Friday, February 28, 2014

A "Love"ly Family Home Evening

This family home evening lesson requires absolutely no preparation.

Start by singing, "As I Have Loved You" from the Children's Songbook.

Then starting with yourself, go around the room and list the reasons that you love each person.  When you have finished sharing, the next person does the same thing until everyone has shared.

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I know that for some people this may seem really foreign and strange at first, but believe me everyone will love it.

Even little ones can join in.  If they are old enough to speak, they are old enough to say something that they love about another person.  If they aren't old enough to speak, they can give hugs or kisses or cuddles.

Just this past Monday night, Clara took her turn and the reason that she loved me was because I was tall.  I am not really sure what that means in her mind or why it is the reason that she loves me, but I'll take it!

We don't do this super often because we don't want it to turn into a monotonous thing, but we have played this "I love you because..." game in the car, at the kitchen table during dinner, and for family home evening.

It's sure to put a smile on everyone's face and bring everyone closer together.

Finish up by singing, "Where Love Is".

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Three Things Thursday

1. A picture Jared drew from a Ratchet & Clank game cover.

2. Some pictures of a few of the kids playing a game prior to Family Home Evening.

3. I was reading the next chapter in the Joseph Fielding Smith manual, I came across this gem.  Something I really need to remember and put into practice... especially at home.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hillsong UNITED Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

I am loving this song right now!  

Here are the lyrics:
You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ping Pong Annihilation

Nathan is not too happy with my picture taking.... or my ping pong skills!
Nathan and I attended our Stake's Date Night this past weekend.  It's a new thing in our area and Nathan and I weren't sure what to expect, but we had a great time.

We played volleyball, ping pong and a card/board game.

Nathan and I didn't fair too well in any of the games.  We didn't even come remotely close to winning while playing the board game.  I managed to rip open my finger with my wedding ring while playing volleyball. And last, but certainly not least, we were completely annihilated by another couple (the Belnap's) playing ping pong doubles, twice!

Our next Stake Date Night is in April and Nathan and I will be back for more fun.  But next time, we're bringing our A-game!


Friday, February 21, 2014

Strengthening and Preserving the Family

I haven't proof-read this yet, so if there are errors, they be the errors of this woman... lol!  And if you are in my ward, don't read this until after Sunday, ok?

Don't know if I have mentioned it yet in blogland, but at the beginning of the year I was called to teach Relief Society on the 3rd Sunday of each month.  This year, the lessons come from the book, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith.  I teach the even numbered chapters and this month I will be leading the discussion on chapter 4: Strengthening and Preserving the Family.  These are a few of my thoughts on this chapter.

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First, I want to say that this chapter has the possibility of creating stress and guilt in women, who already feel stressed and guilt-ridden, because they just can't do it all.  I'm convinced that the reception of the message and instruction in this chapter is going to depend a lot on each individual's state of mind and will also depend a great deal on the delivery of the message.  In my discussion of this chapter, I hope to provide encouragement to choose one area to work on, not try to live perfection starting tomorrow.  It's not about being perfect, and it's not necessarily about being better tomorrow than you were today.  Believe me there are many today's in my life that were worse than yesterday.  I really think it is about trying to be better over time.

Second, I worry that women who are not married may feel overlooked in this conversation.  I hope to apply these principles to everyone regardless of circumstance.  We all come from a family and we are all part of God's family.  The principles and doctrine are the same, although the application of the principles may differ due to circumstance.

Anyway, on to the chapter.

I'd like to begin with the 2nd section entitled, The Lord instituted the family to endure eternally.
Marriage, we have learned, is an eternal principle ordained before the foundation of the world and instituted on this earth before death came into it. Our first parents were commanded to multiply and replenish the earth. It naturally follows that the family organization was also intended to be eternal.
I've never thought about the order that marriage and death were instituted on this earth, so this passage was interesting to me.  When Adam and Eve were placed in the garden, we believe that they were married.  They were then commanded to have children.  All of this took place before they partook of the forbidden fruit, bringing death into the world.  Marriage and family were eternal at this point, because there was no death.

I also wondered about the use of the word, "ordained" in the first sentence.  "Marriage is an eternal principle ordained before the foundation of the world..."  You know me and words; I looked up the definition to have a clear understanding of what is being taught.  Ordain = confer holy orders on; put in order.  So in other words, Marriage is an eternal principle put in order before the foundation of the world.  Not only that, but it was given to serve a holy purpose.
In the plan prepared for this earth the laws governing in the celestial world became the foundation. The great work and glory of the Lord is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” [Moses 1:39.] The only way this can be done is through marriage and the family, in fact this is the eternal order among the exalted and has been worlds without end.
When creating our world and deciding how His spirit children would come into this world and grow, our Heavenly Father didn't come up with a "new" model.  He didn't need to "reinvent the wheel" so to speak.   He used the same organization that existed in the premortal world.  It wasn't a new and foreign principle for us, we were all familiar and comfortable with marriage and family.  We had seen it lived by our Heavenly Parents.

The chapter then goes on to discuss that the family unit is the foundation of society and that without that base, "... all the citizens are comparatively strangers to each other and where natural affection is not found; where no family ties bind the groups together, is one of horror. Such a condition could lead to but one end—anarchy and dissolution."  

The temple sealing provides the opportunity for a husband and wife to be sealed for this life and also for all eternity.  Children who are born to them "will be the children of that father and mother not only in mortal life but in all eternity, and they become members of the family of God in heaven and on earth...
… Those children... have a right to the companionship of father and mother, and father and mother are under obligations before their Eternal Father to be true to each other and raise those children in light and truth, that they may in the eternities to come, be one—a family within the great family of God.
We should remember, as Latter-day Saints, that outside of the celestial kingdom, there is no family organization [after death]. That organization is reserved for those who are willing to abide in every covenant and every obligation which we are called upon to receive while we sojourn here in this mortal life.
The blessing of honoring our covenants and being obedient to God's commandments is an eternal family. When we understand this promise and keep it in mind, it will affect our dealings with those we should hold most dear to us.
The hope of eternal life, including the reuniting of the members of the family when the resurrection comes, brings to the heart greater love and affection for each member of the family. With this hope, husbands are inclined to love their wives with a stronger and more holy love; and wives in like manner love their husbands. The tender feeling and solicitude on the part of parents for their children is increased, for the children become endeared to them with bands of love and happiness which cannot be broken.
Now that we have a basis for the foundation of the family, let's jump back to the first section of the chapter. The first line of the chapter, is this:
"The family is the most important organization in time or in eternity."
There isn't anything that is more important than family.  NOTHING!  And Satan knows this too.
Family unity and family commitment to the gospel are so important that the adversary has turned much of his attention to the destruction of families in our society. On every side there is an attack on the basic integrity of the family as the foundation of what is good and noble in life
As the forces of evil attack the individual by tearing away at his family roots, it becomes critical for Latter-day Saint parents to maintain and strengthen the family. There may possibly be a few very strong individuals who can survive without the support of a family, but more of us need the love, teaching, and acceptance that come from those who care very deeply.
The thing that stuck out the most to me in these paragraphs is that even if we are not keenly aware of how important our families are, Satan is.  This is from an address given in 1971.  It's not hard to imagine that Satan had launched his attack on the family back then when I see the state of the world today.  Slowly, society at large has had it's family roots destroyed and ripped away.

But, in the same paragraph we are told how we can combat this attack.  "It becomes critical for Latter-day Saint parents to maintain and strengthen the family." 

We then learn some truths about families:
There are certain old truths which will be truths as long as the world endures, and which no amount of progress can change. One of these is that the family (the organization consisting of father, mother, and children) is the foundation of all things in the Church; another, that sins against pure and healthy family life are those which, of all others, are sure in the end to be visited most heavily upon the nations in which they take place. …
We learn 2 important family truths from this paragraph:
  1. The family is the foundation of all things in the Church.
  2. Sins against pure and healthy family life will sooner or later be visited most heavily in the nations in which they are found.
If #2 sounds familiar, the same warning was given in The Family: A Proclamation to the World, in the 2nd to last paragraph.
WE WARN that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
Continuing on...
There is no substitute for a righteous home. That may not be so considered in the world, but it is and ought to be in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The family is the unit in the kingdom of God.
The family is the most important organization in time or in eternity. … It is the will of the Lord to strengthen and preserve the family unit. We plead with fathers to take their rightful place as the head of the house. We ask mothers to sustain and support their husbands and to be lights to their children.
The gospel is family centered; it must be lived in the family. It is here we receive our greatest and most important training as we seek to create for ourselves eternal family units patterned after the family of God our Father.
So many great things to discuss in these paragraphs!  So let's start.

It is the will of the Lord to strengthen and preserve the family unit. 
Again, I wanted to be clear on meaning, so I look up a couple of words.

  • strengthen = make or become stronger, build up; fortify, strengthen with defensive works as to protect against attack
  • preserve = maintain in original state; keep safe from harm or injury; to treat to prevent decomposition or deterioration.
Wow!  These words are fighting words.  We are in a fight and the stakes are high!  It is clear to me, that we are meant to ACTIVELY strengthen and preserve our families.  We cannot be passive.  

When I think of "strengthen", I am reminded of lifting weights.  Strength doesn't come at once; it is earned.  It takes day after day of lifting and working, putting forth effort and time.  
When I think of the word "preserve",  I think about bottling food for storage.  We have to do specific things to the food to keep it safe to eat.  This takes knowledge, time, effort and desire.

There is no substitute for a righteous home.  
Not a great Young Women's class, Young Men's Priesthood Quorum, Relief Society President, a devoted Bishop, or loving and focused leaders can match the power of a righteous home.

Latter-day Saint parents need to step up!  They must be the ones to maintain and strengthen their families.  It is their job, not a job for the church.  Parents must strengthen their family, not bishops. Fathers and Mothers, not YM and YW leaders.  PARENTS!

This reminds me of a favorite quote from Quentin L Cook:
Parents, the days are long past when regular, active participation in Church meetings and programs, though essential, can fulfill your sacred responsibility to teach your children to live moral, righteous lives and walk uprightly before the Lord. ...It is essential that this be faithfully accomplished in homes which are places of refuge where kindness, forgiveness, truth, and righteousness prevail. Parents must have the courage to filter or monitor Internet access, television, movies, and music. Parents must have the courage to say no, defend truth, and bear powerful testimony. Your children need to know that you have faith in the Savior, love your Heavenly Father, and sustain the leaders of the Church. Spiritual maturity must flourish in our homes. My hope is that no one will leave this conference without understanding that the moral issues of our day must be addressed in the family. Bishops and priesthood and auxiliary leaders need to support families and make sure that spiritual principles are taught. Home and visiting teachers can assist, especially with children of single parents.
When I was young, it seemed that attending church every Sunday was a good enough indication of whether a person would grow up and still be an active member of the church.  Sure family home evening and family scripture study were strongly encouraged, but the overall attitude seemed to be that just getting yourself and your kids to church was "good enough".  This is not the case any longer!  Satan's influence has grown too strong and too brazen for fence-sitters to be safe.  

It must be lived in the family
We must live the gospel in our home with our families, not just on Sunday at church.  Father's must lead their homes and mothers must support their husband in these efforts and "be lights to their children".  When I think of a light, I think of guidance, comfort, and truth.  That is our job as women.  No matter whether the child is ours or not, our role is guide them and comfort them and lead them to truth.

Now before everyone gets all weighed down and feels overburdened, here is the answer of how to accomplish the strengthening and preserving of our family.  On to section 3, We strengthen and preserve our families as we spend time together, love each other, and live the gospel together.
The primary function of a Latter-day Saint home is to insure that every member of the family works to create the climate and conditions in which all can grow toward perfection. For parents, this requires a dedication of time and energy far beyond the mere providing of their children’s physical needs. For children, this means controlling the natural tendency toward selfishness.
We need to work together to provide an atmosphere in our homes where the gospel can be taught and lived, That doesn't mean that it will be a peaceful, chaos free place at all times. I'm sorry, but that is perfection and clearly, President Smith stated that we were working towards perfection.  He didn't say we would attain it.

But it does mean we need to work.  Parents must put in dedication, time and energy.  And children aren't getting off scott free here, they must work to overcome selfishness.  We all must work together to create the environment where gospel learning and growth can take place.
The home … is the workshop where human characters are built and the manner in which they are formed depends upon the relationship existing between parents and the children. The home cannot be what it should be unless these relationships are of the proper character. Whether they are so or not depends, it is true, upon both parents and children, but much more upon parents. They must do their best.
I think the important thing to remember is that we are all in different situations with different outside pressures and limitations.  It is impossible to blanket statement what everyone should be doing.  Everyone's best will be different.  Our best can also change based on what we have on our plates at a given time.

There are a number of great questions posed in the chapter that would be excellent for self reflection.
  • Do you spend as much time making your family and home successful as you do in pursuing social and professional success? 
  • Are you devoting your best creative energy to the most important unit in society—the family? 
  • Is your relationship with your family merely a routine, unrewarding part of life? 
And to wrap up, here are the suggestions that President Joseph Fielding Smith gives us for bettering our relationships with our children.
If I had to suggest one thing which I think we as parents are most lacking, it would be a sympathetic understanding of our children. Live with the children; follow their paths. … Know everything that claims the interest of the children, be a good sport with them.
We have been trying to impress upon parents the need of paying more attention to their children, having a little more of the spirit of the gospel in their homes, a little more unity and a little more faith; a little more responsibility religiously, spiritually on the part of the fathers; also, of the mothers; more of the teaching of the gospel in the home.

Friday, February 14, 2014

It's Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day and I have a complicated relationship.  I don't really care for this singled-out day of love, the feelings I have for people can't be shown with a card, candy or flowers purchased simply to fulfill an obligation.  I should be showing my love everyday through my actions and my words. But, I digress.....

Even though my relationship with St Valentine is strained, I do want my kids to enjoy the festivities that inevitably accompany this day.  So this past week, we have been busily preparing and perfecting Valentine cards for class members and "special" friends.  We've also been busy creating Valentine boxes.

Jared made a football field with a goal post for his Valentine box.  You put the Valentine cards through the goal posts to deposit them in to the sack.

And leave it to my Isaac to want to make a toilet.  We used a shoe box for the back of the toilet and an empty ice cream tub for the toilet bowl.  The toilet handle is a binder clip covered in aluminum foil.  You deposit the Valentine cards into the toilet bowl, of course!

Amelia is making her Valentine sack in class today, so we'll have to see what she ends up with tonight.

Clara felt a little left out of the festivities so I let her write out a couple of Valentine's for her grandparents. She loved it.

Also, I totally recommend buying Valentine's cards for your kids the year before.  I bought a few boxes the week after Valentine's day last year and they were super cheap.  This year, I didn't have to worry about getting to the store this year to get their Valentine's cards.  I just went downstairs and pulled them out of storage.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Pan Bread Traditions

When I was a little girl, my mom would make us pan bread for a treat.  We called them "scones" back in the day, but we now refer to it as "pan bread" at my house because I don't deep fry them.  Going for semi-healthy here..... not really!

Anyway, my kids love pan bread too  And even though it is only bread dough fried up in a pan, it is the treat they like the best.  I usually make these delicious edibles on Sunday after dinner - just like my mom used to do for us.

I just whip up a batch of dough in my bread machine and then roll it out with a rolling pin until it is about 1/2-inch thick and cut it into squarish pieces.  My mom liked to make them thick and my dad always like them really thin.  I usually go for a good in between thickness.  Just remember that the thicker you make them, the fewer pieces you'll end up with.

Put some oil into a frying pan, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan and heat it up over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, put your square dough pieces in there and cook until golden brown.  Then use a spatula or tongs to flip those warm yummies over.

If they cook too fast, you'll need to turn down the heat so that they aren't crispy on the outside and doughy in the middle.

Once they are browned on both sides, transfer them to a paper towel lined plate to cool.

We serve ours up with either honey or homemade strawberry freezer jam.  SO GOOD!

Even Nathan loves them.  I tried to take the picture of him mid-bite, but wasn't quick enough.

Peace out!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Consecrating our Afflictions

A week or so ago, while my family and I were reading the Book of Mormon, we read 2 Nephi 2:2 
Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.
Something in this verse struck me, it was this part. "...he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain."

Since, I always want to be clear on what the meaning of particular words are, I googled a couple of them and this is what I found:

Consecrate = make or declare sacred; dedicate formally to a religious or divine purpose. ordain to a sacred office.  Synonyms: sanctify, bless, make holy, make sacred.  More informal devote (something) exclusively to a particular purpose.

Afflictions = pain, suffering, or humiliation

Gain = improve or advance in some respect; a thing that is achieved or acquired.

So in a longer way of saying it,
... he will make your pains, sufferings and humiliations into sacred experiences and they will be for your eternal improvement and advancement.

I added the word "eternal" in there, and I'll explain why.  When I think of something being consecrated, it is done on purpose, it doesn't happen by chance.  I don't believe our struggles in this life become sacred experiences by chance either. They also don't advance us in an eternal perspective unless we allow them to, and some trials we face are so consuming that we won't fully understand their effects in this life.  But, we CHOOSE whether the afflictions we have in this life will help us progress in our eternal journey or whether we will allow them to stunt our growth and our spirituality.

Let's look at an example that is given in the Book of Mormon.  The prophet, Lehi, takes his family and leaves Jerusalem.  They leave almost all of their possessions behind.  The sons (Laman, Lemual, Sam and Nephi) are sent back to Jerusalem a couple of times; once to get the brass plates and another to get Ishmael's family.  Laman and Lemuel murmur and beat up Nephi and Sam at one point.

They travel in the wilderness for years, living off the land.  They have to hunt for their food and they are instructed not to make fires to cook their food.  The women give birth to children in these conditions.  They are led around for many years this way.

Nephi begins to build a ship.  Laman and Lemuel again want to kill him but eventually repent and help with the boat.  While traveling across the ocean, Laman and Lemuel tie up Nephi and threaten to throw him overboard.  A great tempest comes up and they finally let Nephi go.  They make it to the promised land.  Lehi blesses his children and dies.

This whole family had suffered very hard and very real afflictions.  However, how they let these trials affect them personally couldn't be more different.

First, let's look at the reaction of Laman and Lemuel found in 2 Nephi 5:3-4,14:
3 Yea, they did murmur against me, saying: Our younger brother thinks to rule over us; and we have had much trial because of him; wherefore, now let us slay him, that we may not be afflicted more because of his words. For behold, we will not have him to be our ruler; for it belongs unto us, who are the elder brethren, to rule over this people.
 4 Now I do not write upon these plates all the words which they murmured against me. But it sufficeth me to say, that they did seek to take away my life.
14 And I, Nephi, did take the sword of Laban, and after the manner of it did make many swords, lest by any means the people who were now called Lamanites should come upon us and destroy us; for I knew their hatred towards me and my children and those who were called my people.
First, Laman and Lemuel blamed others for their problems.  Then, they allowed their afflictions to make them angry with their younger brother.  In fact, they were so angry that they wanted to kill him.  Even after Nephi, his family and followers left, Laman and Lemuel taught their children to hate and kill those who called themselves the people of Nephi. This pattern continued for generations!  Some people go through struggles and trials and they become bitter, angry, and hard.  That doesn't seem like an improvement to me.

Let's contrast now with Nephi's reaction to the same trials.  Also in 2 Nephi, but now chapter 4 verses, 17-35:
17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. 
18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me. 
19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.
20 My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep. 
21 He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.
22 He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.
23 Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time.
24 And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.
25 And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.
26 O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?
27 And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?
28 Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.
29 Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.
30 Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.
31 O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?
32 May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!
33 O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way--but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy.
34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.
35 Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.

Notice the difference?  No anger.  No hate.  No bitterness.  Just a lot of gratitude, rejoicing, and also a heaping dose of wanting to be a better person.

What is the difference?  I believe the difference is instead of focusing on the hardness or pain of our afflictions, we instead focus on keeping the commandments and turning to God, allowing the Atonement of Jesus Christ to heal us.  Through the atonement, we can  rely on Christ to make it all better in the end.

Here are a couple of more scriptures about afflictions
3 And now, O my son Helaman, behold, thou art in thy youth, and therefore, I beseech of thee that thou wilt hear my words and learn of me; for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.  (Alma 36:3)
27 Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.   (Alma 26:27)
1 But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction. (Jacob 3:1)
11 And thou didst hear me because of mine afflictions and my sincerity; and it is because of thy Son that thou hast been thus merciful unto me, therefore I will cry unto thee in all mine afflictions, for in thee is my joy; for thou hast turned thy judgments away from me, because of thy Son. (Alma 33:11)

7 And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son [or daughter], that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. 
8 The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?
9 Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.

There is an awesome talk given by Richard C Edgley back in April 2002 titled, For Thy Good.  The whole talk is worth the read on it's own, but I'll just share this part.  He says:
From our sorrow we might seek out the sweetness and the good that is often associated with and peculiar to our challenge. We can seek out those memorable moments that are frequently hidden by the pain and agony. We can find peace in extending ourselves to others, using our own experiences to provide hope and comfort. And we can always remember with great solemnity and gratitude Him who suffered most to make it all right for us. And by so doing we can be strengthened to bear our burdens in peace. And then, the “works of God” might be manifest.
In speaking of Christ’s Atonement, I like the dictionary’s definition of infinite and eternal because I believe it explains exactly what God meant. Infinite: “Having no boundaries or limits.” And the definition of eternal: “Being without beginning or end”

One of my most favorite quotes from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland is very applicable to this subject, he said,
“Don't you quit. You keep walking, you keep trying, there is help and happiness ahead. ... Some blessings come soon. Some come late. Some don't come until heaven. But for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. It will be alright in the end. Trust God and believe in Good Things to Come.”
"The trials and tribulation that we experience may be the very things that guide us to come unto Him and cling to our covenants so that we might return to His presence and receive all that the Father hath."  —Linda S. Reeves, "Claim the Blessings of Your Covenants"
"The difficulties which come to us present us with the real test of our ability to endure. A fundamental question remains to be answered by each of us: Shall I falter, or shall I finish?"  —Thomas S. Monson, ""I Will Not Fail Thee, nor Forsake Thee""
"Our Heavenly Father, who gives us so much to delight in, also knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass."  —Thomas S. Monson, ""I Will Not Fail Thee, nor Forsake Thee""

And finally, if you're a song person like me, there is a song that I like by Laura Story, called Blessings.  Here is a link to a video if you want to watch it and the lyrics are below.

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel you near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if each promise from Your Word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win, we know
That pain reminds this heart,
That this is not, this is not our home.....
It's not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

What if my greatest disappointments,
Or the aching of this life,
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy.
What if trials of this life,
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise?

Monday, February 3, 2014

First Weekend in February

After a bit of a rough start to our Saturday, we got chores completed.

I taught Jared and Isaac a little bit of piano and then listened to them practice.

Then we decided to head down to the gas station to get treats.  The kids all brought their money and bought their own.  I love to see what they pick to buy with their own money.  Apparently they all like sour gummy things, except Clara who opted for Swedish Fish (nasty!!)

I just got a drink.

Nathan worked all day Saturday and didn't get home until late, so unfortunately there aren't any pictures of him.

Once he was home and the kids were in bed, we got caught up +Downton Abbey - PBS Masterpiece Classic via Amazon Instant Video.  He always says he doesn't like those types of shows, but he always get sucked into them with me. :)

After church on Sunday, we headed over to Nathan's parent's house for our monthly family dinner.  Since it was also the Superbowl, dinner was little more casual than usual, but yummy nonetheless.

The game was boring and Jared and Isaac were bummed out that the Broncos didn't win.

I was there for the food, so I was happy!

Clara got bored also and spent her time taking pictures with my phone.  I ended up with these gems.


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