GCBC Week 5: Gospel Learning and Teaching

“Gospel Learning and Teaching

David M. McConkie

First Counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency

 

Today in church, I leaned over to Matt and said, “I miss teaching.  I’m a much better learner as a teacher than I am as a learner.”  I found it interesting to approach this talk simply in my role as a mother, since I don’t currently have the opportunity to teach a class.  I liked his example about directing questions to the handbook, and doing the same in turning our children to the scriptures.  I’d like to do more of that, and it’s obviously easier to do the more familiar I am with the scriptures myself.

The other point that stood out to me the most, because it’s a point I’ve been reminded of in many ways lately because I must need the reminder, was the challenge to ask the Lord’s help to know and meet the needs of my children.

“The promises of the Lord are certain. If you earnestly search the scriptures and treasure up in your minds the words of life, if you keep the commandments with all of your heart and pray for each student, you will enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost and you will receive revelation.”

What stands out to you as you study this talk?  Is there anything you learned here that you had not considered before?  What did the talk make you feel or want to do?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. If this is your first time to General Conference Book Club, click here to learn more about it, and then join us.

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I’m expecting an angel to ring my doorbell in about 5 minutes

I’ll spare you most of the details of how miserable the last 24 hours have been. On Monday, Natalie had a 2-hour consultation with a pediatric urologist at the local children’s hospital in an attempt to stop the onslaught of urinary tract infections. While we were there, she peed in a cup and was pronounced clean. By that evening, she was starting to fever. Again. By morning, the fever was rising. I got her in to get some labs done and -surprise, surprise- it looked like there was some bacteria in her urine. There has been much medicine wrangling, shivering, vomiting, and general misery. This morning her temperature was 105.7. Seriously?

I had to take her in to get some shots, which she was not happy about, and in the struggle to get her to put her shoes on (that were all too tight, or too bumpy, or too “weird”) I told her that we can get her some new shoes another time, but please just put them on so we can get to the doctor on time. She got shots in both legs and was not pleased. She demanded that we buy her some new shoes on the way home. Even though I know it’s probably not the wisest idea, I decided to appease her and fulfill my promise and maybe ease some of her misery. (Note to anyone who’s thinking about calling the CDC: UTIs are not contagious even if they have a fever.) We tried on a few shoes, but that wasn’t going well, so I convinced her to go home and come back another day when she felt better. I tucked her into her carseat and covered her with her blanket and headed home.

A few minutes later, Matt called me to tell me that a lady called him from my cell phone saying she found my purse. Oh great. He then told me that she’s bringing it to my house. After a day like I’ve had, her honesty and kindness are a real blessing. I’m so glad that there are people who will respond with charity, even when they have no idea who I am or what I might need.

“I have spoken here of heavenly help, of angels dispatched to bless us in time of need. But when we speak of those who are instruments in the hand of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day. Some of them reside in our own neighborhoods. Some of them gave birth to us, and in my case, one of them consented to marry me. Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is the only word that comes to mind. . . . My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify of angels, both the heavenly and the mortal kind. In doing so I am testifying that God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face.” — Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Ministry of Angels,” Ensign, Nov 2008, 29–31

I hope when my doorbell rings, I can express how much it means to me.  Any wagers on whether I can do it without crying?  These are the kinds of days you can’t make it through without knowing that God is watching, helping and caring.  And now I know He is, because he sent me an angel.

Why I can’t blog for FlyLady (or myself) and other excuses

We went camping this last weekend at Canyonlands National Park and also visited Arches National Park. I had never been to either one before and they were really cool to see. You may have already known that there is an average rainfall of only about 9 inches a year in that desert region, but what you probably didn’t know is that the entire 9 inches would fall during the two nights in October that my family chose to camp there. Yah, we didn’t know that either. Weird. By the way, little pop-up trailers/campers really do a good job of keeping you dry despite torrential rainfall. I slept horribly though, because I always think that every little noise is the footsteps of Jack the Ripper trying to break into our trailer and put our family on that Nancy Grace show. Besides that, I saw that episode of Man vs. Wild where Bear Gryllis taught that you should not camp in the desert during rainfall because flash floods can carry your tent away and toss you off a cliff. Believe me, I relived that episode over and over in my mind all night. Plus Natalie got cold and climbed in my sleeping bag with me. Both nights. You can imagine the peaceful slumber that followed all these factors. Despite my dramatic account of the accommodations, we really did have a nice trip and I’m still a fan of camping.

[Pretend I have a camera and that I just inserted beautiful landscapes and happy-family photos here.]

The post-camping aftermath, however, is always a slow and painful recovery. My hallway was full of dirty clothes, half-empty coolers, soggy bedding, and the DVDs and other items collected from the floor of the car. And when you didn’t sleep so great the whole weekend, you’d rather be washed off a cliff by a flash flood than have to face that big mess of work. So for the last few days I’ve been wandering my house like a zombie looking at piles and rooms that really need to be cleaned and wishing I lived in a parallel universe. One with a big, comfy bed and self-cleaning children and houses. I tried to make a joke to myself when I walked through the kitchen the other day: “Hey, I wonder why Martha Stewart or the FlyLady haven’t contacted you to do some guest posts on their blogs?” See, I’m even snarky to myself, except I didn’t even really think I was that funny.

Other than getting my GCBC post up late Sunday night, I haven’t mustered up a blog post since then, and let’s face it, this one here is just mostly an excuse for not writing one. I had an argument with a loved one and my feelings got hurt, and I decided I needed to write a letter to express my feelings in the right way. I like to write things down instead of having confrontations. I can choose my words carefully and say everything I really want to say without being interrupted. The process also helps me give words and meaning to my feelings, making them more tangible and more memorable. So while I usually walk around drafting blog posts in my head, I’ve spent the last few tired days drafting this letter in my head instead. And I still haven’t written it because it’s hard, but I will.

I also spent several hours today at the Children’s Hospital with Natalie.  I now know more about bladder health and bladder dysfunction than I know about my own husband.  Here’s hoping our plan of action leads to improvements.

On a lighter note, can I say how much I love that I can write a blog post called “Stuff you should do for me” and all you wonderful reader-people-friends just pop in and give me the greatest advice and ideas, or commiseration, or whatever else it is I need? So thank you. I’m on the cusp of solving my photography issue, but I’m thinking I should set up some rotating schedule or something for all you nice folks who offered to step in and do it yourself. That would be awesome. I could have monthly photo shoots, and all those “My enchanted family” portrait collectors would be so jealous because I’d have like an album-cover wall-of-fame up in my living room with glamour shots of my family in a plethora of exotic settings and matching outfits. So, yah, watch for that sign-up sheet to come around soon. (Not really, I’m joking, unless of course you really did want to take photos of our family because that’s just the funnest way you can think of to spend your time, then by all means, let’s talk.)  I may never need to buy a camera after all.

I NEED MORE CONFERENCE TALK AND PHOTO CONTEST SUBMISSIONS. I do have some, but I know there’s more talent lurking out there. You have until Sunday. Go here for more about the conference talk thing and here (see #4) for instructions about the motherhood photo contest. Email your submissions to dd.stephanie[at]gmail.com — you understand that instead of actually writing [at], you actually use the little @ symbol, right?

In case this post has sounded depressing or desperate, I wanted to share some of this cool devotional I studied this morning. I scanned a list of recent titles looking for something that might strike a chord with me, and this talk called “Avoiding Spiritual Drift” stood out to me. It was given by a chemistry professor, but give it a chance despite all the sciency analogy talk at the beginning. I really liked what he had to say. Here’s a glimpse:

“I think that one of the most insidious, yet most common, standards that we use is comparison with the lives of those around us. This corrupt standard expresses itself in a variety of ways. [He shares some cool examples from his own life] . . . I need to draw an important distinction at this point between using others as measuring sticks for our own progress and turning to the examples that others set for inspiration. We can find motivation and inspiration in the accomplishments and gifts of others without making the kind of comparisons that lead to pride or depression. . . . The pitfalls […] don’t lie in recognizing strengths or deficiencies in those around us, but in using those observations as measures of our own value.”

Okay, I’m done now.  Really.  I’m not going to write any p.s. or anything.  Okay, bye.

GCBC Week 4: Follow the Prophet

“Obedience to the Prophets”
Elder Claudio R. M. Costa
Of the Presidency of the Seventy
Saturday morning session

and

“Our Very Survival
Elder Kevin R. Duncan
Of the Seventy
Saturday afternoon session

 

It was interesting that both of these speakers based their talks on this same talk by President Ezra Taft Benson:  Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet

I thought it would be appropriate to study both of their talks together this week and take an up-close look at the importance of placing our trust in the Lord by heeding the words of his servants.  President Henry B. Eyring said the following specifically about listening to the messages we hear at General Conference:

“There seems to be no end to the Savior’s desire to lead us to safety. And there is constancy in the way He shows us the path. … Those means always include sending the message by the mouths of His prophets whenever people have qualified to have the prophets of God among them. Those authorized servants are always charged with warning the people, telling them the way to safety…

“In our own time, we have been warned with counsel of where to find safety from sin and from sorrow. One of the keys to recognizing those warnings is that they are repeated.

“One of the ways we may know that the warning is from the Lord is that the law of witnesses, authorized witnesses, has been invoked. When the words of prophets seem repetitive, that should rivet our attention…”  — Henry B. Eyring, “Finding Safety in Counsel,” Ensign, May 1997, 24

So, since this message was repeated so obviously in these two talks, and then also mentioned in several other talks during general conference, it certainly begs our careful attention.

“This world is full of so many self-help books, so many self-proclaimed experts, so many theorists, educators, and philosophers who have advice and counsel to give on any and all subjects. With technology today, information on a myriad of subjects is available with the click of a keystroke. It is easy to get caught in the trap of looking to the “arm of flesh” for advice on everything from how to raise children to how to find happiness. While some information has merit, as members of the Church we have access to the source of pure truth, even God Himself. We would do well to search out answers to our problems and questions by investigating what the Lord has revealed through His prophets.”  — Elder Duncan

“We are privileged to have the words of our living prophets, seers, and revelators during this wonderful general conference. They will speak the will of the Lord for us, His people. They will transmit the word of God and His counsel to us. Pay attention and follow their instruction and suggestions, and I testify to you that your life will be completely blessed.”  — Elder Costa

What rivets your attention in these talks?  Is there anything you learned here that you had not considered before?  What stood out to you as you studied them?  What do you think is the warning associated with this repeated message?  What did it make you feel or want to do?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. If this is your first time to General Conference Book Club, click here to learn more about it, and then join us.

Questions and challenges (subtitle: Stuff you should do for me)

1. I’m new around here, right?  So I thought I’d be proactive about meeting new people, and I invited several neighbors to a murder mystery dinner party (like 16).  Unfortunately only 2 people even called me back.  The rest of them I had to go track down like a dork asking if they wanted to come to my party.  Luckily, once Sunday rolled around, I was able to see many of them at church and got some positive response, so I don’t think I have to worry anymore about having the lamest party ever known to mankind.  If you are my neighbor and you happen to see this post, and you think a murder mystery party would be fun, send me an email and invite yourself.  Seriously.  The more the merrier.  Has anyone else found the term RSVP to be universally ignored?

Oh, p.s. on the party stuff.  That How to Train Your Dragon DVD release party was the easiest thing I’ve ever done to get mom points.  Ten boys watched a movie and ate snacks.  That’s it, and yet, they raved about how it was the funnest party they’d ever been to.  So just know that a $25 party budget goes a long way toward making your kids and their friends think you’re some kind of miracle mom.  ??  Whatever.  I’ll take it.

2. Apparently, in Utah, family photography is a big deal.  In fact, when I drive around sometimes, I see random families all gussied up setting up benches and stuff in the middle of sagebrush fields, or wandering in the canyon with matching outfits and a dutiful photographer.  I guess it’s kind of cool and all, but maybe a tad bit overdone.  I mean does every family photo really need to look like you’re making an album cover or auditioning for a reality show called “Our Enchanted Life”?  Anyway, I need to get some family photos done that we can use in our Christmas cards this year, plus we’re just overdue.  However, whenever I try to look up local photographers, they have sitting fees of like $750.00.  !!!!  I am NOT kidding.  All I want is someone who has a camera nicer than mine (read: cell phone camera) to take photos of my family and come up with at least one good shot of all of us that we can burn on a CD and print as we please.  That’s it.  I don’t want to have to sell my van to afford these pictures.  I’ve propositioned friends and strangers, but no one wants to it hasn’t really worked out, and I’m starting to get a complex about how photo-worthy my family is.  Does anyone have any suggestions for me?  Please remember I have to be able to feed my family.

3. A reminder to anyone who participated in the General Conference Meme:  You answered a question about what you would (hypothetically) speak about in General Conference.  Write up your “talk” in 500-1000 words and email it to me by October 31 and I’ll publish them as a guest post.  I think we’d all love to hear each other’s insights about the topics we picked.

4. In the past, I’ve done a poetry contest every season, but I thought I’d shake things up a little bit and do a photography contest.  Submit a photo that best represents to you this quote by Elder M. Russell Ballard :

“Recognize that the joy of motherhood comes in moments. There will be hard times and frustrating times. But amid the challenges, there are shining moments of joy and satisfaction.”

Choose any aspect of the quote to represent in photo.  You can find one from your photo archives or take one for the purpose.  Send it to my email by October 31 and I’ll pick my favorites for voting.  It does not have to be all beautiful or artsy, just a great representation of the quote.  For example, I might enter something like this:

I’ll probably post about the contest again to highlight it, but start thinking about what you could enter.  (“Our Enchanted Life” portraits need not apply. 🙂 )

5. I’ve been to 5 different stores looking for a plain black robe so Grant can be Harry Potter for Halloween.  No luck.  Any suggestions?  I wish I had one of our old graduation robes.

6. And just because I like to give back, have you ever made cookies from a brownie mix?  Well it’s quite easy and a nice, quick chocolate fix.  Brownie Cookies:

All you need for these cookies is one package of brownie mix, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of water, and 1/3 cup of oil.  Now, preheat the oven for 375 degrees F.  Mix the four ingredients together. Feel free to add chopped nuts or chocolate chips. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake them for 8 minutes.   (recipe source here)

p.s.  I’m pleased to know that our FHE debaucle brought joy to so many people.  Now that I wrote it, I can see the funny in it.  And I will definitely hold it against my children when they are grown and have children of their own.

Why our FHE made Satan happy

Last night we had the worst Family Home Evening ever.  I commented on Facebook that dead prophets probably rolled over in their graves.

We had a little bit of a sass problem yesterday, and at one point Clark even took a swing at me.  This is, of course, completely unacceptable. Matt got home from work and I was exhausted.  He was exhausted.  We both lay down on our bed bemoaning our exhausted states.  Matt suggested we have a “lying down” Family Home Evening, and it knew right from the start it wasn’t going to go well, but I was too lazy to get up and do anything different.  (Feel free to put this away in your “How to be pathetic” file.)  So we called all the kids into our room, basically to gather around our corpses and be instructed.  They made paper-bag puppets of themselves and then Matt said we were going to talk about respect and responsibility.  After several mind-numbing attempts to get them to define those terms, we tried to think of examples from the scriptures of respect.  Clark volunteered that when Nehor killed Gideon, that wasn’t very respectful.  Right.  This led to a long list of people beating, killing, and basically destroying one another and pointing out as a tangent that “that wasn’t respectful.”  I lay there (yes, lay there) rolling my eyes.

Then Matt directed a puppet show that basically re-enacted the way Clark had treated me earlier when I told him he couldn’t have a playdate with his friend, only the children thought that the representation of their previous poor behavior was hilarious.  They couldn’t wait until it was their turn to be the puppet and yell at and hit their mother.  So our family home evening turned into an unfettered all-out paper-bag puppet brawl of people screaming at and beating on each other until the puppets lay in tattered shreds on the ground.  Matt wearily tried to make some summary statement about how it’s important to be respectful and then we released our feral children to go play something else.  We stood in the kitchen a few minutes later and looked at each other with dumbfounded disbelief.  “That was such a bad family home evening,” Matt said.  We tried to laugh, but we were too tired.

We were supposed to do P90X after the children were in bed, but Matt fell asleep on the couch, so I just ate a chocolate cookie instead.  That’s just as good, right?  I stayed up late watching episodes of Dr. G., Medical Examiner.  Does anyone else do ridiculous stuff like that even though the only thing you want to do is sleep?  Sometimes I just confuse myself.

Elder David A. Bednar said:

“Sometimes Sister Bednar and I wondered if our efforts to do these spiritually essential things were worthwhile. Now and then verses of scripture were read amid outbursts such as “He’s touching me!” “Make him stop looking at me!” “Mom, he’s breathing my air!” Sincere prayers occasionally were interrupted with giggling and poking. And with active, rambunctious boys, family home evening lessons did not always produce high levels of edification. At times Sister Bednar and I were exasperated because the righteous habits we worked so hard to foster did not seem to yield immediately the spiritual results we wanted and expected.

Today if you could ask our adult sons what they remember about family prayer, scripture study, and family home evening, I believe I know how they would answer. They likely would not identify a particular prayer or a specific instance of scripture study or an especially meaningful family home evening lesson as the defining moment in their spiritual development. What they would say they remember is that as a family we were consistent. . . .

Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other and produce an impressive masterpiece, so our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results. “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). Consistency is a key principle as we lay the foundation of a great work in our individual lives and as we become more diligent and concerned in our own homes.”

Man, I hope he’s right.

GCBC Week 3: Stay on the Path

“Stay on the Path”
Sister Rosemary M. Wixom
Primary General President
Saturday Morning Session

Sister Wixom’s talk is a great reminder about the sacred responsibility that parents have to anchor themselves and their children on the path of righteousness.  She uses several different phrases that highlight both the urgency and the purpose of spiritual parental guidance.

“If they understand the Plan, and who they are, they will not fear. … We begin to make the plan known to our children when we hold tight to the iron rod ourselves.”

“The world will teach our children if we do not.”

“When we are intentional about holding them and teaching them of Heavenly Father’s plan through prayer and scriptures, they will come to know where they came from, why they are here, and where they are going.”

I was struck by how important it is to be purposeful in our parenting, to take the seemingly meaningless experiences of the day and let them point children toward a better understanding of gospel truths and their own important role in God’s plan.  Her message reminded me of several previous talks about intentional parenting that have inspired me as well.  Perhaps you may want to read some of these this week to enhance your study of Sister Wixom’s talk:

A Prayer for the Children by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

More Diligent and Concerned at Home by Elder David A. Bednar

Watching with All Perseverance by Elder David A. Bednar

Nourishing and Protecting the Family by Sister Julie B. Beck (link to download and print talk)

How about you? What are your favorite moments or quotes from Sister Wixom’s talk?  Is there anything you learned here that you had not considered before?  What stood out to you as you studied it?  And, most importantly, what did it make you feel or want to do?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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