Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Scattergories: Acknowledging the Little Things

In a previous post, "What Are You Thankful For?" an anonymous commenter left this fun idea:

"One game that I've played with Primay and Youth Groups is similar to a popular game.

Write every letter of the alphabet on the left hand side of a piece of paper (one piece of paper for wach person). Then set a time limit and have everyone write something they are grateful for that starts with that letter (A = atonement, apples, aunts, etc.).

The goal is to write something that no one else will write. Then when time is up, go around the room and start reading your list (if you have a big group, choose a letter out of a hat and just do those). You get points for each "Unique" answer. It's amazing what kind of answers you get."

What a great idea that would be fun with children, teenagers, and adults this week or even on Thanksgiving Day.  The thing I like about it most is that because you are trying to think of "unique" answers it will help those who are playing to recognize all of the little things that sometimes go unnoticed.

Just yesterday my son and I were throwing a ball back and forth sharing things that we are thankful for.  He said many different things like, my family, my cousins, garbage trucks, my toys.  You know the kinds of things that a 3 year old might say but then he said, "I'm thankful that my Mommy plays games with me." I just about melted my heart and I could tell that he had really thought about it.  Also among the mix I added my gratitude for diapers and he laughed and laughed. I am grateful for diapers.  And I am really grateful for laughter, especially the laughter of children. I think this game of Thanksgiving Scattergories could be a good addition to this special week of remembering all of the little things (and big) that we are so grateful for.

This video is a great reminder of all the wonderful and beautiful things that surround us that sometimes go unnoticed:

Even though I already made a similar list I thought I'd make a quick list from A-Z of things that I am grateful for (feel free to add a comment with your list):

A - Answers
B - Bandaids
C - Cheese
D - Dancing
E - Elevators
F - Fingers
G - Garages (Don't currently have one but will be grateful when we do.)
H - Handsome Husband
I - Insects
J - Joy
K - Kisses
L - Lunch
M - Matches
N - Noise
O - Onions
P - Paper
Q - Quiet
R - Red
S - Sunny Days
T - Tubs
U - Upper Teeth
V - Vegetables
W - Walks
X - Xylophones
Y - Youth
Z - Zippers'

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I have been bombarded lately by a clutter induced funk.  I say lately, because it has seeped into my soul and started to really, really nip at me lately BUT it truly has been a life-long struggle.  The other day I started to say to my husband that I was in a clutter funk and then I went to put a time line for how long this has been going on and then I almost put an actual time on it like a few weeks or a few months and then without much thought the truth came out my mouth, "I have been in a clutter funk (pause) for well, my whole life."  Yikes!  The reality struck as I truly acknowledged that this has been a never ending cycle. 

In some areas of my life I can be so organized and on top of things and then there is "the clutter".  Some of the clutter is simply papers that I am not sure what to do with.  Some of it is a pile of clothes left to be hung in the closet.  Some of it is hidden behind closet doors or bathroom drawers but it is there.  Some of it is things that have been started that came to abrupt halts and were left to be finished at a later time. 

Always, without fail I hit a more severe funk and determine, "That is IT!  It will never get this bad again."  And then, once again, without fail it begins again.  Some of it results from laziness.  Some of it results from too much stuff in too little of a space.  Some of it results from children who add to the mess and then give me a hard time when I try to clear up the clutter.  Some of it results because of having a husband gone several nights a week and dishes get left in the sink  (once again after dinner has been made the children are ready for there Mommy, not ready for a Mommy to be in the kitchen even longer).

Now I am not saying that my entire house is always a complete tornado of a mess but more often than not I feel behind, overwhelmed, and quite simply stressed by the task that lies ahead of me. This weekend I was determined to get some things done and told my husband that the kids would be his for a while and I was going to work, work, work.  And after several hours of working I feel like a very small dent was made.  Far less than my expectations had demanded. 

And there my friends is half of the problem I presume...EXPECTATIONS.  I see other's houses looking pristine, emaculate, and well quite near perfect and wonder what I am doing wrong, what is the matter with me, or how do they do it?  And then I place an expectation of what our home should look like and the guilt and frustration just pile on.  The last thing someone who has a pile filled house needs is a pile of frustration and guilt to add to the top of it all.  *Sigh*

When I started this post I was merely venting my feelings with no real direction or end in mind and then I found THIS...a much needed read.

Here is a small glimpse of Stephanie's words at Diapers and Divinity:

"I don’t think we’re supposed to have a clean house. I think we’re supposed to WANT a clean house and work toward it.  This phrase from April’s General Conference about Mary and Martha’s house fit in perfectly with my philosophy on this:
“It was a welcome place for the Master, where He could rest and enjoy the surroundings of a righteous home.” ~ Elder Gregory A. Schwitzer"
Her words gave me relief and comfort.  I still have some issues to work on but I think more importantly I will work on my expectations and spending quality time with my little ones.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What Are YOU Thankful For?

Today, my son and I created turkeys out of pumpkins. At first we were going to name them. Mine was going to be Gretchen and we hadn't decided on a name for his Turkey yet. But then we changed our minds. My son agreed and we determined together that they would say, "Happy Thanksgiving" and "What are YOU Thankful For?" It reminded me of this video from last Thanksgiving. Enjoy!

Here are 25 things that I'm thankful for (in no particular order):
  1.  laughter
  2. sunshine
  3. hugs
  4. children
  5. family
  6. fall smells
  7. sleep
  8. my honey
  9. my membership in the Church
  10. Saturdays
  11. gardens
  12. a house
  13. cars
  14. walks
  15. potato bugs
  16. the first snow
  17. time
  18. my testimony
  19. Jesus Christ
  20. health
  21. technology
  22. the Gift of the Holy Ghost
  23. loving parents
  24. music
  25. a quiet house
What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Intentionally Keeping Our Families Afloat

I was asked to speak this last Sunday about families. It was such a broad topic that I felt I had so many directions I could go but very quickly came thoughts that stemmed from a previous post that I wrote and a post that Stephanie at DiapersandDivinity wrote. So if you read either of those posts than you will recognize some similarities. The thoughts from both are intertwined and expounded upon.

I was only able to give a small portion of my talk (it was a mission farewell and time was lacking) and so I thought that I'd share my talk here for you all to read. Sorry for the lack of pictures and for the length but I hope you'll read on and enjoy!

First, take a look at this video and notice the paranoia of this Dad. 

Yes, he might seem quite paranoid and over the top but it is very apparent that he had very intentionally decked his kids out in these floaties to "keep them safe".

In contrast a several months back I was talking to a mom who is not currently active in the Church who has a teenage son who had been struggling.  She made this statement to me, "I'm just holding my breath and hoping that everything turns out okay."

Because I had already been thinking about these things I immediately pictured her holding her breath under water trying to keep her son afloat and I realized that they were taking quite a risk. She can only hold her breath for so long and he doesn't have any floaties.

Do we sometimes find our families in this situation? Do we find ourselves treading water or that we constantly need to jump in after a child to rescue them?  Or that we are holding our breath trying to keep them afloat?
Or have we equipped our families with plenty of floating devices so that we can swim right along side each other without too much concern?

On the Mormon.org family page it says, "A loving and happy (and I add a righteous) family doesn’t happen by accident."

Sister Beck adds her voice on this topic by saying, "We have the responsibility and the challenge from the prophet to believe deeply and actively in the family. We will need to do that in order to preserve our families. That means we have to be intentional about everything we do.

 I have come up with 10 Spiritual Floaties that We Must Intentionally Equip Our Families With to Buoy Them High Above the Worldy Waters That Surround Us
1 – Be There – Elder Hales said, "Several years ago I was reading the newspaper when one of my young grandsons snuggled up to me. As I read, I was delighted to hear his sweet voice chattering on in the background. Imagine my surprise when, a few moments later, he pushed himself between me and the paper. Taking my face in his hands and pressing his nose up to mine, he asked, “Grandpa! Are you in there?”
Mother, Father, are you in there? Grandpa, Grandma, are you there? Being there means understanding the hearts of our youth and connecting with them. And connecting with them means not just conversing with them but doing things with them too."

Do you have "newspaper" that you need to put aside to spend more time with your family?  Children and Youth, are you there?  We all need to make an intentional effort to be there with our families.

2 – Meal Time – Elder Hales said, "When we sit down at the dinner table, is our whole family there? I remember as a young man asking permission to play baseball through dinnertime. “Just put my meal in the oven,” I said to my mother. She responded, “Robert, I really want you to take a break, come home, be with the family for dinner, and then you can go out and play baseball until dark.” She taught all of us that where family meals are concerned, it’s not the food but the family interaction that nourishes the soul."

3 – Express Love – Elder Bednar said, "We simply should sincerely and frequently express love. Brethren and sisters, when was the last time you took your eternal companion in your arms and said, “I love you”? Parents, when was the last time you sincerely expressed love to your children? Children, when was the last time you told your parents that you love them?"

4 – Bear Testimony – Elder Bednar said, "Within the walls of our own homes, we can and should bear pure testimony. Brethren and sisters, when was the last time you bore testimony to your eternal companion? Parents, when was the last time you declared your witness to your children about the things you know to be true? And children, when was the last time you shared your testimony with your parents and family?"

5 – FHE - President Faust said, "Regular participation in family home evening will develop increased personal worth, family unity, love for our fellow men, and trust in our Father in heaven. It is our promise that great blessings will come to all who conscientiously plan and hold weekly family home evenings.’ If we go forward with our family home evenings, our homes will be enriched and the gates of hell will not prevail against us”

6 – Family Scripture Study – Marion G. Romney said,  "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 the counsel of their parents. 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. … "

7 – Family Prayer - President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “I submit that a return to the old pattern of prayer, family prayer in the homes of the people, is one of the basic medications that would check the dread disease that is eroding the character of our society. We could not expect a miracle in a day, but in a generation we would have a miracle” (Ensign, Feb 1991, 2).

8 – Church Attendance – President Benson said, "May I now direct your attention to the importance of attending all of your Church meetings. Faithful attendance at Church meetings brings blessings you can receive in no other way. Attend your sacrament meeting every Sunday. Listen carefully to the messages. Pray for the spirit of understanding and testimony."

9 – Temple Attendance -
President Boyd K. Packer said, "No work is more of a protection to this church than temple work. No work is more spiritually refining. No work we do gives us more power. No work requires a higher standard of righteousness. Our labors in the temple cover us with a shield and a protection, both individually and as a people” (The Holy Temple, 265).

10 – Teach ValuesIf we want children who are respectful we must intentionally teach respect.  If we want children who are hard working we must teach them to work.  If we want children who are kind we must teach them to be kind.

If we don’t make an INTENTIONAL DECISION to do these things and then follow through with INTENTIONAL EFFORT then we may never equip our families with the necessary floaties, or we may initially give them the floaties but then fail to continually pump them up.

Satan Uses 4 Traps to Lure Us Into Wordly Waters Without Spiritual Floaties

1. We are at “ease in Zion” and think “All is well” (2 Nephi 28:24-25). We think things like, “We are doing just fine. We go to church. We’ve got the basic techniques down.”
2. We are confused by our worldly wisdom. How will doing the small and simple things even make a difference or make great things come to pass (Alma 37:6-7)? We think things like, “It won’t make a difference if we miss FHE this week or don’t hold family scripture study. Floaties are so small they barely do anything.”
3. We are simply slothful (lazy) or forgetful (Alma 37-41-42). We think things like, “I don’t want to get the kids up for scripture study. Let’s just watch TV instead of FHE. We forgot family prayer AGAIN. Where did I put those “floaties”? I don’t feel like putting them on right now.”
4. We meet opposition – President Hinckley said, "The family is under attack. All across the world families are falling apart." We may think things like, “They are so hard to keep pumped up.  Or our families floaties already have holes in them.”

Satan IS working to lure us out into the worldly waters without our floaties but if we are intentionally equipping our families with them are families will be buoyed high above the worldly waters that surround us and we will be able to swim along side each other and have a loving, happy, righteous, and safe family. But without an intentional decision followed by intentional action or effort then Satan may lure us into one of his traps.

 Sister Beck shares this wonderful story of her very intentional family that was definitely kept afloat:
"My mother was an older single and living and loving life. She was introduced to my father, who was a young bishop and a widower with three children. (They married soon after.) She had had a lot of great experiences. Now all of a sudden she was a mother to three beautiful children.

As she and Daddy were traveling along on their honeymoon, she wanted to talk about how they were going to proceed with this family. What are our goals? What is our family going to be like? How are we going to do things in our family? She started writing the answers and their goals, she said, on a paper sack. It was the only paper she had. As they were talking, they said, “What do we want for our children? Are our children going to be married in the temple? Yes, they are. Okay, if we want our children to be married in the temple, what kinds of things do we have to teach them in our home? Well, we will have to have scripture study.” So they wrote that down.“How about family prayer?” Daddy said. “We already have family prayer. That is our habit.” “How about going to church?” Going to church every week was on the list. They wrote down things such as manners. “Are we going to teach our children to be polite?” That was a challenge for some of us. They made a goal about who was going to serve a mission. They certainly wanted their sons to serve missions and their daughters to serve missions if they had a desire. They made goals about education, university education, and so on. But Dad said, “Well, I’m not going to pay for it.” So Mother said, “Okay, then we’ll teach them to work.” So they wrote “work” after that.

And they began to develop the culture of their family, which was a Latter-day Saint culture.They were preparing their family to make the covenants and receive the ordinances they needed to prepare them for eternal life, and they knew that there were things their family had to do every day. They started out with family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, and preparing children. I am so grateful for parents who were intentional about preparing a family.They created a personalized family plan for our family."

I know that if we determine to create a family that is run very intentionally, just as Sister Beck's parents, we will be blessed.  We will be blessed to have a more unified family.  We will be blessed to have a more righteous family.  We will be blessed to be closer to the Lord.  We will prepare our families for eternal life by equipping our families with floaties everyday.