Christlike Obedience (Highlights from Elder Hales-April 2014)

“Jesus taught us to obey in simple language that is easy to understand: “If ye love me, keep my commandments,”5 and “Come, follow me.”

Using our agency to obey means choosing to “do what is right [and letting] the consequence follow.”11 It requires self-mastery and brings confidence, eternal happiness, and a sense of fulfillment to us and, by example, to those around us; and it always includes a deep personal commitment to sustain priesthood leaders and follow their teachings and counsel.”

As disciples of Christ, we have a sacred obligation to uphold His laws and commandments and the covenants which we take upon ourselves.”

Obedience is taught by example. By how we live, we teach our children, “Learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God.”

Elder Robert D. Hales, “If Ye Love Me, Keep My Commandments”.  April 2014 General Conference.

Christlike love can change the world (Highlights from Elder Holland-April 2014)

Christlike love is the greatest need we have on this planet…”meme-holland-love-1240450-gallery

Pure Christlike love flowing from true righteousness can change the world.”

Be strong. Live the gospel faithfully even if others around you don’t live it at all. Defend your beliefs with courtesy and with compassion, but defend them.”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Cost–and Blessings–of Discipleship”. April 2014 General Conference.

Jesus Christ is the greatest example (Highlights from Elder Scott-April 2014)

meme-scott-example-1240483-galleryGod’s purpose is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”2 That is fundamental to all we do. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in things that we find fascinating or become so consumed by mundane responsibilities that we lose sight of God’s objectives. As you consistently focus your life on the most basic principles, you will gain an understanding of what you are to do, and you will produce more fruit for the Lord and more happiness for yourself.”

Remember, loving them is the powerful foundation for influencing those you want to help.”

There is no doctrine more fundamental to our work than the Atonement of Jesus Christ. At every appropriate opportunity, testify of the Savior and of the power of His Atoning sacrifice. Use scriptures that teach of Him and why He is the perfect pattern for everyone in life.4 You will need to study diligently. Do not become so absorbed with trivial things that you miss learning the doctrine and teachings of the Lord. With a solid, personal doctrinal foundation, you will be a powerful source for sharing vital truths with others who desperately need them.”

Elder Richard G. Scott, “I Have Given You an Example”. April 2014 General Conference.

Sistershood and loving each other better (Highlights from Sister Oscarson-April 2014)

To be sisters implies that there is an unbreakable bond between us. Sisters take care of each other, watch out for each other, comfort each other, and are there for each other through thick and thin. The Lord has said, “I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.”

If there are barriers, it is because we ourselves have created them. We must stop concentrating on our differences and look for what we have in common; then we can begin to realize our greatest potential and achieve the greatest good in this world. Sister Marjorie P. Hinckley once said, “Oh, how we need each other. Those of us who are old need you who are young. And, hopefully, you who are young need some of us who are old. It is a sociological fact that women need women. We need deep and satisfying and loyal friendships with each other.”6 Sister Hinckley was right; oh, how we need each other!”

“I invite you to not only love each other more but love each other better.”41138-2

Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, “Sisterhood: Oh, How We Need Each Other”. April 2014 General Women’s Meeting.

The Basics of our Summer Daily Plan

The summer season is a good time: sleeping in, swimming at the pool, reading books, and lots of uninterrupted time with my children…wait a second…the thought of lots of uninterrupted time with my children every summer can sometimes be a cause for panic! So I’ve done some thinking and some online research and discussing with other moms, and this is the plan that I have come up with for our family this summer. Our goal is to keep our brains and bodies active and our house clean!

6:45    Mom wakes up

7:00  Morning Mile Run (for mom and sometimes Anwyn, and sometimes Lily and Zach on their bikes)

7:45  Family Prayer, Read 5 verses in the Book of Mormon, Breakfast

Morning Fit: If we don’t get out and play first thing in the morning, the Florida heat and humidity will keep us inside the rest of the day. So right after breakfast we head outdoors for some physical fitness. The children take turns picking the activity: bike ride, playground at a park, tennis, soccer/balls. Basically any activity that gets us outdoors and moving.

Morning Things: Daily personal care habits: get dressed, brush teeth, brush hair, make beds, put away clothes.

Morning Work: Since I have three children, I divided our house into three cleaning zones: kitchen, living room, and bathrooms. The children rotate weekly being in charge of one zone. I work  with the children to teach them how to clean their zone. For example, depending on the age of the child, the kitchen zone involves emptying and loading the dishwasher, clearing the breakfast table, sweeping the floor, etc. The living room needs to be picked up, and sometimes dusted and sometimes vacuumed.

Once the three morning things are done, the children have earned 30 minutes of  “learning screen time”: a show on PBS, learning apps on the iPad, or websites like starfall, pbskids, abcya.com, or brainpop. Sometimes they do a screen together, but we usually end up with 1 child on the computer, 1 on the iPad, and 1 watching the TV.

Practice Time: to keep our brains active, the children are encouraged to practice something for at least 15 minutes. My 4-year-old reviews his activities from his speech therapy. My 6-year-old does reading lessons or practices sight words (I am trying to come up with fun ways to practice these and have a list of ideas). My 9-year-old is currently practicing  typing at the keyboard. Once they have completed practice time (and done some other activities) they have earned 30 minutes of free choice screen time.

Reading between the lines here, and you can probably see that screen time is the best motivator I have to encourage my children to get things done!

The rest of the day is a little less structured. I try to plan an activity for each day: playdates with friends, library trips, swimming at our neighborhood pool, etc. We usually swim at least 3 days a week, sometimes more (in my effort to tire my children out so they will go to sleep at night!). And we read books-picture books, chapter books, or individual reading (the Ant Bug read the first four Harry Potter books in four days this week).

I am hoping to work in more creative time and science experiments and hands on activities, but in the first two weeks of summer we have stayed pretty busy so far!

What are you doing to survive the summer?

Make the most of your time here (Highlights from Bishop Stevenson-April 2014)

“Now, consider how your pathway to eternal life is similar to these athletes’ “four-minute performance.” You are an eternal being. Before you were born, you existed as a spirit. In the presence of a loving Heavenly Father, you trained and prepared to come to earth for a brief moment and, well, perform. This life is your four minutes. While you are here, your actions will determine whether you win the prize of eternal life. The prophet Amulek described, “This life is the time … to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day … to perform [your] labors.”5

Self-discipline is needed. Daily prayer, scripture study, and church attendance must be the foundation of your training. A consistent pattern of obeying the commandments, keeping the covenants you have made, and following the Lord’s standard found in For the Strength of Youth is required.”

Bishop Gary E. Stevenson, “Your Four Minutes”. April 2014 General Conference.

We can change for the better (Highlights from Elder Hallstrom-April 2014 General Conference)

This talk was given in the Priesthood session of conference, but it has application for all of us. We can all be inspired to change and strive for the ideal of being like Jesus Christ. 

The purpose of the priesthood session of general conference is to teach priesthood holders what manner of men we ought to be (see 3 Nephi 27:27) and to inspire us to reach that ideal.”

once any of us conclude—“That’s just the way I am,” we give up our ability to change.”meme-hallstrom-become-1240505-galleryWell, we meet in this priesthood meeting because who we are is not who we can become. We meet here tonight in the name of Jesus Christ. We meet with the confidence that His Atonement gives every one of us—no matter our weaknesses, our frailties, our addictions—the ability to change. We meet with the hope that our future, no matter our history, can be better.”

The only complete response to the question posed by Jesus Christ “What manner of men ought ye to be?” is the one He succinctly and profoundly gave: “Even as I am” (3 Nephi 27:27). The invitation to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him” (Moroni 10:32) both requires and expects change. Mercifully, He has not left us alone. “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. … Then will I make weak things become strong” (Ether 12:27). Relying upon the Savior’s Atonement, we can change.”

Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, “What Manner of Men?” April 2014 General Conference.

Missionary Work and Following Up (Highlights from Elder Ballard-April 2014)

Brothers and sisters, let us follow up and develop the habit of always making it clear that we belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”meme-ballard-follow-up-1242565-gallery

may I suggest that we can all be more consistently involved in missionary work by replacing our fear with real faith, inviting someone at least once a quarter—or four times every year—to be taught by the full-time missionaries. They are prepared to teach by the Spirit, with sincere and heartfelt inspiration from the Lord. Together we can follow up on our invitations, take others by the hand, lift them up, and walk with them on their spiritual journey.”

(About Preach My Gospel) “Read it, study it, and then apply what you learn to help you understand how to bring souls to Christ through invitation and follow-up.”

Elder M. Russell Ballard, “Following Up”. April 2014 General Conference.

The Power of Habit-Book Review

9781400069286_custom-401a0d258f36abc0afccb673d3bab1de7926e20e-s2-c85My husband recently recommended a book that is well worth reading,  The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I found this book extremely interesting, and it caused me to reflect on the habits I have, and habits that I would like to have. It is good news to know that habits can be changed or acquired (of course), but this book went a step further and offered insights on how much habits are such a part of our life. Every task in our day is a habit (think about how you brush your teeth, or how you back your vehicle out of your garage). Habits are a good thing because they free up brain power–if you have a habit in a situation then you don’t have to think about how to act. The trick is to make sure that our habits are appropriate, and produce the desired outcome.

I also found great application in this book in my role as a parent. I worry a lot about teaching my children good habits. The section on “keystone habits” stood out to me, and I think that is what the prophets are going for when they tell us repeatedly to have daily prayer and scripture study and family home evening. With those habits in place, other good things will follow to strengthen our families.

This is definitely a book worth reading! If you want to learn more, read this review on npr. Below are some quotes from the book that especially stood out to me.

  • If you want to change a habit, you must find an alternative routine, and your odds of success go up dramatically when you commit to changing as part of a group (p. 91).
  • Some habits have the power to start a chain reaction, changing other habits as they move through an organization. Some habits…matter more more than others…these are keystone habits (p.100).
  • For many people, exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change (p. 109).
  • Making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity (p. 109).
  • Willpower is the single most important keystone habit for individual success (p. 131). Make willpower  a habit!
  • Willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things. If you want to do something that requires willpower-like going for a run after work-you have to conserve your willpower muscle during the day (p. 137). –do it early in the day before you are worn out!
  • Signing kids up for piano lessons or sports is important. It has nothing to do with creating a good musician or a soccer star. By meeting practice expectations, they are building self-regulatory strength (p.139).
  • Write out your plan–visualize how you will act.
  • Let people (children?) have more control in their lives and their willpower will be stronger).
  • If you dress a new something in old habits, it’s easier for the public to accept it (p. 210).
  • Habits aren’t destiny. We can choose our habits, once we know how (p. 270). Once you understand that habits can change, you have the freedom–and the responsibility–to remake them (p.271).

On the Priesthood, and service of the Lord (Highlights from Elder Oaks-April 2014)

There is no “up or down” in the service of the Lord. There is only “forward or backward,” and that difference depends on how we accept and act upon our releases and our callings.”

Priesthood power blesses all of us. Priesthood keys direct women as well as men, and priesthood ordinances and priesthood authority pertain to women as well as men.”

Whoever exercises priesthood authority should forget about their rights and concentrate on their responsibilities. That is a principle needed in society at large. The famous Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is quoted as saying, “It is time … to defend not so much human rights as human obligations.”10 Latter-day Saints surely recognize that qualifying for exaltation is not a matter of asserting rights but a matter of fulfilling responsibilities.”

In the eyes of God, whether in the Church or in the family, women and men are equal, with different responsibilities.”meme-oaks-equal-1240504-galleryElder Dallin H. Oaks, “The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood”. April 2014 General Conference.