General Conference Book Club Week 18: Elder Perry

Today in Sunday School, we talked about Noah, and how people lacked the faith to act on prophetic advice that would prepare them for dangers that were coming, dangers that they could not see nor anticipate.  The teacher made an analogy about his high school football days when the coach would have them watch game film of their upcoming opponent to prepare them to compete against them.  I thought about the analogy for a while and raised my hand (I’m one of those really annoying can’t-keep-my-mouth-shut kind of Sunday School participants):  “The game film is actually much like the scriptures.  It shows us patterns from the past and gives us the examples of what works and what does not.  A living prophet, then, would be like if the coach watched a film of what WILL happen and explains to the team exactly what should be practiced and prepared in order to meet the opponent and all that will occur.”  And I mentioned this talk that I only vaguely remembered, but now I want to study.

The talk is “The Past Way of Facing the Future” by Elder L. Tom Perry, from the Sunday morning session of the October 2009 conference.  He said, “The lessons of the past . . . prepare us to face the challenges of the future.” Upon reviewing the talk, it wasn’t quite what I had remembered, but he relates some specific accounts from the lives of pioneers and other historical events, and then harvests important lessons from them that we should learn and remember.  And as living apostle, sustained as a seer, he must speak of principles pertinent to our future.

You can read the talk herelisten to it here, or watch it here.  Visit here to learn more about General Conference Book Club.

Referring back to Noah, what things to you find in Elder Perry’s talk that would help us to build our own arks or be protected from the coming floods or calamities?

Rules

DSCF1442I’m a rule nazi.  It’s a good thing my kids aren’t teenagers yet because they still don’t fight back when I frequently say, “Ok, I’m making a new rule!”  I mean, who knew you needed rules like don’t wipe your boogers on my bedroom wall or in the carpet, or no sticking your whole fist in your beverage glass, or even do not run up and down the stairs and throughout the house with a poopy bum when you need to be wiped; please stay in the bathroom and call me?!?  Sigh.  There must be rules.

My “main” rules are taped on the fridge [see photo above] and I make the kids look at them often.  “Grant, go look at the rules!”  “Clark, stop throwing your books and go look at the rules!”  And they do it.  They stand there and oogle at them and run through each one, often out loud, and then usually say, “Oops. I forgot that one.  Sorry mom.”  I usually make them look at them after time-outs, too, so they can pick out the rule that got them into trouble in the first place.  Even Natalie walks past the rules and reports proudly, “Mommy, no push.”  I know, I need counseling.

You know, God gives us rules, too — commandments, and then the Holy Ghost “makes new rules” all the time like pick up the toys with them instead of yelling at them to do it.  I wish I were as disciplined about returning to the rules as I make my children be.  I think I’d make less mistakes if I constantly turned back to the scriptures to help me correct and monitor my behavior.  Maybe I need more time-outs myself…. oh, good idea; wouldn’t that be nice?

(This entry was originally posted on August 27, 2008.  I’m still rebuilding my lost archives.)

Getting it right

Alright, there are plenty of things I mess up.  I’m not the most patient mother in the world, I’m always running late and forgetting things, and even Matt admits I’m no laundry maven, and well, let’s face it, that list could go on and on.  But I would like to focus on the positive here and publicly declare that there is one thing I do right:

Books.

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I read to my kids.  A lot.  It’s the one area I spoil them in and don’t feel guilt about it.  Holiday gifts always include books.  I’m also a sucker for book orders from school.  I love that their rooms have shelves full of books that are theirs to keep and read whenever they want.  We go to the library (almost) every Monday and they check out more books.  (Due to my skill of running late and forgetting things, I also pay enough fines every few months to keep most of the library workers employed.)

And you know what?  My kids love to read now.  Grant has started trying to read chapter books, and Clark reads so well that, despite being 4 1/2, he helps Grant with the hard words like “information,” “Philistines,” and “chrysanthemum.”  Even Natalie prefers to read books on her own than be read to.  She’ll sit down, turn the pages, look at the pictures, and narrate the story by herself, making it up as she goes along.  And if I try to get them to go to bed without reading them a scripture story, they won’t let me get away with it.

I don’t usually brag.  Hopefully my readers know that.  But this is one thing I’ve done right.  And I would now like to confess that my motivation is mostly selfish.  Consider the following:

  1. When my kids are out-of-control hyper, I know I can settle them down if I offer to read them stories.  They cuddle and listen quietly.
  2. The library is a free outing that also requires a certain level of quiet.
  3. They almost always bring a book with them when we go anywhere in the car.  Translation:  quiet.
  4. Now that they are “independent” readers, I start getting them ready an hour before bedtime and then let them have reading time until lights out.  Again, extra quiet time for me.  Books are awesome.

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So I’m curious, what’s something you do right?  Give yourself a little credit.

And p.s.  I am loving the General Conference book club.  You guys have made the greatest comments already and it’s not even halfway through the week.  Remember that you can click on the reply button under any comment if you want to respond directly to someone else’s comment.  And though many people have written long, awesome commentaries, yours can be as “small and simple” as you want.  There are no rules and I love just knowing that people are reading.  It seriously made me feel connected to a bunch of strangers to know that we’re all studying the same thing together and collectively getting inspired and motivated.  Awesome, ladies, keep it up!

Oh, the noise . . . the noise, noise noise, noise!

droppedimage-copyThis entry was originally posted on August 19, 2008.  (I’m re-creating my lost archives.)

Has anyone ever noticed that by signing up for motherhood you inadvertently sign up for a lifetime of mind-boggling noise?  Clearly this is fine print I missed because I’m not sure I would have knowingly agreed to surrender all opportunities for peace and clarity of thought.  Oh man, last night at Wal-Mart my daughter screamed so loud that the whole store (I’m not kidding, the whole store) fell momentarily silent.  After a painfully long pause, a woman many aisles away cries out, “Well, I think we heard that alright.”  (Since it’s not the topic of this post, I will refrain from commenting on the kinds of feelings I had at a moment like this.  I’ll save that pitiful musing for another day, since I’m sure it will happen again.)

Anyway, how can SO much noise come out of such small packages?  I mean it’s like children are little atomic sound bombs that blow up with random frequency, leaving pain and destruction in their path.  And so, bedtime becomes the mecca of each day… the beloved treasure of the night.  I wish that I were better at using the quiet time to actually quiet my soul; I so need to be better at moments of worship when the silence finally comes.  I think that if I were more consistent at using this time for prayer, scripture study, and pondering, then I would do a better job of seeing the good in each day and have more strength to face the next morning. I’m curious; what works for you? (I know you’ll say it, but please don’t tell me to wake up before everyone else! It hurts just to think about it.)

UPDATE:  Since I published this post, I did find one way to help me with scripture study/devotional time.  After Natalie goes down for her nap, I sit at the kitchen table with the boys and set the timer for 30 minutes.  They can choose to read books or color pictures, but they know they need to be quiet because it’s “mommy’s scripture time.”  They do a pretty good job and I’m able to read and think a lot more than I expected I would, plus I love that they see me read my scriptures and know that it’s important to me.  Of course, like most of my great ideas, I struggle with consistency… but I’m trying.

(Saturday is last day  to vote for your favorite limerick.)

The detours of motherhood, or why I’m like prophets and my children are like Lamanites

detour20signsI’m currently at my parents’ home in Atlanta for Spring Break.  Unlike the great white North where I live, Spring actually lives here, so it’s been a nice change of scenery.  Outdoor weather has allowed my children to play hard and sleep hard.  My nights have been mostly quiet and peaceful.  The night before last I fell asleep face-down diagonally across my bed, on top of the covers with my scriptures open.  Before I dozed off to sleep, however, I managed to have an epiphany while studying Alma chapter 17 in the Book of Mormon.

I don’t know if this is a common struggle with other mothers or not, but I have some dear friends– friends I consider “kindred spirits” in the Anne of Green Gables’ sense– with whom I have not had decent contact for years.  I still love them as much as I ever did, and I do think of them often and wonder how they are.  Occasionally, we drop each other a quick “hello” on Facebook, and we exchange Christmas cards religiously, but despite our mutual admiration, we’ve kind of fallen out of each others’ lives.  Sometimes I mourn that a little bit.  I miss my Sunday afternoon drives up in the mountains with best girlfriends where we listened to sappy love songs and poured out our fears, struggles, dramas, and memories together.  And we laughed.  A lot.  I don’t live even within a few states of most of them anymore, but the life I have chosen is no longer my very own.  I share it with a husband and three little children.  I love them all and wouldn’t give them up for anything, but they’re pretty darn time consuming.  My friends are living similarly busy lives, and I truly understand it.  It still makes me a little sad, but as I read my scriptures Tuesday night, I saw it all a little differently.

There was a group of tight friends:  Alma the younger and the four sons of Mosiah.  These verses explains the missions they were called to:

11 And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.

It struck me that this is very much like my calling to be a mother.  The words patience, long-suffering, and the command to be a good example stood out to me.  And the work of saving souls is literally in our hands and homes.

  12 And it came to pass that the hearts of the sons of Mosiah, and also those who were with them, took courage to go forth unto the Lamanites to declare unto them the word of God.
  13 And it came to pass when they had arrived in the borders of the land of the Lamanites, that they separated themselves and departed one from another, trusting in the Lord that they should meet again at the close of their harvest; for they supposed that great was the work which they had undertaken.
It really does take courage– doesn’t it?– to give up portions of your life as you know it because you hope to teach your children and make a difference in your own family.  And that is truly what happens among friends who begin/accept the motherhood journey; we “depart” in a sense, with faith and hope that we’ll meet again.  And we couldn’t do that if we didn’t believe that “great was the work” we have chosen.  (My commentary is in brackets and italics below.)
  14 And assuredly it was great, for they had undertaken to preach the word of God to a wild and a hardened and a ferocious people [have you seen a toddler or preschooler’s temper tantrum??]; a people who delighted in murdering the Nephites, and robbing and plundering them [okay, there’s not much murder going on in my house, but my fridge has definitely been plundered many times]; and their hearts were set upon riches, or upon gold and silver, and precious stones [or Webkins, the candy aisle at the grocery store, and Chuck E. Cheese tokens]; yet they sought to obtain these things by murdering and plundering [whining and manipulating], that they might not labor for them with their own hands [“No! Mommy do it!”].
And why again do we throw ourselves into that kind of mess and responsibility?
 …  16 Therefore, this was the cause for which the sons of Mosiah [a group of dear friends] had undertaken the work, that perhaps they might bring them unto repentance; that perhaps they might bring them to know of the plan of redemption.
 17 Therefore they separated themselves one from another, and went forth among them, every man [woman, sister, friend] alone, according to the word and power of God which was given unto him [her].
And for the first time, I saw myself and my unseen-but-not-lost friends as teammates on a holy mission.  We are working together more than we know, and I am strengthened by their efforts in far away lands with their own little Lamanites.  I feel unity with them, and frankly, with all of you readers, too, as I consider how we are truly serving a mission together to instruct an entire generation about God’s plan of happiness and their role in it.  It’s amazing actually.  It makes me realize that I’ve been closer than I realized to my fellow-mothers all along.
The first verses in this chapter (before the flashback in the verses I’ve quoted) show the joyful reunion of this group of friends and how they are even happier to know that each of them has remained faithful to their mission and worked hard and even suffered much in their efforts to save souls.  I think this is why we pick up right where we left off with beloved friends we have not seen for a while, because we have a cause and a deep commitment in common.  It makes me pretty darn excited for heaven or those retirement years (whichever comes first!) when we will have the time again for Sunday drives with good friends, laughing about our days among the Lamanites.
 
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Don’t be shy… try your hand at the limerick contest.  Come on, it’ll be fun.
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