Monday, June 30, 2014

Family Home Evening

I'm so happy the combined Young Women/Young Men lesson I gave at Church yesterday went better than I could have hoped for. I'm so grateful my prayers were answered! Prayer works, oh, yes, it does! Thus, I decided to share the handouts I made for my lesson. I wish I had more time to expound on what we talked about, but this will give you the basic idea. :)

By the by, my fonts are acting weird because I copied/pasted them from a Word doc. Sorry they're all skiwampus! And I have no idea how they'll look on the mobile version of my blog! Also, I created my typographic designs in black and white simply because my laser printer only prints in black ink. If I created them in color, but printed them in black ink, my handouts would have looked ridiculous! ;)

Family Home Evening Material

ü  The Importance of the Family and the Home:

“From the very beginning the Lord has established the importance of the family organization for us.” – Elder L. Tom Perry

“The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place nor fulfill its essential functions.” – President Gordon B. Hinckley

“President Brigham Young explained that our families are not yet ours. The Lord has committed them to us to see how we will treat them. Only if we are faithful will they be given to us forever. What we do on earth determines whether or not we will be worthy to become heavenly parents.” – Elder L. Tom Perry

“No other success can compensate for failure in the home” – J.E. McCulloch, Home: The Savior of Civilization. (President David O.McKay quoted this in a General Conference address, but it was not his original quote.)

ü  Combating the Adversary:

“Someone has said that our complacency tree has many branches, and each spring more buds come into bloom.

“We cannot afford to be complacent. We live in perilous times; the signs are all around us. We are acutely aware of the negative influences in our society that stalk traditional families. At times television and movies portray worldly and immoral heroes and heroines and attempt to hold up as role models some actors and actresses whose lives are anything but exemplary. Why should we follow a blind guide? Radios blare forth much denigrating music with blatant lyrics, dangerous invitations, and descriptions of almost every type of evil imaginable.

“We, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, must stand up to the dangers which surround us and our families.” – President Thomas S. Monson

“May it be our resolve this year to build a gospel-centered home, a safe harbor from the storms of the adversary.” – Elder L. Tom Perry

“’Your mind is a cupboard, and you stock the shelves.’ Let us make certain that our cupboard shelves, and those of our family members, are stocked with the things which will provide safety to our souls and enable us to return to our Father in Heaven. Such shelves could well be stocked with gospel scholarship, faith, prayer, love, service, obedience, example, and kindness.” – President Thomas S. Monson

ü  The Importance of Family Home Evening:

“We remind you that parents are to preside over their own families.” – Elder L. Tom Perry

 “We cannot afford to neglect this heaven-inspired program [Family Home Evening]. It can bring spiritual growth to each member of the family, helping him or her to withstand the temptations which are everywhere. The lessons learned in the home are those that last the longest.” – President Thomas S. Monson

“As we train a new generation, so will the world be in a few years. If you are worried about the future, then look to the upbringing of your children.” – President Gordon B. Hinckley

ü  The First Presidency letter to all members about Family Home Evening:

“To: Members of the Church throughout the World

“Dear Brothers and Sisters:

“Monday nights are reserved throughout the Church for family home evenings. We encourage members to set aside this time to strengthen family ties and teach the gospel in their homes.

“Earlier this year we called on parents to devote their best efforts to the teaching and rearing of their children in gospel principles which will keep them close to the Church. We also counseled parents and children to give highest priority to family prayer, family home evening, gospel study and instruction, and wholesome family activities.

“We urge members, where possible, to avoid holding receptions or other similar activities on Monday evenings. Where practical, members may also want to encourage community and school leaders to avoid scheduling activities on Monday evenings that require children or parents to be away from their homes.

“Church buildings and facilities should be closed on Monday evenings. No ward or stake activities should be planned, and other interruptions to family home evenings should be avoided.”—October 4, 1999

ü  What makes family home evening successful? (taken from's Family Home Evening page)

  • Start and end with prayer. This invites the Spirit, increases love, and teaches your family how to pray.
  • Learn from the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets to help your family live the gospel.
  • Add music, such as hymns and Primary songs, to create an atmosphere of love, peace, and joy.
  • Make it fun by playing games, acting out scripture stories, and making treats. Keep the atmosphere light and loving.
  • Be consistent. Monday nights are set aside by the Church for family home evening. If that doesn’t work, find a night that does.
  • Add variety. Help a neighbor in need, hold a lesson at the park, or go for a walk as a family.
Here are some resources for Family Home Evening I came up with:
Speaking of Pinterest, I found a plethora of Family Home Evening resources! Here are some fun examples to get you excited about FHE:
  • Magazine Monday (Church Magazines)
  • Family Olympics
  • Choosing the Right Board Game
  • Talents Night
  • Six Super Summer Service Projects
  • The Articles of Faith
  • “Who Said it? Prophet or Princess?” game
  • Family Tales
  • Commandments Matching Game
  • FHE for Newlyweds and Empty Nesters
  • Jesus the Christ, A Family Study Project
  • Half Time Games for Family and Friends
  • Family Friendly Family Fued

When all is said and done, the ultimate goal of all these fun family home evening ideas is to bring us closer to our family members. We should be our family members' friends! For, as I tell my children:
If you can’t be nice, kind, and good friends with your siblings, then you shouldn't spend time with your friends. Focus first on becoming friends with your siblings! Friends come and go, but family is FOREVER! :)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Another Reason I Was Late to Church

This morning, I was running a little behind in getting ready for church (maybe 10 minutes?). See my previous blog post for an explanation. :) My husband gathered our children to drive to church, and I was going to follow as soon as I was ready. Suddenly, my husband banged on the front door, which doesn't happen unless he's working in the yard or hanging Christmas lights.

One of our children answered the door and Greg called out, "Adrie, this was on the front porch for you." I was confused until my son brought me a scripture bag with my name tagged on it. Greg cutely said, "Somebody loves you!" I laughed because I was truly, totally and utterly surprised at the gift. My heart did the happiest little dance!

Rewind to last Sunday, at the end of our ward's Gospel Doctrine Sunday School class. Greg and I chatted as I gathered my things. An older gentleman came over and made a comment about how much stuff I had. He jokingly wondered how much weight I brought with me to church every Sunday? I laughed because I must have been quite the sight with my purse, church bag, and large scriptures that I kept in their original boxes! See below for an illustration. (See how worn the boxes are?!)

I kept my scriptures in their original boxes simply because I didn't want them to get ruined in my roomy and open church bag—it doesn't have any type of closure. I always planned on buying a new scripture bag that's made especially to protect beautiful leather scriptures, but somehow that purchase has been put on our budget back burner for over a year and four months!

Back to the older gentleman and his comment. I said something like, "Yeah, I bring a lot of stuff to church!" I could see him chuckling at my scripture boxes, so I briefly explained why I still had them. He chuckled some more and we went on our merry way.

As evidenced by the lovely doorstep present I received this morning, someone else in our Gospel Doctrine class must have heard what I said about my scripture boxes. I'm deeply touched that she would go to the trouble of getting me a scripture bag—and in the correct size, nonetheless! I don't know who gave it to me, but the tag with my name on it clearly said, "A girl made me!" I mean, who thinks to do something so awesome like that?! My amazing ward members. That's who.

Yes, our ward has enveloped our family in kindness, generosity, true affection and appreciation. Their continuing thoughtfulness makes my heart swell. They'll never fully understand what their actions mean to me, i.e., they mean the world to me!

Thus, I arrived at church even later than I planned, but I didn't even care! Nope, not one little bit! For I had to take a photo of my new scripture bag before I removed the name tag and packed it up with my lovely scriptures, pens, pencil, study guide, and notebook! Yes, this was a moment that I needed to document.

Thank you, secret ward friend, from the bottom of my heart, for being so thoughtful! You get major bonus points in Heaven for your lovely service! :)

P.S. To clarify, we aren't destitute. ;) We just know what we can afford and a scripture bag wasn't high on my purchase priority list because my boxes were doing the job, albeit noisily! Ha ha. That said, I love that I don't have to think about making that purchase anymore!

Three to Share

I admit, I could post much more often on my blog than I currently do. While I spend much of my time doing the "best" things in life, I spend a fair amount of time doing "good" things, when I could be doing "better" or "best". I'm referring to one of my favorite talks—by one of my favorite men I've never met, "Good, Better, Best" by Elder Dallin H. Oaks. Please watch or read it! :)

One of those "good" things I'm referring to is surfing the web. I'm a super awesome web surfer...which can sometimes be a bad thing. But I honestly love seeking out and researching all of the good, inspiring, lovely, wonderful, artistic, intelligent, etc., things I find online...or, at least what I can get my hands on! So, sometimes, I feel my time spent researching all of those wonderful things online can actually count as "better", and even "best"! Or, at least that's what I tell myself to justify my time spent online... ;)

As I've said before, I truly love sharing all of those wonderful finds with my small world. From a spiritual standpoint, there are times when I actually feel compelled to share. It's like if I don't share, then I will regret it. Not in a terrifying way, just in a "you'll regret it" way. Today is one of those days. Besides the amazing General Conference address I shared above, I have two wonderful blog posts to share with you! :)

I found this first post "Together We Stand", on the blog "The Moments We Stand". I've read a few of Ashlee's posts and really enjoyed them. This post stood out to me because it has such a universal message. I highly encourage you to read it and share with those you love! :)

Lastly, I've known about Meg Johnson since our family vacation to Utah in the summer of 2012. (I'm sorry, but I must say {for the thousandth time!} that I'm so glad/happy/thrilled/ecstatic I live in Utah again!!!) I was randomly looking through Walmart's books and found her lovely little book "When Life Gets Hard". It totally jumped out at me because I was in the middle of our "where are we going to end up moving to next" struggle, and I need some uplifting words. I'm so glad I bought her book! I enjoyed every word Meg wrote and was bummed when the book ended.

I emailed some of my family members about Meg's book, highly recommending that they read it. My mom read it and subsequently bought copies for herself and others. Yay me! ;) Sorry for the prideful moment, I was just really happy I could introduce my family members to something upliftingly stellar, and helpful, to the people I love! I'm guessing upliftingly isn't a real word, but I don't care. ;) I like it.

While researching about Meg, I was delighted to find she had a website and blog. I've followed her blog for a while now, but I never delved into all of her other online content. Today, though, I felt prompted to research more deeply, and I'm so glad I did!

I was thrilled when I found "Meg's Monthly Message – March 2014", in her "Monthly Message" section. When I finished reading her wise words, I instantly thought, "I'm totally sharing this on facebook!" But my next thought was, "No, I need to share this with a broader audience. Besides, who knows if all of my 340+ facebook friends actually read what I post on facebook anyway? How many of my facebook friends have 'unfollowed' me, but still remain my 'friend'? I should put it on my blog instead." So, here it is! Please take 10 minutes out of your busy day to read Meg's words. I promise you won't regret it. :)

I wholeheartedly endorse Meg's book and website content (at least what I've researched thus far!). I'm sure I could spend hours exploring her inspiring and happy words, but I must go get ready for church. For today, I'll be teaching a combined lesson on Family Home Evening to our Young Men and Young Women. Please say a prayer for me that what I've prepared goes over well with our Youth. I hope they enjoy what I have to share!

P.S. I don't have time to edit this post right now. I'll have to save that for later!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Patience, Darling!

Over the past two and a half weeks, I've had thoughts repeatedly swirling in my mind about patience. I used to dread the word patience. Whenever I heard the phrase, "Patience is a virtue!", I'd think, "Patience is a virtue that drives me nuts...a virtue I'll never master!"

Yet, over the past several years, I feel I've actually acquired a lot of patience! Yay me! (That's a reference to the character, London, on "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody." That show still cracks me up!) I feel that patience is truly becoming a part of who I am. And I relish that fact...much like the way I relish snuggling into my sheets at night! You know what I mean—that lovely, deep-breath-inducing sheet-shuffle that we all do when we're falling asleep? Maybe it's just me, but I absolutely love that feeling! The fact that I now view patience in the same positive realm as a happy-sheet-shuffle, well, that's saying a lot for me!

This past week, I've seen my darling daughter go through a patience trial of her very own. It wasn't a big deal to anyone else, but it was a trying experience for my little girl.

Last Monday (06/16/2014), my daughter used her birthday money from extended family and friends to order a beautiful mermaid tail and monofin, from Fin Fun Mermaid—I highly recommend them!!! My cute little niece also bought a mermaid tail and monofin with her birthday money. Her mom and I both purchased the tails that Monday, but my sister-in-law had purchased the monofin previously. Thus, I expected that my daughter and niece would receive their mermaid tails at the same time.

For four days (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday), all my daughter could talk about was how excited she was to get her new mermaid tail and monofin. She and my niece talked on the phone for more than an hour about being mermaids! They talked about what swimming suits they would wear, how they would do their hair, and how they could keep their brothers from touching or meddling with their precious fins. Ha ha. My daughter literally dreamt about being a mermaid! It was all so cute to witness. Is there anything as wonderful and happy little girls talking endlessly about their mermaid dreams?!

*Side note, here are two photos to show just how much my daughter loves all-things mermaid. My brother-in-law, Mason Fetzer, is an outstanding artist. Mason created this mural for us when we first moved into our 70s house. Check out his work (art; design; photo; shop) because he is truly gifted! His Little Mermaid mural brings smiles to anyone who enters my daughter's room!

Thursday came and my niece received her mermaid tail! She excitedly called my daughter to see if she received her mermaid tail and monofin as well. Sadly, my daughter didn't receive her tail and fin that day. She was heartbroken!

When I tracked our package on, there wasn't any information available. :( I explained to my daughter (in at least three separate instances) that we needed to be patient, and check back Friday. My daughter truly struggled with my words. She was trying her best to be brave, but I could see the sad anxiety in her sweet little soul.

I hoped and prayed our package wasn't lost! I awoke Friday morning and tracked our package again. It finally showed my daughter's mermaid fun should arrive that very day! I shared the happy news with my ladybug, she was ecstatic!

Unfortunately, Friday came and went without mermaid gear. My daughter was devastated. Thanks a lot, USPS! (Insert sarcasm.) She kept asking me, "Do you think it will come tomorrow? What do we do if it doesn't come? I don't want to go swimming without it! What if they lost it! What if someone stole it?!!" Oh, dear. The next day, we were going swimming at my mom's condo pool with my brother's family, and my niece would be swimming as a mermaid. My daughter was on the verge of tears. I thought she wouldn't last through the night! (Not seriously, but you know what I mean.)

I shared with my ladybug that based on how things were going, i.e., a mermaid no-show, I was beginning to think that this was a tailor-made trial of patience from our Heavenly Father! She wondered what I meant, so I went on to explain about trials and patience.

I told my darling daughter how everyone on earth must go through their own trials to make them better people. I shared how I've consistently struggled with patience throughout my life, and that I felt like Heavenly Father was allowing my lovely ladybug to learn patience at an earlier age than I. I explained how I truly believe that one of the greatest and most important tests of this earthly life is to see how we react when things don't go the way we want, expect, or think we deserve.

My darling daughter seemed to understand what I was saying. I said, "I think this is the perfect time for you to show how strong you can be. Try your very best to be calm and patient through this hard time. Know that eventually we'll have an answer. And if your mermaid tail and monofin are lost, we can always call the company and figure it out. I know they're willing to work with us. Don't worry, we'll get an answer. You just might not be able to go swimming tomorrow as a mermaid...but you'll still go swimming, and you love swimming more than anything!"

Saturday morning came, and my daughter quietly asked if I thought her tail would arrive that day, or not. I replied that I certainly hoped it would! I also repeated variations of my previous patience talk. Then I suggested we go for a walk. She agreed to the walk saying, "Yes, a walk will take up more time this morning. Then I won't have to wait so long for the mail!"

We walked for half an hour, came home, stretched, and ate breakfast. We had just started watching "The Smurfs 2," on Netflix, when my husband opened the door (he was mowing our front lawn) and yelled, "Mermaid special delivery!" I've never seen my daughter jump up from the couch and run to the door so quickly! She swiped the box out of my husband's hands, jumped up and down, and squealed, "I'm going to be a mermaid!!!"

Well, the rest is happy mermaid history. My baby girl swam blissfully as a mermaid for two solid hours! She and her cousin nearly refused to exit the pool! That night, my darling daughter told me, "Mom, now I match my mermaid mural! I'm actually DOING what I've always dreamed of!" I'm so happy knowing there will be many more hours of mermaid joy to come! (Wow, there were a lot of exclamation points in that paragraph...let's add one more! Ha ha.)

My daughter was swimming over to the side, so she could take a break. Being a mermaid is tiring, but it's excellent exercise!

While I'm so very joyful about my daughter's mermaid dream being realized, what I'm most happy about is the fact that she was taught a great lesson in patience. I'm grateful I was given the opportunity to be there for her while she went through this patience exercise. :)

I'm especially grateful my daughter was willing to listen to my words! This whole experience has been very interesting to reflect on, because I feel like I wouldn't have been able to "get through" to her about the importance of patience, if it weren't for her mermaid tail and monofin arriving late! It's like my daughter had to have something that mattered greatly to her become the "conduit of patience."

Now, I'll swing back around to my initial thoughts on patience that started this blog post. *Please note, my thoughts go all over the place and might seem a little choppy. That said, I'll do the best I can to explain where my mind has been. :)

I've been reading the fascinating book "Scientific Discoveries That Build Testimonies And Strengthen Faith," by Dan Neville. While on a plane to Orlando (That's another post entirely!), I finished reading the last paragraph of page 27,
"...Professor Dawkins argues that it is a bit incredulous to think a God would waste his time by taking 14 billion years since the beginning of the universe to create man, while Dr. Collins basically comes back with, 'Who are we to decide how God should do it?' Utilizing evolution, God may have reasoned, might be the best way, as it would require man to exercise faith."
While pondering those words, I began thinking deeply about how I believe Heavenly Father instructed Jesus Christ to make the earth (which is also what my Church teaches). Based on what science believes, and other religious ideas, I know the earth could be billions of years old. My mind was swirling with the length of time that really is. I mean, I only have memories of 30+ years and that seems like a really long time already. Can you imagine how long a thousand years is? I can't! Thus, to try and figure out how long millions and billions of years are, well it is just above and beyond me. Whoa.

To religiously support the idea that the earth is billions of years old, in March 2014, I read an article in Meridian Magazine, "The Scale of Creation in Space and Time" by John S. Lewis. (Here's his personal website.) He writes,
"...In the Times and Seasons 5, p. 758 (1844), a letter from Joseph Smith’s Book of Abraham scribe W. W. Phelps to the Prophet’s brother William states: 
'… that eternity, agreeable to the records found in the catacombs of Egypt, has been going on in this system (not the world) almost 2555 millions of years; and to know that deists, geologists and others are trying to prove that matter must have existed hundreds of thousands of years:—it almost tempts the flesh to fly to God, or muster faith like Enoch to be translated and see and know as we are seen and known!'
(Just a reminder that there are 1,000 million in a billion.) A little later in the article, Mr. Lewis writes (I added some commas),
"Considering that Doctrine and Covenants 77:6 refers to '…this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence', what led Joseph Smith, who wrote that verse, to speak of Earth as 2,555 million years old? The answer appears to be straightforward. Though 7,000 Earth years is in conflict with all physical, chemical, genetic, archaeological, and linguistic evidence, 7,000 years of God is not ruled out. The arithmetic is easy: 7,000 years of God, calculated on the basis of one day of God being as a thousand years of man (one year of God therefore being 365,257 years of man) is just 7,000 x 365,257 Earth years. That is 2,556,799,000 Earth years. Clearly Joseph Smith did not intend the “7,000 years” to refer to Earth years. But why did Joseph Smith and his amanuensis W. W. Phelps quote 2,555 million years instead of 2,556.8 million? Their calculation simply ignored leap years, and took the average duration of the year as exactly 365 days: thus 7,000 x 365,000 = 2,555 million years."
Fascinating, right?! Here is one of my favorite videos, "We Lived with God," about the creation of our universe and earth, and where we fit into all of it. It is truly inspiring. *The man in the video also happens to be the author of the above fascinating paragraph!

But the actual age of Earth is simply a technicality—one that the people of our world likely never come to an agreement on. And I'm okay with that. I'm okay with not knowing the exact age of our universe and earth. So, back to my thoughts about patience...

I sat there in awe, thinking that Heavenly Father possibly waited billions of years for Jesus Christ to create our earth...They definitely took their own sweet time. Talk about a patient father and son team! :) Can you even imagine their supreme patience level with each other?!

Let's think about it for a second. Have you ever tried to do home improvements or repairs with a family member? Does your project ever go as quickly as you planned? Does everything work out perfectly? Does your project ever exceed your time-frame expectations? Based on my experiences, I may have one "yes" out of the bunch, but many times, I'm tired, frustrated, and worn out at our project's completion.

Yes, dear readers, I believe that God's very first lesson to us was patience! Heavenly Father wants us to follow His wonderful example of patience—with His Son—during Earth's creation. He wants us to be patient in the development of our souls—whether they be our own, or someone else's! He wants us to be patient while we "create" our best selves! As evidenced by Earth's creation, greatness is worth waiting for!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Obedience Takes Strength

I admit, posting so soon after my last post may seem a departure from what I wrote (and strongly believe in), but all of my chores are done (hallelujah!) and my family members are all happily engaged in other activities for the time being. When I asked each one of them if they wanted to do something with me, they each said, "No, I'm fine." or, "Not right now." Thus, I decided to blog! :)

One of the things I've noticed over my adult years, is that many people think a person is somehow weak if they are an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

I've read so many comments attached to online LDS articles where people call Mormons "sheeple." In other words, they consider LDS members to be sheep, or people that blindly follow religious leaders. They mistakenly think active LDS members can't think for themselves.

I've also seen/heard other people state that they don't want to be attached to any religion because it takes away their individuality—they want to stand out from the masses.

Yet, I would like to flip that way of thinking upside down. For I truly believe that when a person is obedient to something, or someone, they are actually stronger than those people who aren't obedient. Please hear me out on my opinion... :)

Look at the following professions and think about what it entails to be successful. If someone truly wants to succeed in a specific endeavor, that person must be obedient to specific traits, characteristics, habits, etc. that apply to that profession.
  • athletes and dancers: continually good habits in diet, sleep, and exercise; listening to and following a coach or an artistic director's counsel
  • musicians: consistent sleep, so as to have a clear mind to play the intricate notes in their sheet music—of which many must memorize; hours of practicing every day; capable of following a conductor
  • various types of scholars: continual researching and studying; keeping current with their organization's requirements, i.e., taking the necessary tests/exams; listening to other scholars' findings and reasoning; capable of producing evidence to prove their points
  • scientists: endlessly studying others' publications/findings; never-ending experimentation and documentation of what they are trying to prove or disprove
  • authors: follow writing guidelines of their written language; sticking to the publishers' deadlines; editing their work until the publisher is satisfied; checking their pride at the door when receiving rejection letters—they must be humble enough to make the recommended changes
  • FBI special agents: being very physically fit, i.e., passing the FBI's physical requirements and fitness tests; daily working within the law; following their commanding officer's order(s) (or whatever they're called!)
  • media personalities, i.e., television, movies, news, reality shows, etc.: keeping up their appearance (It seems women have to follow this unwritten rule more than men, which drives me crazy!); following the director's wishes and timelines; memorizing lines or following the teleprompter
If a person in one of those professions is not obedient to the requirements of their job, he/she will most likely be released from their duties. *Obviously, I'm not an expert! I have no professional experience in any of those fields. I'm simply making an observation.

Continuing along the obedience idea, I've come to the conclusion that many people admire marathon runners. ;) I highly doubt a person could just up and run an entire marathon without extensive and consistent training. Maybe someone could run a marathon without training, but they might end up in the hospital!

My point is, it takes obedience to train for a marathon—which includes self-discipline (the ability to control one's feelings and overcome one's weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it) and determination (firmness of purpose; resoluteness). Ultimately, a person has to be obedient to the laws of nature. For the human body can't simply do what a marathon requires without taking the time to build up its muscles and stamina first.

Even though I've never run a marathon, I know many people who have. From what I've researched, a person shouldn't run a marathon without having trained for at least 12-22 weeks in advance, depending on their fitness level. A marathon trainee must run at least three to five days per week, with cross training another two days per week. That means, a person desiring to run a marathon must consistently train six to seven days per week, for up to 22 weeks!

If being obedient to a marathon training schedule doesn't take strength, I don't know what does!

Let's take that same marathon idea and apply it to the notion that many people view members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to be weak.

First of all, to become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a person must meet The Church's baptismal requirements. After a person is a member of The Church, they must commit to continually keep their baptismal covenants. The Church has stated, "When you are baptized, you covenant with God that you are willing to take upon yourself the name of Christ and keep His commandments throughout your life. Are you ready to make this covenant and strive to be faithful to it?"

Secondly, an LDS Church member's ultimate goal is to attend the temple of the Lord, receive her/his endowment, and be sealed to their eternal companion (spouse).

In order to attend the temple, a member must be temple worthy, and hold a current temple recommend. Here is an excerpt from that gives an idea of what it entails to be temple worthy:
"The following are some of the topics your priesthood leaders will ask you about:
1. Your testimony of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.
2. Whether you sustain the President of The Church.
3. Whether you live the law of chastity, pay tithing, are honest with others, and keep the Word of Wisdom.
4. Whether you strive to attend church, keep the covenants you have made, and keep your life in harmony with the commandments of the gospel."
I'd like to further breakdown some of those temple worthiness questions. Here are The Church's definitions:
  • Testimony: "A testimony is a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost. The foundation of a testimony is the knowledge that Heavenly Father lives and loves His children; that Jesus Christ lives, that He is the Son of God, and that He carried out the infinite Atonement; that Joseph Smith is the prophet of God who was called to restore the gospel; that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Savior's true Church on the earth; and that The Church is led by a living prophet today. With this foundation, a testimony grows to include all principles of the gospel."
  • Sustain the President of The Church: "We sustain the President of The Church as prophet, seer, and revelator—the only person on the earth who receives revelation to guide the entire Church. We also sustain the counselors in the First Presidency and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators."
  • Chastity: "Chastity is sexual purity. Those who are chaste are morally clean in their thoughts, words, and actions. Chastity means not having any sexual relations before marriage. It also means complete fidelity to husband or wife during marriage."
  • Paying tithing: "To tithe is to freely give one-tenth of one's income annually to the Lord through His Church." Also, "The Bible indicates that God’s people followed the law of tithing anciently; through modern prophets, God restored this law once again to bless His children. To fulfill this commandment, Church members give one-tenth of their income to the Lord through His Church. These funds are used to build up The Church and further the work of the Lord throughout the world."
  • Honesty: "To be honest means to be sincere, truthful, and without deceit at all times."
  • Keeping the Word of Wisdom: "The Word of Wisdom is a law of health revealed by the Lord for the physical and spiritual benefit of His children...the Lord revealed which foods are good for us to eat and which substances are not good for the human body. He also promised health, protection, knowledge, and wisdom to those who obey the Word of Wisdom." *To delve further into the Word of Wisdom, I highly recommend clicking on the link. :)
  • Interestingly, I couldn't find a link about the requirements of attending church for existing members! I guess it goes back to the question that says, "strive to attend church." :) That said, I found "what to expect" when attending church as a visitor. Thus, I'll share what my family does: we go to church every Sunday for three hours, and attend all of our meetings while there.
  • Covenants: "A covenant is a sacred agreement between God and a person or group of people. God sets specific conditions, and He promises to bless us as we obey those conditions. When we choose not to keep covenants, we cannot receive the blessings, and in some instances we suffer a penalty as a consequence of our disobedience."
  • The Ten Commandments: "The Ten Commandments are eternal gospel principles that are necessary for our exaltation. The Lord revealed them to Moses in ancient times (see Exodus 20:1–17), and they are also referenced in whole or in part in other books of scripture (see Matthew 19:18–19; Romans 13:9; Mosiah 12:33–36; 13:13–24; D&C 42:18–29; 59:5–13; 63:61–62). The Ten Commandments are a vital part of the gospel. Obedience to these commandments paves the way for obedience to other gospel principles."
Yes, striving 24-7 to follow all of those above-listed items most definitely requires obedience to our Heavenly Father's wishes. Being obedient to what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints teaches absolutely takes strength!

No, people of the internet world, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are most definitely not weak. We are not sheeple in the derogatory way you present. We most definitely can and do think for ourselves! We are intelligent, thoughtful, careful, prayerful, and oh-so-deliberate in our choices! Improving ourselves by faithfully following the gospel of Jesus Christ (as presented by the Church) is a lifelong marathon endeavor that will make each of us better than we ever could have been without the teachings of The Church.

I wish all of The Church's skeptics would sincerely try to follow the teachings of The Church—to the very best of their ability. For I truly believe that anyone who honestly strives to follow all of the teachings of my church will be amazed and stunned at the miracles that occur because of his/her efforts. Then they will know just how strong active members of The Church really are! :)

Even though some people think their individuality will be smothered if they join The Church, quite the opposite happens. I think people who choose to follow The Church's teachings will be surprised at just how much they begin to stand out. I've never felt more special—more of an individual—than when I'm spiritually connected to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, through the Holy Ghost. Knowing I'm a daughter of God gives me a feeling of joy that can't be described. Knowing our Savior's atonement was performed for me, and all of Heavenly Father's children, is an unbelievably freeing feeling!

Malachi 3:10 tells us, "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." Furthermore, D&C 82:10 says, "I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise." Because Greg and I have followed the advice in those scriptures our entire marriage, we have witnessed many miracles in our lives!

Lastly, I must point out that our Savior is the ultimate example of obedience and strength. Jesus Christ said in John 5:30, "...I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." Jesus was constantly doing the will of our Heavenly Father. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He again gave up his own desires to do the will of our Father in Heaven. Luke 22:42 says, "...Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done."

*I find it highly interesting that immediately after our Savior chose to be obedient to our Heavenly Father, an angel was sent to strengthen Him even further! Luke 22:43 informs us, "...there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him." What a great example those scriptures are for us! Jesus Christ chose to be strong and obey our Heavenly Father, and he was strengthened because of His righteous efforts. Seriously, wow. :)

Well, my time for blogging tonight has run out. Regardless of what anyone else chooses to do, I will happily follow our Savior's example for the rest of my life and into eternity!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Children Don't Wait

I looked at my blog last night and realized I haven't posted anything in over five weeks, which has to be some kind of non-posting record for me! That doesn't mean that I don't have anything to write about. I literally have pages of ideas in my little blogging notebook. I also have several notes on my smart phone's note app. My mind is constantly swirling with things I'm just "dying" to write about on my happy little blog! I've just been busy volunteering at my children's school, vacationing, spending time with my little family, and doing many household chores. The end of school and start of summer is a very busy time for me. :)

Even though I have this intense desire to write on my blog until my fingers ache, I've consciously chosen to spend my time mainly on/with my little family, and I feel like I'm making the right decision. A few days ago, I was talking with my amazing mom and we got on the topic of motherhood. (Surprise surprise!) She told me a delightful little story that helped solidify my aforementioned feelings.

One day, when I was about 10 years old, my mom was busy doing many important tasks. We (my mom and I) had recently bought a sew-it-yourself doll. (I loved dolls so much when I was little! I still love dolls, but don't display them like I used to.) I asked my mom, over and over, when she was going to start sewing the doll for me? My mom kept saying, "Not now, I'm busy." (Or something like that.)

She ended up talking to her mom on the phone that day, and mentioned her frustration at my consistent pestering because she had so many other things she needed to accomplish. That's when her mom said, "Shari, children don't wait." My lovely grandma continued to explain her thoughts about the great importance of children, how quickly they grow up, that my mom should take the time to sew my doll, and then she could complete her other tasks. My mom said she learned a very valuable lesson that day—one that she's never forgotten!

The interesting thing is, I absolutely remember watching my mom stay up late that night, sewing my doll's dress. Her actions meant the world to me! But I never knew the story behind her selfless service.

I am utterly grateful for my grandma's words—not only because they benefited me when I was young, but because I totally relate to them now as a mother of my own three sweet children! I think my grandma's words can benefit any caregiver of children. Plus, I have always felt a special connection to my grandma, and this is just one more example of how we agree with each other. Yes, we are most definitely on the same wavelength when it comes to spending our time on mothering our precious children. :)

While I could endlessly gush about my grandma and all of her amazing, wonderful, and inspiring qualities, I'm going to follow her example and go spend time with my children. :) But before I go (I know, I'm such a chatterbox!), I want to share my typographic design of my grandmother's words. I had such a delightful time creating it! I tried to get a 50s feel going with the font, border, and colors, for my grandma was in the prime of her mothering in the 1950s. I feel so happy knowing that my grandmother's wise words will (hopefully) be shared with many people!