Thursday, September 27, 2012

Marriage Conference

So, here is what we are doing in our ward to help support and strengthen the family:  A Marriage Conference!  We are hosting three classes: Finances, Communication, and Intimacy (30 minutes each), followed by a nice dinner.  The entire conference will last three hours.  Child-care is provided (we asked the Young Adult ward to cover that for us).  We were considering also having a dance, but we felt the time away from the family may be too much, especially for the little ones to be in child-care for that long.  Dinner is also provided in the nursery.

Above is the invitation I created.  I took out the details but you get the idea.  I cannot wait to see how it all turns out!  I will be teaching the communications class.  Our stake patriarch is teaching the finances class.  He is an accountant.  And our Bishop is handling the intimacy class.  Hopefully this will strengthen all of our families (at least the ones who attend, right?).

We have billed it as an adult conference because we have many singles and we want them to come and to participate.  Wish us luck!!  I personally cannot wait!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Family is Ordained of God

I wasn't really sure how this would turn out.  But I LOVED it!!!  I wish that I had a photo for the entire Proclamation!!  Maybe I will work on that for later.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sending this to the other side of the veil...

The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave.

When I was 13, my paternal grandparents were in an automobile accident on Father's Day.  My great-grandfather and my grandfather were killed instantly.  My grandmother was in a coma for a month before they decided to terminate life support.  It was a difficult day, week, month, say the least.

I adored my grandparents.  They could do no wrong in my world....though my grandfather was a relentless tease and he chewed tobacco.  He used to pretend he was going to light my backside on fire whenever I wasn't doing exactly what I should be doing, although he never did.

My grandmother was a saint.  She was the only member of my father's family, besides my father, who joined the church.  I can remember sitting around the table with her and my mother going over the genealogy.  She had this Smoky the bear teddy bear at her house that I absolutely loved.  One year, for Christmas, she made me a teddy bear that looked like that...with little Levi jeans and all.  I was five.  I slept with him every night until I got married.  He still lives here at my house and I have the sewing machine that she used to make him.  When I hold him, feelings of safety and security wash over me----a gift of her love, I am sure.

My relationship with my father is completely different.  I do not feel safe with him.  I am constantly on egg shells.  Our relationship is strained at best and ugly at worst.  This isn't a post about that, but you need to understand a little of where I am coming from so the post makes more sense.  I have struggled with my relationship with my dad since before his parents passed away.  But it was definitely more difficult after his parents died.  Probably because of the deep heartache and sadness he felt.  He became angry at God, and in effect, angry at all of the rest of us.  He became inactive and was not interested in religion.  For a long time, as a child, I thought if I just would do the right thing, the thing my dad wanted, he would learn to love me.  I made most of my decisions with the ultimate goal of pleasing my father.  I could not have known then that in order to truly love others, there has to be some love of self and recognition of self-worth.  (Not to be confused with selfishness or only self-love, but an understanding of the worth of all souls, including self.)  Finally I learned that it didn't matter what I did, my father was not going to be happy so I may as well do the things that made me happy and I quit trying to please my father.  That strained our relationship even more.  I just washed my hands of the whole affair and quit worrying about what my father thought or how my decisions affected him.

Occasionally, I feel my grandmother near me and I remember her.  At those times I can often sense there is something she needs or wants me to pay attention to.  Often I think it is the genealogy, family history work, and temple ordinances she was working on.  Then I do a little research or ordinance preparations and take names to the temple.

About a month ago, I was really pondering about her and our relationship.  I had the stark realization and understanding that the love I felt for my boys, was the same mother-love she felt for her boys, which included my father.  She had the same hopes and dreams that I did.  She wanted them to find peace, to have happiness.  She now knew with certainty that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was their only hope to bring that to them.  And she knew that I was his only child active in the Gospel.  If any one would be able to help him....she was hoping it would be me.  I grew in love for my grandmother that day.  Our mother to mother hearts were knit in one and I understood how desperately she loved my father and still prayed that he would change and soften his heart.  My heart was softened toward my father.  And though I do not have to place myself in the line of his abuse, I need to do whatever I can to keep reaching after him, to keep offering him a chance for change.  I don't need to do it for him.  I need to do it for her.  I need to be able to face her one day and say, "Grandma, I tried and I tried.  I did not give up, even when he was unkind.  I kept trying--for you."

My father may never change.  Whether he does or not is not my responsibility.  My grandmother is hoping he will.  She is counting on me to continue trying, as long as it takes--because that's what mothers do.  And since I am a mother, it is what I need to do to.  Thanks Grandma....I will, for you.

Friday, September 21, 2012

"O Babylon, O Babylon, We bid Thee Farewell..."

So this week, I watched the CES Fireside from Elder Holland.  You can watch it here!!  It is amazing and wonderful!!  I had wanted to embed it here in the blog, but cannot make that happen right now.  So just click the link and watch it....totally worth your time.  If you don't have time for the singing and opening stuff, jump 14 minutes into it and he starts speaking right around there.

In 2006, I was serving in the Young Women's organization.  We highlighted this talk by Elder Gibbons and I made the girls these 'for sale signs' to take home and remind themselves that we need to remove ourselves from Babylon.  After watching the fireside, I decided I needed to dust mine off and maybe even hang it in the family room.

Have a great week celebrating the family!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Photo Credit:
Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

I love this phrase!  Usually when we hear it, I think most of us take it quite literally.  Death and disability are fairly easy to quantify.

But I think there are other, more subtle times (like maybe, 'other circumstances'!) where these principles come into play.  

I know with this last pregnancy, I was really sick in the beginning and at the end I couldn't stand on my feet for very long.  My family had to adapt.  My husband managed everything when he got home from work, on top of putting in his 40 hours those weeks.  The children took over the cooking and cleaning.  I was relegated to directing the work from the couch, when I wasn't sleeping!  Some women do that EVERY pregnancy!!  (We love them for their bravery, faith, and dedication.  Way to go Diana!---not to mention friendship.)

Early in our marriage, after graduating from college, we went for 10 months without a job.  It was very difficult and we had to adapt.  Some families live with mental illness that wasn't obvious or known when the couple married.  That requires some (lots of) adaptation and support from extended family.

Let's face it, whenever life doesn't turn out how we hoped or planned, adjustments need to be made from everyone.  Death , disability (mental or physical), illness, infertility, unemployment and a host of other things may necessitate being flexible in our expectations about the workings of daily life.

I watched Benny and Joon for the first time this week.  Not that he handled it in a completely healthy way, but I loved the portrayal of Benny's sacrifices to care for his sister and to work with her, within the sphere of her functioning.  I loved the addition of Sam to their routine and his challenges.  Specifically, when there was time and space for growth, I enjoyed how all of the characters changed and adapted.  Granted, I wish it had been more in accordance with the Family Proclamation principles.....oh Hollywood!

I guess my point is:  we ALL must be flexible and make some allowances while doing the best we can to mirror the ideal (more thoughts in this post) the prophets teach about.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Family Proclamation Principles

So I have been trying to think for several days about what we do at our house to teach the principles of The Family: A Proclamation to the World.  I have racked my brain recognizing that we do not have any specific
 lessons geared toward that document.  Then I really thought about it.  How do I teach those things to my children........?.......It hit me:

We do it every day in the way we live.  Many, many days I take time out to affirm to one or more of my children their worth and value in the eyes of the Lord.  I help them see their gifts when others are unkind or demeaning.  I praise their positive decisions to stand for righteous principles...even when it means they must do so alone.  I remind them that their generation has a sacred and solemn responsibility to defend the principles and doctrines of the family through their personal example and within their communities.

I realized at one point, that I could not ask them to do this if I was not also willing.  I have had to stand up in public meetings to voice the opinion that we may not want to raise money for our schools through activities that do not also promote values we want our children to emulate (for example, hosting a casino night as a fundraiser) and that we do want to stand for principles that grow our communities and support positive child development (like supporting prop 8 as a PTA).  Neither was popular.  No one backed me up during the meeting, but afterward several people came to me privately and expressed gratitude for saying something they felt but did not feel they could voice in public.  I remind my children that we are not in this to be popular.  We are to be the leaders.  We need to be the voice for righteous principle and encourage all to join us who will chose to.

We teach them to join forces with like-minded individuals.  There is so much good in the world---so many people who believe in the principles we believe in even though they may not agree with us 100% on religious issues.  We must unite as people who have common core beliefs on the fundamental issues of the family and we must work together.  We can do more together as we unite our faith and belief and do so with a public voice.

We watch politics at our house.  My sweetheart was a Political Science major.  We discuss policies of both parties and talk about how they do or do not support families ...the way God defines them.  We teach them of the importance it is to vote and to help others around them understand why supporting the principles of the family proclamation are necessary for the health of all of our communities.

Those discussions and the shaping of their perspectives and feelings about themselves have been extremely important as they have grown.  Several of our children have friends and friends' parents who do not feel the way we do about family and lifestyle choices.  As we openly discuss their beliefs and how we can treat them kindly and still defend our beliefs, while not ridiculing theirs, my children's abilities to converse intelligently and kindly has increased and they have experience in the public sphere, defending these principles.

 I guess maybe we do not do so badly, even though we have never formally had a Family Home Evening Lesson on the Proclamation :-)  Maybe you have similar experiences??

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mothers Who Know

Access the talk, Mothers Who Know

(I LOVE the above message from Elder Holland!  Precious, for very difficult days!)

In the Book of Mormon, Laman and Lemuel say to Nephi (as he is beginning to build the ship), "Thou canst not accomplish so great a work...."  Isn't that just like the world???  Those are the words we hear.  You cannot do it!  That is ridiculous! You are lacking in judgement!

I not only hear these words from people---sometimes I hear them in my own head.  I certainly heard them when I was considering home schooling our middle-schooler.  I heard them again when I got pregnant with number nine, at 41.  I hear them while I am trying to teach my children how to swim.

That may not seem like such a big deal to you, but I learned to swim late and I was never a very good or very confident swimmer.  I can swim, but I hate it.  It is ugly and I certainly will not win any awards.  I believed my ability to teach others that skill was extremely lacking.  No one else is teaching them and we cannot afford to hire someone to do so.

But I take courage in this statement:  "Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children."  That is the language of The Family: A Proclamation to the World.  What does that mean exactly?  What is the nurture of our children?

In my mind, it is helping them feel safe, happy, loved, and understood.  It is helping them to make sense of the world around them through educating them, teaching them, and explaining it to them.  It is listening to them, feeding them, clothing them, bathing them.  It is laughing----A LOT of laughing and occasionally disciplining them.

The relationship between a mother and a child makes me their perfect and ultimate teacher, regardless of the topic.  Not because I am an expert, but because they trust me.  They love me.  More importantly, they know I love them.  They will do what I ask.  They will believe what I say, even when it is hard.  And when the time comes that they are old enough to question me or not always do what I say, they will still listen---because their experience has taught them where they can turn and that most of the time.....Mother knows best.

I hope our relationship helps them feel confident in turning to the Savior.  I hope they hear His voice through me and feel His love.  But that is a post for another day.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Striving for the IDEAL!

For the next two weeks Chocolate on my Cranium, Diapers and divinity, Middle-aged Mormon Man, and Jocelyn are hosting The Family Proclamation Celebration and every day will be posting great articles about the family.  I am not even going to pretend to keep up with them.  But I would like to participate and I have plenty of opinions about the family.  So I will do my best and try to post periodically (at least more regularly than in the past :-).  Wish me luck!

Today, I want to discuss why we set an 'ideal' out there.  We all know ideals are difficult, if not impossible to achieve.  So why do we teach them?  Is it so we can look to it and say, 'Well, I can never achieve that, so I am not going to even try?' or 'I'm such a failure!!!  I can't do it!'  Certainly some of us will respond that way.

No, that's not even close.  We teach the ideal because in setting a mark of measurement, all are improved with effort.  Just think back to school for a moment.  If we are all striving for an A, even a 'failing' student will probably achieve a C.  C is better than F.  Do we just tell the F student, well, you can't ever really get an A, so you shouldn't try.  Just be happy with that F???!!  NO WAY!

We want everyone to be as successful as possible.  We want everyone to put in some effort and thereby gain some reward, even if it isn't the greatest possible.  And so as a mark, we put out the ideal.

Photo credit: Visiting Teaching Surprise

For families, this--The Family: A Proclamation to the World--this is the ideal.  We will not all be able to achieve this level of functioning.  But if we are all trying to achieve the ideal, all of us are better--our homes are better, our churches are better, our communities are better, our nations are better.  ALL benefit from striving for the ideal.

Unfortunately whenever we have measuring sticks we mortals also resort to judgement.  Someone thinks because they more closely reach the ideal they are better than those not as far down the road.  Or someone looks ahead of them and dismisses their willingness to try because the people ahead of them had 'special circumstances' to allow them to be where they are.  Thus in our efforts to make all feel good and valued, some express desire to throw out the measuring sticks and get away from an ideal all together.  What a mistake!  In the absence of an ideal, all will be encouraged to walk in their own way and accept their own mediocrity.  Sound familiar??

I really appreciated this quote today from Cocoa's blog:
I'll just add this thought from Elder Marlin K. Jensen "Prophets and apostles have always had the duty to teach and encourage us to strive for the ideal. It was what the Savior did. His injunction was “Be ye therefore perfect” (Matthew 5:48), not just “Have a good day.” It is also helpful to remember that in teaching the ideal, the Savior recognized that the ideal isn’t always immediately attainable. Seeking to keep all the commandments—even if we sometimes fall short of the ideal—is something within the power of each of us and is acceptable to our Heavenly Father."  Cocoa's blog

I am so very grateful that we have Prophets teaching us the Lord's ideal!!