Tag Archives: kids

Teaching Our Children to Love God

By Guest Blogger Angee Duvall

Thanx for having me today! (Yes, I spell thanks with an “x.”) I’m so excited to be here today sharing some thoughts dear to my heart! Let me take a moment to introduce myself.

Hi! I’m Angee. I’m a former elementary/preschool teacher turned stay-at-home mom. I’ve been married for eleven years to a pretty incredible man. We have three adorable children, ages eight and under, who keep us busy and happy. In my “spare” time I blog about activity ideas to do with children. And yes, I’m Mormon.

Since teaching and motherhood are so deeply a part of my life, I get asked a lot, “What is the most important thing you can teach children?” This is something I’ve thought about a lot, and every time, my answer comes down to one basic truth:

LOVE GOD

If I can teach my children to love God, then all other lessons should fall into place. They would naturally be compassionate towards others. They would naturally see their own worth. They would naturally find joy in life. They would naturally serve. They would naturally find a purpose in living.

Sometimes I get asked what top three things that I teach my children. If I could break that general concept down into a more specific list, these are the top three things I’m striving to teach my children (in no particular order):

1. Serve others. I want my children to find the joy that comes from service. My husband and I try to involve our children in all aspects of our own service. We involve them in making and delivering a meal for a family who just had a baby. We involve them in shoveling snow from our homebound neighbor’s driveway. We also try to teach them that service doesn’t have to be big. It can be as simple as playing with another kid on the playground who has no one to play with, or smiling at someone who is sad. And we are always sure to point out how the other people looked when we served them and how we feel in our own hearts. Just last week, as we pulled into Walmart on a snowy evening, my five-year-old daughter said, “Mom, do you remember last year when we brought hot chocolate to the [Salvation Army] bell ringers? Yeah. That made me happy.” Warm my heart. That’s what it’s all about!

2. Work hard. I want my children to learn the value of hard work; that work is a part of life. There is deep satisfaction in working. I want them to always do their very best and put their heart and soul into everything they do. I want them to know their work is needed in our home now (that we won’t have dishes to eat dinner on without their help) and in society in the future.

3. Be happy. Most importantly, I want my children to learn to be happy. I want them to smile and laugh and find the good in their lives. Each person in our family keeps a gratitude journal that we write in daily. By focusing on the things that made us happy each day, we have found a deep level of peace. We love to make memories as a family, and you’ll find our home full of laughter.

Now you tell me: What is the most important thing you can teach your children?

AN ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE DURING MY DAY-TO-DAY ROUTINE

By Guest Blogger Carolyn

As a stay-at-home mother of three young children, I am given countless opportunities to help other people.  My daughters are quite dependent and they need my help all day long. Sometimes it is very tiring, and it’s hard to keep an eternal perspective when I am stuck in a routine of changing diapers and cleaning up messes.

I recently read John chapter 21 from the Bible. Jesus Christ asks Simon Peter, “Lovest thou me?” and Simon Peter answers, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.” Christ then says unto him, “Feed my sheep.” Christ asks him the same question again, and again Simon answers the same way. When Christ asks Simon Peter a third time, it is recorded that “Peter was grieved because [Christ] said unto him the third time, ‘Lovest thou me?’” And Simon Peter answers, “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.” And Christ again commands him to feed His sheep.

I thought of this in relation to my work as a mother. There were two lessons I felt I learned from these verses.  First, sometimes I become “grieved” at my many chances to show Christ that I love Him. I get tired and when someone needs my help, I think to myself, “Again?” But right now, the most important way I can show God that I love Him is by serving others.  And that includes my children.  I remind myself of the scripture Galatians 6:9: “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” In this life we will be given infinite opportunities to show the Lord that we love Him.  It is important to not become weary in well doing. We need not be grieved at the fact that we are given second chances, again and again.

Secondly, I learned that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know all things, as Peter pointed out. I believe that they do not give me numerous chances to show them that I love them because they are unsure of where my heart lies.  Perhaps they do it so that I can be reminded of my testimony and the reason I serve others.  I do it because I love the Lord.  And He has asked me to feed His sheep.  And it has the potential to change from day to day, depending on what I choose.  I need my answer to be the same every time I am given the chance to serve others: “Yea, Lord, thou knowest I love thee.”

 

A Christ Centered Home

My family is now a family of 4. Don’t ask me how we got to this point, I have no idea. I feel like I should still be in college with my roommates eating pizza and cookie dough while watching chick flicks. But here I am, finally realizing I’m a real adult (think it took me long enough?). I’ve been reflecting on the influence I have on my family and especially my children and I’ve realized that the influence I have on them could either make or break their happiness in life. No pressure. I’ve had a few negative experiences lately (in places where I was expecting positive experiences) that have made me take a step back and recognize that really my home is the only place where I can guarantee that there will be a loving and Christ centered atmosphere. But the only way to guarantee this is if my husband and I make it that way. It’s harder than it sometimes seems. Now that life is much more hectic and jumbled with a very young baby  and a 3 year old I’m finding it’s harder and harder to stay focused on Christ and to have that loving environment.

Though my husband and I have always tried to be doing what is right we are realizing we need to be more dedicated and more diligent. The past 4 days we have made sure that we have read scriptures together as a family (usually only a few verses, we do have a 3 year old) and talked about what the scripture meant and how we can apply it to us. We have had a family prayer before my husband is out the door for work and we had a short but meaningful Family Home Evening (this one is tricky for us because my husband works late so we are going to be experimenting to find out how we can better fit it in).  I kid you not, the past 4 days have been so much better than the month before. My son has had fewer tantrums, I have been more patient, I’ve felt less scattered and all over the place. There has been a real difference in how our home feels. Though it’s hard to always fit things in with crazy schedules and crazy children I’ve learned I can’t afford not to. I owe it to my children to have Christ as the center of our home so that they can feel love here and feel safe here and know that no matter what lies outside of our front door they will always be able to feel the spirit in our home.

A Partner With God

I am now counting down the weeks before our little girl is born. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can be best prepared both practically speaking and emotionally. I have been working hard to make sure we have everything ready: meals in the freezer, diapers and clothes ready, babysitters for my son arranged, etc. There is a lot to do to get ready for a baby but what I learned from my son is that the most important preparation is emotional and spiritual.

I am a bit of a control freak. I really hate giving up control, especially if it’s because I feel like I can’t do it all on my own. Giving up control to benefit someone else is not too hard for me but being forced to give up control is extremely hard for me. I am a really independent person and I feel that I have no business getting myself into things that I can’t do on my own. I’ve always known this about myself and it’s never really been much of a problem. It’s caused a few stressed out days/weeks but nothing too much beyond that. And then came motherhood.

After I had my son I literally did not sleep for 72 hours. I was so overwhelmed with not only the responsibility of motherhood but the responsibility of having a newborn. If you’ve experienced what it is like to be a first time parent you know that newborns are so fragile, anything could go wrong. And, as a control freak I had to be the one to make sure nothing happened, it was all on me. With each passing day of no the sleep the crazier I got. It literally became too much for me. I couldn’t do it on my own. I couldn’t watch him constantly. This was very hard for me to accept and I didn’t know what to do. My husband gave me a priesthood blessing to help calm my mind and spirit. In the blessing I was reminded that motherhood is not meant to be a solo job. It’s not even meant to be only a partnership between mother and father. Parenthood is meant to be a partnership with God.

After I really internalized that God was in charge and in control I was finally able to sleep and relax. I have to try my best to do my best but more importantly I have to have faith that God will give me strength and that he has a plan for my family. Without God I can’t do it and it is supposed to be that way. Just like my newborn is dependent on me, I am dependant on my Father in Heaven. And just like I love my children with all my heart and will always do what I can to help them, my Father in Heaven loves me and will always help me.

This time around I can feel myself getting nervous about having to give up so much control again but I know I can do it and I know that God will be there for me. I know that He loves me. These are the ways I am trying to prepare for the arrival of our little girl. This is the most important preparation I can do, to prepare to be a partner with God.

Mormon Services: fussy kids and all

Mormon family takes the SacramentAs members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints we have the opportunity to gather weekly for worship services.  And while it is one of the greatest blessings of the week, attending has turned out to be one my family’s greatest challenges.

Little did we realize the feat it would be to keep three restless kids preoccupied and quiet during Sacrament Meeting, the first hour of worship service.  To prepare for this meeting we fill the “church bag” with an assortment of snacks: fishy crackers, fruit snacks, marshmallows, pretzels, fruit roll-ups — eventually rendering my wife’s purse more a vending machine than a woman’s accessory.  Next we stuff in the church books, a few small toys and in some cases suckers which are reserved for the “worse case scenarios” (i.e. all three kids are screaming and Mom was just called to give the closing prayer).  Upon arrival we enter the chapel, find our seats and situate the kids…and before we know it they are searching for escape routes — under the pew, over our laps, under our legs, or over the pews.  Throughout the meeting we do our best to keep them reverent with the prepared snacks or books, but even our best efforts break down and we often end up toting a crying toddler (or two — one under each arm) into the halls.

We often joke with other friends why we even attend sacrament services when half of the time is spent wrestling toddlers or rocking babies.  But we always come to the conclusion that there are blessings in being in the right place — and being there together.  When attending these meetings its an extraordinary thing to see families gathering together weekly to discuss good values, comfort each other, and worship Jesus Christ, who is the epitome of all that is good in the world.

To me this rings particularly true his in the last hour, Elders Quorum, where all of the men gather to read scriptures and discuss how to be better husbands, fathers, be charitable, humble, and be better members of their community.  Anywhere else this practice for men might be considered “weak” or “unmanly.”  However, here Christian values and striving to be someone better is the ideal.  Truly there is strength in numbers and strength in consistently striving to be a better person.

The beauty of church services is that we’re all far from perfect, but together with Jesus Christ as our Savior and model we can become a little better — and that is what attending church (fussy kids and all) is all about.

Regaining Patience and Sanity

Last week I road tripped to my brother’s house, 2-year-old in tow, to watch his 3 kids for him while he and his wife took a little weekend away. Hurricane Irene brought a few (more like a lot) of stresses to their home and so I offered to give them a break. I saw this as a great opportunity for my son to spend some time with his cousins as well as give me some practice with multiple children. I realized I need a lot more practice. I wouldn’t consider myself a particularly patient person but I’m not the most impatient person I know either. Last week I was the most impatient person I know. I really started to wonder if I would be able to handle multiple kids (a little late now!). I mean, what are you supposed to do when someone has a stinky diaper that is emitting toxic fumes, a 2-year-old is scaling the kitchen cabinets in search of marshmallows and the other 2 kids are wrestling to the death? All at the same time!  Fortunately for me though, Saturday night brought some much needed perspective.

Saturday there was a meeting held worldwide for the Relief Society, the women’s organization or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I watched this meeting via live stream on lds.org. There was one segment of one of the talks that really stuck out to me. The person who shared this message is an apostle of the Lord, just like the apostles of Jesus Christ in the New Testament times. I also have great respect for this man, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, because of his life story. As I’ve mentioned before, some people think that all Mormons are totally naive and closed off to the world. Not this man. He grew up in Soviet controlled East Germany. His family eventually had to flee to West Germany because it became too dangerous for them in East Germany due to his father’s differing political views from the Soviets. When this man talks about surviving hard times, keeping perspective, or hope I listen extra hard. He has experienced the worst of what the world has to offer. This particular message is about patience.

Dear sisters, many of you are endlessly compassionate and patient with the weaknesses of others. Please remember also to be compassionate and patient with yourself.

In the meantime, be thankful for all the small successes in your home, your family relationships, your education and livelihood, your Church participation and personal improvement. Like the forget-me-nots, these successes may seem tiny to you and they may go unnoticed by others, but God notices them and they are not small to Him. If you consider success to be only the most perfect rose or dazzling orchid, you may miss some of life’s sweetest experiences.

As a mother I feel like most of my successes go unnoticed or are considered tiny. I would imagine that people in other circumstances feel the same way also. After listening to this message I realized that the person I was most frustrated with was myself, it wasn’t the kids. I should have been able to go in there and be the super fun aunt/mom that everyone wanted to obey and knew how to take care of 4 kids with ease. When I realized I was losing control of the situation quickly and I had no idea what I was doing, I lost all patience with myself. But, when my sister-in-law came home she proclaimed with joy, “The house is still here and the kids are alive! Thank you!” That is a success I will take. I survived elementary school pick-up for the first time; a success I will take (and trust me, this is a big one). We didn’t go to the ER, not even once; a success I will take. All the children went to bed every night; a success  I will take.

I am grateful for apostles of the Lord that share inspired messages of hope. I know these men and the other leaders of The Church are called of God. I never feel so empowered and so filled with hope than when I listen to their words. There will be more messages shared by these men and women this Saturday and Sunday. If  you are interested in listening, you can do so here. I know their words will help you no matter your situation or circumstance. I know I’ll be listening.

What I Like About Being Mormon

I was thinking today about what I really enjoy about being Mormon. There are a lot of things but I decided to go with a pretty practical one. We just moved, not a big move, just across the city but big enough where it has been an adjustment. Since we moved we’ve been traveling a lot and as I divulged a few weeks ago I was pretty sick so getting to know people in our new neighborhood has been very slow moving. And, if you’ve ever been to the Boston area you know that when something is just a few miles away it translates into a 30 minute plus commute due to traffic and just the general layout of the city. So if I wanted to I could easily go a long time (like weeks probably) without seeing anyone I know besides my husband and son. This is where being Mormon comes in.

I’ve talked about Relief Society before, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints women’s organization. In addition to providing spiritual needs for the women in the ward there is a very practical side to the Relief Society as well. My chapter of the Relief Society has been doing park days/outings throughout the area every week as well as meeting together at church on Sunday. Because of these outings and meeting together on Sundays it gives me the extra nudge I need right now to get out of the house and get together with friends, which for stay-at-home moms is really essential to maintaining sanity. This is one thing I love about being Mormon. The Church helps us with our practical needs as well as our spiritual needs, because really they are all interconnected. I love having something to be involved in, no matter where I am currently living or what my present situation is. I will always have a congregation to be a part of, a natural way of meeting people and making friends and a natural way to serve and contribute to something other than my own home.

The gospel of Jesus Christ does not coincide with isolation and it’s not about just bettering ourselves. It’s about being a part of a community and serving each other and loving each other, no matter our current needs or situation. Have you experienced a time when being a part of an established community helped you?

Mormon on Vacation

I was traveling with my husband’s family last week. Except for a few who couldn’t make it, his whole family met in Newport Beach, CA. My son and I were the first ones to arrive at our hotel, thanks to a very early direct flight. To kill time before the rest of the crew got there I ordered some lunch by the pool. The server noticed my bags and asked if I had to wait to check in. I told him I was waiting for the rest of my husband’s family to arrive. He asked how many people and I told him 14. He then asked, “So are you Irish-Catholic or Mormon? There are only so many options.” I laughed and confirmed Mormon. (Just to clarify, that 14 people includes grandkids, spouses etc. No, my husband is not one of 14 children).

His remark got me thinking, what else gives Mormons away on vacation? And furthermore, what do Mormons do differently on vacation?  The first thing I can think of I’ve already talked about, no alcohol. For a lot of people vacation means relaxation and indulging which means margaritas and tequila. We still definitely indulged and relaxed, but just replace sipping margaritas by the pool with sipping chocolate milk shakes by the pool. Not that I have much experience in this category but I have a theory that chocolate can have the same relaxation effect as alcohol. It’s a substance with that much power.

Another major thing that we did differently was our Sunday activities. Even though we’re on vacation we don’t really take a vacation from being Mormon or Sabbath Day observance. We found a local Latter-day Saint (Mormon) Chapel and attended church there. On Sunday afternoon we went down to San Diego and visited the Mormon Battalion Historic Site. It’s a beautiful new building (although designed in the style of Old San Diego) that takes you through the journey of a group of 500 Mormon volunteers that joined the US army to help pave the way for future California settlers trying to move west. I didn’t know much about the story, to be honest, so it was a fun way to spend a Sunday.

I had a lot of fun on my vacation. My son had a blast with his cousins. We did everything from Disneyland to the beach to Lego Land and the pool. Were we basically carrying around a flag that said, “I’m Mormon” on it? I don’t know, a large family that enjoys spending time together with lots of little kids and adults that don’t drink alcohol and are clothed more at the beach than a lot of people are on a regular basis…maybe. But, I’d say our vacation wasn’t too different from your average fun So Cal vacay, it just had a little Mormon twist on it.

For you, my dear friends, the sky is the limit.

I was reading a post from our friends over at Mormon Perspectives about her take on the Business Week article: God’s MBAs: Why Mormon Missions Produce Leaders.  She focuses on the contrast the article points out between the accomplishments of some Mormon men with that of Mormon women.  I liked her thoughts and wanted to provide some additional supporting perspectives from a few other sources that provide the “Mormon model” I’m most likely to subscribe to in perhaps some contrast to the one presented in the Business week article: Firstly, from the “top position” of the Mormon church, former president Gordon B. Hinckley: “The whole gamut of human endeavor is now open to women. There is not anything that you cannot do if you will set your mind to it. You can include in the dream of the woman you would like to be a picture of one qualified to serve society and make a significant contribution to the world of which she will be a part . . . For you, my dear friends, the sky is the limit.”

Quoted from an address given in 2001: How Can I Become the Woman of Whom I Dream.

Secondly, from a few Mormons willing to share their day-in-the-life-of:

I’m a broadcaster and a mom. I’m a Mormon.

I’m a wife, a mother and a public health professional who has lived in 4 countries with her family. I’m a Mormon.

I have friends that lead similar lives.  They strive for their dreams and enjoy the blessings of family.  Things don’t always work out as planned, but such is life.  For Mormons the gospel provides a path to happiness and as they apply principles in their lives there are some wonderful outcomes.

God Fearing Fathers

This week is Father’s Day. I’ve talked a lot about motherhood and family in general but I haven’t really talked about fatherhood that much. Naturally I would talk about motherhood because I am a mother and also my faith has helped form my views and opinions on motherhood. From the outside it may appear that the Mormon Church likes to focus in on motherhood and kind of lets fathers off the hook. This is not true.

My dad and my own husband are pretty stellar guys. Social pressures tell these two men in particular (they are both in the finance industry) that they should dedicate 100% of their lives to their careers. For my husband, who is at the beginning of his career, he really has to work hard. His job is incredibly demanding, he works long hours, travels frequently, and work stress is his constant companion. Social pressures also tell him now is not the time for family and that he should be focusing on himself.

My dad, who is, we’ll just say, not at the beginning of his career, has social pressures to live a lavish, indulgent life style. He has earned his place in the world through hard work and determination and he should just be able to relax and reward himself.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (The Mormon Church) teaches its fathers and husbands something vastly different. Life is about service to others. Service to family, to neighbors, to congregation members, and to God. At no time in a man’s life is it a time to be selfish.

My husband works hard at work, he makes time and gives energy to his family, he dedicates time to God and to service in our Church and I believe that God is blessing his life for it.  My father has chosen a life of service in our church and community rather than an indulgent life. God requires a lot of both men and women, but he always blesses our lives in return.

Here’s to my husband, the daddy of our little boy, and to my father, daddy to 5 grown children and grandpa to 4 grandchildren (as well as to all the other fathers out there striving to focus on family). Fatherhood is not easy, especially when you try to balance it with career, thanks for all you do. Your families notice your hard work and dedication and so does God.