Reaching out in love and service: Highlights from the April 2016 General Women’s Session

The General Women’s Session of the 2016 April General Conference was inspiring and motivating. Each of the speakers addressed the need to reach out to others in love and service. I am prayerfully studying these messages and seeking the Lord’s help to be a better tool in his hands. Here are some of the key messages from the talks that I want to highlight and remember for myself and my family. 

Sister Cheryl A. Esplin, “He Asks Us to Be His Hands”. 
Scriptures: John 13:34, acts 10:38, Luke 9:24

Be someone who reaches out to know and serve others–throw away the mirrors and look through the window.

When children learn how to love and serve others when they are young, they set a pattern of service for the rest of their lives. Often children teach the rest of us that showing love and service doesn’t have to be big and grandiose to be meaningful and make a difference.

Sisters, some of you listening may feel stretched to capacity ministering to the needs of family members. Remember, in those routine and often mundane tasks, you are “in the service of your God.”

Others of you might be feeling an emptiness that could be filled as you look into your neighborhood or community for opportunities to help ease another’s burdens.

All of us can incorporate some service into our daily living. We live in a contentious world. We give service when we don’t criticize, when we refuse to gossip, when we don’t judge, when we smile, when we say thank you, and when we are patient and kind.

Other kinds of service take time, intentional planning, and extra energy. But they are worth our every effort. Perhaps we could start by asking ourselves these questions:

  • Who in my circle of influence could I help today?
  • What time and resources do I have?
  • In what ways can I use my talents and skills to bless others?
  • What might we do as a family?

I have come to know that it is the love of God and neighbor that give meaning to life. May we follow our Savior’s example and His admonition to reach out to others with love.

Sister  Neill F. Marriott, “What Shall We Do?”
Women and sisters, what shall we do?

We build the kingdom when we nurture others.

Love is making space in your life for someone else.

Mothers literally make room in their bodies to nurture an unborn baby–and hopefully a place in their hearts as they raise them–but nurturing is not limited to bearing children. Eve was called a “mother” before she had children. I believe that “to mother” means “to give life.”

We also build the kingdom when we speak up and testify of truth.

Sister Julie B. Beck, former Relief Society general president, taught: “The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life. … It requires a conscious effort.”

I am glad to be a mother, and I promise you I will do everything in my power to nurture my children in such a way that they will make the world a better place.”

Sister Linda K. Burton, “I Was a Stranger”.
There are more than 60 million refugees, including forcibly displaced people, worldwide. Half of those are children.

The First Presidency invited individuals, families, and Church units to participate in Christlike service in local refugee relief projects and to contribute to the Church humanitarian fund, where practical.

Each member of this worldwide sisterhood has covenanted at baptism to “comfort those that stand in need of comfort.

With these truths in mind, we have organized a relief effort called “I Was a Stranger.” It is our hope that you will prayerfully determine what you can do–according to your own time and circumstance–to serve the refugees living in your neighborhoods and communities. This is an opportunity to serve one on one, in families, and by organization to offer friendship, mentoring, and other Christlike service and is one of many ways sisters can serve.

And the Savior said: “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me.”

As we consider the “pressing calls” of those who need our help, let’s ask ourselves, “What if their story were my story?” May we then seek inspiration, act on impressions we receive, and reach out in unity to help those in need as we are able and inspired to do so. Perhaps then it might be said of us, as the Savior said of a loving sister who ministered to Him: “She hath wrought a good work. … She hath done what she could.”

President Henry B. Eyring, ” Trust in That Spirit Which Leadeth to Do Good”. 

The feeling of greatest importance is love.

A second feeling you have had tonight was the influence of the Holy Ghost. “And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good–yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit” (D&C 11:12).

The third feeling you have had tonight is that you want to be closer to the Savior.

The first thing you must commit to do is to go and serve, knowing that you do not go alone. When you go to comfort and serve anyone for the Savior, He prepares the way before you.

The second thing you must do is remember the Lord as you go in service for Him.

The third thing I hope they will do is to be personally modest about their good works.

My prayer for the sisters in the kingdom, wherever they may be or in whatever circumstances, is that their faith in the Savior and gratitude for His Atonement will lead them to do all they can for those God asks them to serve. As they do, I promise that they will move up the path to become holy women whom the Savior and our Heavenly Father will welcome warmly and reward.

I witness that we grow closer to the Savior as we, out of pure love, serve others for Him.

General Conference Weekend Recap

I started writing this post prior to conference weekend, but after a week with a sick baby and then a birthday and other “normal” life things, I was never quite able to finish this post. So here it is, after the fact. Maybe it will help you prepare for the next semi-annual conference.

General Conference is this weekend! I am really looking forward to the opportunity to hear the word of the Lord through his authorized servants. To remind our family of the importance of General Conference, I hung up a poster with this quote from Elder Bednar from last conference:

“May we hear and heed the eternal truths taught by the Lord’s authorized representatives.”

april-2016-new-era-magazine-lds-mormon_1692065_inl-2

Most of my children are at an age now where they are able to occupy themselves better during and between sessions (age 11, 8, and 6). Except for the almost one year old baby. We just try to keep him happy and take him outside and for walks. I quickly realized that I would not be taking any notes this time around, but I will have plenty of opportunities to study the messages on my own in the days and months to come. This time around I am just focused on making sure we have a peaceful spirit in our home.

That being said, here are a few resources I am using this General Conference weekend.

Conference Journals: Each child has their own notebook for taking notes. My oldest daughter decorated a notebook at Activity Girls specifically for this purpose, while I just found some nicer journals for Zach and Lily that we already had at home. We encouraged them to write the name of the apostle, and any key words that they heard.

7-Up Lifting Ways to Get the Most out of Conference: I snagged this cute printable, attached to a can of 7-Up, and shared with the sisters I visit teach.

Getting to know the apostles: I printed and laminated these Special Witness cards to help my children learn and recognize the faces of the apostles.

On Sunday the children used the General Conference binder, full of activities like word searches, mazes, apostle facts and trivia. I keep all of the pages in sheet protectors, so they can be re-used with dry-erase markers. You can read more about it here.

These religious doodles are kind of fun to color!

Counting Down to Conference: I forgot to do this time around, but I am holding on to this idea for future sessions!

Check out this post from last fall which details all of our General Conference traditions.

The Monday before General Conference we traditionally have an FHE lesson focused on the importance of following the prophet and preparing for General Conference. This time around we focused on the following teachings about prophets from the October 2015 General Conference.

Elder David A. Bednar
The Savior declared, “Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38). May we hear and heed the eternal truths taught by the Lord’s authorized representatives. As we do so, I promise our faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will be fortified, and we will receive spiritual guidance and protection for our specific circumstances and needs.

Elder M. Russell Ballard
And make no mistake about it: the Lord directs His Church through living prophets and apostles. This is the way He has always done His work.

It has always been a challenge for the world to accept living prophets and apostles, but it is so essential to do so in order to fully understand the Atonement and the teachings of Jesus Christ and to receive a fulness of the blessings of the priesthood that are given to those He has called.

Sister Carole M. Stephens
Our Father has provided a way for us to hear His word and know His law through His prophets. The Lord declared, “My word shall … all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”

There is safety in following the word of the Lord through His prophets. God called President Thomas S. Monson, the counselors in the First Presidency, and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators. In this world of increasing fear, distraction, adversity, and anger, we can look to them to see how disciples of Jesus Christ—filled with charity—look, sound, and react to issues that could be divisive. They testify of Jesus Christ and respond with charity, the pure love of Jesus Christ, whose witnesses they are.

Prioritizing Our Lives to Find Joy: A Lesson for Relief Society

I had the opportunity to teach the lesson in my ward Relief Society today. The focus of my lesson was adapted from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Of Regrets and Resolutions” (October 2012). Here are some of the highlights.

President Uchtdorf once related the experience of a nurse who cares for the terminally ill. As her patients have prepared to depart this life, she has often asked a simple question: “Do you have any regrets?”

How would you answer that question?

I would like you to reflect for a moment, and reflect personally on your own life. If you knew that your death was imminent, how would you answer that question? Do you have any regrets? (Give a minute to ponder this).

In his conference address from October 2012, “Of Regrets and Resolutions” President Uchtdorf discussed the top three responses to that question.

I Wish I Had Spent More Time with the People I Love

When this life ends and we pass onto the next, the only thing we take with us is the knowledge that we have gained, and the meaningful relationships that have enriched our lives.

One of my favorite teachings of President Monson is this:

“what is most important almost always involves the people around us.”

How we treat others, the love and kindness we offer, is what is most important.

It isn’t always easy to focus on what is most important. Too often we get caught up in the endless tasks of day-to-day life. Now, at this stage of my life, My life feels like a series of unfinished projects. Do you ever feel the same way? To illustrate:

Monday is usually my day to recover from the weekend and get the house back in order. This week, among the usual tasks of laundry and dishes, etc, I worked on sorting through my baby boy clothes that Adam has grown out of, so that I could pass them along to a sister that has a new baby boy. I had to work quickly, since 10-month old Adam was at my side, pulling items out of the box almost as fast as I was putting them in. I got the box ready to go and planned to deliver them that day, but by then it was lunchtime for Adam and myself. After feeding Adam, I mixed up a batch of granola to go with the smoothies I had planned for after school snack. The granola was in the oven and I started to work on the lunch (and breakfast dishes), but by this time Adam wanted some attention. I sat down with him and read him a few board books. Once he happily crawled off my lap, I turned my attention to the laundry that had just finished drying. I put the sheets on the bed, but then the timer beeped for the oven-baked granola, before I could put away the rest of the clean towels and cloths. I had hoped to deliver the baby clothes that day, but it was now time to load up the baby for the walk to the bus stop and meet my big kids. Once they get home it is whirlwind of activity as I balance the needs of four children: snack, chores, homework (27 spelling words to practice!), piano practice for all three, a lesson for me to teach, trying in vain to get the baby to take his afternoon nap, prepare dinner, eat, FHE (thankfully it is Jared’s turn for the lesson, and truthfully I snag a two-minute doze on the couch while he engages the children in an activity). By the time the kids are washed and read to and in bed, I walk past the clean laundry that is still sitting half-way out of the dryer and spilling onto the floor, and the dinner dishes that aren’t finished. I focus on dishes, in between comforting my five-year-old son who is having trouble sleeping because of a knee that he fell and scraped earlier in the day. At 10 p.m. I crawl into bed with him until he is sound asleep, leaving the laundry for yet another day.

Does this sound familiar to any of you?

President Uchtdorf taught:

“Isn’t it true that we often get so busy? And, sad to say, we even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life.

Is it?”

“I think of our Lord and Exemplar, Jesus Christ, and His short life among the people of Galilee and Jerusalem. I have tried to imagine Him bustling between meetings or multitasking to get a list of urgent things accomplished.

I can’t see it.

Instead I see the compassionate and caring Son of God purposefully living each day. When He interacted with those around Him, they felt important and loved. He knew the infinite value of the people He met. He blessed them, ministered to them. He lifted them up, healed them. He gave them the precious gift of His time.”

At this stage of my life, while I am busily in the throes of “young motherhood”, there is a phrase that I tell myself almost daily “this is what God gave you time for”. It comes from a talk by Elder Andersen in Oct. 2011:

“Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.”

Eventually the laundry and dishes will get done. I may not be crossing off many things (or anything!) on my to do list, but as I hold my napping baby in my arms, as I help my eight-year-old with her math problems, as I read a book with my five-year-old, and as I teach my 11-year-old how to cook something in the kitchen, I remember that “this is what God gave you time for”. The relationships I have with my children and spouse are what is most important.

No matter what stage of life we are in, we would do well to remember this teaching from Sister Linda Reeves, in the April 2014 General Conference:

“The only things that really need to be accomplished in the home are daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening.” (Linda Reeves, April 2014)

I Wish I Had Lived Up to My Potential

Another regret people expressed was that they failed to become the person they could and should have been. They realized that they never lived up to their potential.

President Uchtdorf is clear. He is not speaking of “climbing the ladder of success in our various professions”. We don’t need to be the most famous author, the most successful businessperson, or the scientist who discovers the cure for cancer.  Instead, he is “speaking of becoming the person God, our Heavenly Father, intended us to be”.

As we reflect on our lives and the way that we spend our time, consider this teaching of President Uchtdorf:

“Discipleship is the pursuit of holiness and happiness. It is the path to our best and happiest self.”

“Let us resolve to follow the Savior and work with diligence to become the person we were designed to become. Let us listen to and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit. As we do so, Heavenly Father will reveal to us things we never knew about ourselves. He will illuminate the path ahead and open our eyes to see our unknown and perhaps unimagined talents.

The more we devote ourselves to the pursuit of holiness and happiness, the less likely we will be on a path to regrets. The more we rely on the Savior’s grace, the more we will feel that we are on the track our Father in Heaven has intended for us.”

I Wish I Had Let Myself Be Happier

The last regret that we will focus on is this: “They wished they had let themselves be happier”.

“So often we get caught up in the illusion that there is something just beyond our reach that would bring us happiness: a better family situation, a better financial situation, or the end of a challenging trial.

The older we get, the more we look back and realize that external circumstances don’t really matter or determine our happiness.

We do matter. We determine our happiness.

You and I are ultimately in charge of our own happiness.”

“We shouldn’t wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was already available—all the time! Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect.”

From his most recent address, in the story of the Summer with Great Aunt Rose, he reminded us that “God didn’t design us to be sad. He created us to have joy!”

I love this scripture found in the book of Psalms 118: 24 “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Each day is a gift. What do you do to find joy each day?

“To avoid some of the deepest regrets of life, it would be wise to make some resolutions today. Therefore, let us:

  • Resolve to spend more time with those we love.
  • Resolve to strive more earnestly to become the person God wants us to be.
  • Resolve to find happiness, regardless of our circumstances.

It is my testimony that many of the deepest regrets of tomorrow can be prevented by following the Savior today. If we have sinned or made mistakes—if we have made choices that we now regret—there is the precious gift of Christ’s Atonement, through which we can be forgiven. We cannot go back in time and change the past, but we can repent. The Savior can wipe away our tears of regret and remove the burden of our sins. His Atonement allows us to leave the past behind and move forward with clean hands, a pure heart, and a determination to do better and especially to become better.”

A Love Talk

One of my favorite General Conference talks is “Love–the Essence of the Gospel” by President Thomas S. Monson.I have studied this talk a lot, and I took the opportunity in this month of hearts and love to study it again. I had the opportunity this week to present a talk on the topic of love for our ward Relief Society meeting, and I am sharing it here. I learned a lot in studying and preparing–isn’t that the greatest thing about teaching/speaking? I learn so much in the process

The month of February always turns our minds and hearts to the theme of love. At our house we read love books, we read scriptures about love, and we write love notes. So I have been thinking a lot about the topic of love.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin gave a talk in October 1997 entitled, “The Great Commandment”. He taught:

“Love is the beginning, the middle, and the end of the pathway of discipleship.”

“Love is the greatest of all the commandments—all others hang upon it. It is our focus as followers of the living Christ. It is the one trait that, if developed, will most improve our lives.”

So, how do we go about developing the trait of love? We begin by understanding what love is. If we substitute charity as a synonym for love, then we can read all about it in Moroni 7:45:

“And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”

In a classic speech at BYU, titled after Elizabeth Barret Browning’s famous poem, “How Do I Love Thee?, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught:

“Real love is best shown in the “how”.

How do we show our love? We can begin first by saying “I love you”. We have an “I love you” tradition at our home that is centered on sneezing. When someone sneezes, the first response, as is typical, is to say “Bless you”. But sneezes tend to come in multiples, so after the second sneeze the response is “Oh, I love you.” Sneeze again and it is “Oh, I really love you!”.

This tradition started with my husband I when we were first married, and has now grown to include our children. The children usually continue the conversation with fake sneezes. I then respond: “Oh, so much love!” and “Lots of love!” and “Hugs and kisses!” and “Loving you forever!” This is just a silly little thing, but it gets us saying the words.

Elder Bednar in October 2009 taught:

“We can begin to become more diligent and concerned at home by telling the people we love that we love them. Such expressions do not need to be flowery or lengthy. We simply should sincerely and frequently express love.

… 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?

Each of us already knows we should tell the people we love that we love them. But what we know is not always reflected in what we do. We may feel unsure, awkward, or even perhaps a bit embarrassed.

We should remember that saying “I love you” is only a beginning. We need to say it, we need to mean it, and most importantly we need consistently to show it. We need to both express and demonstrate love.”

How else do we show our love? Elder Wirthlin taught:

“the greatest manifestations of love are the simple acts of kindness and caring we extend to those we meet along the path of life.”

President Thomas S. Monson gave a great address in the April 2014 General Conference. The entire talk is worth further study but I just wanted to touch on a few highlights. He taught:

Love is the very essence of the gospel, and Jesus Christ is our Exemplar…We cannot truly love God if we do not love our fellow travelers on this mortal journey.”

He shared a poem that clearly demonstrates the value of love and kindness:

I have wept in the night

For the shortness of sight

That to somebody’s need made me blind;

But I never have yet

Felt a tinge of regret

For being a little too kind.

President Monson encourages love as a daily way of being. But, it is always our choice how we will act. He said:

“As we arise each morning, let us determine to respond with love and kindness to whatever might come our way.”

I loved that thought so much that it has been hanging in my bathroom for almost two years. I need that daily reminder of how to act!

Each of us longs to have fulfillment in loving relationships. Elder Wirthlin taught:

“True love blooms when we care more about another person than we care about ourselves.”

As I close, I would like to remind you that at the end of the day, if your Valentine’s Day or week of month or lifetime isn’t quite how you expected, remember what President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught:

“You are loved. You are dear to your heavenly parents. The infinite and eternal Creator of light and life knows you! He is mindful of you. Yes, God loves you this very day and always…He knows everything about you. He sees you clearly—He knows you as you really are. And He loves you—today and always!…He loves you not only for who you are this very day but also for the person of glory and light you have the potential and the desire to become”.

Additional by H. Burke Peterson

“Some years ago in our ward fast and testimony meeting a young father proudly gave a name and a blessing to his first child. Afterwards the father stood to bear his testimony. He expressed thanks for this, his first son. He then said in a rather perplexed way that since the little fellow didn’t seem to understand anything they said, he wished he knew just how to communicate with him. “All we can do,” said he, “is hold him, cuddle him, gently squeeze him, kiss him, and whisper thoughts of love in his ear.”

After the meeting I went up to the new father and said that in his testimony he had given us a success pattern for raising healthy children. I hoped he would never forget it; even as his children grew to maturity I hoped he would continue the practice.”

“We must make an even clearer effort to communicate real love to a questioning child. The giving of love from a parent to a son or daughter must not be dependent on his or her performance. Ofttimes those we think deserve our love the least need it the most.”

“Two weeks ago President Kimball passed me as we were rushing to a meeting. He stopped, took my hand, looked me in the eye, put away all of his other cares, and said simply, “I’m sorry we’re sometimes so busy. I guess I haven’t told you lately how much I love you and appreciate you.”

I felt his spirit; I believed him; my spirit soared to a new height.

If it comes from the heart, it will work, brothers and sisters. It will bring peace and happiness to a troubled soul. Please try again … and again … and again.”

References for Further Study

Moroni 7:45-48

David A. Bednar, “More Diligent and Concerned at Home”. October 2009 General Conference.

Jeffrey R. Holland, “How Do I Love Thee?” BYU Speeches, February 15, 2000.

Thomas S. Monson, “Love—the Essence of the Gospel”. April 2014 General Conference.

H. Burke Peterson, “The Daily Portion of Love”. April 1997 General Conference.

Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Great Commandment”. October 1997 General Conference.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Living the Gospel Joyful”. October 2014 General Conference.

An Index to Resources about the Sabbath Day

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is focusing on the Sabbath Day, encouraging all people to observe the Sabbath and find delight in the day. We have been teaching our children about the Sabbath Day in a few different ways, and I have taught a Sunday Relief Society lesson and a monthly enrichment lesson on the topic. Today I am sharing the resources that I have found helpful in preparing lessons. Hopefully they inspire you to teach your family and reflect on the quality of your own Sabbath Day.

The Doctrine of the Sabbath 

Elder Russell M. Nelson, “The Sabbath is a Delight.” April 2015 General Conference.

Elder L. Tom Perry, “The Sabbath and the Sacrament.” April 2011 General Conference.

General Authorities Reflect on Sabbath Day: Eleven short video clips of training by apostles and auxiliary leaders that was given in October 2015.

Teachings about the Sabbath Day from the October 2015 General Conference.

Sabbath Day topic on lds.org: doctrinal overview, links to teachings of prophets, scriptures, video clips, etc.

Scriptures

Exodus 20:8; Exodus 31:16-17; Mark 2:27; Ezekiel 20:20; Mosiah 18:23; Isaiah 58:13-14; D&C 59: 11-14; D&C 68:29; Moses 3:1-3.

Blog and other Online Resources

lds.org/blog: Click on the Sabbath tag on the left side of the page. There are a number of helpful posts that would spark great discussions. Many of the articles include downloadable printables. For example, after reading “There’s Really No Such Thing as a Sabbath Cannot”, you might be inspired to make your own family “Sunday Can.”

How Would Your Family describe the Sabbath?

Making a Sabbath Day plan

A Dad’s guide: Making Sacrament Meeting special for your wife and kids

Five Ways to Celebrate the Sabbath as a Family: includes images for how the Sabbath should sound, feel, look different, etc.

80 Ideas for More Satisfying Sundays

Small Refinements from Raising Lemons

Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy One Hour at a Time from  beinglds.blog

Helps from Sugardoodle: includes quotes, story of Olympian Eric Liddel (Chariots of Fire movie), and 1110 things to do on the Sabbath

Media

The Sabbath is a Delight: new Mormon Message released in January 2016

Short video clips (some like commercials) from the LDS media library

Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy by John Bytheway

Family Home Evening Lessons

Sabbath Day Puppet Story: includes a story and word strip game

FHE Lesson from Deseret Book: includes a Sunday plan maze

Teachings about the Sabbath from October 2015 General Conference

The Sabbath is a Delight: lesson based on Elder Nelson’s address in April 2015

Object Lesson found on Sugardoodle: We did an object lesson regarding the Sabbath day… We had told them we were going to be having ice cream Sundays and … we gave them their bowls and spoon and started dishing out the ice cream… as this was being done I started putting out the toppings such as: Pepperoni, chopped onions, grated cheese, BBQ sauce and some cheeze whiz….. they started grossing out. I asked them why what’s wrong, don’t you like cheese? or onions, pepperoni etc. they came back with “Yeah, but not on Ice cream” so we talked about the Sabbath day and how it is exactly like the same. Some activities we do during the week are not bad activities just not appropriate for Sundays.

Book Notes: The Picky Eating Solution

I have been feeling the need to increase the health and wellness of my family by increasing the health of our diet. A few of my children are very limited in the kinds of foods that they eat, and we all need to eat more vegetables! I have been reading a few different resources and recently read The Picky Eating Solution by Deborah Kennedy. The book had some helpful ideas, so I am sharing my notes here.

As I keep researching I have the feeling that one of my children may actually be beyond just a picky eater, moving into the realm of a resistant eater or perhaps some sensory issues. So I am not sure if all of the ideas in the book will actually work for him. However, we are working on our own variation of dinner rules.

“Not allowing dessert until enough dinner is eaten, especially vegetables, is a consequence, not a reward. So is have having your child each the healthy stuff before he can have the unhealthy part of his snack. This is really just a “this then that” technique you probably use every day, whereby you teach your child that he must first do one thing before he can get what he wants: exercise before playing video games, finish homework before playing outside, or cleanup your room before going to a friend’s house. If you take away the consequence, how in the world are you ever going to motivate your child to eat the healthy stuff?” (p. 59).

“Do not serve a snack within two hours of meal-time.”

Six Simple and Effective Food Rules to Live By

  1. Eat then treat. Ex: No dessert until the meal is eaten. No treat at snack time until a fruit or veggie is eaten. Not treats at all if enough healthy food was not eaten that day. Say “Oh, I see you haven’t eaten your carrots. We are having ice cream for dessert. You can have some once you eat your carrots. The choice is yours.”
  2. Establish the one-bite rule. She just has to take one bite (of a new food), then she can spit out if she does not like it. If there is not an intense reaction, then next time she can try two bites, then three, etc. Remain calm and don’t overreact. For extremely resistant children try the touch-smell-lick approach.
  3. Serve a fruit or veggie with every meal and snack. Children need at least two whole fruits and three vegetables a day. Consequence–if they don’t eat the 5 servings, then they do not get any processed treats.
  4. Limit food waste.
  5. Serve only one dinner. Give children the chance to offer input on what is served (pick the vegetable or the main dish).
  6. No “yuck” is allowed at the table. Consequence is a time-out in their room. They can say “This is not my favorite”.

Four Table Rules to Prevent Mealtime Chaos and Encourage Family Connection

  1. Everyone has a job to do at mealtime. Kids can help plan, pick, prep, and cook.
  2. Eat at the table.
  3. Electronics are not allowed at the table when eating.
  4. Whoever raises his or her voice leaves the table.

Teachings about the Sabbath Day from the October 2015 General Conference (FHE plans)

One of the current Prophetic Priorities set by the Prophet and First Presidency of the Church is to focus on Sabbath Day observance to strengthen individuals and the family. During the October 2015 General Conference I asked my children to specifically listen for speakers who mentioned the word Sabbath. We counted at least nine talks! For a recent FHE lesson I compiled all of the references into one sheet. We picked one to really focus on for the week, and an accompanying scripture (we say it every morning during the drive to school). For the rest of the week at dinnertime we picked an additional quote to discuss.

Our focus quote for the week came from Elder Claudio R. M. Costa: “The Sabbath and the Sacrament become much more enjoyable as we study the stories of Christ.”

Scripture of the week: “And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God” (Ezekiel 20:20).

To help our family remember I created a poster using this meme, and also included the scripture on the bottom.

Here is the compilation of teachings about the Sabbath day from the October 2015 General Conference.

Elder M. Russell Ballard
Another important doctrine that we should cling to is to observe the Sabbath day. This helps us remain unspotted from the world, provides us with physical rest, and gives each of us the spiritual refreshment of worshipping the Father and the Son every Sunday. When we delight in the Sabbath day, it is a sign of our love for Them.

Elder Quentin L. Cook
For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, honoring the Sabbath is a form of righteousness that will bless and strengthen families, connect us with our Creator, and increase happiness. The Sabbath can help separate us from that which is frivolous, inappropriate, or immoral. It allows us to be in the world but not of the world. In the last six months, a most remarkable change has occurred in the Church. This has been in the response of the members to renewed emphasis on the Sabbath by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve and to President Russell M. Nelson’s challenge to make the Sabbath a delight. Many members understand that truly keeping the Sabbath day holy is a refuge from the storms of this life. It is also a sign of our devotion to our Father in Heaven and an increased understanding of the sacredness of sacrament meeting. Still, we have a long way to go, but we have a wonderful beginning. I challenge all of us to continue to embrace this counsel and improve our Sabbath worship.

President Henry B. Eyring
If you receive a spiritual impression to honor the Sabbath day, especially when it seems difficult, God will send His Spirit to help.

Elder Kim B. Clark
Simple obedience brings the Spirit into our hearts. In our homes, we pray in faith, search the scriptures, and keep the Sabbath day holy. In our chapels, we partake of the sacrament and make sacred promises to our Heavenly Father in the name of Christ.

Sister Neill F. Marriott
When we open ourselves to the Spirit, we learn God’s way and feel His will. During the sacrament, which I call the heart of the Sabbath, I have found that after I pray for forgiveness of sins, it is instructive for me to ask Heavenly Father, “Father, is there more?” When we are yielded and still, our minds can be directed to something more we may need to change—something that is limiting our capacity to receive spiritual guidance or even healing and help.

Elder Randall K. Bennett
Two essential weekly signposts that mark our journey back to our Father in Heaven are the perpetual covenant of the ordinance of the sacrament and our Sabbath day observance… If, in remembering Him each Sabbath, we turn our hearts to the Savior through these two important signposts, our efforts are again more than matched by the Lord by His promised blessings. We are promised that, with devoted Sabbath day observance, the fulness of the earth will be ours.

Elder Claudio R. M. Costa
I believe that starting a tradition of telling the stories of Jesus to our children and families is a very special way to keep the Sabbath day holy in our homes…I am grateful for our leaders, who are constantly teaching us about Christ, about keeping the Sabbath day holy, and about partaking of the sacrament each Sunday in honor of the Savior. The Sabbath and the sacrament become much more enjoyable as we study the stories of Christ. In so doing, we create traditions that build our faith and testimony and also protect our family.

Sister Carole M. Stephens
Recently, living prophets have counseled us to “remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy,” and to live the law of the fast. Obedience to this prophetic counsel provides a way for us to be obedient to God’s commandment to love Him and our neighbor as we increase our faith in Jesus Christ and extend our hand to love and care for others.

Great videos about Gratitude

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has produced a number of videos that tie in to the theme of gratitude. Here are some of my favorites. You can find links to these and more videos about Gratitude here.

Finding Happiness and Gratitude

My brothers and sisters, do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive? Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love.

Posted by Thomas S Monson on Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Study Days 7-10

It has been helpful this week to read and study a little about gratitude everyday, to keep myself focused on what Thanksgiving is really all about, and not get to caught up with turkeys and pies. I have much to be grateful for! Here are the highlights from the study plan for days 7-10.

“Gratitude requires awareness and effort, not only to feel it but to express it…As we pray and express gratitude to a loving but unseen Heavenly Father, we are also expressing our faith in Him. Gratitude is our sweet acknowledgment of the Lord’s hand in our lives; it is an expression of our faith” (Sister Bonnie D. Parkin).

​”Let a spirit of thanksgiving guide and bless your days and nights. Work at being grateful. You will find that it yields wonderful results” (source).

An Attitude of Gratitude by President Thomas S. Monson
1. We can lift ourselves and others when we cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude.
2. Let us show gratitude for:
Our mothers
Our fathers
Our teachers
Our friends
Our country
Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
3. By emulating the Lord’s example and obeying His word, we give to Him the gift of gratitude.

A FHE Lesson on Gratitude

My five-year-old son taught our FHE lesson tonight. With it being Thanksgiving this week, of course he chose the theme of gratitude. First we watched this video. Then he presented our scripture for the week:

D&C 98:1 “…rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks;”

For our activity we each filled up a sheet of paper with things that we are grateful for. We used this activity to give us ideas as needed.  I think my 8-year-old enjoyed this activity the most–she filled her page and didn’t leave any white space at all!