Friday, December 24, 2010

A story

 (Here's a story, for those of you who are just checking blogs today... now I'll get back to work.)

Christmas Shoes

It was only five days before Christmas. The spirit of the season hadn't yet caught up with
me, even though cars packed the parking lot of our Houston area Target Shopping
Center. Inside the store, it was worse. Shopping carts and last minute shoppers jammed
the aisles. Why did I come today? I wondered. My feet ached almost as much as my head.
My list contained names of several people who claimed they wanted nothing but I knew
their feelings would be hurt if I didn't buy them anything. Buying for someone who had
everything and deploring the high cost of items, I considered gift-buying anything but
fun. Hurriedly, I filled my shopping cart with last minute items and proceeded to the long
checkout lines. I picked the shortest but it looked as if it would mean at least a 20 minute
wait. In front of me were two small children - a boy of about 10 and a younger girl about
5. The boy wore a ragged coat. Enormously large, tattered tennis shoes jutted far out in
front of his much too short jeans. He clutched several crumpled dollar bills in his grimy
hands. The girl's clothing resembled her brother's. Her head was a matted mass of curly
hair. Reminders of an evening meal showed on her small face. She carried a beautiful
pair of shiny, gold house slippers. As the Christmas music sounded in the store's stereo
system, the girl hummed along off-key but happily. When we finally approached the
checkout register, the girl carefully placed the shoes on the counter. She treated them as
though they were a treasure. The clerk rang up the bill. "That will be $6.09," she said.
The boy laid his crumpled dollars atop the stand while he searched his pockets. He finally
came up with $3.12. "I guess we will have to put them back, " he bravely said. "We will
come back some other time, maybe tomorrow." With that statement, a soft sob broke from
the little girl. "But Jesus would have loved these shoes, " she cried. "Well, we'll go home
and work some more. Don't cry. We'll come back," he said.
Quickly, I handed $3.00 to the cashier. These children had waited in line for a long time.
And, after all, it was Christmas. Suddenly a pair of arms came around me and a small
voice said, "Thank you Sir." "What did you mean when you said Jesus would like the
shoes?" I asked. The small boy answered, "Our mommy is sick and going to heaven.
Daddy said she might go before Christmas to be with Jesus." The girl spoke, "My Sunday
school teacher said the streets in heaven are shiny gold, just like these shoes. Won't
mommy be beautiful walking on those streets to match these shoes?" My eyes flooded as I
looked into her tear-streaked face. "Yes" I answered, "I am sure she will." Silently I
thanked God for using these children to remind me of the true spirit of giving. Christmas
is not about the amount of money paid, nor the amount of gifts purchased, nor trying to
impress friends and relatives. Christmas is about the love in your heart to share with
those as Jesus Christ has shared with each of us. Christmas is about the Birth of Jesus
whom God sent to show the world how much he really loves us. Please show this love as
we think of the upcoming season.
-Author Unknown

I'm dreaming of...

... a relaxing, peaceful, care-free, happy Christmas, where I can just sit back and enjoy.  Yep.  Just dreaming.  Anyone else have a manger scene that looks like this?  This is about how I feel right now... I'm a little frazzled trying to get everything clean, wrapped, packed, baked, and ready for the big day tomorrow.  We're traveling tomorrow afternoon too, so that adds a whole new dimension to our Christmas this year.

I guess I should be grateful that the boys like to play with the nativity, and I see that Mary still has a good hold of baby Jesus!  :)  Everything will be great.  Now, back to work...

Thursday, December 23, 2010


I think he's pretty stinkin' cute.  He's a mini Alex.

We got to celebrate Owen's birthday with cousin Nicholas.  We went to a great play/pizza place for kids called Super Franks - for the most part, the boys were on the go too much to get any good pictures.  We had cake and ice cream afterwards.  Owen loves M&M's, so that's what his cake was, a giant half M&M and cupcakes - pretty simple.  It was nice to do a simple party after so many planned, themed friend parties in the past. 

San Francisco trip

 Alex had a business trip in San Francisco last week, so we decided to go with him.  It was the first time we've joined him and maybe the last?  I'm not sure Alex will want to take us with him again...   it wouldn't have been so bad if Nathan and Owen hadn't gotten sick (puking) the first 2 days.  Anyway, we planned on driving the scenic coastal highway on Monday to get there, but most of it was completely foggy.  And on the return trip on Saturday it was about the same.  Bummer.  But we did get a few peek throughs during the afternoon and a beautiful sunset.  We loved this little waterfall, and the other hike involved a tunnel so the boys were really excited to use their flashlights. 

 One of the evenings we ventured out into the city (our hotel was downtown and we weren't very comfortable walking around alot - for the most part, it seemed like the city just had a bad spirit about it).  Anyway, we ate at a place called Mel's Drive-in.  The boys loved eating their burger and fries out of a cardboard car and the balloons on the way out was also a hit.  We enjoyed the lights of the city and saw a huge Christmas tree in one of the stores. 

 Owen's birthday fell during the middle of the week, and on Alex's busiest day, so I took the boys out to the Aquarium of the Bay and Pier 39.  We even took the public transit to get to and from (yes, I'll take the "way to go" and "you're a supermom" for this... because it was so hard to do by myself).  But it was Owen's birthday, so we had to get out.  We ate at Hard Rock Cafe for lunch and ended up sharing the $12 nachos (have the burgers always been $22 at Hard Rock??  - wow.)  The boys had fun I think.

Here's a few other things from our trip (minus the one in the post to follow).  We wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge, but again it was foggy and rainy.  We stopped by the Oakland temple and saw the Christmas lights and nativity.  We made a quick stop to a lighthouse and a stop at the beach on the way home.  The beach wasn't planned, but became necessary after a little mishap driving.  As we were heading out of San Francisco, we were driving past some cars parked along the side.  All of a sudden, we whacked into something.  I thought for sure we had hit a pedestrian.  We immediately pulled over and discovered we had only hit an opening car door.  Just bad timing.  No one was hurt and there was no damage to the other vehicle.  The only damage was the driver side mirror, which shattered.  However, my mind had already told my body we had hit someone, so I went into a mild shock and started hyperventilating.  It took a while for me to calm down and start breathing right again.  Thus the stop at the beach.  The boys didn't mind playing around while I tried to recover. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

O Christmas tree

We actually did this last week, but I'm just getting around to posting about it.  The sugar cookies were fun and surprisingly easy.  I just happened to have different sizes of star cookie cutters - the trees are just stacks of stars placed in opposite directions.  I colored the dough green and then we put a little bit of frosting and sprinkles on the trees.  The boys also had fun putting up the Christmas tree and decorating it.  However... we shouldn't have put on the breakable balls.  Nathan found the OSU ball with Pistol Pete, one of our favorites.  Owen also liked that one.  He liked it so much that he pulled it off the tree and threw it.  It shattered all over the kitchen floor.  Luckily we had taken a picture of it at least...

Yesterday we also made cookies - sugardoodles, dipped in SALT...  oops (that was Alex's fault).  We made another batch and ate them as we listened to a (cheesy) CD of Christmas carols (thanks mom  :)), drinking hot chocolate, and trying to think of the angels singing the news of Christ's birth.  Maybe we'll find a little more reverent CD of carols... we had a lot of laughter.  I guess the angels brought good tidings and great JOY, so we accomplished the JOY part of the tradition.  I'm actually very grateful for the box of stuff my mom sent - a box of "stuff" with activities/lessons on having a Christ-centered Christmas.  It's based on the book A Christ-Centered Christmas by Emily Freeman, which has 7 traditions to bring us closer to Christ, using each figure of the nativity (Mary, Joseph, the angel, the shepherd, the wisemen, the lamb, and the Christ Child).  We did the angel yesterday evening.  The angel "embodies a heart that runneth over with the good tidings and great joy of the season.  The angel is a reminder that the anticipation of good things to come should fill our hearts with warmth overflowing."  It says we often feel this from Christmas carols and suggests filling our home or heart with carols of the season.  Maybe next time we should spread the joy by going caroling or singing the songs ourselves.  Or find a little bit more reverent CD.  :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

No girls allowed

I was looking through some past pictures of Nathan (it's his "superstar" week) and came across these ones.  We only had Nathan and Jared at the time.  This has so much more meaning now - Nathan has quite a club going, with NO GIRLS ALLOWED!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

We had a nice Thanksgiving with Ashley, Daniel, Jaden, and Hailey and with Daniel's sister Tina and family.  I only wish I had some pictures of Tina's family.  They were so nice to let us join them for Thanksgiving.  It was fun to see Jaden and Hailey again - I hadn't seen Hailey for a whole year (and that's a lot of growing at her age).  I couldn't get over how cute she is and kept snapping pictures.  Owen liked seeing another little person his size.  Nathan and Jared had a great time playing with Jaden.  We didn't do any special outings over the weekend - just went to the park and walked along the beach, but it was perfect for the boys.  Oh, by the way, we saw that huge dog on our walk along the beach.  I'm glad he was on the other side of the fence.

I did try the midnight Black Friday at Wal-Mart - my first and probably last Black Friday experience.  It took me 2.5 hours to get what I needed and 2 hours standing in line for the check-out.  Ridiculous.  I saved money, but I don't think it was worth it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

ready to get married...?

After church on Sunday, Jared announced that he wanted to marry his friend Marielle.  He was wearing these goggles and I just had to laugh (and grab the camera).  He's so random and goofy sometimes.  Besides his announcement, what was really funny was that he wanted the straps tighter.  Why? So he could keep water out of his ears! If you look closely, you'll notice the goggles make his ears bend down - that's what he thought they were for.  Anyway, I hope Marielle doesn't mind marrying a silly guy... I guess he's all goggly eyed over her.  :) 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

love the lord with all thine heart

Deuteronomy 6:5
"And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might."

If only we could fully keep this seemingly simple commandment.  I don't know how to love with ALL my heart, soul, and might, but I'll keep working at it.  To love with ALL that we have requires a deep commitment to keep all God's commandments and to have charity, the pure love of Christ.  

Monday, November 29, 2010

weak things become strong

Ether 12:27
"And if men come unto me, I will show unto them their weakness.  I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men who humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

This gives me so much hope because I have many weaknesses.  It's encouraging to know I can turn those into strengths if I have humility and faith.  I also think it's interesting that we may not realize what things are weak - only after we come unto the Lord are we able to identify some of those weaknesses.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

mountain of the Lord's house

Isaiah 2:2
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it."

Just as mountains are the highest reach of the earth towards heaven, so are temples in a spiritual sense.  We can get closer to God in these sacred temples than any other place.  I love the peace and beauty found in temples.  Alex and I try to go once a month to the temple to do special work for those who are deceased and also for our own learning.  The temple is a good place to go for answers and peace.  It's not a secret what we do, but it is sacred so we don't talk about all the things that go on in the temple.  Here's a good link if you want to know more about what goes on inside.  And here are some more:  entering the temple, blessings of the temple, and inside the temple (you can see what a sealing room looks like, where marriages take place.)   It's also neat to look at temples around the world.  Alex and I have been to a small number of them and hope to be able to go to as many as we can.  Here's the ones we've been to (Alex may have been to some others that I forgot - I know he's been to Provo, UT): 

Albuquerque, NM
Ciudad Juárez México
Dallas, TX   (my brother was married here)
Denver, CO  (we were married here)
Hamilton, New Zealand
Houston, TX  (sister Ashley was married here)
Los Angeles, CA
Melbourne, Australia
Memphis, TN
Mount Timpanogos, UT  (sister Alison was married here)
Nauvoo, IL
Oklahoma City, OK
Salt Lake, UT  (sealed to my parents here)
San Antonio, TX
San Diego, CA
St. George, UT  (sister Audrey was married here)
St. Louis, MO
Sydney, Australia

 Here's the one we added to the list just this weekend.  We were able to go to the San Diego Temple -  I love it!  It's so beautiful.  I think this may be one of my very favorites so far.  

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

This isn't a great picture, but I took this as we were driving home last night.  It was kind-of pretty seeing the ribbon of white and red lights, but not fun to drive in.  And it was raining.  And the boys were restless.  We're still trying to recover from our Thanksgiving travels...   more posts later.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

let your light shine

Matthew 5:16
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

This is one of the first scriptures I've memorized in the past.  It helps me remember who I am and where the source of my light comes from - God.  We're His children, so we each have that light of Christ in us, a spark of divinity.  When we serve others, our light shines brighter and glorifies our Father in heaven.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

be wise

Jacob 6:12
"O be wise; what can I say more?"

Monday, November 22, 2010

seek not to counsel the Lord

Jacob 4:10
"Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand.  For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works."

This is good advice.  How many times do we try to tell the Lord what our will is and counsel Him?  I've heard it said that if you want to make the Lord laugh, tell him your plans.  He knows what's best for us, and so we should strive to seek His will in all things.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Good Shepherd

John 10:14-16
"I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.  As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.  And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: and them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd."

The Good Shepherd is another one of the names for Jesus Christ.  I love to think about listening and following the voice of the Good Shepherd.  We talked about shepherds in Sunday School - in Ezekiel chapter 34 the Lord is speaking about the shepherds of Israel.  Besides following the Good Shepherd, we each have to be shepherds as well, to help those around us and gather lost sheep.  In the lesson today, the teacher made a chart that showed the difference between shepherds and sheep herders (she would be glad to know I took notes...).  It looked something like this: 

                                                        shepherds                                            sheep herders             

walk with sheep                                     leads                                                   behind (drives)          

relationship with sheep                   knows by name, loves                    may or may not know - just a job

response to danger                      will give his life for protection           will flee or run in self preservation

It's interesting to think about how Jesus is the Good Shepherd - he leads us, knows us, loves us, and gave his life for us.  Ezekiel 34:11-16 talks about some of the things he does - he searches for, delivers, gathers, feeds, strengthens, binds up what is broken.  We have to do the same thing for those around us, to be shepherds and not sheep herders. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

bread of life

John 6:35
"And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life:  he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." 

I love this scripture, which mentions one of the roles of Jesus.  He was called many things - the Good Shepherd, the Prince of Peace, Lamb of God, Redeemer, etc.  The bread of life is easy to understand because we know how important bread and water are to our physical bodies.  Just as we're sustained through bread and water, Jesus is what sustains us spiritually.  Tomorrow is Sunday and I'm grateful for the opportunity to take the sacrament.  Hopefully I'll remember this scripture as I'm taking the bread and water, symbolic of spiritual renewal of covenants.  In this scripture, I also like the words cometh and believeth.  Why couldn't he just say he that believeth on me shall never hunger or thirst?  Or use just the word cometh?  I think both words are significant - cometh requires action and believeth implies faith.  Even if we just believe, we won't thirst, but it requires action and effort on our part to satisfy our spiritual hunger.  I think we could go with just water for a while, which is extremely important to survival, but eventually we need more to sustain us.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

open the windows of heaven

Malachi 3:10
"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me 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."

I've had this scripture run through my mind many times - I have no doubt that this principle is true, for I've seen the fruits of it in my own life.  As members of our church, we're asked to pay 10% of our income as tithing and also be generous in fast offerings.  At first, this may seem like a really hard task, but this scripture promises that when we keep the law of tithing, the windows of heaven will be opened and blessings poured upon us.  And while we may not realize what blessings (whether temporal or spiritual) that we're receiving as a result of paying tithing, we have the assurance that we will be blessed.  At times, it has been very obvious to us how the Lord provides for us.  I asked Alex if I could share one of his experiences with tithing (probably one of his very first experiences with tithing).  Alex is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  He joined when he was in college.  One of his early experiences with tithing was when he was getting ready to go on a mission for the church.  In preparation, he needed to get a suit, tie, and appropriate attire for what is expected of missionaries to wear while serving their mission.  Shortly before he was to go on his mission, he had a choice to make.  He still did not have a suit, but he also had not paid tithing yet.  He didn't know what to do - missionaries have to be dressed appropriately, but the thought came to him that if he was going to go out and teach the principle of tithing to others, he had better live that principle himself.  He decided to pay his tithing (using what he needed to buy a suit) and still wondering what he was going to do.  Well, it wasn't long after that (maybe even the next day), that he got a check in the mail as a refund from the Bursar's office (from the university).  AND it was the SAME amount that he had paid tithing and just what he needed to buy a suit.  A coincidence?  I don't think so.  I think that was the Lord's way of blessing Alex for paying his tithing.  The Lord says "prove me now herewith if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing." 

Sometimes it takes a little bit of faith, but we will be blessed when we put the Lord first.  Things just seem to work out when we pay our tithes and offerings.  Alex and I were also strengthened in our testimony of this principle early on in our marriage.  When you don't have much money and funds are tight it seems hard to give that 10%.  But we kept doing so, and every time we would be blessed in unexpected ways.  I don't know all the blessings that have come as a result of paying tithing, but I can acknowledge that the windows of heaven have been opened.  I look at my husband, our 4 boys, the opportunities we've been given and the comforts of life, and I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for the blessings in my life ("...that there shall not be room enough to receive it").

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

hands and work

2 Chronicles 15:7
"Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak:  for your work shall be rewarded."

Recent discussion and thoughts on work prompted me to find a scripture about work.  I like this one because of the imagery of hands and the promise that our work will be rewarded.  When I think about work, I see hands.  I see my parents hands working: preparing meals, gardening, sewing, washing dishes, raking, feeding animals, folding clothes, cleaning, paying bills, cutting hair, wiping noses, changing diapers, helping with homework and science projects, fixing things, etc. etc.  So many things come to mind.  I'm trying to wear out my hands in the same way I saw my parents work and hoping that I'm teaching my children the value of work as well.  There's no place for weak hands around here.  When I look at my hands at the end of the day, I hope they are "stained" and calloused from hard work. 

The other thought that comes to mind is a song called "His Hands" that a friend (Giselle) used to sing so beautifully.  It talks about the Savior's hands.  Here's the lyrics: 

His hands
tools of creation
stronger than nations
power without end
and yet through them we find our truest friend
His hands
sermons of kindness
healing men's blindness
halting years of pain
children waiting to be held again

His hands would serve his whole life though
showing man what hands might do
giving, ever giving, endlessly
each day was filled with selflessness
and I'll not rest until I make up my hands what they could be
'til these hands become like those from galilee

His hands
lifting a leper
warming a beggar
calling back the dead
breaking bread, five thousand fed
His hands
hushing contention
pointing to heaven
ever free of sin
then bidding man to follow him

His hands would serve his whole life though
showing man what hands might do
giving, ever giving, endlessly
each day was filled with selflessness
and I'll not rest until I make up my hands what they could be
'til these hands become like those from galilee

His hands
clasped in agony
as he he lay pleading, bleeding in the garden
while just moments away
other hands betray him
out of greed, shameful greed
and then His hands
are trembling
straining to carry the beam that they'd be nailed to
as he stumbles through the streets
heading towards the hill on which he died
he would die
they take His hands, His mighty hands, those gentle hands
and then they pierce them, they pierce them
he lets them, because of love
from birth to death was selflessness
and clearly now I see him with His hands
calling to me
and though I'm not yet as I would be
he has shown me how I could be
I will make my hands like those from galilee

And a video:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

seek God first

Mathew 6:33
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

Simple but powerful message.  When we seek God first and do his will, then we are blessed.  It's worked for me. 

Monday, November 15, 2010


John 14:26-27
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

I often take for granted the gift of the Holy Ghost and the many ways this Comforter helps me.  Today a reminder popped into my head that I needed to pick up Nathan from school early today.  He has early release every day this week.  I don't think that was my own thoughts, but a little prompting to help a busy mom be where I needed to be.  I'm grateful for those simple promptings like that, but also for the more recognizable times when I feel peace and comfort. 

raspberry lemonade smoothies (with a touch of pineapple)

It doesn't get much better than this... I could live off of raspberry lemon smoothies (with ice cream, of course - no wimpy yogurt smoothies for this household).   The boys somehow got started on this "for freedom!" thing, so you'll see them raising their glasses "for freedom".  Silly boys.  It was quite a mess to clean up, but worth it, seeing their pure joy.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

O & W, part 3

O & W, part 2

O & W

keep the commandments = happiness

Mosiah 2:41
"And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God.  For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it."

It sounds so simple.  If we keep the commandments, we will be blessed.  If only we weren't selectively obedient to the commandments that appeal to us... 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

more buddies, more funny Jared

 Jared got this at church, and he loves to wear it.  He likes to play rough in it (kicks, chops, etc.).  Wonder if his teacher had that in mind with these "I can be honest" head bands...

Owen loves his brother - just can't wait until he can PLAY.   I love watching Owen interact with Weston, especially giving kisses on his hand.  I bet they'll be pretty ornery together.   


 These were our treats and craft this week.  They were supposed to write things they were thankful for on the feathers.  Jared wrote, "Bubby Tru" on 3 of the 6 feathers, which means his buddy Tru (Tru is one of Jared's friends).  I'm so happy that Jared has found a buddy - in OK, most of his friends were girls.  I think he's happy to have a friend his age that likes to play with toy guns and poke at spiders and build forts and all the things boys love to do.   

establish a house of God

Doctrine & Covenants 88:119
"Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God."

This is always on my mind, how to establish a house of order and of God.  I think of this as I'm cleaning, that I'm creating an environment where God wouldn't be ashamed to dwell.  Keeping it clean and orderly is a hard task that I fail at, but I also am trying to make it a house of faith and prayer.  I am thankful that my boys are learning to pray and that they pray for mama, da-da, and each one of us in their prayers.  I think the Lord has a special place in his heart for prayers of young children.

I also think that our "house" is ourselves.  We've heard the scripture about our bodies being temples.  I think we each are a "house," and that gives me perspective in trying to prepare myself, to make sure that I am praying and fasting, have faith, keep learning, and keep myself worthy of the glory I can achieve with God at the helm.  Being created in the image of God and as His children already makes us full of glory, but I think we can build on that and become far greater than we can even imagine.  While I may not have much control over the house that we live in, I take comfort in knowing that I have full control over what I do with myself.

Friday, November 12, 2010

charity never faileth

Moroni 7:45-47
"And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in inquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth.  Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail --
But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him."

"Charity never faileth" is the motto for Relief Society, the women's organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I love it.  Charity never fails, but sometimes we fail to have charity.  The phrases "is not easily provoked" and "suffereth long" and "endureth all things" especially speak to me as a mother.  It is really hard to stay calm when you're frustrated, but this scripture teaches us how we should be.  If we always have the pure love of Christ in our hearts, we will be kind and not let our feathers get ruffled easily.  Pure love works.  It never fails.

I also love the story that President Monson shared recently in his talk, "Charity Never Faileth."  He talked about not being critical and judgmental of others:

A young couple, Lisa and John, moved into a new neighborhood. One morning while they were eating breakfast, Lisa looked out the window and watched her next-door neighbor hanging out her wash. 

“That laundry’s not clean!” Lisa exclaimed. “Our neighbor doesn’t know how to get clothes clean!” 

John looked on but remained silent. 

Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, Lisa would make the same comments. 

A few weeks later Lisa was surprised to glance out her window and see a nice, clean wash hanging in her neighbor’s yard. She said to her husband, “Look, John—she’s finally learned how to wash correctly! I wonder how she did it.” 

John replied, “Well, dear, I have the answer for you. You’ll be interested to know that I got up early this morning and washed our windows!” 

Tonight I’d like to share with you a few thoughts concerning how we view each other. Are we looking through a window which needs cleaning? Are we making judgments when we don’t have all the facts? What do we see when we look at others? What judgments do we make about them?

I also like these thoughts he shared from Mother Teresa:

Mother Teresa, a Catholic nun who worked among the poor in India most of her life, spoke this profound truth: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” The Savior has admonished, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”  I ask: can we love one another, as the Savior has commanded, if we judge each other? And I answer—with Mother Teresa: no, we cannot.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

greater love

John 15:13
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

Thank you to all those who serve our country, who are willing to lay down their life for us and our freedom. I know that freedom has a price.

I am also thankful for Jesus Christ who laid down his life for each of us.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A season and a time

Ecclesiastes 3:1 
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."

Sometime I'd like to memorize the verses that follow, but not now...  :)    Actually I really like this verse, besides that I use it as an excuse sometimes.  It's a good reminder that things happen in the Lord's time and we should enjoy the seasons of life that we're in.  Sometimes I look back at seasons of my life or forward to future seasons and wish I were in a different season, but I am quickly reminded that I'm just where I should be.  Dirty diapers, dirty house, little hands coloring on the wall...hugs and kisses, smiles, and laughter.  It's all worth it and I'm loving this season of my life.

children are an heritage of the Lord

Psalms 127:3
"Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward."

I picked this scripture in honor of my sister's new baby today!  Dallin was born this afternoon (yesterday by the time I posted).  Lucky guy, to be born to such great parents.  This is the 7th grandson for my parents.  Sweet Hailey is their only grand daughter so far.  Grandsons 8 and 9 are also on their way, in January and March.

Monday, November 8, 2010

give thanks

Psalms 118:29
"O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good:  for his mercy endureth for ever."

Our topic for tonight's family night was giving thanks, so I wanted to look up a scripture on that.  I was amazed at how many times this scripture is found.  I think there is significance in the repetition of it, showing how important it is to give thanks.  This one was repeated in the same chapter, at the beginning and end.  I thought of that as the way our day should be - beginning and ending with thanks. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

be strong and of a good courage

Joshua 1:9
"Have not I commanded thee?  Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed:  for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."

This scripture was quoted recently in a talk on courageous parenting.  It takes courage to be a good parent!  I love this part of the talk:

"In these last days, what the world really needs is courageous parenting from mothers and fathers who are not afraid to speak up and take a stand.  Imagine for a moment that your daughter was sitting on the railroad tracks and you heard the train whistle blowing. Would you warn her to get off the tracks? Or would you hesitate, worried that she might think you were being overprotective? If she ignored your warning, would you quickly move her to a safe place? Of course you would! Your love for your daughter would override all other considerations. You would value her life more than her temporary goodwill.  Challenges and temptations are coming at our teenagers with the speed and power of a freight train. As we are reminded in the family proclamation, parents are responsible for the protection of their children.  That means spiritually as well as physically."

The talk was focused on being courageous in parenting teenagers, but it also takes courage to choose how we as parents spend our time with our little ones. I'm trying to be more aware of that and have the courage to sacrifice some of my daily tasks for spending time with my boys.  I like this from the talk as well:

"It takes courage to gather children from whatever they’re doing and kneel together as a family. It takes courage to turn off the television and the computer and to guide your family through the pages of the scriptures every day. It takes courage to turn down other invitations on Monday night so that you can reserve that evening for your family. It takes courage and willpower to avoid overscheduling so that your family can be home for dinner."

Be courageous!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

feast on the word of Christ

2 Nephi 31:20
"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.  Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father:  Ye shall have eternal life."

This scripture is one of my favorites and was in my reading today, so it was a perfect choice to memorize.  It just has so much meat in it - encouragement to press on, to have hope and love, and a promise that if we keep on trying and enduring, we'll have eternal life.  I love what "feast" brings to mind as well - especially since we have Thanksgiving coming.  I think sometimes I'm starving myself in my scripture studies, only eating a morsel here and there, when I should be getting "stuffed" with the words of Christ.  Go ahead, have another piece of (scripture) pie!  

Friday, November 5, 2010

yoke of Christ

 Matthew 11:28-30
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;  for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden in light."

Galatians 5:1
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."

I love these 2 scriptures, and especially the image of a yoke (picture Oxen yoked together).  I came across this in my further study of the word "yoke." 

A device put around the necks of animals or men to harness them together. The yoke of Christ is a symbol for discipleship, whereas the yoke of bondage is a symbol for oppression.

"A yoke is a device that allows two animals to fairly and comfortably share a burden that one alone would find difficult or impossible. It is still used in many parts of the world today where animals plow fields or pull wagons. 

Speaking of the Savior’s yoke, President Howard W. Hunter (1907–95), fourteenth President of the Church, said: “His yoke requires a great and earnest effort, but for those who truly are converted, the yoke is easy and the burden becomes light. …

“Obviously, the personal burdens of life vary from person to person, but every one of us has them. … To one and all, Christ said, in effect: As long as we all must bear some burden and shoulder some yoke, why not let it be mine? My promise to you is that my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

It's interesting that we don't get to choose whether or not we carry a yoke, but we can choose to be yoked with Christ or we can shoulder the burden of sin (on our own).  I also was thinking about how we could help others burdens be lighter - how it talked about the yoke of Christ being a symbol for discipleship.  The service we give to others is a way of being yoked with the Savior. 

I'm grateful today for a friend who helped my burden be lighter today.  She watched my kids so I could get some exercise.  It was very liberating getting some time to myself. 

to make you feel better...

...I'm posting these to show I'm very much a NORMAL mom.  While I may have some supermom moments, which I post about, the true behind-the-scenes every day life is not usually posted about.  In some ways I'm "so much cooler on-line" (that's for Alex and his country music kick!).  I've never been one to hide anything about me though, so here's what it usually looks like at our house (wish I could say this was not the typical status, but sadly that's one of the more challenging parts of motherhood - trying to keep the house clean.  It's amazing how quickly things can get out of hand. I promise it was clean 24 hours before I took these pictures). 

Readers, don't put me on a pedestal and don't make me post more pictures like these (keep checking in!).  As you can see by the last few pictures, Owen's latest thing is coloring on things.  The one on the pillow is a permanent marker...  ARGH!  Anyway, I better go clean something.  (See what you have to look forward to Aud and Al??)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

G is for guitar

 Today for joy school, we made box guitars.  I thought they turned out pretty cute and Jared had fun strumming around on it (while singing ABC's).  Bet it won't last long around here though... Owen is pretty rough on things, as you notice the car in his mouth in the video.  Presenting sweet J and his sidekick obnoxious O (the personalities are sooo evident here...):

we rejoice in Christ

2 Nephi 25:23, 26

"For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God;  for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do."

"And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."

I almost got it right.  It's interesting trying to write the scriptures down from memory, and I see how easy it would be to have a few words changed or punctuation changed.  I am grateful for those who kept records and "labored diligently to write", so that we would have them to study today.  And what they wrote about is a testament of Christ and how we can achieve salvation. 

This scripture comes to my mind every time I hear someone say that "Mormons" aren't Christians.   I think if they realized the actual name of our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, they wouldn't be so quick to judge.  But also if they knew this scripture, they would know that we talk, rejoice in, and preach of Christ.  But regardless of the opposition, I am thankful for the testimonies of Christ that we have in the scriptures.  I'm thankful for my own testimony that Jesus is our Savior and that His Atonement allows a remission of our sins. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I did my best TODAY

2 Timothy 4:7   "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." 

This scripture makes me think of running a race.  I can imagine being exhausted at the end of a race, but able to hold my head up high, and raise my fist with a sense of accomplishment.  "Yes!  I did it!"  We usually think of this as a future event, something that we'll say as we're standing before the Lord to be judged.  But as I was reading and thinking about it today, I realized that this is something we should strive to say at the end of every day.  I did my best TODAY.  I fought a good fight TODAY, I have finished my course TODAY, I have kept the faith TODAY.  The other thing that I noticed is that "I" is used 3 times in it - no one else can do it for you.   And I also noticed that it doesn't say the course, it says my course.  My course is different from anyone else and so I shouldn't compare myself with others.  My road may have been a little bit smoother today, whereas another's may have been an uphill climb.  And to keep the faith every day is no small task - either to be full of faith or to not do anything that would cause us to stray from the faith.  No small feat, but imagine the sense of power from within if we can truly say I was wholly dedicated today and did the very best I could. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Angels to bear you up

Doctrine Covenants 84:88  "And whoso receiveth you, there will I be also, for I will go before your face.  I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."

I had to load up all the boys this morning to take Nathan to school.  Two of them were in the double jogger and two walking.  As we were walking to school (well, actually running since we were late...), this scripture popped into my head and then I couldn't get it out of my mind.  I knew it was my scripture of the day.  I looked it up, wrote it down, and stuck it in my pocket so that I could look at it easily wherever I was during the day and memorize it.  (I thought it was interesting that I was literally carrying a scripture along with me today.) 

I think this scripture is so comforting, especially to moms of young kids.  I'm often asked, "How do you manage with FOUR kids?"  I just don't know sometimes, because it is hard.  We really must have angels to bear us up, maybe unseen, but probably more often by those good people around us.  I really have to have a good support system, through friends and family.  I'm thinking of a song called "Angels Among Us" - I really love the lyrics and think it applies well to the scripture today:

Angels Among Us lyrics
Songwriters: Hobbs, Becky; Goodman, Don;

I was walking home from school on a cold winter day
Took a shortcut through the woods, and I lost my way
It was getting late, and I was scared and alone
But then a kind old man took my hand and led me home
Mama couldn't see him, oh but he was standing there
And I knew in my heart, he was the answer to my prayers

Oh well I believe there are angels among us
Sent down to us from somewhere up above
They come to you and me in our darkest hours
To show us how to live, to teach us how to give
To guide us with the light of love

When life held troubled times, and had me down on my knees
There's always been someone to come along and comfort me
A kind word from a stranger, to lend a helping hand
A phone call from a friend, just to say I understand
And ain't it kind of funny at the dark end of the road
That someone lights the way with just a single ray of hope

Oh well I believe there are angels among us
Sent down to us from somewhere up above
They come to you and me in our darkest hours
To show us how to live, to teach us how to give
To guide us with the light of love

They wear so many faces, show up in the strangest places
To grace us with their mercy, in our time of need

Oh well I believe there are angels among us
Sent down to us from somewhere up above
They come to you and me in our darkest hours
To show us how to live, to teach us how to give
To guide us with the light of love
To guide us with the light of love

Caramel apples, elephants, and donkeys

I loved the idea of making caramel apples, but once they were done and we tried to bite into them... well, they weren't kid friendly at all.  In fact, I even had a hard time chewing them up.  They were yummy, but oh so hard on the teeth.  Probably got some cavities from those.  Luckily I made some chocolate covered pretzels with the leftover chocolate and the boys liked those.  Gotta remember to keep it simple.

Today, we did some crafty things for election day. The boys liked coloring their elephants and donkeys and making their stars.  We did a vote too - secret ballot, of course.  The vote was whether they liked the elephant or donkey better.  Jared and Nathan both picked the donkey and Owen picked the elephant.  If only my vote would have made a difference...   :)

Zoo fun

The boys have been doing well on their chores, so we rewarded them with an outing to the zoo.  They had some fun things set up for "boo at the zoo," although we didn't actually go to that (pricey).  The highlights from this trip were feeding the fish, watching the condors swoop from one perch to another, the rattlesnakes, and hay jumping.  We bought a membership to the zoo, which is nice because we don't feel like we have to see everything in one outing.  We just took our time, knowing we could just come back again another time and see something else.  My favorite is still the elephants. 

I was amazed at how long they stood and watched the condors - they are pretty neat creatures.  It was also fun to see them feed the fish - we didn't have any coins for the machine for the food, but the boys discovered that several had dropped on the ground near the machine.  They had a great time picking up pieces off the ground.  "Look!  I found another one..."  Guess we should carry 50 cents with us next time.

Loved watching Owen jump on the hay bales:

Last week's activities

We did a simple pumpkin craft, which the boys loved because they got to paint, cut, and glue.  We also made real pizzas - Nathan said, "Mama, these look like real pizza."  (Amanda, I finally used "Miss Annie's pizza" recipe's been a while).  We also made frozen yogurt treats - we were supposed to use vanilla yogurt, but only had peach.  Don't gag.  They weren't too bad... I wouldn't recommend combining peach and pumpkin, but the boys still loved them.