Monday, April 19, 2010

Tell Me the Stories of Jesus

Lately I've been working on teaching Jake his address and phone number, so that he ever gets lost, he'll know how to find us. We're also learning about dialing 911 and looking for responsible adults who can help him find his way back home. It terrifies me to think of him lost and alone and totally unprepared to cope with the situation. He has to know where to find me. He has to know where to find help.

It is likely, even probable, that at some point in his life my little boy is going to feel lost. He's going to have to go out in the world on his own, and he is going to be lonely. Sometimes he may even be in trouble. He must know how to find his way back home. He must know where to find help. He has to know that Jesus Christ is the only one who can save him.

It seems this conference a lot of our leaders were concerned about our children finding their way home as well. Elder Neil Andersen gave the last talk of conference (you know, before President Monson closed the conference), and he talked about what I like to call "Spiritual 911." When you are in trouble and have a spiritual emergency, "spiritual 911" is your hotline to the only real source of help and comfort--Jesus Christ. Elder Andersen counsels us to more frequently teach about the Savior, Jesus Christ. Our children must know Him, or they will surely get lost out there!

I thought about how to best apply this in my own life, and committed to praying for opportunities to teach my children about the Savior, finding lessons everywhere. I also want to focus more on Him in our FHE. So, I've made a list of links that I'm using to have stories of Jesus on hand to teach with, and some rubrics that I'm making into a Sunday book. I thought with all that effort, it was worth sharing.
The link is HERE, hope it works!

I love you, ladies. I really do. It helps so much to know that we are all in this together! Thank you to all of you who teach my children about the Savior!

The Little Book

Here's something I did with all the rubrics I linked you to from The Friend.

I just sewed the binding myself.
Contact paper worked really well for me. I figured protective sheets would be easier, but I just know my kids would pull the pictures out and ruin them.

Not too shabby, huh?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Developing Good Judgment and Not Judging Others

Matt 7:1 was a real head-scratcher in my seminary class. The injunction to "judge not" was applied all over the place: hate the sin, love the sinner; making friends; sharing the seemed like it was difficult to make judgments required to keep us safe from sin and danger without violating the Savior's command. However, the Lord doesn't give us difficult commandments without elaborating on the point. Webster's defines "judging" as, "to discern, to distinguish, to form an opinion, to compare facts and ideas, and perceive their agreement or disagreement, and thus distinguish truth from falsehood." This doesn't say anything about comparing ourselves to others in order to boost our ego. It doesn't say anything about value. Judgment, in its purest form, is about trying to discern the truth--a noble endeavor we ought to all be engaged in! In our first talk from the new conference, Elder Gregory A. Schwitzer teacher us about Developing Good Judgment, and Not Judging Others. He gives us four valuable tools in discerning truth and judging righteously in a confusing world. Hope you enjoy it!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mind the Gap

I hope that next week, we will be able to start in on a whole new set of conference talks! Before I share the last talk we'll use from the October 2009 conference, I want to share how much reading these talks has helped me. I so appreciate the opportunity you have given me, and I have given myself to really feast on the words of latter-day prophets and apostles. So many parts of my testimony have been strengthened:
  • Our prophets and apostles are watchmen on the tower, and can see the danger coming a long way off!
  • Each of us has a work to do in the kingdom that on one else can do for us.
  • We need each other, sometimes desperately and profoundly, if we are ever to get through this life in one piece!
  • The love and Atonement of Jesus Christ are real! They can reach deep into our souls and teach us how to improve.
  • Each of us is a beloved child of God.

I love Sister Thompson, for a lot of the same reasons I love Sister Dew. I appreciate the perspective on womanhood and Relief Society they give me. Much of the time, we let our value as women be governed by our perception of our efforts to be good wives and mothers. While these works are certainly important, we are each so much more. We are also daughters, sisters, friends, and warriors in the cause of Christ! These wonderful, powerful women who have not yet been blessed to be wives and mothers give me a broader vision of my purpose and power as a righteous daughter of God. They show me how much we have to gain from each other in our associations in Relief Society. They expand my view of what it means to be a mother. I love their teachings and their lessons! Sister Thompson's talk at last fall's Relief Society General Meeting was, "Mind the Gap." She speaks about 3 gaps in our lives we need to be mindful of: the gap between believing and knowing we are daughters of God, the gap between YW and Relief Society, and the gap between believing in Christ and being a valiant testifier of Jesus Christ.

I was especially touched by her plea to me to allow the Spirit to testify that Heavenly Father is pleased with the work I'm doing. We all have days (or weeks, or months, or years) when it feels like our lives are just a futile effort to do work that never gets done. We compare ourselves to others, we see mostly shortcomings not strengths, we feel like we aren't much good in the kingdom. But sisters, I have a renewed and refreshed testimony that we are all vital to the success of our homes, our wards, our community and the Kingdom of God. I know that the work we do is valuable, no matter how menial it may feel. I know that if you're doing the best you can, it is enough. We all fall short, we all wish we were more, but what we are doing right now to the best of our limited abilities is accounted unto us for righteousness. I know He believes in me, even when I don't. I know He sees what I will be, and He gives me what I need to reach my potential. I know that because Christ suffered and died that I may be blessed with grace, even when I fall short, I am enough. I know that you are too!

Monday, March 29, 2010

A post, an apology, and a request for forgivenes

I got to thinking about Monday morning. I thought about how difficult it is to get Jake up on Mondays after being able to sleep in two days in a row. I thought about getting Joe and Jake ready for school. I though about what a disaster my kitchen is Monday morning because I take the Sabbath injunction to not wash my dishes on Sunday seriously. I thought about waiting for Raena to take her nap so I can post on this blog. And then I thought about the very few comments each post gets, and how it didn't seem like anyone would even miss it if I just stopped. So I did. It's been at least two weeks, probably three, since I last posted.

Then, this morning, I had a message. One sister, not even a sister that is in my circle of close friends, just a very nice woman in my ward, shared that she missed the postings.

And now I feel bad.

Here's what I missed by not posting:

  • I haven't read a conference talk in weeks. That means I've missed opportunities for the Spirit to teach me.
  • I've lost sight of why I was doing this: to bless the lives of sisters I love and give us all an opportunity to Feast.
  • I let my own personal pride get in the way of providing even for the one, letting a flawed counter measure the worth of my project.

So, I apologize for caring more about myself than you and the commitment I made to you. I hope you forgive me for getting lazy and selfish. Even one is worth the effort.

In that spirit, I have chosen for this weeks feast President Monson's talk from the priesthood session, "School They Feelings, O My Brother." President Monson talks about the prevalence of anger in our world. He teaches us about the damage it can do in our homes and in our relationships. He spoke to me when he told a story about President Grant. As a young adult, he did some work for a man who paid him $500. The man regretted he could not pay him more. Pres. Grant did additional work, harder, more laborious work, and was paid $150. Then Pres. Grant got mad. And he got madder. He was insulted! What an offense! He talked to a friend about it. The friend asked, "Did the man intend to insult you?"

"No. He told my friends he had rewarded me handsomely."

"A man's a fool who takes an insult when it wasn't intended."

And so, this fool is grateful for the counsel of a prophet. I am grateful for your friendship, and your long suffering and encouragement. My life is blessed by your sisterhood, all of you! I hope this talk helps you evaluate your feelings, and school yourself, lest you be schooled by someone else. :)

PS-Pray to prepare yourselves for the upcoming feast! General Conference Saturday and Sunday!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

An Easiness and a Willingness to Believe.

I logged on to Blogger this morning to check the traffic on this blog, only to see that the blog I posted yesterday didn't post! Also, it was gone forever everywhere! Dang it!

So, I started off by saying that we only have 4 more Mondays until April Conference (yea!) and that meant that we probably have 5 to post from October Conference. I'm assuming the new conference talks won't be available online the day after--but I've been wrong before, so we'll see! That means we have 4 weeks and more than 4 talks to choose from! I'm going to start getting really selective, so if you have a favorite we haven't talked about yet, leave a comment!

Our talk this week is "An Easiness and Willingness to Believe," by Elder Michael T. Ringwood. Since I've had an additional day to think about this ;) I have more to say now. Elder Ringwood's title is referencing the Lamanites that converted in Helaman. The scriptures say that the Spirit poured out upon the Lamanites because of their willingness to believe. I think the willingness to believe is both a gift of the Spirit and the fruits of obeying the law. Its a cycle that increases our ability to feel the Spirit--when we want to believe, the Spirit pours out. The presence of the Spirit strengthens our ability to recognize truth, to desire truth, and our willingness to obey. We then receive a greater outpouring of Spirit that builds and teaches and refines us, ultimately sanctifying us and preparing us to live a celestial law. I especially appreciate Elder Ringwood's observance that times of intense change or trial can be the times in our lives when we are most willing to believe. I hope they are. I've learned to try to look at my trials as an opportunity to see how the Lord blesses me, a time to stretch and grow, and to show Him I trust Him. This allows the Spirit to comfort me and boost my confidence.

Have a good week!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Love and Law

I remember as a little girl saying to myself, "When I'm grown and have kids I'll never do (insert something my mother did to make me mad)." A lot of the time I was mad about punnishment or a restriction of freedoms.

  • You can't eat all your Halloween candy before midnight October 31.
  • Ice cream is not a breakfast food.
  • You have to do your chores before you can play.
  • You may not watch Johnny Carson--go to bed.

When I was less mature (even less than I am now!) I believed that love was more important than law. If love was strong enough, there should be less law, not more. Punnishment seemed a personal rejection, not a loving correction. Elder Oaks talks about the relationship between love and law in his talk, (apprpriately titled) "Love and Law." He teaches us how our Father in Heaven shows his love for us by giving us law, and then encourages us to parent in the law following the greatest Parent's example.

Can't wait to hear your thoughts this week, sisters!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Our Perfect Example

Sorry I'm a day late, sisters. My Internet wouldn't work yesterday! But, better late than never!

It sometimes seems that Christ's injunction to "be perfect" (3 Ne 12:48) is a little to much to ask. Even Nephi lamented that he to often succumbed to "the sins which do so easily beset me." (2 Ne 4:18) As Latter-Day Saints, we expect a lot of ourselves, because we know the Savior expects a lot of us. The good news is, it is possible to attain perfection. There is a commandment to seek perfection, and as Nephi also knew, the Lord provides a way. Through the Atonement, and by following His example, the Savior gives us the tools we need to become as He is. President Eyring's talk, "Our Perfect Example," teaches us that by following the Savior's example, we can find greater happiness and hope in our lives. I love the reminder that hope and optimism ought to fill the lives of Latter-Day Saints, because we know that no matter what our failings may be today, we can be better tomorrow. I hope that I can follow President Eyring's counsel, and look for opportunities to be more Christlike.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Helping Others Recognize the Whisperings of the Spirit.

Learning to recognize the Spirit is HARD! That's why I appreciate Sister Matsumori's talk, "Helping Others Recognize the Whisperings of the Spirit." You see, I am in a life-long process of learning the hear the Spirit, to recognize what is His influence and what is just me coming up with stuff. One blessing of my calling as a teacher is my opportunity to learn--I can't teach the doctrines of the Abrahamic covenant unless I study the scriptures, study the lesson, study other correlated materials, and pray really hard about how to best teach and reach my class. I am confident that the same blessings will come into my life as I teach others how to recognize the Spirit. I want my children to follow the Spirit--I want them to seek out his influence. In order to do so, I must spend time on my knees and with my scriptures, inviting the Spirit into my life and home. As I earnestly seek to teach my children and give them opportunities to feel the Spirit, I will refine my own abilities as well! See how that works? Teacher and student, and both are edified.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Every Woman Needs Relief Society

We are beginning to inch up on April, so before we run out of weeks, I thought we'd better go back to the Relief Society Session. Sister Silvia H. Allred has such an interesting perspective. She is from El Salvador, and was very young when her parents joined the Church. She has seen the Church grow in her native land, and has had much experience where the Church is strong. She served a full time mission in the Central American Mission (back when it was only one mission :] ), stake and ward Relief Society and Young Women President, and on the Young Women General Board. She and her husband have been public relations missionaries in Madrid, Spain, Mission Presidents in Paraguay Asuncion mission, and were most recently serving with her husband as her presided over the MTC in the Dominican Republic. She has had a lot of training, a lot of experience, and many opportunities through her service to see the Relief Society work all over the world! She was called to the General Relief Society Presidency in 2007.

Her talk, Every Woman Needs Relief Society, reminded me of some important truths about Relief Society:
  1. My involvement in Relief Society helps me show the women of the world and the women of my acquaintance a different way to find power in womanhood. So much of what the world teaches says that a woman can't have influence on the world unless she gets out there in it! She has to push, and prod, and leave her femininity at the door. Relief Society allows us to develop our divine nature and CHANGE THE WORLD!
  2. Service in Relief Society, even (and maybe even especially) little things make a difference in the lives of others. The women who make a difference in my life haven't just done amazing, life altering things for me--they set examples and love me for who I am. That changes my heart and gives me room to grow. I need them. I need their service. I need to return the favor.
  3. My favorite quote from this talk is, "Every righteous woman has a significant role to play in God's plan and in the building up of His kingdom. Relief Society needs you, and you need Relief Society." A significant role to play. Everything we do has consequences. Some little part of your duty, your talents, your love will make a difference to someone. That one person matters! Remember, if you labor all your days and only bring one soul to God, how great will be your joy! Even one matters. You matter. The one only you can touch matters. Each of us is needed.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Prayer and Promptings

This week's talk is a great companion to last week's. This week, President Packer teaches about Prayer and Promptings. He begins by reminding us that the dispensation of the fullness of times was ushered in by a 14-year-old boy's prayer. That made me think about all the other amazing things that have happened in answer to prayer: Nephi's vision of the tree of life, the conversion (or reclamation) of Alma the Younger, the Lord's prayer, and all the prayers He uttered in the Garden. I teach Sunday School, and it seems like a lot of the discussion questions outlined by the correlation department in the manual are oftem questions with "standard sunday school answers:" Pray, read you scriptures, attend your meetings....When we remember that scripture study (James 1:5), prayer, and attending church meetings ushered in a dispensation, we won't be so casual about these things. We will begin to see they are gateways to promptings, inspiration, and great works. After all, "by small and simple," even standard things, are great things brought to pass.

Monday, January 18, 2010

To Acquire Spiritual Guidance

Sorry I missed last week girls! I thought I had set the post to go on without me, and it didn't. I was in Seattle being a competitor/vacationer. It was fully awesome.
This week's talk is from Elder Scott. "To Acquire Spiritual Guidance" was the first talk of the Saturday morning session. What an excellent way to start conference! Here, Elder Scott invites us to learn to follow the Spirit, citing specific examples in his own life that could easily be emulated throughout the rest of conference.
We live in challenging times, and we need the influence of the Spirit more and more as we seek to discern our proper course. I know the Spirit can and will guide us. I know that the more we seek him, the easier he becomes to hear. I'm grateful for the gift of his companionship in my life.
*BONUS to ladies in 2nd ward: this is our Teaching for our Time lesson this month, so read up and be ready to participate on Sunday!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Be Ready

Today, my dear sisters, we return to the Priesthood session. I know we are bright enough and perceptive enough to apply this talk directed to the brethren to ourselves! President Eyring gives a stirring reminder of how important it is to be prepared in his talk entitled, "Be Prepared." It reminds me of another talk he gave about adversity where he spoke of a man who had lost his job, but was confident that the Lord would bless them and help them provide for themselves. He says tells us that this man had done more than prepare for temporal eventualities by storing food and saving money. He had prepared his heart to be worthy for the Lord's blessings BEFORE he came to his time of great need. This "spiritual self reliance" has been impressed on me frequently in the last year. I hope we can start our new year determined to "prepare every needful thing," and not be caught without oil in our lamps.