Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Thankful for Fathers

I have thinking so much about fathers recently, and how vital and important they truly are. Not long after Brian and I started dating we had a conversation about what we were hoping for in a spouse. For whatever reason, I couldn't really put my thoughts into words. All I could say is, "I want to marry someone like my dad." Brian had never met my dad and he asked what I meant. I explained myself with two simple requirements; someone who loves his family and loves the Lord. 

I was blessed to grow up with a wonderful father, a dad who always reminded us that he loved us. He taught me how to ride a bike, to swim and to love math. I will forever remember a day in junior high when I came home and aksed him what calculus was. We pulled out the markerboard and he showed me. He took the time, even though I didn't understand much of it. A few years later, on my first day of calculus I sat in class as the teacher drew the same diagrams my dad had years before, and I understood. 

My dad supported me in everything I did. He sat through countless gymnastics meets and watched me cheer at endless ball games. He even came to math meets to help my team in between rounds. He couldn't be at every single thing, but when he couldn't be there he found ways of letting me know that he was thinking of me. And now he is a grandpa. Despite living thousands of miles away he is an important part of my kids' lives. They love to share exciting things with him. He loves to take time and play games with them when he is here. And he is still never shy about letting them know that he loves them.

Most importantly, my dad showed me what it meant to be a righteous holder of the Priesthood. I watched him serve faithfully in various callings. I watched him as he left to go home teaching. I watched him support my mom as she served in various callings. He and my mom led us in family scripture study, family home evening and family prayer. He gave blessings when school was starting, when we were sick, or even when we just needed one. I remember watching as he taught my brother to consecrate oil. He has been a part of each of our children's baby blessings and baptisms. We feel privileged that he could be there each time.

It was easy for me to see what was important to him. He showed me as he served God and served his family. 

As I have thought about all of these things this week I have realized that in all of these ways, and more, my dad was helping me understand not only his love for me, but also my Heavenly Father's love for me. Knowing that I was a special daughter of my earthly father helped me to better understand my relationship with my Father in Heaven.

My baptism day, April 16, 1988

With the statue of famous mathematician Simon Stevin, Bruges, Belgium - May 1999

Dancing at my wedding reception, August 2000

Our kids with Grandma and Grandpa Call in Salt Lake - June 2012

When Brian and I decided to get married I knew that he loved me (and that he would love the children that would join our family) and I knew that he loved God and had a desire to serve Him. It was easy for me to see that. Over the years I have seen more and more how much like my dad he really is. They share a similar sense of humor and are both fun to be with. But more importantly I see the ways that he helps his family understand their divine origins, and their divine potential. He feels such love for his family, and makes sure they know it. He works so very hard to provide for the temporal needs in our family. And in word and deed he is leading our children to Jesus Christ.

 "HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations. . . .

By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners."

I am so grateful for these two wonderful men in my life and for all they have done, and continue to do for me!

Friday, May 23, 2014

I must not become complacent

I have had a couple of experiences lately that have taught me the importance of always being on my guard. The first was a very physical experience, the second was more spiritual.

Our family was at an event recently where treats were being served. A few years ago if I knew there would be food I would make sure Michael had his allergy kit on his back before we even left the house. But, he hasn't had any allergy trouble for years, and I have gotten out of the habit a bit. I did throw the epipen in my bag, though it is funny because Benadryl has really been our first course of action the three times he has needed something. I didn't bother to search for it though. The event ended and the kids got in line for treats. A few minutes later Michael came to us. He had thrown up on his clothes. He said that he had eaten a couple of cookies. My niece threw up the first time she ate peanut butter before they knew she was allergic, so I thought that might be what was going on. Brian headed home with him to get him cleaned up. By the time they got home Michael's lip had swollen quite a bit. Brian gave him some Benadryl. We got home a bit later and Michael was feeling miserable, but wasn't having any toruble breathing. I thought we were in the clear. Just as we were getting the kids into bed Michael threw up again. He was also sneezing, coughing and his nose started to bleed. He still was breathing just fine, but we thought a trip to Instacare would be a good idea. He was so groggy on the way there. I was so worried that something was really wrong. I tried to keep him talking (if I had remembered that Benadryl makes him really drowsy, I probably wouldn't have been quite as anxious.) He mumbled off a list of as many states as he could remember. That made me feel a bit better. Before we actually checked him into the instacare we talked with a nurse to see if there was anything they could do or if we would really need to go to the ER. She checked his oxygen saturation and asked about symptoms. We told her all that had happened. She asked if he had hives. We said no. She went to talk with the doctor. By the time she got back to the room Michael had hives all over his arms, legs and back. She turned right back around to pass this info along ot the doctor. We talked with him for a minute and he said that we should check Michael in, but that he still couldn't promise that we wouldn't need to go to the ER. After another little wait we met with the doctor again. He checked breathing and listened to Mike's lungs and heart and stomach. He let us know what we could do to help the hives. Poor Mike was so tired! The doctor asked him to cough at one point and Mike mumbled, "I don't feel like it." He just wanted to sleep. The doctor sent us home, telling us to check on Mike every two hours throughout the night. Michael was asleep before we left the parking lot. I was so grateful that a friend came and helped give Michael a priesthood blessing. What a comfort that was! The night was still hard. There was more throw up, and it was just hard to sleep, knowing we had to check on him. Oh, how grateful I was to see him pop off his pillow this morning saying, "Mom, I feel so much better!"

The second experience happened tonight. The kids had received a new movie. They watched it while Brian and I went to the temple. After we got home and they were in bed we thought we would watch it. (we both remember seeing some of it when we were young, but didn't remember much.) We watched for a few minutes and then some things happened and some things were said that we were uncomfortable with. We certianly hadn't expected those things, but we turned it off right away. But on my mind was the fact that the kids had seen the entire thing. We will talk with them tomorrow and in the future will do all we can to be more educated about the movies we bring into our home. It is so important that we are ultra careful about what we watch and see and listen to. Those are things that are hard to forget.

I have felt some "mom guilt" because of these two isntances. In both cases I feel like I should have done more to protect my kids. I wish I could turn back time and do it all over, and do it better, do it right.

And as I type this I realize that I need to get over the guilt. I need to know that I can't redo what has already been done, but I can do better. I am grateful that each day we can do better than the day before. And I am grateful that these reminders came to me now, in ways that are relatively minor.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Armor of God Dodge Ball

The Beehive class (Young Women, 12 and 13 years old) in our ward were in charge of the weekly evening mutual activity Wednesday night. It was for all young women AND young men ages 12-18. I always get a little nervous when I am responsible for this combined activity. Coming up with an idea is always the hardest for me. Well in March I woke up one Sunday morning after having a dream. In the dream I had been at a youth activity, and as I got out of bed I thought, "That could work!" It evolved over the last couple of months, but I consider last night a success. 

Here's how we did it.

I created a matching game. I used these images from lds.org to create the special matches. I found other similar images (free coloring pages online) of other activities like hiking, fishing, dancing, TV, computer, homework, mp3 player etc. and created similar cards for them. In total there were fifteen matches. 

We assigned each youth a number from 1-6 and each group was given a set of the matching game. (Our groups had four to six youth in them, and that seemed to work out well.) They mixed things up, spread them out and played the game just like any other matching game (though we did cut out the rule of getting another turn if you got a match. Play just moved from one person to the next.)

When all of the groups were finished we gathered everyone together to hand out armor. They called the people forward that had earned one of the special matches above, gave them the "armor" and explained what benefit it would have in the upcoming dodge ball game. One person in each group earned each piece of armor. Youth could earn more than one piece of armor (if they got more than one of the six important matches), and many youth didn't earn any pieces of the armor. 

Helmet of Salvation (bandana, tied around head) - If the dodge ball hit them in the head they would not be eliminated from the game.

Breastplate of Righteousness (t shirt) - You can get hit in the torso without being eliminated from the game.

Sword of the Spirit (Plastic bat) - Gives you two hits before you are out. Turn in bat after 1st hit, then leave game after 2nd.

Shield of Truth (Cookie sheets) - If the ball hits the cookie sheet, you are not out

Loins girt with truth  (long strip of cloth tied like a sash around waist) - Protects from your waist to your knees

Feet shod with preparation of the gospel of peace (bandana tied around ankle) - Protects BOTH legs from the knees down (shins, ankles and feet)

This items were simple to gather and were essentially free. And they worked well during the actual dodge ball games. We put three groups onto each side of the gym and they formed the two teams for dodge ball.

The adults were referees as the youth played dodge ball. It was played like a normal game, though we didn't use the rule about catching a ball that was thrown is a way to eliminate someone on the other side. It was fun to see how the youth benefited from the "armor" they had earned. It was also nice that not everyone had armor. It provided good contrast and helped in teaching the lesson we were hoping to teach.

After the dodge ball game had gone on for a while, most people were out. We stopped the game and gathered around for a moment to talk about what we had done/learned. Here are the questions we used and some scriptures and quotations that we found applied.

 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

How did the armor affect our dodge ball game?

What would our game have been like if everyone had all of the armor?

How can the Armor of God help us each day?

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

What can we do to put on the whole armor of God?

Staying on the gospel path of covenants, commandments, and ordinances protects us and prepares us to do God’s work in this world. When we obey the Word of Wisdom, our agency is protected from addictions to substances like alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. As we pay our tithing, study the scriptures, receive baptism and confirmation, live for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, partake of the sacrament worthily, obey the law of chastity, prepare for and receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, and make sacred covenants in the temple, then we are prepared to serve.

Brothers and sisters, because I know from my own experiences, and those of my husband, I must testify of the blessings of daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening. These are the very practices that help take away stress, give direction to our lives, and add protection to our homes. Then, if pornography or other challenges do strike our families, we can petition the Lord for help and expect great guidance from the Spirit, knowing that we have done what our Father has asked us to do.

I think the youth had a great time. It was sure fun to watch them play, and to have there be some important meaning behind the activity too. I was struck (again) by how the best ways to protect ourselves and our families from the evil influences of the world are not new things, but rather the small and simple things we are taught to do from the time we are very young. Sometimes we might disregrad pryaer or scritpure study because it may not seem to make much difference at the moment, but by daily participating in these habits of personal righteousness we are strengthening our armor little by little. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Thank you, Mom!

Tomorrow is Mothers' Day. I have been thinking about how grateful I am to be a mom and having the opportunity to raise some of Heavenly Father's precious children here in my home. I have felt blessed as I watch them grow and progress, make good decisions, and choose to do thigns that are right and good. I feel very lucky.

I have thought about my sisters, sisters-in-law and friends who are mothering at the same time I am. We are all different. We have different strengths, different weaknesses, different ideas, different needs, different habits and different schedules, but we all have the same goal. And we all feel indescribably love for our children.

I have thought about one sister in particular. She has blessed the lives of children (mine included) for many years, but this year is special, because she has welcomed a special child into her home, into her heart. Their start wasn't easy, but I can see much good that has come from the bumpy beginning. She is an amazing mother!

I think of my mother-in-law, my grandmas, aunts and friends. Many women have touched my life and the lives of the children.

And I think of my mother. Having children was never an easy process for my mom. I am truly amazed at all she sacrificed to bring me and my siblings into the world. Even more importantly though, is all that she did to help me become who I am. She created a home where I wanted to be, a place where we could learn, grow, explore our talents and overcome mistakes.

I remember one night long ago. I was probably ten years old. My bedroom was downstairs from most of the house. I couldn't sleep and I snuck up the first flight of stairs. I could sit out of sight and listen to what my mom and dad were doing. (Now that I am a mom I realize their post-bedtime attempts to get laundry and other such things finished before they headed to bed themselves.) But then, my mom spotted me. I expected to be in trouble. After all, I should have been asleep for quite a while. I remember getting teary eyed, and saying I was hungry. My mom took me into the kitchen and sat me in her spot at the table. I curled my legs under me as I sat. And mom made me toast, with apple cider jelly. Maybe my mom felt some exasperation at my "night owl" tendancies, but it certainly didn't show. I went back to bed with a full belly and warm heart.

I don't know why this particular time has been on my mind yesterday. Maybe it is a reminder of how I should be when my own little night owl stumbles down the hall. And it is certainly a lesson of how the little things a mom does can make a huge impression.

When I feel sentimental I like to play with pictures. I love to look at old pictures. This year I have made some colalges that I am proud of. I also like to make videos. Here is one I made this weekend. It includes many of my favorite pictures. It is a way of watching my kids grow up.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Saturday was a special day

Megan's baptism day on Satuday was so special. She has been looking forward to this for a very long tome and her excitement bubbled out of her every time we talked about baptism, or baptism in general. Even reading the word "baptism" made her shiver with joy and excitement. And Saturday was the big day! It was a special day for me as a mom too, because Megan invited all of her siblings to participate in her baptism service by praying, speaking and singing a special musical number. It was a perfect "last" baptism for our family.

Does she look excited or what!

Events like this often make me feel a little sentimental, and this was no different. I went back and looked at pictures from our other baptism days. Here are pictures from each baptism. These pictures of the four siblings were all taken in the same spot of the church building. I love seeing how the kids have grown.

April 11, 2009
 July 10, 2010
 June 2, 2012
 May 3, 2014

It was so wonderful to see MEgan so excited to take this first step along the path back to her Heavenly Father, and it is wonderful to see all of the good these kids are doing as they continue to learn and progress. WE have some very exciting years ahead of us.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Megan's family home evening lesson

Megan is so excited that she is now eight, and she can't wait to be baptized and receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost (less than three weeks!). She has already started working on the Faith in God requirements. On Monday she taught our Family Home Evening lesson. It was about the Holy Ghost. She had a white lunch sack and a flash light. She shined the flashlight into the bag and told us how having the Holy Ghost with us helps us feel light. She assigned scriptures to each member of the family and had them read it, then tell us what it taught us about the role of the Holy Ghost.

John 14:26 (comforts uas and teaches us)
2 Nephi 32:5 (tells us what we should do)
Mosiah 5:2 (changes our hearts)
Mornoi 8:26 (fills us with love and hope)
Doctrine and Covenants 20:27 (testifies of Christ)
Moroni 10:5 (tells us what is true)

She closed with a simple and sweet testimony. "I know the Holy Ghost is real. I know that He can comfort us when we are sad or scared. I know he can help us know what is right."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Timeless wisdom from my boys

I wrote these notes down to myself. These are things that Michael said in late summer or early fall of 2012.

He was working on an experience for Faith in God. He read a favorite scripture story and then had to talk aboutwhat it taught him about faith. He read about Helaman's 2000 stripling warriors. When I asked him what he learned about faith from this story he said, "When you have faith in Jesus Christ he can help you do hard things."

Then he pulled out the illustrated scripture book to read the chapter of this same story. He read the caption under each picture to himself, then we talked more about the 2000 young warriors, "mom, this is what you do." Then he read about how they did not fear because their mothers had taught them to believe in Christ. I thought to myself "Michael, This is what I try to do."

I don't remember how this next thought came about, but I think we were talking as I cooked dinner one day. We were probably talking about the song "The Wise Man and the Foolish Man. (I think he was learning to play it on the piano.) I don't remember his exact wording, but this is what he said, "Building the house on the rock reminds me of the 'rock of our Redeemer'. I think it is like repenting and keeping the commandments and having faith in Jesus."

Nathan shared the following experience in Primary in March 2013. In Primary every week they give the kids opportunities to share when they have felt Heavenly Father's love. Yesterday (March 3) Nathan shared how he had piano festival and how he was nervous about a song because he hadn't been playing it very long and how he didn't think he could do very well at all. He told the primary how he prayed and prayed and how he felt he played well and that he scored a 37 "which is a really good score." He said that he was so grateful that Heavenly Father helped him. Candy (his piano teacher) just teared up as she told me about it. (She was serving as the primary music leader at the time.)