Monday, September 30, 2013

Snake in the Grass

Ok, not in the grass.  It was in our garage.

This past Saturday we had a visitor.  A garter snake(?) decided to come and visit and try to climb in between the boards in our garage.

Nathan quickly grabbed onto the snake by the tail to prevent him from getting all the way in there.

It took A LOT of coaxing and gentle pulling to get him out.

Once he was all the way out, we realized he was a lot bigger than we had anticipated.

I don't like snakes and neither does Nathan.  However, I didn't want Nathan to kill the snake, so I asked him to let it go in our garden.  After all, the snake hadn't hurt anyone and it was just trying to hide from us in the garage.  Snakes are also good at getting rid of rodents, and we have had our fair share of those in year's past.  So I convinced Nathan to put it in our garden where it could kill mice and live a happy life.

After a few minutes, I went out to check on the snake.  He had slithered over to our grapevine and was hiding in the partial shade.  

Then I started to worry.  I know little birdies like to hang out in our grapevine.  

My mind went back to a talk from last General Conference called These Things I Know by Boyd K. Packer.  I was remembering this story...

The back windows of our home overlook a small flower garden and the woods which border a small stream. One wall of the house borders on the garden and is thickly covered with English ivy. Most years this ivy has been the nesting place for house finches. The nests in the vines are safe from foxes and raccoons and cats that are about.
One day there was a great commotion in the ivy. Desperate cries of distress came as 8 or 10 finches from the surrounding woods came to join in this cry of alarm. I soon saw the source of the commotion. A snake had slid partway down out of the ivy and hung in front of the window just long enough for me to pull it out. The middle part of the snake’s body had two bulges—clear evidence convicting it of taking two fledglings from the nest. Not in the 50 years we had lived in our home had we seen anything like that. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience—or so we thought.
A few days later there was another commotion, this time in the vines covering our dog run. We heard the same cries of alarm, the gathering of the neighborhood finches. We knew what the predator was. A grandson climbed onto the run and pulled out another snake that was still holding on tightly to the mother bird it had caught in the nest and killed.
I said to myself, “What is going on? Is the Garden of Eden being invaded again?”
There came into my mind the warnings spoken by the prophets. We will not always be safe from the adversary’s influence, even within our own homes. We need to protect our nestlings.
We live in a very dangerous world that threatens those things that are most spiritual. The family, the fundamental organization in time and eternity, is under attack from forces seen and unseen. The adversary is about. His objective is to cause injury. If he can weaken and destroy the family, he will have succeeded.
Latter-day Saints recognize the transcendent importance of the family and strive to live in such a way that the adversary cannot steal into our homes. We find safety and security for ourselves and our children in honoring the covenants we have made and living up to the ordinary acts of obedience required of the followers of Christ.
I started to worry that the snake that we had carefully pulled out of the boards in the garage, would end up killing some of the birds that snack on the grapes in our vine.  Should we have just killed it when we had the chance?

I couldn't help but liken this experience to my role as a mother.  I am in charge of protecting my home so that my children can grow and flourish there.  It is my job to make sure that they are fed, feel safe and loved while they are within the walls of my home.  I also need to try and provide an atmosphere where they can feel the spirit.  But, like Elder Packer said, this is a battle.

Do I let "snakes" into my home because I want to be nice and not hurt anyone's feelings?  Do I allow snakes into my home because they are good at killing other problems (ie: boredom, nagging, etc...)?

I really need to go out to my garden and trim my grapevine; it's been on my "to do" list for a while now.  I'm just a little nervous to do it now.  I'm not looking forward to another run-in with the snake.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

General Conference Study Helps for Adults & Teens

Yesterday, I posted about Conference Packets for kids.  Why should they have all the fun?  Today, I am highlighting some of my favorite General Conference study helps for adults and teens.

Allison Kimball, who is super creative and all together awesome, has put together an amazing General Conference Notebook Download, which is available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian.  These are more for embellishing your own notebook.
2-19-2013 7-41-06 PM has put together a great packet which is available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 3.04.48 PM

There is also an older version of's conference packet available here.  It has a few games in it for adults who lack concentration like myself....

Prepared NOT Scared has prepared downloadable sheets for note taking.  She also has  binder cover avaiable so you can print everything out and keep your notes secure in a 3-ring binder.

The Red Headed Hostess also has a printable note-taking packet that is a couple of years old, but will still work well for this conference. has a printable page for you to take notes on.  Just print as many pages as you would like.

One of my favorite designers, Holy Handouts, has created this note-taking page.  Although it was created for conference in 2011, the design still holds up well for this year.

Now I just have to decide which one I am going to use.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Children's General Conference Packet Roundup

It's nearly time for General Conference and it seems like I am always scrambling at the last minute to print out activity packets for my kids.  Well, not this year.  I've been scouring the web for packets and will be prepared this time around.

Here's what I've found.

A conference packet directly from the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Also, mostly a coloring page packet from Deseret News.

This one would take a little work beforehand, and is technically not a packet, but is pretty awesome none-the-less.  From Allison Kimball, a "conference is awesome" folder.

She also has a chart version you can download and customize for your family.

A packet from Somewhat Simple

Sugardoodle has packets made by Arie Van De Graaff  in English and Spanish.

From Food Storage and Beyond is an A to Z Packet for kids 5-12.
Ultimate LDS General Conference Packet

Deseret Book has a Conference Packet you can download.

Katie's Blog-Ness has created a very cute Conference Train.
What are your favorite conference traditions?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How Do the Things I Say Affect Those Around Me? Lesson Handout & FHE Lesson

I mentioned last week, that my Mia Maid advisor related a quote from the talk Thy Speech Reveals Thee by L.Tom Perry about correcting speech habits using a 3-step method.  She was leading our discussion for September's Come Follow Me lesson topic: How Do the Things I Say Affect Those Around Me?

Here is the printable that I made so that I can hang it up and remind myself.

As I have been trying to focus on these 3 steps over the past week, I have found that this method works not only for correcting a swearing habit, but also is a great method to speak more nicely to those around you.

I used the handout I created last night for Family Home Evening.  I gave a lesson on speaking more kindly and using better language within our family.  A couple of great songs to sing with this lesson are, Kindness Begins With Me, Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words, Love is Spoken Here, and Love At Home.

I started out by reading Ephesians 4:29-32 and asked the kids to listen for what we weren't supposed to do and what we were supposed to do.
 29 Let no corrupt acommunication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
 30 And agrieve not the holy bSpirit of God, whereby ye are csealed unto the day of redemption.
 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and aanger, and clamour, and bevil cspeaking, be put away from you, with all dmalice:
 32 And be ye akind one to another, tenderhearted, bforgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
We talked about what "corrupt communication" could mean.  We also talked about what being tenderhearted meant.

Then I showed the kids this sign I had printed and framed.


We talked about each letter and tried to think of examples of when each question would help us decide whether to say something or not.  We are going to put this in our kitchen to remind us to "THINK" before we speak.

Finally, I showed them this printout about the difference between "Informing" and "Tattling".


Finally, here are the links to my printout.  You can either print the full page version, or 2 per page.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Disappointing Game

This past Saturday Nathan and I went to the BYU vs Utah football game along with Nathan's dad, our two boys and their cousin Ethan.  

Nathan and I in our blue, showing some Cougar pride.

Waiting for the game to start.

The game was fun but frustrating.  Our defense played awesome, but as usual the offense really struggled. There were some bad calls by the refs, but that's part of the game and BYU's offense couldn't come up with anything solid.

Nathan wanted to leave at the beginning of the 4th quarter, but we stuck it out until the end.  Even though our team lost, we still had a good time... at least I did.  I think Nathan would rather have been home asleep!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Why Do We Fast? Come Follow Me September

I don't mean for this post to be a doctrinal discourse of why members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints fast regularly.  These are just some of the thoughts I have had while preparing for my lesson this Sunday. You can find the lesson outline here.

What is fasting?
From True to the Faith, "to fast is to go without food and drink voluntarily for a certain period of time. Fasting combined with sincere prayer can help you prepare yourself and others to receive God’s blessings."

Carl B. Pratt, in a talk titled, The Blessings of a Proper Fast, quotes from President Joseph F. Smith and teaches that fasting is a commandment,
For those who are physically able, fasting is a commandment. Speaking of our monthly fast day, President Joseph F. Smith said: “The Lord has instituted the fast on a reasonable and intelligent basis. … Those who can are required to comply … ; it is a duty from which they cannot escape; … it is left with the people as a matter of conscience, to exercise wisdom and discretion. …
“But those should fast who can. … None are exempt from this; it is required of the Saints, old and young, in every part of the Church” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 244).

Examples of the Spiritual Strength Received After Fasting
  • Esther 4:10–17 - Esther, her maidens and all of the Jews in Shushan fast for three days and three nights.  Esther in return receives great courage and ultimately achieves what she desires - she and her people are not destroyed.
  • Matthew 4:1–11 - Jesus Christ separates himself from others and fasts for 40 days and nights.  He is able to resit the temptations of the devil and angels minister unto him.
  • Alma 17:1–3, 9 - The sons of Mosiah fasted and prayed much for the spirit to abide with them. They in turn had "the spirit of prophecy, the spirit of revelation, and ... they taught with power and authority of God".
  • D&C 59:12–14 - Fasting and prayer = Your "joy may be full".
From these 4 scripture references we learn that through fasting we can:
1. gain courage to stand up for what we know is right and just, even in the face of great danger or embarrassment.
2. be able to resist the temptations of the devil and have angels minister to us.
3. have the spirit with us, receive direction for our lives through the spirit, and be able to teach others by the spirit.
4. have full joy.

What a Proper Fast Includes

Isaiah 58:7 - I don't always almost never understand Isaiah, but after reading this passage at least 10 times, it started to make sense to me.  I just had to break it down....way down.  

In verse 7, we learn that a proper fast includes taking care of those who are less fortunate than we are.
Is it not to deal thy bread to the ahungry, and that thou bring the bpoor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from cthine own flesh?
In True to the Faith we read that as members of the church, we are asked to fast the first Sunday of each month.  A proper fast includes not eating or drinking for two consecutive meals, attending your church meeting, in addition to paying fast offerings.
"The Church designates one Sunday each month, usually the first Sunday, as a day of fasting. Proper observance of fast Sunday includes going without food and drink for two consecutive meals, attending fast and testimony meeting, and giving a fast offering to help care for those in need. 
Your fast offering should be at least the value of the two meals you do not eat. When possible, be generous and give much more than this amount. 
In addition to observing the fast days set aside by Church leaders, you can fast on any other day, according to your needs and the needs of others. However, you should not fast too frequently or for excessive periods of time."
This brings up a good point I would like to address with the Young Women in my class.  At what age do they think it is appropriate to start paying their own fast offerings.  I think this is a personal decision that will vary greatly from girl to girl, but I do believe that it is something that 14 and 15 year old girls can start thinking about.

I also feel it is important to discuss with my girls that not all people can or should fast in the way we usually talk about.  Women who are pregnant or nursing should not go without eating for extended periods of time. People with medical issues or those who must take medications that require it to be taken with food, cannot go without something in their stomach for that long also.  But even the individuals in these situations can "fast" as they find ways to help their spirits learn to control their physical appetites.  As they prayerfully ponder on ways to do this, the Lord will help them know that their fast is acceptable.

In Matthew 6:16–18 we also learn what a proper fast should not "look" like,
"16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to afast. Verily I say unto you, They bhave their reward.
17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
18 That thou appear not unto men to afast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shallbreward thee openly."
Or in other words, when you're fasting don't complain about how hungry you are.  Also, refrain from announcing to everyone within listening distance how righteous you are because you are fasting.  Fasting, even when done with a group for a specific reason, is a private matter.  Rather, as the Lord instructs us in the above verses, we should say a prayer, wash our face (basically, look your best), and find a good positive attitude to carry us through our fast.  If we do this, we will receive the promised blessings from our Heavenly Father.

Blessings of Fasting

Isaiah 58:3–12 In verse 5, we read: Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul?

Afflict our own souls.  This phrase really struck me.  When I fast, I am purposely afflicting my body with discomfort. My body says, "Feed me!  You are going to starve to death.  If you ignore me, I will grumble loudly during Sunday School and you will be embarrassed!" and my spirit replies, "You are fine.  I am trying to teach you that you are not in control.  Stop grumbling and learn from this".  

Later in verses 6, 8 and 11, we learn more about the blessings that come from fasting.
 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the abands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go bfree, and that ye break every yoke?
 ¶Then shall thy alight break forth as the morning, and thine bhealth shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy crearward.
 11 And the Lord shall aguide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in bdrought, and cmake fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a dspring of water, whose waters fail not.
We learn that by fasting, we loose the bands of wickedness, and set ourselves free from whatever bondage in which we find ourselves trapped - we break the yoke.  We are promised that our health will be good and that the Lord will be our guard.  We will be guided by him continually and he will fill us when we are lacking, whether temporally or spiritually.

 It talks here about watering a garden during drought and making our bones fat. I'd like to pass on the fat bones promise please!  I'm kidding.  I know it is not in a literal sense, more I believe it means that we will have the strength we need to perform our labors and we will have his spirit with us to comfort us.

Fasting for Others

In addition to fasting for our own struggles and problems, we can fast for others as well.

Mosiah 27:18–24 - This is the account of Alma the Younger after he sees an angel and is stricken dumb and has no strength.  After he is taken to his father, his father and the priests fast and pray for Alma the Younger to be restored to good health.  They also ask that the experience might help those around them - "that the eyes of the people might be opened to see and know of the goodness and glory of God."

We are to fast and pray not only for the missionaries who are serving full-time missions, but we should fast and pray for missionary experiences of our own.

Alma 6:6 - Nevertheless the children of God were commanded that they should gather themselves together oft, and join in afasting and mighty prayer in behalf of the welfare of the souls of those who knew not God.

Fasting Strengthens our Testimony

I used this first scripture back in June during my Testimony devotional for Girl's Camp.

Alma 5:45–46 - Even the prophets of God have to fast and pray many days to gain their testimonies.
Behold, I say unto you they are made aknown unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have bfasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit ofcrevelation which is in me.

Helaman 3:35 - This is a great scripture!  I broke this one down into several parts.  I think I will spend quite a bit of time discussing this one with the girls and getting their thoughts on how these all fit together and bring about sanctification and yielding their hearts unto God.
Nevertheless they did afast and bpray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their chumility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the dpurifying and the esanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their fyielding their hearts unto God. 

did wax stronger and stronger in their humility - Fasting humbles us.  It allows our spirits to subdue the "natural man" appetites of the body.  Being humble softens our hearts which opens us to being teachable by the Spirit and capable of making lasting changes through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ - When our faith is firm and built upon Christ we are able to stand confidently for our beliefs.

unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation - When we are humble and full of the Spirit and firm in our faith in Christ, our souls are joyful and at peace.  We know that life may not always be fair and easy, but we have hope and confidence in good things to come and find joy and contentment in our daily blessings.

even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts - Purifying and Sanctification, these are some big idea words.  As far as I can understand, "purifying ... of their hearts" means a cleansing of the heart. Removing sins, struggles and hard feelings, basically repentance.  A "sanctification of their hearts" was a little harder.  I had to look up a few references for sanctification and found a quote by Elder D. Todd Christofferson,

"To be sanctified through the blood of Christ is to become clean, pure, and holy. If justification removes the punishment for past sin, then sanctification removes the stain or effects of sin."
I believe that the sanctification of our hearts occurs after our hearts are purified and after we allow the atonement to change us.  Sanctification is where we are made holy - our hearts are changed.  "We have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually."

But as the original scripture concludes, ("which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God") this can only be done if we will turn our will over to God.  We practice this when we fast.  We teach our body to obey the will of our spirit in preparation to turning our will to God. 

What are your thoughts on fasting?  I would love to hear them, especially if someone understands sanctification better than I do.

There is also a great article in the New Era that you could use for this lesson called, Blessings of Fasting.

fasting images

Just download the .pdf file of the article and then set your print it out 2 sheets per page, so that it looks like this:

Then run it through the printer again, but print on the opposite side this time.  You'll end up with a 1/2 sheet insert for your study journals.

Also, some more great handouts for this lesson can be found online.  

Like this one from All Things Bright and Beautiful

or from The Idea Door
Why do we fast 2 sm

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Three Things Thursday

I've never heard of 3 Things Thursday either, but let's just go with it.

Numero Uno (#1 - for all of you non-Spanish speakers):  I am loving iOS 7.  I downloaded it promptly yesterday and really haven't had a ton of time to play on it, but what I have seen I really like.  Now I just need to convince that man I married to upgrade me to one my Numero Dos.

Numero Dos: Ladies and Gentlemen I proudly introduce you to the iPhone 5s Silver.  Isn't she pretty! She will be mine, oh yes, she will be mine.

Numero Tres: Last Sunday, my Mia Maid advisor shared a quote from Elder L. Tom Perry about how to learn to correct our speech if one is in the habit of swearing.  I wrote down the steps he listed and have been trying to practice them this week, not only with not swearing, but also with my tone of voice. Sometimes, I can come off more rough than necessary, especially with the people I love the most, my husband and children.  Elder Perry's formula works for that as well.  Here's the direct quote from the August 1986 New Era article, Thy Speech Reveals Thee:
To anyone who has followed the practice of using profanity or vulgarity and would like to correct the habit, could I offer this suggestion? First, make the commitment to erase such words from your vocabulary. Next, if you slip and say a swear word or a substitute word, mentally reconstruct the sentence without the vulgarity or substitute word and repeat the new sentence aloud. Eventually you will develop a non-vulgar speech habit.
This quote was also rerun in July 2007 in the Liahona Magazine, which you can find here, in a little different format.  I guess 21 years later, the wise leaders of our church still found his advice to be needed and true!
To anyone who has followed the practice of using profanity or vulgarity and would like to correct the habit, could I offer this suggestion?
  1. 1. 
    Make the commitment to erase such words from your vocabulary.
  1. 2. 
    If you slip and say a swear word or a substitute word, mentally reconstruct the sentence without the vulgarity or substitute word.
  1. 3. 
    Repeat the new sentence aloud.
Eventually you will develop a nonvulgar speech habit.
I need to create a cute little .pdf poster with these steps on it, to hang up and remind me.  But that will be for another day!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My Baby Turned 15...NOT!!!

This past Sunday was my little Clara's birthday.  While we were at church, she kept telling everyone she was turning 15.  Excuse me, little miss attitude.... you are 3!

It's hard to believe in 3 short years we've come this far.


Her 1st Birthday

Fast forward to her 2nd Birthday!

And here she is opening her new doll on her 3rd Birthday!

The next day, we had family over for cake and ice cream to celebrate.  Daddy picked her up a cake at the store.

And she blew out her candles before we even sang to her.

Nathan lit them again and we sang.

Then she opened presents.

She got some new clothes to go with her new doll.

Clara is such a joy in my life, she can be the biggest BratticusRex at times, but mostly she brings love, laughter and a big kind heart into my life and our family.


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