Monday, April 18, 2011

He is Risen

The power of this simple video is beautiful...truly.  The simplistic photographs depicting the final week of the Savior's life tell a vivid and divine story in such a reverent manner.  I shared this video with my boys this morning in hopes of starting off Easter Week in the right frame of mind amidst all the commercialism.  The humble testimony of Jesus's special witness on Earth today, even our prophet Thomas S. Monson, radiated throughout my soul and I hope theirs.  I hope it brings you the peace it brought to me.

{to turn off the music on my blog, scroll down and click "II" pause on the player in the right hand column}

Thursday, April 14, 2011

April 2011: Hair Delights

I love that Felicity now has enough hair for it to be noticed.  Yesterday morning I walked into her room to get her out of her crib and there it was for the first time, bedhead.  The cutest little bed hair, little hairs sticking up in every which way.  I loved it!!  There it was again after her nap.

I was even happier last night at dinner time when I had left her with a tray full of banana pieces to find she had smashed them into her hair to create a darling do.  Okay so I guess I must be strange to be delighted by smashed banana hair, but come on, isn't it the cutest smashed banana hair you've ever seen!

Of course, it didn't last forever:-)

Meet Batbaatar from Mongolia

Doesn't it feel good to help someone else!?  I just love that rush of goodness that fills you up when you feel like you've made a difference in someone's life.  Then you are so anxious to tell others how they can help too!  Well that's how I'm feeling today.  That's why I want you to

Meet Batbaatar Sumiyabaatar from Mongolia

Batbaatar is a shoe maker!  Batbaatar is 34 years old and lives with his wife and two children, ages 7 and 15, in a ger, a Mongolian traditional nomadic housing tent {what!}, in Zavhan province of Mongolia. 

Batbaatar started his business in 2004 at his home. Batbaatar is responsible for making the traditional handicraft footwear items, including shoes, boots, sandals etc.. On the other hand his wife, Bayasgalan, is responsible for selling their shoes at a rented stall at a trading center. They have managed to build a strong customer base and their customers are satisfied with the quality and uniqueness. Batbaatar and his wife are planning to expand and continue their business in the future.

He is a hardworking man who says, "I want to buy a sophisticated sewing machine in order to increase our product sales." He is requesting a 3,000,000 MNT {$2,500} loan to purchase a sewing machine from China and some materials for his business.

Here's how we come in and how we found out about it all:

Mike received a special gift for his birthday from our good friend Zak, in the form of a Kiva Card.  It was through this that we were introduced to Kiva and how they work.  Zak gave us $25 to invest in a loan of an entrepreneur some where around the globe to help realize their dreams. What an amazing gift!!  I think this going to be a definite re-gift idea.  

Mike looked at the map of the globe and decided he wanted to chose someone from Mongolia.  Mike chose Batbaatar the shoe maker to invest his $25.  Here are a few photos I found of traditional Mongolian boots:

Once Batbaatar pays Mike back, he can reinvest it into someone else's dreams, like Miguel Angel Huanca Torrez from Bolivia who wants to buy equipment for phone repair

or Shaymaa from Iraq who has a sewing shop and needs a new sewing machine

What an amazing opportunity to help someone who is working hard to help themselves!!  Hope you catch the excitement as well and invest a little of your money to make someone's need or dream come true.

Watch this cute, short animated video or see the flow chart below to see the process illustrated:

How Kiva Works from Kiva Microfunds on Vimeo.

Friday, April 08, 2011

By this Shall All Men Know

My heart is a little heavy today and so I sat down to re-watch an address from our General Conference {described in this post} with every expectation that it would tell me that I could withstand my trials and would give me little reminders of how to do just that.  A particular address had come into my mind to view, one by Elder Russell M Ballard.  As I watched the address, unexpected words were spoken.  Not of specific ways I could receive strength but of how I could give strength to others.  I was a little taken aback by the message at first.  I was thinking "this couldn't be the talk that Heavenly Father wanted me to hear".  I needed to hear about how I could receive strength.  Hmmm...  As I began to tune out my own thoughts and really tried to listen to the words of Elder Ballard, my heart began to soften and I began to understand what Heavenly Father wanted me to hear.

"The gospel of Jesus Christ is simple, no matter how much we try to make it complicated...What are the precious, simple things of the gospel that bring clarity and purpose to our lives?"  Elder Ballard relates one simple, but profound principle that he believes "encompasses the entirety gospel of Jesus Christ".  And "[i]f we whole-heartedly embrace and make this principle the focus of our lives, it will purify and sanctify us..."  The Savior reveals this principle to his apostles on the eve of his Crucifixion. "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."  John 13:34-35

I love what Elder Ballard says about this love.  He states that this love as the Savior describes, "is an active love.  Its not manifested through large and heroic deeds but rather by simple acts of kindness and service."  He states that there are a myriad of ways and circumstances in which we can serve and love others.  This is the part that always seems to overwhelm me.  I always feel as if I am falling short in my service to others.  But I love how he proceeds, "First, charity begins at home."  At home.  In my home.  To my family first.  My sweet cousin called me this morning and reminded me that I had a lot on my plate and that I have many in my own home and in my family that I serve everyday.  I so appreciated that.  Viewing my daily life in the light of service infuses my day to day tasks with much more purpose.

I have a tendency to think that I must accomplish as Elder Ballard says, "large and heroic deeds" for it to be considered service.  Recently I have been receiving a message over and over again.  Things come little by little, things are accomplished little by little, over time, not all at once, rarely with some huge manifestation or occurrence.  Things such as change, answers to prayer, patience, personal revelation.  This is a gospel truth.  "That by small and simple things are great things brought to pass".  Alma 37:6  Yes, the large and heroic deeds as well as the huge manifestation or occurrences are also gospel truths as in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith's First Vision.  But for most of us, for me, I must learn patience, {hmmm... didn't I just write about that one}, and see that the small things over time combine to become things of great importance- my child's character, an answer to prayer, an orderly home, a friendship, my own change of heart.  I pray that I will see the divine more often in those little things, including little people:-), I am surrounded by everyday, that I may give more of myself to them that I may achieve more "clarity and purpose in my life".

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

New York, Oh How I Miss You:-)

I know I'm spoiled.  5 days in an amazing city with 2 hilarious friends and no responsibility, ...spooii-led.  I  have been wanting to post about my trip and I hope to soon.  I just tried out Florabella's free diptych template off of FB with these two photos of my trip that I just love.

The first is of Central Park from high atop the Rockefeller Center.  Breathtaking!  It was sooo windy up there.
The second is of my fabulous friend Melinda, who flew me out there for this trip, sitting next door to this bakery, Babycakes, that we walked through a sketchy part of Chinatown to find.  I love that her I Heart NY bag is next to her as she studies the subway map on someone's fiery red front porch trying to figure out the quickest way out of here.

So many laugh out loud memories!!

One Prayer Answered Changed the World

I love those moments when you can see a glimpse in your children that what you have been teaching has actually taken root.  We had such a night a few Mondays ago.  Monday nights are dedicated for what our church entitles, "Family Home Evening", a specific time set aside for families to be together, share thoughts about our testimonies of Jesus Christ and his gospel, and have fun!  My 8 year old is working on a goal-oriented, faith-strengthening program for baptized children called, "Faith in God".  One particular goal involved Owen reading from the Pearl of Great Price, a book of scripture containing selection of revelations, translations, and writings of the prophet Joseph Smith.  In particular he was to read in Joseph Smith History the account of the events which led up to and comprised Joseph Smith's vision in which God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him at the young age of 14, commonly referred to as "The First Vision".  He was to then to discuss with our family about receiving answers to prayers.  

So to fulfill this goal, Owen was in charge of Family Home Evening.  He made the assignments to family members of offering the prayers and choosing the songs.  He opened his scriptures and taught his 2 little brothers about the young boy Joseph Smith who wanted to know for himself which of all the churches of his day were true.  Owen recited to us the scripture that struck the heart of the boy Joseph, James 1:5, " If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."  

He said that Joseph needed to know something and so he knew he needed to ask God. {To read full account, visit here.}
He told of how Joseph went to the woods to pray and how God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him.  Owen loved the part in which Heavenly Father pointed and said, "This is My Beloved Son.  Hear Him."
Owen then chose as the activity for the boys to draw what they thought the "The First Vision" looked like. They busily got to work on their drawings. Eyan was done first and proudly came to show it to me. When my little 5 year old boy came and showed me his sweet little drawing I was completely taken aback. There amidst towering trees were God the Father and Jesus Christ appearing above the boy Joseph Smith (whose little body would not scan in on my scanner after many attempts). I loved it!  Owen then brought me his.  It was beautifully detailed, from the kneeling and praying Joseph, to the Father and Son shining with glory which defied all description {what Owen indicated those squiggly lines above them to be}.  I was overcome with joy that these two boys were developing a testimony of such a foundational truth at such a young age.

I pointed out to Owen that the feeling of goodness that he had while reading this was the Holy Ghost testifying to him of its truthfulness.  And how by knowing that this was true, that everything that followed from it was true as well: the restoration of Christ's gospel to the Earth through the prophet Joseph Smith, the translation of the Book of Mormon, and so forth.  I asked him if he thought Auntie Lizze who is on a mission got to share this story often.  He said yes and I told him how lucky he was that already at the age of 8 he had received a confirmation by the Holy Ghost that this was true.  

What an amazing experience as a mother!  I am grateful for these times.  They propel me forward and serve as a great reminder to my son's potential and character during such times as later that week when I witnessed this same son swinging on the curtains in the church.  He is such a good boy who desires to be good, who loves to be a big brother and who is very mindful and considerate of his Dad's condition.  I am grateful for his tender spirit.  He has taught me great lessons in my A.P. Parenting 505 course:-)

Monday, April 04, 2011

Enrolled in A.P. Parenting 505: To Be and To Do

I am always so grateful to be a member of Christ's church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.    To know that God speaks to us, His children, today.  To know that there is a living prophet, one such as Moses, on the Earth today who speaks the will of God to us.  God does not leave us alone down here to guess as to how to make it back to Him.  He has revealed a plan, a most beautiful plan, and continues to guide us each and every day through exactly that: guides - a prophet and apostles, the scriptures, the Holy Ghost which communicates personal revelation, church doctrine and standards, and so many others, which all testify and lead us to Christ.

I always look forward to our church's General Conference, a biannual event, in which a world-wide audience can be instructed from these choice servants, the men and women called to be leaders of Christ's church.  I am always fed, always uplifted, and always propelled forward with a desire to be better, having been just given more tools to make that possible.

There are so so many talks that I could write about, but one that spoke directly to me and my daily struggles of trying to become a better mother was by Elder Lynn G. Robbins.  The text of his talk is not yet available online, but I can't wait to reread it and apply its principles in our home.  I am guessing the title would be something like "To Be and To Do: Teaching your children Christ-like attributes".

He talks about how most people have "To Do" Lists, but rarely have "To Be" Lists.  Things on a "to do" list can be checked off, but the things on a "To Be" List cannot.  They are things that are a part of your character, nature, who you are and can become.  One of the most important things we can do is to teach our children to be like our Savior.  "Christ-like "to be"s cannot be seen but they are the motivating force behind what we do, which can be seen. ... Because "be" begets "do" and is the motive behind "do", teaching "be" will improve behavior more effectively than focusing on "do" will at improving behavior."

For instance when children are quarreling, we often misdirect our discipline on what was done.  But the quarreling or the "do" is really only a symptom of the unseen motive in their heart.  "We might ask ourselves, what attributes if understood by the child would correct this behavior in the future...being patient and forgiving when annoyed, loving and being a peacemaker, taking responsibility for one's actions and not blaming."

Here is the kicker... "How do parents teach these attributes to their children?  We will never have a greater opportunity to teach and show Christ-like attributes to our children than in the way we discipline them."  
This really was an "ah hah" moment for me.  I actually have made a "To Be" list, probably many over the years.  All of them have included becoming more patient, whether it be with myself, for something I had prayed for, for something I had worked hard to achieve, or with my children.  Unfortunately my "do"s in disciplining often do not reflect this great desire.  It often resembles this quote that I have pasted on my refrigerator, "Anger is a self-centered reaction to inconvenience or disappointment."  I remind myself of this as often as I can remember.  I repeat it in my mind as I grumpily clean up the spilt peach juice off of the floor or sew Felicity's doll's leg back on after it was made to do the splits by a well-intended, "trying to entertain not mame" brother.  In thinking about the "be"s, the motivation behind the way I discipline, I see that there is a lot to change.  I pray that in viewing my own shortcomings, it will help me to be more merciful and loving in the way I "do" discipline my children.

This brings me to my very favorite part of his talk.  {If you can watch it, it is from minute 6:00 to 6:48.}
"A sweet and obedient child will only enroll a father or mother in Parenting 101.  If you are blessed with a child who tests your patience to the nth degree, you will be enrolled in Parenting 505.  Rather than wonder what you might have done wrong in the premortal life to be so deserving, you might consider the more challenging child a blessing, and an opportunity to become more God-like yourself.  With which child will your patience, long-suffering, and other Christ-like virtues most likely be tested, developed, and refined?  Could it be possible that you need this child as much as this child needs you?"

I told my sister that I must be enrolled in A.P. Parenting 505, to which Mike added that we must be in graduate courses:-)  Truthfully we have wonderful children with good hearts, but we struggle as parents to know how to channel their strong-willed souls toward causes worthy of unyielding stand-offs.  I have wondered many times this exact thing this good man has instructed, that I need the refinement and stretching that being a mother to my particular children will bring.

There is such great wisdom and many more "ah hah" moments in this talk.  If you have a 10 minutes, watch it.  I know I will continue to refer back to it, til I can see that my "do"s reflect the "be"s I want my children to emulate.


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