Monday, November 24, 2014

Little Devotions

This book is a collection of stories from the life of Thomas S. Monson.  They are brief, and include stories from his childhood.  They are perfect to read aloud to your kids while waiting in the car, or while your kids eat breakfast, or right before bed, or any other time that you have just a minute.  The stories are charming and sweet and a beautiful way to learn about our beloved Prophet and the experiences that have shaped his testimony.

The book is out of print, but used copies can be purchased for pennies on Amazon.  It is also available for the Kindle.  It is a great addition to a family library.  


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Teaching Financial Literacy

Do you remember in the Old Testament that the oldest son would inherit all that his father had?  The son would be responsible for taking care of his mother and sisters and any young siblings when his father died.  The oldest son would take ownership of the property that his father had been given by his father.  How intentional the father must have been to teach his oldest son good money skills!  How he must have taught, by word and example, the pitfalls of debt, gambling, laziness, envy and greed.  I can imagine him taking his son to work with him regularly to carefully teach him how to care for the land, and for his family.  For what the father had would become the stewardship of the son.  

At the end of the book Dave Ramsey co-authored with his daughter Rachel Cruze titled "Smart Money Smart Kids" Dave reminds parents today to be as intentional about teaching our children as the Old Testament fathers must have been with their first born sons so that our children will enjoy peace and success in their futures.  Their book covers the topics of work, saving, spending, giving, budgeting, debt, college, and contentment.  

We love Dave Ramsey.  By following his financial advice we have great financial peace in our home. That peace has blessed our marriage and our children.  I hope that our examples and our efforts to teach our children financial literacy and the value of hard work will bless our family tree, that they might have financial peace regardless of how much money they make.  

Last year for Christmas each of the kids over the age of 6 received one of these pocket dividers for their personal finances.  There is a section for savings, spending, tithing (with tithing envelopes), coupons and receipts.   It has been a great way to help our kids be responsible for their money.   

I finished the Smart Money Smart Kids book last night and wanted to jot down some ideas that I want to incorporate into our family:
  • Help teenagers open and manage their own checking accounts.  He suggests that instead of paying for all of your child's back to school expenses (for example) that you figure out how much you would normally spend- for the yearbook, for clothes, for fees, etc. and then write your child a check and have them deposit it and take care of their own expenses through their account.  Dave Ramsey's daughter told about when she received her first overdraft notice from the bank.  She was sure that her dad was going to freak out, but instead he quietly told her that the next day she needed to go to the bank, meet with the manager and apologize to him in person for lying about how much money she had in her account.  She did, and never bounced another check.  
  • Let our kids get experience giving our money.  Rachel Cruze told of a time that her mom asked her and her sister to take two less fortunate girls shopping for clothes at the mall.  Mom provided them with envelopes of money and the girls spent the day shopping with their new friends to find some new clothes.  Not only was it a reminder of the blessings that the Ramsey girls had, but it was a valuable lesson in the joy of giving!
  • Teach and model that our money, time and talents do not belong to us, but to God and that we must use them accordingly.  
  • Make ACT/SAT scores, and scholarship applications a part time job for our future high school students. 
  • Be more vocal about our desire that our children will avoid debt for their whole lives.  
  • Let our kids see us budget, save and spend.  We do those things, but it will help our kids if they see HOW we do it.  
  • Give our engaged children an envelope with the money that we have for their wedding.  Encourage them to budget and work together to spend it in a way that will honor both of their wishes.  When it's gone, it's gone.  If there is money left over it belongs to them.  What good practice for marriage!  
Another financial life lesson I want to teach our kids is to not make money off of other peoples misfortunes.  God cannot support us if what we are doing tears down his other children.  We need God's support!  So we will not make money selling drugs, alcohol, porn, etc.  We will not make money by ripping other people off or by being dishonest.  We will not take advantage of others or be dishonest.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Poems from General Conference

Image from
I remember when my oldest son started third grade.  He came home during the first week with a list of "expectations" that his teacher had prepared for him.  One of the expectations was that he would memorize a poem each week.  I was stunned.  He was eight- and rambunctious!  I had serious reservations about his ability to meet this requirement.  But each week he shared a different poem at the dinner table.  Some were funny and light-hearted (Betty Botter's Better Batter) others demanded some reflection (The Road Not Taken).  But he managed to memorize all of them with no help from me, and many of them he still remembers nearly five years later.

There is great power in memorization.  Many of our General Authorities have shared scriptures and poems and passages of literature in their addresses.  Often they note that these are things that they memorized when they were young.  

I've printed up a book of poems shared in General Conference for each child.  We will memorize them in our house at a rate of one a week, the kids can choose what order they want to go in, and a couple to skip completely.  My eight year old will be working only on the Articles of Faith.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

More Examples of Motherhood in Books

I read an amazing post yesterday about friendship in marriage (click here to read).  One of the early comments caught my attention, she asked how to be friends with your husband when you are exhausted from taking care of the kids and maybe a little resentful of him.

It reminded me of a favorite passage in Little Women.  I bought this book recently at a book sale for my daughter to read.  I had no plans to reread it since I read it as a teenager, but I opened the book to a page in the middle and was sucked in.  When I read it in high school I read about the daughters.  Today, finding my way as a mother, I read about Marmee.  What a woman!

Here's the passage I wanted to share.  I've taken excerpts from Marmee's counsel to Meg after the twins have been born.  Meg has been so busy with the twins that her husband has started to go and visit with a neighbor couple each night for conversation.  This bothers Meg, but she's too busy to do anything about it.  A lot like the woman who commented on the blog post, she is exhausted and maybe resentful.
"Make it so pleasant he won't want to go away.  My dear, he's longing for his little home; but it isn't home without you, and you are always in the nursery.'
'Oughtn't I to be there?'
'Not all the time; too much confinement makes you nervous, and then you are unfitted for everything.  Besides, you owe something to John as well as to the babies; don't neglect husband for children, don't shut him out of the nursery, but teach him how to help in it.  His place is there as well as yours, and the children need him; let him feel that he has his part to do, and he will do it gladly and faithfully, and it will be better for you all. ... Let Hannah come and help you; she is a capital nurse, and you may trust the precious babies to her while you do more housework.  You need the exercise, Hannah would enjoy the rest, and John would find his wife again.  Go out more; keep cheerful as well as busy, for you are the sunshine-maker of the family, and if you get dismal there is no fair weather.'... 'This is just the time, Meg, when young married people are apt to grow apart, and the very time when they ought to be most together; for the first tenderness soon wears off,  unless care is take to preserve it; and no time is so beautiful and precious to parents as the first years of the little lives given them to train.  Don't let John be a stranger to the babies, for they will do more to keep him safe and happy in this world of trial and temptation than anything else, and through them you will learn to know and love one another as you should."
If you keep reading you will find that it took some effort, and forgiveness, but that by it their whole family was blessed.

Being able to find joy in motherhood is so important.  Often it takes eyes that can see those precious fleeting moments of joy or beauty in the middle of the chaos.  Occasionally it requires that we ask others for help so we can step back and catch our breath.  It certainly requires that we treat ourselves with compassion, and care, to keep ourselves healthy and rested as much as possible.  But it is worth every effort, to make sunshine for our family, and to preserve the beautiful friendship that should exist in every home between a husband and a wife.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Finding Examples of the Power of Motherhood in Literature

I love the book "Mama's Bank Account".  It is a treasure of stories about a Norwegian immigrant family living in San Francisco in the early 1900's.  Mama reminds me of my important role as mother.  The book is full of funny and amazing stories that illustrate her love and courage, but my favorite is the first chapter, shared here:

For as long as I could remember, the small cottage on Castro Street had been home.  The familiar background was there; Mama, Papa, my only brother, Nels.  There was my sister Christene, closest to me in age, yet ever secret and withdrawn- and the littlest sister, Dagmar.  There, too, came the Aunts, Mama's four sisters.  Aunt Jenny, who was the oldest and the bossiest; Aunt Sigrid; Aunt Marta; and our Maiden Aunt, Trina.  The Aunts' old bachelor uncle, my Great-uncle Chris- the "black Norwegian"- came with his great impatience, his shouting and stamping.  And brought mystery and excitement to our humdrum days.

But the first awareness was of Mama.

I remember that every Saturday night Mama would sit down by the scrubbed kitchen table and with much wrinkling of usually placid brows count out the money Papa had brought home in the little envelope.  There would be various stacks.  "For the landlord," Mama would say, piling up the big silver pieces.  "For the grocer."  Another group of coins.  "For Katrin's shoes to be half-soled."  And Mama would count out the little silver.  "Teacher says this week I'll need a notebook."  That would be Christene or Nels or I.  Mama would solemnly detach a nickel or a dime and set it aside.  We would watch the diminishing pile with breathless interest.  At last, Papa would ask, "Is all?"  And when Mama nodded, we could relax a little and reach for schoolbooks and homework.  For Mama would look up then and smile.  "Is good," she'd murmur.  "We do not have to go to the Bank."  It was a wonderful thing, that Bank Account of Mama's.  We were all so proud of it.  It gave us such a warm, secure feeling.  No one else we knew had money in a big bank downtown.

I remember when the Jensens down the street were put out because they couldn't pay their rent.  We children watched the big strange men carry out the furniture, took furtive notice of poor Mrs. Jensen's shamed tears, and I was choked with sudden fear.  This, then, happened to people who did not have the stack of coins marked "Landlord."  Might this, could this, violence happen to us?  I clutched Christine's hands.  "We have a Bank Account," she reassured me calmly, and suddenly I could breathe again.

When Nels graduated from grammar school he wanted to go on to High.  "Is good," Mama said, and Papa nodded approvingly.  "It will cost a little money," Nels said.  Eagerly we brought up chairs and gathered around the table.  I took down the gaily painted box that Aunt Sigrid had sent us from Norway one Christmas and laid it carefully in front of Mama.  This was the "Little Bank".  Not to be confused, you understand, with the big Bank downtown.  The "Little Bank" was used for sudden emergencies, such as the time Christine broke her arm and had to be taken to a doctor, or when Dagmar got croup and Papa had to go to the drugstore for medicine to put into the steam kettle.

Nels had it all written out neatly.  So much for carfare, for clothes, for notebooks and supplies.  Mama looked at the figures for a long time.  Then she counted out the money in the Little Bank.  There was not enough.  She pursed her lips.  "We do not," she reminded us gently, "want to have to go to the Bank".  We all shook our heads.  "I will work in Dillon's grocery after school," Nels volunteered.  Mama gave him a bright smile and laboriously wrote down a sum and added and subtracted.  Papa did it in his head.  He was very quick on arithmetic.  "Is not enough," he said.  Then he took his pipe out of his mouth and looked at it for a long time.  "I give up tobacco," he said suddenly.  Mama reached across the table and touched Papa's sleeve, but she didn't say anything.  Just wrote down another figure.  "I will mind the Elvington children every Friday night," I said.  "Christine can help me."  "Is good," Mama said.  We all felt very good.  We had passed another milestone without having to go downtown and draw money out of Mama's Bank Account.  The Little Bank was sufficient for the present.

So many things, I remember, came out of the Little Bank that year.  Christine's costume for the school play, Dagmar's tonsil operation, my Girl Scout uniform.  And always, in the background, was the comforting knowledge that should our efforts fail, we still had the Bank to depend upon.

Even when the Strike came, Mama would not let us worry unduly.  We all worked together so that the momentous trip downtown could be postponed.  It was almost like a game.  During that time Mama "helped out" at Kruper's bakery for a big sack of only slightly stale bread and coffeecake.  And as Mama said, fresh bread was not too good for a person and if you put the coffeecake into the hot oven it was nearly as nice as when first baked.  Papa washed bottles at the Castro Creamery every night and they gave him three quarts of fresh milk and all the sour milk he could carry away.  Mama made fine cheese.

The day the Strike was over and Papa went back to work, I saw Mama stand a little straighter, as if to get a kink out of her back.  She looked around at us proudly.  "Is good," she smiled.  "See?  We did not have to go down to the Bank."

That was twenty years ago.

Last year I sold my first story.  When the check came I hurried over to Mama's and put the long green slip of paper in her lap.  "For you," I said, "to put in your Bank Account."  And I noticed for the first time how old Mama and Papa looked.  Papa seemed shorter, now, and Mama's wheaten braids were sheened with silver.  Mama fingered the check and looked at Papa.  "Is good," she said, and her eyes were proud.  "Tomorrow," I told her, "you must take it down to the Bank."  "You will go with me Katrin?"  "That won't be necessary, Mama.  See?  I've endorsed the check to you.  Just hand it to the teller, he'll deposit it in your account."  Mama looked at me.  "Is no account," she said.  "In all my life, I never been inside a Bank."

And when I didn't- couldn't- answer, Mama said earnestly: "Is not good for little ones to be afraid- to not feel secure."

Monday, April 21, 2014

Finding a Higher Vision in Literature

Have you read "Laddie"?  I love stories told from a child's perspective.  It is an incredibly encouraging look at a large family.  The story of their family is told by the youngest child, a girl.  The book is semi-autobiographical as the author is the youngest of 12 children and loosely based the story on her childhood.  

My favorite thing about the book is the VISION it gives me for myself, my home and my family.  Motherhood is so scorned today, she makes it sound so beautiful, powerful and important.  Here's a bit of my favorite passage:

(To set the scene: the mother has been surprised by a visit from an unhappy neighbor, he has called her a 'fine lady' and she is responding.)

"My dear man!" she cried, "I'm the daughter of a Dutch miller, who lived on a Pennsylvania mountain stream.  There never was a school anywhere near us, and father and mother only taught us to work.  Paul Stanton took a grist there, and saw me.  He married me, and brought me here.  He taught me to read and write.  I learned my lessons with my elder children.  He has always kept school in our house, every night of his life.  Our children supposed it was for them; I knew it was quite as much for me.  While I sat at knitting or sewing, I spelled over the words he gave out.  I know nothing of my ancestors, save that they came from the lowlands of Holland, down where there were cities, schools, and business.  They were well educated, but they would not take the trouble to teach their own children.  As I have spoken to you, my husband has taught me.  All I know I learn from him, from what he reads aloud, and places he takes me.  I exist in a twenty-mile radius, but through him, I know all lands, principalities and kingdoms, peoples and customs.  I need never be ashamed to go, or afraid to speak, anywhere."

"Indeed not!" cried Mr. Pryor.

"But when you think of the essentials of a real lady- and then picture me patching, with a First Reader propped before me; facing Indians, Gypsies, wild animals- and they used to be bad enough- why, I mind one time in Ohio when our first baby was only able to stand beside a chair, and through the rough puncheon floor a copperhead stuck up its gleam of bronzy gold, and shot its darting tongue within a foot of her bare leg.  By all accounts, a lady would have reached for her smelling salts and gracefully fainted away; in fact, a lady never would have been in such a place at all.  It was my job to throw the first thing I could lay my hands on so straight and true that I would break that snake's neck, and send its deadly fangs away from my baby.  I did it with Paul's plane, and neatly too!  Then I had to put the baby on the bed and tear up every piece of the floor to see that the snake had not a mate in hiding there, for copperheads at that season were going in pairs.  Once I was driven to face a big squaw, and threatened the life of her baby with a red-hot poker while she menaced mine with a hunting knife.  There is not one cold, rough, hard experience of pioneer life that I have not endured.  Shoulder to shoulder, and heart to heart, I've stood beside my man, and done what had to be done, to build this home, rear our children, save our property.  Many's the night I have shivered in a barn doctoring sick cattle and horses we could ill afford to lose.  Time and again I have hung on and brought things out alive, after the men gave up and quit.  A lady?  How funny!"

"The amusement is all on your part, Madame."

"So it seems!" said mother.  "But you see, I know so well how ridiculous it is.  When I think of the life a woman must lead in order to be truly a lady, when I review the life I have been forced to live to do my share in making this home, and rearing these children, the contrast is too great.  I thank God for any part I have been able to take.  Had I life to live over, I see now where I could do more; but neighbor, believe me, my highest aspiration is to be a clean, thrifty housekeeper, a bountiful cook, a faithful wife, a sympathetic mother.  That is life work for any woman, and to be a good woman is the greatest thing on earth.  Never mind about the ladies; if you can honestly say of me, she is a good woman, you have paid me the highest possible tribute."

"I have nothing to change, in the face of your argument," said Mr. Pryor.  "Our loved Queen on her throne is no finer lady."

That time mother didn't laugh.  She looked straight at him a minute and then she said: "Well, for an Englishman, as I know them, you have said the last word.  Higher praise there is none.  But believe me, I make no such claim.  To be a good wife and mother is the end toward which I aspire.  To hold the respect and love of my husband is the greatest object of my life."

"Then you have succeeded.  You stand a monument to wifehood; your children prove your idea of motherhood," said Mr. Pryor.  "How in this world have you managed it?  The members of your family whom I have seen are fine, interesting men and women, educated above the average.  It is not idle curiosity.  I am deeply interested in knowing how such an end came to be accomplished here on this farm.  I wish you would tell me just how you have gone about schooling your children."

By educating ourselves before their coming, and with them afterward.   Self-control, study, work, joy of life, satisfaction with what we have had, never-ending strife to go higher, and to do better... I don't know; but if these things do not help before birth, at least they do not hinder; and afterward, you are in the groove in which you want your children to run.  With all of our twelve there never has been one who at nine months of age did not stop crying if its father lifted his finger, or tapped his foot and told it to.  From the start we have rigorously guarded our speech and actions before them.  From the first tiny baby my husband has taught all of them to read, write and cipher some, before they went to school at all.  He is always watching, observing, studying: the earth, the stars, growing things; he never comes to a meal but he has seen something that he has or will study out for all of us.  There never has been one day in our home on which he did not read a new interesting article from book or paper; work out a big problem, or discuss some phase of politics, religion, or war.  Sometimes there has been a little of all of it in one day, always reading, spelling, and memory exercises at night... He has been a schoolmaster, his home his schoolroom, his children, wife and helpers his pupils; the common things of life as he meets them every day, the books from which we learn.

"I was ignorant at first of bookish subjects, but in his atmosphere, if one were no student, and didn't even try to keep up, or forge ahead, they would absorb much through association.  Almost always he has been on the school board and selected the teachers; we have made a point of keeping them here, at great inconvenience to ourselves, in order to know as much of them as possible, and to help and guide them in their work.  When the children could learn no more here, for most of them we have managed the high school of Groveville, especially after our daughter moved there,  and for each of them we have added at least two years of college, music school, or whatever the peculiar bent of the child seemed to demand.  

"Before any daughter has left our home for one of her own, she has been taught all I know of cleanliness about a house, cookery, sewing, tending the sick, bathing and dressing the new born.  She has to bake bread, pie, cake and cook any meat or vegetable we have.  She has had her bolt of muslin to make as she chose for her bedding, and linen for her underclothing.  The quilts she pieced and the blankets she wove have been hers.  All of them have been as well provided for her as we could afford.  They can knit, darn, patch, tuck, hem, and embroider, set a hen and plant a garden.  I go on vacation and leave each of them to keep house for her father for a month, before she enters a home of her own.  They are strong, healthy girls; I hope all of them are making a good showing at being useful women, and I know they are happy, so far at least."

"Wonderful!" said Mr. Pryor.

"Father takes the boys in hand and they must graduate in a straight furrow, an even fence, planting and tending crops, trimming and grafting trees, caring for stock, and handling plane, augur and chisel.  Each one must select his wood, cure, fashion, and fit his own ax with a handle, grind and swing it properly, as well as cradle, scythe and sickle.  They must be able to select good seed grain, boil sap, and cure meat.  They must know animals, their diseases and treatment, and when they have mastered all he can teach them, and done each thing properly, they may go for their term at college, and make their choice of a profession."  

Can you see why I like it so much?
What incredible vision and clarity.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Scripture Study with the Rich Family

Christene Rich is a real life friend I have had since our freshman years at BYU.  I am so grateful for her encouraging influence in my life.  She is the mother of five, with a baby on the way!

Here she is:

Scripture study for our family has been full of starts and stops.  It has been difficult for us to find something that works for us as a family.  Our scripture study is still a work in progress but I am so happy that we have something that works for us now.  Its so simple that I’m a little embarrassed to write about it but if I can help anyone then it’s worth it. 

Growing up, my family always did scriptures right before bed and we tried that for a few years and just couldn’t find a rhythm. After much prayer and thought I decided to try what those “crazy people” do and have scriptures in the morning.  And it worked!  We have scriptures around the kitchen table during breakfast.  The only time they are all quiet is when they are eating.  :) 

I prepare breakfast, put it on the table and get everything ready, including a towel for those spills :), and then I read while they eat.  After a few days I realized I wanted something to draw on to explain things.  So I bought a white board and some markers.  I keep it up high or else we all know what would happen.  It has been invaluable to help explain those things that they just don’t get.  Like what scales used to look like and how they work, or drawing maps of what’s going on.  

It has been a wonderful thing for us.  Some mornings we are good to get a few verses in, especially with this pregnancy, but I can feel an increase in love and kindness to each other and an increase in the Spirit in our home and I’m so grateful. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Scripture Study With the Moss Family

Another favorite blogger of mine is Jenifer Moss.  She blogs at .  She is the mother of eight adorable kids.  Her testimony, even in the face of incredible challenge is a strength to me daily.  I appreciate her letting me share how her family studies the scriptures together.  

Here she is:
scripture time.
remember this is 6:30 in the morning, so they are all still tired!
i LOVE the perspective that other families bring to my life.
it helps me to feel better about what i am asking my family to do.
and, it helps me reevaluate some things.
i like the balance that my family has.
BUT-- i did need to change some things.
I started with SCRIPTURE TIME.
our scripture time had morphed into scripture lounging, playing, corralling of wild horses, time of day.
children listening sometimes, playing and laughing other times, and parents trying to fit in a small ounce of devotion into the morning.
it was planned for Monday through Friday, but was probably achieved only 3 or 4 times a week.
casual was the name of the game.
things are still casual-- but my focus is shifted.
i believe scripture time is a time for reverence, obedience and pondering.
i had focused much on the FEELING, but i had missed an important ingredient.
it is important that i teach my children to happily obey.
scripture time is GREAT practice!!
the beginning of the school year is a great time to move up a grade.
i'm sharing with you the changes we made and HOW we changed...
i'm not saying your scripture time should look like ours-- just giving you another example to have in your hat.
It is IMPORTANT for children to learn to sit quietly for a time during the day.
I spend much time entertaining my children and trying to make things fun.
(that IS something good that i do, but it is OK for me to expect just plain compliance sometimes.  even when it might be boring.)
we did a major REVAMP of scripture time.
having a REVERENT scripture time is ESSENTIAL for having children who behave well at school and can sit quietly at church or Sunday school.
it is GOOD for children to learn to sit in their seat, take turns reading, and follow directions.
we did this before-- but, after reading how some other families operate, i have UPPED my game and my expectations.
my kids are age 13,12,10,9,6,4 and 1.  they can ALL sit for 30 minutes a day.

Our Routine.
We start by calling everyone to scripture time (at 6:30am).  They come dressed for school and bring their baskets (see below).
They sit on the couches in the living room and we talk about our schedule (i have a big paper calendar that i have written their events on.)
We recite a memorized quote or scripture if we have one.
We go from youngest to oldest reading from one or two verses of scripture each.
We read a whole chapter.
Then we sing a few songs for eve-- itsy bitsy spider, hokey pokey, if your happy and you know it, and some songs from church.  SO FUN!!
We kneel to pray, todd calls on someone to pray.
And we say our family cheer, "family, forever!  family, forever!  DOOOO GOOD!"
we end with a big family hug, that usually ends with someone crying because the older boys were too rough.
(just keeping it honest.)

2.  read EVERY DAY!
i am not a fan of consistency.  (you know that.)
i like to change things up-- read book of mormon, change to bible, memorize scriptures, sing hymns and scriptures that go with them, follow their sunday school lessons, etc, etc.
but, i'm CONVERTING.
consistence and routine are what is BEST for scripture study.
seriously.  i can FEEL it.
and, if i'm loving a routine you know it is inspired.  (Ha!)
THIS is what works BEST for us.
Pick a book of scripture.
COMMIT to read one chaper a day-- NO MATTER WHAT.
Don't skip weekends!!  Don't skip Sundays!!  (In fact, read TWO chapters on Sunday!)
We mark the chapters that we read on our monthly calendar with a heart.
Our goal is to get 100 days in a row.
My friend Amy said the last time her family missed scripture reading was last year on her birthday. 
She said when she woke up the next morning and realized that they had missed SHE CRIED!
Her kids are just as excited about never missing a day as she is.
wow!!  that example inspired me... we are going to be CONSISTENT with this.
and, the funny thing is it is EASIER to be consistent than it was not to be.

I told my kids that story and, my kids are competitive.
They are LOVING our new consistency.
Many times we read in the CAR!!
We have missed some days this summer-- but we are SO MUCH better than we were when i thought a few missed days was OK.
anna was cranky about SOCKS the morning we made our labels.
i think i may have accidentally, and teasingly, called her a weirdo?!  (oops)
i loved the note her sweet father added to the bottom of her label.
i was not a fan of everybody read a verse.
BUT, i have been converted.
we start with lily, todd or i read and she copies line for line.
then we take turns through our whole family until we have finished THE WHOLE CHAPTER.
When i want to go fast and so i just read a whole bunch of verses, my kids get bored and zone out.
When they know there turn is coming, they pay attention more.
There is power in kids being AGENTS.
When they use their agency to read the scriptures, or even repeat the scriptures, they learn a humility and open themselves up to feeling the spirit.
since we have returned to this basic way of having scripture study i can feel a PEACE and REVERENCE in my home that was NOT there before.
i love it!!
4. Playpens?  Caging the baby!!  
many of the ladies i read about have time where they put their baby in a play pen with toys while they are teaching the other children.
that was new to me and a bit extreme.
i'm not a play pen mom...
my BABY is the worst distraction to everyone (myself included) during scripture time.
that seventh child is CONSTANTLY the center of attention.
she has eight people who clap and smile and praise her every moment of the day.
i decided to try out the playpen-- convinced i could make it fun for her.
playpen time was a BIG change.  it was good for a few days to help change things up.
Yes, i did keep the pack and play out for a week while we were formalizing scripture time, but my goal was not to have her in the playpen.
my goal was to teach her to play quietly or look at books and teach the other kids that they CAN NOT play with her for one half hour of the day.
the playpen helped the other kids to understand i was serious about NOT playing with the baby.
she is MINE during scripture time.
i gave her snacks, books, and toys to play with. 
she did great!
5. Baskets.
i made up individual baskets that we keep on our book shelf.  
one per kid.
it has their scriptures and marking pencils, their journals, and other things.
i LOVE the baskets MOST for my younger kids.
i put some paper and pencils in there for them, and a few Friend magazines.
they color their scriptures or in their journal and have things to look at while we are reading.
it keeps them happy and quiet.

Even the baby has a basket!  
Hers is filled with books.
she is learning to sit quietly and play by herself during this time.
i think this will also help her when we go to church-- she is learning there is a time for quiet.

Yup!!  For the first week, i bought brand new, yummy popsicles!
everyone who came quickly, sat nicely and participated respectfully got a great treat afterwards.
if my kids didn't come to scripture time quickly when we called, or got out of their chair, or were sassy, or looked at me wrong (hehe), or played with eve, i would say, "that's one."  
if they got to three they had to sit on a chair and did not get a treat afterwards.
the first two days, we took the best kids to McDonald's for ice cream.
the other kids were shocked.
we had pretty consecutive rewards for great scripture time behavior.
it was summertime and i didn't mind daily popsicles anyway.

i was looking around at our scripture time this morning and i was amazed at how far we've come.
we can actually talk about scriptures because we don't have to spend each morning talking about BEHAVIOR.
it is lovely and RIGHT.

Scripture time is important and a great way to start the morning.
But, this is not a post about the importance of a morning devotional.
this is a post about teaching your children to obey and sit quietly.
{i still have a long journey ahead of me with this one!!}
Honor your Father and Mother is one of the ten commandments.
when you obey the commandments, you are blessed.
my children are blessed when they learn to obey.
AND scripture time is GREAT PRACTICE!!

and, lest you misunderstand-- our scripture times are NOT quiet.
but they are FOCUSED.
as we read, we are able to discuss and ask questions and not focusing on the silly behavior of the kids who are not paying attention.
it is good.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Family Scripture Study with the Wadsworth Family

Family photo July 2013
One of my favorite blogs is  .  The author is a mother of ten, an incredible writer and was recognized as Nevada's Mother of the Year.  She inspires and blesses with her blog.  I am excited to share how her family studies the scriptures together.  

Here she is:

There's a Primary song my children love to sing, Scripture Power.

Because I want to be like the Savior, and I can,
I’m reading His instructions, I’m following His plan.
Because I want the power His word will give to me,
I’m changing how I live, I’m changing what I’ll be.

I’ll find the sword of truth in each scripture that I learn.
I’ll take the shield of faith from these pages that I turn.
I’ll wear each vital part of the armor of the Lord,
And fight my daily battles, and win a great reward.

Scripture power keeps me safe from sin.
Scripture power is the power to win.
Scripture power! Ev’ryday I need
The power that I get each time I read.

The power that I get each time I read. Don't we all seek for and want that power? Don't we want that for our children too? We can have that, you know. It takes some work, and LOTS of patience, but it is attainable.

One Sunday, many years ago, I witnessed an inspiring moment. My then 4 year old daughter, Marie, was singing 'Nephi's Courage' (Children's Songbook, pg.120) with the rest of the primary children. "I will go; I will do the things the Lord commands. I know the Lord provides a way; he wants me to obey." As the song ended Marie picked up her Book of Mormon, turned to 1 Nephi 3:7, and showed her teacher saying, "That song comes from this scripture."

Her teacher was amazed. "How did you know that?"

Marie pointed to her scriptures where I had drawn a green circle with the word GO written inside. "I learned it at school!"

As a family we try to hold regular scripture study every evening, but I felt I could do even more with my children by incorporating study of the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon, in their daily school schedule.

Why the Book of Mormon? President Ezra Taft Benson said: "Combined with the Spirit of the Lord, the Book of Mormon is the single greatest tool which God has given us to convert the world." (A Witness and a Warning, by Ezra Taft Benson, pg.11) This challenge and promise includes our families. Don't we want our children to be converted to the gospel?

I'd like to share with you what we do in our home to build our children's faith and clothe them with the armor and power of God.

It's nothing earth shattering. We call them our Scripture PJ's.

Scripture Picture and Journal Study

We read each morning before doing any other school subjects. If you don't homeschool this could easily be a morning devotional before sending everyone off to school. We each take a turn reading out loud. Sometimes we read just a few verses, sometimes a chapter or more. We are more concerned with how much is retained than with how much is read.

Depending on the reading levels of your children, the Book of Mormon Stories reader published by the Church can be very helpful, but I recommend reading straight from the scriptures. At first it may be hard, but from personal experience with my own family, even young children are not too young to understand the scriptures! Reading the beautiful language of the scriptures greatly increases a child's verbal, reading, and comprehension skills. Also, do not forget that reading the scriptures invites the Spirit. And there is no greater teacher than the Holy Ghost. 

We have purchased the inexpensive copies of the Book of Mormon for each child. When we get to a scripture or story we would like them to remember, we draw simple figures or pictures in their scriptures to help them locate the scripture faster and see at a glance what the scripture is about. The green circle with GO inside is one example. Here are other picture suggestions:
  •  a sheep on Alma 17:25 for the story of Ammon tending King Lamoni's flocks
  •  children's faces inside a circle of fire on 3 Nephi 17:25 to mark when Christ blessed the Nephite children
  •  a tower on Mosiah 2:8 for the story of King Benjamin's address to his people
  •  a CTR shield for 2 Nephi 2:27 to remember that we are free to choose
The possibilities are endless. Just remember to keep the pictures simple. Colored pencils work the best. They don't bleed through and you can still see the words. You will find that the pictures act as visual cues for younger children. My older children mark their scriptures differently using a variety of colors for different gospel principles. These markings and pictures have helped my children find stories in the scriptures quickly, sometimes even faster then their Primary teachers. More important than speed, though, they are learning to mark their scriptures; they focus on what the scriptures are saying. Thus, their minds are being infused with the word of God. 

After we read, my children (the ones that can write anyway ages 4 - 16) write in their scripture journals. These are just regular composition notebooks. At the top of the page they record the date and scripture references that we read. Then they summarize what took place. They also jot down a gospel principle they learned and how to apply that principle in their life. Any other thoughts and impressions they received while reading are recorded as well.

The four year old draws a picture and then dictates to me or to an older sister what he wants written. We love to review previous entries and see how their understanding of the scriptures has increased. Can you imagine what precious keepsakes these will be for them?

That's all we do - read, draw pictures, mark scriptures, and write. It only takes 15- 20 minutes each day. But, oh, the rewards that have come from studying the Book of Mormon daily!

Promises fulfilled

The promises made by Pres. Marion G. Romney are literally being fulfilled. He said, "And so, I counsel you, my beloved brothers and sisters and friends everywhere, to make reading in the Book of Mormon a lifelong practice... I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to that counsel. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity - the pure love of Christ - will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness." (Conference Report, April 1960, pp. 112-13) Could your family benefit from these blessings too?