Maverick’s Birthday

Today is Maverick’s birthday! We had so much fun celebrating him. Andy and I ate lunch with him on Wednesday (and brought cupcakes for his class), he had his birthday party with ten of his friends in our home yesterday, and I made him homemade Oreos, “make your own sushi” dinner, and crepes for breakfast for him today. His grandparents spoiled him and his dad made up a new game for all of his new action figures. It’s basically D&D but with Star Wars figurines and he LOVES it.

His birthday party was CrAzY. He and his dad got light sabers for all the kids and they had a blast having light saber wars out on the lawn. They tried to start in the house, but I was imaging injuries and broken glass before we knew it, so I made the rule, no light saber fights inside… they listened of the most part… We only walked away from a couple of small “booboo’s” (Andy declared that’s the medical terminology for something that hurts but doesn’t need care or leave permanent damage). They also played the candy bar game, and I think everyone walked away with a treat they’d enjoy. They played a two minute game of carrying “death stars” (aka pingpong balls I drew on) on a spoon across the lawn… this game lasted way less time than it took me to draw on these balls, but they really enjoyed the light sabers so it was a successful party.

Make your own sushi is simply sushi rice, imitation crab, some sliced sausage link, cucumber sliced really thin, avocado, edamame, and a sauce of your choice rolled up into a seaweed wrap. It’s an easy and delicious dinner.

Using the Book of Mormon to teach our children the gospel

This is a talk I gave in church today

I am a planner. I think it may be one of my spiritual gifts, because this obsession started from a very young age. When I was 8 I remember telling someone (don’t remember who any more) that I was going to go to BYU, go on a mission, and then get married and be a mom. I may have even said I was going to be a teacher, because I had that goal, then lost it and then found it in my lap as I entered the workforce. While my “plan” didn’t stay as firm as it was when I was 8 and definitely took a few detours and redirection, inevitably, that is the path I found myself on. Then when I came home from my mission, planning was so much a part of my mindset I had a hard time NOT planning every detail. But every year I go back to my joy of planning. Though I don’t use a missionary planner any more, I still plan my year, months, weeks and days trying to accomplish as much as I can. One of our family goals was to read the Book of Mormon and complete it by the end of the year. 

About a week in, I was reading to Beverly and Harvey since the boys were at activities and I got the feeling that they weren’t getting anything from me trying to speed read the huge section I needed to in order to finish this book by the end of the year. So, I closed the book, opened my phone and sat them both on my lap and we watched the church’s video of Nephi getting the brass plates. Soon I found Beverly asking many questions about why Nephi had to kill Laban and why were the brass plates so important. She is only 6, so I kept it simple, but when the video ended I felt we had gotten so much more from that moment than trying to check a box off of my plans. I texted Andy and said, “hey… I’ve been thinking, maybe we shouldn’t focus on finishing the book of Mormon with the kids, but instead focus on the principles that are taught.” He replied, “I was thinking the same thing.” Since we both thought the same thing, I felt it was a gentle prod from the spirit.

The goal of my talk today is to help you come up with ideas for your family gospel study. When Nephi partook of the fruit of the tree of life the next thing on his mind was for others to partake of it also.

Family discussion begins with personal scripture study. My family and I were discussing Amy Wright’s talk, “Abide the day in Christ.” Sister Wright states, “My dear friends, we cannot share our oil, but we can share His light. Oil in our lamps will not only help us “abide the day” but can also be the means of illuminating the path that leads those we love to the Savior, who stands ready “with open arms to receive” them.24” When I read that, I was reminded that as we do our daily spiritual habits of connecting with our Savior and nourishing that relationship, then we can be that light for other people. We cannot, however, take care of others’ spiritual hygiene; we cannot study the scriptures for them, we cannot say their personal prayers. We can only nourish our own, but by taking care of our own light, we can be the example for others and inspire them to partake of it for themselves. In order to bring others to the tree of life, and guiding them to the iron rod, we too must be grasping and partaking or we both will be lost in the mists of darkness. For personal study, you need to find a method and a time that works for you. Holding on to the rod of iron and taking one step in front of the other isn’t a complicated process. It is when we trust that we can walk in the right direction without holding to the rod that we get mislead and lost. Don’t set outlandish, unachievable goals. Possibly. make it the start of your day, or if you like to wind down in bed with a book, make it the first book you read. If you create a space for it in your daily rituals, it will not only become easy to do scripture study, but it will feel lacking when you miss. I can’t dictate what personal scripture study looks like for you, but if you need ideas, please feel free to come and talk to me. I’ve done everything from listening to the scriptures, reading it on my phone, laying a spread of books across my table with notes, and more. It looks different depending on the stage of life you’re in. Be forgiving of yourself, but remember to make it a priority, because your soul needs to be fed as much as your body does.  

Putting one foot in front of the other reminds me of an experience I had when I was a young adult. My family and some members from my home ward decided to summit the middle Teton in Wyoming. When we began the trek they told us to slow down if we began to feel altitude sickness, drink lots of water, keep our ice pick tied to our wrist and anchored in the snow, and to follow the footsteps in front of us. An expert climber led the way, sinking footsteps in the deep snow for us to follow, ensuring that they would have solid footing and wouldn’t get lost. After making it to base camp, we stopped and camped for the night. We knew that staying overnight at the base of the peak would give our bodies more time to acclimate to the altitude and we’d have less victims to altitude sickness. We all held on to a rope that was tied to the person in front of us and followed the footsteps one by one. We hiked up over one of the peaks leading to the summit and stopped for a break. We pulled out water, jolly ranchers to help get some quick energy and then we were getting ready to continue on when my younger sister, twelve at the time, decided she needed to pee. I don’t know if you’ve ever been on the top of a mountain, but there aren’t any restrooms up there, so we’d usually try to find a boulder or a tree and hide behind it while taking care of business. At this point there weren’t any trees and if there were any boulders they were covered by the white blanket of freshly fallen snow. My sister did not want to pee in front of everyone, so she trekked off on her own, her ice pick in her hand, doing her best to find her own footing in the deep snow. When she felt she was a ways enough off and found the biggest curve in the mountain she could to try and hide, she began to take off her gloves so she could figure out the buttons on her snow pants. She forgot to anchor in and she wasn’t in sure footing, so the second she shifted her weight, but luckily before she pulled her pants down, she began to slide. The second part of our group was just coming over the ridge that we had just hiked as my sister slid towards them. Most of us watched this happen, our hands to our face, knowing that if we went for her, we too would slide down the mountain with her. The leader in the second group anchored his icepick in the ice and leapt forward catching my sister just before she went over the other side of the mountain, which happened to be a fifty foot drop. I felt cold tears sting my face, knowing he had just saved my sister’s life. So, how does this relate to the gospel? This may sound like a dramatic comparison, but I assure you that it is not. Our souls are constantly attacked by the great and spacious building, which Elder Packer declared is now within our homes. He described the television and the influence media has on us, but now we carry it in our very hands. We have to be so careful with what we choose to consume. My sister let go of the rope that tied her to those who were in secure footing. The leaders of our church are those who pave the path. They do the hard work of packing the snow with each footstep, ensuring those who follow them will be safe. If we hold to the rope that they offer us and follow their footsteps, we can be lead towards our savior on a spiritually safe path. 

My sister went off on her own, thinking she could make her way back without a problem. Often we think we know how to make our own solid footing. We think we know the gospel and nothing can sway our testimonies, but if we leave the sure path, we too can get lost. 

My sister took off her protective gloves and didn’t put in her anchor. The commandments are like that anchor and protection. If we follow them, we can be sure we will not slide into the dangerous filthy waters of damnation that were described in Nephi’s vision. Damnation isn’t the fire and brimstone that we are sometimes led to believe, but rather it may feel like a fire when you feel the frustration of not progressing, that you spiritual progress is literally being dammed or lose what you’ve gained. 

Fortunately for my sister, she had someone else who was firmly anchored able to reach her and pull her back to the safety of the group. I hope we can be that person for others, but we cannot be that person unless we know we are firmly anchored and holding to the rod, or in this case a rope. 

Stopping at the basecamp and then again whenever someone was feeling altitude sickness, I am reminded of the importance of going at your own pace. What one person is able to do may not be possible for you. We need to set goals and move forward, recognizing our own weaknesses and strengths. However, sometimes the people in our lives are also holding to our rope. We need to be patient with them as they get their footing and make their own progress and not try to drag them along.

Making that climb, especially after that experience was terrifying. I remember crawling on to the very top of the mountain, it was a slab of rock about 10 by 4 feet wide. We all sat close to each other enjoying the view and feeling the accomplishment of making it to the top, but we all knew that sliding back down the mountain was still possible if we didn’t follow the guide’s rules. Even after we partake of the fruit of the gospel and taste of its sweetness, we can still be misled, we can still fall or slide back. It has to be a constant, diligent effort of pushing forth. 

We know that salvation is an individual matter, but exaltation is a family matter. As we practice these principles on our own, we will begin to incorporate these spiritual atomic habits in our home for the spiritual safety of our whole family. While the individuals in our family have their agency to let go of the rope and maybe even their icepick, they know that their family unit will be there, holding the rope and anchored in when they decide that the path already paved is the safer route. Having a loving and secure home will hopefully prevent them from straying, but if not, it will be a safe haven for them to return to. Once you begin to feel the blessings of living the gospel, the desire to share it with your loved ones and friends grows.

As a former teacher, I learned that students have particular methods for learning best. Some get the most from a lesson through tactile instruction, others oral (for example sharing their testimony), some auditory (hearing somebody else’s testimony). Some kids learn best by role playing or moving around. Some need to draw it out or visualize it. As their parent, you are the best person to know how to best reach your child. 

Heavenly Father is OUR parent, and a perfect one at that, so we can trust he knows the best way to teach US!

2 Nephi 31:3 For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto THEIR understanding.” The spirit speaks to us in the way that WE will understand. Heavenly Father is just that– our father, he knows us better than you know your own kids. He knows how to reach us. Come follow me offers many variations and methods for learning gospel principles.

At the end of the weekly discussions in Come Follow Me there is a bit about how to teach children. In this week’s lesson the first part recommends having the children draw pictures of the tree of life. This would be a great method for our visual and kinesthetic learners.

The next part is a video. A wonderful resource for visual and auditory learners.

The next section has you walking the kids around with a stick to teach them to hold to the rod. This is a wonderful section for tactile/kinesthetic learners as well as auditory and visual learners.

Do you have a child who likes to talk a lot? I bet they are oral learners. The next part has the children reading the scriptures and describing what they saw as well as sharing times when they’ve felt the love of God. Because I have four children and there are 7 nights a week, we usually get through each of these sections. It allows each child with their unique way of learning  have an opportunity to grasp that week’s gospel principles. We have left these five to 10 minute meetings with kids hanging upside down as they listen to tears being shed because they felt the spirit. These kids are a lot more capable of building their own testimonies than we may realize, but the important thing to remember is that we, as their parents need to create situations where they can feel the spirit and you can guide them to recognize that is what they are feeling.

I know that as we take the time to teach our children to their understanding that we can foster a home that can become as a safe haven from the great and spacious building and the mists of darkness.

A weekly summary

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