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Christmas Reads 2017

From https://oxfambalham.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/8th-of-december-tolkeins-father-christmas-letters/. Click on image to go to the source.

I discovered a gem this December: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Letters from Father Christmas. This book contains letters that he wrote to his children under the guise of Father Christmas. He would also include illustrations with his letters!

I’ve been listening to this book while sewing a dress for my missionary daughter. It’s been a long time since I’ve read Tolkien–having loved The Hobbit as a young teen and never having finished The Lord of the Rings! I want to do that someday. (I think most of our children have read them, though. Sarah even took a class in college on Tolkien! Lucky!) Mostly I just love discovering books that parents have written for their children. In fact, so many of the delightful books we’ve loved fall in that category.

Tolkien not only writes as Father Christmas, he also includes words from the Polar Bear and an elf as well as descriptions of his gardener, the Snow Man. Truly whimsical, even for a Santa-naysayer like me. 😄

More Christmas reading recommendations to come (as soon as I finish sewing that dress that I need to mail today…).

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This morning in family scripture study we read part of 1 Nephi 2. Verses 18-19 touched me and reminded me of of some lessons I have been learning over the years–especially in recent years–and thought I would jot down some of my thoughts about dealing with anger, hurt and sadness.

When I was growing up, anger was sometimes modeled as a way to deal with conflict. That led me to never want to resolve problems with anger. But  when I grew up, I discovered that I hadn’t learned quite what to do when feelings of anger bubbled up and wanted to burst out. I could see that when I get hurt, I needed have to find helpful ways to deal with my emotions.

I’m grateful for the Book of Mormon and other resources that have been illumanting my path to learning how to deal with anger and other negative emotions. Nephi, as demonstrated in our morning study, showed that when someone acts out in anger towards me, I might grieve over that experience. I can go to God with that grief just like he did. God can speak peace to my heart just like he did to Nephi’s.

I had an experience wth this just recently. I was in a situation where someone made some comments that I felt very sad about. It was a deep sadness at first, but I knew the person wasn’t deliberately trying to hurt my feelings. So I prayed for help. Help came to my heart. Healing, inspiring thoughts came to my mind. I cried about it. I told Heavenly Father about it. I talked to my husband about it. I let myself hurt for a while. Then the next day I went to church. There was a talk that someone prepared that I knew was inspired just for me. I’m sure it blessed everyone else, too, and maybe there were others who needed to hear specifially what was said, but I knew that Heavenly Father had sent that person–who had no idea of my recent experiences–to speak comfort to my heart. Other kindnesses and tendermercies followed that week that ministered to my heart. I knew Heavenly Father was sending the love, healing and comfort I had prayed for–even more than I expected!

Following are a few more of the lessons I feel like Heaven has been trying to teach me over the years. I’m still practicing and trying to learn. I’m such a novice, so I am not at all suggesting you use me as a model of patience, love, forgiveness and kindness! But here are my thoughts (quotes that have influenced my thinking will follow the ideas I list):

  1. Anger is a choice. Being offended is a choice. Staying angry, offended or hurt is a choice. This reality came to me as a surprise. I knew it was true when I could switch from being upset with a family member to hearing the phone ring and answering the call with a cheerful, happy voice! I saw that I could control my emotions and responses much more than I was. While I don’t choose the things people say or do to me, just like we don’t always cause an injury we receive, I get to decide how to deal with that injury. I can get the help I need to begin the healing process immediately, or I can wait, allow something to fester and enlarge and get infected. That’s the wonderful part of emotional hurt! I can be healed from it, because Christ is right there on hand always. He’s like a personal EMT. I can start getting help as soon as someone does something hurtful! Isn’t that amazing?
  2. The way we view others has everything to do with how we respond to potential offenses. When I believe that someone isn’t truly intending to hurt me, I can frame their “junk” or unkind behavior in a way that allows me to emotionally detach myself from their behavior and not take it as a a personal attack. This seems to be the rational way of looking at a problem. Since becoming a parent, it has become easier to see that a problem always has at LEAST two sides. So, as a parent, it is easier to objective (rational, logical) when I have two children at odds with each other. If I can distance myself from the hurtful behavior, and view the other person as someone who is struggling themselves, it makes it easier for me to love, forgive, and treat them with kindness.
  3. We all mess up. No one is perfect. We all say things that are thoughtless or could be misconstrued. I know I have offended others without even knowing it! I may have excluded someone that we should have included. I do dumb stuff. When I began to see myself as someone who messes up and  hurt others, too, and not just as a victim, I started watching my own behavior more so that I could repent of stuff I did wrong and began feeling more compassion for others when they mess up.
  4. If I think someone has been offended by me, I need to go to them and ask what happened and apologize sincerely. It can be very humbling to think that I might have been the reason why someone is hurting and being rude to me, if that makes sense. So when I have tried to reach out in love to family members or friends when there is tension in the relationship, I have learned that I do have reasons to apologize. Again, this is humbling. I’ve learned that there are LOTS of reasons to be humble!
  5. If someone has hurt me, and I need healing, I can go to the Savior, who always has my back. He doesn’t take sides, and He loves everyone. He knows how to minister to both parties and how to tailor the prescriptive healing. If I will do my best to reach out in love and forgiveness to the person who behaved in a potentially hurtful way, He can begin to heal and strengthen me immediately.
  6. With God’s help, I can address a problem with someone–if it’s truly needed. If I have a problem that I feel I really need to address with someone, I can prepare spiritually and approach them in a spirit of love and earnest desire to understand, and God will help us to work things out. This doesn’t mean that every problem gets resolved immediately. I have found that resolution might take hours, days, weeks, or even years to happen. I have to put my personal agenda and impatience aside. I can’t have a pity party. It can’t be “all about me.” Sometimes there is a need for frank, open discussion and sometimes there is a need to hold my tongue. I have learned that it never helps to speak unkindly to someone. I tried that one time recently, venting my hurt and anger on the offender. I left feeling worse than ever. I realized that I hadn’t done things in the Lord’s way, which is always better. Thankfully, God is patience, tolerant and forgiving, so He helped me see that the next time I had a beef with someone, I needed to go to Him first and try kindness, service, tolerance, and long-suffering. He keeps a balance sheet so we don’t have to. We can focus on loving, no matter how hard it is.*
  7. The way we communicate about a problem matters. Yelling, criticizing, name-calling, or any other unkind behavior is never the way to solve a problem. Kind words, soft voices, patience, deep breaths all make a big difference.
  8. LOVE IS POWERFUL! The patience, kindness, gentleness, soft answers, tendermercies that I have felt from God through others on earth has taught me that I don’t want to be a person is holds onto anger, to hurt, to bitterness. I’m still learning, but I love to be around people who are loving. I want to be one of those people. I want people to feel accepted, to know that they are important because they are, to want people to know that I love them. What would I do without loving people who have treated me thus?

(*This is not to say that if I were in an harmfully, abusive situation that I would need to stay. We can stand up for ourselves and seek the help we need, which might even mean leaving a circumstance. But in circumstances where someone or some people are just being unkind or hurtful, I am learning that I can be stronger than I know and humbly try to work out problems.)

It has been so humbling for me to recognize how much Heavenly Father loves EACH of his children! He loves the ones who are hurting and the ones who are causing the hurt–on purpose or not! I have had opportunities to feel that He wants each of us to come to His Son to be healed and to get the help we need. It really helps if I focus on myself and let Him worry about fixing the ones who are struggling in a way that feels hurtful.

SCRIPTURES AND QUOTES

Here are some of the scriptures and quotes that have helped me learn about developing emotional control through agency, repentance, forgiveness, and healing through the atonement of Jesus Christ:

“Having compassion on those who are hurting for whatever reason and then translating the response of the heart into the needed act is truly ministering as God would have us do.” (Joy F. Evans, “Lord, When Saw We Thee An Hungered?“)

“It is reported that President Brigham Young once said that he who takes offense when no offense was intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense was intended is usually a fool. It was then explained that there are two courses of action to follow when one is bitten by a rattlesnake. One may, in anger, fear, or vengefulness, pursue the creature and kill it. Or he may make full haste to get the venom out of his system. If we pursue the latter course we will likely survive, but if we attempt to follow the former, we may not be around long enough to finish it.” (Elder Marion D. Hanks, “Forgiveness“)

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)

Proverbs 15 contains a real key to problem-solving in the Lord’s way, in my experience:

“1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

2 The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.”

Matthew 17:21 helps me remember that I have to prepare spiritually before trying to resolve something that feels huge to me:

“20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”

This scripture in 1 John 4:20 always gets me:

“20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”

These two verses in Matthew 5 or 3 Nephi 12:23-25 helped me to recognize that if someone has done something hurtful, I’m not supposed to run to them and tell them off. But if someone seems to have an issue with me, I need to approach them to find out what I can do to resolve the situation with kindness and love. Again, it is that focus on “What do I need to do to repent?” instead of the Law of Moses “an eye for an eye” way:

“23 Therefore, if ye shall come unto me, or shall desire to come unto me, and rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee—

24 Go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come unto me with full purposeof heart, and I will receive you.”

I love this passage of scripture in D&C 50 that helps us recognize that we need to have the Spirit with us when we do anything, including seeking to resolve problems, or we aren’t doing it in the Lord’s way:

“13 Wherefore, I the Lord ask you this question—unto what were ye ordained?

14 To preach my gospel by the Spirit, even the Comforterwhich was sent forth to teach the truth.

15 And then received ye spirits which ye could not understand, and received them to be of God; and in this are ye justified?

16 Behold ye shall answer this question yourselves; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto you; he that is weak among you hereafter shall be made strong.

17 Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?

18 And if it be by some other way it is not of God.

19 And again, he that receiveth the word of truth, doth he receive it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?

20 If it be some other way it is not of God.

21 Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth?

22 Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoicetogether.

23 And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness.

24 That which is of God is light; and he that receivethlight, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.

25 And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you;”

We can recognize when we have contention in our hearts instead of the Spirit by the way we feel. I love this description in Elder Robbins’ talk “Agency and Anger,” which was a game-changer for me:

“Satan is the “father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another” (3 Ne. 11:29; emphasis added). The verb stir sounds like a recipe for disaster: Put tempers on medium heat, stir in a few choice words, and bring to a boil; continue stirring until thick; cool off; let feelings chill for several days; serve cold; lots of leftovers.”

In my experience, any time I try to correct a situation ourselves by telling someone what they are doing wrong, I am probably not being motivated by the Spirit of God!

Mostly likely, that is my desire to exercise “unrighteous dominion” over someone, whether it is my husband, a child, a family member, or a friend!

These verses in D&C 121 have helped me understand this idea:

“34 Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?

35 Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—

36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.

37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.

38 Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kickagainst the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fightagainst God.

39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

40 Hence many are called, but few are chosen.

41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—

43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when movedupon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.

45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.

46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.”

 I feel like when I am trying my very best to love as the Savior loves and forgive and keep his commandments–albeit imperfectly–He will fight my battles for me:

“37 And I, the Lord, would fight their battles, and their children’s battles, and their children’s children’s, until they had avenged themselves on all their enemies, to the third and fourth generation.” (D&C 98)

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Want to print out this calendar? Click on this image to go to the Light the World webpage for the downloadable PDF.

Beginning December 1, we started watching the daily videos and reading the scriptures and service suggestions on the Light the World (mormon.org) website. (There is also a cute calendar you can print out for children.) We love doing this as a family! It is our new favorite tradition. It transforms our holiday season into one of greater happiness, love, and discipleship. Is your life feeling dark? This is one sure way to increase the light you feel in your life! We are so thankful to the people who worked hard to produce all of the videos, webpages, graphic design, etc., so that the rest of us can simply click and go! Merry Christmas! #lighttheworld2017

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I was reading a letter from another missionary serving in our daughter’s mission, and in his letter he referenced this scene from this movie. I have seen this movie but forgotten this scene. While I am not sure that I agree with yelling at a player to motivate them, I do believe we can do a lot to motivate each other to give more than we think we can. The Savior knows how to do this with us: he knows how to stretch us.

What experiences have you had encouraging a child or your spouse (or anyone else) to stretch and grow beyond what they believe they can do, but you know they can accomplish? How have you helped them see beyond what they believe are their limits and move closer to achieving their limitless potential? How has God helped you grow beyond what you thought you could do?

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There are many ways to teach thoughtfulness, the most powerful way being to model it. But sometimes specific training that is needed, because you could model something for all 18 years and a child might not ever pick up on those little habits that make a difference in daily living–not through any fault of their own, but simply because of lack of knowledge and experience. We can pass on lots of little thoughtfulness habits to our children if we want to.

I made this little picture today to teach my son ways to be thoughtful before putting his shirt on our bed to be sent to the cleaners. Of course, he already knows how to wash it himself and to iron it (altough he needs much more practice on ironing), and I will need to have him do that more–perhaps in January of 2018? But I’ve learned it helps to focus on one new habit at a time, and right now ironing isn’t the focus of my training. Sending his shirts to the cleaners works better for me. So, if we are going to provide him that service, then he can learn to thoughtfully prepare his shirts to go to the cleaners.

Pete is already a thoughtful and kind young man, so this is simply to help him develop this thoughtful habit. I’ll stick the image up in his closet and then he or I can take it down once he has mastered doing this.

This is the art and science of motherhood. I love it!

Photo credit for the shirt used in my little sign is from amazon.com. Click on the image to go to the link on amazon, or to buy a shirt, lol.

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From myfamilyleaf. Click on image to go to their Instagram page.

(Saw this ↑ today, after writing this post. Had to laugh after seeing quotes misquoted in memes before! Perfect for this topic!)

How do you know what is true (accurate) and what is false?

We live in a world with “fake news,” social media, and articles printed and posted by people who have more of an opinion that knowledge on a topic.  Sometimes fact versus fiction feels harder than ever to determine.

Lane and I were talking about this a few nights ago after hearing some news on the radio. Reflecting on this topic, I’ve thought today on some things we hope we have taught or can continue to teach our children:

  1. God is the source of ALL truth. This includes EVERY facet of life: all things physical, scientific, economic, interpersonal, political, medical.
  2. God hasn’t revealed everything to us as his children yet. He is allowing us to discover knowledge a piece at a time. This kind of knowledge is something we have to work to discover, and more than not, we are building upon the research and study of many who have gone before us. “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). I think the scientific method–including the faith part–is described in the scriptures in Alma 32, and it is our job to work diligently to discover truth.
  3. Science and religion are partners in discovering all the truth we yearn to learn. “Study and faith.”
  4. We need to determine what reliable sources of knowledge and research are. You can’t just go to any blog or even any news article to find out truth or reliably researched knowledge. Older generations are great sources of wisdom and insight, for sure–particularly when they have been educated, active, faithful, Christlike, industrious people their whole lives. We have learned by sad experience that not every news article tells the truth and that erroneously-reported news can, in fact, hugely alter someone’s life in terrible ways. We have also learned by experience that it can be easy to get carried away with scams, trends, and conspiracy theories. When presented by someone with something that sounds “fishy,” we have tried to ask our children (and ourselves) the following:
    1. Where did this idea come from? Is this logical? Does it follow sound reasoning? Is the source reliable?
    2. Does it align with what the Standard Works (scriptures) and living prophets have taught?
    3. What does the reliable scientific and medical community (such as major universities) have to say?
    4. What do good, trustworthy, educated people think about this?
    5. Have you researched “both sides” of the story?
    6. Does it “sit right” in your mind and heart? If yes, why? If no, why?
    7. Don’t be afraid to stand up for truth, regardless of whether or not it is popular.
  5. James 1:5-6 teaches us, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him./But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” We have taught our children to study, work, search and pray. We hope that they will be careful not to act impulsively on poor information sources and the limited intellectual trends of their generation.

We try to keep a scholarly or reputable (not “slick”) magazine or two in circulation in our home. We encourage our children to read nonfiction as well as fiction. Most of the conversations we’ve had with our children about this topic have been during family scripture study, around the dinner table when discussing the day’s events or during Family Home Evening (FHE). That’s one of the reasons why family scripture study, FHE, and eating dinner together are so important: it’s when a lot of important conversations take place!

Loved finding this video today. Oh, the things you can do when you’re home with the flu…

Other quotes that are great:

“Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (D&C 88:63)

“Sometimes, the truth may just seem too straightforward, too plain, and too simple for us to fully appreciate its great value. So we set aside what we have experienced and know to be true in pursuit of more mysterious or complicated information. Hopefully we will learn that when we chase after shadows, we are pursuing matters that have little substance and value.” (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “It Works Wonderfully!” October 2015)

“An official Church statement, issued one year ago, states: ‘We urge Church members to be cautious about participating in any group that promises—in exchange for money—miraculous healings or that claims to have special methods for accessing healing power outside of properly ordained priesthood holders.’11

“The Church Handbook counsels: ‘Members should not use medical or health practices that are ethically or legally questionable. Local leaders should advise members who have health problems to consult with competent professional practitioners who are licensed in the countries where they practice.’” (Elder M. Russell Ballard, “The Trek Continues!” October 2017)

For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it—

Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven—

These should then be attended to with great earnestness.” (D&C 123:12-14)

“You belong to a church that teaches the importance of education. You have a mandate from the Lord to educate your minds and your hearts and your hands. The Lord has said, ‘Teach ye diligently … of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—that ye may be prepared in all things’ (D&C 88:78–80).4

“…Get all of the education that you can.” (President Gordon B. Hinckley, Chapter 17: Continue in the Great Process of Learning,” Teachings of  Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley)

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Teaching preschoolers to be healthy

I’m recovering from the stomach flu today. I thought I might skip over this bug after 3 children got it in the 5 weeks. But I didn’t. The GREAT news was that I got a much shorter version of the 3-5 day version the other 3 children had–I only had one day of major symptoms and am already recovering! Tendermercies–especially right before Thanksgiving.

While working on my music education website today, I came across this great video:

I just can’t believe how many awesome, free resources there are for young moms now thanks to the wonderful efforts of lots of kind people who are willing to share their talents and resources. Thank you Rachel and all the people like you!

I love Rachel de Azevedo’s happy spirit and the fun way she teaches. I think the messages in this video, “I can be healthy by making healthy choices” and that “we only have one body, so we should take care of it” are right on target!

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Fall “meat sparingly” dinners

Click on image to go to the recipe.

Sunday, after teaching my lesson in Young Women on why the Lord wants us to be healthy, I decided to be more committed to living the Word of Wisdom. I want to “eat meat sparingly,” eat more foods in their season, and include more grains in our diet.

So this week I planned ahead, so that we could have 2-3 dinners with meat in them: chili con carne mid-week and sausages on Sunday, with a potential meat dinner on Friday night, when it’s “YOYO” (you’re on your own) night chez nous.

The other nights we have had (and will have, since Saturday hasn’t come yet) stuffed acorn squash, fall root vegetable stew, potato leek soup, and waffles with homemade peach syrup. Along with the side dish, the meals have been hearty, yummy, and comforting. It’s so nice to gather in that dark fall dinner hour and eat together.

Click on image to go to the recipe.

Click on image to learn how to sew an everyday napkin.

I’ve especially been enjoying using the fabric napkins I made for fall, because, well, that’s just my personality!

In fact, I ordered some red placemats from Amazon, and they turned out to be red metallic. Surprise! Haha! And we all think their added sparkle is quite fun. So there you go: sometimes mistakes turn out to be a delightful, serendipitous bonus.

I’ve invested a fair amount of time in cooking this week (watching episodes of The Great British Bake Off on Netflix while doing so) because I wanted to develop some menus and recipes that will help us eat more healthily. It’s been rewarding. Fall is a good time to cook.

Click on the images above or the following links to go to the recipes: stuffed acorn squash (recipe below), fall root vegetable stew, and potato leek soup.

NOTE: The acorn squash was stuffed with quinoa that was cooked with dried tart cherries, onions, and chopped, sliced almonds. The recipe for the quinoa comes from a book my dad gave to Anna for her birthday, A Grandfather’s Lessons by Jacques Pépin. The recipe is simple, but I cannot share it here because of copyright. I recommend the book! But with a little imagination, you could certainly guess at how to make it, if you use butter in your quinoa preparation. (Here’s a “how to cook quinoa” post from Kitchn.com you could use.)

To make the stuffed acorn squash, prepare any stuffing you desire and while the acorn squashes are baking. (Rinse and then cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and place on a baking sheet. Bake in a 425 degree F oven for maybe 45 minutes.) Once the squash is baked, put stuffing of choice in the center of the squash. Garnish with an herb sprig, such as parsley or cilantro, and serve. Serving suggestion: serve with a chopped salad mix (such as the kale salad mix from Costco) and canned peaches.

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Emotional first aid

Click on the image to go to the video.

If you hurt yourself and were bleeding, would you enlarge the wound to make it worse? Of course not! You would clean the wound, treat it with ointment, and cover it with a bandage so that it could heal.

I watched an excellent TEDx talk today in which the speaker, Guy Winch (a psychologist), discusses how we need to learn emotional first aid. If we learn how to protect ouselves and take care of our hearts and minds, we can learn to be emotionally healthy.

This is huge!

Opening the drapes

I have been learning this myself over the last 11 years. I am still working hard to learn how to do this. Just understanding that we have power to change our  thoughts and hence our emotions is life-changing. It is like opening the curtains and a window to let the warm sunshine and fresh air into a dark, cold, stale room.

We each have the power to nurture good emotional health! AND to teach our children how to do the same!

“What do we know about maintaining our psychological health?…”

“What do we teach our children about emotional hygiene?…”

“You know, we sustain psychological injuries even more often than we do physical ones.”

Good emotional hygiene

Dr. Winch explains that negative experiences such as loneliness, failure, and rejection can have a powerful impact on us unless we handle them in a way that is emotionally healthy. We need to recognize how we approach challenges such as these and practice good emotional hygiene.

“You have to fight feelings of helplessness….You have to gain control over the situation. You have break this kind of negative cycle before it begins. 

“Our minds and our feelings–they’re not really the trustworthy friends we thought they were. They’re more like a really moody friend who can be totally supportive one minute and really unpleasant the next….

“When you are in emotional pain, treat yourself with the same compassion you would expect from a truly good friend.” That sounds a lot like the Savior’s instruction, “Love your neighbor as thyself” (Matt.22:39). That phrase is the basis of learning about self-care.

2 minutes of distraction

He shared how when his twin brother was enduring chemotherapy, he (Guy) developed the habit of constantly thinking of how difficult it must be for his brother. His brother was extremely positive, uncomplaining, and doing well psychologically. Guy knew that while he was “psychologically… a mess,” he “knew what to do. Studies tell us that even a 2 minute distraction is sufficient to break the urge to ruminate in that moment. And so each time I had a worrying, upsetting, negative thought, I forced myself to concentrate on something else until the urge passed, and within one week my whole outlook changed and became more positive and more hopeful.”

As we learn how to battle negativity, we can learn how to heal. He shares how to practice emotional hygiene, including avoiding rumination.

I believe this TEDx speaker contains truth in it. I wanted to share it with you.

Dr. Winch elaborates on this topic in his book, Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt, and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries.

 

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Thankful memory

Anna was home this week for two days with a stomach flu. The second day that she was home, I felt like someone had pulled the plug on my energy reservoir. I had none. I was exhausted and didn’t feel very “up” to caring for a sick child.

But I wanted to. I thought of the character of Christ and how I want to develop it, and I prayed for help.

At one point in the day, I was in the kitchen. A song came into my mind: “Read Me a Memory.” This is a song that nearly all of our children learned in kindergarten. The words and music are beautiful:

Read me a memory
Tell me a tale
Speak of wondrous adventures
Together we’ll sail
Off to forests enchanted
And lands far away
Fairies and kings
And magical rings
My heart has wings
When I sit at your knee
And you read to me.

Years turn like pages
Soon I’ll be grown
Maybe someday I’ll read to a child of my own
Now I may not remember the stories we shared
I always knew that time spent with you
That you loved me, too.
While I sat your knee and you read to me.

Childhood, like summer days, dews on the grass
Soon will be yesterdays
Don’t let it pass
‘Till you read me a memory
Tell me a tale
Speak of wondrous adventures
Together we’ll sail
Off to forest enchanted and lands far away
Fairies and kings
And magical rings
My heart has wings
When I sit at your knee
And you read to me.

(Music and lyrics by Jay Richards)


Kristi G.

I thought of my dear friend Kristi, who taught us this song. (She was one of the great kindergarten teachers in this world for many years. I feel so blessed to know her!) I thought of all the sweet kindergarten childrens’ voices I had heard singing this song. I thought of the countless hours I read with our children and all the happy memories we’d had together.

And I remembered that Anna had asked if I would read with her that day.

The books arrived right then

It was almost in that same moment that the doorbell rang, and a package from Amazon (that I had ordered earlier in the week) arrived with some books that I had ordered for our family for November. Excitedly, we opened them. I brought the books to the couch and read to Anna.

I recommend each of these wonderful books:

Thankful by Eileen Spinelli (the same author of another favorite book, Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch)

The Quiltmaker’s Gift  by Jeff Brumbeau

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin by Chieri Uegaki

It was a sweet moment. It made my day so much happier. It was the very help I needed right then to be able to take care of Anna better. It was an answer to my prayers.

Help is available

I am SO grateful for a loving Heavenly Father and Savior who help me as I try to help my family, even when I feel tired, weak, grumpy, or incapable. They always come through. They knew not only what Anna needed, but also how to nurture me in my fatigue. What a gift!

To read more books that I recommend for November, go here.

Many thanks to Kerry at SelfSufficientKids.com for her post on books that teach generosity and gratitude, which helped me find two of these books.❤️

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