Smile – Even When You Are Alone

I remember a time in middle school when my mom drove me to school. We were both a bit groggy in the morning and things were quiet until my mom randomly  murmured, “Huh,” under her breath.

Then the silence resumed.

Naturally her muttering caught my attention and I asked what her remark was about. She explained that we just passed a woman she knew. Mom felt like this woman was insanely cheerful and over the top happy. She confessed to me that she had long since concluded that this woman was a phony: no one could really be THAT happy ALL the time. But, much to my mom’s surprise, that woman had just driven past us, alone in her car, still in her pajamas (probably dropping off her own middle school student,) and she was SMILING. After the initial surprise of seeing this woman looking happy when she was apparently alone and had no one to put on her pretense for, my mom sheepishly admitted, “Maybe she really IS that happy.”

Somehow my mom’s observation always stuck with me. I determined then and there to be a person who was authentic and genuine. I want people to know and believe that I am a person who chooses to find the happiness in life. I want that joy to be real. And so I practice – a lot. When I am alone and I catch myself without a smile, I quickly turn that frown upside down.

Sometimes I really am smiling off a moment of sadness. My husband has caught me in this state more than once. Apparently those smiles come out looking strange and contorted because he will look at me with concern and ask, “Are you OK?”

“Yes, I’m just smiling!” I think to myself feeling slightly put out. And to him I nod an assurance that I’m fine.

Quite honestly I have long since stopped worrying about who might see me or what their impression might be when they do. But I learned years ago that I am happier because I smile – even when I’m alone. In those moments I know that the smile is completely for me, and it feels good.

This morning I read an article that gave great insight on things we can do to increase the happiness in our lives. All of these things have brought me greater happiness at one point or another in my life. Most of these are things that I still have lots of room to improve on. But this list seemed valuable enough that I wanted to share it:

Ten things that supremely happy people do:

1.       Happy people surround themselves with other happy people. Joy is contagious. People are four times more likely to be happy in the future with happy people around them.

2.       Happy people try to be happy. When happy people don’t feel happy, they cultivate a happy thought and smile about it.

3.       Happy people spend money more on others than they spend on themselves. Givers experience what scientists call the “helper’s high.”

4.       Happy people have deep in-person conversations. Sitting down to talk about what makes a person tick is a good practice for feeling good about life.

5.       Happy people use laughter as a medicine. A good old-fashioned chuckle releases lots of good neurotransmitters. A study showed that children on average laugh 300 times a day versus adults who laugh 15 times a day.

6.       Happy people use the power of music. Researchers found that music can match the anxiety-reducing effects of massage therapy.

7.       Happy people exercise and eat a healthful diet. Eating a poor diet can contribute to depression.

8.       Happy people take the time to unplug and go outside. Uninterrupted screen time brings on depression and anxiety.

9.       Happy people get enough sleep. When people run low on sleep, they are prone to feel a lack of clarity, bad moods, and poor judgment.

10.   Happy people are spiritual.

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Jumping Into Week 2

We survived the first week of home school. Actually, that isn’t the right way to say it at all. We ROCKED the first week of home school. Not in the, “I accomplished every goal I had,” sort of way, but in the, “there was a tangible difference in my home,” sort of way. A part of me is still trying to decide if the change I felt was a product of home school itself, or simply a blessing of obedience to the prompting we had to home school. But I found myself surprised at the unexpected nuances that changed in our home this past week and the peace that this choice has already brought to our family. I am so grateful for personal revelation.

I am excited to improve some things for next week. Last week we had Peter take off on his math. Ammon spent the bulk of his time reading. The subjects I feel went well last week are: math, reading, spelling, grammar (this is the most iffy on the list) and science. Geography was OK. Social studies didn’t happen much and needs some help. Writing is in desperate need of attention. We did great at adding a morning family prayer to our routine – something we have never really done in the past, but need to work on incorporating an actual scripture study and follow through with a religious course. I also want to add music into the equation but I think I’m going to wait at least one more week to tackle that one.

I checked out some books at the library that I am excited about. I had seen them floating around and hadn’t paid much attention. After bringing them home and looking through them, however, I decided to buy my own copies for each boy in his respective grade. The title is something along the lines of Everything Your ___ Grader Needs to Know. I am especially excited because it gives me some specific stories, poems, and sayings to review with the boys which I think adds a great depth to their educational experience here at home. It also gives me a starting place with social studies, geography, fine arts etc. All in all, it just seems like a great supplemental source that helps me feel like I am more complete in my goals.

Another thing I decided this past week was to try to take things slow. Some of the materials I have looked through have left me thinking, “We can get through that in no time!” But one of the things Ammon studied this week was Bernoulli’s Principle. We were fairly thorough in listening to lectures via YouTube, reading about it from a variety of sources, watching online experiments and conducting experiments of our own. We did all that in one day and the next morning Ammon was able to give a really nice explanation about what Bernoulli’s Principle is. Three days later, however, he wasn’t so sure. It made me realize that repetition and additional time on topics is what will really help them sink in more deeply.

My goals for this week are:

  • Keep math and spelling on pace – they are doing great do I just need to keep the momentum
  • Supplement grammar with additional language arts lessons from my new books
  • Do daily family scripture study
  • Have the boys each learn a new poem – this will be writing and memorization for the week
  • Do at least two days of science, two days of social studies and one day of geography

Wish me luck!  🙂

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Making the Home School Decision

June, 2014

Last year I had some friends start homeschooling.  I respected that choice, but it wasn’t anything that I had any desire or intention to implement in my own family. At that point I was just finishing up my Bachelor’s degree and hadn’t yet discovered I was pregnant. Rather than increasing my involvement in my children’s education by home school, I was excited to get to the point where both of my kids were both in school all day and I could easily take an active role in volunteering in their school and classrooms. I always assumed that even if I wanted to home school (which I decidedly had no interest in doing) it would not be an option because it just wouldn’t work with Peter’s personality which thrives on being socially active.

 
So that was the education plan: get more involved in knowing what the kids are learning by volunteering in their classroom.
 
Then I found out I was pregnant.
Then we moved to Alaska.
Then I had a brand new baby.
 
I have never been so happy in my life to see my kids walk out the door every morning and not come back until 3:35 in the afternoon.
 
Every Friday I praised Alaska for NOT having short days.
 
I’ve been very content with public school and although having a baby altered my focus a little bit and made volunteering in the boys classroom return to the back burner, I had no complaints about their school.
 
The teachers gave me the impression that the boys were both quite ahead of their peers.  But they were also making accommodations for that.  Their school uses an online curriculum as supplemental material.  Ammon had finished the 4th grade material so the principal went ahead and loaded 5th and 6th grade work to his profile.  Peter is way ahead in reading but his teacher meets with him privately three times a week to instruct him on his level.  He has seen TREMENDOUS growth in reading this year and I really attribute it to the efforts of his teacher as much as anything. I am really appreciative of all the extra efforts the teachers and administration are making to keep my boys learning.
 
Every once in a while I would have this random thought about home school that would just pop into my head.  It was easy to ignore – until it wasn’t.
 
On what seemed to be an unrelated note, I have been trying to figure out how to help my boys learn to play the piano.  I’d also like to see them involved in more extra curricular activities (sports) but honestly scouts and church leaves our evenings feeling full and hectic enough.  Even with the functions that our involvement in those two things entail, I feel like trying to fit in a regular FHE schedule, scripture study etc is really hard on us.  We are great about having family dinner pretty much every night, but Andrew doesn’t get off work until 6:15 so we generally aren’t eating until 6:30 at the earliest.  Sometimes we aren’t eating until 7:00.  On good days we get homework and things done in the afternoon, but sometimes the boys come home and I feel like they just need some downtime.  But then we run out of time after dinner.  And hey, we haven’t even mentioned taking on chores and other responsibilities.  So to add extracurricular activities into our life just sounds overwhelming and impossible. I think a lot of families are able to make a routine that works and accommodates a lot more than what I have been able to feel comfortable with. But every family is different and for a variety of reasons, our family just needs to have a lot of built in down time.
 
I can’t lay out the exact timeline because everything happened at once.  Over general conference weekend I prayed that I would find some answers about how to accomplish some of our family goals.  I may have even been that Sunday night, or soon after, that I said to Andrew, “Just so you know, I think we *might* end up *looking into* home school *someday*.  I just keep having this thought about it.  But it isn’t anything I want to do right now and I’m not really that interested in it.  I just wanted you to know that it is a consistent impression I’ve been receiving and I think it will come up in our future.” And to myself I added, “Like, the DISTANT future… maybe for our grand kids or something…” because really, this is something I never had any desire or intention to pursue.
 
A few days later I was watching Peter work on his homework.  He gets a math worksheet to do every day after school and it takes him about 5 1/2 seconds to complete.  As I looked closer I realized that it is pretty much the exact same math he was doing at the beginning of the year.  Like I said before, his teacher has spoken to me about the fact that he gets math taught “to his level” from their computerized curriculum, and she has apologized for the fact that his homework is so remedial to him.  But for some reason, she is still required to have him do it.  Well, he had this super remedial homework and then next to him was Ammon coasting through math that was way more interesting.  It caught Peter’s attention and so the next thing I knew, Ammon was teaching Peter how to do Ammon’s math.  Peter totally got it, and for Ammon, the most interesting part of the entire exercise was explaining it to Peter because the math itself wasn’t at all challenging to him.
 
Then came the light bulb.  My boys are learning at school.  But they are also wasting a TON of time.  Basically the “on level” education they are getting is just from time when they are separated away from their classmates.  On the other hand, I am feeling like I need MORE time that I can structure and use in ways that will be better for my family.
 
From what I have been told over and over and over again, people doing home school typically spend 2-3 hours a day doing a set curriculum.  In the past having school be “only” 2-3 hours a day sounded AWFUL.  I could just imagine my children spending 10 hours a day watching TV and playing computer games. But if I can establish some routines with how that time is used, I feel like we can be better educated both academically and .spiritually not to mention be more involved with extra curricular activities and be MORE socially active.  All of this WITHOUT over stressing and over scheduling the family.
 
Andrew came home that day and said, “So what was that you were saying about home school?”  I told him that I had been feeling prompted about it but that I wasn’t really interested in doing it, but that I had just realized some really great reasons why we really might want to consider it “in a few years”.  But after I told him some of the thoughts that I had been having and the realizations I was making we were both really excited about the whole situation and decided to consider it for next year.
 
There are some other reasons why we think it will be nice for us:
 
1 – In the winter I can let the kids play when the sun is up and do school when the sun is down.  Last year they were going to school at sunrise and coming home at sunset.
2 – If/when we move, they won’t have to change “schools”.
3 – We will be more free to travel out of Alaska in the winter and stay in Alaska to enjoy the summers.
4 – I found out later that the state of Alaska will reimburse school expenses to home schooling families.  This includes paying for piano lessons, sporting activities etc.  They have calculated how much money they spend on kids in the public school system and consider that money to be there for the student.  If the child isn’t using it in the public school system, they can use it for home school.
5 – We can adapt curriculum to meet the individual needs of my kids – speeding up when they understand something and slowing down when they want to dig deeper or need more time to understand.
 
Anyway, that’s kind of how it all played out.  I’m excited but nervous about it. Fortunately I have two boys are ENJOY learning so I don’t feel like I’ll have to torture them or be tortured by trying to teach them.  And hopefully we can just create a better schedule and family discipline in general.
 
August, 2014
 
WHAT AM I THINKING??? I am sooooo ready to send my kids back to school. This homeschooling idea is ridiculous. Why am I CHOOSING to torture myself. Is this going to be the worst thing ever? Why do I feel so prompted to do this? It’s a good thing I feel pretty confident in my ability to receive revelation these days because this seems CRAZY. I do not want to do this. I do NOT want to do this. This is like bullet to the head stupid.
 
September 1, 2014
 
Today was our first day doing home school. My kids have no idea that “regular” school doesn’t actually start until tomorrow. I wanted to take advantage of the fact that it was Labor Day and Andrew was home to help juggle the three kids while trying to create some level of structure for academic achievement.
 
We didn’t do any typical back to school shopping. No new clothes, no new backpacks. In fact, my laundry is more out of control than it has been in a long time (and that’s saying something). There is practically nothing clean in the house. Late last night I decided we’d better do something to make it special. We DID do a FHE about learned. During church yesterday I decided that we should have a family theme for the year. I chose 2 Nephi 9:29 “But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the teachings of God.” I decided that we should still do our traditional “back to school” pictures even though they seemed a little silly without the backpacks and new outfits. And just to make a new tradition specific to home school, I decided that we would surprise the boys with donuts. Our back to school picture this year is the boys sitting on the couch with a pile of books. Peter is in pajamas and Ammon is wearing dirty pants. But they were excited about school and we had donuts.
 
I really wasn’t ready for school, and a lot of our day was figuring it out as we went a long. We have a math curriculum (teaching textbooks) that the boys are really enjoying. During our FHE I had them set a goal for what they wanted to accomplish in math this week. They basically assigned themselves three lessons a day. I think that they each exceeded that goal today. I have a spelling curriculum that I am already in love with. I did it with Peter early in the day. He only had three words on his list today and he got them all right so we went ahead to the next list. He only missed one on that list. Ammon kept putting it off, but eventually got it done in the afternoon with Andrew. He had five words on his list and passed them all off. Unlike Peter, he didn’t want to be an overachiever and go on to the next list. He was content to just do what he was supposed to do and call it good. They both did some geography work. Ammon did some formal worksheets and Peter and I memorized the Pacific states and the Mountain states. Peter did art work, Ammon did reading. They both did science but it was just a make-shift assignment because I haven’t actually ordered the science curriculum we plan to use. They both did some sort of PE. Ammon and I walked to the grocery store and took the long way home. Peter did some jump roping and running around in the yard. I did grammar with Ammon but I don’t think Peter did his. I am excited about social studies which is US History, but we never got to that today. I want to get the boys going with piano lessons, but I don’t have a keyboard yet and haven’t flushed out my piano lesson plan but Ammon did do some practice with reading notes on an app I have.
 
I don’t feel like any of this is worth it if we are doing ONLY academics and not improving our spiritual fitness as a family. In our combined 5th Sunday meeting yesterday we talked specifically about family prayer and even more specifically about MORNING family prayer. We have pretty much never done morning family prayer, so we are turning over a new leaf with that one. And as much as FHE would be better on Monday night, at least we had it this week even if it was yesterday instead. Technically we didn’t do our family scripture study today, but I do have a New Testament curriculum that we will be working on and Andrew and the boys started it this afternoon, so scriptures were a part of our day although not as much as desired.
 
The day was busy, fun and ultimately EXHAUSTING. But I LOVED having my boys home and having the chance to cheer them on, praise them, be with them, and be involved in their lives the way I was today. I expect that we will have our struggles among our successes, but today I can honestly say that I am happy that we made the choice to home school.
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Morning Thoughts

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I wake up feeling unusually refreshed and satisfied with my night’s sleep.  The window is open and the cooling autumn breeze fills my room.  Summer is winding down and I feel energized thinking of the pending season.  In this moment, my world is perfect.

Ammon, who is usually my child most likely to sleep in, has set his alarm for 7:00.  It’s after seven now and he is up, waiting patiently for Andrew, who is making a quick trip to the store for the instant oatmeal Ammon is hoping to eat for breakfast.  Later I discover what is keeping him so contentedly quiet:  he has found my phone and is uploading a new game he is interested in.  This seems typical of Ammon.  He is a slow-moving, meandering morning person like me.

I hear the pattering of Peter running up the stairs.  He urgently yells, “Ammon, what time is it?”

“7:26,” comes the response.

A moment later I hear the shower turn on.  Ammon may have been the first one awake this morning, but it is Peter who doesn’t waste any time in getting ready for his day.  His approach to a new day is much more like his dad.  They both like to get up and get going.

I hear Ammon knocking on the bathroom door.  He is in a devious mood and though only moments have passed he announces to Peter that it is now 8:00.

Knowing that they have somewhere to be at 8:00, Peter gasps and urgently responds, “Quick, wake Dad up!”  Peter’s need to stay on schedule shines through and I can sense his change in demeanor as he rushes to finish his shower even faster now than he normally would.  The interaction between my boys brings a smile to my face.

The garage door opens, and a few moments later, Peter and Andrew are in my room, showing off the football shirt that Peter is wearing.  They both feel proud that they found the perfect attire to wear to cousin Michael’s pre-season football game.

I hear breakfast being easily prepared in the microwave, and the daily scuffle of looking for lost shoes.  As I lay there, blissfully free from pain, I am ready to conquer the day.  I consider the idea of joining them at the football game, but daydream instead of going to the park for a walk.  The weather is my ideal.  I can’t imagine a more perfect way to spend the morning.

I think of my sister-in-law running her first half-marathon in Logan today.  What a perfect morning it is!  And her mom is right there running it with her.  I send them each a text offering my well wishes as I jealously imagine the beauties of Logan canyon on this very fall-feeling morning.  The leaves probably haven’t turned quite yet, but I picture them in the beautiful reds, yellows and oranges that represent the change in season.

I’m amazed that I have been awake this long without feeling the baby kick on my bladder.  We have known for six days now that our suspicions were true – this is our first daughter.  It still seems surreal sometimes, but the anticipation of her arrival is growing.  My stomach is getting bigger and I feel her moving every day.  Last night as Andrew and I laid in bed, he rested his hand on my stomach and she kicked back at him several times.  He still can’t feel her movement, but they are each aware of the other and I can’t help but think that  the bond between father and daughter is already developing.

My family says goodbye, and I listen to them head off to the football game.  I marvel at what a wonderful man Andrew is.  He is such a patient, loving husband, a great father and a fun uncle, too.

In these moments, life feels so close to perfect.  I take a moment to soak it in before thoughts of tomorrow bring up the uncertainties and the potential losses of everything that seems stable and ideal.

But slowly those thoughts creep in and I begin to wonder what the future has in store.  For over a year we have desperately tried to navigate our financial distress.  For over a year, as we have prayerfully sought answers and direction, diligently striving to follow promptings we received, we have felt like everything will work out.  Multiple times I have looked into gaining employment.  Several times Andrew has looked into second job opportunities.  Countless resumes have been submitted seeking promotions.  To this point it still seems all for naught.

Now we find ourselves pursuing an opportunity that could improve our financial situation, but wouldn’t solve it.  It is a situation which would require us to leave our “perfect” home, neighborhood and life.  A job which would involve a lot of travel and therefore require that our family be separated frequently.

I soak in the perfectness of now even more, wondering how long it will last.  There is a part of me unwilling and un-wanting to let go of my comfortable, beautiful happy home while yet another part of me is determined to follow whatever path is shown us.

I am ready to leave my bed now, hoping against hope that I can seize the day.  Having just finished ten days of being either in bed or on the couch, I am ready to get out and enjoy the weather.  I get up without too much difficulty and stand upright.  This is definite improvement – similar to yesterday.  Then I feel the familiar painful twinge in my back as a hobble to the bathroom.

I head to the kitchen, each step reaffirming that today will have to be another day without much movement.  I quickly make myself some of the instant oatmeal that was left, and find myself in my familiar spot on the couch.  I look forward to starting physical therapy on Monday, optimistically hoping that with some consistent guided effort, my back will be stronger than ever and I will not only be able to successfully get through this pregnancy, but that I will have the strength to care for and carry my baby once she arrives.

I take my first bite of oatmeal and I wonder – are we about to embark on an adventure?  Will we be prompted to “take the road less traveled”?

Yesterday I felt like I was in the midst of the desperate, confusing, tangled up part of a beautiful story.  The story is a lovely romance and I am so lucky to be a part of it.  One way or another, I know our story has a happy ending: Eternity –  together and in love.

In the mean time, I just keep reminding myself that it is the twists and turns along the way that make our story even more interesting.

I think of the song called The Climb.  It took a lot of effort and climbing to get here.  It was hard and yes, in retrospect it was beautiful too.  We are approaching our twelve year wedding anniversary.  Life hasn’t come as quickly nor as easily as anticipated.  We purchased our first home just over a year ago.  It is a perfectly humble starter home.  We love it!  It has been wonderful to finally provide a sense of stability for our nine and six year old boys who are growing so quickly.  Poor Ammon has already attended three different elementary schools.   And though there were great experiences and wonderful lessons learned along the way, how I was looking forward to ending those transient days!

As I picture myself on a mountainous journey, “now” seems like an ideal, picture-perfect stopping place.  In my minds eye there is a lovely lake surrounded by gorgeous trees and wildflowers.  A perfectly quaint cottage provides shelter and comfort for my family as we are encircled by lovely images and everything we need.  I don’t want to accept that this isn’t the end of our journey.  We have arrived!

And yet, this perfect setting and backdrop to our life is starting to feel like more of a resting spot than a destination.  Time to journey on, up through the rough terrain.  There are more obstacles and difficulties to face along the way.  Stormy struggles are ahead.  I can’t really picture life in a more perfect setting than I have now, but somehow I know that if I am asked to take up this journey again, it is because there is something even greater out there – even if that “greater” thing is nothing more than the journey itself.  A part of me is pleading that the money will come and we can just sit easy where we are.  But… Come What May, and Love It.

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Protecting Our Homes – Teaching Yourself About the Gift of the Holy Ghost

Protecting Our Homes When I was fourteen years old, I received my patriarchal blessing.  Among other things, I was promised, “You will be able to feel the warmth of the companionship of the Holy Ghost.  You will have the capability to listen to the Voice of the Lord that comes through the Holy Spirit.”  These sounded like beautiful blessings, but quite honestly, they intimidated me.  I thought that upon receiving my patriarchal blessing I should suddenly have these abilities, and I quickly realized that I didn’t.  I didn’t understand that listening to the Holy Ghost was a life-long journey and a skill that needed to be developed line upon line.   Here are some of the things I have learned in the 21 years since I was given that blessing.

Heavenly Father knows your heart

As a young college student I felt like I had a really big decision to make regarding where I should live and attend school.  I prayed regularly but received no recognizable answer.  I asked for blessings, I read scriptures, and I fasted.  But no answer seemed to be forthcoming.  Eventually I began to question the existence of Heavenly Father.  I had been trying so hard to reach out to him and was getting nothing in response.  My prayers became really shaky and I began to ask the most fundamental of questions: “Are you really there?” Softly and quietly I began to feel confident that I was doing my part.  I felt that I was planting my “seed of faith”.  I explained to Heavenly Father that I was earnestly seeking His will, and that He knew my abilities and limitations in receiving and recognizing answers.  I continued to feel uncertain and unguided, but eventually I was able to settle on a course that I felt comfortable with.  Never in that process did I realize the Spirit was guiding me.  In retrospect the promptings of the Holy Ghost are unmistakable.

Pay attention in the temple

The most profound concept I was taught during my temple preparation course was that the feeling of the Spirit will ALWAYS be at the temple.  I was told that if I did nothing else during my first temple experience, I should pay attention to how I felt while I was there.  Being aware of the unfiltered, calm, peaceful feelings at the temple has helped me learn to recognize that same feeling even while I am in the midst of the distractions of life.

Practice fluency

One day I had taken my husbands car to run some errands.  He enjoys listening to audio books and had been listening to a compilation of works by Sherrie Dew.  I remember sitting in the shopping center parking lot, not willing to turn off the car as I listened to her words.  She taught that learning to listen to the Holy Ghost is like learning a foreign language.  And just as missionaries, who were once fluent in their mission language will get rusty without practice, so will we if we don’t consistently use our “language”.  The other principle she taught with this “foreign language” example was that we start simply with the most basic of phrases and sentences, but that over time our vocabulary can expand and our communication abilities will increase.  It is from her that I really began to understand that those words in my patriarchal blessing weren’t a sudden bestowal of an ability, but a promise that I would be able to develop and cultivate certain skills in regards to listening to the Holy Spirit.

Read and memorize scriptures

One of my favorite scripture verses is 2 Nephi 32:3 which states: “Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore they teach the words of Christ.  Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.” Connecting the ideas that angels speak the words of Christ and that we have access to READ the words of Christ in the scriptures was powerful to me.  As Sherrie Dew taught, reading the scriptures helps us become familiar with the Lord’s “vernacular”.  In other words, we begin to be very comfortable with language of our Savior and Heavenly Father when we read the scriptures.

I served my mission in the bible belt during a time where “new age” versions of the bible were coming out in abundance.  Perhaps that is why I have always been so impressed by the teaching of Elder Richard G. Scott, who said, “When scriptures are used as the Lord has caused them to be recorded, they have intrinsic power that is not communicated when paraphrased.”  This is why it is important to not only be familiar with the ideas in the scriptures, but to actually memorize key versus that are especially significant to you.

Reading and knowing the scriptures will help the “word’s of Christ” come quickly and readily to your mind as you seek answers from the Holy Ghost.

Act on the promptings you receive

Elder Scott has given many amazing and insightful talks on the topic of personal revelation.  One important principle he talked about is the need to follow through on the impressions we do receive.  Until we do our part with the answers we already have, there is no reason for Heavenly Father to give us more.  Elder Scott shares his own personal method of writing promptings down, praying about them, and meticulously following up between himself and Heavenly Father as he hones his understanding of the revelation he received, reports back to Heavenly Father in how he has followed the instruction, and a key aspect of this teaching was to always ask the question, “Is there more?”  

I can recall a time where I was desperately seeking an answer to a very important question.  I knew that my heart and mind were so fully entrenched in what I wanted the answers to be that I needed to know with a certainty that my answer came from God.  During the same time period, I had begun to notice a subtle prompting to reach out to a specific person.  The questions to which I was seeking a clear answer, and the prompting to act were two completely unrelated experiences.  Still, I finally got to a point where I could not ignore the prompting any longer, and I very uncomfortably and anxiously followed it.  That simple experience surprisingly led to the unfolding of my answer that DID come in a blatant way that was clearly accompanied by the Spirit.  When Heavenly Father speaks to us, it is important that we listen, and follow His instructions.  If we do, the blessings will follow.

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I hope this post helped grow your desire to teach yourself about the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  No matter how much you already “know the language” there is always more to learn and experience.  On the flip side, no matter how inadequate you feel like you are your ability to receive and recognize revelation, you are right where you need to be if you are earnestly seeking answers from our Heavenly Father.  He will guide you.

“Each of us must stay in condition to respond to inspiration and the promptings of the Holy Ghost. The Lord has a way of pouring pure intelligence into our minds to prompt us, to guide us, to teach us, and to warn us. Each son or daughter of God can know the things they need to know instantly. Learn to receive and act on inspiration and revelation.”

~President Boyd K. Packer

What has helped you as you strive to make the Holy Ghost your constant companion?

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Soldier Girls – Why I LOVE Visiting Teaching

“Every day, Relief Society sisters around the world experience the entire range of mortal challenges and experiences. Women and their families today live face to face with unrealized expectations; mental, physical, and spiritual illness; accidents; and death. Some sisters suffer loneliness and disappointment because they do not have families of their own, and others suffer from the consequences of poor choices made by family members. Some have experienced war or hunger or natural disasters, and others are learning about the strain of addictions, unemployment, or insufficient education and training. All of these difficulties have the potential to bleach the bones of faith and exhaust the strength of individuals and families. One of the Lord’s purposes in organizing the sisters into a discipleship was to provide relief that would lift them above “all that hinders the joy and progress of woman.” In every ward and branch, there is a Relief Society with sisters who can seek and receive revelation and counsel with priesthood leaders to strengthen each other and work on solutions that are applicable in their own homes and communities.”

~Sister Julie B. Beck

Life is hard. But we know that “men are that they might have joy”. As women we feel the heartaches of the world. But we fight, work, and trust. With the help of the Savior, we feel strengthened and are healed. We sometimes feel broken. But always, the Savior is there the lift us up. Often times, the way He has prepared to bring us peace, comfort, and that joy He has promised us is at the hand of another woman. We truly are soldier girls. Visiting Teaching is the Lord’s chosen program that brings us together to form an impenetrable army.

Who are some of the solider girls that have strengthened you through your challenges in life?

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Enjoying the Blessings of the Temple – Today

If you have not yet been to the temple, you can prepare to receive sacred temple ordinances by

  • Believing in Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.
  • Cultivating a testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the restored gospel.
  • Sustaining and following the living prophet.
  • Qualifying for a temple recommend by paying tithing, being morally clean, being honest, keeping the Word of Wisdom, and living in harmony with the teachings of the Church.
  • Giving time, talents, and means to help build the Lord’s kingdom.
  • Participating in family history work.

April 2013 Visiting Teaching Message

When I was a young adult I was anxious to receive a “real” temple recommend.  I had been taught of the great peace and joy that comes from serving in the temple, and I was ready for it.  I was determined to not take those blessings for granted, but to attend the temple routinely.  The temple was going to be a central part of my life – I would be awesome and enlightened.  I wouldn’t be like so many of the adults I knew who went to the temple only occasionally,  if ever.

I was naive.  I hadn’t yet experienced the difficulty of sitting through a session while I was eight months pregnant.  I hadn’t learned what it was like to try to sneak away for a few hours from a nursing baby.  I hadn’t realized that scheduling a babysitter is sometimes the easy part (which isn’t to say it is always easy)- but that paying for it can be the bigger struggle in those early years.  I hadn’t lived in the adult world with the exhausting responsibilities and discovered that sometimes, when you are exhausted from all the housework and childcare and your husband has been gone non-stop at work and school that maybe, just maybe, you might rather go to a movie for your rare night out.

Ignorant of these obstacles, I remember pondering my temple goals one day as I was walking along.  The sun was shining, but I was too busy coveting my perfect temple-attending future to notice what a beautiful day it was.  And then it dawned on me.  If I wasn’t living up to the fullness of my current blessings, what in the world made me believe that I would be different when I was older?  I needed to establish a habit.  If I wasn’t willing to go to the temple regularly as a single, fairly free from responsibility young adult, why did I think I would go later, when life became more demanding?

At that point I decided to pay more attention to where I was and allow the where I was going to naturally unfold.

“I do have a temple recommend,” I realized!  The recommend given to youth and new converts is called a “limited use” recommend.  My focus had been on the limited part of that term.  But I resolved that instead of being held back by what I didn’t have, I would live up to my privileges.  At that point I began to consistently attend the temple, and I was blessed.

When the time came for me to receive my endowment in the temple, the feelings in that sacred building were familiar to me.  I felt at home, even as I was experiencing new and unfamiliar things.

Now I am at a phase of life where I am anxiously waiting for my children to be old enough to attend the temple with me.  I have grand visions of taking my 12 year old son to the temple every week.  I picture family temple tours as we travel from temple to temple once both of my children are old enough for a recommend.

And then I pause.  I need to remind myself of that lesson I learned more than a decade ago.  What am I doing now, to live up to my privilege?  Am I going to the temple as frequently as I can?  Am I learning to do <groan> family history?  Am I teaching my children about why the temple is important to me, and showing them with my example as well as my words?

It is so easy to wish for different circumstances and dream about how perfectly we will invite the temple into our lives later.  But instead, let’s focus on the now.  Being realistic about your current situation in life, what is one thing you can do now to increase your commitment to the temple?

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