Friday, August 30, 2013

My Thoughts After Finishing the Book of Mormon

Just for the record, I have read the Book of Mormon before.  When I finished reading it a few days ago, I did not have the kind of spiritual witness that we like to hear about.  I did not feel a sudden warmth that enveloped me.  I did not hear a voice say, "It's true!".  I did not experience an angelic visitation. So what did I feel?

The day that I finished reading the book, I knew I would be finishing it.  I even cut myself off earlier the night before because I knew I wanted to reserve the end for another time.  So, I left Moroni chapters 8-10 for the next day.

I knew I would be reading this passage that night:
Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how amerciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and bponder it in your chearts.

 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would aask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not btrue; and if ye shall ask with a csincere heart, with dreal intent, having efaith in Christ, he will fmanifest the gtruth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. 

 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may aknow the btruth of all things.
As I said earlier, I've read the Book of Mormon before, a couple of times.  I have asked my Heavenly Father before about the truthfulness of this book.  I will probably always do this each time I finish reading it - I will ask again to reaffirm my testimony.

Fast-forward to the next day.  After work I came home to fulfill my other job as Mother.  There were kids to get to football practice, pages of homework to check and tuck safely into backpacks, kids to feed, a remodeling job to clean up, and family home evening to attend to.

The details of how the evening progressed aren't as important as my response to them and the end result, so I'll bypass all of those details.  Suffice it to say, by the time I was ready to sit down and finish reading the Book of Mormon, I had lost my temper and spoken unkindly to a couple of my children and there was unrelated tension between Nathan and I.

As I pulled out the scriptures to read, I knew that there were things that I would need to do before I started to read.  I said a prayer and asked Heavenly Father to forgive me for yelling at my kids.  I asked him to forgive me for my role in the tension between my husband and I.

I finished my prayer and got up.  I needed to make things right with my kids.  I went to them, told them it was wrong for me to lose my temper and speak unkindly.  I apologized and told them that I loved them. I went to Nathan and apologized.

Then I sat down to read.  When I was finished, I sat there quietly.  Listening, pondering... listening.  Waiting for my answer.  You know what I felt?


Honestly, I was disappointed and confused.  I had done what I needed to do to be able to feel the spirit and I got nothing??

The next evening after the kids were all tucked into bed, I confided in Nathan my disappointment and confusion about my experience.  I knew I wouldn't have an angelic visitation or hear a voice of thunder proclaiming this book to be God's word, but why hadn't I experienced at least a small burning in my chest?

As Nathan thumbed through the pages of the Book of Mormon that I had been reading for the last 5 months, he turned to a couple of pages and asked me what all of my "rainbow" markings meant.  I told him that they were things that I liked.

"Why do you like them?" he inquired further. I told him they were things that provided instructions for a better, happier life.  They were warnings and cautions against iniquity and bondage.  They were passages that brought to mind a time in my life when I had felt the spirit strongly.  They were messages that burned within my heart when I read them.

And maybe by divine providence, he stopped on this page.  2 Nephi 4:15: "For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them..."

Where I had written something I knew to be true about myself.  "Truth is often felt before it is understood."

I had also glued a piece of paper into the binding with a thought from Harold B Lee.

So often in my life I feel things deep inside the corners of my heart before I even know how to wrap my brain around them or put them into words.

I am not a thinker.  Don't get me wrong here, I am not saying that I am stupid, I've just never felt that I have gained much from sitting and thinking about something for a long time.  My husband has never accused me of being logical or reasonable.  Good or bad, I am ruled by how I feel.  My actions and thoughts and desires are based on what my heart tells me.

So, although I hadn't physically felt anything that night, what had my heart told me?  As I sat talking with Nathan and pondering on the things he was saying, I realized that when I finished the Book of Mormon that night I had felt something.  

I felt stillness.  Stillness within my heart.

Stillness in my heart is not the same as sitting still or being still.  Anyone can sit still for a few minutes, but to feel still inside, well that is completely different.  I didn't need to feel a burning that night because I had been feeling and learning the truth for the last 5 months as I read.  That night I just needed to feel still.

Sometimes I think that the often quoted scripture about stillness only applies to times of trouble or sorrow.  But this experience reminds me that anytime I can feel stillness in my heart, I can feel God and know truth.  I can know it even if I can't explain it or understand it fully.

I don't know if these thoughts technically qualify as a testimony that I know the Book of Mormon is true and is the word of God, but it is all I can verbally (by way of typing) express right now.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Things I Have Learned Driving on Cruise Control

Remember a while ago when I said that I had started to set my cruise control when driving on the freeway.

Well, I have observed and learned a few things about drivers by doing this.  I will share my knowledge with you as I am sure it is very important and you are dying to know.  As I cruise down the highway at an unchanging speed I have noticed:
  1. Most drivers slow down on curves.
  2. Most drivers slow down on hills, this includes going up overpasses.
  3. Most drivers accelerate going down hills, including going down an overpass.
  4. Most drivers slow down when they are talking on the phone.  This is followed by a momentary speed up when they realize they've slowed, but is inevitably followed by another slow down. - I actually just had an experience with this yesterday.  A man in a black IROCZ (It's a Camaro and reminded me of Dwight from the office... I know he has a Trans Am and it's not the same, but that is what it reminded me of), anyway, the man in the black IROCZ, cruised past me at a high rate of speed, not sure why I took note of him, but I did.  Less than a mile later I noticed that I was catching up to him and was going to pass him.  We were approaching an exit, so I thought maybe he was slowing down because he was going to exit, but he did not.  As I passed him, I noted that he was now talking on his phone.
  5. I won't even talk about people who are texting while driving.
Do with this information what you will!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Personal Progress Virtue Project Complete

Well, almost.  I just need to finish the last part of it.

The Virtue project is this:
The Savior chose to live a virtuous life. Follow His admonition to “learn of me” (D&C 19:23) by reading the entire Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Liken the scriptures to your life and circumstances. As you read, record your thoughts regularly in your journal. Note the example of the Savior. What did He and those who followed Him do to live virtuous lives? At the completion of your reading, record your testimony.
I started this project back at the beginning of this year.  I blogged about my progress back here, where I stated I wanted to finish reading by the time I went to girl's camp.  I'm only a couple of months late....

This is what I read last night.  The last chapter and verse of the Book of Mormon.

As I read, I recorded thoughts and feelings in the margins of the book.  As a result, I've decided that the church needs to publish a Book of Mormon with at least 2-inch blank margins around the edges for writing thoughts.  My hubby heard me say this and made me the sweetest thing for Mother's Day this past May.  But that's another story for a different day.

Now comes the last part, writing my testimony of the Book of Mormon in the lovely space provided for me in my Personal Progress book.  

I took this picture before I wrote in my book because I was thinking that these feelings might be too personal for my blog.  Then I had to stop and think for a minute.  My feelings and beliefs about the Book of Mormon shouldn't be private.  I shouldn't be afraid or intimidated to share these feelings with others.  But, I'm not ready to do that yet.

Friday, August 23, 2013

What happened to sweet Clara?

Remember when this cute girl gave the best smiles for pictures?  It wasn't that long ago.

Now when I want a picture, this is what I get.

What a turkey!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Amelia Tumbles

Recently, Amelia started taking Tumbling lessons.  She is really enjoying them.

One day during tumbling, she got a little too close to another girl and took a foot to the eye.

What a pretty girl she is even with a shiner!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Daddy and Amelia making Cookies

My favorite part of this is that Nathan is wearing my very feminine apron, but he's still super handsome!

The cookies were yummy too!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

First Day of School 2013-2014

I misjudged my morning routine this morning.  Nathan had to step in and take the "back to school" picture. After the kids had left I asked to see the pictures.  
Nathan: Pictures? - he looked at me strangely.
Wendy: Yes, one of all of them and one of each of them individually.
Nathan:  I only took one.

Clearly, he does not understand the logistics of these sorts of things!  At any rate, I am glad to have this picture and grateful that he snapped it for me.

Good luck kiddos!

Jared Turned 12 - He's a Deacon Now!

Last Thursday, my oldest turned 12.  We celebrated the day at Seven Peaks where I did not take any pictures...

The next day, we ate cake and ice cream.

Jared opened a few presents.

Then on Sunday, he was conferred the Aaronic Priesthood and ordained to the office of Deacon by Nathan. Both grandpas, Richard and Bruce, stood in the circle as well as Bishop Rob Lund.

Nathan and Jared (in his new suit - his last 12 days of Priesthood gift).  See more about that here.

What handsome men!

My little deacon.

Jared and I

Nathan, Jared and I

After his ordination the Bishop asked me if I would like to say a few words.  I let Jared know that I was proud of him and the efforts he has made to better himself in preparation for this new responsibility.  I told him that his desire to question things and know the "why's" were not a bad thing, but that they would help him as he develops a testimony of the church.  I also pointed out his leadership abilities and told him to use them to set a good example to those around him.

I can't believe my oldest is 12!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Personal Progress Integrity Value Experience #3

I've slowed down a little on completing my Personal Progress. (what is personal progress?  find out here.) For the past couple of weeks, I have been working on Integrity Value Experience #3.
The Savior is the perfect example of integrity; He did what He promised the Father He would do. Read 3 Nephi 11:10–11. Study the lives of other individuals in the scriptures who lived with integrity. Read Genesis 39; the book of Esther;Job 2:327:3–6Daniel 3 and 6; Acts 26Doctrine and Covenants 124:15; and Joseph Smith—History 1:21–25. In your journal identify the ways these people demonstrated integrity. Think of a time when you had the courage to show integrity, especially when it was not easy or popular. Share your experience and your feelings about it in a testimony meeting or lesson or with a parent or leader.
This experience requires quite a bit of reading, so I have been working on reading the chapters here and there and then writing down my thoughts.  I wanted to put something together that I could glue in my study journal and this is what I came up with.

If you are not going to be pasting this into a study journal, you can print it on sheet by setting your printer setting to "print on both sides" or by printing page 1 and then flipping the page over and printing page 2 on the other side.

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Reminder to Take Advantage of Small Moments

See the scary monster with the angry scowl below....This is how I felt the other day.  I had to work really hard to keep the BEAST from coming out.

Rewind to earlier that day, I read a blog post about cherishing more moments.  I liked that the author pointed out that it is impossible to cherish every moment.  We have lives and there are things that we must take care of and do.  But it is possible to take advantage of some moments.

After work, I stopped to pick up the kids and soon we were on our way home.  There I was, in my car with all of my children, feeling stressed, hot, and working really hard not to bark at them to be quiet and stop touching each other.

It was then that I heard a faint song in the background.  I reached down and turned up the radio.  It was "Good Morning" by Mandisa.  Usually the radio station only plays this song in the morning, but here it was playing at 4 o'clock in the afternoon.  My kids and I really like this song, so I turned it up and started singing along at the top of my lungs.  Soon all of the kids had joined in.

It definitely lifted my spirits.  When I arrived home, instead of jumping into my normal routine (straightening up, starting dinner, going through the mail, etc) I went into the living room and laid down on the floor.  I told myself, "Take a moment.  Those things can wait."  

Soon Clara was at my side asking for a snack.  I got up, got her a small bowl of cheerios from the kitchen and returned to the living room floor with her trailing behind me.  She jabbered about this and that and spilled her cheerios at least twice.

For a minute she settled on talking about her upcoming birthday, proudly announcing to me that she will soon be three - all the while only holding up one finger.  I tried to teach her how to hold up three fingers, but she finally tired of me trying to manipulate her pudgy little hands.

Then she asked me to take a picture of her.  She loves pictures.  Each time a picture is snapped, she must see that picture before another can be taken.

As I sat there snapping pictures and listening to her speak, I was overwhelmed, but in a good way. Overwhelmed with her beautiful blue eyes, with how well she speaks, with the way her brain works.  I was overwhelmed with her wonderful laughter, her silly faces, her voice when she sings.  I am overwhelmed that she is going to be three in a few short weeks.  Where has the time gone? When did my baby grow up?

I need these quiet moments to cherish my children, to remind me that motherhood is not as thankless as it sometimes feels.  Motherhood is not just about feeding and clothing my children and making sure they have a clean home to live in.  It is not just about teaching them to sit reverently during church or making sure they finish their homework.  Motherhood is for me too.  

I need to take advantage of these moments more often.  Yes, life is busy.  Yes, there are things that I must do and times when I simply cannot choose to just sit on the living room floor for an hour.  But I can still take advantage of other times.  Times when I do not have pressing responsibilities to attend to.  Times that I can choose to cherish each of my babies, before it's too late.

These small moments help me to truly see these beautiful little people I helped to create.  These moments help me see past the stress those little people bring upon Nathan and I.  Past the tantrums, trouble and messes that seem to follow them around.  These moments are a good reminder that while feeding my children and teaching them responsibility are good things, I must stop and taste the fruit of my labor occasionally.  That day while I sat and watched my amazing little girl and admired her sweet little face, I realized just how sweet that fruit really is.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Priesthood Line of Authority Bookmark

I posted the other day that we started the 12 days of Priesthood at our house, since Jared will be turning 12 very soon.

As a quick review, when Jared turns 12, and after he has a worthiness interview with our bishop, Nathan will have the opportunity to confer the Aaronic Priesthood on Jared.

We've been preparing him for this responsibility for his whole life really, but we've stepped up the preparation over the last couple of months.  We've had special family home evening lessons and we've started a 12 day countdown to his ordination.

The other day, he received 3 books that will help him now that he is going into the Young Men's program. The books he received were For the Strength of Youth, Fulfilling Our Duty to God, and True to the Faith.  I know that if he will take the time to study and ponder the words in these books, he will know his responsibilities, gain a greater testimony of the gospel and have a desire to live the way Heavenly Father wants us to live.

For one of his gifts leading up to the big day, I wanted to give him a bookmark that he could keep in his scriptures with his Priesthood Line of Authority.  We talked about the restoration of the priesthood in our last Family Home Evening lesson and also about Nathan's priesthood line of  authority.  

I looked online and couldn't really find anything that I was in love with, so I made my own.  It's not fancy, but I think it will be great.

If it were for a girl, I would have punched a hole in the top and put some ribbon through, but it's for my son and the more simple the better.  I laminated the bookmarks so they would be a little more durable. 

I uploaded my document to Scribd in case anyone else wants to save themselves some trouble.  Just download it as a .docx file and you will be able to open it in Word and edit the names and dates.

Priesthood Line of Authority by Wendy H

You'll see that I made two different sets.  One is in blue and one is red of course, but I also couldn't decide which of Nathan's Priesthood Lines of Authority to use.  One is from him being conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood and being ordained to the office of Elder, and the other is from his ordination to the office of High Priest in the Melchizedek Priesthood.  Since Nathan's paternal grandfather didn't ordain Nathan's dad to either office, and each ordination was done by a different man, the lines are different.

I did find it interesting though that there is a commonality in both lines (besides the originations) - on 11 June 1961, two men Milton Reed Hunter and Seymour Dilworth Young were both ordained to the office of High Priest.  These were performed by different men, but on the same day.  I don't know that there is any significance to it, but I thought it was interesting.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Family Home Evening Lesson: How was the Priesthood Restored?

You can get some great information on this topic from here and here.

I decided to start out by showing parts of this video.

Although the video is very good, I was afraid that my kids might have a hard time understanding some of it.

I decided to play the first segment, titled, "How did the Apostles receive authority at the time of Christ?"  This segment is 1 minute long.  Then I stopped the video and we discussed what we just saw and heard.

After going to a mountain to pray and ponder, the Savior selected and called his 12 Apostles.  When his earthly ministry was over, he bestowed upon Peter all of the keys to lead the church.

The second segment is "How was the authority eventually lost?"  I did not show this segment, I just explained to my children that back in those days there weren't phones or television or magazines.  The only way people learned the gospel or were taught how to be good members of the church, or how to correctly perform ordinances was from face to face contact.  They did write some letters, but it could take a long time for letters to get from one place to another.  If people had questions about doctrine, they were pretty much left to themselves to figure it out.

I gave each of my children a key that I had printed out (see the bottom of this post for the keys).  I explained that when Jesus called his Apostles, he gave conferred upon them the priesthood and gave them keys. After Christ's death, the Apostles tried to teach people the correct way to do things, but because they were unable to meet together often, people changed teachings and changed the way ordinances were performed. Over time, they were killed or died.  (As I explained this, I took the keys away one by one.)

I explained that soon Heavenly Father's priesthood wasn't on the earth anymore.  No one had the priesthood keys to lead and guide the affairs of the church.  Thus a restoration was necessary.

Then I showed the segment that starts at 2:00 (from Elder Perry's video above), "What Led to the Priesthood Being Restored?"

We also watched this video.

I finished up by asking the kids the following questions to make sure they understood what we had learned:

  1. Who called and ordained the 12 Apostles during Christ's time on Earth?
  2. Before Jesus went to live with Heavenly Father, who did he give the priesthood keys to?
  3. When someone holds and can exercise all of the priesthood keys, what position do they hold in the church? (This is technically a review question from other lessons, but it was applicable.)
  4. What happened when all of the Apostles died or were killed?
  5. How was the priesthood restored to the earth during our day?
  6. Why was a restoration of the priesthood necessary?
Finish up the lesson by showing the Priesthood Line of Authority for the patriarch in your family.   This was important  for me to show to my family as Jared would be receiving his own line of authority the next day as part of his 12 Days of Priesthood.

Easy Bake Goodies

Last year, for her birthday, Amelia got an Easy Bake Oven from Grandpa and Grandma.  I'm a horrible mother and I don't let her get it out much.  But this past weekend she got it out and baked us some devil's food and strawberry checkered cake with chocolate frosting.

She needed some help reading the directions since the checkered part was a little more complicated than normal.

Clara was a big helper!

Into the oven it goes.

The finished product.

She really had a great time using her oven.  I need to not be such a grouch and let her use it more often!

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Weekend in Review - a Quick Trip to Dallas and a 30th Anniversary Stake Celebration

Nathan's dad purchased a new car this weekend, after having his totaled a few weeks ago.  The only small problem, the car was in Dallas TX.  He decided to take Jared with him to pick up the car and drive it back to Utah.  They flew out on Friday night and got home Sunday evening.

Jared waiting in the airport at their layover in Phoenix.

After picking up the new car, they did a little bit of sight-seeing.  Here is Jared in front of the Dallas Cowboys' Stadium.

They stopped at a car show.

And finally made it to New Mexico.

Most of the time, Jared did this...

or this

Meanwhile, back here in Utah, we attended a carnival celebration held in honor of our Stake being 30 years old.  I didn't take many pictures, but there were bouncy houses, tons of food, and lots of games for the kids to play.  It was really fun and well attended.  While Nathan and I didn't participate in many of the games, we did gorge ourselves on the hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, snow cones and cupcakes.

Here I am sitting with Clara and holding our snow cones, while she gets a flower painted on her face.

Amelia got a dolphin

and Isaac got a spider.


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