Table talk.

dinner[image credit here] Image discredit: This looks nothing like my family at dinner.

Plates spinning.

Balls juggling.

Irons in the fire.

Call it what you want, but life has just felt BUSY. And even when it’s not busy, my mind is so busy. (Why must my mind constantly to-do list? Why?) My children are still relatively young, and I try desperately not to overbook them, but the calendar still makes me dizzy some weeks. Cub scouts, parent-teacher conference, homeowners meetings, visiting teaching, etc.

President Uchtdorf said:

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.

Ugh. I don’t think it’s a badge. If it were, I could take it off, and I would. Oh, I would. And I know it’s not a superior life, because my idea of a superior life has something more to do with beaches, books, and not a calendar to be found. But I’m not blameless, and I know I can always use a little prioritizing and my to-do list would benefit from some erasing. The quote continues…

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.

People. Time. Purpose. One of the things I cling to during the busy seasons is dinnertime. At least we can sit down together and all look at each other in the face and remember we belong to each other. We do scripture study early in the morning too, but sometimes people don’t look at each other, on account of their eyes being swollen shut with sleep and all. But at dinnertime, we can finally breathe a little and try to talk over a meal. I am still light years away from making those meals much to brag about (tonight was mac&cheese), but we set the table and sit down and eat. My children are just young enough that a lot of their table talk makes me wonder why family dinner was a good idea in the first place (farts and boogers, anyone?), but at least it’s entertaining.

[I recently received a copy of book called "Table Talk" by John and Tina Bushman, and it's full of ideas of NORMAL and halfway intelligent questions to discuss with your kids over the dinner table. Some of them are a tad advanced for my little ones, but some can lead in to cool conversations, like after Matt's grandma died, we could talk about stuff like "What do you believe happens to a person’s soul when they die?" Anyway, you can find it here if you're interested.]

In my fantasy world, someday my children will look back with nostalgia at our time sitting around the table together. And I’m sure they will all be successful, happy, and glowing because of it.  Elder Dallin H. Oaks cautioned,

The number of those who report that their “whole family usually eats dinner together” has declined 33 percent. This is most concerning because the time a family spends together “eating meals at home [is] the strongest predictor of children’s academic achievement and psychological adjustment.”3 Family mealtimes have also been shown to be a strong bulwark against children’s smoking, drinking, or using drugs.4 There is inspired wisdom in this advice to parents: what your children really want for dinner is you.

I think what my children really want for dinner is cinnamon rolls and orange soda, but I’m hoping Elder Oaks is right and I will suffice.
So sit down with your kids and have a nice dinner conversation. If you’re craving mac&cheese, come on over.
(Feel free to leave one of your favorite fast/easy dinner recipes in the comments.)

GCBC Week 8: “Becoming Goodly Parents” by Elder L. Tom Perry

It’s already late, so I’ll just post up this week’s talk and chime in another day with some of my own thoughts. This was the first talk from the Saturday p.m. session of conference.

Becoming Goodly Parents

by Elder L. Tom Perry

What did you like and learn from this talk? Please share in the comments below some of your insights.

(A reminder to those of you who are new to General Conference Book Club: You’re welcome to return to this post any time this week and leave your comment and thoughts in the comment section below. You may also want to see what others are saying about the talk and engage in a conversation for mutual understanding and encouragement. A new talk will be posted each Sunday and will be studied and discussed throughout the week.)

GCBC Week 7: “Of Regrets and Resolutions” By President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Happy Thanksgiving week, everyone. I know it will be a busy one, but I think this talk might help us keep focused on what matters most.  It’s now week 7 of general conference book club, and we’ll be studying President Uchtdorf’s message– the last talk from the Saturday A.M. session:

Of Regrets and Resolutions

By President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

 

President Uchtdorf talked about some of the things that people seem to reflect on the most when they are facing death. He pointed out three major common regrets:

  1. I Wish I Had Spent More Time with the People I Love
  2. I Wish I Had Lived Up to My Potential
  3. I Wish I Had Let Myself Be Happier

Which one of these stood out to you? Number 3 was a great reminder to me because I tend to get frustrated with my children when days seem full of setbacks and pushback, and I have a hard time letting it go and moving forward with any measure of cheer. This was a good reminder to me to spend more time choosing to be happy even when things, or even whole days, go wrong.

Because we make mistakes, most days will include something we regret doing or saying. Even though it wasn’t a major focus of the talk, I felt the importance of apologizing, repenting, and carrying on with minimal regret so that we’re not stockpiling regrets until the end of life.

What did you like and learn from this talk? Please share in the comments below some of your insights.

(A reminder to those of you who are new to General Conference Book Club: You’re welcome to return to this post any time this week and leave your comment and thoughts in the comment section below. You may also want to see what others are saying about the talk and engage in a conversation for mutual understanding and encouragement. A new talk will be posted each Sunday and will be studied and discussed throughout the week.)

In which I become a cat lady and say controversial things.

A while back, I was severely sleep deprived and a neighbor found some stray kittens. In my weakened state, I gave into my children’s impassioned pleas, and we became the reluctant owners of “Lizzie” (inspired by Pride and Prejudice, don’t tell my kids). I have never had a cat. I never wanted a cat, and never planned to want one.  I just want to report that it has been surprisingly much more pleasant than I imagined. Lizzie is way easier than any of my children have ever been, so despite all the new expenses required for the care of my “free” kitten, I guess I don’t regret it.  This is the part where I post a picture of my cat and cross to the dark side:

You may not have noticed, but this week there was an election. Some people are ecstatic with the results; some have dusted off their Apocalypse survival kits. Either way, feelings run high, and I’m weary of the discussion of it. (I remind you I hold the power of the delete button in the comment thread.) I will sum up my non-partisan feelings this way:  I love this country. I hope for this country. I’m worried for this country. And I know better than to place all my faith and/or fear into one political candidate. I will not bore you with the scriptures and quotes you’ve all seen floating around the internet, meant to vilify or glorify our current national condition. I will, however, share a quote that I’ve loved before and love today. Barbara Bush said this in 1990, and it puts the responsibility for this nation back where it belongs–with us:

“Your success as a family … our success as a society depends not on what happens in the White House, but on what happens inside your house.”

And that is what I’m feeling strongly. I’ve read several articles lately that statistically show the trends of our nation (break that down to its ingredients: individuals, homes, families) moving farther away from specific Christian principles. The news claims that our country is increasingly more secular than religious. I believe, in the context of prophesy, that we are in danger of losing God’s promised protection if we, individually, do not try harder to embrace truth and righteousness and make our homes into little greenhouses of goodness. I was reading about Captain Moroni today, and these were some of the characteristics that made him “impervious” to the moral decay around him: he gloried in God, he had faith, he protected his people, he kept the commandments, and he resisted iniquity. It was/is a simple and powerful list. The scripture declared that Satan would have no power over the hearts of men if they were all like Moroni.

Faith and family are both consistently losing value in modern society, so we must strengthen them and value them and testify of them in as many ways as we can. I personally feel a battle cry to make my home a bunker– to arm my children with truth, doctrine, faith, testimony, confidence, strategies, and a knowledge of how to use the Spirit in their lives. I am not a doomsdayer; I do not believe that the horsemen of the apocalypse have been let loose, but I DO recognize how confusing our world has become.  It’s a bewildering place if you don’t have foundational principles to cling to and navigate by. If it’s confusing to me and other adults, it must be overwhelmingly distressing for children. So that’s where I’ll start. With mine.

1green·house, noun \-ˌhau̇s\

Definition of GREENHOUSE

1: a structure enclosed (as by glass) and used for the cultivation or protection of tender plants

Warnings, Calamities, and … Hope?, by Matt

Today marks the last day of the Family Proclamation Celebration. I hope you have loved it and felt renewed in your commitment to faith and family. Thank you so much to all my guest post contributors. I received messages of appreciation from friends and strangers alike about every single one of those posts every day, and I, too, gained something from each message. Thanks also to you readers who came and participated with your comments and encouragement. The drawings for prizes (based on participation via comments or blog hops) will happen shortly and will be announced on all four hosting blogs in the next couple of days.  Tomorrow, here on Diapers and Divinity, we’ll begin a new series intended to help us prepare for General Conference and to introduce the next round of General Conference Book Club, so make sure you stay tuned.

Today’s guest post comes courtesy of my favorite contributor of all, Matt. I’m partial to him because he married me and fathered my children. Frankly, he’s the means by which I am able to have a deep testimony of the power and blessings of family, and the reason I look forward to forever after. I nagged invited him several times to participate in this celebration, and despite his early trepidation, he came through beautifully, just like I knew he would. Blog friends, meet my main man.  :)


In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles state, “We warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”

The scriptures are replete with prophetic warnings of calamities. Isa. 24:20 Dan. 7:21 Dan. 12:1 Joel 3:15-16 Hag. 2:6 (Hag. 2:22), Zech. 14:2, Mal. 4:1 (3 Ne. 25:1; D&C 133:64; JS—H 1:37), Matt. 24:7 (JS—M 1:29), 1 Tim. 4:1, 2 Tim. 3:1, Heb. 12:26 (D&C 84:118), 2 Pet. 3:3, Jude 1:18, Rev. 6:12, Rev. 11:3 (D&C 77:15), 1 Ne. 14:17, 2 Ne. 6:15, 2 Ne. 30:10, 3 Ne. 21:11-19, D&C 1: 9, D&C 1:35, D&C 5:19, D&C 10:65, D&C 29:14, D&C 29:16, D&C 29:21, D&C 34:9, D&C 35:16, D&C 38:12, D&C 43:18, D&C 45:26-27, D&C 45:30-33, D&C 45:40-42, D&C 45:47-50, D&C 45:63, D&C 45:68, D&C 87:2, D&C 88:85, D&C 88:91, D&C 101:11, D&C 103:2, D&C 106:4,  D&C 109: 45. D&C 110:16, D&C 112:25.

The war in heaven still rages today, waged by Lucifer and his minions in their never-ending quest to destroy the family unit. Why target the family unit? It is the one and only vehicle for returning to the presence of God. (1 Cor 11:11, D&C 131:2.) Knowing this, God established great blessings of protection for families, affixed those blessings to covenants, and offered these covenants to His children on the Earth, if they will but obey.

Disobedience and rejection of God on a societal and national scale is not new to this last gospel dispensation. Adam and Eve lost entire generations of their posterity to the trappings and wiles of the evil one, who convinced them to abandon their faith, their covenants and salvation (Moses 5:13, 55-57.) So wicked and perverse were the generations of Enoch’s day that the children of God who laid hold upon the gospel were ultimately translated, perhaps to spare them from the unending scene of bloodshed, lawlessness, and debauchery of the pre-flood generations. Apocryphal writings attest to the degree of wickedness reached by these people and allude to a complete and utter abandonment of the family unit in society, and total disregard for the sacred, creative powers bestowed by God upon his children.

There are many instructive parallels to these last days, in studying and pondering the divisions between the wicked and the righteous leading up to the establishment of the City of Enoch, and the eventual translation of that city prior to the destructive Deluge of the Earth with water (Moses 7:23-26.)

In these last days, the righteous can plainly discern the effects of the failing of the family. Satan has some of the greatest tools he’s ever had, all aimed at the destruction of the family: intense financial pressures, crushing debt, an overtly sexualized culture, the stain of pornography, and back-sliding moral standards. Social scientists, cultural anthropologists and clergy alike have proclaimed the harmful effects on society stemming from the dissolution of the nuclear family unit. Empirical research shows the stresses divorce places on single parents and children. The cycles are vicious and self-reinforcing: boys growing up without fathers often grow up to be like their fathers, lacking much-needed experience and skills. Abusive and absent fathers share accountability for their children’s promiscuity, single parenthood, low self-esteem, physical and mental trauma. These chaotic environments cannot instill values, moral standards, and cultural norms that embody God’s truths and laws.

In the midst of an endless march of horrific news stories, unending wars and threats of war, the dreary political landscape, and our own uncertainty and fears, our prophets have not remained silent!

While serving as the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Gordon B. Hinckley, gave an October 1998 sermon, in which he warned, “There is a portent of stormy weather ahead, to which we had better give heed.”   Three years later, just after the 9/11 attacks, he said,

“[Our  present situation (war, economy, etc.)] pull[s] us up sharply to a realization that life is fragile, peace is fragile, civilization itself is fragile. The economy is particularly vulnerable. We have been counseled again and again concerning self-reliance, concerning debt, concerning thrift. So many of our people are heavily in debt for things that are not entirely necessary.  . . I urge you as members of this Church to get free of debt where possible and to have a little laid aside against a rainy day.

“Now, I do not wish to be an alarmist. I do not wish to be a prophet of doom. I am optimistic. I do not believe the time is here when an all-consuming calamity will overtake us. I earnestly pray that it may not. There is so much of the Lord’s work yet to be done. We, and our children after us, must do it.”

Elder Neal A. Maxwell referenced this calamity in his last published article in October 2004.

“Prophetically, President Gordon B. Hinckley said to us at a recent general conference that current events in the world did not constitute the “all-consuming calamity.” President Hinckley also cautioned: ‘Peace may be denied for a season. … We may even be called on to suffer in one way or another. … Our safety lies in repentance. Our strength comes of obedience to the commandments of God. … This is the crux of the entire matter—obedience to the commandments of God.’”

Elder Maxwell’s short but powerful article serves as a keystone, tying simple but essential guidance that serves as a framework for dealing with the ever-increasing severity of the judgments to be poured out upon the earth “without measure.” D&C 1: 9, D&C 101: 11, D&C 103: 2, D&C 109: 45.

Do not allow your love toward your fellows to wax cold, especially within families. Humility bred from a love and reverence for the Lord is a powerful antidote to the hardening of your heart. Service, in any form, will spark love within you for those you serve. Elder Maxwell counsels:

 “Pay heed, therefore, to your inborn spiritual reflexes. Use, even more, the gifts of the Holy Ghost, who can fill you with “hope and perfect love” (Moro. 8:26). He can “enlighten your mind, … [and] shall fill your soul with joy” (D&C 11:13). How precious and relevant these gifts of hope, love, and joy are in any age, but certainly in yours, when so many feel unloved, hopeless, and sad!”

Do not allow despair to take hold of your heart. Despite the loss of hundreds of descendants, Adam and Eve rejoiced when they learned of their redemption from the Fall (Moses 5:10-12.)  Enoch, who refused to be comforted after seeing the Flood and the destruction of mankind, rejoiced in the knowledge of the Redemption (Moses 7:44,47). Alma exclaimed his anticipation of the Savior’s mortal ministry, which mirrors what many of us feel concerning His second coming, “And now we only wait to hear the joyful news declared unto us by the mouth of angels, of his coming; for the time cometh, we know not how soon. Would to God that it might be in my day; but let it be sooner or later, in it I will rejoice.”

Many of you reading this are already members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  If you are not, I invite you to read the Book of Mormon, which contains a critically important message about surviving these times in which we live.  Those who are members of the Church should strive to enter the temple and enter into the protective and redemptive covenants with God. Those who have already done so need to master and keep them as if you were clinging to a buoy in a turbulent sea, awaiting rescue.  The Holy Ghost will continue teaching, leading, guiding, inspiring and training you. I end with the immortal words of Neal A. Maxwell, who wrote to you, in the final days of his life.

Do not “refuse to be comforted.” Let the revelations comfort you. Let the scriptures refresh you!

You young disciples are so privileged, and though the times in which you will live will be turbulent, there will be glorious accomplishments, too.

Thus, I have desired to place some perspective on these, your days, and I salute you for what your generation represents and the divine compliment God has given you by placing you here—now.

Make use of these, “your days,” for as you become more like Jesus, there will be more and more things He will give you to do.

My feelings are such that I salute you! Perhaps this feeling is so strong because I have a more keen sense of who you really are than you do, a clearer picture of your rendezvous in these, your days, speaking of you collectively. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen!”

I know Heavenly Father’s promises are as sure as His warnings. As we are willing to defend, protect, and preserve families, despite growing calamity, the Lord will continue to defend, protect, and preserve His covenant children.

Matt didn’t write a bio, and he’s already asleep, so I don’t know how much he wants me to tell you about him. First and foremost, he’s my husband, and deserves some kind of trophy for “Excellence in a leading role” in our family. I took this picture just yesterday when we all hiked around in the canyon.  As you can tell by my daughter’s face, her dad is her “favorite grown-up.” Her brothers probably agree. Whatever. I admit he’s my favorite grown-up, too.