En boca cerrada, no entran moscas.

(photo credit)

Translation: In a shut mouth, flies cannot get in.
Interpretation: Sometimes silence is the best option.

Even though my mind has been really busy, none of it has seemed very blog-worthy, and no one wants to bore others on purpose.  So here’s a brief report of the happenings around here lately:

  • Matt is on his way home right now from finishing day two of the Bar exam.  It was hard.  He feels nervous.  I gave him a hard time about “You’d better pass or I’m getting a nanny and going to Hawaii for two weeks to recover,” (because I’ve been single-parenting for so long while he’s done law school and studied for the test, and because I’m so supportive like that), but I know he really did his best and we just have to wait for fate to play itself out.  I really am proud of him, regardless of the outcome.
  • When it’s a school holiday and you are trying to keep your children under control so your husband can study, might I suggest driving an hour and a half to an indoor swimming place and letting them swim for FIVE hours?  They will be so tired that they can’t even speak on the way home and then you simply have to tuck them into bed on arrival.  Plus you get to sit in a chair and read books while you “supervise” them.  (I fully admit that I have entered a new stage of life where my children are big enough to need minimal supervision.  This would have never been possible in the last 8 years.  I acknowledge the new-found blessing, and I embrace it.)
  • I have been using MyJobChart.com for a few weeks and it has worked so well with my kids.  I just want to mention how much it warmed my heart when Grant — the child I have been butting heads with lately– spent his very first hard-earned job points on “Mom time.”  I still can’t believe it.
  • Have you ever noticed that even though you complain a lot about something and even have small-scale tantrums about it, as soon as you make it a matter of prayer, progress is made, and then you feel like an idiot for complaining so much in the first place?  Cases in point:  1.  Boo hoo, poor me, I’m new and it’s hard to make friends. –> More people than I ever imagined signed up for my girls’ night out and made me feel like a rock star, plus some little doors cracked open and I’ve felt some positive opportunities for new friendships.  2.  I’m annoyed with the school situation here. I wish I could find some better options for my boys. –> I got a phone call saying that they had both (literally) won the lottery and were accepted into a well-reputed charter school.  3.  I feel a little “underwhelmed in the kingdom.”  I miss teaching. –>  I got an invitation to substitute for an Institute class at BYU and some random emails with loose invitations for possible speaking assignments.  Common ingredient in all three “solutions”: prayer.
  • I think I might have been marked in the pre-existence as “the one who will always have library fines.” I’m just faithful at fulfilling my destiny, that’s all.
  • I am so sick of filling out medical history forms.  Shouldn’t there be some big database out there for that?  Kind of like ancestry.com, except it’s more like diseasesofyourancestors.com.  I should really market that.
  • Clark just came into the room singing about how happy he is.  When I asked him why, he replied, “Grant said he’s going to run away because he hates me.”  I’m so proud of the loving family I’ve raised. *shaking head*

See?  Sometimes silence is the best option.

In which I am not a child psychologist, but I still think I’m right about this.

I’m still going to kind of ignore my blog this month, but I’ve been learning something(s) important, and writing it down helps me to learn it all the way.  And it helps me to remember it.

1.  Children need you to listen to them in a not-freaking-out kind of way.  If this is true with small children, it must be triple true with teenagers.  Grant had his first incident with bullying this week.  I could tell something was wrong,  and I had to ask a few questions before the whole truth came out, and it still took a couple of days before the story was ready to be told.  I also learned that when the “lioness at the gate” finds out one of her cubs is getting knocked around, she doesn’t feel very docile at all.  But since lionesses wandering the halls of elementary schools swiping at naughty children with her claws and growling at unobservant teachers is kind of frowned upon, I had to take a more civil approach.  I will also rely more heavily on child-specific prayers than before.

2. Children today are much more savvy about the world –both the good and the evil– than we give them credit for, but they don’t really know what it all means.  They know stuff is out there; they see it and hear about it, but it’s hard to make sense of it all.  I think this is partially because we live in a mass-media generation and a whole spectrum of news, music, pop culture and images are hurled upon them before they can possibly know how to navigate it all.  (That just reminded me of an awesome Elder Holland quote.  I’ll dig it up at the end of the post.)  This is why point #1 is important.  They need the help of someone older and wiser to help them make sense of all the mixed messages they get from the world.  You’re the best candidate for that if you’re a listener and they know it.  I’ve also learned this week that sometimes they won’t know it unless you just tell them that you’re a listener and then prove it.

3.  This is a weird topic to bring up, and believe you me, I did not expect to have hour-long discussions with my children about it while they are this young, but anyway . . .  Did you know that all the messages out there (both in popular culture and in the teasing words that children say on the playgrounds) can confuse young children about issues like gender-identity and sexual orientation?  Remember how when we were little, it was really normal for children to go through a “cooties” stage– where girls think boys are yucky, and boys think girls are gross?  I’ve realized this week, that in the context of current social culture, it is very easy for children to become confused about what that means.  If a little boy doesn’t like girls and just likes to hang out with boys (which is TOTALLY normal at certain levels of development) he could be teased about being “gay.”   Since children are much more aware of issues like homosexuality and same-gender attraction than we were in generations past, (again I emphasize that awareness does NOT equal understanding), they may not know how to reconcile those issues with their own feelings.  Lest you jump to weird conclusions, all this stemmed from Grant being called a slur at school, not really understanding it, and not knowing if that word was a true label for him or not.  Talking about it openly and honestly helped him to get a much clearer picture of himself and his own feelings.  My point is:  Holy buckets, it’s a hard world to be a child in!  Can you even imagine all the crap (sorry, I couldn’t think of a better word) they have to try to sort through and figure out?  And at such a young age?  To not be misunderstood, this is not a battle cry for homeschooling or any kind of parenting movement other than BEING AWARE and LISTENING and ASKING QUESTIONS, and for goodness sake, PRAYING a LOT!

4.  I realize that points 1, 2 and 3 all kind of ended up being the same thing.  Whatever.

5.  Thank God for the gospel of Jesus Christ.  When I can draw upon the scriptures and the family proclamation and the teachings of living prophets to help my children navigate this crazy world they live in, I feel adequately armed.  (I am still scared, but I’m so glad I can call on divine help.) I can give them a context and framework for all they see and hear and feel.  I can share my testimony and express confidence in them.  I can say, “You can come and talk to me and your dad about anything and we will listen and we (you and us together with God’s help) will find the answers.”  I can stand in the shower and plead with Heavenly Father to help me understand their little hearts and help me to say the right things.  And He hears me and helps me.  I just realized that He’s the one who teaches me how to listen.

“In such times as we are in, whether the threats be global or local or in individual lives, I too pray for the children. Some days it seems that a sea of temptation and transgression inundates them, simply washes over them before they can successfully withstand it, before they should have to face it. And often at least some of the forces at work seem beyond our personal control.

“Well, some of them may be beyond our control, but I testify with faith in the living God that they are not beyond His. He lives, and priesthood power is at work on both sides of the veil. We are not alone, and we do not tremble as if abandoned. In doing our part, we can live the gospel and defend its principles. We can declare to others the sure Way, the saving Truth, the joyful Life. We can personally repent in any way we need to repent, and when we have done all, we can pray. In all these ways we can bless one another and especially those who need our protection the most—the children. As parents we can hold life together the way it is always held together—with love and faith, passed on to the next generation, one child at a time.”  — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Why children’s prayers are better than adults’ prayers

Since I am a horrible person, I sometimes roll my eyes at the “prayers” I hear given over the pulpit.  They are sometimes sermons, sometimes poetic declarations, sometimes dramatic presentations, sometimes obviously scripted, and sometimes downright over-the-top long.  (Notice the abundant use of sometimes.  I’m not trying to make a sweeping generalization about all prayers.)  I remember a few years back in General Conference, Elder Cree-L Kofford got up and said a one-sentence prayer asking the Spirit to be with us.  It was awesome.  It may have been right after Elder Russell M. Nelson taught “Lessons from the Lord’s Prayers:”

A closing prayer in a Church meeting need not include a summary of each message and should not become an unscheduled sermon. Private prayers can be as long as we want, but public prayers ought to be short supplications for the Spirit of the Lord to be with us or brief declarations of gratitude for what has transpired.

So it’s about a thousand levels of refreshing to hear my children say their prayers at the end of the day.  Sure they seem super short, and perhaps even a little thoughtless, but take a close look at one of my recent favorites from Clark:

Dear Heavenly Father, Please bless me that I won’t have any bad dreams.  But if I do, I won’t be mad.  But please bless me that I won’t have bad dreams.  Please help us that our days will be great.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

There’s much to learn in that prayer.  Children just get it sometimes.

General Conference Book Club Week 19: Elder Scott and President Packer

To ensure we get through all the talks before the next General Conference (which, by the way, is in SEVEN weeks!), I decided to double up some of the messages.  These two seemed like a good pairing to study together, with a common theme of receiving spiritual answers and direction.

Elder Richard G. Scott gave a talk in the Saturday morning session called To Acquire Spiritual Guidance,” where he teaches that guidance will be gained “by careful practice, through the application of correct principles, and by being sensitive to the feelings that come.”

In President Boyd K. Packer’s talk from the Saturday afternoon session, Prayer and Promptings,” he asserts that both these communications are still available to all of God’s children.  He says, “You can know the things you need to know. Pray that you will learn to receive that inspiration and remain worthy to receive it.”

I’m looking forward to studying the two talks together and finding the common threads.  Simply the fact that two talks on a very similar topic were given in Conference on the same day is an alert that it was a principle worth addressing.  What do you think the “action items” for these talks are?  What are these brethren both trying to encourage us to do more/do better?

You can find both the audio and video versions of these talks here.

General Conference Book Club Week 16: Elder Nelson

I’ve been attending some ward conferences lately and listening to our Stake President’s message to the youth.  He challenges them to pray, really pray, two times a day.  He encourages them to get their rote prayers out of the way and then ask “What should I have done differently today?” and then review their day step-by-step with the Lord.  Then after repenting for mistakes they see they’ve made, ask “What should I do tomorrow?” and then listen.

This is a fascinating concept for me and one I’m getting up my courage to try.  So this week, I’ve chosen the talk “Ask, Seek, Knock” by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  He gave this talk during the Sunday morning session, where he proclaimed that “Every Latter-day Saint may merit personal revelation.

“To access information from heaven, one must first have a firm faith and a deep desire.”

“For each of you to receive revelation unique to your own needs and responsibilities, certain guidelines prevail.”

“Patience and perseverance are part of our eternal progression.”

You can read the talk here.  You can also  watch it here or listen to it here.

What are some things that help you prepare for, ask for, receive, and recognize personal revelation?

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p.s.  Join us in the Winter Poetry contest.  Entries due by Tuesday night.