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Golden Moments

chairs and table on patio

This morning I have to pause to record two Golden Moments before I carry on with my day. If I don’t, I may forget them, as life’s busyness has a way of erasing them (temporarily) from my mind. Writing them down is kind of like finding a beautiful flower, plucking it up and putting it in a vase for all to enjoy. Only memories don’t have to die like cut flowers do: they can be “June roses in…December” (James Barrie).

The first moment was waking up early and getting to study scriptures and write in my journal for a wonderful, absolutely quiet hour. My favorite way to start the day! But then all of the sudden, as I kept reading, writing and pondering, the time had leap-frogged to two hours, and I was supposed to, by then, have gone running and showered and gotten Anna up for a violin lesson.

But I didn’t want to go! I wanted to go running and skip violin. But I had paid for the lesson. Getting Anna up after a later summer night bedtime would be hard and unhappy. But there had been no other time we could schedule the lesson this week, and I had already paid for the month of lessons. What should I do?

I decided to ask her. Usually I don’t ask. I just insist that we go, bar none, to lessons because if I asked, they would most like say they didn’t want to go. So I don’t ask. But today I did. I woke her up and–not sharing more details, because the dear child is entitled to her privacy–we discussed it. I explained the situation and asked for her input. Then we had a family prayer. I prayed that we would be able to serve our missions on earth today with the Holy Ghost helping us.

After the prayer, Anna asked me a question, and then she decided she would go to the lesson if I wanted her to. I was delighted at her decision to get up when she was tired and go, so I told her “Let’s go.” We hurried out the door–late, but there nonetheless.

Madame Pamplemousse

On the way to our lesson, Anna read aloud to me from a book we had picked up last night on a trip to the library, Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles by Rupert Kingfisher. She read a chapter aloud. We were both intrigued, since we had read the first chapter the night before, and the plot was thickening. After her lesson, she continued to read. It was such a lovely summer morning, and even though I knew I should go running, I felt it was a moment not to be passed up. I asked her if she’d like to keep reading together outside on the little wooden chairs.

She did. So we wiped off the sprinkler water with my sweatshirt sleeve and read in the quiet and cool of the morning, the warm sunshine kissing and pinking our cheeks.

The story got more intriguing while the wooden seats got harder. Anna asked if we could sit on the grass. She got some beach towels to keep our pockets dry, and we moved to the softer grass to finish our story.

Not much longer and we had finished the book. It was delightful! The story unfolds of an oppressed little dishwashing girl enslaved by an evil French restauranteur uncle who is conquered with the help of a mysterious not-quite-fairy-godmother-type shopkeeper and her creepy cat. We loved it.

I especially enjoyed the way the story’s conflict resolved with Madeleine (the little girl) discovering her “divine nature” and gaining the confidence to act upon that. Here comes a spoiler– a quote I want to remember:

“Afterwards, Madeleine would think back to that moment and try to remember when she first tasted it. But she could not, because tasting was itself like a memory–all the best memories she had ever had suddenly sweeping through her like a gust of clear air. The flavours themselves, so light yet intense, subtle yet refreshing, seemed to wake her from a sleep. And all that time she had spent doing her uncle’s dirty work, acting as his spy–now seemed so far way, as if it belonged to a different person. Not that she felt different; it was rather that she now felt more completely herself. And she realised then how, more than anything, she loved to cook. She had lost that somewhere in [her uncle’s restaurant] the Squealing Pig, thanks to her uncle, who make cookery seem so depressing. Monsieur Lard only wanted to become famous, to make the whole world love him. She loved cooking for its own sake, the way you loved that person.

” ‘That is now yours to keep for ever.’ Madeleine’s eyes had been closed but now they opened to find Madame Pamplemousse smiling at her. ‘No one can take that away.’

” ‘But can I… can I really…?’ Madeleine found herself barely able to speak.

” ‘Can you cook? Why naturally,’ said Madame Pamplemousse. ‘Not only that, you have a talent, Mademoiselle. An exceptional talent. I knew it the instant we met.’ ”

A lovely culinary fairy tale. A cherished morning spent with my sweet daughter. Two prayers answered: one from this morning, and one from last night when I asked to be able to know what she needed. A beautiful summer ray of sunshine moment captured to remember always.

Golden moments.

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Big Red

I just finished reading Big Red, and what a lovely feeling of satisfaction I have from this story. (It sure took me a long time! I thought in July that I’d be able to cruise through several books–and my family, too–but we’ve been as busy as in June. Summer seems to have a mind of its own, as it were. I am simply along for the ride.)

This book is a treasure: full of character development, down-to-earth wisdom, and spirited adventure.

Danny is a 17-year old young man living in a cabin in the Wintapi–apparently a wilderness area of Canada–where his widower father and he hunt for “varmints.”

But that all changes when Danny gets to care for Red, the rich land-owner Mr. Haggin’s show dog.

Together Danny and Red face the challenges of training, hunting, and facing off dangerous opponents, such as a wolverine (“Injun devil”) and “Old Majesty”–the bear that has terrified the locals for years.

This book has the same spirit as Where the Red Fern Grows. If you love dogs and adventure, you will probably love Big Red. While I recommend it as a book for boys, I know girls or families together would enjoy it. (I am, after all, a girl!)

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Table top Load reminder July 2015

On Sunday we met at Family Council to discuss a change in the way we account on our daily load (jobs/home responsibilities). I announced that we will NO LONGER use job charts (cheers!). I won’t be paying them for each little job they do to earn the money for their clothes. The only reminder they would get, in fact, for what they are supposed to be doing is this little laminated table top tri-fold, that they see at meals (or in between, if they want help remembering. They still can use their load jars or job charts for reminders or tools if they want, but I’m not going to be checking those tools).

We still expect them to do all of their load every day (M-Sat).

We also expect them to do anything in addition to the load that we ask.

So how are we having our children account for their assignments?

We explained that they will get to account (out loud) to Dad each night at dinner. (If Dad’s not home, they will account to Mom or to Dad over the phone.) If they need correction, he will discuss that privately with the child after dinner or some other time. I will go visit each child before bed for a little “It was good” chat (Moses 2:31) to allow them to share what they felt they did that was good that day, and I can share something(s) that I saw that they did that were good that day.

It was really great to be able to discuss these changes, answer questions and concerns, and generally discuss what we expect and why we have chosen each part of “the load.” Everyone seemed to be OK with the new plan.

After only 3 days, things feel better in our home–at least to me. (I’ll get some more feedback next Sunday.) I feel better about what my children are doing, and from what I can see, they seem to be more motivated and willing to report. I am excited to see what fruits this change brings. I’ll try to remember to let you know!

 

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Morning peas, please

sugar snap peasThe first sugar snap peas are on in our garden. Wow, are they good! When Eliza goes out to pick them each morning, there are just enough for us to eat them. Right there. They are too fresh and yummy to save for later.

Who knew peas made such a great morning snack?

Next year we’ve got to plant more of these.

 

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Practicing until you’re dead…bahaha

plumcotsI had just taken a bite of a fresh plumcot (oh my! they are delicious!) that my mom brought over when Anna was complaining about having to practice her violin.

“Are you EVER going to let us not take an instrument?” she pleaded.

Sarah, ever the jokester, replied, “When you’re DEAD!”

I was laughing so hard I almost choked on the plumcot. Sarah, with a great big smile, asked me if I needed some water. Seriously, I am so glad to have some children around with a sense of humor.

 

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What I’m listening to

The-Lessons-of-HistoryI really missed listening to books, so I resubscribed at a special price to be able to use Audible again. Listening to books is a great way for me to keep reading when I don’t always have time to sit down and read. I listen when I work, exercise, or try to get back to sleep–when it’s too early for me to get up. (I can often fall asleep before the 15-minute sleep timer is up–I LOVE that!)

Today, as I turned on this book, The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant, I heard a part that is worth sharing. It reminds me of why the recent Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage will have such a negative impact on society. One of the consequences of legalizing same-gender marriage is that it will appear to justify immorality, and I believe the people who will suffer the most will be our children and youth. It is a lie to say that doing wrong is or will feel right, particularly when it comes to how we use or abuse their powers of procreation and physical intimacy. There is so much joy and enjoyment to be had in using those gifts as God intended, and so much sorrow when we abuse them. You don’t even need a social science study or history lesson to teach you that (although you can find them if you look). If you have ever been connected to anyone who has abused their gift, you know that it hurts.

Will and Ariel Durant devoted their lives to the study of history and civilization (or lack thereof). They wrote volumes about it. This book summarizes their studies. I want to read it when I am done listening to it to get the most out of it. Here is what they wrote that I heard this morning:

No man, however brilliant or well-informed, can come in one lifetime to such fullness of understanding as to safely judge and dismiss the customs or institutions of his society, for these are the wisdom of generations after centuries of experiment in the laboratory of history. A youth boiling with hormones will wonder why he should not give full freedom to his sexual desires; and if he is unchecked by custom, morals, or laws, he may ruin his life before he matures sufficiently to understand that sex is a river of fire that must be banked and cooled by a hundred restraints if it is not to consume in chaos both the individual and the group. (12:08, Chapter 2, Audible edition)

(Note: This book is available at the OPL. Also, I knew I had heard this quote before. I searched and found it in Elder Holland’s talk, “Personal Purity.”)

In that same stream of thought, here is a video that my daughter posted on Facebook recently:

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In my own little corner


I have had some growing desire to improve my blog, to make it more accessible, more hospitable, more helpful.

So I surfed the internet for 5 minutes to see what well-organized, lovely blogs might be out there.

It only took 5 minutes for me to realize that I’m just not in the market yet. Kind of like reviewing my budget and seeing that, nope, an updated wardrobe or a remodeled anything is not in the works any time soon.

Cinderella

When I clicked on “Add New Post” just now, and wondered what to name this post, I was reminded of a song from the 1950’s musical “Cinderella.” (Ever seen it? It’s delightful! An oldie-but-goodie B&W with Julie Andrews with her beautiful, young voice. Kind of a cool lost-and-found story behind that movie.) When she’s at home, Cinderella sings,

In my own little corner, in my own little chair
I can be whatever I want to be

That’s where I am. It’s not my time yet to pour hours or dollars into revamping my blog. Brother! I still can’t even figure out how to get the disappeared menu tabs back up! Ha!

Someday Raising Amazing Children might be someplace a little more amazing. But for now, it’s simply my own corner for inscribing my random thoughts and experiences into the invisible wavelengths that waft out to near and distant shores of mothers who don’t even know I exist and aren’t looking for my voice. With or without the menu tabs or an ability for people to leave comments or a way to link posts to Pinterest or Insta, it’s kind of like my home: a safe haven for me to raise my children, but not stylish the way the world prescribes. And that’s OK, because I’m busy raising my amazing children right now, as well as trying to nurture a few more.

Hope you’re having a great summer!

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Eragon Anna

Anna was reading in bed the other morning when I saw how far she was into a book. I looked to see what she was reading: Eragon. Wow. My nine-year old is almost done reading Eragon?

This reminded me of other moments I have had as a mother seeing my children just sail along reading, some after months and months of effort and some with less time and effort. But every child has arrived at a place of loving reading and doing it well in their own time frame. And it is SO fun to see the fruits of the combined labors of mother, child, and the gifts of God! (“So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” 1 Corinthians 3:7)

I worked really hard nurturing their interest in and ability to read. Teachers can work really hard to help a child, but I believe it is a mother’s work that makes the most difference in this area. Mothers have the greatest influence in their child’s desire to read. So it’s thrilling to have a pay-day moment like this. It’s not that Eragon is necessarily age-appropriate or that the length of the book matters–it’s simply that she wanted to read it and then did. It is a big undertaking for a young child. And she could, because she has had so much practice.

Reading is like music and any other skill you plant and nurture in a child. It’s not rocket science. It’s simply a set of skills that, when broken down into small, digestible, delicious bites, can be learned over time. In most cases, a child can learn the skill that you prepare and plant and carefully nurture with love. How we do it matters. If we teach and continuously encourage and support, a child can learn to do a skill like reading proficiently. It’s not a matter of talent as much as persistence and love. God is on our team, and we can do it.

 

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Mom work evaluation

Our lesson today in Relief Society prompted me to do some self-evaluation: what kind of worker am I these days? What kind of example am I setting for my children? How am I really doing?

Motherhood goes through different stages. I was a very hard worker when the children were younger. Having seven children in 12 years makes for a lot of good work. Continuing to maintain a household with a large family also provides many great opportunities for good work. But what do my children see me doing now?

I decided to ask my children what kind of worker they perceive me to be: a sort-of hard worker, a sometimes hard worker, a mostly hard worker, or a very hard worker. I’m still gathering data. Hmmm. Interesting responses. I definitely think the lesson today was a bit of a wake-up call and a reminder that working hard feels good and teaches much more than just telling a child to work hard. I’ll have to let you now what I learn.

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Honoring President Packer

Boyd-K-Packer-Newsbio-official-portrait(Photo from Mormon Newsroom.)

I wanted to mention the passing of President Boyd K. Packer yesterday and honor him. Considering that the pen is more powerful than the sword, has had a tremendous influence on my life.  I carry many of his words with me in my heart and mind that have influenced my decisions. Here are four that I have remembered since I first heard (or read) them:

❤ As a parent, I can create a shield of faith at home, individually tailored to each of my children:

The ministry of the prophets and apostles leads them ever and always to the home and the family. That shield of faith is not produced in a factory but at home in a cottage industry.

The ultimate purpose of all we teach is to unite parents and children in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that they are happy at home, sealed in an eternal marriage, linked to their generations, and assured of exaltation in the presence of our Heavenly Father.

Lest parents and children be “tossed to and fro,” and misled by “cunning craftiness” of men who “lie in wait to deceive” (Eph. 4:14), our Father’s plan requires that, like the generation of life itself, the shield of faith is to be made and fitted in the family. No two can be exactly alike. Each must be handcrafted to individual specifications.

The plan designed by the Father contemplates that man and woman, husband and wife, working together, fit each child individually with a shield of faith made to buckle on so firmly that it can neither be pulled off nor penetrated by those fiery darts.

It takes the steady strength of a father to hammer out the metal of it and the tender hands of a mother to polish and fit it on. Sometimes one parent is left to do it alone. It is difficult, but it can be done. 

In the Church we can teach about the materials from which a shield of faith is made: reverence, courage, chastity, repentance, forgiveness, compassion. In church we can learn how to assemble and fit them together. But the actual making of and fitting on of the shield of faith belongs in the family circle. Otherwise it may loosen and come off in a crisis. (“The Shield of Faith,” April 1995 General Conference)

 ❤ Studying God’s words will help me become better faster than studying behavior:

True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.

The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. Preoccupation with unworthy behavior can lead to unworthy behavior. That is why we stress so forcefully the study of the doctrines of the gospel. (“Little Children,” October 1986)

❤ Music is powerful. Music teachers matter. Listening to–or simply thinking of–good music can help us control our thoughts. Our mind is like a stage. We can kick unsalient actors (thoughts) off by putting uplifting ones on.

Music can, by its tempo, by its beat, by its intensity, dull the spiritual sensitivity of men….

There is so much wonderful, uplifting music available that we can experience to our advantage. Our people ought to be surrounded by good music of all kinds.

Parents ought to foster good music in the home and cultivate a desire to have their children learn the hymns of inspiration.

The time for music lessons seems to come along when there are so many other expenses for the family with little children. But we encourage parents to include musical training in the lives of their children….

How wonderful is the music instructor who will teach children and youth to play and will acquaint them with good music in their formative years, including the music of worship. To have such music as a part of one’s life is a great blessing….

I had been told a hundred times or more as I grew up that thoughts must be controlled. But no one told me how.

I want to tell you young people about one way you can learn to control your thoughts, and it has to do with music.

The mind is like a stage. Except when we are asleep the curtain is always up. There is always some act being performed on that stage. It may be a comedy, a tragedy, interesting or dull, good or bad; but always there is some act playing on the stage of the mind.

Have you noticed that without any real intent on your part, in the middle of almost any performance, a shady little thought may creep in from the wings and attract your attention? These delinquent thoughts will try to upstage everybody.

If you permit them to go on, all thoughts of any virtue will leave the stage. You will be left, because you consented to it, to the influence of unrighteous thoughts.

If you yield to them, they will enact for you on the stage of your mind anything to the limits of your toleration. They may enact a theme of bitterness, jealousy, or hatred. It may be vulgar, immoral, even depraved.

When they have the stage, if you let them, they will devise the most clever persuasions to hold your attention. They can make it interesting all right, even convince you that it is innocent—for they are but thoughts.

What do you do at a time like that, when the stage of your mind is commandeered by the imps of unclean thinking?—whether they be the gray ones that seem almost clean or the filthy ones which leave no room for doubt.

If you can control your thoughts, you can overcome habits, even degrading personal habits. If you can learn to master them you will have a happy life.

This is what I would teach you. Choose from among the sacred music of the Church a favorite hymn, one with words that are uplifting and music that is reverent, one that makes you feel something akin to inspiration. Remember President Lee’s counsel; perhaps “I Am A Child of God” would do. Go over it in your mind carefully. Memorize it. Even though you have had no musical training, you can think through a hymn.

Now, use this hymn as the place for your thoughts to go. Make it your emergency channel. Whenever you find these shady actors have slipped from the sidelines of your thinking onto the stage of your mind, put on this record, as it were.

As the music begins and as the words form in your thoughts, the unworthy ones will slip shamefully away. It will change the whole mood on the stage of your mind. Because it is uplifting and clean, the baser thoughts will disappear. For while virtue, by choice, will not associate with filth, evil cannot tolerate the presence of light.

In due time you will find yourself, on occasion, humming the music inwardly. As you retrace your thoughts, you discover some influence from the world about you encouraged an unworthy thought to move on stage in your mind, and the music almost automatically began.

“Music,” said Gladstone, “is one of the most forceful instruments for governing the mind and spirit of man.”

I am so grateful for music that is worthy and uplifting and inspiring.

Once you learn to clear the stage of your mind from unworthy thoughts, keep it busy with learning worthwhile things. Change your environment so that you have things about you that will inspire good and uplifting thoughts. Keep busy with things that are righteous.

Young people, you cannot afford to fill your mind with the unworthy hard music of our day. It is not harmless. (“Inspiring Music–Worthy Thoughts,” October 1973)

❤ A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it.

Oh, if I could teach you this one principle. A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it! Somewhere in your quest for spiritual knowledge, there is that “leap of faith,” as the philosophers call it. It is the moment when you have gone to the edge of the light and stepped into the darkness to discover that the way is lighted ahead for just a footstep or two. “The spirit of man,” is as the scripture says, indeed “is the candle of the Lord.” (Prov. 20:27.)

It is one thing to receive a witness from what you have read or what another has said; and that is a necessary beginning. It is quite another to have the Spirit confirm to you in your bosom that what you have testified is true. Can you not see that it will be supplied as you share it? As you give that which you have, there is a replacement, with increase! (“The Candle of the Lord,” January 1983).

 

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