Sunday, September 30, 2012

General Relief Society Meeting September 2012

I got to watch the General Relief Society Meeting Saturday night, something I have not had the privilige of doing the last couple years. I was excited to meet the new presidency, and they are wonderful! They are so loving and sweet, so meek and mild, and very tenderhearted. I enjoyed and learned from each of their talks.

Linda K. Burton, President, talked about cheerfully keeping our covenants. She also shared an excellent analogy on self-worth another woman shared with her: a $20 bill, though it may be torn, dirty, worn out, wrinkled, and used, is still worth $20.

Carole M. Stephens, First Counselor, talked about being wide awake to our duties. She shared an experience she had on a pioneer trek she did with the youth. On a part of the journey called the women's pull, the women had to push the handcarts up a hill without the men's help. A young woman who had already pushed her cart up came back down and helped Sister Stephens and her companion with their cart. But when Sister Stephens got to the top, she was too tired to go back down and help the others because she had not prepared physically for the trek. She likened this to being spiritually prepared so that we have the spiritual strength to help others.

Linda S. Reeves, Second Counselor, talked about three principles of the Atonement. She said that if we have truly repented we, like Alma the Younger once he repented, will long to be with Heavenly Father instead of being horrified at the thought of being in His presence.

The congregational hymn, "I Stand All Amazed," got me choked up. I was doing fine until then!

President Eyring closed by talking about serving others efficiently. He noted that the Good Samaritan laid out a plan for the man to be helped when he could no longer assist him.

Overall it was a very touching, spiritual, and encouraging meeting that I am so blessed and happy I got to watch.

Sharing Time: What did you take away from their talks?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Follow the Savior's Example

Part 3 of my sacrament talk (read Part 1 and Part 2):

With so much responsibility to teach by good example, show love, and learn along with and from our children, it is important that we have good examples to follow. Heavenly Father gave us the best example: His Son, Jesus Christ. “What manner of men ought ye to be?” asked the Savior. “Even as I am” (3 Nephi 27:27). We will never fail by doing what He did.
Sometimes it is hard to emulate the Savior because He was so perfect, so he has given us other examples to follow: Christ-like Church leaders and family members. If we ever do not know how to act in a situation, we can watch and imitate them, and in turn be imitating Christ. Our children will also be inspired to follow good examples as they see us strive to do the same and see the happiness and peace it brings to our lives.

Being an example in our homes and following the example of our Redeemer fulfills His call for us to be a light unto the world and a standard unto the nations. Those around us will notice our positive family lives and be touched by our examples, which will plant gospel seeds in their hearts, allowing them to someday accept the gospel and change their families to positive influences as well. So by being an example of the believers to our children we are doing missionary work.

I then closed by bearing my testimony, reminding our ward to be examples of reverence to our children so we can accomplish our goal of being more reverent, and embarrassed my son's Nursery teacher by sharing how her example has touched me.
Sharing Time: Who are good examples in your life?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Teach Your Children through Love

Part 2 of my sacrament talk (read Part 1 and Part 3):

A good example by itself is not enough, however. It must be joined with love. An incident in President McKay’s life illustrates this point:
When one of [President McKay’s] sons, David Lawrence, was a young boy, he accompanied his father in a horse-drawn carriage. We forded a swollen river in a thunderstorm,” David Lawrence later recalled, and got caught between that river and a mountain torment. I thought the end of the world had come, and started to cry. Father held me on his lap in his arms all night until we were rescued in the morning. It’s hard to disobey a man who loves you and puts his arms around you.”
David Lawrence remembered that David O. and Emma Ray McKay made their expectations clear to their children and that they, as parents, were so self-disciplined that we were never confused by seeing them behave in a way different from the way we were supposed to behave. . . . Our parents’ expectations provided the path for us to follow, and our love for them provided an irresistible motivation for us to walk that path. We learned to love them because they first dearly loved each other and us.”
When we remember love, our teaching methods will improve and be more effective. We won’t be self-righteous about it or compare our children to ourselves or others. We will do as our children plea in the inspired words of “I Am a Child of God”:

Lead me, guide me, walk beside me.
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with Him someday.
We will move forward on the strait and narrow path with our children instead of dragging or pushing them along. Our journey back to Heavenly Father is a joint effort between parents and children. “Come, little child, and together we’ll learn” say the words in the second verse of “Teach Me to Walk in the Light.” When we learn with our children, showing love and being a good example, they will want to follow and obey us. They will feel our sincere care for them and desire for them to return to Heavenly Father, just as He cares for us and desires us to return. Because they feel such unconditional love from us, they will be more receptive to the Savior’s unconditional love.

Part of showing love and being good examples is putting aside our pride and admitting when are wrong. Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the bestselling marriage book The Five Love Languages, advised in his book The Five Love Languages of Children (I highly recommend you read it),
If you find that you fall back into old patterns of condemnation or negativism [or any other bad habit], tell your child that you are sorry, that you realize the words [or actions] are hurtful, and this is not how you feel about him. Ask him to forgive you. Tell him that you are trying to become a better parent and that you love him very deeply and want to communicate that love more effectively. In due time, you will be able to break the old habits and establish new patterns. The best reward of all is that you will see the effect on the face of your child, especially in his eyes, and you will feel it in your heart. And the chances are good that you will begin to receive words of affirmation [or any other good habit] from him; the more he feels loved by you, the more likely he is to reciprocate.

Confessing your mistakes and asking your children for forgiveness will encourage them to do the same to you and whomever else they have offended, including God. Dr. Chapman warns that if we do it too often, though, it loses meaning. Therefore, showing sincere repentance and improvement teaches our children by example how to sincerely repent and change their ways when they sin.

Teaching, No Greater Call confirms this point:
If you are in the wrong, you should apologize and ask for forgiveness. Your children can learn powerful lessons as they see your efforts to overcome your own weaknesses. Consider the following experience shared by a Church member:“I was about 10 years old when I did something that displeased my father. He was quite upset with me and decided to punish me. I was deeply hurt because I felt that he was disciplining me more than I deserved. I avoided him the rest of the day, and every time he tried to talk to me, I would turn away and run. The next day I was still upset at him, so I was surprised when he came into my room and told me that he was sorry he had disciplined me so strictly. He asked me if I would please forgive him. I learned that you are never too old to apologize and admit you are wrong. That was an opportunity to learn the true value of repentance.”
Another part of showing love and being a good example is listening to our children and learning from their good examples. They have as much to teach us as we have to teach them and we should acknowledge those moments when we do learn from them. Elder Russell M. Nelson shared the following experience he had learning from one of his daughters [also from Teaching, No Greater Call]:
When our youngest daughter was about four years of age, I came home from hospital duties quite late one evening. I found my dear wife to be very weary. . . . So I offered to get our four-year-old ready for bed. I began to give the orders: Take off your clothes; hang them up; put on your pajamas; brush your teeth; say your prayers” and so on, commanding in a manner befitting a tough sergeant in the army. Suddenly she cocked her head to one side, looked at me with a wistful eye, and said, Daddy, do you own me?” 
She taught me an important lesson. I was using coercive methods on this sweet soul. To rule children by force is the technique of Satan, not of the Savior.
My parents also learned from their grandson. One night he was staying at their home before they had become consistent in family scripture study with my younger sister. When bedtime arrived, he sincerely asked, “Aren’t we going to have family scripture study?” Ever since then, they have.

Challenge: Remember to love your children unconditionally and at all times, especially when you are trying to teach them.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

"Be Thou an Example of the Believers" at Home

Today, my husband and I spoke in sacrament meeting. Here is the first part of my talk (read Part 2 and Part 3):

“The effect of our words and acts is tremendous in this world. Every moment of life you are changing to a degree the lives of the whole world.” Those are the words of President David O. McKay.* If we have such an astounding influence over the world, we need to be examples of righteousness. As Paul counseled, “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. . . . Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in so doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:12, 16).
The Lord said, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also” (John 14:12). So to be an example of the believers is to do what the Lord has done so that we can “save [ourselves], and them that hear [us].”
We usually apply this principle to missionary work, but it also extends into family life. As The Family: a Proclamation to the World teaches, “the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children” and “the family [is] the fundamental unit of society.” If we are first examples in our own homes, our righteous families will bless the communities in which we live and help others desire to know more about the gospel and become like us.
President Wilford Woodruff warned, “In our zeal to preach the Gospel to the people of all nations, we should not forget the duties devolving upon us in regard to the proper bringing up of our own children, instilling in them, when young, a love for truth and virtue, and reverence for sacred things, and affording them a knowledge of the principles of the Gospel. . . . It is . . . a great blessing to children to have parents who pray and teach their children good principles, and set a good example before them.”
Setting a good example is the best way to teach our children. No matter how much we talk about the gospel, they won’t truly learn, understand, and gain a testimony of it unless they see us live it. Our actions must follow our words.
“It is the duty of parents and of the Church,” said President McKay, “not only to teach but also to demonstrate to young people that living a life of truth and moral purity brings joy and happiness, while violations of moral and social laws result only in dissatisfaction, sorrow, and, when carried to extreme, in degradation.
“It is our duty as adults and [as parents] to set them a proper example in the home and in society. It is our responsibility to impress our children with our sincerity in our belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Never should parents teach one thing about the gospel and do another. Children are very susceptible to insincerity.”
And President Woodruff said, “Parents cannot properly reprove [or correct] children for doing things which they practice themselves.”
I haven’t been the best example to my son. I like to hit Justin playfully when he says something obnoxious or teases me. One day my son started to do the same. He would hit Justin and laugh. I immediately had to stop the behavior, much to Justin’s joy, because I did not want my son to hit his father or others and think it funny. [In his talk, Justin said I still hit him, I'm just cautious about it, making sure Caden isn't around first.] I’ve had to reevaluate all my actions to make sure they are not ones I wouldn’t want my son to imitate, especially in how I express my anger.
The Book of Mormon prophet Jacob told us the consequences of being bad examples as parents: “Ye have . . . lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them . . . Remember your children, how that ye have grieved their hearts because of the example that ye have set before them; and also, remember that ye may, because of your filthiness, bring your children unto destruction, and their sins be heaped upon your heads at the last day” (Jacob 2:35, 3:10). Our children will not trust us and obey us if we are bad examples, making us partially responsible for their bad choices.
On the other hand, a righteous example holds much power. A couple months after my son was born, I was determined that our family have scripture study together, something my immediate family and Justin and I were not consistent in. Every night we would sing a Primary song, pray, and read the Book of Mormon. One night when Caden was about a year old, he suddenly folded his arms when we were about to pray. Justin and I were shocked. It was not something we were actively teaching him; we didn’t fold his arms for him during prayer. He learned simply by watching us. I then understood how important my example as a parent is in teaching my son the gospel.
I too saw good examples from my parents. Although we didn’t always have family scripture study while I was growing up (they do now with my younger sister), I always saw my parents reading the scriptures, the Ensign, the Church News, and other Church material. They would often share with us what they were reading and learning. Because of their examples, personal scripture study was not something I struggled with during my adolescent years, a time when many teens do. I desired to do it and it felt natural to me. Ever since I left their home, I have struggled to maintain the dedication I had when I was younger, but I continue to work on it so that my children will have the same example to follow as I did.
Sharing Time: How were your parents good examples to you?
*All quotes taken from the Teachings of Presidents of the Church series.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Jesus: An Example of Balance in Life

Guest post by Sal, a member of the LDS Etsy team.

I was listening to a church lesson on Wednesday and loved how the teacher explained a scripture. It left such an impression on me that I would like to share it with you.

"And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man." -Luke 2:52

This is one of the only scriptures we have mentioning the Savior's childhood years. I love that it mentions that he had to increase and grow too, just like all of us. What surprised me is when the teacher drew on the white board a diagram similar to this one:

He then went on to explain that, as the scriptures says, Jesus deveolped and grew in four areas:

1. Wisdom
2. Stature
3. Favor with God
4. Favor with man

We too must strive to grow in all of these areas. It is really easy to get fixated on one, however. For example, some people spend too much time in the "stature" area and focus mainly on their appearance or physical fitness. Some people spend too much time in the "favor with man" category focusing mainly on social outings, conversations, and text messages. Some people spend too much time seeking wisdom and don't interact with others as much as they should. I suppose you could even spend too much time in the "favor with God" category if you never helped or interacted with other people. The list of possible imbalances goes on and on.

Our Savior, Jesus Christ, was the perfect example of true balance in life. He served others, sought wisdom, kept his body healthy, and had a close relationship with God. I know that as we strive to keep our lives in balance, we will be blessed.

Challenge: Follow Christ's example and keep your life balanced in those four areas.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Called to Serve Where He Wants Us to Serve
Two years ago I wrote a post about our attitude toward mission calls. Yesterday, I read this passage from Elder W. Christopher Waddell's General Conference talk, "The Opportunity of a Lifetime," in October 2011.

We have a Father in Heaven, who knows us—our strengths and weaknesses, our abilities and potential. He knows which mission president and companions and which members and investigators we need in order to become the missionary, the husband and father, and the priesthood holder we are capable of becoming.

Prophets, seers, and revelators assign missionaries under the direction and influence of the Holy Ghost. Inspired mission presidents direct transfers every six weeks and quickly learn that the Lord knows exactly where He wants each missionary to serve.
A few years ago, Elder Javier Misiego, from Madrid, Spain, was serving a full-time mission in Arizona. At that time, his mission call to the United States appeared somewhat unusual, as most young men from Spain were being called to serve in their own country.
At the conclusion of a stake fireside, where he and his companion had been invited to participate, Elder Misiego was approached by a less-active member of the Church who had been brought by a friend. It was the first time this man had been inside a chapel in years. Elder Misiego was asked if he might know a José Misiego in Madrid. When Elder Misiego responded that his father’s name was José Misiego, the man excitedly asked a few more questions to confirm that this was the José Misiego. When it was determined that they were speaking about the same man, this less-active member began to weep. “Your father was the only person I baptized during my entire mission,” he explained and described how his mission had been, in his mind, a failure. He attributed his years of inactivity to some feelings of inadequacy and concern, believing that he had somehow let the Lord down.
Elder Misiego then described what this supposed failure of a missionary meant to his family. He told him that his father, baptized as a young single adult, had married in the temple, that Elder Misiego was the fourth of six children, that all three boys and a sister had served full-time missions, that all were active in the Church, and that all who were married had been sealed in the temple.
The less-active returned missionary began to sob. Through his efforts, he now learned, scores of lives had been blessed, and the Lord had sent an elder from Madrid, Spain, all the way to a fireside in Arizona to let him know that he had not been a failure. The Lord knows where He wants each missionary to serve.

Challenge: Remember that mission calls, and all other callings for that matter, are divinely inspired so we can be instruments in the Lord's hands and bless His children.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Scripture Trivia Games

A great way to learn scripture trivia is to combine it with a game. The whole family can have fun and spend time together while also learning more about the scriptures. Here are some game ideas:
  1. Play Jeopardy! Categories could include the ten commandments, Latter-day prophets, and Book of Mormon stories. Play as individuals or in teams.
  2. Play Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? This idea works well for couples and for families with children of various ages—play in teams and have the younger children answer the easier questions and the older children answer the harder questions.
  3. Play Wheel of Fortune using scripture phrases or names. Make a small spinning wheel by inserting a brad into a cardboard circle on top of a cardboard square. An easier option is to play Hangman.
  4. Make your own board game. Use the board from a board game you already have, like Candyland, find some dice, and let everyone write a stack of questions and answers. Make your own rules or change them every time you play.
  5. Insert scripture trivia into any existing game you have: for Taboo, use scripture-related words or people; for Imaginiff, create scripture-related scenarios; for Scrabble, allow only scripture-related words; for Stratego, make the soldiers scripture characters. Be creative!
 Sharing Time: What are some scripture games you've played?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Accept Unanswered Questions

From "Keeping the Faith in a World of Confusion" by Bishop Gérald Caussé, in the August 2012 Ensign.

In our search for truth, we can be tempted to want to understand everything right away. However, the intelligence of God is so infinite that “it is impossible that man should find out all his ways” (Jacob 4:8). We must accept living for a time without answers to all of our questions. Like Nephi, we faithfully acknowledge that God “loveth his children; nevertheless, [we] do not know the meaning of all things” (1 Nephi 11:17).
The Lord, nevertheless, supplies us with the knowledge necessary for our salvation and exaltation. He promises, “Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you” (D&C 88:64). We receive these answers progressively, “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” (2 Nephi 28:30), depending on our needs and our capacity to comprehend.
It is up to us to distinguish between questions that are truly essential to our eternal progress and those that result from intellectual curiosity, need for proof, or desire for personal satisfaction.
Challenge: Accept unanswered questions.