Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ready to Catch?

Last month, Damon L. Bahr, a professor at BYU, gave a quite outstanding devotional address. You can watch it here. I think it is well worth the half hour it will take!

In his talk, Prof. Bahr comments on something Neal A. Maxwell terms "redemptive turbulence", using 2 Nephi 28:19 to illustrate how "some people will tire of the natural consequences of living a worldly lifestyle, indeed, of living without God in the world, and seek for a better way of life."

He goes on to describe our responsibility when this occurs: "What is our role as redemptive turbulence literally shakes people out of the kingdom of the world? We must stand with our arms open, ready to catch them, accepting the Lord’s invitation to ‘Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers (or catchers) of men.’"

He tells several stories of when he was in a position to "catch" friends, neighbors, and even strangers through creative missionary work.

This Christmas season, are you ready to "catch" your family members, your friends, and others? How about at other times of the year?

Being ready to "catch" requires the personal worthiness of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-- it's hard (impossible) to lead someone else to the Lord if you're not on the right track yourself. It requires soberness and a commitment to covenant-keeping.

But, it's also important to remember that no one is perfect, and even if you struggle in some areas, you can still be just the right "catcher" if someone needs you.

Happy catching :o)

Monday, November 7, 2011

I believe in marriage!

"Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God...The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan."

Marriage is something most people look forward to. And after the wedding, I think too many people withhold the effort that it takes to make a marriage last.  

Life can get in the way of a marriage. You don't necessarily get to spend as much time with your spouse as would be ideal. It takes a lot of work to keep a household running smoothly, even if it's just the two of you. On top of bills to pay, exceptional situations do come up. Flexibility, creativity, and sanity are needed when troubles come, and just trying to get through them can tax even the strongest marriage relationships.

So how can we strengthen marriages so that we can survive those trials and make marriages last, and even better, to make good marriages great? 

It is paramount to put the marriage relationship first. Prioritize in such a way that you are certain to make time to nurture the relationship. Try to be home at the same time at least a couple nights a week (and more if possible)! Go on date nights-- and remember you don't have to break the bank to do so: you can rent a movie and watch it together or go on a walk around the neighborhood. Learn your spouse's "love language" and learn to communicate your affection for them in a way they understand. 

Don't give up on your spouse or your marriage in any way. Treat your spouse with respect, and if things are not working as you would hope, keep in mind that "People don’t fall back into love; they climb back in."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pride, competition, and opposition

Thomas and I recently finished reading Chester, I Love You together. Thomas introduced me to the wholesome goodness of this and other books by Blaine and Brenton Yorgason earlier this year-- and since then, we've snatched up several titles we found at DI!

What I love most about the two Yorgason books I've read so far is the depiction of family relationships, particularly the parent-child relationship. When a child has a problem or a question, the parent gives clear, loving, and wise counsel.

I won't spoil the plot, but I'd like to share one of my favorite lessons from Chester, I Love You. In the book, there is a teenage boy, Travis, who struggles with competition: he does not like it because he is always the "loser" in athletic events, scripture chase, and even, he feels, within his family. His dad, although unwittingly an instigator of a competitive spirit within the family, has several talks with him over the course of the story and learns more about competition himself as he teaches his son and learns to adapt to his needs.
'Opposition produces strength. The better or stronger the opposition, the better and stronger we become by facing it. Competition, on the other hand, causes us to want to be better than someone else, which in all honesty we can't be. Did God create some of his children to be better than others?'

Travis shook his head.

'You're right. He didn't, at least in a moral sense.'

'But, Dad, lots of people think they're better than others.'

'Do you think that's a proper attitude, Trav?.... If someone is our opposition, we want to be as good or as strong as they are. The better they get, the better we need to be to keep up with them. So naturally we want them to get better just as much as we want ourselves to get better. On the other hand, if someone is our competition we want to beat them, to make them lose to us. We want them to become worse than us. When we do that, they feel like you feel today. Do you like that feeling?'

Again Travis shook his head.

'In a nutshell, son, competition demands winners and losers, opposition expects only winners. Which do you think Heavenly Father would approve of?'

'Opposition, I guess.' (p. 19-20 of 1988 printing by Bookcraft, copyright 1983)
This story was on my mind as I reviewed President Uchtdorf's October 2010 General Priesthood session talk, Pride and the Priesthood. President Uchtdorf taught, "At its core, pride is a sin of comparison, for though it usually begins with 'Look how wonderful I am and what great things I have done,' it always seems to end with 'Therefore, I am better than you.'" Later on in the talk, President Uchtdorf brings up the "lack of civility" present in the arenas of sports and politics. He reminds us that
...we must realize that all of God’s children wear the same jersey. Our team is the brotherhood of man. This mortal life is our playing field. Our goal is to learn to love God and to extend that same love toward our fellowman. We are here to live according to His law and establish the kingdom of God. We are here to build, uplift, treat fairly, and encourage all of Heavenly Father’s children.
By minimizing the competitive spirit so natural to many of us, we can improve our relationships in- and outside our families. Uplifting others is far more worthwhile in the end than "winning", anyway!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mothers who know

We just returned from a family reunion for Thomas' side of the family. Thomas' sister and one of Thomas' brothers each have two children. It was so fun to spend time with our nieces and nephew! Since the children are all toddler-aged, when we were out in public it was necessary for everyone to help out and keep an eye on them. We remarked several times about what a relief it is that everyone is on the same page, so that if one of the aunts or uncles corrected a child, it was a safe bet that his/her parents would have done the same given the situation.

Watching my two sisters-in-law interact with their children made me think about one of my favorite General Conference talks ever, Mothers Who Know (by Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President, in the October 2007 General Conference). This quote serves well to introduce/sum up what Sister Beck taught:
The responsibility mothers have today has never required more vigilance. More than at any time in the history of the world, we need mothers who know....When mothers know who they are and who God is and have made covenants with Him, they will have great power and influence for good on their children.
- Julie B. Beck
My sisters-in-law are definitely "mothers who know." You can tell by being around their children or entering their homes. They are faithful and they are committed to "[rearing] their children in love and righteousness, to [providing] for their physical and spiritual needs, and to [teaching] them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live" (The Family: A Proclamation to the World).

I am impressed to see their daughters always dressed modestly. The children are familiar with some scripture stories, and all of them love to pray.  They all know they are loved and they are all being taught to serve one another. They like reading books. All of them are well-adjusted, happy, and confident; they are curious and very bright.

Thank you, Camille and Elizabeth, for your wonderful examples! You are both such great mothers -- and I'm so glad your children have great fathers, too.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Starting Family History Work

Family history work can be fun and exciting-- even for beginners, as I found out earlier this year.

A great place to start is by registering for an account on the New Family Search website, associated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You do not have to be LDS (Mormon) to join! It is really easy to input the information you do know, and it is likely that if you get a few generations back, you will connect with lines on which a lot of research has been done.

If you are looking to find records to back up what you think you know about some of your ancestors, the Church has another great resource: the Family Search website. If you're lucky, you will find census records, marriage certificates, and other documents, with links to actual images of the original documents-- like this -- for free. The Perrens, shown at that link, are actually some of my ancestors.

The information available at Family Search has been indexed by volunteers, and if you are looking for a great way to spend some time, you can volunteer, too. It's fun, especially if you are fascinated with old-time artifacts and like puzzles. Sometimes the handwriting and spelling on those census records is quite challenging to read! The different indexing projects are sorted according to difficulty.

If a lot of the foundation work has been laid by dedicated genealogists in your family, don't get discouraged-- there is still work to be done. Thomas' grandmother was one of those dedicated genealogists, but we discovered just this week that there is some transcription work to be done. We will be working on getting some family journals typed up and into an easily-accessible, searchable format. If you don't know of any opportunities like that in your own family, see if your friends need help with theirs.

If you are still too afraid to start, make the work easier for future generations by keeping your own records-- and keeping them organized. Keep a journal and try to organize and label your pictures.

Preserving family history helps people to know who they are, and family history work, with temple work intimately intertwined, preserves families for eternity!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Parenting goals

Although we have a while to go before we add children to our family, I think about parenting a lot. One thing that I think is important for parents to do is to analyze, at some point, the overall goal they have for their children.

When I have children, what do I want for them? What is the "big picture" my day-to-day interactions with them will form (or, at least, what do I intend for it to look like?)?

In answer to those questions, this is what I came up with:

I want to raise my children in such a way that they become responsible, respectful, productive citizens. I hope that I can teach them and give them the experiences that they need to connect with people and understand them, even if they do not understand the choices others will make. I hope to ground them in the Gospel of Jesus Christ such that as they age, they will choose to live in accordance with Gospel principles, because of their testimonies of them.

Specifically, I want to teach them:
  • how to manage money and budget
  • how to work, and enjoy it
  • how to work with their hands, and enjoy it
  • language and speaking skills
  • respect and reverence for their bodies
  • how to take care of their bodies and minds
  • how to cook
  • respect for natural resources
  • to love the scriptures
  • that Jesus Christ is their Savior
What things are important to you for your children/future children to know?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hats of Womanhood

Tuesday night, I was privileged to attend a program put on by my ward Relief Society, which they called "The Hats of Womanhood."

Along with a potluck dinner and mingling in a ward member's backyard, a group of sisters in the ward put on a little skit. Each woman, selected for her expertise in a certain area, talked about a specific "hat" that we, as women, are expected to wear.

I might have missed one or two, but here are the roles and a synopsis of what was said:

Maid - We as women are typically expected to keep our homes clean. The 5 following principles apply not only to keeping the physical part of our homes clean, but also to keeping our homes spiritually clean and welcoming to the Spirit:
  1. Be careful who/what you let cross your threshold! 
  2. Always clean from the top down and pay attention to corners and crevices.
  3. Make sure everything has a place and try to keep it in that place
  4. Before starting to clean, analyze the situation to see what needs to be done and how best to do it.
  5. The easiest way to maintain a clean home is to maintain it! 5 minutes here and there beats a full day every week (or more!).
Remember, cleanliness is next to Godliness :o)

Seamstress - In sewing, as in life, everything is easier with a pattern! Sewing and other handicrafts can be an important part of self-reliance. When you know how to sew, even a little, you can alter clothing to better fit your body. You can make articles of clothing more modest. You can save money and increase your home economy. If you do not know how to sew, you can start by sewing children's clothes - they're easy!

Gardener - A gardener finds beauty in diversity. A garden is more beautiful and more complete when there is variety! We see beauty in the flora during the spring and summer; we should look for the beauty in the people around us, too.

Scholar - It is important for us to keep learning, even when we are beyond our school-girl days. Find the way you learn best, whether it's taking a class, reading from a book, or some other way, and increase in knowledge!

Cook - We feel our best when we feed our bodies healthy food and keep the Word of Wisdom! We can improve our health and the health of our families by treating our bodies well.

Nurse - Women, and moms in particular, are given the charge to heal the physical and emotional wounds of our families and friends and others around us. Women are naturally nurturers and sometimes we have to put off ourselves to serve and "fix" those we love.

Athlete - Exercise is great for keeping our bodies healthy and able to complete the many tasks left to us! It's important to listen to our bodies and stop when it hurts: injuries are no fun. It's best to find something to do that we enjoy and that we can do on a regular basis! Exercise can be a great way to meet people and make new friends.

Chauffeur - Moms of school-aged children are called on to be taxi-drivers on a regular basis. An important lesson one sister learned is to always be on time. If we are on time, we don't feel rushed. This makes it easier and less stressful to be aware of other peoples' needs. Giving rides to non-family-members is a good way get to know people and community situations better.

Socialite - This sister told of suffering from postpartum depression and deciding to sign up for a Zumba class. She didn't realize until the first day of the class that it was a Spanish-speaking class, and she didn't speak a lick of Spanish! She felt very embarrassed but decided to stay for that first class. She ended up loving it and didn't switch out! She shared the lesson she learned from this experience: that you can have fun with people who are different than you are, and even in situations that scare you!

Queen - As women, we are queens of the house, masters of the ship! We need to remember that we are daughters of God and live up to this role by learning about God and our divine natures. We are precious in God's sight and should treat our sisters with kindness and compassion!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Music that's good for your marriage (3)

Sometimes at work I listen to Pandora, and this is a song that I recently came across and absolutely fell in love with. The video is just as cute, too!

Phil Vassar's "Just Another Day in Paradise" is a beautifully positive look at the kinds of everyday problems that affect just about every family. We're all busy, and sometimes things get hectic, but isn't it great to be with the people you love, just enjoying life?

Here's the chorus:
Well, it's ok. It's so nice
It's just another day in paradise
Well, there's no place that
I'd rather be
Well, it's two hearts
And one dream
I wouldn't trade it for anything
And I ask the Lord every night
For just another day in paradise

I hope you're enjoying your own "paradise." Remember to take time to show your family how much they mean to you, even when everything seems to be going wrong!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He Is Risen: Remembering Christ on Easter

I thought this video was beautiful:

Happy Easter!

Monday, April 18, 2011

One chance

Recently, Thomas and I got to see a beautiful dance production by the BYU International Folk Dance Ensemble, accompanied by the band Mountain Strings. I was blown away watching those dancers and hearing those fiddlers (etc.) do things I am convinced I could never do.

This experience made me think about the opportunities we are given in life. I think sometimes we are fooled when we get caught up in popular culture. No matter how many roles our favorite actors play in the movies, each person who comes into this world really only has one chance at life and becoming who they want to become. Change and repentance are possible, but the further we go down an undesirable road, the more difficult it becomes to turn around, and the more time- and energy-consuming the return path becomes.

Along with that "one chance" principle, it is important to realize that we do not have enough time to do and be good at EVERYthing. Thus, I think we need to choose early who we want to be and work toward that goal. If, when we self-evaluate where we are and how we are doing, we find that we are doing things that are not helping us reach that goal, it is time to change those parts of ourselves.

What do you want to be? What do you want people to remember about you? What do you want to teach your children?

Earlier this month, Lynn G. Robbins spoke during the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In his talk, "What manner of men and women ought ye to be?" he discussed the relationship between "be" and "do", and how in order to be Christlike, one must do Christlike acts. He also spoke to parents about teaching and disciplining their children in such a way as to encourage good qualities and discourage bad actions. He taught that:
"Christlike to be’s cannot be seen, but they are the motivating force behind what we do, which can be seen. When parents help a child learn to walk, for example, we see parents doing things like steadying and praising their child. These do’s reveal the unseen love in their hearts and the unseen faith and hope in their child’s potential. Day after day their efforts continue—evidence of the unseen be’s of patience and diligence."
Being a true disciple of Jesus Christ is an identity I want to claim and work toward. Deciding now who and what I want to be, and then aligning my actions can get me to that goal. Work toward your goals and encourage those around you to do and be their best. And if you want to develop a new talent, go for it! :o)

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Doll's House

Last week I was assigned to read Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House in my Humanities class and to write a paper about it and my reaction to it. The play tells the story of a young wife and mother, Nora, who has fraudulently taken out a loan which saved her husband's life. This comes back to haunt her when her creditor threatens to blackmail her. The problem is that her husband does not know about the loan. The play ends with Nora abandoning her husband and children because she feels that she does not really know her spouse. I argue that this occurs because Nora was dishonest with her husband, and in addition to this, confided in other people about her problems. Here is the final paragraph from my paper:
I feel it is extremely important for spouses to be honest with each other and disclose with each other just about everything. Something my husband and I agreed upon around the time we got married was that we would not discuss the details of our relationship outside the relationship. Every couple has their occasional disagreements, and usually those disagreements are minor and are forgotten shortly thereafter. If those disagreements are shared and gossiped about with friends and family, then the little rifts are not so soon forgotten, and they usually make a negative impression on the hearer. Listening to many of those complaints eventually damages the confidante’s perception of the person’s spouse. Although this is not quite the situation illustrated in A Doll’s House, Nora does confide in Christina things that should have at the very least been shared with her husband first. When private things are broadcast like this, the emotional intimacy and trust that should exist between husband and wife are extended too far, weakening the connection between the spouses. One place where I see this occur too frequently is on Facebook. After witnessing friends struggle very publicly in their marriages, I decided that my infrequent posts on that site would of necessity only be positive ones. Reading post after post about the most recent spats made me wonder how many of those arguments would have never happened had these couples kept their problems between just themselves. By not sharing with anyone the rough places in my own marriage, I feel that I am safeguarding it against other people’s negative perceptions and against my own tendency to over-analyze and criticize. It is also a profound comfort to know that even though my husband is well aware of my faults, he does not relay every imperfection to people who do not know me as well as he does.
If this is something you struggle with in your own marriage, my advice would be to put an end to it immediately. Doing so might mean ending friendships with people who encourage you to spill your secrets. However, losing those friends is worth it if by doing so, you can restore emotional intimacy and improve your opinion of your husband. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Behind every good man...

I've noticed that different people tend to either over- or underestimate the influence of women. There are examples in the scriptures of the influence some women have had for good or for bad. The truth is, women are capable of influencing generations because of their nurturing roles within their families. Righteous women "partner" with their husbands to "preside, provide, and protect" their families. They support their husbands in their priesthood duties and they teach their children to trust Christ and keep His commandments. They keep those commandments themselves.

In our Pearl of Great Price class, we recently read Abraham 2 / Genesis 20 wherein Abraham's wife, Sarai/Sarah, is instructed not to reveal her identity as wife of Abraham for their safety in Egypt. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism entry for Abraham states the following about her obedience to this counsel:
Sarah's action demonstrated, says one LDS Apostle, "her love and integrity to her husband" (JD 23:228) and was, says Philo, one of "numberless proofs" of her "wifely love…. Everywhere and always she was at his side,…his true partner in life and life's events, resolved to share alike the good and ill" (On Abraham, pp. xlii-xliii).
The Institute manual also stressed the importance of Sarah's righteous action, and I loved the following quote I found there:
Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained: “The Lord never sends apostles and prophets and righteous men to minister to his people without placing women of like spiritual stature at their sides. Adam stands as the great high priest, under Christ, to rule as a natural patriarch over all men of all ages, but he cannot rule alone; Eve, his wife, rules at his side, having like caliber and attainments to his own. Abraham is tested as few men have been when the Lord commands him to offer Isaac upon the altar (Gen. 22:1–19); and Sarah struggles with like problems when the Lord directs that she withhold from the Egyptians her status as Abraham’s wife. . . . And so it goes, in all dispensations and at all times when there are holy men there are also holy women. Neither stands alone before the Lord. The exaltation of the one is dependent upon that of the other” ( Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:302).
If we want our families to be happy, to be exalted, we have to "step up to the plate" and get them there. Obviously it isn't entirely up to us, but we have great power to influence those we love for good. We have to be willing to serve and lead with our husbands and to make the Gospel of Jesus Christ a part of who we are.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ways to start a great marriage

We're coming up on our one-year anniversary this month! It's hard to believe a year has gone by so quickly. Here is a list of my top three things to keep in mind for couples who are about to embark on the wonderful journey that is marriage:

Don't go overboard with the wedding.
Yes, your wedding day is an important day in the start of your life together! You should be comfortable over the course of the day and be able to be yourself. I think it is important to have family and friends involved, but not to the extent that throwing a party for them becomes the main focus, or that feeding them at the reception becomes an economic burden. Keep your plans simple; it is only one day.

Keep the ring (and the honeymoon) within your means.
I don't mean to brag, but I am really glad for the way we did things as far as the rings and the honeymoon went. Rather than go to a jeweler, we shopped online and found much better deals and got exactly what we wanted for each other. We did not go into debt to have showy rings; we were careful, did our homework, and we are so happy we did. Plus, we went into it saying, "If in a few years you want something else, we'll see what we can do." For our honeymoon, we spent wisely too. We figured we would enjoy that first several days together no matter where we were - and we were right! We stayed in the States; actually we were close enough to where we would be living that we were able to drive there and "set up house," which made moving in a few days later much less stressful. The main idea is to manage money wisely so that the first few months of marriage are not burdened by the overspending involved with the wedding.

You won't know him any better right after you're hitched than you did the day before.
I probably shouldn't have been, but I was a little surprised that when we got to the hotel after the reception, I didn't know every detail about my new husband's life! It seemed like on marriage, I should have been given all of that information. But the truth is, that is not how it happens! This means that you still have to work on your relationship with each other during the honeymoon, during your first year of marriage, and throughout your entire married life! It is a little bit scary, but hopefully you have dated long enough to know enough about your new spouse to get by. If there is anything you need to know, though, you had better ask before you are so fully committed.

And, as a bonus...
Get married in the right place at the right time.
If you are a Latter-day Saint, you have probably heard over and over from family, friends, and church leaders the importance of marrying in the temple. It really is that important. Choosing who you marry is essential - and it's key to get it right - but once you have found the person you want to spend your life with, "seal the deal" by the right authority. Obviously, you need to make sure your lives are in order to enter that holy place, but when they are, please make the temple a priority. The power and sacred assurance a couple can receive there gives such a solidity and durability to their marriage. When you hit those rough times - and you will - you have that stability to lean back on and help you get through your trials together. I mention timing because I feel it is important to develop your relationship over time before marriage, so that you both know what you are getting into. Finally, do all that you can to be worthy to enter the temple. And once you go through for yourself, keep going back! The first few times may be a challenge, but you will find joy in temple work if you work toward regular temple attendance, and it will bless your life in ways you never imagined.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of ... work

Today at church, the talks on tithing in Sacrament meeting went well with the lesson in Relief Society: work and personal responsibility. I left with an increased understanding of both principles, and gratitude for the good examples of those around me.

In Relief Society we talked about how it is easy to view God's declaration to Adam, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread," (Genesis 3:19) as a punishment. But one of the sisters mentioned how the choice of Adam and Eve to partake of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and thereby leave the Garden of Eden was essentially choosing progress. In the Garden of Eden, with all things provided for their sustenance, Adam and Eve could not have children and could not experience joy. Although they would both have to work hard just to get by outside the Garden, many opportunities and blessings were opened to them that they would not have had inside the Garden. The Gospel Principles manual linked to above (where it says Work and Personal Responsibility) states, "Work is essential to each of us for growth, character development, and many satisfactions that the idle never know."

Along with this thought, I would like to share part of the story by Spencer W. Kimball related by one of the speakers in Sacrament meeting today. In this story, President Kimball tells of a friend who very proudly showed him his new, luxurious car; his new, fancy home; his grand estate. President Kimball reminded his friend that, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof” (1 Cor. 10:26). However, this friend felt that he was entitled to his belongings because of his efforts alone, and that he owed nothing to the Lord. The friend later passed away, and President Kimball recalled,
"Later I saw that same estate, yellow in grain, green in lucerne, white in cotton, seemingly unmindful of him who had claimed it.
"My dear brethren and sisters, I testify to all of you that tithing is indeed a great blessing and a law for our benefit. Let us draw our family circles around us and again read the promise that the Lord testified came from the Father, a promise none of us can afford to be without: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:10)."
Work is necessary and important, but it is essential to keep in mind the source of our blessings. Living the commandments and paying an honest tithe are ways to show gratitude to God, and the blessings we are promised for doing so are real and many.

Finally, a few thoughts about teaching children to work....

found at: http://www.edgren.com/wordpress/2007/08/21/wfmw-laundry-strike/
I remember in the class I took on the Proclamation spending some time talking about teaching children the value of work. My teacher offered some tips that I can't wait to put into practice someday:
  1. Start early. If you teach your children from an early age to do household chores, it will be a normal part of their lives, and it won't be such a "chore" to assign them responsibilities.
  2. Make it fun. Little children like to help. Take advantage of this! I remember my mother starting my sister and I folding washcloths and hand towels when we were preschool-aged. It was enjoyable, especially because we were "helping" Mom, who was working alongside us.
  3. Kill two birds with one stone. Working together as a family offers a great opportunity to get to know each other and to talk about important things without it feeling like a lecture, especially to adolescent kids.
  4. There is more than one "right" way. By this, I mean that just because you have always done a certain task a certain way, doesn't mean that it's the only way it can be done. Be flexible and let your children figure out their own way to fold their socks. It won't be the end of the world if it's not how you would have done it, or if it takes longer than it might have otherwise!
Here are links to some other articles:

found at: http://www.parenting-blog.net/discipline/do-you-teach-your-children-house-chores/

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Music that's good for your marriage (2)

One of my absolute favorite bands is Lifehouse. The lead singer, Jason Wade, has a unique voice that I find very soothing. Overall, their music has a rock/pop feel to it and their lyrics are beautiful. Additionally, I sometimes cannot tell if their songs are worshipful or written to a lover. The words of several of their songs show a deep respect and adoration that could easily be applied to both God and spouse.

The song "Whatever it Takes" is clearly written to the other partner in a committed relationship. Wade sings about trying to fix some mistake he has made that has hurt his wife (girlfriend?). He realizes that getting back on track with her will take effort, but he is willing to do "whatever it takes." Following is a portion of the lyrics:
It kills me that I hurt you this way
The worst part is that I didn't even know
Now there's a million reasons for you to go
But if you can find a reason to stay

I'll do whatever it takes
To turn this around
I know what's at stake
I know that I've let you down
And if you give me a chance
Believe that I can change
I'll keep us together whatever it takes
The video (embedded below) depicts the destruction we can cause in our relationships (even inadvertently) by our words or actions - by showing various items exploding. As the singer promises to do "whatever it takes" to fix the problem, though, everything is healed and goes back to normal.

We can all relate to doing or saying something that accidentally hurt someone close to us. The important thing to remember at such times is that we CAN change! Through the power of the Atonement of Christ, we can (a) be forgiven for our mistakes and (b) repent and change our ways. Yes, it takes effort, but it is worth it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

New Year Resolutions

January 17th marks "Ditch New Years Resolutions Day," but if you're like me, you procrastinated setting those resolutions and you're just now getting started! (Granted, hubby and I were sick the first bit of the new year and with school starting... yeah... it just didn't happen right away)
Some things I would like to do this year include:
  • developing (and sticking with) a more regular workout program
  • becoming more organized when it comes to meals so we end up eating more healthily
  • making time for crafts
  • work on being more kind, more optimistic, and more humble
  • find ways to serve others
As for the first two, here are some great resources that I've found and that I'm excited to play around with a little more:

Exercise TV - from what I can tell, you can watch workout videos for FREE on this website. I actually did one today! I haven't used very many workout videos in my lifetime, but of those that I have used, Leslie Sansone's walking videos are my favorite. They are simple enough that I do not get frustrated trying to follow what the people on the screen are doing. Leslie has a special enthusiasm that helps me to stay motivated. Also, the folks she has in the videos are real people - not overly muscular or overly showy in what they wear. There are workouts for various fitness levels, and you don't need any equipment or a whole lot of space.

Meals Matter - you can create an account on this website and use it to plan our your meals! You can access recipes or even store your own recipes. It looks like there are all sorts of cool tools and resources, and creating an account is FREE!

The other goals are, of course, a little harder to plan out and somewhat more personal.

Some crafts I plan to work on include the File Folder games I wrote about in my last post. I have a crocheted scarf I started about... 2? years ago that would be nice to finish. I might even tackle a skirt pattern that I bought (along with the fabric for it) approximately 6 years ago. We'll see.

Finally, my effort to become more Christlike will be aided as I review and incorporate lessons from the most recent General Conference. Lately, listening to these and other inspired talks has helped me to want to live a better life. Additionally, they turn me to Christ - and remind me that it is only by Him, through Him, and of Him that I can work toward my true potential as a daughter of God.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Quiet Activities

Last night, I went to a Relief Society activity where we made "File Folder Games."

I had never heard of them, but as I do not have any preschool-aged children (or any children, for that matter), it makes sense! File folder games are little learning games/activities directed (from what I've seen) at preschoolers. There are all sorts of kits and downloads to be found online, and you can find games ranging from color matching to religious themes. The one I worked on last night was called "Jesus Calms the Storm." It is a word-matching game based on Luke 8:23-25 (NIV, originally, but the KJV works too), and the object is for your preschooler to match W-words. Find it here.

A variation on the file folder game idea that I would like to try is to create family history file folders. Using family photos and whatever information you have on the life of various relatives and ancestors, you could put together a file folder for select individuals, or for an entire family group. I think children would enjoy something like this, particularly if they do not see grandparents or others on a regular basis.

One of the best parts about these file folder games is they are easy to make! You can print some pre-colored, or color them yourself. Do a little cutting, a little gluing, and laminate it, and you'll have a great activity to entertain your children at church, educate them at home, or even keep them busy on long car rides.

Here are some links to some other websites with patterns you can download:
Plan of Salvation game (note: the "Judgement" and "Resurrection" symbols should be in the opposite order)
Family Tree file folder
Christian Preschool Printables
Crafty Chic File Folder Games
File Folder Heaven
File Folder Fun