Sunday, December 19, 2010

There are many scenes we could recall in which Jesus called the children to him...What do they know that Jesus wants us to learn? I love the insight of my dear friend Mary Ellen Edmunds. She says, "Surround yourself with sinless people; associate with children as often as you can." A newborn babe is a paradigm of purity. Can we somehow approach the purity of a child - the purity of heart, the purity of mind, the purity of language, the purity of behavior? Can we attain conscious innocence? Oh yes, that is the whole idea. Jesus teaches us, "Prepare yourselves, and sanctify yourselves; yea, purify your hearts, and cleanse your hands and you feet before me, that I may make you clean; that I may testify unto your Father, and your God, and my God, that you are clean from the blood of this wicked generation" (D&C 88:74-75).

He sent us children to study so that we could understand clean.

Jesus directs us to obseve our children so that we can be like them. We are all surrounded by children. Sometimes we don't notice them. Sometimes, even their mothers don't notice them... Do we take every opportunity to observe and learn from them? Do we smile and offer to play a little in the grocery line or quietly take a tiny hand over the bench in sacrament meeting? When we find them muddied in the garden, do we help them pick a bouquet, all the time searching out the qualities Jesus asked us to find?

Jesus is our teacher, but children are our first tutors in loving. As we love children, they will teach us more. Perhaps all we really can teach them is that love endures anything, that it has great staying power, that they can do nothing to keep us from loving them, exactly like the father of the prodigal son. And they teach us all the rest about love by loving us. In a warm nest of love they are freed to teach us all the rest.

~Ann N. Madsen

Friday, December 17, 2010

our opportunity

My family and I were in tithing settlement last Sunday when our bishop said something that has given me cause to really pause and ponder. He was talking about the paths our lives take and the challenges, trials and difficulties that we encounter along the way. He then said -

'Our Heavenly Father has crafted an individual, personalized plan for each of us to maximize our opportunity to return to His presence.'

Our Heavenly Father, in his infinite wisdom and with the tender loving of a parent, has created a plan specifically for me to maximize my chances of returning to Him. Sometimes, in my finite mind, I think 'Ok, I've learned what I need to learn. Let's be done with this,' or 'Could I not have learned this lesson another way?' Maybe I could have learned the lesson another, less painful/challenging/difficult way. But then I would not have learned the lesson with enough proficiency to further propel me on the path home to my Father.

As I have pondered that simple sentence, I have felt wrapped in the arms of my loving Heavenly Father knowing that the experiences I encounter whether joyous or heart wrenching are simply stacking the odds in my favor of once again returning to His presence. I have had a greater understanding 'that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.'

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Past

**I wrote this post Thanksgiving 2007 on our family blog. We had just returned from Israel, Egypt and Jordan. It has been three years since our trip, but my mind returns almost daily to the lessons learned there.**

Our hearts are drawn out in thanksgiving this year - we have so much more then we ever realized to be thankful for. Our trip helped us to recognize how truly blessed we are. To name just a few of our blessings -

We are thankful our children do not have to be sent out to beg everyday for enough money just to eat.

We are thankful for clean water to drink and a clean home to live in.

We are thankful for a peaceful, prosperous country.

We are thankful for the bounteous variety of food that abounds in our country.

We are thankful for a government, despite its flaws, that is mindful of its' people.

We are thankful that our children can go on field trips without armed guards.

We are thankful that we live in a place where we can freely share the Gospel.

We are thankful that we live in a country where women can speak and are respected for their divine qualities.

We are thankful for the type of health care that is readily available in our country.

We are thankful we have a temple in which we can commune with the Lord.

We are thankful to have walked where our Savior walked.

Most importantly, we are thankful for the Restoration of the Gospel and the hope, peace and direction it blesses our lives with.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010


Music is very important to me, it always has been, from the time I was very small. I am not particularly musically gifted, it is simply something I enjoy. From the moment I get up, to the winding down of the day - there is music in the background.

Over the last few weeks I have observed both of my children humming different pieces of music from my collection. I smiled and thought -

'I am creating the soundtrack of their lives.'

Just as Bing Crosby will forever bring to mind the wonder of my favorite childhood Christmas - as my sweet children grow, the music they have heard in our home will, hopefully, bring back memories of happiness and security.

I have once again been reminded that, as mothers, how vital it is to be thoughtful and purposeful in the music we choose to fill our home with! For we are the creators of memories, the invitees of peace, the calmers of fears, the artists who create the soundtracks that will soothe the souls of our children.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

the end of the day

The weather was finally nice enough yesterday for me to walk to the school to pick up my children (and by nice I mean, it was at last cool enough to walk for an extended period outside without unpleasant words running through my head). Our elementary school is situated such that most of the children walk to school. The closer I got to the school, the more parents I noticed stepping out of their doors to join the pick up throng. I entered the front gate of our school and began making my way through the school grounds to meet up with my children. I closely watched the many children around me reuniting with their eager parents. Everywhere I turned were children with shining faces eagerly telling their parents with equaling shining faces about their day. Fathers were bent down looking into daughters eyes, mothers were giving and receiving enthusiastic hugs from their sons. There was a whir of chatter as families were once again together, with the occasional wiping away of tears from children that had had a rough day. For a moment I forgot about the seemingly endless list of tasks awaiting me at home. For a moment I was reminded of what really is most precious.

"We owe everything to the Lord. We are so blessed to be involved in a faith based work, a work in which we can create families, support families, defend families, teach families, and prepare them for the blessings of eternal life—and love them, love them, love them."
Sister Julie B. Beck

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Should a parent need added inspiration to commence his God-given teaching task, let him remember that the most powerful combination of emotions in the world is not called out by any grand cosmic event nor found in novels or history books—but merely by a parent gazing down upon a sleeping child."
Thomas S. Monson

Saturday, November 13, 2010


A little over two years ago my son broke his right elbow, 36 hours before our family vacation to Colorado. The rest of our summer was waterless. And a summer where we live without water is a very long summer indeed. It was with a happy heart that we, at last, arrived at cast removal day. My son was ready to draw, swim, run, and generally make up for a lost summer the second his cast was removed. But, much to his dismay, when the cast came off he could hardly move his arm. Our doctor explained that we would need to work with his arm every day to improve mobility, and that in a few short weeks he would be back to normal.

Those few short weeks were some of the longest of my seven year old's life. Each morning and evening we would go through the stretching exercises while he would scream in pain. He would cry, plead and beg for us not to do the stretches, he was confident he didn't need them. He was certain that his arm would get better on its own. But we persisted with the stretching and in a few weeks time his mobility had returned to normal and the pain was but a smidgen of a memory.

I thought of this experience in the temple on Friday.

"For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth of the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father." - Mosiah 3:29

In my life some things needed to break so that the natural man could be put off. When I thought the healing was complete and the cast of the natural man was ready to be cut away, I didn't understand that my journey was just beginning. It was now time to willingly submit to all things which the Lord knew were in my best interest. My Father in Heaven knew that in order to obtain full mobility I needed to endure the pain of stretching. And while I have spent the past six years crying, pleading and begging that the affliction be removed, insisting that I didn't really need the stretching - that surely I could learn this lesson on my own, He lovingly and gently continued to hold my hand in His and stretch my soul.

I'm not to full mobility yet. There are still days where I lack the willingness to submit to all things. There are times when it appears that the end is in sight, only to realize that the Lord's plan is different from my own.

But, I love and trust Him. And I have learned to trust His stretching.

"...peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high..." - Doctrine and Covenants 121:7-8