struggle (at least I will try).  Sure, I can give them counsel and advice, I can wrap my arm around them and empathize;  but keeping them from struggle is not my purpose as a mother.  If I want them to have hope and to ultimately be confident in themselves, I've got to let them get bruised.
For some reason this was so much easier when they were littler - - just learning to walk or ride a bike.  


Relearning How to be a Stay-at-Home Mom

The first two to start me on my motherhood journey
A few weeks after my oldest was born, we moved to a new town.  I'd just graduated from college.  My son was premature so he slept pretty much all the time (for the first four months of his life!).  I was so happy to just be home with my baby.  I was working from my home, but for the most part I had the whole day to myself.  I knew nobody.  But I don't remember that bothering me so much.  I read...a lot  (we're talking 13 books in 2 months!).  I was content. I was doing just what I'd always dreamed of doing...being a mother.

Fast forward almost sixteen years (ack!) and here I am in another transition mode.  And it feels different.  It's not that I'm not content, but these past several days I've discovered I don't know many people, I'm not homeschooling, I only have one child at home, I don't have any local hobbies or "social groups" in which I'm participating...Again, I've got the whole day to myself.  It's not that I'm not content, I've just been feeling a little displaced, I guess (normal with any transition, I think).

A couple of days ago it dawned on me that I am having to RE-learn how to be a stay-at-home mom.  I have gotten so used the busy-busy, rush-rush-rush pace of life, I don't know what to do with quietness.  It's daunting to realize I am completely in control of how I spend my time (with no deadlines & no real accountability to anyone else ).  With that emptiness  my mind gets filled with thoughts like, "I should do this...but I don't want to" and "I could do that...but what if I'm supposed to do something else?"

As a homeschooling mother, I was doing my "best mom" role (for me, not compared to anyone else).  No longer wearing that hat, I'm figuring out what my new "best mom" role looks like.  And I'm learning all over again that being a stay-at-home mom is tough.

The list:
Scrubbing toilets
making beds
Making meals
reading stories
playing Candyland/doctor/Uno...
doing laundry
signing papers
waking up the kids and getting them in bed
squeezing in a few minutes for my own reading
family home evening, prayers and scripture study
park days
homework time
grocery shopping!!
listening (or trying to, anyway)

Even without external activities, being a mother truly is a FULL TIME JOB!  Am I content?
After making that list I can say, YES!  I am content.  It's not easy or fun all the time (I hate laundry!), but I can look back on those days when I was first a mother, no longer just dreaming about my dream but actually living it.  And here I am...still living it.

I'm so grateful for the chance to be more aware of the stillness, the quiet.  I'm sure my schedule will not remain this empty as I meet  new people and get more involved in the kids' schools and activities, so I will take this moment to pause and remember to "be still," to remind myself that this is really all I want (and need) to be right now.

 - - - - - 

"It’s beautiful to watch one of God’s creations just doing what it was made to do.  Ya’ll spend so much time beating yourselves up.  I doubt the good Lord made a mistake giving your kiddos the mom he did." 
- - from Mom's Night Out - -  


Dear House

Our house in 2005

Dear House,

10 years ago we walked inside your doors and knew almost instantly that you would be ours.  "I can see Christmas in this house," my husband had said. With nervous anxiety that everything would work out, an offer was made, an offer was accepted.

After 10 years of laugher and pain, joy and sorrow, I just wanted to say...


Thank you for the protection you gave our family as we resided within your walls.  The winds blew hard, but we were safe inside.  The summers were HOT, but your rooms kept us cool.  The winters were cold, you kept us warm.

Thank you for putting up with the holes, the dings, the damage. You have been oh so forgiving!

Thank you for being a comfortable place in which we could bring our friends and visiting family members.  There are so many memories with other people inside your walls for which I am truly grateful!  Dinners, dances, parties, gatherings, holidays....the list goes on of the activities you patiently endured.

Thank you for welcoming two new little boys into our family as we resided here in the last ten years.  Their tears were comforted and fears hushed while we lived here.

Thank you for becoming the first place of education for our children - - your walls were their schoolroom.  Lots of happiness and tears with that adventure!  You were there for it all as we covered your walls with timelines, posters, paintings and drawings, and lots of fingerprints.

Thank you for letting us mark your walls while the kids grew taller than me!  You have served them well, resolving any battles that might have arised on that subject.  :-) Thank you for being a place of refuge they could come home to after a hard day out in the world.

Thank you for being a place for music!  Not only did we have some sweet dance parties while here, but we had music filling our home as we worked and played together.  Later, the kids got to bring in their own music, bringing even greater joy.

And finally, thank you for letting us go.  With sadness we let you go, but with joy we had you over to another.  We know the new family entering will treat you kindly and with love.  They will fill your walls with even more joy and happiness as the years continue.  We are excited to invite a new home into our family and yet will always remember our first, the first home in which we became a family!

Sincerely and with great love,
The Hathaway Family

Our house in 2015
"Home is where love resides, memories are created, friends are always welcome, and family is forever." 


What is a Latter-Day Saint?

Religious beliefs are being attacked on all sides.  Everywhere in media we see many issues being discussed and debated.  But what concerns me most are the subtle (or not so subtle) attacks within the Lord's church.  "I would that ye should remember that God has said that the inward vessel shall be cleansed first..." (Alma 60"23).  This statement should place the right amount and kind of fear in the  hearts of His people (His people being those who choose to be a disciple of Christ).  Though most of what I say here will be specifically for Latter-Day Saints, we can look at this in all faiths, bringing all religions together to fight the battle against God. I have read too many posts, seen too many reports, and had too many conversations with others about our own people not being "perfect enough."  In many circles we are starting to distinguish and shout out about our differences rather than strengthening one another in Christ.

One of my very favorite talks from this last General Conference was about what it means to be a Latter-Day Saint.  In that fabulous discourse there is a story about a mother and her daughter attending church in South Africa and feeling ostracized by the white members there.  After hearing a heartfelt complaint about this from her daughter, the mother responded, "Oh, Thoba, the Church is like a big hospital, and we are all sick in our own way.  We come to church to be helped."

Judgment goes both ways!  The "righteous" judging the "sinners" for their sins, and the "sinners" judging the "righteous" for not being righteous enough.  We seem to be looking for faults, weaknesses, and mistakes rather than seeing what we can learn from one another, where we can serve one another.

Let's shed the lables:  misfit vs. Molly, single vs.  married, black vs. white, righteous vs. wicked, etc.  As President Uchtdorf boldy declared, we need to "Stop it!"   Let's follow his counsel and instead of differentiating ourselves, let's choose to collectively call ourselves DISCIPLES OF CHRIST. That label comes in as many shapes and sizes as their are people in the world!

TOGETHER we must build His Kingdom.
TOGETHER we must fight this battle.
TOGETHER we must unite if we are going to win this war.

Elder Renlund continues:

      "We must not only be tolerant while others work on their individual illnesses; we must also be            kind, patient, supportive and understanding.  As God encourages us to keep on trying,    He                 expects us to also allow others the space to do the same, at their won pace.  The Atonement will       come into our lives in even greater measure.  We will then recognize that  regardless of           perceived differences, all of us are in need of the same infinite Atonement (emphasis added)." 

The Lord doesn't see me much different than my neighbor.  We are all His children on a mortal journey, hopefully leading back to Him.  There is one, however, who desires to divide rather than unify; one who wants us to focus on our weaknesses and those of others because "he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself (2 Nephi 2:27)."

As Latter-Day Saints, CHRIST must be our standard - - personally and collectively.  Our acceptance of His Atonement and His doctrine will serve to unify rather than divide.

At an early age I made a covenant to take upon me the name of Christ.  In making this covenant I chose to be numbered among His fold and promised to love and serve those with whom I associate, those who have chosen to do the same thing.   Let us all be a little kinder, wiser, and more humble as we strive to not only understand those who are different, but also those who are "the same."  Let us truly be Disciples of Christ; disciples who are not perfect but simply trying to be their very best for Him every day.

 - - - - - 

"Choose you this day whom ye will serve, 
but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."    
Joshua 24:15


Patience, Faith and Desire through Transitions

I heard a story at church last Sunday that was particularly for me! The speaker shared how when he had only 6 months left on his mission he couldn't stop thinking about and wanting to go home.  He wanted to be a committed missionary, but the thoughts of home just haunted him every day.  He finally talked to his mission president about it and got some great advice, "Study the life of the Savior."  So, this man immersed himself in reading Jesus the Christ and the New Testament.  He said it was amazing the change that came over him.  Whenever a thought about home came into his mind, instantly something from what he'd read the morning before would overpower the thought of home.

I feel like I'm there right now.  I'm not on a mission and not "going home," but with the transition of moving, my mind definitely gravitates to my new home, our new adventure, more often then I might like.  I want to leave where I am better than I found it. I want to leave feeling like I did all I possibly could before I was "done."  I want to minister to those over whom I have stewardship and strengthen the relationships I have made here.  And yet, my heart yearns to move on as well.  It's like I'm living in two places at once. It's been so hard to be patient with this process.  

Elder Oaks once gave a beautiful talk on Desire.  He said, "Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions.  The desires we act on determine our changing, our achieving, and our becoming."

He talks about how even our basic needs can be overcome by our righteous desires.  For instance, our need for food can be overridden by our desire to fast.  One boy's desire to achieve his scouting goal will give up a comfortable home to go on a campout.  A general of an army can forgo sleep to protect those for whom he has charge.

I think of this in my own desire to fulfill all I'm meant to do here before moving on.  A few weeks ago I actually did start a study on the Life of the Jesus Christ.  This young man's talk was simply a gentle reminder for me to continue in that light.  It doesn't matter where we are, only what we do with where we are.  I want my desires to serve here to overpower my longing to be there.

In Enos we read, "And...after I had prayed and labored with all diligence, the Lord said unto me: I wil grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy Faith (Enos 1:12)."  Of this Elder Oaks said, "Note the three essentials that preceded the promised blessing: desire, labor, and faith (emphasis added)."

So what do I need to do to ensure my desires are granted?  First I need to desire, which I do.  That desire needs to be lasting and not fleeting.  Next, I need to labor.  I need to immerse myself more in my calling, my friendships and my home here.  And lastly, I need to have the faith that the Lord will grant unto me my desires.  I'll do this by studying Christ's life, learning more of who He is and thus strengthening my faith in Him.

TRANSITIONS ARE HARD! And yet I think they are given to us for the very purpose of strengthening our faith and giving us an opportunity to question our desires.  Patience is a virtue that comes through such transitions as well. Here's to my own stretching, growing and becoming!


Tips for Picky Eaters

I was one of those people who was never going to have picky eaters.

Well, I do.  For the past several months I could expect two things each night at dinnertime: my 3-year-old coming to the table with the statement, "I don't like this stuff" (not even knowing what "this stuff" was) and a full-blown tantrum from my 7-year-old.  So, when I heard about the book French Kids Eat Everything, I knew I wanted to read it.

I am pleased to announce for the last month we have had almost no complaints at the dinner table!  We incorporated only a few of the "rules" from the book, but it's made an amazing difference.

#1 - Let Them Cook

Maybe some mom's don't like their kids in the kitchen, but I love it! Actually, I just hate being in the kitchen alone so they always were.  Once the three oldest started school full-time, however, I stopped asking for their help.  In the back of my mind I just assumed the younger three would take their places in the kitchen, but I never expected it so they didn't come.

So, the first change we implemented in our family was that the younger boys would help me cook while the big kids took dishes duty.  The very first night of this we made Chicken Enchilada Soup.  During dinner the boys talked about the flavors, the spices we used, and how yummy it was. My daughter commented, "It's like the boys became food experts or something."  Success!

I began to think, maybe having the kids help in the kitchen made them less afraid of the food they were eating.  We're still learning.  There have some some things they haven't liked and they express frustration when they can't "cook right,"  but the habit is being formed and this has minimized at least one barrier of our food challenges.

#2 - Take Away the Battle

I talked about my own attitude here.  Changing my attitude (and taking lessons from the French), helped me rephrase things I would say about food.  Again, when the older kids were younger I could say, "Eat it, or else."  It worked then.  Doesn't work now!  So, I needed to change how I spoke about food and the expectations I had for them.  These phrases have largely taken away the battle for my most picky eater:

Son: "Do I have to eat this?"
Parent: "Just one bite."

Son:  "I don't like this."
Parent: "That's okay, you'll like it when you're older."

Son: "I don't like this."
Parent: "That's okay, you just haven't tried it enough times."

Son: "I'm hungry."
Parent: "Great!  You're really going to enjoy dinner in an hour."

#3 - Slow Dinner Night

The French Eat Slow. Americans don't.  The starkest difference can be seen in our schools.  Where our kids have fifteen minutes to "shovel it in," the French give their kids one whole hour to eat their lunches.  Kids there are simply trained to eat slow.  Meals are treated like the most important parts of the day!  I wanted more of that in my own home, so we have incorporated "Slow Dinner Night."

 I've always had the dream of dinner being an "event," something that lasts an hour long and is fun!  Just like the French!  :-)  Our Slow Dinner Night consists of three courses:  a vegetable-based soup, a main dish, and a dessert.  I also put a question in the middle of the table or use a writing prompts book I've got on hand as our discussion topic.  Having a focused topic helps us to sit longer.  Granted, the conversation roams and it's definitely not something I force, but it's there in case we need it.  Anyway, we have turned our Monday night dinner from a 20-minute rush to a 40-minute, mostly pleasant event (we've got a 50/50 success rate at this point, but the habit is being formed...so I tell myself).

A few tips to consider: 
** I've learned that on Slow Dinner night I need to serve what I know they like, at least the main course.  Our 2nd meal backfired on me!  We don't want them to dread the event.  :-) 

** This may be a little hard for little boys.  Okay...it's a little difficult for MY little boys to sit there that long.  I'm okay letting them roam a little.  But last week we also played a "Story Cube" game when I saw them getting a bat antsy.  They loved it! 

Overall, this has been, if nothing else, a very fun experiment!  I still have days I'm not entirely thrilled to be cooking, but fewer than not.  And my boys are becoming happy eaters.  As Karen Le Billon says, "The table should be the happiest place in the house!."
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