FHE Lessons : Gospel Principles & Preach my Gospel

IMG_3054 copyWe just finished using the Gospel Principles manual for Family Home Evening Lessons. We started on it a few years ago. We didn’t really have any system… we’d use it when we didn’t have another topic/lesson in mind or prepared. There were some times when Jimmy would prepare a lesson from Gospel Principles and I was thinking… “We don’t need a lesson on ‘such & such deep doctrine’, we need a lesson on kindness… or service… or how to sit still for 5 seconds.” BUT … I truly know that this principle taught by Boyd K. Packer is true:
true doctrine understood
I’m really glad Jimmy persevered and finished the lessons in the book. Hannah and Abe especially liked learning new things taught, especially about the second coming of Christ and the millenium. (sidenote: Max keeps telling us that when he prays he faces East because that is where Christ will come again… also the way Moroni faces on the temple. We don’t know where he learned all these things… but he somehow connected them in his mind. Face Mecca? Aaaaaak.)

I have been wanting to do fhe lessons from Preach my Gospel. So, our new curriculum is going to be missionary related. It may take us a few years but I want to go through the teachings in Chapter 3… and the Christlike Attributes in Chapter 6. There are some great doctrines taught!
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Preparing lessons has helped me feel empowered as a parent. Our desire is to have Christ be the center of our home. So often, I feel we are far from that {with all the fighting and tantrums and wiggling and such}. But we can keep trying to bring the Spirit into our home by focusing on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe this!
think of the power missionaries

{p.s. pretend it’s in small print… I can hardly believe I could write this post. I just dealt with the most horrific tantrum from Truman over computer time. I determined I was going to give up and start just letting him do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted… though I know this isn’t quality parenting. I doubt my abilities as a parent. I wonder what Heavenly Father was thinking to place me as a mother of so many strong souls. I know I can’t get discouraged… so I decided to write our FHE Experience with these lessons. I can go on. I will not give up (uhhhh, hopefully). I hope that the teachings we testify of in our home will sink deep into the hearts of each child… that they may be like Enos and remember the words of their parents. I think I’ll go to the temple and seek for that peace the Gospel brings.}

How are you feeling?

Perhaps the most common question during pregnancy.
How are you feeling?

There are oodles of answers I could generally give:

Ready for this baby to arrive

Honestly, I rarely feel:


A few weeks ago when I was flying solo-parent at church on a Sunday,
I decided I needed an attitude change from my usual answers.

My new answer:
today i am blessed
Yes… indeed … it is true…
if I think about my reality…

Whenever I’ve shared this answer,
most women have chuckled with me,
knowing I’m focusing on the good
rather than the hard.

My attitude needs some perking up lately.
Yes, Physical Health Issues (pregnancy) + additional stress = It’s harder to see the good.
God gives us so much every day.
Sunshine … rain … cloudy cool days.
Green grass for cartwheels … quiet snowy days.
Deep Rich Soil for gardening … bathtubs to wash dirty kids toes from the dirt.
Cold water … Hot chocolate.
Joyful moments as a family … tender personal moments.
Warm Blankets … Air Conditioning.
Opportunities to Grow … Adventures and Fun.
Chirping Birds … Rollie Pollies.
Days filled with Faith & courage … days of learning.
Challenges to overcome … A Savior to carry us along!

So this is my goal… to remember to focus on the BLESSINGS rather than the hard!

Love: Mother’s Day Talk 2014

Jimmy and I were asked to speak on Mother’s Day on the topic of LOVE … based on President Monson’s April 2014 Conference talk: Love—the Essence of the Gospel.

I tried not to over-prepare with too many sources because I tend to find so many fabulous things I want to share, that I go over on my time. In the spirit of keeping things simple, I focused on 4 things:
1. Because Heavenly Father loves us, He …
2. What should we do if we aren’t feeling the Love of God.
3. Because we love Heavenly Father, we …
4. Blessings of Love

All super simple, in hopes that maybe some kidlets and mothers (who are wrestling the kidlets) might hear a snippet here and there and the Spirit would touch their heart. And believe it or not, I kept to my 12 minute time limit. Rock on!

A few have asked for my talk… It’s nothing spectacular, but here it is.

Click on image below to view PDF of full talk.
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Jimmy wrote a deeper, longer talk on “Forgiving: The Crowning Expression of Christ’s Love”. (yeah, I didn’t so much have a title other than ‘love’). He did a great job. I liked the story he shared of Charles Hobbs’ dad who forgave Bert who stole groceries from his store.

Anyhoo… speaking in church … always a greater blessing for ourselves than anyone else. I love the quotes found and spirit felt while preparing the message.

One who wore a tattered bonnet

In prep for my Mother’s Day talk tomorrow, I came across this amazing story of Mary Fielding Smith – as shared by her son Joseph F. Smith. I see the wisdom in studying history and the lives of those who went before. They have endured and overcome… and we shall too.

With the winds of CHANGE entering into our thoughts and reality (like ya-know, a possible move across the country this summer with 5 kids in tow… & a plump gestating belly), this example is so powerful to me. I am so grateful for the Spirit that leads and connects thing with our spirit.


Not Alone, by Minerva K. Teichert, oil on canvas, 1920.
Painting is displayed in the Pocatello Idaho Stake Center. {I love this connection with Steph, my bonnet friend}
This painting of Mary Fielding Smith and her young son, Joseph F., is based on their story of relying upon courage, prayer, and divine help to overcome obstacles while crossing the plains.

Twenty-eight-year-old Minerva Kohlhepp Teichert offered to create a painting for the Pocatello Idaho Stake. Her stake president, William A. Hyde, suggested in a letter that she show “the heroism, and the faith of the Mormon woman,” portraying Mary Fielding Smith at a time “when she is left alone and sets her face amid the howling of the wolves and the fear of savages, to overtake the train in advance.” Yet “they are not alone,” wrote President Hyde, for to the side is a “shadowy form mounted” on a “classical charger,” representing “the captain of the Lord’s host” and his men protecting the Saints.

This example {click to view larger} was a sweet testimony by Joseph F. Smith about his memories of his mother enduring hard times in Nauvoo and on the trek west.

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Bright up the Dark

jesus has a light inside

It has been a doozy of a few days with cute little Truman. Change of seasons always throws him off temper-wise & emotionally. Bless his little heart. During Preschool before Easter we were learning about the Resurrection. We watched a clip “He is Risen” that showed Jesus appearing to Mary at the tomb. Jesus definitely had ‘a light’ about him. I love that Truman recognized this and commented on it later when we colored Easter pictures.

Jesus does have a LIGHT.
He brings HOPE to any situation.
He brings JOY when there seems to be nothing joyful.
He brings COMFORT when our hearts are hurting.

This week… I am working on CHOOSING HOPE and relief through our Savior’s Atonement.

“Cast thy burden upon the Lord,
and he shall sustain thee..”
Psalm 55:22

Sparkling Throne – Messy Child

04 april 201414
Today’s adventure was thus:
Toilet scour day…
major deal here.
Took the toilet seat off & all.
Nearly barfed many times from the grodyness of it.
(My poor pregnancy gag reflex is the most sensitive it’s ever been.)
We’re talking major pee build-up under the hinge of the seat.
Used Vinegar, Baking Soda, & Purify essential oil.
Cleaning with vinegar is almost as bad as pee smell…
but not quite.
But everything is super clean & disinfected
and I didn’t die of lung poisoning from lysol.

Ew… and the floor, the walls, the baseboards, etc
are now scrubbed.

I did have the cleanest toilet in the neighborhood…
until Tru had a “Giant Diarrhea” in said clean toilet.
Too much info…. but people, this is my life… and it’s real.
My life lately revolves around pee & poop from little ones.

Liza was much too quiet and soon joined me in the bathroom
with Black PERMANENT marker on her fingernails (“Polish”) arms, legs, and feet.
Where is this child’s mother?
Oh wait – scouring a toilet.

So although I was searching google an hour previous, “How to rid bathroom of pee smell?”,
I was now searching, “How to remove Permanent marker from skin”
Bath didn’t do it.
Lemon oil didn’t even do much.
Rubbing alcohol on dry skin took most of it off.
Then another bath.

Oh my goodness.
Then we all took off and went to the park for some fresh air and play.

A few hours later I decided to tackle the downstairs bathroom (while Liza was napping).
Holy Cow. That toilet was 10 times nastier.
But I persevered and it is now clean.

If anyone wants to visit,
tomorrow would be a good day
because it might be the only day (ever!!!)
that my toilets might sparkle
and the bathroom will be pee-odor free.

P.s. Lest my children read this someday and wonder why it was so monumental to deep clean the bathroom. . . 4 boys in this house. . . A few with poor aim, I imagine. Ummm, yeah. The fact is that Hannah, Abe, And Max are each assigned bathrooms to clean each week. Under ideal chore system, each gets cleaned with disinfecting wipes twice a week. I knew I needed to do a thorough cleaning monthly because kids don’t quite catch all the crevices, but yeah, I guess I haven’t done the best at that. Anyhoo. . .

I am Strong in Christ : A mother’s perspective

After journaling about teaching my children to BE STRONG!, I have been thinking about my own strength as a woman.

For example, I may feel strong and accomplished having endured a hard trial.
But then … BAM! a different sort of trial comes along.
We seek strength from the Lord to endure and become more wise.
ah-ha … I am Strong!
BAM! a different sort of trial comes along.
Prayer, digging deep from that spiritual reserve…
Gain experience and am carried by our Savior’s Atonement.

Ah – interesting… Perhaps the trials come right when I’m thinking it’s me that is STRONG.
The reality is that we are only strong when we rely on the STRENGTH of the LORD.

Ammon had it figured out as shared by Elder Bednar (love the Bible Dictionary definition of Grace too):
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In thinking of major life trials… strength has to come only from God. There is no way I can do it all on my own.

In every day matters, sometimes I think I’m doing all I possibly can.
But… what if I saw the potential of really utilizing the Atonement to be STRONG in simple matters…

Be Strong... when I feel discouraged about a messy house … feel too tired to work.
Remember the fulfillment that comes from work accomplished.
Pray for desire to ‘do your duty with a heart full of song.’
Take action – clean 10 things in the kitchen. Getting started may be the hardest part.

Be Strong… when all i want is a moment of rest and quiet …
and it happens to be an intense, in-your-face-day for a 4-year-old.
Stop. Remember how blessed I am to be here in mortality with these little ones.
Dig Deep from that spiritual and peaceful reserve you captured at another time…
Choose to take time for one-on-one… perhaps this will be more rejuvenating than getting that kiddo to leave you alone.
Jesus replied, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:13-14).

Be Strong… when children are complaining about a parenting decision… Be Strong.
“Dear little one. My purpose as a mother is to help lead this family back to Heavenly Father. I have been given a commandment and a stewardship to honor this calling. I am not perfect, but I strive to listen to the Holy Spirit to guide my decisions as a mother. Please consider your responsibility to Honor thy Mother & Thy Father. Together, with God, we can make wise choices that will lead us to eternal life. Let’s work on this together.”
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Be Strong… when the Holy Ghost whispers guidance in my ear… Listen… and Obey.
The Holy Ghost whispers that there is too much noise in our home. Ok – let’s turn off media/screens.
Let’s gather together to sing hymns of praise … share testimony … read the Word of God. Pray together.
The Holy Ghost whispers that a specific child needs some extra love and concern… take the time to listen!

Be Strong… don’t always do what is easiest… (oh, this is a hard one)
Teaching the kids to work and follow through and do a job well…
Pretending that children’s chores don’t exist on those hard challenging days…
because… ya know… it’s easier in the moment that way.
Be Strong… follow through… Expect achievement (especially on bathroom duty day!)

Be Strong… optimism over murmuring…
I’m a pretty irritable pregnant mama of 5+.
There is more murmuring going on recently than I’d care to admit.
There is so much to be grateful for … focus on optimism … on blessings … on tender mercies.
murmur be like nephi

Just a few examples of things that are hard for me lately.

So what about those women who have gone before… IN THE STRENGTH OF THE LORD.
I’m amazed at the hardships people have endured… and still endure.
My heart hurts with their hearts.
I know God has a plan for each of us, but my mortal self sometimes sees some trials as ‘too difficult to bear’.
Too difficult to bear alone is right…
But to rely on God… there is the answer.
The lesson I hear is PREPARE…
prepare NOW by relying on God in good and rough times so that when trials seem unbearable,
we know and recognize the tender mercies and Grace of God.

Seriously… this following journal entry amazes me.
So many women have been called to BE STRONG at their weakest mortal moments.
Reminds me of the quote,
“You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have.”
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So many principles to think about related to STRENGTH and “waiting on the Lord.”

I guess my thoughts lead up to
my desire to be that righteous mother
who is an example of
virtue, kindness, courage, and faith.
Wow – that sounds like a lot.
But the KEY –
rely on the Lord for Strength and together we WILL accomplish miracles.

p.s. I wrote this a week or so ago and sat on it for a while. Next day – hard one. Felt that perhaps being strong was not my thing … after all, I still feel like a little girl. Don’t give up… life is a process … learning to live, speak, and act with the Atonement in mind takes great practice and faith.

You are Strong!

I’m realizing there are reoccurring themes in parenting.
We teach and hope and teach and pray and teach a principle to one child.
We see progress … slow sometimes… but progress.

Then … BAM! the next child is in that same phase.
Teach & hope & Teach & Pray & Teach some more.

BAM! … next child. etc.

And then we realize that the child who has progressed helps to teach the younger ones.

Teaching a young child that he is responsible for his choices and his feelings.
You cannot blame everyone else for your circumstance.
Child whines, child complains… about homework, chores, dinner, etc.
Child loses privileges.
Child has a larger tantrum and blames everyone around him for making him sad.
“You cannot blame others for your choices.” was the advice the elder sibling gave.

ah-ha. interesting!
So perhaps life lessons teach.
Sometimes we are being blamed… sometimes we blame.
I think we become wiser when we are blamed for something we realize was their own choice.
(Recent Example from 4th Grade Bully: “Way to go… it’s your fault I was suspended from school.”
Response: “It was not my fault. It was your choices that led to this consequence.”)

Another reoccurring parenting theme is STRENGTH & COURAGE.

“Be Strong!” is a phrase I say often as a child leaves the house.

Be Strong when choosing friends.
Be Strong and be yourself.
Be Strong and control your choices, instead of being willing to let others bully you.
Be Strong and choose the right.
Be Strong for God is with thee!

be strong joshua 1 9

For another child who doesn’t want to do any chore …
or homework… or toss diapers into the garbage …
or is too scared to walk by puppies or kitty cats …
because it’s too scary or hard or gross…
I say,
“Heavenly Father made you STRONG.
You can do hard things.
He made you amazing and courageous.
God made you a part of our family because we need you.”

There are so many kinds of strength.
Spiritual Strength (I choose faith!)
Physical Health & Strength (“You must do the thing you think you cannot do”)
Mental Strength (optimism vs pessimism)
Emotional Strength (I rely on the Atonement for comfort, courage, and strength)

Strength to stand for the right in a school full of Mormons.
Courage to walk by the cat on the way to the bus.
Strength to be alone rather than being with bullies or brats.
Courage to do hard things every single day!
Strength to ignore insults at church or scouts.
Courage to be unique.
Strength to be a leader instead of a follower.

Kinda random…. but these are the thoughts for the day. Saw this quote today and loved it.

“But no one except Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her, “Courage, dear heart,” and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan’s, and with the voice a delicious smell breathed in her face.” ― The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

courage dear heart c s lewis

God is with us when we choose that path.
His Holy Spirit whispers, “Courage, dear heart”,
when He knows we need strength.

I pray so much that my children will have
strength of character,
strength of faith,
and strength of wise choices
to guide them on this journey.

XY – It’s a BOY!

2014 09 new brother
I am 13 1/2 weeks along in this 6th pregnancy. We did a fetal DNA test through the high-risk perinatologist. One of the benefits was finding out a solid XY BOY gender reveal! The other benefits were great peace of mind that despite my ADVANCED MATERNAL AGE (haha!), our baby does not have any chromosome disorders, something helpful for docs and us to know going into the latter part of this pregnancy and delivery/c-section.

I thought it was a girl. I really did. Would have really evened things up! But… the Smith boy strength came through so we’ll have the same as Stephen & Phillip… 4 boys & 2 girls. Life is always an adventure, isn’t it!

Hannah had a dream we had a boy. Liza kept saying the baby was a boy. Perhaps though girlies were more in tune than I was. Sigh…

We are excited to begin preparations for another boy to join our family in let’s say – oh – like 24 weeks. That sounds like forever away. Onward, ever onward!

Sunshine on my Shoulders & a Baby in my Belly

announcement #6The past few days have been warm (as in high at 65!) and full of sunshine! Today when I was dozing at 5 a.m., I felt HOPE. Sunshine & warmth makes a huge difference in our life. So grateful that spring is coming. Our tulips are starting to poke their leaves out of the ground. So great!

In other news… yep, a baby! When the Spirit prompts, we try to listen & obey. The feeling that we had yet another little Spirit waiting to join our family didn’t go away, so despite my ripe ol’ age of 38, 6th c-section, etc, we are moving forward in FAITH! The docs are great and watchful. Dr. Bean makes me laugh, though I also know he is cautious. The high-risk perinatologist group at Utah Vally Hospital have been helpful.

Every time a nurse takes my blood pressure, they stare at the screen (while I hear it beeping alerts!). They say, “Find your Happy Place, and we’ll take it again.” I assure them it’s probably correct though higher than we’d all like. They aren’t going to give me meds until my blood pressure is 160/110. It’s sitting around 140/90. Anyhoo… let’s see… Placenta parked itself right up front. We’re all hopeful that as the uterus grows, that placenta will move up and out of the danger zone of 5 other incisions. Fun topics.

We finally told most of the kids. We’ve needed the oldest 2 to step it up a little as I’ve been quite under the weather… either so tired or trying not to barf. They have done well to help a bit more. Jimmy is the best husband ever and helps manage the home when I’m sinking. Hopefully in 5 more weeks, I’ll feel much, much better!

This will be a stressful and physically demanding year!
Yes, indeed it will.
But the blessings will exceed the trials.
So grateful for miracles and Tender Mercies!
Good thing we know that we can do hard things together as a family WITH GOD on our side!
we can do hard things with god