Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sabbath Sunset

A few years ago my husband and I had the privilege of wandering through the Jewish quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. It was just before sunset on a Friday evening. We were surrounded by families hustling and bustling, dressed in their Sabbath finest, finishing their last minute preparations for the Sabbath. The dress of the Hassidic Jews were particularly stunning. Their eyes were constantly turning towards the sky, checking the progression of the sunset. As we watched their busied preparations for the Sabbath and the rejoicing they enjoyed as they gathered with family, I was deeply impressed that there was much I could learn from these wonderful people about honoring the Sabbath. Every step was taken to insure that the Sabbath was honored to the highest degree - from manner of dress to the many preparations for the day of rest.

I've been thinking a great deal about this experience this week in conjunction with Elder Perry's General Conference talk - "The Sabbath and the Sacrament". One of my favorite quotes from his talk stated;

“Trifle not with sacred things,” the Lord revealed to the Latter-day Saints, as if to remind us of what He told His disciples: “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.”

Brothers and sisters, in the latter days the adversary succeeds when we relax our commitment to the Savior, ignore His teachings in the New Testament and other scripture, and cease to follow Him. Parents, now is the time to teach our children to be examples of the believers by attending sacrament meeting. When Sunday morning arrives, help them to be well rested, properly dressed, and spiritually prepared to partake of the emblems of the sacrament and receive the enlightening, edifying, ennobling power of the Holy Ghost. Let your family be filled with love as you honor the Sabbath all day long and experience its spiritual blessings throughout the week. Invite your sons and daughters to “arise and shine forth” by keeping the Sabbath day holy, that “[their] light may be a standard for the nations."

On Sunday mornings we are usually well rested and properly dressed, but as a family are we spiritually prepared to partake of the Sacrament?

The week prior to each Easter our family spends significant time spiritually preparing for Easter Sunday through our focused scripture study, family activities etc. Easter Sunday, as a result, is always one of our most spiritually rewarding Sundays of the year.

Each week we have an opportunity to commemorate the Atonement and Resurrection as we honor the Sabbath and partake of the Sacrament. Is the Sabbath as sacred to me and my family as it should be?

Upon observation in the Old City, the Sabbath was clearly a sacred event that happens each and every week. I'm starting to better understand that the Sabbath can and ought be the same in our home - a sacred Easter of sorts, full of rejoicing and worship.

Elder Perry stated;

On this day before the Sabbath, as we begin this great conference, let us remember the blessings and opportunities that are ours as we attend sacrament meeting each week in our wards and branches. Let us prepare and conduct ourselves on the Sabbath in a manner that will call down the blessings promised us upon ourselves and our families. I bear my special witness that the greatest joy we receive in this life is in following the Savior. May we keep His commandments by keeping His sacred day holy...

Now for implementation! Any thoughts on how your spiritually prepare your family for the Sabbath would be very much appreciated!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fear and Faith

"Faith and fear cannot coexist. One gives way to the other."
Elder Kevin W. Pearson

I have been thinking about the relationship - or lack thereof - between faith and fear as of late. Growing up I always had the somewhat normal fears of things like kidnappers, tornadoes, big dogs, deep water, etc. But eventually most of these childhood fears faded (except deep water, I HATE deep water). That all changed in August, 2002. My sister was killed in a car accident the day before my son's first birthday, and from that experience I came to better understand fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of losing everything I loved in an instant, fear of not having control over a situation. I came to understand that these fears were actually part of the grieving process and very normal (it's always nice to know you're not going crazy), and I found tremendous comfort and peace through the gospel. And while your life is forever altered by the loss of a family member, over time the fear aspect begins to fade.

But every once and a while it leaps back to the surface and rears its ugly head.

I have battled with fear throughout this pregnancy, the fear of losing these little ones that we have fought so hard for. I have come to understand that replacing fear with faith is a choice. Some days are better then others. Some days we go on our merry way, and other days I find myself repeating throughout the day - "Choose faith, choose faith".

But what does it mean to choose faith?

I used to think that somehow I could arm wrestle the Lord into my way by exercising enough faith in what I wanted to have happen, exercising my faith in my personal will. Six years of infertility taught me differently.

For me, choosing faith means choosing to trust the Savior. It means choosing to trust that whatever may come, He will guide us through it. It means choosing to trust that, no matter the outcome, His plan is so much better then ours. It means choosing to trust the personal promises He has made.

It is when I make that choice that the peace comes.

I have learned, and am continuing to learn, that I don't need to fear the unknown - for nothing is unknown to the Savior. I don't need to fear not being in control of a situation, because He is.

Like I said, some days are better then others. And I am greatly looking forward to the fading of this particular mental battle. :)

But as for today, I am choosing faith.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"As mothers in Israel, we are the Lord's secret weapon. Our influence comes from a divine endowment that has been in place from the beginning. In the premortal world, when our Father described our role, I wonder if we didn't stand in wide-eyed wonder that He would bless us with a sacred trust so central to His plan and that He would endow us with gifts so vital to the loving and leading of His children. I wonder if we shouted for joy at least in part because of the ennobling stature He gave us in His kingdom. The world won't tell you that, but the Spirit will."

Sister Sheri Dew, Ensign, Nov 2001

Friday, May 6, 2011

Out of the Mouths of Babes

We've been experiencing some elementary school drama around our house as of late. Drama and I don't get along under the best of circumstances, but that's another post for another day.

As my kiddos have been dealing with friend and bullying issues, I was thinking a lot about how important it is to make sure our home is a safe haven, a place of rest. The other night as we were sitting together as a family I mentioned how glad I was that at least at home we can each feel loved and safe. To which my son replied -

"Except when you're mad at us for not putting our clothes away."


Parenting is humbling, isn't it?

I didn't quite know what to say. Here I was, trying to create a peaceful, safe environment, and I have inadvertently been chipping away at it by my, um..., lack of patience (a nice way to say it).

I've thought a lot about this comment. In my mind my frustration with my kiddos lack of follow through is completely and totally separate, and in no way effects my love for them. But maybe I haven't communicated that as clearly to them as I need to.

Do they still need to do their chores? Yes.
Do they still need to be accountable for their actions? Yes.
Do they still need boundaries and consequences? Oh my, yes.

But I need to do a better job of taking my emotions (frustration, impatience etc.) out of it.

I don't want you to get the wrong idea here, we, as parents, don't flip out by any stretch of the imagination. We are pretty calm, quiet people. The whole experience was simply a reminder that when things get rough for my kiddos, I need to shower them with extra love and keep my impatience at a minimum.

It reminded my of one of my favorite quote by Sister Julie B. Beck -

“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.”

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Another great Mother's Day Giveaway at We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ.
Hop on over and check it out!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Gator Hunting

On Saturday we set off on a family adventure to hunt some gators.
And by hunt, I mean try and see how many we could find.

We drove to a state park near our home to observe the gators.

These alligators were in their natural habitat, often just a step or two off of the hiking path we were traveling.

We saw around twenty good size gators on our little one mile hike.

There weren't any fences between us and the gators, just two or three feet of grass.

It was terrifying and fascinating all at the same time.

I think we're going to follow up our Saturday outing with this video for Family Home Evening tonight. I think the kiddos might understand it just a little bit better after our adventure!